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ness's Bailiff, at St. Michael's feast and at the Annunciation of the Virgin.”
Then follows James's grant, the original of which is stated to be in the office of the Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer in the Exchequer, and is a recapitulation of the issues of the manor of Devizes, heretofore parcel of the possessions of Thomas late Lord Seymour of Sudeley attainted.
“A survey made of the fee farm of the Borough by James Symes, Auditor, 14 January, 1651, made by virtue of the Act 12 March, 1650, for the sale of fee farm rents, tenths, or rents reserved, dry-rents and others. The survey speaks of it as “parcel of the lands and possessions of Thomas late Lord Seymour of Sudeley, and says it includes—The fee farm of the whole Borough and the rent of assize of divers burgages, worth altogether £10. Also an annual rent of £5 payable to the Crown by James's charter, arising from the courts [recapitulating the items] except advowsons, knight's fees, wards, marriages, and all mines of gold and silver and prerogatives of the same: granted unto William Scriven and Philip Eden, Esquires, and their assigns for ever by letters patent dated 11 February, 11th of King Charles reign, and held as of the Manor of East Greenwich by half-yearly payment of £15 per annum. Scriven and Eden conveyed it to Edward Northey jun., Robert Drew, Robert Nicholas, John Drew, Edward Lewes, Thomas Kent, John Pierce, Matthew Allen, and William Thurman, by indenture dated 7 April, 12th of Charles I., by which they covenanted to collect such rents arising out of the Manor of Devizes as were due to the King and pay them into the Exchequer, which rents amounted to £18 12s. 5 d. besides the fee farm rent of £15 above mentioned.” [These rents have remained with little change to our own day. In 1835 they were £30 4s. 2d. paid to Mrs. Eleanor Sutton and Wadham Locke, including the small sum of £5 2s. called "rents on Chippenham lands.”] State of the Borough at the death of Queen Elizabeth.
Mayor, John Kent, gentlemen.
Chief Burgesses or Councillors John Pierce, gent. Brian Bennett
Robert Corderoy Walter Stephens
gentlemen William Barrett John Lewen
Burgesses called “The Twelve,” or Common Council.
Ferdinand Butler Thomas Fitsall the elder
Thomas Fitsall the Henry Morris
Robert Waite younger Henry Salter
Inferior or “Free Burgesses." John Berry
John Hadnet the elder Richard Russell William Breach Abraham Hale
Robert Russell Rob. Chamberlain John Haskins
Edward Northey Richard Stephens
James Watts Stephen Godfather William Pulleyn Edward Webb alias Godfrey
JAMES I. The Devizes charter of 1605 states that a guild of merchants within the borough had been famous as being inhabited by divers artificers who made woollen cloths, whereby the poorer inhabitants got themselves a laudable and honest livelihood, who are now reduced to poverty, because certain foreigners, not inhabitants of the borough, brought to the weekly market, wares and merchandizes other than corn, victual, cattle, wool, and yarn; and sold them by retail and not in gross, to the prejudice of the resident dealers. To prevent therefore such injury in future, his Majesty's charter prohibits all such strangers from exhibiting their wares within the borough except in gross or at the fairs.
This prohibition, we may be sure, was put in force; for, so recently as the year 1773, the hawkers' trade having become unbearably intrusive, the editor of the Salisbury Journal invited the public to imitate the example of the people of Devizes in their treatment, on a recent occasion, of a travelling hosier and linen draper. The itinerant merchant Cour forefathers would have called him a foreigner] having entered the town, began to distribute his hand-bills, when the popu
lace serenaded him with cleavers and marrow-bones, and quitted him not till he drew off from the precints of the borough as heavily laden as when he entered.
King James's charter manifestly indicates a new era in the history of the borough; the governmental department is elaborated and systematised; a weekly court is established for deciding actions of debt not exceeding £40; and laws are instituted for punishing recusants, that is, Romanists, though their numbers in and around Devizes we cannot suppose to have been considerable. The usual test for discovering their principles was absence from the parish church.
Evidence exists of at least three of King James's visits to Devizes or Bromham Hall, viz. in 1613, 1618 and 1623. In the first of these years £20 15s. is paid by the borough as fees to his officers, and in the succeeding year £22 for his Majesty's benevolence towards the borough; in addition to a contribution of £77 made in 1608 by twenty-three of the principal inhabitants in aid of a subsidy granted by the Parliament. It was in 1618 apparently that the "entertainment” recorded by Aubrey was given to his Majesty on Coate-field, to be presently noticed, as that was the year in which he knighted Sir Rawlyn Bussey at Bromham. Hunting in the neighbourhood of Bromham one day, it is recorded of James that he slew a stag so near to the water in Lackham park, that the owner, Sir Robert Baynard, challenged from his Majesty the benefit of a custom attached to the estate, viz., that if the King killed a deer so near to the Avon that a horn might be thrown into the water, the owner of Lackham might claim the deer. “On my soul” said James, “he was a wise King that made such a grant."
King James's “benevolences” or forced loans were extracted from the gentry as well as the boroughs. See the lists in the Wilts Magazine, vol. ii. 183. Open war to one of them, viz. that levied in 1615 towards marrying the Lady Elizabeth, was at last declared by a Wiltshire gentleman named Oliver St. John, and the case was argued in the Star-chamber. The county Justices who appear to have held their sittings in the principal towns when engaged in assessing the neighbourhood, were holding a meeting for that purpose in Marlborough, when a member of the distinguished family of St. John resolved to record his protest against the entire system in the most unmistakeable manner. The Mayor being anxious to get together as loyal a meeting as possible, and knowing Mr. St. John to be a man of influence, repaired to his house beforehand in order “to deal with him in private." But Mr. St. John was not to be thus hoodwinked : he dismissed Mr. Mayor and told him to expect his answer in public when all might hear. Accordingly the next day when the Justices met, St. John absented himself and sent a letter addressed to the Mayor which he desired might be read out. The letter which was couched in very bold language, argued the unlawfulness of forced loans made upon the subject; and, as might naturally be expected led to an immediate impeachment in the Star-chamber, where Sir Francis Bacon as Attorney General conducted the prosecution.
It has been usual to suppose that the subject of this prosecution was no other than the celebrated Solicitor General Oliver St. John, who afterwards became so conspicuous for his opposition to King Charles. Mr. Foss on the contrary regards him as an Oliver St. John seated at Lediard Tregose; but as the prosecutor distinctly describes the defendant as a dweller in the town of Marlborough, the difficulty attending the case is not altogether removed. Still, it is perilous to be at war with so accurate and painstaking an historian as Mr. Foss, and his correction of the error must therefore suffice. Speaking of Mr. Solicitor St. John, he states that he was born about the year 1598, and educated at Queen's College Cambridge. He was then seventeen years of age; and Lord Campbell [in his 'Lives of the Chancellors'] supposes that he had already taken a trip to Holland, and by seeing with
his own eyes the respect for property as well as for personal liberty, had become imbued with a taste for a republican form of government. His lordship accordingly fathers upon him the “Letter to the Mayor of Marlborough,” against a “benevolence" then in collection, which was made the subject of prosecution in the Star-chamber in April of that very year. To have formed such decided opinions, with reasons so clearly stated, and statutes and authorities so precisely quoted, as are found in the letter in question, would be an instance of most remarkable precocity in any youth who had not even commenced his college studies. But the statement will not bear the slightest investigation. There is absolutely nothing in the whole proceeding to lead to a suspicion that the writer of the letter could have been “a mere stripling;” but on the contrary it is manifest from the letter itself and from Lord Bacon's speech, who would scarcely have wasted his eloquence on a boy, that he was “a principal person and a dweller in that town,” and “a man likely to give both money and good example.” Instead of the youth who was quietly preparing for his academical course, the person so described was Oliver St. John of Lediard Tregoze a seat not far distant from Marlborough, who afterwards became Viscount Grandison and Lieutenant of Ireland. Foss's Judges, vi. 476.
A “MASKE” ON ROUNDWAY. In June 1613, Anne the Queen of James I. having been to the waters of The Bath for the benefit of her health, was on her way back, and crossing the Wandsdyke by the old Roundway hill track which was then the high road from Bath to Marlborough, when a scene occurred, which Anthony à Wood thus chronicles. “The vicar of Bishops Cannings, George Ferraby, [otherwise spelt Ferebe,] M.A. of Magdalen College, Oxford, was a Gloucestershire man born, and being well skilled in music, did instruct divers young men in his parish in that faculty till they could either play or sing their