Preface (Throsby)

Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire: Volume 1, Republished With Large Additions By John Throsby. Originally published by J Throsby, Nottingham, 1790.

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'Preface (Throsby)', in Thoroton's History of Nottinghamshire: Volume 1, Republished With Large Additions By John Throsby, (Nottingham, 1790) pp. ix-xx. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]


The Art of Physic, which I have prosessed (with competent Success) in this County, not being able for any long Time to continue the People living in it, I have charitably attempted, notwithstanding the Difficulty and almost contrariety of the Study, to practise upon the Dead, intending thereby to keep, all which is, or can be left of them, to wit, the Shadow of their Names, (better than precious Ointment for the Body,) to preserve their Memory, as long as may be in the World: Though for this latter Undertaking, I expect no more Glory than I have gotten Riches by the former, well knowing this Place not to be the best chosen for either; and the Times such, that too few are much concerned, either for what is past, or to come. But seeing that by the especial Favor and Providence of God, I have lived happily in it, beyond my own reasonable Hopes, or the Opinions of my wisest Friends, who would have set me on a better Stage; I have thought myself bound to my Country to make it this further Return of Gratitude, (however it may relish or please) which no body else of better Abilities and Qualifications, hath hitherto performed; and I have put it in the Form of an Olla Podrinda, which any of them, who shall be half so fond as I, may the more easily augment or new model, when they shall think sit; and every Reader, or rather Looker-on it (for it cannot expect many more thorough Readers than a Dictionary) may by the Help of the Indexes pick out only those Names of Places, or Persons which he desires, without being obliged to read very much of the rest, which may be thought impertinent enough, especially by those who will not consider, that I present not here what I would have chosen, but what I could find, and that for the most Part will be judged too little by any concerned, and too much by others. Yet the Time this Work can pretend to is very little above six Hundred Years; in the first third Part whereof, there is not too much to be found, the oldest general Authentick Record we have, being that most famous Survey made by King William the first, in the latter Part of his Reign, which still remains in the Treasury of the Exchequer, and is called Doomsday Book, and was finished near about two Hundred Years after the first perfect Division of England into Shires or Counties, or of them into Hundreds and Tythings, by King Alured or Alfred (as its said) but hath respect also to the several Lands and their Owners in the Time of King Edward the Confessor. This most noble Light of those Times, as far as concerns this County of Nottingham, I have therefore exhibited at large, as plainly as I well could; yet because the Phrase or Language of it is not suitable to this present Age, I conceive it not amiss briefly in this Place to observe and explicate some few Things, which may render it, and some other Things in this Book, more easy to be understood. To begin then with Shire, as the Saxons called it, or County, as now more frequently is used, we may know it to be one of those Shares, Portions, or Provinces, whereinto this Kingdom, for the better Government and Administration of Justice thereof, was nigh, or a little before the Time fore-mentioned, divided, by some of the Saxon Monarchs, who to that purpose did usually invest some great Man with the Power and Management of it, together with the third Part of the Profits, thereby accruing to the Crown, for his Fee or Reward, who was then stiled Eolderman, but shortly after by the Danes (to whose Laws this Place amongst many others was subject,) Earl, being a Norwegian Word, as Resenius shews, which still remains a Title of Honour, though not of Office, amongst us to this Day; for several of those Kings, and all since the Norman Conquest, have prudently thought sit instead of the Earl to depute or substitute a Shire Reeve for the most Part (especially since the Reign of King Edward the Third) annually, whoi a well enough known, but very much lessened in Profit and dignity at this Time. The Hundreds or Wapentakes whereof these Shires consist, are as unequal as they, so are the Tythings, Towns, or Villages which make up them, however they were in the Time of the Saxons, by whom it is evident enough they were all made; for besides the Faith of History, we have this further Argument for our County, that there remains not in it the Name of any Field, Hamlet, Village, Town, or Place, that I could note, which is not originally of their Language (or perhaps of the Danes, not so very much differing) except the Rivers, which seem still to retain the British; but they made the Hundreds not of an hundred Towns, for such have we none (though we have one very large one) but more likely of that Number, at least of free Sureties, or Frank-Pledges for the Peace, or else of able Soldiers for the War, which Number, in some Places, exceeded more, in others less, as we may well suppose; and in Process of Time (if nothing else did) made the Inequality.--Amongst these good Men two were appointed by the Statute of Winchester, 13 E. 1. to be Constables for Conservation of the Peace, and View of Armour, which latter perhaps hath more proper Relation to the old Name of Wapentake, which certainly contained ten Tythings at the least, and no doubt very often more. As one of them might contain no less (but often more) than ten Householders, sufficient Pledges, and as it were incorporated, for keeping the King's Peace, the chief whereof was called Tythingman, and Eriborgh, now corrupted into Thirdborough. These ten Men did not always dwell in one Town or Hamlet, but sometimes in two or more, which for that Reason at this Day have but one Constable, which Officer, it seems, about the beginning of King Edward the Third's Reign, grew out of this of Headborough, and by multiplication of Statutes, since then providing him further Employment, hath very much obscured it. Now some Towns have two (or perhaps more) Constables, which may therefore be concluded to be so great or large in old time, as to contain two or more such Tythings, at present almost only known by Constableries, and so consounded with the Towns, Hamlets, Manors, Lordships, or Parishes, whereof they consist, or wherein they are (as all they are also one with another) that it cannot but be necessary a little more plainly to distinguish them. By a Town then or Village we may understand, an uncertain Number of Dwelling-Houses, situate not far asunder, together with a certain competent Circuit of Gound, or Territory, long since by our Saxon Ancestors comprehended in one Name, wherein is contained one or more Manors, or Part thereof, whose Owners being formerly and now called Lords, the whole Content is most constantly termed the Lordship, but only properly so, when it is all one Manor or one Man's; for this word Lordship, in this Case, arising only from such an Ownership of a Manor, can be strictly and truly no further applied than the particularExtent of that, which sometimes is not the Whole of any one, but only Part of one, or of two, or three, or more, Villages or Hamlets. This Word Hamlet must intimate to us, a little Town or Village, or a smaller Number of Dwelling-Houses, with a certain Territory and proper Name, wherein there was seldom either Manor or Church, as in Towns most ordinary were, and it commonly belonged to, or was a kind of a Member of some other Village, and some have happened to be divided amongst several Constableries, Manors, and Parishes: yet some there are which we are forced to call Hamlets, in respect of the great Manors to which they belong, and whereof they are Berews or Berewics, which are as big as the middle sort of Towns, and some perhaps bigger, and have in them both Manor and Church, or else a large Chapel, not much inferior in Appearance. The Word Manor is not older amongst us than the Time of King Edward the Consessor, who brought it from Normandy, in which he was so well seconded by his Kinsman King William, that all the Manors we have, which may be legally called so, are said to be specified in his fore-named Survey, wherein we may observe some to be so great as to contain several considerable Townships, and some so little, that several Manors are often seen to be comprehended within the Bounds of some one little Town. The greatest doubtless in older Times were the Kings, and Examples to the rest, whereof the next Size most likely the great Earls and Bishops had, and the others according to their several Degrees were possessed by the Thains, who were of three Ranks, viz. the King's Thaine, who was equal to, or the same with our Parliamentary Baron, or Peer of the Realm. The Middle Theine, who bore Proportion to our greater Gentry, and the less Thegne to our smaller Gentry, or best Sort of Yeoman, who were certainly enough of the middle sort or condition of Men, whereof the Saxons had but three, to wit, Noble, Free, and Servile. We may conceive then a Manor to have been a certain Place with a competent Share or Portion of Ground and People thereupon for the King, or one of his Nobles, or Freemen, to remain or dwell at, for some Time more or less, wherein the King for his own, we must think, had always some fit Person to take Care of and govern these Lands and People for himself, according to the Laws then in use, both to do Right, and keep the Peace, whom we now commonly call Steward, in Imitation whereof others obtained the like Privilege from the King to be exercised for themselves in theirs, which from his own using or Grant hath now obtained the name of Royalty. The most common and necessary free Customs which I think the Owner of the least Manor could not well want, are those which the Saxons called Soc and Sac; the first whereof imports a Power, Authority, or Liberty to administer Justice, and execute Laws, as well as the Circuit of Territory wherein such Power is or might be exercised; the latter, a Privilege to hear and judge Causes, and levy Forseitures and Amercements, arising amongst the People resident within such Circuit or Territory, Part whereof was ever as well by the King in his, as other Lords in theirs, kept in his or their own respective Hands or Tenencies, for the Sustenence or Support of his or their particular Family there, which is now called the Demesne; the rest is well known by the Name of Tenements, being held by others. Of which one Part by the Saxons were called Boke Lands, because the King, or other Lord, gave them to some Thaines or Freemen by Charter, to inherit either for their Services in the Wars, or Contribution thereto; or else for finding a competent Proportion of Corn, or other Provisions for the King's, or other Lord's Use: which latter Tenure we understand now by Free Socage, as we do the other by Knights or Military Service.

These Men, however for such their Lands in any Manor or Soke of the King's or of another Man's were named Socmen (especially in Doomsday Book, where they are most often mentioned) as they have been Thaines, Men, Barons, Knights, and Freeholders, and are indeed the very Barons, whereof (as the Lawyers say) there must be two at the least, to make that we now call a Court Baron, in the Reason of which Name it seems divers most learned Men have been mistaken, calling it from some insufficient Authority, A Baron's Court, or Court of a Baron, as is manifest in that the King himself (not to be called a Baron sure in any Sense, except only the Masculine) had a Court of the Barons of his Manor, as suitable and necessary for the Affairs of that, as the great ones were for the Business of his Kingdom, after the Model whereof this was partly governed: Which Court, in old Time, had the Name of Hallmote; the King's as all others were, being most usually kept in the Capital Messuage, or Manor House, then and still called the Hall, whereunto these Sokemen, or Barons, Men, Knights, Thaines or Freeholders, were once in three Weeks to attend. Some of the King's Socmen were great, as were also some of those of the larger Sort of other great Men's and had Manors within the Soc, which Sort we now call Mesne Lords, being in the Middle as it were, between their own Socmen, who held of them, and the Supreme or Paramount Lord, of whom they held themselves, but the most general Sort of them were such as the Saxons called Less Thaines, the Danes' Young Men, and we still Yeomen, and were, as I guess, made most ordinarily of the younger Sons or Brothers of the Lords of the less Sort of Manors, being certainly Free of Blood, and fit for honorable Service, some Marks whereof yet remain in the King's Houshold, and divers other Places. These Sokemen of the King's Manors, now known by the Name of Freeholders by Charter in Ancient Demesne, are free from all Manner of Toll, for any Thing concerning their own Provisions or Husbandry, and from many other Payments which others are liable to : Neither can they be drawn into Plea for any Thing concerning their Lands out of their own Court, wherein from the very first Beginning, without Doubt, was exercised all Manner of Law requisite for the King's Tenants, as well concerning Right as Peace: As likewise 'tis probable there was in all or most other very great Manors or Sokes, which contained several Tythings or Townships; whence arose also the Court-Leet, as we now call it, wherein chiefly all those Saxon Customs distinguished by several Names, or Laws concerning the Peace, were executed, which by many Lords in their several Sokes was claimed by Prescription, and since the Conquest, hath been granted to others by the Name of View of Frank-Pledge. The other Part of the Tenements of a Manor by the Saxons called Folk-Lands, were occupied, or held, for the most Part, by the People bred and born in the Villages, and of Servile Condition, called in Doomsday-Book, Villains, and since, Natives, or Bondmen, being such as our Husbandmen or Farmers are now; for those, who were like our Cottagers, held very little or no Land, and in that Record are called Bordars, most likely because they had their Meat where they did their Work, which Custom remains amongst us in some Places still. However all these Men and all they had went with the Lands of their respective Manors wherein they lived, and were (saving their Lives) as much and entirely at the Will and Disposition of their several Lords, who finding no great Profit in keeping alive many such lazy Families as they were bound to do, grew more willing to Manumit and make them free, or else to suffer them to hold their Lands under such Rents and Services, as they thought fit to impose; which being entered in their Court Rolls, they made little other Use of their Authority over them; so that Copyholders also now have almost utterly worn out the Memory of any such Condition, as well as any of that formerly most numerous Servile Sort of People, whereof, for the greater Part of these last two Hundred Years, there have scarcely been any who would not have despised those who should not have esteemed them as Free-born Englishmen as the best, as the late Times have more especially shewn.

The last Thing which should be distinguished a little more clearly from a Manor, Soke, Constablery, Tything, Town, Village, or Hamlet, is a Parish, which amongst us signifies a certain Portion or Territory of Land within the particular Charge of a Priest, who is to administer the holy Sacraments, and other divine Offices, to the Inhabitants thereof, the Precinct or Bounds of which are commonly best known by those of the Manor or Manors, the Tythes whereof belong to that Church, though some Portion of them may have been given to some other; for it frequently happens that a Township, Hamlet, or Constablery, is in several Parishes; the Church founded in it, always having the Tythes of it (except a Portion was by Chance given to some religious House) and we see a Parish (as before was said of a Manor) may contain one or more Townships or Hamlets, or only Part of one or more. Nay in some Places we have two Parishes in one Town, and but one Church, which must needs arise from several Manors, the Lords whereof joined in founding or building, but not in endowing the Church, each keeping apart his Tythes, and what else he would give for the Sustenance of his own Clerk, whom he intended to present to the Bishop for the ministerial Care and Government of his own Tenants, who with the Lands they occupied made up one Parish, as the others did another, yet both had Use of the same Church. These are ordinarily called Medieties, perhaps because the Use of the Church may be equal, though the Parishes or Profits be not. The King's Manors, before the coming of the Normans, were furnished with Churches, and Chapels in the Hamlets also, not far short of parochial Churches, and so were most other great Manors, and some little ones too; but some have no Mention in Doomsday-Book of any Church in them at that Time, which yet manifestly had not very long after; so that, it seems, the Norman Lords built Churches presently, and fixed their Tythes within their own Manors, which before were paid to uncertain Places; the Dedications or Consecrations of most of which Churches or Chapels by the Bishop, are still remembered in these Parts by the respective Parishioners, in celebrating a certain yearly Feast, commonly called the Wakes.

But we must further consider the great Root and Measure of all was Agriculture, Husbandry, or Tillage, which necessarily implies, Supports, and multiplies People, as they must Houses and Manors, whereof consist Towns, Hundreds, and Counties, and of them a Kingdom; so that the King in his political Capacity, as well as natural, is feed by the Husbandman; concerning whom our Laws are so old, natural, and fundamental, that the certain Original of them appears not to the deepest Searcher, supposing Nothing before them but a King to give, and People to receive them; for the learned Selden, who went as far as he, or any one else could in that Particular, in his Fan. Anglorum, is fain to cite out of Authors whom he judged of little or no Credit in the Point, that Donuallo Molmutius, and his Son Belinus after him, who reigned four or five Hundred Years before our Saviour Christ's Time (when certainly the Inhabitants of this Place were not much civilized) ordained "That Plows, Temples and Ways, leading to Cities, should have the Privilege of Sanctuary. And furthermore, left the Land should wax empty, or left the People should be frequently pressed with want of Corn, or be diminished, if only Cattle should occupy the Field, which should be tilled by Men, He (the said Belinus) constituted how many Plows each County (as we now call them) should have, and appointed a Punishment for them, by whom the Number should be diminished. And forbade the Beasts which should serve the Plow, to be taken away by the Magistrates, or assigned for Debt of Money to Creditors, if other Goods of the Debtor were sufficient besides." However these Laws and Customs have been antient and certain enough, whoever made or begun them, and all Measures of the Country have been taken from the Plow, as long as any Memorials of such Things are extant: For a Family, or Manse, or Hide with the Saxons; or Carucat with the Normans, are of the same Signification, which is that we call a Plow-Land, and was as much Arable, as with one Plow and Beasts sufficient belonging to it, could be tilled and ordered the whole Year about, having also Meadow and Pasture for the Cattle, and Houses also for them, and for the Men and their Housholds, who managed it. This is the great Measure so often repeated in Doomsday-Book in most Counties by the Name of Hide, but in ours, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire, only Carucats are found, which are the very same with the other, and esteemed to contain an Hundred Acres (viz. six Score to the Hundred) but assuredly were more or less according to the lightness or stiffness of the Soil, whereof one Plow might dispatch more or less accordingly. Thus unequal also were the Virgats, whereof four made a Carucat, and so were the Bovats, or as we call them Oxgangs, of which most commonly eight went to a Carucat, or Plow-Land; one of them being defined to be as much Land as one Ox might till through the Year; which for the Reason before, could not be equal in all Places, but in some Places was twelve, in some sixteen, in some eighteen or more Acres: Nay the Acres were not equal, for some had sixteen, some eighteen, some twenty, and some more Feet to the Perch, of which forty make a Rood, and four of them an Acre; but the Foot itself was also customary in some Places twelve Inches, in some eighteen more or less, so that we must not too peremptorily determine the Quantity of a Leuc or Quarentem in Doomsday, wherewith the Pasture or other Woods were measured, and perhaps sometimes Meadow, though 'tis sure enough the first meant our Mile, and the other a Furlong, viz. forty Perches, which yet cannot be precisely judged to an Inch. By these Kind of Measures, were the ancient Surveys made of every Manor, and Part thereof; and by these were regulated all Manner of Taxes, as well before the Conquest as after: for though the Knights Fees then first brought in with their Incidents, Ward and Marriage, &c. became a Measure for divers Aids or Taxes afterward; yet even they consisted or were made up of five, or eight Carucats or Plow-Lands apiece, and the respective Tenants paid for so many whole Fees, or Parts of one, or more, as they agreed with them who first enfeoffed them, according to such Proportions of Carucats or Bovats as were the Subject or Ground of such Agreements; so that still the Plow upheld all, as the Laws did it indifferently well, till that stupendious Act, which swept away the Monasteries, whose Lands and Tythes being presently after made the Possessions and Inheritances of private Men, gave more frequent Encouragement and Opportunities to such Men as had got competent Shares of them, further to improve and augment their own Revenues by greater Loss to the Common-Wealth, viz. by inclosing and converting Arable to Pasture, which as certainly diminished the yearly Fruits, as it doth the People, for we may observe that a Lordship in Tillage, every Year affords more than double the Profits which it can in Pasture, and yet the latter Way the Landlord may perhaps have double the Rent he had before; the Reason whereof is, that in Pasture he hath the whole Profit, there being required neither Men nor Charge worth speaking of; whereas in Tillage the People and their Families necessarily employed upon it, (which surely in Respect of God or Man, Church or King, make a more considerable Part of the Commonwealth, than a little unlawful Increase of a private Person's Rent) must be maintained, and their public Duties discharged, before the Landlord's Rent can be raised or ascertained. But this Improvement of Rent certainly causes the Decay of Tillage, and that Depopulation, which hath much impaired our County, and some of our Neighbours; and which divers Laws and Statutes have in vain attempted to hinder. I shall only take Notice of the thirty-ninth Year of Queen Elizabeth, when one Statute was made against the Decaying of Towns and Houses of Husbandry; and another for Maintenance of Husbandry and Tillage: in the Preamble of the first is mentioned thus:---"And where of late Years more than in Times past, there have sundry Towns, Parishes, and Houses of Husbandry, been destroyed and become desolate," &c.---the second is after this Manner,---"Whereas the Strength and flourishing Estate of this Kingdom hath been always, and is greatly upheld and advanced by the Maintenance of the Plough and Tillage, being the Occasion of the Increase and Multiplying of the People both for Service in the Wars, and in Times of Peace, being also a principal Mean that People are set on Work, and thereby withdrawn from Idleness, Drunkenness, unlawful Games, and all other lewd Practises, and Conditions of Life. And whereas by the same Means of Tillage and Husbandry, the greater Part of the Subjects are preserved from extreme Poverty in a competent Estate of Maintenance and Means to live, and the Wealth of the Realm is kept, dispersed and distributed in many Hands, where it is more ready to answer all necessary Charges for the Service of the Realm; and whereas also the said Husbandry and Tillage is a Cause that the Realm doth more stand upon itself, without depending upon foreign Countries, either for bringing in of Corn in Time of Scarcity, or for Vent and Utterance of our own Commodities being in over-great Abundance: And whereas from the 27th Year of King Henry the Eighth, of famous Memory, until the 35th Year of her Majesty's most happy Reign, there was always in force some Law which did ordain a Conversion and Continuance of a certain Quantity and Proportion of Land in Tillage not to be altered: And that in the last Parliament held in the said 35th Year of her Majesty's Reign, partly by Reason of the great Plenty and Cheapness of Grain at that Time within this Realm, and partly by Reason of the Imperfection and Obscurity of the Law made in that Case, the same was discontinued: Since which Time there have grown many more Depopulations, by turning Tillage into Pasture, than at any Time for the like Number of Years heretofore. Be it enacted," &c.—These Acts are both expired, but if they had not, they would have been repealed as divers of like Sort have been, so that we cannot expect a Stop for this great Evil till it stay itself, that is, till depopulating a Lordship will not improve or encrease the Owner's Rent; some Examples whereof I have seen already, and more may do, because Pasture already begins to exceed the Vent for the Commodities which it yields; but other Restraint, till the Lords, and such Gentlemen as are usually Members of the House of Commons, who have been the chief, and almost only Authors of, and Gainers by this false-named Improvement of their Lands amongst us, think fit to make a self-denying Act in this Particular, would be as vain to think of, as that any Law which hinders the Profit of a powerful Man should be effectually executed. This prevailing Mischief, in some Parts of this Shire, hath been taken away and destroyed more private Families of good Account, than Time itself within the Compass of my Observations; yet some very few have escaped, where this devouring Pestilence hath raged, and amongst them (through God's great Mercy) my own, which surely should not be envied being for the most Part

—Procul Negotiis ut Prosca Gens Mortalium Paterna Rura Bobus Exercens Suis.

I should here have ended, but that it may be pertinent for the Encouragement of any who may be disposed further to enlarge this Work, or make any Appendix to it, to let him know that here is little out of the Archbishop of York's Registry, from whence one of my Agents only brought me the Titles of certain Records, and another a Catalogue of the Livings-Spiritual in the Archdeaconry of Nottingham, with their Values, Incumbents and Patrons, as they then were; out of which I only transcribed the Values in the King's Books, and last Patrons. And also, that here is omitted by Mischance and Over-Sight, many Notes which I had by me and intented to insert, as some concerning Trewthales Manors in Colston-Basset, and a certain Chapel near the Bridge there founded by the last Lord Basset; and several particular Inscriptions of Monuments, and other Things in divers other Places, which I beg their Pardon for, who may be concerned. And that though I was a Commissioner for the Royal Aid and Subsidy, and since that a Justice of Peace, I could never get an exact Account of all the present Owners in a great Part of the County, but am forced to end in many Places with one I have, which was made about the Year 1612. The great Helps I had for elder Times were chiefly these, viz. my best Copy of Doomsday-Book, taken by my Father-in-Law, Serjeant Bounes's own Hand from that in the Exchequer. What other Use I have made of any of his Collections is marked in the Margin with B. but where the Printer over-looked it. The Copy of the Red Book in the Exchequer, and Chartæ Antiq. and some other Things I had from Mr. Dugdale; the most excellent Collections from the Pipe Rolls; and some other Records by Mr. Roger Dodsworth, of Yorkshire, I had from my Lord Fairfax, by the Procurement of my honored Friend Doctor Vere Harcourt, our Archdeacon; several Collections of the industrious Mr. St. Lo Kniveton, were given by my Lord Chaworth; the Leiger-Books of Lenton and Dale; and divers Abstracts from the Plea Rolls, and other Records, were lent me by Mr. Samuel Roper; the Book of Rufford by my Lord Halifax; that of Newstede, and some other Things, by my Lord Byron; that of Blyth by Sir Gervas Clifton; and the Register of Thurgarton by Mr. Cecill Cooper, &c. The rest may be observed as these may also from the Margin.

THUS modestly and copiously did DOCTOR THOROTON preface his valuable HISTORY of NOTTINGHAMSHIRE. Perhaps something like an Introduction to the additional Part of this Work, which follows, may be necessary on my Part, as an Editor and an Author:—As an Editor, I will briefly observe that the Reader may expect, a faithful Copy of Thoroton, and that which is most material from subsequent Writers on the same Subject, since his Time; and whatever else may be offered of unpublished Matter worthy Notice. As an Author, it would ill become me to say any Thing respecting my Abilities for the Task of giving a Description of every Place of Note in Nottinghamshire. I have done something in that Way in Leicestershire, which is about to appear before the Eye of the Public, with the last Number of the Leicestershire Views: That was undertaken from Motives of Gratitude. With an earnest Desire to render my own Labors worthy the Attention of the Public in general, and of the Inhabitants of Nottinghamshire in particular, I enter cheerfully on a Task of Difficulty and Hazard; the former I will endeavour to overcome by unwearied Attention; the latter, I doubt no. I shall be rescued from, by a People in whose Service I think it an Honor to be engaged.

Landed Property has heretofore engaged much of the Time of local Writers; it will engage my Attention: But in this Department of the Work Gentlemen must foresee how difficult it is now to be accurately particular. Lordships that were once entire are in many Hands, and have passed through various Families; Divisions and Sub-Divisions have taken Place, with Improvements and Inclosure; and Delicacy forbids an Enquiry, which might be construed into an unbecoming Officiousness: And indeed in some Instances it might militate against the Possessor.

But to be brief.—This Work is intended to convey a general Knowledge of the County, by giving Views of Noblemen and Gentlemen's Seats, accompanied with descriptive Relations; Semblances of Ruins; Fragments of Antiquities; Engravings of natural and artificial Curiosities, with Descriptions, &c. and as accurately as may be obtained, the Number of Acres in every Lordship; the Quality of the Soil; when inclosed; principal Land-owners; Lords of the Manors; the Increase and Decrease of Villages (from the Registers;) the Number of Dwellings in the Villages, &c. their principal Inhabitants; Poor's Rates; the State of the Churches; Descriptions of the Monuments therein, (which are not in Thoroton) historical Relations; Village and biographical Anecodotes; Patrons of Livings; Incumbents' Names; a List of the Sheriffs of the County; Knights of the Shire; Members of Parliament for the Town of Nottingham; its Mayors and Recorders. A Map of the County; and an Index Map of the Seats shall accompany this Edition of Thoroton.

At the End of the Work I intend giving, by Way of additional Collections, that Information which may arrive during the Time of Publishing, which may come too late for Insertion in the proper Place. And in that Department of the Work I shall have an Opportunity of correcting those Errors which occur in Works of this Nature.

Thus much I have Confidence to promise; and I have caused that Promise to be printed here, that it may stand between myself and the Public as a firm Contract. I hope with Earnestness, and I ask with due Deference, for the Assistance of the Public, whose local Situations enable them to forward the Completion of the History of the Town and County of Nottingham.

Respecting the Picturesque Views which accompany this Work, I will just observe, as I did in the Preface to the Leicestershire Views. That the Introduction of a Tree, the removing of another, rejecting ordinary Buildings, or sometimes saintly expressing them, such as Stables, Offices, &c. with such, Liberties are taken, which every Gentleman of Taste must commend. Some Writer, I remember, has said, "When Deformities are removed, Beauty in some Shape generally makes its Appearance." "Simplicity and Variety are the acknowledged Foundation of all picturesque Effect. Either of them will produce it: when the Landscape approaches nearer Simplicity, it approaches nearer the Sublime; and when Variety prevails, it tends more to the Beautiful." (fn. 1) "Beauty, says this Gentleman of Taste, will be obtained by adding Trees upon the Fore-Ground, if happily introduced." "The English Park and Forest, afford an infinite Variety of Character in its Trees, and endless Foliage." (fn. 2)

"'Tis Painting's first chief Business to explore, What lovelier Forms in Nature's boundless Store, Are best to Art and ancient Taste ally'd, For ancient Taste those Forms has best apply'd." (fn. 3)

Dryden observes, in his celebrated Preface, printed before his Translation of Du Fresnoy's Poems, that "as in the Composition of a Picture, the Painter is to take Care that nothing enter into it, which is not proper or convenient to the Subject; so likewise is the Poet to reject all Incidents which are foreign to the Poem: They are Wens, and other Excrescences which belong not to the Body, but deform it. No Person, no Incident in the Piece, or in the Play, but must be of Use to carry on the main Design. All Things else are like six Fingers to the Hand, when Nature, which is superfluous in Nothing, can do her Work with five."

The above Quotation may be considered, by some, as inapplicable to the present Undertaking; but I cannot but feel its Force, where the Scenery is local.

A Painter of Landscape, when his Subjects are merely local, often meets with Excrescences in his Way, which must be removed or rejected, to make his Picture pleasing: In his best Situation, for taking the Principal, in the Fore-Ground, may be a GravelHole, a Dog-Kennel, or a Dunghill; ploughed Lands; a broken Hedge, or a Barn; Things which would destroy, if introduced, the Beauty of his Piece; Things no Ways ornamental, and of which, as Dryden observes, "The Picture has no Need;" and in the Opinion of Du Fresnoy, they are, "Figures to be let."

I have endeavoured, from the best Authority, to do away all the Objections of common Observers, who might be apt to hazard an Opinion on the apparent Neglect of a Rail, a Sowthistle, or an Ant-Hill.



  • 1. Gilpin's Tour in Scotland
  • 2. Essay on Landscape Painting.
  • 3. Mason's Translation of Du. Fresnoy's Art of Painting.