- History of Herefordshire
The History of Herefordshire starts with a
shirein the time of Aethelstan (895 - 939), and is mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chroniclein 1051. In the Domesday Survey parts of Monmouthshireand Radnorshireare assessed under Herefordshire, and the western and southern borders remained debatable ground until with the incorporation of the Welsh Marchesin 1535considerable territory was annexed to Herefordshireand formed into the hundreds of Wigmore, Ewyas Lacyand Huntington, while Ewyas Haroldwas united to Webtree. At the time of the Domesday Survey the divisions of the county were very unsettled. As many as nineteen hundreds are mentioned, but these were of varying extent, some containing only one manor, some from twenty to thirty. Of the twelve modern hundreds, only Greytree, Radlow, Stretford, Wolphy and Wormelow retain Domesday names. The others being Broxash, Ewyas-Lacy, Grimsworth, Huntington, Webtree and Wigmore.
Anglo Saxon control
At some time in the
7th centurythe West Saxons pushed their way across the Severn and established themselves in the territory between Walesand Mercia, with which Kingdom they soon became incorporated. The district which is now Herefordshire was occupied by a tribe the Hecanas, who congregated chiefly in the fertile area about Herefordand in the miningdistricts round Ross-on-Wye. In the 8th centuryOffa extended the Mercian frontier to the Wye, securing it by the earthwork known as Offas dike, portions of which are visible at Knighton and Moorhamptonin this county. [citebook|title=Borderlands: the history and romance of the Herefordshire marches |author=Gabriel Allington|year=1998|publisher=Gracewing Publishing|id=ISBN 0852444753]
Danish and Norman control
915the Danes made their way up the Severn to the district of Archenfield, where they took prisoner Cyfeiliawg, Bishop of Llandaff, and in 921they besieged Wigmore, which had been rebuilt in that year by Edward. From the time of its first settlement the district was the scene of constant border warfare with the Welsh, and Harold, whose Earldom included this county, ordered that any Welshman caught trespassing over the border should lose his right hand. In the period preceding the Conquest much disturbance was caused by the outrages of the Norman colony planted in this county by Edward the Confessor. Richard's castlein the north of the county was the first Norman fortress erected on English soil, and Wigmore, Ewyas Harold, Clifford, Weobley, Hereford, Donnington and Caldicotwere all the sites of Norman strongholds. The William the Conqueror entrusted the subjugation of Herefordshire to William FitzOsbern, but Edric the Wildin conjunction with the Welsh prolonged violent resistance against him for two years.
Return to English control
In the wars of Stephen's reign
Hereford Castleand Weobleycastle were held against the King, but were captured in 1138. Edward, afterwards Edward I, was imprisoned in Hereford Castle, and made his famous escape thence in 1265. In 1326the parliament assembled at Hereford which deposed Edward II. In the 14th and 15th centuries the forest of Deerfold gave refuge to some of the most noted followers of Wycliffe. During the Wars of the Rosesthe influence of the Mortimers led the county to support the Yorkist cause, and Edward, afterwards Edward IV, raised 23,000 men in this neighbourhood. The Battle of Mortimer's Crosswas fought in 1461near Wigmore. Before the outbreak of the civil war of the 17th century, complaints of illegal taxation were rife in Herefordshire, but a strong anti- puritanfeeling induced the county to favour the royalist cause. Hereford, Goodrich and Ledburyall endured sieges.
Earls of Hereford
The earldom of Hereford was granted by William I to William FitzOsbern, about
1067, but on the outlawry of his son Roger in 1074the title lapsed until conferred on Henry de Bohun about 1199. It remained in the possession of the de Bohuns until the death of Humphrey de Bohun, 7th Earl of Herefordin 1373; in 1397Henry, Earl of Derby, afterwards King Henry IV, who had married Mary de Bohun, was created Duke of Hereford. Edward VI created Walter Devereux, a descendant of the de Bohun family, Viscount Hereford, in 1550, and his grandson, the famous earl of Essex, was born in this county. Since this date the viscounty has been held by the Devereux family, and the holder ranks as the premier viscount of England. The families of Clifford, Giffard and Mortimer figured prominently in the warfare on the Welsh border, and the Talbots, Lacys, Crofts and Scudamores all had important seats in the county, Sir James Scudamoreof Holme Lacybeing the original of the Sir Scudamore of Spenser's Faerie Queene. Sir John Oldcastle, the leader of the Lollards, was sheriffof Herefordshire in 1406.
Herefordshire has been included in the
diocese of Herefordsince its foundation in 676. In 1291it comprised the Deaneries of Hereford, Weston, Leominster, Weobley, Frome, Archenfieldand Ross in the Archdeaconry of Hereford, and the Deaneries of Burford, Stottesdon, Ludlow, Pontesbury, Clunand Wenlock, in the archdeaconry of Shropshire. In 1877the name of the Archdeaconry of Shropshire was changed to Ludlow, and in 1899the Deaneries of Abbey Dore, Bromyard, Kingsland, Kingtonand Ledburywere created in the Archdeaconry of Hereford.
Herefordshire was governed by a
sheriffas early as the reign of Edward the Confessor, the shire-court meeting at Hereford where later the assizes and quarter sessions were also held. In 1606an act was passed declaring Hereford free from the jurisdiction of the Council of Wales, but the county was not finally relieved from the interference of the Marcher Lordsuntil the reign of William and Mary. Herefordshire was first represented in parliament in 1295, when it returned two members, the boroughs of Ledbury, Hereford, Leominster and Weobley being also represented. Hereford was again represented in 1299, and Bromyard and Ross in 1304, but the boroughs made very irregular returns, and from 1306until Weobley regained representation in 1627, only Hereford and Leominster were represented. Under the act of 1832 the county returned three members and Weobley was disfranchised. The act of 1868deprived Leominster of one member, and under the act of 1885Leominster was disfranchised, and Hereford lost one member.
Herefordshire has always been esteemed an exceptionally rich agricultural area, the manufactures being unimportant, with the sole exception of the
woollen and the cloth trade which flourished soon after the Conquest. Iron was worked in Wormelow hundred in Roman times, and the Domesday Survey mentions iron workers in Marcle. At the time of Henry VIII the towns had become much impoverished, and Elizabeth in order to encourage local industries, insisted on her subjects wearing English-made caps from the factory of Hereford. Hopswere grown in the county soon after their introduction into England in 1524. In 1580and again in 1637the county was severely visited by the plague, but in the 17th century it had a flourishing timbertrade, and was also noted for its orchards and cider.
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