1902 Encyclopedia > Boston, England

Boston, England

BOSTON, a parliamentary and municipal borough and seaport town of England, in the county of Lincoln and wapentake of Skirbeck. It is situated in a rich agri-cultural district on the Witham, six miles from the sea, and thirty miles S.E. of Lincoln on the Great Northern Railway, in 523 59' N. lat. and 0° 2' E. long.
that of Boston
Boston is by some supposed to have been a Roman station in the province of Flavia Ocesarieiisis, but of this sufficient evidence does not seemto exist. According to the Saxon Chronicle, St Botolph, the patron of sailors, founded a monastery at Icanhoe in 654, which was destroyed by the Danes in 870. From this Bos-ton is said to have taken its name (Botolph's town). It be-came a place of considerable commercial importance after the Norman Conquest, and, in 1204, when the quinzième tax was imposed on the ports of England, amounted to £780, and was exceeded only by that of London, which was £836. A great annual fair was held in the town at this period. By 27th Edward III. it was made a staple for wool, woolfells, leather, and lead. Its prosperity about this time induced merchants from the Hanseatic and other Continental commercial cities to settle here ; a century later, however, these foreigners were obliged to leave, in consequence of a quarrel with the townsmen. From this time it rapidly declined. The dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. injured the town, though compensation was in some degree made by granting it a charter of incorporation ; and Philip and Mary endowed it .vith upwards of 500 acres of land. It afterwards suffered from the plague and from inundations, to which its low situation rendered it particularly liable. It was for some time the headquarters of Cromwell's army.
Boston is well built, paved, and lighted. It is divided into two nearly equal parts by the Witham, here crossed by an elegant iron bridge of one arch, 86 feet in span. At one time the supply of water was very deficient ; but, in virtue of an Act passed in 1847, there is now a plentiful supply conveyed by pipes from a distance of twelve miles. The principal building is the parish church of St Botolph, founded in 1309, and partly restored in 1857 at the expense of the inhabitants of Boston in America, in memory of their connection with the English city. It is one of the largest churches without aisles in the kingdom, being 290 feet by 98 within the walls. The tower, 290 feet in height, resembles that of Antwerp cathedral, and is crowned by a beautiful octagonal lantern, forming a landmark ssen forty miles off. A chapel of ease was erected in 1822. There is a free grammar school, founded in 1554, a charity school for the sons of poor freemen, a blue-coat, national, and other schools. There is also a dispensary, a town-hall, a market-house, a custom-house, assembly rooms, a theatre, a borough gaol, a house of correction, a union poor-house, Vauxhall gardens, a mechanics' institution, public baths, subscription libraries, an athenaeum, and a freemason's hall, built in imitation of Egyptian architecture. The manufactures consist chiefly of sail-cloth, canvas, sacking, ropes, beer, leather, hats, and bricks. There are also iron and brass foundries, and ship-yards, with patent slips, where vessels of 200 tons are built.
From neglect to clear the river, it became so obstructed that in 1750 a sloop of 40 or 50 tons could with difficulty come up to the town at spring tides. Since that period great improvements have been made, and vessels of 300 tons are enabled to unload in the town. The imports are chiefly timber, pitch, tar, and hemp from the Baltic, and coal and manufactures coastwise ; the exports, wool, wood, corn, and other agricultural produce. The total value of the former was in 1873, £200,825, and of the latter £86,571. By means of the river and the canals con-nected therewith, Boston has navigable communication with Lincoln, Gainsborough, Nottingham, and Derby. The East Lincolnshire Railway connects it with Louth, Grimsby, and other towns in the north, and the Great Northern with Peterborough and the south; another line extends to Lincoln. It has returned two members to parliament since the reign of Edward IV. The title of Baron of Boston is borne by the Irby family. In 1871 the popu-lation within the parliamentary boundaries was 18,279; within the municipality, 14,526.

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