Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for LISKEARD

LISKEARD, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Cornwall. The town stands partly on rocky eminences, partly on a plain at their base, amid an ele vated but rich well-cultivated country, at the junction of the Liskeard and Caradon and the Liskeard and Looe railways, near the Cornwall railway, 1 mile E of the terminus of the Liskeard canal which goes south-by-eastward to the river Looe, and 18 WNW of Plymouth. It was anciently called Liscarret, probably from two Cornish words signifying "a fortified place; ''and it is one of the most ancient towns in Cornwall. The country around it possesses many cromlechs, stone-circles, and other monuments of the aboriginal inhabitants. The manor was given, by William the Conqueror, to Robert, Earl of Mortaigne; passed to the Earls of Cornwall; and was one of the manors annexed to the duchy of Cornwall, by act of parliament, in the time of Edward III. A castle, or strong fortress, supposed to have been erected by one of the Earls of Cornwall, stood on an eminence, still called Castle-hill, at the E end of the town; was described by Leland as, in his time, all in ruin, with only fragments of walls and is now represented by standing; only a public walk, with a new dwelling for the borough police in its centre. A convent of the nuns of Poor Clares was founded in the town by Richard, Earl of Cornwall; and a part of it still exists, has been converted into dwelling-houses, and is called the Great Place. A house for lepers, called the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene at Liskeard, figures in record about the year 1400. A battle was fought, in 1643, on Broadoak Down, 5 miles WSW of the town, between Sir Ralph Hopton and the parliamentarians; when Sir Ralph was thoroughly victorious, took 1,250 prisoners, and established his quarters in Liskeard. Charles I. was here in person during five days of the following year, and again in 1645; and the house which he occupied is still standing. Sir Edward Coke, the famous lawyer, represented the town in parliament in 1620; Gibbon, the historian, represented it in 1775; and Dr. Jane, a regius professor, resided in it.

The town presents an irregular appearance; the streets, from the singularity of the situation, are destitute of good arrangement; the houses, for the most part, are poorly built; and the foundations of some of them are on a level with the chimneys of others. Yet considerable improvements have, for a number of years, been made; and many handsome recent houses adorn the outskirts and the environs. The streets are macadamized, and have flagged side-walks; and excellent water is supplied from a conduit; also from a reservoir on St. Cleer down by pipes to houses. The old town hall was built in 1707; and is a pleasing structure, with granite arches and columns. The new town hall and corn-exchange was built in 1822; and is a neat edifice, in the Italian style. The parish church is a spacious structure, of local schist; has a low embattled tower of 1627; was restored between 1853 and 1862; and contains monuments of the Trehawkes, a cenotaph to Joseph Wadham, who died in 1707, and whose ancestors founded Wadham college in Oxford, and a monument to Lieut. James Huntley, who fell in an attack on a squadron of Russian gunboats, in the gulf of Finland. A chapel, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and much frequented by pilgrims, formerly stood in a park still called Lady park. The Independent chapel stands in Dean-street, on the site of a previous old one of humble appearance; was built in 1866, at a cost of about £1,600; is in the early decorated English style; and contains about 550 sittings. The Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1863, of local schist faced with Bath-stone; is in the early English style; and contains 400 sittings. There are chapels also for Quakers, Wesleyans, United Free Methodists, and Bible Christians. The grammar school was closed in 1849, in consequence of want of due means of support; and had Haydon, the mathematician, for a master. National schools, in the early English style, with capacity for from 300 to 400 children, were built in 1866, at a cost of about £2,300. The endowed charities include an alms house, and amount to £202 a year. The workhouse, at the census of 1861, had 152 inmates.-The town has a head post office, ‡ a railway station with telegraph, three banking offices, and three chief inns; is a polling-place, and a seat of county courts; and publishes two weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Saturday; fairs are held on Shrove-Monday, the Monday before Palm-Sunday, Holy Thursday, 15th Aug., 2 Oct., and the Monday after 6 Dec.; the manufacture of serge and leather is carried on; and considerable trade exists in connexion with the neighbouring tin, copper, and lead mines. The town was incorporated by Edmund, predecessor of Richard, Earl of Cornwall and King of the Romans; sent two members to parliament from the time of Edward I. till the reform act; sends now one member; and is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. The municipal borough lies all in Liskeard parish, and comprises 810 acres. The parliamentary borough includes also the rest of Liskeard parish, and part of St. Cleer. Corporation income in 1861, £800. Amount of property and income tax charged in 1863, £1,339. Elec tors in 1833,218; in 1863,452. Pop. of the m. borough in 1851,4,386; in 1861,4,689. Houses, 781. Pop. of the p. borough in 1851,6,204; in 1861,6,585. Houses, 1,146.

The parish includes the small village of Dubwalls, and comprises 8,129 acres. Real property of the m-borough portion, £14,090; of which £1,143 are in the railway, £650 in the canal, and £120 in gas-works. Real property of the portion beyond the m. borough, £8,664. Pop. of the whole in 1851,6,128; in 1861,6,504. Houses, 1,133. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Exeter. Value, £500.* Patrons, the Executors of the Rev. J. F. Todd. There is a chapel of ease at Dubwalls.—The sub-district contains also the parishes of St. Cleer, Menheniot, St. Neot, St. Pinnock, and St. Keyne. Acres, 44,817. Pop., 15,194. Houses, 2,720.—The district comprehends also the sub-district of Callington, containing the parishes of Callington, Southill, Linkinhorne, St. Ive, and St. Dominick; the sub-district of Looe, containing the parishes of St. Martin, Talland, Pelynt, Duloe, and Morval, and the extra-parochial tract of Looe Island; and the sub-district of Lerrin, containing the parishes of St. Veep, Lanreath, Boconnoc, Broadoak, Lansallos, and Lanteglosby-Fowey. Acres, 107,320. Poor rates in 1863, £11,877. Pop. in 1851,29,295; in 1861,33,562. Houses, 6,252. Marriages in 1863,203; births, 1,359,-of which 58 were illegitimate; deaths, 709,-of which 307 were at ages under 5 years, and 13 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60,2,712; births, 14,589; deaths, 7,375. The places of worship, in 1851, were 31 of the Church of England, with 10,012 sittings; 6 of Independents, with 956 s.; 2 of Baptists, with 430 s.; 2 of Quakers, with 330 s.; 35 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 6,022 s; 13 of the Wesleyan Association, with 2,034 s.; 15 of Bible Christians, with 2,022 s.; 2 of Brethren, with 110 s.; 1 undefined; and 2 of Roman Catholics, with 190 s. The schools were 22 public day schools, with 1,609 scholars; 74 private day schools, with 1,929 s.; 66 Sunday schools, with 4,576 s.; and 6 evening schools for adults, with 67 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Liskeard CP/AP       Liskeard SubD       Liskeard PLU/RegD       Cornwall AncC
Place names: LISCARRET     |     LISKEARD
Place: Liskeard

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