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WARRINGTON

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 332 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WARRINGTON, a market town and municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Lancashire, England, on the river Mersey, midway between Manchester and Liverpool, and 182 m. N.W. by N. from London by the London & North-Western railway. Pop. (1891) 52,288; (1901) 64,242. It has extensive local connexions by way of the Cheshire lines. The church of St Elphin is a fine cruciform building with lofty central tower and spire. The style is Decorated, but restoration has been heavy. A much earlier church formerly occupied the site, and of this the crypt remains beneath the existing chancel. The town hall. a classical building of the 18th century, was formerly a residence, and was purchased by the corporation in 1872, while the park in which it stands was devoted to public use. The other chief buildings are the museum and free library, with technical institute and the market hall. The educational institutions include a free grammar school, founded by one of the Boteler family in 1526, and a blue-coat school (1665). A few half-timbered houses of the 17th century remain in the streets. A wide system of electric tramways and district light railways is maintained by the borough. Warrington and the neighbourhood are an important centre of the tanning industry. There are also iron bar, hoop and wire works, tool, soap, glass and chemical works, foundries and cotton mills. Considerable agricultural markets and fairs are held. The parliamentary borough (1832), returning one member, extends into Cheshire. The town was incorporated in 1847, and the corporation consists of a mayor, 9 aldermen and 27 councillors. Area 3058 acres. Warrington (otherwise Walintune, Werinton, Werington) is supposed to be of British origin, and the great Roman road from Chester to the north passed through it. There was a Romano-British village—perhaps also a military post—at \Vilderspool. It is mentioned in Domesday Book as the head of a hundred. After the Conquest it became one of the possessions of Roger de Poictou. In Henry I.'s reign a barony was formed for Pain de Vilars, of which Warrington was the head and to which it gave the name, and from that family both manor and barony passed to the Botelers or Butlers, who first established their residence on the mote hill and before 128o built Bewsey in Burton wood. The Butlers held both barony and manor till 1 86, when the barony lapsed and the manor passed after some vicissitudes to the Irelands of Bewsey, then to the Booths and in 1769 to the Blackburns. In 1255 William le Boteler obtained a charter from Henry III. for an annual fair to last three days from the eve of St Thomas the Martyr With July). In 1277 Edward I. granted a charter for a weekly market on Friday and an annual fair of eight days beginning on the eve of St Andrew (3oth Nov.), and in 1285 another charter changing the market day from Friday to Wednesday and extending the summer fair to eight days. The market and fairs had, however, existed before the granting of these charters. Blome in 1673 speaks of Warrington market as an important one " for linen cloth, corn, cattle, provisions and fish, being much resorted to by the Welshmen," and in 1730 Defoe says the market was especially famous for " a sort of table linen called Huk-a-back or Huk-abuk." The fairs are still held, as well as the Wednesday chartered market, besides a Saturday market which is probably customary. In the 18th and early 19th centuries the chief industries were huckabacks and coarse cloths, canvas, fustians, pins, glass, sugar-refining and copper. During the Civil War the inhabitants embraced the royalist cause and the earl of Derby occupied the town and made it for some time his headquarters in order to secure the passage of the Mersey. In April 1643 the parliamentary forces attacked it, but had to raise the siege, as Lord Derbybegan to set the town on fire. Lord Derby left Colonel Edward Norris in command and in May the parliamentarians again attacked the town, which was forced to surrender after a six days' siege owing to lack of provisions. In 1648, after the royalist defeat at Winwick by Cromwell, part of the royal forces under General Baillie rallied at Warrington, hoping to effect the passage of the bridge, but failed, and the general with 4000 men capitulated. In August 1659 Sir George Booth, lord of the manor, was defeated at Winnington, and part of his forces surrendered at Warrington to the parliamentary garrison. During the Rebellion of 1745, on the approach of Prince Charles Edward from Manchester, the bridge was cut down and the few stragglers who ventured that way seized. A borough was created by William le Boteler about 1230 by a charter which has not been preserved; but its growing strength alarmed the lord who contrived to repress it before 1300, and for over 500 years Warrington was governed by the lord's manor court. A charter of incorporation was granted in 1847. By the Reform Act of 1832 the town returns one member to parliament. The church dedicated to St Elphin is mentioned in Domesday Book, and was in early times head of the ancient deanery of Warrington. There was a friary of Augustine or Hermit Friars here founded apparently about 1280.
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