Bourne Archive: FNQ: Hereward Story            Latest edit 9 Aug 2009.   

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The Bourne Archive


Fenland Notes and Queries. Edited by Rev. W.D. Sweeting, Rector of Maxey.

Part 31. October  1896.

This quarterly periodical took the form of a forum in which people sent in questions about the history, ecology and so on of the Fens and the region’s environs and others replied with some sort of answer. Some ‘answers’ seem to have been spontaneous, so qualifying as ‘notes’.

This thread began with article 591.


610 – The Camp of Refuge (591). – The writer of query No. 591, requests me to give some information about the authorship of the Camp of Refuge. I am not yet fully able to satisfy the question, but will briefly say what I know.

I must state that when the annotated edition of the work was in preparation enquiries were made, in order to decide if possible if Charles Macfarlane were the author. Mr. John Leach, of Wisbech, wrote to some members of the family of the late Mr. Charles Knight (publisher of the original edition) to ask the question ; but no satisfactory reply was then received : and therefore it was decided to leave that as an open question.

I think it is regrettable that the matter was ever allowed to be left a doubtful point.

Mcfarlane’s name appears with that of his co-author on the title page of the Pictorial History of England (Knight).

In the preparation of that work he would obtain ample materials for the novelets attributed to him ; which were (in addition to the Camp), The Dutch in the Medway and The Legend of Reading Abbey.

This last is now being re-published by Messrs. Turner of Reading.

In the course of correspondence with a member of that firm I learn that the question of the authorship of the three novelets is being very fully investigated ; and the following are, briefly, Mr. Philip H. Turner’s statements :- The Camp of Refuge was widely attributed to Harriet Martineau : “I have however Dr. Martineau’s authority for denying that ….. The three novelets are attributed to Macfarlane by the Biographical Dictionary. This appears to be on the authority of the British Museum Catalogue” –but further enquiry is being made. “Macfarlane was a Scotsman.”

From the apparent minute acquaintance with the Fen country I am not surprised that the querist asks, Was he a native of the Fenland?

Mr. Turner, my correspondent, remarks :- “What strikes one with The Legend, is the precision of the local history and topography and the skilful way in which it is blended with national history and pure romance.” That indeed might lead to the question, Was the author of The Legend of Reading Abbey a native of Berks.?

As soon as I receive further information on the question raised I shall communicate it to Fenland Notes and Queries. My sentiment is “Honour to whom Honour.”

S. H. Miller.


I had intended, on seeing the enquiry by H.R.S. in Art. 591, to forward a copy of a letter I received from Mr. Charles MacFarlane fifty years ago, because this decisively answers the question once for all. But I am sorry to say that after very diligent search among my papers I have been unable to lay my hands upon the original document. I think, however, that the following evidence will be deemed conclusive.

In 1845 I wrote to Mr. Charles Knight respecting the authorship of The Camp of Refuge. He referred me to Mr. Charles MacFarlane, of Glasgow. I accordingly applied to him, and he answered my letter acknowledging himself to be the author. Although I cannot now find this letter, I have a very distinct recollection of the substance of the reply ; and I also remember some of the terms and expressions used. Mr. MacFarlane said that he had the pleasure of being the author of the little work called The Camp of Refuge, and he was pleased it had been appreciated in the locality of the Fens. Bourne was unknown to him : he had obtained his information about Hereward and the district from the Chronicle of Robert of Brunne and other works in the British Museum.

Robert Mason Mills


The following works appear under the name of Charles Macfarlane, in the “London Catalogue of Books,” 1816 to 1851.

Armenians; a Tale of Constantinople, 3 v. post 8vo.       1 11 6 Saunders & O

Cabinet History of England, 26 v. 18mo.              1 19 0 C. Cox

Constantinople in 1828, 2 v. 8vo.                           1 11 6  Saunders & O

Customs, Sports, &c. of South Italy, 18mo.                      0 1 6   C. Cox

French Revolution, 4 v. 12mo.                                           1 4 0   C. Knight

Glances at Revolutionized Italy, 2 v. post 8vo.                1 1 0    Smith & E

Indian Empire, 2 v. 12mo.                                      0 10 0 Routledge

Lives and Exploits of Banditti and Robbers, 18mo.         0 3 6   Tegg

-------------------------------------------2 v. 12mo.   1 1 0    Bull

Old England Novelets, 4 v. 18mo.                          0 6 0   C. Cox

Romance of History; Italy, 3 v. 12mo,                              0 18 0 Churton

---------------------Travel ; The East, 2 v. 18mo.        0 3 0   C. Cox

Seven Apocalyptic Churches, obl. 4to.                              0 15 0 Bull

Travels in Turkey, 1847-8, 2 v. 8vo.                                 1 8 0   Murray

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