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PRESTON

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 308 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PRESTON, a municipal, county, and parliamentary borough and port, of Lancashire, England, on the river Ribble, 209 M. N.W. by N. from London by the London & North-Western railway, served also by the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway. Pop. (1891), 107,573; (1901), 112,989; at the beginning of the 19th century it was about 17,000. The nucleus of its site consists of a ridge rising sharply from the north bank of the river, while the surrounding country, especially to the west about the estuary, is flat. Among the numerous parish churches that of St John, built in Decorated style in 1855, occupies a site which has carried a church from early times. Among several Roman Catholic churches, that of St Walpurgis (18J4) is a handsome building of Early Decorated character. Of public buildings the most noteworthy is the large town hall, with lofty tower and spire, in Early English style, built in 1867 from designs by Sir Gilbert Scott. The free public library and museum were established in 1879 by the trustees of E. R. Harris, a prominent citizen. A new Preston, otherwise Prestune, was near the minor Roman station at Walton-le-Dale and the great Roman road running from Warrington passed through it. It is mentioned in Domes-day Book as one of Earl Tostig's possessions which had fallen to Roger of Poictou, and on his defection it was forfeited to the Crown? Henry II. about the year 1179 granted the burgesses a charter by which he confirmed to them the privileges he had granted to Newcastle-under-Lyme, the chief of which were a free borough and a gild merchant. This is the first of fourteen royal charters which have been granted to Preston, the chief of which are as follows: John in 1199 confirmed to Preston all the rights granted by Henry II.'s charter and also " their fair of eight days " from the Assumption (Aug. 15) and a three days' fair from the eve of Saints Simon and Jude (Oct. 28). Henry III. in 1217 confirmed the summer fair, but for five days only, and granted a weekly market on Wednesday. Edward III. (1328), Richard II. (1379), Henry IV. (1401), Henry V. (1414), Henry VI. (1425) and Philip and Mary (1557) confirmed the previous charters. The weekly market, though granted for Wednesday, was held as early as 1292 on Saturday. Elizabeth in 1566 granted the town its great charter which ratified and extended all previous grants, including the gild merchant, the weekly market on Saturday and the two annual fairs, in August for eight days and in October for seven days. Charles II. in 1662 and 1685 granted charters, by the latter of which an additional weekly market on Wednesday was conceded and a three days' fair beginning on the 16th of March. The most important industry used to be woollen weaving. Elizabeth's charter granted to the corporation all fees received from the sealing of cloth within the borough, and in 1571 the mayor reported that the cloths usually made near Preston were " narrow white kearses." Other early industries were glove-making and linen cloth. The first cotton-spinning mill was built in 1777 in Moor Lane, and in 1791 John Horrocks built the Yellow Factory. In 1835 there were forty factories, chiefly spinning, yielding 70,000 lb of cotton yarn weekly. A gild existed perhaps in Saxon times, but the grant of a gild merchant dates from Henry II.'s charter, about 1179. The first gild of which there was any record was celebrated in 1328, at which it was decided to hold a gild every twenty years. Up to 1542, however, they do not appear to have been very regularly celebrated, but 1 The Court leet was held twice a year up to 1835. since that year they have been and still are held at intervals of twenty years. A special gild mayor is appointed on each occasion. The first mention of a procession at the gild is in 1500. One of the most important items of business was the enrolling of freemen, and the gild rolls are records of the population. In 1397 the gild roll contained the names of over 200 in-burgesses and too foreign burgesses; in 1415 the number of in-burgesses was 188, which in 1459 had declined to 72. In 1582 there were over 500 in-burgesses and 340 out-burgesses. There is no evidence for, but rather against, the common statement that Preston was burnt or razed to the ground during the Scottish invasion of 1322. The town suffered severely from the Black Death in 1349–1350, when as many as 3000 persons are said to have died, and again in the year November 163o to November 1631, moo died of pestilence. During the Civil War Preston sided with the king and became the headquarters of the Royalists in Lancashire. In February 1643 Sir John Seaton with a Parliamentary force marched from Manchester and successfully assaulted it. A strong Parliamentary garrison was established here and its fortifications repaired, but in March the earl of Derby recaptured the town. The Royalists did not garrison it, but after demolishing the greater part of the works left it unfortified. After the battle of Marston Moor Prince Rupert marched through Preston in September 1644 and carried the mayor and bailiffs prisoners to Skipton Castle, where they were confined for twelve months. On the 17th of August 1648 the Royalist forces under the duke of Hamilton and General Langdale were defeated at Preston by Cromwell with a loss of 'coo killed and 4000 taken prisoners. During the Rebellion of 1715 the rebel forces entered Preston on the 9th of November, and after proclaiming the Chevalier de St George king at the cross in the market-place, remained here for some days, during which the government forces advanced. The town was assaulted, and on the 14th of November General Forster surrendered his army of about 1400 men to the king's forces. In 1745 Prince Charles Edward marched through on the way south and north, but the town took no part in the rebellion. The borough returned two members from 1295 to 1331, then ceased to exercise the privilege on account of poverty till 1529, but since that date (except in 1653) it has always sent two representatives to parliament. The curious institution of the mock mayor and corporation of Walton, which was at its foundation in 1701 a Jacobite association, ceased after 1766 to be of any political significance and lapsed in 'Soo. There was probably a church here in Saxon times and it is believed to be one of the three churches in Amounderness mentioned in Domesday Book. In 1o94 it is named in a charter of Roger de Poictou. The early dedication was to St Wilfrid, but probably about 1531, when it was rebuilt, it was re-dedicated to St John. At the time of the Reformation, many, especially among the neighbouring gentry, clung to the old faith, and there is still a large Roman Catholic population. There were two monastic foundations here: a hospital dedicated to St Mary Magdalene, which stood on the Maudlands, and a Franciscan convent of Grey Friars situated to the west of Friargate. In the 18th century Preston had a high reputation as a centre of fashionable society, and earned the epithet still familiarly associated with it, " proud." See H. Fishwick, History of the Parish of Preston (19oo).
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JOHN PRESTON (1587-1628)

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