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Pranghe, muyl-pranghe, postomis, pastomis, confibula : instrumentum quod naribus equorum imponitur. Kilian. Wachter gives prang-er —premere, coarctare. Hence, he says, the pillory is vulgarly called pranger, Belg. pranghe, from the yoke or collar in which the neck of the culprit is held.”
In a copy of Dr. Plot’s “History of Staffordshire,” in the British Museum Library, the following marginal note occurs on his description of the Brank. It has been supposed to be in his own handwriting.—“This Bridle for the Tongue seems to be very ancient, being mentioned by an ancient English poet, I think Chaucer, quem wide :
“‘But for my daughter Julian,
I would she were well bolted with a Bridle,
That leaves her work to play the clack,
And lets her wheel stand idle.
For it serves not for she-ministers,
Farriers nor Furriers,
Cobblers nor Button-makers
To descant on the Bible.’”
I cannot find that there ever was a brank at Marlborough ; although it is quite possible that there was, and that it exists in the Town now : the person possessing it not knowing what it is or its use. In the year 1858, the Rev. Thomas Hugo exhibited a brank at the Archaeological Institute, and it remained till the exhibition of the Portraits of Mary Queen of Scots, when the ladies saw it, and on my asking them if they knew what it was, one of them replied, “I suppose it is to be put on the nose of vicious horses who are addicted to biting.” I explained the ungallant reality. In conclusion I would observe that the Wenerable Archdeacon
Hale on seeing the specimen of the brank which I have, remarked, that from so many Cucking Stools and Branks having existed from the reign of Charles II. to that of Queen Anne, and from so many entries and memoranda being found respecting them, they must have been then in frequent use. He suggested that in those times, there being few Lunatic Asylums, and insanity
* Dr. Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary, and Supp. in vece.
being a disease little understood, it was probable that many insane women who were violent and punished as scolds would be now treated as lunatics.
F. A. CARRINGTON.
I must here return my most sincere thanks to our Secretary Mr. Kite, for his kind assistance respecting the blocks of the Marlborough Pillory, and to the members of the Committee of the Archaeological Institute, Mr. Albert Way, Professor Wilson of Toronto, Messrs. Constable of Edinburgh, Mr. Jewitt, F.S.A., Mr. Stanley and Mr. Noake of Worcester, for their kindness and courtesy with respect to the other illustrations of this paper.
[Whilst the foregoing Article was passing through the press, its Author, FREDERICK AUGUSTUS CARRINGTON, Esq., F.A.S., of Ogbourne St. George in this County, was seized with a serious illness which prevented his revising it. With the deepest regret it must now be added, that his illness has ended in Death. The Members of the Wiltshire Archaeological Society and the readers of this Magazine, to which he so often contributed able and amusing Papers, will have received the intelligence of this event with universal regret. For his own part the Editor can only say that he has been deprived of one of his most cheerful and industrious coadjutors in the labour of conducting this Publication. Mr. Carrington was for many years a leading Barrister on the Oxford Circuit, Recorder of Wokingham, a Deputy Lieutenant for Berks, and a Justice of Peace for Wilts].
To the Editor of the Wilts Magazine.
Our friend and associate Mr. Charles E. Long, is indefatigable in his search after matter that may illustrate the Littlecote legend. Unluckily he committed himself to a strong opinion of its purely mythical character in his first notice of the subject in our pages (vol. iv. p. 222). His second communicated several interesting documents, which in the interval had been discovered at the Rolls Office, in his own phrase “bringing to light some startling incidents in the eccentric and not very creditable career’ of the hero, Wild Darell, and therefore lending some probability to the tale; but not enough it would seem to lessen Mr. Long’s “unbelief” in it. (vol. vi. p. 214). His third paper, however, in our last Number, gives as the result of a yet more recent discovery, two more remarkable documents which do not appear to have mitigated Mr. Long's scepticism, but seem to me in my simplicity to afford the most striking and unexpected testimony to the substantial truth of the story. These are, first, the veritable deposition, in the handwriting of the magistrate who took it, of the old midwife herself, who states that she was fetched by men on horseback, by night, carried a long (and probably round about) journey to a great house into which she was introduced mysteriously by a gentleman in black velvet, who required her to deliver a masked lady lying in a splendid bed, and threw the child, as soon as it was born, into the fire, sending the old woman back again the next night with the same precautions;–a document therefore of first-rate authority as evidence, “confirming,” as indeed Mr. Long admits (p. 390 vol. vi.) “in nearly every particular,” the tale told on traditionary information by Lord Webb Seymour to Sir Walter Scott, and related by Aubrey nearly two centuries back, and within one of its supposed date. It is true, as Mr. Long urges, that some of the usual embellishments of the tale, as told by tradition, are wanting, such as the “patch cut from the bed-curtain, the counting of the steps of the stair-case, and recognition of the house.” But what legendary tale filtered through the traditions of centuries ever failed to acquire supplementary and varying embellishments P. How, for example, does it affect the substantial truth of the story that the old woman was fetched from Shefford about six miles on the east side of Littlecote, and not from Great Bedwyn, (as some folks have told it) about the same distance on the west which Mr. Long remarks on as a fatal discrepancy P The discovery, however, of this remarkable and unexpected piece of evidence to the main facts of the legend, does not remove our friend's incredulity, but only shifts it to what a Frenchman would call the ‘locale” and ‘personnel’ of the tale. He denies that there is any ground for supposing Littlecote the theatre of the crime, or Wild Darell its author, and seems to think it just as likely, or even more so, to have been perpetrated in any other “great house" of this or the adjoining counties, and by any other wild “party.” But if we believe on the evidence of the old woman’s deposition that such a crime was actually committed, surely it is too late in the day now to look out for some other possible locality or perpetrator than those to which the uninterrupted tradition of the neighbourhood and every version of the story without exception have hitherto attributed it. Moreover the other documents discovered by Mr. Long contain matters strongly confirmatory of the ‘local and personal' particulars. Some of these by Mr. Long's own admission shew Mr. William Darell to have been “a scamp, a scape-grace,” and a “spendthrift,” “charged with another and earlier murder,” and to have carried on sometime previous to the year 1583, “a criminal intrigue with Anne the divorced wife of Sir Walter Hungerford,” who may or may not have been the mother of the murdered infant, but who certainly was at one time involved with Darell in some “unfortunate cause,” needing “witnesses to be had and sought for,” &c. (vol. iv. p.215). These admissions fully vindicate for him the sobriquet of “Wild Darell’ by which he is still traditionally remembered in the neighbourhood of Littlecote, and dispense with the need of any apology for supposing it possible that he may have been guilty of the darker deed which the same tradition fastens upon him. Let us, however, turn now to the other document given by Mr. Long in his last paper. This is a letter to Darell from his Cousin, Anthony Bridges, of [Shefford, Berks, a village, as already mentioned, about six miles from Littlecote, dated July 24th 1578, in which he reports “matters which you will wonder to heare, and yet which I suppose, concerne yourselfe.” He goes on to say that he (Bridges) had been recently visited and questioned (vulgarly pumped) by some inquisitive persons, “on matters cf great importance, yea, as great as may be to those parties to whom they did appertayne :” (which parties the preceding sentence shews to have been chiefly in the opinion of the writer, Darell himself). He continues, “The matter feare you not, yf it be no worse than I knowe.” meaning probably, if they are no better informed than they shewed themselves to him to be as to the party implicated: “there was no party named whom the matter did concern, otherwyse than “a gentleman dwellinge within three miles of my house.” He goes on to say that he put them off, and would tell them nothing. This letter clearly shews that some serious charge implicating Darell was matter of inquiry among some of his neighbours and perhaps enemies, in the year 1578, and that it was supposed by the latter that Mr. Bridges possessed some knowledge which might help their inquiry. Now what was this accusation ? Must we not look for an answer to this question in the document, found in the Rolls Office attached to the foregoing letter, and “similar to it in the ink, the handwriting, and the paper.” (p. 391. vol. vi.); viz. the same A. Bridges's statement of the Deposition before him and others of an old midwife ‘Mother Barnes of Shefforde,’ ‘not longe before her death'—a deposition to facts identical as we have seen ‘in all important particulars’ with the heads of the ‘legendary tale” as currently reported 2 It is true this deposition implicates