Godmanchester (St. Mary)

GODMANCHESTER (St. Mary), an incorporated market-town and parish, in the hundred of Toseland, union and county of Huntingdon, ¾ of a mile (S. E. by S.) from Huntingdon; containing 2152 inhabitants. This ancient town is situated on the bank of the Ouse, over which is a bridge leading to Huntingdon. It is probably of British origin, and occupies the site of the Roman station Durolipons; subsequently, in the time of Alfred, it was a Danish encampment (Gormancastria), and derived its name from Gormon or Guthrum, a Danish chief, to whom the kingdom of the East Angles, which was separated from the kingdom of Mercia by the river Ouse, was assigned by Alfred. The manor was first granted in fee-farm to the "Men of Gumcester" by King John, for £120 a year, and, the grant being in perpetuity, is still held by the same tenure and rent. The charter of John was confirmed and enlarged by succeeding monarchs, and in 1605 a new one was granted by James I., incorporating the inhabitants by the title of the "Bailiffs, Assistants, and Commonalty of the Borough of Gumcester, alias Godmanchester," and vesting the control in two bailiffs and 12 assistants, with a recorder, high steward, and town-clerk. By the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76, the borough is now governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, the mayor and late mayor being justices of the peace concurrently with the county magistrates. The inhabitant householders of £10 qualification are entitled to vote in the election of members of parliament for the borough of Huntingdon. A court of pleas, for the recovery of debts under 40s., is held every three weeks; and a court leet half yearly. A fair, chiefly for horses, is held by charter on EasterTuesday, and is well attended. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £17. 0. 5.; income, about £400; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Westminster. The church is a noble edifice, in the later English style. A free school was founded by charter of Elizabeth in 1561, and endowed with land now producing a rental of £300, by Richard Robins, in 1576; but the only fund at present belonging to it is £20 per annum, from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Several charities are supported, and the benefactions for apprenticing children amount to a considerable sum.

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

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