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Stroud, or Stroudwater (St. Lawrence)

STROUD, or Stroudwater (St. Lawrence), a newly-enfranchised borough, a market-town, a parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Bisley, E. division of the county of Gloucester, 10 miles (S. by E.) from Gloucester, and 102 (W. by N.) from London; containing, with the tythings of Upper and Lower Lyppiatt, Pakenhill, and Steanbridge, 8680 inhabitants. The first notice of this place in any records extant occurs in an agreement in 1304, between the rector of Bisley and the inhabitants of La Stroud, which, at the time of the Norman survey, formed part of Bisley parish. The town derives its name from its situation on the Slade or Stroud water, near the confluence, of that stream with the Frome. It stands on a considerable acclivity in the midst of a most beautiful country, and consists principally of a long street extending up the side of the hill, with another diverging from it at the base. There are many handsome houses, and the inhabitants are well supplied with water conveyed by pipes from two springs in the neighbourhood. The town has been greatly improved in consequence of an act of parliament obtained within a few years, for paving, lighting, and widening the streets; and new roads have been formed in various directions, to connect it more closely with contiguous towns.

Stroud has long been famous as the centre of the woollen manufacture in Gloucestershire, and is supposed to owe much of its prosperity to the peculiar properties of the stream called the Stroud water, which is admirably adapted for dyeing scarlet, and which, consequently, was the means of attracting at an early period many clothiers and dyers to its banks. The inhabitants of the surrounding villages are employed in different processes of this manufacture; and at the distance of a mile from the town, on the Bath and Birmingham road, are Light Pool Mills, an extensive establishment for the manufacture of solid-headed pins, consisting of five stories, each 100 feet long, and ingeniously adapted to the making of pins without manual assistance. Here is a station of the railway between Swindon and Gloucester, 24½ miles from the former town; and the Thames and Severn canal passes on the south. The market, which is well supplied, is on Friday; and there are fairs on May 10th and August 21st, for cattle, sheep, and pigs. Stroud has been constituted a borough, with the privilege of sending two members to parliament, the right of election being vested in the £10 householders of a manufacturing district comprising an area of 42,356 acres: the returning officer is appointed by the sheriff. The petty-sessions for the hundred are held here, on the first and third Fridays in every month. The powers of the county debt-court of Stroud, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Stroud.

The parish was separated from that of Bisley in the reign of Edward II. It comprises 3711 acres, of which 1340 are arable, 1552 meadow and pasture, 797 woodland, and 22 waste and water. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £132; patron, the Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol; impropriators, the family of Goodlake. There is an endowed lectureship, in the gift of the parishioners. The church is a large building, erected and enlarged at several different periods, with a tower at its west end, surmounted by a lofty octangular spire. A church dedicated to the Trinity, containing 1000 sittings, of which 700 are free, was built at Stroudshill in 1839, in the early English style, with a bell-turret, at a cost of £3170; of this sum, £500 were granted by the Incorporated Society, and the remainder supplied by the Church Commissioners and by subscription. St. Paul's district church, at Whiteshill, was completed in 1841, the first stone having been laid November 18th, 1839; it is in the Norman style, and contains 500 sittings, of which 396 are free. The living of Stroudshill is in the gift of the Incumbent of Stroud, and that of Whiteshill in the Bishop's gift. There are places of worship for Particular Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans. Thomas Webb, in 1642, gave an endowment now amounting to about £54 per annum, by means of which four boys are boarded and educated; and in 1734, Henry Windowe bequeathed £21 a year, for two more. The union of Stroud comprises 15 parishes or places, and contains a population of 38,920. Stroud was the birth-place of John Canton, F.R.S., a celebrated natural philsopher, who died in 1772; and of Joseph White, D.D., professor of Arabic at Oxford, who died in 1814: both were the sons of weavers.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.