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Buckingham in 1836

BUCKINGHAM, a parish, borough, and the county town of Buckinghamshire, to which it gives name, is situated on the Ouse, in the hundred of Buckingham, 50 miles direct distance N.W. from London. The municipal, which was formerly co-extensive with the parliamentary borough, is co-extensive with the parish, which contains about 5,000 acres, and is divided into six districts, having separate churchwardens and overseers of the poor, but only one church and church-rate for the whole parish. The parliamentary borough, which was enlarged under the Reform Act, returns two members to parliament. Three of the districts into which the parish is divided form the town ; the other three are agricultural. In 1831 the population of the parish was 1,672 males, and 1,938 females: of these there were :- males 20 years of age, 883 ; occupiers and labourers employed in agriculture, 225 ; employed in manufacture, or in making machinery, 125 ; employed in retail trade or in handicraft, 200 ; capitalists, bankers, &c., 47 ; labourers not agricultural, 138 ; male servants, &c, 117 ; female servants, 139.

Buckingham is an ancient borough, and is described as such at the time of the Domesday survey, in which it is said to have had 26 burgesses under the protection of foreign lords. But it does not appear that the town sent members to parliament before 1544. From the circumstance of Edward III having fixed one of the staples for wool at Buckingham, it is supposed to have been in his reign a flourishing town. The governing charter was granted in the first year of the reign of Mary (1554), in consequence of services rendered by the inhabitants in the suppression of the duke of Northumberland’s rebellion on the queens accession to the throne. It was surrendered, and a new charter granted in the thirty-sixth of Charles II (1684). The corporation acted upon this latter charter for several years, but in consequence of a dispute with James II in 1688, during which the king successively removed three mayors elected by them in three months, quo warrantos were issued, and, after some litigation, the charter of Charles II was also surrendered. The corporation afterwards availed themselves of the proclamation for restoring surrendered charters, to resume the charter of Mary. Under the Municipal Reform Act, Buckingham has four aldermen and twelve councillors, but is not divided into wards. Prior to the Reform Act, the two members for the borough were returned by the corporation, and the greatest number of electors which had been polled for thirty years before 1833, was eleven.

In the month of June, 1644, Buckingham was for a few days the head-quarters of Charles I ; the neighbouring towns of Aylesbury and Newport Pagnell being garrisoned for the parliament. A fire broke out on the 15th of March, 1725, which consumed 138 dwelling-houses, being more than one-third of the whole town.

No trade or manufacture is carried on in the town except lace-making with bobbins. The only public buildings are the church, the town-hall, and the gaol. The present church is erected on the site of the castle, under an act of parliament, by which the inhabitants were to raise £4,000 in three years, and Earl Temple the rest : the entire expense was about £7000. It was completed in 1780. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Lincoln, the gross annual income of which is £230. The old church had a lofty spire, which fell. down in 1699 : the tower which supported it remained till 1776, when it fell down also, just after Mr. Pennant, the well-known antiquarian tourist, had quitted the church. The entire structure was taken down, and the new church was built on a new site.

It is probable that the assizes had been generally held at Buckingham before their removal to Aylesbury. In 1758 Lord Cobham procured an act of parliament to fix the summer assizes at Buckingham, and built a gaol there at his own expense for the use of the town and county : it is a capacious building, but is little used. The town-hall was built about the year 1685, at the expense of Sir Ralph Verney. There are three stone bridges over the Ouse at Buckingham. The market-day is Saturday ; there are ten annual fairs held.

Buckingham contains four daily schools, two of which are endowed with small sums : one of the endowed schools is a Latin school, the other is called the Green Coat School There are also one boarding-school, a day and Sunday national school, and three Sunday schools, besides two hospitals and several other charities.


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