Picture of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

places mentioned

Letter 1, Part 2: Harwich and Suffolk

Next Selection Previous Selection

From Colchester, I took another step down to the coast, the land running out a great way into the sea, south, and S.E. makes that promontory of land called the Nase, and well known to sea-men, using the northern trade. Here one sees a sea open as an ocean, without any opposite shore, tho' it be no more than the mouth of the Thames. This point call'd the Nase, and the N.E. point of Kent, near Margate, call'd the North Foreland, making (what they call) the mouth of the river, and the port of London, tho' it be here above 60 miles over.

At Walton, under the Nase, they find on the shoar, copperas-stone in great quantities; and there are several large works call'd Copperas Houses, where they make it with great expence.

On this promontory is a new sea mark, erected by the Trinity-House men, and at the publick expence, being a round brick tower, near 80 foot high. The sea gains so much upon the land here, by the continual winds at S.W. that within the memory of some of the inhabitants there, they have lost above 30 acres of land in one place.

From hence we go back into the country about four miles, because of the creeks which lie between; and then turning east again, come to Harwich, on the utmost eastern point of this large country.

Harwich is a town so well known, and so perfectly describ'd by many writers, I need say little of it: 'Tis strong by situation, and may be made more so by art. But 'tis many years since the Government of England have had any occasion to fortify towns to the landward; 'tis enough that the harbour or road, which is one of the best and securest in England, is cover'd at the entrance by a strong fort, and a battery of guns to the seaward, just as at Tilbury, and which sufficiently defend the mouth of the river: And there is a particular felicity in this fortification, viz. That tho' the entrance or opening of the river into the sea, is very wide, especially at high-water, at least two miles, if not three over; yet the channel, which is deep, and in which the ships must keep and come to the harbour, is narrow, and lies only on the side of the fort; so that all the ships which come in, or go out, must come close under the guns of the fort; that is to say, under the command of their shot.

The fort is on the Suffolk side of the bay, or entrance, but stands so far into the sea upon the point of a sand or shoal, which runs out toward the Essex side, as it were, laps over the mouth of that haven like a blind to it; and our surveyors of the country affirm it to be in the county of Essex. The making this place, which was formerly no other than a sand in the sea, solid enough for the foundation of so good a fortification, has not been done but by many years labour, often repairs, and an infinite expence of money, but 'tis now so firm, that nothing of storms and high tides, or such things, as make the sea dangerous to these kind of works, can affect it.

The harbour is of a vast extent; for, as two rivers empty themselves here, viz, Stour from Mainingtree, and the Orwel from Ipswich, the channels of both are large and deep, and safe for all weathers; so where they joyn they make a large bay or road, able to receive the biggest ships, and the greatest number that ever the world saw together; I mean, ships of war. In the old Dutch War, great use has been made of this harbour; and I have known that there has been 100 sail of men of war and their attendants, and between three and four hundred sail of collier ships, all in this harbour at a time, and yet none of them crowding, or riding in danger of one another.

Harwich is known for being the port where the packet-boats between England and Holland, go out and come in: The inhabitants are far from being fam'd for good usage to strangers, but on the contrary, are blamed for being extravagant in their reckonings, in the publick houses, which has not a little encourag'd the setting up of sloops, which they now call passage-boats, to Holland, to go directly from the river of Thames; this, tho' it may be something the longer passage, yet as they are said to be more obliging to passengers, and more reasonable in the expence, and as some say also the vessels are better sea-boats, has been the reason why so many passengers do not go or come by the way of Harwich, as formerly were wont to do; insomuch, that the stage-coaches, between this place and London, which ordinarily went twice or three times a week, are now entirely laid down, and the passengers are left to hire coaches on purpose, take post-horses, or hire horses to Colchester, as they find most convenient.

The account of a petrifying quality in the earth here, tho' some will have it to be in the water of a spring hard by, is very strange: They boast that their town is wall'd, and their streets pav'd with clay, and yet, that one is as strong, and the other as clean as those that are built or pav'd with stone: The fact is indeed true, for there is a sort of clay in the cliff, between the town and the beacon-hill adjoining, which when it falls down into the sea, where it is beaten with the waves and the weather, turns gradually into stone: but the chief reason assign'd, is from the water of a certain spring or well, which rising in the said cliff, runs down into the sea among those pieces of clay, and petrifies them as it runs, and the force of the sea often stirring, and perhaps, turning the lumps of clay, when storms of wind may give force enough to the water, causes them to harden every where alike; otherwise those which were not quite sunk in the water of the spring, would be petrify'd but in part. These stones are gathered up to pave the streets, and build the houses, and are indeed very hard: 'Tis also remarkable, that some of them taken up before they are thoroughly petrify'd, will, upon breaking them, appear to be hard as a stone without, and soft as clay in the middle; whereas others, that have layn a due time, shall be thorough stone to the center, and as exceeding hard within, as without: The same spring is said to turn wood into iron: But this I take to be no more or less than the quality, which as I mention'd of the shoar at the Ness, is found to be in much of the stone, all along this shoar, (viz.) Of the copperas kind; and 'tis certain, that the copperas stone (so call'd) is found in all that cliff, and even where the water of this spring has run; and I presume, that those who call the harden' d pieces of wood, which they take out of this well by the name of iron, never try'd the quality of it with the fire or hammer; if they had, perhaps they would have given some other account of it.

On the promontory of land, which they 'call Beacon-Hill, and which lies beyond, or behind the town, towards the sea, there is a light-house, to give the ships directions in their sailing by, as well as their coming into the harbour in the night. I shall take notice of these again all together, when I come to speak of the Society of Trinity House, as they are called, by whom they are all directed upon this coast.

This town was erected into a marquisate, in honour of the truly glorious family of Schomberg, the eldest son of Duke Schomberg, who landed with King William, being stiled Marquis of Harwich; but that family (in England at least) being extinct, the title dies also.

Harwich is a town of hurry and business, not much of gaiety and pleasure; yet the inhabitants seem warm in their nests, and some of them are very wealthy: There are not many (if any) gentlemen or families of note, either in the town, or very near it. They send two members to Parliament; the present are, Sir Peter Parker, and Humphrey Parsons, Esq.

And now being at the extremity of the county of Essex, of which I have given you some view, as to that side next the sea only; I shall break off this part of my letter, by telling you, that I will take the towns which lie more towards the center of the county, in my return by the north and west part only, that I may give you a few hints of some towns which were near me in my rout this way, and of which being so well known, there is but little to say.

On the road from London to Colchester, before I came into it at Witham, lie four good market-towns at equal distance from one another; namely, Rumford, noted for two markets, (viz.) one for calves and hogs, the other for corn and other provisions; most, if not all, bought up for London market. At the farther end of the town, in the middle of a stately park, stood Guldy Hall, vulgarly Giddy Hall, an antient seat of one Coke, sometime Lord-Mayor of London, but forfeited, on some occasion, to the Crown: It is since pull'd down to the ground, and there now stands a noble stately fabrick or mansion-house, built upon the spot by Sir John Eyles, a wealthy merchant of London, and chosen sub-governor of the South-Sea Company, immediately after the ruin of the former sub-governor and directors, whose overthrow makes the history of these times famous.

Brent-Wood and Ingarstone, and even Chelmsford itself, have very little to be said of them, but that they are large thoroughfair towns, full of good inns, and chiefly maintained by the excessive multitude of carriers and passengers, which are constantly passing this way to London, with droves of cattle, provisions, and manufactures for London.

The last of these towns is indeed the county-town, where the county jayl is kept, and where the assizes are very often held; it stands on the conflux of two rivers, the Chelmer, whence the town is called, and the Cann.

At Lees, or Lee's Priory, as some call it, is to be seen an antient house, in the middle of a beautiful park, formerly the seat of the late Duke of Manchester, but since the death of the duke, it is sold to the Dutchess Dowager of Buckinghamshire; the present Duke of Manchester, retiring to his antient family seat at Kimbolton in Huntingdonshire, it being a much finer residence. His grace is lately married to a daughter of the Duke of Montague by a branch of the house of Marlborough.

Four market-towns fill up the rest of this part of the country; Dunmow, Braintre, Thaxted, and Coggshall; all noted for the manufacture of bays, as above, and for very little else, except I shall make the ladies laugh, at the famous old story of the Flitch of Bacon at Dunmow, which is this:

One Robert Fitz-Walter, a powerful baron in this county, in the time of Hen. III. on some merry occasion, which is not preserv'd in the rest of the story, instituted a custom in the priory here; That whatever married man did not repent of his being marry'd, or quarrel, or differ and dispute with his wife, within a year and a day after his marriage, and would swear to the truth of it, kneeling upon two hard pointed stones in the church yard, which stones he caus'd to be set up in the priory church-yard, for that purpose: The prior and convent, and as many of the town as would, to be present: such person should have a flitch of bacon.

I do not remember to have read, that any one ever came to demand it; nor do the people of the place pretend to say, of their own knowledge, that they remember any that did so; a long time ago several did demand it, as they say, but they know not who; neither is there any record of it; nor do they tell us, if it were now to be demanded, who is obliged to deliver the flitch of bacon, the priory being dissolved and gone.

The forest of Epping and Henalt, spreads a great part of this country still: I shall speak again of the former in my return from this circuit. Formerly, ('tis thought) these two forests took up all the west and south part of the county; but particularly we are assur'd, that it reach'd to the River Chelmer, and into Dengy Hundred; and from thence again west to Epping and Waltham, where it continues to be a forest still.

Probably this forest of Epping has been a wild or forest ever since this island was inhabited, and may shew us, in some parts of it, where enclosures and tillage has not broken in upon it, what the face of this island was before the Romans time; that is to say, before their landing in Britain.

The constitution of this forest is best seen, I mean, as to the antiquity of it, by the merry grant of it from Edward the Confessor, before the Norman Conquest to Randolph Peperking, one of his favourites, who was after called Peverell, and whose name remains still in several villages in this county; as particularly that of Hatfield Peverell, in the road from Chelmsford to Witham, which is suppos'd to be originally a park, which they call'd a field in those days; and Hartfield may be as much as to say a park for deer; for the stags were in those days called harts; so that this was neither more nor less than Randolph Peperking's Hartfield; that is to say, Ralph Peverell's deer-park.

N.B. This Ralph Randolph, or Ralph Peverell (call him as you please) had, it seems, a most beautiful lady to his wife, who was daughter of Ingelrick, one of Edward the Confessor's noblemen: He had two sons by her, William Peverell, a fam'd soldier, and Lord or Governor of Dover Castle; which he surrender'd to William the Conqueror, after the Battle of Sussex; and Pain Peverell, his youngest, who was Lord of Cambridge: When the eldest son delivered up the castle, the lady his mother, above nam'd, who was the celebrated beauty of the age, was it seems there; and the Conqueror fell in love with her, and whether by force, or by consent, took her away, and she became his mistress, or what else you please to call it: By her he had a son, who was call'd William, after the Conqueror's Christian name, but retain'd the name of Peverell, and was afterwards created by the Conqueror, Lord of Nottingham.

This lady afterwards, as is supposed, by way of penance, for her yielding to the Conqueror, founded a nunnery at the village of Hatfield-Peverell, mentioned above, and there she lies buried in the chapel of it, which is now the parish-church, where her memory is preserv'd by a tomb-stone under one of the windows.

Thus we have several towns, where any antient parks have been plac'd, call'd by the name of Hatfield on that very account.

As Hatfield Broad Oak in this county, Bishop's Hatfield in Hertfordshire, and several others.

But I return to King Edward's merry way, as I call it, of granting this forest to this Ralph Peperking, which I find in the antient records, in the very words it was pass'd in, as follows: Take my explanations with it, for the sake of those that are not us'd to the antient English.

The GRANT in Old English The Explanation in Modern English
I Che EDWARD Koning, I EDWARD the King,
Have given of my forrest the kepen of the Hundred of Chelmer and Dancing, Have made Ranger of my forest of Chelmsford Hundred, and Deering Hundred,
To RANDOLPH PEPERKING, And to his kindling, Ralph Peverell, for him and his heirs for ever;
With heorte and hind, doe and bocke, With both the red and fallow deer,
Hare and fox, cat and brock, Hare and fox, otter and badger;
Wild fowle with his flock; Wild fowl of all sorts,
Patrich, pheasant hen, and phea sant cock, Partridges and pheasants,
With green and wild stub and stock, Timber and underwood, roots and tops:
To kepen and to yemen with all her might, With power to preserve the forest,
Both by day, and eke by night; And watch it against deer stealers and others;
And hounds for to hold,
Good and swift, and bold:
With a right to keep hounds of all sorts,
Four greyhound, and six raches, Four grey-hounds, and six terriers,
For hare and fox, and wild cattes, Harriers and fox-hounds, and other hounds.
And therefore Iche made him my book; And to this end I have registered this my Grant, in the Crown rolls or books;
Witness the Bishop of Wolston,
And book ylrede many on,
To which the bishop has set his hand as a witness for any one to read;
And Sweyne of Essex, our brother, Also signed by the king's brother (or, as some think, the Chancellor Sweyn, then Earl or Count of Essex)
And taken him many other He might call such other witnesses to sign as he thought fit.
And our steward Howelin,
That by-sought me for him.
Also the king's high steward was a witness, at whose request this Grant was obtained of the king.

There are many gentlemen's seats on this side the county, and a great assemblee set up at New-Hall, near this town, much resorted to by the neighbouring gentry. I shall next proceed to the county of Suffolk, as my first design directed me to do.

From Harwich therefore, having a mind to view the harbour, I sent my horses round by Maningtree, where there is a timber bridge over the Stour, called Cataway Bridge, and took a boat up the River Orwell, for Ipswich; a traveller will hardly understand me, especially a seaman, when I speak of the River Stour and the River Orwell at Harwich, for they know them by no other names than those of Maningtre-Water, and Ipswich-Water; so while I am on salt water, I must speak as those who use the sea may understand me, and when I am up in the country among the in-land towns again, I shall call them out of their names no more.

It is twelve miles from Harwich up the water to Ipswich: Before I come to the town, I must say something of it, because speaking of the river requires it: In former times, that .is to say, since the writer of this remembers the place very well, and particularly just before the late Dutch Wars, Ipswich was a town of very good business; particularly it was the greatest: town in England for large colliers or coal-ships, employed between New Castle and London: Also they built the biggest: ships and the best, for the said fetching of coals of any that were employed in that trade: They built also there so prodigious strong, that it was an ordinary thing for an Ipswich collier, if no disaster happened to him, to reign (as seamen call it) forty or fifty years, and more.

In the town of Ipswich the masters of these ships generally dwelt, and there were, as they then told me, above a hundred sail of them, belonging to the town at one time, the least of which carried fifteen-score, as they compute it, that is, 300 chaldron of coals; this was about the year 1668 (when I first knew the place). This made the town be at that time so populous, for those masters, as they had good ships at sea, so they had large families, who liv'd plentifully, and in very good houses in the town, and several streets were chiefly inhabited by such.

The loss or decay of this trade, accounts for the present pretended decay of the town of Ipswich, of which I shall speak more presently: The ships wore out, the masters died off, the trade took a new turn; Dutch fly boats taken in the war, and made free ships by Act of Parliament, thrust themselves into the coal-trade for the interest of the captors, such as the Yarmouth and London merchants, and others; and the Ipswich men dropt gradually out of it, being discouraged by those Dutch flyboats: These Dutch vessels which cost nothing but the caption, were bought cheap, carried great burthens, and the Ipswich building fell off for want of price, and so the trade decay'd, and the town with it; I believe this will be own'd for the true beginning of their decay, if I must allow it to be call'd a decay.

But to return to my passage up the river. In the winter time those great collier-ships, abovemention'd, are always laid up, as they call it: That is to say, the coal trade abates at London, the citizens are generally furnish'd, their stores taken in, and the demand is over; so that the great ships, the northern seas and coast being also dangerous, the nights long, and the voyage hazardous, go to sea no more, but lie by, the ships are unrigg'd, the sails, &c. carry'd a shore, the top-masts struck, and they ride moor'd in the river, under the advantages and security of sound ground, and a high woody shore, where they lie as safe as in a wet dock; and it was a very agreeable sight to see, perhaps two hundred sail of ships, of all sizes lye in that posture every winter: All this while, which was usually from Michaelmas to Lady Day, The masters liv'd calm and secure with their families in Ipswich; and enjoying plentifully, what in the summer they got laboriously at sea, and this made the town of Ipswich very populous in the winter; for as the masters, so most of the men, especially their mates, boatswains, carpenters, &c. were of the same place, and liv'd in their proportions, just as the masters did; so that in the winter there might be perhaps a thousand men in the town more than in the summer, and perhaps a greater number.

To justify what I advance here, that this town was formerly very full of people, I ask leave to refer to the account of Mr. Camden, and what it was in his time, his words are these.

"Ipswich has a commodious harbour, has been fortified with a ditch and rampart, has a great trade, and is very populous; being adorned with fourteen churches, and large private buildings."

This confirms what I have mentioned of the former state of this town; but the present state is my proper work; I therefore return to my voyage up the river.

The sight of these ships thus laid up in the river, as I have said, was very agreeable to me in my passage from Harwich, about five and thirty years before the present journey; and it was in its proportion equally melancholly to hear, that there were now scarce 40 sail of good colliers that belonged to the whole town.

In a creek in this river call'd Lavington-Creek we saw at low water, such shoals, or hills rather, of muscles that great boats might have loaded with them, and no miss have been made of them. Near this creek Sir Samuel Barnadiston had a very fine seat, as also a decoy for wild ducks, and a very noble estate; but it is divided into many branches since the death of the antient possessor; but I proceed to the town, which is the first in the county of Suffolk of any note this way.

Ipswich is seated, at the distance of 12 miles from Harwich, upon the edge of the river, which taking a short turn to the west, the town forms, there, a kind of semi-circle, or half moon upon the bank of the river: It is very remarkable, that tho' ships of 500 tun may upon a spring tide come up very near this town, and many ships of that burthen have been built there; yet the river is not navigable any farther than the town itself, or but very little; no not for the smallest boats, nor does the tide, which rises sometimes 13 or 14 foot, and gives them 24 foot water very near the town, flow much farther up the river than the town, or not so much as to make it worth speaking of.

He took little notice of the town, or at least of that part of Ipswich, who published in his wild observations on it, that ships of 2002 tun are built there: I affirm, that I have seen a ship of 400 tun launch'd at the building-yard, close to the town; and I appeal to the Ipswich colliers (those few that remain) belonging to this town, if several of them carrying seventeen score of coals, which must be upward of 400 tun, have not formerly been built here; but superficial observers, must be superficial writers, if they write at all; and to this day, at John's Ness, within a mile and half of the town it self, ships of any burthen may be built and launched even at neap tides.

I am much mistaken too, if since the Revolution, some very good ships have not been built at this town, and particularly the Melford or Milford-gally, a ship of 40 guns; as the Greyhound frigate, a man of war of 36 to 40 guns, was at John's Ness. But what is this towards lessening the town of Ipswich, any more than it would be to say, they do not build men of war, or East-India ships, or ships of 500 tun burthen, at St. Catherines, or at Battle-Bridge in the Thames? when we know that a mile or two lower, (viz.) at Radcliffe, Limehouse, or Deptford, they build ships of 1000 tun, and might build first-rate men of war too, if there was occasion; and the like might be done in this river of Ipswich, within about two or three miles of the town; so that it would not be at all an out-of-the-way speaking to say, such a ship was built at Ipswich, any more than it is to say, as they do, that the Royal Prince , the great ship lately built for the South-Sea Company, was London built, because she was built at Lime-house.

And why then is not Ipswich capable of building and receiving the greatest ships in the navy, seeing they may be built and brought up again loaden, within a mile and half of the town?

But the neighbourhood of London, which sucks the vitals of trade in this island to itself, is the chief reason of any decay of business in this place; and I shall in the course of these observations, hint at it, where many good sea-ports and large towns, tho' farther off than Ipswich, and as well fitted for commerce, are yet swallow'd up by the immense indraft of trade to the city of London; and more decay'd beyond all comparison, than Ipswich is supposed to be; as Southampton, Weymouth, Dartmouth, and several others which I shall speak to in their order: And if it be otherwise at this time, with some other towns, which are lately encreas'd in trade and navigation, wealth, and people, while their neighbours decay, it is because they have some particular trade or accident to trade, which is a kind of nostrum to them, inseparable to the place, and which fixes there by the nature of the thing; as the herring-fishery to Yarmouth; the coal trade to New-Castle; the Leeds cloathing-trade; the export of butter and lead, and the great corn trade for Holland, is to Hull; the Virginia and West-India trade at Liverpool, the Irish trade at Bristol, and the like; Thus the war has brought a flux of business and people, and consequently of wealth, to several places, as well as to Portsmouth, Chatham, Plymouth, Falmouth, and others; and were any wars like those, to continue 20 years with the Dutch, or any nation whose fleets lay that way, as the Dutch do, it would be the like perhaps at Ipswich in a few years, and at other places on the same coast.

But at this present time an occasion offers to speak in favour of this port; namely, the Greenland fishery, lately proposed to be carry'd on by the South-Sea Company: On which account I may freely advance this, without any compliment to the town of Ipswich, no place in Britain, is equally qualified like Ipswich; whether we respect the cheapness of building and fitting out their ships and shalloups; also furnishing, victualling, and providing them with all kind of stores; convenience for laying up the ships after the voyage; room for erecting their magazines, ware-houses, roap-walks, cooperage, &c. on the easiest terms; and especially for the noisome cookery, which attends the boiling their blubber, which may be on this river, (as it ought to be) remote from any places of resort; Then their nearness to the market for the oil when 'tis made, and, which above all, ought to be the chief thing considered in that trade, the easiness of their putting out to sea when they begin their voyage, in which the same wind that carries them from the mouth of the haven, is fair to the very seas of Greenland.

I could say much more to this point, if it were needful, and in few words could easily prove, that Ipswich must have the preference of all the port towns of Britain, for being the best center of the Greenland trade, if ever that trade fall into the management of such a people as perfectly understand, and have a due honest regard to its being managed with the best husbandry, and to the prosperity of the undertaking in general: But whether we shall ever arrive at so happy a time, as to recover so useful a trade to our country, which our ancestors had the honour to be the first undertakers of, and which has been lost only thro' the indolence of others, and the encreasing vigilance of our neighbours, that is not my business here to dispute.

What I have said, is only to let the world see, what improvement this town and port is capable of; I cannot think, but that Providence, which made nothing in vain, cannot have reserv'd so useful, so convenient a port to lie vacant in the world, but that the time will some time or other come (especially considering the improving temper of the present age) when some peculiar beneficial business may be found out, to make the port of Ipswich as useful to the world, and the town as flourishing, as nature has made it proper and capable to be.

As for the town, it is true, it is but thinly inhabited, in comparison of the extent of it; but to say, there are hardly any people to be seen there, is far from being true in fact; and whoever thinks fit to look into the churches and meeting-houses on a Sunday, or other publick days, will find there are very great numbers of people there: Or if he thinks fit to view the market, and see how the large shambles, call'd Cardinal Wolsey's Butchery, are furnish'd with meat, and the rest of the market stock'd with other provisions, must acknowledge that it is not for a few people that all those things are provided: A person very curious, and on whose veracity I think I may depend, going thro' the market in this town, told me, that he reckon'd upwards of 600 country people on horseback and on foot, with baskets and other carriage, who had all of them brought something or other to town to sell, besides the butchers, and what came in carts and waggons.

It happened to be my lot to be once at this town, at the time when a very fine new ship, which was built there, for some merchants of London, was to be launched; and if I may give my guess at the numbers of people which appeared on the shore, in the houses, and on the river, I believe I am much within compass, if I say there were 20,000 people to see it; but this is only a guess, or they might come a great way to see the sight, or the town may be declined farther since that: But a view of the town is one of the surest rules for a gross estimate.

It is true, here is no settled manufacture: the French refugees, when they first came over to England, began a little to take to this place; and some merchants attempted to set up a linnen manufacture in their favour; but it has not met with so much success as was expected, and at present I find very little of it. The poor people are however employ'd, as they are all over these counties, in spinning wool for other towns where manufactures are settled.

The country round Ipswich, as are all the counties so near the coast, is applied chiefly to corn, of which a very great quantity is continually shipped off for London; and sometimes they load corn here for Holland, especially if the market abroad is encouraging. They have 12 parish-churches in this town, with three or four meetings; but there are not so many Quakers here as at Colchester, and no Anabaptists, or Anti-poedo Baptists, that I could hear of, at least there is no meeting-house of that denomination: There is one meeting-house for the Presbyterians, one for the Independants, and one for the Quakers: the first is as large and as fine a building of that kind as most on this side of England, and the inside the best finished of any I have seen, London not excepted; that for the Independants is a handsome new-built building, but not so gay or so large as the other.

There is a great deal of very good company in this town; and tho' there are not so many of the gentry here as at Bury, yet there are more here than in any other town in the county; and I observed particularly, that the company you meet with here, are generally persons well informed of the world, and who have something very solid and entertaining in their society: This may happen, perhaps, by their frequent conversing with those who have been abroad, and by their having a remnant of gentlemen and masters of ships among them, who have seen more of the world than the people of an inland town are likely to have seen. I take this town to be one of the most agreeable places in England, for families who have liv'd well, but may have suffered in our late calamities of stocks and bubbles, to retreat to, where they may live within their own compass; and several things indeed recommend it to such;

  1. Good houses, at very easie rents.
  2. An airy, clean, and well govern'd town.
  3. Very agreeable and improving company almost of every kind.
  4. A wonderful plenty of all manner of provisions, whether flesh or fish, and very good of the kind.
  5. Those provisions very cheap; so that a family may live cheaper here, than in any town in England of its bigness, within such a small distance from London.
  6. Easie passage to London, either by land or water, the coach going through to London in a day.

The Lord Viscount Hereford, has a very fine seat and park in this town; the house indeed is old built, but very commodious; 'tis call'd Christ-Church, having been as 'tis said, a priory, or religious house in former times: The green and park is a great addition to the pleasantness of this town, the inhabitants being allowed to divert themselves there with walking, bowling, &c.

The large spire steeple, which formerly stood upon that they call the Tower-Church, was blown down by a great storm of wind many years ago, and in its fall did much damage to the church.

The government of this town is by two bailiffs, as at Yarmouth: Mr. Camden says they are chosen out of twelve burgesses called Portmen, and two justices out of twenty-four more. There has been lately a very great struggle between the two parties for the choice of these two magistrates, which had this amicable conclusion, namely, that they chose one of either side; so that neither party having the victory, 'tis to be hoped it may be a means to allay the heats and un-neighbourly feuds, which such things breed in towns so large as this is. They send two members to Parliament, whereof those at this time, are Sir William Thompson, Recorder of London, and Colonel Negus, deputy-master of the horse to the king.

There are some things very curious to be seen here, however some superficial writers have been ignorant of them. Dr. Beeston, an eminent physician, began, a few years ago, a physick garden adjoining to his house in this town; and as he is particularly curious, and as I was told exquisitely skill'd in botanick knowledge, so he has been not only very diligent, but successful too, in making a collection of rare and exotick plants, such as are scarce to be equall'd in England.

One Mr. White, a surgeon, resides also in this town; But before I speak of this gentleman, I must observe, that I say nothing from personal knowledge; Tho' if I did, I have too good an opinion of his sense to believe he would be pleased with being flattered, or complimented in print: But I must be true to matter of fact; This gentleman has begun a collection, or chamber of rarities, and with good success too. I acknowledge I had not the opportunity of seeing them; But I was told there are some things very curious in it, as particularly a sea-horse carefully preserved, and perfect in all its parts; two Roman urns full of ashes of human bodies, and supposed to be above 1700 years old; besides a great many valuable medals, and antient coins. My friend who gave me this account, and of whom I think I may say he speaks without byass, mentions this gentleman, Mr. White, with some warmth, as a very valuable person in his particular employ, of a surgeon, I only repeat his words; "Mr. White," says he, "to whom the whole town and country are greatly indebted and obliged to pray for his life, is our most skilful surgeon." These I say are his own words, and I add nothing to them but this, that 'tis happy for a town to have such a surgeon, as it is for a surgeon to have such a character.

The country round Ipswich, as if qualify'd on purpose to accommodate the town for building of ships, is an inexhaustable store-house of timber, of which now their trade of building ships is abated, they send very great quantities to the king's building-yards at Chatham, which by water is so little a way, that they often run to it from the mouth of the river at Harwich' in one tide.

From Ipswich I took a turn into the country to Hadley, principally to satisfy my curiosity, and see the place where that famous martyr, and pattern of charity and religious zeal in Queen Mary's time, Dr. Rowland Taylor, was put to death; the inhabitants, who have a wonderful veneration for his memory, shew the very place where the stake which he was bound to, was set up, and they have put a stone upon it, which no body will remove; but it is a more lasting monument to him that he lives in the hearts of the people; I say more lasting than a tomb of marble would be, for the memory of that good man. will certainly never be out of the poor peoples minds, as long as this island shall retain the Protestant religion among them.; how long that may be, as things are going, and if the detestable conspiracy of the Papists now on foot, should succeed, I will not pretend to say.

A little to the left is Sudbury, which stands upon the River Stour, mentioned above; a river which parts the counties of Suffolk and Essex, and which is within these few years made navigable to this town, tho' the navigation does not (it seems) answer the charge, at least not to advantage.

I know nothing for which this town is remarkable, except: for being very populous and very poor. They have a great; manufacture of says and perpetuana's; and multitudes of poor people are employ'd in working them; but the number of the poor is almost ready to eat up the rich: However this town, sends two members to Parliament, tho' it is under no form of government particularly to itself, other than as a village, the head magistrate whereof is a constable.

Near adjoining to it, is a village call'd Long-Melfort, and a very long one it is, from which I suppose it had that addition to its name; it is full of very good houses, and, as they told me, is richer, and has more wealthy masters of the manufacture in it than in Sudbury itself.

Here and in the neighbourhood, are some antient families of good note; particularly here is a fine dwelling, the antient: seat of the Cordells, whereof Sir William Cordell was Master of the Rolls in the time of Queen Elizabeth; but the family is now extinct; the last heir, Sir John Cordell, being killed by a. fall from his horse, died unmarry'd, leaving three sisters co-heiresses to a very noble estate most of which, if not all, is now center'd in the only surviving sister, and with her in marriage is given to Mr. Firebrass, eldest son of Sir Basil Firebrass, formerly a flourishing merchant in London, but reduc'd by many disasters. His family now rises by the good fortune of his son, who proves to be a gentleman of very agreeable parts, and well esteemed in the country.

From this part of the country I returned north-west by Lenham, to visit St. Edmund's Bury, a town of which other writers have talk'd very largely, and perhaps a little too much: It is a town fam'd for its pleasant situation and wholsome air, the Montpelier of Suffolk, and perhaps of England; this must be attributed to the skill of the monks of those times, who chose so beautiful a situation for the seat of their retirement; and who built here the greatest and in its time, the most flourishing monastery in all these parts of England, I mean the monastery of St. Edmund the Martyr: It was, if we believe antiquity, a house of pleasure in more antient times; or to speak more properly, a Court of some of the Saxon or East-Angle kings; and, as Mr. Camden says, was even then call'd a royal village; tho' it much better merits that name now; it being the town of all this part of England, in proportion to its bigness, most thronged with gentry, people of the best fashion, and the most polite conversation: This beauty and healthiness of its situation, was no doubt the occasion which drew the clergy to settle here, for they always chose the best places in the country to build in, either for richness of soil, or for health and pleasure in the situation of their religious houses.

For the like reason, I doubt not, they translated the bones of the martyr'd King St. Edmund, to this place; for it is a vulgar error to say he was murther'd here; his martyrdom, it is plain was at Hoxon or Henilsdon, near Harlston, on the Waveney, in the farthest northern verge of the county; but Segebert, King of the East Angles, had built a religious house in this pleasant rich part of the country; and as the monks began to taste the pleasure of the place, they procured the body of this saint to be remov'd hither, which soon encreas'd the wealth and revenues of their house, by the zeal of that day, in going on pilgrimage to the shrine of the blessed St. Edmund.

We read however, that after this, the Danes under King Sweno, over-running this part of the country, destroyed this monastery and burnt it to the ground, with the church and town; but see the turn religion gives to things in the world; His son King Canutus, at first a pagan and a tyrant, and the most cruel ravager of all that crew, coming to turn Christian; and being touch'd in conscience for the soul of his father, in having robb'd God and His holy martyr St. Edmund, sacrilegiously destroying the church, and plundering the monastery; I say, touch'd with remorse, and, as the monks pretend terrify'd with a vision of St. Edmund appearing to him, he rebuilt the house, the church, and the town also, and very much added to the wealth of the abbot and his fraternity, offering his crown at the feet of St. Edmund, giving the house to the monks, town and all; so that they were absolute lords of the town, and governed it by their steward for many ages. He also gave them a great many good lordships, which they enjoy'd till the general suppression of abbies, in the time of Henry VIII.

But I am neither writing the history, or searching the antiquity, of the abbey, or town, my business is the present state of the place.

The abbey is demolish'd; its ruins are all that is to be seen of its glory: Out of the old building, two very beautiful churches are built, and serve the two parishes, into which the town is divided, and they stand both in one church-yard. Here it was, in the path-way between these two churches, that a tragical and almost unheard of act of barbarity was committed, which made the place less pleasant for some time, than it us'd to be, when Arundel Coke, Esq; a Barrister at Law, of very antient family, attempted, with the assistance of a barbarous assassin, to murther in cold blood, and in the arms of hospitality, Edward Crisp, Esq; his brother-in-law, leading him out from his own house, where he had invited him, his wife and children, to supper: I say, leading him out in the night, on pretence of going to see some friend that was known to them both; but in this church-yard, giving a signal to the assassin he had hir'd, he attacked him with a hedge bill, and cut him, as one might say, almost in pieces; and when they did not doubt of his being dead, they left him: His head and face was so mangled, that it may be said to be next to a miracle that he was not quite killed: Yet so Providence directed for the exemplary punishment of the assassins, that the gentleman recover'd to detect them, who, (tho' he out-lived the assault) were both executed as they deserv'd, and Mr. Crisp is yet alive. They were condemned on the statute for defacing and dismembring, called the Coventry Act.

But this accident does not at all lessen the pleasure and agreeable delightful shew of the town of Bury; it is crouded with nobility and gentry, and all sorts of the most agreeable company; and as the company invites, so there is the appearance of pleasure upon the very situation; and they that live at Bury, are supposed to live there for the sake of it.

The Lord Jermin, afterwards Lord Dover, and since his lordship's decease, Sir Robert Davers, enjoy'd the most delicious seat of Rushbrook, near this town.

The present Members of Parliament for this place are, Jermyn Davers, and James Reynolds, Esquires.

Mr. Harvey, afterwards created Lord Harvey, by King William, and since that, made Earl of Bristol by King George, liv'd many years in this town, leaving a noble and pleasantly situated house in Lincolnshire, for the more agreeable living on a spot so compleatly qualified for a life of delight as this of Bury.

The Duke of Grafton, now Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, has also a stately house at Euston, near this town, which he enjoys in right of his mother, daughter to the Earl of Arlington, one of the chief ministers of State in the reign of King Charles II. and who made the second letter in the word CABAL; a word form'd by that famous satirerist Andrew Marvell, to represent the five heads of the politicks of that time, as the word SMECTYMNUS was on a former occasion.

I shall believe nothing so scandalous of the ladies of this town and the county round it, as a late writer3 insinuates: That the ladies round the country appear mighty gay and agreeable at the time of the fair in this town, I acknowledge; one hardly sees such a show in any part of the world; but to suggest they come hither as to a market, is so coarse a jest that the gentlemen that wait on them hither, (for they rarely come but in good company) ought to resent and correct him for it.

It is true, Bury-Fair, like Bartholomew-Fair, is a fair for diversion, more than for trade; and it may be a fair for toys and for trinkets, which the ladies may think fit to lay out some of their money in, as they see occasion. But to judge from thence, that the knights daughters of Norfolk, Cambridge-shire, and Suffolk, that is to say, for it cannot be understood any otherwise, the daughters of all the gentry of the three counties, come hither to be pick'd up, is a way of speaking I never before heard any author have the assurance to make use of in print.

The assembled he justly commends for the bright appearance of the beauties; but with a sting in the tayl of this compliment, where he says, They seldom end without some considerable match or intrigue; and yet he owns, that during the fair, these assemblees are held every night. Now that these fine ladies go intriguing every night, and that too after the comedy is done, which is after the fair and raffling is over for the day; so that it must be very late: This is a terrible character for the ladies of Bury, and intimates in short, that most of them are whores, which is a horrid abuse upon the whole country.

Now, tho' I like not the assemblies at all, and shall in another place give them something of their due; yet having the opportunity to see the fair at Bury, and to see that there were indeed abundance of the finest ladies, or as fine as any in Britain, yet I must own, the number of the ladies at the comedy, or at the assemblee, is no way equal to the number that are seen in the town, much less are they equal to the whole body of the ladies in the three counties, and I must also add, that tho' it is far from true, that all that appear at the assemble, are there for matches or intrigues, yet I will venture to say, that they are not the worst of the ladies who stay away; neither are they the fewest in number, or the meanest in beauty, but just the contrary; and I do not at all doubt, but that the scandalous liberty some take at those assemblees, will in time bring them out of credit with the virtuous part of the sex here, as it has done already in Kent and other places; and that those ladies who most value their reputation, will be seen less there than they have been; for tho' the institution of them has been innocent and virtuous, the ill use of them, and the scandalous behaviour of some people at them, will in time arm virtue against them, and they will be lay'd down as they have been set up, without much satisfaction.

But the beauty of this town consists in the number of gentry who dwell in and near it, the polite conversation among them; the affluence and plenty they live in; the sweet air they breathe in, and the pleasant country they have to go abroad in.

Here is no manufacturing in this town, or but very little, except spinning; the chief trade of the place depending upon the gentry who live there, or near it, and who cannot fail to cause trade enough by the expence of their families and equipages, among the people of a county town. They have but a very small river, or rather but a very small branch of a small river, at this town, which runs from hence to Milden-Hall, on the edge of the Fens. However, the town and gentlemen about, have been at the charge, or have so encouraged the engineer who was at the charge, that they have made this river navigable to the said Milden-Hall, from whence there is a navigable dyke, call'd Milden-Hall Dreyn, which goes into the River Ouse, and so to Lynn; so that all their coal and wine, iron, lead, and other heavy goods, are brought by water from Lynn, or from London, by the way of Lynn, to the great ease of the tradesmen.

This town is famous for two great events, one was that in the year 1447, in the 25th year of Henry the VIth, a Parliament was held here.

The other was, That at the meeting of this Parliament, the great Humphry, Duke of Glocester, regent of the kingdom, during the absence of King Henry the Vth, and the minority of Henry the VIth, and to his last hour, the safeguard of the whole nation, and darling of the people, was basely murthered here; by whose death, the gate was opened to that dreadful war between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which ended in the confusion of that very race, who are supposed to have contrived that murther.

From St. Edmund's Bury I returned by Stow-Market and Needham, to Ipswich, that I might keep as near the coast as was proper to my designed circuit or journey; and from Ipswich, to visit the sea again, I went to Woodbridge, and from thence to Orford, on the sea-side.

Woodbridge has nothing remarkable, but that it is a considerable market for butter and corn to be exported to London; for now begins that part which is ordinarily called High-Suffolk; which being a rich soil, is for a long tract of ground, wholly employed in dayries; and again famous for the best butter, and perhaps the worst cheese, in England: The butter is barrelled, or often pickled up in small casks, and sold, not in London only, but I have known a firkin of Suffolk butter sent to the West-Indies, and brought back to England again, and has been perfectly good and sweet, as at first.

The port for the shipping off their Suffolk butter is chiefly Woodbridge, which for that reason is full of corn-factors, and butter-factors, some of whom are very considerable merchants.

From hence turning down to the shore, we see Orford Ness, a noted point of land for the guide of the colliers and coasters, and a good shelter for them to ride under, when a strong north-east wind blows and makes a foul shore on the coast.

South of the Ness is Orford Haven, being the mouth of two little rivers meeting together; 'tis a very good harbour for small vessels, but not capable of receiving a ship of burthen.

Orford was once a good town, but is decay'd, and as it stands on the land-side of the river, the sea daily throws up more land to it, and falls off itself from it, as if it was resolved to disown the place, and that it should be a sea port no longer.

A little farther lies Albro', as thriving, tho' without a port, as the other is decaying, with a good river in the front of it.

There are some gentlemen's seats up farther from the sea, but very few upon the coast.

From Albro' to Dunwich, there are no towns of note; even this town seems to be in danger of being swallowed up; for fame reports, that once they had fifty churches in the town; I saw but one left, and that not half full of people.

This town is a testimony of the decay of publick things, things of the most durable nature; and as the old poet expresses it,

By numerous examples we may see,
That towns and cities die, as well as we.

The ruins of Carthage, or the great city of Jerusalem, or of antient Rome, are not at all wonderful to me; the ruins of Nineveh, which are so entirely sunk, as that 'tis doubtful where the city stood; the ruins of Babylon, or the great Persepolis, and many capital cities, which time and the change of monarchies have overthrown; these, I say, are not at all wonderful, because being the capitals of great and flourishing kingdoms, where those kingdoms were overthrown, the capital cities necessarily fell with them; But for a private town, a sea-port, and a town of commerce, to decay, as it were of itself (for we never read of Dunwich being plundered, or ruin'd, by any disaster, at least not of late years); this I must confess, seems owing to nothing but to the fate of things, by which we see that towns, kings, countries, families, and persons, have all their elevation, their medium, their declination, and even their destruction in the womb of time, and the course of nature. It is true, this town is manifestly decayed by the invasion of the waters, and as other towns seem sufferers by the sea, or the tide withdrawing from their ports, such as Orford just now named; Winchelsea in Kent, and the like: So this town is, as it were, eaten up by the sea, as above; and the still encroaching ocean seems to threaten it with a fatal immersion in a few years more.

Yet Dunwich, however ruin'd, retains some share of trade, as particularly for the shipping off butter, cheese, and corn, which is so great a business in this county, and it employs a great many people and ships also; and this port lies right against the particular part of the county for butter, as Framlingham, Halsted, &c. Also a very great quantity of corn is bought up hereabout for the London market; for I shall still touch that point, how all the counties in England contribute something towards the subsistence of the great city of London, of which the butter here is a very considerable article; as also coarse cheese, which I mentioned before, us'd chiefly for the king's ships.

Hereabouts they begin to talk of herrings, and the fishery; and we find in the antient records, that this town, which was then equal to a large city; paid, among other tribute to the Government, 50000 of herrings. Here also, and at Swole, or Southole, the next sea-port, they cure sprats in the same manner as they do herrings at Yarmouth; that is to say, speaking in their own language, they make red sprats; or to speak good English, they make sprats red.

It is remarkable, that this town is now so much washed away by the sea, that what little trade they have, is carry* d on by Walderswick, a little town near Swole, the vessels coming in there, because the mines of Dunwich make the shore there unsafe and uneasie to the boats; from whence the northern coasting seamen a rude verse of their own using, and I suppose of their own making; as follows,

Swoul and Dunwich, and Walderswick,
All go in at one lousie creek.

This lousie creek, in short, is a little river at Swoul, which our late famous atlas-maker calls a good harbour for ships, and rendezvous of the royal navy; but that by the bye; the author it seems knew no better.

From Dunwich, we came to Southwold, the town above-named; this is a small port-town upon the coast, at the mouth of a little river call'd the Blith: I found no business the people here were employ'd in, but the fishery, as above, for herrings and sprats; which they cure by the help of smoak, as they do at Yarmouth.

There is but one church in this town, but it is a very large one and well-built, as most of the churches in this county are, and of impenetrable flint; indeed there is no occasion for its being so large, for staying there one Sabbath-Day, I was surprised to see an extraordinary large church, capable of receiving five or six thousand people, and but twenty-seven in it besides the parson and the clerk; but at the same time the meeting-house of the Dissenters was full to the very doors, having, as I guess'd from 6 to 800 people in it.

This town is made famous for a very great engagement at sea, in the year 1672, between the English and Dutch fleets, in the bay opposite to the town; in which, not to be partial to ourselves, the English fleet was worsted; and the brave Montague Earl of Sandwich, admiral under the Duke of York, lost his life: The ship Royal Prince , carrying 100 guns, in which he was, and which was under him, commanded by Sir Edward Spragg, was burnt, and several other ships lost, and about 600 seamen; part of those kill'd in the fight, were, as I was told, brought on shore here and buried in the church-yard of this town, as others also were at Ipswich.

At this town in particular, and so at all the towns on this coast, from Orford-Ness to Yarmouth, is the ordinary place where our summer friends the swallows, first land when they come to visit us; and here they may be said to embark for their return, when they go back into warmer climates; and, as I think the following remark, tho' of so trifling a circumstance, may be both instructing, as well as diverting, it may be very proper in this place. The case is this; I was some years before at this place, at the latter end of the year (viz.) about the beginning of October, and lodging in a house that looked into the church-yard, I observ'd in the evening an unusual multitude of birds sitting on the leads of the church; curiosity led me to go nearer to see what they were, and I found they were all swallows; that there was such an infinite number that they cover'd the whole roof of the church, and of several houses near, and perhaps might, of more houses which I did not see; this led me to enquire of a grave gentleman whom I saw near me, what the meaning was of such a prodigious multitude of swallows sitting there; 0 SIR, says he, turning towards the sea, you may see the reason, the wind is off sea. I did not seem fully informed by that expression; so he goes on: I perceive, sir, says he, you are a stranger to it; you must then understand first, that this is the season of the year when the swallows, their food here failing, begin to leave us, and return to the country, where-ever it be, from whence I suppose they came; and this being the nearest to the coast of Holland, they come here to embark; this he said smiling a little; and now, sir, says he, the weather being too calm, or the wind contrary, they are waiting for a gale, for they are all wind-bound.

This was more evident to me, when in the morning I found the wind had come about to the north-west in the night, and there was not one swallow to be seen, of near a million, which I believe was there the night before.

How those creatures know that this part of the island of Great-Britain is the way to their home, or the way that they are to go; that this very point is the nearest cut over, or even that the nearest cut is best for them, that we must leave to the naturalists to determin, who insist upon it, that brutes cannot think.

Certain it is, that the swallows neither come hither for warm weather, nor retire from cold, the thing is of quite another nature; they, like the shoals of fish in the sea, pursue their prey; they are a voracious creature, they feed flying; their food is found in the air, viz. the insects; of which in our summer evenings, in damp and moist places, the air is full; they come hither in the summer, because our air is fuller of fogs and damps than in other countries, and for that reason, feeds great quantities of insects; if the air be hot and dry, the gnats die of themselves, and even the swallows will be found famish'd for want, and fall down dead out of the air, their food being taken from them: In like manner, when cold weather comes in, the insects all die, and then of necessity, the swallows quit us, and follow their food where-ever they go; this they do in the manner I have mentioned above; for sometimes they are seen to go off in vast flights like a cloud; And sometimes again, when the wind grows fair, they go away a few and a few, as they come, not staying at all upon the coast.

Note , This passing and re-passing of the swallows, is observ'd no where so much, that I have heard of, or in but few other places, except on this eastern coast; namely, from above Harwich to the east point of Norfolk, call'd Winterton Ness, north; which is all right against Holland; we know nothing of them any farther north, the passage of the sea being, as I suppose, too broad from Flambro' Head, and the shoar of Holderness in Yorkshire, &c.

I find very little remarkable on this side of Suffolk, but what is on the sea shore as above; the inland country is that which they properly call High-Suffolk, and is full of rich feeding-grounds and large farms, mostly employ'd in dayries for making the Suffolk butter and cheese, of which I have spoken already: Among these rich grounds stand some market-towns, tho' not of very considerable note; such as Framlingham, where was once a royal castle, to which Queen Mary retir'd, when the Northumberland faction, in behalf of the Lady Jane, endeavour'd to supplant her; and it was this part of Suffolk where the Gospellers, as they were then called, prefer'd their loyalty to their religion, and complimented the popish line at expence of their share of the Reformation; but they paid dear for it, and their successors have learn'd better politicks since.

In these parts are also several good market-towns, some in this county, and some in the other, as Becles, Bungay, Harlston, &c. all on the edge of the River Waveney, which parts here the counties of Suffolk and Norfolk: And here in a bye-place, and out of common remark, lies the antient town of Hoxon, famous for being the place where St. Edmund was martyr'd, for whom so many cells and shrines have been set up, and monasteries built; and in honour of whom, the famous monastery of St. Edmund's Bury above-mentioned, was founded, which most people erroneously think was the place where the said murther was committed.

Besides the towns mentioned above, there are Halesworth, Saxmundham, Debenham, Aye, or Eye, all standing in this eastern side of Suffolk; in which, as I have said, the whole country is employed in dayries, or in feeding of cattle.

This part of England is also remarkable for being the first where the feeding and fattening of cattle, both sheep as well as black cattle with turnips, was first practised in England, which is made a very great part of the improvement of their lands to this day; and from whence the practice is spread over most of the east and south parts of England, to the great enriching of the farmers, and encrease of fat cattle: And tho' some have objected against the goodness of the flesh thus fed with turnips, and have fansied it would taste of the root; yet upon experience 'tis found, that at market there is no difference nor can they that buy, single out one joynt of mutton from another by the taste: So that the complaint which our nice palates at first made, begins to cease of itself; and a very great quantity of beef, and mutton also, is brought every year, and every week to London, from this side of England, and much more than was formerly known to be fed there.

I can't omit, however little it may seem, that this county of Suffolk is particularly famous for furnishing the city of London and all the counties round, with turkeys; and that 'tis thought, there are more turkeys bred in this county, and the part of Norfolk that adjoins to it, than in all the rest of England, especially for sale; tho' this may be reckoned, as I say above, but a trifling thing to take notice of in these remarks; yet, as I have hinted, that I shall observe, how London is in general supplied with all its provisions from the whole body of the nation, and how every part of the island is engaged in some degree or other of that supply; On this account I could not omit it; nor will it be found so inconsiderable an article as some may imagin, if this be true which I receiv'd an account of from a person living on the place, (viz.) That they have counted 300 droves of turkeys (for they drive them all in droves on foot) pass in one season over Stratford-Bridge on the River Stour, which parts Suffolk from Essex, about six miles from Colchester on the road from Ipswich to London. These droves, as they say, generally contain from three hundred to a thousand each drove; so that one may suppose them to contain 500 one with another, which is 150000 in all; and yet this is one of the least passages, the numbers which travel by New Market-Heath, and the open country and the forest, and also the numbers that come by Sudbury and Clare, being many more.

For the further supplies of the markets of London with poultry, of which these countries particularly abound: They have within these few years found it practicable to make the geese travel on foot too, as well as the turkeys; and a prodigious number are brought up to London in droves from the farthest parts of Norfolk; even from the fenn-country, about Lynn, Downham, Wisbich, and the Washes; as also from all the east-side of Norfolk and Suffolk, of whom 'tis very frequent now to meet droves, with a thousand, sometimes two thousand in a drove: They begin to drive them generally in August, by which time the harvest is almost over, and the geese may feed in the stubbles as they go. Thus they hold on to the end of October, when the roads begin to be too stiff and deep for their broad feet and short leggs to march in.

Besides these methods of driving these creatures on foot, they have of late also invented a new method of carriage, being carts form'd on purpose, with four stories or stages, to put the creatures in one above another, by which invention one cart will carry a very great number; and for the smoother going, they drive with two horses a-breast, like a coach, so quartering the road for the ease of the gentry that thus ride; changing horses they travel night and day; so that they bring the fowls 70, 80, or 100 miles in two days and one night: The horses in this new-fashion'd voiture go two a-breast, as above, but no perch below as in a coach, but they are fastened together by a piece of wood lying cross-wise upon their necks, by which they are kept even and together, and the driver sits on the top of the cart, like as in the publick carriages for the army, &c.

In this manner they hurry away the creatures alive, and infinite numbers are thus carried to London every year. This method is also particular for the carrying young turkeys, or turkey-poults in their season, which are valuable, and yield a good price at market; as also for live chickens in the dear seasons; of all which a very great number are brought in this manner to London, and more prodigiously out of this country than any other part of England, which is the reason of my speaking of it here.

In this part, which we call High-Suffolk, there are not so many families of gentry or nobility plac'd, as in the other side of the country: But 'tis observ'd that tho' their seats are not so frequent here, their estates are; and the pleasure of West Suffolk is much of it supported by the wealth of High-Suffolk; for the richness of the lands, and application of the people to all kinds of improvement, is scarce credible; also the farmers are so very considerable, and their farms and dayries so large, that 'tis very frequent for a farmer to have a thousand pounds stock upon his farm in cows only.

2 Familiar Letters , vol. x., p. 9.

3 Familiar Letters , Vol. I, p. 7. He says, An infinite number of knights daughters from Norfolk, Cambridge, and Suffolk, come here to market; intimating that they come to be bought, or to buy.

Daniel Defoe, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies (London: JM Dent and Co, 1927)

Next Selection Previous Selection