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COLCHESTER—COLCHICUM

under an act of 1870. The harbour, with quayage at the suburb of Hythe, is controlled by the corporation. The parliamentary borough, which is co-extensive with the municipal, returns one member. The municipal corporation consists of a mayor, 8 aldermen and 24 councillors. Area 11,333 acres.

The Roman town, Colonia Victricensis Camalodunum (or Camulodunum), was of great importance. It was founded by Claudius, early in the period of the Roman conquest, as a municipality with discharged Roman soldiers as citizens, to assist the Roman dominion and spread its civilization. Under Queen Boadicea the natives burned the town and massacred the colonists; but Camalodunum soon rose to fresh prosperity and flourished throughout the Roman period. Its walls and some other remains, including the guardroom at the principal gate, can still be clearly traced, and many such relics as sculptures, inscriptions, pavements and pottery have been discovered. When the borough originated is not known, but Domesday Book mentions two hundred and seventy-six burgesses and land in commune burgensium, a phrase that may point to a nascent municipal corporation. The first charter given by Richard I. in 1189 granted the burghers leave to choose their bailiffs and a justice to hold the pleas of the crown within the borough, freedom from the obligation of duel, freedom of passage and pontage through England, free warren, fishery and custom as in the time of Henry I., and other privileges. An inspeximus of this charter by Henry III. in 1252 granted the burgesses the return of certain writs. The charters were confirmed by various kings, and new grants obtained in 1447 and 1535. In 1635 Charles I. granted a fresh charter, which replaced the bailiffs by a mayor, and in 1653 Cromwell altered it to secure a permanent majority for his party on the corporation. But his action was undone in 1659, and in 1663 Charles II. granted a new charter. In 1684 the charters were surrendered, and a new one obtained reserving to the crown power to remove the mayor and alderman, and this one was further modified by James II. But the charter of 1663 was confirmed in 1693 and remained in force till 1741, when the liberties were allowed to lapse. In 1763 George III. made the borough a renewed grant of its liberties. Colchester returned two members to parliament from 1295 until 1885. Fairs were granted by Richard I. in 1189 to the hospital of St Mary Magdalene, and by Edward II. in 1319 to the town for the eve of and feast of St Denis and the six following days—a fair which is still held. In the 13th century Colchester was sufficiently important as a port to pay a fee-farm of £46, its ships plying to Winchelsea and France. Elizabeth and James I. encouraged Flemish settlers in the manufacture of baize (“bays and says”), which attained great importance, so that a charter of Charles I. speaks of burgesses industriously exercising the manufacture of cloth. Both Camden and Fuller mention the trade in barrelled oysters and candied eringo-root. The most notable event in the history of the town was its siege by Fairfax in 1648, when the raw levies of the Royalists in the second civil war held his army at bay for nearly eleven weeks, only surrendering when starved out, and when Cromwell’s victory in the north made further resistance useless. Colchester was made the see of a suffragan bishop by King Henry VIII., and two bishops were in succession appointed by him; no further appointments, however, were made until the see was re-established under Queen Victoria.

See Victoria County History, Essex; Charters and Letters Patent granted to the Borough of Colchester (Colchester, 1903); Morant, History of Colchester (1748); Harrod’s Report on the Records of Colchester (1865); Cutts, Colchester (Historic Towns) 1888; J. H. Round, “Colchester and the Commonwealth” in Eng. Hist. Rev. vol. xv.; Benham, Red Paper Book of Colchester (1902), and Oath Book of Colchester (1907).


COLCHESTER, a township of Chittenden county, Vermont, U.S.A., on Lake Champlain, immediately N.E. of Burlington, from which it is separated by the Winooski river. Pop. (1900) 5352; (1910) 6450. It is served by the Central Vermont railway. The surface is generally gently rolling, and in places along the banks of the Winooski or Onion river, the shore of the lake, and in the valleys, it is very picturesque. At Mallett’s Bay, an arm of Lake Champlain, 2 m. long and 1½ m. wide, several large private schools hold summer sessions. The soil is varied, much of it being good meadow land or well adapted to the growing of grain and fruit. The township has two villages: Colchester Centre, a small, quiet settlement, and Winooski (pop. in 1900, 3783) on the Winooski river. This stream furnishes good water power, and the village has manufactories of cotton and woollen goods, lumber, woodenware, gold and silver plated ware, carriages, wagons and screens. Within the township there is a United States military reservation, Fort Ethan Allen. The village was founded in 1772 by Ira Allen and for many years it was known as “Allen’s Settlement”; but later it was called Winooski Falls, and in 1866 it was incorporated as the Village of Winooski.


COLCHICUM, the Meadow Saffron, or Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale), a perennial plant of the natural order, Liliaceae, found wild in rich moist meadow-land in England and Ireland, in middle and southern Europe, and in the Swiss Alps. It has pale-purple flowers, rarely more than three in number; the perianth is funnel-shaped, and produced below into a long slender tube, in the upper part of which the six stamens are inserted. The ovary is three-celled, and lies at the bottom of this tube. The leaves are three or four in number, flat, lanceolate, erect and sheathing; and there is no stem. Propagation is by the formation of new corms from the parent corm, and by seeds. The latter are numerous, round, reddish-brown, and of the size of black mustard-seeds. The corm of the meadow-saffron attains its full size in June or early in July. A smaller corm is then formed from the old one, close to its root; and this in September and October produces the crocus-like flowers. In the succeeding January or February it sends up its leaves, together with the ovary, which perfects its seeds during the summer. The young corm, at first about the diameter of the flower-stalk, grows continuously, till in the following July it attains the size of a small apricot. The parent corm remains attached to the new one, and keeps its form and size till April in the third year of its existence, after which it decays. In some cases a single corm produces several new plants during its second spring by giving rise to immature corms.

C. autumnale and its numerous varieties as well as other species of the genus, are well known in cultivation, forming some of the most beautiful of autumn-flowering plants. They are very easy to cultivate and do not require lifting. The most suitable soil is a light, sandy loam enriched with well decomposed manure, in a rather moist situation. The corms should be planted not less than 3 in. deep. Propagation is effected by seed or increase of corms; the seed should be sown as soon as it is ripe in June or July.

Colchicum was known to the Greeks under the name of Κολχικόν, from Κολχίς, or Colchis, a country in which the plant grew; and it is described by Dioscorides as a poison. In the 17th century the corms were worn by some of the German peasantry as a charm against the plague. The drug was little used till 1763, when Baron Störck of Vienna introduced it for the treatment of dropsy. Its use in febrile diseases, at one time extensive, is now obsolete. As a specific for gout colchicum was early employed by the Arabs; and the preparation known as eau médicinale, much resorted to in the 18th century for the cure of gout, owes its therapeutic virtues to colchicum; but general attention was first directed by Sir Everard Home to the use of the drug in gout.

For medical purposes the corm should be collected in the early summer and, after the outer coat has been removed, should be sliced and dried at a temperature of 130° to 150° F.

The chief constituents of colchicum are two alkaloids, colchicine and veratrine. Colchicine is the active principle and may be given in full form in doses of 1/32 to 1/16 grain. It is a yellow, micro-crystalline powder, soluble in water, alcohol and chloroform, and forming readily decomposed salts with acids. It is the methyl ester of a neutral body colchicein, which may be obtained in white acicular crystals.

The official dose of powdered colchicum is 2 to 5 grains, which may be given in a cachet. The British Pharmacopoeia contains