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CONTRIBUTIONS TO MUSEUM AND LIBRARY.
The committee feel great pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of the following articles which have lately been presented to the Society:
By Rev. W. C. LUKIS, Great Bedwyn.-Relics found in a Roman villa, at Great Bedwyn. Fine stuffed specimen of Mergus Serrator (bay breasted Merganser), shot at Great Bedwyn.
By F. A. S. LOCKE, Esq., Rowde Ford.—A large number of Roman and other Coins.
By MRS. SHEPPARD, Great Bedwyn.--Ancient Brass Seal, found in a garden at Alton Barnes.
By Miss J. SHEPPARD, Great Bedwyn.—Specimen of Raphidia ophiopsis (Snake fly), caught at Great Bedwyn.
BY JOHN BRITTON, Esq., Burton Street, London.-Five Bronze Celts from Ireland.
BY DR. THURNAM, Wilts County Asylum.—Copy of a paper on “Sepulchral Remains at Fairford,” by Mr. C. Roach Smith.
By REV. A. FANE, Warminster.—Two specimens of Iron Pyrites, found at Boyton. Bronze Fibula, found in a pond at Boyton. Several fragments of Flowered Quarries, from the east window of Boyton Church.
By Mr. W. P. HAYWARD, Wilsford.-Playfair's “British Family Antiquity," 9 vols.
BY REV. E. B. WARREN, Marlborough.—Roman and other Coins, found in the neighbourhood of Marlborough.
By Rev. E. MEYRICK.—Basket-hilted Rapier.
By F. C. LUKIS, Esq., M.D., F.S.A.—“Remarks on the Celtic Monuments of the Channel Islands.
By MR. JOHN GODWIN, Oxford.—A Grant of land to the Abbess and Convent of Lacock, dated 12. R. 1.
H. Bull, Printer, Saint John Street, Devizes.
“MULTORUM MANIBUS GRANDE LEVATUR Onus.”-OVID.
The Hertford Carrespondeure,
CONSISTING OF LETTERS AND DOCUMENTS PASSING BETWEEN THE
EARL OF HERTFORD, HIS DEPUTY-LIEUTENANTS, AND OTHER DISTINGUISHED PERSONS, ON VARIOUS MATTERS CONNECTED WITH THE COUNTY OF WILTS; TEMP. JAMES I., WITH PRELIMINARY REMARKS.
Few persons are aware how completely the centralising power of Government in London has, in modern days, absorbed the cabalistic exclusiveness, or, to use a milder term, the individuality of interest, which characterised the various provinces of England during the middle ages : a process unavoidable no doubt, and symptomatic of the present times, which, while it has in great part vitiated the integrity of that imperium in imperio which each county presented before “ the age of great cities” began, has led the gentry by slow degrees to look upon the public service of the State as offering a fairer and wider field for renown than could possibly be realised by the defences of their paternal acres, at the head of a stationary force of Militia.
This change was not completely brought about till during the late long war; the jealousy felt by the local gentry, whenever the Government seemed disposed to encroach on their old Militia landmarks, being apparent down to a comparatively recent period. Recruiting parties from regiments of the line were long looked upon in much the same light as press-gangs; while the annoyance they not unfrequently gave to the rural Magistracy was sympathised in by the municipal functionaries of the boroughs, who affected to
VOL. I.—NO. III.
resent as an affront the presence of men not amenable to their territorial sway. It is no illiberality to conjecture that the spirited opposition to the establishment of James II's standing army which attached so much parliamentary celebrity to the name of John Wyndham the member for Salisbury (himself a Militia Colonel) was mainly prompted by the same sentiment; and a further illustration of the absence of a good understanding between the two services is to be found in the unfortunate duel which only a few weeks previously had occurred between Sherrington Talbot and an artillery officer, arising out of a dispute as to the respective merits of their men during the Duke of Monmouth's rebellion, and which proved fatal to the heir of Lacock. But as the object of the above remarks has been rather to exhibit the more recent manifestation of this feeling, let us refer to a few memoranda belonging to the middle and close of the last century. And first, as to the system of inducing men to quit the Militia for the regular army. This practice, when clandestinely carried on, has of course lost none of its illegality, yet it is now one of constant occurrence; the recently issued Government circulars to the Militia Captains to facilitate such transfers being only an expression of the altered views of society on the subject. Seventy years ago it was looked at in a very different light. The following advertisement betrays an animus of which the like expression would, at the present day be regarded, to say the least, as ungraceful.
“DEVIZES, 21 Sept., 1787. “ Whereas a Sergeant on the recruiting service has this day been convicted before two of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Wilts in the penalty of £20 for having enlisted a man enrolled to serve in the Militia of the said County : the Colonel and Officers of the said regiment of Militia, in consideration of the said Sergeant's submission, and assurance that he had been led into the said offence by an opinion that men enrolled for three years only might be enlisted, have remitted the said penalty ; but they hereby caution all recruiting Sergeants and others against taking any man enrolled to serve in the Militia before his full time of service shall be expired; as they are determined to prosecute all persons offending with the utmost rigour of the law.”
Adjutant, Wilts Militia." At a somewhat earlier date, viz. in 1770, great displeasure was expressed on one occasion by certain parties in Devizes at the offensive manner in which it was supposed some of the regulars stationed in the town sought to signify their contempt of the County Justices. The affair was reported as follows:-Sir Edward Baynton while, in company with his brother Magistrates, conducting the business of the Quarter Sessions in the Town Hall, was greatly disturbed by parties of the 5th, 38th, 50th, and 56th foot, who persisted in patrolling the streets with drums and fifes, and in defiance of a custom which had hitherto exempted the period of the Sessions from this sort of exhibition, continued their exercise immediately in front of the Court. Sir Edward Baynton having submitted to the nuisance for a considerable time, sent out his Constables to request their withdrawal. This appeal was unheeded, and the writer of the account closes with the remark that “in his humble opinion, if the Court had offered to punish them for disobeying the order of all the Magistrates, we might have had another Boston affair in the Town of the Devizes.” It is true that this charge of insubordination was indignantly repelled by subsequent writers in the public Journals both of Salisbury and London, but the whole tenour of the correspondence, even if it mitigate in some measure the impression that an affront was designed, by no means disturbs the fact, that annoyance was felt.
On the other hand, the local Militia did not always set an example of decorous citizenship. A signal instance of the defiant front which they would occasionally venture to assume, in order to show their independence of the Government, is the fact that in 1771 nearly all the officers of the Wilts regiment resigned their commissions, for no other purpose than to express their “disgust at a late promotion.” What the promotion was, is not stated. It may possibly have been that of the Earl of Suffolk, of Charlton, who during that year, succeeded Lord Halifax as keeper of the privy seal.
It is worth mentioning in this place, that even Wolfe the conqueror of Quebec, when recruiting his regiment in Devizes, during his early career, is traditionally reported to have found no better quarters than could be furnished by an obscure Inn at the back of the Town Hall, known by the sign of the “ The Scribbling Horse.” (an engine used in the manufacture of cloth). Meanwhile, the fashionable posting house of The Black Bear, where the Wiltshire Militia Captains were feasting, would have scorned to harbour the representative of the royal forces, while engaged, as in truth he was, in fishing for the dregs of society. The reason of all this is plain enough. Local troops had existed long before a standing army rose into ascendency; and as these mediæval levies were always equipped and supported by the district which produced them, it took a long time to dispossess the minds of the leaders, whether in Towns or Counties, of the idea of a proprietary right which it was supposed they could claim in the services of their pet battalions : hence their preference. This feeling has now gone by. While the County forces have lost none of their importance, the army has risen in respectability. The modern Militia, in place of being its rival, has come to be its feeder. During the late war with France the Wilts regiment alone recruited the line with more than 2,000 men, and many who fought with credit at Waterloo had received no other training.
One of the greatest blows levelled by the Government against the institution of the Militia (viewed as a weapon in the hands of a subject) was the expulsion in 1780 of the Earl of Pembroke from the Lord-Lieutenancy of this County, a post which his family had held for nearly 200 years : simultaneously with which, the Marquis of Carmarthen was discharged from the like office in the East Riding of Yorkshire. This mode of procedure led, as is well known, to the resolute gathering at Devizes on the 28th of March, of the gentry, clergy, and freeholders of Wilts, when the Hon. Charles James Fox recommended the adoption of those “corresponding associations” throughout the realm, which afterwards proved so troublesome to the ruling powers. The meeting was in fact one of those declarations which at the period in question were common in all the principal Counties, avowedly directed against the Crown, whose encroachments, real or supposed, were becoming an object of daily increasing alarm to the landed aristocracy. But the circumstance which principally gave eclat to the proceedings was the Earl of Shelburne's recent quarrel with Mr. Fullarton, arising