HISTORY OF THE
At some time in the 7th
century the West Saxons pushed their way across the Severn and established themselves in the territory between
Wales and Mercia, and established the minor kingdom of Magonset, which was later absorbed into Mercia. The district
which is now Herefordshire was occupied by a tribe the Hecanas, who congregated chiefly in the fertile area about
Hereford and in the mining districts round Ross-on-Wye. In the 8th century Offa extended the Mercian
frontier to the Wye, securing it by the earthwork known as Offa's Dyke.
In 915 the Danes made their way up the Severn to the district of
Archenfield, where they took prisoner Cyfeiliawg, Bishop of Llandaff, and in 921 they besieged Wigmore, which had
been rebuilt in that year by Edward. From the time of its first settlement the district was the scene of constant
border warfare with the Welsh, and Harold, whose Earldom included this county, ordered that any Welshman caught
trespassing over the border should lose his right hand. In the period preceding the Conquest much disturbance
was caused by the outrages of the Norman colony planted in this county by Edward the Confessor.
Richard's castle in the north of the county was the first Norman fortress erected on English soil, and
Wigmore, Ewyas Harold, Clifford, Weobley, Hereford, Donnington and Caldicot were all the sites of Norman
strongholds. The William the Conqueror entrusted the subjugation of Herefordshire to William FitzOsbern, but Edric
the Wild in conjunction with the Welsh prolonged violent resistance against him for two years.
During "The Anarchy" - the prolonged civil war of Stephen's reign -
Hereford Castle and Weobley castle were held against the King, but were captured in 1138. Edward,
afterwards Edward I, was imprisoned in Hereford Castle, and made his famous escape thence in 1265. In 1326 the
parliament assembled at Hereford which deposed Edward II. In the 14th and 15th centuries the forest of
Deerfold gave refuge to some of the most noted followers of Wycliffe. During the Wars of the Roses the
influence of the Mortimers led the county to support the Yorkist cause, and Edward, afterwards Edward IV,
raised 23,000 men in this neighbourhood. The Battle of Mortimer's Cross was fought in 1461 near Wigmore.
Before the outbreak of the civil war of the 17th century, complaints of illegal taxation were rife in
Herefordshire, but a strong anti-puritan feeling induced the county to favour the royalist cause.
Hereford, Goodrich and Ledbury all endured sieges.
The earldom of Hereford was granted by William I to William FitzOsbern,
about 1067, but on the outlawry of his son Roger in 1074 the title lapsed until conferred on Henry de
Bohun about 1199. It remained in the possession of the de Bohuns until the death of Humphrey de Bohun, 7th
Earl of Hereford in 1373; in 1397 Henry, Earl of Derby, afterwards King Henry IV, who had married Mary de
Bohun, was created Duke of Hereford. Edward VI created Walter Devereux, a descendant of the de Bohun family,
Viscount Hereford, in 1550, and his grandson, the famous earl of Essex, was born in this county. Since this date
the viscounty has been held by the Devereux family, and the holder ranks as the premier viscount of England.
The families of Clifford, Giffard and Mortimer figured prominently in the warfare on the Welsh border, and the
Talbots, Lacys, Crofts and Scudamores all had important seats in the county, Sir James Scudamore of Holme
Lacy being the original of the Sir Scudamore of Spenser's Faerie Queene. Sir John Oldcastle, the leader of the
Lollards, was sheriff of Herefordshire in 1406.
Herefordshire has been included in the diocese of Hereford since its
foundation in 676. In 1291 it comprised the Deaneries of Hereford, Weston, Leominster, Weobley, Frome,
Archenfield and Ross in the Archdeaconry of Hereford, and the Deaneries of Burford, Stottesdon, Ludlow,
Pontesbury, Clun and Wenlock, in the archdeaconry of Shropshire. In 1877 the name of the Archdeaconry of
Shropshire was changed to Ludlow, and in 1899 the Deaneries of Abbey Dore, Bromyard, Kingsland, Kington and
Ledbury were created in the Archdeaconry of Hereford.
Herefordshire was governed by a sheriff as early as the reign of Edward
the Confessor, the shire court meeting at Hereford where later the assizes and quarter sessions were also
held. In 1606 an act was passed declaring Hereford free from the jurisdiction of the Council of Wales, but the
county was not finally relieved from the interference of the Marcher Lords until the reign of William and
Mary. Herefordshire was first represented in parliament in 1295, when it returned two members, the boroughs of
Ledbury, Hereford, Leominster and Weobley being also represented. Hereford was again represented in 1299, and
Bromyard and Ross in 1304, but the boroughs made very irregular returns, and from 1306 until Weobley regained
representation in 1627, only Hereford and Leominster were represented. Under the act of 1832 the county
returned three members and Weobley was disfranchised. The act of 1868 deprived Leominster of one member, and under
the act of 1885 Leominster was disfranchised, and Hereford lost one member.
Herefordshire has always been esteemed an exceptionally rich
agricultural area, the manufactures being unimportant, with the sole exception of the woollen and the
cloth trade which flourished soon after the Conquest. Iron was worked in Wormelow hundred in Roman times, and
the Domesday Survey mentions iron workers in Marcle. At the time of Henry VIII the towns had become much
impoverished, and Elizabeth in order to encourage local industries, insisted on her subjects wearing
English-made caps from the factory of Hereford. Hops were grown in the county soon after their introduction
into England in 1524. In 1580 and again in 1637 the county was severely visited by the plague, but in the 17th
century it had a flourishing timber trade, and was also noted for its orchards and cider.
Transcribed from: http://en.wikipedia.org