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Wilts. Wates and Queries.
SALMON FISHING IN WILTS.—Aubrey, in his chapter on “Fishes,” makes the following statement: “Salmons are sometimes taken in the upper Avon, rarely, at Harnham bridge juxta Sarum.” (Nat. Hist. of Wilts, p. 63.) To this Britton appends, by way of a note, a quotation from Hatcher: “On the authority of this passage, Dr. Maton includes the salmon among the Wiltshire fish ; but he adds, I know no person now living who has ascertained its having ascended the Avon so far as Salisbury.” (Hatcher's Hist. of Salis. p. 689.)
In explanation of this apparent contradiction, it may be stated that so recently as 1715 at least, the pages of the Commons' Journals furnish evidence that the salmon of this county was considered worth legislative protection. In the 4th and 5th of Queen Anne, an Act had been obtained “ for the increase and better preservation of the salmon and other fish in the rivers in the counties of Southamptou and Wilts”: and in the 1st George I., a clause was inserted in the said Bill enlarging the time of salmonfishing in the said counties from the last day of June to the first of August following. (Commons' Journals, vol. xviii. p. 177.)
REBECCA RIOTS.—The midnight demolition of turnpikes, commonly designated as the acts of Rebecca, which recently occurred in Wales and other western counties, indicated but the revival of an old prejudice which had from time to time found expression in similar acts a hundred years ago. The dwellers in the Chippenham district especially signalised themselves in the year 1728, by their unrelenting opposition to an act which was then endeavoured to be put in operation for a road from Studley through Chippenham to Toghill ; till at last the trustees were compelled to apply to Parliament for protection and advice. The rioters on this occasion appear to have attempted no disguise, assembling by day as well as night. In our own days, the turnpike nuisance in another part of Wilts having exceeded all endurable limits, was crushed by the moral
agency of a single individual. This gentleman was the late Amram Saunders of Lavington, to whom the farmers and gentry of the neighbourhood presented, in 1827, an elaborate service of plate, for having accomplished the removal of eleven gates within a distance of three or four miles.
STEEPLE-FLYING.—This exploit, accomplished by means of a rope, was performed in the year 1735 from the top of Bromham church steeple. It had long been a favourite exhibition in London, where it usually took place from the summit of Old St. Paul's Church. In 1731, a seaman descended from Hackney steeple with a streamer in . each hand.
The following extract from an old letter relative to this trick, records
HOW THE MEN OF BROMHAM PULLED THEIR OWN CHURCH SPIRE DOWN.
L! Imonrst of
arred al of
“Mankind, not satisfied with travelling on the elements of earth and water, have attempted to invade the air, from the days of Dædalus downwards. “Pennis non homini datis,’ (with wings not given to man,') they have hitherto essayed, unsuccessfully, the Art of Flying: notwithstanding Bishop Wilkins's prediction that the time would come when a man setting out on a journey would ring for his wings, as heretofore for his boots.
About 100 years ago, an adventurer of this kind travelled the country, making for money at different places the exhibition of a flight from towers and steeples. His method was to have a rope fixed to the top of the place from which bre was to descend, and strained to a convenient place where he was to alight. A board, with a groove to receive the cord, was fixed to the breast of the 'aeronaut,' and by this he was to descend headforemost to the point of alighting. Amongst other places he visited Bromham, and having solicited permission to 'fly' from the steeple, some idle people of the place, without consulting the clergyman, who was indisposed, gave him leave to perform. A time was appointed, the apparatus was fixed, and a mob assembled. The flyer ascended the steeple, made his plunge, and was half way down the rope, when some persons employed to strain it pulled it too hard. The top of the spire gave way, and came down. The aeronaut, luckily for himself, fell into a tree in the churchyard, and received but little
ht. Its al
hurt. Had he fallen to the ground he would have been dashed to pieces. This event probably put an end to steeple-flying; but as the inhabitants of a country are often ridiculed for the foolish acts of their neighbours, the story of pulling down their own steeple was for a long time a standing joke against the people of Bromham. It was repaired; but some years afterwards was struck by lightning, and shivered near the same point where it had been broken before."
A PEEP AT THE WILTSHIRE ASSIZES.—A poem in several cantos. Who was the author ? A copy is in the library at Devizes.
DONATIONS TO THE MUSEUM AND LIBRARY.
By the Most Noble the MARQUIS OF LANSDOWNE, Bowood.Divers works of Early Masters in Christian Decoration. Weale. 2 vols. folio.
By EARL BRUCE, Tottenham.-Gold ring found in a Roman villa at Great Bedwyn.
By Ven. ARCHDEACON MACDONALD, Bishops Cannings.-Sir R. C. Hoare's Ancient Wiltshire. Part 1.
By F. C. LUKIS, Esq., F.S.A., Guernsey.—Eight Hand Bricks and Plaster Cast of a Guernsey Stone Celt. Type, Anglo-Norman.
By JOHN BROWN WHITE, Esq., Little Bedwyn.—Nine Roman Coins found in the parish of Little Bedwyn.
By T. E. BLACKWELL, Esq., Clifton.—Ordnance Map of North and South Wilts (with Roman Stations, &c. coloured).
By Rev. A. FANE, Warminster.—Seven Roman Coins (copper and silver).
By Rev. A. Mc EWEN, Dumfries.-Impression of Chapter Seal of Melrose Abbey.
By J. Y. AKERMAN, Esq.—A Fine between Robert de Hakeney, Parson of Aldyngton, and Robert Atte Hull: of land at Ramsbury. [About A.D. 1312.]
END OF VOL I.