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year 1143, who, being advanced in age, became one of the regii lár canons on his own foundation, and continued here, in penance and prayer, till the time of his death. This religious foundation soon acquired sanctity and celebrity, and thence obtained numerous liberties and immunities. Besides thirty-six parishes in and about Leicester, it had lands, privileges, &c. in most of the manors in this and many other counties. The religious of this. abbey had great bequests of deer, fuel, and feeding of cattle; fishpools, cattle, fish, and corn. Stoughton-Grange, near Leicester, was the grand repository of food for this house. This place supported almost the whole poor of Leicester and its neighbourhood; and it was on all pressing occasions subsidiary to the king, and hospitable to travellers, who were fed and often lodged here on their journies. Several kings of England were entertained and lodged here on their excursions to and from the north. Richard II. and his queen, with their retinue, amongst whom were the Duke of Ireland, Earl of Suffolk, Archbishop of Canterbury, and several other great personages, were entertained and lodged at this house in grand and sumptuous style.
“ The death of the great and magnificent Cardinal Wolsey happened at this abbey, November 29, 1530, on his journey from York to London. He had just before been stript of his dignities, and his pride wounded by his royal master, who liad before loaded him with riches, honour, and power, unequalled by the first of princes. He was so weak and depressed when he came to the gate leading to the abbey, that he could only thank the abbot and monks for their civility, and tell them that he was come to lay his hones among
them. He immediately took to his bed, and died three days afterwards *.” It was at this place, whilst the cardinal was on his death-bed, and surrouuded by the listening monks, that he pronounced the following memorable sentence, which displays that he had been more of a courtier than religionist: “If I had served my God as faith
* Throsby's History and Antiquities of Leicester, 4to, p. 285.
fully as 1 served the king, he would not thus have forsaken my old age *"
Near the North Bridge of this town was formerly the house of place where money was minted ; and the series of coins that has been collected, prove that at the LEICESTER MINT a regular succession of coinage has been produced from the reign of the Saxòn king Athelstan, down to Henry the Second. “The Monetarii or governors of the mint, were entitled to considerable privileges and exemptions, being Socmen, or holders of land in the Soc, or franchise of a great baron, yet they could not be compelled to ret linquish their tenements at their lord's will. They paid twenty pounds every year, a considerable sum, as a pound at the time of the conquest contained three times the weight of silver it does at present. These pounds consisted of pennies, each weighing one öra, or ounce, of the value of twenty-pence. Two thirds of this sum were paid to the king, and the other third to the feudal Baron of Leicester. The Leicester coins of Athelstan and Edinund the First, bave only a rose with a legend of the king's name, that of the moneyer, and Leicester: from Etheldred the Second, they bear the impress of the royal head and sceptre, with the same stile of legend unchanged. In this series of Leicester coins, which has been en graved with accurate attention in the valuable work of Mr. Nichols, the triangular helmets, uncouth diadems, and rudely expressed countenances of our Saxon sovereigns, exhibit, when opposed to a plate of Roman coinage, a striking contrast to the nicely delineated features of the laurelled Cæsars. In no instance of comparison does the Roman art appear more conspicuous. The great quantity of coins of that scientific people, which have been found at Leicester, is an additional testimony of its consequence as a Roman town: these, unfortunately, upon being found at different periods, have passed into various hands; and although some few gentlemen have made collections, yet it is to be regretted, that by far the VOL. IX.
* Sir Joshua Reynolds has painted a grand, fine, and highly admirable picture representing this awful event.
greater part of the coins have been taken from the town. Had those found in the last century been thrown together into one cabinet, Leicester might have exbibited at this time a respectable series of Roman coinage, both in brass and silver, from the Emperor Nero down to Valens.”
. CHARTERS, &c. The first Charter granted to Leicester was by King John, in the first year of his reign : and at the same time Robert Fitz-Parnel, Earl of Leicester, granted a charter, or deed, to the burgesses of this town, investing them with the right of buying and selling lands, &c. Some of the privileges of the Corporation are first defined and confirmed by a grant from Robert, Earl of Leicester : and his successor, Simon de Montefort, Earl of Leicester, extended and ratified their rights by a charter, dated at Leicester, in the twenty-third year of the reign of King Henry the Third. The next charter shews the peculiar intolerance of the times. It was given by Simon de Montefort, son of the above earl, and particularly specifies that "no Jew, or Jewes, in my time,
in the time of any of my heirs, to the end of the world, shall inhabit or remain" in the town of Leicester. In the year 1287, this wandering and persecuted sect of people was expelled the kingdom. Till the time of Henry the Seventh, Leicester does not appear to have obtained any further royal charters, except the grant of Edward the Third for the establishment of a fair be deemed as one. Henry's charter, dated 1504, contirms all the previous privileges of the burgesses, &c. and empowers the jus tices, or a part of them, to “take cognizance of treasons, murders, felonies, rapes, and other transgressions.” Several public acts and resolutions. occurred during this reign, relating to the local government of the town, for as that monarch conquered his rival and adversary near this borough, he appears to have paid particular attention to the wants and wishes of the corporation. The charter by Queen Elizabeth specifies that the borough of Leicester is very ancient and poprilous, and from remote times has been a borough
, All it use of the sa Perlu
• Walk through Leicester.
incorporate; " and the inhabitants thereof, and their predecessors have hitherto had and held divers liberties, franchises, privileges, and immunities, as well on account of different prescriptions and customs used in the said borough from time immemorial, as from : donations and grants made by different of our progenitors, once kings of England.” It then proceeds to state, that, in consequence of petitions from the mayor and burgesses, the corporate and politic body was to be created anew, by the name of “ mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses of the borough of Leicester.”. By this charter certain regulations were particularly specified for “ main. taining the peace and good government of the people.” The cor-: poration were hereby empowered to buy and sell lands, houses, &c.; constitute freemen; refuse the building of malt-kilns within the distance of thirty yards front any other building, &c. It grants also a market for wool-yarn and worsted, and other commodities. All fines and amerciements were ordered to be applied to the use of the poor.
- As a Parliamentary borough, Leicester returned inembers to the national councils from the time of Edward the First. In the reign of Henry the Eighth, one of the burgesses was elected by
mayor and his brethren," and the other by the commonalty of the town. This freedom of election excited inuch popular disturbance, even so far back as the time of Henry the Seventh, who ordained that “the mayor and bis brethren should choose forty-. eight of the most discreet inhabitants of the town," who should make élection of all officers for the borough, as well as members of parliament. Thus it continued till the reign of Charles the Second, when Sir John Pretyman solicited the votes, and was returned by the " commons at large.” Though the corporation endeavoured to overrule this election, the House of Commons admitted its validity; and from that time the right of election has been vested in the freemen, not receiving alms, and in the inha-, bitants paying scot and lot *." The number of voters is supposed 22
* Throsby's History and Antiquities of the ancient town of Leicester, 4to,
to be about 2000. The history of parliamentary elections generally unfolds so many traits of human baseness, depravity, and statecorruption, that the reflecting mind cannot contemplate it without emotions of sincere sorrow and regret. At the general election for 1790, a violent struggle arose in this town, when two candidates in the court interest, and two, called the opposition, claimed and entreated the suffrages of the voters. After a poll of several days, the parties coalesced, and one on each side agreed to decline the contest. But, previous to this, the populace, provoked at the circumstance of having two court candidates forced on them, committed many depredations, and,“ had it not been for the timely interference of the military, their proceedings would have terminated only in the destruction of the place *.”
CHURCHES. At the time of the Norman conquest, there appears to have been no less than six churches in this town, and it would be highly interesting to the architectural antiquary to ascertain if either of the present structures contains any part of the building then standing. According to a manuscript in the Cottonian Library, the following nine churches, &c. were standing here in 1220: St. Mary's, St. Nicholas's, St. Clement's, St. Leonard's, All Saints, St. Michael's, St. Martin's, St. Peter's, St. Margaret's; also a chapel of St. Sepulchre. Of the religious edifices now remaining, that called St. Nicholas's Church is esteemed the most ancient. This stands contiguous to the Jewry-Wall, and appears to bave been partly constructed with the bricks, tiles, &c. taken. from the fallen parts of that building. Not only the walls, but some of the arches of the church are very similar to the Jewry-Wall, whence some antiquaries have thought that they are both parts of the same structure, or built about the same period. The church consists only at present of a nave and south aile, with a square tower at the west end. The latter has semi-circular arches, and arcades near the top, and altogether exhibits that style of archi
* History of the Boroughs of Great Britain, Vol. II. p. 201.