Noake's Worcestershire Page 111


beds of coal exist under the common, which, when the Dudley coal-field is exhausted, may furnish a store of fuel for a few more centuries. Perhaps this hint may prove consolatory to Mr. Jevons and the present Parliamentary Commission; at least, I think it is tolerably safe that for a generation or two we shall not relapse into savagery for lack of coal. The land in Defford is used for general agricultural purposes, there being no hops or other special crop. A railway station on the Midland line is a great advantage to the district. Dissent is represented here by a dilapidated Baptist chapel, served chiefly by ministers from Pershore. In the County Sessions rolls for 1628 I find that articles were in that year exhibited against the Rev. Henry Hunt, of Defford, " that he is a malicious and contentious person, and useth scandalous speeches without regard tg time or place, but even in the church, sometimes before and sometimes after divine service, hath been known to break out into violent swearing before he came forth of the pulpit, taunting and reviling Rd. Damanne, and throwing stones at him in the field to provoke him to strike him, and threatening to make him so poor with suits that he should be glad to sell his mortuary for twopence;" also that he swore falsely at Worcester Assizes. A sad time for brawling, civil and religious commotion, superstition, and witchcraft, was that seventeenth century ! In March, 1661, Ursula Corbett, of Defford, was burnt at Worcester, for poisoning her husband, having been married but three


Besford is owned, I believe entirely, by Sir J. G. Saunders Sebright, it having descended to him from the Abbot of Westminster, through the notorious Urso, then the Beauchamps, the Besfords, and the Harewells. Justice Harewell, in the time of Henry VI, having lost much of his fortune in the service of his country (there have been poor ill-used and shabbily treated Sniders in every generation) was obliged to sell his estate here to William Sebright, an ancestor of the present baronet. Most interesting monuments to the ancient family