LINCOLN, a city and county of itself, and the head of a union, locally in the county of Lincoln, of which it is the chief town, 132 miles (N. by W.) from London; containing within the city and ancient liberty 16,172 inhabitants, of whom 13,896 are in the city. This place was founded by the Britons, on the summit of a hill near the river Lindis (now the Witham), from which it derived its name; and has been distinguished, from a remote period of history, as a city of importance. On the invasion by the Romans, that people made it one of their principal stations in this part of the island, and established here a colony, which, in reference to the ancient British name of the place, they called Lindum Colonia; to which term, through all the variations and contractions in its orthography by the Saxons, Danes, and Normans, the present appellation Lincoln, may be distinctly traced. The Roman city was in the form of a parallelogram, defended by strong walls, and intersected at right angles by two streets, at the extremities of which were four gates. Of these gates, the northern, now called Newport gate, partly remaining, forms one of the most interesting relics of Roman architecture in the kingdom: it consisted of three archways; the central arch is formed of large rough stone apparently laid without mortar; one of the lateral arches is built up, and the other open. To the south-west of the gate is a considerable angular fragment of a Roman building, supposed to have been a mint; and there are various portions of the original fortifications, besides the remains of a bath and a sudatorium.

After the departure of the Romans from Britain, Lincoln was made the capital of the kingdom of Mercia by the Saxons, in opposing whom, Vortimer, who greatly signalized himself, had been slain and interred here. During the repeated encounters which had taken place, the city had suffered much injury; and for the security of its new inhabitants, it was substantially repaired: that part without the gate of Newport, originally occupied by the Britons, was entirely rebuilt, and fortified with walls and a moat. In 786, the Danes took the city by assault, but it was retaken by the Saxons; and in these conflicts, which were resumed with extreme obstinacy, the northern suburb was completely destroyed. At length, on the subjugation of the Danes by Alfred the Great, tranquillity was restored; but under his successors the invaders renewed their attacks, and ultimately, in the partition of the kingdom between the contending parties, Lincoln, with the rest of the kingdom of Mercia, came into the possession of Canute.

At the time of the Conquest, a castle was erected here by William, which occupied nearly one-fourth part of the Roman city, and to make room for the erection of which, not less than 240 houses were taken down. In Domesday book the city is stated to contain 52 parishes; and it afterwards became the occasional residence of several monarchs, who contributed to adorn it with a variety of splendid buildings, the numerous vestiges of which, in various parts of the town, convey but a faint idea of its former grandeur and importance. In 1140, the castle was surprised by the forces of a party in the interest of the Empress Matilda. It was subsequently besieged by Stephen, aided by the inhabitants; but the Earl of Gloucester coming to its assistance with a powerful army, Stephen was defeated in battle, and remained for a short time a prisoner, till an exchange could be effected with the earl, who had been subsequently captured. After his restoration to the throne, Stephen celebrated the festival of Christmas here, in 1144. Henry II. having been crowned king of England in London, underwent the ceremony of coronation a second time at Wigford, a little to the south of this city. John, in the third year of his reign, received here the homage of David, King of Scotland; and during his struggle with the barons, the inhabitants remained steadily attached to his cause, and withstood the attempts of the opposing army for a considerable time; but the city was at last captured by Gilbert de Gaunt, afterwards created Earl of Lincoln. The castle was retaken by a party of royalists, having been defended for nearly twelve months; it fell again, however, into the hands of the barons, and John, while marching to attack it with a powerful army, lost all his carriages in crossing the washes. After the death of this monarch, his son, Henry III., assisted by the inhabitants of Lincoln, who adhered firmly to the royal cause, continued the war with the barons, who, assisted by Louis, the Dauphin of France, laid siege to the city, but were vigorously repulsed by the inhabitants; many of the besiegers, endeavouring to escape, were drowned in the river Witham, and several others were taken prisoners. The castle, after remaining for a considerable length of time in the possession of the crown, came to the celebrated John of Gaunt, who made it his summer residence, and is said to have erected a palace here. Edward I. held parliaments in Lincoln in 1301 and 1305; Edward II., in 1316 and the year following; and Edward III., in the first of his reign: it was visited by Henry VI., who held his court in the bishop's palace; and Henry VII., after the battle of Bosworth-Field, spent three days at Lincoln, where he made a splendid procession, and offered up public thanksgiving for his victory over Richard III. During the parliamentary war, the inhabitants embraced the royal cause, and the city was alternately in the possession of the contending parties, from both of whom it sustained considerable injury, more especially in its ecclesiastical edifices, which were converted into barracks by the soldiers of Cromwell's army. Among the disastrous events which have befallen Lincoln may be recorded the great storm in 701, which occasioned the destruction of 120 houses and many public buildings. In 1110, an accidental fire nearly consumed the whole city; and in 1185 it was damaged by an earthquake. It may also be mentioned, that on the 27th of July, 1255, eighteen Jews were executed for the alleged crime of crucifying a child, and many more were murdered by the enraged mob.

The city is pleasantly situated on the summit and declivities of an eminence rising from the river Witham, the suburbs extending for a considerable distance along the vale to the north and south. In the upper part the streets are narrow, and the buildings, with the exception of those connected with the cathedral, are of rather mean appearance; the lower part consists principally of one spacious street, and under an act of parliament obtained some years ago, many judicious alterations and improvements have been effected. The city is paved, and lighted with gas, and has three public conduits, of which that near St. Mary's church, Wigford, is an elegant building in the later English style, decorated with a pierced parapet; and that near the High bridge is ornamented with an obelisk, erected in 1763. An act for a better supply of water was passed in 1846. The city library, established in 1814; the medical library, instituted in 1825; the mechanics' institute; and the topographical society, are well supported: there are two newsrooms, and several book societies. The theatre is opened in September, October, and November; and assemblies are held in the city and county assemblyrooms. The races take place in September; a handsome stand has been lately erected on the course. In various parts of the town are remains of the monastic and other establishments which flourished here; of these, the remains of John of Gaunt's palace are distinguished by a beautiful oriel window, and a building said to have been the stables belonging to the palace has a finely-enriched Norman arch, with some interesting details of early English architecture. Of the castle, which occupied the south-eastern angle of the Roman city, very little remains, except part of the outer walls, which were seven feet thick, and the gateway tower: the site was appropriated to the erection of the county gaol.

At the time of the Norman survey, Lincoln was distinguished for its commercial importance. Edward III. conferred a charter upon the weavers, prohibiting the exercise of the trade at any other place within twelve leagues of the city; but this decree, in 1351, was abolished by another, called "the statute of cloths," and in the following year, on the removal of the staple of wool from Flanders, it was established in this town, to which was also granted the staple of lead and of leather. From the time of Edward III., however, till the commencement of the eighteenth century, the trade of the town gradually declined, and there are now no manufactures, the business being principally in corn and wool. The Fosse-dyke, a Roman work of considerable benefit to the interests of Lincoln, which Henry I. deepened, having again become unnavigable, from the accumulation of sand in its channel, the corporation in 1741 granted a lease of two-thirds of it for 999 years, at a rent of £50 per annum, and of the remaining third, for 99 years, at £25 per annum, to Mr. Ellison, of Thorne, by whose spirited exertions it was cleared from its obstructions, and re-opened in 1745. It was widened and made deeper in 1826, and at present forms a line of communication, twelve miles in length, from the Witham to the Trent, completing the navigation from Boston and the eastern coast to the Humber and the Ouse, and to the several canals in the counties of Derby, Nottingham, Stafford, and York. An act was passed in 1845 for a railway to Gainsborough, and an act in 1846 for a railway-to Market-Rasen; in August 1846 a railway was opened to Newark and Nottingham, and a great station has since been completed here. The market, on Friday, is held for corn in a spacious square, called Corn Hill, in the parish of St. Mary; for butter and poultry, in a neat building near the church of St. Peter's at Arches, erected in 1736; for butcher's meat, in large shambles, erected by the corporation in 1774, adjoining Butcherylane, and divided into convenient compartments; for fish, at the High bridge; and for cattle, in the Beastsquare on the south of the city gaol. Fairs are held on the Thursday before the fifth Sunday in Lent, and every alternate Thursday till the April fair (which commences on the third Tuesday in that month, and continues four days); the Friday in Easter-week; July 5th; the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday after September 12th; October 6th; and November 28th. A market for fatcattle is held every other Wednesday; and there are statutes for hiring servants, on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Fridays after Old May-day.

Lincoln has from an early period enjoyed many privileges by prescription. At what period it was originally constituted a corporation does not appear from any record. The oldest charter granted by the crown to the city, at this time in existence, is one by Henry II.; and numerous others were bestowed by various succeeding sovereigns prior to that of the 4th of Charles I., which until 1836, was the governing charter. In the reign of Edward IV., the city, with the parishes of Branston, Waddington, Canwick, and Bracebridge, was erected into a county, under the designation of the "City and County of the City of Lincoln;" but these four parishes, by the act 6th and 7th of William IV., cap. 103, "for making temporary provision for the boundaries of certain boroughs," ceased to be liberties of the city, and were assigned to the county at large; and the parishes of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Paul, and part of the parish of St. Margaret, formerly in the wapentake of Lawress, are now included in the municipal borough. The control is vested in a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors, agreeably with the provisions of the Municipal Corporations' act; the borough is divided into two wards, called Minster and Bridge, and being a county of itself, a sheriff is appointed by the council: the number of magistrates is twelve. The freedom is inherited by all the sons of a freeman, or acquired by servitude; among the privileges is that of pasturing a greater number of cattle on the common lands than a non-freeman. The city first exercised the elective franchise in the 49th of Henry III., since which time it has continued to return two members to parliament: the right of election was once vested in the freemen generally, whether resident or not, but is now in accordance with the Reform act: the sheriff is returning officer. There is a court of quarter-sessions; and pettysessions are held weekly in apartments adjoining the city gaol. The powers of the county debt-court of Lincoln, established in 1847, extend over part of the registration-district of Lincoln. The city is the place of election for the parliamentary representatives of the parts of Lindsey.

The guildhall is an ancient embattled structure, rebuilt in the reign of Richard II. The south front consists of a fine arched gateway, flanked with two round towers: in a niche in the eastern tower is a statue of the angel Gabriel holding a scroll, and in a corresponding niche in front of the western tower is a statue of the Virgin Mary treading on a serpent; above the gateway, and in front of the towers, are the city arms and others. The sessions-house for the city is a neat brick edifice, erected in the New road, in 1809; and behind it is the city gaol and house of correction. The assizes for the county are held in the county-hall, an elegant structure, erected in 1823, after a design by Smirke, at a cost of £40,000. Petty-sessions for the parts of Kesteven are held on the first Friday in every month, at the Rein-Deer inn; those for the parts of Lindsey are held every Friday at the "Judges' Lodgings," a handsome mansion, on the Castle hill. The county gaol stands on the south side of the area inclosed within the castle walls; the buildings are constructed on the plan of Mr. Howard.

Lincoln was erected into a see in the reign of William Rufus, when, in pursuance of the decree of a synod held at London, for the removal of all sees to fortified places, Remigius, Bishop of Dorchester, fixed upon this city as the seat of his diocese, and purchased lands for the erection of a church, an episcopal palace, and other requisite buildings. Having built the church, Remigius died previously to its consecration; and his successor, Robert Bloet, completed his design, beautified the cathedral, and increased the number of prebends. The diocese, which was originally very extensive, was in the reign of Henry II. curtailed by the separation of a part, to form the diocese of Ely; and in the reign of Henry VIII. it was further diminished by the separation of districts for the sees of Oxford and Peterborough; but it is still one of the largest in the kingdom, its jurisdiction extending over the counties of Lincoln and Nottingham. The ecclesiastical establishment consists of a bishop, dean, precentor, chancellor, sub-dean, three archdeacons, four canons residentiary, a number of non-resident and of honorary canons, four minor canons, an organist, seven poor clerks, eight choristers, seven Burghurst chanters, &c. The bishop has the patronage of the archdeaconries, the chancellorships of the church and diocese, and the canonries, with an income of £4000: on the next avoidance the income will be £5000. The Dean and Chapter have the patronage of the minor canonries.

The cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is situated on the summit of the hill, near the castle. The original buildings, soon after their completion by Bishop Bloet, were greatly injured by an accidental fire, and were repaired by his successor, Bishop Alexander, who, to prevent the recurrence of a similar calamity, covered the aisles with a vaulted roof of stone; the pressure of this being too great for the strength of the walls, St. Hugh, a subsequent bishop, rebuilt the church in the reign of Henry II., and it has been since embellished and enlarged by various succeeding bishops. The prevailing character of this noble building is the early English style, intermixed occasionally with the decorated and later styles; the form is that of a double cross. The west front is partly Norman, intermixed with the richest character of the early English: the doorways are moulded and decorated with sculpture and statuary; over the central entrance are statues of several of the kings of England, and above is a fine window, highly enriched with tracery: the western towers are of Norman character in the lower stages, and of early English in the upper. A lofty and magnificent tower rises from the intersection of the nave and the principal transepts, and was formerly surmounted by a spire, which, in 1547, fell down and greatly damaged the roof: there were also spires on the western towers, which were taken down in 1807. The nave is spacious, and lighted by clerestory windows; the roof, as well as the roofs of the aisles, is vaulted, and supported on piers of peculiar richness, and arches of graceful form. At the end of the north transept is a circular window of early English character; and at the extremity of the south transept is one of the most beautiful specimens of a decorated circular window extant. The choir, which is separated from the nave by an elaborately carved stone screen, is remarkably rich in its embellishments: the window, of eight lights, is a fine composition of flowing tracery, of decorated character, and over the altar is a good painting of the Annunciation, by the Rev. W. Peters, R.A.; the piers and arches which support the roof are in the richest character of the early English style, and the bishop's throne and the prebendal stalls are beautiful specimens of tabernacle-work, highly ornamented. The Lady chapel, and some smaller chapels adjoining it, are peculiarly elegant. Among the numerous monuments are some of exquisite design; under an arch, to the south of the Lady chapel, and in the south aisle, are those of Bishops Russell and Longland, whose effigies are finely sculptured. In the north-west tower is the celebrated bell called Tom of Lincoln, of which the weight is above five tons, and the tone peculiarly excellent.

Three sides of the cloisters are yet remaining in their original state, and exhibit a specimen of the decorated style; on the fourth side is the library, of later erection, containing an extensive collection of books, and some curious Roman antiquities. In the centre of the quadrangle, and at some depth from the surface, a tessellated pavement was discovered a few years since, over which a covering has been placed to protect it from injury. On the east side of the cloisters is a passage leading to the chapter-house, an elegant building in the form of a decagon, whose finely-vaulted roof is supported on a single pillar in the centre. There are some remains of the episcopal palace, and of the conventual buildings connected with this extensive establishment, which, in grandeur, beauty, and antiquity, holds a prominent rank among the ecclesiastical edifices in the kingdom.

Lincoln formerly contained 52 parochial churches, of which 34 were destroyed prior to the time of Edward VI. It comprises at present the parishes of St. Benedict, with 693 inhabitants; St. Botolph, 727; St. John Newport, 205; St. Margaret-in-the-Close, 330; St. Mark, 445; St. Martin, 2283; St. Mary-le-Wigford, 912; St. Mary Magdalene-in-the-Bail, 613; St. Michael-on-the Mount, 1135; St. Nicholas Newport, 1053; St. Paulin-the-Bail, 492; St. Peter-at-Arches, 548; St. Peterin-Eastgate, 658; St. Peter-at-Gowts, 875; and St. Swithin, 2634. The living of St. Benedict's is a perpetual curacy; net income, £90; patron, the Prebendary of North Kelsey in the Cathedral. The church is an ancient building, retaining some portions of Norman architecture. The living of St. Botolph's is a perpetual curacy; net income, £116; patron, the Bishop. St. John's Newport is a vicarage not in charge, united to that of St. Nicholas' Newport: the church has long been demolished. The living of St. Margaret's-in-the-Close is a perpetual curacy, united to that of St. Peter's-in-Eastgate: the church was taken down in 1778, and soon afterwards rebuilt. St. Mark's is a perpetual curacy; net income, £80; patron, the Precentor of the Cathedral. St. Martin's is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £4. 13. 4.; net income, £138; patron, the Prebendary of St. Martin's in the Cathedral. St. Mary's Wigford is a discharged vicarage, valued at £5. 3. 9.; net income, £115; patron, the Bishop. The church retains considerable portions of its ancient Norman character. St. Mary Magdalene's-in-the-Bail is a discharged rectory, valued at £5; net income, £120; patrons, the Dean and Chapter. St. Michael's-on-the-Mount is a perpetual curacy; net income, £116; patron, the Precentor of the Cathedral. The church is of comparatively modern erection. St. Nicholas' Newport is a vicarage not in charge; net income, £89; patrons and appropriators, the Dean and Chapter. The church was consecrated in Nov. 1840, and is in the early English style, with a tower and spire rising to the height of 93 feet. St. Paul's-in-the-Bail is a discharged rectory, valued at £2. 5. 10.; net income, £68; patron, the Archdeacon of Lincoln. St. Peter's-at-Arches is a discharged rectory, valued at £5. 12. 8½., and in the gift of the Crown; net income, £59. The church has been elegantly rebuilt as the corporation church, and is fitted up in an appropriate style. St. Peter's-in-Eastgate is a perpetual curacy, with that of St. Margaret's-in-the-Close, united in 1778; net income, £147; patrons, the Precentor and the Bishop, alternately. The church has been rebuilt. St. Peter's-at-Gowts is a perpetual curacy; net income, £64; patron, the Precentor. The church is an old edifice, and has considerable vestiges of its ancient Norman character. St. Swithin's is a perpetual curacy; patron, the Precentor; appropriators, the Dean and Chapter; net income, £150. The church is of modern erection. There are places of worship in the city for General and Particular Baptists, the Society of Friends, the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, Independents, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics.

The free grammar school was founded in 1583: a school formerly maintained by the Dean and Chapter, in the Cathedral Close, has been united to it, and the present school is supported partly by the Dean and Chapter, who appoint the master, and partly by the corporation. The premises form a portion of the old Franciscan priory, which was fitted up for use in 1583, by the founder of the school. A Blue-coat school was established in 1602, by Richard Smith, M.D., who granted lands at Potter-Hanworth for its support; and among the other schools, is a diocesan school, a large brick building in the Elizabethan style, completed in July, 1841, at a cost of about £5000. The county hospital, a handsome building, was erected in 1769; and the lunatic asylum, a spacious edifice with a portico of the Ionic order, in 1820, at an expense of £15,000. There are numerous benefactions for the relief of the poor, among which may be noticed a bequest by John Smith, Esq., of lands now producing £600 per annum; a legacy by Lady Margaret Thorold, of Marlston, in the year 1731, of £1500 South Sea annuities, for the purchase of land now yielding £60 per annum; and the great tithes of Glemham, bequeathed by Sutton, founder of the Charter-House, London. The union of Lincoln comprises 87 parishes or places, with a population of 36,110.

Among the many monastic institutions that existed here, were, a nunnery founded prior to the erection of the cathedral, and the site of which is occupied by the dean's house; an hospital for lepers, near the city, founded by Remigius, first bishop of Lincoln, or, according to other authorities, by Henry I., and of which the revenue in the reign of Edward III. was £30; a priory of Gilbertine canons, founded by Robert, second bishop of Lincoln, and dedicated to St. Catherine, of which the revenue at the Dissolution was £270. 1. 3.; a priory of Benedictine monks, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, and a cell to the abbey at York, founded prior to the reign of Henry II., and of which the remains, now called Monks' house, about half a mile to the east of the city, consist of the walls of several apartments and a small chapel; a house of Franciscan friars, of uncertain date; and houses of Carmelite and Augustine friars, the former founded in 1269, and the latter in 1291. Within the close, a college of priests to officiate at the altar of St. Nicholas in the cathedral, was founded in 1355 by Sir Nicholas de Cantelupe; and there were various other establishments, of several of which traces may be distinctly perceived in the city and its environs. The Jew's house is an ancient edifice of curious design, and belonged to Belaset de Wallingford, a Jewess, who was hanged in the reign of Edward I. for clipping the coin. Near Brayford water are some vestiges of a fort called Lucy Tower, between which and the castle was a subterraneous communication. In the city is a chalybeate spring of considerable strength. Lincoln gives the inferior title of Earl to the Duke of Newcastle.

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