The Natural History of Wiltshire eBook

John Aubrey
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 257 pages of information about The Natural History of Wiltshire.
an escucheon now illegible.  Beneath this inscription are the small figures of nine young children in brasse.  This Mr. Bonham’s wife had two children at one birth, the first time:  and he being troubled at it travelled, and was absent seven yeares.  After his returne she was delivered of seven children at one birth.  In this parish is a confident tradition that these seven children were all baptized at the font in this church, and that they were brought thither in a kind of chardger, which was dedicated to this church, and hung on two nailes, which are to be seen there yet, neer the bellfree on the south side.  Some old men are yet living that doe remember the chardger.  This tradition is entred into the register booke there, from whence I have taken this narrative (1659). [See the extract from the register, which is signed by “Roger Powell, Curate there,” in Hoare’s Modern Wilts. (Hundred of Branch and Dole) p. 49.-J.  B.]

On Tuesday the 25th day of October, Anno Dni 1664, Mary, the wife of John Waterman, of Fisherton Anger, neer Salisbury, hostler, fell into travell, and on Wednesday, between one and two in the morning, was delivered of a female child, with all its parts duly formed.  Aboute halfe an hour after she was delivered of a monstrous birth, having two heades, the one opposite to the other; the two shoulders had also [each] two armes, with the hands bearing respectively each against the other; two feet, &c.  About four o’clock in the afternoon it was christened by the name of Martha and Mary, having two pretty faces, and lived till Fryday next.  The female child first borne, whose name was Elselet, lived fourteen days, and died the 9th of November following:  the mother then alive and in good health.

[This narrative is accompanied by a description of the internal structure of the lusus naturæ, as developed in a post mortem examination; which “accurate account,” says Aubrey, “was made by my worthy and learned friend Thorn.  Guidot, Dr. of Physick, who did kindly communicate it to me out of his collection of medicinall observations in Latin.”]

Dr. Wm. Harvey, author of the Circulation of the Blood, told me that one Mr. Palmer’s wife in Kent did beare a child every day for five daies together.

A wench being great with child drowned herself in the river Avon, where, haveing layn twenty-four houres, she was taken up and brought into the church at Sutton Benger, and layd upon the board, where the coroner did his office.  Mris.  Joane Sumner hath often assured me that the sayd wench did sweat a cold sweat when she lay dead; and that she severall times did wipe off the sweat from her body, and it would quickly returne again:  and she would have had her opened, because she did believe that the child was alive within her and might bee saved.

In September 1661 a grave was digged in the church of Hedington for a widow, where her husband was buried in 1610.  In this grave was a spring; the coffin was found firme; the bodie not rotten, but black; and in some places white spotts; the lumen was rotten.  Mr. Wm. Scott’s wife of this parish, from whom I have this, saw it, with severall of her neighbours.

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