Extract from Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England, 1831.
Transcribed by Mel Lockie, © Copyright 2010
Lewis Topographical Dictionaries

CONGLETON, a chapelry and market-town (incorporated), in the parish of ASTBURY, having separate jurisdiction, locally in the hundred of Northwich, county palatine of CHESTER, 31 miles (E. by S.) from Chester, and 161 (N.W. by W.) from London, containing 6405 inhabitants. Some writers have considered this the site of Condate, an aboriginal settlement of the Cornavii; but Whitaker, in his history of Manchester, has convincingly refuted this opinion, and fixed that station at Kinderton. In Domesday-book it is called Cogletone, but its origin has not been satisfactorily ascertained: it is not distinguished by any events of historical importance. In the beginning of the fourteenth century a free charter was granted to it by Henry de Lacey, Earl of Lincoln, who, in 1282, obtained for it the grant of a weekly market. In the reign of Henry VI., an inundation having done considerable damage to the town, the inhabitants obtained permission to divert the course of the river, and subsequently a grant of the king's mills, which stood on its banks.

The town is situated in a valley embosomed in richly wooded hills, on the south bank of the river Daven, or Dane, over which a handsome bridge was built in 1782, and, notwithstanding some recent improvements, consists of narrow and irregularly formed streets: the houses in the eastern part are old, and chiefly of timber and brickwork; those in the western part are in general modern and of handsome appearance: the inhabitants are supplied with water from springs, and from the rivulet Howtey, which intersects the town. The environs abound with scenery beautifully diversified by the windings of the river, on the banks of which are numerous stately mansions and elegant villas. Assemblies are held periodically in the market-house, and races take place annually in August.

The manufacture of gloves, and leather laces called Congleton points, for which the town was celebrated, has given place to the throwing of silk and the spinning of cotton, for the former of which not less than fifty mills have been erected since 1752, when that branch of manufacture was introduced by Mr. Pattison, of London, who built the first mill, an edifice comprising five stories of rooms, each two hundred and forty feet in length, and of proportionate width; this establishment, which is considered in point of extent the second in the kingdom, is still conducted by the descendants of the founder: ribands and handkerchiefs also are woven to a limited extent. A canal from Marple, to join the Grand Trunk canal at Lawton, is now being constructed, which, passing within a quarter of a mile of the town, will materially facilitate its trade.

The market is on Saturday: the fairs, chiefly for cattle, are on the Thursday before Shrovetide, May 12th, July 12th, and November 22nd. The market-house, a neat and commodious edifice, containing a handsome assembly-room, was built in 1822, at the sole expense of Sir Edmund Antrobus, Bart. The government, by charter of incorporation granted by James I., is vested in a mayor, high steward, eight aldermen, and sixteen capital burgesses, assisted by a town-clerk and subordinate officers: the mayor, who is elected annually by a majority of the corporation, on the Monday before Michaelmas-day, and two of the aldermen, who at the same time are chosen for that purpose, are justices of the peace within the borough; the high steward and town-clerk hold their respective offices for life.

The freedom of the borough is inherited by the eldest sons of freemen, and acquired by servitude, purchase, and gift. The corporation hold quarterly courts of session, for trying prisoners charged with misdemeanors and felonies not capital; and courts of record for the recovery of debts to any amount, in which, though they do not exercise it, they have the privilege of proceeding according to the statute of Acton-Burnell, otherwise the law of statute-merchant: a court leet is also held in August, at which the high steward, or his deputy, presides. The guildhall is a neat brick building, with a piazza in front, supported on four pillars of stone; it was rebuilt in 1805, and, in addition to the court-rooms and apartments for transacting the public business of the corporation, comprises a room for debtors, and cells for the confinement of criminals.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Chester, endowed with £200 private benefaction, £200 royal bounty, and £400 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Mayor and Corporation. The chapel, dedicated to St. Peter, was rebuilt of brick in 1740, and a square tower of stone was added to it in 1786; it stands on elevated ground, and commands a fine and extensive prospect. There was formerly another chapel at the end of the bridge, on the opposite side of the river Dane, which, having long since become desecrated, was appropriated to the reception of the poor; it was pulled down in 1810, when a spacious one was erected at Coughton-moss. There are places of worship for Independents, Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics.

The grammar school, free for the sons of burgesses exclusively, and under the management of the corporation, who appoint the master, is of uncertain foundation, but existed prior to 1590, and was endowed with a house and garden and one acre of land, to which £16 per annum is added by the corporation, as a salary to the master, who receives a quarterly payment of fifteen shillings each for instructing the sons of non-freemen in English and the mathematics, and has the privilege of taking boarders. A spacious schoolroom, detached from the house, was erected in S14 by the corporation, on condition that the present master, during his lifetime, should give up his claim to the £16 per annum. Adjoining the chapel a handsome brick building, capable of accommodating eight hundred children, was erected in 1828, for the use of the Sunday school, which is supported by subscription.

At Buglawton, a township in this parish, is a mineral spring, the water of which is said to be efficacious in scrofula and other diseases: by the breaking in of the banks, and the consequent admixture of other water, its power has been considerably weakened, but it is in contemplation to repair the well, and to erect baths for the accommodation of invalids. John Bradshaw, Chief Justice of Chester, and president of the tribunal which passed sentence of death on Charles I., was articled to an attorney in this town, of which he became mayor in 1637, and was subsequently appointed high steward. John Whitehurst, a celebrated mechanic, and author of a treatise on the Theory of the Earth, was born here, in 1713.

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