The History of Tewkesbury

By James Bennett

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2015



TEWKESBURY is generally considered a very handsome and improving town. The three principal streets are spacious and well-paved: the most extensive of these is the High-street, (formerly called Oldbury-street), which is wide and elegant, leading from the centre of the town towards Worcester; Church-street, in the direction of Gloucester and Cheltenham, is nearly as long, but the curvature near its centre renders its length less perceptible; and Barton-street, which is the third considerable street, connects the town with the Evesham and Stow roads.

There is also a new street, lately opened, by means of which a more ready communication betwixt the High-street and the Oldbury is obtained; besides which, there are a number of lanes, alleys and passages, branching from all the principal streets.

A considerable part of the Oldbury,[288] all of which, until the year 1808, was commonable land, has very recently been covered with buildings: there are now nearly two hundred houses in that portion of the town, the first of which was built in 1810.


The houses in Tewkesbury are chiefly built with brick, the manufacture of which is carried on to a large extent on the banks of the Severn, both above and below the town. There are still existing, in various parts of the borough, some excellent specimens of the domestic architecture of the time of Queen Elizabeth: the whole building is strongly framed with timber, and the upper stories project so much over the lower, that were these houses to be regularly placed on each side of a narrow street, their tops would meet, and completely shade the way beneath. One of the most perfect examples of this description of dwellings, is the general coach-office, adjoining the Swan Hotel, in the High-street.

A large stone cross formerly stood in the open space in the centre of the town; the bailiffs, in 1650, ordered it to be pulled down, and caused the materials to be used in the reparation of the long bridge, leading to the Mythe. There is no memorial to shew us when or for what purpose this cross was erected: Leland terms it the "market cross", and the spot is to this day frequently called "the cross".[289]


Near the middle of the Church-street, there is a broad space, which, from being called the Bull-Ring, is supposed to have been the spot anciently appropriated to the barbarous and almost obsolete diversion of bull-baiting.

In the year 1786, an act of parliament[290] was obtained, for paving, improving, lighting and watching the streets;[291] and to the strenuous and laudable exertions of the commissioners may be attributed their present cleanliness and excellent condition. A deep and muddy gutter formerly ran down the centre of each street, and lesser ones, from the several lanes and alleys, united with it; these were considered so dangerous, that poor persons regularly stationed themselves at the several entrances into the town, and obtained a livelihood by leading the horses of travellers from one end to the other.

Nearly adjoining to the town is a large tract of fine meadow land, called the Severn Ham, containing nearly two hundred acres, the property of John Edmund Dowdeswell, esq. the Hon. Henry Augustus Berkeley Craven, and others. This meadow was formerly commonable to the resident freemen, and the occupiers of dwelling-houses fronting the three principal streets, from the 12th of August to the 13th of February; but an act of parliament was procured, in the year 1808, for vesting the aftermath in trustees, who now annually divide the produce of it among such persons as would have been entitled to a right of common if the act had not been obtained.

The same act also empowered the trustees to inclose the Oldbury Field, the Oldbnry Meadows, Lilly Croft and Lilly Croft Meadow, which before were commonable, from the 4th of September to the 2d of February, to the same persons who were entitled to pasturage in the Severn Ham.

According to the returns made in 1821, under the directions of the population act, the parish of Tewkesbury contained 1172


families, 122 of which were employed in agriculture, 865 in trade and manufactures, and 125 which were not comprised in either of those classes. The number of inhabitants was stated to be 4962, viz. 2368 males and 2594 females; and there were 1044 inhabited and 88 uninhabited houses.

When the population returns were made in 1811, Tewkesbury contained 1007 families, 71 of which were employed chiefly in agriculture, 873 in trade and manufacture, and 63 were not comprised in either of those classes. The number of inhabitants was calculated to be 4820, viz. 2201 males and 2619 females; there were then 959 inhabited and 33 uninhabited houses, and 11 houses being built. - When the census was taken in 1801, there were 1146 families, occupying 859 houses; and the population amounted to 4199 persons, viz. 1932 males and 2267 females.- In 1792, there were 3768 inhabitants, viz. 1793 males and 1975 females. - The population of the town, in 1723, amounted to 2866 persons, viz. 1234 males and 1632 females.

It is evident that the population lists, in 1821, were very incorrectly taken: the inhabitants must have been then considerably more numerous than they were stated to be, and since that period also they have much increased. The population would now probably approach nearly to 6000 souls.

The earliest trade of the town seems to have been confined chiefly to the commerce in grain, flour and malt, which the inhabitants were enabled to carry on to great advantage by means of their fine navigable rivers.

The traffic on the Severn and the Avon, from Tewkesbury, is now very considerable, and might be increased to almost any extent, if individuals of an enterprising spirit would embark their capital in mercantile speculation; since few places in the inland part of the kingdom are more advantageously situated for trade. Should the projected union of the Birmingham and Worcester canal with that of Gloucester and Berkeley, ever be carried into effect, which has been for some years a favourite scheme with many persons both in Birmingham and Bristol, the commercial prosperity of this town would in all probability be greatly augmented.


A double lock might be erected, at a trifling expense, across the mouth of the river Avon, at the bottom of the quay; a floating dock could thus be formed, capacious enough for a more extended trade than the most sanguine can ever hope to witness in our rivers. If this were effected, the present confined quay might readily be made a very commodious one, with every convenience for loading and unloading vessels.

A rail-road from Bristol to Birmingham has often been contemplated; should this project also ever be realized, it has been anticipated that the most beneficial effects would be felt by the trading interests of the town, through or near to which the road must necessarily pass.

The corporation, by their early charters, were empowered to grant privileges to companies of traders; all persons who were not free of the borough, were prevented from settling here in business, and journeymen were not allowed to work at their trades, unless they were members of one of the incorporated companies. In the infancy of commerce, these combinations might possibly have had their advantages, but they would be very ill suited to the present times. There has always been, since the year 1581, a company of "cordwainers and shoe-makers", which is the only company now existing. There was a company of "drapers and dyers", and another of "tailors", which, being afterwards united into one fellowship, was dissolved only a few years since.[292] There


were also companies of "weavers", - "coopers and joiners", "haberdashers or mercers", - "butchers", - "bakers", - "smiths", - "tuckers", and one of "whittawers, glovers, point-makers, pursers, and pouch-makers".

This town was formerly celebrated for its manufacture of mustard balls, which were sent to the most remote parts of the country, and being remarkably pungent, gave rise to the proverb, "He looks as if he lived on Tewkesbury mustard";[293] which continues to this day to be applied to those prigs who exhibit a more than ordinary degree of pertness.[294]


Shakspeare, in his play of King Henry the Fourth, puts into the mouth of the merry Falstaff, in his reply to a person who had extolled Poins for a wit: "he a good wit? hang him, baboon ! his wit is as thick as Tewkesbury mustard".[295] The manufactory has long ceased to be carried on in the town, though nothing could be more easy than to restore it; as the mustard, which grows spontaneously in the corn-fields, and other places, in the neighbourhood, and which is in fact here a common weed, is of the same species as that which is cultivated with so much care, in the north of England, for the sake of its flour.[296]

There were numerous manufacturers of gloves in Tewkesbury about the time of the commonwealth, but the trade has long since been lost to the town.

Worsted combing was carried on here to some extent in the reign of Queen Anne; and in that of her successor, Tewkesbury enjoyed a portion of the clothing business,[297] but how long it had flourished is uncertain.

The malting business was one of the principal sources of wealth to the inhabitants for some centuries: the trade is still very considerable, though it is now of much less importance than formerly.


The manufactory of nails was for a long time one of the staple trades of the borough: it was originally conducted with much spirit, and it again bids fair to be a flourishing business.

The principal manufactory now carried on in the town is that of stocking frame-work knitting.[298] This important branch of our domestic trade is supposed to have been introduced at Tewkesbury about the beginning of the eighteenth century, though it was conducted only on a small scale until within the last seventy years. In 1810, the number of stocking frames employed in the town was reckoned to be eight hundred; they were accurately counted in 1819, at a time when the trade was in a very depressed state, and they were then only five hundred and fifty-nine. At present, there are between seven and eight hundred frames at work, and it is calculated that these afford employment to about fifteen hundred individuals, or more than one fourth of the entire population.

A manufactory of cotton thread lace was established in the Oldbury, in 1825. The buildings are very commodious, and the machinery is of the most costly and perfect kind. We sincerely hope that the large capital which is embarked in


the speculation may be productive of wealth to the projectors, and of advantage to the town.

A distillery and rectifying-house, on an extensive scale, were established at Tewkesbury, about the year 1770. The distillery was built in the meadows, on the Bushley side of the Severn, but the foundations of it cannot now be discovered. The rectifying business was carried on in the town; and from that period to the present it has continued to prosper, under the superintendance of highly respectable proprietors.

There are two opulent banking establishments in Tewkesbury; one under the firm of "Lechmere, Wall, Isaac and Lechmere", and the other under that of "Nathaniel Hartland, John Allis Hartland, and Nathaniel Hartland, jun".

A provident bank, for the savings of the industrious, in the town and neighbourhood of Tewkesbury, was established in the year 1818.

There are two excellent posting-houses in the town; the Swan, in High-street, and the Hop-Pole, in Church-street; these, and several other respectable inns, afford all those comforts and accommodations which travellers in the present day expect to find in houses of public entertainment.

As Tewkesbury is situated in the direct line of communication between the northern and western parts of the kingdom, as well as nearly equi-distant from the fashionable watering places, Cheltenham and Malvern, and is also in the high road from London to Hereford and South Wales, there is consequently much travelling through the place.

More than thirty stage coaches, including the mails, pass through the town daily; besides a number of waggons, vans, &c. to and from London, Birmingham, Bristol, and the neighbouring towns. Twenty years ago, there was not a single coach from this place to Cheltenham, and now there are ten which daily travel through it to that resort of fashion, and the same number pass again on their return from thence to Malvern, Worcester, Hereford, &c.

The letters from London, Oxford, &c. are brought by the Gloucester mail to Cheltenham, and are from thence


immediately forwarded by a four-horse mail-coach, which arrives in Tewkesbury at a quarter before nine in the morning, and continues its route to Ledbury and Hereford, at which place it arrives at half-past twelve. It returns at half-past two, bringing the letters from Herefordshire and South Wales, and starts from Tewkesbury to Cheltenham at a quarter before six, in time to meet the Gloucester mail on its return to London. The mail from Bristol to Birmingham passes through the town a little after twelve at night; and that from Birmingham to Bristol a little after one in the morning; by these conveyances, letters from all parts of the north and west are received, which are delivered at an early hour in the morning, along with the London letters.

Old copper and brass tokens, which were issued for the convenience of trade, and inscribed with the names and sometimes with the devices of tradesmen, are often picked up in the gardens about the town. They are of various dates, principally between the years 1570 and 1690. From the extensive circulation of tradesmen's silver and copper tokens, a few years since, the more ancient local coins have lost much of that artificial value which was previously attached to them.

The public amusements at Tewkesbury are of a similar description to those of most other inland trading towns.

Regular subscription dancing and card assemblies are held, during the winter, at the Town-hall, and are numerously and respectably attended.

A public library and news-room was established in 1828, and we trust that it will meet with sufficient encouragement to insure its continuance.[299]

An elegant little theatre has recently been fitted up; and during the Cheltenham season, the dramatic company from thence frequently perform here. As the managers occasionally


bring with them some of the first-rate London performers, the admirers of the drama at Tewkesbury have more frequent opportunities of witnessing superior theatrical talent, than the inhabitants of most other places.[300]

The Severn Ham presents an excellent level course for horse-racing. We have no account of races at Tewkesbury before 1721; in that and the following year His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales gave a gold cup, of fifty guineas value, to be run for in the Ham. The first was won by John Brydges, esq.


of the Mythe; and the other by the Right Hon. Lord Tracy, Prior to 1825, there had been no races for twelve years; since that time they have regularly taken place, excepting in 1829, when, from the race-course being so frequently flooded during the autumn, the amusement was necessarily abandoned.

There is a convenient and delightful bowling-green, nearly opposite the church, which affords to the subscribers an agreeable summer evening's retreat.

At the Upper-Lode, about half a mile from the town, on the banks of the Severn, there is a spacious coit-yard;[301] it is shaded with large elms, and no spot could be better chosen for the fine exercise which that game affords. For almost thirty years, prior to 1828, it was perhaps more respectably attended than any other coit-yard in the kingdom.

It is said, by Leland, that there was, at Tewkesbury, "a great stable of the kinges, a late occupied for great horses". All vestiges of it are now lost.

Several noble personages have derived their titles from this town: there was a William, Earl of Tewkesbury, as early as the reign of King Henry the first: Sir Henry Capel, eldest brother to the first Earl of Essex, was created Baron of


Tewkesbury, by King William the third; and George Augustus, Electoral Prince of Hanover, afterwards King George the first, was created Baron of Tewkesbury, by Queen Anne, in 1706.

The town was first incorporated in 1574,[302] in the seventeenth year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, by the name of the "bailiffs, burgesses and commonalty" of the borough of Tewkesbury.[303] A writ soon afterwards passed the great seal, for exonerating the corporation from various sums which had been imposed upon them by the queen's clerk of the market, on plea of her majesty's letters patent.[304]

The previous incorporation was confirmed, and a new charter granted, by King James the first, in the third year of his reign.[305]

The same monarch, in 1609, in the seventh year of his reign, when he sold the manor of Tewkesbury to the


corporation,[306] granted them another new charter, which extended their privileges very considerably.[307]

During the early part of the civil wars, in the reign of Charles the first, the charter was lost, and was supposed to have been purloined and destroyed by some individuals of an influential party who at that period were inimical to all rule and government. The bailiffs and common council petitioned Oliver Cromwell, in 1657, for an authenticated transcript of it; and they also endeavoured to procure a renewal of their charter during the protectorate of Richard Cromwell;[308] but both applications were unavailing. They subsequently, in


1669, petitioned King Charles the second for an attested copy of the old charter; and, being unsuccessful, the common council resolved to apply for a new one. At length, through the indefatigable exertions of Richard Dowdeswell, esq. an exemplification of the charter, which had been granted in the seventh year of King James the first, was obtained; it passed the great seal in 1672, though not without a considerable expense to the inhabitants of the town.

In 1684, Charles the second directed the lord lieutenant of the county of Gloucester to advise the body corporate to surrender their charter, threatening them with a quo warranto if they refused.[309] No surrender however took place during his


reign; but on the 24th of March, 1685, the Tewkesbury charter, like that of many other corporations, was surrendered, under the common seal of the body, to King James the second; who, in the following year, re-incorporated the town, by styling the municipal body "the mayor, aldermen and common council", and the borough had a mayor for its chief magistrate from 1686 to 1692.[310] There was no corporation or local government in Tewkesbury, from 1692 until 1698, when King William the third, in the tenth year of his reign, at the earnest intercession of the burgesses and principal inhabitants, granted the present charter.[311]

Tewkesbury has been a borough from time immemorial,[312] and is consequently a borough by prescription, as well as by


grant; and few corporate towns can boast of a charter which affords such extensive privileges.[313] The borough is co-extensive with the parish, and the local jurisdiction extends over the whole, which is about fifteen miles in circumference.

If the "bailiffs, burgesses and commonalty" have not lost, through disuse, some of their "ancient liberties, franchises, privileges and pre-eminences", it is evident, from the charter


of King William, as well as from some of the preceding ones, that they have at present not only jurisdiction throughout the entire parish, but that the "free borough corporate" extends also over "the whole hundred and liberty of Tewkesbury, in the counties of Gloucester and Worcester". The corporation records state, that, in Sept. 1700, an action of trespass at Bourton-on-the-Hill was tried in the Tewkesbury Borough Court of Record, that judgment was given, and an execution issued and executed by the bailiff of the hundred. Similar actions, from other remote parts of the hundred,[314] have also been tried in the same court; there appears however to be no instance of the corporation having exercised this right recently.

The corporation consists of twenty-four principal burgesses, who are styled common-councilmen;[315] from this body are chosen a high-steward,[316] recorder, town-clerk (who is also clerk of the peace and clerk of the recognizances), a coroner


and chamberlain. From among the principal burgesses are also elected annually, on the second Thursday in October, two bailiffs,[317] and four justices of the peace, who, with the recorder, form the magistracy of the borough.

The corporation, at one time, comprised twenty-four assistants, in addition to the twenty-four principal burgesses; this supernumerary body was found to be entirely useless, and therefore, for many years past, the principal burgesses themselves have been sworn into the office of assistants, previously to their being admitted common-councilmen.

Tewkesbury, amongst other privileges belonging to its corporate capacity, has the most valuable and important one of holding certain courts of a civil and criminal nature. It is not indeed styled the county of the town of Tewkesbury; though in almost every practical and substantial respect it is a county within itself. Its inhabitants are exempt from the inconvenient task of service on the county juries; and now that the term of the assizes is so much lengthened, this may truly be considered a most beneficial exemption. It is also exempt from payment of county rates, and collects and expends its own borough stock. The ne intromittat clauses in the charter are strong and unequivocal, not only as against the sheriff of the county, but also the justices of the county. The sheriff, in the execution of his process within the borough, must issue his precept to the bailiffs, who thereupon authorise their serjeants-at-mace to execute the process.

Its civil jurisdiction, in the institution of a court of record, for the recovery of debts not exceeding fifty pounds, is productive of extensive advantages. In the transactions between persons to whom such a court is chiefly of importance, namely, the tradesmen of the town, their debts are generally under the sum limited: and the expense of prosecuting a suit in this court may be taken on an average as not exceeding four or five pounds.[318]


The recorder, or his deputy, in concert with the bailiffs and justices, holds a general quarter sessions of the peace. The power of inflicting punishment extends to transportation; but in very serious cases, the magistrates commit to the assizes instead of the borough sessions.[319]

Its constablewick consists of a high constable, six other constables, two serjeants-at-mace, two beadles, and the gaoler, to whose office that of constable is generally added.

The corporation regularly hold courts-leet, at which the inhabitants of all the parishes in the hundred of Tewkesbury perform suit and service. The body corporate have also the power of admitting such persons as they deem proper to be burgesses, or honorary freemen; and of perambulating the boundaries of the parish, &c. whenever they judge it necessary. A perambulation generally takes place once in seven years; the last was on May 20, 1829.

The bailiffs of the borough are clerks of the market, and annually appoint a suitable number of persons as assistant clerks. There are two weekly markets: one on Wednesdays, for corn, cattle, pigs, sheep, butchers' meat, poultry, butter, vegetables, &c.; and one on Saturdays, for provisions of every description.


There are five[320] annual fairs in Tewkesbury,[321] viz. on the second Monday in March, - second Wednesday in April, May 14th, - first Wednesday after the 4th of September, for cheese, wool, &c. as well as for live stock, - and October 10th. - There are likewise statute fairs, provincially termed mops, for hiring servants, on the Wednesday before and the Wednesday after October 10th. - Besides which, there are great markets, on the second Wednesdays in the months of June, August and December.

The income of the corporation is at present little more than sufficient to enable them to remunerate the serjeants-at-mace and their other officers: they are even obliged individually to bear the expenses of their annual civic feast. Their chief income is now derivable from a toll upon horses, cattle, sheep and pigs, sold in the fairs and markets. When the lease of the market-house, and the leases of the twelve houses in Gloucester-Place, shall have expired, the former in 1888 and the latter in 1905, their income will again be considerable.


The corporation formerly claimed a toll on all grain which was sold in the market, and this produced a yearly income of little less than £.200. In attempting to enforce their claims to this antiquated impost, all their convertible property has been alienated. That they had a legal right to toll, by virtue of their successive charters, was unquestionable; and that they had uninterruptedly enjoyed that right for many ages, was never attempted to be denied. At the time that their charters, were obtained, corn was invariably brought in bulk, and pitched in the market, and what was unsold on one market-day, remained there until the next; it was therefore only reasonable, that the corporation, who were expected to find warehouse-room for such corn, should be entitled to remuneration. Corn has lately been sold by sample; and the farmers and corn-dealers contended that it was not equitable that the corporation, when no accommodation was required of them, should continue to demand the same toll as they formerly received.

The claim to toll appears to have been first openly resisted in the year 1757: on that occasion, the corporation filed a bill in chancery against Mr. John Embury, Mr. John Jenkins, and others, for an account of the corn toll which had been by them unjustly withheld; and although the defendants severally put in answers, they submitted and made compensation before the suit came to a hearing.

Another serious infraction of the corporate claims took place in 1805; and the corporation resolved to enforce their demand, which they stated to be "one peck for every forty-eight bushels of wheat, beans, barley, oats, rye and pulse". A tedious and expensive law-suit ensued, which was determined, in the year 1809, by a decision completely in favour of the corporation.

The tolls were afterwards continued to be taken, until June, 1812; the claim was then again resisted, and the corporation for a time ceased to demand tolls, in consequence of a decision which had been recently given against the corporation of Worcester, in the same court and by the same judge who,


in 1800, pronounced judgment in favour of the Tewkesbury corporation.[322]

In Oct. 1813, the body corporate publicly announced their determination to re-assert their ancient right to toll; and at a chamber meeting, they resolved rather to surrender their charter altogether, than yield up so essential a prerogative. The corn-dealers and farmers, at a public meeting, immediately entered into a subscription, for defraying any expenses which might arise in consequence of proceedings being commenced against them by the corporation. The latter then gave notice to the committee, appointed to watch over the interests of the farmers, that they would forthwith institute proceedings "for recovery of all toll withheld from them". The want of pecuniary means perhaps prevented this threat being carried into execution, and since that period, corn toll has never been attempted to be collected in Tewkesbury.

The justices of the peace for the counties of Gloucester and Worcester hold a petty sessions at the office of Mr. T.P. White, in Tewkesbury, every other Wednesday; and to the "unpaid magistracy" of this district - the Rev. John Timbrill, D.D. archdeacon of Gloucester and vicar of Beckford; the Rev. John Keysall, domestic chaplain to his majesty and rector of Bredon; and the Rev. Charles White, vicar of Tewkesbury - the inhabitants of the neighbourhood are highly indebted, for the great zeal and inflexible integrity with which they regularly fulfil the arduous duties of the magisterial office.

[288] Oldbury sometimes denotes a place that was the site of a camp or fortification, and sometimes it means the "old town"; though it is a name which has much more frequently been given to meadows or pieces of inclosed ground belonging to religious houses.
[289] Stone pillars or crosses were erected in different æras and on various occasions: independently of those in very remote ages, (such as are mentioned in the Old Testament, and those raised by pagans for idolatrous purposes), our ancestors, in early times, put up crosses in places where the people commonly assembled in public, or where several roads met. At such crosses, the corpse, in being carried to the grave, was set down, that the people attending might pray for the soul of the departed. Mendicants also usually stationed themselves near them, and solicited alms for Christ's sake; and hence the proverb, "he begged like a cripple at a cross". They were sometimes erected on the spot where persons had met with untimely and violent deaths; and the one at Tewkesbury might have been built to commemorate the melancholy fate of the Duke of Somerset and others, who were beheaded in the place where it stood, after the overthrow of the Lancastrian army in 1471. The fact of a stone cross having been erected at Blore Heath, Staffordshire, after the battle there, in which Lord Audley, who commanded on the side of the house of Lancaster, was defeated and slain, would serve in some degree to strengthen such an opinion. Crosses were also sometimes placed to mark where any singular instance of God's mercy had been shewn; or where the corpse of any distinguished individual rested as it was carried to be buried; and more frequently in church-yards, to remind the people of the benefits vouchsafed to them by the cross of Christ.
[290] The titles of the local acts of parliament, relating to the borough, are given in the Appendix, No.24.
[291] The representatives in parliament liberally contributed towards the paving and improvement of the streets, in 1790: Sir William Codrington, bart. gave £.500, and James Martin, esq. gave £.300.
[292] In the preamble to a grant from the corporation of the borough to the company of tailors, in the forty-third year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it is stated, that "tyme oute of mynde there hath ben a felowshipp or brotherhoodd of the misterie of taylors within the boroughe of Tewxburie and adds, that for many years the company of "drapers and dyers" had been united to that of the "tailors", but from some disagreement they had lately been separated. This grant or charter permits their re-union, and states that henceforth they should be "reputed and allowed to be one companie, fellowshipp and brotherhoodd, to be called by the name of the fellowshipp of drapers, dyers and taylors of the burrough of Tewkesburie". The original rules of the company appointed the annual election of one of the most discreet members to be "master", and one of the younger ones to be "clerk or beedle": the former was to collect the "fynes", and pay one half of them to the bailiff, for the use of the whole borough, and apply the other half to the use of the said fellowship; the latter was to attend the master, summon the company, &c. Subsequently, a warden, high master, low master, and beadle, were annually chosen. The primary object of the company appears to have been to prevent persons from exercising any of their trades within the borough, unless they were members of the fellowship; to entitle them to this honour, they must have served seven years' apprenticeship, and have paid their admission fee; which, from those apprenticed in the town, was only three shillings and four-pence; but strangers were compelled to pay a much larger sum, and on some occasions four pounds were paid. The fees were generally spent in breakfasts by the fellowship. On one occasion the corporation of the borough agreed with this company, that so long as there were in the town fourteen master tailors, which they "conceived a sufficient and competent number, and rather too many than otherwise", they would not, without the consent of the fellowship, admit a stranger, being a tailor, to the freedom. About twenty years since, the company of tailors consisted of only three members, viz. Thomas Waldron, William Sweet, and Samuel Lintridge; being all far advanced in life, they agreed not to admit any other person into the fellowship, and that the one who lived the longest should inherit the company's estate. Lintridge survived the others, and disposed of the property, about the year 1812, by which he realised nearly six hundred pounds!
[293] Ray's Proverbs. - Grose says, the Tewkesbury mustard was extremely hot, biting and poignant; and therefore, by this proverb, supposed to communicate those qualities to persons fed with it. - And in an allegorical account of mustard, (Cens. Lit. VII. 288), is this saying, "If he be of the right stamp, and a true Tewkesbury man, he is a choleric gentleman, and will bear no coals".
[294] Fuller, in his Worthies of England, speaking of mustard, says, "The best in England (to take no larger compass) is made at Tewkesbury. It is very wholesome for the clearing of the head, moderately taken; and I believe very few have ever surfeited thereof. It is generally used in England; and the jest is well known, of two serving-men contending about superiority: 'My master', saith the one, 'spends more in mustard than thine does in beef'. Whereunto the other returned, 'The more saucy men his followers'".
[295] Second Part of King Henry IV. act 2, scene 4.
[296] The ancient method adopted in the manufacture of mustard, at Tewkesbury, perhaps deserves the attention of those who in the present day are anxious to obtain this simple article of luxury in perfection: the antiquated mode of bruising the seed of course need not now be adopted, as it must be immaterial how the flour be obtained, so that it be genuine. The good housewives here however uniformly pounded the mustard seed in an iron mortar, with a large cannon ball, or other hard substance of a similar shape and size; and after the flour had been carefully sifted from the bran, it was mixed in a cold infusion of horse-radish, and well beaten or stirred up for the space of at least an hour. It was considered that the horse-radish imparted great additional pungency to the mustard, and that the continued beating gave it that consistency and strength which were deemed essential to its good preservation.
[297] Two pieces of fine broad cloth, of the manufactory of the town, valued at forty-five shillings a yard, were sent from hence as presents - one to King George the first, when he was only Elector of Hanover, and the other to King George the second,
[298] The common stocking frame was invented by the Rev. William Lee, a native of Nottinghamshire, in 1589; not many years after the introduction of the art of knitting hose into this country, which was brought from Spain, and unknown in England until 1561. The stockings in general use were previously made of cloth, or of milled stuffs, sewed together. The stocking frame is made chiefly of iron, and is exceedingly ingenious and complex. We are indebted for the invention of this useful machine to the expulsion of Mr. Lee, from St. John's College, Cambridge, for marrying, contrary to the statutes of the university. Being thus deprived of the means of subsistence, he was reduced to the necessity of living upon what his wife could earn by knitting stockings, which gave a spur to his inventive faculties; and by closely observing the working of the needles in knitting, he formed in his mind the model of that curious frame which has proved of such singular advantage to that branch of our manufactures. Not meeting with the encouragement and protection at home, which his discovery merited, Mr. Lee and nine of his servants settled in France, under the patronage of Henry the fourth, but the sudden murder of that monarch deprived him of the power of recompensing our unfortunate countryman in the way he had promised, and Mr. Lee died in France of a broken heart. Seven of his workmen then returned with their frames to their native country, and laid the foundation of this manufacture in England.
[299] A permanent library was attempted to be established here in 1802, but it was broken up in a few years. Another was set on foot in 1814, and carried on at first with considerable spirit; in 1823 it was agreed to discontinue it, and the whole of the books were disposed of, by way of raffle, among the subscribers.
[300] Although this theatre was not fitted up in its present style until 1823, the building had for several years before been occasionally used for theatrical exhibitions. Previously, the Oldbury barn, or an empty malthouse, had usually been selected; though at one time, two rival temporary theatres were erected in the fields, just without the limits of the borough. One of them was in the Rails Meadow, and occupied by Robinson and Thornton's company; the other was in a meadow, called The Pantry, to the eastward of the Bredon road, adjoining the Carron brook, and was under the management of the elder Kemble. The manager, his wife and his young family were the principal performers: here, therefore, it may be presumed, that the late John Kemble, Mrs. Siddons, and their brother Stephen, often displayed their embryo talents to a "beggarly shew of empty benches". In a recent publication, the following anecdote of Kemble is recorded; and as it relates to Tewkesbury, it is here preserved: we ourselves can well remember, how joyously poor Watson would relate it, in his mirthful moments, and how earnestly he would attest the correctness of the story:- "The theatre at Cheltenham was under the management of its proprietor, the eccentric Watson, who was a fellow of infinite jest and humour, full of Thespian anecdotes, and perfectly master of the art of driving away loathed melancholy. Many a hearty laugh have I had with him: he was an Irishman, and had, although I say it who should not say it, all the natural wit of his country about him. He was of a very respectable family (quakers) in Clonmell. In John Kemble's younger days, he was a near ally of his, and both belonged to a strolling company. They lived, or rather, by Watson's account, starved together; at one time, in Gloucestershire, they were left penny-less; and after continued vicissitudes, Watson assured me, such was their distress, that at that time they were glad to get into a turnip-field and make a meal of its produce uncooked; and, he added, it was while regaling on the raw vegetable, that they hit upon a scheme to recruit their finances; and a lucky turn-up it turned out. It was neither more nor less than that John Kemble should turn methodist preacher, and Watson perform the part of clerk. Their scheme was organized, and Tewkesbury was their first scene of action; they drew together, in a field, a numerous congregation: and Kemble preached with such piety, and so much effect, that a large collection rewarded his labours. This anecdote Kemble himself told me was perfectly true". - Kelly's Reminiscences.
[301] Throwing the discus, or coit, was one of the gymnastic exercises of the Greeks. The shape of the discus was nearly oval, about a foot in length, and three or four inches thick in the centre, whence it tapered on each side to the extremity, in the manner of a lens, and a hole was perforated in the middle. Statues of persons employed at this game exhibit the discus rested on the four fingers, which were closed, with their ends pointing upwards on the inside of it, and the thumb extended horizontally along the outside. The thrower obtained the necessary impulse by swinging the arm; and, at the proper moment, he gave the discus a rotary motion, and sent it through the air to the mark. (Pope's Homer's Iliad.) Coiting is also a very ancient exercise among the people of this country, but it is doubtful whether the most experienced player could rival the inferior discobuli of ancient times. Sir Thomas More, in his Utopia, ranks "coyts" amongst "naughty, lewd and unlawful games and Lemnius, a foreign physician, whose account of England was translated by Newton, in 1576, under the title of "The Touchstone of Complexions", says, that the principal amusements of the stronger English were "wrestling, coytinge, tennis, bowlinge, whorle-battinge, lifting great waights, pitching the barre, ryding, running, leapinge, shooting in gunnes, swymming, tossing the pike, tyltinge barryers, and tourney".
[302] For some centuries prior to this period, the inhabitants of Tewkesbury had been styled "bailiff's, burgesses and commonalty": their privileges however were more limited, and of a somewhat different character. From very early times, the great lords of Tewkesbury, or their stewards, annually appointed "bailiffs", &c. at their courts-leet. "Burgesses" were of two descriptions - those who held property under the lord at a certain yearly rent, and such as held office under the bailiffs; but what was then understood by "commonalty", it would be difficult to define. Dr. Brady, in his Treatise on Boroughs, contends that the term commonalty (communitas) generally means the governing part of a town, though it has by some other writers been said to mean the inhabitants collectively. In the Tewkesbury charters, in no instance can the term be construed to mean the inhabitants generally; and whatever might have been the sense in which it was used in the earliest charters, it is clear that, in the later ones, it could only comprise such persons as are now denominated freemen. - "From the first, the bailiff's of Tewkesbury had the return and execution of the king's writs".- Brev. Reg. 5 Edw. III. No.3.
[303] See Appendix, No.25.
[304] A copy of this writ is among the records in the exchequer office, indorsed "De Ballivis, Burgensibus et Communitate Burgi de Tewkesbury, in Comitatu Gloucestriae, exonerandis de diversis Summis impositis per Clericum Mercati, praetextu Literarum Reginae Patentium. Michaelis Recorda, 21 Eliz. Rot. 132".
[305] See Appendix, No.26.
[306] The purchase money for the manor, &c. being £.2453. 7s. 4½d. and the expenses of obtaining the charter £.438. 6s. 0½d. the total cost amounted to £.2891. 13s. 5d. Towards the purchase, the inhabitants of the borough paid to the crown £.426. 13s. 8d. and the remaining £.2026. 13s. 8d. was advanced by Mr. Wm. Ferrers. The corporation afterwards disposed of a portion of their property, which produced £.335; this sum was appropriated towards the liquidation of their debt, and in 1610, in order to secure the re-payment of Mr. Ferrers's loan, the following eighteen persons entered into bonds of £.100 each: John Barston, Geo. Morrey, sen. Wm. Johnsons, Conon Richardson, John Vicaridge, John Cooke, Wm. Hitche, John Tomes, John Scullowe, John Slaughter, Thomas Deakins, John Underhill, Geo. Morrey, jun. John Hill, Thomas Jelf, John Higgins, Wm. Rayer and Thomas Bicke. In 1610, with the view of raising money to lessen the incumbrance, the common council ordered, that those who had a right of pasturage in the Severn Ham should pay four-pence a week for every beast depastured there, and four-pence a day for every beast above the number of three. In 1611, in consequence of the non-payment of the expenses incurred in procuring the charter, a pursuivant was sent down by his majesty's government; a general taxation was immediately imposed upon the town, and the sum of £.1168 was by this means collected. In the following year, Mr. Ferrers sued the eighteen individuals who had given him bonds, and "money was paid thereon from time to time"; and in 1614, the corporation assigned to him, in discharge of the residue of his claim, the ninety-four acres of land in the Severn Ham which they had purchased along with the manor, &c. of the king. The yearly value to the crown of the lands, &c. sold with the manor to the corporation, was estimated at £.50. 1s. 4d. and the rate of calculation of value was forty-nine years' purchase.
[307] See Appendix, No.27.
[308] The Mercurius Politicus, a parliamentary newspaper, of Oct. 14th, 1658, says, "this week the council ordered a renewing the charter of Teuxbury, and that it should be presented as their advice to his highness".
[309] In advising this surrender, the king was actuated by a desire to exact large fees upon granting a new charter, and by a wish to abridge the liberties of his Tewkesbury subjects. The following particulars, respecting the surrender, are extracted from the corporation records: the Duke of Beaufort, the lord lieutenant of the county, having informed the bailiffs that he had directions from his majesty to advise the corporation to surrender their charter, and that a quo warranto would be brought against them if they refused, a letter, dated May 30, 1684, was written to his grace, setting forth, that several trusts for the poor and other charitable uses, and divers houses and other profits, to the value of £.200 per annum, by purchase, depended upon their incorporation: that they were a very ancient borough, having charters for confirmation and enlargement of their liberties from almost all his majesty's predecessors since King Edward the first, and many of them upon valuable considerations: that their last charter, 7 James I. was given in consideration of a purchase made from the crown, for which they paid £.2453. 7s. 4½d. which charter his majesty confirmed in the twenty-fifth year of his reign, 1672: that, about four years since, several of his majesty's deputy lieutenants had inspected their records, and declared themselves satisfied that they had duly observed the act for regulating of corporations: and that they were not conscious of any failure in duty to his majesty or the government. - It was also directed, that a deputation from the common council should wait upon the Duke of Beaufort, with the said letter, and be empowered to propose to his grace, that his majesty should hereafter approve of the bailiffs and all other public officers to be chosen into the said corporation; and that if any of the present members of the common council should be thought disaffected, they would resign, and such others should be elected in their stead as his majesty might direct. - In July following, the common council ordered, that an assignment should be made of all the manors, messuages, lands, tenements, tolls, profits and hereditaments, and of all monies and other goods and chattels of or belonging to the corporation, unto Bridges Nanfan, of Birtsmorton, Richard Lygon, of Maddresfield, and Charles Hancock, of Twyning, esquires, in such manner as Mr. Dobbins, the barrister, and Mr. Powell, of Gloucester, should advise. - In August, it was agreed, that the Earl of Worcester and Lord Coventry, with the three gentlemen above-named, should be trustees for the corporation; and that when the conveyance to them was executed, a surrender should be made unto his majesty of the charter and letters patent granted in the seventh year of the reign of King James the first. - In September it was resolved, that the surrender, after having the common seal affixed to it by the chamberlain, should be immediately made to his majesty; and that a petition should be forthwith made for a new charter. This surrender was dated 28th Oct. 1684, in the thirty-second year of Charles the second, but was never presented, on account of the illness and death of his majesty. - In Feb. 1684-5, at the same time that the common council presented an address of congratulation to King James the second, on his coming to the throne, they petitioned that his majesty would not insist upon the surrender of their charter, as they had no money to defray the expenses of a new one. - This petition was unavailing, and, in March following, the common council ordered that the surrender should be forthwith made to the new monarch, and that a petition should be presented for a new charter, in the same form as that prepared for the late king, which was accordingly done.
[310] See Appendix, No.28.
[311] See Appendix, No.29.
[312] It would be difficult to ascertain precisely the origin of boroughs. We find them mentioned in the laws of Ina, king of the West Saxons, a fact which gives them an antiquity of more than eleven hundred years. Among the municipal constitutions of that monarch, for the government of his people, is an ordinance to the following effect: - "whoever shall be guilty of a violation of the peace in a burgh, under the protection of the king or a bishop, shall pay one hundred and twenty shillings; and if it be an alderman's burgh, the fine shall be eighty shillings". A similar law occurs also in the code of King Alfred. The principal towns of the Saxons, during the latter period of their sway in Britain, were distinguished by the name of burghs, the inhabitants of which enjoyed particular privileges, immunities and laws, as an encouragement to trade and commerce. In these burghs, markets were established, and imports and exports of merchandize took place, under the cognizance of the prepositus burghi, or bailiff of the borough, who was appointed by the prince or lord of the fee to collect the tolls, duties and impositions arising from the trade of the place. The Saxon burgesses appear to have enjoyed the few rights and liberties they possessed, not in consequence of any particular grants or charters, made to them by the king or their lords, as a body corporate, but merely from the circumstance of their inhabiting those houses which constituted the borough. Their condition indeed seems to have been, for the most part, nothing better than a certain qualified slavery; and in this state it is probable the boroughs continued until a period subsequent to the conquest. The Anglo-Norman monarchs, finding that commerce was cramped by the restrictions under which the inhabitants of the cities and towns laboured, by degrees relaxed their servile ties, and not only granted a greater degree of personal liberty, but in lieu of the numerous duties which had been exacted in Saxon times, received only a fixed redditus, called a fee farm rent, proportioned in some measure to the amount of the original impositions. About the same time in which this change in the condition of the burgesses took place, chartered corporations had their origin. The former might indeed have been the necessary consequence of the latter; for when the state had determined to extend the liberties of the ancient Saxon boroughs, the first step would naturally be to reduce the former uncertain and arbitrary customs with which they were burthened, and require only a fixed and more equitable rent. The origin of corporations is thus deduced in Maddox's MS. Collections: "The king committed a town to the townsmen themselves, at ferm, during his pleasure, instead of committing it to the hands of a provost or fermer; they then obtained it in fee ferm, i.e. in perpetual ferm, and afterwards prevailed on the king to grant their ferm to them. They, lastly, prevailed on him to make them a corpus corporatum, and soon forgot those towns had ever been holden in demesne by the king".
[313] For the important privileges afforded by the present charter, the town was chiefly indebted to the exertions of Richard Dowdeswell, esq. Sir Francis Winnington, knt. and Robert Tracy, esq.
[314] Tewkesbury Hundred comprises: - Upper Part: Ashton-under-Hill, Alderton, Bourton-on-the-Hill, Clifford Chambers, Dixton, Dideot, Lemington, Preseot, Stanway, Shennington, and Washbourn. - Lower Part; Aston-upon-Carron, Bodington and Barrow, Fiddington and Natton, Forthampton, Kemerton, Mythe and Mythe Hook, Northway and Newton, Oxenton, Pamington, Southwick and Park, Stoke Orchard, Tewkesbury, Tredington and Walton Cardiff.
[315] The following is a list of the present members of the corporation, arranged according to the dates of their election:
1771.William Cliffe, esq.1811.James Gorle, esq.
1797.Rev. Wm. Geo. Maxwell.1812.Charles Edward Chandler,esq.
1798.John Edmund Dowdeswell, esq. M.P. recorder.1814.Joseph Boughton, esq.
1800.John Pitt Nind, esq.1817.Edmund Warden Jones, esq. town-clerk and coroner.
1804.Thomas Vernon, esq. chamberlain.1817.Edward Brydges, esq.
1805.Sir Anthony Lechmere, bart.1819.Rev. Charles White.
1806.Joseph Wickes, esq.1820.Joseph Longmore, esq.
1807.Michael Procter, esq,1821.Robert Young, esq.
1810.Rt. Hon. George William, Earl of Coventry, high steward.1825.Lewis Goodin Senior, esq.
1810.Henry William Harris, esq. deputy recorder.1828.Thomas Taylor, esq.
1811.Rev. William Prosser.1829.William Dowdeswell, esq.
1811.Benjamin Holland, esq.1829.George Edmunds Williams, esq.
[316] See Appendix, No.30.
[317] For a list of the bailiffs, &c. see Appendix, No.31.
[318] For some account of the Court of Record, see Appendix, No.32.
[319] There have been few instances of atrocious crimes, committed within the borough, except the two following, which were attended with some singular coincidences. On Aug. 4, 1791, William Birt, a carpenter, murdered Sarah Powell, a poor girl, whom he had seduced, by administering poison to her while she was pregnant. He was removed by habeas corpus from Tewkesbury to Gloucester, was found guilty at the ensuing assizes, and hung himself in the condemned cell on the following night. The corpse was sent by order of the coroner, to the parish officers at Tewkesbury, and buried in the cross-road at the entrance into the lane which leads to the Lodge, near the house of industry. - On Feb. 15, 1800, John Young, a carpenter, of Longdon, in returning home from Tewkesbury market, murdered his wife, in the Ham, by throwing her into the Severn, where her body was found, with her hands tied by her side, and a sack drawn over her head, on the 29th of March. The murderer was sent to Gloucester gaol, and on the 1st of August, the morning which had been fixed upon for his trial, he was found suspended by a handkerchief to the window of his cell, quite dead. His body was sent to Tewkesbury, by the coroner's directions, and buried in the cross-way at the bottom of Pagett's lane, near the river, at the Mythe.
[320] There were recently seven annual fairs, but in consequence of some of them frequently interfering with other fairs and great markets in the neighbourhood, it was agreed, at a public meeting, in 1827, to discontinue the fair heretofore held on the 22d of June, at which little business had been for many years transacted, and also that on the first Wednesday in December old style; and to have, in lieu of them, great markets in those months, and also a great market in August. - See Appendix, No.33.
[321] Hugh le Despenser the younger had a grant of a fair in Tewkesbury, 17 Edw. II. which is supposed to have been the origin of that now held in April. - 20 Hen. VI. A grant to the Earl of Warwick to hold two fairs in Tewkesbury yearly, to continue eight days each, viz. on the eve and day of St. Matthias and six days after, and also on the eve and day of St. Bartholomew and six days after: these are the present March and September fairs. - 17 Eliz. A grant of two markets, viz. Wednesdays and Saturdays; and upon Wednesdays to sell cattle, wool, yarn, hemp and flax; and also a fair and court of pie poudre on St. Mark's day. - 3 Jas. I. The fair granted by Elizabeth was repealed, and a grant of a fair, instead of it, was to be held on the 3d of May, called Holyrood day: the same fair which is now held in May. - 7 James I. A grant of two new fairs, viz. on St. Barnabas' day and St. Michael the Archangel's day: one of them is the same as the present October fair, and the other was that which was until lately held in June. The origin of the fair, which was formerly held in December, is not known.
[322] Lord Chief Justice Mansfield, in 1809, pronounced the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, in the action "The Bailiffs, Burgesses, and Commonalty of the Borough of Tewkesbury, v. Bricknell", to be, "That the selling by sample is a fraud upon the market, and that the corporation are entided to toll in respect of the corn so sold. In the same manner as though it was brought to and pitched in the market, and there sold in bulk". In the Worcester Toll Cause, in 1812, he decided "That the lord or superior of an open or public market was not entided to toll, or duty, on any commodities not brought in bulk into the market, and there disposed of in open market".

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in October 2015.

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