Bourne Archive: Aveland: Moore’sAveland.htm                     Latest edit 25 Jul 2009  

Web page & commentary© 2008 R.J.PENHEY       

The Bourne Archive

John Moore’s Notes on the Wapentake of Aveland  (1809)

This document was transcribed from a book lent by the Willoughby Memorial Library, to the trustees of which I offer my thanks.

It is presented here as an historical document so the credibility of what it says should be assessed. The reliability of old essays on history is usually best on points to do with the writer’s own time. I have retained his spellings and punctuation.

This is the first of four web pages in which the essence of the book is transcribed. They deal with:

1.       the Wapentake of Aveland (this page),

2.      the Town of Bourne,

3.       Bourne Abbey as the monastery and as the Parish Church,

4.      Bourne Castle.

[Title page]


for a

Topographical, Historical and Descriptive


of the

Hundred of Aveland. 1


by John moore.


Sad are the ruthless ravages of time.........

Sad are the changes man is doomed to feel,

And all that man can boast!

                                       Wm. Fox. 2



printed for the author,

by a. stark, high-street; and sold by lackington, allen, & co.

cuthell & martin, and crosby & co. london; and by all the booksellers in the united kingdom.


The dedication page appears on the web page dealing with Moore’s notes on Bourne Abbey.

Moore’s Preface.

The small book is divided into three parts: a preface on pp. V to VII, an introduction, on pp. IX to XXVIII, dealing with the wapentake of Aveland generally and the more detailed descriptions of features of Bourne, on pp. 3 to 20.

In his preface, Moore explains his reasons for publishing his book and on the way, includes the following:

“It may, perhaps, be expected (as is generally customary with authors) for me to assign my reasons for publishing the subsequent account. My first is the desire of seeing a history of the place of my nativity laid before the public, on which account I have made it my chief study to render the account of Bourn, correct and satisfactory.”

So, he was born in the town of Bourne and a graffito on the east wall of the church seems to indicate that he was active there in 1807. 3 Since he shows all the signs of a formal education, he is likely to have been taught as a boy, in the Grammar School. 4 He demonstrates a fashionable antiquarian interest so he looks to his education to explain the past but for us, what he says about his own time may be more interesting, as it is more likely to be accurate. However, he may tell us things, from what to him was history, using documents which are no longer available or from memories which have been lost.

Moore’s Introduction.

In his introduction, he sets aside ‘those rude periods of uncultivated nature’ which happened before the classical authors were writing. It has to be remembered that when he was writing, although people had long learned clues to help them with mineral prospecting, Geology and Palaeontology still had much development to undergo. According to one school of thought, the Catastrophists, the fossils found in rocks were attributable to Noah’s flood. When dealing with ‘the Britons’ and ‘the Romans’ he is much influenced by the Roman authors. One little curiosity is his seeing the Gyrvii as forerunners of the Celts. He sees Ermine street and its branch through Aveland as ‘British’, ‘afterwards adopted by the Romans’.

In his treatment of ‘The Heptarchy’, he seems, probably indirectly, through the authors he cites, to have had access to information from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. After dealing with the subject of the relationship between the Saxons and the Britons, Moore continues as follows:

Crida was the first Mercian sovereign, and began his reign in 586.

At this time Mr. Turner supposes, that the whole island was governed by eight Anglo Saxon monarchs; whence it should rather be denominated an octarchy than an heptarchy.

During the establishment of these petty kingdoms, the Saxons were in constant warfare with the romanized Britons; and after these were subdued, they were repeatedly embroiled in conflicts with each other. In the midst of these civil commotions, christianity was introduced, and gradually made its progress through the island. Peada, the son of Penda, was the reigning monarch there, when this religion was offered to, and accepted by the South Mercians. Its benign precepts gave a new turn to human pursuits, and soon diverted and engrossed the attention of the barbarous heathens.

Peada founded a monastery at Mederhamsted, now Peterborough; and, according to Speed, governed all the middle part of Mercia, and after the death of Oswy, king of Northumberland, received by gift, all the southern part of that kingdom.* This was only given on condition of his adopting the christian faith, when he was also to marry Alfleda, daughter of Oswy. Peada was soon afterwards murdered, as is supposed, by his wife.†

Edwin the great, by force of arms, obtained all the province of Lindsey. Paulinus, who converted him to christianity, preached it wherever that king’s power extended. He baptized many thousands in the river Trent, near to Tiovulfingacester, and converted Blecca, the governor of Lincoln, A. D. 630. The learned and pious Alkfrid kept his court at Stamford in 658.

In 677 the episcopal see of Sidnacester, was erected by Egfrid son of Oswy, king of Northumberland, in favour of Eadhell, who had been chaplain to his brother, king Alkfrid.

The South Mercian kingdom and bishop’s see, being thus established, we hear of few other public events, till the incursions and pillages of the Danes. These free-booters were particularly active in this county.

According to Ingulphus 5 they landed at Humberstan, A. D. 870, and spoiled all that country; and about Michaelmas they came into Kesteven, where they committed like murders and desolations.

At length, in September, 870, count Algar and two knights, his seneschals, called Wibert and Leofne, drew together all the youth of Holland, and being joined by Morchar lord of Brunne with his brave and numerous family, gave them battle on Saint Maurice’s day, at a place then called Laundon, but now Threckingham; a circumstantial account of which will be given in the description of that place.

“The sovereignty of Mercia, on the defeat of the Danes, fell into the power of Alfred; he did not, however, avowedly incorporate it with Wessex: he discontinued its regal honours, and constituted Ethelred its military commander, to whom he afterwards married his daughter Ethelfleda, when her age permitted.”

Ethelred was the first earl of Mercia, his residence was at Brunne; his title was Subregulus Merciorum. 6 After the death of Ethelred, Ethelfleda continued in the command of Mercia; and during the reign of Edward the Elder, it was found necessary to construct and fortify several places on the borders of Mercia joining Northumbria, particularly on the banks of the Humber.

On Ethelfleda’s death,7 Mercia was incorporated with Wessex; but some places were held by the Danes.

At this period Aveland was included in the forest of Ceoftefne, and formed part of the possessions of the earls of Mercia, who were lords of Bourn and the adjoining marshes.

 In the time of king Henry I, it was enlarged and afforested by royal mandate. The extent, as described by Dugdale, “was from the bridge of East Deeping, now Market Deeping, to the church of Swaiston, on the one side; and from the bridge of Bicher to Wragmere Stake, on the other side; which Metes divided the north parts, and the river of Welland the south; excepting the fen of Goggisland, 8 in regard it was a sanctuary of the holy church, as belonging to the abbey of Croyland; and being thus made forest, it continued so until king Henry III. time, who, in the sixteenth year of his reign, (1231,) 9 granted unto all the inhabitants within the same, that it should thenceforth be disafforested.”* 10

King Edward III. confirmed this patent in the twentieth year of his reign, (1345). “The men of Kesteven gave 250 mares 11 to have the king’s charter for deforesting this of Kesteven according to the boundaries contained in that charter.” †

* Dugdale’s Imbanking and Draining, Pages 194, 195.

Mag. Rot. 14, Henry III. M. 2, 6. Madox’s History of the Exchequer, Page 288, as quoted in Gough’s Camden, Vol. II, page 350.

When the division drain that separates the lordships of Bourne and Thurlby was repaired some years back, several trunks of trees were dug up at the depth of four feet from the surface. They were chiefly oak. 12

Earls of Mercia

ACCORDING to Dugdale, Hume, and Creesy, the following earls of Mercia resided at Bourne. 13

ETHELBERT, first earl of Mercia, created by Alfred A. D. 884.

ALFERE succeeded him A. D. 959. 14 And in 983 was succeeded by his son Alfric.

edward, grandson of Leofric lord of Leicester, was created earl of Mercia, lord of Brunne, and the adjoining marshes, by Edward the Confessor, A. D. 1054. 15

LEOFRIC was earl in 1062; but soon after the conquest we find Hereward his son enjoyed the title. He is the last of those mentioned as resident at this place.

WHEN Alfred divided England into shires, hundreds and tithings,  Lincolnshire was “parted into thirtie one parts,” or hundreds, viz. 16 Lindsey division into sixteen; Holland into three; and Kesteven into twelve. In this last division the hundred of Aveland is situated. It is thirteen miles in length, six and a half in breadth, and thirty-eight in circumference. On the east it is bounded by the south forty-feet bank, on the west by the hundred of Beltisloe, on the north by the hundred of Aswardhurn, and on the south by the hundred of Nesse.

AVELAND contains the following townships and hamlets, viz.

          Aslackby                                 Kirkby-under-wood

          Bourn                                      Loughton

          Billinboro’                              Morton

          Birthorpe                                Newton

          Cowthorpe                              Osbournby

          Dyke                                        Pickworth

          Dembleby                               Pointon

          Dowsby                                   Rippingale

          Dunsby                                   Spanby

          Folkingham                            Swaton

          Hanthorpe                              Stow

          Haceby                                   Threckingham

          Hackonby                               Walcot, and

          Horbling                                 Willoughby.



the county of Lincoln formerly contained a great number of religious houses, some of which had an extensive influence. This hundred contained the four following, of which a further account will be given.

Names of places           Orders                           Founded                        Granted to

*Aslackby                      Knt. Templars              Temp. Richd. I.            Ed. Lord Clinton

*Bourn                          Austin Canons              Ante Conquest.             Richard Cotton

Brigend                         Cithertine priory 17      ..........................             ..........................

*Sempringham            Cithertine priory                   1139                     Ed. Lord Clinton

*Where an asterisk is affixed, it implies that some of the buildings remain.



ON the 30th of September, 1750, a severe shock of an earthquake was felt in Bourn, and its vicinity which created a general alarm. It happened about half an hour after twelve at noon, and was perceived generally on this county, in most parts of Leicestershire, and part of Northamptonshire. The houses tottered, plates and glasses fell from the shelves; and slates, tiles, and some chimnies fell from houses; but happily no great mischief was done. In some churches where service was not over (it being a Sunday), the people ran from their devotions in the utmost consternation, The shock was attended with a rumbling noise.

AGAIN, on the 24th of February, 1792, Bourn and the neighbouring towns experienced another shock of an earthquake.



on the 25TH July, 1760, a terible storm of thunder, lightning, and hail, came from the west, beating fruit from the trees, and breaking the windows facing that quarter. It lasted about fifteen minutes.

 On Sunday the 4th of May, 1800, at half an hour past two o’clock P. M. a dreadful storm of thunder, and lightning, accompanied with hail, commenced, and continued raging with unceasing fury for the space of thirty minutes. It came in a south west direction; lacerating trees, and destroying windows facing the above-mentioned point. Several elms were torn up by the roots; birds killed in their nests; and the corn was destroyed in the fields. The hail stones measured five inches in circumference, and weighed upwards of three ounces. 19

The book continues with a description of features of the town of Bourne.

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1. ^    In most of England, the medieval administrative divisions next smaller than the county, were called hundreds. In a few counties, where Danish influence was strong, they were called wapentakes. Lincolnshire was one of these. There, the hundred was a smaller division which was notionally of a hundred households. The tithing was smaller still. Its ten householders were mutually responsible for each other’s good conduct and all could be punished if one broke the law.

2.      This may be William Fox (1736-1826), the Sunday School pioneer. He came from Clapton, Gloucestershire and was a founder of the Sunday School Society in 1785. (DNB)

3.       See the article on his graffiti.

4.      See the Old Grammar School article.

5. ^   Ingulph was the first Norman appointee as abbot of Crowland. Moore refers to a text which was in his time, called Ingulf. It is now known as Pseudo Ingulf since it has been shown that the document was compiled after Ingulph’s time, probably after a fire had destroyed the abbeys’ records. From a funding point of view, it was vital that the abbey should have a record of its property or someone else would soon be claiming parts of it. Therefore, though it is often called a forgery, that is rather a harsh word for the document. From being completely accepted as Moore does, it came to be denigrated but now, it is appreciated that it contains truths so can be historically useful.

6.      Regulus is a petty king, so here we have an ‘under petty king of the Mercians’. The point was that at this stage, the small kingdoms of England had been united under Alfred’s overlordship.

7.       This is not strictly true since her daughter, Ælfwynn held the position of Lady of the Mercians for a few months before she was deposed.

8.      Goggisland was part of the extent of the sanctuary of Crowland Abbey. It lay on the north-west side of the river Welland. See David Roffe’s article.

9.      This is an unusually clear statement of the date of this event but it agrees with that in the Parliamentary Gazetteer’s article on Kesteven (1843).

10. ^ Later in the century, Bourne seems to have been quite prosperous. This was a development which was fairly general in England, owing to a more clement climate but in Bourne, may have derived in part also from the newly available possibility of an economic development of the fen.

11.     This is likely to be a misreading of ‘marks’ when the word was spelt as ‘marcs’. A mark was 13s. 4d., two thirds of a pound sterling. See the 1843 Parliamentary Gazetteer article on Kesteven.

12.     These bog oaks are the remains of the forest which grew on the floor of the Fenland valley before it was flooded as a result of rising sea level. Once air gets into the peat as a result of fen drainage, the peat oxidizes, becoming carbon dioxide and water. These are gas and vapour so dissipate, leaving the surface of the peat to shrink ever nearer to the old land surface. When a ditch is re-cut, the work will newly expose more bog oaks.

13.     Bourne appears to have been the main property, the caput, of an estate in south Lincolnshire. Leofric for example, seems to have had a family background in western Mercia but he is well known for his residence in Coventry and there are references to his living in Bourne. As the modern queen makes a circuit of her houses, living in them at the various times of year, so as best to meet her cycle of social obligations, so did medieval magnates. They had an additional economic reason for this. Their retinues consumed food and fodder on a fairly large scale. It was much easier annually, to take the horses around the estates which provided the fodder than it would have been to take the fodder to the horses. Add to this the need to give nature time to clean up their sewage between visits and the lord’s need to keep an eye on the management of his widely extended estate and the suitability of the system becomes plain.

14.     Ethelred was immediately succeeded by Æthelflæd, his wife and the daughter of Alfred the Great of Wessex. When she died, their daughter, Ælfwinn took over briefly, until pushed out by Edward the Elder, her uncle. There succeed a period in which Mercia seems to have been more directly controlled from Wessex so that its ealdormen’s names have not been clearly transmitted by the historical record.

15. ^  Here, Moore seems to going awry. In 1054, Leofric had already been Earl of Mercia for several decades. He did not die until 1057. His son, Ælfgar then took over and in turn, died in 1062. Then his son, Edwin took over until deposed by death or otherwise, after the Conquest. The Domesday Book has the 1066 owner of much of Bourne as still having been Leofric. Hereward’s ownership is problematic. That he ultimately his father’s property in Bourne is stated in the Gesta Herwardi (Chapter XXXVI) but the details of such things as dates are left very vague indeed. Though Hereward very likely was Earl Leofric’s son both biologically and according to Danish law, that form of law was superseded in England after Edward the Confessor became king in 1042.

16.     Viz. is a conventional abbreviation of the Latin videlicet and is read as ‘namely’ or ‘in other words’.

17.     The origin of the name Cithertine is hard to track down but it looks as though it comes from the name of the Cistercian Order. The two houses mentioned by Moore were Gilbertine but that order was based on the Rule of Cîteaux. This in turn, is fundamentally that of St. Benedict.

18.     Fenland Notes and Queries gives a list of earthquakes noticed in the Fens. It includes these. (FNQ 21) A more recent one occurred in February 2008.

19. ^ This storm is described by Fenland Notes and Queries. (FNQ 22) Another meteorological phenomenon happened in 1661. (FNQ 151)

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