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Clitheroe in 1837

CLITHEROE, a market town, a parliamentary borough, and a parochial chapelry in that part of the parish of Whalley which is in the higher division of the hundred of Blackburn, and in the northern division of the county palatine of Lancaster, 216 miles N.N.W. of London, and 26 S.E. of Lancaster. Its population in 1831 was 5,213, two thirds of whom are employed in trade, and the rest in agriculture. Clitheroe is a borough by prescription ; its earliest known charter is dated in the time of Henry de Lacy, who died in 1147 ; but it did not send members to parliament before the first year of Elizabeth. The late Boundary Act extended the parliamentary borough to the neighbouring chapelry of Downham, and the four townships of Whalley, Wiseyall, Pendleton cum Henshorn, and Little Milton cum Colcoats, and reduced the two members to one. The town is governed by two bailiffs, chosen annually by the burgesses and freemen. Three courts are held here, viz., the court-baron, the court-leet, and a court of inquiry, at which the bailiffs preside. They are held in the New Moot-hall, a modern building of the Gothic order, with a spire sixty-two feet high.

The name of this town, or, as it was anciently spelt, Cliderhaw, is descriptive of its situation, a hill by the waters. The family of De Lacy, who came over with the Conqueror, built the castle, consisting merely of a keep, with a tower and arched gateway, not for a residence, but as a fortress. It was also used for the purpose of receiving tribute from the feudatories within that manorial district, still called the Honor of Clitheroe. Within the walls by which the castle was inclosed, where a handsome house now stands for the bailiff, was a chapel dedicated to St. Michael, which disappeared when the fortress was dismantled in 1649. Prior to this, the Honor of Clitheroe had vested in the crown, and Henry VI, after he was deposed, concealed himself there after the battle of Hexham, but was discovered by the Talbots of Bashall and Colebry, who carried him to London with his legs bound to the stirrups of his horse. The Honor of Clitheroe was, for nearly three centuries, a part of the possessions of the duchy of Lancaster, till Charles II granted it to General Monk, Duke of Albemarle, from whom it has descended to the present proprietor, the Duke of Buccleuch.

The church of Clitheroe is an ancient structure, with a fine Saxon arch between the nave and choir ; it is dedicated to St. Michael, the patron of the castle church. The living is a perpetual curacy under Whalley, of which Earl Howe is patron. Among the monuments of this church is a brass plate to the memory of Dr. John Webster, the astrologer, who obtained celebrity by detecting the impositions of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. One of the incumbents was the Rev. James King, whose son circumnavigated the globe with Captain Cook. The Roman Catholics, the Independent Dissenters, and the Methodists, have places of worship, with Sunday-schools attached, in which nearly 700 children are instructed. Contiguous to the churchyard is a grammar-school, founded and endowed by Philip and Mary in 1554, at the recommendation of Bishop Bridgman, who drew up the statutes. Its concerns are managed by six governors, who appoint the master and usher, subject to the approval of the Bishop of Chester. The income is £452, 8 shillings and 8 pence, arising from the rectorial tithes of the parish of Almondbury, and lands and messuages in Yorkshire. There are twenty scholars, who are educated in the classics, and writing and arithmetic, by whom an annual remuneration is made to the masters, under the name of a cock-penny ; besides which fees, the salary of the head master is £200, and of the under master £100. The rooms of the grammar-school have been used since 1816 as a church Sunday-school, in which 350 children are instructed on the Madras system.

Clitheroe was until recently a place of little trade ; but extensive print works and cotton manufactories have been established, which along with the lime-kilns, find ample employment for the increasing population. The neighbourhood abounds with limestone, for which there is a great demand as it can now be conveyed by water to any part of the kingdom. The houses of Clitheroe are built of stone, the streets are well paved, and the town is well supplied with water from springs. There has been a weekly market from the time of the Conquest. It is now held on Tuesday, though Saturday is the day for the chartered market. Every alternate week there is a cattle market. Fairs are held March 24 and July 21, for horned cattle and woollen cloth ; and the fourth Saturday after Michaelmas-day for cattle, horses and woollens.