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Okenyate in this county,* where are alum springs, whereof the dyers of Shrewsbury make use instead of alum.
PROVERBS. “ He that fetcheth a wife from Shrewsbury must carry her into Staffordshire,
or else shall live in Cumberland.”] The staple-wit of this vulgar proverb, consisting solely in similitude of sound, is scarce worth the inserting. Know then that (notwithstanding the literal allusion) Shrewsbury affordeth as many meek wives as any place of the same proportion. Besides, a profitable shrew well may content a reasonable man, the poets feigning Juno chaste and thrifty, qualities which commonly attend a shrewd nature. One being demanded, “How much shrewishness may be allowed in a wife ?” “Even so much," said he, “as of hops in ale ;” whereof a small quantity maketh it both last the longer in itself, and taste the better to the owner thereof."
“ The case is altered, quoth Plowden."] This proverb referreth its original to Edmund Plowden, an eminent native and great lawyer of this county, though very various the relations of the occasion thereof. Some relate it to Plowden's faint pleading at the first for his client, till spurred on with a better fee; which, some will say,
beareth no proportion with the ensuing character of his integrity. Others refer it to his altering of his judgment upon the emergency of new matter formerly undiscovered; it being not constancy, but obstinacy, to persist in an old error, when convinced to the contrary by clear and new information. Some tell it thus, that Plowden being of the Romish persuasion, some setters trepanned him (pardon the prolepsis) to hear mass. But afterwards Plowden understanding that the pretender to officiate was no priest, but a mere layman (on design to make a discovering)," Oh the case is altered," quoth Plowden: “no priest, no mass.” As for other meaner origination of this proverb, I have neither list nor leisure to attend unto them.
PRINCES. RICHARD PLANTAGENET, second son to Edward the Fourth and Elizabeth his queen, was born at Shrewsbury 1472.t He was created by his father duke of York, and affianced to Anne, daughter and 'heir to John Mowbray duke of Norfolk. But, before the nuptials were solemnized, his cruel uncle, the duke of Gloucester, married him to a grave in the Tower of London. The obscurity of his burial gave the advantage to the report, that he lived in Perkin Warbeck, one of the idols which put politic king Henry the Seventh to some danger, and more trouüle, before he could finally suppress him.
* D. Jordan of Mineral Baths, p. 26.
† Stow's Chronicle, p. 703.
GEORGE PLANTAGENET, youngest son to Edward the Fourth and Elizabeth his queen, was born at Shrewsbury.* He was like Plautus's Solstitial flower, “ qui repentinò ortus, repentinò occidit,” dying in the infancy of his infancy. Some vainly conceive (such conjectures may be safely shot, when nobody can see whether they hit or miss the mark) that, had this George survived, he would have secured the lives of his two elder brethren, whose uncle duke Richard durst not cut through the threefold cable of royal issue; a vain surmise, seeing when tyrants' hands are once washed in blood, two or three are all one with their cruelty.
MILBURGH, daughter to Meroaldus prince of Mercia, had the fair manor of Wenlock in this county given to her by her father for her portion. She, quitting all worldly wealth, bestowed her inheritance on the poor, and answered her name of Milburgh, which (as an antiquary † interpreteth) is good or gracious, to town and city. Living a virgin, she built a monastery in the same place; and departed this life about the year 664.
Four hundred years after, in the reign of William the Conqueror, her corpse (discovered by miracles wrought thereby) was taken up sound and uncorrupted, to the admiration of the beholders (saith my author $); and surely, had I seen the same, I would have contributed my share of wondering thereunto. This I am sure of, that as good a Saint, Lazarus by name, by the confession of his own sister, did stink when but four days buried. Her relics, enshrined at Wenlock, remained there in great state, till routed in the reign of king Henry the Eighth.
OSWALD was king of Northumberland, who, after many fortunate battles fought, was vanquished and slain at last by Penda, the Pagan king of the Mercians, at a place in this county, called after his name, Oswaldstre (now a famous market town in the Marshes); thereby procuring to his memory the reputation of saint and martyr.
Be pleased, reader, to take notice, that all battles of this nature, though there were quarrels or armed suits, commenced on a civil or temporal account, for the extending or defending their dominions; yet were they conceived (in that age especially) to have a mixture of much piety and Church concernment therein, because fought against infidels, and so conducing consequentially to the propagation of the faith ; the reason that all kings, killed in such service, achieved to themselves the veneration of saints and martyrs. Say not that king Saul | might be sainted on the same account, mortally wounded in a pitched field fought
• Stow's Chronicle, p. 703. + Verstegan, p. 265.
$ John | 1 Samuel xxxi. 3.
against the uncircumcised Philistines; both because in fine he slew himself, and his former life was known to be notoriously wicked; whereas our Oswald was always pious, and exceedingly charitable to the poor.
His arm, cut off, it seems from the rest of his body, remained, said Bede, whole and incorrupt, kept in a silver case in St. Peter's church at Bamborough, whilst his corpse was first buried at Peterborough, and afterwards in the Danish persecution) translated to Bergen in Flanders,* where it still remaineth.
The fifth of August was, in our calendar, consecrated to his memory, save that the thanksgiving for the defeating of Gowrie's conspiracy made bold to justle him out all the reign of king James. His death happened anno Domini 635.
CONFESSORS. This county afforded none, as the word is re-confined in our preface. But, if it be a little enlarged, it bringeth within the compass thereof.
Thomas GATAKER, younger son to William Gataker, was who a branch of an ancient family, so firmly planted by Divine Providence at Gatacre-hall in this county, that they have flourished the owners thereof, by a non-interrupted succession, from the time of king Edward the Confessor. This Thomas being designed a student for the law, was brought up in the Temple, where, in the reign of queen Mary, he was often present at the examination of persecuted people. Their hard usage made him pity their persons, and admirable patience to approve their opinions. This was no sooner perceived by his parents (being of the old persuasion) but instantly they sent him over to Louvain in the Low Countries, to win him to compliance to the Popish religion; and, for his better encouragement, settled on him an estate of one hundred pound per annum, old rent. All would not do. Whereupon his father recalled him home, and revoked his own grant; to which his son did submit, as unwilling to oppose the pleasure of his parents, though no such revocation could take effect without his free consent. He afterwards diverted his mind from the most profitable to the most necessary study; from law to divinity: and, finding friends to breed him in Oxford, he became the profitable pastor of St. Edmond's in Lombard Street, London, where he died anno 1593, leaving Thomas Gataker, his learned son (of whom formerly ) heir to his pains and piety.
Robert of ShrewSBURY was, in the reign of king John
English Martyrology, 165. † Narrative of the life of Thomas Gataker, junior, after the Sermon preached at his funeral.
# Vide LEARNED WRITERS, in London.
(but I dare not say by him), preferred bishop of Bangor, 1197. Afterwards the king, waging war with Leoline prince of Wales, took this bishop prisoner in his own cathedral church, and enjoined him to pay three hundred hawks * for his ransom. Say not that it was improper that a man of peace should be ransomed with birds of prey, seeing the bishop had learnt the rule, “Redime te captum quam queas minimo.” Besides, 300 hawks will not seem so inconsiderable a matter to him that hath read how in the reign of king Charles an English nobleman (taken prisoner at the Isle Ree †) was ransomed for a brace of grey hounds.
Such who admire where the bishop on a sudden should furnish himself with a stock of such fowl, will abate of their wonder, when they remember that about this time the men of Norway, (whence we have the best hawks), under Magnus their general, had possessed themselves of the neighbouring Island of Anglesea. I Besides, he might stock himself out of the eyres of Pembrokeshire, where perigrines § did plentifully breed. However, this bishop appeareth something humorous by one passage in his will, wherein he gave order that his body should be buried in the middle of the market-place || of Shrewsbury. Impute it not to his profaneness and contempt of consecrated ground; but either to his humility, accounting himself unworthy thereof; or to his prudential foresight, that the fury of soldiers (during the intestine war betwixt the English and Welsh) would fall fiercest on churches, as the fairest market; and men, preferring their profit before their piety, would preserve their market places, though their churches were destroyed. He died anno 1215.
Robert BURNEL was son to Robert, and brother to Hugh lord Burnel, whose prime seat was at Acton-Burnel castle in this county. He was, by king Edward the First, preferred bishop of Bath and Wells; and first treasurer, then chancellor, of England. He was well versed in the Welsh affairs, and much used in managing them; and, that he might the more effectually attend such employment, caused the court of chancery to be kept at Bristol. He got great wealth, wherewith he enriched his kindred, and is supposed to have rebuilt the decayed castle of Acton-Burnel on his own expence. And, to decline envy for his secular structures left to his heirs, he built for his successors the beautiful hall at Wells, the biggest room of any bishop's palace in England, plucked down by Sir John Gabos (afterwards executed for treason) in the reign of king Edward the Sixth.
* Bp. Godwin, in his Bishops of Bangor.
Camden's Britannia, in Anglesea. $ Idem, in Pembrokeshire.
English and Welsh affairs being settled to the king's contentment, he employed bishop Burnell in some business about Scotland, in the Marshes, whereof he died anno Domini 1292; and his body, solemnly brought many miles, was buried in his own cathedral,
Walter de Wenlock, abbot of Westminster, was, no doubt, so named from his nativity in a market-town in this county. I admire much that Matthew of Westminster writeth him William de Wenlock, and that a monk of Westminster should (though not miscall) mis-name the abbot thereof. He was treasurer of England to king Edward the first, betwixt the twelfth and fourteenth year of his reign; and enjoyed his abbot's office six and twenty years, lacking six days.* He died on Christmas day, at his manor of Periford in Gloucestershire, 1307; and was buried at his church in Westminster, beside the high-altar before the Presbytery, without the south door of king Edward's shrine, where “ Abbas Walterus non fuit Austerus is part of his epitaph.
Ralph of SHREWSBURY, born therein, was, in the third of king Edward the Third, preferred bishop of Bath and Wells. Being consecrated without the Pope's privity (a daring adventure in those days) he paid a large sum to expiate his presumption therein. He was a good benefactor to his cathedral, and bestowed on them a chest, portcullis-like, barred with iron, able to hold out a siege in the view of such as beheld it. But, what is of proof against sacrilege? Some thieves (with what engines unknown) in the reign of queen Elizabeth forced it open.t
But this bishop is most memorable for erecting and endowing a spacious structure for the vicars-choral of his cathedral to inhabit together, which in an old picture is thus presented:
THE VICARS' HUMBLE PETITION ON THEIR KNEES.
Per vicos positi villæ, pater alme, rogamus
Ut simul unili, te dante domos, maneamus.
A place where we together all may live.'
THE GRACIOUS ANSWER OF THE BISHOP, SITTING.
Vestra petunt merita quod sint concessa petita,
Ut maneatis ita, loca fecimus hæc slabilita.
That so you may remain, this place we've builded." Having now made such a palace (as I may term it) for his vicars, he was in observation of a proportionable distance) necessitated in some sort to enlarge the bishop's seat, which he beautified
• Register of Westminster Abbey.