Browne Willis

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Browne Willis

Browne Willis (16 September 1682 – 5 February 1760) was an antiquary, author, numismatist and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1705 to 1708.

A numismatist is a specialist in numismatics. Numismatists include collectors, specialist dealers and scholars who use coins in object-based research. Although the term numismatics was first coined in English in 1829, people had been collecting and studying coins long before this, all over the world.

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Early life

Willis was born at Blandford St Mary, Dorset, the eldest Son of Thomas Willis of Bletchley, Buckinghamshire and his wife Alice Browne, daughter of Robert Browne of Frampton, Dorset. He was grandson of Dr Thomas Willis, the physician. He was educated at Bechampton School in the care of Abraham Freestone and at Westminster School. He attended Christ Church, Oxford and entered the Inner Temple in 1700. [1]

Blandford St Mary farm village in the United Kingdom

Blandford St Mary is a village and civil parish in the North Dorset district of Dorset, England. The village is on the south bank of the River Stour, immediately opposite the larger town of Blandford Forum. The village grew up around the Badger Brewery, owned by Hall and Woodhouse, which is based there. At the 2001 census it had a population of 1,233. The appropriate electoral ward is called 'Portman' with naturally the most populous area being south of the river. The ward includes Bryanston School and also runs south west almost to Thornicombe. The total ward population at the abovementioned census was 2,436.

Thomas Willis English doctor

Thomas Willis was an English doctor who played an important part in the history of anatomy, neurology and psychiatry. He was a founding member of the Royal Society.

Westminster School School in Westminster, UK

Westminster School is a Public School in London, England, located within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. Westminster’s origins can be traced to a charity school established by the Benedictine monks of Westminster Abbey. Its continuous existence is certain from the early fourteenth century. Boys are admitted to the Under School at age seven and to the senior school at age thirteen; girls are admitted at age sixteen into the Sixth Form. The school has around 750 pupils; around a quarter are boarders, most of whom go home at weekends, after Saturday morning school. The school motto, Dat Deus Incrementum, is taken from the New Testament, specifically 1 Corinthians 3:6.

In 1707 he married Katherine Eliot, the daughter of Daniel Eliot. [2]

Daniel Eliot English Member of Parliament (died 1702)

Daniel Eliot (1646-1702) of Port Eliot, St Germans, Cornwall was a British politician who served as Member of Parliament for St Germans from 1679 until 1700 and April to December 1701.

He joined the recently reformed Society of Antiquaries in 1717–18. [3]

Society of Antiquaries of London British learned society for archaeologists

The Society of Antiquaries of London (SAL) is a learned society "charged by its Royal Charter of 1751 with 'the encouragement, advancement and furtherance of the study and knowledge of the antiquities and history of this and other countries'." It is based at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, and is a registered charity.

Political career

In 1705, Willis was elected Member of Parliament for Buckingham. He held the seat until 1708. [4]

Buckingham (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1868 onwards

Buckingham is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 1997 by former Conservative MP John Bercow, who later became Speaker of the House of Commons.

Published works

His published works are: [5]

The Whole Duty of Man is an English high church 'Protestant' devotional work, first published anonymously, with an introduction by Henry Hammond, in 1658. It was both popular and influential for two centuries, in the Anglican tradition it helped to define. The title is taken from Ecclesiastes 12:13, in the King James Version of the Bible: Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

St Martin's Church and the Fenny Poppers

St Martin's Church, Fenny Stratford
Fenny Poppers Festival, 23 August 2009
On this festival day in August, Aylesbury Street is closed to traffic and a short section of it is grassed over as a picnic area. Fenny Poppers Festival, Aylesbury Street, Fenny Stratford.jpg
St Martin's Church, Fenny Stratford
Fenny Poppers Festival, 23 August 2009
On this festival day in August, Aylesbury Street is closed to traffic and a short section of it is grassed over as a picnic area.

Between 1724 and 1730, Browne Willis built St. Martin's Church on the site of the old Chantry Chapel of St. Margaret and St. Catherine at Fenny Stratford. He erected the church as a memorial to his grandfather Dr. Thomas Willis, a famous physician who lived in St. Martin's Lane in the parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London and died on St. Martin's Day, 11 November 1675.

To perpetuate his own memory Browne Willis arranged for a sermon to be preached at St. Martin's Church on each St. Martin's Day, for which a fee was payable. During his lifetime, he also celebrated the occasion with a dinner attended by local clergy and gentry. The firing of the "Fenny Poppers", six small cannon, dates from this time, but there is no record of their first use. In 1740 Browne Willis bought a house in Aylesbury Street, Fenny Stratford and the rent from this was used to pay for the sermon and gunpowder for the Fenny Poppers. Following his death in 1760, the traditions were carried on and later documented.

All six poppers were re-cast by the Eagle Foundry, Northampton in 1859 after one of them burst. They are still in use today, and were recently examined and x-rayed to ensure there are no cracks.

During their long history, many sites have been used for this battery. These include; the Canal Wharf, land behind the Church, St, Martin's Hall, the Churchyard and now the Leon Recreation Ground, which was once part of the lands belonging to the Chantry.

The poppers each weigh about 19 pounds (8.5 kg). The bore, 6" by 1.75" (150 by 44 mm) will take up to 1oz. (28g) of gunpowder, which is plugged with well-rammed newspaper. They are fired three times on St. Martin's Day: noon, 2pm and 4pm. There is of course no connection with Remembrance Day (also 11 November).

In 1901 they were fired to mark the death of Queen Victoria. The 81 salvoes were heard as far away as Olney.

On 1 January 2000 at 11 am the poppers were fired to mark the beginning of the second millennium.

On 4 August 2000 at 2 pm a salute of six poppers was fired to celebrate the 100th birthday of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

On 5 June 2012 at 2 pm a salute was fired to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Notes

  1. The Willis Fleming Historical Trust
  2. Courtney, William Prideaux (1900). "Willis, Browne"  . In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . 62. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. Chalmers, Alexander (1817). "Willis, Browne". The General biographical dictionary: containing an historical and critical account of the lives and writings of the most eminent persons in every nation: particularly the British and Irish; from the earliest accounts to the present time. 32. Printed for J. Nichols. pp. 143–4. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  4. David Hayton, Eveline Cruickshanks, Stuart Handley, The History of Parliament: The House of Commons, 1690–1715, Cambridge University Press 2002, History of Parliament
  5. The Trustees of the Willis Fleming Historical Trust (2009). "Browne Willis's published works" . Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  6. Notitia Parliamentaria: or, an History of the Counties, Citiesm and Broughs in England and Wales showing ... Broughs ... to which is subjoin'd Lists of the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses... With an Account of The Roman Towns in every Shire ... 1 (second with additions ed.). Robert Gosling. 1730.
  7. Notitia Parliamentaria...: Containing the counties of Cornwall Cumberland Derby, Devon, Dorset, and Durham. 2 (first ed.). Robert Gosling. 1716.
  8. Willis, Browne (1750). Notitia Parliamentaria, Containing an Account of the First Returns and Incorporations of the Cities, Towns and Broughs, in England and Wales, That send Members to Parliament; ... [and] A Series or Lists of the Representatives in the several Parliaments held from the Reformation 1541, to the Restoration 1660 ... London.

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References

Parliament of England
Preceded by
Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Sir Richard Temple, Bt
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
1705–1707
With: Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Succeeded by
Parliament of Great Britain
Parliament of Great Britain
Preceded by
Parliament of England
Member of Parliament for Buckingham
17071708
With: Sir Edmund Denton, Bt
Succeeded by
Sir Richard Temple, Bt
Alexander Denton