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Indenture more fully appears which said Indenture is
and Leaseholders of
the Borough and Manor of
(THE FIGURES REFER TO THE PAGES OF THE FOREGOING SURVEY.]
William More. xxii.
Thomas Arden. vii.
the widow of Edward Bir-
mingham.] xxvi., xxviii., xxix.
Borough of Birmingham. xviii.
Documents show that this
should be Rastell). vi.
Church of). xi.
Christopher Elesmere (The heirs
School of King Edward 6th.
George Squiyer. vii.
wood). vi., xxiv.
An old Birmingham Lecturer : :
By W. SALT BRASSINGTON,
MEMBER OF THE ARCHITECTURAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF THE
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD.
December 28th, 1887.
T is difficult in our calmer, possibly less earnest,
times to realise the religious zeal and political ardour animating the minds of all classes of society during the period of the
the Stewart Sovereigns and the Protectorate of Cromwell.
Quiet and hitherto sleepy country towns became the centres of political and polemical activity; numerous sects contending with each other, agreed only in their hatred of Popery and
the Prelacy. Sectarian leaders were scattered through the length and breadth of the land, some located in busy county towns, others settled in out of the way hamlets. The records of Sutton Coldfield, Solihull, Kidderminster, and King's Norton furnish instances of men who wrote, suffered, aye! died for the cause they had espoused.
To revive the memory of a man, who was conspicuous among his fellow men two centuries ago, is the object of this paper.
King's Norton, Solihull, Yardley, and other villages on the outskirts of Birmingham retain to this day an appearance of mediæval quaintness, carrying our minds back to the time when the Tudors and Stewarts attempted to rule the conscience as well as the conduct of the nation. If we seek the cause of this old-world look, it may be found in the fact that the large neighbouring town has absorbed the youth, the life, and the trade which once flourished in the surrounding country towns, and has left them to stagnate until such time as they shall be included within the ever-widening boundary of the town of Birmingham.
The pedestrian who approaches King's Norton from Lifford in summer time, by a path across the fields, obtains an unrivalled view; on one side of the path "the lively tripping Rea" dances in little eddies over a bed of pebbles ; stately Elizabethan elms and the more graceful ash shade the hedgerows; between the trees we catch a glimpse of the distant Lickey Hills. Upon the summit of a gently rising hill before us is seen the Church; the tower, of warm red sandstone, toned to a pleasant grey by the growth of lichen and moss, stands out boldly against the blue sky in pleasing contrast to the dark foliage around, and the brighter colour of the meadow-grass beneath.
At the northern entrance of the Churchyard stands the old Grammar School, a two-storied building, the basement of Tudor brickwork faced with stone, the superstructure built of oak intersticed with wattle and plaster. Both the oaken framework and the plaster are perishing, and unless prompt measures be taken to arrest the progress of decay, the fine old building before long will become simply a mass of débris.
An oaken door gives access to a narrow stair leading to the upper story, which consists of one room of fine proportions. Immediately opposite the door we notice a large window of three lights; the head of the window is ornamented with Gothic tracery carved in wood, apparently fourteenth century work, and agreeing with the tracery of that period in the Church windows; the other windows, four in number, are small, filled with diamond-shaped panes of glass, relieved by a coloured border. Heavy oaken beams arch overhead ; the walls are lined with panelling and high book-presses of dark oak; the latter contain some 800 volumes of leather and vellum-bound books,—upon the higher shelves duodecimos and the like, upon the lower shelves quartos and ponderous folios.
Stamped upon many of the stout leather bindings we see the letters "T. H.,” and on the title-pages, in neat writing, “Thos. Hall.” This is “ the study of books " given to the parish of King's Norton “during his life-time" by the once famous non-juring parson, the Rev. Thomas Hall, B.D.
Two contemporary biographies of Thomas Hall have descended to us, one by the Royalist Anthony à Wood, the other by Edmund Calamy, of Puritanical bias; both accounts are short, but nevertheless valuable, because they contain the opinions of men who regarded Hall from opposite points of view.
“ The pedant," James I., was ruling England; the Authorised Version of the Bible was nearly ready for publication ; William Shakespeare was living at Stratford-upon-Avon ; Ben Jonson and Michael Drayton were composing some of their choicest works ; Milton was a child of two years old ; and Lord Bacon had just completed his fiftieth year, when Thomas, the son of Richard Hall, clothier, by Elizabeth Bonner, his wife, was born in S. Andrew's parish, within the city of Worcester, on July 22nd, 1610.
The boy Thomas received his early education at the King's School, Worcester, under Henry Bright, who,“ perceiving him to be a youth of pregnant parts,” persuaded the elder Hall to enter Thomas at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1624. The first term at Balliol was spent, it would seem, unprofitably, owing to the carelessness of the tutor under whose authority Hall had been placed ; and Thomas, being dissatisfied with Balliol discipline, migrated to newly-founded Pembroke College, where he became the pupil of an eminent philosophical scholar, Thomas Lushington (afterwards Rector of Burnham - Westgate in Norfolk, and Chaplain to Charles I.). Lushington was said to favour the opinions of Socinus. If this be true, his influence over the mind of his pupil in matters theological was small, for in the year 1652 Hall published “The Colier in his Colours,” a treatise against Socinism.
I find in Wood's “ Athenae" that “in 1581 Thomas Hall, of Broadgates Hall, was admitted Doctor of Physic." I suppose that he was a relative of the Thomas Hall in whom we are interested, and this would in a measure account for the choice of the College to which to migrate, for on June 29th, 1624, Broadgates Hall became Pembroke College
During the eventful period of Hall's undergraduate days he began to form a library; a large percentage of the volumes in the School-house are Oxford printed books; many were published just before, or at the time when Hall was residing at Oxford. Several choice old folios contain notes to the effect that they were once the property of distinguished Oxford men. One volume contains collections of epigrams by various members of the sister Universities. It will be remembered that in the year 1624 (Hall's first year in residence), Charles I., then Prince of Wales, espoused Henrietta Maria. In the following spring James I. died, and Charles I. ascended the throne; these events furnished material for the poets and pedants of the day, who offered tribute to the Court in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew verse.
The little books rejoice in titles like the following :-“Carolus Redux,” Oxford, 1623 ; " Jacobi Ara,” Oxford, 1624 (?); and “Epithalamia Oxoniensia," Oxford, 1625. The Epigrams, and Epithalamia or Marriage Songs, have the authors' names appended. On this account they are interesting; they also throw light upon Hall's opinions. Thomas Lushington, his tutor, contributed to the “ Carolus Redux" eight lines of Latin verse upon the proposed marriage between Charles and Maria, the Infanta of Spain. Hall has underlined Lushington's name, and written in the margin, “ Tutor meus malignus et atheos," showing that he did not approve of his tutor's character. Lushington was a time-server. On one occasion he preached a sermon in S. Mary's, Oxford, upon