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ARTHUR AGARD, antiquarian, was born at Toston, in Derbyshire, in 1540. Being bred to the law, he became clerk in the exchequer office, and in 1570, was appointed deputy chamberlain in the exchequer. His office was favourable to the gratification of his ruling taste, and he amassed a great number of antique monuments. He died in 1615.
Agard studied Domesday-book with great diligence, and composed,
1. An extensive work, entitled, Tractatus de Usu et obscurioribus Verbis Libri de Dometday, preserved in the Cotton library, under Vitellius, No. IX.
2. He likewise drew up a book for the bence fit of his successors in office; which consisted of two parts; the first containing a catalogue
of all the records in the four treasuries belonging to his majesty; the second, an account of all leagues, and treaties of peace, intercourses, and marriages with foreign nations. This he deposited with the officers of his majesty's receipt, as an index for succeeding officers.
3. Moreover, he directed by his will, that eleven other of his MS. treatises should be des livered up to the office, in consideration of a small reward paid to his executor.
4. The rest of his collections, comprehending at least twenty volumes, bequeathed to his friend sir Robert Cotton, are reposited in the Cottonian library
Arthur Agard is famous as having been one of the first members of the society of antiquarians*. A collection of their essays was published by Hearne, under the title of “ Discourses by eminent Antiquaries,” among which are several of our author. I shall extract the following as one of the most curious, It has the advantage too of furnishing a com, plete extract.
* In this society, among other names of antiquarian celebrity are thoe of Camden, sir Robert Cotton, Selden, sir Hen. Ty Spelman, Stow, Thynne, &c.
Of what Antiquity Shires were in England.
It is easily to be perceived by the reading of our old English histories, that this land hath been divided into sundry kingdoms, the one invading the other, as they found strength and opportunity ; in which kingdoms every king had his chief city or place of abode: whereof sundry examples might be recited, which I omit, because I will contain myself within the lists of our order.
After that being subdued by some one more strong than the rest, as I suppose, by king Alured; for I find by a register book of Chertsey Abbey, written in king John's time, as I think, because he endeth his history at that time, that the same king wrote himself, Totius Insulæ Britannico Basileus, and that he divided this land into Centuriatas,
Now, in the 33d chapter of the Black Book is contained thus: Hida à primitira institutione ex centum acris constat ; hundredus vero ex hidarum aliquot contenariis set non determinatur. Quidam enim ex pluribus, quidam ex paucioribus hidis constat : hinc hundredum in veteribus regum Anglicorum privilegiis centuriatam nominari frequenter invenics; comitatus autem çudem legc ex hundredis constut ; hoc est, quidam ex pluribus, quidam ex paucioribus secundum quod divisa est terra per viros discretos, &c.
Whereby it appeareth, that Centuriata is and was taken of old for a hundred; and that sundry hundreds make a shire. So that he dividing the land first into hundreds, did afterwards appoint, what number of hundreds should belong to every shire; and then appointed the same shire to be called by the name of the chief town of that circuit or province; as you see they be called at this day; except a few, which be called by the name of the peoples there dwelling, having relation to the Romans, who from Rome called Cisalpini and Transalpini, so from London Estsex, i. e. Est Saxons, Middlesex, Westsex, Chent, Surregiani vel Suthreg, Northfolk, and Sudfolk; names brought in by the Saxons.. And herein this nation hath imitated the course mentioned in the Bible; for ever from the creation of the world and multiplication thereof, every people knew their own territories, Joshua likewise divided the land of promise into tribes. The Psalms say in the 49, And they call their lands by their names.
Therefore all old antiquity divided the world into parts, as Asia, Africa, Europa; and parts into provinces; provinces into regions or kingdoms ; regions into places or territories; territories into fields; fields into hundreds; hundreds into hides or plough lands; plough lands into severed or common fields, called
climata ; climates into days work of tillage; days work into poles or perches, paces, degrees, cubits, feet, handfuls, ounces, and inches ; such was their great diligence. And because kings found by experience that Ubi nullus ordo, ibi sempiternus error, or, as some say, horror; to prevent that inconvenience in government, as the Black Book saith in the 32d chap. ut quilibet jure suo contentus, alienum non usurpet impune-Kings, I say, thought good to divide that great log or huge mass of a commonwealth into particular governments, giving authority to sundry persons in every government, to guide their charge, thereby following the advice of Jethro, Moses's father-in-law, given to Moses in the wilderness, The same manner used Fergus, king of Scots, who reigned there when Coilus reigned in Britain ; of whom it is written, that he divided his land into provinces, and caused his nobles to cast lots for the same, and called every country by the name of his governor. And king Henry II. imitated the like in sending his justices itinerant through the land to execute justice in every shire,
So as to conclude, I think that king Alured was the first that caused shires to be called by their names, because he divided the land into hundreds and that which other nations call province, we call shire; and that is the right name in Latin ; for sa