Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for GAINSBOROUGH

GAINSBOROUGH, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Lincolnshire. The town stands on the river Trent, at the boundary with Notts, adjacent to a junction of railways, 16 miles by road and 17¼ by railway NW of Lincoln; is a head port; and has railway communication directly toward four points, and connexionally to all parts of the kingdom. It is believed to have been founded by the Saxons; and was known to them as Gegnesburh. But ancient earthworks, called Castle-hills-camp, on a ridge about a mile to the north, have parts which are thought to be Roman, yet appear to have been either altered or mainly formed by the Danes. These works consist chiefly of three concentric circular mounds, with deep intervening fosses; but also include subordinate embankments. The town, with a territory around it, seems for a time to have been an independent state; but was afterwards annexed, first to Northumbria, next to Mercia. Alfred the Great was married here, in 868, to Ælswitha, the daughter of a Mercian noble. The Danes, under Sweyn, came up hither with a numerous fleet, took possession of the town, overran the neighbouring country, and committed great ravages; but were eventually overpowered. Sweyn was secretly stabbed, when on the point of re-embarking, and is thought to have been interred in one of the neighbouring tumuli; and many of his followers are said to have been buried in an ancient chapel which stood in the southern part of the town. The contending forces, in the civil wars of Charles I., occupied the entrenchments of Castle-hills; and those of the king, under Lord Cavendish, were defeated here by Cromwell.

The site of the town, together with a considerable area above and below, appears to have been under sea or estuary within the human epoch; and several ancient canoes have been dug up in the neighbourhood. The site also, from its lowness, and from its relative situation to the upper basin of the Trent, is liable to inundation by freshets after great rains or sudden thaws. The tide, too, comes hither with a "bore, " or rapid breast current, similar to that in the rivers which enter the Bristol channel and the Solway frith; but is not so strong or high as in these rivers. The town comprises two principal streets, on a cruciform plan; but has other streets and thoroughfares; and has undergone material recent improvement. It is very closely built; and extends about 1¼ mile along the Trent, with a maximum breadth of about ¼ of a mile. Its chief public buildings are a quondam palace, a town-hall, a bridge, a custom-house, two churches, eight dissenting chapels, a Roman Ca-tholic chapel, a grammar-school, a national school, an athenæum, and a workhouse. The quondam palace belonged to John of Gaunt; was afterwards a resi-dence of the Hickmans, lords of the manor; occupies nearly ½ an acre; forms three sides of a quadrangle, with an embattled tower at one corner; was formerly encom-passed by a moat; underwent, at a recent period, con-siderable decay and much renovation and change; and has been converted, in various parts, into severally a corn-exchange, assembly-rooms, and a mechanics' insti-tute. The town hall is a brick edifice, with shops on its ground floor. The bridge is a handsome stone structure, of three elliptical arches, built, in 1790, at a cost of £10, 000. The parish church, or All Saints church, was originally founded by the Knights Templars; has been twice rebuilt, -the second time in 1736; retains a fine tower of the 14th century; and, in 1862, underwent con-siderable interior improvement. Trinity church, situated at Southolme, is modern; presents a singular contrast to the parish church; is cruciform; and has fine stained glass windows. The grammar school has £20 from endowment; Wharton's charity £107; Nicholson's charity £100; and other charities £111. The workhouse has accommodation for 200 persons.

The town has a head post-office, ‡ a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and three chief inns; is a seat of sessions and a polling-place; and publishes a weekly newspaper. A weekly market is held on Tuesday; and fairs on the Tuesday in Easter week and 20 Oct. The manufacture of linseed cake, the working of tobacco, the working of brass and iron, boiler-making, ship-building, rope-making, and malting are carried on. The port was constituted in 1840, and has jurisdiction nearly to Hull roads. The vessels belonging to it, at the beginning of 1863, were 12 small sailing-vessels, of aggregately 470 tons; 2 larger sailing-vessels, of jointly 112 tons; 5 small steam-vessels, of aggregately 173 tons: and 5 larger steam-vessels, of aggregately 402 tons. The vessels which entered, in 1862, were 21 British vessels, of aggregately 1, 673 tons, from foreign countries; 13 foreign vessels, of aggregately 943 tons, from foreign countries; and 158 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 7, 694 tons, coastwise. The vessels which cleared, in that year, were 8 British and 9 foreign, of aggregately 492 and 594 tons, to foreign countries; and 356 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 16, 562 tons, coastwise. The amount of customs, in 1867, was £8, 184 The chief exports are hardware and cotton manufactures; and the chief imports, linseed, rape-seed, bones, and timber. Vessels drawing 12 feet come up to the town. Steamers sail daily to Hull, calling at Keadby. Courts baron and leet are held twice a year; and two constables, to govern the town, are appointed by the leet jury. The township and the town are conterminate. Real property, £26, 507; of which £593 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 7, 261; in 1861, 6, 320. Houses, 1, 403. The decrease of pop. was caused by the emigration of watermen and rope-makers. William de Gainsborough, bishop of Worcester, and Simon Patrick, bishop of Ely, were natives. The town gives the title of Earl to the family of Noel.

The parish contains also the townships of Morton, Walkerith, and East Stockwith. Acres, 7, 210. Real property, £31, 655. Pop., 7, 339. Houses, 1, 659. The manor belonged anciently to William de Valence, and the Burghs. There is a sulphurous spring. The parochial living, or All Saints, is a vicarage, and Holy Trinity is a vicarage, in the diocese of Lincoln. Value of All Saints, £500;* of Holy Trinity, £100.* Patron of both, the Bishop of Lincoln. The vicarages of Morton and East Stockwith are separate benefices.—The sub-district includes also the extra-parochial tract of Paddocks, which has neither houses nor inhabitants. --The district comprehends likewise the sub-district of Owston, containing the parish of Haxey, and the townships of Owston and West Butterwick-with-Kelfield; the sub-district of Scotter, containing the parishes of Scotter, Laughton, Northorpe, Southorpe, Grayingham, Blyborough. Willoughton, Hemswell, Pilham, and Blyton, the townships of Scotton and East Ferry, and the extra-parochial tract of Greenhill; the sub-district of Misterton, containing the parishes of Misterton, Walkeringham, Beckingham, Saundby, Bole, and West Burton, -all electorally in Notts; the sub-district of Willingham, containing the parishes of Willingham, Upton, Corringham, Springthorpe, Heapham, Harpswell, Glentworth, Fillingham, Coates, and Stowe; and the sub-district of Marton, containing the parishes of Marton, Lea, Knaith, Burton-Gate, Torksey, Kettlethorpe, and Newton-upon-Trent. Acres, 108, 668. Poor-rates in 1862, £9, 718. Pop. in 1851, 27, 258; in 1861, 25, 973. Houses, 5, 770. Marriages in 1860, 141; births, 812, -of which 83 were illegitimate; deaths, 542, -of which 223 were at ages under 5 years, and 21 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1, 907; births, 8, 295; deaths, 5, 308. The places of worship, in 1851, were 42 of the Church of England, with 8, 393 sittings; 1 of Independents, with 620 s.; 3 of Baptists, with 168 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 114 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 278 s.; 35 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 5, 782 s.; 3 of New Connexion Methodists, with 670 s.; 32 of Primitive Methodists, with 3, 695 s.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 120 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 100 s. The schools were 36 public day schools, with 2, 183 scholars; 81 private day schools, with 1, 588 s.; and 67 Sunday schools, with 3, 818 s.


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

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Gainsborough AP/CP       Gainsborough SubD       Gainsborough PLU/RegD       Lincolnshire AncC
Place: Gainsborough

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