STAFFORDSHIRE is situated near the centre of the kingdom; bounded on the north and north-west by Cheshire, from which county it is separated by the river Dane; on the north and north-east by Derbyshire, the Dove dividing it from that county; on the south by Worcestershire; on the south-east by Warwickshire; and on the west by Shropshire. It is fifty-five miles in length, at it extreme points from north to south-west; its greatest breadth is about thirty-three miles, and its circumference about one hundred and fifty: its area contains about one thousand one hundred and forty-eight (1,148) square miles, or 734,720 statute acres. In size it ranks as the eighteenth English county, and in population as the seventh.
SOIL and CLIMATE, PRODUCE and MANUFACTURES. - The northern part, called 'the Moorlands' is hilly, much resembling the adjacent districts of Derbyshire; and is a bleak, and dreary tract - the soil thin, and yielding but a scanty pasture. The valley along the Trent is mostly very fertile, adorned with seats and plantations, and affords a variety of beautiful prospects. The middle and southern parts of this county are generally level, and have a depth of rich loamy soil. The great forest of Cannock, near the centre, once covered with oaks, has been dismantled of its wood to a considerable extent, and part of it is now intersected by roads and neat villages: at the southern extremity the Clent Hills, and Hagley and its neighbourhood, are well known for the romantic beauties they possess. The CLIMATE of Staffordshire is considered not unhealthy, though inclining to wet, especially in the northern part - probably arising from a ridge of mountainous land, lying to the west, which attracts the clouds in their passage. The air is sharp, and more severely cold than in many other counties. The AGRICULTURE and FARMING STOCK of Staffordshire have, within the last half century, undergone material improvement; whilst, on the rich lands bordering on the Trent, the dairy has become a source of considerable profit, and much good cheese and butter are made in that district. Although agricultural produce is a valuable auxiliary, yet the subterranean riches of the county are of still higher importance to its welfare, as being the grand materiel employed in its principal manufactures. Coal is abundant in many parts; while the Moorlands contain beneath, besides coal, a store of mineral wealth, yielding lead, copper, iron, marble, alabaster, mill-stone, and salt: fullers' earth is also found in Staffordshire - pipe-clay, and red and yellow ochres, in various parts; besides a blue clay, of great tenacity, and fire-proof, suited for the composition of pots for glass houses; and potters' clay, for more common purposes, in different districts, particularly Newcastle-under-Lyme. Limestone and iron ore are common in several places; copper and lead ore, varying greatly in purity and worth, occasionally also appear. Quarries of marble, in differing colour, strength and beauty, and various other kinds of stone of great value and utility, are plenteous.
The MANUFACTURES of this county are various - but that for which it has long been celebrated is its POTTERY. The opulent and interesting district designated 'The Potteries' extends about ten miles in length and one mile and a half in breadth, locally in the northern division of the hundred of Pirehill; in a part abounding with coal, and clays of great variety - which, with the great canal intercourse existing with every part of the kingdom, combine to render it the most eligible seat for these ingenious manufactures; giving employment to perhaps twenty thousand people in the county; and the operations of digging and collecting the clay, flint, terra parcellana, &c., in Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, Dorsetshire, Devonshire and Cornwall, and conveying them to the adjacent ports, are supposed to employ nearly forty thousand more, besides upwards of sixty thousand tons of shipping. Here are likewise iron works; and, in the southern extremity of the county, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Wednesbury, Darlaston, Bilston &c., &c., participate with Birmingham in the manufacture of different descriptions of hardware. Many thousand people are employed in the manufacture of nails, especially in the parishes of Sedgley, Rowley, West Bromwich, Smethwick, Tipton, Walsall, &c. - women and children are employed in the making of the lighter sorts. The town of Stafford has long been famed for its manufacture of shoes, which employs a great number of hands. At Newcastle and Rugeley hats are manufactured, and at Leek various articles in the silk trade. At Tutbury, Rocester and Fazeley are cotton-spinning factories; and at Tipton and West Bromwich are inexhaustible coal mines and iron works, with blast furnaces of prodigious power.
See also The Potteries.
WIGTONSHIRE or WIGTOWNSHIRE forms the western part of the
ancient district of Galloway, occupies the south-western extremity of Scotland:
it is bounded on the east by the stewartry of Kirkcudbright (or Eastern
Galloway), also by Wigtown bay; on the south and west it is girded by the Irish
Sea, and on the north by the county of Ayr. The extent of the shire from north
to south is about thirty miles, and (including Luce Bay) its breadth from east
to west is about thirty miles: the superficial contents of the county (adopting
a medium calculation betwixt conflicting authorities) may be taken at 484 square
miles, or 309,760 statute acres - of which about one-third, perhaps, is
cultivated. The Bay of Luce indents the land to the extent of fifteen miles,
and forms two promontories; at the southern extremity of the western projection
is the Mull of Galloway, while the apex of the eastern is called Burrow Head;
these two penisular headlands are also known by the Celtic name of the Rhinns
(Rhyns or Rinos) of Galloway. On the north another
promontory is formed by the intersection of Loch Ryan. At the epoch of the
Roman power obtruding itself into North Britain, the ancient British tribe of
the Novantes inhabited the whole of eastern and western Galloway, having
Leucophibia (the modern Whithorn) for their principal town, and Rerigonium
(Loch Ryan) for their principal port. The Anglo-Saxons overran the district in
the sixth century; and Oswie, the Northumbrian king, settled in Whithorn.
During the ninth and tenth centuries the country on the west was inhabited by
the Picts from Ireland and the Isle of Man; and hence the name Galloway,
or 'the country of the Gael', was conferred on the territory. About the twelfth
century Galloway passed into the hands of the Scottish king, Alexander II. In
the sanguinary contests which originated in the competition of Bruce and Baliol,
the chieftains of Galloway long remained attached to the party of the latter,
whose family they sheltered after Edward Bruce had subdued the whole country.
The family of Douglas subsequently became possessed of the lordship of Galloway;
but, on the attainder of the nobleman of that name in 1455, the title became
extinct: it was revived, however, and now bestows an earldom on the
distinguished family of Stewart and Garlies.
SOIL, CLIMATE, PRODUCE, &c. - This shire is one of the most level
districts in Scotland; and the hills, of which there are none of great altitude,
are generally pretty free from the encumbrance of rocks. The best lands lie
near the shores - the inland divisions being more elevated, and largely mixed
with heath and moss. The major part of the SOIL is of a hazel colour, and is of
that kind sometimes called a dry loam, though it often inclines to a gravelly
nature. The county presents an exposure to the south, and its waters mostly
descend to the Irish Sea. The CLIMATE is moist, with winds from the south-west,
which prevail during the greater part of the year, usually accompanied with
rains; yet, when proper attention is exercised by the agriculturist, the
moisture of the climate is but seldom injurious to the products of the earth:
snow rarely lies long, and frosts are not generally severe or of tedious
duration. In early times this district of Galloway, like most other sections of
the country, was covered with woods; and in modern days planting has been
pursued most extensively: it is said that, during twenty years, the Earl of
Stair annually planted twenty thousand trees. The salutary improvements that
have been effected in the agriculture of this county have been, with some
justice, ascribed to the efforts of the agricultural society of Dumfries; the
spirit and practice of husbandry gradually spread from that shire to
Kirkcudbright, and thence penetrated into Wigtonshire: since that period, rents
have risen rapidly; and corn and other products of tillage, black cattle, wool,
sheep and swine, are now largely exported. The district has long been
celebrated for its breed of horses, distinguished by the appellation of
'Galloways'; they are of the Spanish or rather Moorish race, and, when the breed
is pure, of a dun colour with a black line along the back: these animals are
small, but active, sinewy and spirited. The mineral resources of this county
are by no means extensive; there is no coal, at least for any useful purpose;
and, although there is plenty of iron ore, the absence of the former article
render the latter of comparatively little value: in the northern part of the
'Rhinus' the existence of sandstone has been ascertained; quarries of slate, of
different qualities, are found in various places; and lead mines were formerly
wrought; within the district.
RIVERS AND MOUNTAINS. - This county has no considerable rivers; the
principal are the CREE, the BLADENOCH and the TARF, with a few of smaller size.
The Cree, which is a boundary river between this county and the stewartry of
Kirkcudbright, rises in Carrick, in Ayrshire; after forming a lake at the head
of Wigtonshire, it flows again as a stream, and, passing Newton-Stewart on the
east, falls into a creek at the head of Wigtown Bay. The Bladenoch also has its
source in Carrick, and after running a course of twenty-four miles falls into a
small lake, called Loch Whinnoch, in the parish of Girthon, Kirkudbright; and,
after a course of twenty-one miles, unites with the Dee. The MOUNTAINS, with
their elevations above the level of the sea, are, Lang, 1,758 feet; Mochrum
Fell, 1,020; Knock of Luce, 1,014; and Barhullion, 814.
Wigtonshire comprehends seventeen parishes, and has three Royal and
Parliamentary Burghs, namely, WIGTOWN, STRANRAER and WHITHORN; with these is
associated New Galloway in returning a member to parliament, and the COUNTY
sends another representative. The burghs of barony in the shire are
Newton-Stewart, Garlieston, Glenluce and Portpatrick; it has several thriving
villages, and a number of small sea-ports or natural harbours; and is ornamented
by many splendid mansions and elegant seats of its nobility and gentry.
WESTMEATH is an inland county bounded on the east
by the county of Meath on the west by the counties of Longford and Roscommon,
being separated from the latter by Lough Ree and the Shannon; on the north by a
small portion of each of the counties of Cavan and Meath, and on the south by
King's County. Its greatest extent, north-east and south-west is about forty
miles, and its breadth, in a direct line east and west, is twenty miles,
comprising an area of 453,468 statute acres, of which 330,000 are arable or
other cultivated land; 11;800 plantations; 20,500 covered by water, and the
remainder, occupied by towns and unimproved mountain and bog, or irreclaimable
land. The surface of the county, though nowhere rising into tracts of
considerable elevation, is much diversified by hill and dale, is highly
picturesque in many parts, and abounds in all the essentials of rural beauty
except timber .Both the pasture and arable land of the county is exceedingly
fertile - the latter especially, occupying tracts of from 10,000 to 30,000
acres, the soil of which is so deep and rich as almost to defy abuse or
exhaustion. The southern part is flat and overspread with bog; and the hills on
the shores of Lough Dereveragh have their sides clothed with stunted oak and
underwood; the remains of ancient forests. The average rent of land is 13s.
7d. an acre. The manufactures are merely such as supply the demands of
the inhabitants being confined to friezes, flannels and coarse linens. The
mineralogy of the county is not important; it is included within the great
limestone plain of Ireland. Copper, lead, coal, and marble, have been found, but
not sufficiently abundant as to induce speculation or search for the different
beds. The Brosna and the Inny are the only important rivers of the county; but
the Shannon is a boundary stream on its western side, and there are several
inferior ones; together with a number of beautiful lakes, of which Lough
Dereveragh, Lough Annagh; Lough Ennel, Lough Leigh and Lough, Drin, are the
principal. They all or nearly all abound with various fish, particularly trout;
this fish, taken in the last named lake, is said to possess an emetic quality.
In Sept., 1843, there were 44 national schools in Westmeath, attended by 5,500
DIVISIONS, POPULATION, REPRESENTATION, &c. - The number of baronies comprised in the county are twelve - namely, Brawny, Clonlonan, Corkaree Delvin, Farbill FartuIlagh, Fore, Kilkenny West, Moyashell and Magheradernon Moycashel, Moygoish, and Rathconrath: these are divided into sixty-three parishes. The population of the county, by the census taken in 1841, was, males, 70,383; females 70,917; total, 141,300. The number of houses inhabited, at that period, was 24,002; uninhabited, 687; and houses building, 114. Prior to the Union Westmeath sent ten representatives to the Irish parliament; two for the county at large, and two each for the boroughs of Athlone, Fore, Kilbeggan, and Mullingar; but since that period the representation has been confined to one member for the first named borough, and two for the county.
[Comprising the Borough of Stoke-Upon-Trent, and the several townships and villages of Hanley, Shelton, Etruria, Burslem with Longport and Brownhills; Lane End, with Longton; Tunstall, Lane Delph, Fenton, Cobridge, and their neighbourhoods.]
STOKE-UPON-TRENT is a market town, and by the reform bill created a borough, entitled to return two members to parliament, in the extensive parish of its name, about one mile and a half east from Newcastle-under-Lyme; situate, as it's name implies, upon the river Trent, and upon the banks of the Grand Trunk Canal. This parish, at present including a district of more than seventeen square miles, and originally of much greater extent, owes its increase in population and opulence to the establishment of numerous potteries, for which its situation, on a navigable river and a great canal, renders it favourable, and for which it has for many years been distinguished. The town contains many handsome houses, commodious wharfs and warehouse, and extensive china and earthenware manufactories, - and is deemed the parish town of the Potteries. The first steam-engine for grinding burnt flint, for the use of the potters, was erected in Stoke. The parish is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, and the police is under the superintendence of commissioners appointed by an act of parliament - under the provision of which, also, a chief bailiff is elected, who convenes and presides at all meetings of the inhabitants.
The old church, dedicated to St Peter, has given place to a handsome new one, erected in 1826; it is in the later style of English architecture, and contains one thousand six hundred sittings. The handsome monument erected in the old church to the memory of the highly respected Josiah Wedgewood, Esq., where he was interred in 1795, has been put up in the new church. The benefice is a rectory. Throughout the parish there are places of worship for the various classes of dissenters; and in the town is a handsome and commodious school, in which upwards of five hundred children are instructed upon the national plan. The market is held on Saturday, and an annual wake on the first Monday in August.
HANLEY is a large and modern market town, and chaperly, in the parish and borough of Stoke, about one mile and a half from that town, and rather more than two east by north from Newcastle; situate near to the turnpike road leading from the latter place to Leek, and close to the Grand Trunk canal: the exportation, by means of this navigation, of earthenware to Liverpool, Hull, the Metropolis, &c., is of such an extent, that a company is established for the sole purpose of carrying that article. The principal part of the town is on an elevated site; the streets are not regularly disposed, but many of the houses are well built. The police of this town, like Stoke, is under the control of commissioners; and a chief bailiff is annually elected from among the most respectable inhabitants, whose duties are of the same nature as those exercised by the bailiff of Stoke. The lord of the manor holds a court baron once a year; the crown (as possessor of the duchy of Lancaster), holds, by its officer, a similar court once within the same period; and another court, in which debts under forty shillings are recoverable, sits once a fortnight.
The church, or rather chapel of ease, is a commodious structure of brick, erected in 1788, with a square tower one hundred feet in height, containing a fine set of bells; the living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the trustees of the chapel. Dissenters of various denominations have numerous places of worship here; and there are British and national schools, well supported by voluntary contributions. A mechanics' institute is established in the town; and near it is that excellent institution, the North Staffordshire Infirmary. In 1812 an act was obtained for enlarging and regulating the market, and other specific purposes; and among the improvements which have consequently been effected is the erection of a very convenient meat-market. The act authorizes markets to be held on Wednesday and Saturday; the latter, which is the principal, is abundantly supplied with provisions of all kinds : large markets or fairs for cattle are held four times a year.
SHELTON is a township in the parish of Stoke, contiguous to Hanley, of which indeed, it forms an important portion, and its manufactures and police regulations are similar to those of that town. Shelton forms part of the borough of Stoke; and is the honour of Tutbury, within the jurisdiction of a court of requests held at the latter town, every third Tuesday, for the recovery of debts under forty shillings. Extensive gas-works are in this township, which also contains some valuable charitable scholastic institutions. Races are held annually in the neighbourhood. - In this township are the potteries and the beautiful villa ETRURIA, erected by the late Josiah Wedgewood Esq.: the works form a large and interesting hamlet, and the villa is remarkable for the beauty of its situation, style of architecture, and for the many splendid Etruscan vases with which it is ornamented. These elegant specimens of art, produced under his own superintendence, are imitations of the original vases found in Italy, to the discovery of which that gentlemen was chiefly indebted for the elegance of form and purity of taste which he introduced into the manufactory of porcelain, china, and stone ware, for which this place is so deservedly celebrated, and which, by the use of flint in the composition of these articles (also introduced by the same talented person), has been progressively brought to its present state of perfection. The Methodists have a chapel at the foot of Etruria bank.
BURSLEM is a market town and parish, three miles north east from Newcastle and two from Hanley. This place appears, from the most authentic records, to have been distinguished, at an early period, for the excellence and variety of clay with which its vicinity abounds; and to have been noted for its manufactory of pottery and earthenware - for which, in the 17th century, it became the principal station in this kingdom. It was here that the first clod of that great undertaking, the Trent and Mersey canal, was cut by the spirited Josiah Wedgewood, Esq.; and when the fifteenth anniversary was celebrated by a public dinner, various ancient specimens of earthenware were exhibited, descriptive of the progressive state of the manufacture. The town is pleasantly situate on a rising ground, and contains many admirably arranged manufactories, numerous dwellings for the workmen employed therein, many good houses for the superintendents of the works, and some handsome edifices for the proprietors: it is lighted with gas, under the provisions of an act of parliament, which also dictates its police and municipal government - the later being vested in a chief constable, chosen annually by the police commissioners. The market house, or town hall, is a neat modern structure of brick, situated nearly in the centre of the town: one part of this building is appropriated to the uses of a police office; and a large and elegant news room, well supplied with the London daily and provincial papers, occupies another portion of the edifice. Adjacent to the town hall, and of more recent erection, is a handsome covered market, ornamented with a neat portico. Burslem was formerly a chaperly in the parish of Stoke, but was constituted a separate parish by act of parliament in 1807. The old church is a brick erection, with a stone tower of greater antiquity than the body; the living is a rectory. Another church has been erected, partly at the expense of the church commissioners. There are places of worship in the parish for Baptists, independents, the primitive, Wesleyan, and new connexion of methodists, and the Roman Catholics - all of which have Sunday schools attached. There are, besides, a national school, and a free grammar school for a limited number of boys. The markets are held on Monday and Saturday.
Within the township, and about half a mile from the market-place of Burslem, is the pleasant hamlet of BROWNHILLS, situate on the road leading to Manchester through the Potteries. It is chiefly to be noticed for the various strata of clay, of excellent quality, obtained here in great abundance, and principally employed in the manufacture of tiles, for which there are some extensive works. There are several good houses in the village, but no building, public or otherwise, meriting particular notice. The population is returned with Burslem.
LONGPORT is a manufacturing district within the parish of Burslem - the buildings being, for the most part, situate in a valley, on the banks of the Trent and Mersey canal, where are several wharfs. It was formerly called Trubshaw Cross, and also Longbridge; deriving its latter appellation from a number of stepping-stones, forming a causeway across the meadows, which were afterwards superseded by a bridge: but after the construction of the canal, the great improvement of the place in buildings, the establishment of manufactures, and the consequent increase of population, its name was changed to Longport. A Wesleyan Methodist chapel, and a Sunday school, were opened a few years since.
LANE END and LONGTON are two townships, forming a populous and thriving market town, in the parish of Stoke; situate at the southern extremity of the Potteries, four miles south east from Newcastle, on the road between that town and Uttoxeter. This place has risen to opulence and importance, within a comparatively few years, by the prosperous manufactures which distinguish this district. The Trent and Mersey canal passes about two miles westward from the town; and through it runs a small stream, on which are several mils grinding flint. The chapel is a brick edifice, rebuilt about the year 1795, and subsequently enlarged; the living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of certain trustees. An additional church was erected a few years since. There are places of worship for the several denominations of methodists, and for baptists, independents and Roman Catholics. In a free school founded by John Bourne, Esq., in 1760, forty children of both sexes are instructed; and there is another conducted upon the national plan. The markets are held on Wednesday and Saturday; the latter is the principal, and is well supplied with provisions of all kinds.
TUNSTALL, or TUNSTALL COURT, is a market town and liberty, forming part of the borough of Stoke, in the parish of Wolstanton, four miles north by east from Newcastle. Considerable manufactories of porcelain, earthenware, blue bricks and tiles, and some chymical works, afford employment to several hundred persons; and veins of coal, fine clay, limestone, iron ore, and other mineral strata, abound in the vicinity. The Grand Trunk canal passes within half a mile of the town; and the Harecastle tunnels, which run nearly two miles in length, are within a short distance. The new church here was erected partly by means of a grant from the commissioners for building churches, and the remainder by subscriptions among the inhabitants; the right of presentation to the living is vested in the perpetual curate of Wolstanton. There are three chapels for Methodists. The market is on Saturday.
LANE DELPH and FENTON are situate between Stoke and Lane End, and Cobridge between Hanley and Burslem; - they are small places, but contain some extensive pottery works, employing a considerable population, which are included in the returns for the townships to which they severally belong.
WARRINGTON is an ancient market town, parish and parliamentary borough, in the hundred of West Derby - 187 miles from London, 20 north east from the city of Chester; eligibly situated on the north bank of the Mersey (which river separates the counties of Chester and Lancashire), and on the high road between the important towns of Liverpool and Manchester, equi-distant from each. Its name is ascribed to both Roman and Saxon origin: history attests that the latter people had a fort here, and hence its appellation is said to arise - Waering implying 'a fortification', and tun 'a town'. That it previously was a Roman station is rendered much more probable, not only by its commanding position on the Mersey, but by the discovery, at different periods, of various relics peculiar to that nation.
The town is included in the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold a petty sessions for the division on the first and third Wednesdays in every month; a court leet of the lord of the manor is held annually in October, when constables and other officers are appointed. The town hall or sessions house, the market hall, two cloth halls, a theatre, assembly rooms, and the bridewell, are the principal public structures. The streets are well lighted by an incorporated gas company, whose extensive premises are situate in Mersey Street. Warrington, under the provisions of the Reform Bill, returns one representative to the legislature. The manufactures of this town were formerly chiefly limited to coarse linens, checks, huckabacks, &c.; they are now, however, both various and extensive, the finer fabrics predominate, such as muslins, calicoes, velveteens &c.; while the spinning of cotton employs vast steam power and a proportionate number of hands. There are also tanneries, glass works, pin making, and the manufacture of mechanics' tools - files, of a superior and highly prized temper, are to be particularized amongst the latter. When considered in a relative point of view with its extensive manufactures, the navigable advantages possessed by Warrington are of paramount consequence: the communication between Manchester and Liverpool, by means of the Mersey and Irwell rivers, is unremitting; at spring tides the former river rises, at the bridge, ten, and sometimes fifteen feet, when vessels of from seventy to one hundred tons burthen can attain this point. The Newton and Warrington railway joins the Liverpool and Manchester line, and enables this town to participate in the advantages resulting from this important mode of conveyance.
Tradition states that the parish church of Warrington was erected anterior to the conquest: it was originally dedicated to St. Elfin; but, with the alterations and reconstruction that took place at different subsequent periods, this designation became obsolete, and the present church of St. Helen occupies the site of the ancient St. Elfin's.
The public seminaries for instruction are numerous: 'Boteler's free school', founded in 1526, and munificiently endowed, affords a respectable salary to the masters and ushers, and not less than thirty boys receive the benefits of a grammatical education; the number of children instructed in the different Sunday schools may be computed at three thousand; and there are various other schools, diffusing elementary education extensively, which have been established and are supported by public benevolence. There are likewise many charitable societies and religious institutions, libraries, a mechanic's institute, &c. &c. Several works of highly appreciated merit have issued from the press of Warrington, and some individuals of distinctioned attainments have resided here. The weekly market days are Wednesday and Saturday, and there is a cattle market every alternative Wednesday.
The chapelry of LATCHFORD, separated from Warrington by the river Mersey, is in the parish of Grappenhall, county of Chester; its commodious and handsome church is dedicated to Saint James.
ATHLONE is an ancient market and post town and parliamentary borough, 76 miles west from Dublin, 29 south west from Mullingar, and 15 north-east by east from Ballinasloe. The noble river Shannon, which rolls its pure stream through the town, divides the parishes of St. Mary and St. Peter, likewise the counties of Westmeath and Roscommon, and the provinces of Leinster and Connaught, so that Athlone is partly in all the six, and nearly in the centre of the kingdom. The antiquity of the town renders it one of considerable interest. It derives its name from Ath-Luain, signifying, in the Irish language, 'the ford of the moon', of which, before the introduction of Christianity, the inhabitants were said to be worshippers. Formerly Athlone was surrounded by a wall, a portion of which still remains; it had also gates, forming the north and south entrances; the former, in a dilapidated state, is still standing, and bears upon its seared front vivid traces of having been the object of heated contest. A short distance from the gate is a fragment of the remains of an abbey, founded, according to an inscription thereon, about the middle of the thirteenth century.
Athlone was first incorporated by charter of James I. and the privileges of
the corporation extended by Charles II.; but the government of the town is now
vested in twenty-one commissioners. The borough sent two representatives to the
Irish parliament prior to the Union, since which period it has returned one to
the imperial parliament. The present member is John Collett, Esq. The sheriff of
Westmeath county is the returning officer. The manufacture of felt hats was
formerly carried on here to a great extent; but this branch is now of little, if
any, importance. In the corn trade, tanning, and distilling, there are some
respectable establishments, and the shopkeepers carry on a considerable inland
trade. There are two branch banking establishments, and three principal inns -
the 'Royal Hotel', in Mardyke-street is a family, commercial, and posting-house
of acknowledged excellence. A newspaper, named the 'Sentinel', is published, in
Athlone, on Friday.
Important and costly works and alterations, connected with this place, are
being effected, which will both improve its appearance and advance its trade;
amongst these the new bridge stands conspicuous. It is built of native stone,
and consists of three arches of sixty feet span each with an additional swivel
arch of forty feet span, to admit of steamers and other boats. It cost upwards
of £20,000., may be ranked among the first of modern structures of the
kind, and presents to the eye of the traveller, from either approach, a bold and
beautiful object. The navigation of the river is also undergoing great
improvement, in order to render it accessible to steam-boats of one hundred
horse-power. Below the bridge a capacious dock or basin, three hundred yards by
one hundred yards in extent, will be formed by means of a lock now constructing.
These improvements will supersede the use of the old canal, and the traffic will
be confined to the river course. The whole of these important works are
superintended by the Shannon commissioners, who act under the provisions of an
act of parliament, and the entire expense will exceed £80,000. The
projected line of railway between Dublin and Galway will pass through Athlone,
so that two direct lines of communication will be opened, the one east and west
by rail, the other north and south by water.
The places of worship are two churches of the establishment; the like
number of Roman Catholic chapels; and one each for Presbyterians, Baptists, and
Wesleyan Methodist. There are two convents, respectively dedicated to Saint
Augustine and Saint Francis, and two public schools, viz. - the Ranelagh endowed
school and a parochial one: two dispensaries, a handsome and commodious union
workhouse, a court-house, the barracks, &c. are the other principal public
establishments - the last named adequate to the accommodation of three thousand
soldiers, are pleasantly situated on the western bank of the river. The markets,
which are well supplied, are held on Tuesday and Saturday. Fairs, the third
Monday in January, March 21st, the first Monday in September, and fair in May,
which is governed by the falling of lent. The population of the town in 1841,
CARDIFF or CAERDYDD is a market town, a borough both corporate and parliamentary, and seaport, in the parishes of Saint John and Saint Mary, hundred of Kibbor, and is the capital of Glamorganshire; 160 miles west from London, 40 west from Bristol, 56 south west from Gloucester, 28 south west from, Chepstow, 35 south by south west from Monmouth, 12 south west from Newport (Monmouth), and 53 south by west from Hereford. This ancient town is situated on the river Taaff (or Tav), about two miles from its junction with the Bristol Channel, and on fertile level ground, about three miles from the eastern extremity, of the county, where it is joined by Monmouthshire. The river is crossed by a handsome stone bridge of five arches.
The town is well built and compact, having several good streets, which are kept clean, well-paved, and gas-lighted, and upon the whole it may be said to boast a respectable and neat appearance. This town was an ancient corporation, remodelled by the Municipal Reform Act; the corporate body consisted of a major, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors. The autumn assizes are held in Cardiff; a court leet annually by the owner of the manor, and the new county court, monthly, for the recovery of debts to any amount not exceeding £20. This borough, in conjunction with Cowbridge and Llantrissaint, sends one member to parliament. The mayor is the returning officer. The county gaol, situated near Adams' down, is a substantial building. The theatre, in Crockherb town, is a neat structure of classical design, and the interior is fitted up with taste. Amongst other improvements is the opening of a new cemetery with a handsome chapel attached. Two newspapers are published here weekly on Friday - 'The Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian' and 'The Principality' - they are conducted with considerable talent, and enjoy a respectable circulation. The harbour of Cardiff is a good one, and large quantities of wrought iron, tin and coal are exported from it. The Bute Docks were begun and completed by the nobleman whose name they bear, at the enormous outlay of £300,000, and to the construction of these costly and important works may be ascribed the present prosperity of the port; as previously there existed serious impediments to the commerce of Cardiff and the mining interest generally of the district. The Docks were opened on the 9th of October 1839.
The Taff Vale Railway from Cardiff to Merthyr has proved of great importance to these towns and the district. Originally but one set of rails were laid down, but the large increase in goods and passengers rendered another set necessary; these the company supplied, and now prodigious quantities of coal, iron and tin, besides a great number of persons are conveyed on this useful line It was constructed under the superintendence of that celebrated engineer, Mr. Brunel, and opened to the public in 1840. The scenery throughout its entire length is exceedingly fine. The South Wales Railway will, when completed, give additional means of conveyance through an extensive line; facilitate the commerce of a populous commercial district, and open up a rail route in connexion with other lines to the metropolis and to the extreme west of England.
The Glamorganshire Canal has a passage into the Bristol Channel - an outlet of great convenience to the iron and coal works of the county. The Mellin Griffith tin-works, situate near the Bute Docks, are very extensive; and the collieries in the neighbourhood are productive. The town and neighbourhood enjoy a considerable trade with Bristol in grain, poultry and various kinds of agricultural produce.
Saint John's church, situated nearly in the centre of the two parishes, is an ancient edifice, with a finely-proportioned and enriched tower, containing a peal of well-toned bells and musical chimes. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester. The church of Saint Mary, erected near the Bute canal, was completed in August, 1843; it is a neat structure having two towers in the Norman style of architecture: the living is in the gift of the Marchioness of Bute. There are places of worship for various religious denominations (in which the service, both in English and Welch, is performed), including Independents, Baptists, Wesleyan and Calvinistic Methodists, and a Roman Catholic chapel - the last-named is a substantial and handsome building, in the Anglo-Norman style. The principal charities comprise, an Infirmary, in the Newport road, erected in 1836, at the sole expense of Daniel Jones, Esq. of Beaupree, at a cost of upwards of £4,000; the Union poor-house, in the Cowbridge road, built at an expense of £7,500; and two or three public schools. Cardiff has its literary and scientific institution, a news-room; a mechanics' institute, a savings' bank, and a farmers' club. A new market-house has been erected at a considerable expense; it is convenient and well adapted to its purposes. The market days are Wednesdays and Saturday; and the fairs are held on the second Wednesday in March, April and May, the 29th June, 19th of September, and the 30th of November. The borough and parishes contained, by the returns for 1831, 6,187 inhabitants; and in 1841 10,077.
CATHCART is a pleasant village in the parish of
that name, partly in the county of Lanark, but chiefly in that of Renfrew,
distant from Glasgow two miles. Its original designation was Caer-Cart,
i.e. the Castle on the river Cart. The parish is of considerable extent, and
contains above 3,000 acres, almost wholly arable. In it are two paper mills, and
a corn mill. The surface of the land is agreeably diversified with hills and
dales, and present, in many situations, great picturesque beauty. Agriculture is
the occupation of a great proportion of the inhabitants; the very summits of the
hills are ploughed and cultivated.
There has lately been built a new parish church (in the Gothic style) which
will accommodate 750 persons, and a new school house, for the accommodation of
the parish The field of Langside, in this parish is remarkable for being the
scene of the last fruitless effort of the unfortunate Mary to regain her crown.
An eminence is still pointed out where the queen stood during the engagement.
The old castle of Cathcart above alluded to is a very conspicuous ruin, placed
in a commanding situation, with two sides defended by the Cart, to which there
is almost a perpendicular descent of a tremendous depth. It belonged to the
Lords Cathcart, and was dismantled not quite a century since.
SARK, the fourth in size of the Channel Islands, stands high, and is surrounded by abrupt cliffs from 100 to 320 feet in height, the land, unlike the other Islands, having no declivity to the sea; it is about 3½ miles in length and about 1½ miles broad and 9 in circumference, and contains 1,400 English acres, and is the most central and elevated of the whole; it is 6 miles east from Guernsey and 14 miles north-west from Jersey, 18 miles south-west from Alderney, and 24 miles from the French coast. There is a small peninsula, called Little Sark, connected by a natural and very narrow bridge. The rocky scenery throughout the Island is picturesque. The history of Sark (or, as in the old records, Sercq and Cercq) is necessarily much broken, as at different periods the island was for centuries uninhabited. It was given by Queen Elizabeth, as a reward for faithful services, to Helier De Cartaret, of Jersey, his heirs and successors for ever, to be held under the Crown, for which he was to pay yearly a knight's fee of 50 sols into the Court of Guernsey; from that period the Island has been held by its seigneurs or lords. It is one of the smallest states of Europe with a separate legislature, and the only one of the small feudal territories or half sovereignties which has remained unimpaired, those of Germany, Austria, and Prussia being abolished or restricted. The most conspicuous feature at this time is the existence of the law of primogeniture in all its pristine purity, and the original division of the Island into 40 estates remains the same even unto this day. The present lord is Peter Carey Le Pelley, Esq. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in agricultural pursuits and fishing. The land generally is very productive, from the nature both of the soil and climate. There are abundance of rabbits in Sark, and in the winter woodcocks and snipes are to be found on the Island. The fish most common are lobsters, crabs, mackerel, whiting, rock-fish, silver bream, cod, soles, and congers; in summer the latter are taken in great abundance. Although Sark abounds in mineral veins no attempt was made to explore them till the year 1834; a company was then formed for the purpose of working the whole of the mineral veins in the Island, and a lease for 31, but afterwards extended to 39 years, was obtained from the late lord, Peter Le Pelley, Esq, who was drowned, in 1839, crossing from Sark to Guernsey in a small boat. The operations were confined to the metalliferous vein or lode at the south part of the Island, called the Pot, until 1836, when the silver lode, situate in the south-west part of the Island, called Sark's Hope, was discovered. There are four shafts in the mine, varying from 360 to 600 feet in depth; there are eight galleries, three of which are extended on the course of the vein horizontally 3,600 feet, and one is driven 300 feet under the sea. The ores, raised up to the year 1847, when the operations finally ceased and the mines closed, contained upwards of 30,000 ounces of fine silver, in addition to the large quantity of lead. The Island is in the bailiwick of Guernsey, and forms part of that deanery; there is a neat parochial church, with an appointed clergy-man, who is a perpetual curate, and an Endowed school for the education of children in French and English. The Wesleyans have also a chapel upon the Island. Three-fourths of the Island is under cultivation; potatoes, until recent years, were the chief product of the Island, wheat is now grown to a considerable extent; cows, a few bullocks, sheep, and hogs are reared and sent to the Guernsey market. Cutters pass to and from Guernsey, daily, during the summer months, and generally twice a week in the winter, weather permitting. Although in the immediate vicinity of Jersey and Guernsey, Sark is considered to possess a climate somewhat different. In the sheltered spots of the Island the winter passes almost without congnizance, and frost may be looked upon as an unexpected visitor, whose stay is brief. The population, according to the census of 1851, was 581. Tourists and others about to visit the Island of Sark, may obtain every information of Mr. John Russell, Sark Packet Office, Quay, Guernsey.
BRECHNOU is a small Island dependent on the lordship of Sark, 1½ miles in circumference, and with two families settled on it.
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