Ordinary People

'WHO can dare question such an authority as John Milton? In his "History of Britain, that part especially now called England. From the first Traditional beginning continued to the Norman Conquest. Collected out of the antientest and best authors thereof." he gives us the story of Brutus and of Corineus, "who with the battele Ax which he was wont to manage against the Tyrrhen Giants, is said to have done marvells." With the adventures of these heroes in Africa and in Aquitania we have little concern. They suffer severe defeats; and then "Brutus, finding now his powers much lessn'd, and this not yet the place foretold him, leaves Aquitain, and with an easy course arriving at Totness in Dev'nshire, quickly perceivs heer to be the promis'd end of his labours."

Hunt 1903

'This is one of the oldest towns in Devon, with a legend that the mythical Trojan hero, Brutus, landed here.'

Hope Moncrieff 1895

"Apropos of landing-places, it may interest some of your readers to learn that the very stone upon which Brutus, the nephew of AEneas, landed at Totnes, still remains! It is inserted in the footway nearly opposite the Mayoralty-house in the Fore Street. "From Totnes, the neighbouring shore was heretofore called Totonesc : and the British History tells us, that Brutus, the founder of the British nation, arrived here; and Havillanus [John de Aloilla or Hauteville. according to Mr. Wright] as a poet, following the same authority, writes thus : β€”

" Inde dato cursu, Brutus comitatus Achate

Gallorum spoliis cumulatis navibus aequor

Exarat, ct superis auraque faventibus usus,

Littora felices intrat Totonesia portus."

" From hence griat Brute with his Achates steer'd.

Full fraught with Gallic spoils their ships appear'd;

The Winds and Gods were all at their command,

And happy Totnes shew'd them grateful land."

Gibson's Camden.

Totnes is made mention of in the Lais de Marie : β€”

" II tient sun chemin tut avant.

A la mer vient, si est passer,

En Toteneit est arriver."

Lai d'Eliduc.


Totnes, Devon, Jan. 30. 1850."

NOTES AND QUERIES. [No. 15. Feb. 9. 1850.]

"Etymology of Totnes.β€”Can any of your readers suggest a probable etymology for Totnes, the "prime town of Great Britain," as it is called by Westcote*, who supposes it to have been built by Brutus, 1108 years before the Christian aera. Mr. Polwhele, who supposed the numerous Hams in Devon to have owed their names to the worship of Jupiter Hammon, would, I imagine, have derived Totnes from the Egyptian god Thoth or Taut ; or, perhaps, directly from King Thothmes. Westcote observes that some would have the name from, β€”

"The French word tout-a-l'aise, which is in English, all at ease; as if Brutus at his arrival in such a pleasant soil should here assure himself and his fellow travellers of ease, rest, and content ; and the /, in this long time, is changed into n, and so from tout-d-hsse we now call it tont-a-nesse, and briefly Totnesse. This would I willingly applaud, could I think or believe that Brutus spake so good French, or that the French tongue was then spoken at all. Therefore, I shall with the more ease join in opinion with those who would have it named Dodonesse, which signifieth [in what language?] the rocky-town, or town on stones, which is also agreeable with the opinion of Leland."

Totnes is denominated Totenais and Totheneis in Domesday Book ; and in other old records variously spelt, Toteneis, Totteneys, Toteneys, Totton', Totteii, Totenesse, Tottenesse, Tottonnsse, Totonie, &c. Never, Donodesse. J. M. B. Totnes, April 23. 1850."

NOTES AND QUERIES. [No. 29. 18 may 1850]


Westcountry Folklore

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