BURNLEY, a market-town and parochial chapelry, and the head of a union, in the parish of Whalley, Higher division of the hundred of Blackburn, N. division of the county of Lancaster, 25 miles (N.) from Manchester, 53 (E. N. E.) from Liverpool, and 210 (N. N. W.) from London; comprising the townships of Burnley, Habergham-Eaves, Ightenhill Park, Reedley-Hollows, Briercliffe-cum-Extwistle, Worsthorn-with-Hurstwood, and Cliviger; and containing 23,505 inhabitants, of whom 10,699 are in the township of Burnley. This place, anciently Brunley, derives its name from the river Burn, on which it is situated, near the confluence of that stream with the river Calder; and, from the numerous coins, fragments of pottery, and urns containing ashes and burnt bones, that have been found in the neighbourhood, is supposed to have been a Roman station. Several Saxon remains have also been discovered; and at a short distance to the east of the town is a place called Saxifield, said to have been the scene of a battle in the year 597. About the same period, Paulinus is stated to have visited Burnley, on a mission for converting the natives to Christianity; and the remains of an ancient cross, erected to commemorate his preaching, still exist.
The town is pleasantly situated on a tongue of land formed by the Burn and Calder; the greater part is of recent erection, and the houses are neatly built of freestone found in the neighbourhood. The streets are paved, and lighted with gas, under an act obtained in 1819 for the improvement of the town; and the inhabitants are well supplied with water: another act for accomplishing these objects more effectually, was passed in 1846. The barracks, standing in the adjoining township of Habergham-Eaves, were erected in 1819, at an expense of £5500, of which sum £2500 were subscribed by the inhabitants. The trade was formerly confined to the manufacture of woollen-cloth and worsted goods; but that of cotton has been introduced, and large establishments for spinning, weaving, and printing cotton, have been erected. Coal, flagstone, and slate, are found in abundance within a short distance. The Leeds and Liverpool canal, which winds nearly round the town, has contributed greatly to the promotion of its trade. The East Lancashire railway now runs by the town; and there is a branch line from Burnley to the Manchester and Leeds railway at Todmorden: this branch is 8½ miles long, and belongs to the Manchester and Leeds company. The market, granted in the 22nd of Edward I. to Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, is on Monday and Saturday, the former day being the principal; and on every alternate Monday is a market for cattle, established in January, 1819. Fairs are held on March 6th, Eastereve, May 9th and 13th, July 10th, and Oct. 11th, for horses, cloth, and pedlery. Petty-sessions for the division are held here: the powers of the county debt-court of Burnley, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-district of Burnley.
The township comprises 1128 acres of land. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £770; patron, R. Townley Parker, Esq.; impropriator, Earl Howe. The chapel, dedicated to St. Peter, was erected soon after the Conquest, but, having been rebuilt, and enlarged at different times, combines various styles of architecture: it is a spacious structure, and contains several monuments of the Townley family, among which is one to the memory of Charles Townley, Esq., a celebrated patron of the fine arts, whose collection of marbles was purchased by the British Museum for £20,000. A church district named St. James', and another named St. Paul's Lane-Bridge, have been endowed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; patrons, the Crown and the Bishop of Chester, alternately. A church for St. James' district was commenced in August, 1846; and other churches are situated at Briercliffe, Habergham, Holme, and Worsthorn. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Primitive Methodists, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics, for which last the foundation stone of a new chapel was laid in April, 1846, by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Brown. The free grammar school was founded in the reign of Edward VI., and endowed, in 1578, by Sir Robert Ingham; the endowment has been considerably augmented by benefactions, and now produces about £130 per annum: the school has an interest in thirteen scholarships founded in Brasenose College, Oxford, by Dr. Nowell, Dean of St. Paul's, London, in 1572. The Rev. W. Whitaker, D. D., the learned master of St. John's College, Cambridge, received the rudiments of his education in the school. National schools have been established: an institution for the relief of poor married women in childbirth was commenced in 1819; and there is a Strangers' Friend Society. The interest of £1244. 15. three per cent. consols., given by Mrs. Elizabeth Peel in 1800, and of £450 by Mrs. Thompson, is expended in clothing. The union of Burnley comprises 26 townships and chapelries in the parish, and contains a population of 54,192.See Habergham-Eaves, &c.