Amersham, or Agmondesham (St. Mary)

AMERSHAM, or Agmondesham (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Burnham, county of Buckingham, 33 miles (S. E. by S.) from Buckingham, and 25¾ (W. N. W.) from London; containing 3645 inhabitants. The town is situated in a pleasant valley, through which flows the Misburne, a stream falling into the Colne near Uxbridge; it is surrounded by wood-crowned hills, and consists principally of one street, well paved: there is a plentiful supply of water. In the reign of Henry V. several of the inhabitants were burnt at the stake for professing the tenets of the Lollards; and in that of Mary, many of them suffered a similar fate: a spot of ground, occupying a circle of about 24 feet, is pointed out on the east side of the town as the place on which they suffered, and on which, it was supposed, no vegetation could be matured; but, in 1842, the ground was opened by means of a subscription fund, and found to contain nothing but flints, which served as a sort of drainage, and impeded culture. A manufactory for silk crape has been some time established, and many females are employed in the making of lace and straw-plat; wooden chairs are also made for exportation. The market is on Tuesday; and fairs are held on Whit-Monday and Sept. 19th. The town was a borough by prescription, and sent burgesses to parliament from the 28th of Edward I. to the 2nd of Edward II., but made no subsequent return until the 21st of James I., from which time it continued to send two members till it was disfranchised by the act of the 2nd of William IV. cap. 45. A constable and other officers are appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor. The town-hall, situated in the centre of the town, is a handsome brick edifice resting on piazzas, erected by Sir Wm. Drake: the lower part is appropriated to the market; the upper, which is surmounted by a lantern turret, is used for transacting public business.

The parish contains by measurement 7855 acres of land, in general hilly, and resting upon a sub-soil of chalk, flint, and clay: the hamlet of Coleshill is included in it. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £48. 16. l½., and in the gift of Thos. Tyrwhitt Drake, Esq.: the tithes have been commuted for £1500, and there are about 123 acres of glebe. The church is a spacious edifice of brick coated with stucco; the chancel and an adjoining mausoleum contain several interesting monuments, exhibiting some beautiful specimens of sculpture, by the hand of Bacon. There are two places of worship for Baptists, and one for the Society of Friends. A free grammar school was instituted by Dr. Robert Chaloner, canon of Windsor, who, by his will dated June 20th, 1620, endowed it with £20 per annum, since augmented to more than £80; and in an apartment adjoining the grammar schoolroom is a writing-school, established in 1699, by Lord Cheyne, and endowed with a rent-charge of £20. An almshouse for six aged widows was founded by Sir Wm. Drake, Bart., and endowed by him in 1667: the income, arising from land and property in the funds, was augmented with a bequest of £300 by Wm. Drake, jun., in 1796, and now amounts to about £150. A fund of £87 per annum, arising from land and the three per cents., is applied, under the will of William Tothill, of Shardeloes, in apprenticing children. The union of Amersham comprises 10 parishes or places, and contains a population of 18,207: the workhouse is a good building in the Elizabethan style of architecture, erected at a cost of nearly £7000; it stands on the road to Wycombe, and will accommodate 350 paupers.

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