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ART. VII.-A History of Northumberland. Issued under
the direction of the Northumberland County History Committee. Volume I. The Parish of Bamburgh with the Chapelry of Belford. By EDWARD BATESON (1893). Volume II. The Parishes of Embleton, Ellingham, Howick, Long Houghton, and Lesbury. By EDWARD BATESON (1895). Volume III. Hexhamshire: Part I. By ALLEN B. HINDS (1896). Volume IV. Hexhamshire : Part II. (Hexham, Whitley Chapel, Allendale, and St. John Lee) and the Parish of Chollerton, the Chapelry of Kirkheaton, the Parish of Thockrington. By JOHN CRAWFORD HODGSON (1897). Volume V. The Parish of Warkworth, with the Chapelry of Chevington, the Parish of Shilbottle, the Chapelry or extra-parochial place of
Brainshaugh. By John CRAWFORD HODGSON (1899). In 1819 the Rev. John Hodgson
was about to begin the publication of the great work with which his name will always be identified, and on January 10 of that year his friend Surtees wrote to him : 'I am right glad that you once more dare look Northumberland, with all her lands and towers, boldly in the face. More than half a century has now elapsed since Hodgson died, leaving a magnificent fragment of a great conception incomplete; but from that time to the present no individual has dared to look Northumberland in the face.' At length, however, in 1891, a committee of gentlemen, headed by the present Duke of Northumberland, and including among their number Canon Raine, of York, Dr. Greenwell, of Durham, Dr. Bruce, Mr. Thomas Hodgkin, and Mr. J. G. Hodgson (a grandson of the Rev. John Hodgson), undertook the laborious task of completing Hodgson's History of North‘umberland.' Since 1891 this committee has produced five large quarto volumes of parochial history, which afford sufficient proof that the work which is now in progress has been undertaken in earnest. Before proceeding to examine the coutents of these volumes it will be well to see what it is that Hodgson did and what he was forced to leave undone.
Hodgson's ‘History of Northumberland' is a remarkable example of what can be accomplished by the patience and industry of one man labouring under very adverse circumstances, and confronted by many almost insuperable difficulties. Born in 1779 in a remote part of Westmoreland, Hodgson was forced as soon as his education was completed at the grammar school to earn his own living by teaching. He became the master of a school at Lanchester, near Durham, and it appears that the fine Roman camp which exists at Lanchester first tempted him to make a study of Roman antiquities, and so to qualify himself for his later researches in connexion with the Roman wall. Lack of influence or the unreasonableness of examiners for some time prevented him from taking orders, but he eventually ordained, and by a happy chance was appointed in 1808 to the living of Jarrow, where, as the successor of Bede and the incumbent of a most ancient church, he cannot have failed to find himself among congenial surroundings. Almost immediately after this he began to devote himself seriously to topography by undertaking to write the account of Northumberland for the Beauties of • England and Wales. It is generally acknowledged that Hodgson's contribution is one of the best of that series, and there can be little doubt that the investigations and explorations undertaken by him in the course of the preparation of this work stimulated his ardour and fired his enthusiasm to undertake a more laborious and ambitious task. But for a time his attention was distracted from the study of antiquities by a terrible colliery explosion which took place in his parish, and he became absorbed in devising means whereby the recurrence of such disasters might be prevented. He worked very energetically as a member of a society for the prevention of accidents in coal mines, and he rendered such material assistance to Sir Humphry Davy in connexion with the safety lamp that Sir Humphry specially acknowledged his help in his 'New Researches on * Flame,' and offered to procure his election as a member of the Royal Society, an offer which I declined,' says Hodgson, because I understood it would cost me three or four pounds a year.'
At length, however, in 1819, Hodgson actually announced his undertaking to the public, and the advertisement issued by him shows that his original plan was to publish a complete history in six volumes quarto, the first to be the general history of the county, with essays on agriculture, natural history, geology, &c.; the next three volumes were to contain parochial history, and the fifth and sixth volumes were to be devoted to records and historical papers. The difference between this scheme and the work actually produced shows that Hodgson can at this time have forined
but a vague idea of the work that lay before him. There was then no history of Northumberland worthy of the name; Grey's 'Chorographia,' published in 1649, is chiefly concerned with Newcastle, and of Bourne the same may be said. The ‘History of Northumberland' of the Rev. John Wallis, published in 1769 in two volumes quarto, has been well described as a mere scarifying of the surface.' Hutchinson's work, 'A View of Northumberland, likewise in two volumes quarto, and published in 1778, did not pretend to be more than a compilation, and is chiefly valued because Randall’s ‘State of the Churches within the Archdeaconry • of Northumberland' is sometimes bound up with it. Brand's 'Newcastle' is, as has been observed, of the nature of a long-continued commonplace book. There was, in fact, nothing that could properly be called a county history, and the student who sought a compendious work in which he might find what was known of any castle, abbey, church, manor, or family, in Northumberland, sought in vain.
Hodgson was not very happy in his choice of a volume wherewith to launch his work. The circle of country gentry and others to whom he had communicated his preliminary notice were probably looking forward to the introductory volume, wherein, after skipping the general history of the county, they might have turned to the chapter on agricul. ture or natural history. They did not conceal their disappointment when they received Volume V., being the first
volume of Part III., consisting of antient records and his• torical papers.' Surtees was almost the only man who appreciated the book, and declared that he liked the brave
plan of laying the foundation of records first. No one knew better than he bow necessary it was for an historian of Northumberland to have a Calendar of Inquisitions post mortem, the Hundred Rolls, the Testa de Nevil, &c., printed in a convenient form for future reference, but there can be little doubt that the general reception accorded to the work was disappointing to the author. Nothing more was produced until 1827, when Hodgson, who had in the meanwhile been presented to the vicarage of Kirk Whelpington by Bishop Barrington, published a volume of parochial history dealing with the district in which he was then living, namely, the Franchise of Redesdale, Elsden, Corsenside, Whelpington, Kirkharle, Hartburn, with Netherwitton, Bolam, and Whalton. In this volume Hodgson dealt with many interesting subjects. The Franchise of Redesdale, "a barony with royal power ‘resembling the palatinate jurisdiction of the See of Durham,'
and the history of its illustrious possessors from the Umfrevilles downwards, the battle of Otterburn, the history of the Swinburne family and their ancient title deeds, merited the care and space which he bestowed on them; but it had already become evident that the scheme of the work would require to be altered. Hodgson was constantly meditating ingenious modifications of type, subdivisions of volumes into parts, and other devices whereby he might reconcile, if it were possible, the obligations which he owed to the printer, the public, and to himself. In the following year he published another volume of records. Then came a lull, and nothing more was produced till 1832. He had discovered that one who was engaged on such an undertaking as his ought to be rich and childless,' that it was not possible without ample means and access to libraries to go on rapidly with a work so varied, large, and profitless, but at the same time he rose to the labour "every morning with increasing desire to complete it.' The result was the appearance of another volume of parochial history dealing with Morpeth and the delightful country of which it is the centre, comprehending Mitford with its castle and barony, Bothal, with the same adjuncts, Ulgham, Woodhorn, Widdrington, &c. Hodgson was at this time in failing health, and the production of each of these volumes had caused him financial loss; in addition to this he had suffered severe domestic bereavement. A transfer from Whelpington to Hartburn, a beautiful rural spot, came opportunely in 1833, but the increased funds then at his disposal were chiefly welcome because they enabled him to publish the Pipe Rolls for Northumberland. The last instalment of the work appeared in 1840, when the author's health had finally broken down. This volume was the third of the volumes of parochial history, and the sixth of the whole series. In it Hodgson treated of Corbridge, the liberty of Tindale, and various parishes, among which may be mentioned Alston, Kirkhaugh, Knaresdale, and Whitfield; but though the volume has been well described as, 'if possible superior to its predecessors in fulness of information and accuracy of detail,' it is perhaps chiefly noteworthy for an essay of 173 pages on the Roman wall, whereby Hodgson first clearly established the claim of Hadrian to be regarded as its builder. Many of the sabsequent writers on this subject, and some of the best known among them, have done no more than traverse again the path which Hodgson first followed.
Since Hodgson's death a great and most valuable contribution to the history of the North of England was made in 1852, when the folio volume by the Rev. James Raine appeared, entitled :
History and Antiquities of North Durham, as subdivided into the shires of Norham, Island, and Bedlington, which, from the Saxon period until the year 1844, constituted parcels of the county Palatine of Durham, but are now united to the County of Northumberland. This volume, however, dealt, as its title indicates, with a district which did not historically constitute a part of Northumberland, but was an isolated limb of the Bishopric of Durham. The history of the Bishop of Durham's great Border stronghold of Norham, and the shire' around it, as also that of Lindisfarne or Holy Island and the Farne Islands, is to be found among the records of the See of St. Cuthbert. A more engrossing subject for study than that which this district afforded, rich alike in its remains of civil and religious architecture, and memorable for all time as the scene of the labours of the great northern missionaries, could scarcely be imagined ; nor could a more worthy treatment be desired than that which Raine gave to his lofty theme. But, unless Raine's North Durham be regarded as a contribution to the topography of Northumberland, it is true to say that no organised effort had been made to finish Hodgson's torso until the work which is now the subject of review was begun.
Where so wide a field was open to them it must have been difficult for the Northumberland County History Committee to decide how to make a beginning. The whole of the region from the upper waters of the Till to the Coquet, including the valley of the Aln, was practically untouched, while further south a tempting scene for exploration might have been found in the valleys of the North or South Tyne, in Hexhamshire, or between the Tyne and Derwent. In choosing between the rival claims of these districts, the consideration which rightly inclined the scale in favour of the northern area was the fact that there could be no more appropriate beginning than a volume concerned with the history of the ancient Northumbrian capital. The committee appear, however, to have reserved the right subsequently to roam about the county as the spirit moved them, and the five volumes which have been so far produced group themselves into two divisions, the first dealing with the district around the three great castles of Bamburgh, Dunstanburgh, and Wark