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its authenticity. The wrath of the tithingmen (to say nothing of the ladies of Hungerford) would be quickly visited on the presumptuous antiquarian who should dare to assert that the tradition is a fable. He would be handed down to posterity
a modern specimen of a magnified flint implement, and the ladies might begin to dispute his sagacity, if he were found to prefer science to sense. Great excitement accompanies the progress of the tithingmen through the town. Each officer carries a staff tastefully ornamented with flowers, surmounted by an orange, and bedecked with blue ribbon, and his steps are attended by a crowd of youthful admirers whose enthusiasm beggars description. On the following Friday a court called Court Baron is held, at which the officers elect are sworn in; every resident in the Borough above fourteen years of age must attend or be fined one penny, and the constable and hayward for the tithing of Sandon Fee are elected and sworn in. A banquet is served in the evening in honor of the new constable. The "immortal memory of John O. Gaunt" is drunk in solemn silence, and a breakfast on the following morning terminates the Hock-tide revelry. Such is a general outline of the proceedings of Hock-tide. Bear with me while I enter more fully than I have hitherto done into the peculiarities attaching to the various Borough offices. The tithingmen are assistant constables, four of whom are nominated by the Hocktide jury, the constable electing whichever two he pleases. If one objects to serve, he is fined £2. Each tithingman on taking office pays 10s. 6d. to the constable.
The bailiff collects the Tolls of Fair, and summonses the juries. A bailiff at his election pays £1 1s. to the constable. On retiring from this post he becomes portreeve, and his share of duty is limited to the collection of Quit-rents.
The Government of the Borough of Hungerford is conducted by the constable and a body of commoners called feoffees. If a difference of opinion arises between these gentlemen, and on a vote being taken, six feoffees side with the constable, the point is carried in favor of the latter. The feoffees must not number less than six. When they have dwindled to that figure, a fresh feoffment
is called for, fresh names are enrolled, and fresh vigour is thereby infused into the ebbing vitality of the old feoffees. A commoner once raised to the dignity of a feoffee, only forfeits his privilege by removal or death. A word concerning the constable. This distinguished functionary is the chief Magistrate of the Borough, and Lord of the Manor for the time being. He is the custodian of the Borough purse, he is empowered to preserve the public peace, and in order that he may not exceed the bounds of a rigid economy, he must not spend more than £2 without consulting the Corporation. A commoner refusing to serve the office of constable is fined £5. The constable of Hungerford is by virtue of his office Coroner for the Borough, a circumstance without a parallel in the county of Berks. No person can be constable until he has filled the office of bailiff and portree ve. The overseers of the common have been mentioned. Their title explains their office. A fine of £2 for a horse and £1 for a cow is inflicted on a commoner found guilty of infringing on the custom of the manor. In days gone by, no stranger was allowed to start in business in the borough of Hungerford, unless he was bound over to keep the peace, in a sum of £5. This custom has become obsolete, but at the present time such a person must pay 5s. to the constable for his privilege, and a journeyman is mulcted at 2s. 6d. Any purchaser of property in the Borough of Hungerford renders himself liable to pay the price of a gallon of beer to the next Hock-tide jury. But I hasten to take up another branch of the subject. When Edward VI. gave the Manor of Hungerford to the Duke of Somerset he retained Hungerford Park, which in the year 1595, was granted with all manorial rights within its limit, to the trustees of Robert, Earl of Essex, who built a mansion therein, at the east end of which were placed the arms of Queen Elizabeth. A large room over the servant's hall was called Queen Elizabeth's room. In the following century Hungerford Park belonged to the family of Boyland. It subsequently came into the possession of Mr. Stenhouse, who also owned Standen, and by him it was sold in 1707 to Mr. Renou. It afterwards fell into the hands of Mr. Waters, and Sir Charles Dalbiac, of whom it was purchased by Mr. Willes, in 1796.
Intimately connected with the History of Hungerford in bygone years, was an ancient and noble family, who derived their name and origin from the town where they resided and possessed property. Everard de Hungerford who flourished in 1160, is the first of the name. A long interval separates him from his descendant, Walter de Hungerford, Baron of Hopgrass, who died in 1308. Hopgrass is an estate about a mile distant, and is known at the present day by the name it bore 500 years ago. The earliest intelligence we have of Sir Robert de Hungerford is that he died in the year 1354, and a monument is erected to his memory in Hungerford Church bearing an inscription in Norman French, now illegible, which promises "on the word of 14 Bishops, that whoever shall pray for Robert de Hungerford, shall have whilst he lives and for his soul after death 550 days of pardon." These words are surrounded by some Latin sentences, which run thus; "I believe that I shall rise again from the dead, that in my flesh I shall see the Lord my Saviour, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one Holy God, that the same God will judge every-one according to his works, that through the power of God the Father, through the wisdom of the Son, and the mercy of the Holy Spirit, I shall obtain a blessed eternity." A stone figure of an armed warrior now lying in Hungerford church-yard, probably belonged to his tomb. A Sir Giles Hungerford fought at Cressy in 1347.
Sir Robert Hungerford, described as Lord of Farley, Wellow and Heytesbury, in Somersetshire, a nephew of Sir Robert's, was Steward and Confident to John O. Gaunt, and through his influence became the first speaker of the House of Commons. He was a citizen and merchant of Salisbury, and filled the office of Mayor for that city. He was also Sheriff for the County of Wilts. He amassed an ample fortune in trade, and purchased large estates in Wiltshire and Somersetshire. Having fortified his castle of Hungerford without the Royal License, he had to pay a fine of 1000 mares to obtain pardon. He was buried in a chapel annexed to Farley Castle in 1398. The chapel contains in its vault six bodies of the Hungerfords, encased in lead like mummies, and several monuments of the family were placed in the chapel.
VOL. XI.-NO. XXXII.
Sir Walter Hungerford, the first of the name who was raised to the dignity of a Baron, was Steward of the Household to King Henry V., and had by that Prince conferred on him for his valour, the Castle and Barony of Homet in Normandy; "to hold to him and his heirs male, by the homage and service of furnishing to the King and his heirs at his castle of Rouen, one lance with a fox's brush hanging to it."
In the reign of King Henry VI., the same man was made High Treasurer of England. Sir Walter appropriated the manor and advowson of Cricklade to the Dean and Chapter of Salisbury, "to keep the tall spire of that church in repair." It is a question whether he built a church at Chippenham, but he certainly founded a chantry there. Sir Walter died in 1499; and a chapel was erected to his memory in Salisbury Cathedral at a cost of £497. In his character were mingled the hero, the courtier, and the devotee; being equally celebrated for his prowess in war, for the magnificence of his mansions and entertainments, and for the splendour and number of his works of piety and religious institutions. He seems to have been a finished example of a Knight of the olden times.
A son of Sir Walter's was taken prisoner in France on one occasion; his family sent 3000 marcs to obtain his ransom, which, having been received by the French, the dead body of the young nobleman was despatched to his relations in England.
When a generation or two later, another Hungerford was captured, his friends, remembering the former deception, inserted a proviso in the letter which accompanied his ransom, to the effect "that he should be brought home alive." One or two of the Hungerford family suffered death on the scaffold, from having taken part in the Civil Wars of the period. Another was condemned to death for attempting to practise sorcery against the life of King Henry VIII.
A Mr. John Hungerford possessed the manor of Hungerford Ingleford; was M.P. for Scarborough, and standing counsel to the East India Company. The Hungerfords were not slow to perform deeds of charity. Thus, Sir Robert founded two chantries in
Hungerford Church. The Chantry Roll in Augmentation Office, mentions the chapel of S. John the Baptist, at Hungerford, and the chapels of N. and S. Standen. It is probable that the chapel of S. John the Baptist belonged to a hospital of that name, which existed at Hungerford in 1281. It was endowed with lands, and the oblations on the feast of S. John the Baptist. The prior or warden was to celebrate Divine Service three times a week, and to relieve the poor inhabitants in times of scarcity. The Duke of Lancaster was patron. At Cosham in Wiltshire, an almshouse was erected; and at Heytesbury a hospital for thirteen inmates by their liberality.
Sir Edward Hungerford gave £10 to be distributed yearly amongst the poor of Hungerford, from his estates at Eiford. The money was paid for one year, when from some inexplicable cause, it was discontinued.
From numerous entries in the Parish Register, I find that in the years 1603 and 1604, Hungerford was visited by the Plague which carried off several of the inhabitants.
In 1620, Hungerford became possessed of a clock made by a blacksmith residing at Newbury, which for 246 years was known as the Town Clock, until it was replaced last year by one of far greater elegance and cost, the munificent gift of an old inhabitant. In 1636, a free Grammar School, for four boys and four girls which still exists, was founded by a Dr. Sheaf. It was subsequently endowed, and provision was made for a master.
In 1643, the Earl of Essex quartered his army at Hungerford, prior to the first battle of Newbury.
In 1644, after the second battle of Newbury, Charles I. visited the town and slept one night at the Bear Hotel, where the rooms occupied by himself and his suite are still exhibited to the public.
In 1688, the Commissioners appointed by James II. to negotiate with the Prince of Orange, met the latter at Hungerford. Every event connected with the bloodless Revolution of 1688, is of such extreme historical interest, that I cannot forbear quoting Lord Macaulay's account of the memorable circumstance, though I fear the tax upon your patience will be well-nigh insupportable. "Late