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nobility and leading gentry have been entered; and pictures, feeble, perhaps, but faithful, of their interior, as well as their outward and architectural character, are presented. The dusty genealogies of perished houses have been cast aside, save where the names of individuals are found in them who have influenced events in the county; but the histories of men of celebrity, and of living families of note, have been carefully traced. The PEOPLE'S HISTORY may thus lay claim to originality and a character of its own.

It would be unbecoming not to acknowledge the ready and valuable assistance received in the progress of the work-the courteous freedom with which the gentry threw open their doors, and, where necessary, the records of their families, to the inquirer, the promptness with which the Clergy replied to the numberless applications made to them for information on parochial matters,--the aid rendered by several members of the Essex Archæological Society, and the information drawn. from the rich store-house of the published works of the Society itself.

Since the work has been in the course of publication, death has made some changes in the halls and homes of the county. The noble Lord Braybrooke has just been suddenly smitten down in the princely house of Audley-End. His brother, Charles Cornwallis, the heir presumptive, was born in 1823, and married in 1849 the third daughter of Viscount Hawarden.

The benevolent Bishop Murray, too, has passed to the tomb, and the Episcopal Palace of the See of Rochester (described page 238) is now the home of the Right Rev. Dr. Wigram, who was consecrated to the diocese in 1860, and is the ninetysixth Bishop of the See. His Lordship is the son of the late Sir Robert Wigram, and was born at Walthamstow in 1798; he married in 1837 the daughter of Peter Arkwright, Esq., of Willersley.





HE History of Essex in those early ages when the pen was little used, and the press was altogether unknown, presents few features to distinguish it from the general history of the country. Yet from the occasional glimpses we catch of it in the fragmentary records of that olden period, it appears to have been of some importance even from the time when the foot of the first settler penetrated into its dark forests. Its soil and situation, and still more its proximity to the coast and the spots where adventurers from the continent in search of plunder or a new home were likely to land, brought it under the notice of the successive invaders, thus making it the scene of their struggles, and, as they consolidated their conquests, of their settlements. And here we cannot, standing on the threshold of its history, contemplate the present aspect of the county,its high cultivation, displaying in all directions the skill and labour of the agriculturist, who has cleared the wilderness, and has stocked the once impassable marsh with cattle or clothed it with waving crops even up to the verge of the Thames,-its busy towns and thriving villages, with their sacred spires peeping out of clumps of trees upon the hill-tops or resting quietly in the vallies below,-the mansions which stud the landscape, either bearing about them some venerable traces of the past, or displaying the taste and genius of the modern architect, the free access afforded to all its parishes either by road or rail, we cannot look upon these without remembering that when the ambition and craving rapacity of the Roman first brought him to our shores, he found the whole one vast wild, beautiful, no doubt, though not so rich as we now see it, in the early spring and brightness of summer, but rough as nature left it. If he had taken his stand on Laindon or Danbury


hills, or the high lands about Thaxted, a woodland scene would have appeared extended before him of which he could see no limit, and through which he must have forced his way with difficulty as through a newly-discovered land. Inhabitants there were indeed, for even in the time of the ancient Britons Essex is stated to have been well peopled. Their dwellings, which were mere huts, formed of poles cut from the forest, and covered with skins, thick boughs or turf, might be seen in the thickets. Clustered into collections, as the shelter or surface of the ground suited, without order or arrangement of streets, these hovels formed their towns. The inhabitants themselves, hardy and athletic, might be seen bounding after the game in their native woods, for the original Essex men, like all uncivilized tribes, were great hunters, and there were no game laws in those days; or tending their cattle, or engaged in the partial cultivation of patches of soil-rocking the cradle, as it were, of our present full grown Agriculture. In the mild season of the year the Briton would be found naked, his body painted or stained with the forms of flowers, trees, and animals.

"The painter, not the tailor dress'd him out,

For grand assembly, gala-day, or rout;

Green down the breast, and purple, brown, and black,

In graceful mixture curving up the back;

Hoops, blue and red, encased the legs below;
A coat of varnish finish'd off the beau."

When the snow came he changed this light summer wear; and was covered in winter with the skins of beasts. Such was the state of the county at that period-such the picture of our ancestor when we are first introduced to him by authentic record.

This being the aspect of the county when we first catch a view of it through the dim telescope of tradition, it may be convenient here to take a glance at its present condition. By slow degrees, as successive conquerors passed over it, the wild wood gave place to the enclosed and cultivated field, and the tracts of heather were subdued by the spade and the plough. For ages after the time of the ancient Britons its boundaries were undefined and its name uncoined. In the earlier Saxon times it acquired the title of East-Seaxa, which was changed by the Normans into Exsessa, and has since been modernized into Essex. At that period it comprised precisely the district, including part of Hertfordshire and Middlesex, which up to the ecclesiastical change a few years ago formed the diocese of London. It was not till the time of Alfred that its limits as a county were set out and defined, and these have continued its boundaries down to the present day. Its extent

from east to west, that is from Walton-on-the-Naze, which juts out at that point the farthest into the sea, to Roydon, on the borders of Hertfordshire, is rather over 61 miles; and from Bartlow Hills, on the edge of Cambridgeshire, on the north, to Tilbury Fort, on the south, it measures about 50. Its circumference, taking the capriciousness of its landmarks and the windings of its waters, is 225 miles. This tract, within which are included 420 parishes, 976,000 acres of arable, meadow, waste and forest lands, and 369,318 inhabitants, is almost enclosed by water. The Thames, occasionally jutting its creeks some distance inland, bounds it on the south; the German Ocean washes it to the east. On the north the Stour, rising near Haverhill and forming a mere, which gives name the parish of Stourmere or Sturmer, passes by Clare, Sudbury, Nayland, Dedham, and Manningtree, emptying itself into the sea at Harwich; and on the west the Stort loses itself in the Lea at Roydon, and its waters pass on to Waltham Abbey and Barking. Other important rivers intersect and water the county. The Colne flows from Ridgewell along the rich valley of the Hedinghams, to Halsted, the Colnes, and Colchester, and swelled by tributary brooks mingles its stream with the sea between Mersea and St. Osyth. The Blackwater, or Pant, rises from a well at Radwinter, joins a small stream which has its source at Debden, and runs through Bardfield, Bocking, Coggeshall, Kelvedon, by Wickham Mills, to Maldon.* The Chelmer has its source at Henham, and its course is through Thaxted, Dunmow, Felsted, and the Walthams to Chelmsford, where having given its name to the town it is united to the Cann, and turns eastward to Maldon. The Crouch originates in two springs at Little Burstead and Laindon, and taking a direction eastward divides Dengie and Rochford Hundreds, joining the sea below Burnham. The Roden has its birth at Little Easton, and passing through the important agricultural district to which it gives its name, reaches the Thames by Ongar, Ilford, and Barking. These rivers, with numberless little nameless brooks, that run bubbling along the low grounds, watering fertile tracts of meadow land, flanked by rich corn fields, occasionally intersected by belts of woodland, give to the county a different aspect to that expected by the stranger who has formed. his opinion from old report. Essex does not, indeed, present the picturesque beauty of the west, and the bold contour of some of the northern counties; neither does it fatigue the sight

*This river appears to have been navigable at one period far into the county. At Wimbish, we are told "there hath been in times past a pretie water, and in such quantities that boats have come from Billie-Abbeie, beside Maldon, into the Moore, in Radwinter.”

with the almost unvarying flatness and uniformity of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. There is no rude mountain or barren crag to give what has been called "the charm of desolation" to the scene. There is scarcely an acre, save of its forest lands on the north and west, and a few scattered commons, which, either by stealthy encroachment or legal enclosure, have been gradually disappearing, that has not been rendered productive. Cultivation has been carried to the highest hill tops. But amidst its gentle undulations of hill and vale, some high lands stand out in bold relief, and afford platforms which command a fine extent of surrounding country. On the summit of Laindon Hills the prospect on a clear day in summer is admitted to be one of the finest in the kingdom. The view stretches over the vale of the Thames almost from London to the Nore, the river being commanded for an extent of nearly forty miles, with the bold hills of Kent as a back-ground to the picture; and it has been said that in summer, when the lands below are covered with verdure, nothing can exceed the beauty of this scene, "unless that which Hannibal exhibited to his disconsolate troops when he bade them behold the glories of the Italian plains." At Little Baddow, at Brentwood, and near Thaxted and Epping, delightful views may be also obtained by those who love to look upon rural scenery, rich with farm and woodland, and studded here and there with village and hamlet.

It is, however, chiefly upon its Agriculture that the importance and reputation of the county depend. Its wheat always figures at a good price in the records of Mark-lane; and its hay, straw, vegetables and milk, are poured in largely, especially from the southern and western divisions, for the supply of the great metropolis. Various writers have dwelt upon its fertility. Drayton in his Poly-Olbion (1580) after singing the forests and rivers of the county, rejoices that

"Essex is our dower, which greatly doth abound
With every simple good that in the isle is found."

This brings us to the constitution and character of its soil. This is so variable in different districts that it is impossible to assign to it any general description. The Secretary of the Board of Agriculture, when such an institution existed, was driven in his survey to class the greater portion of the county under the head "miscellaneous soils." A writer in 1772 says "Essex is a county in many respects inferior to none; from the pleasantness of its situation, the fertility of its soil, the conveniency for water carriage, and the goodness of its roads, it derives advantages few others can

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