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Burnley in 1836

BURNLEY, a market-town and chapelry, in that part of the extensive parish of Whalley which is in the higher division of the hundred of Blackburn, in the county palatine of Lancaster. It is 211 miles N.N.W. from London, 25 N. from Manchester, 53 E.N.E. from Liverpool, 12 N.E. from Blackburn, and 11 S.E. from Clitheroe.

The town is pleasantly situated, chiefly in a narrow vale, forming a tongue of land. on the banks of the river Brun or Burn, from which it derives its name, about a mile and a half above the confluence of that river with the Calder. Its population, which now amounts to 7,551 inhabitants, has rapidly increased since the commencement of this century, as the decennial census exhibits during that period:- 1801, 3,305 ; 1811, 4,368 ; 1821, 6,378 ; 1831, 7,551. According to the two last assessments for the county-rate, the annual value of the land, messuages, and other buildings in the township shows a corresponding augmentation. In 1815 the annual value was returned at £8,643, and in 1829 at £15,879.

The boundaries of the chapelry include Burnley township, 7,551 inhabitants ; Habergham Eaves township, 5,817 inhabitants ; Brierscliffe, with Extwistle township, 1,755 inhabitants ; and Worsthorn township, 798 inhabitants ; making a total population of 15,921.

The name of this town is not found in the ancient itineraries. There have been, however, so many remains of Roman antiquities - coins, pottery, and urns containing, ashes and calcined bones - discovered about the place, that Dr. Whittaker’s conjecture of its having been a settlement upon a public way, between Ribchester and Cambodunum, Iying, as it does, in a straight line between those two places, seems to be well founded. Some Saxon remains have also been found ; and at a small distance east of the town, is a place called Saxifield, which tradition has marked as the scene of a battle in the times of the heptarchy. Adjoining the town and near the church is a cross, which is supposed to commemorate the preaching of Paulinus, the first Christian missionary in these parts, about the year 597, and to indicate the spot on which the inhabitants assembled for religious worship prior to the erection of the church.

Though an old town, the greater part of Burnley is of recent erection, and the houses are chiefly built of freestone which is found in the neighbourhood. During the last few years considerable improvements have been made, under an act obtained in 1819 for that purpose. The town has been lighted with gas, the streets have been well paved, and the foot-paths flagged, and excellent waterworks have been established, supplied from two elevated reservoirs, one to the north, and the other to the south of the town. The barracks is the adjoining township of Habergham Eaves were erected in 1819, at a cost of £5,500, of which sum £2,500 was raised by voluntary subscription. The workhouse stands in Rayle Road.

The trade of Burnley was formerly confined to woollens, but the cotton manufacture is now the staple of the place. On the two rivers around the town there are extensive establishments for spinning and weaving cotton and printing cloth, besides several mills for grinding corn, and one for fulling cloth. In other parts of the town are brass and iron foundries, machine shops, bleach-works, roperies, tanneries, and breweries. The Leeds and Liverpool canal, which nearly surrounds the town, opens a communication for the conveyance of goods through the whole line of country, from the German Ocean to the Irish Sea. Coal, freestone, and slate are found in abundance close at hand and in the vicinity ; some veins of lead have also been discovered.

The government of the town is vested in a constable, annually chosen. Four magistrates, who act for the hundred, hold a petty sessions every Monday, and meet in rotation, generally two at a time. The charter for the market granted in the 22nd of Edward I to Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, to be held on Tuesday ; but that day has been changed to Monday and Saturday. Fairs are held on March 6th, Easter-eve, May 9th and 13th, July 10th, and October 11th. There has also been since 1819 a fair for fat and lean cattle on every alternate Monday. The annual wool-fair is held on the second Thursday in July, and the fair for horses on the third Thursday in October.

The parochial chapelry of Burnley, dedicated to St. Peter, was one of the three churches existing in the parish of Whalley, in the reign of Henry I ; but nothing remains of the ancient structure, which was built soon after the Conquest. The present edifice has undergone much alteration : it had originally four chantries, namely, the rood alter, placed upon the rood-loft at the entrance of the choir, now removed ; the altar of St. Peter ; the altar of St. Mary ; and the altar of St. Anthony. It is a spacious structure ; but, having been rebuilt and enlarged at different times, it combines various styles of architecture. At the eastern extremity of the south aisle is the Stansfield choir, in which is an ancient grave-stone, with a cross fleury and sword ; and at the east end of the north aisle is the chapel of the Virgin Mary, the property and burial-place of the Townley family : it contains some shields of arms, and a monument to the memory of Charles Townley, Esq., whose collection marbles is now in the British Museum. The living is a perpetual curacy in the archdeaconry and diocese of Chester, endowed with benefactions which make it the best curacy in the kingdom. In the reign of Edward VI the incumbent of Burnley ‘had for his wages yearly the sum of £4, 8 shillings and 1 pence,’ as appears from ‘an inquisition’ taken at Manchester in 1683 ; but now, from various donations aided by Queen Anne’s bounty, it amounts to upwards of £500 per annum. Forty-eight acres of glebe land are attached to the chapelry. The living is in the gift of Robert Townley Parker, Esq., of Cuerdon Hall, near Preston. There are places of worship belonging to the Baptists, the Roman Catholics, the Wesleyan Methodists, and the Independents. These places of worship have Sunday-schools attached to them, in all of which the children of different religious denominations are received and instructed.

The free grammar school is in North Parade. A part of the chantry of St. Mary, on the west side of the churchyard, was formerly used as a school-house, until 1695, when the present building was erected. It is supposed to have been founded in the reign of Edward VI. The endowments of the foundation amount to about £140 per annum, which forms the salary of the head master, who teaches the classics and exercises a general superintendence over the lower school. In this school English, writing, accounts, and practical mathematics are taught by an assistant, who is remunerated by a charge of three guineas a-year, which is allowed to be made to the scholars. Two guineas a-year is sum charged for the sons of persons in humble life. The average number of scholars is about sixty, of whom ten or twelve are instructed in the classics. The school has an interest in thirteen scholarships founded in Brazenose college, Oxford, by Dr. Nowell, Dean of St. Paul's, London, in 1572. The master is appointed by the trustees of the land belonging to the school. In a room over the school is valuable library, left by the Rev. Henry Halsted, rector of Stansfield, for the use of the scholars. The Rev. Dr. Whittaker, the learned master of St. John's College, Cambridge, and the historian of the ‘original parish of Whalley,’ received his early education in this school.

There are also five national schools in the chapelry, in which nearly 2,000 children receive the rudiments of education and are instructed in the principles of the established church : these are supported by subscription. In the same manner also is supported a charity for poor married women childbed ; and a Strangers’ Friend Society. Other charities, to a considerable amount, are distributed annually among those for whose benefit they were intended. Madam Isabel Shirburne’s, £9 for the use of the poor : Robert Halsted’s, a moiety of £5 7 shillings, for the same purpose ; Mrs. Elizabeth Peel’s, £22, 10 shillings for clothing the poor ; Mrs. Mary Hindle’s, £20, 5 shillings for relieving old and infirm poor persons ; Mrs. Hargreave’s, £9 for clothing poor and infirm widows.

Burnley is one of the places appointed under the Boundary Act for taking votes at the election of knights of the shire for the north division of the county.