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relatives, as far as I can trace them with accuracy, from the Tamworth registers and family prayer-book :
John Ensor of Wilnecote, near Tamworth=Alice, “ wife of John
gives up all his property to John Ensor, | Ensor of Wilne-
William, Sary Strong,= James En-=Anne A male child, bur, 1683.
Strong of necote, bap. d. 1758, executor of nephew James's will;
Mary Tee and Ann King, of his co.Leicester,
Burnabas, bp. 1686. tlement 1707,
Job, bp. 1688, presumed ancestor thereincalled
of the Ensors of Rollesby Hall. “Sary;” bur.
See the pedigree in “ Burke's 1721 as “Sa
Landed Gentry," which I have in vain attempted to reconcile with the registers of Tamworth. Grace, bp. 1696.
James of Chester, excise officer,
1747; d. s.p.
Grace, the grandmother of the poet's wife, is believed, from an impaled escutcheon remaining at Wilnecote, to have been a Miss Symes (the arms being similar to those of the family of that name at Daventry). Miss Shakespear seems, therefore, to have been Mrs. Dyer's ancestrix on the mother's side. The Ensors have been settled in the parish of Tamworth for many centuries, springing from the marriage of Thomas Edensor and Anne Hopwas, an heiress, of a junior branch of the very honourable family of Comberford of that Ilk, and originally coming from Edensor in Staffordshire. In 13 Edw. I., Thomas de Ednesover, by his inq. p. m., held lands in Tameworth Baddesley (now Baddesley En. sor), &c.
The Ensor arms, as given by Shaw in his “ Staffordshire," from Visitations, are-Quarterly, 1 and 4. EDENSOR, ar. a fess gu. between three horse-shoes sa. 2. HOPWAS. (On a seal of 39 Edw. III. the arms are ermine, on a bend three plates). 3. COMBERFORD. Gu. a talbot passant ar. Crest, on a wreath a dexter arm erect holding a sword ar., hilted, &c., or. It is odd that this crest never seems to have been since used, the ordinary one being a unicorn's head arg. crined and armed or. The arms in Mrs. Dyer's time had a chevron substituted for the fesse, but from the old seals of the family at Wilnecote, they appear to have been used indifferntly.
I am in great uncertainty as to the exact junction of our Ensors with the Comberford ones, and until I am able to spend a little time in Warwickshire, and search the family wills, &c., I am afraid I shall have to remain so. From the title-deeds of property at Wilnecote, the first possessors stand thus:
Thomas Ensor, mentioned in the settlement of 1579 as father of John=
John Ensor of Wilnecote buys Echylls, in Doothill = Ann, mentioned 1579. “Mrs. estate, par. Kingsbury, 1563; joins in son Barna- Anne Ensor of Wilnecote,” by's settlement. “Mr. John Ensor of Wilnecote," bur. 1598. (Tamworth.) bur. 1594. (Tamworth.)
Thomas, eldest son and Barnabye Ensor; mar. = Alice, dau. of Alcock, Esq., heir-apparent, 1579. settlement 1579; bur. 1 of Hatherton, co. Stafford (who 1598. (Tamworth.) was dead at the time of settle
Edward, bap. 1590.
Elizabeth, bap. 1593-4. · Elizabeth, bap. 1595.
There is a final agreement about Echylls in 1593; the next document is in 1614, in which, and all subsequent documents, the head of the family is John Ensor. The pedigree, given in the “ Landed Gentry," is also in “ Shaw's Staffordshire," down to George, who mar. Jane Sanders; the Edward, who follows, is fictitious, as the father of James, yet the line, as regards another branch, may, possibly, be correct. The John, of 1614, who succeeded Barnabas, as I understand, I am in doubt about as to the parentage of. One, the son of Gregory Ensor, of Wilnecote, born in 1586-7, is the most likely man, but, whoever he was, he was, doubtless, the same as had a son John, bap. 1612, and another Barnabie, bap. 1613-4. Barnabas continued a family name till 1686. The names in the above sketch shew there evidently was a very near connection with the main stock, but if Gregory or Barnabas really was our ancestor, the junction (if the visitations are correct) would be before the marriage of Thomas Ensor with Dorothy Comberford (who was of the main line of that ancient house). Yet, Dorothy was a favourite family name—the family traditions point to that match as our origin, and I have a very singular relic of the Comberfords, which, really, would seem to have come through this lady. It is a large sheet of linen-work, composed of a 100 squares, each having a distinct design. Half of these devices are of open work, by which, I mean, that a groundwork of linen threads crossing each other, like very open canvass is made, which is partially worked up with linen into patterns; the other half are plain linen, the figures being cut out on it. These two kinds alternate, and the general effect is admirable. Of course when I say it is evident, from the head-dresses, that it belongs to Tudor times, it will be supposed that the shapes of the animals are rude and droll enough ; in fact, they are wilder than ever herald dreamt of, but the subjects are very curious. Monkeys in various attitudes (e. g. smoking*), ladies hawking, spinning, playing the guitar and organ; with fans, flowers, and huge keys, shepherds piping, milkmaids, all sorts of animals, incomprehensible birds, the fox-chase, &c., &c., are all pourtrayed: and the whole gives the notion of a tesselated pavement. One shield only occurs, the talbot passant of Comberfords, it occurs on others without the shield. Two female heads, in a sort of frame, also are seen, with the respective initials of M. and E. I know nothing of the history of this relict which has been termed by the family a counterpane; it has come down generation after generation without a single marvellous tale connected with it. The peacock occurs on it three times-it may be an allusion to the crest, which was a peacock's head, mantled gules, doubled or powdered with red roses, and issuing from a ducal coronet. After all, perhaps, there is nothing very much against the notion that the John Ensor of 1614, is the same as the son of George, mentioned in “ Shaw's Pedigree,” as 5th son of Thomas Ensor and Dorothy Comberford, but I am sorely perplexed with the innumerable Johns and Ensors together, filling the Tamworth Registers.t
The old Ensor mansion, at Wilnecote, is a comfortable stone building, of the last century. A marble tablet has 1. E. G., 1702, for John and Grace Ensor, and on a stone is rudely scratched J. E. 1736, said to have been a juvenile attempt at sculpture, by James the exciseman. There is an ancient barn nearly half composed of “ post and pan-work.” The old moat house, Tamworth, which had ceilings adorned with many Comberford quarterings, is, I fear, departed hence.
To return from this digression to my subject matter. Dyer, in 1741, was presented by Mr. Harper to the living of Catthorpe, in Leicestershire, worth £80. a year. Here he remained about ten years, and his residence is thus described by Mr. Thorne, in his “ Rambles by Rivers.” “ His rectory house is on a hill-side, looking over the vale of Avon, which is here very beautiful ; and, all about, is just the placid scenery that such a poet might delight to wander among. * * * And we can very well imagine how, amid such walks, he would love to stroll, and, like another clerical poet, holy Mr. Herbert,'' relish versing. Here, away from the world, he employed his leisure in the preparation of his longest poem, • The Fleece.' The subject was, no doubt, suggested by the opportuni.. ties his residence here afforded him of becoming acquainted with the various stages of the manufacture of wool, from its being shorn from the sheep's back, to its conversion into different articles of clothing. Accordingly, he has drawn largely on the scenery of these parts, and many
* Query, what weed was generally used in early times. We have Roman pipes, and they are abundant in the old ruins of some abbeys.
7 For minutes of these registers, and for much friendly information and assistance, in re Ensor, I am indebted to the Rev. R. W. Lloyd, of Wilnecote, to whom I return my Warmest thanks.
portions of the poem are pleasing, though, as a whole, dull enough. The whir of the stocking loom is still to be heard at many of the villages,-it is the only sound, indeed, that disturbs the silence of the streets."
In this year, 1741, he had some serious illness at his friend Dr. Mackenzie's, at Worcester. Indeed, for the rest of his life he was a weak, poorly subject, perhaps, having injured himself by too intense study in his youth. The following, occasioned by his illness, has, to my knowledge, never been printed. " Wrote on recovery from a dangerous illness, at Dr. Mackenzie's,
in Worcester, 1741.
Fill all my waking perves with glowing life,
Highest of pleasures!
Sweetest of medicines!
Happy Mackenzie !
llow shall I thank him?
Pleases Mackenzie!" 4 Worc., May 25, 1743. Dear Sir,- After you left us, I sent your note to Mr. Wheeler, upon which I had a long letter. He hoped that I was a just man, and loved peace, and that I would determine matters in dispute in a righteous way, and such stuff. I answered that I did not pretend to be an arbitrator between you two, but only as Mr. Dyer's friend; if he made any reasonable offer, I would accept of it; but I gave him to know that I had too much business of my own to enter into long altercations with him; that I would, once for all, make him my proposal, which, it he did not agree to, he should never hear again from me upon the same subject, but would have Mr. Bland to settle affairs with him, in the best manner be could. In short, by the air and stiffness of my letter, he found I was in earnest ; accordingly, he sent me a categorical compliance with every article of my demands, which you have enclosed, and to which I refer you. I would have you to be scry complaisant to his son's curate, and assist him all you can. You will shew Mr. Wheeler's letter and note, and receive your money. I asked Hand what he expected for his trouble, he said he was twice at Droitwitch, and spent five shillings of his own money on this business; he therefore insisted on having a guinea, which I paid him I shall be glad to hear from you, and, I am, D. S., Yours in affection and service,
" JANES MACKENZIE. * To the Rerd. Mr. Deer, at Calthrop, dear Rugby, in Warwickshire."
Sometime before 1743, (the year of Savage's death,) a Poem addressed to him beginning, “ Sink not, my friend, beneath misfortune's weight," which may be found in the “ British Poets," was written, as also the following beautiful little Poem also to Savage:
AN EPISTLE TO A FRIEND IN Town.
Have my friends in the town, in the gay busy town
Forgot such a man as John Dyer?
Whose bosom no pageantries fire ?
(Contented ?-why everything charms me!)
Till hence rigid virtue alarms me;
The swift, the intrepid avenger;
Then mine be the deed and the danger.
We heap up in sin and in sorrow!
Is not like to be over to-morrow?
Smooth--shaded, and quiet, and even ;
And the spirit arises to Heaven.
Savage responded in “An Epistle to Mr. John Dyer, Author of • Grongar Hill', in answer to his from the country,” beginning,
Now various birds in melting concert sing,
From shocks gain vigour and from want content. Dver's mind was now more concentrated than ever it had been before ; his Clios and Celias had ceased to inflame his brain; he had become, a quiet married man, in a pleasant country, and we may readily believe that the days he spent at Coningsby were the most placid and happy of his life. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, would be born (being aged 75 in 1819, when she died) about 1744. Sarah and Catherine followed, and John, his only son, was his youngest child.
The map which Dyer had begun some years before, was called forth from its rest in 1749. The commencement of the pamphlet he now