Alban, St.

, is said to have been the first person who suffered martyrdom for Christianity in Britain; he is therefore usually styled the protomartyr of this island. He was born at Verulam,*


This town was anciently called Werlamcester, or Watlingacester, the former name being derived from the river Warlame, which ran on the east side; the latter, from the Roman highway called Watling-street, which lay to the west. (Mat. Westm. Flor. Hist. ann. 513.) Tacitus calls it Verulamium; and Ptolemy, Urolium. The situation of this place was close by the town of St. Alban’s, in Hertfordshire. There is nothing now remaining of old Verulam but ruins of walls, chequered pavements, and Roman coins, which are often dug up. It is conjectured, from the situation, that this was the town of Cassivelaunus, so well defended by woods and marshes, which was taken by Cæsar. In Nero’s time it was esteemed a immicipium, or a town whose inhabitants enjoyed the rights and privileges of Roman citizens, It was entirely ruined by the Britons, during the war between the Romans and Boadicea, queen of the Iceni. Afr terwards Verulam nourished again, and became a city of great note. About the middle of the fifth century, it fell into the hands of the Saxons; but Uther Pendragon, the Briton, recovered it with much difficulty, after a very long siege. After his death, Verulam fell again into the hands of the Saxons; but by frequent wars, it was at last entirely ruined. Camden’s Britannia, by bishop Gibson, vol, tI col. 355.

and flourished towards the end of the third century. In his youth he took a journey to Rome, in company with Amphibalus, a monk of Caerleon, and served seven years as a soldier under the emperor Dioclesian. At his return home he settled in Verulam; and, through the example and instruction of Amphibalus, renounced the errors of Paganism, in which he had been educated, and became a convert to the Christian religion. It is generally agreed that Alban suffered martyrdom during the great persecution under the reign of Diocletian; but authors differ as to the year when it happened: Bede and others fix it in the year 286, some refer it to 296, but Usher reckons it amongst the events of 303. His death is said to have been accompanied with several miracles, to which, however, it is impossible to give credit. Collier, only, of all our historians, contends for their credibility. Between 400 and 500 years after St. Alban’s death, Offa, king of the Mercians, built a very large and stately monastery to his memory; and the town of St. Alban’s in, Hertfordshire takes its name from our protomartyr. 1

Biog. Brit.