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Wiltshire County, England

Street in Devizes

The earliest ancestors located, so far, were from the county of Wiltshire in southern England and in particular, the towns of Devizes and Calne. A letter from John Whiles of Calne, England in 1977 to a Cloud family researcher states, "One tentative conclusion I have reached is that Caln (a town in Chester County, Pennsylvania) was probably so named because of the presence of Cloud of Calne among the early settlers...". The Cloud journey, as we know it, begins here in the town of Devizes, England. Devizes is an attractive market town situated to the north of the Salisbury plain in the center of Wiltshire County. Robert Cloud was married there and his ancestors, in our line, lived there until William, son of Robert Jr. moved to Calne and married Susan James in 1647.     Joseph, son of William, left Calne in 1681 for America on the sailing ship "Bristol Factor", with a load of goods for his father. A year later William also left for America with his other four sons aboard the sailing ship "Unicorn". This ship was part of William Penns contingent of 23 ships containing Quakers, who were leaving England to escape religious persecution. William, at 61 years of age, came to America to settle on land purchased in England from William Penn.

Tounson's Almshouses, built 1682 on Kingsbury St., Calne

An early writer named Aubrey gave this description of Wiltshire, "in North Wiltshire (a dirty clayey country) the 'indigenae' or aborigines speake drawlinge; they are phlegmatique, skins pale and livid, slow and dull, heavy of spirit; hereabout is but little tillage or hard labour; they only milk the cowes and make cheese; they feed chiefly on milke meats, which cools their braines too much and hurts their intentions. These circumstances make them melancholy, contemplative and malicious... Contrariwise on the Downes, the south part, there 'tis all upon tillage, and where the shepherds labour hard, their flesh is hard, their bodies strong. Being weary after hard labour, they have not leisure to read on or contemplate religion, but goe to bed to their rest to rise betimes the next morning to their labour". Calne is in north Wiltshire and Devizes is more centrally located.

A more current description is, "Wiltshire is quit hilly apart from the Vale of the White Horse in the north and Salisbury Plain in the south. The Kennet and Avon Canal crosses the county. The land is mainly agricultural with large areas of pasture, as well as cereal crops. The Romans had settlements near Salisbury. The areas most famous ancient monument is the prehistoric stone circle at Stonehenge". Not far from Calne are the prehistoric monuments of Avebury and Silbury Hill and the nearby downs are covered with burial-mounds and other prehistoric remains. The lower lands, on which Calne stands, were probably exploited in prehistoric times, but more intensive agriculture and other developments have destroyed evidence that still survives on the downs. That there was activity where Calne stands, before the Romans came, was demonstrated in 1976 with the discovery of a gold coin of the British King Addedomarns. The Uffington White Horse, the 3,000 year old hill figure, gives this area the "Vale of the White Horse" name.

The Roman invasion began in 43 AD and Wiltshire was rapidly conquered by the 2nd Legion under Vespasian who later became Emperor. The Roman road from London to Bath passed near Calne through Sandy Lane where there was a town called Verlucio. The whole area is rich in villa sites and a few Roman fragments have been found in Calne. There is no written mention of Calne until 955 AD when King Edred died. His Will contained the words, "Also he giveth to the old monastery of Winchester three towns, that is to say Dwntune and Domerham and Calne". Nevertheless Calne either remained in or reverted to the possession of the Crown through the rest of Anglo-Saxon times and was described as a "villa regia" meaning a house on Crown land. The township of Calne must have been founded during the Anglo-Saxon period as a deliberate "plantation" rather than the natural development of a rural manor. It was not a big settlement but was a local center of administration being visited from time to time by the King. Following the Norman Conquest, Calne was moulded to the Norman feudal pattern. Domesday Book of 1086 revealed that the greater part of the manor was still held by the King but the church and its land were held separately of the King and one Niel. There were 4,000 acres of ploughland plus many acres of pasture and woodland and nine mills.

Calnes history took on a more solid form in Elizabeths reign in 1561. In that year came the first entry in the Guild Stewards Book or Burgus Book of Calne. During Elizabeths reign there were many entries relating to the payment of soldiers sent to the town to serve in the Queens army. Such responsibilities faded away during the next century as more effective government developed after the Civil War.

St. Mary's Church, Calne, built in the 17th century

The greatest period of the woolen trade was in Tudor times. In 1565 woolen cloth accounted for 78 percent of the countrys exports and it was at this time that the owner of Spye Park drove his deer from Bowood to Spye between two walls of Calne cloth, an eccentric demonstration that must have needed between one and a half to two miles of broadcloth. From mediaeval times Calne lay on the main road from London to Bristol. The first map showing this dates from the 14th century. The section of road through the Calne area was troublesome, with marshy sections. Although legacies were left for its improvement it became so bad that another route, the Old Bath Road, was preferred and thus the earliest stage coaches in the 17th century used this route and bypassed Calne altogether. In 1727-8 the section of road from Studley to Chippenham was turnpiked and thus improved. It took back traffic from the Old Bath Road which became almost disused.

From at least the time of the Civil War in England there was much nonconformity in Calne, but although the Presbyterians and Quakers had quite large followings it was only the Baptists that had a continual history in the town. A church is known to have existed at least in 1655. In the 1680's when William Penn was seeking colonists for his lands in Pennsylvania he recruited from Quaker congregations on his route from London to Bristol. As a result, families emigrated from Calne and helped to found the township of Caln in Pennsylvania, a community now twinned with Calne.

A number of famous men have been connected with Calne. Edmund Rich (St. Edmund of Canterbury) was Rector of Calne church when he was elected Archbishop in 1234. From 1772 to 1779, while Joseph Priestly was Lord Shelburnes librarian, he lived in Calne. He made a number of important discoveries including the isolation of oxygen for the first time. At about the same time the Dutch physician Ingenhousz lived in nearby Bowood where he is reputed to have discovered photosynthesis, the biochemical process that produces, from green plants, life giving oxygen. He is buried in Calne. The poet, Coleridge, lived in the town for two years.

Lansdowne Strand Hotel, Calne, established 1565

The Lansdowne Strand Hotel, on the edge of the picturesque Marlborough Downs, is one of Calnes oldest surviving buildings, indeed, there was an Inn on this site as early as 1565. Up until the 19th century it was known as the "Catherine Wheel" and later renamed the Lansdowne Arms. Parts of the building which make up the cobbled courtyard, and can still be seen today, include an early 18th century building and 19th century stable block. While there was apparently a Brew House within the hotel as early as medieval times, a section of the hotel now encompassing bedrooms was used as a brew house from the 19th century. The front facade dates from Georgian times, though at one time the Reception area was an arched access for carriages through to the courtyard; egress was through the archway as it is today. In the courtyard on the rear of the front section is a window inscribed 1860. Also, on the front of the building is an insurance seal bearing the date 1696.

Devize's Castle

Devizes Castle stands on the site of a mediaeval 11th century wooden castle. After the destruction of the wooden castle in 1113, it was rapidly rebuilt in stone by the Viceroy Bishop Roger, who spent great and incalculable sums on it. This stone castle was destroyed in 1645 when Oliver Cromwells army bombarded the castle using a battery of guns in the nearby Market Square. At the start of the 18th century, two windmills were erected on the site. During the 19th century, the two windmills were annexed, and the south windmill demolished to clear the site for the now South Tower, and the present-day castellated mansion of Devizes Castle was created.

North Tower made from red clay bricks, top of tower from local Bath stone

The castle is inhabited by a number of ghosts of former inhabitants. One such ghost is Isabella of Valois who was 'married-off' to Richard II of England when she was only 9 years old. It is said that the Lady Isabella then continued a forbidden relationship with a young gallant of the town. This would not be tolerated and she was finally incarcerated and bricked up alive! The figure of a young woman is often seen, as though pacing to and fro.

Devize's Castle

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