Britannia, by William Camden


Big R RUTLAND, in Saxon Saxon: Roteland, is in a manner encompass’d with Leicestershire; unless to the south, where it lies on the river Welland, and to the east, where it borders on the County of Lincoln. It is no way inferior to Leicestershire, either in richness of soil, or pleasantness; but only in extent, in which respect it is much inferior; being the least County in England. It’s form is almost circular, and contains in compass as much ground as a good horseman may ride round in one day. Hence it is, that the people of this Country have a story of I know not what King, who gave to one Rut as much land as he could ride about in a day; and that he riding round this County within the time assign’d, had it thereupon given him, and call’d it after his own name.Rutland, why so call’d. But let such fables vanish: we will not injure truth with these idle fancies. In regard therefore, that the earth of this County is so red that it colours the fleeces of the sheep; and considering that the Saxons call’d a red colour Roet and Rud; why may we not believe that Rutland was so nam’d, as if one should say Red-land? So the Poet says, Conveniunt rebus nomina sæpe suis. i.e. There’s often an agreement between Names and Things.

Rotelandiae map, left Rotelandiae map, right


Several places, in all nations, have been named from redness: as Rutlan-Castle in Wales, built on a red shore; the Red Promontory; the Red Sea between Egypt and Arabia; Erytheia, in Ionia, and abundance of other instances, which evince the same thing. There is therefore no occasion to have recourse to fables for this Etymology. ⌈But it is affirm’d by some, that there is no such redness in this County, as to distinguish it so remarkably from others. And if this derivation is not to be admitted; neither is that other of Rotelandia, quasi Rotundalandia, to pass, till we can give some probable account, how this came by a Latin name, more than the other Counties of England. The Conquest could not bring it in, because we find it call’d so in the time of Edward the Confessor; and besides, so much of it as belong’d to Northamptonshire (to which the name Roteland was given, before the rest came to be part of it) is far from making a circular figure, how round soever it may be, when all together.⌉

This little Tract seems to have made a County but of late days; for in the time of Edward the Confessor, it was reckon’d part of Northamptonshire: And our Historians who wrote before the last three hundred years, mention not this in the number of the Counties. ⌈But that it was distinct before, is certain; for in the fifth year of King John, Isabel his new Queen had, at her Coronation, assign’d her in Parliament for her dowry, among other lands, * * Wright, pag.3.
Com. Roteland. & villam de Rokingham in Com. Northampt. &c. And in the 12th of King John, the Custos did account for the profits of this County in the Exchequer. Which Custos can signify nothing but the Sheriff of the County, who was and still is as it were a Guard; and his office is imply’d in his name Saxon scyre-gerefa, from which Sheriff is contracted, signifying no more than a Keeper of the County.⌉

WashWash, riv. or Gwash, a little river, runs from west to east, almost through the middle of this County, and divides it into two parts. In the hither, or south division, stands UppinghamUppingham. on a rising-ground, from whence it had it’s name; ⌈tho’, indeed, the rising is very small, and scarce amounts to a hill.⌉ It is not memorable for any thing besides a well-frequented market, and a handsom school, which (as also another at Okeham) Robert Johnson a Divine, to promote the Liberal Education of youth, * * Lately erected, C.

erected out of certain contributions; ⌈together with two Hospitals, one at Okeham, and another at this place.⌉

Below Uppingham, stands Dry-Stoke,Dry-Stoke. which I cannot omit, in regard it hath been an old seat of that famous and ancient family the Digbies:Digby. which Everard Digby† Hath now branded, C.branded with an eternal mark of infamy, by conspiring with those wretched Incendiaries, who had design’d, by one single charge of Gunpowder,1605. to have destroy’d both their Prince and their Country. ⌈But from his eldest son, Sir Kenelm Digby, a person of distinguish’d worth and learning, it hath since receiv’d great honour.

Near this place is LydingtonLydington. where, about the year 1602. Thomas Lord Burghley settled an Hospital or Alms-house, for a Warden, twelve poor men, and two poor women; which he call’d Jesus-Hospital. And in the same Hundred, at Morcot, † † By one Jilson.another was founded in the time of King James the first, for six poor people.⌉

In the further division, beyond the river, lies a pleasant and fruitful Vale, encompass’d with hills, and call’d, The Vale of Catmose, perhaps from Coet maes, which in the British signifies a woody field or ground. In the middle of this vale, stands Okeham,Okeham. and seems, for the like reason, to have taken it’s name from Oaks. Near the Church, are still remaining the ruinous walls of an old castle, built, as is reported, by Walkelin de Ferrariis in the beginning of the Normans: ⌈He was a younger son of William de Ferrers, Earl of Derby; holding Okeham by the serviceWright, p.95. of one Knight’s fee and a half, in the 12th of Henry the second.⌉ And that this was the habitation of the Ferrers, is evident, besides the authority of tradition, from the Horse-shoes (which that family gave for their Arms) nail’d on the Gate, and in the Hall. ⌈And here is an ancient custom, continu’d to this day, that every Baron of the Realm, the first time he comes through this town, shall give a horse-shoe to nail upon the castle-gate; which if he refuses, the Bailiff of that manour has power to stop his coach, and take one off his horse’s foot. But commonly they give five, ten, or twenty shillings, more or less as they please; and in proportion to the gift, the shoe is made larger or smaller, with the name and titles of the Donor cut upon it; and so it is nail’d upon the gate.⌉ Afterwards, this town belong’d to the Lords of Tatteshall: But when King Richard the second had advanced Edward, son of the Duke of York, to the title of Earl of Rutland, he also gave him this Castle. In the memory of the last age ⌈save one⌉ it came to Thomas Cromwell, and, as I have read, gave him the title of † † Call’d Lord Cromwell of Wimbledon, Stat.31 H.8. c.3.Baron. Henry the eighth advanc’d this person to the highest dignity; but soon after, when by his many projects he had expos’d himself to the storms of envy, on a sudden he depriv’d him both of life and honours.

⌈In the year 1619. was born here a Dwarf scarce eighteen inches in height, when a year old. His father was a lusty man, and so were all his other children. Being taken into the family of the late Duke of Buckingham, when the Court came that way on a progress, he was serv’d up to the table in a cold pye. Between the seventh and the thirtieth year of his age, he grew not much; but a little after thirty he shot up to that height, which he remain’d at, in his old age, i.e. about three foot and nine inches.

In the 22d of King Richard the second, William Dalby of Exton, a Merchant of the Staple, founded an Hospital here at Okeham for the maintenance of two Chaplains and twelve poor men, endowing the same with a revenue of 40 l. per ann. It is still in being, but extremely decay’d, and impoverish’d, and different from it’s first Institution. About the ruins of the old Castle-wall, there grows Dane-weed, which comes up every spring, and dies in the fall.⌉

Over-against this to the east, is Burley,Burley. most pleasantly situated, as overlooking the Vale beneath. This † † Is now, C.was the magnificent seat of the Harringtons, who, by marriage with the daughter and heir of Colepeper, came to so large an Estate in those parts, that they continu’d long a flourishing family: as did the Colepepers before them, to whom, by N. Green, the great estate of the Bruses did in part descend. Which Bruses, being of the chief Nobility of England, match’d into the Royal family of Scotland; from whom, by Robert the eldest brother, the Royal Line of the Scots, and by Bernard a younger brother, the Cottons of Connington in the County of Huntingdon (of whom I have already spoken,) and these Harringtons, are all descended. Upon which account, King James ⌈the first⌉ dignify’d Sir John Harrington, a noted and worthy Knight,Barons Harrington. with the title of Baron Harrington of Exton. ⌈But the estate of the Harringtons, in this and several other fair Lord-ships adjoyning, was afterwards purchas’d and enjoy’d by the famous George Villiers Duke of Buckingham; since the determination of which Family, it hath been purchas’d of late years by Daniel Earl of Nottingham, Principal Secretary of State, first to their Majesties K. William and Q. Mary, and since to Q. Anne, a person of great honour and virtue, and excellently skill’d in the Laws and Constitution of his Country; who, in the place of the former house, hath erected here a most beautiful and noble edifice, with all other ornaments and embellishments that are suitable to so magnificent a building. All which, with it’s eminent situation, the adjoyning Park enclosed by a wall of five or six miles in compass, and many other advantages, give it a place among the principal seats of England, and do particularly render it the great grace and ornament of this County.

North from hence, lies Market-Overton,Market-Overton. where the Margidunum of Antoninus was † † Edit. Camd. prim. ann. 1590.formerly placed, but ¦ ¦ Edit. ult.afterwards removed to about Belvoir-castle; principally, I suppose, for the great height of the hill, which answers the termination dunum. But there was no occasion for that, * * Appendix ad Camdeni epist. p.375.since Market-Overton stands upon the highest hill within view thereabout, except Burley and Cole-Overton. And as for the Marga; in the fields about it there is great store of lime-stone, whereof good lime has been made; which agrees well with the British Marga, that was us’d by them to improve their grounds. Here are likewise to be found such plenty of Roman Coins, as but few places in those parts afford. In the compass of a few years, were gather’d between two and three hundred, on a little furlong about half a mile from this town. As for the distances with respect to other stations thereabouts, they are very uniform. Gausennae From Gausennæ, i.e. Brigge-casterton, six miles; from Verometum, i.e. Burgh-hill, seven miles: and from Ad Pontem, i.e. Great-Paunton, seven miles. So that they who seek it in † † At Willoughby in the Would, Nottingh. Gale, Itiner. p.101.any other place, may probably lose their labour.

The objection against it is, that Market (the affinity whereof with the Latin name seems to have given the first hint to this conjecture,) must not be thought any remain of the Roman name, but grounded upon the Market, there held every week. And there is no doubt, but this has been the constant opinion of the inhabitants, time out of mind. But if † † Baronage, vol.2. p.58.Dugdale transcrib’d the name from the Charter, it was call’d Market-Overton, before Bartholomew Lord Baldismere, in the reign of Edward the second, obtain’d a grant for a weekly market here; for in reciting that passage, he names the town so. Besides, I cannot conceive to what end the word Market should be added: not, but it is common enough to distinguish a town, from some other of the same name, which is not far off; but in this neighbourhood there does not appear to be any such. So that, upon the whole, it is probable enough, that posterity finding something prefix’d, that sounded like Market, might imagin that the market there, gave occasion to it, and so might frame the name to their own fancies.

Not far from Market-Overton, is Cotsmore,Cotsmore. memorable for the charity of Anne Lady Harrington, widow of John Lord Harrington of Exton, who purchas’d a Rent-charge of a hundred pounds per Ann. to be issuing out of this manour of Cotsmore, and left it to be divided quarterly for ever among the poor of seven Parishes in this County.⌉

On the east-side of the Shire, upon the river Gwash, lye BrigcastertonBrigcasterton. (of which more hereafter,) and Rihall,Rihal. where, when superstition had so bewitch’d our Ancestors, that it had almost remov’d the true God by a multiplicity of Gods, one Tibba,The Falconers Saint. a Saint of the lesser rank, was worship’d by Falconers as a second Diana, and reputed a kind of Patroness of Falconry.AElfsi ⌈The † † Chron. Sax. edit. Oxon. sub An. 964.Saxon Annals tell us, she was bury’d at Rihala; and that after Ælfsi came to be Abbot of Peterborough, he took up the body of St. Kyneburge and St. Cyneswithe, and at the same time the body of St. Tibba; and carry’d them all three to his Monastery, where, in one day, he ¦ ¦ Offrede, in the Saxon.dedicated them to St. Peter, the Saint of the place.⌉

Hard by Rihal, is Essenden,Essenden. whose Lord, Robert Cecil (the excellent son of an excellent father, once the support of this kingdom,) † † Was lately created, C.was created by King James ⌈the first,⌉ BaronBaron Cecil of Essenden. Cecil of Essenden.

This little County, Edward the Confessor devised by his last Will to his wife Eadith; conditionally, that after her death it should go to St. Peter’s at Westminster. These are the words of the Will: I will, that after the decease of Queen Eadgith my wife, Roteland, with all emoluments thereunto belonging, be given to my Monastery of St. Peter, and that it be surrender’d without delay to the Abbot and Monks there serving God, for ever. But this Testament was vacated by William the Norman, who, reserving a great part of this estate to himself, divided the rest between Judith the Countess (whose daughter marry’d David King of Scots,) Robert Mallet, Oger, Gislebert of Gaunt, Earl Hugh, Alberic the Clerk, and others. To Westminster, he left, at first, the tithes; but afterwards only the Church of Okeham with the Appendices or Chapelries thereunto belonging.

This County cannot boast of many Earls.Earls of Rutland. ⌈Among the witnesses subscribing to the Charter which was granted by King Henry the first to Herbert Bishop of Norwich, and to the Monks of the Church of the Holy Trinity there, A.D. 1101, * * Monast. Angl. Vol.1. p.411.we find this name and title, Ego Robertus Comes Rutland. And the † † Not. ad Polyolb. p.224.Learned Selden tells us, that he had seen original Letters of Protection (a perfect and incommunicable power royal,) sent by that great Prince Richard Earl of Poitiers and Cornwal, to the Sheriff of Rutland, in behalf of a Nunnery about Stamford. King Henry the third granted him the Castle of Okeham and custody of this County; and Selden brings this as one instance of that vast power which Earls formerly enjoy’d.⌉ But the first Earl of Rutland, ⌈commonly known to be so,⌉ was Edward, eldest son of Edmund of Langley, Duke of York; who, by the special favour of King Richard the second, was created during the life of his father, and after that was by the same King declar’d Duke of Albemarle. This is he who wickedly conspir’d to take King Henry the fourth out of the way, and then with like levity discover’d the Conspiracy. But after his father’s death, being Duke of York, he was slain, valiantly fighting amidst the thickest of the enemies troops, at the battel of Agincourt. A good while after, Edward, the young son of Richard Duke of York, succeeded in this Title; who was slain with his father at the battel of Wakefield, during those dismal Civil wars. Many years after, Henry the eighth advanced Thomas Mannours to the Earldom of Rutland, who in right of Eleanor his grandmother was then possess’d of the large and noble inheritance of the Barons Roos, lying in the neighbouring parts. To him succeeded Henry; and after him Edward his son; to whom (not to say more) that of the Poet is most truly and exactly applicable:

Nomen virtutibus æquat,
Nec sinit ingenium nobilitate premi

—In virtues as in titles great,
Nor lets his honour soar above his wit.

But he dying young, left this honour to John his brother; and he also being soon after cut off by death, Roger his son became his successor, in whom † † There appear, C.there did ⌈early⌉ appear all the marks of the Virtue and Nobility of his Ancestors. ⌈He marry’d the daughter and heir of the famous Sir Philip Sidney, and, dying without issue, was succeeded by Francis his brother and heir; who having no issue-male, Sir George Mannours, his brother and next heir-male, came to this dignity. But he likewise dying without issue, this honour descended to John Mannours Esquire, son and heir of Sir George Mannours, son of John Mannours, second son of Thomas first Earl of Rutland of this family. John departed this life, Sept. 29. 1679, and left the title to John, his only son, who was advanced, in the second year of Queen Anne, to the more honourable title of Duke of Rutland;Duke of Rutland. and, dying in the year 1711, left that title to John, his son and heir, the present Duke.⌉

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52