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on Thursday, December 6th, 1688, the Prince of Orange reached Hungerford. The little town was soon crowded with men of rank and note who came thither from opposite quarters. The Prince was escorted by a strong body of troops. The northern Lords brought with them hundreds of irregular cavalry, whose accoutrements and horsemanship, moved the mirth of men accustomed to the splendid aspect and exact movements of regular armies. On the morning of Saturday, December 8th, the King's Commissioners consisting of Lord Halifax, Lord Nottingham, and Lord Godolphin, reached Hungerford. The Prince's body-guard was drawn up to receive them with military respect. Bentinck welcomed them and proposed to conduct them immediately to his master. They expressed a hope that the Prince would favor them with a private audience but they were informed that he had resolved to hear them and answer them in public. They were ushered into his bedchamber, where they found him surrounded by a crowd of noblemen and gentlemen.
Halifax, whose rank, age, and abilities entitled him to precedence, was spokesman. The proposition which the Commissioners had been instructed to make, was that the points in dispute should be referred to the Parliament, for which the writs were already sealing; and that in the mean time the Prince's army would not come within 30 or 40 miles of London. Halifax having explained that this was the basis on which he and his colleagues were prepared to treat, put into William's hand a letter from the King and retired. William opened the letter and seemed unusually moved. He requested the Lords and Gentlemen, whom he had convoked on this occasion to consult together, unrestrained by his presence, as to the answer which ought to be returned. To himself he reserved the power of deciding in the last resource after hearing their opinion. He then left them and retired to Littlecote Hall, a manor house situated about two miles off.
That afternoon the Noblemen and Gentlemen whose advice William had asked, met in the great room of the principal inn at Hungerford. Oxford was placed in the chair, and the King's overtures were taken into consideration. After much altercation,
the question was put. The majority was for rejecting the proposition which the Royal Commissioners had been instructed to make. The resolution of the assembly was reported to the Prince at Littlecote. He, however, over-ruled the opinion of his too eager followers, and declared his determination to treat on the basis proposed by the King. Many of the Lords and Gentlemen assembled at Hungerford remonstrated; a whole day was spent in bickering; but William's purpose was immoveable. On his side he made some demands which were put in writing and delivered to Halifax.
On Sunday, December 9th, the Commissioners dined at Littlecote. A splendid assemblage had been invited to meet them. The old hall, hung with coats of mail which had seen the Wars of the Roses, and with portraits of gallants who had adorned the Court of Philip and Mary, was now crowded with Peers and Generals."
In the course of a few days, the Prince of Orange left Littlecote for Windsor; and as far as Hungerford is connected with his illustrious name, no further mention need be made of his visit.
But allow me to remind you before quitting the subject, that the errand on which the Royal Commisssoners were sent to Hungerford was a fool's errand. TheKing whose wicked and contemptible duplicity knew no bounds, while apparently trying to make terms with the Prince of Orange at Hungerford, was secretly preparing to fly from his kingdom. He fled, at the second attempt successfully, and the Prince of Orange assumed the reins of government.
The year 1693 witnessed the birth in this town of Dr Chandler, an eminent writer amongst the Dissenters.
Since 1790, Hungerford has boasted a Corps of Yeomanry, who make an annual display of their efficiency and discipline on Hungerford Downs. The muster-roll contains upwards of 100 names; and Hungerford is considered fortunate in being the only town in Berkshire, in which the "quality, pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war" is regularly paraded before the eyes of an admiring multitude.
The next glimpse we have of Hungerford, is afforded by a return of the population in 1801. It is reckoned at 1987 souls.
The parish church claims a short notice. The accounts which have
been handed down to us of the old church are exceedingly meagre. They represent that it was about 600 years old, and consequently an object of general interest; that it contained three galleries curiously carved in oak, called respectively, the Gentlemens', the New Town, and the Soldiers' Gallery; that the chancel was of large size, and that a peal of five bells hung in the tower. In the beginning of this century it became necessary to repair the tower, during the course of which, while the workmen were absent, the body of the church fell in, and the erection of an entirely new edifice was indispensable. The present building, dedicated to S. Lawrence, was designed by Mr. Pinch; and in the words of the Gentleman's Magazine, was opened 30th August, 1816, "with a grand selection of sacred musick." Its style is identical with that of a church situated at the foot of Bathwick Hill, Bath, built by the same architect.
The church-yard is not rich in monuments of interest; one or two may be quoted. On the south side a stone supposed to commemorate the death of the author of the Letters of Junius, bears the following inscription :
"Here are deposited the remains of Wm. Greatrakes, Esq., Native of Ireland, who on his way from Bristol to London died in this town, in the 52nd year of his age, on the 2nd day of Aug. 1781. Stat nominis umbra."
Adjoining is a table-tomb; on one side of which is written
"Here also lieth the body of Jas. Williamson, wife of Lt.-General Geo. Williamson, of Woolwich, Kent; who departed this life the 10th of July, 1775. Aged 58. She was the only the surviving child of Roger Pedley, Esq., and Isabella Muir, who was lineally descended from Robt. 2nd, King of Scotland."
The soldiers' gallery in the old church has been incidentally mentioned. This was set apart for the use of a corps of Infantry 500 strong, who for a few years were located in this parish at a spot which still passes by the name of "the Barracks." Their pugnacity was of such an uncontrollable nature, that even when cultivating the arts of peace, they enlivened themselves and the people of Hungerford by frequent outbursts of violence, which so wrought upon the better feelings of the townsmen, that the innkeepers, about the year 1820, petitioned Government for their removal. Their request was granted: and at the present time, a
row of dilapidated cottages, once their residence, and a few mounds of earth, once their arsenal, are the sole vestiges of an era, perhaps the gayest and the most luxurious in the history of Hungerford
In 1847, the Railway from Reading to Hungerford was opened and in 1862 it was extended to Devizes.
I am unwilling to bring this imperfect sketch of Hungerford to a conclusion, without cursorily referring to the river Kennet, to which Hungerford owes much of its fame, and which for ever rolls silently at our feet, the connecting link between past and present; the stream which Evelyn pronounced famous for its troutes and crayfish, and which Pope sung as "The Kennet swift, for silver eels renowned." Many centuries ago, the Kennet acquired the reputation which it still maintains. It is the pleasing duty of the inhabitants of Hungerford so prudently to cultivate its natural resources, that its good name may descend untarnished to posterity.
And now I have done. I regret the lack of subjects of antique interest in the foregoing pages. I regret the sparse and trivial character of much that has been advanced. I regret above all that the archæological skill which should have distinguished a compilation of this nature, is chiefly "conspicuous by its absence ;" but if I have not succeeded in adding to your stock of knowledge, I have increased my own. I have learnt how, in order to appreciate the present, it is incumbent to penetrate the past; how the good or evil actions of mankind reflect credit or disgrace on their descendants; and how much of what we pride ourselves on knowing, is due to the strenuous exertions of men, who, forsaking the glittering discoveries of modern times, seek their reputation in the silent abyss of remote ages, and who have raised the science of archæology to a position second to none in dignity, in interest, and in importance.
I cannot resume my seat without tendering my cordial thanks to those numerous gentlemen, to whose assistance I have been so largely indebted in the preparation of this paper; and I am not insensible to the kind attention with which it has been received by so distinguished an audience.
On the Ornithology of Wilts.
No. 13.-ORDER III.-RASORES (Ground birds).
HERE is no class of birds so well known, or so highly appreciated generally, as the third Order of systematic naturalists, the Rasores, or Ground birds; "Scrapers," or "Scratchers," as the scientific title may be more correctly translated. It is by far the smallest of the five Orders, for the British list contains only four families; the Pigeons, the Pheasants, the Grous, and the Bustards and two of these families are represented severally by one species only in this county, while the whole Order as known in these isles, embraces only seventeen species; thirteen of which have appeared in Wiltshire, either as permanent residents, as regular periodical migrants, or as occasional stragglers. So far then our county can boast an unusually large catalogue of this highly prized Order: but it will be seen in the sequel that a great proportion of this number (I may indeed say half the species), can only be considered in the light of accidental visitors, which from one cause or another have wandered out of their way to our inhospitable borders; and have generally paid the penalty of their too vagrant habits by forfeiting their lives, and yielding their skins as trophies to some exultant ornithologist.
I have said that of all classes of the feathered race, the Ground birds are most generally known and valued: and when we reflect that they embrace the whole family of pigeons, and the principal part of the game birds, so carefully reared and so highly prized by the sportsman; the pheasants, the grous, and the partridges; it will be at once apparent, that as well for the excellent eating which their flesh offers, as for the sport which the pursuit of them entails, they are very highly esteemed amongst us; and consequently they come more frequently under our notice, and their habits are more