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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Plans for defence of the Medway, 1596

Old words can be fascinating...

"Orders for safe-guarding of the Medway.  A ketch is to ride without Sheerness, and on sight of any enemy's vessel, to give notice to the Aid which rides within Sheerness. 
"The Aid is then to prepare to meet the enemy, and to fire three guns, whereupon a pinnace riding at Oakamness is to speed up the river towards Chatham, giving alarm all the way up, to Chatham, Upnor Castle,  the beacons of Chatham and Barrow Hill, and the four sconces and borders of the river on each side. 
"On this, the Bear, riding against St. Mary's creek, is to shoot three pieces of ordnance to continue the alarm, which the Mary Rose, riding against Rochester Bridge, is to take up, and shoot three pieces of ordnance, on which all the country within hearing is to repair to Chatham Church and Upnor Castle, on directions of the deputy lieutenants of the shires. 
"Those places that cannot be warned by shots and beacons are to be warned by hoblers sent from Rochester by the deputy lieutenants; the Mayor of Rochester is to send notice to Sir John Leveson, Thos. Walsingham, Mr. Style, Mr. Matoir of Maidenstone, Mr. Lennard, and Mr. Rivers, and each of these captains to give notice to the rest. 
"With note on 12 Nov. that these five captains with 1,080 men are to repair to Upnor Castle, and there be distributed in the five ships next the chain; and that four others named are to [repair to Chatham church, with 540 men more."
(p.305 - Com Eliz VOL CCLX. 1596 - Nov 10)

So, what is a sconce?  Well, according to the OED, it is a small fort

A hobbler was not a higler, who was a seller of eggs.  No, a hobbler was a man who looked after horses -- either military horses or horses that towed canal boats, according to that little god of the sky, google.
According to the Webster Unabridged Dictionary, a hobbler (hobeler or hobelier) is "one who by his tenure was to maintain a horse for military service; a kind of light horseman in the Middle Ages who was mounted on a hobby" (hobby being a horse).  
With thanks to Bud Warren

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