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known Dr. Daniel Burgess, and also that the noted Dr. Henry Sacheverell, the leader at a later day of the dominant church faction, was a native of Marlborough, the son of the Rev. Joshua Sacheverell, minister of St. Peter's Church in that town, and received his early education at the borough school
The third Lord Seymour, of Trowbridge, succeeded to the Dukedom of Somerset in 1675, on the failure of issue by his cousin John, the fourth Duke. He was then a minor, and living at the castle of Marlborough with his mother. He died at the age of twenty-one, being killed in an unlucky squabble while travelling in Italy. And the title descended to his brother Charles then eighteen years of age, the sixth Duke of Somerset, who relinquished Marlborough Castle as a residence to his eldest son Algernon. In the year 1676 the bulk of the Wiltshire estates of the Duke of Somerset had been conveyed to the second Earl of Ailesbury by his marriage with Elizabeth, sister and heir of the third Duke. But the castle of Marlborough remained for some generations the property of the Dukes of Somerset, and became famous at a subsequent period as the residence of the talented Countess of Hertford, then wife of Algernon, who was afterwards the seventh and last Duke.
At the epoch of the revolution of 1688, the borough of Marlborough recovered its charter, which had been seized and suspended by James, with that of so many other boroughs. The town was garrisoned at this time by a battalion of Dragoons, under Sir John Fenwick. And as the neighbouring town of Hungerford was the scene of the conference between William of Orange and the Commissioners of James deputed to treat with him on the retreat of the King, Marlborough was, no doubt, also filled with Dutch troops. At the ensuing election there occurred a double return of members for the borough, giving rise to the case well-known in the books of Election-Law called the Marlborough case of 1689.
In the early part of the eighteenth century, as has been already noticed, Marlborough acquired some celebrity as the residence of the Countess of Hertford, whose interesting correspondence with her intimate friend Lady Pomfret is chiefly dated from the castle.
The poetic tastes and friendships of this lady are well known. Mrs. Rowe is traditionally said to have composed some of her lines in the 'grotto under the mound.' And Thomson, the author of
the Seasons, was among her invited guests. Her energetic interference at court in behalf of Richard Savage, when convicted of murder, is well known through the medium of Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Dr. Watts was one of her constant correspondents, and Alexander Pope, her Apollo. The gardens of the castle weré much improved by her, and she makes frequent mention of their beauties in her correspondence. On her decease in 1754, however, the mansion was converted into an inn, which continued to be its destination up to a very recent date. It is singular that Lady Hertford's bosom friend, Lady Pomfrét, died in 1761 at this inn, where perhaps the memory of her beloved friend had led her to take up her residence in her last illness.
Among the eminent natives and inhabitants of Marlborough in this age, may be honourably mentioned Sir Michael Foster, one of the judges of the King's Bench, noted for his integrity and independence. The latter character he had an opportunity of conspicuously exhibiting when presiding at the celebrated trial at the Surrey Assizes, in 1758, the result of which secured a right of way for the public through Richmond Park. Mr. Waylen quotes the well known letter written by Mr., afterwards Lord Chancellor, Thurlow on this occasion to Mr. Ewen, nephew of Mr. Justice Foster, in which the behaviour of the presiding judge at the trial is related with its due meed of approval. “It gave me,” concludes the writer, “who am a stranger to him, great pleasure to find that we have one English judge whom nothing can tempt or frighten, ready and able to uphold the laws of his country as a great shield of the rights of the people.” In these days it would be difficult to imagine any judge acting otherwise, but it was not so in the middle of the last century, when the claims of the prerogative were occasionally put forward (as on this occasion) in a manner which made resistance to them almost as perilous as it would be at the present time in many of the other states of Europe.
We have no space left to follow Mr. Waylen in his amusing narrative of still more recent events connected with Marlborough and its neighbourhood—how Lord Bruce formed and
admirably drilled his regiment of militia in 1759-equipping them in scarlet coats with blue facings, white gaiters, hair powdered, and hats well-cocked up, ordering “ the men not to let down the cocks of their hats on any account, and also to keep the skirts of their coats constantly hooked up”-how Gibbon, the historian, served in the militia of the neighbouring county, Hants, and was quartered occasionally in this part of Wilts-(we should like to have seen his rotund figure marching in the above-mentioned accoutrements)—how again in 1794, and the subsequent years, this part of Wiltshire was conspicuous for the ready and loyal zeal in which both militia and yeomanry forces volunteered to form themselves for the defence of the country. At the time of the invasion panic in 1798, Marlborough had its “armed association,” in addition to the other military preparations. In all these patriotic proceedings it is needless to say that the noble family of Bruce were then as now foremost in encouragement, example, and command.
The changes effected in Marlborough by the Parliamentary and Municipal Reform Bills, by the transmutation of the venerable Castle Inn into an admirable Collegiate School, the proceedings in respect to the hitherto abortive scheme for connecting Marlborough with the line of the Great Western Railway, and the proposed change of destination of the County Gaol situated in the town, are all matters of too recent a date to require any notice in this brief abstract. But in Mr. Waylen's narrative they find their appropriate place, and fit record. We must not pass over in silence, however, among the objects of interest at Marlborough, its endowed Grammar School, founded by King Edward VI., which has the honour of counting among the scholars educated there, the names of Thomas, Earl of Ailesbury, Mr. Glanville, Sir James Long, Henry Sacheverell, Sir Michael Foster, Lieutenant-General Picton, Walter Harte, and Dr. Mapleton, late Chancellor of the Diocese of Hereford.
Mr. Waylen gives several details, both biographical and historical, respecting other characters or families of note connected with the hundred of Selkley, for which we must refer to the work itself. And we will end as we began by thanking the author for the agreeable contribution which he has afforded in it to the history of our county. If we have anything to regret in its perusal, it is a want of sufficient references to the sources of the writer's information, and perhaps something of imperfect arrangement in the structure of the volume. On the whole, however, it is a most entertaining work, much more so than the ordinary class of topographies, and cannot fail to interest every Wiltshire reader into whose hands it may come.
GARSTON. [P. 67].
The word (as rightly explained by two correspondents, E. W. and F. A. C.) means “grass enclosure:” “gaers" being Saxon for grass, and “tun” enclosure. It is common in Surrey and Sussex, as well as in the West of England; generally, for an enclosed grass field near a village (as at Charlton, in the Pewsey Vale), but sometimes also for arable fields (as at Bratton and Malmsbury), which have been grass but are now broken up. The provincial pronunciation of the word in Wilts is, perhaps most frequently, “Garesen,” or “Gaasen,” and as the way in which the name of the parish of Garsden, near Malmsbury, is pronounced, is also with the a lengthened, Garesden: it is most likely that from the “ gaersdenes” or grass valleys, by which that place is surrounded, its name has been derived. It is much to be wished that some Anglo-Saxon scholar would favour us, at once with the true etymology of our Wiltshire names : at least, of such as are of Anglo-Saxon origin.
The proper spelling and derivation of this name?