Essex stiles, Kentish miles, Norfolk wiles, many men beguiles.

Two very different explanations are given of that part of this ungrammatical proverb which relates to Essex. The first says, the inclosures in Essex are very small, and the stiles, consequently, very frequent, and being also very high and bad, are extremely troublesome to strangers. The other is, that by stiles are meant narrow bridges, such as are laid between march and marsh in the hundreds of this county, only jocularly called stiles, as the loose stone-walls in Derbyshire are ludicrously called hedges.

Kentish miles were not, in reality, longer than those of other counties; but, before the general introduction of turnpikes, most of the Kentish roads, especially those in that part called the Weald, were almost impassable, so that a carriage could not travel more than a couple of miles in an hour, whereby the miles seemed of an extraordinary length, and deceived or beguiled many travellers, who calculated their journies according to the number of miles they had to go, without considering the state of the roads.

Norfolk wiles. Norfolk is said to have been remarkable for litigation, and the quirks and quibbles of its attornies: this was so great a grievance in the reign of Henry VI. that, A.D. 1455, a petition was presented from the commons, shewing that the number of attornies for the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk had lately increased from six or eight to eighty, whereby the peace of those counties had been greatly interrupted by suits; they therefore petitioned it might be ordained, that there should be no more than six common attornies for the county of Norfolk, six for Suffolk, and two for the city of Norwich; these to be elected by the chief justices fo the time being; any other person acting as an attorney, to be fined twenty pounds, half to the King and half to the plaintiff. The King granted the petition, provided it was thought reasonable by the judges. Rot. Palrm, in anno

Entry taken from Provincial Glossary, edited by Francis Grose.

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Dorsetshire
Stabbed with a Brydport dagger

Essex
Essex stiles, Kentish miles, Norfolk wiles, many men beguiles

Gloucestershire
As sure as God’s in Gloucestershire

Nearby

Essex in Nuttal Encyclopædia

Antique pictures from Essex