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MARKET TOWNS OF ESSEX (from SDUK Penny Cyclopedia)

Maldon in 1839

MALDON, a corporate town of considerable antiquity, and a parliamentary borough, in the hundred of Dengie and county of Essex. The town, which is eight miles east from Chelmsford and thirty-four miles north-east from London, is on the right bank of the Chelmer, about a mile above its junction with the Blackwater river. It consists of two principal streets, at right angles to each other ; and their cruciform figure has led some authors to suppose that the name of the town itself is derived from the Saxon Maeldune, signifying a crossed hill. The circumstance of the town not being now in a flourishing condition is said to be mainly owing to the construction of a canal, called the ‘new navigation,’ which commences at Collin’s Reach, one of the channels into which the Blackwater river is divided by Northey Island ; and after passing through the village of Heybridge, joins the Chelmer above Maldon, and is thence continued to Chelmsford, and thus the transit trade to this town has been in a great measure lost. The haven is convenient, and vessels of 200 tons come up to the town during spring-tides. The foreign trade, which in 1832 amounted to 3,929 tons inwards and 2,199 tons outwards, is declining ; but the coasting trade, which in the same year amounted to 69,159 tons inwards and 44,111 tons outwards, appears to be on the increase. In 1823 the receipts of the custom-house were £17,010 ; in 1832 they had declined to £7,032. The chief part of the property of the corporation has been alienated. The town-council consists of four aldermen and twelve councillors. The charters are numerous, and date from the reign of Henry II (7th of October, 1155). The parish church of All Saints is a very ancient edifice, surmounted by a triangular tower of singular appearance. For a description of its interior, and of the other antiquities of Maldon, the reader is referred to the first volume of Morant’s ‘History of Essex,’ folio, 1768, pp. 327-337. The livings are a vicarage and a curacy, producing a net income of £319 and £165 a year respectively ; the latter is in the patronage of the dean and chapter of Westminster. The population of the borough, in 1831, was 3,831. The grammar-school was founded by Alderman Breeder in 1608. It has been endowed by several benefactors with funds and landed property ; and Dr. Plume, archdeacon of Rochester, and founder of the Plumian professorship of astronomy and experimental philosophy at Cambridge, bequeathed to its use his valuable library of books. The librarian receives a salary of £40 a year. Dr. Plume also established a scholarship of £6 per annum at Christ College, Cambridge, to which boys from the grammar-schools of Chelmsford, Brentwood, and Maldon are successively eligible. Maldon has returned two members to parliament since the reign of Edward III.