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litigation and trouble that he was never independent and never at rest. He was a barrister, without anything to do; so spent his time in riding to and fro from Easton Piers to another property which he had near Salisbury, and in the enjoyment of visits and conversation at the houses of the gentry. He was an accomplished man, a good classical scholar, knew French and Heraldry, could draw, and had a quaint way of expressing himself which makes his descriptions amusing enough. He was a quick observer of things, but very often in such a hurry to make them his own, that he did not stop to observe them quite accurately. He was unmarried, but had, as he tells us, several hairbreadth escapes from matrimony. The history of these little adventures is not preserved to us, but they seem to have been the cause to him of infinite trouble. Being at length reduced to poverty, he spent the latter years of life no one could tell how ; finding shelter, in adversity, under the roof of the Earl of Abingdon at Lavington, or of the Longs at Draycote.
He left behind him a miscellaneous collection in manuscript, which he bequeathed to the Ashmolean Library, then newly formed, at Oxford. There they are still preserved, and I lately had occasion to pay them a visit. The manuscript room is not one of those parts of the Institution which are usually shown to the public, but having expressed a wish to go down into it, to see our friend's remains, I was immediately and politely permitted to do so. The descent is down a dark and crooked staircase lined with dingy old volumes on astrology and magic; and after passing through one or two gloomy apartments, also full of the same valuable lore, I came to the den in which he is confined. It is a small wooden cupboard, about two foot square. Against the door of it hangs a miniature, of which, by the courtesy of Mr. Duncan the Principal Keeper of the Museum, I was allowed to take a Daguerreotype. That likeness I have now in my hand, and it is a valuable memorial, being the only one that has ever been made. Inside the little cupboard are the relics of the toil of our Wiltshire antiquary, and a strange medley they are. In quire, or on scraps of paper, bound and unbound, legible and illegible, you see at once the man in his memoranda. He could write, when he pleased, a very fine, strong, clear hand; but this he did not always please to do, writing, for the most part, as people will who write a great deal and in a hurry, i.e., very badly. The particular manuscript which I was most curious to see was that to which he gave the name of “An Essay towards the History of North Wilts.” Aubrey made at different times a great many curious memoranda about the Natural History of Wilts, (extracts from which were published a few years ago;) but he was also anxious to preserve the Archeology and Topography of the county, and for this purpose he had at an earlier period of his life, made a sort of attempt to form a company on the principle of division of labour, as we hope we are doing now. What is still more to the purpose, he set it on foot in this very town; but how long it lasted, and how it ended, you shall hear in his own words. He says, in the preface to the “Collections”—“At a meeting of gentlemen at the Devises for choosing of Knights of the Shire, in March 1659 “(just 200 years ago,)” it was wished by some, that this county, wherein are many observable antiquities, should be surveyed in imitation of Mr. Dugdale's Illustrations of Warwickshire. But it being too great a task for one man, Mr. Wm. Yorke, Councellor at Lawe, and a lover of this kind of learning, advised to have the labour divided. He himselfe would undertake the Middle Division. I would undertake the North. Thos. Gore, Esq., Jeffery Daniel, Esq., and Sir John Erneley would be assistants. Judge Nicholas was the greatest antiquary as to Evidences that this county hath had in memory of man, and had taken notes of all the ancient deeds that came to his hands. Mr. Yorke had taken some memorandums in this kind too. Both now dead. 'Tis pitie that those papers should fall into the merciless hands of women and be put under pies. But this good design vanished over their pipes, and was never thought of since.”
Though Aubrey's smoking friends deserted him, he went on by himself with his design, so far as regarded the Northern part of Wilts; and the collections which he made" form the manuscript which led me to introduce the mention of him here. It consists of one folio volume, marked A. Another, to which he constantly refers as “ Liber B,” has been lost for many years. There are two parts in the one that is left; both of which have been printed by Sir T. Phillipps. The way in which Aubrey made his collections seems to have been this :-He took a commonplace book; entered at the head of separate pages the names of the different parishes in the district, and then jotted down from time to time any notice or memorandum that he happened to meet with about any of those places. Of no one of them is there anything at all approaching to a regular account. Sometimes his memoranda are merely inscriptions in the church, sometimes a Latin deed, sometimes a bit of village gossip; in fact, a miscellaneous gathering which he never digested or finished, and which he never himself regarded as anything more than a mere accumulation of occasional notes. In one point the manuscript is very valuable. Aubrey drew and coloured with his own hand, all the armorial bearings and figures that he found in the churches; and with these are intermingled a few rough outline sketches of old houses of the gentry that have now long since disappeared.
In Sir Thomas Phillipps's edition (which indeed is the only one ever printed,) these curious illustrations, nearly 700 in number, are almost wholly omitted, though descriptions of most of them, in words, are inserted : but the very use of Heraldric blazonry being, to speak to the mind through the eye, the omission of the figured illustrations themselves, is, so far, a great deduction from the value of the book. As to the original memorials which Aubrey saw in the windows of churches and houses, they have nearly all been destroyed long ago; so that his collections, if properly put forth, would be a curious and interesting volume. I have lately taken the trouble to make at Oxford, a correct copy both of the manuscript itself, and of all the illustrations; and they form the contents of the portfolio which I have here. I merely mention and exhibit them now, as we are talking about Wiltshire Topography, and are wishing to know what we have got upon that subject.
The company will be so kind as to pardon me, if I take this opportunity of saying a few words on another matter, much connected with Wiltshire history, which has occupied my attention for a considerable time. When I first came into tħis part of England, I happened to settle at Farleigh Castle, a place well known as having been formerly the property of the celebrated family of the Hungerfords. They and their history were at that time totally new to me; but having under my immediate notice the interesting chapel and monuments there, we very soon became better acquainted. In following up the acquaintance, I found relics of them—of their name and connexion-scattered all over this county, and very common in others adjoining
As to Wiltshire, it is no exaggeration to say that there is hardly a corner of it, with which, at some period or other, or in some way or other, they were not associated. A good deal about them, their pedigree, and family history, has been printed in a little work of Sir R. C. Hoare's; but it is not accurate: and of their estates his notices are most inadequate. It was this point which rather took my fancy; and I set to work to find out, if I could, all that they had really had, and where. A rent-roll of the reign of James I., I found in the library of Col. Houlton; another still older, of the reign of Elizabeth, I discovered at the bottom of an old box full of rubbish at Farleigh; but a more perfect and valuable register was kindly lent to me by the Right Hon. Henry Hobhouse, of Hadspen, near Bruton; who, upon my case being properly stated to him, with the greatest courtesy placed the volume in my hands to use and consult at convenience. I am induced to mention this circum stance more emphatically, because one of the greatest difficulties that persons engaged in such researches have to contend against, is that of obtaining access to documents in private hands. It is, of course, and ought to be, a delicate matter, to ask for a sight of family documents. Title-deeds are dangerous things to meddle with. In most cases, however, that have fallen under my own notice, the documents that are of most value to an antiquary, are those which, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, are of very little importance to the owners of estates, so far as regards their title. Antiquaries do not deal much in modernities. Their fancy lies rather towards those venerable stores of parchment which have been
granted hardly on to Camhen, ass boundch a thing
reposing for centuries in dust and cobwebs, or have been supplying dinner after dinner to successive generations of rats and mice. Still, it it impossible always to know where to draw the line between those deeds that are of importance to a title, and those that are not; and as the possessors of the documents cannot be expected to know where the line should be drawn, there is of course on the one hand, a natural hesitation in showing ancient documents; and there ought to be, on the other, a delicacy in asking for them. In a case like the one I am speaking of, the fear of any risk is certainly very slight, where a family has disappeared a long time ago, and where the evidences refer so far back as to the Wars of the Roses. Still, the permission to see such a thing is a favour which those to whom it is allowed, are bound to acknowledge with gratitude ; more especially when, as in this instance, it is made greater by the permission to carry the volume off and use it at leisure. For I need hardly say that, without such permission, the privilege granted would, in some cases, be no privilege at all. No person can possibly make much, in a few hours, of a large pile of illegible writing. He may take hasty extracts of names, and dates; but without leisure for examination, he cannot give accurate statements, and without accurate statements, what is topography worth?
In the Register of which I am speaking, there were nearly 1,300 deeds, some of very great length and curiosity, almost all in Latin and Norman-French, and engrossed in those crabbed and tortuous characters under which it has always been thought necessary to disguise the already mysterious meaning of legal documents. They related entirely to the estates of the Hungerford family.
From the sources, then, which I have mentioned, by personal visits to many places, by collecting in the usual way from public records, wills, registers, and other similarly dark receptacles, which people of this peculiar taste are compelled to dive into, I have, I believe, succeeded in accumulating, pretty nearly, an account of the scattered estates, both in this and other counties, that, first and last, belonged to this family. The subject is one so much connected with Wiltshire, that I have no doubt, there are many gentlemen in this county, who must possess deeds and papers that would correct points of imperfection. I have brought my collections with me upon this occasion, partly for the purpose of enlisting public interest in my own favour, so far as to say that if any gentleman should hereafter meet with any documents relating to the Hungerford family, or any memorial of them, he may now know where such information will be acceptable; and I have also thought that on a matter which so thoroughly belongs to the history of the county, it was right to take this opportunity of making known what has been done, in order to save others the trouble of doing it again.
Of one thing I hope we shall all be convinced, after what I have taken the liberty now of saying to you, which is this: If we desire to see the History of Wiltshire finished, the best, though I will not say the only way to do it, is by such a coöperation as that which this Society contemplates. I do not mean that all its members are to turn writers and antiquaries, and to involve themselves in wearisome researches, any more than that all its members are to turn geologists and beat Mr. Wm. Cunnington's collection. Neither do I mean to say that I allude to pecuniary assistance from funds of this Society, as likely to be of such amount as would be sufficient to bring out any work of magnitude, were any such forthcoming. The funds of the Society will probably be, for some time, only enough for its ordinary expenses, or to be laid out in purchasing objects of local interest, as books or collections which it may be desirable to rescue from destruction. To meet any publication of magnitude, such as the additional volume or volumes which would be necessary to complete the history of Wilts in the style of Sir R. C. Hoare's work, or even in one much less costly, we must hope that other means will be forthcoming, when they are wanted. And therefore in alluding to the subject of aid to be expected from this Society, it is not so much pecuniary assistance that I mean, as help of another kind. I mean that help and encouragement which may be derived from a concurrence of persons of similar pursuits; by exciting general interest; by making local history and antiquities popular; by making them better known in their details; by stirring up the spirit and the good will of the many, to favour the labours of the few.
It is in the power of the landed gentry who may join us, to assist, by communicating (of course under necessary restrictions and when properly applied to) any curious information that may be lying on the shelves of their muniment rooms. It is in the power of gentlemen of the profession of the law to assist, by their local knowledge of property, and by the preservation of ancient documents that fall into their hands. It is in the power of the Clergy to render considerable aid; and they will, I am sure, permit me to suggest one mode of doing it.
The church is always a building of importance, and very often the only one, in a parish. It is a repository of parish history. Its monuments and memorials, of whatever kind, often very interesting in themselves as works of art, guide us by the inscriptions, the names, dates, and events, which they mention, and still more frequently perhaps by the heraldic emblems which they contain, to the facts and truth of the remote past.
With respect to the ancient heraldry on church windows, and other devices in wood and stone that may be found about the building, these are not generally intelligible, except to persons who have made county genealogy part of their study. When this has been done, it is curious how slight an indication is required to put an antiquary on the right scent. If he has a quick eye and knows