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are of great variety and interest, continue for a fortnight ; but, for civic purposes, the guild books are open for an entire month. The body coporate consists of a mayor, (anciently a prefect or portgreve) recorder, seven aldermen or benchers, and seventeen capital burgesses, who, together, form the common council of the borough. The mayor and two towns bailiffs (anciently named pretors), and two serjeants or subministerial officers, are elected annually upon the Friday preceding the festival of St. Wilfrid, who was formerly the lord of this borough, and they are invested on the 12th of October following by a jury of twenty-four guild burgesses. The members of the council, with the exception of the mayor,
retain their seats for life, or during the pleasure of majority, and vacancies are supplied by the remaining members. The town sends two representatives to parliament, and affords a practical example of universal suffrage; every male inhabitant, whether housekeeper or lodger, who has resided six months in the town, and who has not, during the last twelve months, been chargeable to any township as a pauper, having a right to vote for two candidates at elections. This principle was established by a decision of the house of commons, on an appeal in the year 1766, and has ever since been acted upon.
During the greater part of the last century the town was much resorted to, as an agreeable retirement, by old and respectable families; but having, during the last twenty or thirty years, become the seat of very extensive manufacturing establishments, the character of the inhabitants has undergone a consequent change. This change was in a great measure brought about through the spirited exertions of a single individual, the late Mr. John Horrocks, who in the year 1791 commenced, nearly without capital, a small manufacture of muslin, and taking advantage of the important improvements then introduced in the art of cotton spinning, he formed several establishments in this branch of business, and in the course of a very few years became the master or principal owner of no less than six large factories, and obtained interest sufficient to secure his return to parliament, without opposition, at the general election in 1802.
The population of the town had been nearly stationary for a full century previous to the year 1790, and generally estimated at about 6,000 persons ; in 1801 the number was 11,887 ; in 1811, 17,065, and in July, 1819, the number of inhabited houses was found to be 1,546 ; uninhabited, including new buildings, 170, and inhabitants 21,958. The money raised by the poor's rates in 1803, was 31201. 55. 8d.
at 4s. 3d. in the pound. The streets are generally broad
The Guildhall, which stands near the market place in
The market place is large and nearly of a square form, consisting of elegant shops ; an obelisk is placed in the centre, on the summit of which is a gas light, with a reflector, which serves to illuminate the whole of the place, which is four thousand square yards.
A literary and philosophical society was established here in March 1810, and honoured by the names of many eminent characters: the first newspaper, which was published weekly, appeared in 1745, under the title of “the British Courant, or Preston Journal.”
There are two churches ; St. John's formerly dedi
cated to St. Wilfrid, who was Archbishop of York ; the first stone of the tower was laid June, 1814; the steeple was reared October 25, 1815; the chancel was opened, after being rebuilt, 20th March, 1818; and Trinity Church, the first stone of which was laid on the 4th June, 1814; there are likewise several chapels of ease to the above. The vicarage is valued in the king's books at 151. 13s. 11 d.
The proportion of Roman catholics is, perhaps, greater here than in any other town in England. This body of Christians possesses two large chapels, St. Wilfrid, and St. Mary; the former is said to be the largest in the kingdom, and both of them are generally well filled. The methodists have also a large meeting-house, and there are slender congregations of independents, baptists, presbyterians, quakers, and unitarians.
The theatre royal is an extensive building, very commodious, and well adapted for the drama, is situated in the S. of Fishergate, and was built in 1802.
The assembly room, built at the sole expense of the Earl of Derby, measures thirty-two feet by twenty-four, and is a very elegant building; there are likewise several billiard rooms, public and private.
The cockpit is a capacious building, situated near Stonygate, it is used only during the races, and is under the patronage of the Earl of Derby; this place is now used as a Sunday school.
The music academy is erected in Cannon street, and is well adapted for the
purpose. The cold bath is situated at the foot of Spa-brow, near the bleach works, very conveniently fitted up, and much resorted to in the summer months.
Avenham gardens, with the warm and cold baths erected by Mr. Jackson, situated in the slope of the hill facing the river Ribble.
Earl Derby's house is a magnificent structure, and when seen from the main street has a princely appearance.
The public offices belonging to the County Palatine of Lancaster are kept in this town. The quarter sessions for the hundreds of Amounderness, Blackburn, and Leyland, are also held here; and there is a house of correction built on the plan of Howard, and at present under excellent management.
gas company was established here in 1815, being the first of the kind successfully formed after those in the metropolis. The Ribble does not admit vessels of large burden, on which account the maritime trade of the town is at present confined to the