« PreviousContinue »
"Castor was undoubtedly a Roman station, and, according to the best conjectures of the most learned Antiquaries was the Durobriva of Antoninus. It was certainly, as appears by the ruines, a city of large extent, and reached not only from the top of the Hill above the town, but down mill field and along the meadow by the river-side, where it was joyned by a large stone bridge to the camp on the other side at Chesterton, in Huntingdonshire. The Erming street or great portway northwards lay through it. "May 23.-Mr. John Clement communicated to the Society his collection of several remarkable epitaphs, ancient and modern, at the Minster Church and Churchyard of this city, not taken notice of by Gunton, Willis (B.), etc. (To be continued.)
Books in Chains.*
ONG before the days of printing, the custom of fastening books to their shelves or to desks with chains was common throughout all Europe. This was done not only for the purpose of securing them from theft, but, as Mr. Blades points out, as a natural way of securing them for general use, so that one student should not be favoured above another by the loan of the volume from an indulgent librarian or custodian. The habit of chaining books in churches for the general use of the people was not an invention of the time of the Reformation, but existed long before that epoch, as can be abundantly proved; but the custom became much extended at that time owing to the respective injunctions about the Bible, Erasmus' Paraphrase, Jewell's Apology, and Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
The various libraries of our Universities seem to have been universally chained. So late as 1748, the Foreigner's Companion through the Universities of Cambridge and Oxford notices the inconvenience of chain
*Books in Chains (being Nos. 2-5 of Biographical Miscellanies), by William Blades. Blades, East, and Blades; royal 8vo., illustrated.
ing books, and about this time their abolition began, so that by the end of the century very few chained collections remained. At King's College a man was paid £175., in 1777, for nine days' labour in taking the fetters off the volumes. There are, however, a few chained libraries still remaining in England. The largest of these is at the cathedral church of Hereford, and is the one genuine survival of an old monastic library. It consists of about 2,000 volumes, of which about 1,500 are chained. There are five complete bookcases, and the remains of two others. Each bookcase (of one of which we are enabled to give an engraving) is 9 feet 8 inches long, 8 feet high, and 2 feet 2 inches wide.
The catalogue, which is also chained, classifies the books, many of which are in manuscript, in eight divisions. Each chain is from three to four feet long, according to its position, so that every volume can be placed on the reading desk. In the centre of the chains are swivels, which are useful in preventing their entanglement. Among the rules of the library of King's College, Cambridge, in 1683, was this: "For the rendering his business about the library more easy, each person that makes use of any books in the said library is required to set them up again decently, without entangling the chains."
Hereford is also fortunate in possessing the latest as well as the oldest collection of chained books in the kingdom. In the vestry of All Saints' Church in that city is a library of 285 volumes, occupying three shelves along two sides of the vestry, all chained, which were bequeathed to the parish as late as 1715. Twenty years ago, the vestry, to their shame be it spoken, sold the whole lot, chains and all, to a second-hand bookseller for £100. They were packed up and taken to London, but fortunately the Dean of Windsor rescued them and brought about their restoration just before they were shipped to America.
At Grantham Church, in the room over the south porch, which was formerly used as a chapel, is a collection of 268 books, of which seventy-four have the chains still attached to them; the collection was presented in 1598.
At Wimborne Minster is another most interesting chained library in the chamber
Although it is obvious that much pains, time, and research have been spent upon this highly interesting and valuable catalogue of chained books, there can be no doubt that the list of extant chained books can be considerably enlarged, and further notes supplied with regard to those that have disappeared. Mr. William Blades fully recognises this, and in order to improve the promised second edition invites help from all who have observed or have custody of such books. We cordially invite the readers of the Antiquary to respond to this invitation, by supplying information to our own pages or to the publishers of this tractate. The following is a list of the places given in these pages that have books now in chains or that have recently lost them: Abingdon, Appleby, Arreton, Barber-Surgeons' Hall, Barcheston, Bingley, Bolton-in-the-Moor, Borden, Bowness-in-Windermere, Bridlington, Bristol, Bromsgrove, Canterbury, Cartmel, Cheddar, Chelsea, Chesterton, Chew Magna, Chirbury, Cirencester, Cumnor, Denchworth, Durnford, Easton-in-Gordano, East Winch, Ecclesfield, Frampton Cotterell, Gorton, Grantham, Great Durnford, Halesowen, Hanmer, Hereford (Cathedral and All Saints'), Hull, Impington, Kettering, Kidderminster, King's Lynn, Kinver, Lessingham, Leyland, Lincoln, Llanbadarn, London (All Hallows', Lombard Street; St. Andrew Undershaft, Leadenhall Street; St. Clement's, Eastcheap), Luton, Malvern, Mancetter, Manchester, Margate, Minster-in-Thanet, Montgomery Castle, Newport Pagnell, Northwold, Prestwich, Quatt, Rochester, Salford, Salisbury, Sittingbourne, Southampton, Standon, Stratford-on-Avon, Suckley, Tavistock, Turton, Walmsley, Wantage, Wells, Whissonsett, Whitchurch (Middlesex), Wiggenhall, Wigtoft, Wimborne, Windsor, Wisbeach, Wolverley, Wootton Wawen, Worcester, Wrington, and York.
Our own contribution to the subject of Books in Chains shall be taken exclusively from the county of Derby, which seems to have altogether escaped Mr. Blades' attention.
An entry in the old churchwardens' books of All Saints', Derby, of about the year 1525, says:
These be the bokes in our lady Chapell tyed with chanes yt were gyffen to Alhaloes Church in Derby : Imprimis one Boke called summa summarum. Item A boke called Summa Raumundi.
Item Anoyer called pupilla occuli.
Item Anoyer boke called pauls pistols. Item A boke called Januensis super evangeliis dominicalibus.
Item A grette fortuose.
Item Anoyer boke called legenda Aurea.*
"Paul's Pistols" was in all probability in English; if so, it is a remarkable instance of a chained part of the Bible in the vernacular previous to the Reformation.
In Breadsall church stands an old double reading-desk, with folding lids that can be fastened by a simple padlock at the top.† There are four volumes on each side, all secured with chains attached to the binding. The books are Jewell's Works, 1609; Burnet's Reformation, 2 vols., 1679 and 1681; Cave's History of the Fathers of the Church, 1683; Cave's Antiquitates Apostolicæ, 1684; Cave's History of the Primitive Fathers, 1687; A Collection of Cases to recover Dissenters, 1694; and Josephus' Works, translated by Roger L'Estrange, 1702.
At Egginton Church, a black-letter copy of Erasmus' Paraphrase is kept in the vestry, the binding of which shows traces of having been chained.
In the upper chamber of the old vestry, on the north side of the chancel of Dronfield Church, is (or was in 1870) a 1569 copy of Jewell's Apology, with the chain still attached
to the cover.
Against the north side of the chancel arch of the church of Shirland is another copy of the Apology, dated 1609, on a small desk, to which it is attached by the original chain fastening.
* This is taken from The Collegiate Church of All Saints', Derby, by Rev. Dr. Cox and Mr. W. H. St. John Hope (Bemrose), where this interesting list of books is fully annotated by Mr. Bradshaw, the late
University Librarian, Cambridge.
+We are specially surprised that this has escaped Mr. Blades' notice, as drawings of it have been twice given, viz., in the 1856 volume of the Anastatic Drawing Society, and in the 1866 volume of the Facsimile Society.
Hanging in Chains.
HE gruesome subject of "hanging in chains" has recently been treated of by Mr. Albert Harthorne, F.S.A., before the Royal Archæological Institute, as stated in the last issue of the Antiquary, so no excuse is necessary for putting on record the following
facts relative to its more recent use in the North and Midlands.
In the churchyard of Kirk Merrington, co. Durham, a gravestone commemorates the murder of three children by a farm servant. The fact is thus recorded in the parish register:
"1682  Jan. 13, John Brasse, Jane Brasse, and Elizabeth Brasse, the son and daughters of John Brasse, of Ferry-hill, murdered in their father's house by one Andrew Mills, and were all three buryed the xxvi. day of January."
The murderer, Andrew Mills, was executed and hung in chains within view of the site of his crime. It is said that the man did the deed in a moment of mental derangement. The tradition is that he lived for several days on the gibbet, and that a girl, his sweetheart, brought him milk every day, and fed him through the iron cage to which he was bound. Tradition further sayeth that his tortures were thus spun out, and that his cries were heartrending. The gibbet remained for many years, and was known locally as "Andrew Mill's Stob." It was supposed to have the power of curing ague, toothache, etc., and was thus gradually
On Elsdon Moor, the gibbet known as "Winter's Gibbet" is still standing. This is the site of the hanging in chains of a man named Winter, who, in 1791, barbarously murdered an old woman named Margaret Crosier at the Pele Raw, near Elsdon. The gibbet is on the highest part of the moor, a mile or two south of Elsdon, near the site of an ancient cross, of which the base still remains, called "Sleng Cross." From the gibbet a wooden head is dangling, and a horrible sound the creaking chain has, when the wind is whistling across the waste. This wooden head took the place of the actual
head, which rotted away. In the parish register the murder is thus recorded:
"1791, Sept. the 1th, Margaret Crocer, of the Rawe, murther'd at Do." And the following:
"Elsdon, September 1st, 1791. At a vestry meeting, now held in consequence of a shocking and inhuman murder committed upon the Body of Margt. Crozer, of the Raw, in this parish, by certain persons known to lieved to have been the Perpetrator of the be vagrants and suspected persons, one beabove act, We the Minister, Overseers, Churchwardens, and principal Inhabitants do agree to appoint proper Persons, to go immediately to different districts within the County, in order to search for and apprehend the said suspicious persons (who were two women and one man travelling with a Dun Ass), and also provide that the persons in search shall be reimbursed all their necessary expenses by the Parish at large, and they do herewith proceed with all expedition to do the above business."
Signed by "Richard Harrison " twenty others.
It is said that the necessary link conestablished by a boy counting the nails in necting Winter with the murder was
the man's boots, as the murderer and his companions were seated by a hedge-side.
The last instance in this neighbourhood occurred on Jarrow Hake about sixty years ago. A man named Jobling was executed and hung in chains, during the pitmen's strike, for the murder of Nicholas Fairles, who, as a magistrate, was endeavouring to quell a riot. The "stob" or, gibbet-post, remained until the Tyne Dock was made a few years ago. The irons are now in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle. The interest in this murder has just been revived in that city by the death of a son of the murdered man, Mr. W. W. Fairles, aged about ninety.
ROBERT BLAIR, F.S.A.
The wretched practice of gibbeting or hanging in chains the body of the executed criminal near the site of the crime, with the intention of thereby deterring others from capital offences, was a coarse custom very generally prevalent in medieval England, and continuing down to almost modern