Picture of William Camden

William Camden

places mentioned

Huntingdon and Northampton

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NEXT unto Cambridgeshire lieth Huntingdonshire, in the Saxon tongue Huntedunescyre , so situate that Southward it confineth upon Bedfordshire, Westward upon Northamptonshire; like as Northwards, where by the river Avon [Nen] it is parted, and Eastward, upon Cambridgeshire, a country good for corne and tillage, and toward the East, where it is fenny, verie rich and plentifull for the feeding of cataille; elsewhere right pleasant by reason of rising hils and shady groves. For the inhabitants report that in ancient times it was throughout beset with woods, and certaine it is that it was a Forest untill that King Henry the Second in the beginning of his reigne disforested it (as wee find in an old Perambulation), all save Waybridge, Sapple and Herthei, which were woods of the Lords demaine, and remaine still forests.

2. The South part thereof the river Ouse (that I have so often spoken of) runneth by, and bedecketh with floures. On which river, among other of lesse note, there stand some townes of good note. First, after it hath left Bedfordshire and is entred into this Countie, it visiteth Saint Neots, commonly called Saint Needs, so named of one Neotus, a man both learned and holy who travailed all his life time in propagating of Christian religion, whose body was translated from Neotstock in Cornwal hither, and in honor of him Alfrick converted the palace of Earle Elfride into a monastery. The which Dame Roisa, wife to Richard Lord of Claire, shortly after the comming in of the Normans enriched with many faire possessions. But before it was named Ainulphsbury of one Ainulph, likewise an holy and devout man, which name continueth still also in one part of it. A little beneath this at Aileweston, a verie small village, there are two little springs, the one fresh, the other somewhat brackish, of which the neighbours give out that this is good against scabs and leprosie, the other against the dimnesse of the eye-sight. From thence not farre, Ouse passeth to Bugdon, a proper faire house of the Bishops of Lincolne, and so by Hinchingbrok, a religious house sometimes of Nuns, whom King William the Conquerour translated hither from Eltesley in Cambridgeshire, and now the dwelling house of the Cromwells, Knights, commeth to Huntingdon, in the English Saxon tongue, as Marianus reporteth, Huntantum , in the publicke seale Huntersdune , that is, The hil or downe of Hunters , as Henry Archdeacon of this place, who flourished 400 yeares since, interpreteth it. Whence it used in their seale an Hunter, and Leland our countriman, alluding thereunto, hath coined a new Latin word for it, namely Venantodunum. This is the chiefe towne of all this shire (to which it hath also given the name), farre excelling all the townes about it , the same Archdeacon saith, as well for lightsome and pleasant situation as for the beauty and faire shew that it hath it selfe, as well also for the vicinity of the Fens as for great store of Deere and fish. In King Edward the Confessour time (that I may note so much out of Domesday booke ) there were in this Borrough foure Ferlings, that is, quarters or wards. In two of them were 116 Burgesses for al customes and the kings gelt. It is seated upon the North banke of Ouse, somewhat high, stretching out in length Northward, adorned with 4 Churches, and it had a little Abbay founded by Maude the Empresse and Eustace Lovetoft, the ruines whereof Eastward I have seene hard under the towne. By the river nere unto the bridge, which is faire built of stone, the mount and plot of a Castle is to be seene, which in the yeare of our redemption 917 King Edward the Elder built anew, and David the Scotishman, unto whom, as an ancient historiographer writeth, King Stephen had given the Borrough of Huntingdon for an augmentation of his estate, enlarged with many new buildings and bulwarks. But in the end King Henry the 2 both because it was a place of refuge for seditious rebels, and for that the Scots and the Saint Lizes had oftentimes raised quarels and contention about it, to cut off al occasions of strife laid it even with the ground, when as he, provoked by their unreasonable variance, swore an oth that neither then of Saint Lizes nor the Scotishmen should quarrel any more for it. From these Castle hils, where there is a goodly prospect a great way off, a man may behold below a medow which they call Portsholme, environed round about with the river Ouse, the same verie exceeding large, and of all others that the sunne ever shone upon most fresh and beautiful, whereof in the spring time this may be truely said:

The pleasant Spring faire floures doth yeeld,
Of divers colours, in this field.

3. With such a delectable variety of gaye colours it pleaseth and contenteth the eye. On the hither banke over against Huntingdon standeth the mother as it were thereto, from whence it had his originall, called in Domesday booke Godmundcester, and at this daie Good-man-chester for Gormonchester: a verie great country towne, and of as great name for tillage, situate in an open ground, of a light mould and bending to the sunne. Neither is there a towne againe in all England that hath more stout and lusty husbandmen, or more ploughs a-going. For they make their boast that they have in former time received the kings of England as they passed in their progresse this waie with nine score ploughs, brought forth in a rusticall kinde of pompe for a gallant shew, Verily of our nation there be none that apply their mindes so seriously as they doe to husband (which Columella termeth the nere cosin of Wisedome), whether you respect their skill therein, or their ability to beare the expenses, and their willing minde withall to take the paines. Henrie of Huntingdon before named calleth it a Village , in his daies, not unlovely , and truely writeth that in times past it had beene a noble City. For, to say nothing of Romane peeces of coine oftentimes there ploughed up, nor of the distance in the old Itinerarie , the verie signification of the name may probably prove that this was the verie same City which Antonine the Emperour termed Duroliponte amisse in steed of Durosiponte. For Durosi-ponte (pardon mee I pray you for changing one letter) soundeth in the British tongue A Bridge over the water Ose. And that this river is named indifferently and without distinction Use, Ise, Ose, and Ouse all men confesse. But when this name was under the Danes quite abolished, it beganne to be called Gormoncester of Gormon the Dane, unto whom after agreement of peace, King Aelfred graunted these Provinces. Hereto this old verse giveth testimonie:

Gormonchester at this houre
Takes the name of Gormonstowre.

This is that Gormon of whom John Picus, an old Author, writeth in this wise: King Aelfred conquered and subdued the Danes, so that they gave what hostages hee would for assurance, either to bee packing out of the Land, or else to become Christians. Which thing also was effected. For their King Guthrum, whom they call Gormond, with thirtie of his Nobles and wel neere all his people, was baptized, and adopted by Aelfred as his Sonne, and by him named Athelstan. Whereupon he remained heere, and the provinces of the East-English and of the North-humbrians were given to him, that, continuing in his allegeance under the Kings protection, he might cherish and also maintaine them as his inheritance, which he had formerly overrun with spoile and robberie. ‡Neither would this be omitted, that some also of those ancient writers have termed this place Gumicester and Gumicastrum, avouching withall that Machutus a Bishop had heere his Episcopall See. And by the name of Gumicaster King Henry the Third graunted it to his sonne Edmund Earle of Lancaster.‡

4. Ouse, making hast speedily from hence, when he was about to enter into Cambridgeshire passeth through most delightsome medowes hard by a proper and faire towne, which sometime in the English-Saxon tongue was called Slepe, and now S. Ives of Ivo a Persian Bishop who, as they write, about the yeere of Christ 600 travailed through England, preached diligently the word of God, and to this towne, wherein he left this life, left also his name. From whence notwithstanding shortly after the religious persons translated his bodie to Ramseie Abbay.

5. Turning aside from hence scarce three miles, we saw Somersham, a faire dwelling house of late daies belonging to the Bishops of Ely, which Earle Brithnot in the yeere 991 gave to Ely Church, and James Stanley, the lavish and expensfull Bishop, enlarged with new building. A little above that most wealthy Abbay Ramsey was situate amiddest the fens, where the rivers become standing waters, when they have once found a soft kinde of soile. The description of this place have heere if it please you out of the private History of the Abbay. Ramsey , that is, The Rams Isle, on the west-side (for on other sides fennish grounds through which one cannot passe stretch out farre and wide) is severed from the firme ground almost two bow-shots off by certaine uneven and quaggie miry plots. Which place being wont in times past to receive gently within the bosome and brinks thereof vessels arriving there with milde gales of winde in a shallow river onely, now through great labour and coast after the foule and durty quagmires aforesaid were stopped up with heapes of wood, gravell and stones together, men may passe into on foote on the same side upon a drie causey, and it lieth out in length almost two miles, but spreadeth not all out so much in bredth: which notwithstanding is beset round about with beautifull rowes of Alfer-trees and reed plots, that with fresh greene canes and streight bulrushes among, make a faire and pleasant shew, and before it was inhabited, garnished and bedecked all over with many sort of trees, but of wild ashes especially, in great abundance. But now after longer tract of time, part of these groves and woods being cut downe, it is become arable ground of a very fat and plentifull mould, for fruite rich, pleasant for corne, planted with gardens, wealthy in pastures, and in the spring time the medowes arraied with pleasant floures smile upon the beholders, and the whole Iland seemeth embroidred, as it were, with variety of gay colours. Besides that, it is compassed all about with Meres full of eels, and pooles replenished with fish of many sorts, and with foule there bred and nourished. Of which Meres, one is called after the name of the Iland Ramsey Mere, farre excelling all the other waters adjoyning in beauty and fertility, on that side where the Isle is counted bigger and the wood thicker, flowing daintily by the sandy banke thereof, yeeldeth a very delectable sight to behold, in the very gulfes whereof by casting as well of great wide mashed [meshed] nets as of other sorts, by laying also of hookes baited and other instruments devised by fishers craft, are caught oftentimes and drawen certain pikes of an huge and wonderfull bignesse, which the inhabitants call Hakeds, and albeit the foulers doe continually haunt the place and catch great store of young water foule, yet there is abundance alwaies that remaineth untaken. Furthermore that Historie sheweth at large how Ailwin, a man of the bloud royall, and for the speciall great authority and favour that he had with the King surnamed Healf-Koning, that is, Halfe King , being admonished and mooved thereunto by a Fishers dreame, built it; how Oswald the Bishop furthered and enlarged it; how Kings and others endowed it with so faire revenewes that for the maintenance of threescore Monkes it might dispend by the yeere seven thousand pounds of our English mony. But seeing it is now pulled downe and destroyed, some may thinke I have already spoken overmuch thereof. Yet heereto I will annexe out of the same author the Epitaph of Ainwins tombe, for that it exhibiteth unto us an unsuall and strange title of Dignity:



6. From hence to Peterborough, which is about ten miles off, King Canutus, because travailing that way and finding it very combersome by reason of swelling brooks and flowes, with great cost and labour made a paved causey, which our historians call Kings-delfe, not farre from that great lake Wittlesmere. And as this Abbay did adorne the Eastside of the shire, so the middle thereof was beautified by Saltrie, which the second Simon de Sancto LIzio Earle of Huntingdon built. From which not farre is Cunnington, holden anciently of the Honour of Huntingdon: where within a foure square trench are to be seene exprese remains of an ancient castle, which, as also Saltrie, was by the gift of Canutus the seat of Turkill, that Dane who abode heere among the East English and sent for Sueno King of Denmarke to make spoile of England. After whose departure, Waldeof the sonne of Siward Earle of Northumberland enjoied it, who married Judith niece to William the Conqueror by his sister on the mothers side: by whose eldest daughter it came to the royall family of Scotland. For she, by a second marriage, matched with David Earle of Huntingdon (who afterwards obtained the Kingdome of Scotland), being the younger sonne of Malcolm Can-mor King of Scots, and of Margaret his wife, descended of the royall line of the English Saxons. For she was niece to King Edmond Iron-side by his sonne Edward surnamed The Banished. David had a sonne named Henrie, and Henrie had another named David Earle of Huntingdon, by one of whose daughters, Isabell, Cunnington and other lands by right of marriage descended to Sir Robert Bruse: from whose eldest sonne Robert, surnamed the Noble, James King of Great Britaine lineally deriveth his descent; and from Bernard his younger sonne, unto whom this Cunnington with Exton fell, Sir Robert Cotton Knight is lineally descended; who over and beside other vertues, being a singular lover and sercher of antiquities, having gathered with great charges from all places the monuments of venerable antiquitie, hath heere begunne a famous Cabinet, whence of his singular courtesie he hath oftentimes given me great light in these darksome obscurities.

7. But these quarters, considering the ground lying so low and for so many monethes in the yeere surrounded and drowned, in some places also floting (as it were) and hoven up with the waters, are not free from the offensive noisomnes of meres and the unholesome aire of the fennes. Heere for six miles in length and three in breadth that cleere deepe and fishfull Mere named Wittles-mere spreadeth it selfe, which, as other Meres in this tract, doth sometimes in calmes and faire weather sodainly rise tempestuously, as it were, into violent water-quakes, to the danger of the poore fishermen, by reason, as some thinke, of evaporations breaking violently out of the bowels of the earth. As for the unhealthiness of the place, whereunto onely strangers and not the natives there are subject, who live long and healthfully, there is amends made, as they account it, by the commodity of fishing, the plentifull feeding, and the abundance of turfe gotten for fewell. For King Cnut gave commandment by Turkill the Dane, of whome earewhile I spake, that to every village standing about the Fennes there should be set out a severall March: who so divided the ground that each Village by it selfe should have in proper use and occupation so much of the very maine Marsh as the firme ground of every such village touched the Marsh lying just against it. And he ordeined that no Village might either digge or mow in the Marsh of another without licence, but that the pasture therein should lie all in common , that is, Horne under horne, for the preservation of peace and concord among them. But thus much of this matter.

8. When the Sonnes and servants of the said King Cnut, sent for from Peterborough to Ramsey, were in passing over that Lake, There fell upon them as they were cheerefully all under saile and lifting up their voices with joifull shoutings, most untoward and unhappie winds, wherewith a turbulent storme arose, that enclosed them on everie side, so that, laying aside all hope, they were in utter despaire of their life, securitie, or any helpe at all. But such was the mercifull clemencie of Almighty God that it forsooke them not wholy, nor suffered the most cruell gulfe of the waters to swallow them up all quite, but by His providence some of them Hee delivered mercifully out of those serious and raging waves, both others againe according to His just and secret judgement Hee permitted amidst those billowes to passe out of this fraile and mortall life. And when the fame of so feareful a daunger was noised abroade and came to the king eares, there fell a mighty trembling and quaking upon him: but beeing comforted and relieved by the counsaile of his Nobles and friends, for to prevent in time to come all future mishaps by occasion of that outrageous monster, hee ordeined that his souldiours and servants with their swords and skeins should set out and marke a certaine ditch in the Marshes lying thereby between Ramseie and Wittlesey, and afterwards that workemen and labourers should skoure and clense them. Whereupon, as I have learned of ancient predecessours of good credite, the said ditch by some of the neighbour inhabitants tooke the name Sweresdelfe upon that marking out by swords, and some would have it to bee termed Cnuts-delfe according to the name of the same King. Yet commonly at this day they call it Steedsdike, and it is counted the limit and bound betweene this County and Cambridgeshire.

9. In the East side of this shire, Kinnibantum Castle, now called Kimbolton, the habitation in times past of the Mandevils, afterwards of the Bohuns and Staffords, and at this day of the Wingfelds, doth make a faire shewe. Under which was Stonely a prety Abbay founded by the Bigrames. A little from hence is Awkenbury, which King John gave to David Earle of Huntingdon, and John surnamed the Scot, his sonne, unto Sir Stephen Segrave, of whom I am the more willing to make mention, for that he was one of those Courtiers who hath taught us that there is no power alwaies powerful. Hardly and with much adoe he climbed to an eminent and high estate, with great thought and care he kept it, and as sodainly he was dejected from it. For in his youth of a Clerke he became a Knight, and albeit he was but of meane parentage, yet through his industrie toward his later daies so enriched and advanced that, being raunged with the great Peeres of the Realme, he was reputed chiefe Justice of England, and managed at his pleasure after a sort all the affaires of state. But in the end hee lost the kings favour quite, and to his dying day lay close in a cloister, and who before time from a clerkship betooke himselfe through arrogancy to secular service, returning againe to the office of a clerke, resumed the shaven crowne which he had forsaken without the counsel and advise of the Bishop. Not farre from hence is Leighton, where Sir Gervase Clifton, Knight, lately made Baron Clifton, beganne to build a goodly house, and close to it lieth Spaldwick, which King Henrie the First gave unto the Church of Lincoln for amends of a losse, when hee erected the Bishoprick of Ely, taken ut of the Diocese of Lincoln, as I have before shewed.

10. But where the river Nen entreth into this Shire, it runneth fast by Elton the seat of the ancient familie of the Sapcots, where is a private Chappel of singular workemanship and most artificial glasse windowes, erected by Ladie Elizabeth Dinham the widow of Baron Fitz-Warin, married into the said familie. But a little higher there stood a little City more ancient than all these, neere unto Walmsford, which Henrie of Huntingdon called Caer Dorm and Dormecaster, upon the river Nen, and reporteth to have been utterly rased before his time. This was doubtlesse that Durobrivae, that is The river passage , that Antonine the Emperour speaketh of, and now in the verie same sense is called Dornford, nere unto Chesterton, which beside peeces of ancient coine daily found in it, sheweth apparent tokens of a City overthrowne. For to it there leadeth directly from Huntingdon a Roman Port way, and a little above, Stilton, which in times past was called Stichilton , it is seene with a high banke, and in an ancient Saxon Charter termed Ermingstreat. This street now runneth here through the midest of a foure square fort, the North side whereof was fensed with wals, all the other sides with a rampire of earth onely. Neere unto which were digged up not long since cofins or sepulchres of stone in the ground of Richard Bevil, or an ancient house in this shire. Some verily thinke that this City tooke up both bankes of the river, and there be of opinion that the little village Caster standing upon the other banke was parcell thereof. Surely to this opinion of theirs maketh much the testimony of an ancient story, which sheweth that there was a place by Nen called Dormund-caster, in which when Kinneburga had built a little Monastery, it began to be called Kinneburge-caster, and afterwards short Caster. This Kinneburga the most Christian daughter of the Pagan King Penda, and wife to Alfred King of the Northumberlands changed her Princely state into the service of Christ (if I may use the words of an ancient writer) and governed this Monastery of her owne as Prioress or mother of the Nunnes there. Which afterwards, about the yeere of salvation 1010, by the furious Danes was made levell with the ground. But where this river is ready to leave this country, it passeth hard by an ancient house called Bottle-bridge (so is it now termed short for Botolph-bridge), which the Draitons and Lovets brought from Richard Gimels by hereditary succession into the family of the Shirleies. And to this house adjoyneth Overton, now corruptly called Orton, which being by felony forfait and confiscate, Neele Lovetoft redeemed againe of King John, and the said Noeles sister and coheire, being wedded unto Hubert alias Robert de Brounford, brought him children, who assumed unto them the surname of Lovetoft.

11. This Country of Huntingdon, when the English-Saxons Empire began now to decline, had Siward, an Earle by office and not inheritance. For as yet there were no Earls in England by inheritance, but the Rulers of Provinces after the custome of that age were tearmed Earles, with addition of the Earledome of this or that Province whereof they had the rule for the time: as this Siward while she governed this County was called Earle of Huntingdon, whereas afterwards being Ruler of Northumberland, they named him Earle of Northumberland. He had a sonne named Waldeof, who under the title of Earle had likewise the government of this Province, standing in favour as he did with William the Conquerour, whose niece Judith by his sister of the mothers side he had maried, but by him beheaded for entring into a conspiracy against him. The eldest daughter of this Waldeof (as William Gemiticensis reporteth) Simon de Senlys or S. Liz tooke to wife, together with the Earldome of Huntingdon, and of her begat a son named Simon. But after that the said Simon was dead, David brother to Maud the Holy, Queene of England (who afterwards became King of Scots) married his wife by whom he had a sonne named Henry. But in processe of time, as fortune and Princes favour varied, one while the Scots, another while the Sent Lyzes enjoyed this dignity. First Henry the sonne of David aforesaid, then Simon S. Lyz sonne of Simon the first; after him Malcolm King of Scots, sonne to Earle Henry; and after his death Simon Sent Lyz the third, who dying without issue, William King of Scots and brother to Malcolm succeeded. For so wrot he that then lived, Ralphe de Diceto in the yere 1185, when Simon (saith he) the sonne of Earle Simon was departed without children, the King restored the Earldome of Huntingdon with the Pertinences unto William King of the Scots. Then his brother David, and Davids sonne John surnamed Scot, Earle of Chester, who dying without issue, and Alexander the Second that had married the daughter of our King Henry the Third, having for a time borne this title, the Scots by occasion of incident warres lost honour, and with it a very faire inheritance in England. A good while after King Edward the Third created Sir William Clinton Earle of Huntingdon, who died issuelesse, and in his roome there was placed by King Richard the Second Guiscard of Engolisme, a Gaskoin, who was his governour in his minority; and after his death succeeded John Holland, John his sonne ‡(who was stiled Duke of Excester, Earle of Huntingdon and Ivory, Lord of Aparre, Admirall of England and Ireland, Lieutenant of Aquitaine, and Constable of the Tower of London),‡ and his sonne, likewise Henry, successively, who were Dukes also of Excester. This is that very same Henry Duke of Excester whom Philip Comines, as himselfe witnesseth, saw begging bare foot in the Low Countries, whiles he stood firme and fast unto the house of Lancaster, albeit he had married King Edward the Fourth his owne sister. Then Thomas Grey, who became afterward Marquesse Dorset, a little while enjoied that honour. Also it is evident out of the Records that William Herbert Earle of Pembock brought in againe the Charter of creation, whereby his father was made Earle of Pembroch, into the Chancery for the be cancelled, and that King Edward the Fourth in the seventeenth of his reigne created him Earle of Huntingdon, at such time as hee granted the title of Pembroch to the Prince his sonne. Afterward King Henry the Eighth conferred that honor upon George Lord Hastings, after whom succeeded his son Francis, and after him likewise his sonne Henrie, a right honorable personage, commended both for true nobility and piety. And whereas he died without issue, his brother Sir George Hastings succeeded, and after him his grandchild Henrie by his sonne, who at this day enjoieth the said honour.

In this little shire are numbered Parishes 78.


NOW must we passe on to the Coritani, who beyond the Iceni dwelling further within the land, and spreading themselves very farre through the mediterranean part of the Iland, inhabited as farre as to the German Ocean, to wit in these countrie which now are commonly called Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Rutlandshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and Derbyshire. With the Etymologie of their name I will not once meddle, for feare lest putting downe incertaintie for certaine and undoubted truths I may seeme to slip into an errour. For although this people were spred farre and wide, which Gur-tati signifieth in the British tongue, yet if I would boldly avouch that these were thence called Coritani, should I not play hazard at all adventure? Let them, for me, guesse more safely, who can more happily. As for me, I will in the meane time according to my purpose survey as diligently as I may these shires which I have now named, each one by it selfe orderly in their severall places.


THIS Countie of Northampton, in the English Saxon tongue North-arendon-scire and Northamptonshire , situate in the very middle and heart, as it were, of England, from the Southwest side, where it is broadest, drawing it selfe narrower by little and little, reacheth out in length to the North-east. On the East lie Bedford and Huntingdonshire, on the South Buckingham and Oxfordshire, Westward Warwickshire, and Northward Rutlandshire and Lincolnshire, separated from it by Avon the lesse and Welland, two rivers. The East side thereof, from Ouse to Dowbridge, one of the Romane high waies which they call Watlingstreat runneth through. The middle and East part the river Nen, which by writers is named also Aufona, with his gentle streame parteth in twaine. A champain [flat] country it is, exceeding populous, and passing well furnished with Noblemens and Gentlemens houses, replenished also with townes and Churches, in so much as in some places there are twenty, and in others thirty steeples with spires or square towres within view at once. The soile very fertile both for tillage and for pasture, yet nothing so well stored with woods, unlesse it be in the further and hither sides. But in every place, as else where also in England, it is over-spread and as it were beset with sheepe, which according as that Hythlodaeus merrily said, Were wont to be so gentle and fed with so little, but now in our daies, as the report goes, beginne to be so ravenous and wild that they devour men, they waste and depopulate fields, houses, and towneships.

2. On the South border, where the river Ouse so often mentioned first springeth, in a place rising with an easie ascent, and out of which there walme [well up] springs in great plenty, standeth Brakley, as one would say a place full of Brake or Ferne , in old time a famous market towne and staple as it were for wool, which how large and wealthy it was it maketh now demonstration to travailers onely by the ruins thereof, and by a Major, whom it hath for the chiefe magistrate. The Zouches Lords of the place founded a Colledge there, from whom it came successively as a possession in marriage right unto the Hollands and the Lovels. But when Lord Lovell in King Henrie the Seventh his time was attained, the Stanleies became Lords of it by the Kings gift. But the Colledge here, at this day ruinous, belongeth to the students of Mawdlen College in Oxford, who use it for a retyring place. Neither came this place to the least name and reputation that it had by occasion of the memorie of Saint Rumbald, a young infant, who, as we find written in his life, being a Kinges sonne, so soone as ever he was borne, after he had spoken I know not what holy words and professed himselfe to be a Christian, was forthwith baptised, and so presently died, and, being canonized by the people amongst the Saints, had his commemoration kept both heere and at Buckingham.

3. From hence Northward, when we had gone six miles forward, and all the way well wooded, first we saw Astwell, where Sir Thomas Billing, sometime Lord chiefe Justice in the Kings Bench, with great state dwelt, from whom it descended hereditarily to the Shirleis by the ancient family of the Lovels; then Wedon and Wapiham, which the family of the Pinkeneys held by Baronie untill that Henrie de Pinkney ordained King Edward the First his heire. Whom being a right good and excellent Prince many evill men made their heire, whereas (according to Tacitus) a good father maketh no Prince but a bad one his heire. Then came we streight waies to Tripontium, which Antonine the Emperour mentioneth, though not in due place. For I am of opinion that this was the very same which now we call Torcester, and to prove it there be some arguments of moment as yet remaining. If Trimonium in Thracia had that name of three hils, Triturrita in Tuskanie of three towres, and Tripolis likewise of three Cities conjoined in one, I have no doubt that this Tripontium of ours might be so called of three bridges. And heere at this Torcester the Romane Port way, which in many places most evidently sheweth it selfe betweene it and Stony-stratford, is cut through by three speciall chanels or streames that the little river there devideth it selfe into, which in times past, like as at this day, had of necessitie there severall bridges over them. Now if you ask a Britain how he saith in British Three bridges , you shall heere him by and by answere Tair ponte , and there be certaine honest men from whom I have received heere peeces of Romane coine, that constantly avouch the true name of this place to be Torcester, and thinke it was so called of Towres. Howbeit Marianus nameth it Tovecester , if the booke be not faulty, in whom we read that this towne was so fortified in the yeere of our redemption 917, that the Danes by no meanes could winne it by assault, and that King Edwards the Elder afterwards compassed it about with a stone wall; yet we with all our seeking could see no tokens of any such wall. Onely there is a mount remaining cast up with mens hands, they call it Certhill, now turned into private mens gardens, and planted on every side with cherie trees. And very time it selfe hath so conquered and subdued the towne that beholden it is to the situation, to the name, and old coines otherwhiles heere found, for that esteeme which it hath of antiquity. For no memorable thing there is in it but one onely Church that it hath, and the same is a large and faire building, wherein Dominus Sponde, sometime the Parson thereof, by repoart a good benefactor to Church and towne both, lieth entombed within a tombe of fine and curious workmanship. But hard by, at Eston-Nesson, there is to be seene a faire and beautifull dwelling house belong to the Knightly family of the Farmors.

4. The river that watereth Torcester, as it goeth from hence toward Ouse, runneth beside Grafton, which now is reputed an Honor of the Kings, but in times past was the seat of the family de Widdevil, out of which came Richard, a man highly renowned for his vertue and valour, who, for that he tooke to wife Jaquet the widow of John Duke of Bedford and daughter to Peter of Luxenburgh Earle of Saint Paul without the Kings licence, was by King Henrie the Sixth fined at a thousand pounds of our money. Yet afterwards hee advanced the same Richard to the honorable title of Baron Widdevil de Rivers. With whose daughter Dame Elizabeth King Edward the Fourth secretly contracted marriage, and verily hee was the first of all our Kings since the Conquest that married his subject. But thereby he drew upon himselfe and his wives kinsfolke a world of troubles, as yee may see in our histories. The said Richard Widevil Lords of Rivers, Grafton and de la Mote, by King Edward the Fourth, now his sonne in Law, was erected (these be the very words out of the Charter of his creation) to be Earle Rivers by cincture of the sword, to have unto him and his heires, with the Fee of 20 pounds, by the hands of the Sherife of Northampton. And soone after he was with exceeding great honor ordained High Constable of England (I speake out of the Kings Patent it selfe) To occupie, manage, and execute that Office either by himselfe, or by sufficient Deputies for terme of life, receiving yeerely two hundred pounds out of the Exchequer, with full powre and authoritie to take examinations, and to proceede in causes of and concerning the crime of high treason, or the occasion thereof; also to heare, examine, and in due time to determine the causes and businesses aforesaid, with all and singular matters arising from them, incident to them, or conjoined therewith, even summarily in any place whatsoever below, without noise or formall order of judgement, onely upon sight of the the truth of the fact, and with the Kings hand and power, if it shall be thought meete, in our behalfe, without all appeale. Moreover about that time he was made Lord Treasurer of England. But hee, having enjoied these honors a small while, was soone after in the quarell of the King, his sonne in law aforesaid, taken in the battaile at Edgecote and beheaded. And albeit in his sonnes this ofspring, as it were halfe dead, tooke an end, what time as Antonie Earle Rivers was by Richard the Third made shorter by the head, Richard also and his other brethren dead without issue, yet from the daughters there did spred forth most faire and fruitfull branches. For out of them flowred the royall race and line of England, the Marquesses of Dorset, the Earles of Essex, Earles of Arundel, Earles of Worcester, Earles of Derbie, the last Duke of Buckingham, and Barons of Stafford.

5. Just behind Grafton lieth Sacy Forrest, stored with deere and fit for game. More Eastward, the country all over is besprinkled with villages and little townes, among which these are of greatest name: Blisworth, the habitation of the Wakes descended from that honorable race of the Barons of Wake and Estotevile; Pateshull, which gave name to the most worshipfull family in times past of the Pateshuls; Greenes-Norton, so named of the Greenes, men in the fore-going age right famous for their wealth. But it was called in foretime (if I be not deceived) Norton Dany, which those Greenes held by Knights service, as also a moietie of Asheby Mares in this Countie by service To lift up their right hand toward the King upon Christmas-day every yeare, wheresoever the King shall be in England. Also Warsdon, an Hundred, which had Lords descended from Sir Guy of Reindubcourt a Norman, whose inheritance came by the Folletts to Guiscard Leddet, whose daughter Christian bare unto her husband Henrie de Braibroke many children; yet Guiscard the eldest of them tooke to him the surname of Leddet from his mother. But shortly after, those faire lands and possessions were by the femals parted betweene Witham and John, both Latimers of Corby. From John, the Griphins in this shire, and from William those Latimers, Barons of good antiquity in Yorkshire, deduced their descent.

6. Higher into the country Northward is the head of the river Aufona (for avon in the British tongue is a generall name of all rivers) , which the people dwelling thereby call Nen, and from the West side of the shire holdeth on his course with many reaches of his bankes, after a sort, through the middle part of this shire, and all the way along it doth comfortable service. A notable river, I assure you, and if I have any sight into these matters, fortified in times past with garisons by the Romans. For whenas that part of Britaine on this side the river was now in Claudius the Emperors time brought subject to the Romane government, so as the inhabitants thereof were called socii Romanorum , that is, The Romans consorts or associats , and the Britans dwelling beyond the river oftentimes invaded this their country and with great violence made incursions and spoiled much, whenas also that the Associates themselves, who could better endure the Romans commands than brooke their vices, otherwhiles conspired with those on the further side of the river, P. Ostorius (as saith Tacitus) cinctos castris Antonam (Aufonas I would read if I might be so bold) et Sabrinam cohibere parat , that is, if I understand the place aright, He by placing forts and garisons hard by the rivers Antonae, or Aufonae rather, and Severn, determined to restraine and keepe in those Britains on the further side, and these that were provincials and associates from conjoyning their forces together and helping one another against the Romans. Now what river this Antona should be no man is able to tell. Lipsius, the very Phoebus of our age, hath either driven away this mist, or else verily a cloud hath dimmed mine eie sight. He pointeth with his finger to Northampton, and I am of opinion that this word Antona is closely crept into Tacitus insteed of Aufona , on which Northampton standeth. For the very navill, heart and middle of England is counted to be neere unto it, where out of one hill spring three great rivers running divers waies; Cherwell into the south, Leame Westward, which as it maketh speed to Severn is straightwaies received by a second Aufon, and this Aufona or Nen Eastward. Of which these two Aufons so crosse England overthwart that whosoever comes out of the North parts of the Iland must of necessity passe over one of these twaine. When Ostorius therefore had fortified Severne, and these two Aufons, he had no cause to feare any danger out of Wales or the North parts to befall unto his people, either Romans or associates, who at that time had reduced the nerest and now part of the Iland onely into the forme of a Province, as elsewhere Tacitus himselfe witnesseth.

7. Some of these forts of Ostorius his making may those great fortifications and militarie fenses seeme to be, which are heere seene at Gildsborough and Dantrey betweene the springheads of the two Aufons, which runne divers waies, and where onely there is passage into the hither part of Britaine without any rivers to hinder it. That fort at Goldsborough is great and large, but this at Dantrey is greater and larger. For being foure square upon an high hill, from whence all the country beneath may be seene farre every way about, and having on the East side a mount, which they call Spelwell, it encloseth within a banke cast up by mans hand more than one hundred acres of ground or thereabout. Within which the country people otherwhiles find coined peeces of money of the Roman Emperours as proofes of the antiquitie thereof. Much deceived are they therefore who will needs have it to be a worke of the Danes, and that of them the towne under it was named Dantrey, which being a through-fare well knowen at this day by reason of the Innes there, had a religious house of the Austen Friars that Sir Henry De Fawesley founded, as I have read.

8. At the head of Aufona or Nen standeth Catesby, that gave name to an ancient family, but now of foule tainted memorie for a most horrible and damnable complot, never in any age exampled, which that Robert Catesby of Ashby S. Leger, the shame and indelible staine of his house and name, detestably breathing forth savage cruelty in barbarous wise, and compassing impiously the destruction of Prince and Country, devised lately under a specious pretext of religion. Of whom let all times be silent, least by making mention of him, the foule staine and blot of our age appeere unto posterity, at the naming whereof we cannot chuse but with horror grieve and grone againe, seeing the very dumbe and livelesse creatures seeme to be moved and troubled at so hellish villanie imagined by him and his complices. Hard by it is Fawesley, where have dwelt a long time the Knightleies, worshipfull Knights descended from those more ancient Knightleies of Gnowshall in the County of Stafford; and more Eastward hard by Nen, as yet very small, there is Wedon in the Street, sometimes the royall seat of Wolpher King of the Mercians, and converted into a Monasterie by his daughter Werburg a most holy Virgine, of whose miracles in driving away geese from hence some credulous writers have made many a tale. Verily I should wrong the Truth if I should not thinke (albeit I have thought otherwise) that this Wedon is the very station that Antonine the Emperour nameth Bannavenna, Bennavenna, Bennaventa, and once corruptly Isannaventa, notwithstanding there now remaine no expresse tokens of that name, considering how Time changeth all, both names and things. For the distance from the next stations and baiting townes which were in ancient times, answereth just, and in the very name of Bannavenna the name of the river Aufon, the head whereof is neere until it, in some sort doth plainly discover it selfe. LIkewise, the high port-way or Romane Street goeth directly from hence Northward with a bridge or causey oft broken and worne out, but most of all over against a Village named Creek, where it was of necessity that there should be a bridge, but in other places the bridge sheweth it selfe also as far as to Dobridge, neere Lilborne most apparently.

9. Somewhat more Northward we saw Althorp, the habitation of the Spensers Knights, allied to very many and those most honourable and worshipfull families, out of which house Sir Robert Spenser, the fifth Knight in a successive continued descent, a respective lover of vertue and learning, was by our most gratious Soveraigne King James advanced to the honour of Baron Spenser of Wormeleighton. Hard by Althorp, Holdenby house, a faire patterne of stately and magnificent building, maketh a faire glorious shew, which Sir Christopher Hatton one of Queene Elizabeths privy Counsell, Lord Chancellour of England, and Knight of the Order of the Garter, built upon the lands and inheritance of his great grand mother, heire unto the family of the Holdenbeis, for the greatest and last monument (as himselfe afterwards was wont to say) of his youth. A man, to say nothing of him but that which in truth is due, for religion and godlinesse right devout, of approved faithfulnesse to the State, of incorrupt equitie, for almesdeeds of all others most bountifull, and one (which is not the least part of his praise) that was most willing and ready to support and maintaine learning. Who, as he lived a godly life, so as godly he slept in Christ. Yet his commendation, made knowne by the lightsome testimonie of letters, shall shine forth more cleerly than by that gorgeous monument right well beseeming so great a personage, which Sir William Hatton, his adopted sonne, consecrated to his memorie in the Church of Saint Paule in London.

10. Beneath these places Nen passeth on forward with a still and small streame, and anone taketh in a small brooke from the North, and is thereby augmented: where at the verie meeting and confluence of both a City called after the river Northafandon, and short Northampton, is so seated that on the West side it is watered with the brooke, and on the South side with the foresaid Nen. Which City I was of late easily induced to ghesse to have beene that ancient Bennaventa, but if my conjecture missed the truth, the confession of my errour may salve it. As for the name, it may seeme to have beene imposed of the situation thereof upon the North banke of the river Aufon. The Citie it selfe, which seemeth to have beene built all of stone, is, I assure you, for houses verie faire, for circuit of good largenesse, and walled about, and from the wall yee have a goodly prospect every way to a wide and spacious plaine country. On the West side it hath an old Castle, and the verie antiquity thereof giveth a grace unto it, built by Simon de Sancto Lizio, commonly called Senlyz, the first of that name Earle of Northampton: who also joyned unto it a beautifull church called Saint Andrews for a place of his owne buriall, and, as men say, re-edified the towne. Simon also the younger, his sonne, founded without the towne a Monastery commonly called De la Prey , for Nunnes. During the Saxons Heptarchie, it seemeth to have lien forlorne and of none account, neither have writers made anywhere mention of it in al those depredations of the Danes, unlesse it were when Sweno the Dane in a furious and outragious moode made most cruelly havock throughout all England. For then, as Henrie of Huntingdon recordeth, it was set on fire and burnt to the ground. In the reigne of Saint Edward the Confessor there were in it, as finde in the survey booke of England, LX Burgesses in the kings Domaine, having as many Mansions. Of these, in King William the Conquerours time, Foureteene laie waste and voide, and fortie and seaven remained. Over and above these, there were in the new borrough fortie Burgesses in the domaine of King William. After the Normans time, it valiantly withstood the siege laid unto it by the Barons, when they disquieted and troubled the whole Realme with injurious wrongs and slaughters, being maliciously bent against King John for private causes; which notwithstanding they so cloked with pretenses of religion and the common good that they tearmed themselves The Armie of God and the holy Church: at which time, they say, that trench and rampier were made which they call Hunshil, but it stood not out with like successe against Henry the Third their lawfull king as it did against these Rebels. For when those Barons, being nuzzelled up in sedition and rebellion, from hence displaied their banners and sounded the battaile against him, hee made a breach through the wall and soon wonne it by assault. After this, diverse times, like as before, the kings held their Parliaments here, because it standeth very nere in the midest of England, and in the yeare after Christ was borne 1450 heere was a wofull and bloudy field fought, wherein (such was the civil division of England in it selfe) Richard Nevil Earle of Warwick, after many a noble man slaine, led away captive that most unhappy King Henry the Sixth in a piteous spectacle, who was now the second time taken prisoner by his subjects. To conclude, the Longitude of Northampton our Mathematicians have described by 22 degrees and 29 scruples, and the Latitude by 52 degrees and 13 scruples.

11. From hence Nen maketh hast away by Castle Ashby, where Henry Lord Compton began to build a faire sightly house, close unto which lieth Yardley Hastings, so named of the Hastings, sometimes Earls of Pembroch, unto whom it belonged. ‡And to turne a little aside, I may not omit Horton, whenas King Henry the 8 created Sir William Par Lord thereof, unckle and Chamberlane to Queene Catharin Par, Baron Par of Horton, which honor shortly vanished with him when he left only daughters, who were maried into the families of Tresham and Lane. But to returne.‡ Nen goeth forward to Mercat Wellingborow, in old times Wedlingborough and Wodlingborough, made a mercat by King John at the suit of the monks of Crowland, where there runneth into it a riveret comming down by Rushton and Newton belong to the Treshams. By Ceddington also, where the King had a Castle, and where there remaineth yet a Crosse erected in the honor of Queene Aeleonor wife to King Edward the First, by Boughton the seat of the Montacutes Knights, by Kettering a Mercat towne well frequented, neere unto which standeth Rouwell much talked of for the horse faire there kept, by Burton likewise the Barony (if I mistake not the name) of Alane de Dinant. For King Henry the First gave unto him a Barony of that name in this shire, for that in single fight he had slaine the French Kings champion at Gizars. And by Harrouden, the Lord whereof named Sir Nicolas Vaulx , Captaine of Guines in Picardy, King Henry the Eighth created Baron Vaulx of Harrowden.

12. From hence goeth the Aufon or Nen to Higham, a towne in times past of the Peverels, and after by them of the Ferrers, from whom it is named Higham Ferrers: who had heere also their Castle, the ruines and rubbish whereof are yet seene neere unto the Church. But the excellent ornament of this place was Henry Cicheley Archbishop of Canterbury, ‡who built All-soules Colledge in Oxford, and an other heere,‡ wherein he placed secular Clerks and Prebendaries, and with all an Hospitall for the poore. Then runneth it by Addington the possession in old time of the Veres, and by Thorpston commonly called Thrapston, belonging likewise to them, and over against it Draiton, the house in the foregoing age of Sir Henry Greene, but afterwards by his daughter, of John and Edward Staffords, Earles of Wiltshire, but now the habitation of the Lord Mordaunt, unto whom it descended hereditarily from those Greenes, noble Gentlemen and of right great name in this country in their time. The runneth it in a maner round about a proper little towne which it giveth name unto, Oundale they now call it corruptly in stead of Avondale, where there is nothing worth sight but a faire Church and a free schoole for the instruction of children, and an Almeshouse for poore people founded by Sir William Laxton, sometime Major of London. Neere adjoyning to this stands Barnewell, a little Castle, which now of late Sir Edward Mont-acute of the ancient family of the Mont-acutes, as may be collected by his Armes, hath repaired and beautified with new buildings. In times past it was the possession of Berengary le Moigne, that is, Monke , and not, as some thinke, of Berengary of Anjou, the great Clerke whose opinion of the Sacrament of the Lords Supper was condemned in a sinode ‡of an hundred and thirteene Bishops‡ assembled by the Bishop of Rome. After this it passeth on by Fotheringhay Castle, environed on every side with most pleasant Medowes, which in the raigne of Henry the Third, when the strongholds encouraged the Lords and nobles to revolt, William Earle of Aumarl surprised upon the sodaine and laid all the Country about it was, as Matthew of Paris recordeth. At which time it belonged unto the Earles of Huntingdon, who were of the royal race of Scotland. A good while after, King Edward the Third assigned it, as it were, for an inheritance or appenage, as the French tearm it, unto his son Edmund of Langley, Duke of Yorke, who reedified the Castle, and made the highest fortification or Keepe therof in forme of an horse-fetter-locke, which both of it selfe and with a Faulcon on it was his Devise, Emprese, or Badge, ‡as implying that he was locked up from all great hope, as a younger brother.‡ His sonne Edward Duke of Yorke in the second yeere of Henry the Fift his reigne, and in the yeere of Christ 1415 (as appeareth by an inscription there in rude and Barbarous verses) founded a passing faire Collegiat Church, wherein himselfe, when he was slaine in the battaile at Agincourt, as also Richard Duke of Yorke, his brothers sonne, who lost his life at Wakfield, and his wife Cecelie Nevil, had stately and sumptuous tumbes, where were profanely subverted together with the upper part of the Church in King Edward the Sixth his time. Yet in memoriall of them Queene Elizabeth comming thither commanded two Monuments to be erected in the nether part of the Church, that now standeth: which notwithstanding (such was their pinching and sparing that had the charge of this worke) are thought scarce beseeming so great Princes descended from Kings, and from whom Kings of England are descended. ‡The forme of the Keepe beforesaid, built like a fetter-lock, occasioneth me to digresse a little, and I hope with your pardon, when the gravest authours in as smal matters have done the like. Edmund of Langley Duke of Yorke who built that Keepe, and garnished the glass-windowes there with fetter-locks, when he saw his sons, being young scholars, gazing upon the painted windowes, asked them what was Latine for a fetter-lock? They studying and looking silently one upon another, not able to answer, "If you cannot tell me," saith he, "I will tell you, Hic, haec, hoc, taceatis , that is, Hic, haec, hoc, be silent and quiet , " and therewithall added, "God knoweth what may happen heereafter." This King Edward the Fourth his Great-grand child reported publickly, when he having atteined the crown created Richard his younger sonne Duke of Yorke, and then commanding that he should use for his Badge the Fetter-locke open to verifie the presage of his Great-grandfather. But this by the way.‡ The said Cecilie, mother to King Edward the Fourth, saw plainly within the compasse of a few yeares what disports unruly and powerfull Fortune (pardon the word, ‡for I acknowledge that God ruleth all‡) maketh herselfe out of the miseries of the mighty. For she saw Richard Duke of Yorke her husband, even then when he thought himselfe sure of the Kingdome, and her sonne the Earle of Rutland slaine together in a bloudy fought field, and some few yeares after her eldest sonne Edward the Fourth enjoying the regall Crowne, deprived of the same, recovering it againe, and taken away by untimely death, when he had before made away with her second sonne and his owne brother George Duke of Clarence. After that, she saw her other sonne Richard Duke of Glocester aspiring to the crowne and making way to it by that lamentable murdering of his nephewes, and slandering of her his owne mother (for he charged her openly with the greatest dishonor incident to a Lady), and afterward she saw him, when he was possessed of the Kingdome, within a while slaine in battaile. And these her miseries were so linked together that the longer she lived the greater sorrow she felt, and every day was more dolefull than other. As for that disastre which even heere befell unto another most mighty Prince Mary Queene of Scots, I had leifer it should be enwrapped up in silence than once spoken of. Let it be forgotten quite, if it be possible; if not, yet be it hidden as it may in silence. Under the best Princes some there are who, being once armed with authority, know how by secret slights to set a goodly shew and faire pretense of conscience and religion, thereby to cloke their owne private designes. And there be againe, that sincerely and from the heart tender true religion, their Princes security, yea and (which is the highest rule and law of all) the publike safety. Neither can it be denied but that even the best Princes themselves are otherwhiles violently caried away, as good Pilotes with tempests, against their wils whither they would not. But what they doe as Princes and Kings, let us leave to God, Who onely hath power over kings.

13. Nen, being now come unto the skirts of Huntingdonshire, running under a faire stone bridge at Walmesford, passeth by Durobrivae, a right ancient City, which beeing called in the English Saxon tongue Dormancester, as I sayd before, tooke up a great space of ground on both bankes of the river in both Counties. For the little village Caster, which stands a mile off from the river, may seem to have beene a part of it, by the pavements there found, wrought checker wise with small square quarels, although on the Church wall wee reade this inscription bearing date of a later time:



And doubtlesse of greater name and note it was, for in the corne fields adjoining, which in steede of Dormanton they call Normanton fields, so many peeces of Romane coine are turned out of the ground that a man would verilie thinke they had beene sowed there, and two rode-waies, whereof the causeys are yet evident to be seene, went from hence, the one could Forty-foot-way because it was forty-foot-broade, unto Stanford; the other named Long-ditch and High-streat by Lollham-bridges (bridges, I assure you, of great antiquity, whereof eleven arches are in sight, now chinking and chawning [yawning] with age) through West Deeping into Lincolnshire. At the very division and parting of these two Port-waies standeth Upton highly situate, whereupon it tooke also that name, where Sir Robert Wingfield Knight, descended from that ancient family of the Wingfields which hath brought foorth so many worshipfull and worthy Knights, hath a faire house with most lovely walkes. From Durobrivae the river Aufon or Nen passeth on to Peterburgh, seated in the very angle or nouke of this shire, where writers report there hath beene a gulfe or whirlpole in the river of exceeding great depth, called Medeswell, and a towne hard by it named thereupon Medeswelhamsted and Medeshamsted; which towne, as we read in Robert de Swapham, was built in an excellent fine good place, having of the one side fennes and passing good waters, and of the other many goodly woods, medowes, and pastures, faire and beautifull to the eie every way, and not accessable by land save onely on the west side. The river Nen runneth by at the South side of the borrough, in the middle of which river there is a place, as it were a gulfe so deepe and cold withall that even in summer no swimmer is able to ducke or dive unto the bothom. Yet is never for all that frozen even in Winter, for there is a spring there, whence the water welleth out. This place they called in old time Meddeswell, untill that Wolpher King of the Mercians built there a Monastery in honour of Saint Peter . And seeing the place was all a marish-ground, he laied the foundation , as that Robert writeth, with mighty huge stones, such as eight yoke of Oxon would hardly draw one of them, which I saw with mine owne eyes , saith hee, when this Monasterie was destroied. Afterward of this Monasterie dedicated to Saint Peter, it began to be called Petriburgus or Petropolis , that is, Peterborow or burgh , and the said Monastery was very famous and renowned. The originall occasion and the building whereof I have thought it worth my labour briefly to put downe out of the said Robert de Swapham, a writer of good antiquity. Peada the sonne of Penda, who was the first Christian king of the Mercians, in the yeare of grace 546 for the propagation of Christian religion laid the foundation of a monastery at Medelhamsted in the Girvians or Fen-country, which he could not finish for that by the wicked practise of his mother he was made away. After Paeda succeeded his brother Wolphur, who beeing most averse from Christian religion, murdered Wolphald and Rufin his owne sonnes with cruel and barbarous immanitie [inhumanity.], because they had devoted themselves unto Christ and embraced His religion. But himselfe some few yeares after embracing Christian religion, for to expiat and wash away the staine of that his impiety with some good and godly worke, set in hand to build up this Monasterie which his brother had begunne, which through the helpe of his brother Etheldred, of Kineburga also and Kineswith his sisters beeing fully finished in the yeare of our Lord 633, hee consecrated unto Saint Peter, endowed it with ample revenewes, and ordeined Sexwulf, a right Godly and devout man (who principally advised him to this worke) the first Abbat thereof. This Monasterie flourished afterward, and had the name and opinion the world of great holiness for the space of two hundered and foureteene yeares or thereabout, untill those most heavy and wofull times came of the Danes, who made spoile and wast of all. For then were the monkes massacred, and the Monasterie, quite overthrowne, lay buried, as one would say, many yeares together in the owne rubbish and ruines. At the last, about the yeare of our Lord 960, Ethelwold Bishop of Winchester, who wholy gave himselfe to the furtherance of monasticall profession, began to re-edifie it, having the helping hand especiall of King Eadgar and Adulph the kings Chancellor, who upon a prick of conscience and deepe repentance for that hee and his wife together lying in bed asleepe had overlaied and smothred the little infant their onely son, laid upon the reedifying of this monasterie all the wealth he had, and when it was thus rebuilt he became Abbat thereof. From which time it was of high estimation and name, partly for the great riches it had, and in part for the large priviledges which it enjoied, although in the reigne of William the Conquerour, Herward an Englishman, being proclaimed traitour and outlawed, made a rode out of the Isle of Ely and rifled it of all the riches that it had gathered together, against whom Turold the Abbot erected the fort Mont-Turold. Yet was it esteemed exceeding wealthy even unto our fathers daies, when King Henrie the Eighth thrust out the Monkes in all places, alleaging that they, declining from the ordinances which those holy and ancient Monkes had, wasted in riot and excesse the goods of the Church, which was the Patrimonie and inheritance of the poore; and in their places erected here a Bishoprick, assigning thereunto this county and Rutlandshire for his Dioecese, and placed withall a Deane and certaine Prebendaries. So that of a monasterie it became a Cathedrall Church, which if you well consider the building, is for the very antiquity thereof goodly to behold. the forefront carieth a majestie with it, and the Cloisters are very large, in the glasse windowes whereof is represented the historie of Wolpher the founder, with the succession of the Abbots. Saint Maries Chappel is a goodly large building, ful of curious worke, and the quire faire, wherein two as infortunate Queenes as any other, Katharine of Spaine repudiated by King Henry the Eighth, and Marie Queene of Scots being enterred, found rest and repose there from all their miseries.

14. Beneath Peterburgh the river Aufon or Nen, which by this time is gone from his spring-head much about forty five miles, and carrieth along with him all rils, brookes and land flouds occasioned by raine that hee hath taken into his chanels, is divided sundry waies. And finding no way to cary his streame, by spreading his waters all abroad in winter time, yea and otherwhiles most part of the yeare, overfloweth all the plaine country, so as it seemeth to bee nothing but a vast sea lying even and level, with some few Islands that beare up their heads and appeere above the water. The cause of such inundation the people inhabiting thereby alledge to bee this, for that of the three chanels or drains by which so great store of water was wont to be issued into the sea, the first that went directly into the sea by Thorney Abbey and then a part by Clow Crosse and Crowland, the second also by the trench cut out by Morton Bishop of Ely, called the New Leam, and then by Wisbich, have a long time beene forlet [ignored] and neglected, and so the third, which goeth down by Horsey-bridge, Walesmer, Ramsey-mere and Salters-load, is not able to receive so much water, whereby it breaketh forth with more violence upon the flats adjoyning. And the country complaineth for trespasse done unto them, as well by those that have not scoured the said draines as by them that have turned the same aside to their private uses, and as the Reatines said sometime, so doe they, That Nature herselfe hath well provided for Mans use, in that shee hath given all rivers their courses and issues, and as well their inlets into the Sea, as their heads and springes. But thus much of this matter may seeme to some over-much.

15. In this place is the County least in breadth, for betweene Nen and the river Welland, the one limite on the North side, there are scarce five miles. Upon Welland, which Aethelward an old writer called Weolod , neere unto the spring head, is Braibrok Castle, built by Robert May alias De Braybroke, a most inward minion of King John, whose sonne Henrie, having married Christian Ledet an inheritance of a great estate, his eldest sonne adopted himselfe into the surname of the Ledets: from one of whose Nieces by his sonne, as I said before, it came unto the Latimers, and by them unto the Griphins, whose inheritance now it is. Neere unto it among the woods I saw some few reliques of a Monasterie, called in times past De Devisis, and afterward Pipwell, which William Buttevillein founded in the reigne of Henrie the Second for Cistertian monkes. From thence might Rockingham bee seene were it not for the woods, a Castle somtime of the Earles of Aumarle built by King William Conqueror, at what it time it was a wast (as wee finde in his Domesday booke ), fortified with rampier and Bulwarkes, and a duple range of battlements, situate upon the side of an hill within a woody forest, which thereupon is named Rockingham forest. After this it runneth beside Harinworth, the seat in old time of the Cantlows and now of the Lord Zouch, who, descended from Eudo a younger sonne of Alan de la Zouch of Ashby de la Zouch, have growne up to a right honorable familie of Barons, whose honour and state was much augmented by mariage with one of the heires of Cantlow, as also with another of Baron Saint Maur, who likewise drew his pedigree from the heire of the Lord Zouch de Ashby and the Lovels Lords of Castel-Cary in Somersetshire.

16. Heere also I saw Deane, belonging in ancient times to the Deanes, afterwards to the Tindals, which place is worth the remembrance, if it were but for this, that it is now a proper and faire dwelling house of the Brudenells, out of which familie Sir Edmund Brudenel, late deceased, was a passing great lover and admirer of venerable Antiquity. The familie likewise of Englain, which was both ancient and honorable, had their seat hereby at Blatherwic (where now the Staffords of Knights degree inhabit, who descended from Ralph the first Earle of Stafford), and those Engaines chaunged their Castle named Humbel before time into a Monasterie called Finisheved. Their issue male failed about two hundred years since, but of their heires the eldest was wedded unto Sir John Goldington, the second to Sir Laurence Pabenham, and the third to Sir Wiliam Bernak, al right worthy knights. Here also is to bee seene Apthorp, the seat of a most worthy knight, Sir Anthonie Mildmay, whose father Sir Walter Mildmay, late one of Queene Elizabeths privie counsell, for his vertue, wisdome, piety, and bountie to learning and learned men by founding Emanuel Colledge in Cambridge, hath worthily deserved to bee registered among the best men in this our age. Hard by standeth Thornhaugh sometimes belonging to the familie De Sancto Medardo, contracted into Semarc, and now to the right honorable Sir William Russel, sonne to Francis Earle of Bedford, descended from Semarc, whom King James for his vertues and faithfull service in Ireland whiles he was Lord Deputy there, advanced to the dignity of Baron Russel of Thornhaugh. Neither is the towne Welledon to be passed over in silence, considering that it went in old time for a Baronie, which by Mawde the daughter and heire of Geffrey de Ridell (who together with King Henrie the First his sonne was drowned) did descend to Richard Basset sonne of Ralph Basset, Lord Justice of England, in whose race it continued unto King Henry the Fourth his daies. For then by the females it accrued to the Knevets and Alesburies.

17. Welland, beeing past Haringworth, goeth to visit Colliweston, where Ladie Margaret Countesse of Richmond, King Henry the Seaventh his mother, built a goodly faire and stately house. Under which, the neighbour inhabitants use to digge great plenty of sclate stones for their building. from whence Wittering Heath, a plaine, runneth out farre into the East, where in the people there dwelling report that the Danes long since were discomfited in a memorable battaile and put to flight. Now by this time is Welland come to Burghley, whereof the most prudent and right honorable Councellour Sir William Cecil, Lord high Treasurer of England, yea singular treasure and supporter of the same, received the title of Baron Burghley for his great good deserts, at the hands of Queene Elizabeth. Which title hee adorned with the lustre of his vertues, and beautified this place with magnificent sumptuous buildings, adjoining thereto a large Parke encompassed about with a stone wall of a great circuite. Beneath it there are ancient quarreis of stone at Barnack, out of which the Abbaies of Peterburgh and of Ramseie were built. For heere (to write the verie words out of the history of Ramseie), The toyling strength of the Quarriers is often tried and held to worke: yet ever still there remaineth worke for them behinde, wherein they being refreshed betweene whiles with rest, may bee exercised and kept in ure [use]. And thus wee read in the Charter of King Edward the Confessour: In consideration of foure thousand Eeles in Lent, the Monkes of Ramsey shall have out of the Territorie of Saint Peter so much square astiler [ashlar?] stone as they neede at Berneck, and of rought building stone for wals at Burch. Under Berneck that high-way made by the Romans, which the neighbour inhabitants of the breadth that it carrieth call The fourty foot-way, from Caster to Stanford cutteth and divideth this shire, and is to be seene with an high causey, especially by the little wood of Bernak, where it hath a beacon set upon the very ridge, and so runneth foorth along by Burghley Park wall toward Stanford.

18. Some five miles hence Welland, running down by Maxey Castle, belonging sometime to the noble house of Wake, and by Peag-Kirke, where in the primitive Church of the English Nation Pega an holy woman who gave name to that place, and sister of S. Guthlak, with other Nuns and devout virgins by their life and example gave good documents of piety and chastity, commeth to the Fennes so often mentioned. And forasmuch as the banke on the South side thereof is in many places neglected, the river lieth sore upon the lands thereabout with great detriment, and thus being put out of his owne channel, that before time went by Spalding, he entreth closely into Nen or Aufon, and over-chargeth it exceedingly.

Now the lesse Avon, which is the other of the limits, as I said, of this shire Northward, but serveth for a limit onely about five or six miles in length, breaking out of the ground‡ at Avon-well by Naseby, neere by the Spring-head of Welland, runneth Westward by Suleby, sometimes an Abbay of Black-Monkes, and‡ by Stanford upon Avon, the habitation of the Caves family, out of which there is spread a notable offspring with many branches in all that tract adjoining. Also by Lilborne, the seat in times past of the Canvilles. Which that it hath beene in old time a Mansion place or Station of the Romans I am induced to thinke, by the site thereof hard by one of their Port-waies, by the ancient trenches there, and a little piked hill cast up, into which when of late daies some digged in hope of old hid treasure, in stead of gold they found coles. And when this river, being as yet but small, is once gone under Dobridge, it leaveth Northamptonshire and entreth Warwickshire.

19. By those coles digged foorth from under the said hill, what if I should conjecture that this hill was raised up for a limit or bound-marke, seeing Siculus Flaccus writeth that either ashes, or coles, or pot-sherds, or broken glasses, or bones halfe burnt, or lime, or plaster were wont to be put under land-markes and limits? And S. Augustine writeth thus of coles: Is it not a wonderfull thing (saith he) whereas considering coles be so brickle [brittle] that with the least blow they breake, with the lest crushing they are crushed, yet no time, be it never so long, conquereth them, insomuch as they that pitch Land-markes and limits were wont to couch them under-neath to convince any litigious fellow whatsoever that should come never so long time after, and avouch that a limit was not there pitched? And so much the rather incline I to this my conjecture, because they that have written of limits do write that certaine hillocks or piles of earth which they tearmed botontines were set in limits, so that I suppose most of these mounts and round hils which we every see and call Barrowes were for this purpose raised, and that ashes, coles, pot-sherds &. may be found under them, if they digged downe a good depth into the earth.

20. The first Earle that this County had, to my knowledge, was Waldeof (sonne of that warlike Siward), who being also Earle of Huntingdon, for his disloyall treachery unto William the Conquerour lost his head, leaving two daughters onely behind him, by Judith the Conquerours niece by a sister on his mothers side. Simon de Saint Liz, being skornfully rejected by Judith the mother for that he was lame legged, married Mawd the eldest daughter, and he built Saint Andrewes Church and the Castle at Northampton. After him succeeded his sonne Simon the second, who for a long time was in suite about his mothers possessions with David King of Scots, his mothers second husband, and, having sided with King Stephen, in the yeere of our Lord 1152 departed this life with his testimoniall that went of him, A youth full fraught with all unlawfull wickednesse, and as full of all unseemely lewdnesse. His son Simon the third, having gone to law with the Scots for his right to the Earledome of Huntingdon, wasted all his estate, and through the gratious goodnesse of King Henry the Second maried the daughter and heire of Gilbert de Daunt Earle of Lincolne, and in the end, having recovered the Earldome of Huntingdon and disseized [dispossessed] the Scots, died childlesse in the yeere 1185. Whereas some have lately set down Sir Richard Gobion to have beene Earle of Northampton afterward, I finde no warrant thereof either in Record or History. Onely I finde that Sir Hugh Gobion was a ringleader in that rebellious rable which held Northampton against King Henry the Third, and that the inheritance of his house came shortly after by mariage to Butler of Wood-hall and Turpin &. But this is most certaine, that King Edward the Third created William de Bohun, a man of approved valour, Earle of Northamton, and when his elder brother Humfrey de Bohun, Earle of Hereford and of Essex, High Constable also of England, was not sufficient in that Warlike age to beare that charge of the Constable, he made him also High Constable of England. After him his sonne Humfrey succeeding in the Earledom of Northampton, as also in the Earldomes of Hereford and of Essex, for that his unckle died without issue, begat two daughters, the one bestowed in mariage upon Thomas of Wodstock, the youngest sonne of King Edward the Third, the other upon Henry of Lancaster, Duke of Hereford, who afterwards attained to the crowne by the name of King Henry the Fourth. The daughter of the said Thomas of Woodstock brought by her marriage this title of Northamton, with others, into the family of the Staffords. But when they afterwards had lost their honours and dignities, King Edward the Sixth honoured Sir William Parr Earle of Essex, a most accomplished Courtier, with the title of Marquisse of Northampton: who within our remembrance ended this life issuelesse. And while I was writing and persuing this worke, our most sacred Soveraigne King James in the yeere of our salvation 1603 upon one and the same day advanced Lord Henry Howard, brother to the last Duke of Norfolke, a man of rare and excellent wit and sweet-fluent eloquence, singularly adorned also with the best sciences, prudent in Counsell, and provident withall, to the state of Baron Howard of Marnehil and to the right honourable name, title, stile, and dignity of Earle of Northampton.

There belong unto this shire Parishes 326.

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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