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to these may be added Mr Robert Gurney, the celebrated Lord Mayor of London, whose merits are recorded in Lloyd's Memoirs, p. 625. He was born here on the 17th April, 1577.
By the same curious and interesting writer, it is related in his Church History of Britain, when he speaks of the black assizes at Oxford in 1577, and of the assizes at Hereford in the reigns of King James, and King Charles the 1st. that a similar accident happened at Croydon. "The like chanced," says he, "some four years since at Croydon, in Surrey, where a great depopulation happened at the assizes, of persons of quality; and the two judges, Baron Yates, and Baron Rigby, getting their banes there, died a few days after." Of these judges we have no very certain memorial; nor is there any historical information which can enable us to form a conclusion as to the year in which this fatal catastrophe occurred. Respecting the judges, Dr. Ducarel observes, "In Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales, amongst the readers of the Inner Temple, I meet with one Thomas Gates (who perhaps is this Baron Yates), reader there in Autumn, anno I. Charles I. In the same book I find one Hugh Rigby named among the benchers of Lincoln's Inn, whose arms were in a window of Lincoln's Inn Chapel." And the learned antiquary adds,
"These, I suppose, were some of Oliver's judges."
We are informed by a modern writer that a Roman Road, called the Erming Street*, came from Newhaven in Sussex, through Radmill, and Lewes, by Isfield, Shornbridge, East Grinstead, Croydon, and Streathan, and met the Watling Street, at Lambeth. The same writer tells us, that a branch of this road which passed through, or near Croydon, was lately visible on Broad Green, in its neighbourhood.
An antient description of Croydon in the time of Queen Elizabeth, says that the streets were deep hollow ways, and very dirty, the houses generally with wood steps into them, and darkened by large trees † growing before
* This was one of the four principal roads made by Agricola about 80 years after the birth of Christ; it extended the whole length of the country from Newhaven, into Scotland, near Berwick, where it ran through woods; it was paved with large stones set edgways, which remain in many places very firm. Kennet and Burton say it derived its name from the British word Armyinth, because it crosses mountains and pathless places.
See Camden, Mag. Brit: Camb. and Hunts.
The Archbishop of Canterbury had a house at Croydon pleasantly situated, but that it was too much wood-bound, so
them that the inhabitants in general were smiths and colliers.
Thomas Peend, in the fable of Hermaphroditus and Salmacis, written in 1565, says that Vulcan a "Croydon sanguine right did seeme." In the tragedy of Locrine, occurs the well known distich,
"The Colliers of Croydon,
And "Grim the Collier of Croydon, or the Devil and his Dame, with the Devil and St. Dunstan*," is the title of a Comedy in 1662.
that he cut down all upon the front of the highway. Not long after, the Lord Chancellor Bacon riding by that way, asked his man; Whose fair house that was? the man told him it was my Lord of Canterbury's; It is not possible, for his building is environed with wood; It is true, Sir, it was so, but he hath lately cut it down; By my troth, answered Bacon, he hath done very judiciously, for before, methought it was a very obscure and dark place, but now he hath expounded and cleared it wonderfully well.
See Harl. MSS. No. 90.
* The monkish story of Saint Dunstan taking the Devil by the nose, with a pair of hot tongs, may be seen in Fuller's Church History
The reader may perhaps be amused with the following extract from a poem written by Patrick Hannay, Gent. and printed in 1662, in which he gives a minute, though not favourable description of the town of Croydon. The great scarcity of the volume may be a sufficient apology for the introduction of so long a passage.
When curious nature did her cunning trie
Fraught with delights nie to a barren soile,
Thus first were made by Thames the motley meads,
Next shadie groues where Delia hunteth oft,
There Syluian with his Satyres doth remaine,
This place doth seeme an earthly paradise,
Yet no satietie that store doth breed.
For when the sense nigh surfets on delight.
This place I say doth border on a plaine,
Where hungrie husbandmen haue toild in vaine,
And with the share the barren soile haue torne ;
Yet when was come the haruest of their hopes,
It seemmes of staru'd Sterilitie the seat,
Or if on some of them we roughnesse finde,
In midst of these stands CROYDON cloath'd in blacke,
In a low bottome sinke of all these hills';
And is receipt of all the durtie wracke,
If one shower fall, or if that blessing stay,
For neuer doth the flowre-perfumed aire,