Bury (St. Mary)

BURY (St. Mary), a borough, parish, and the head of a union, chiefly in the hundred of Salford, S. division, and partly in the Higher division of the hundred of Blackburn, N. division, of the county of Lancaster; comprising the chapelries of Edenfield, Heywood, and Holcombe, the hamlet of Ramsbottom, and the townships of Bury, Coupe with Lenches, Elton, Heap, Musbury, Tottington Higher-End, Tottington Lower-End, and Walmersley with Shuttleworth; the whole containing 62,125 inhabitants, of whom 20,710 are in the town, 48½ miles (S. E. by S.) from Lancaster, 9 (N. N. W.) from Manchester, and 195½ (N. N. W.) from London. Some antiquaries suppose this to have been a Roman station: it was certainly a Saxon town, as its name implies. Leland notices the remains of a castle near the church, the site of which, still called Castle Croft, was not far from the ancient bed of the river Irwell. This castle, one of the twelve baronial castles in the county, was finally demolished about the year 1644, by the parliamentary troops, who laid siege to the town, and battered down the small remains that were then existing: fragments of it are still occasionally discovered.

The town occupies a gentle acclivity rising from the eastern bank of the Irwell, over which is a stone bridge, and is skirted on the east by the river Roche, which falls into the Irwell about two miles and a half to the south. It is seated in a salubrious and open country, beyond which are lofty and majestic mountains; and the district abounds with coal and water, rendering it extremely eligible for the numerous establishments in which the population is engaged. The town has been greatly improved of late years; and contains a public subscription library, three newsrooms, a mechanics' institution, and a medical society re-established in 1846. The woollentrade was introduced in the reign of Edward III., and increased so as to constitute the staple trade of the town in the reign of Elizabeth, who stationed one of her alnagers here, to stamp the cloth; it is still carried on to a considerable extent. In 1845, there were in the borough, in active operation, twelve woollen manufactories, twenty-six cotton-mills for spinning and weaving, six iron-foundries, and four paper-mills; in which 6022 hands, and 1599-horse power, were employed. Besides these, were twelve calico bleachers and printers, a branch of business introduced here by the late Sir Robert Peel, Bart., using machinery of 431-horse power, and employing 3131 hands; also five dyers and logwoodgrinders. The manufactures indeed are so many and various, that if depression or stagnation occur in one branch, the working-classes find employment in another; and distress is consequently less felt in Bury than in other places where only one article is made. Among the works is the Wood Hill cotton-mill, belonging to Messrs. Thomas Calrow and Sons, established sixty years ago, and employing 800 hands; it is worked by two of the largest water-wheels on the Irwell, the wheels being 28 feet high and 16 wide, with 18-inch buckets, and equal to 284-horse power, besides which are two steam-engines of 80-horse power. The Hud-Car mill of Messrs. William Greg and Company employs 500 hands in spinning and weaving, using 25,000 lb. of cotton, and consuming 60 tons of coal, per week. The Butcher-lane mill of Messrs. Charles Openshaw and Son, which employs 550 hands, spins per week 20,000 lb. of cotton, and consumes 80 tons of coal; it has two engines of 50 and 60 horse power. A branch of the Manchester and Bolton canal was constructed in 1791; and the following railways have a station at Bury: 1st., the Liverpool, Wigan, Bolton, and Bury; 2nd., the East Lancashire; and 3rd., the Bury and Heywood branch of the Manchester and Leeds railway. The market is on Saturday; and fairs are held in March, May, and September. An act was passed in 1839 for regulating the markets and fairs, and also providing a market-place, which has since been erected by the Earl of Derby. One mile from the town, on the Bolton road, are commodious barracks, built in 1845, on a site given by the earl, and capable of accommodating 350 men and 48 horses; and near these barracks is the Wellington hotel, erected the same year.

By the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, the town was constituted a borough, with the privilege of sending a member to parliament, the right of election being vested in the £10 householders: the limits of the borough comprise by estimation 3660 acres; the returning officer is appointed by the sheriff. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold petty-sessions on every Monday and Friday: the powers of the county debt-court of Bury, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Bury. Courts leet are held in April and October, and at Whitsuntide; and a court baron every third week for the recovery of debts under 40s. The county police was introduced 12th August, 1841. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £29. 11. 5½.; net income, £1937; patron, the Earl of Derby. The tithes of Bury township have been commuted for £80, and the glebe consists of 89 acres. The parochial church was taken down and rebuilt in 1776, and in 1844 a beautiful stone tower and a graceful spire were erected. St. John's church, a neat edifice, was erected in 1770: the living is a perpetual curacy, with a net income of £150, and in the patronage of the Rector. St. Paul's church was built at a cost of £7000, in 1841, and a district was assigned to it in 1842; it is a neat stone structure in the early English style, with a tower: the living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of Trustees, with a net income of £150, and a house. Other livings are maintained at Edenfield, Elton, Heap, Heywood, Holcombe, Musbury, Ramsbottom, Shuttleworth, Tottington, and Walmersley. There are places of worship for Independents, Primitive Methodists, Wesleyans, New Connexion of Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Unitarians; and a Roman Catholic chapel, erected in the year 1840.

The free grammar school was founded in 1726, by the Rev. Roger Kay, who endowed it with estates now producing nearly £500 per annum. It is divided into a classical school, of which the head master must be a graduate of one of the universities, and an English school, with two masters; and is under the direction of trustees, thirteen in number, including the Dean of Manchester, the rectors of Bury and Prestwich, and four incumbents of parishes within ten miles of Bury. There are two exhibitions attached to the school, originally of £25 each, but now augmented by a benefaction of the late Dean Wood's, and varying from £30 to £35, at the pleasure of the trustees; they are limited to the colleges of St. John's, Cambridge, and Brasenose, Oxford. A school was founded in 1748, by the Hon. and Rev. John Stanley, a former rector, who, on three occasions, gave £300, and whose lady gave £68, towards its support; in 1803 the late Sir Robert Peel contributed £100, and other persons have added various sums, making the investment at present £1108: the total income is £199. Several other large schools are in connexion with the Church. A savings' bank was established in 1822, and a dispensary in 1829; and there is also a lying-in charity. The union of Bury contains a population of 77,496. The Rt. Hon. Sir Robert Peel, lately first minister of the crown, was born, in 1788, at Chamber Hall, a mansion in the parish, at present the residence of the family of Hardman.

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