The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset
by John Hutchins:
(3rd Edition published 1868)
Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester - May 2010
THE TOWN AND BOROUGH OF DORCHESTER.
Early History of Dorchester- Pages 338-339
"Dorchester," says Hutchins, "certainly existed in the British age, though we have no further account of it but its bare name. In the Roman times it was a place of some note. Richard of Cirencester calls it the metropolis of the Durotriges, or the Morini, in the division of Britain called Britannia Prima; and makes it one of the Civitates Stipendiariae, or tributary towns. Ptolemy styles it the πoλις or chief town of the Durotriges. In the itineraries of Antoninus and Richard of Cirencester it appears as a Roman station; and indeed the ancient walls, the Via Iceniana, on which it stands, the several vicinal roads that issue hence, coins, and other pieces of antiquity found here, Maiden Castle, and the amphitheatre at Maumbury near it, show it to have been then a place of consideration.
"In the Saxon age it made a considerable figure.
"King Athelstan ordained here two mints, a privilege that prince only granted to cities and walled towns. (Mr. Savage in his History of Dorchester says that " There are in the cabinets of the curious, coins of King Ethelred II. (A.D. 979-1013), which were struck in this mint ; as also of Canute (A.D. 1017-1036) and Edward the Confessor, A.D. 1042-1066.") The Saxon annals do not mention it, but our most ancient historians inform us that in the Danish invasions it suffered much; for, King Ethelred having attempted to extirpate the Danes by a general massacre, A.D. 1002, Sweno, King of Denmark, 1003, landed in Cornwall. Hugh the Norman, then governor of Cornwall and Devon, suffered him to ravage the whole country. Exeter felt the first marks of his fury; whence the Icening street directed his march to this town. He besieged, took, and burnt it, and threw down the walls, which perhaps had enabled the besieged to make a resolute and obstinate defence."
Mr. Hardy, in his Itinerary, has recorded the following dates of King John's visits to Dorchester: April 18, 19, 1201; July 3, 4, 1204; Jan. 4, 5, June 16, 22-24, Aug. 24, 25, 26, 1205; Jan. 8, 9, 1206; Jan. 20, 22, Feb. 3, 1207; July 27-29, 1213; Oct. 17, 1214.
Upon the change of religion, in, the reign of Queen Elizabeth, many Roman Catholics suffered death in consequence of the severe penal statutes then enacted. The first of these was Thomas Pilchard, a priest, born at Battel in Sussex, and ordained at Douay College, during its temporary translation to Rheims. He came over to England in 1583, where, being apprehended, he was tried and condemned "for being a priest, ordained beyond the seas, by the authority of the see of Rome, and for exercising his functions in England, and reconciling the Queen's subjects." He was hanged, drawn, and quartered, at Dorchester, March 21, 1587.
See vol, i. p191, of Memoirs of Missionary Priests, as well secular as regular, and of other Catholics of both Sexes, who have suffured Death in England on Religious Accounts, from the year of our Lord 1577 to 1684, gathered partly from printed Accounts of their Lives and Sufferings, by cotemporary Authors, in diverse Languages, and partly from Manuscript Relations kept in the Archives and Records of the English Colleges and Convents abroad, and oftentimes penned by Eye-witnesses of their Deaths, printed in the year 1741," drawn up by the late Richard Challoner, D.D. Vicar Apostolic for the London district, who died 1782.
In 1591, William Pikes, a layman, suffered at Dorchester, as in cases of high treason, for being reconciled to the Church of Rome, and denying the Queen's spiritual supremacy. He was born in Dorsetshire, and dwelt in a farm called West Moore, in the parish of Parley, four or five miles from Christchurch.
Three years afterwards four persons were executed at Dorchester on the penal statutes the same day, which was July 4, 1594: these were John Cornelius alias Mohun, a priest, who, a little before his apprehension, had become a Jesuit ; Thomas Bosgrave, a Cornish gentleman, and a relation to Sir John Arundel, who happened to be upon a visit at the house of the latter's widow; John, otherwise Terence, Carey, and Patrick Salmon, both servants in the family. The first-mentioned was arraigned, and found guilty of high treason, for being a priest, and for coming into the kingdom, and remaining there; the three others were condemned for felony, in aiding and assisting the former. The year following these executions a dreadful plague ensued, which carried off so many of the townsmen that the living were not sufficient to bury the dead. The Roman Catholics looked upon this as a judgment.
A particular account of the capture, examination, trial, and execution of John Cornelius, is to be found in the fifth book of a Spanish work, intituled "Historia particular de la Persecution de Inglaterra, y de los Matirios mas insignes que en el avido, desde el Anno del Senior 1570. Madrid, 1599." It appears from this narrative that he was taken in a country house near the sea (probably Chideock), inhabited by the widow of Sir John Arundel, commonly called the great Arundel. There were executed with Cornelius, Thomas Bosgrave, a nephew of Sir John Arundel, taken at the same time with Cornelius, two other Catholics belonging to the same family, whom the writer calls Patrick and John, without mentioning their surnames, and a felon, condemned for a robbery. Some time after the execution the townsmen requested the Sheriff to remove the head of Cornelius, which had been nailed to the gallows, alleging that they had suffered great losses in their harvest by the tempests which had arisen, as had happened at other times on like occasions. As this is the narrative of a zealous Catholic, it must be read with a due degree of allowance, as well as the foregoing memoirs.
The last of these sufferers was Hugh Green alias Ferdinando Brooke, a priest, who was admitted into Douay College in 1610, and, returning to England in 1612, resided for many years in the house of Lady Arundel, at Chideock, near Bridport; until a proclamation being issued by Charles the First, in 1642, for all priests to depart from the kingdom by a certain day, Mr. Green took a resolution to withdraw to the continent, and with this view went to the port of Lyme. Here making known his character and intention, as the time prescribed was elapsed by two or three days, he was seized upon, arraigned, condemned, on account of his priestly character, and executed.