By : Samuel Rudder
Many readers will be familiar with Samuel Rudder’s work, often consulting the large volume in libraries or archives. In 1977 Alan Sutton published a facsimile edition with a forward by Nicholas Herbert and this compact edition (still over 900 pages) has been possible by reducing the text by 35%. Sir Robert Atkins had published his Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire in 1712 and by the 1760s there was a demand for a second edition due to the high price commanded by the original. Samuel Rudder, a bookseller in Cirencester was determined to write a new history which would include new material such as trade and industry and correct errors in Atkyn’s work. A London bookseller, William Herbert however published a new edition of ‘Atkyns’ in 1768. Whilst delaying the publication of his own work Samuel Rudder was determined to include as much new material as possible. He visited every parish, questioned its inhabitants, consulted the parish registers, and recorded monumental inscriptions. The result was an up-to-date history of the county with a wealth of information on the state of the parishes in the late 18th century. The book was finally delivered to subscribers in 1779. Of particular interest to present day readers is the description of the towns and villages. For instance his description of the view of Stroud from Rodborough hill. “There is a large tract of rich country in the foreground of the landscape, interspersed with good houses, gardens and highly cultivated plantations and inclosures; and these are improved with the beautiful colouring of clothes on the tenters, accompanied with a variety of other objects, peculiar to a clothing country”. Well worth purchasing a copy to refer to at home.