A Topographical Dictionary of England. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1848.
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Chelveston (St. John the Baptist)
CHELVESTON (St. John the Baptist), a parish, in the union of Thrapston, hundred of HighamFerrers, N. division of the county of Northampton, 2 miles (E. by N.) from Higham-Ferrers; containing, with the hamlet of Caldecott, 372 inhabitants. This parish, which consists of 1754a. 3r. 36p., extends from the river Nene to the border of Bedfordshire, and the road from Higham-Ferrers to Kimbolton crosses it. The living is united to the vicarage of Higham-Ferrers: the tithes were commuted for land in 1801. A school was founded in 1760, by Abigail Bailey and Ann Levett, who endowed it with land, producing £12 per annum. James Sawyer, in 1708, endowed almshouses with £18 per annum.
Chelvey (St. Bridget)
CHELVEY (St. Bridget), a parish, in the union of Bedminster, hundred of Hartcliffe with Bedminster, E. division of Somerset, 9 miles (W. S. W.) from Bristol; containing 54 inhabitants. It comprises 442a. 1r. 39p., and is intersected by the Bristol and Exeter railroad. The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £4. 9. 7., and in the patronage of C. K. K. Tynte, Esq.: the tithes have been commuted for £95, and the glebe comprises 24 acres, and a house. The church is a neat edifice with a handsome tower.
Chelwood (St. Leonard)
CHELWOOD (St. Leonard), a parish, in the union of Clutton, hundred of Keynsham, E. division of Somerset, 2 miles (S. E.) from Pensford; containing 260 inhabitants. It abounds with coal. The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £5. 7. 6., and in the patronage of the Bishop of Bath and Wells: the tithes have been commuted for £175, and the glebe comprises 38 acres, with a glebe-house. The tower of the church was rebuilt in 1772. There is an endowed chapel belonging to the Independents.
CHENIES, anciently Isenhamsted, or Eastmansted (St. Michael), a parish, in the union of Amersham, hundred of Burnham, county of Buckingham, 4 miles (E. by N.) from Amersham; containing 625 inhabitants. This parish once belonged to the family of Cheynes, lords of the manor; and the old manor-house, which was much improved in the reign of Henry VIII., by Lord Russell, into whose family it had come by marriage with the Cheynes', is still in tolerable preservation. The parish comprises about 1400 acres, nearly all belonging to the Duke of Bedford: the surface is hilly, and the soil a gravelly loam, resting on chalk. The manufacture of paper is carried on extensively. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £12. 16. 0½., and in the gift of his Grace: the tithes have been commuted for £411. 6. 8., and the glebe comprises 30 acres, with a glebe-house. Attached to the church is a chapel, built in 1556 by Anne, Countess of Bedford, pursuant to the will of her deceased lord, John, Earl of Bedford, and containing many very interesting and some superb monuments of the Russell family, especially one to Lord William Russell, beheaded in 1683, and who lies interred in the vault beneath, with his heroic wife, Lady Rachel: in the vault are upwards of fifty coffins, with inscriptions bearing dates from 1591 to the present time. There is a place of worship for Baptists. An almshouse for ten poor persons was founded and endowed in 1603, by Anne, Countess of Warwick, daughter of the second earl of Bedford. John Russell, ancestor of the Duke of Bedford, was raised to the peerage in 1538–9, by the title of Baron Russell of Chenies, which his descendants continue to bear.
Chepstow (St. Mary)
CHEPSTOW (St. Mary), a port, market-town, and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Caldicot, county of Monmouth, 16 miles (S. by E.) from Monmouth, and 131 (W.) from London; containing, with the hamlet of Hardwick, 3366 inhabitants. This place, called by the Britons Cas Gwent, and by most antiquaries supposed to have risen from the ruins of the ancient city Venta, about four miles to the west, derives its present name from the Saxon Chepe, a market, and Stowe, a town. It obtained also the name Striguil from the earls of Pembroke, to whom it belonged at the time of the Conquest, and who, from their residing in a neighbouring castle of that name, were called lords of Striguil, by which designation the manorial courts are still held. Soon after the Conquest, a strong castle was erected, probably by William FitzOsborn, Earl of Hereford, on the summit of a rocky precipice overhanging the river Wye: there are considerable remains, richly overspread with ivy, and forming a stately object from various points of view. About the same time the town was fortified with strong walls, portions of which, together with the bastions erected for their defence, are still remaining. In the reign of Stephen, a priory of Benedictine monks was founded here, and dedicated to St. Mary; the revenue, at the Dissolution, was £32. 4. During the parliamentary war, the inhabitants adhered firmly to the royal cause, and the castle was taken, retaken, and again taken; in which conflicts it sustained considerable damage. On the restoration of Charles II., Henry Marten, one of those who had sat in judgment on Charles I., was confined in the castle till his death.
The town is situated on the river Wye, near its confluence with the Severn, and is built on the slope of a hill, among the lofty cliffs that rise abruptly from the western bank of the river, over which a handsome iron bridge of five arches was erected in 1816, at the joint expense of the counties of Gloucester and Monmouth, of which the river forms the line of separation. It is much resorted to by visiters on account of the beautiful scenery wherewith it abounds; and consists of several spacious and well-paved streets, in which are many handsome houses: it is lighted with gas, and supplied with water conveyed from Chepstow Park, four miles distant, by iron pipes. The trade is principally in navy timber, oak-bark, iron, and coal: formerly ship-building was carried on to a considerable extent, but at present vessels are only refitted and repaired. A steam-packet plies to and from Bristol during the summer months. The market-days are Wednesday and Saturday: great markets are held on the last Monday in every month, for horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, and wool; and fairs on the last Monday in February, Friday in Whitsunweek, the Saturday before June 20th, August 1st, and the Friday before October 29th. There is a convenient market-house, with an elegant assembly-room over it, erected by the late Duke of Beaufort. The county magistrates hold petty-sessions for the division every alternate Thursday; and the town is a polling-place for the election of the county representatives: the powers of the county debt-court of Chepstow, established in 1847, extend over the greater part of the registration district of Chepstow. The line of the South Wales railway passes by the town: according to the original act, obtained in 1845, it commenced here; but in 1846 another act was procured for an extension into Gloucestershire from Chepstow, so that the railway now begins at Hagloe, the terminus of the Gloucester and Forest of Dean railway, 12 miles distant. The old passage over the Severn, within two miles of the town, has been improved by the erection of stone piers, and the establishment of a regular steam-packet by some gentlemen in the neighbourhood, assisted by the Duke of Beaufort, who is lord of the manor; it may now be crossed with safety at any time of the tide.
The parish comprises 1024a. 1r. 34p., of which 269 acres are arable, 605 meadow and pasture, 68 woodland, and 81 acres buildings and gardens. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £6. 16. 8., and in the alternate patronage of Edward Bevan, Esq., and the family of Burr: the vicarial tithes have been commuted for £124. The church, formerly the church of the priory, and considered one of the finest relics of Norman architecture in the county, was thoroughly restored in 1841, chiefly by the efforts of the Bishop of Llandaff. The chancel and transepts, which were destroyed by the fall of the tower about 150 years since, have been rebuilt, the aisles removed, and the church, originally in the cathedral form, restored to its primitive dimensions. On the north side of the chancel is a handsome monument to Henry, second earl of Worcester, and his countess, and opposite is another to Mr. and Mrs. Shipman: the interior is entered by a richly decorated western doorway. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Irvingites, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics. Sir William Montagu's hospital, for twelve aged persons, was founded in 1614, and endowed with a rent-charge of £32 per annum: Powis' almshouse, for six men and six women, was founded in 1716, by Thomas Powis, Esq., who bequeathed £1800 for its erection and endowment. J. Boucher, Esq., in 1822, bequeathed a sum of money which has been placed in the three per cent. consols., amounting to £3120, the interest to be applied in giving 4s. per week to ten bachelors of the age of sixty years and upwards, and, if so many are not found, then to poor men of the parish of the same age who have not received parochial relief: he also left £1000, the interest to be applied in lighting the town. In Bridge-street is a singular well, which ebbs and flows contrary to the ebbing and flowing of the tide of the river. The union of Chepstow comprises thirty-eight parishes or places, thirty of them are in the county of Monmouth, and eight in that of Gloucester; and contains a population of 16,776.
Cherhill (St. James)
CHERHILL (St. James), a parish, in the union and hundred of Calne, Chippenham and Calne, and N. divisions of Wilts, 3 miles (E.) from Calne; containing 422 inhabitants. It comprises by computation 1300 acres, the soil of which in general is light and chalky. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Bishop of Salisbury, with a net income of £80. On the summit of a hill near the village is Oldborough, or Oldbury, camp, to which it is supposed the Danes retreated after the battle of Ethandune; and on its slope is the figure of a white horse, 157 feet long, in the attitude of trotting, cut out of the turf on the chalk rock. It was executed about half a century since, under the direction, and at the expense, of Dr. Christopher Allsop, an eminent physician of Calne; and, from its lofty situation, this being the highest land between London and Bath, is visible at the distance of twenty or thirty miles, in several directions.
Cherington (St. Nicholas)
CHERINGTON (St. Nicholas), a parish, in the union of Tetbury, hundred of Longtree, E. division of the county of Gloucester, 4 miles (N. N. E.) from Tetbury; containing 220 inhabitants. The ancient manor-house was built by Sir John Turner; the park contains a great number of deer. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £13; net income, £176; patron, the Rev. W. George. The church is a small edifice, with a nave, chancel, south transept, and low tower at the west end, exhibiting in some parts traces of the early English style. The Rev. Joseph Trapp, professor of poetry at Oxford, and the translator of Virgil, was born here in 1672.
Cheriton (St. Martin)
CHERITON (St. Martin), a parish, in the union of Elham, hundred of Folkestone, lathe of Shepway, E. division of Kent, 1 mile (W. N. W.) from Sandgate; containing 1178 inhabitants. This parish, which comprises 1788a. 2r. 28p., and includes the principal portion of the chapelry of Sandgate, is intersected by the South-Eastern railway, and the Grand Military canal. There are 102 acres of woodland. The living is a rectory, with the vicarage of Newington united, valued in the king's books at £16. 12. 6.; patron, the Rev. W. Brockman. The tithes have been commuted for £515, and the glebe contains 8 acres, with a glebe-house. The church is in the early English style, and contains several monuments, supposed to be the most ancient in the county.
Cheriton (St. Michael)
CHERITON (St. Michael), a parish, in the union of Alresford, hundred of Fawley, Winchester and N. divisions of the county of Southampton, 3 miles (S. by W.) from Alresford; containing, with the tything of Beaworth, 709 inhabitants. This parish participated in the conflicts of the civil war, and a battle took place here, called the battle of Alresford. It is situated on the road from Winchester to Petersfield, and comprises 2980 acres, the soil of which is in general chalky; 135 acres are common or waste. The living is a rectory, with Kilmeston and Titchbourn livings annexed, valued in the king's books at £66. 2. 6., and in the patronage of the Bishop of Winchester: the tithes of Cheriton and Beaworth have been commuted for £625. 10., and the glebe comprises 160 acres, with a glebe-house. The church was erected in 1745.
Cheriton, Bishop (St. Mary)
CHERITON, BISHOP (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Crediton, hundred of Wonford, Crockernwell and S. divisions of Devon, 11 miles (W. by N.) from Exeter; containing 848 inhabitants. It comprises by admeasurement 4800 acres, of which about 4000 are arable, 610 woodland and copse, 100 pasture, and 90 orchard. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £22. 13. 4., and in the patronage of the Bishop of Exeter: the tithes have been commuted for £390, and the glebe comprises 50 acres, with a glebe-house.
Cheriton-Fitzpaine (St. Mary)
CHERITON-FITZPAINE (St. Mary), a parish, in the union of Crediton, hundred of West Budleigh, Crediton and N. divisions of Devon, 4¾ miles (N. E. by N.) from Crediton; containing 1156 inhabitants. It includes parts of the tythings of Bradley and Fulford, and comprises by measurement 5365 acres, of which 50 are common or waste. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £37. 6. 8.; patron and incumbent, Rev. William Harris Arundell, whose tithes have been commuted for £992, and whose glebe comprises 31 acres. The church contains a stained-glass window, the gift of the incumbent, raised at the east end in 1846. There is an almshouse for six poor people, founded and endowed in 1594 by Andrew Scott; the income is £45.
Cheriton, North (St. John the Baptist)
CHERITON, NORTH (St. John the Baptist), a parish, in the union of Wincanton, hundred of Horethorne, county of Somerset, 2½ miles (S. W. by S.) from Wincanton; containing 290 inhabitants. This parish, which is situated on the great road from London to Exeter, comprises 1088a. 2r. 6p.: stone of good quality is quarried for building and for the roads. The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £8. 12. 1.; patron and incumbent, the Rev. Thomas Gatehouse: the incumbent's tithes have been commuted for £195. 17., and a rent-charge of £46. 15. is paid to an impropriator; the glebe comprises 29 acres, with a glebe-house.
CHERITON, SOUTH, a hamlet, in the parish of Horsington, union of Wincanton, hundred of Horethorne, E. division of Somerset, 3¼ miles (S. S. W.) from Wincanton; containing 414 inhabitants. Here was formerly a chapel.
Cherrington (St. John the Baptist)
CHERRINGTON (St. John the Baptist), a parish, in the union of Shipston-upon-Stour, Brailes division of the hundred of Kington, S. division of the county of Warwick, 4 miles (S. E.) from Shipston; containing 340 inhabitants. In the 52nd of Henry III., Ralph de Wylington held the manor by the service of a knight's fee, of the Earl of Warwick, as of the manor of Brailes. It was the property of Sir William Lucy early in the reign of Edward III.; from which time it continued to his descendants. The area of the parish is 808a. 1r. 22p. A tributary of the Stour runs through from east to west. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £11. 10. 7½. net income, £259; patron, Daniel Turner, Esq. The tithes were commuted for land and money payments in 1805.
Cherry-Burton, county of York.—See Burton, Cherry.
Chertsey (All Saints)
CHERTSEY (All Saints), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the Second division of the hundred of Godley, W. division of Surrey, 13 miles (N. N. E.) from Guildford, and 20 (W. S. W.) from London; containing 5347 inhabitants. During the heptarchy, the South Saxon kings had their residence in this town; and it became noted for a Benedictine monastery, founded in 666 by Erkenwald, afterwards Bishop of London, and which, having been burnt to the ground in the war with the Danes, was refounded by King Edgar, and dedicated to St. Peter. In this abbey Henry VI. was privately interred; but his remains were subsequently removed, and deposited, with appropriate solemnities, in the royal chapel at Windsor. At the Dissolution, its revenue was £774. 13. 6.: some portions of the outer walls remain, and on the site, and with part of the materials, of the abbey, a private mansion, called the Abbey House, was erected, but this was pulled down some years ago.
The town is pleasantly situated upon the Thames, over which is a handsome stone bridge of seven arches, built in 1785, at an expense of £13,000, defrayed jointly by the counties of Surrey and Middlesex: the houses are in general neatly built of brick; the streets are partially paved, and lighted, and the inhabitants are plentifully supplied with water from springs. A neat building, of which the first stone was laid in November, 1838, by the high sheriff of the county, has been erected for a literary and scientific institution. The trade is principally in malt and flour; the manufacture of coarse thread, and the making of iron-hoops and brooms, are carried on to a considerable extent; and a great quantity of bricks is also made in the neighbourhood. The town is about three miles from the Weybridge station of the South-Western railway; and an act was passed in 1846 for a branch railway from that station to Chertsey and to Egham. The river Wey navigation and canal passes within two miles, and joins the Thames a little to the north of Weybridge, affording facility of conveyance for the several articles of manufacture, and for large quantities of vegetables, which are cultivated in the environs for the London market. The market, chartered by Queen Elizabeth in 1559, is on Wednesday: the fairs are on the first Monday and Tuesday in Lent, for cattle; May 14th, for sheep; and August 6th and September 25th, for toys and pedlery. A court of pie-poudre is attached to the fair in Lent. The county magistrates hold a meeting for the division on the first and third Wednesdays in every month; and headboroughs and other officers are appointed on Tuesday in Whitsun-week, at the court leet of the lord of the manor, who also holds a court baron on the following day at Hardwick Court, now a farmhouse, but once the manorial mansion, in which Henry VI. resided when a child. The powers of the county debt-court of Chertsey, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Chertsey, and part of the districts of Staines and Windsor.
The parish comprises about 10,020 acres. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £13. 12. 4.; net income, £307; patrons, alternately, the Haberdashers' Company, and the Governors of Christ's Hospital; impropriators, the landowners. The church, a handsome structure in the later English style, with a square embattled tower, was built with money raised on annuities, in 1808; it contains a tablet to the memory of the celebrated orator and statesman, Charles James Fox, and several monuments to the Mawbey family. A church has been built at Addlestone (which see); and there are places of worship for Independents and Methodists. A school was founded in 1725, by Sir William Perkins, who endowed it with £3000 Bank stock, which sum, augmented by an accumulating annual surplus, produces at present nearly £400 per annum; the school has been extended upon the national plan. The tolls and profits arising from stallage in the market and fairs were granted by Queen Elizabeth to the poor, for whose benefit there are various other charitable benefactions, among them a sum of nearly £4000, left by Miss Mary Giles, who died in 1841. The union of Chertsey comprises 9 parishes or places, and contains a population of 14,929. Near the town is St. Anne's Hill, commanding an extensive prospect, formerly the residence of Charles James Fox, and in which are some tessellated pavements, collected from the ruins of the abbey: the water of St. Anne's Well was once in repute for its efficacy in curing diseases of the eye. The poet Cowley lived for some time in an ancient house in the town, called Cowley House, in which he died; and Mr. Day, author of Sandford and Merton, resided in the vicinity.
CHESEL, a hamlet, in the parish of Winterslow, union of Alderbury, hundred of Alderbury, Salisbury and Amesbury, and S. divisions of Wilts, 8 miles (E. by N.) from Salisbury. About a mile from this place is a curious earthwork, of oval form, containing five acres, and supposed to have been a Roman amphitheatre; on the north side is a large rampart.
CHESELBORNE, a parish, in the union of Cerne, hundred of Whiteway, Cerne division of Dorset, 10½ miles (S. W. by W.) from Blandford-Forum; containing 346 inhabitants. It comprises about 2580 acres, chiefly arable and pasture land; 622 acres are common or waste: the surface is hilly, and the soil, which is watered by three small streams, in general chalky. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £18. 10. 5.; net income, £254; patron, Lord Rivers. The glebe contains 40 acres, with a glebe-house. In the churchyard is an ancient stone cross.
Chesham (St. Mary)
CHESHAM (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, in the union of Amersham, hundred of Burnham, county of Buckingham, 3 miles (N.) from Amersham, and 29 (N. W. by W.) from London; comprising the hamlets of Asheridge, Ashley-Green, Bellingdon, Botley, Charteridge, Hundridge, Latimer, and Waterside; and containing 5593 inhabitants, of whom 2425 are in the town. This place derives its name from the small river Chess, which rises in the neighbourhood, and, after running through the town, empties itself into the Colne near Rickmansworth. The town consists of three streets, is situated in a pleasant and fertile valley, and was formerly noted for its extensive manufacture of wooden-ware and turnery, which has of late much declined. The prevailing branch of manufacture at present is the making of shoes for the London market; many females are employed in making lace and strawplat; and there are several mills worked by the Chess for the manufacture of paper, and a silk-mill worked by machinery. The market-days are Wednesday, for corn, which is pitched in the market-place, and Saturday, for straw-plat and provisions: fairs are held on April 21st and July 22nd, for cattle; and September 28th, a statute-fair. The county debt-court of Chesham, established in 1847, has jurisdiction over the greater part of the registration-districts or poor-law unions of Amersham and Berkhampstead, and over two or three adjacent parishes.
The parish comprises by computation 12,650 acres, which, excepting about 500 of wood and 143 common or waste, are chiefly arable: the surface is in general hilly, and the soil on the high lands abounds with flint and chalk, which latter is obtained for manure. The living is a discharged vicarage, formerly consisting of the medieties of Chesham-Leicester and CheshamWoburn, each valued in the king's books at £13. 1. 5½., but consolidated in 1767; patron, the Duke of Bedford. The great tithes have been commuted for £2326, and the vicarial for £550; there are 2½ acres of vicarial glebe. The church is an ancient cruciform structure, with a square embattled tower surmounted by a low spire: in the chancel is a monument from an elegant design by Bacon, to the memory of Nicholas Skottowe, Esq. At Latimer is a chapel of considerable antiquity, which has lately been rebuilt; it is supposed to have been endowed by the Cavendish family. There are four places of worship for dissenters, two of which are for Baptists. A chalybeate spring was discovered in 1820. At Asheridge, a college for a rector and twenty brethren was founded in 1283, by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall; the revenue of which, at the Dissolution, was £447. 18.
Chesham-Bois (St. Leonard)
CHESHAM-BOIS (St. Leonard), a parish, in the union of Amersham, hundred of Burnham, county of Buckingham, 1½ mile (N. E. by N.) from Amersham; containing 218 inhabitants. It comprises 905a. 3r. 32p., of which about 620 acres are arable, 150 woodland, and 46 common or waste; the situation is hilly, and the soil, in general a stiff clay resting on chalk, produces excellent wheat. The parish is intersected in the northern portion of it by a branch of the river Colne, on the banks of which are a corn-mill and a mill for the manufacture of paper. The living is a donative rectory, valued in the king's books at £5. 6. 8., and in the gift of the Duke of Bedford: the tithes have been commuted for £160, and the glebe comprises 2¼ acres, with a glebe-house. The church was formerly a chapel of ease to the vicarage of Chesham, and is supposed to have been originally a private chapel to the adjoining mansion belonging at that time to Lord Cheney, whose family monuments are in the church, the records of which extend back as far as to the year 1560; the pulpit and a painted window are great curiosities, and exhibit much skill and ingenuity.
CHESHIRE, a maritime county, bounded on the north by the estuary of the Mersey, the county of Lancaster, and a small part of the county of York; on the east by the counties of Derby and Stafford; on the south by the county of Salop, and a detached portion of Flintshire; on the west by the counties of Denbigh and Flint, and the estuary of the Dee; and on the north-west by the Irish Sea. It extends from 52° 56' to 53° 32' (N. Lat.), and from 1° 48' to 3° 10' (W. Lon.); and includes 1052 square miles, or 673,280 statute acres. Within the limits of the county are 73,444 inhabited houses, 5844 uninhabited, and 547 in progress of erection; and the population amounts to 395,660, of whom 193,646 are males, and 202,014 are females.
The name is a contraction of Chestershire. At the time of the Roman invasion, the county formed part of the territory occupied by the Cornavii; in the first division of Britain by the Romans it was included in Britannia Superior, and in their subsequent subdivision became part of Flavia Cæsariensis. Under the Saxons it was a portion of the powerful kingdom of Mercia; and upon the division of England into three great districts by Alfred, it was comprehended in that called Mercenlege, or the "Mercian jurisdiction." Cheshire is within the diocese of Chester, and province of York; it comprises the deaneries of Chester, Frodsham, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Malpas, Middlewich, and Wirrall, containing 87 parishes. For purposes of civil jurisdiction it is divided into the hundreds of Broxton, Bucklow, Eddisbury, Macclesfield, Nantwich, Northwich, and Wirrall. It contains the city of Chester (which however forms a county of itself); the large manufacturing towns of Macclesfield and Stockport, recently created parliamentary boroughs; and the other market towns of Altrincham, Birkenhead, Congleton, Frodsham, Knutsford, Malpas, Middlewich, Nantwich, Northwich, Sandbach, and Tarporley. Under the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, the county was divided into two parts, the Northern and Southern, each sending to parliament two knights of the shire. Two citizens are returned for the city of Chester, and two burgesses each for Macclesfield and Stockport; and the village of Farndon, bordering on Denbighshire, is included within the limits of the adjacent borough of Holt, and shares in the election of one member for the district of boroughs comprising Denbigh, Ruthin, and Holt. Under the act of the 1st of William IV., cap. 70, for the more effectual administration of justice in England and Wales, the assizes were directed to be held in Cheshire and each of the counties of Wales, in the same manner as such courts had been held in the counties of England having no palatine jurisdiction; one of the two judges appointed by Her Majesty's commission to hold the assizes within the county of Chester and principality of Wales proceeding to hold such assizes in North Wales, and the other in South Wales, and both holding the assizes in and for the county of Chester, as in other English counties. The assizes, and the Epiphany and Easter quarter-sessions, are held at Chester, where stands the county gaol; and the Midsummer and Michaelmas quarter-sessions, at Knutsford, where is the house of correction.
William the Conqueror, having granted the county to his nephew, Hugh Lupus, the latter was constituted the first hereditary earl in England, that dignity having previously been an office of the executive government of the realm. By the terms of the grant, Lupus acquired jura regalia within the county, in the exercise of which he created eight parliamentary barons (one of whom was hereditary constable, and another hereditary steward), assembled parliaments, and established courts of law. His descendants continued to enjoy this sovereignty until the death of John, Earl of Chester, in 1237, without male issue; in consequence of which, Henry III. seized on the county of Chester, gave other lands in lieu to the sisters of the deceased earl, and bestowed the earldom on his son, Prince Edward. Richard II. having erected Cheshire into a principality, added to his other titles that of Princeps Cestriæ; but this act was abrogated by his successor, and it again became a county palatine, and continued, under the king's eldest sons, as earls of Chester, to be governed, as in the time of its ancient earls, by a jurisdiction separate from, and independent of, the parliament of England. The ancient privileges of the palatinate were much abridged in the 27th of Henry VIII., prior to which time the lord high chancellor of England had not appointed justices of the peace, justices of the quorum, or of gaol delivery, in the county; the authority of the earl within the palatinate being as absolute as that of the king throughout the realm, and so extensive that he had power to pardon for treason and felony, to rescind outlawries, and to appoint justices of eyre, assize, gaol delivery, and of the peace; and all original and judicial writs, and indictments, for treason and felony, with the process thereon, being made in his name. In consequence of this curtailment of its privileges, the county petitioned that it might send knights and burgesses to the parliament of the realm; in accordance with which, a statute was passed in 1542, enacting that thenceforward two knights should be returned for the county palatine, and two burgesses for the city of Chester. The authority of the judges and officers of the great session of the county palatine, which, says Lord Coke, "is the most ancient and honourable remaining in England," extended over the counties of Chester and Flint, for both which one seal was used; and the king's writ did not run in the palatinate, all writs from the superior courts being directed to the chamberlain of Chester, who issued his mandate to the sheriff. The chamberlain had, within the county palatine and the county of the city of Chester, the jurisdiction of chancellor; and the court of exchequer, at Chester, was the chancery court, whereof the chamberlain, or his deputy, was the sole judge in equity: he was also judge at the common law within the said limits. The other officers of the court were the vicechamberlain, baron, seal-keeper, filizer, examiner, six clerks or attorneys of the court, and some inferior officers. But by the recent statute above mentioned, the whole of these jurisdictions have been abolished, and the subjects of them transferred to the courts at Westminster.
The general appearance of the surface is that of an extended plain, thickly covered with wood; so that, from some points of view, the entire county wears the aspect of a vast and continued forest. The most elevated lands are on the eastern border, and in the western part from Malpas to Frodsham. There are several small lakes, called meres or pools, of which Combermere is a fine sheet of water, nearly two miles in length and half a mile in breadth, close to the site of Combermere Abbey. The soils are intermingled; the prevailing species are clay and sand, a tolerably strong and retentive clay existing in the largest proportion. The subsoil is commonly clay or marl; but in some places it is found to consist of sand, rammel, foxbench, gravel, and red rock: the rammel is a hard argillaceous substance, very unfavourable to the vegetation on the surface; as also, in a still greater degree, is the foxbench. The proportion of land in tillage is much inferior to that of many counties possessing the same degree of fertility: wheat and oats, but principally the latter, are the chief objects of culture; and in a considerable tract bordering on Lancashire, into which county it also extends, potatoes are a more common agricultural crop than in any other part of the kingdom. The ordinary artificial grasses are red and white clover, rye-grass, trefoil, rib-grass, and vetches. As the making of cheese is a principal object of husbandry, the proportion of pasture land is very considerable; it is calculated that the number of cows kept for the dairy is about 92,000, and that the quantity of cheese annually made is about 11,500 tons. There are few woods and plantations of great extent, yet the quantity of timber growing here is more than the average of the same space in the kingdom at large; it is scattered chiefly in hedge-rows and coppices. The wastes consist of the large tract of hilly land on the Derbyshire border, and several peat-mosses, such as Lindow Common, Featherbed Moss, &c., in the hundred of Macclesfield; Rud Heath; and some smaller tracts in different parts of the county. But great progress has for several years been made in their inclosure, of which the most prominent instance is that of Delamere Forest.
The minerals of the county are various and important. The principal and the most remarkable, as forming one of its staple productions, and being almost peculiar to it, is salt, the manufacture of which appears to have been carried on here from the most remote period, and to have yielded a considerable revenue to the crown, even prior to the Norman Conquest. This article was, until a late period, manufactured only from the water of the brine springs; and even so late as the beginning of the last century, the salt made in Cheshire supplied merely its own consumption and that of a few adjacent counties, English salt being then considered inferior to that imported from the continent; but the preparation, as well for home consumption as for exportation, exceedingly increased in the course of that century; and the trade is now of the first national importance, and the source of an extensive commerce. The first bed of fossil rock-salt was found in 1670, in searching for coal, at Marbury, about a mile to the north of Northwich; and this town, and its immediate neighbourhood, continued to be the only part of the county in which rock-salt was known to exist, until 1779, when extensive beds were discovered near Lawton. The first bed of salt, found at the depth of about 40 yards, is here 25 yards in thickness; the second, which is at the depth of about 76 yards, is of unknown thickness, having been dug for about 36 yards. The cavities formed in working the salt, which are generally about fifteen feet in height, are separated by massive pillars of salt, eight or ten yards square, and, when illuminated by candles fixed in the rock, have a highly brilliant and picturesque appearance. The salt from the brine is procured by evaporation and crystallization in large pans placed over fires. The next most valuable mineral is Coal, which is procured chiefly in the range of high ground extending between Macclesfield and Stockport, and connected with the Derbyshire hills. In the beds of sandstone composing Alderley-Edge are several breaks, extending across it from east to west, and filled irregularly with sandstone and masses of barytes, among which are veins of Lead and Copper ores. Similar veins have been found at Mottram St. Andrew, a little to the north-east; and copper ore is likewise procured in the Peckforton hills, forming the southern part of the range which extends across the middle of the county. Several quarries of excellent Freestone are worked in different parts of the county, among which those at Runcorn and at Manley, on the north-west side of Delamere Forest, are the most considerable. At Kerredge, on the hills near Macclesfield, is a species of Sandstone peculiarly adapted to the formation of flags and hones. Limestone is no where found but at Newbold-Astbury, where large quantities are burned with coal brought from Staffordshire. Marl exists almost in every part, and Gypsum is found in some places.
From its proximity to Manchester, the county has participated in the great extension of the cotton manufacture, and there are now few situations within its limits favourable for the purpose where mills have not been erected; which is more especially the case in the northern part of the county, where the cotton trade has rendered Stockport one of the most important towns in the kingdom: the trade is also of considerable extent at Macclesfield, Marple, and Congleton. A large quantity of muslin is made at Macclesfield, and in Stockport and its neighbourhood. There are numerous silk-mills at Congleton, Macclesfield, Stockport, and Sandbach; the weaving of ribbon forms the staple trade of Congleton, and that of silk-handkerchiefs of the more important town of Macclesfield, where also silk-ferret is made. At Knutsford is a manufacture of thread; and the manufacture of hats for exportation at Stockport, Macclesfield, and Nantwich, and that of shoes at Sandbach, are each considerable. Some woollen-cloths are made at the north-eastern extremity of the county, in the parish of Mottram; and tanning isvery extensively carried on.
The principal rivers are the Dee, the Mersey, and the Weaver; to which the minor streams of the Dane, the Bollin, the Peover, the Wheelock, and the Tame, are tributary. The Dee, a little below the city of Chester, enters an artificial channel, by which it is carried through the marshes in the north-eastern extremity of Flintshire, by Hawarden, to its expansive estuary, which is in some parts seven miles in breadth, but so full of sands that at low water the channel is almost entirely dry: this opens to the Irish Sea near Hilbree Island, where it is about five miles in breadth. Prior to the year 1449, the navigation of the Dee had become so much obstructed by sand, as to cause the stream frequently to change its channel, and occasion the ruin of the haven of Chester; to obviate which, a new quay or haven was made nearly six miles from Chester, about the middle of the following century: on its completion, all goods conveyed from and brought to the port of Chester were there shipped and landed. In 1700, an act was obtained to enable the mayor and citizens to recover and preserve the navigation of the Dee; and another act being passed in 1734, empowering some gentlemen, willing to undertake the work, to inclose a large tract of the banks of the river, called the White Sands, on the condition of making a navigable line from the sea to Chester, the present artificial channel was completed in 1740, in which year the undertakers were incorporated by the name of "The Company of Proprietors of the Undertaking for recovering and preserving the Navigation of the river Dee." In 1763, 1411 acres of land were recovered; in 1769, 664; and in 1795, 348; and this reclaimed tract has been greatly augmented by subsequent embankments.
The Mersey forms the boundary between this county and Lancashire, and below Warrington, where it meets the tide, begins to expand until it reaches Runcorn Gap, where it is suddenly rendered narrow by a projection from the Lancashire side. Beyond this point it immediately opens into a grand estuary, three miles in width, which gradually contracts until it arrives at Liverpool, where it is only three-quarters of a mile in width, but forms a fine channel, at least ten fathoms deep at low water, and very commodious for shipping. At the distance of about five miles further, measuring by the Cheshire coast, it falls into the Irish Sea, through different inlets, separated and much obstructed by sands; but the passage is rendered secure by means of various landmarks, buoys, and lighthouses, and the good system of pilotage established by the Liverpool merchants. The Weaver rises on Bulkeley Heath, in the south-western part of the county, and pursues its entire course within its limits. This river in its natural state, being navigable only at high tides, and but for six miles above Frodsham bridge, a company of Cheshire gentlemen, in 1720, entered into a subscription to procure an act of parliament for extending the navigation from Frodsham bridge to Winsford bridge; and all incumbrances brought on by this undertaking were discharged in 1778. Since that time a considerable surplus revenue, arising from tonnage, &c., has been annually paid into the county treasury in aid of the rate, as provided by the act; and the returns are now estimated at about £20,000 per annum. The total length of the Weaver navigation is nearly 24 miles; and the extensive trade upon it in salt and coal, and in flint and clay for the Staffordshire potteries, makes the tonnage greater than perhaps that of any river of its size in the kingdom.
The canals that intersect Cheshire in various directions, are, the Duke of Bridgewater's, commenced under an act passed in 1759, and completed, with its several branches, under various others; the Trent and Mersey or Grand Trunk canal, begun under an act obtained in 1766, which has been amended by numerous subsequent acts; the Ellesmere and Chester canal, commenced under an act procured in 1772, and finished under many others, with different branches; the Peak Forest canal, the first act for which was passed in 1794; and the Macclesfield canal, the act for constructing which was obtained in 1825. The Huddersfield canal also pursues its course for some distance within the northern confines of the county, on the south side of the valley of the Tame; and there is a branch canal from Stockport, communicating with the Manchester, Ashton, and Oldham canal, which at Ashton approaches close to the borders of Cheshire, and in the vicinity of that town is connected with the Peak-Forest and Huddersfield canals. Several railways, also, have been formed. The Birmingham and Liverpool railway enters the county at Blackenhall, between Checkley and Wrinehill, and proceeds in a direction north-north-west to the west of Crewe Hall, where it is joined by the Manchester and Birmingham, and the Chester and Crewe, railways; it afterwards pursues its course to the river Mersey, at Warrington. The Manchester and Birmingham railway runs by Stockport and Sandbach, to Crewe, and has a considerable branch to Macclesfield. The Chester and Crewe railway runs from the station in Chester to Crewe, a distance of 20½ miles; it is carried over the river Weaver, and several bridges, by an extensive viaduct, and at Christleton passes under the Ellesmere canal. The Chester and Birkenhead railway commences at Chester, and proceeds to Birkenhead, on the Mersey, opposite to Liverpool, a distance of 16 miles; it passes over several extensive embankments, and by a viaduct of 11 arches over the Ellesmere canal. The Sheffield, Ashton, and Manchester railway crosses the north-eastern angle of the county, which interposes between Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Derbyshire; it is of recent construction, and is a line of great importance. Cheshire also includes part of the Chester and Holyhead, Chester and Shrewsbury, and Altrincham and Manchester, lines.
Few Roman remains have been discovered, except within the walls of Chester, which city, under the name of Deva, was for more than two centuries the station of the twentieth legion, vestiges of whose occupation are even yet numerous. The site of no other station within the county has been clearly ascertained, though it is conjectured by Whitaker, on interesting local evidence, that the station of Condate was at Kinderton, and that there were likewise fortified posts at Stockport, Stretford, and Warrington. Many Roman roads traversed the territory, of which the principal were, one from Manchester to Kinderton, one from Kinderton to Wroxeter, one from Kinderton southward by the vicinity of Sandbach, one from Kinderton to the station at Chesterton, near Newcastle-under-Line; one from Kinderton to Chester; the ancient Watling-street, originally of British construction, from the south-eastern coast of the island to Chester; and a great road called by Sir R. C. Hoare the Via Devana, from Chester southward: but the existing remains of these are few, scattered, and imperfect. Prior to the Dissolution, Cheshire contained 13 Religious Houses, including one commandery of the Knights Hospitallers; there were, besides, two colleges and nine hospitals. Of some of these houses considerable remains yet exist, especially of the abbey of St. Werburgh, Chester. The principal remains of Castles are those of Chester and Beeston, though the former were much diminished in 1790, for the purpose of erecting on their site the present noble county hall, gaol, and barracks; vestiges of those of Halton, Alford, Shotwick, and Shotlach are also traceable. There are several remarkable ancient mansions, namely, Doddington, Bramhall, Saighton, Little Moreton, Dutton, Poole, Brereton, and Crewe Halls; and many of the modern seats are elegant edifices. At Buglawton is a saline and sulphureous spring, efficacious in the cure of scorbutic diseases: at Shaw Heath, near Stockport, is a strong chalybeate spring; and some of the brine springs already noticed have also chalybeate properties.