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

STROUD, or STROUDWATER, a market-town and parish in the hundred of BISLEY, county of GLOUCESTER, 10 miles (S. by E.) from Gloucester, and 102 (W. by N.) from London, containing 7097 inhabitants. This place, which formerly belonged to the parish of Bisley, derives its name from its situation on the Slade, or Stroud water, near its confluence with the Frome. It stands on a considerable declivity, in the midst of a most beautiful country, and consists principally of a long street extending up the side of the hill, which is crossed by another at its base: the streets are paved, and contain many handsome houses, and the inhabitants are well supplied with water conveyed by pipes from two springs in the neighbourhood.

Stroud has long been famous as the centre of the woollen manufacture in Gloucestershire, and is supposed to owe much of its prosperity to the peculiar properties of the stream called the Stroud water, which is admirably adapted for dyeing scarlet, and which, consequently, was the means of attracting, at an early period, many clothiers and dyers to its banks. It possesses great advantages in water-carriage, the Thames and Severn canal passing close to the south of the town. The inhabitants of the neighbourhood and surrounding villages are employed in different processes of this manufacture, several thousand pieces of broad and narrow cloth, being annually made, and conveyed by the canal to different parts of the empire.

The town has been greatly improved recently, in consequence of an act of parliament obtained, within a few years, for paving, lighting, and widening the streets; and many new roads have been formed extending in various directions, to connect it more closely with the contiguous towns. The market, which is on Friday, is well supplied; and there are fairs on the 10th of May and the 21st of August, for cattle, sheep, and pigs. The petty sessions for the hundred are held here, on the first and third Fridays in every month. Stroud is also within the jurisdiction of the court of requests, for the recovery of debts under 40s., held at Cirencester, on Thursday every three weeks; and in that of a court baron held annually by the lord of the manor of Bisley.

The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry and diocese of Gloucester, endowed with £400 private benefaction, £400 royal bounty, and £800 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Bishop of Gloucester; there is an endowed lectureship, in the gift of the parishioners. The church, dedicated to St. Lawrence, is a large building, erected and enlarged at several different periods, with a tower at its western end, surmounted by a lofty octangular steeple. There are places of worship for Particular Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyan Methodists.

Thomas Webb, in 1642, gave an endowment, now amounting to about £54 per annum, by means of which four poor boys are boarded, clothed, and educated; and, in 1734, Henry Windowe bequeathed £21 for the maintenance and clothing of two more: there are other small endowments for educating and apprenticing poor boys, and several hundred children are instructed in the Sunday schools. The parochial school, instituted, in 1700, by the Rev. William Johns, is supported by annual subscriptions. Many endowments also provide relief for the poor, and several friendly societies for the benefit of such as are sick have been established. Stroud is the birthplace of John Canton, F.R.S., a celebrated natural philosopher, who died in 1772; and Joseph White, D.D., Professor of Arabic at Oxford, who died in 1814; both these distinguished men were the sons of weavers.

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