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Paul Hentzner

places mentioned

A short description of England

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Britain, consisting of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland, is the largest island in the world, encompassed by the ocean, the German and French seas. The largest and southern part of it is England, so named from the Angli, who quitting the little territory yet called Angel in the kingdom of Denmark, took possession here. It is governed by its own King, who owns no superior but God. It is divided into thirty-nine counties, to which thirteen in Wales were added by Henry VIII., the first who distributed that principality into counties; over each of these, in times of danger, a lord lieutenant, nominated by the King, presides with an unlimited power. Every year some gentleman, an inhabitant of the place, is appointed sheriff; his office is to collect the public moneys, to raise fines, or to make seizures, and account for it to the Treasury; to attend upon the judges, and put their sentence in execution; to empanel the jury, who sit upon facts, and return their verdict to the judges (who in England are only such of the law, and not of the fact); to convey the condemned to execution, and to dertermine in lesser causes, for the greater are tried by the judges, formerly called travelling judges of assize; these go their circuits through the counties twice every year to hear causes, and pronounce sentence upon prisoners.

As to ecclesiastical jurisdiction, after the Popes had assigned a church and parish to every priest, Honorius, Archbishop of Canterbury, about the year 636, began to divide England in the same manner into parishes: as it has two Provinces, so it has two Archbishops: the one of Canterbury, Primate and Metropolitan of all England; the other of York: subject to these are twenty-five bishops, viz., twenty-two to Canterbury, the remaining three to York.

The soil is fruitful, and abounds with cattle, which inclines the inhabitants rather to feeding than ploughing, so that near a third part of the land is left uncultivated for grazing. The climate is most temperate at all times, and the air never heavy, consequently maladies are scarcer, and less physic is used there than anywhere else. There are but few rivers; though the soil is productive, it bears no wine; but that want is supplied from abroad by the best kinds, as of Orleans, Gascon, Rhenish, and Spanish. The general drink is beer, which is prepared from barley, and is excellently well tasted, but strong, and what soon fuddles. There are many hills without one tree, or any spring, which produce a very short and tender grass, and supply plenty of food to sheep; upon these wander numerous flocks, extremely white, and whether from the temperature of the air, or goodness of the earth, bearing softer and finer fleeces than those of any other country: this is the true Golden Fleece, in which consist the chief riches of the inhabitants, great sums of money being brought into the island by merchants, chiefly for that article of trade. The dogs here are particularly good. It has mines of gold, silver, and tin (of which all manner of table utensils are made, in brightness equal to silver, and used all over Europe), of lead, and of iron, but not much of the latter. The horses are small but swift. Glasshouses are in plenty here.


The English are serious, like the Germans; lovers of show, liking to be followed wherever they go by whole troops of servants, who wear their masters' arms in silver, fastened to their left arms, a ridicule they deservedly lie under. They excel in dancing and music, for they are active and lively, though of a thicker make than the French; they cut their hair close on the middle of the head, letting it grow on either side; they are good sailors, and better pirates, cunning, treacherous and thievish; above three hundred are said to be hanged annually at London; beheading with them is less infamous than hanging; they give the wall as the place of honour; hawking is the general sport of the gentry; they are more polite in eating than the French, devouring less bread, but more meat, which they roast in perfection; they put a great deal of sugar in their drink; their beds are covered with tapestry, even those of farmers; they are often molested with the scurvy, said to have first crept into England with the Norman Conquest; their houses are commonly of two storeys, except in London, where they are of three and four, though but seldom of four; they are built of wood, those of the richer sort with bricks; their roofs are low, and, where the owner has money, covered with lead.

They are powerful in the field, successful against their enemies, impatient of anything like slavery; vastly fond of great noises that fill the ear, such as the firing of cannon, drums, and the ringing of bells, so that it is common for a number of them, that have got a glass in their heads, to go up into the belfry, and ring the bells for hours together for the sake of exercise. If they see a foreigner very well made, or particularly handsome, they will say, "It is a pity he is not an Englishman!"


Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, hereditary Marshal of England: the duchy is extinct for rebellion, the last duke being beheaded.

Grey, Duke of Suffolk, attainted under Queen Mary.

Philip Howard, Earl of Arundel in his mother's right, and of Surrey by his father, son of the abovementioned Duke of Norfolk, he himself condemned for high treason, and his titles forfeited.

Edward Vere, Earl of Oxford, hereditary Chamberlain of England.

Percy, Earl of Northumberland, descended from the Dukes of Brabant.

Charles Nevill, Earl of Westmoreland, banished into Holland, and deprived of his fortunes and dignities for rebellion.

Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury.

Grey, Earl of Kent, has but a small estate.

Stanley, Earl of Derby, and King of Man.

Manners, Earl of Rutland.

Somerset, Earl of Worcester, descended from a bastard of the Somerset family, which itself is of the royal family of the Plantagenets.

Clifford, Earl of Cumberland.

Ratcliff, Earl of Sussex.

Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon, of the line of York, by the mother's side.

Bourchier, Earl of Bath.

Ambrose Sutton, alias Dudley, Earl of Warwick, died a few years since, childless.

Wriothesly, Earl of Southampton.

Russell, Earl of Bedford.

Herbert, Earl of Pembroke.

Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, son of the Duke of Somerset, who was beheaded in the reign of Edward VI.

Robert Sutton, or Dudley, Earl of Leicester, brother of the Earl of Warwick, died a few years ago.

Robert d'Evereux, Earl of Essex, and of Ewe in Normandy, created hereditary Marshal of England in 1598.

Charles Howard, of the Norfolk family, created Earl of Nottingham, 1597, Lord High Admiral of England, and Privy Counsellor.

Fynes, Earl of Lincoln.

Brown, Viscount Montacute.

Howard, of the Norfolk family, Viscount Bindon.

Nevill, Baron Abergavenny; this barony is controverted.

Touchet, Baron Audley.

Zouch, Baron Zouch.

Peregrine Bertie, Baron Willoughby of Eresby and Brooke, Governor of Berwick.

Berkley, Baron Berkley, of the ancient family of the Kings of Denmark.

Parker, Baron Morley.

Dacre, Baron Dacre of Gyllesland: this barony is vacant.

Dacre, Baron Dacre of the South: he died four years since, and the barony devolved to his daughter.

Brook, Baron Cobham, Warden of the Cinque Ports.

Stafford, Baron Stafford, reduced to want; he is heir to the family of the Dukes of Buckingham, who were hereditary Constables of England.

Gray, Baron Gray of Wilton.

Scroop, Baron Scroop of Boulton.

Sutton, Baron Dudley.

Stourton, Baron Stourton.

Nevill, Baron Latimer, died some years since without heirs male; the title controverted.

Lumley, Baron Lumley.

Blunt, Baron Montjoy.

Ogle, Baron Ogle.

Darcy, Baron Darcy.

Parker, Baron Montegle, son and heir of Baron Morley; he has this barony in right of his mother, of the family of Stanley.

Sandys, Baron Sandys.

Vaux, Baron Vaux.

Windsor, Baron Windsor.

Wentworth, Baron Wentworth.

Borough, Baron Borough, reduced to want.

Baron Mordaunt. Baron Eure.

Baron Rich. Baron Sheffield.

Baron North, Privy Counsellor, and Treasurer of the Household.

Baron Hunsdon, Privy Counsellor, and Lord Chamberlain.

Sackville, Baron Buckhurst, Privy Counsellor.

Thomas Cecil, Baron Burleigh, son of the Treasurer.

Cecil, Lord Roos, grandson of the Treasurer, yet a child: he holds the barony in right of his mother, daughter to the Earl of Rutland.

Howard of Maltravers, son of the Earl of Arundel, not yet restored in blood.

Baron Cheyny.

Baron Cromwell. Baron Wharton.

Baron Willoughby of Parham.

Baron Pagett, in exile, attainted.

Baron Chandois. Baron St. John.

Baron Delaware: his ancestors took the King of France prisoner.

Baron Compton, has squandered almost all his substance.

Baron Norris.

Thomas Howard, second son of the Duke of Norfolk, Baron Audley of Saffronwalden, in his mother's right.

William, third son of the Duke of Norfolk, is neither a baron, nor yet restored in blood.

Thus far of noble families.

Paul Hentzner, Travels in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (London: Cassell, 1892)

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