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OSWESTRY

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 365 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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OSWESTRY, a market town and municipal borough in the Oswestry parliamentary division of Shropshire, England, on the borders of Wales, 18 m. N.W. from Shrewsbury. Pop. (1901) 9579. It is on a branch from the Chester line of the Great Western railway, and on the Cambrian main line. The situation is pleasant and the neighbouring district well wooded and hilly. The church of St Oswald, originally conventual, is Early English and Decorated, but has been greatly altered by restoration. There is a Roman Catholic chapel with presbytery, convent and school. The grammar school, founded in the reign of Henry IV., occupies modern buildings. The municipal buildings (1893) include a library, and a school of science and art. On a hill W. of the town are the castle grounds, laid out in 189o, but of the castle itself only slight remains are seen. The Cambrian railway engine and carriage works are here; and there are tanneries, malting works, machinery works and iron foundries. Frequent agricultural fairs are held. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 1887 acres. Old Oswestry, also called Old Fort (Welsh Hen Dinas), is a British earthwork about a mile from the modern town. There are various unsatisfactory accounts of the early history of Oswestry (Blaneminster, or Album Monasterium), as that it was called Trer Cadeirau by the Britons and Osweiling after Cunelda Wledig, prince of North Wales, had granted it to his son Osweil. It derives its present name from Oswald, king of Northumbria, who is said to have been killed here in 642, although it was not definitely known as Oswestry until the 13th century. In the Domesday Survey it is included in the manor of Maesbury, which Rainald, sheriff of Shropshire, held of Roger, earl of Shrews-bury; but Rainald or his predecessor Warin had already raised a fortification at Oswestry called Louvre. The manor passed in the reign of Henry I. to Alan Fitz-Flaad, in whose family it continued until the death of Henry Fitzalan, earl of Arundel, without male issue in 1580. The first charter, of which a copy only is preserved among the corporation records, is one given in 1262 by John Fitzalan granting the burgesses self-government. Richard II. by a charter dated 1398 granted all the privileges which belonged to Shrewsbury, and a similar charter was obtained from Thomas, earl of Arundel in 1407. The town was incorporated by Elizabeth in 1582 under the government of two bailiffs and a common council of 24 burgesses, and her charter was confirmed by James I. in 1616. A charter granted by Charles II. in 1672 appointed a mayor, 12 aldermen and 15 common councilmen, and remained the governing charter until the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 changed the corporation. In 1228 John Fitzalan obtained the right of holding a market every week on Monday instead of Thursday. The market rights were held by the lord of the manor until 1819, when Earl Powis sold them to the corporation. In the 15th and 16th centuries a weekly market was held at Oswestry for the sale of woollen goods manufactured in North Wales, but in the 17th century the drapers of Shrewsbury determined to get the trade into their own town, and although an Order in the Privy Council was passed to restrain it to Oswestry they agreed in 1621 to buy no more cloth there. The town was walled by the time of Edward I., but was several times burnt during Welsh invasions. In 1642 it was garrisoned for Charles I., but two years later surrendered to the parliamentary forces. See William Cathrall, The History of Oswestry (1855); William Price, The History of Oswestry from the Earliest Period (1815) ; Victoria County History, Shropshire.
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