button to main menu   West's Guide to the Lakes, 1778/1821

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Page 169:-
[inter]course of trade and alliance happily took the place of national reprisals and family feuds.

The antiquity of this town is supposed to be found in its name being of British derivation, from Pen and Rhudd, signifying in that langauge, a red head or hill; and such is the colour of the hill above the town, and the ground and stones round it. But with respect to situation, it may well be derived from Pen, the head, and Ryn, a promontory, and so be referred to the beacon hill. It might however be judged a more honourable etymon to derive the name from Pen, and Rhydd, of Rhyddaw, to make free, and that on account of special service or fidelity to the Roman government, the Britons of this town were emancipated from the abject slavery which the nation in general were subjected to, by their tyrannical masters. This, in their own language, might be Penrhydd, and pronounced by the Britons, as by the Welch at this day, Penrith. However this may be, it has been the happiness of this town to remain a royal franchise through all the ages of feudal servitude; at least ever since the reign of Edward I. without the incumbrance of a charter, and it is now peaceably governed by the steward of the honours, and a free jury. The honours of both town and castle belong to the Duke of Portland.
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