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It was also the practice in boroughs for a very few of the principal members of the corporation to make the election in the county court, and their names, as actual electors, were generally returned upon the writ by the sheriff.*

Since the time of King Charles I. the returns have been made by the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses, and sealed with the Common Seal of the Corporation.

3 Prynne, page 252. Hallam's History of the Middle Ages. v. 3. p. 173,


Monastic Institutions—Austin CanonsAustin Friars-Hinchinbrook Nunnery -St. Margaret's Hospital-St. John's Hospital-Ancient Churches, &c.


THE persecutions which attended the ages of the gospel, forced some Christians to retire from the world and live in deserts and unfrequented places, in hopes to find that tranquillity and comfort in solftude, which were denied them in their ordinary intercourse with mankind. This being the case with some persons of extraordinary piety and exalted rank, their example gave reputation to retirement, and accordingly the practise continued when the reason ceased for which it was begun.

The Monastic life is supposed to have been introduced into England in the fourth cen

tury, but it made but little progress till after the period of the Conquest, when, rising above the arbitrary exactions and oppressions of the Norman Conqueror, its roots struck deep into the English soil, and under the fostering care of our first Henry its branches spread far and wide. Within a century after the Conquest, upwards of four hundred Abbies, Priories, and other endowments of a similar nature were founded in the kingdom, and in the fifteenth century, when

Gospel light first dawned from Boleyn's eyes,

and the powerful hand of Henry VIII. swept away what the mistaken zeal and piety of many ages had raised, there existed, including the Bishopricks, Colleges, and Hospitals, about eight hundred and forty religious houses in England, the total yearly revenues of which amounted to about £218,000.

To this vast monument of ecclesiastical power, Huntingdon contributed more than its due proportion. In the town and its

immediate vicinity there flourished A Priory of Austin Canons, (bottom of Priory Lane, east of the town.)

A House of Augustine Friars, (the estate of James Rust, Esq.)

A Benedictine Nunnery, dedicated to St. James, (Hinchinbrook House.)

St. Margaret's Hospital, (the Spittals, north of the town.)

St. John's Hospital, (east of the Marketplace.)

Austin Secnlar Canons.*

A Priory of black Canons, dedicated to St. Mary, was founded at Huntingdon in or

* The Secular Canons were clergymen called SECULAR, because they were conversant in the world, performed spiritual offices to the laity, and took upon them the care of souls, which the regulars could not do without dispensation. They differed from ordinary priests in nothing save that they were under the government of some local statutes, We had no Regular Canons in England till the eleventh and probably the twelfth century. It is highly probable that the Canons of Huntingdon were


near the parochial church of St. Mary, before the year 973, as appears from a charter of that date granted by King Edgar to Thorney Abbey, in which the King confirms to Thorney "duas mansas juxta Huntandune et Monasteriolum S. Marie extra oppidum dedicatum supradictum"+

In the time of King Stephen or Henry II. it was removed to the east of the town by Eustacius, Viscount or Sheriff of this county, who held of the King in capite the barony of Lovetot, and from it he and his descendants were called Lovetots. "Luvetote," says

Leland, "translated the Chanons from the
Place wher now S. Marie's Chirch is in
Huntingdune, to the place without the town
where it alate stoode." Pope Eugenius

made Regulars after their removal to the east of the town. Their dress was a long black cassoc with a white rochet over it, and over that a black cloak and hood. The Monks were always shaved, but the Canons wore beards and caps on their heads. (Tanner's Notitia.)

+ Ex Reg. Abbat de Thorney, penes Comitem Westmorland, an. 1638. Fol. 1.

§ Itin. Vol. 4. p. 29. edited by Hearne. Oxf. 1744.

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