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William Camden

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The Division of Britaine

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NOW let us addresse our selves to the Division of Britaine. Countries are divided by Geographers either Naturally, according to the course of rivers and interpose of mountains; or Nationally, according as the people inhabite them; or Diversely and Civilly, according to the wils and jurisdiction of Prince. But forasmuch as wee shall treat here and there thorowout this whole worke of the first and second kinds, that third (which is civill and politike) seemeth properly pertinent to this place. Which yet is overcast with so darke a mist, though the iniquitie of former times, that much easier it is in this case to confute what is false, than to find out the truth.

2. Our Historiographers will needs have that division of Britaine to be most antient whereby they divide it into Loegria, Cambria, and Albania, that is, to speake more plainly, into England, Wales, and Scotland. But I would think this division to be of a newer and later edition, both because it is threefold, for it seemeth to have risen of those three sorts of people, English, Welch, and Scotish, which last of all parted the Iland among themselves: and also for that such a partition is no where extant in approved authors before our Geffrey of Monmouth. For the fable (as the Criticks of our age doe thinke) could not hang well together unless he the said Geffrey had devised three sonnes of Brutus, to wit, Locrine, Camber, and Albanact, because so many Nations flourished here when hee lived. Neither make they doubt but he would have found out more children of Brutus, if there had beene more nations distinct at the same time in Britaine.

3. The most antient division of Britaine, in the opinion of many learned me, is that which is found in Ptolomee, in the second booke of Mathematicall Construction , where he treateth of the Parallels: namely, into Britaine the Great and the Lesse. But by their leave, as great learned men as they be, they themselves shall see, if it please them but to examine thorowly and exactly in that place, the proportion of distance from the Aequator, and compare the same with his Geographicall Description , that he calleth this our Island there Britaine the Great, and Ireland Britaine the Lesse. Howbeit, some of our later writers named the hither part of this Island toward the South Great, and that farther Northward the Lesse: the Inhabitants whereof in times past were distinguished into Maiatae and Caledonii, that is to say, into the inhabitants of the Champion or Plaines, and the Mountainers, as now the Scots are divided into hechtlandmen and lawlandmen. But for as much as the Romanes cared not for that farther tract, because (as Appian saith) it could not be profitable to them nor fruitfull, having set downe their bounds not farre from Edenburgh, at the first they made this hither part reduced alreadie into a Province two-fold, to wit, the Lower and the Higher, as it is gathered out of Dio. For the hither or neerer part of England, together with Wales, he termeth the Higher, the farther and Northerne part the Lower. Which thing the very seats and abiding place of the Legions in Dio do prove. The second Legion Augusta, which kept at Caerleon in Wales, and the twentieth surnamed Victrix, which remained at Chester or Deva, he placeth in the Higher Britaine, but the Sixth Legion Victrix, that was resident at Yorke, served, as he writeth, in the Lower Britaine. This division, I would suppose, was made by the Emperour Severus, because Herodian reporteth that hee after hee had vanquished Albinus, Generall of the British forces, who had usurped the Empire, and therewith reformed and set in order the State of Britain, divided the government of the Province in two parts between two Prefects or Governours.

4. After this, the Romans did set out the Province of Britaine into three parts, as is to be seen out of a manuscript of Sextus Rufus: namely, into Maxima Caesariensis, Britannia Prima, et Britannia Secunda. Which, as I take it, I have found out by the Bishops and their antient Diocesses. Lucius the Pope, in Gratian, insinuateth this much, that the Ecclesiasticall Jurisdictions of the Christians followed the Jurisdictions of the Roman Magistrates, and that Archbishops had their Seas in those cities wherein the Romane Presidents in times past made their abode. The Cities and places (saith he) in which Primats ought to sit and rule, were appointed not by the Moderne, but long before the comming of Christ, to the Primats of which cities &. the Gentils also appealed in matters of greater importance. And in those verie cities after Christs comming, the Apostles and their Successors placed Patriarks or Primats, unto whom the affaires of the Bishops and greater causes ought to be referred. Whereas, therefore, Britaine had in old time three Archbishops, to wit, of London, of Yorke, and Caerleon in Southwales, I suppose that the Province which now we call of Canterburie (for thither the Sea of London was translated) made Britannia Prima; Wales, under the Citie of Caer Leon, was Britannia Secunda; and the Province of York, which then reached unto the Limits or Borders, made Maxima Caesariensis.

5. In the age next ensuing, when the forme of the Roman Empire was daily changing, either through ambition, that more men might attaine to places of honour, or the warie forecast of the Emperours that the power of their Presidents, which grew over great, might be taken downe and abridged, they divided Britaine into five parts, to wit, Britannia Prima, Secunda, Maxima Caesariensis, Valentia, and Flavia Caesariensis. Valentia seemeth to have been the northerly part of Maxima Caesariensis, which being usurped and held by the Picts and Scots, Theodosius, Generall under Valens the Emperour, recovered out of their hands, and in honour of him named it Valentia which Marcellinus sheweth more plainely in these words: The Province now recovered, which was fallen into the enemies hands, he restored to the former state, in such sort as by his own procuring it had both a lawful governor, and was also afterwards called Valentia, at the pleasure of the Prince. Now that the sonne of this Theodosius (who being created Emperour was named Flavius Theodosius, and altered very many things in the empire) added Flavia, we may verie well conjecture, for that before the time of this Flavius we read no where of Britannia Flavia. Wherfore, to make up this matter in few words, all the south coast which one side lieth betweene the British sea and the river Thames with the Severn sea on the other side was called Britannia Prima. Britannia Secunda was that which now is Wales, Flavia Caesariensis reached from Thames to Humber. Maxima Caesariensis from the Humber to the river of Tine, or the wall of Severus. Valentia from Tine the wall or rampier [rampart] neere Edenburgh which the Scots call Gramesdike, and was the utmost limit of the Romane Empire in this Iland, when this last division was in use.

6. And now I cannot chuse but note some want of judgement in certaine men who, otherwise being verie learned, doe reckon Scotland in this account, which some of them make to have beene Maxima Caesariensis, and others Britannia Secunda, as if (forsooth) the Romans neglected not that part of the Iland, lying under a cold climate, and reckoned here those Provinces onely which they governed by Consular Lieutenants and Presidents: for Maxima Caesariensis and Valentia were ruled by Consular Lieutenants, Britannia Prima, Secunda, and Flavia by Presidents.

Now if any man would have me render a reason of this my division, and accuse me as a false bounderer and surveior, let him heare in brief what hath induced me to this opinion. Having observed thus much, that the Romans alwaies called those provinces Primas which lay nighest to Rome, as Germania Prima, Belgica Prima, Lugdunensis Prima, Aquitania Prima, Pannonia, all of which lay neerer to Rome than those that were named Secundae, and that these Primae were by the finer sort of writers termed Superiores or higher, the Secundae, Inferiores or lower, I resolved that the South-part of our Iland, and neerer to Rome, was Britannia Prima, By the same reason, seeing the Provinces Secundae (as they call them) were more remote from Rome, I supposed Wales was the Britannia Secunda. Moreover, having noted this also, that in the decaying State of their Empire those Provinces onely had Consular Magistrates which lay anent the enemies, not onely in Gaule but also in Africke, as appeareth in the Booke of Notices , also that in the said Booke Valentia with us and Maxima Caesariensis be accounted Consular Provinces, I have judged them, being next and exposed to the Scots and Picts, to lie in those places which I have spoken of. I can doe no other but ghesse that Flavia Caesariensis here was in the midst between them all, and in the verie heart of England, and so much the more confidently because that antient writer Giraldus Cambrensis is just of the same opinion with mee. And thus much of the Divisions of Britaine under the Romanes.

7. Afterwards, when the Barbarians made invasion on everie side, and civill warre daily increased among the Britans, the Iland, as bereft of all life and vigour, lay for a time languishing and forlorne, without any shew at all of government. But at length that part which inclineth to the North became two kingdomes, to wit, of the Scots and the Picts, and the Romans Pentarchie, or five portions, in this hither part became in processe of time the Heptarchie, or seven Kingdomes, of the Saxons, For they divided the whole Province of the Romans (setting Wales aside, which the remnant of Britans possessed) into seven Kingdomes, that is to say Kent, Southsex, East-England, Westsex, Northumberland, Eastsex, and Mercia.

But what this Heptarchie of the East-Saxons was, and what their names were in those daies, in this chorographical table here adjoined you may (if you please) behold. Considering that in a Chorographicall Table or Map, by reason of so narrow a roome, those Regions or Counties which these Kingdomes contained could not well and handsomely be described, in this other Table here, rather than by heaping many words together, I think good to propose and set downe the same, that the Reader may once for all have a view of them.

1. The Kingdome of Kent contained the Countie of
  • Kent
    2. The Kingdome of Sussex, or Southern Saxons, contained the Counties of
    • Suthsex
    • Suthrey
    3. The Kingdome of East-England, or East Angles, contained the Counties of
    • Norfolke
    • Suthfolke
    • Cambridge shire, with the Ile of Ely
    4. The Kingdom of West-sex, or West-Angles, contained the Counties of
    • Cornwall
    • Devon shire
    • Dorset shire
    • Sommerset shire
    • Wilt shire
    • Southamton
    • Berkshire
    5. The Kingdom of Northumberland contained the Counties of
    • Lancaster
    • Yorke
    • Durham
    • Cumberland
    • Westmorland
    • Northumberland, and the Countreys of Scotland to Edenburgh-frith
    6. The Kingdom of Eastsex, or East-Saxons, contained the Counties of
    • Essex
    • Middlesex, and part of Hertfordshire
    7.The Kingdome of Mercia contained the Counties of
    • Glocester shire
    • Hereford shire
    • Worcester shire
    • Warwick shire
    • Leicester shire
    • Rotland shire
    • Northampton shire
    • Lincolne shire
    • Huntingdon shire
    • Bedford shire
    • Buchingham shire
    • Oxenford shire
    • Stafford hire
    • Derbie shire
    • Salop or Shropshire
    • Nottingham shire
    • Chester, or Cheshire
    • The other part of Hertford shire

    8. Yet was not England, whiles the Heptarchie flourished, thus divided into Counties, for so they be commonly called, but into certaine small regions with their hides , which out of an old fragment that I had of Francis Tate, a gentleman most conversant in the Antiquitie of our Law, I have heere put downe. But it containeth that countrie onely which lieth on this side Humber.

    Myrcna containeth 30000 hides
    Woken-setna 7000 hides
    Weterna 7000 hides
    Pec-setna 1200 hides
    Elmed-setna 600 hides
    Lindes-farona 7000 hides
    Suth-Gyrwa 600 hides
    North-Gyrwa 600 hides
    East-Wixna 300 hides
    West-Wixna 600 hides
    Spalda 600 hides
    Wigesta 900 hides
    Herefinna 1200 hides
    Sweordora 300 hides
    Eyfla 300 hides
    Wicca 300 hides
    Wight-gora 600 hides
    Nox gaga 5000 hides
    Oht gaga 2000 hides
    Hwynca 7000 hides
    Ciltern-setna 4000 hides
    Hendrica 3000 hides
    Unecung-ga 1200 hides
    Aroseatna 600 hides
    Fearfinga 300 hides
    Belmiga 600 hides
    Witherigga 600 hides
    East-Willa 600 hides
    West-Willa 600 hides
    East-Engle 30000 hides
    Est-Sexena 7000 hides
    Cant-Warena 15000 hides
    Suth-Sexena 7000 hides
    West-Sexena 100000 hides

    Although some of these names may at first sight be discovered, yet others of them a man shall hardly picke out although he studie upon them, and they require one, I professe it, of much sharper wit and quicker insight than my selfe to ghesse what they should meane.

    9. Afterwards, when Aelfred was sole Monarch, like as the Germans our ancestors, as Tacitus witnesseth, kept courts and ministred justice in every Territorie and towne, and had a hundred men out of the Common people as companions and assistants to performe this Function, even so, to use the words of Ingulphus of Crowland, He first divided England into Counties, for that the naturall inhabitants, after the example, and under colour of the Dane, committed outrages and robberies. Besides, he caused the Counties to be parted into Centuries, that is, Hundreds, and Decimes, that is, Tithings, and commanded withall that every Homeling or naturall inhabitant should be in some one Hundred and Tithing. He divided also the governours of the Provinces, who before were called Vice-Domini, that is, Vice-Lords, into two offices, to wit, Judges, now Justices, and Vice-Comites, that is, Sheriffes, which still retaine the same name. By whose care and industrie, peace so much flourished within short space thorow the whole province, that had a way-faring man let fall in the fields or common highwaies a summe of money, how great soever it had beene, if he returned thither the next morning or a moneth after, he might be sure to see it there safe and untouched. Which our Historiographer of Malmesburie will declare unto you more at large. By occasion , saith he, and example of the Barbarians (that is, Danes), the proper and naturall inhabitants also were very greedy of spoile, so that no man could passe to and fro in safety without weapons for his defence. Alfred therefore ordained Centuries, which they terme Hundreds, and Decimes, which they call Tithings, that every English man living under law as a liege subject should be within one hundred and Tithing or another. And if a man were accused of any transgression, he should bring in streightwaies some one out of the same Hundred and tithing that would be bound for his appearance to answere the law; but he that could not find such a surety should abide the severity of the Lawes. But in case any man standing accused, either before or after securtiship, fled, then all that Hundred and Tithing incurred a mulct or fine to be imposed by the King. By this device he brought peace into the Country, so as along the common causes [roads] and highwaies where they crossed one another, he commanded bracelets of gold to be hanged up to delude [mock] the greediness of passengers, whiles there was no maan that durst take them away.

    10. But these Hundreds be in some places of the realm called Wapentaches : if you would know the reason thereof, I will tell you it out of the laws of Edward the Confessor. When a man received the government of a Wapentach, upon a certain day appointed in the place where they were wont to assemble, all the elder sort met together and expected him: and as hee alighted from his horse, rose up unto him and did him reverence. Then he, setting his speare upright, received of them all, according to the custome, a covenant of Association. For as many as came, with their speares touched his speare, and thus they assured themselves by touching of weapons in peaceable maner. For armes in English they call waepun, and tacare is as much as to confirm or establish, as if this were a confirmation of weapons, or, to speake more significantly and expresly, according to the English tongue wepentac is the touching of weapons. For wepan soundeth as much as armes , tac is touching. There were besides other governments and jurisdictions above wapentaches which they called thrihingas, for this was the third part of a Province. And the rulers over those were termed thrihingerefas. Before these officers were brought those causes that could not be determined by the Wapentachs. And so that which the Englishmen named a hundred, these termed a Wapentach. And that which in English they called three or foure Hundreds, these they named thrihinga. Howbeit in some provinces they called that Lew which these terme trihing, and that which could not be decided and ended in a thrihinge was brought into the Schyre.

    11. These Counties, which you may properly and in Latine call either conventus or pagos , we by a peculiar terme name Shires, of skyre , a Saxon word which signifieth to part or divide: and at the first division, there were in all but thirty two. For in the yeere after Christs nativitie 1016, whiles Etheldred reigned, the Chronicle of Malmesburie reporteth there were no more. For thus writeth he in the life of the said Etheldred. The Danes at this time. when there to be reckoned in England thirty two Shires, invaded 16 of them. And in those daies, according to the varietie of lawes these countries or shires were divided. For the lawes of England were distinguished into three sorts, to wit, those of the west-Saxons which they called West-Saxonlage , those of the Danes, named Danelage , and those of the Mercians, termed Merchenlage. To the law of the west-Saxons belonged nine counties, to wit, Kent, Sussex, Suthrie, Berkshire, Hantshire or Southamptonshire, Wiltshire, Sommerset shire, Dorset shire, and Denshire. To the Danes law appertained 15 Counties, namely York shire, Darby shire, Nottingham shire, Leicestershire, Lincoln shire, Northampton shire, Bedford shire, Buckingham shire, Hertford shire, Essex, Middlesex, Northfolk, Southfolk, Cambridge shire, Huntington shire. The eight remaining followed the law of the Mercians: these were Gloucestershire, Worcester shire, Hereford shire, Warwickshire, Oxenford shire, Cheshire, Salop or Shropshire, and Stafford shire. But when William the First made a survey and taxed this kingdome, there were reckoned, as we read in Polychronicon , xxxvi shires or counties, and yet the publicke record in which he engrossed and registred this survey and tax doe make mention of 34 only. For Durham, Lancashire, Northumberland, Westmerland, and Comberland were not comprised in that number, because these three last were then subject to the Scots, as some will have it, and those other two were either free from paiments and taxes, or comprehended under Yorkshire, but, being afterwards added to the rest, they made up in all the number of 39 shires which we have at this day. Unto which are adjoined since 13 more in Wales, whereof six were in the time of Edward the First, the rest Henrie the Eight ordained by Parlamentarie authority.

    12. In these Shires there is appointed in troublesome times by the Prince, a Prefect or Deputie under the King, whom they call a Lieutenant, to see that the Commonweale sustaine no hurt. The first Institution of this Lieutenant, as it may to be seene, is to be fetched from king Aelfred, who appointed in every Countie certaine custodes or keepers of the kingdome, whom Henrie the Third afterward did set up and restore againe, naming them Captaines. For he in the fiftieth yeere of his raigne, Held a Parliament, as John of London writeth, wherein this wholsome ordinance was enacted, that in every Countie there should be made at the Kings charge one Captaine, who with the helpe of the Sheriffe should restraine the cruel and outrageous robbers and theeves from stealth and rapine. Many therefore being frighted with this terrour gave over, and so the Kings power began to breath againe and revive. With good forecast this was done verily by these princes, but whether Canutus the Dane did more wisely, who in his Monarchie erected a Tetrarchie, let our Politicians and Statists dispute. For he (Hermandus the Archdeacon is mine Author), being a prudent Prince, and watchfull every way, dividing the care of his kingdome into foure parts, ordained Tetrarchs such as he had found to be most faithfull and trusty. The charge of the greater portion, to wit of Westsex, he tooke upon himselfe; of Mircha, which was the second portion, he committed to one Edrich; the third, usually called Northumbre, to Yrtus; and to Turkil Earle of East England the fourth, East-England, which flowed in plenty and abundance of all wealth. For this instruction I am beholden to the diligence of Francis Thinn, a man who with exceeding great commendation hath travelled very much in this Studie of Antiquities.

    13. Now ever yeere some one of the Gentlemen inhabitants is made ruler of the countie wherein he dwelleth, whom we call in Latin vicecomitem , as one would say, the Deputy of the comes or Erle, and in our tongue Sheriffe, that is, the Reeve of the shire, who also may well be termed the Treasurer of the Shire or Province. For it is his dutie to gather the common monies and profits of the Prince in his Countie; to collect and bring into the Exchequer all fines imposed, even by distreining; to be attendant upon the Judges, and to execute their commandements; to assemble and empanell the twelve men which in causes doe enquire of the fact, and make relation thereof and give in their verdict to the Judges (for Judges with us sit upon the right onely of a cause and not upon the fact); to see condemned persons executed; and to examine and determine certaine smaller actions. Moreover, there be ordained in every Shire, and that by the institution of Edward the Third, curtain Justices of pace, who examine Murders, Felonies, and trespasses, as they call them, yea and many other delinquences. Furthermore, the King sendeth yeerely into every Shire of England two Justices, to give Judgment of Prisoners, and that I may use the Lawyers terme, to deliver the Gaole. Of whom more heerafter in the Treatise of Judiciall courts and Judgment seats.

    14. As touching Ecclesiasticall jurisdiction, when the Bishops of Rome had assigned severall Churches to severall Priests, and laid parishes unto them, Honorius Archbishop of Canterburie, about the yeere of our Redemption 636, began first to divide England into two provinces, and accordingly two Archbishops: to wit, the Archbishop of Canturburie, Primate and Metropolitan of all England, and the Archbishop of Yorke, Under these are twenty five Bishops; to the Archbishop of Canterburie are subject twenty two, to the Archbishop of Yorke the other three. Now what Bishopricks these be, with the shires and Diocesses that are at this day under their jurisdiction, that godly and right reverend father Matthew Parker, late Archbishop of Canterburie, a man very studious and skilfull in antiquitie, and a worthy Patron of good learning, sheweth in these his owne words.


    The Bishoprick of Canterburie, together with that of Rochester, containeth under it Kent it selfe. The Bishopricke of London hath under it Essex, Middlesex, and part of Hertfordshire. The Bishoprick of Chichester hath belonging unto it Sussex. The Bishoprick of Winchester compriseth Southamtonshire, Surry, and the Isle of Wight, Gernsey also and Jersey, Ilands lieng against Normandie. The Bishopricke of Salisburie comprehendeth Wiltshire and Berkshire. The Bishopricke of Excester containeth Denshire and Cornwall. The Bishoprick of Bath and Wels joined together hath under it Sommerset shire. The Bishoprick of Glocester hath belonging to it Glocestershire. To the Bishopricke of Worcester is subject Worcestershire and part of Warwickshire. To the Bishoprick of Hereford, Herfordhire and part of Salop or Shropshire. The Bishoprick of Coventrie and Lichfield joined together have under it Staffordshire, Derbishire, and the other part of Warwickshire, as also that part of Shropshire which lieth toward the river Repil. Then, the Bishoprick of Lincolnshire, which of all other is the greatest, is bounded with Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Huntingdonshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and the other part of Hertfordshire. To the Bishoprick of Ely pertaine Cambridge shire and the other part of Hertfordshire. To the Bishoprick of Norwich is Norfolke and Suffolke. The Bishopricke of Oxenford hath under it Oxenfordshire. The Bishopricke of Peterborough compriseth Northamptonshire and Rutlandshire. Under the Bishopricke of Bristoll is Dorsetshire. Unto which eighteene Diocesses in England are to be added those of Wales, which are both bereft of their owne peculiar Archbishopricke, and made also fewer in number, seven being brought scarse to foure: to wit, the Bishopricke of Meneva, having the seat at Saint Davids, the Bishopricke of Landaffe, the Bishopricke of Bangor, and the Bishopricke of Saint Assaph.


    The Bishopricke of Yorke comprehendeth Yorkeshire it selfe and Nottinghamshire. The Bishopricke of Chester containeth Cheshire, Richmondshire, Lancashire, part of Cumberland, of Flintshire, and of Denbighshire. The Bishopricke of Durham hath Durham it selfe under it and Northumberland. The Bishopricke of Carleil containeth within it part of Cumberland and the countie of Westmerland. To these you may adde the Bishopricke of Sodor in the Isle Mona, which commonly is called Man. Among these the Archbishop of Canterburie hath the first place, the Archbishop of Yorke the second, the Bishop of London the third, the Bishop of Durham the fourth, the Bishop of Winchester the fift, the rest as they are consecrated or enstalled first, so in priority they take their place. Howbeit, if any of the other Bishops happen to be Secretarie to the King, he challengeth by right the fift place. Besides, there are in England Deanries xxvi, whereof thirteene were ordained by Henrie the Eighth in the greater Cathedrall Churches, after the Monks were thrust out. Archdeaconries three skore, Dignities and Prebends five hundred fortie four.

    15. Numbred also there are parish-churches under Bishops 9284; of which 3845 be Appropriat, as I find in a Catalogue exhibited unto King James, which here I have put downe underneath. Now, Appropriat Churches those are called which by the Popes authority comming betweene, with consent of the King and the Bishop of the Diocesse, were upon certaine conditions tied, or Instruments, united, annexed, and incorporate for ever, unto Monasteries, Bishopricks, Colleges, and Hospitals, endowed with smal lands, either for that the said Churches were built with in their Lordships and lands, or granted by the Lords of the said lands. Which Churches afterwards when the Abbaies and Monasteries were suppressed, became laye fees, to the great dammage of the Church.

    In the Province of Canterburie
    in the Diocesse of
    • Winchester 362 131
    • Coventry and Lichfield 557 250
    • Sarisburie 248 109
    • Bath and Wels 388 160
    • Lincoln 1255 577
    • Peterburgh 293 91
    • Exceter 604 239
    • Glocester 267 125
    • Hereford 313 166
    • Norwich 1121 385
    • Elie 141 75
    • Rochester 98 36
    • Chichester 250 112
    • Oxford 195 88
    • Worchester 241 76
    • Bristoll 236 64
    • S. Davids 308 120
    • Bangor 107 36
    • Lhandaffe 177 98
    • S. Asaph 121 19
    • Peculiar, in the Province of Canterburie 57 14
    THE SUMME 8219 3303
    In the Province of Yorke,
    in the Diocesse of
    • Yorke 581 336
    • Durham 135 87
    • Chester 256 101
    • Carlisle 93 18
    THE SUMME 1065 592

    Howbeit, in the booke of Thomas Wolsey Cardinall, digested and written in the yeere 1520, by Counties are reckoned 9407 Churches. How this varietie should come I cannot say, unlesse that in the former age some Churches were pulled downe, and the Chapels which belong unto Parishes be omitted, and others that are but bare Chapels counted in the number of Parish-churches. Yet out of this book of Wolsey have I put downe the number of Parish-churches to every Shire.

    16. There were also, in the reigne of Henrie the Eight (I hope without offence I may speake the truth) many religious places, Monuments of our forefathers pietie and devotion, to the honor of God, the propagation of Christian faith and good learning, and also for the reliefe and maintenance of the poore and impotent, to wit, Monasteries or Abbaies, and Priories, to the number of 645: of which when, by permission of Pope Clement the Seventh, fortie were suppressed by Cardinall Wolseies meanes, who had then begun to found two Colleges, one at Oxenford, the other at Ipswich, straightwaies, about the xxxvj yeere of the reigne of the said Henrie the Eight, a sudden floud (as it were) breaking thorow the banks with a maine streame, fell upon the Ecclesiasticall State of England, which while the world stood amazed, and England groned thereat, bare downe and utterly overthrew the greatest part of the Clergie, together with their most goodly and beautifull houses. For that leave which the Pope granted to the Cardinall, the King with assent of the Parlament took to himselfe. Whereupon, in the yeere of our Lord 1539, all religious houses ever one, together with all their livings and revenewes, as many I meane as might dispend by yerely rent 200 pound or under (and those amounted to the number of 276) were granted to the King. And in the yeere next following, under a faire pretence and shew of rooting out superstition, all the rest, together with Colleges, Chantries and Hospitals, were left to the dispose and pleasure of the King. At which time the religious houses remaining, in number 605, were surveied, valued or taxed. Colledges there were, besides those in the Universities, 90, Hospitals 110, Chanteries and free Chapels 2374. All which for the most part shortly after were every where pulled downe, their revenues sold and made away, and those goods and riches which the Christian pietie of English nation had consecrated unto God since they first professed Christianity were in a moment, as it were, dispersed, and (to the displeasure of no man be it spoken) profaned.


    AS touching the division of our Common-wealth, it consisteth of a King or Monarch, Noblemen or Gentry, Citizens, Free-borne, whom we call Yeomen, and Artisans or Handicraftsmen. The King, whom our ancesters called Coning and Cyning (in which name is implied a signification both of power and skill), and we name contractly King, hath soveraigne power and absolute command among us, neither holdeth he his empire in vassalage, nor receiveth his investiture or enstalling of another, ne yet acknowledgeth any superiour but God alone, and, as one said, All verily are under him, and himselfe under none but God onely. Also, he hath very many rights of Majestie peculiar to himselfe (the learned Lawyers terme them sacra sacrorum , that is, sacred, and individua , that is, inseparable, because they cannot be severed, and the common sort Roiall praereogatives), which they terme The flowers of his Crowne, in which respect they affirme that the regall materiall Crowne is adorned with flowers. Some of these are by positive or written law; others by right of custome, which by a silent consent of all men without law, prescription of time hath allowed, the King justly enjoieth, and most deservedly, considering that His watchfull care defendeth the state of all his painful labour, maintaineth the quiet of all his carefull industry, upholdeth the delights of all, and his busie emploiment affordeth ease to all. But these are points of a loftier discourse, and not of the argument now in hand.

    2. The second or next to the King is his first begotten sonne: who, like as among the Romans, their heire apparent and assigned successour to the Empire, was first intituled princeps iuventutis , that is, Prince of the youth; and afterwards (as flatterie did increase) stiled by the name of Caesar, Noble Caesar, and The Most Noble: so without Ancestors the English-Saxons he was named in their tongue Aetheling , that is, Noble, and in Latine Clyto, of the Greeke word κλύτος, that is, Glorious or Excellent (see how that age affected the Greek Language). And hereupon of that Edgar, the last heire maile of the English bloud royall, this old saw is yet rife in every mans mouth, Eadhgar Etheling Englands dearling. And in the antient Latin Patents and Charters of the Kings wee read often times Ego E. vel AE. Clyto regis filius . But this addition Clyto I have observed to be given even to all the Kings sonnes. After the Norman conquest, no certaine or speciall title of honour was assigned unto him, nor any other to my knowledge, but singly thus, The Kings Sonne, and The first begotten of the King of England, until that Edward the First summoned unto the high Court of Parliament his sonne Edward by the name of Prince of Wales and Earle of Chester, unto whom he granted afterward the Dukedome also of Aquitaine; like as the same Prince, being now King Edward the Second, called unto the Parliament his young sonne Edward, not full ten yeeres old, by the title of Earle of Chester, and of Flint. But the said Edward, having now attained to the Crown and being Edward the Third, created Edward his sonne, a most valiant and renowmed man of warre, Duke of Cornwall. Since which time the Kings first begotten sonne is reputed Duke of Cornewall at the houre of his birth. And soone after, he adorned the same sonne by solemne investure and creation with the title Prince of Wales, and gave the Principality of Wales in these words, To be held of him and his heires Kings of England. And as the declared or elect Successours of the Roman Empire (as I said even now) were named Caesares , or of the Greekish Empire Despotae , of the Kingdom of France Dolphins , and of Spaine Infants , so from thence forward the Heires apparent of the Kingdome of England were entituled Princes of Wales. And this title continued unto the daies of Henrie the Eight, when Wales was fully united to the Kingdome of England. But now, whereas the Kingdomes of Britaine, formerly divided, are by the happy good luck and rightful title of the most mightie Prince King James growen into one, his Eldest sonne Henrie, the Lovely Joy and Dearling of Britaine, is stiled Prince of Great Britaine: who, as he is borne thus to the greatest hopes, so all Britaine, from one end to the other, praieth uncessantly from the verie heart that God would vouchsafe to blesse him with the greatest vertues and continuance of honour, that hee may by many degrees, and that most happily, exceede our hope, surpasse the noble Acts of his Progenitours, yea, and outlive their yeeres.

    3. As for our Nobilitie or gentry, it is divided into Superiour and Inferiour. The Superiour or chiefe Noblemen we call Dukes, Marquesses, Earles, and Barons, which have received these titles from the Kings of this Realme for their Virtue and Prowesse. Duke is the chiefe title of honour among us next after Prince. This was a name at first of charge and office, and not of dignitie. About the time of Aelius Verus the Emperour, those who governed the Limits and Borders were first named duces , and this degree in the daies of Constantine was inferiour to that of comites. After the Romane government was here in this Iland abolished, this title also remained as a name of office: and those among us who in old Charters during the Saxons time are so many of them called duces, were named in the English tongue onely ealdermen , and the verie same that were named duces , they called also comites. As, for example, that William the Conquerour of England, whom most call Duke of Normandie, William of Malmsburie termeth comes , or Earle of Normandie. But as well Duke as Earle were names of charge and office, as appeareth by this Briefe or Instrument of creating a Duke or Earle, out of Marculphus an antient writer: In this point especially is a Princes regall Clemencie full commended, that thorowout the whole people there bee sought out honest and vigilant persons; neither is it meet to commit hand over head unto every man a judiciarie Dignity, unlesse his faithfulnesse and valour seeme to have been tried before: seeing then, therefore, we suppose that we have had good proofe of your trustie and profitable service unto us, we have committed unto you the government of that Earl dome, Dukedome, Senatourship, or Eldership in that Shire or Province which your Predecessor untill this time seems to have exercised, for to manage and rule the same accordingly. Provided alwaies that you evermore keep your faith untouched and untainted toward our Regall governance, and that all people there abiding may live and be ruled under your regiment and governance, and that you order and direct them in the right course, according to law and their owne customes; that you shew your selfe a Protector to widows, and Guardian to Orphans; that the wickednesse of theeves and malefactors be most severely by you punished; that the people living well under your regiment may with joy continue in peace quietly; and whatsoever by this very execution is looked for to arise in profit due to the Exchequer, bee brought yeerely by your selfe into our Coffers and Treasurie. This title of Duke began to be a title of honour under Otho the Great, about the yeere 970. For hee, to bind more streitly and neerer unto him martiall and politike men, endowed them with Regalities and Roialties, as he termed them. And these Roialties were either Dignities or Lands in fee. Dignities were these, Dukes, Marquesses, Earles, Capitaines, Valvasors, Valvasines. Later it was ere it came to be an Hereditarie title in France, and not before the time of Philip the Third King of France, who granted that from thenceforth they should bee Earles. But in England in the time of the Normans, seeing the Norman Kings themselves were Dukes of Normandie, for a great while they adorned none with this honour, nor before that Edward the Third created Edward his sonne Duke of Cornwall by a wreath upon his head, a ring on his finger, and a sliver verge or rod , like as the Dukes of Normandie were in times past created by a Sword and Banner delivered unto them, afterwards by girding the Sword of the Duchie, and a circlet of gold, garnished with little golden Roses in the top. And the same King Edward the Third created in a Parliament his two sonnes, Lionel Duke of Clarence and John Duke of Lancaster, by the girding of a Sword, and setting upon their heads a furred chapeau or cap, with a Circlet or Coronet of gold, pearle, and a Charter delivered unto them. From which time there have been many hereditary Dukes among us, created one after another, with these or such like words in their Charter or Patent: We give and grant the Name, Title, State, Stile, Place, Seat, Preeminence, Honour, Authoritie, and Dignitie of a Duke to N., and by the cincture of a Sword, and imposition of a Cap and Coronet of gold upon his head, as also by delivering unto him a verge of gold, we doe really invest.

    4. A Marquisse, that is, if you consider the verie nature of the word, a Governour of the Marches, hath the next place of honour after a Duke. This Title came to us but of late daies, and was not bestowed upon any one before the time of King the Richard the Second. For hee made his minion Robert Vere, who was highly in his favour, Marquesse of Dublin; and then it began with us to be a title of honour. For before time those that governed the Marches were commonly called Lord Marchers, and not Marquesses (as now we terme them). Henceforth they were created by the King by cincture of the Sword, and the imposition of the Cap of honor and dignitie, with the Coronet, as also by delivery of a Charter or writing. Neither will I think it much to relate here that which is found recorded in the Parliaments Rols. When John de Beaufort, from being Earle of Sommerset, was by Richard the Second created Marquesse Dorset, and afterwards by Henrie the Fourth deprived of that title, what time as the Commons of England made humble suit in Parliament to the King that hee would restore unto him the title of Marquesse which he had lost, he opposed himself against that petition, and openly said that it was a new dignitie, and altogether unknowen to his Ancestours, and therefore hee neither craved it, nor in any wise would accept of it.

    5. Earles, called in Latine comites , are ranged in the third place, and may seeme to have come unto us from our Ancestours the Germans. for they in times past, as Cornelius Tacitus writeth, had their comites, who should alwaies give attendance upon their Princes, and be at hand in matters of counsell and authoritie. But others thinke that they came from the Romans to us, as also to the Franks or French. For the Emperours, when as the Empire was growen now to the full strength, began to have about them a certaine privie Counsell, which was called Caesaris comitatus , and then those whose counsell they used in warre and peace were termed comites . Whence it is that in ancient inscriptions we finde often times COMITI IMPP. And in a few yeeres the name of comes grew so rife that it was given to all Officers and Magistrates that observed or gave attendance upon the said sacred or privie Counsel, or that came out of it: and from thence afterward the name extended to all those which were the Provosts or Over-seers of any matters of state. And Suidas defineth comes to be The ruler of the people , as Cuiacius hath taught us, who also teacheth us that before Constantine the Great the name of comes was not in use to signifie any honour. But he, when he altered the forme of the Roman Empire by new distinctions, and endevored to oblige many unto him with his benefits, and them to advance unto honour, ordained first the title of comes without any function or government at all, to be a title of dignitie, and this comes had a certain power and priviledge, for to accompanie the Prince, not only when hee went abroad, but in his palace also, in his privie chamber and secret roomes, to have libertie likewise to be present at his Table and private speeches. And hereupon it is that wee read thus in Epiphanius, ὃς καὶ παρ' αὐτοῦ τοῦ βασιλέως ἀξιώματος κομήτων ἔτυχε, Who also obtained of the King the Dignitie of comites. At length to them which were beholden unto him for this honourable preferment hee granted other dignities with charge: and againe, upon those that were in place of Magistracie, and executed any office of State, either at home or abroad, hee bestowed that title of honour, comes domesticorum. Lord Great Master of the Houshold; comes sacrarum largitionum , Treasurer of the Privie Purse; comes sacrae vestis , Master of the Wardrobe; comes stabuli , Master of the Horse; comes thesauri , Treasurer, comes orientis , Lieutenant of the East; comes Britanniae, comes Africae, &. Herehence it came that ever since the name of comes imported Dignitie and authoritie or government, at the first temporarie, afterward for terme of life. Morover, in processe of time, when the Empire of the Romans became rent into many kingdomes, this title yet was retained, and our English-Saxons called them in Latine comites and consules whom in theire owne language they named ealdormen , and the verie same the Danes termed in their tongue eorlas , that is, Honourable, as Ethelward writeth, by which name somewhat mollified they are called of us at this day Earles. And verily for a long time they were knowen by this name simply: at length, with addition also of the place over which they were put in authoritie. Where by the way thus much I note, that the first hereditarie Earles in France were the Earles of Britaine. But when William of Normandie had made conquest of this Land and seated himselfe in the absolute government of this Kingdome, Earles began to be Feudall, Hereditarie, and Patrimoniall, that is, by fee, or Tenure by service, by inheritance, and by Lands, who also, as it appeareth in Domesday-booke , were simply without any addition at all named Earles, as comes Hugo, comes Alanus, comes Rogerus , Earle Hugh, Earle Alan, Earle Roger, &.

    6. Afterwards, as wee may see in antient Charters, Earles were created with the name of a place joyned unto them, and the third penie of the Shire was assigned unto them. As for example Mawd the Empresse, daughter and heire to King Henrie the First, created an Earle in these words, as appeareth in the verie Charter which I have: I, Mawd, daughter of King Henry and Ladie of the Englishmen, doe give and grant unto Geffrey de Magnavil for his service, and to his heires after him by right of inheritance, to be Earle of Essex, and to have the third penie out of the Sheriffs Court, issuing out of al pleas, as an Earle should have thorow his Countie in all things. And this is the most antient Charter that hitherto I have seen of an Earles creation. Likewise Henrie the Second King of England, her sonne, created an Earle by these words: Know yee that we have made Hugh Bigod Earle of Norfolk , to wit, of the third penie of Norwic and Norfolc, as freely as any Earle of England holdeth his Countie. Which words an old booke of Bataille Abbey expoundeth thus: An usuall and ancient custome it was thorowout all England, that the Earles should have the third penie to themselves of the Provinces whereof they tooke the name, and were called Earles. Semblably, another booke without name, more plainly: The Shire or Countie hath the name of the Earle or Count, or else contrariwise the Count of the Countie. And Count or Earle he is, because he receiveth the third part of those things that accrew or arise by plea in every Countie or Shire. But all Earles reape not these fruits, but those to whom the King hath granted them by right of inheritance, or in their own persons. And hereupon Polydore Virgil writeth truly, and according to the maner of our age, It is a custome in England , saith he, that the titles of Earldomes be given at the Princes pleasure, even without possession of those places from whence the very titles are taken. And therefore the King is wont to give unto them that possesse nothing in that Countie some certaine pension or summe of money out of his owne revenues in liew of the possession.

    7. Earles were created in old time without any complement or ceremonie at all, but only by delivering unto them a Charter. Under Stephen, who usurped the kingdome during the heat of civill war, many also tooke upon them the titles of Earles, whom the Historie of Waverley church and others of that age call pseudo-comites , that is, counterfeit Earles, and comites imaginarios , that is, Earles in conceit, while it reporteth unto us that Henrie the Second deposed them. And King John was the first by my observation that used in creating of them the cincture of a sword. For Roger of Hovenden writeth thus: King John upon the day of his Coronation girded william Mareschall with the sword of the Earldom of Strigulia, and Geffrey Fitz-Peter with the sword of the Earldome of Essex: who albeit they had been called Earles before and governed their Shires, yet yere they not girt with the sword of an Earldome. And upon that day they waited at the Kings table, wearing those swords by their sides. In the next age ensuing, there came up the imposition of a chaplet cap with a circlet of gold, that now is turned into a coronet with raies or points onely, and with a robe of estate. Which three, to wit, a sword with a girdle, a cap or chaplet with a coronet, and a mantle or robe of estate, are by three severall Earles borne before him that is to be created Earle. And between two Earles arraied also in their robes of estate, brought he is in his Surcoat unto the King sitting in his throne, where kneeling down while the Patent or Charter of creation is a-reading, at these words This same T. we erect, create, constitute, make, appoint, and ordaine Earle of S., and we give and grant unto him the name, title, state, stile, honour, authority, and dignitie of the Earle S. and into it by the cincture of a sword really doe invest. Then is the robe or mantell of estate done upon him by the King, the sword hung about his neck, the cap with the Coronet put upon his head, and the said Charter of his creation, being read before, delivered into his hand. But these matters are beside my purpose. Now, whereas it is growen to be a custome that he which is to be created Earle, if he were not a Baron before, should be made a Baron first; it is a new ceremonie come up of late daies, and put in use since the time of King Henrie the Eight. But among Earles, most honorable are they by many degrees which are called Counts Palatine. For as this terme Palatine was a name common to all them that had offices in the Kings palace, so Count Palatine was a title of dignity conferred upon him that before had beene an Officer Palatin, with a certain royall authority to sit in judgment within his owne Territorie. ‡ As for the Earle Marshall of England, King Richard the Second gave that title first to Thomas Mowbray Earle of Nottingham, whereas before they were simply stiled Marshals of England, and after the banishment of Mowbray, he granted to Thomas Holland Duke of Surry substituted Earle Marshall in his place, that he should carie a rodde of gold enamelled blacke at both ends, when as before they used one of wood. ‡

    After Earles, next follow in order vicecomites , whom we call Vicounts. An old name this is of an office, but a new title of dignitie not heard of with us before Henry the Sixth daies, ‡ who conferred that title upon John Lord Beaumont. ‡

    8. In the ranke of the superior or chiefe Nobility, Barons have the next place. And although I am not ignorant what the learned doe write of this words signification in Tullie, yet willingly will I accord to the opinion of Isidore and of an old Grammarian, who will have barones to signifie hired souldiers. For that place in Hirtius, so well knowen, touching the warre of Alexandria, seemeth cleerly to prove the same, and this it is: They came running together to defend Cassius. For hee was wont alwaies to have about him barones and a great many chosen souldiers weaponed, from which the rest are severed apart. Neither dissenteth from this the old Glossarie with Latin before Greek, which interpreteth baro by ἀνὴρ, that is, a man. And thorowout the laws of the Longobards baro is used for vir , that is, a man. As for the Etymologies of this word which some have forged, I like them not. The French heralts deduce barones from the French tongue, as one would say par-hommes , that is, men of equall dignity. Our English Lawyers would have them to be as much as robora belli , that is, the strength of war. Some Germans say they import, as it were, Banner heirs , that is, Lord-bearing Banners [banner-bearing lords?]. Isidorus saith they are so termed as a man should say βαρεῖς, that is, grave or weighty. Alciatus deriveth them of Berones, an ancient people in Spaine, who were, as he saith, in times past waged souldiers. But that derivation out of the German tongue is the better, wherin bar betokeneth Free, and him that is his owne man and at libertie. When this name first came into this iland, I know not for certaine. The Britans doe not acknowledge it for theirs. In the English-Saxon lawes it is no where to be seene, nor found in the Saxon Glossarie of Alfricus among the Vocables or termes of honour, where dominus is translated laford , which we have seen contracted short into Lord. The Danes called their Free-Lords, such as these Barons be at this day, thani , and so they terme them still, as Andreas Velleius witnesseth. Howebeit, in Burgundie the use of the name hath beene of great antiquity. For Gregorie Turonensis writeth thus, The Barons of Burgundie as well Bishops as other Lordes, &. In a fragment of the lawes of Canutus king of English-men and Danes, was the first mention made of a Baron with us, so farre as ever I could hitherto observe; and yet therein, according to the varietie of copies, we read indifferently these termes, vironis, baronis , and thani. But that a Baron is meant therby, evident it is out of the Lawes of William the Conquerour, into which those ordinances of Canutus are in the Normans tongue translated under the name of baro , and lo what the verie words are: Exercitualia vero &. , that is, Let the Heriots or Relevies be so moderate as that they may be tolerable. Of an Earle, as decent it is, eight horses, foure with saddles and foure without saddles; foure Helmets, and foure shirts of maile; eight launces or speares and as many shields, foure swords, and withall 200 mauces of gold. Of a Viron or Baron to the King, who is next unto him, foure horses, two with saddles and two without saddles, two swords, foure speares and as many targets, one helmet and one coate of maile, and with fifty macts of gold.

    9. Also in the first time of the Normans, valvasores and thani were ranged in degree of honor next after Earles and Barons, and the valvasores of the better sort, if we may beleeve those that write de Feudis , were the verie same that now Barons are. So that the name baro mays seeme to be one of those which time by little and little hath mollified and made of better esteeme. Neither was it as yet a terme of great honor. For in those daies some Earles had their Barons under them, and I remember that I read in the ancient Constitutions and Ordinances of the Frenchmen how there were under an Earle twelve Barons, and as many Capitaines under a Baron. And certaine it is that there be ancient Charters extant in which Earles, since the comming in of the Normans, wrote thus, To all my Barons as well French as English, Greeting &. Yea even Citizens of better note were called Barons. for the Citizens of Warwick in Doomesday Book were named barones , likewise Citizens of London and the inhabitants of the Cinque-ports enjoyed the same name. But some few yeeres after, like as at Rome in times past they chose Senators for their worth in wealth, so were they with us counted Barons who held lands of their own by a whole Baronie: that is, 13 Knights Fees and a third part of one Knights Fee, reckoning every fee, as an old book witnesseth, at 20£, which make in all 400 marks. For that was the value of one entire Baronie, and they that had lands and revenues to this worth were wont to be summoned unto the Parlament. And it seemed to be a dignity with a jurisdiction, which the Court-Barons, as they terme them, in some sort doe prove: yea, and the very multitude that was of these Barons perswadeth me to thinke them to be Lords of this nature, as that they might in some sort minister and execute justice within their circuit and seigniorie, such as the Germans call Free-heirs , and especially if they had Castles of their owne. For then they jumped just with the definition of that most famous Civilian Baldus, who defineth him to be a Baron whosoever had a meere and subordinate rule in some castle by the grant of the Prince. And all they, as some would have it, that held Baronies seem to have claimed unto themselves this honor, so that, as divers learned in our laws are of opinion, a Baron and a Baronie, a Count or Earle and a Countie, a Duke and a Duchie were coniugata , that is, termes, as one would say, yoked together. Certes, in those daies Henrie the Third reckoned in England 150 Baronies. And heereupon it is that in all the Charters and Histories of that age all noble men in maner be called Barons: and verily that title then was right honorable, and under the terme of Baronage all the superior states of the kingdome, as Dukes, Marquesses, Earles and Barons, in some sort were comprised. But it attained to the highest pitch of honor ever since that King Henrie the Third, out of so great a number, which was seditious and turbulent, called the very best by writ or summon unto the high Court of Parlament. For he (out of a writer I speake of good antiquity) after many troubles and enormous vexations betweene the King himselfe and Simon of Mont-fort with other Barons [raised,] and after appeased, did decree and ordaine that all those Earles and Barons of the Realme of England unto whom the King himselfe vouchsafed to direct his writs of Summons, should come unto his Parlament, and none others. But that which he began a little before his death, Edward the First and his successours constantly observed and continued. Hereupon they onely were accounted Barons of the kingdome whom the kings had cited by vertue of such writs of Summons, as they terme them, unto the Parlament. And it is noted that the said prudent King Edward the First summoned alwaies those of ancient families that were most wise to his Parlaments, but omitted their sonnes after their death, if they were not answerable to their parents in understanding. Barons were not created by Patents untill such time as King Richard the Second created John Beauchamp de Holt Baron of Kiderminster by his letters Patent, bearing date the eighth day of October in the eleventh yeere of his reigne. Since that time, the Kings, by their Patents and the putting on of the mantell or robe of honour, have given this honor. And at this day this order of creating a Baron by letters Patent, as also that other by writs of Summons, are in use, in which notwithstanding they are not stiled by the name of Baron, but of Chevalier , for the Common law doth not acknowledge Baron to be a name of dignitie. And they that be in this wise created are called Barons of the Parlament, Barons of the Realme, and Barons of honor, for difference of them you yet, according to that old forme of Barons, be commonly be called Barons, as those of Burford, of Walton, and those who were Barons unto the Count-Palatines of Chester and Penbroch, who were Barons in fee and by tenure.

    10. These our Parlamentarie Barons carie not the bare name onely, as those of France and Germanie, but be all borne Peeres of the Realme of England, Nobles, Great States and Counsellers, and called they are by the King in these words, To treat the high affaires of the kingdome, and thereof to give their counsell. They have also immunities and priviledges of their owne, namely that in criminall causes they are not to have their triall but by a Jurie of their Peeres; that they be not put to their oath, but their protestation upon their Honor is sufficient; that they be not empanelled upon a Jurie of twelve men for enquest de facto. No supplicavit can be granted against them. A capias cannot be sude out against them. Neither doth an Essoine lie against them: with very many other, which I leave unto Lawyers, who are to handle these and such like.

    11. Besides these, the two Archbishops and all the Bishops of England be Barons also of the kingdome and Parlament, even as in our Grandfathers daies these Abbats and Priors following: The Abbats of Glastenburie, S. Augustines in Canterbury, S. Peter in Westminster, S. Albans, S. Edmonds Bury, Peterburgh, S. John of Colchester, Eversham, Winchelcomb, Crouland, Battaile, Reding, Abindon, Waltham Holy Crosse, Shrewsburie or Salop, Sircheter, S. Peters in Gloucester, Bardeney, S. Bennets of Hulme, Thorney, Ramsey, Hyde, Malmesburie, S. Marie in Yorke, Selbey. The Priors of Coventrie, The order of S. John at Jerusalem, who commonly is called Master of S. Johns Knights, and would be counted the first and chiefe Baron of England.

    12. Unto whom, as still unto the Bishops, By right and custome it appertained, as to Peeres of the Kingdome, to be with the rest of the Peeres personally present at all Parlaments whatsoever, there to consult, to handle, to ordaine, decree, and determine, in regard of the Baronies which they held of the King. For William the First (a thing that the Churchmen of that time complained of, but those in the age ensuing counted their greatest honor) ordained Bishopricks and Abbaies which held Baronies in pure and perpetual Almes, and untill that time were free from all secular service, to be under military or Knights service, enrolling every Bishopricke and Abbay at his will and pleasure, and appointing how many souldiers he would have every of them to find for him and his successours in the time of hostility and warre. From that time ever since those Ecclesiastical persons enjoyed all the immunities that the Barons of the Kingdome did, save onely that they were not to be judged by their Peeres. For considering that according to the Canons of the Church such might not be present in matters of life and death, in the same causes they are left unto a jurie of twelve men to be judged in the question of Fact. But whether this be a cleere point of law or no, I referre me to skilfull Lawyers.

    Vavasors or Valvasors in old time stood in the next ranke after Barons: whom the Lawyers derive from valvae , that is, leaved doores. And this dignitie seemeth to have come unto us from the French. For when they had soveraigne rule in Italy, they called those Valvasores who of a Duke, Marquesse, Earle or Capitaine, had received the charge over some part of their people, and as Butelere the civill Lawyer saith, had power to chastise in the highest degree, but not the libertie of faires and mercates [goods for sale]. This was a rare dignity among us, and if ever there were such, long since by little and little it ceased and ended. For in Chaucers time it was not great, seeing that of his Franklin, a good yeoman or Freeholder, he writeth but thus:

    A Sheriffe had he beene, and a countour
    Was no where soch a worthy Vavasour.

    13. Inferiour nobles are Knights, Esquires, and those which usually are called generosi and Gentlemen Knights, who of our English Lawyers be termed also in Latin milites , and in all nations well neere besides tooke their name of Horses: for the Italians call them Cavalieri , the Frenchmen Chevaliers , the Germans Reiters , and our Britans in Wales Margogh , all of riding. Englishmen onely terme them Knights, by a word that in the old English language, as also of the German, signifieth indifferently a servitor or minister and a lusty yong man. Heereupon it commeth that in the Old written Gospels translated into the English tongue we read for Christ' s Disciples, Christs leorning cnychts , and elsewhere for a Client or Vassall, incnyght. And Bracton our ancient civill Lawyer maketh mention of radcnights , that is to say, serving horsemen, who held their land with this condition, that they should serve their Lords on horsbacke: and so by cutting off a peece of the name, as our delight is to speake short, I thought long since that this name of Knights remained with us. But whence it came that our countreymen should in penning of lawes, and in all writings since the Norman conquest, terme those Knights in Latin milites , I can hardly see. And yet I am not ignorant that in the declining time of the Roman Empire the Denomination of milites , that is, Souldiers, was transferred unto those that, conversing neere about the Princes person, bare any of the greater offices in the Princes Court or traine. But if I have any sight at all in this matter, they were among us first so called who held any lands or inheritances as Tenants in Fee by this tenure, to serve in the warres. For those Lands were termed Knights Fees, and those that elsewhere they named feuditarii , that is, Tenants in Fee, were here called milites , that is, knights: as for example milites regis, , The Kings Knights, Knights of the Archbishop of Canterburie, Knights of Earle Roger, of Earle Hugh &., for that they received those lands or manors of them with this condition, to serve for them in the wars, and to yeeld them fealtie and homage, whereas others who served for pay were simply called solidarii and servientes , that is, Souldiers and Servitors. But these, call them milites or equites whether you will, are with us of foure distinct sorts. The most honorable and of greatest dignitie be those of the Order of S. George, or of the Garter. In a second degree are Banerets. In a third ranke, Knights of the Bath, and in a fourth place those who simply in our tongue be called Knights, in Latin equites aurati or milites without any addition at all. Of S. Georges Knights I will write in due place, when I am come to Windsor. Of the rest thus much briefly at this time.

    14. Banerets, whom others terme untruely Baronets, have their name of a Banner. For granted it was unto them in regard of their martiall vertue and prowesse to use a foure square ensigne or Banner, as well as Barons, whereupon some call them, and that truly, equites vexillarii , that is, Knights-Banerets, and the Germans, banner-heires. The antiquitie of these Knights Banerets I cannot fetch from before the time of King Edward the Third, when Englishmen were renowmed for Chivalrie: so that I would beleeve verily that this honorable title was devised then first in recompence of martiall prowesse, untill time shall bring more certainty of truth to light. In the publicke records of that time, mention is made among militarie titles of Banerets, of Men at the Banner (which may seeme all one), and of Men at armes. And I have seene a Charter of King Edward the Third, by which he advanced John Coupland to the State of a Baneret, because in a battell fought at Durham he had taken prisoner David the Second, King of the Scots, and it runneth in these words: Being willing to reward the said John, who tooke Davit de Bruis prisoner, and frankly delivered him unto us, for the deserts of his honest and valiant service, in such sort as others may take example by this precedent to doe us faithfull service in time to come, we have promoted the said John to the place and degree of a Baneret, and for the maintenance of the same state we have granted for us and our heires to the same John five hundred pounds by the yeere, to be received for him and his heires, &. Worth the remembrance it is to set downe heere out of Froissard the very maner and forme where by John Chandos, a brave and noble warriour in his time, was made a Baneret. What time as Edward Prince of Wales, saith he, was to fight a field in the behalfe of Peter King of Castile against Henry the Bastard and the Frenchmen, John Chandos came unto the Prince and delivered into his hands his own Banner folded and rolled up, with these words: "My Lord, this is my Banner, may it please you to unfold and display it, that I may advance it into the field this day. For I have by Gods favour revenewes sufficient thereunto." The Prince then, and Peter King of Castile who stood hard by, tooke the Banner into their hands, unfolding the same, delivred it again to him with these or such like words: "Sir John, in the name of God, Who blesse this daies service of yours that it may speed well and turne to your glorie, beare your selfe manfully, and give proofe what a Knight you are." Having thus received the Banner, to his companies he went with a cheerful heart. "My fellow souldiers," quoth he, "behold there is my Banner and yours, in case yee defend it courageously as your owne." Of later time, he that is to be advanced unto this dignity, either before the battel, that he may be encouraged, or after the battell ended, that he may receive due honor for his valor, being an ensigne of a long fashion, such as they call a Pennon, wherein his owne armes are depainted in their colours, is brought betweene two elderly Knights, with trumpetters and Heralds going before, into the presence of the King or his Regent and Lieutenant generall: who after good words and wishes imparting happie fortune, commandeth the tip or point of the said pennon to bee cut off, that of a long pennon it might be made a foure square banner.

    15. Concerning Knights of the Bath, in all my readings hitherto I could find no greater Antiquitie thereof than this, that they were in use among the antient French, and that Henrie the Fourth, King of England, that day whereon he was crowned in the tower of London dubbed 46 Esquiers Knights, who the night before had watched and bathed: unto everie one of whom he gave greene side coats reaching downe to their ankles, with streit sleeves and furred with minivere; also, that they wore upon their left shoulder two cordons of white silke with tassels thereto hanging down. These in former times were wont to be created and selected out of the flower of Nobilitie (which had not before taken the degree of Knighthood) at the coronation of Kings and Queens, and at their marriages: sometimes also when their sonnes were invested Princes of Wales or Dukes, or when they solemnly received the cincture or militarie girdle of knighthood, and that with many ceremonies which now for the most part are grown out of use. But in our daies, they that are called by the king to enter into this order (neither will I handle this argument exquisitly), the day before they are created, being clad in an Eremits [hermit' s] gray weed, with a hood, a linnen coife, and booted withall, come devoutly to divine service, to begin their warfare there as if they would employ their service for God especially. They suppe all together, and upon every one of them there wait two Esquiers and one Page. After supper they retire themselves into their bedchamber, where for each of them is prepared a prettie bed with red curtaines, and their owne armes fastened therupon, with a bathing vessell standing close by covered with linnen clothes, wherein, after they have said their praiers and commended themselves to God, they bathe themselves, that thereby they might bee put in mind to be pure in bodie and soule from thenceforth. The next morrow, early in the morning awakened they are, and raised with a noise of Musicall Instruments, and doe on the same apparell. Then the high Constable of England, the Earle Marshall, and others whom the king appointeth, come unto them, cal them forth in order, and tender an oath unto them, namely, that they shall serve and worship God above all, defend the Church, honour the king, maintaine his rights, protect widowes, virgins, orphans, and to their power repell and put by all wrong. When they have sworne thus to doe, by laying their hand upon the Gospels, they are brought with state to morning praier, the kings Musitians and Heralds going before, and by them likewise they are conducted backe to their bedchambers: where after they have devested themselves from their Eremites weed, they put on a mantle of martiall redde Taffata, implying they should be Martiall men, and a white Hat with a white plume of feathers over their linnen coiffe, in token of sinceritie, and tie a paire of white gloves to the pendant cordon of their mantle. This done, they mount upon Steeds dight with saddle and furniture of blacke leather, with white intermingled, and having a crosse in the frontlet. Before everie one of them rideth his own Page, carrying a sword with a gilded hilt, at which there hang gilt spurres, and of either hand of them ride their Esquiers. With this pompe, and trumpets sounding before them, to the kings Court they goe, where when they are brought by two antient Esquiers to the Kings presence, the Page delivereth the Girdle and Sword hanging thereto unto the Lord Chamberlaine, and he with great reverence unto the King, who therewith girdeth the Knight overthwart [transverely], and commandeth therewith two elder knights to put on the Spurres, who in times past were wont with good wishes and praiers to kisse his knees that was to bee knighted. And these new knights, thus created, used in old time to bring up the service of meats to the kings Table: after this, they dine all together, sitting to one side of the boord, every one under the Escutchon of his own Armes fastened over his head. At evening praier they repaire to the chapel, offer their Swords upon the high altar, and by laying downe a peece of money redeeme the same againe. Now as they returne from divine service, the kings Master-Cooke sheweth them his knife, and admonisheth them to performe the part of good and faithfull knights, otherwise hee would to their shame and reproch cut off those Spurres of theirs. Upon the Coronation day, in that solemne pompe, they accompanie the King, keeping their places, with their Swords girt to them, and their spurres on, in Joviall blew mantles, as a man would say, in the colour of just Jupiter [i. e., sky blue], as a foretoken of justice, having the knot of white silke made in forme of a crosse, with an hood upon their left shoulder. But of these complements (which my purpose was not prosecute in particular) this may be thought sufficient, if not superfluous.

    16. Now as touching those knights who simply without any addition be called Knights, and howsoever they are in order ranged last, yet by institution they bee first and of greatest Antiquitie. For as the Romans, a gowned nation, gave unto them that were entring into mans estate a virile and plaine gowne, without welt or guard, even so the Germans our Ancestors bestowed upon their young men whom they judged meet for to manage arms, armour and weapons. Which Cornelius Tacitus will informe you of, in these words of his: The maner was not for any to take armes in hand before the State allowed him as sufficient for Maritall service. And then, in the very assembly of Counsell, either some one of the Princes, or the Father of the young man, or one of his kinsfolke furnish him with a shield and a javelin. This with them standeth in stead of a virile gowne, this is the first honour done to youth: before this they seeme to bee but part of a private house, but now within a while members of the Commonweale. And seeing that such militarie young men they termed in their language (as we in ours) Knechts , from them, I deeme, the originall both of name and institution also ought to be fetched. This was the first and most simple maner of creating a Knight, this the Lombards, this the Franks, this our countreymen, all descended out of Germanie in old time used. Paulus Diaconus reporteth thus: among the Lombards, This is the Custome, that the Kings sonne dineth not with his father, unlesse hee receive Armes before from some King of a forraine nation. The Annals of France record that the Kings of the Franks gave armes unto their sonnes and to others, and girded them with a sword; yea, and our Alfred, as William of Malmesburie witnesseth, when he dubbed Athelstane his nephew Knight, being a child of great hope, gave him a scarlet mantle, a belt or girdle set with pretious stones, and a Saxon-sword with a golden scabbered. Afterwards, when as religion had possessed mens minds so as that they thought nothing wel and fortunately done but what came from Church-men, our Ancestors, a little before the Normans comming, received the Sword at their hands. And this Ingulphus, who lived in those daies, sheweth in these words: He that was to be consecrated unto lawfull warfare should the evening before, with a contrite heart, make confession of his sinnes unto the Bishop, Abbat, Monke, or Priest, and, being absolved, give himselfe to praier and lodge all night in the church, and when hee was to heare divine service the morrow after, offer his sword upon the Altar: and after the Gospel, the Priest was to put the sword, first hallowed, upon the Knights necke with his benedictum, and so when he had heard Masse againe, and received the Sacrament, he became a lawfull Knight. Neither grew this custome out of use streight waies under the Normans. For John of Sarisburie writeth in his Polycraticon thus: A solemne Custom was taken up and used, that the verie day when any one was to be honored with the girdle of knighthood, hee should solemnly goe to Church, and by laying and offering his Sword upon the Altare, vow himselfe (as it were) by making a solemne profession to the service of the Altar, that is to say, promise perpetuall service and obsequious dutie unto the Lord. Peter also of Blois writeth thus: At this day young Knights and souldiers receive their Swords from the Altar, that they might professe themselves Sonnes of the Church, and to have taken the Sword for the defence of the poore, for punishment and revenge of malefactors, and delivery of their Countrey. But in processe of time (saith he) it is turned cleane contrarie. For in these daies since they are become adorned with the Knights cincture, presently they arise against the Annointed of the Lord, and rage upon the patrimonie of Christ crucified. And as for this ceremonie, that they would be girt with a Sword, it may seeme no doubt to have proceeded from the militarie discipline of the Romans, because, as they denied it unlawfull to fight with their enemie before they were bound with their militarie oth by a drawen sword, even so our Forefathers thought they might not goe to warfare lawfully before they were by this ceremonie lawfully authorised, according to which wee read that William Rufus king of England was dubbed knight by Lanfranke the Archbishop. But this custome by little and little grew to disuse since the time that the Normans, as Ingulphus writeth, laughed and scorned at. And in a Synode at Westminister anno 1102, a Canon passed That no Abbats should dubbe Knights , which some notwithstanding expound thus, That Abbats should grant no lands of the Church to be held by Knights service, or in Knights fee or service.

    17. Afterwards, Kings were wont to send their sonnes unto the neighbour Princes to receive knighthood at their hands: thus was our King Henrie the Second sent unto David king of the Scots, and Malcolme king of Scots unto our Henrie the Second, and our Edward the First unto the king of Castle, to take of them Militarie or Virile armes : for these terms and phrases they used in that age for the creation of a Knight. Then it was also that, besides the sword and girdle, gilt spurs were added for more ornament, whereupon at this day they are called in Latin equites aurati. Moreover, they had the priviledge to weare and use a signet: for before they were dubbed knights (as I gather out of Abendon Booke) it was not lawfull to use a seale: Which writing (quoth he) Richard Earle of Chester purposed to signe with the seale of his mother Ermentrud, considering that all Letters which he directed (for as yet he had not taken the militarie girdle) were made up and closed within his mothers signet. In the age ensuing, knights (as it may be well collected) were made by their wealth and state of living. For they which had a great knights Fee, that is (if wee may beleeve old records) 680 akers of Land, claimed as their right the ornaments and badges of knighthood. Nay rather under Henry the Third they were compelled after a sort to be knights, as many as in revenues of their lands might dispend fifteen pounds by the yeere, so as now it seemed a title of burden rather than of honour. In the yeere 1256 there went out an edict from the King, by vertue whereof commandement was given and proclamation made thorowout the Realm that whosoever had fifteen pounds in land and above should be dight in his armes and endowed with knighthood, to the end that England as well as italie might bee strengthened with Chivalrie: and they that would not, or were not able to maintaine the honor of knighthood should fine for it, and pay a peece of money. Hence it is that in the kings Records we meet so often with this: For respit of knighthood, A. de N. I. H. &. Also such like presentments from the Jurours or sworne Enquest as this: R. de S. Lawrence holdeth an entire and whole Fee, is at full age, and not yet knight, therefore in Misericordia , that is, To be fined at the Kings pleasure. To this time and after, unlesse I faile in mine observation, in the Briefes and Instruments of our law, when twelve men or Jurers are named, before whom there passeth triall or proofe de facto , that is, of a fact, they bee called milites, that is, Knights, who have a complet Fee, and those milites gladio cincti , that is, Knights with cincture of sword, who by the King are girded with the belt of knighthood.

    18. At which time when the king was to create knights, as the said Matthew Paris writeth, he sat gloriously in his seat of estate, arraied in cloth of gold of the most pretious and costly Bawdkin, and crowned with his Crowne of gold, and to every knight hee allowe or gave 100 shillings for his harnessements. And not onely the King, but also Earles in those daies created knights. For the same author reporteth How the Earle of Glocester invested with a militarie girdle his brother William, after he had proclaimed a Tourneament. Simon likewise de Montefort Earle of Leicester, did the same by Gilbert de Clare. Like as in France (a thing that evidently appeareth by the Patent or Instrument of Nobilitation) he that hath obtained such letters of Ennoblishment is enabled to be dubbed knight, and receive the girdle of knighthood at any knights hand that he will himselfe. But since that time hath no man with us been created knight but either by the king himselfe or the kings eldest sonne, warranted before by authoritie received from his father, or else by the Kings Lieutenant or Deputie generall in the campe, and that in consideration either of some valiant acts atchieved, or exploits to be performed abroad in armes, or else of wisdome and policie at home. And verily a most prudent and wise order was this that our Kings tooke, since they had not any Fees or Lands now to bestow upon them. Neither was there (I assure you) any thing of more validitie to give an edge unto the courage of hardy men, and to bind unto them their best subjects, and such as had deserved well (being otherwise worshipfully descended and of honourable parentage, and withall sufficient for estate and living) than kindly and lovingly to adorne them with this high esteemed title of Knighthood, which was before time the name only of charge and function. When this right worshipful title was by the Prince conferred upon one, advisedly and for desert, it went (no doubt) for an ample reward, was prized as a benefit, and accounted among the tokens of honour. For Knights in this maner dubbed made this esteeme thereof, that in it consisted the guerdon of their vertue and valour, the praise of their house and family, the memoriall of their stocke and lineage, and lastly, the glory of their name. Insomuch as our Lawyers have in their books written That Knight was a name of dignitie, but so was not Baron. For in old time a Baron (if hee were not of this order of Knighthood) was written simply by his Christian or fore-name and the proper name of his family, without any addition unlesse it were of dominus , a terme fitting Knights also. And this name of Knight may seeme to have beene an honourable additament to the highest dignitie and name together. Here it likes me well to insert what Matthew Florilegus hath written concerning the creation of Knights in the time of Edward the First. The King (quoth he) for to augment and make a goodly shew of his expedition into Scotland, caused publike proclamation to bee made thorowout England that whosoever were to be knights by hereditarie succession, and had wherewith to maintaine that degree, should present themselves in Westminster, at the feast of Whitsontide, there to receive every one the ornaments of a knight (saving the equipage or furniture that belongeth to horses) out of the kings Wardrobe. When as therefore there flocked thither to the number of 300 yong gallants, the Sons of Earles, Barons, and knights, purple liveries, fine silke Scarfes, Robes most richly embrodered with gold were plentifully bestowed among them according as was befitting each one. And because the Kings Palace (large though it were) was streited of roome for so great a multitude assembled, they cut downe the apple trees about the new Temple in London, laid the walles along, and there set up pavilions and tents wherein these noble yong gallants might array, and set out themselves one by one in their gorgeous and golden garments. All the night along also thee foresaid youths, as many as the place would received, watched and praied in the said Temple. But the Prince of Wales, by commandement from the king his father, held his wake, togither with the principall and goodliest men of his company, within the Church of Westminster. Now such sound was there of trumpets, so loud a noise of Minstrelsie, so mightie an applause and crie of those that for joy shouted, that the chaunting of the Covent could not be heard from one side of the Quire to the other. Well, the morrow after the king dubbed his Sonne knight, and gave him the Girdle of knighthood in his own palace, and therewith bestowed upon him the Duchie of Aquitaine. The prince then, thus created Knight, went directly into Westminster Church for to grace with the like glorious dignitie his feers [comrades] and companions. But so great was the prease of people thronging before the high Altar that two Knights were thrunged to death, and verie many of them fainted, and were readie to swowne, yea, although every one of them had three souldiers at least to lead and protect him. The Prince himselfe by reason of the multitude preasing up to him, having divided the people by the meanes of steeds of service, no otherwise than upon the high altar girt his foresaid companions with the order of knighthood. But in our daies hee that receiveth the dignitie of a knight kneeleth downe, and then the King with his sword drawne slightly smiteth him upon the shoulder, speaking unto him these words withall in French, Sois chevalier au nom de Dieu , that is, Be thou Knight in the name of God. And afterwards he saith moreover Avances, Chivalier , that is, Arise, Sir knight. As for al things else appertaining to this order, namely, what an excellent and glorious degree this of knighthood was esteemed with our Ancestours, how noble a reward to brave minded men such as desired glorie and honour, it was reputed how carefully they kept faith and troth, considering it was sufficient if they undertook or promised ought as faithfull knights or upon the faith of a knight, how farre they were from base gaine and lucre, and what maner of paiment or Aid is to be levied for knights fees, when as the Prince, the kings eldest sonne, should bee invested in his honour &., I leave it for others to write: as also, when they had so farre offended that, being to suffer death therefore, they were first despoiled of their ensignes and of their degree, to wit, their militarie Girdle ungirted, the Sword taken away, their Spurres cut off with an hatchet, their Gantlets or Gloves plucked from them, and the Escutcheon of their Armes reversed, like as in degrading the Ecclesiasticall order all the Ecclesiastical ornaments, booke, chalice, and such like are taken away.

    19. Next in degree after these Knights are Esquires, termed in Latine armigeri , that is Costrels or Bearers of armes, the same that scutiferi , that is, Shield-bearers and homines ad arma , that is, men at armes: the Gothes called them schilpor all, of carrying the shield, as in old times among the Romans such as were named scutarii , who tooke that name either of their Escutcheons of armes, which they bare as Ensignes of their descent, or because they were armour-bearers to Princes or to the better sort of the Nobilitie. For in times past every Knight had two of these waiting upon them: they carried his morion [helmet] and shield, as inseparable companions they stucke close unto him, because of the said Knight their Lord they held certaine lands in Escutage, like as the knight himselfe of the king by knights service. But now adaies there be five distinct sorts of these: for those whom I have spoken of alreadie be now more in any request. The principall Esquiers at this day those are accounted that are select Esquires for the Princes bodie, the next unto them be knights eldest sonnes and their eldest sonnes likewise successively. In a third place are reputed younger sonnes of the eldest sonnes of Barons and of other Nobles in high estate, and when such heires males faile, togither with them the title also faileth. In the fourth ranke are reckoned those unto whom the King himselfe, togither with a title, giveth armes or createth Esquires by putting about their necke a silver collar of SS and (in former times) upon their heeles a paire of white spurres silvered, whereupon at this day in the West parts of the kingdome they bee called white-spurres for distinction from knights, who are wont to weare gilt spurres. And to the first begotten sonnes of these doth the title belong. In the fifth and last place be those ranged and taken for Esquires, whosoever have any superiour publicke office in the Commonweale, or serve the Prince in any Worshipfull calling. But this name of Esquire, which in antient time was a name of charge and office onely, crept first among other titles of dignitie and worship (so farre as ever I could observe) in the reigne of Richard the Second.

    Gentlemen or the common sort of Nobilitie bee they that either are descended of worshipfull parentage, or raised up from the base condition of people for their vertue or wealth.

    Citizens or Burgesses bee such as in their owne severall citie execute any publike office, and by election have a roome in our high court of Parliament.

    Yeomen are they whom some call Free-borne or Freeholders, and our law termeth homines legales , that is, Lawfull men, and who of Free-lands may dispend fortie shillings at least by the yeere.

    Lastly Craftsmen, Artisanes, or Workmen be they that labour for hire and namely such as sit at worke, Mechanicke artificers, Smiths, Carpenters, &. Which were termed of the Romans capite censi , as one would say Taxed or reckoned by the poll, and proletarii.


    AS touching the Tribunals or Course of Justice of England, there are three sorts of them among us: for some bee Ecclesiasticall, others Temporal, and one mixt of both, which, being the greatest and most honourable of all, is called by a name of no great antiquitie, and the same borrowed out of France, the Parliament. The Anglo-Saxons our ancestors termed it wittan-ge-mott , that is, An assembly of the wise, and ge-raedniss , that is, A Counsell, and micil-synod of he Greek word synodos , that is, A great Synod or meeting. The Latine writers of that and the ensuing age called it commune concilium, curiam altissima, generale placitum, curiam magnam, magnatum conventum, praesentiam regis, praelatorum procerumque collectorum, commune totius regni conciilium, &. , that is, The Common councell, The Highest court, The Generall Plea, The Great court, The Meeting of States, The Present of the King, Prelates and Peeres assembled together, The Publike Councell of the whole kingdom, &. And like as the Generall councell of all Aetolia is named by Livie Panaetolium , so this may well be termed Pananglium . For it consisteth of the King, the Clergie, the superior Nobles, the elect Knights and Burgesses, or to speake more significantly after the Lawyers phrase, of the King, the Lords Spirtuall and Temporall, and the Commons, which States represent the body of all England. It is not held at set and certaine times, but summoned by the King at his pleasure, so often as consultation is to be had of high affaires and urgent matters, that the Common weale may susteine no damage, and at his will alone it is dissolved. Now this Court hath sovereigne and sacred authority in making, confirming, repealing and expounding Lawes, in restoring such as be attainted or outlawed to their former estates, in deciding of the hardest controversies betweene private persons, and, to speake at a word, in all causes which may concerne either the safetie of the State or any private person whatsoever.

    2. The next Court after this, in the daies presently following the Normans comming and some good while after, was The Court of the King himselfe, and the same being at the Kings house or Palace, and accompanying the King whither so ever he retired or went in progresse. For in the kings Palace, a place there was for the Chancellor and clerks, such as were imploied about writs or processes and the seal: for Judges also that handled as well Pleas (as they term them) pertaining unto the Kings Crowne, as between one Subject and another. There was also the Exchequer, wherein the Lord Treasurer, Auditours, and Receivers sat, who had the charge of the Kings revenues, treasure, and coffers. Every of these, being counted of the Kings household in ordinary, had allowed them from the King both diet and apparell. Whereupon Gotzelinus in the life of S. Edward called them The Lawyers of the Palace, and John of Salisburie The Court-Lawyers. But besides these and above them all was one appointed for administration of Justice, named Iustitia Angliae , i. e. Justice of England, Prima iustitia , the Principall Justice, the Justicer of England, and Chiefe Justicer of England, who with a yerely pension of a thousand Marks was ordained by a Commission or Charter running in these termes: The King, to all Archbishops, Bishops, Abbats, Priors, Earles, Barons, Sherrifes, Foresters, and all other liege and faithfull people of England, greeting. Whereas for the preservation of our selves and the peace of our Kingdome, and for the ministering of Justice to all and every person of our Realme, we have ordained our beloved and trustie Philip Basset Chief Justicer of England, for so long as it shall please us, we charge you upon the faith and allegeance that ye owe to us, and do straitly enjoyne you, that in all things which concerne the office of our foresaid Justiceship and the preservation of our peace and kingdome, yee be fully attendant and assistant unto him, so long as he shall continue in the said Office. Witnesse the King, &.

    But when as in the reigne of Henrie the Third enacted it was that the Common Pleas of the Subjects should not follow the Kings Court, but be held in some certain place, within a while after, the Chancerie and the Court of Pleas of the Crowne, together with the Exchequer, were translated from the Kings Court and established in certaine places apart by themselves, as some, I know not how truly, have reported.

    3. Having premised by way of Preface thus much, I will proceed to write briefly somewhat of these Courts and others that arise from them, according as they are kept at this day. And whereas some of them be Courts of Law, to wit, the Kings Bench, the Common Bench or Pleas, the Exchequer, the Assizes, the Star-chamber, the Court of Wards, and the Admirals Court, others of Equity, namely, the Chancerie, the Court of Requests, the Counsels in the Marches of Wales and in the North parts, of every of these in due order, somewhat, as I have learned of others.

    The Kings Bench, so called because the Kings were wont there to sit as Presidents in proper person, handleth the pleas of the Crowne, and many other matters which pertaine to the King and the Weale publicke: and withal it sifteth and examineth the errors of the common Pleas. The Judges there beside the King, when it pleaseth him to be present, are the Lord Cheefe Justice of England and other Justices, foure or more, as the King shall thinke good.

    The Common Pleas hath that name because in it are debated the common Pleas between Subject and Subject according to our law, which they call common. Heerein give judgement the Chiefe Justice of the Common Pleas, with foure Justices assistants or more. Officers attendant there be the Keeper of the Brieffes or writs, Three Protonotaries, and inferior Ministers very many.

    The Exchequer tooke that name of a boord or table whereat they sat. For thus writeth Gervase of Tilburie, who lived in the yeere 1160. The Exchequer is a foure cornered boord, about ten foot long and five foot broad, fitted in a maner of a table for men to sit round about it. On every side a standing ledge or border it hath of the bredth of foure fingers. Upon this Exchequer boord is laid a cloth bought in Easter terme, and the same of black colour, and rewed with strikes [stripes] distant one from another a foote and a span. And a little after, This Court, by report, began from the very Conquest of the Realme, and was erected by King William: howbeit the reason and proportion thereof, taken from the Exchequer beyond Sea. In this are all causes heard which belong unto the Kings treasury. Judges therein be the Lord Treasurer of England, the Chanceller of the Exchequer, the Lord Chiefe Baron, with three or foure other Barons of the Exchequer. The servitours and Ministers to this court are the Kings Remembrancer, the Lord Treasurers Remembrancer, the Clerke of the Pipe, the Controller of the Pipe, Auditours of the old revenues five, the Forren Opposer, the Clerke of the Estreights, the Clerk of the Pleas, the Marescall, the Clerke of Summons, the Deputie Chamberlaines Secondaries in the office of the Kings Remembrancer two, Secondaries in the office of the Lord Treasurers Remembrancer two, Secondaries of the Pipe two, Clerks in divers offices foure, etc. In the other part of the Exchequer, called the Receit, these be the Officers: two Chamberlains, a Vice Treasurer, Clerk of the Tallies, Clerkes of the Pols, Tellers foure, Joyners of Tallies two, Deputie Chamberlaines two, the Clerke for Tallies, the Keeper of the Treasurie, messengers or Pursuivants ordinary, foure, scribes two &. The Officers likewise of the Tenths and First Fruits belong to this Court, who were ordained when as the Popes authoritie was banished and abolished, and an act passed by which it was provided that the Tenths and First fruits of Churchmens Benefices should be paid unto the King.

    4. Besides these three Kings Courts for law, to cut off delaies, to ease the subject also of travell and charges, King Henrie the Second sent some of these Judges and others yeerely into every Shire and Countie of the Realme, who were called Justices Itinerant, and commonly Justices in Eyre. These determined and gave judgement as well of the Pleas of the Crowne as the common Pleas within those Counties whereunto they were assigned. For the said King, as Matthew Paris said, By the counsell of his sonne and the Bishops together, appointed Justices to six parts of the Kingdome: in every part three, who should sweare to keepe and maintaine the right belonging to every man sincerely and uncorruptly. But this ordinance vanished at length under Edward the Third; howbeit, within a while after by Parlamentarie authority it was in some sort revived. For the Counties, being divided into certaine Circuits, as we terme them, two of the Kings Justices twice in the yeere ride about and keepe their Circuits for to give definitive sentence of the Prisoners and, as we use to speake, to deliver the Gaoles or Prisons. Whereupon in our Lawyers Latin they bee called iusticiarii gaolae deliberandae , that is, Justices for Gaole deliverie: as also to take Recognisances of Assises of new deseisne &., whereof they be named Justices of the Assises to end and dispatch controversies depending and growen to an issue in the foresaid principall Kings Courts between plaintiffes and defendants, and that by their Peeres, as the custome is: whence they are commonly called Justices of Nisi Prius , which name they tooke of the writs sent unto the Sheriffe, which have in them these two words, nisi prius , that is, Unlesse before &.

    5. The Star-Chamber, or the Court rather of Kings Counsell, wherein are discussed and handled criminall matters, perjuries, cousenages, fraud, deceit, riots, or excesse &. This Court in regard of time is right ancient, and for dignity most honorable. For it seemes that it may claime antiquity ever since the first time that Subjects appealed unto their Soveraignes, and the Kings Counsell was erected. Now the Judges of this Court are persons right Honorable and of greatest reputation, even the Kings Privie Counsellors. As for the name of Star-Chamber, it took it from the time that this Counsell was appointed at Westminster in a Chamber there anciently garnished and beautified with Starrs. For we read in the Records of Edward the Third, Counseil en la Chambre des Estoilles, pres de la Receit al Westminster , that is, The Counsell in the Chamber of Starres neere unto the Receit at Westminster. But the Authority thereof, that most sage and wise Prince Henrie the Seventh, by authority of Parlament so augmented and established, that some are of opinion, though untruly, hee was the first founder of it. The Judges heere are the Lord Chanceller of England, the Lord Treasurer of England, the Lord Praesident of the Kings Counsell, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Sale, and all Counsellers of the State, as wel Ecclesiastical as Temporal, and out of the Barons of the Parlament those whom the King will call, the two Cheefe Justices of the Benches, or in their absence two other Judges. The Officers heerein are these, the Clerke of the Counsell, the Clerke of Writs and processe of the Counsell in the Star-Chamber, &. And causes here are debated and decided not by Peeres according to our common law, but after the course of civill Law.

    6. The Court of Wards and Liveries hath the name of Pupils or Wards, whose causes it handleth; was first instituted by Henrie the Eighth, whereas in former times their causes were heard in the Chancerie and Exchequer. For by an old Ordinance derived out of Normandie, and not from Henrie the Third (as some doe write), when a man is deceased, who holdeth possessions or Lands of the King in chiefe by Knights service, as well the heire as his whole patrimonie and revenues are in the Kings power, tuition and and protection untill he be full one and twenty yeeres of age, and untill by vertue of the Kings breefe or letter, restitution and redelivery be made unto him thereof. In this Court the Generall Master sitteth as Judge, under whom are these: the Supravisor or Surveior of Liveries, the Atturny generall of the Court, the generall Receiver, the Auditour, the Clerke of the Liveries, the Clerke of the Court, forty Feudaries, and a Messenger.

    There have sprung up also in these later times two other Courts, to wit, Of reforming Errours, whereof the first is to correct Errours in the Exchequer, the other to amend errours committed in the Kings Bench. The Judges in the former of these twaine are the Lord Chancellor and Lord Treasurer of England, with others of the Kings Justices whom they are disposed to take unto them. In the later, the Justices of the Common Pleas and the Barons of the Exchequer.

    The Admirals Court handleth Sea matters. In this are reckoned the Lord Admirall of England, his Lieutenants, and a Judge, two Scribes, a Serjeant of the Court, and the Vice-Admirals of England. Now proceed we to the Courts of Equity.

    7. The Chancerie drew that name from a Chancellor, which name under the ancient Romane Emperours was of not so great esteeme and dignity, as we learne out of Vopiscus. But now adaies a name it is of highest honour, and Chancellors are advanced to the highest pitch of civil Dignity. Whose name Cassiodorus fetcheth from crosse grates or lattesses, because they examined matters within places severed apart enclosed with partitions of such crosse barres, which the Latins call cancelli. Regard , saieth he to a Chancellor, what name you beare. It cannot bee hidden which you doe within Lattesses. For you keepe your gates lightsome, your bars open, and our dores transparent as windowes. Whereby it is very evident that he sat within grates, where he was to be seene on every side, and thereof it may be thought he tooke that name. But considering it was his part, being as it were the Princes mouth, eie and eare, to strike and dash out with crosse-lines lattise-like those letters, Commissions, Warrants, and Decrees passed against law and right, or prejudiciall to the Common-wealth, which not improperly they termed to cancell, some think the name of Chancellor came from this Cancelling, and in a Glossarie of later time thus we read, A Chancellor is he whose Office is to looke into and peruse the writings and answer of the Emperour; to cancell what is written amisse, and to signe that which is well. Neither is that true which Polydore Virgil writeth, namely that William the Conquerour instituted a Colledge or fellowship of Scribes, to write letters patents &., and named the Master of that Societie Chancellor, considering it is plaine and manifest that Chancellors were in England before the Normans Conquest. How great the dignity and authority of the Chancellor is at this day, it is better knowen than I can declare: but of what credit it was in old time, have heere in a word or two out of a writer of good antiquity. The dignitie of the Chancellor of England is this, He is reputed the second person in the Realme and next unto the King; with the one side of the Kings Seale (whereof by his office he hath the Keeping) he may signe his owne injunctions, to dispose and order the Kings Chappell as he liketh, to receive and keepe all Archbishopricks, Bishopricks, Abbaies, and Baronies void and falling into the Kings hand, to be present at all the Kings Counsels, and thither to repaire uncalled; also that all things be signed by the hand of his Clerke who carieth the Kings Seale, and that all things be directed and disposed by advice of the Chancellor. Item, that by the helpfull merits of his good life through Gods grace, he need not die, if he will himselfe, but Archbishop or Bishop. And hereof it is that the Chancellor-ship is not to be bought. The forme and maner of ordaining a Chanceller (for that also I will note) was in the time of King Henrie the Second, by hanging the great Seale of England about the necke of the Chanceller elect. But in King Henry the Sixt daies, this was the order of it according to the notes I tooke out of the Records: When the place of the Lord Chanceller of England is void by death, the Kings three great Seales, to wit, one of gold, and two other of silver, which remained in the custodie of the Chanceller, presently after his death are shut up in a wooden chest fast locked, and signed with the Seales of the Lords then present, and so conveied into the Treasurie. From thence brought they are to the King, who in the presence of many Noblemen delivereth them into the hands of him that shall be Chancellour, and undertaketh the charge of executing the Office of Chancellorship, taking before an oath of him, well and truly to exercise the same: first he delivereth the great Seale of silver, then that of gold, and so the other of silver: who receiving the same bestoweth them againe in the chest: and being signed with his owne Seale conveieth it home to his owne house, and before certaine of Nobility causeth the Kings Patents and writes to be Sealed. When a Chancellour is discharged of his place, he delivereth up into the Kings hands in the presence of the Lords and Nobles those three Seales, first the Seale of gold, then one broad Seale silver, and so another of a lesse forme. Howbeit at this day one Seele and no more is delivered unto the Chancellour, neither is their mention any where made of these three Seales but in the reigne of Henrie the Sixth. To this Chancellors Office in processe of time much authority and dignity hath beene adjoined by authority of Parliament, especially ever since that Lawyers stood so precisely upon the strict points of law, and caught men with the traps and snares of their law termes, that of necessity there was a Court of Equity to be erected, and the same committed unto the Chancellour, who might give judgement according to equitie and reason, and moderate the extremity of law, which was wont to bee thought extreme wrong. In this Court there sitteth as President the Lord Chancellor of England, and assessors or assistants to him, twelve Masters of the Chancerie, whereof the chiefe and principall is the Keeper of the Rolls belonging to the same Court, and thereupon he is called Master of the Rolles. There belong also to this Court very many Officers, of whom some attend especially upon the Kings Seale, namely, the Clerke of the Crowne, the Clerke of the Hanaper [Hamper], the Sealer, the Chauff-wax, the Controller of the Hanaper, Curitours twenty foure, a Clerke for the writs of sub-poena. Others are attendant upon Bils of complaint there exhibited, to wit, a Protonotarie, six Clerkes or Atturnies of the Court, and a Register. There belong also thereto the Clerkes of the Pety Bag, the Clerke of Presentations, the Clerke of Faculties, the Clerke for examination of Letters Patents, the Clerke for dimissions, &.

    8. There is another Court also derived out of the Kings Privie Counsell called The Court of Requests, which giveth hearing likewise, as in the Chancerie, to causes betweene private persons, but such as before were presented unto the Prince or his Privie Counsell, as also to others. In this are employed certein Masters of the Requests, and a Clerke or Register, with two Atturneys or three. But as touching those Counsels held in the Marches of Wales and the North parts, we will speake with the leave of God in their due place.

    As for Ecclesiasticall or Spirituall Courts, there be two principall, to wit, the Synode, which is called the Convocation of the Clergie, and is alwayes kept with the Parlament, and the Provinciall Synods in both Provinces.

    After these are reckened the Archbishop of Canterburies courts, to wit, the Court of the Archis, wherein sitteth as Judge the Deane of the Arches. He is called Deane for that he hath jurisdiction in xiii Parishes of London exempt from the Bishop of London, which number maketh a Deanrie, and Deane of the Arches, because the principall of his Churches [is] S. Maries church in London, the tower, steepe or lantern whereof of beautifully built of arched worke. He hath to do with appeales of all men within the Province of Canterburie. Advocates there be in this Court XVI or more, at the pleasure of the Archbishop, all Doctours of the Law, two Registers, and ten Proctours.

    The Court of Audience, which enterteineth the complaints, causes and appeales of them in that Province.

    The Prerogative Court, in which the Commissarie sitteth upon Inheritances fallen either by the Intestate or by will and testament.

    The Court of Faculties, wherein there is appointed a chiefe President, who heareth and considereth of their grievances and requests that are petitioners for some moderation and easement of the Ecclesiasticall law, sometimes over-strict and rigorous, and a Register beside, who recordeth the Dispensations granted.

    The Court of Peculiars, which dealeth in certeine Parishes exempt from the Bishops jurisdiction in some Diocesses, and are peculiarly belonging to the Archbishop of Canterburie. Other Courts of meaner account I willingly overpasse. Neither do I wisely, I assure you, thus to intermeddle heerin, and yet Guicciardine in his Description of the Netherlands hath given me a precedent hereof to follow.

    9. Heere in this place my purpose was to have interserted somewhat (so farre foorth especially as concerned antiquitie) as touching the chief Magistrates and highest officers of England, as namely, the Lord Chancellor aforesaid, the Lord Treasurer, the President of the Counsell, the Lord Keeper of the Privie Seale, the Lord High Chamberlain, the Lord High Constable, the Marescall,and Seneschal or Steward of the Kings houshold, &. But understanding that others were in hand with these matters, so far am I from preventing [anticipating] them, that right willingly I shall impart even to them whatsoever in this behalfe I have observed.

    10. Some man perhaps here looketh that I should out of Astrologicall rules adde to the rest, under what signe and planet our Britaine is seated. And verily I will say somewhat to satisfie the Curious, for in those learned errors I have, I may tell you, in my youth taken some paines: although the Conjectures of Astrologers touching this point are so divers that the very diversity may seeme to weaken the thing it selfe, and leave no place for the truth. M. Manilius, an ancient poet, in that verse of his seemeth to intimate that Capricorn heere beareth rule in Britaine:

    Thow, Capricorne, doest govern all
    That lies to Sun at his down-fall.

    Ptolomee, Albumazar and Cardane doe make Aries our Tutelar Signe; Johannes du Muris, the Planet Saturne; the Frier Perscrutator, Esquidus and Henrie Silen, the Moone, for that, as they way, it is in the seventh Climate. Roger of Hereford, Thomas of Ravenna, Philologus, and Hispalensis are of opinion that Pisces governe us; and last of all Schonerus and Pitatus (see how they all disagree) have, with no better reason than the rest, subjected us unto Gemini.

    11. Now will I, by Gods assistance, make my perambulation thorow the Provinces or Shires of Britaine: wherein (according to the Preface that they used in old time, before they tooke any enterprise in hand) God grant me gracious good speed. In the several discourses of every of them, I wil declare as plainly and as briefly as I can who were their ancient Inhabitants; what is the reason of their names; how they are bounded; what is the nature of the soile; what places of antiquity and good account are therein; what Dukes likewise or Earles have beene in ech one since the Norman Conquest. And in this succession of Earles, to confesse frankly by whom I have taken profit, I do willingly and justly acknowledge that Thomas Talbot, a most diligent Clerke in the Records of the Tower, a man of singular skil in our antiquities, hath given me much light. And begin I will at the farthest parts in the West, that is to say, at Cornwall, and so passe over the other countries in order, imitating heerein Strabo, Ptolomee and the most ancient Geographers, who alwaies begin their description in the Western countries, as being first from the first Meridian.

    William Camden, Britain, or, a Chorographicall Description of the most flourishing Kingdomes, England, Scotland, and Ireland (London: George Bishop and John Norton, 1610) Copyright 2004 by Dana F. Sutton. This text was transcribed by Professor Sutton, of the University of California, Irvine, from Philemon Holland's 1610 translation [British Library Short Title Catalogue 4509, Early English Books reel 911:1]. For a full critical edition presenting Camden's original Latin text in parallel with Holland's translation, visit Professor Sutton's site at:


    Placename mark-up by Humphrey Southall.

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