January 15, 1738.
N December 14, 1737, ‘William Browne
,1 Daniel Benjamin
and Samuel Livermore
, in the Behalf of themselves, and other Inhabitants of the West Precinct in Watertown
,’ presented to the House of Representatives a petition ‘praying the said Precinct may be erected into a separate and disstinct Township, which is also agreeable to the East Precinct in said Town, as appears by their Vote accompanying the Petition.’
The prayer of the petition was granted and the petitioners ‘allowed and impowred to prepare and bring in a Bill’ of incorporation.
The Bill passed its first reading December 20th, its second reading December 21st, and was ‘read a third Time and pass'd to be Engross'd’ on December 22d.
On the last day of the month the engrossed Bill was passed to be enacted, and on the afternoon of January 4, 1737-8,3
the Governour,’ J. Belcher
, ‘was pleased to give His Confent to the Enacting’ the Bill, and in the record the name Waltham
of the new town is printed for the first time on this date.
On January 3rd, it was ‘Ordered
, That Mr. William Browne
, one of the principal Inhabitants of the new Town taken out of Watertown
by this Court in their prefent fitting, be and hereby is fully authorized and impowred to assemble and convene the qualified Voters there in some suitable Place to elect and appoint a Town Clerk and other Town Officers there, to stand till the anniversary meeting of the said Town in March
The act of incorporation reads as follows:—
An Act for dividing the Town of Watertown, and erecting a new Town there by the Name of Waltham.
Where as the Inhabitants of the Westerly Precinct in Watertown, within the County of Middlesex, by Reason of great Difficulties they labour under, have address'd this Court that they may be set off a distinct and separate Township, whereunto the Inhabitants of the East Precinct in said Town have manifested their Consent;
Be it therefore enacted by his excellency the Governour, Council and Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the Authority of the same,
That all those Lands in Watertown aforesaid, lying Westward of that Line, sometime since4 settled by this Court, as the dividing Line between the said East and West Precincts, viz.: Beginning at Charles-River, and to be extended North-eastward, so as to run on the East side of the house of Caleb Ward, and on the same Course, being a right Line, to run on the West side of Thomas Straight's House, and thence to continue a strait Line through said Watertown till it intersect their North Bounds, be and hereby are set off and constituted a separate Township by the name of Waltham. And that the Inhabitants thereof be and are hereby invested with all those Powers, Privileges and Immunities that the Inhabitants of other Towns within this Province by Law are or ought to be invested with.
And be it further enacted, That all such Votes and Agreements, as have been made and entered into by the two Precincts in Watertown, as the Conditions of their Consent to a Division of the said Town into two Townships, be and hereby are ratified and confirmed to all Intents and Purposes whatsoever.
was the 145th town incorporated in the State
There are six parishes of the same name in England
, from one of which probably the name was taken.
Perhaps the best claim can be made for Waltham
, called also Waltham Holy Cross, a market town and parish of the County of Essex
, twelve miles N. by E. from London
, on the left bank of the river Lea
, to which place belongs Nasing, the birthplace or home of the Rev. John Eliot
, and other early settlers of New England
. ‘It is a large, irregular town, situated near the Lea, which is here separated into divers streams, and skirted by low meadows, which have been long celebrated for the succulent and nourishing qualities of the grass.’
The Convent of Waltham
was originally founded about A. D. 1020, by Tovi, (Stallere
or Standard-bearer to Canute
the Dane, King
), who built a hunting-seat in the forest,5
near which he established a village of ‘threescore and six dwellers.’
After completing this settlement he founded the church.
The place was named Waltham
, from the Saxon Wealdham
, a dwelling or home
on the forest or wild
. It afterwards received the adjunct name of Holy Cross, from a cross with a figure of our Saviour upon it, said to have been found at Montacute, and brought to Waltham
, where, in the hands of the priests, it manisested miraculous powers.
It is said to have cured Harold
, son of Earl Godwin, of the palsy,
whereupon he rebuilt the church, increased the number of canons to twelve, settled on them ample estates, and provided for the establishment of a school of learning at Waltham
Tovi, the original founder, had a prodigal son, named Athelstan, who squandered his father's great estates ‘so that by some transaction this place returned to the crown.’
and ‘the lands thereabouts’ from Edward
the Confessor, his brother-in-law, and in gratitude for his wonderful cure by the ‘holy cross’ ‘immediately built and endowed there a monastery.’
He bestowed seventeen manors upon the Dean
and Canons, for their support.
Most historians state that Harold
was killed at the battle of Hastings
, and interred in Waltham Abbey
, where for a long period a tomb said to be his was pointed out. There was, however, a tradition that he escaped alive from the battle, and lived in religious seclusion at Chester
William the Conqueror took from the church many of its valuables, plate, gems, and rich vestments, but did not disturb the estates or revenues.
Matilda, the first wife of Henry I., ‘gave to the clerks of Waltham
the mill of that place, then a valuable benefaction,’ and Adelais, his second wife, ‘bestowed on them all the tithes of Waltham
Their unbounded prosperity was their destruction, for ‘Henry
utterly dissolved the foundation of dean and eleven canons at Waltham
, on account of the lewdness and debauchery of their lives.’
On the eve of Pentecost
, 1177, this King, in company with a number of bishops, visited Waltham
and established a new church, with sixteen regular canons of the Order of St. Augustine
, which was declared exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, and still remains exempt from the Archdeacon
It was first dedicated to the Holy Cross
, and afterwards to St. Lawrence.
confirmed by his charter their right to lands given by Harold
and others, and added the manors of Siwardston and Epping
, using the remarkable expression, that it was fit that ‘Christ, his spouse, should have a new dowry
Richard I. gave a new charter, confirming former grants, and
bestowed on the canons ‘his whole manor at Waltham
, with the great wood and park, called Harold
's Park, three hundred acres of assart7
land, the market of Waltham
, the village of Nasing, a member of Waltham
, and one hundred and sixty acres of assart land there,—they paying yearly to his exchequer £ 60 in lieu of all services.’
He subsequently made further additions to their property, and they obtained valuable grants from other benefactors during his reign.
To avoid the expenses of a court Henry III.
frequently took up his residence at Waltham Abbey
, and to reward the hospitality of his entertainers, he granted them the right to hold a fair annually for seven days. Subsequently two fairs8
were held, each continuing one day, the first on the third of May, O. S., the Invention of the Cross; and the other on the fourteenth of September, O. S., the Exaltation of the Cross.
He also bestowed on it many rich gifts.
‘From his time it became so distinguished by royal and noble benefactors, as to rank with the most opulent establishments in the kingdom.’
In 1242, it was again solemnly dedicated, probably in consequence of additions being then made to the original buildings, of which Our Lady's Chapel
, on the south side, now and for many years used as a school-room, may have formed a part.
The buildings of Waltham Abbey
once covered many acres.
The engravings from which our views are taken were made in 1834. One represents the nave
of the Abbey Church
, with an attached chapel on the south side, called the Lady Chapel
. There then stood in the burial-ground a very fine, widely-spreading elm, the trunk of which, at several feet above the earth, measured seventeen and a half feet in circumference.
, a massive stone fabric, embattled and supported by strong buttresses, stands at the west end of the church.
It is eighty-six feet in height, and was erected about the year 1558.
‘The Lady Chapel
, which is probably of Henry the Third's time, is supported by graduated buttresses, ornamented with elegantly formed niches.
Beneath it is a crypt (now a charnel house), “the fairest,” says Fuller
, “that ever I saw,” the roof of which is sustained by groined arches.’9
The other view represents a small Bridge and Gateway
a little to the northward of the Abbey Mills
The gateway is of stone repaired with bricks of remarkably large size.
‘It has two pointed arches, a larger and a smaller one; the outer mouldings of the large arch rest on corbels, formed by two demi-angels supporting shields, on which (but much corroded), are the royal arms of Edward
the Third's time, viz.: France
With the modern pronunciation of the name, Wal-tham, instead of Walt-ham (Walt-'um),