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Petersfield in 1840

PETERSFIELD, a market-town, parish, and parliamentary borough in the hundred of Finch-Dean, and in the present northern, but in the old southern division of Hampshire. The town, which is on the road from London to Portsmouth, is 52 miles south-west from London, and 16 miles east by south from Winchester, direct distances. It is a clean country town, partly lighted with gas, tolerably paved, and amply supplied with water. The trade is unimportant, but fairs for sheep and horses are held March 5, July 10, and December 11. The market-day is Saturday. The assessed taxes levied in 1830 amounted to £540. The population of the town and parish in 1831 was 1,803. The living, attached to the chapelry of Petersfield, is a curacy, which, with the rectory of Buriton. are in the diocese of Winchester and patronage of the bishop of that see, and yield an average net income of £1,194. Near the chapel is an equestrian statue of William III. There is a school called Churcher’s college, from the name of the founder, who, in 1722, bequeathed the sum of £3,000 Bank stock and £500 in cash for its establishment and support. The boys, from ten to twelve in number, are clothed, fed, and instructed in writing, arithmetic, and so much of the mathematics as is applicable to navigation. Several acts of parliament have been obtained for regulating the expenditure of the funds of the charity, which have increased considerably.

According to the Corporation Reports, no royal charter of incorporation is known to have been conferred upon the town; but in Warner’s ‘History of Hampshire,’ and in other works, it is stated to have been incorporated by a charter of Queen Elizabeth, which is also confirmed by the Report of the Commissioners on the boundary of the borough. The town is governed by a mayor, chosen annually at the court-leet of the lord of the manor, but the functions of the mayor are merely nominal. The borough of Petersfield returned members to parliament as early as Edward I, and two members continuously from the reign of Edward VI till the passing of the Reform Act, since which it has been represented by one member. The present parliamentary boundary includes the old borough of Petersfield and the tithing of Sheet ; the parishes of Buriton, Lyss, and Froxfield ; the tithings of Ramsden, Langrish, and Oxenbourn, in the parish of East Meon, and also the parish of Steep, except the tithings of North and South Ambersham.