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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Harwich in 1838

HARWICH, a parliamentary and municipal borough and seaport town in the hundred of Tendring, and county of Essex, 71 miles north-east from London. On the east it is bounded by the sea, and on the north by the estuaries of the Stour and Orwell, The town is of Saxon origin, and its name is derived from two Saxon words, Here, an army, and Wic, a fortification (Morant’s Essex, vol. 1, p.499), from which circumstance it is supposed that a Saxon army was always stationed here to oppose the descents of the piratical Danes. It was not a place of any importance till after the Norman conquest. In 1318 Edward II made it a borough corporate, and several charters and letters-patent were granted by succeeding kings, but none of these, prior to that of James I, are now extant. Under the Municipal Corporation Act the council of the borough consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors. The revenue of the corporation, in 1831, arising from lands, port dues, and other property, amounted to £671, and its expenditure for the same year was £585. The borough returns two members to parliament, a privilege which it had enjoyed previous to the time of Edward III, in whose reign it was discontinued, and was not restored till the commencement of that of James I. The town consists of three principal streets, is well paved, and lighted with gas.

The church, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a spacious structure of brick, with stone buttresses and steeple, and occupies the site of an ancient chapel, founded, about the commencement of the 13th century, by Roger Bigod, earl of Norfolk. The living is a vicarage in the patronage of the crown, with an average net income of £221. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in ship-building and other maritime occupations, but the trade of the town is in a declining state, which is partly attributed to the removal of the government packets. Within the last twenty years the number of vessels belonging to the port, and the customhouse receipts, have fallen off considerably. The harbour is deep and spacious, the anchorage good, and there is a lighthouse, erected upon a hill below the town for the safe guidance of vessels into port. The population in 1831 was 4,297.

There is a free grammar-school for the education of 32 boys, the children of residents The master, who is always the vicar of the parish, receives a salary of £40 per annum, besides being provided with a house rent-free. Immediately opposite to Harwich, and at the south-east. extremity of the county of Suffolk, is situated Languard Fort, a fortification of considerable strength, erected in the reign of James I. for the defence of the harbour, the entrance to which it completely commands. (Morant’s Essex ; Beauties of England and Wales ; Parliamentary Papers, &c.)

At Walton, near Harwich, the crag yielding many fossils may be seen resting on the London clay, a rare and important occurrence.