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Whittlesey

WHITTLESEY, a village, and district comprising the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Mary, which form a union, in the hundred of North Witchford, Isle of Ely, county of Cambridge, 6 miles (E. by S.) from Peterborough; containing 6874 inhabitants. This place, called Witesie in Domesday book, is supposed to have been a Roman station from the traces of a military way, and the numerous relics of antiquity discovered in the neighbourhood. The village or town, which is bounded on the north and south by branches of the river Nene, is large and respectable, though its market, held on Friday, has been for some years disused: the markethouse still remains. There is a fair for horses on June 13th; and at the Falcon, the principal inn, courts leet and baron occur twice a year. A public library and newsroom have been established by subscription. Adjoining Whittlesey, but in the county of Huntingdon, is an expanse of water termed Whittlesey Mere, abounding with a variety of fish. This lake is 8¾ miles in circumference, and is fed by the waters of a large tract of country: its antiquity and importance are shown in Domesday book, and by its having been granted, so early as 664, by the King of Mercia, to his new monastery of Medeshamsted, now Peterborough. In 870, it reverted to the crown; several grants were made of it by different kings, and in 1662 Charles II. conferred on Edward, Earl of Sandwich, the office of keeper of Whittlesey Mere. Near the village is a station of the Ely and Peterborough railway. An act for inclosing waste lands was passed in 1840.

The living of St. Andrew's is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £4. 13. 4., and in the patronage of the Crown; net income, £62. The church is a handsome structure, with a stately tower crowned by turrets. The living of St. Mary's is a discharged vicarage, valued at £19. 13. 9.; net income, £222. The church is a fine edifice, with a lofty tower of peculiar elegance, surmounted by a slender enriched spire of good proportions. Another church has been erected, at an expense of £1400, by Her Majesty's Commissioners, on a site given by the Childers family. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Calvinistic Methodists; also two endowed schools, one founded in 1735 by Adam Kelfull, and endowed with £27 per annum; and the other in 1815 by John Sudbury, with £20 a year. William de Whittlesey, Archbishop of Canterbury, was born here in 1367. Major-General Sir Harry Smith, the hero of Aliwal, is also a native of Whittlesey, where he was publicly received on his return from the East Indies.


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