A Discourse touching the DRAYNING THE GREAT FENNES, LYING Within the severall COVNTIES of Lincolne, Northampton, Huntington, Norfolke, Suffolke, Cambridge, and the Jsle of Ely, as it was presented to his Majestie.


Whereunto is annexed the Designe or Map.

Published by Authority.

LONDON. Printed by Thomas Fawcet, dwelling in Grub­street neere the lower Pumpe. 1642.

A Discourse touching the Drayning of the great Fennes lying within the severall Counties of Lincolne, Northampton, Huntingdon, Nor­folke, Suffolke, Cambridge, and the Jsle of Ely, &c.

DIvers persons of Quality heretofore have beene desirous to attempt the Drayning of that great and vast Le­vell called the Great Fennes, but they found not onely the Worke but also the composing of an Agreement ve­ry difficult, for they could not attaine to so much as to make a Contract for the generall Drayning thereof, untill of late yeares King JAMES of bles­sed memory, did undertake (by a Law of Sewers) that great Worke, who for the Honour of this Kingdome (as his Majesty told me at that time) would not suf­fer any longer the said Land to bee abandoned to the will of the Waters, nor to let it lye wast and unpro­fitable. But his Majesties great occasions and the time would not permit so great and good a resolution but it was deferred so long, that at last the late Earle [Page 2]of Bedford (by the Law of Sewers made at Lynne) did undertake the Drayning of the said great and vast Le­vell so farre as to make it Summer ground.

Hereupon the said Earle made choise of divers per­sons of quality who made a purse and joyned in the performance of this great Enterprise. And at the last (after the Expence of above One hundred thou­sand pounds) the said Earle did proceed so farre in this Work, that it was adjugded to be made Summer ground, and the recompence thereupon was set out.

But now notwithstanding all these great Expences, they find by experience, that the Lands can yeeld lit­tle or no profit being subject to Inundation still, (though not so familiarly) whereby the Adventurers not onely became frustrate of their Expectation, but also all the Owners in generall, who cannot make that use of their Lands as they might doe, if they made Winter grounds and reduced to a certainty.

His now Majesty taking consideration thereof, and fore seeing that these Lands being a continent of about 400000. Acres, which being made Winter ground would be an unexpected benefit to the Com­mon-wealth of Six hundred thousand pounds per An­num and upwards, and a great and certaine Revenue to all the parties interessed. And likewise, because the Owners (who are very many) could not agree to doe so great a Worke (the one being willing the other not, the one able to contribute the other not) hath therefore bin pleased to undertake the making of those Lands Winter ground at his owne charge, whereby the said Foure hundred thousand Acres will be made profitable, firme and good.

And for to execute this Enterprize the better, his Majesty did cōmand divers Gentlemen expert in those Workes to give their advice how these Lands might recovered, in such manner as to make them winter grounds, to the end the Worke might be performed according to the contract. And amongst others, his Majestie was pleased to make me one of that Com­mission, and after a View thereof taken, every one of the said Commissioners have returned their report, and opinion (as is usuall in such case, and especially in a matter of such great weight) they differ much in their way, and so no resolution could be determined at that time, but did remaine unresolved; yet all of them were of opinion that the Worke was very Feazable.

When King IAMES of blessed Memory, undertooke the Drayning as aforesaid, at that time I was come over into England, invited to this Worke, I tooke se­verall Viewes thereof, went away, returned, and re­viewed the same, tooke advice of the Experienced men of the Low-Countries, and from time to time did study how to contrive that Worke for the best ad­vantage, being at that time in proposition to have undertaken the doing of that said Worke, together with my Friends at our owne charge for a proporti­on of Land. And my opinion therein I declared but lately to his Majesty, and his Highnesse being well pleased with that way, after debate had thereupon, was pleased to put the Direction of that Worke upon me, and to performe it at his owne Charge, and for further Information therein, hath commanded to have it set downe in Writing, which accordingly hereafter followeth.

The Scituation of the Great Fennes, and the State thereof.

THe Levell lyeth in sixe Counties, (viz.) Cambridge, and the Jsle of Ely, Hunting­ton, Northampton, Lilcolne, Norfolke, and Suffolke. It is of a great and vast extent, that for its quantity at is of the Latitude of a whole Shire, and bounds on the North-west on the River of Glean; on the West and South-east up­on the Upland-Countries aforesaid; and on the North, on Marsh-land and Holland, being likewise in the said Levell seperated by Bankes.

There doe runne through these Fennes eight Rivers which doe come out of divers vast and great Coun­tries which lye about it, the said Rivers are called Glean, Welland, Neane, Ouse, Grant, Milden-hall, Brandon, and Stoke.

These Rivers lye common with the Land without seperation by Bankes, save onely Glean, and Welland, are something Imbanked, and some Bankes there are in some places on some of the other Rivers, but not to that purpose as to save any part of the Lands, and for this reason, and for want of a sufficient passage for the waters that come by the Rivers, all the Lands are over-flowen.

The said Rivers have three severall Out-falls from the Fennes into the Sea, and by these Out-falls the [Page 5]said Rivers and Lands unwater themselves in that manner as now they doe.

The Levell is broad, and of great extent, and flat, with little or no descent of its owne, and growne full of Hassacks, Sedge, and Reede, and the Rivers full of Weeds; and the Waters go slowly away from the Lands and out of the Rivers, and they come swift into and upon it out of the upland Counties, where the Rivers have a great fall. The aforesaid three out­falls are of great length before they come to the Sea, the Lands of Holland, and Marsh-land, being great Countries which lie betweene them, and doe hinder the speedy Current of the Waters towards the Sea.

There is much increase on the Sea side, and very large and vast Sands all dry at low Water, and be­cause of the Poynt of Norfolke, it makes it an Imbay, whereby the Sands of the Sea are throwne there by the Floods, and these three Out-falls come through these Sands, and the Tydes every day bring into the mouth of the Rivers a great quantity thereof, and there is but a few times sufficient Land-water to set the Sands out againe, to keepe the Outfall open, inso­much that Welland and Wisbitch Outfals are choaked every Summer, But the Outfall of Lynne hath suffi­cient water to keepe open his Channell, and although in the Summer the Sands in Lynne Haven overcome the Ebbs, somewhat, yet they doe not lye long, but the first Land waters or next Spring Tydes, carry them away againe.

But it is not onely to be feared, but apparent that in processe of time, the outfalls of VVisbich and Wel­land, will utterly decay, by the said increase and Sands [Page 6]the Sea, if they should remaine as now they are, by reason of the daily increase of the Marshes.

The Soyle of this vast Country is Moorish, gathe­red and growne up higher by the Weeds and Oaze of the waters, many of them are rich grounds, and all would (if they were well Drayned) be very profitable and become good grounds, especially after they bee burned, manured, and husbanded as such grounds should be.

There be many Isles, and rising grounds within this great Levell. And the Rivers passe by Townes lowe seated, lying here or next unto the Uplands, wherein the Inhabitants of the Fennes doe live in great aboun­dance.

The said Countries of Marshland, Wisbich, and Holland, are fenced by Bankes from the waters of the Fennes, and sometimes they have been overflowen by the said waters, and have often been in great danger, and they are at a continuall charge for the maintenance of the said Bankes.

The Kings contract is to make these Lands Win­ter ground, that is to free them from the overflowing of the Rivers aforesaid, so farre as by Art can be devised.

Considerations to be taken in the Ordinary way of Drayning.

THere is in use a generall Rule of Dray­ning and gaining of drowned Lands, which is by imbanking all the Rivers on each side, and by leading away the Downefall by Draynes and Sluices, and this is the Ordinary way of Dray­ning, as is usuall in all such cases.

But in this case of the Great Fennes, I cannot advise to goe altogether in such a way to avoyd inconveni­ences of great and vast expence, many difficulties of Inundation and uncertainties which otherwise would depend thereupon.

For then a multitude of Bankes must be made about 70000 Roddes in length on a Levell and Moorish ground, and farre distant from the Falls. The yearely reparation whereof would be (besides the charge of making them) very great.

The Head Draynes (which in this case are to be cut) for the leading away of the Downefall, must bee car­ried in all places through a higher ground then the Lands Drayned, which will be the greater charge, and those grounds wherein they are to be layd must be deare bought.

The Townes of Peterborough, Erith, and many o­thers standing upon the Upper ends of the Rivers, and but Low would be thereby sometimes drowned, un­lesse great Fore-lands and Receptacles be.

A great inconvenience would be on the South-side of Ouse, for by the imbanking of the Rivers on that side, there would be Three or foure Levels the one a­bove the other, and all of them would want fall all the Winter time. And to leade away the downefall of them it must bee carried by Tunnels underneath the three severall Rivers of Milden hall, Brandon, and Stoake, and that in sundry places, and the water must goe about 28. miles before it commeth to the Fall, and so the upper Levell must of necessity commit the water thereof into the next, and so into the lower a­gaine. And all this length of 28. miles goe in a slow pace. And how the downe-fall should bee brought such a length without surcharging the Draynes either in the one or other Levell, J know not. And especi­ally there being severall Brookes, the which in Win­ter time will overtake the Downfall, and being libe­rall with their waters (being more then the Draynes and Tunnels can swallow) the Levell would become surrounded and so without perfection from within.

And by the waters without the Bankes, will lye in continuall danger of Inundation for want of a good Fall in the winter, and by a winde, catch, breake and undoe all againe.

And although each mouth of the severall Rivers of Milden-hall, and Brandon, be brought through new Channels lower to the Fall; yet will it not take away these inconveniences in this way. And if by another way the severall Rivers of Milden-hall, and Brandon, should be brought to Stoake all in one along the up­per end of the Levell, and so by Stoake mouth into Ouse; yet that way the Downfall will have no issue [Page 9]neither for the water of the severall Rivers being all brought into Ouse, neere together and kept within Channell, will so swell in the Rivers, that the downe­fall thereof which is to be kept under Soyle, will have no issue, and so the Levell be overflowne, and as it is now and no better.

And the Lands will be by this way much subjected to Inundation and Drowning, both by the Rivers and downfall; and therefore not be worth so much in purchase or to be letten as otherwise: and the charge of the workes in this way (In workes not accompted) will be much greater then the whole Drayning will re­quire the other way wch I direct hereafter following.

Therefore to avoyd these and many more inconve­niences, I find it best to leade most of the Rivers about another way, whereby these foure benefits will arise.

  • 1 That the workes may be made at a farre lesse charge.
  • 2 That they will stand with more safety and no hazard of Inundation, and so may become habitable.
  • 3 And not subject to halfe that Reparation.
  • 4 And the Land of a farre better value then the other way.

Divers things to be observed.

ANd to the end the Workes may bee made to Answer the difficulties the Lands now lye in, in the contriving thereof, these following things are to be observed:

1 That the Rivers come downe swift out of the Vp­land Countries, and when they bee in the Fennes (they being Levell grounds) goe but slowly away.

2 That the Levell is of great extent, Twenty miles at least from the upper end to the Fall; and therefore be­fore the water can come thither, within a convenient and answerable time and in that proportion as it is still sed by the River water from above out of the Vplands, it must goe swifter then Levell water.

3 That the Bankes (so much as may be) bee laid out from the Moorish grounds.

4 That the Rivers be carried on the highest grounds where possibly they may bee.

5 That the Draynes be layd in the lowest Grounds.

6 That there be receptacles for the waters to Bed on in all times of extremity, otherwise the Worke might bee put to an impossibility and a continuall hazard of In­undation.

7 And that the Townes lying on the upper part of the Rivers may not be damnified, by putting the waters too high betweene the Bankes.

8 And although all this bee provided for, yet the Bankes to be made 10, 11, or 12. Foot high, on a Seat of 40, 45, 50, or 60. Foot broad in generall, according to the occasions more or lesse.

9 And that the River water and the Downfall bee kept a sunder, and brought to the Fall severally.

Now farther, observe how it stands with the River of Glean, (to give you an Example) which River drownes Deeping Fenne, by the often breaking of the Bankes on that side, and by two Slakers (which are [Page 11]Inlets, whereby the Waters of Glean when the Banks cannot containe them are let into Deeping Fenne by a certaine measure (that when the water is above the bottome of the Slakers, then it) runneth over into the Land. And this is because the Bankes on either side of Glean are layd too neare together, therefore if the Waters should be kept within the Banks as now they are, without Slakers they would run over and breake them, and Deeping Fenne would thereby be drowned on every occasion by the breaches which the Water would make. Those Slakers then are made to keepe the said Banke from breaking, which is no otherwise then an issue in a corrupt body, where there is a neg­lect to take away the occasion by a knowne Remedy, It cannot be denyed but that the Bankes of Glean were layd too neare, for had they been layd foure times so farre a sunder, as now they are, the River would bee contained within Bankes without Slakers, for if the Water be pent into a narrow roome, then the water in that narrow roome must be higher, and so rise o­ver the Bankes, but if it shall lye on a wide Bed, then it lyeth broader and the Cubes of two severall bodies will much differ, for you shall find a greater propor­tion, and also gaine a greater easement to the said Bankes, then the other way and roome to lodge the Water betweene them without any Slakers or Inlets, for they are Remedies worse then the disease, not to be suffered in any worke whatsoever if you desire perfection.

There should be great roome left betweene Banke and Banke on each side of the Rivers, Yet the one Ri­ver according to the greatnesse thereof, will require [Page 12]more then the other. For the greater the confluence of waters the more room is required to receive it. And the more distance from the Fall the more roome like­wise is to be left, because the waters being farre di­stant from the fall, goe not so speedy nor have that current which they have at a short distance.

And in case that all the Rivers should be Inned and fenced by Bankes to free the Lands, and that great di­stances should be left betweene Banke and banke; yet still it must be confessed, that a multitude of Bankes in this Levell must be made through Moorish grounds in length about 70000 Rodde, which would be very chargeable and dangerous. And (if all be considered) impossible that way to be made a sure worke, and in such a case divers Draynes for the downfall must bee made and all through high and valuable Lands, and more Sluces (which are very chargeable, not onely in their first making but also in their suture maintenance) as may be seene by the draynes of Deeping Fenne and others which are but newly made, and yet already al­most growne up with all kind of Water weeds. You may observe this in all kind of Draynes of this nature throughout the whole Country. So that thereby the workes become unfruitfull after a little while, and in this way many Thousands might be spent to small or no purpose. But to avoyd the multiplicity of Bankes and the making of many Draynes, and to reduce the Worke to a possibility, it should be so contrived that there should bee but few of either of them made. Therefore it is best that divers Rivers be brought as into one, to avoyd nere the moity of the Bankes, which otherwise must be made. And for the receptacles J [Page 13]resolve to imitate nature (as much as can) be in the upland Countries, for betweene the Hills there are meadowes, and on each side pasture grounds or plough Land. I shall endeavour to contrive the workes that way, that there may be Meadowes between the upland and the Winter ground of the Fennes likewise.

Hereby first to avoyd multiplicity of Banks, which are very chargeable both in their making and main­taining.

Secondly, for that the Meadowes will be recepta­cles for the water in time of extremity to bed on up­pon all occasions of Floods, and so to keepe the wa­ters at a lesser heighth by farre, against the Banks and and no hurt, but a great deale of good will be thereby; For those Meadowes will lye very convenient for the upland Country, and for the Winter grounds of the Fennes. And of these Meadows there will be no grea­ter quantity then the Imbanking of the Rivers by the ordinary way of Drayning will take up, for there must be roome left between Banke and Banke.

And when all this is taken into consideration, with the Scituation of the whole, I find it the fittest way to divide the whole Levell into Thre parts.

1. The one from Glean to Mortons Leame.

2. From Mortons Leame to Bedford River.

3. From Bedford River Southwards, being the re­mainder of the Levell.

To Drayne the Lands between Glean and Mortons Leame, all Stow-Brooke, and so much of the River of Glean, as the Banks cannot containe, must be turned a­long Deeping into Welland, and all Welland, into Mor­tons Leame, which lyeth convenient to receive Stow-Brooke, [Page 10]part of Glean, VVeiland and Neane, to be carried to Guyhurne, and from thence by Wisbich to the Sea, and so those Rivers to make but one, whereby the Worke will be made at lesser charges by farre, and also gaine a more perfect Out fall, because the Rivers of Wisbich and Spalding are not sufficient for want of water to keepe open their Channels as they should be kept, but are interrupted & subject to grow up by rea­son of the Sand which the Sea bringeth in, whereas they ought to be kept open and have their full depths and fall, for the ground to be drayned so farre upwards as into, or adjoyning to the drowned grounds, for the issuing of their downefall.

To make a sure Worke thereof, I advise to bring the aforesaid Rivers into one, that they may (in time) gaine themselves a naturall Channell, which will be farre better then to leave them to sundry outfalls, which in future ages (as is conceived) will reduce the Worke into an uncertainty againe, by reason of the dayly great increase of the Salt Marshes, and the Sands of the Sea.

And by this meanes the old Channell of Welland, will become very usefull to the Country, by the Sasse or Navigable sluce to be set at Waldron Hall for Navi­gation to water the Country in Summer and to scowre the outfall, and in Winter the Channell will serve to convay away the downefall of the adjacent Lands, which otherwise must be done by draynes to be made at great charge, and there is no conveniency to have such Draynes, and beside the charge which is intolle­rable, the service thereof will be incertaine, be cause there is no place for them, but through high grounds [Page 11]in which Draynes can not be made so usefull as they should, especially for Deeping Fennes, which are very low grounds, and hardly to be Drayned, except Wel­land be turned to Wisbich.

And hereby the said Deeping Fennes will be more certainly secured, and they and Elow, as I verily beleeve will be more worth to be purchased, by Fifty or Sixty Thousand Pounds, if Drayned this way, then if they should be Drayned the other way.

Object. But why should the two Rivers be brought to Wisbich and not through Welland, Welland lying in the middle of this part of the Levell?

Answ. I find many reasons which move me to bring these Wates to VVisbich, and they are these:

1. The outfall of Wisbich lyeth convenient for the Dray­ning of South Holland (alias) Ellow, and the North side of Wisbich, by the Sheire Drayne. And if Welland be not put that way, the Out-fall of Wisbich cannot so well be kept lowe enough to Drayne them as they should be, they being very Low grounds, and the low water of the Sea lying now but little lower then they, and yet must be sufficiently Drayned, and by the turning of Welland thither, the Out-fall of Wisbich will grind deeper and gaine a greater fall to lay them dry, and high above water.

2. And consider that the Lands of South Holland, by descending from Spalding to the Sheire Drayne a­bove Foure foote, and therefore of necessity they must have their best issue into Wisbich Outfall, by the sheire Drayne, And that part of Thorney Abbey grounds, Wisbich Common, and such lands as cannot runne to Welland with their downe fall, must have a Drayne be­tweene [Page 16]Guyhurne and the Shiere draine, at a place called Murra Plashe.

3. Wisbich Outfall and Mortons Leame, lye in the middest of the Levell of Fennes, and hereby w [...]ll be­come Navigable to the great benefit and convenience of the Country, and the Outfall will be thereby made safe for ever, and the Fennes be kept absolutely Drayned.

4. By the water of Glean and the Downefall which goeth and is to goe that way, the Channell of Welland will be kept open and remaine Navigable for small Boats, and serve for the Downefall of the Country on that side.

5. Welland is a lesser River then Neane, and runneth on a higher bottome, and it is more convenient to bring the higher and lesser to the lowe and greater then contrariwise.

6. It will be a lesse charge and more certainty. For the River of Welland is more narrow, and Wisbich Ri­ver is more wide and easie to be opened, because of the workes already made by the Earle of Bedford, and hath already three foote better fall then that of Spalding.

7. I find in the Report of Sir Clement Edmonds, 20. Septemb. 16 18. by Order of his late Majesties most honourable Privy Councell, upon occasion of the dif­ferences which arose amongst the Commissioners of Se­wers, for those Countries. That upon examination it was found, that anciently the waters of Welland and Neane went to the Sea by Wisbich Outfall. And by the said Report it was likewise found good to draw the waters to their ancient Outfalls, which confirmes me in my resolu­tion. And observe that Glean is higher then Welland, and Welland then Neane; therefore of necessity Wel­land must be brought to Neane as anciently nature [Page 17]brought it which is now hindred by a Banke & not Neane to Welland. And it is very true, that the water of Wel­land, for the most part runneth now naturally by Crow­land into Neane, which confirmeth the said Report, and that Neane lyeth the lower, and that but little of Wel­land water goeth by Fosse-dike.

8. That part of the Levell betweene Welland and Neane, lyeth descending from Welland to Neane 4. or 5. foot, and if the River of Neane should be carried to Welland, then the water of Neane must be raised high­er then it runneth naturally, and bee kept betweene two Bankes, and one Banke will not serve as it may be bring­ing Welland into Neane. And in such a case, the Towne of Peterborough, the Receptacles and all would be drow­ned upon every petty Flood, especially all the Lands be­tweene Stanground and Peterborough.

Object. There are some men which either out of Ignorance or for other ends to hinder this good worke object, that if Welland should be turned to Neane, it might in the first place hinder the Levell Drayned by the Earle of Lindsey, and Secondly, Boston Deepes.

Answ. For the Earle of Lindsey's workes which ranne into the Fall a Myle and a halfe above Fasse-dike. I answer, that put the case the Outfall should utterly decay, then the Earle of Lindsey's Drayne may be brought below Fosse-dike, and so fall into the deepe Outfall there, where there is an open way to the Sea, but that Outfall will not decay but remaine alwayes (as the worke will be contrived) for the River Glean shall al­wayes goe that way for so much thereof as the Banke can contain, which will be a greater quantity then now commeth thereby, because the Bankes by the scowring [Page 14]of Glean will be made the more sufficient, and also part of Welland, all the Sommer if need shall bee to water the Country, and keepe that Outfall open by the Locke at Waldron-hall, which will be so much as now there goeth by Welland old Channell, for the most part goeth now by Crowland and drowneth Thorney, Crowland, and Peterborough Fennes, and goeth that way to Wisbich as is aforesaid, & in the Winter drow­neth them and all Deeping and Ellow, and all the Coun­try and neerer Townes to the Outfall.

And in the Winter there will be all the Downfall of Crowland Fennes, Deeping Fennes, and the Earle of Lindsey's Levell, On the North of Glean which will all fall into that Outfall together with Glean, which will be able to keepe it sufficiently open for Glean and the Downefall, and if there shall want (as there will not) more will be sent either by a Drayne through Dee­ping Fennes, or by the Old Channell of VVelland, but it shall not need, one yeares experience will take away all the feare, for there will be water enough.

And for instance, the Leame at long Sutton (which runneth through the like Soyle) hath been and is kept open through the Sands of the Sea by the foure Gotes neare Cutton about 7. Myles from Spalding Outfall, and doth run but 7. or 8. moneths in the yeare, those waters which doe and alwayes have kept open the said Leame, are not so much as the 20th part of that water which shall goe to VVelland Outfall by these works, which makes it evident that VVelland Outfall will be kept open, And further take Examples by all the Out­falls on the Coast of Lincolne and Norfolke, where all the Outfals are kept open, and yet have no River to [Page 15]helpe them, but neverthelesse are kept open by the downefall onely.

It is in use and practice every day where the Havens or outfals in the Lowe Countries have no River, to make a Pan, and at every Tyde to take water into the said pan, and so they doe keepe open their out-fals of two or three Myles long, but VVelland hath a better remedy, that Outfall (as it will be there contrived) will be the best outfall of all the Country.

If it were not to preserve Navigation for Spalding it were not amisse to bring allthe downefall of Dee­ping and Thorney through Ellow, and so to VVisbich outfall by a new Channell, and this is another remedy.

It is considerable to be spoken of thus farre, because that the Workes may be very well contrived thus, or towards VVisbich, all parties provided for and saved thereby, and so well for the Navigation of Spalding to VVishbich, in stead of that of Fosse. Dike, as for the downefall.

As touching Boston Deepes. I answer that the Floods of the Sea come over all the Sands which lye between them and the poynt of Norfolke, and doe returne with the Ebbs towards the North thither againe, and these Ebbs are that which have alwayes maintined Boston Deepes. It is not the River of Welland, and that of Boston that can doe it, they are but small waters, espe­cially that of VVelland, and the lesse powerfull when it commeth abroad into a vast place where it is not to be discerned. For instance, Welland cannot make a deepe in a narrow Channell at Fesse dike, but at every lowe water travailers tide through, the water being not above halfe Leg deepe, which sheweth that it hath [Page 20]neither force nor great quantity of water.

And consider, that when VVeiland went by Wisbich, yet Boston Deepes were then, I did not ground my rea­son upon Sir Clement Edmonds report, and that there is a descent from Welland to Neane, but doe likewise take it into consideration, that the great stone Bridge at Spalding, through which some small part of Welland water did come in the Winter time, which was of great antiquity, was not Twelve Foote in the water­course, and but Five Foote deepe, and the stone Pillar or Peere in the midst thereof, which supported both Arches, was but now of late taken away by the Dray­ners of Deeping Fennes, when they did widen the Ri­ver, which maketh it evident, that but little of VVel­land water went that way either of late or anciently; yea, lesse then now the Downefall will amount unto, as I doe contrive it.

Moreover consider, that when the River of Welland went to Wisbich, then the Bridge at Boston stood firme, and in ancient time was made with doores to shut out the Floods in manner of a Sluce, that it should not goe higher then the Towne, which Bridge now hath none, so that the Sea doth now flow up with a great quantity of water 20. myles by the water course above Boston, yet so long agoe when the said River had not the fourth part of the Ebbe, which now it hath, and that Welland as aforesaid, did goe to VVisbich fall, yet Boston deepe, was and the towne had then a great com­merce in Wooll and other Merchandize. And the reasons why it was so, is, that the Ebbe which com­meth over the Sands which lye between Norfolke, and it commeth that way, and so keepeth a Deepe there [Page 21]which could not otherwise bee possibly maintained. For the Rivers are not such as to keepe open a Depth of such widenesse as Boston Deepe is, especially among the Sands of the Sea. If it were not for the Ebbes of the Sea it would soone decay. Moreover, the River of Wisbich Ebbes towards the North by Boston Deepe in­to the Sea, and if the river of VVelland be brought to Witbich, it must goe that way likewise to the Sea, as now it doth, so in this case it makes no alteration.

Object. 3 It is objected by some, that it were better to let the River of Welland goe betweene Bankes to Spalding, and the River of Neane to Wisbich, and so leave two Outfals.

Answ. 1 That two Rivers to be brought into one will make a better Outfall, and such an Outfall will serve the Country in generall, better then two Outfals, and will never decay.

2 That the 2. Outfals will burthen the maintenance more then 1000. l, yearely at least at all advantages.

3 That it will require 18. miles of Bankes more and Draynes, and the charges thereby increase at least 20000. l. and 1000. l. the yeare, for the maintenance more, and make a worser worke.

Now for the Particulars concerning the contriving of the Workes betweene the River Glean, and Mortons-Leame.

FOr the overplus of the River Glean which drownes Deeping-Fenne on that side of the Country, is to be brought by a Drayne in­to Welland above Deeping, and the Slakers to be removed and the Channell to be kept within the Bankes thereof. I doe resolve onely to take the over­plus [Page 22]of the River of Glean, that the remainder may be kept within the Bankes, and the Slaker to be removed to save Deeping Fen on that side. And that the Townes by which the said River runneth may not want water, and to keepe Welland Outfall thereby, and if need be, the sooner to gather head by meanes of the Sluce and Sasse which are to be below it on Welland to scowre the Outfall, and by the said Sluce likewise the down­fall of this Levell shall issue by VVelland: and the said drayne above Deeping, is to take away also Stow brooke and the downfall of all the Countrey between VVel­land and Glean, which now runneth into Deeping Fens and drownes it.

The River of Welland is to be brought unto Mor­tons Leame; therefore a new River is to be cut to be­gin neare Waldron-hall, & so go on towards the Bridge which leads from the Upland to Thorney Abby some­what below the Bridge, and from thence below Wil­lowhall, and so to Mortons Leame. And next unto Wel­land a Sasse to be set to let water into old VVelland and to preserve Navigation.

Where by will be left on that side of the Country betweene the Upland ground and the Bankes, some quantity of Meadow ground and Pasture, to serve for receptacles for water in the Winter, but these grounds will be by the white waters and the making of the rest of the Lands winter grounds, become of a greater va­lue then they now are, and this number of Acres and the rest of the receptacles which are to be left e­very where will not exceed the quantity which would be left betweene Banke and Banke, if every Channell or River were Imbanked, and therby the waters of the Rivers and the waters which in time of great raines [Page 23]comes from the Hills, will be kept betweene the Up­lands and the Bankes, and from the drayned Land, and this will prevent the rising of the waters to a great height, and the Bankes will thereby in a measure bee disburthened, and so the Lands better freed from In­undation then by any other way, & the Townes which lye without the Banks be kept safe from drowning.

The River of VVisbich from Guyhurne downward must be widened to make it sufficient for both waters.

The Sluce at Clowes Crosse, made to issue the waters of the Fennes must bee stopped, and the Fenne waters for that part of the Countrey must goe part to Crow­land, and so by Spalding to the Sea and by Murra plash as need shall require, and if the Fall can bee gained at Guyhurne part may goe by Wisbich, otherwise VVel­land and Murra plash must remaine the only draynes for the downfall which are not sufficient to receive it.

By these Workes the Lands of Ellow will be freed from Inundation, and Deeping be safe together with the rest of all the Lands in that Levell from Gloan to Mortons Leame, and therby the Lands of Ellow, and on the North-side of VVisbich will be discharged of the Fenne water which did runne above the same all the winter by the Sheire-drayne. And now to the contra­ry, VVelland and the Sheire-drayne will be turned to be good servants in stead of ill Masters to those Coun­tries, to issue their dovvne fall all Winter by them. And so they will be made sure and certain Countries, and if the owners of the Lands of Ellow and the North side of VVisbich cleanse their Ditches to leade away their Downfall, they shall not want any further head Draynes other then that of VVelland and the Sheire­drayne. [Page 24]The Sheire drayne must bee for a certaine length amended something and altered, and a Sluce to be set next the outfall of Wisbich river, to issue the waters of Ellow and the North side of Wisbich, which Outfall will last alwayes, the worke being made as a­foresaid.

The Worke which lyeth in the middle of the Le­vell betweene Mortons-Leame and Bed­ford River, the River now running through it.

THis part is to be drayned by a Banke which is to goe from Stanground to the fields of Witlesey, and from Elder­nell to Guyhurne on that side. On the other side a Banke to be made from or neere Ereth Causey along Bedford. River to Poedike banke, or Salters Load, and by these Banks the waters of Neane on the one side, & the Ouse on the other side will be fenced out of this part of the Levell, and Neane hereby will be turned to Wisbich.

Object. But when Neane is turned to Wisbich and so to the Sea with Welland, though there be provision made for all those waters in time of extremity to Bed on betweene Banke and Banke, and betweene the Banke and the Ʋp­land, yet the Channell of Wisbich from Guyhurne to the Sea, will not bee sufficient (may be objected) to issue the said waters of the said Rivers, and so the Levels on both sides may be endangered and the Bankes be over­flowne [Page 25]and broken downe, when great waters come downe for want of sufficient issue made from Guyhurne to the Sea.

Answ. J confesse that it is needful to make the opening of VVisbich river in a larger manner then now it is, and as is heretofore spoken of.

But yet is a question, when there is sufficient roome left for the water to Bed on, whether in such a case the opening in a great measure every where shall be need­full, and my reason is, that when all these Waters are put that way the River lying in a Sandy ground, they will grind their own Outfall especially the lower, ends thereof, and make it selfe Navigable and more deepe by farre then now it is, and the Sluce at the Horseshoe will not be sufficient to carry away the water, there­fore the water is to bee cut through neere the Sluce. If the River by the straight line through the North side of VVisbich be not made, and by this worke either way a fall will be gained.

That this part of the Fennes will issue its downfall that way so well as if it were in the Ouse, because that antiently the waters of Neane and the most part of that of Welland and Ouse by the West water went by Wisbich to the Sea, and that the Channell at that time could not be broader, as may be guessed and seen then now it is, It shall not need to be widened any more. The two Rivers meeting will grinde the Channell through the Marsh, and make Wisbich a Haven Towne like that of Lynne, though not in such measure of widenesse.

And that Objection of the Sands which the Floods bringeth in, and so stoppe the Channell againe, is not [Page 26]to be considered here, for when there is a River which hath a backe water as this will have, it will grinde deepe and open it selfe by the water at every Ebbe, and for instance the Ouse from Little-port to Lynne keepes his depth by reason of the backe Waters, so will VVisbich River keepe it selfe open, having the water of these two Rivers.

Object. Because it may be objected, that the Inhabitants of Peterborough have Navigation from their Towne to Lynne by the River Neane as now it runneth, which will then be taken away.

Answ. It is answered, that the Workes being thus contri­ved, they shall not need to fetch and carry their com­modities so farre, but goe the nearest way to Wisbich, and then it shall not be requisite to have a Navigable Sluce at Stanground (unlesse they and the Townes thereabouts shall give sufficient reason for it) which I shall endeavour to avoyd with such like workes as I can, because they are both chargeable and dangerous in the making and maintaining, and having their Na­vigation to Wisbich they shall need no other.

Object. There is for the service of this worke in the opinion of most men, a Drayne to be made from Well to fall into Ouse about Germans-bridge, thereby to lead the Down­fall of this Levell to the Sea, with a Sluce in the head thereof.

Answ. For Answer hereunto, I say; that my opinion is: That this Drayne and Sluce, the reason of the third worke and of the opening of VVisbich River conside­red, shall not be needfull, for if the Ouse at Salters Load be disburthened of the confluence of waters now it hath, then the Poedike where it fals into Ouse will [Page 27]issue foure times more water then now it doth, for the Ouse doth now receive farre more water then it shall after the third worke be made as hereafter is ex­pressed, and thereby it must consequently follow, that this Drayne from Well to Germans-Bridge shall not be needfull.

Moreover the great receptacles which are in this Levell by the great Meeres of VVitlesey, Ramsey, &c. make it evident, that the downefall will never want a Head Drayne on that side, for if there were one, yet the Waters would first goe to the receptacles, And there lye vntill the Draynes receive them; And in that interim the Channell of Neane, wilbe sufficient to send it downe in good time to the fall, considering the Poedike to be as sufficient as Neane can be; And the Waters of Peterborough being turned to Wisbich, it will disburthen the Channell of Neane and the Le­vell in generall.

The third Worke being a Levell on the South­side of Bedford River, and so along and be­tween the Uplands of Suffolk, Nor­folke, and Cambridge.

THe River of Ouse, is the principall River that Runneth through this part of the Country to the Sea, And commeth from Huntingdon by Saint Ives to Erith, where it beginneth to come into three Fennes, and so to Ely, [Page 28]then to Little Port, and from thence to Salters Load, Dounham, and Lynne, and so to the Sea; And with the other Rivers doth familiarly over runne all these Fenny Lands on all occasions of Floods, which come downe by the Rivers; And as this River of Ouse goeth downe through the Fennes, the River of Grant, which commeth from Cambridge, falls thereinto, some di­stance above Ely,; The River of Brandon, likewise falls into it at Priests-Houses, And the River of Stoke, falls into it something above Salters Load, and all these loose their names by Ouse. A great part of the River Neane, which commeth from Peterborough, dothfall into the Ouse, likewise all which meeting in one at or about Salters Loade, doe surcharge the River in such manner as that this part of the Country is more over flowne and dangerously drowned then any other part­of the Fennes are; And the said severall Rivers which fall into Ouse, except Neane, doe all fall into the South side thereof, the one above the other, and all of them Grosse wise inclining to the North, and the Ouse run­ning to the East in such a manner indeed, as if the Lands were made purposely to be overflowen and so to remaine; The thwarting thereof divides it into se­verall Levells the one above the other; And if those Lands should be Drayned by severall divisions then the one Levell must put his water on the other, and so Annoy the one by Discharging the other, which would make an Imperfect worke; And my reason thereof, I have given more at large heretofore.

To have this part of the Country and those sever­all Levells Drayned and made Winter Ground, they must be made but one Levell and many great altera­tions [Page 29]are to be made therein, by bringing the very Ri­vers which runne through it another way; for as they Crosse-wayes fall into Ouse those Lands can not bee made Winter grounds by the ordinary way of dray­ning, as heretofore is made mention of.

Therefore the principall River which is Ouse, may not goe downe through the Fennes as now it doth, but the best way is to turne that River at Erith into and next unto Bedford river, and to shut the passage of Ouse as now it goeth by a Crosse-banke through the River to the firme Land, & so force it into that course as now Bedford river goeth, whereby all the Lands be­low Erith wilbe freed from the overflowing of Ouse.

And to the end that the water of Ouse shall not an­noy the Country any farther, the said Beford River is to be Imbanked on each side thereof to keepe Ouse within certaine bounds, the Bankes thereof must be a great distance the one from the other, so that the wa­ter in time of Extremity may goe in a large roome to keepe it from rising too high, and the more because there is a great distance of about 25 miles from Erith before it commeth to the perfect Fall. And those Lands which are to bee left for the water to Bed on, will be good Meadow ground within some time Im­proved by the water of Ouse to a great value.

The three Rivers of Mildenhall, Brandon, and Stoke, must be made one River, and to that end Mildenhall must bee brought into Brandon, and both into Stoke, and all into Ouse; and in that manner that the downe­fall of that Levell may be brought through a Drayne to be made to a better Fall then that of Stoke, for the downefall of Grant to goe in.

The Land betweene the new Cut and the Bankes to the number of Foure or five Thousand Acres by guesse, will bee fit Receptacles for the waters at all times of Extremity, and the old Rivers will thereby remaine to bee sufficient Draynes to leade the downefall to Ouse within the Stop.

The Upland Countrey from Milden-hall to Stoke, is a Barren and sandy Country; Therefore the Meadowes which are to bee left betweene the Bankes and the Upland as afore­said, will be very usefull for them, and receive by the white Waters within some time as good an Improvement as any other Lands made Winter grounds.

The River of Neane being turned to Wisbich, as is afore­said in the Second worke, none other River remaines to bee taken order with but Grant, and this River must be ledde away by Ouse in such manner as the Alteration of the Workes shall appeare to require, after all the other workes be done.

And for the Brookes and Runlets which lye that way, they are likewise to be guided, as upon the Alteration shall appeare to the best service.

By this Alteration all the Rivers except Grant are turned out of their usual course, so that the old Channell of Ouse which was the Channell, for Ouse, Grant, Mildenhall, Bran­don and Stoake, having now to receive but Grant alone with the Downefall, will find roome enough within the Channell without much Imbanking.

To facilitate this Worke for a perfection, there must bee made a sufficient Fall for that Levell by a sufficient Drayne to begin at Ouse stoppe, and so to goe downeward neare the Fall underneath Stoke if need be, to bring Grant and the Downefall by this Drayne below into Ouse at the Ouse stoppe through the Sasse, and the Sluce to be made there a good quantity will issue, but all cannot issue there, nor at all times, for the Rivers when they are up will take away the Fall and the Drayne for Grant to goe in, must have a good Fall conti­nually [Page 31]to speed the water of Grant away, because it is mixed with the Downefall of that Levell contrary to the Rule of Drayning, and therefore by Art it must be observed how that must be according to the operation which shall happen. And though it be against the Rule to mixe the Downfall with the River, yet in this case it cannot be avoyded. And the Chan­nell of Ouse being of a great widenesse and depth, whereby it receives not onely Ouse, but also Grant, Mildenhall, Bran­don, Stoake, and part of Neane, and the tyde of the Sea will be sufficient when all the Rivers and confluence of waters are lead and turned out of this Channell fave Grant onely. And that there is made a new River or passage to the Fall as is a­foresaid, for Grant and the Downefall, which being done, J conceive this Channell of Ouse being of such widenesse and depth will be able to receive with ease, the River of Grant, together with the Downfall without prejudice of the Lands, the Workes being contrived accordingly as they should be.

Consider that if the three Rivers should fall into Ouse where Stoake River now falls in, that then the Ouse will leave all the same waters which it had before, except Neane, and then the Ouse will not be so farre discharged. That the Drayn may be spared, for the River of Grant and the Downefall of that Levell to goe in, but must goe underneath Stoake in a Pipe or Tunnell, and so in the Drayne, goe into Ouse where the Fall is sufficient, unlesse the turning of Ouse a straighter way to the Sea doe not hinder the Fall, but this must be contri­ved according to the event thereof, and before, no certainty can be had therein.

And if the three Rivers be brought to fall into Ouse where the Fall is good and sufficient, then the Ouse at the outside of the Sasse, will be discharged of that quantity of water, which together with Neane I esteeme a Mosty of all the wa­ter it had before, and no question but thereby a sufficient Fall, for the Downefall may be gained and not be put to a Drayne for Grant and the Downefall in that measure of charge which otherwayes it would be.

And by this it may plainly appeare to your Majesty, that neere the Moity of Bankes, which in the other way of ordi­nary Drayning are to be made, are cut of, and consequently the charge for the making and maintaining of them lesser this way then by any the other Designes.

And hereby the Land will become more certaine for ha­bitation, and by reason thereof of a sarre greater value then otherwise.

And this is as much as J can informe your Majesty by writing.


The 22. of February, 1641.

IT is Ordered by the Committee for the Great Levell that the Designe offered by Sir Cornelius Vermuiden Knight, together with the Mappe be Printed.

The 25. of February, 1641.

ORdered by the Committee for the Great Levell that it be Printed, together with the Designe, that all men whom it may concerne to take notice of, may thereby informe themselves, and may make their exceptions against it, and likewise may offer any other designe, and they shall have notice to be heard.

Hen. Pelham.

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