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Page:Notes and Queries - Series 10 - Volume 12.djvu/478

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394


NOTES AND QUERIES. [io s. XIL NOV. 13, 1900.


See ' Roman Antiquities.' by J. D. Fuss, professor in the University of Liege (trans- lated from the last edition), 1840, sections 365, 366, and 367 ; Kennett's ' Romse Antiquse Notitia,' 1737, Part II. Book IV pp. 190-91 ; and Adam's 'Roman Antiqui- ties,' 1792, pp. 360-71.

J. HOLDEN MACMlCHAEL

Wroxton Grange, Folkestone.

CAXTON' s BIRTHPLACE : CAUSTOIST, COSTEN (10 S. xii. 327). It is doubtful if the birth- place of William Caxton will ever be dis- covered. The late Mr. William Blades in his ' Biography of England's First Printer ' produced all the evidence he could find on the subject, and other writers have also, by the meagreness of their information, testified to the lack of any positive record. The consensus of opinion, however, is cer- tainly in favour of Hadlow having been the scene of Caxton' s oirth, and probable early home.

In Dibdin's edition of Ames's ' Typo- graphical Antiquities,' which includes a life of Caxton, no attempt is made to connect his birth with any particular place, beyond recording the fact that he was born in the Weald of Kent, the existence of which, according to Lambard, the first Kentish historian, it is easier to deny altogether than to define its boundaries with any accuracy.

^In Fur ley's 'History of the Weald of Kent ' a map of the Weald at the time of the Domesday Survey shows Hadlow to be well within the boundary, so it may there- fore be looked upon as a Wealden village.

Mr. Blades tells us that near Hadlow was the ancient manor of Caustons, one of the synonyms of Caxton, the -9 and the x being interchangeable in the fifteenth century ; and the said manor was long held by the Caxton or Causton family, although it had been alienated from them for many years before Caxton' s birth, and the main branch of the family had migrated to Essex, where they named their new residence " Hadlow," after the old Kentish hundred. It is not in any way improbable, however, that a branch of the family remained near their old home and were the stock from which William Caxton came.

Mr. Blades concludes his evidence as follows :

" We therefore conclude that William Caxton probably descended from the old stock of the Caustons, who owned the Manor of Caustons, near Hadlow, in the Weald of Kent. The evi- cienre is not strong, but yet there is no other


I locality in the Weald in which can be traced the slightest connection, either verbal or otherwise, with the family."

The late Rev. Lambert Larking, one of the founders of the Kent Archaeological Society, also made researches into the sub- ject, and after quoting various authorities wrote :

" W T e think from the above premises we can with safety assert that Causton in Hadlow may take to itself the honour of having been the birthplace of William Caxton."

Two other Kentish historians, Philipott and Hasted, also refer to the manor of Causton in Hadlow, owned by a family of that name, or, as the former expresses it, " the manor owned a family of that sirname." Even in the present day a field on Castle Farm, Hadlow, is called Caustons, a survival from the fourteenth century.

Although there is so much uncertainty concerning Caxton's birthplace, there are abundant records which testify to the social position of various members of the family of that name in its different forms ; and the name occurs from the thirteenth century downwards in the records of London, West- minster, Kent (throughout the county), Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Essex, and elsewhere.

In 1233-6 a Jeremyas de Caxton was Sheriff of Huntingdon.

In 1317 William de Caustone, Alderman of Bread Street Ward, was a Vicecomes or Sheriff of London.

In 1324 John de Causton, member of the Mercers' Guild, and Alderman of Cord- wainer Street Ward, was Sheriff of London, and was probably the same John de Causton, who, in 1330, 1332, 1334, 1336, and 1337, was M.P. for the City of London.

In 1392 Walter Causton was Prior of St. Martin's Priory, Dover.

In 1476 a Thomas Caxton was Town Clerk of Lydd, afterwards Treasurer, and sub- sequently Bailiff ; and during his tenure of the last-named office he wrote the ' Cus- tomall of Lydd.' This individual is worth noting. He may have been brother to William Caxton, a not unreasonable surmise, as they were contemporary and of the same county ; and the fact that he was elected to those responsible and learned positions proves that he was a man of education and attainments, and was probably the son of parents who were in a good position. This supposition would support the surmise that William Caxton also received the education and start in life which there is reason to believe he had.