Gentleman's Magazine Library, 1731-1868
|English Topography Part III Derbyshire - Dorsetshire
At Exeter Lent Assizes, 1586, an infectious disorder was communicated
by the prisoners, of which the judge, eight justices, eleven
jurymen, and several officers of the court died.- The Great Bell,
given by Bishop Courtenay, weighs 12,500 pounds.
At Heavitree, August 25, 1682, were executed
three women, natives of Bideford, the last sufferers under the
statute against witchcraft.
At Tiverton, April 3, 1598, a fire destroyed 33 persons, more
than 400 dwellings, and £150,000 worth of property.-August
5, 1612, a second fire destroyed 600 houses, and goods to the
amount of £200,000; and in 1731 a third fire consumed 298
houses, and property of the value of £60,000.
March 15, 1760, the Ramillies, man-of-war, with above 600
men, perished off the Eddystone rocks. A descriptive account of
the lighthouse, with plates, in imperial folio, was published by
its architect, Smeaton.
Combe Martin was once famous for its silver mines.-In Ottery St.
Mary are the remains of the residence of Sir Walter Raleigh.-In
Buckland Monachorum is a monument by Bacon in memory of Lord Heathfield,
defender of Gibraltar.-Mason has made the romantic story of Elfrida
the subject of a fine dramatic poem.
[1819, Part I. pp. 619, 620.]
Your compendium of the county appeared in January magazine, 1817.
p. 27; but I have not met with any correction of that account,
which is defective in the list of celebrated men. Therefore I
take the liberty to point out a few errors into which the writer
has fallen, and to supply some omissions that are not peculiar
to himself, but are attributable to the larger works to which
he must necessarily have had recourse.
" John Davis," discoverer of the celebrated straits
that bear his name; but they are not, as is said, situated in South
America, but in the North of Europe, in latitude 64° 40' to
66° 30'. By the way, this voyage was performed in two barques
out of the port of Dartmouth; and although he made two subsequent
attempts by order of Queen Elizabeth, yet " he returned without
making any useful discovery, as all others have since done," says
Anderson, in his dry prophetical manner (" History of Commerce," vol.
i., p. 426). The harpoon was first used in that first voyage, but
not then upon the whale.
Sir Francis Drake, the first circumnavigator, Lympstone, sailed
from Plymouth. He was not more celebrated for that exploit than
for his attacks on the Spanish settlements and the share he had
in defeating the Armada. A good and elaborate life of him, by Dr.
Johnson, appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine, vols. x.
" Pollard, Sir Louis." For Nismet, read Nymet; it is
now called King's Nympton ; the word nymet alluding to a custom
attending the descent of copyhold tenancy in certain parishes in
Devonshire, which is well illustrated in the Spectator by
the story of a widow, who is there said to ride into the Court
(Baron) on a black ram, confessing
her crime, and demanding repossession of her
deceased husband's land.
" Eustace Budgell," one of the authors of the Spectator,
with the signature " X" to his papers, and some time
Secretary of State in Ireland. He was cousin, by the mother's
side, to the celebrated Addison, and to John Duke of Marlborough
; a native of St. Thomas's, adjoining to Exeter, born in 1685,
and died by drowning (in a fit of melancholy) in the Thames,
" John Hooker" is spelt Hoker in his" Account of
Exeter," to which was added, with an alias, Vowell-why,
I have never learnt.
" John Rainolds." For Pinto read Pinho.
" George Trope," evidently a mistake for the Reverend
George Trosse, a very eloquent and energetic preacher among the
Presbyterians, the memory of whose labours and good deeds survived
him above a century. He died in 1613, and not in 1631. He was not
the author of any book of note, single sermons and tracts (six
in number) being all that he published.
" Henry de Bracton " was born at Clovelly, near Barnstaple,
which is usually described in writings as Bratton-Clovelly, but
never as Bratton alone.
" George Peele," chiefly known as a player, was "Master
of the city Pageants," and his "merry conceits and witty
sayings" were printed 1611, 4to. A copy of this pamphlet fetched
a high price at the Roxburgh sale.
" Simon Ockley, Orientalist," is too vague. He wrote
a "History of the Saracens."
" Dr. Matthew Tindal," author of "Christianity
as Old as the Creation," died in 1733-a work which neither
you nor I would take any credit for having written ; yet, as its
sale was very great, and caused a good portion of sensation at
the time, the Doctor is therefore worthy of a line or two in your
" Jacob Bryant," Plymouth, mythologist, 1718. His biographer
is mistaken in making him a native of Chatham, in Kent ; he was
removed thither when a boy, in 1725 or 1726.
"Sir J. Dodderidge," knight, Barnstaple, 1555. He wrote "Reports
of Cases," 2 vols., folio, and several other works connected
with his profession, among the rest"
The Lawyer's Right, or Directions for Studying," etc., and
died in 1628. The curious reader will have noted that, as Bracton
and Fortescue were the earliest writers on the common law of the
country, their treatises being in Latin, so was Dodderidge the
first writer on the same subject in English, and all three natives
of the western parts of the county.
Besides Drake, as noted above, your correspondent might have added
several others worthy of mention in such a summary as he has given,
and wholly indispensable to the work which I have in contemplation,
and for which I have collected large materials.
John Wolcott, M.D., painter and poet, the latter
under the assumed name of Peter Pindar, Esq. ; was born near Kingsbridge,
1738, and died January, 1819, at Camden Town.
John Zephaniah Holwell wrote an account of the fall of Calcutta
in 1756, and the confinement of 137 persons in the Black Hole
there; was a native of Exeter, where he died in 1789. Lempriere
is wrong in calling him Governor-General of Bengal, as he is
in the year of his decease.
Thomas Mudge, Plymouth, made the timekeeper for the Board of Longitude.
He died 1769.
Hugh Downman, M.D., author of "Infancy," a didactic
poem; " Lucius Junius Brutus," and other tragedies. Died
at Exeter in 1809.
Sir Francis Buller, Bart., judge, and John Heath, judge, were
also from the same neighbourhood; and it is worthy of remark that
this last-mentioned and Sir Vicary Gibbs, who sat together in the
Court of Common Pleas, were born in the same precinct-viz., the
Close at Exeter.
I might increase this list of notable persons to an immoderate
length, if such a course were at all desirable to your pages; but
if I set down merely their names it will be enough for the present,
and I reserve the option of being more particular hereafter. You
will, however, agree with me that memoirs of many men and women
are worthy of preservation, although they themselves can never
be objects of imitation; such are the two first.
Bampfylde Moore Carew, "king of the beggars"; Joanna
Southcott, pretended prophetess; George Simcoe, soldier; William
Jackson, musical composer; Henry Tanner, a pious and profitable
Methodist preacher; Samuel Musgrave, the critic and politician
; Bartholomew Parr, M.D., criticism and medicine; Benj. Donne,
mathematics ; Rev. John Prince, divine and biographer; Sir James
Thornhill, painter; Wm. Tasker, divine and poet; John Manly Wood,
divine and critic; Sir James Lucas Yeo, warrior; John Bampfylde,
poet; Lord Thomas Clifford, statesman; Lord Arlington, statesman.
Yours, etc., BIO-DEV.
Ancient Church Architecture. (1834. Part I., pp. 394-399.]
[There follows a letter about the remains
of ancient architecture in Devonshire, not included here]