Billericay

BILLERICAY, a market-town and chapelry district, and the head of a union, in the parish of Great Burstead, hundred of Barstable, S. division of Essex, 9½ miles (S. S. W.) from Chelmsford, and 24 (E. N. E.) from London; containing 1284 inhabitants. The name, anciently written Beleuca, is of uncertain derivation, and of the history of the town few particulars of importance are recorded: by some it has been called Villa Ericæ, the "Village of Heath." From the discovery of Roman urns containing bones, glass vessels, and other relics, and from the traces of a Roman vallum and ditch formerly visible at Blunt's Walls, nearly a mile distant, the place appears to have been known to the Romans, who probably had a station here, though the exact site has not been ascertained. The town is pleasantly situated on the road from London to Southend, on an eminence overlooking an extensive and richly cultivated vale, and commanding a fine prospect of the surrounding country, which abounds with beautiful scenery, and a distant view of the shipping on the Thames: it has of late been much improved by the erection of several large and well-built houses. The only branches of manufacture are those of silk braid, laces, and wire ribbon, which are at present declining. The Eastern Counties railway passes a few miles to the north-west. Here were barracks, which have been converted into the workhouse for the union, which comprises 26 parishes and places, and contains a population of 14,934. The market is on Tuesday; and fairs, granted in 1476 by Edward IV., are held on Aug. 2nd and Oct. 7th; the former chiefly a pleasure-fair, and the latter a cattle-fair. Courts leet and baron are held on the Thursday in Whitsun-week, when constables and other officers for the internal regulation of the town are appointed. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Bishop of London; net income, £120. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, is a brick building in the centre of the town, erected probably in the 14th century. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, and Independents. The Rev. Mr. Bayley, rector of Benfleet, in 1654 bequeathed an estate at Laindon, producing £45 per annum, for the education of 15 children; and 5 more are taught in one school, and 10 in another, from the interest of an endowment of £500 consols.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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