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Burton-Upon-Trent (St. Mary and St. Modwena)

BURTON-UPON-TRENT (St. Mary and St. Modwena), a parish, and the head of a union, partly in the N. division of the hundred of Offlow and of the county of Stafford, and partly in the hundred of Repton and Gresley, S. division of the county of Derby; comprising the township of Winshill, in Derbyshire, and the townships of Branson, Burton-Extra, Horninglow, and Stretton; and containing 8136 inhabitants, of whom 4863 are in the market-town of Burton, 24 miles (E.) from Stafford, and 124 (N. W. by N.) from London. This place derived its name from having been a Saxon burgh of some importance, and its adjunct from being situated on the river Trent. In the ninth century, St. Modwena, who had been expelled from her monastery in Ireland, came hither, and, having obtained an asylum from King Ethelwulph, in reward for a miraculous cure that she is said to have performed on his son Alfred, erected a chapel, and dedicated it to St. Andrew: the site, still called St. Modwena's Garden, is the only part visible. In 1004, Wulfric, Earl of Mercia, founded an abbey for monks of the Benedictine order, which, from the vestiges still to be traced, appears to have been one of the most considerable in the kingdom: it was a mitred abbey, richly endowed, and invested with extensive privileges; and its revenue, at the Dissolution, was £356. 16. 3. The remains consist principally of some fine Norman arches that formed part of the cloisters, which included an area 100 feet square, and of part of the entrance gateway, now converted into a shop. In 1225, a large portion of the town was destroyed by an accidental fire. In the reign of Edward II., Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, posted himself at Burton, and endeavoured to defend the passage of the river against the king; but being unsuccessful in his attempt, he fled with his forces into Scotland. During the parliamentary war, the town and neighbourhood were frequently the scene of action between the contending parties.

Burton is pleasantly situated in a fertile vale, on the western bank of the Trent, which is navigable from Gainsborough for vessels of considerable burthen, and over which is a noble bridge of freestone, 512 feet in length, having 37 arches, built prior to the Conquest, and substantially repaired in the reign of Henry II. The town consisting principally of one street, parallel with the river, is well paved, lighted with gas, and plentifully supplied with water; the houses are in general modern and well built. There is a subscription library and newsroom; and assemblies and concerts take place occasionally in the town-hall. The main branch of trade is that of brewing ale, for which the town has been highly celebrated for more than a century, large quantities being sent to London, China, and the East Indies. An ancient water-mill in the vicinity of the town, noticed in the Norman survey, is partly appropriated to the grinding of corn, and partly used as a manufactory for safes: a few articles in iron are also made, particularly screws. A company was established for regulating the navigation of the river; but a canal has been constructed, which joins the Grand Trunk canal, and affords a more direct medium for the transport of goods. Here is a principal station of the Birmingham and Derby railway, which passes on the west side of the town: in 1846 an act was passed for a railway from Burton to Nuneaton; and another act, for effecting railway communication with Uttoxeter and the Potteries. The market is on Thursday; and fairs are held on February 5th, April 5th, Holy-Thursday, July 16th, and October 29th, for cattle and cheese: the last continues six days, and is a great horse-fair.

The government is vested in a high steward, deputysteward, and bailiff, appointed by the Marquess of Anglesey, lord of the manor, who holds a court leet and view of frankpledge in October, at which the police are appointed. The bailiff is a justice of the peace, having concurrent jurisdiction with the county magistrates, and acts also as coroner; the corporation formerly had power to try and execute criminals, and to hold courts of pleas to any amount. The Genter's court is held every third Friday before the steward, or his deputy, for the recovery of debts not exceeding 40s. The powers of the county debt-court of Burton, established in 1847, extend over the greater part of the registration-district of Burton. The inhabitants, by virtue of letters-patent granted in the 11th of Henry VIII., are exempt from serving the office of sheriff, and from being summoned as jurors at the assizes and sessions for the county. The town-hall is a handsome building, erected at the expense of the Marquess of Anglesey, and containing, in addition to the offices for transacting the public business, a suite of assembly-rooms.

The parish comprises about 8000 acres, whereof twothirds are arable, and the rest meadow, with about 250 acres of wood and plantations. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Marquess of Anglesey, the impropriator; net income, £192. The ancient church belonged to the abbey, and was made collegiate by Henry VIII.: having been greatly damaged in the parliamentary war, it was taken down, and the present edifice, a well-built structure with a tower, though less embellished than the former, was erected on its site, in 1720. Attached to the church is a lectureship, endowed with £31 per annum, and in the patronage of the Bailiff and principal inhabitants. A second church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and to which a district has been assigned, was erected in 1823, on land given by the noble marquess; it is a very handsome structure in the decorated English style, and highly ornamental to the town. The church was built and endowed by the executors of Isaac Hawkins, Esq., and contains 1100 sittings, of which 750 are free: the living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £261; patron, the Marquess. Christ Church, erected in 1844 on ground given by his lordship, and to which a district has been also assigned, is a beautiful structure in the early English style, with a square tower surmounted by a graceful spire, and contains 1000 sittings, whereof 750 are free; the cost, £3000, was raised by subscription, aided by public grants. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Vicar of Burton; and has a parsonage, of which likewise the marquess gave the site. A church was built at Stretton in 1829. There are places of worship for General and Particular Baptists, Independents, and Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists.

The free grammar school was founded in 1520 by William Beane, abbot (whose tombstone was found in the churchyard when making alterations in 1830), and endowed by him with land producing at present £375 per annum; the head master receives £250 a year, and the second master £125: the school-house was rebuilt in 1838. Richard Allsop in 1728 bequeathed property with which land was purchased, now producing £24 per annum, to found a school for the instruction of boys; and a national school, established in 1826, is supported by subscription. Besides these, are, a school for 550 children, built in 1844; and capacious national schools attached to Trinity church. Almshouses were founded and endowed in 1634, by Ellen Parker, for six widows or maidens; and there are some others, founded in 1591 for five unmarried women, and endowed by Dame Elizabeth Pawlett, the present income of which is about £80. Of various other charities, the principal, derived from land left by Mrs. Almund, yields about £72 per annum. A savings' bank was established in 1818; and a selfsupporting dispensary in 1830. The poor law union comprises 53 parishes and places, of which 13 are in the county of Stafford, and 40 in that of Derby; and contains a population of 28,878: the workhouse stands at the north-western extremity of the town, in the township of Horninglow; it was built in 1839, at a cost of £8000, and is capable of accommodating upwards of 400 inmates. Isaac Hawkins Browne, a poet of minor celebrity, was born here about 1705.

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