Philosophical Transactions. For the months of June, July and August, 1715. - Account of Books - II.

By Nicole Renee

Account of Books - Ⅱ. Ducatus Leodiensis, or, The topography of the ancient town and parish of Leeds and parts adjacent, in the country of York, &c. By Ralph Thoresby, Esq; Fellow of the Royal-Society, London. Fol. 1715.

Tho' the diligent and curious author of this work do not professedly treat of any place but the ancient town and parish of Leedes, and the Regio Leodis, or adjoyning territory called Elmet; yet not only the preface is more general relating to the country, but there are many passages in the book itself, wherein he takes occasion to insert the pedigrees of such the nobility and gentry, as have had any estates within the prescribed limits, tho' the chief seat of the family be distant; as esteeming all provinciales, who have but domicilium in provincia; to some of these he hath premised several descents from ancient deeds yet remaining in the respective families; and to most of those that are inserted in the visitations in the College at Arms, London, he hath added the dates from original deeds, resgisters, &c. and continued them to the present time, which hath rendred it so acceptable to the learned gentlemen of that faculty, that four kings at arms, and some eminent heralds, have not only subscribed, but since their perusal thereof, bought others for their absent friends, expressing great satisfaction in that part of the performance; as many learned antiquaries have done in the other parts relating to the topography and etymology of the names of places, &c, which he hath been very particular in, as finding the name to be frequently a brief description of the place; and hath been thereby enabled to discover the Vestigia of some considerable antiquities, in the actual survey that he made of those places to render the work more compleat; he hath, by the ancient names and the situation of the places, been enabled to describe, in a very particular manner, the transactions between the pagans and primitive Christian Saxons, relating to that noted battle upon Win-moor, An. Dom 655. There are also many very considerable benefactions, and stately edifices erected of later times, particularly a magnificent church built and endowed by Mr. Harrison; whose nephew the Reverend Mr. Robinson hath most generously promis'd to endow another church, which, it is hoped, will be shortly erected in that populous town of Leeds, to the building of which several of the magistrates, particularly Mr. Milner (who hath adorned the market-place with a most noble marble statue of her late majesty placed in the front of the guild-hall) and other inhabitants have subscribed very liberally. Here is also a charity school for an hundred poor children, who are cloathed and taught here, &c.
But what relates more immediately to these Philosophical Transactions, is the annexed catalogue of the authors Museum, justly celebrated for antiquities and for natural and artificial curiosities. The catalogue of the coins and medals is surprizingly copious and valuable. To the ancient Greek and Consular, or family-monies of the Romans, he hath added above a thousand imperial, several of which are noted by the learned bator spanhemius as very rare; and so likewise are those justly esteemed that relate more immediately to Britain, whether minted by the Romans or Britains. That of Thor with runic letters is inestimable, being the only known piece in the world with those ancient characters upon it. This first deciphered by the right Reverend Dr. Nicholson Lord Bishop of Carlisle, and after by Dr. Hicks, the two great Revivers of that sort of literature. Upon which single medal a learned foreigner hath printed a distinct treatise*1 And the ingenious Sir Andrew Fountain in his dissertatio Epistolaris to the Right Honorable Thomas Earl of Pembroke, saith expresly "Numismatum omnium quo aut Anglo-Saxonibus, aut Anglo-Danis in usu fuisse videntun, nullum notatu dignius est, quam id literis Runicis inscriptum, quod possidet vir genere & ingenlo clarus radulphus Thoresbeius, Leodiensis." Those of the Saxon kings begin with a very choice one of Edwin the ancientest coin of the English nation, and of the first Christian King of Northumberland; and are succeeded by those of the Danish and Norman lines, and continued to the present age, in a great variety of current monies and medals in gold, silver, and copper. Those of Ireland and the English plantations in America, are interspers'd in the several reigns; but those of Scotland, from the first of the Alexanders, are so numerous and valuable as to merit a particular description. All along are very instructive directions how to distinguish the kings of the same name from one another, before the numbers were added upon their monies. The Roman Emperours and Saxon Kings being well engraved before, the chief defect and difficulty is in those from William I to Henry VII. which are therefore delineated her from the originals. To these are prefixed the most ancient consular monies, which many ages proceeded the incarnation of our blessed saviour, because never yet extant in any English author. The other medals and monies of Popes, Emperours, Kings, and Republicks, must be omitted for brevity's sake, tho' some of them (particularly that of the siege of Leyden in Pastboard) be very rare.
The natural curiosities are ranked in the following method, I. Human rarities, 2. Quadrupeds, viviparious (multifidous and bisidous) and Oviparous, with an account of certain balls and stones found in the stomachs of several animals. 3. Serpents. 4. Birds, land and water fowls with their eggs. 5. Fishes, viviperous and oviparous, scaled and exanguious. 6. Shells, whirled and single, double and multiple. 7. Insects, with naked and with sheathed wings, and creeping insects. 8. Plants, which begin with Dr. Nicolson's collection of above 800 dry'd plants; the rest are reduced to the accurate method of Dr. Sloane, in his cat. Plant in insula Famaica, proceeding from the corals and other submarines to the fruits and parts of the trees. 9. Formed Stones, which are ranged according to Mr. Llwyd's curious tract, Lithophylac Britan. only to the crystals and diamonds are premised the margartie cumbrenses, some of which have as good a water as the oriental. After the fossile shells and stones of the turbinated kind, the bivalves and shells amassed together into great stones by a petrifyed cement, follow the marbles and other stones irregular. 10. The metals ores salts, and ambers, of which are with a fly, another with a spider enclosed.
The artificial curiosities relate to war, as Indian and Persian bows, arrows, darts, armour, shields, targets, tomahaws, poisoned daggers; to the mathematicks, to household-stuff, habits, &c. from the remotest parts of the habitable world; not neglecting those that are obsolete of our own nation. Then follow statues, bass relieves, seals, impressions, copper-plates, heathen deities, amulets, charms and matters relating to romish superstitions.
Of enamel'd curiosities, that of General Fairfax and the fatal battle at Naseby2 is perform'd with so exquisite art, that it infinitely transcends the metal, tho' gold. And for paintings, the Misery of War is admirably express'd, as to the various passions, upon a copper-plate about two foot broad. To these may be added the collection of printed heads, and the effigies of illustrious and learned persons, beginning with the Royal-Family; then the nobility, warriours, gentry, &c. in a chronological series. In the ecclesiastical state, the Archbishops and Bishops are introduced by the martyrs and confessors of their venerable order, and succeeded by other learned dignitaries and pious divines of both denominations. The judges are attended by the Literati in all faculties, physicians, philosophers, historians, poets, painters and other artists. Some learned and pious ladies are interspers'd. There are volumes of the Saints, Popes, Emperors, and other foreigners, amounting to the number of 15 or 1600, many of which are done by the most celebrated hands. Original designs drawn by the pen of noted virtuoso's. Writings and drawings by the blind or lame, as born without hands. Some by other persons so admirably small yet legible, that in one there are 21, in another 28 lines in the compass of an inch. Papers of different materials, colour, fineness, &c. ancient and modern; one sheet of transparent Indian paper a yard in length. Inkherns from Muscovia, and Turkey, with reed pens pained and gilt. A Turkish commission and seal, a mancks warrant, the former impress'd with ink not wax, the latter upon blew slate not paper. Books printed in seven several languages that are spoken in the English dominions, not including what may now be added by the accession of his present majesty. A catalogue of the various editions of the bible in this museum; of the concordances also, and common prayer books in different languages; of the manuscripts also, it being considerably encreased since that inserted in the Oxford Catalogue anno 1697. To these are added a list of books published in the infancy of the Art of Printing, and others that later controversies have rendred remarkable. And also a large catalogue of autographs begun of late years by the author, yet by his general correspondence furnished with the signs manual of many of the Kings of England before the reformation; and the proper hand-writing of every one since; with those of a vast number of the Lords spritual and temporal in several reigns, and of the learned authors, &c. The like also of foreign potentates, warriours, literai &c. of these some are very remarkable, being subscribed by the Lords of the Privy Council at Whitehall, by the Lord President and Council at Tork, and the Lord Deputy and Council at Dublin, from Queen Elizabeth's reign to the last day of King James II. when the warrant could not be executed. Oliver Cromwell's instructions to the Lord Faulconberg when sent ambassadour to the French King. The warrants of the several governments that so hastily supplanted one another in that year of confusion 1659, (which occasioned the restoration) all under their proper hands and seals. To these he hath since added Richard Cromwell's original letters patents to dissolve the Parliament; and another rare album with many learned hands, to those before mentioned. Then followeth a catalogue of several manuscript rols, letter patents, diploma's, charters and ancient deeds of gift to religious houses, which would be of use towards another volume of the Monasticon Anglicanum3. Bede-rolls, dispensations, &c. Lastly, a description of other antiquities here deposited, as Roman deities, altars, sepulchral monuments, urns of different forms and colours, cornelian signets, a Roman triumph in basse-relieve, and the story of Adonis slain by a boar. Besides these there are clay coining moulds for counterfeiting the Roman coyns when currant, fibula vestiaria, rings or bracelets of jett, tessellatted pavements, lamps, bricks with inscriptions, of which one very instructive is mentioned in the Oxford edition of Livy. To which are added brass-swords found in England, Ireland and the Isle of Man; British arrowheads of Flint; a Danish sacrificing mallet of marble, antique spurs, shields, &c. of later ages, tho' now antiquated. The figures of many of these are very well engraven, as also the churches and prospects in the book.
By the appendix it appears what considerable additions the indefatigable author is continually making to this museum. A medal of Jo Kendall is especially remarkable, because retrieving the memory of that noted warriour, representing his head in a noble relievo, who was turcopellerius or Colonel of the Cavalry (which office belonged to the English nation) at the memorable siege of Rhodes, when Mahomet the Great was worsted. To the autographs is added one impressed with a stile upon a palmetto leaf, and folded up as a missive letter in the East-Indies by one Timothy a converted Malabarian. Through the whole work he is particularly grateful, in writing the names of his benefactors that have sent him any curiosities. And concludes with an account of unusual accidents that have attended some persons in their births, lives, and deaths, of which many are very very remarkable, but I fear to be too tedious.

A pdf version of the entire text of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London can be found here (this article begins on page 304).


  1. philotrans1 []
  2. The battle at Naseby between the Royalists and Parliamentarians was led by General Fairfax and Oliver Cromwell. It is said that they were to have been friends but entered into an argument near the end of their lives. []
  3. Sir William Dugdale was an antiquary and herald who published the Monasticon Anglicanum in three volumes in Latin. The Monasticon Anglicanum is a history of the abbies and other monasteries, hospitals, frieries, and cathedral and collegiate churches, with their dependencies, in England and Wales. []

Leave a Reply