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BRENTFORD, a market-town, and the head of a union; comprising Old Brentford, in the parish of Ealing, Kensington division of the hundred of Ossulstone, and New Brentford, in the parish of Hanwell, hundred of Elthorne, county of Middlesex, of which it is the county town; 7 miles (W. by S.) from Hydepark Corner, and on the great western road; New Brentford containing 2174 inhabitants, and Old Brentford 5058. This place, formerly called Brainforde, takes its name from an ancient ford on the small river Brent. In 1016 Edmund Ironside, having compelled the Danes to raise the siege of London, pursued them to this place, where they were routed with great slaughter. A chapter of the order of the Garter was held here in 1445; and, in the 25th of Henry VI., an hospital for a master and several brethren, of the Nine Orders of Angels, was founded in a chapel beyond the bridge, at the western end of the town, once known as West Brentford: the revenue appears to have been £40, and the site was granted to Edward, Duke of Somerset, in the 1st of Edward VI. In 1558, six Protestants were burnt here at the stake. In the great civil war the place was the scene of a battle, in which the royalists, though victorious, were obliged to retire from the field, by the sudden arrival of a strong reinforcement to the enemy from London. For his services in this battle, which occurred on the 12th of November, 1642, Patrick Ruthen, Earl of Forth in Scotland, was created an English peer by the title of Earl of Brentford, which title was subsequently conferred by William III. upon Mareschal Schomberg, who had accompanied him to England at the Revolution. Several skirmishes also took place in 1647, between the royal guards stationed here and the parliamentary troops quartered at Hounslow.

The town consists of one street, more than a mile in length, paved, and lighted with gas, under an act of parliament obtained in 1825 and amended in 1842. The river Thames runs parallel with the street; and over it, at the eastern extremity of the town, is a handsome stone bridge leading to Kew: the Brent, uniting the Grand Junction canal with the Thames, crosses Brentford on the west; and over this is a neat stone bridge erected by the county in 1825, replacing a bridge of great antiquity, at one time supported by a toll levied upon Jewish passengers exclusively. There are a large malt-distillery, an extensive brewery, and a soap-manufactory; but the chief trade of the town is derived from its situation on the great western road (now much diminished, however, by the construction of the Great Western railway), and from the union of the canal with the Thames. The market is on Tuesday; and fairs are held on May 17th, 18th, and 19th, for cattle, and September 12th, 13th, and 14th, for toys and pedlery. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold a petty-session for the division every alternate week: the powers of the county debt-court of Brentford, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Brentford. The parliamentary elections for the county take place at New Brentford.

The living of New Brentford is a perpetual curacy; net income, £283; patron, the Rector of Hanwell. The rectorial tithes have been commuted for £60, and the vicarial for £85. The chapel, dedicated to St. Lawrence, with the exception of the tower was rebuilt of brick in 1762: annexed to it is the residence of the minister. The chapel of Old Brentford, dedicated to St. George, was rebuilt in 1770, by subscription: the living was augmented in 1842 to £168 per annum by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and is a perpetual curacy in the gift of the Vicar of Ealing. There are places of worship for Particular Baptists, Primitive Methodists, and Wesleyans. A charity school for boys, established by subscription in 1703, was endowed by Lady Capel, in 1719, with the twelfth part of an estate, yielding at present £37. 10. per annum: the endowment, enlarged by subsequent benefactions, produces an annual income of £143. There is a national school, partly supported by an endowment. The poor law union of Brentford comprises 10 parishes or places, and contains a population of 37,054. Human skeletons have at various times been dug up in the neighbourhood.

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