Wisbech Genealogical Records

Wisbech Birth & Baptism Records

England & Wales Birth Index (1837-2006)

An index to births registered throughout England & Wales. Provides a reference to order copies of birth certificates from the national registrar of births, marriages and deaths – the General Register Office.

Cambridgeshire Baptism Transcripts (1538-1950)

Transcripts of baptisms from over 75 Cambridgeshire parishes.

Cambridgeshire Wesleyan Birth Registers (1812-1837)

Transcriptions of births registered at the Cambridgeshire Wesleyan Registry.

Births at the British Lying-in Hospital (1750-1867)

Details of births and baptisms of poor, married women from Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire recorded at the British Lying-in Hospital in Holborn.

Cambridgeshire Baptism Index (1801-1837)

A searchable index to baptisms throughout Cambridgeshire.

Wisbech Marriage & Divorce Records

England & Wales Marriage Index (1837-2008)

An index to marriages registered throughout England & Wales. This is the only national marriage index that allows you to search by both spouse's names. Provides a reference to order copies of marriage certificates from the national registrar of births, marriages and deaths – the General Register Office.

Cambridgeshire Banns (1653-1981)

A database of over 110,000 entries from registers recording intentions to marry. Records include parties' marital status and place of residence.

Cambridgeshire Marriage Transcripts (1538-1950)

Transcripts of marriages in 76 parishes in Cambridgeshire

Vicar General’s Office Marriage Licences (1600-1679)

Abstracts of marriage licences granted by the Vicar-General in London. These licences could be used to marry in any church in the Province of Canterbury.

Norfolk Bishop's Transcripts (1685-1941)

Browsable images of summaries of registers of baptisms, marriages and burials.

Wisbech Death & Burial Records

England & Wales Death Index (1837-2006)

An index to deaths registered throughout England & Wales. Provides a reference to order copies of death certificates from the national registrar of births, marriages and deaths – the General Register Office.

Unitarian Baptist, Wisbech Burial Records (1831)

Burial records covering those buried at Unitarian Baptist, Wisbech_. This resource is an index and may not include all the details that were recorded in the burial registers from which they were extracted.

General Baptist Ely Place, Wisbech Burial Records (1818-1837)

An index of burials recorded at General Baptist Ely Place, Wisbech_. The index includes the name of the deceased, the date of burial, age (where available) and occasionally other notes.

Particular Baptists, Hill Street, Wisbech Burials (1804-1837)

Burial records covering those buried at Particular Baptist Hill Street, Wisbech_. This resource is an index and may not include all the details that were recorded in the burial registers from which they were extracted.

St Mary, Wisbech Burial Records (1801-1837)

An index of burials recorded at St Mary, Wisbech_. The index includes the name of the deceased, the date of burial, age (where available) and occasionally other notes.

Wisbech Church Records

Cambridgeshire Churches (1000-2009)

Profiles on Cambridgeshire's parish churches. Includes photographs.

Act Books of the Archbishops of Canterbury (1663-1859)

An index to names and places mentioned in act books of the Province of Canterbury. It records various licences and conferments, such as marriage and physician licences.

Cambridgeshire Baptist Churches (1801-1990)

A list of Baptist churches in the county at various time periods. Years of foundation and minister may be given.

British Church Albums (1990-Present)

Photographs of churches of all denominations throughout England and part of Wales.

Norfolk Parish Map (1835)

A map delineating parishes in the county of Norfolk.

Wisbech Census & Population Lists

England, Wales, IoM & Channel Islands 1911 Census (1911)

The 1911 census provides details on an individual's age, residence, place of birth, relations and occupation. FindMyPast's index allows searches on for multiple metrics including occupation and residence.

Cambridgeshire Hearth Tax Returns (1664)

A transcription of records naming those who had taxes levied against them for the privilege of owning a hearth.

Norfolk Electoral Rolls (1844-1952)

Digital images recording those eligible to vote in part of Norfolk.

Norfolk Poll Books (1714-1865)

Books recording votes cast in elections. These records name freeholders, and sometimes their tenants.

Norfolk and Norwich Hearth Tax Assessment (1666)

A transcription of the Lady Day hearth tax for 1666 for the county of Norfolk.

Wisbech Wills & Probate Records

England & Wales National Probate Calendar (1858-1966)

Searchable index and original images of over 12.5 million probates and administrations granted by civil registries. Entries usually include the testator's name, date of death, date of probate and registry. Names of relations may be given.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Admon Index (1649-1660)

An index to estate administrations performed by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The index covers the southern two thirds of England & Wales, but may also contain entries for northerners.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Admon Index (1581-1595)

An index to estate administrations performed by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The index covers the southern two thirds of England & Wales, but may also contain entries for northerners.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Admon Index (1581-1619)

An index to estate administrations performed by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The index covers the southern two thirds of England & Wales, but may also contain entries for northerners.

Prerogative Court of Canterbury Admon Index (1559-1571)

An index to estate administrations performed by the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. The index covers the southern two thirds of England & Wales, but may also contain entries for northerners.

Newspapers Covering Wisbech

Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette (1818-1839)

A newspaper covering local news, family announcements etc. in the counties of Huntingdon, Bedford & Cambridgeshire.

Herts Guardian (1852-1867)

A regional newspaper primarily covering Hertfordshire, but also Essex, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Middlesex. Its coverage was biased towards agricultural issues and affairs. It contained announcements of births, marriages and deaths.

Huntingdon, Bedford & Peterborough Gazette (1818-1839)

A regional newspaper recording events in the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and Northamptonshire. It includes family announcements, reports on legal proceedings and business notices & advertisements.

The Colchester Gazette and General Advertiser (1814-1817)

A newspaper covering Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. Around 50% of issues from 1814-1817. Original images, searchable by an OCR index.

Norfolk News (1845-1870)

A record of births, marriages, deaths, legal, political, organisation and other news from the Norfolk area. Original pages of the newspaper can be viewed and located by a full text search.

Wisbech Obituaries

iAnnounce Obituaries (2006-Present)

The UKs largest repository of obituaries, containing millions of searchable notices.

United Kingdom and Ireland Obituary Collection (1882-Present)

A growing collection currently containing over 425,000 abstracts of obituaries with reference to the location of the full obituary.

Quakers Annual Monitor (1847-1848)

A collection of 364 obituaries of Quakers from the British Isles. The volume was published in 1849 and includes obituaries of those who died in late 1847 through 1848.

Musgrave's Obituaries (1421-1800)

This transcribed and searchable work by Sir William Musgrave contains 10,000s of brief obituaries. The work is a reference point for other works containing information on an individual.

British Medical Journal (1849-Present)

A text index and digital images of all editions of a journal containing medical articles and obituaries of medical practitioners.

Wisbech Cemeteries

Mount Pleasant Municipal Cemetery Burials (1881-1925)

An index to burials at Mount Pleasant Municipal Cemetery, Wisbech. The index includes the name of the deceased, the date of their death or burial and their age.

Cambridgeshire Church Monuments (1300-1900)

Photographs and descriptions of Cambridgeshire's most illustrious church monuments, often featuring effigies, medieval inscriptions and heraldic devices.

Norfolk Monumental Inscriptions (1600-1999)

Browsable images of booklets containing transcriptions of hundreds-of-thousands of gravestones and other memorials. Maps are included to help locate memorials.

Norfolk Church Monuments (1300-1900)

Photographs and descriptions of Norfolk's most illustrious church monuments, often featuring effigies, medieval inscriptions and heraldic devices.

Norfolk Monumental Inscriptions (1700-1985)

An index to vital details engraved on over 5,000 gravestones and other monuments across the county of Norfolk.

Wisbech Directories & Gazetteers

Directory of Norfolk, Leicestershire & Rutland (1822)

A gazetteer and directory of the principal towns and their residents. Also contains entries for Peterborough and Wisbech.

Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire (1916)

A comprehensive place-by-place gazetteer, listing key contemporary and historical facts. Each place has a list of residents and businesses. Contains details on local schools, churches, government and other institutions.

Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire (1904)

A comprehensive place-by-place gazetteer, listing key historical and contemporary facts. Contains details on local schools, churches, government and other institutions. Also contains a list of residents and businesses for each place.

Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire (1896)

A directory of residents and businesses; with a description of each settlement, containing details on its history, public institutions, churches, postal services, governance and more.

Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire (1892)

An exhaustive gazetteer, containing details of settlement's history, governance, churches, postal services, public institutions and more. Also contains lists of residents with their occupation and address.

Act Books of the Archbishops of Canterbury (1663-1859)

An index to names and places mentioned in act books of the Province of Canterbury. It records various licences and conferments, such as marriage and physician licences.

Norfolk Poor Law Union Records (1796-1900)

Over 130,000 browsable pages detailing the administration of the dependent poor in Norfolk. Records contain details on births, marriages & deaths; punishments; admissions and discharges and more.

Norfolk Poll Books (1714-1865)

Books recording votes cast in elections. These records name freeholders, and sometimes their tenants.

Suffolk Eyre Roll Civil Pleas (1240)

Transcriptions and translations of pleas brought before a court. They largely concern land disputes. A number of cases relate to Suffolk.

Home Office Prison Calendars (1868-1929)

Records of over 300,000 prisoners held by quarter sessions in England & Wales. Records may contain age, occupation, criminal history, offence and trial proceedings.

Wisbech Taxation Records

Cambridgeshire Hearth Tax Returns (1664)

A transcription of records naming those who had taxes levied against them for the privilege of owning a hearth.

Norfolk and Norwich Hearth Tax Assessment (1666)

A transcription of the Lady Day hearth tax for 1666 for the county of Norfolk.

Land Tax Redemption (1798-1811)

This vital collection details almost 1.2 million properties eligible for land tax. Records include the name of the landowner, occupier, amount assessed and sometimes the name and/or description of the property. It is a useful starting point for locating relevant estate records and establishing the succession of tenancies and freehold. Most records cover 1798, but some extend up to 1811.

Duties Paid for Apprentices' Indentures (1710-1811)

An index linked to original images of registers recording apprenticeship indentures. Details are given on the trade and nature of apprenticeship. Many records list the parents of the apprentice.

Red Book of the Exchequer (1066-1230)

A compilation of records from the Court of the Exchequer primarily dealing with taxes and land. These records are in Latin.

Wisbech Land & Property Records

Norfolk Electoral Rolls (1844-1952)

Digital images recording those eligible to vote in part of Norfolk.

Land Tax Redemption (1798-1811)

This vital collection details almost 1.2 million properties eligible for land tax. Records include the name of the landowner, occupier, amount assessed and sometimes the name and/or description of the property. It is a useful starting point for locating relevant estate records and establishing the succession of tenancies and freehold. Most records cover 1798, but some extend up to 1811.

UK Poll Books and Electoral Rolls (1538-1893)

Poll books record the names of voters and the direction of their vote. Until 1872 only landholders could vote, so not everyone will be listed. Useful for discerning an ancestor's political leanings and landholdings. The collection is supplemented with other records relating to the vote.

Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem (1236-1291)

Abstracts of records detailing the estates and families of deceased tenants from the reigns of Henry III and Edward I.

Red Book of the Exchequer (1066-1230)

A compilation of records from the Court of the Exchequer primarily dealing with taxes and land. These records are in Latin.

Wisbech Occupation & Business Records

Coprolite Industry in Cambridgeshire (1850-1900)

A history of the excavation of fossilized feces for agricultural use in Cambridgeshire.

Cambridgeshire Pub Histories (1820-Present)

Histories of Cambridgeshire pubs, with photographs and lists of owners or operators.

Lost Pubs of Cambridgeshire (1750-Present)

Short histories of former public houses, with photographs and lists of owners or operators.

Norfolk Pubs (1300-Present)

Thousands of profiles of Norfolk pubs, arranged by location. Contains photographs, names of licensees or landlords, architectural details, name changes, historical extracts and more.

Smuggling on the East Coast (1600-1892)

An introduction to smuggling on the east coast of England, with details of the act in various regions.

Wisbech School & Education Records

Teacher's Registration Council Registers (1870-1948)

A name index linked to original images of registers recording the education and careers of teachers in England & Wales.

Oxford University Alumni (1500-1886)

A name index linked to original images of short biographies for over 120,000 Oxford University students. This is a particularly useful source for tracing the ancestry of the landed gentry.

Cambridge University Alumni (1261-1900)

A transcript of a vast scholarly work briefly chronicling the heritage, education and careers of over 150,000 Cambridge University students. This is a particularly useful source for tracing the ancestry of the landed gentry.

Cambridge Alumni Database (1198-1910)

A searchable database containing over 90,000 note-form biographies for students of Cambridge University.

Dissenting Academy Database (1660-1860)

Histories of schools operated by non-conformist clergy.

Pedigrees & Family Trees Covering Wisbech

Victoria County History: Cambridgeshire (1086-1900)

A detailed history of the county's hundreds, parishes and religious houses.

The Visitation of Norfolk, Vol. 2 (1563)

Pedigrees of Norfolk gentry families, including descriptions of their arms. This volume also includes a number of transcripts of wills, inquisitions post mortems and other records.

The Visitation of Norfolk (1563)

Pedigrees of Norfolk gentry families, including descriptions of their arms.

Victoria County History: Norfolk (1086-1900)

A detailed history of the county's hundreds, parishes and religious houses.

British & Irish Royal & Noble Genealogies (491-1603)

Extensive and impeccably sourced genealogies for British, Irish & Manx royalty and nobility. Scroll down to 'British Isles' for relevant sections.

Wisbech Royalty, Nobility & Heraldry Records

Victoria County History: Cambridgeshire (1086-1900)

A detailed history of the county's hundreds, parishes and religious houses.

The Visitations of Cambridge: 1575 & 1619 (1000-1619)

Two works detailing Cambridgeshire families as recorded in 16th and 17th century genealogical manuscripts. Contains biographic details and renderings of coats of arms.

Cambridgeshire Church Monuments (1300-1900)

Photographs and descriptions of Cambridgeshire's most illustrious church monuments, often featuring effigies, medieval inscriptions and heraldic devices.

Cambridgeshire Baronial Halls (1400-1830)

An index, with brief details of the county's baronial residences.

The Visitation of Norfolk, Vol. 2 (1563)

Pedigrees of Norfolk gentry families, including descriptions of their arms. This volume also includes a number of transcripts of wills, inquisitions post mortems and other records.

Wisbech Military Records

The Great War in Cambridgeshire (1914-1918)

A website containing photographs, documents and memories detailing the history and affect of WWI on Cambridgeshire.

History of the Cambridgeshire Regiment (1756-1995)

An introductory history of a territorial infantry regiment of the British Army.

Cambridgeshire WWI Memorials (1914-1918)

A list of names found on World War One monuments in Cambridgeshire, with some service details.

Cambridgeshire WWII Memorials (1914-1918)

A list of names found on World War Two monuments in Cambridgeshire, with some service details.

Norfolk Musters Returns (1569-1577)

A searchable transcript of Norfolk men aged between 15 and 60, listing their arms and armour.

Wisbech Immigration & Travel Records

Passenger Lists Leaving UK (1890-1960)

A name index connected to original images of passenger lists recording people travelling from Britain to destinations outside Europe. Records may detail a passenger's age or date of birth, residence, occupation, destination and more.

UK Incoming Passenger Lists (1878-1960)

A full index of passenger lists for vessels arriving in the UK linked to original images. Does not include lists from vessels sailing from European ports. Early entries can be brief, but later entries may include dates of births, occupations, home addresses and more. Useful for documenting immigration.

Alien Arrivals in England (1810-1869)

Details on over 600,000 non-British citizens arriving in England. Often includes age and professions. Useful for discerning the origin of immigrants.

17th Century British Emigrants to the U.S. (1600-1700)

Details on thousands of 17th century British immigrants to the U.S., detailing their origins and nature of their immigration.

Migration from North America to Britain & Ireland (1858-1870)

A list of over 40,000 passengers traveling from North America to the British Isles. Details of passengers may include: occupation, nationality, gender, age, martial status, class, destination, and details of the vessel they sailed on.

Wisbech Histories & Books

The Great War in Cambridgeshire (1914-1918)

A website containing photographs, documents and memories detailing the history and affect of WWI on Cambridgeshire.

Victoria County History: Cambridgeshire (1086-1900)

A detailed history of the county's hundreds, parishes and religious houses.

Cambridgeshire Churches (1000-2009)

Profiles on Cambridgeshire's parish churches. Includes photographs.

Handbook: Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk & Cambridgeshire (1892)

A traveller's guide to four Southern counties.

Cambridgeshire Church Photographs (1890-Present)

Photographs and images of churches in Cambridgeshire.

Biographical Directories Covering Wisbech

Oxford University Alumni (1500-1886)

A name index linked to original images of short biographies for over 120,000 Oxford University students. This is a particularly useful source for tracing the ancestry of the landed gentry.

Cambridge University Alumni (1261-1900)

A transcript of a vast scholarly work briefly chronicling the heritage, education and careers of over 150,000 Cambridge University students. This is a particularly useful source for tracing the ancestry of the landed gentry.

Crockford's Clerical Directories (1868-1914)

Brief biographies of Anglican clergy in the UK.

The Concise Dictionary of National Biography (1654-1930)

A directory containing lengthy biographies of noted British figures. The work took over two decades to compile. Biographies can be searched by name and are linked to images of the original publication.

Church of England Clergy Database (1500-1835)

A database of CoE clergy, giving details of their education of service. Contains references to source documents. Also contains profiles of various church institutions.

Wisbech Maps

Maps of Cambridgeshire (1575-1922)

A collection of digitalised maps covering the county.

Norfolk Parish Map (1835)

A map delineating parishes in the county of Norfolk.

Norfolk Historic Maps (1780-1988)

An online application that allows you to browse several types of maps, including tithe maps, enclosure maps and aerial photography.

Faden’s Map of Norfolk (1794)

A map charting settlements, streets, rivers, natural features etc.

Maps of Norfolk (1588-1922)

Digital images of maps covering the county.

Wisbech Reference Works

England Research Guide (1538-Present)

A beginner’s guide to researching ancestry in England.

Parish Register Abstract (1538-1812)

Compiled in 1831, this book details the coverage and condition of parish registers in England & Wales.

Building History Research Guide (1066-Present)

A comprehensive guide to researching the history of buildings in the British Isles.

Surname Origins (1790-1911)

A service that provides advanced and custom surname maps for the British Isles and the US.

British Family Mottoes (1189-Present)

A dictionary of around 9,000 mottoes for British families who had right to bear arms.

Wisbech Information

Civil & Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction:

Historical Description

Wisbich or Wisbeach St. Peter is a sea-port town, situated on each side a navigable river, commonly, though erroneously, called the river Nene, about eight miles from the Bay or Cross Keys Wash, and eighteen miles from the sea, near the north-east extremity of the isle of Ely. The name is derived from Ousebeach, being a compound of Ouze and Beach, being the Beach (from Bauche Mouth. F.) or outfall of the river Ouse, which river, coming from its head through Bedford, St. Ives, Ely, and Little port, from thence it had its course through the fens by Wilney and Well, to its outfall in the North Lea at this place, and which was prior to the reign of Edward I. in which king’s reign it appears from history that the great Ouse waters were carried from Littleport Chair, by way of Rebeck, to join the Little Ouse at Priest-house, near Brandon Creek; and then took its course along with the Little Ouse, and afterwards were denominated the Great Ouse, by Denver, Downham, and Lynn, to the sea. After which time the outfall at Wisbeach so much decayed, that the river Nene from Northampton, Oundle, and Peterborough, which joined the Great Ouse, before at Up well, found its way by Well Creek into the Great Ouse at Salters Lode, also to the sea by Lynn. So that the fens above Wisbeach were so surrounded and overflowed with waters as rendered them of little value for nearly two centuries, or till the year 1490, when Bishop Morton, with a laudable spirit, set about draining the fens, and made a new river to turn the Nine waters in one straight course, from Stanground, about two miles below Peterborough, to Guyhirn (about fourteen miles), and from thence through Wisbeach, into the great bay or estuary (called Metaris Æstuarium) and so to the sea, and which river, to Guyhirn to this day bears the name of Morton's Leam; and from thence to the sea it is now called, and always written, Wisbeach river, and which Leam and river have from that time been improving in breadth and depth as well as the town in respectability.

Wisbeach is a place of considerable antiquity, having been built some time before the Conquest. It was given by Oswy and Leoflede, the parents of Alwin, afterwards bishop of Elmham, to the convent of Ely, on their son being admitted into the monastery. About five years after the Conquest, in 1071, King William erected a strong castle here; the governor was dignified with the title of constable, and the walls and moat were to be maintained in repair by the owners of certain lands in West Walton, who held their estates by a tenure to that effect. In the reign of Henry II. this fortress was disannulled, and between the years 1478, and 1483, another was erected by the above mentioned Morton, bishop of Ely. The new building became the Bishop’s Palace; several of his successors also resided here. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was converted into a prison for the papists, who conspired against her government.

Sometime between the years 1609 and 1619, this structure was repaired by Bishop Andrews; and on the abolition of the hierarchy, after the death of King Charles the First, it was purchased by John Thurloe, Esq. secretary to Oliver Cromwell, and his son. In the year 1660 this gentleman rebuilt it in its present form, from a design of Inigo Jones. On the Restoration the estate was restored to the see of Ely, and was the residence of the bishop, when he came to Wisbeach; and of late years let on lease to one or other of the principal families of the town, till the year 1793, when an act of parliament was obtained for the sale of the buildings, its site, gardens, &c. which was shortly after carried into execution, and the whole was purchased by Joseph Medworth, Esq. who has removed the detached buildings, and erected several rows of elegant houses on the premises; these are a great ornament as well as addition and accommodation, and particularly as houses were formerly so scarce in the town.

In the year 1190 Richard the First granted the tenants of Wisbech Barton Manor, an exemption from toll, in all fairs or markets throughout England. This grant was confirmed in 1214, by King John, who came to Wisbeach from Lynn, in October 1216. In the twelfth of Henry IV. it was renewed, and again confirmed by writ of privy seal of Henry VI. the privilege was afterwards forfeited, and again restored, through the exertions of Nicholas Sandford, who died the third of October 1608, and lies buried in the church. Upon a brass plate inserted in his monumental stone is inscribed the following couplet, in reference to the above circumstance.

"A patterne for townsmen, whom we may enrole,

For at his own charge this town he freed of TOLE."

Whilst Oliver Cromwell was governor of the Isle of Ely he caused fortifications to be raised near the Horseshoe, on the north-west side of Wisbeach, to secure the passes out of Lincolnshire, which continued faithful to the king. The troops stationed to defend them were commanded by Col. Sir John Palgrave, and Captain W. Dodson, and the ammunition and other warlike stores were obtained through the captain of a Dutch ship, which the Queen had dispatched from Holland, for the use of the loyalists.

In the year 1643 the burgesses of the town of Wisbeach lent the sum of 1501. to Captain Dodson, who was then besieging Croyland; and on the 26th of March 1644, they delivered to Major John Ireton four markets, three bandeliers, and two swords, for the service of parliament. They also furnished the latter with a loan of 2501. towards raising a troop of horse tor the defence of the isle of Ely.

Secretary Thurloe above-mentioned, having been a liberal benefactor to the town, the burgesses in the year 1657 erected a gallery in the church to his use, and on the 6th of January 1658 elected him a representative of this town and borough (as it is called for the only time in the journals of the House of Commons) in Richard Cromwell’s parliament, which assembled on the twenty-ninth of the same month. Wisbeach, however, had never the honour of an exclusive representation, for the secretary having been also returned for Huntingdon, made his election in February to serve for that borough, and the parliament was dissolved in the April following.

The corporation of Wisbeach appears to have erected upon the ruins of a religious fraternity, styled the Guild of the Holy Trinity, founded in the year 1374, and possessed of estates for pious and charitable uses. This suffered the fate of other religious establishments, and was dissolved in the reign of Henry the Eighth. But an act of parliament having been passed soon after the accession of Edward VI. to the throne, providing for the security of those institutions, that had been originally founded, either as Grammar Schools, for the relief of poor persons, or for the maintenance of piers, jetties, walls, or banks, against the rage of the sea, &c." The inhabitants of Wisbeach obtained, through the influence of Goderich, bishop of Ely, a charter of incorporation, dated 1st of June 1549, which invested them with all the possessions of the Trinity Guild, the revenues of which were then estimated at 28l. 2s. 31/2d.

By this charter the inhabitants were to assemble annually, and elect ten men, who were to have the management and government of the business of the body corporate; but it appears that for the first thirty-six years after the charter was obtained, the corporation did little more than meet once a month in the Town Hall, and "out of mutual love and amity" immediately adjourn to a tavern, where having dined, they settled petty controversies among the inhabitants. But afterwards they proceeded further than they were warranted by the charter; they took cognizance of the accounts of the church-wardens and surveyors of the highways: they directed the application of money over which they had no right: assumed the privilege of levying an acre tax; and finally, during the plague, which raged here in the years 1587 and 1588, they summoned delinquents before them, and punished them at their own pleasure.

The inhabitants of Wisbeach obtained a renewal of their charter on the 28th January 1610-11, at an expence of 1931. 19s. 3d. By this charter they were constituted a body corporate, by the style of the burgesses of the town of Wisbeach; but the right of election of the ten men from that time, named capital burgesses, was limited to the possessors of freeholds of the annual value of forty-shillings. From this period the capital burgesses became objects of veneration and confidence, and were entrusted with the case of nearly all the donations made for the benefit of the poor. The principal officer is the town bailiff, who though a person wholly unknown to the charter, has the entire management of the estate and affairs of this corporation. He cannot, however, disburse more of the corporation funds that five pounds at one time, with the express order of the body corporate. Another charter was granted 15th February 1669, confirming the former. The capital burgesses have nothing to do with the jurisprudence of the town, which is under the cognizance of the general magistracy of the Ie of Ely; nor have they any degree of civil authority; their principal business is to regulate the management of the revenues of the estates bequeathed, partly for charitable, but chiefly for public purposes. The income of the corporation amounts to about 8001. per annum, which partly arises from a grant made by the Trinity House in 1710, of one penny a ton upon all goods exported or imported for the purpose of maintaining buoys and beacons, and keeping clear the channel of the river.

The summer assizes and the January and Midsummer quarter sessions are held at Wisbeach, and the magistrates assemble here every Wednesday and Saturday, to settle the assize of bread, and for other purposes.

According to the returns under the population act in 1801, Wisbeach then contained 940 houses, and 4710 inhabitants.

The market is held on Saturday, and is very large, for corn and cattle of all sorts, and is abundantly supplied with meat of the best kinds, poultry, and fish in great plenty. Although the trade of Wisbeach has much increased of late years, through the improved state of the drainage and navigation of the fens, and the consequent augmentation of the produce and consumption of the country, it suffered greatly about forty years ago, from the inundation of the surrounding country, occasioned by the choaking up the mouth of the river. Several breaches happened in the north bank of Morton’s Leam, between Peterborough and Wisbeach, so that Thorney Lordship, being the Bedford North Level, Portsound, and a great part of South Holland, in Lincolnshire, quite up to the town of Spalding, and other exceeding good lands, to the amount of one hundred thousand acres, used continually to be overwhelmed with water, from one to ten feet deep, until the act of parliament was obtained in 1773, for abandoning the old river, and making a new cut through the salt marshes, about five miles below the town of Wisbeach, to avoid the sand banks the sea had thrown up in the throat of this river. This cut had the desired and wonderful effect of lowering the waters in Wisbeach river several feet, perfecting the drainage, and securing a good outfall for the waters of the fens and surrounding sands. Since which period this country has been in the most flourishing and productive state, the commerce of the town has revived, and few places have the prospect of becoming so rich and prosperous. The average of the exports and imports amounts to upwards of 40,000 tons annually. A good inland trade is carried on in coals, raft, corn, wine, and other articles, which are carried up the river to Peterborough, Oundle, Northampton, &c. The navigable canal from this river, which joins the river Nene at Outwell, opens a short, safe, and easy communication between this port and the large trading towns of Cambridge, Lynn, Brandon, Bury, Ely, St. Ives, Huntingdon, Bedford, and others of note, in the several counties of Cambridge, Huntingdon, Bedford, Norfolk, and Suffolk.

The Wisbeach river is navigable at spring tides, which flow here from six to eight feet, for vessels that draw ten or twelve feet of water, and a considerable number, of about sixty or eighty tons burthen, are constantly employed in the corn-trade to London, Hull, &c.

The most remarkable occurrence of inundation of this neighbourhood happened in the years 1613 and 1614, and was commemorated till the year 1750, by an inscription on the east wall of the church, which, after a transcript had been made of it, was then effaced by the erection of a monument. The substance was as follows:

"To the immortal Praise of God.

"Be it in memory, that on the first of November 1613, in the night, the sea came in by the violence of a north-east wind, meeting a spring tide, and overflowed all Marshland, with the town of Wisbeach, both on the north and south sides, and almost the whole hundred round about, to the great danger of mens’ lives, with the loss of some by the breach of banks, &c. besides the spoil of corn, cattle, and houses, which could not be estimated.

"The year after, on the twenty-third of March, it was again overflowed by the fresh water, which came by a great snow, that not only the south side of this town, but the greater part of the ground within south-east bank in Holland, from Spalding to Tydd St. Giles, was almost lost for that year; with a great part of Marshland, from their bank called the Edge, between their towns and the smeeth of their new podike, by divers breaches between Salter’s Lode and Downham Bridge.

D: O: M: S:

O frugum faecunda Domus nimiumque beata

Si male vicinis non preinereris Aquis,

Quis tu cum sedeas imis in Vallibus a te

Quis prohibere undus ni Deus Ipse Potest ?

Scilicet in Fluctus nequiequam tenditur Agger,

Atque infida suae cedit Arena Mari;

Quod si te Impietas Fraudes, Scortoi, Foenus,

Cummaculat ab Aquis cur velet ista Deus?

Posuit Joshua Blaxton in Theologia, Baccalaureus et

hujus Ecclesia Dignus Vicarius."

Wisbeach was formerly noted fox the quantity and excellence of its butter sent to the London markets; but of late years the dairy has given way to the employment of grazing; and the lands are in so high a state of cultivation, for the purpose, that few counties can vie with this in respect to the numbers and goodness of the cattle grazed in the neighbourhood. The sheep and oxen grow to a great size, and considerable numbers of them are sent twice every week to the London markets. There are frequent instances of the sheep being sold in Smithfield market, at four guineas a head, after clip-day, and of the oxen reaching upwards of three hundred stone weight. There are also great numbers of valuable horses bred on the farms round Wisbeach.

The parish of Wisbeach is about twelve miles in length, and two miles and a half in width, and contains about 12,000 acres, which are in general very fertile and rich lands, and bring uncommon large crops of grass and corn, viz. wheat, oats, big barley, rape-seed, mustard-seed; with hemp, flax, and wood. The great, or corn tithes, belong to a lay impropriator so that the living is a vicarage only, but of great annual value in the gift of the bishop of Ely, who is also lord paramount of the manor. These four hamlets belong to the parish of Wisbeach St. Peter, this being the mother church, viz. Wisbeach St. Mary, Guyhirn, Tholomas Drove, and Murrow. The two first having in them chapels of ease.

Wisbeach Church dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is a spacious and handsome structure, upon a singular plan, there being two naves and two aisles. The naves are lofty and separated from each other, by a row of slight slender pillars with pointed arches. The aisles are more ancient than other parts of the building, and are divided from their respective naves by low massy pillars, and some circular Saxon arches. On one of the naves is the date 1586. The tower is remarkably beautiful. There is a small chapel or chantry, on the west side of the north entrance, dedicated to St. Martin, and anciently endowed with lands for the maintenance of a priest, to say masses for the soul of the founder. The images, shrines, altars, &c, in this chantry were demolished pursuant to Bishop Goodriche’s injunction, dated at Ely the 21st of October 1541.

In the south aisle there is a memorial for Thomas de Bramstone, one of the constables of the castle erected here by William the Conqueror, with his effigies on brass, and the following inscription on the marble round it: "Cygist Thomas de Bramstone, jadis conestable du Chastel de Wisebeche, qui moreuit leving Septisme jour de may, l an de notre Seignore, MIL. CCCC. primer. D' L' alme de qui Dieu par la grace ait merci. Amen."

In different parts of the church, there are, among others, the following epitaphs.

"Beneath a sleeping infant lies,

To earth her body lent,

Hereafter shall more glorious rise,

But scarce more innocent.

And when the arch-angel's trump shall sound,

And souls to bodies join,

Millions shall wish their lives below

Had been as short as thine."

The Rev. James Ashley, a native of this town, and rector of Fleet, in the county of Lincoln, composed the following beautiful lines to the memory of his brother.

"Has Death enwrapp’d thee in this cloud of night,

Whilst youth, hope, pleasure, gleam’d their cheerful ray?

So fades Aurora’s ineffectual light,

When the pale morning blushes into day.

See by his dying form mild Patience stands,

Composing agony with healing wing,

Hope, Ease, and Comfort, wait on her command,

And o’er the mournful bed sweet requiems sing.

Care, Pain, and Death, terrific gloom no more,

But seem to pave a golden way to heaven;

The race to reach the distant goal is o’er,

The toil is ended, and the prize is given.

And when on yonder star-pav’d plain you rove,

And pitying view us active forms of clay,

Accept this last sad tribute of our love,

The best the brother and the friend can pay."

The following lines were written by the same gentleman, to the memory of his mother.

"Freed from the ever-dreary vale of life,

Here hes the wife, the mother, and the friend,

Sickness and health forego their wonted strife,

Death’s ebon darts their opposition end.

Light lies the turf upon the guiltless breast,

Whose mansion pure no earth-born passion stain’d,

Where pride ne’er gloom’d on its continual rest,

Nor factious envy with her breath prophan’d.

Such, when the pomp of kingdoms is no more,

When future suns shall light eternal skies,

Shall land for ever on the blissful shore,

Where flow the fountains of celestial joys.

Such shall the meekev’d cherub’s friendship claim,

And with companion angels swell the choir

In sounds of praise to the eternal name,

Whilst Heaven’s own harmony informs the lvre.’

There are also several handsome monuments erected to the memory of different branches of the Southwell family, who formerly resided at the castle, which they rented of the bishop.

This church has a very fine organ, with twenty stops, built by subscription, in the year 1789, by the late Mr. Samuel Green, of Isleworth. The organist has a salary of 40l. per annum.

In the year 1767 the corporation erected an elegant stone bridge, in the room of the old wooden one, over the great river, at the expense of upwards of 2000l. It is a single elliptical arch, very accurately proportioned.

A new Custom House has also been lately erected by the corporation.

The town is tolerably well paved, and lighted with lamps, in dark evenings nearly the year throughout. It is supplied with water from wells, rain waters, cisterns, and the river.

The Theater is situated nearly in the centre of the town, and is well adapted for the purpose. There are balls and assemblies monthly at the Rose and Crown Inn, which has been a place of public reception form the year 1475, at which period it was known by the sign the Horn, and on one of the out-buildings, erected in 1601, the figure of a horn is yet to be seen.

A literary society was established in this town, in the year 1781. The education of youth is provided for by a Free School, and two Charity Schools, supported by voluntary subscription.

There are several respectable villages near to Wisbeach; Leverington, distant one mile; Parson Drove, six miles; Newton, three miles, at this place there was formerly a college or chantry, founded by Sir John Colville, which at the Dissolution was annexed to the rectory; Tid St. Giles, six miles; Walsoken, one mile; at this place was a college or hospital, belonging to the brethren of the holy trinity. Thomas Herring, archbishop of Canterbury, was born here in 1613.

Topography of Great Britain, written: 1802-29 by George Alexander Cooke

WISBECH is a seaport, municipal borough, market town, head of a union and county court district, with stations on the Midland, Great Eastern and Great Northern railways, 87 miles from London, 40 north from Cambridge, 116 from Birmingham, via Peterborough and Blisworth, 22 east from Spalding, 63 from Northempton, 34 from Stamford, 23 from Ely, 7 ¾ from March, 21 from Peterborough, west-south-west from Lynn and 64 from Norwich, via Lynn, in the Northern division of the county, hundred, petty sessional division and rural deanery of the same name, liberty of the Isle of Ely, and peculiar archidiaconal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ely; it is also the seat of the January and July quarter sessions for the liberty of the Isle of Ely, and of the petty sessions for the hundred, and is on the borders of Norfolk, within a few miles of the sea, to which it has access by the navigable river Nene, which intersects the town, the larger portion being on the south side of the river, the banks of which, during the years 1890—91, were strengthened with piling, at a cost of £20,000. The thoroughfares facing the river are known chiefly as the “North and South Brinks.” By the Wisbech canal, the town has also water communication by the Ouse with Cambridge, Hertford and London.

The branch line of the Great Eastern railway from the main line to Wisbech harbour has materially assisted the development of the timber and coal trade of the town, and there is also a steam tramway from Wisbech station to Upwell for the conveyance of goods and passengers. The Midland and Great Northern joint line from Peterborough, which joins the Great Northern line at Sutton Bridge, affords an additional means of inter-communication, and by means of these various railways the town is rendered one of the most desirable ports for carrying on shipping transactions between the Midland Counties and the Baltic Sea. The Midland line has also a tramway into the Old Market. The railway stations are about half a mile from the centre of the town, the Midland on the north and the Great Eastern on the south, but street railways communicate with the warehouses on the north side of the town, so that railway trucks can be loaded or unloaded direct out of the warehouses and ships without cartage expenses.

Vessels of 787 tons can enter the port. The number of sailing and steam vessels entering the port, including their repeated voyages from foreign countries and British possessions in 1902 was is British of 11,883 tons and 45 foreign, with a tonnage of 19,293. The number clearing for foreign countries was 16 of 3,810 tons. The number of sailing and steam vessels entering the port, including their repeated voyages, with cargoes and in ballast, and employed entirely in the general coasting trade, was 122, with a tonnage of 8,278; the vessels clearing numbered 168, of 35,666 tons.

Fishing boats and their implements are distinguished by the letters W.I.; two sea fishing boats and nine merchant vessels are registered at the port. Since 1852 the quays have been much improved by the erection of new wharfage, at an expense to the town of about £60,000, and an iron bridge has been erected, which spans the river in the centre of the town.

The chief trade is in importing corn, wool, seeds, coal, timber and iron; the total value of the imports in 1903 was £136,595. The chief exports are coal, corn and salt, the latter arriving from Worcestershire by the Midland railway. The total value of the exports in 1903 was £1,286. In the surrounding district both flowers and fruit are largely grown, the latter consisting chiefly of gooseberries, apples, pears, plums, strawberries and raspberries; potatoes, asparagus and mustard seed are also extensively grown. There are planing and sawing mills, breweries, printing offices, wind and steam corn and oilcake mills and agricultural implement works.

The town received its earliest charter from Richard I. and this was confirmed by later sovereigns, including Edw. VI. and restored, after forfeiture, by James I. For municipal purposes the borough is divided into north and south wards, and, under the provisions of the “Municipal Corporations Act, 1835” (5 and 6 Wm. IV. c. 76), is governed by a Corporation, consisting of a mayor, six aldermen and is town councillors; it has a separate commission of the peace and other officers, including a treasurer, town clerk, town chamberlain, charitable trustees, harbour masters and a superintendent of police. There is also a Board of Health for Wisbech and Walsoken, for main sewerage purposes, six members of which form the Urban District Council for Walsoken. The town is lighted with gas by a company, formed in 1879, and supplied with water from chalk springs at Marham, in Norfolk, 21 miles distant, the works being the property of a company. The Market place is a fine open space, and the Old Market is a spacious square.

The church of SS. Peter and Paul is an edifice of stone in the Early Norman and Perpendicular styles, consisting of chancel, double nave, transept, south porch and a large embattled tower at the north-west angle containing a dock and 10 fine-toned bells; the dock was erected in 1866 by Mr. James Dann, of this town, at a cost of about £400: in the chancel floor is a very large brass to Sir Thomas de Branstone, constable of Wisbech Gastle, ob. 1401, with effigy in armour and mutilated inscription in French: the reredos, presented by Mr. John Shepherd, and unveiled 26th June, 1885, is a fine work in stone, alabaster and Florentine mosaic, executed in Venice by Salviati; the principal feature is a reproduction in mosaic of Leonardo Da Vinci’s picture, “The Last Supper,” with canopied figures of St. Peter and St. Paul on either side, designed by Mr. Bassett Smith, under whose superintendence the church was restored: a memorial window has been erected to the Rev. John Scott M.A. hon. canon of Ely and vicar here, 1867—86: the church was restored in 1858, at a cost of £4,200, and the organ re-constructed and enlarged in 1873, at a cost of £650: the church affords 1,500 sittings, half of which are free. The register dates from the year 1558. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £663, with 42 ½ acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Ely, and held since 1886 by the Rev. Robert Edward Reginald Watts M.A. of Trinity College, Cambridge, rural dean of Wisbech, and surrogate.

St. Augustine’s is an ecclesiastical parish, formed in 1869 from the civil parishes of St. Peter Wisbech and Leverington. The church, erected in 1868—9, and opened in May, 1869, at a cost of about £4,000, is a structure of brick, with stone dressings, in the Early English style, consisting of clerestoried nave, aisles and bellcot containing one bell: the reredos, erected in 1878, is of stone, the panels being filled in with glass mosaic, displaying a central cross with the figures of three angels on either side, bearing on shields the instruments of the Passion: the stained east window, placed 7 Dec. 1883, is a memorial, and there are six other stained windows: the church affords 400 sitings, The register dates from the year 1870. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £292, with residence, in the gift of the Bishop of Ely, and held since 1896 by the Rev. Charles Hannibal Cross-ley M.A. of St. John’s College, Cambridge The Chapel of Ease or Octagon church, in the Old Market, is an octagonal embattled structure of brick, with stone facings, consisting of chancel, nave, south porch and a belfry containing one bell, and has sittings for 800 persons, 200 of which are free. The living is a perpetual curacy, net yearly value £200, arising from 263 acres of glebe, in the gift of trustees, and held since 1895 by the Rev. Richard Boyer M.A. of Caius College, Cambridge.

St. Mary’s, Wisbech, will be found under a separata heading.

The Catholic church, in Queen’s road, built in 1854, and dedicated to Our Lady and St. Charles Borromeo, is an edifice in the Decorated style, consisting of chancel, nave, aisles and a turret containing one bell: the church contains a very fine painting of the Dead Christ and good set of the “Via Crucis:” there are sittings for 250 persons. The Friends’ Meeting House, North Brink, was built in 1854. The Particular Baptist chapel. Upper Hill street, was founded in 1792; the present edifice, erected in 1859 at a cost of about £4,000, is a stone building in the Early English style, seating about 600 persons. The General Baptist chapel, Ely place, was founded in 1655, and the present edifice built in 1873: it will seat 850. The Zion Baptist chapel, Victoria road, is of brick, and was erected in 1856. The Congregational chapel, Castle square, was built in 1818, and will seat 500, and the Primitive Methodist chapel, Church terrace, in 1868. The Wesleyan chapel, in The Crescent, will seat 500, The United Methodist Free church, Little Church street, built in 869—70, at a cost of about ‘£2,500, is of red brick with stone facings. The Salvation Army barracks are in East street.

There are three cemeteries, one of about 4 acres, belonging to and situated near the church; another of a acres on the Leverington road, the property of a private company; each has a mortuary chapel, and grounds planted with shrubs and evergreens; a third, formed by the Town Council acting as a Burial Board, was opened October 31, 1881, at Mount Pleasant, and contains an area of 11 acres and one mortuary chapel.

The parish church and churchyard, part of the church cemetery and the Unitarian burial grounds were wholly dosed against interments by Order in Council, May 25, 1855.

The Corn Exchange, on the North Brink, incudes, in addition to the Exchange, a sale room and various offices. The Cattle Marked, on the Chapel road, was formed at a cost of £2,300: the Corn Market day is Saturday: cattle markets are held on Thursdays and Saturdays weekly; and fairs on the Saturday after the end of Lynn February 14th fair, which lasts seven days; the second Thursday in May and July 25 for horses and the first Thursday in August for beasts; the third Wednesday in September for hiring.

The Custom House for the port with a collector and controller, is in Bridge buildings.

There are three banks, four weekly newspapers one of which is printed in the town, and several excellent hotels, of which the “Rose and Crown,” the “Ship,” the “White Hart” and the “White Lion” are the chief.

The Post Office, in Bridge street, was erected in 1886—7.

The Public Hall, in Upper Hill street, built in 1851, at a cost of £1,000, contains, a large room capable of holding 800 persons, and a lecture room to hold 200, besides two board rooms and the usual offices; the entire building was restored and re-decorated in 1885, and is used for concerts, public meetings and other purposes.

Selwyn Hall, in Alexandra road, erected in 1694, is used for meetings, concerts &c.

The “United Good Fellowship” (No. 809) Lodge of Freemasons, to which there is a Chapter attached, holds its meetings at that “Rose and Crown,” on the 4th Thursday in the month.

The Police Office adjoins the Corn Exchange.

The Fire Brigade consists of a captain, three officers, four subordinate officers and 20 men, with two steam fire engines, one manual engine and a fire escape; the engine house is in Lower Hill street, keys being kept at the Police office and by the superintendent, Mr. Frank G. Blott, Lower Hill street.

The Museum and Literary Institution, in Museum square, is open from 11 to 5 in summer and 11 to 4 in winter, and on Thursday evenings from 7 to 9. The Literary Institution was established in 1781, and the Museum in 1835, and they were amalgamated in 1877: the collections include Egyptian antiquities, Celtic flint and bronze implements, Roman-British querns and urns and Anglo-Saxon fibulae, besides a valuable collection of ceramics, bijouterie, articles of vertu and coins, bequeathed to the museum in 1869 by the Rev. C. H. fownsend: in British ornithology the collection, comprising many rare Fen birds, is nearly complete; the specimens of marine and fresh water fish taken in the river and in the Wash are extensive and curious; there are also some fine mineralogical and geological specimens, and collections of natural history.

A park, with pleasure grounds, comprising an area of is acres, planted with shrubs, flowers and evergreens, was opened in 1870, at a cost of £3,769 18s. 10d. of which sum the land cost £2,400, the remainder being expended in inclosing and ornamenting: the memorial column, erected in the park in 1871, to the late Bichard Young esq. M.P. having been blown down and shattered by a storm in December, 1883, has been repaired at a cost of £117, raised by subscription. The North Cambridgeshire Hospital, adjoining and overlooking the park, is a structure of brick, with lodge and detached residence for the surgeon, built and furnished by the munificence of Miss M. E, Trafford-Southwell, of Honington Hall; Grantham, at a cost of about £8,000, and opened Nov. 22, 1873: the foundress endowed the hospital with a sum of £6,000, augmented by donations to the amount of £10,000: there are beds for 24 patients.

A Fever Hospital was established in 1875, at Mount Pleasant.

The Working Men’s Club and Institute, Lower Hill street, originally a private dwelling house, was opened January 4th, 1865, and subsequently enlarged, and a new smoking room was added in 1891; attached is a tower of brick and stone, 100 feet high, containing an illuminated clock and chimes, with 14 bells playing 26 tunes, erected by Mr. James Dann, of this town: the building comprises a lecture hall, reading, smoking, conversation and class rooms, library of 5,000 volumes, gymnasium and a residence for the hall keeper: in connection with the institute is a savings bank, coal and Christmas dubs, as well as dubs for cricket, football, gymnastic exercise, draughts and chess; various educational classes are also held here: there are now (1904) 1,250 members.

The Park Temperance Hall, in Buby street, is used for meetings &c.

The memorial to Thomas Clarkson M.A. the indefatigable advocate for the abolition of the slave trade, was erected at a cost of £2,055, raised by subscription, from the designs of the late Sir Gilbert Scott R.A.: the first stone was laid 28 Oct. 1880, and the memorial unveiled 1 Nov. 1881: it consists of a statue, mounted on a platform, above which rises a canopy, terminating in a spire, the whole being 68 feet high: on three sides of the base are carved bas-reliefs, representing respectively Wilberforce, Granville Sharp and a manacled slave in a beseeching attitude: the fourth side bears an inscription to this distinguished philanthropist, who was born at Wisbech 26 March, 1760, and died at Playford Hall, near Ipswich, 26 Sept. 1846.

The Wisbech charities comprise the following:—

Thomas Parke, by will, an 1628, gave his house, in Ship lane, Wisbech, for the poor of the parish. The endowment now consists of £1,362 17s. 11d. Stock, and 2 acres of land in Wisbech, producing a yearly income of about £55: the net income is appropriated to the purchase of clothing for the poor.

In the year 1638, William Holmes gave £400 to the Burgesses of Wisbech, to be invested in land, and the rent applied for the maintenance of two scholars at St. Mary Magdalene College in the University of Cambridge, and for binding out poor children apprentices; and by bis will, in 1656, directed that the whole yearly income of the said land, after payment of 20s. annually to the said college, should be paid yearly towards the maintenance of the said scholars. The estate now consists of £7,252 Stock and farmhouse and buildings, with 46 acres of land in Holbeach, Lincolnshire, called the Clays Farm. The income, amounting to about £300, forms part of the endowment of the Wisbech Grammar School, under a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, November, 1878.

In the year 1656, William Holmes gave by will £300 to the capital burgesses of Wisbech, to be lent out in sums of £10 each to poor tradesmen, free of interest, upon their giving good security for repayment.

John Crane, by will, in 1651, gave to the town of Wisbech his house called “the Black Bull,” one-half of the revenue to amend the schoolmaster’s wages, and the other moiety to be laid out in the purchase of corn and firing to be given to the poor about Christmas or New Year’s Day. In the year 1802 the Corporation sold the estate and invested the proceeds. The charity estate now consists of £1,659 Stock and 8 acres of land, in Wisbech High Fen. The gross, income is about £65, one moiety of which forms part of the endowment of the Grammar School, and the other moiety is distributed in flour and coals to the poor on or about St. Thomas’ Day, annually; he also directed his executors to buy lands, which he gave to the five corporations therein mentioned (Wisbech being one), the revenues every fifth year to be bestowed on honest poor men in prison for debt, or old women, or the relief of poor men in want, or to relieve them out of prison for debt: the charity estate consists of an estate in Fleet, Lincolnshire, consisting of 176 acres of land, Wisbech receiving about £70 annually for its one-fifth share of the rents; he also directed his executors to buy lands, the revenues whereof, every fifth year (until it amounted to £300 Stock), he gave to the town of Wisbech, to be lent freely to young men to help to set them up, in sums of £20 free of interest.

John Baxter, by his will, in 1793, gave to the capital burgesses of Wisbech all the interest arising from his property in the English funds to allow annually £10 each to a poor old man or woman totally incapacitated for labour, with an injunction that they attend divine worship every Sunday. The estate consists of £1,428 Stock, and produces an income of £42, and there are four annuitants, cash in receipt of £10 yearly.

The Shambles Estate, in the Market place, Wisbech, was granted by Queen Elizabeth, lady of the manor, for the use of the inhabitants of the town of Wisbech. The capital burgesses, in the year 1810, for the purpose of improving the town, purchased the estate; the purchase money was invested in £500 Stock, the income thereof being distributed annually in clothing to the poor.

The King’s Dole.-By the governing charter of the town of Wisbech, granted 21st Car. II. it was ordained that the capital burgesses should distribute annually amongst the poor inhabitants of the town £3 15s. out of the rents of their estates.

Bartholomew Edwards, by his will, 1583, gave £10 and John Williamson, by will, dated 1599, gave £40 to the Body Corporate of Wisbech for the use of the poor.

Margaret Beude, by will 1605, gave £50 to the Body Corporate of Wisbech for the use of the poor: of the income, amounting to £2 10s., 6s. 8d. is paid to the poor of Lemmington, Parson Drove and the remainder to the poor of Wisbech St. Mary.

John Thurloe, in the year 1656, gave £150 to the Corporation of Wisbech, the interest thereof to be applied in putting out three apprentices annually.

Lord Saye and Sele in the year 1656, gave £100 to the Corporation of Wisbech, the interest thereof to be applied in clothing poor people yearly.

Richard Royce, by will in 1669, gave 16 acres of land in Wisbech High Fen to the capital burgesses for clothing poor widows: the rent is now £28 yearly.

Richard Loake, by will in 1701, gave £200 to the capital burgesses of Wisbech, the interest of £100 to be annually expended in clothing five poor widows or housekeepers, and of the other £100 to be distributed by the church-wardens amongst the poor. The income amounts to £10 yearly.

William Scottred, by will dated 1603, gave 12 acres-of land in Wisbech St. Mary, the rent amounting to £18 a year, to be paid to the churchwardens, for the, use of the poor.

The Rev. Abraham Johnson D.D. in the year 1827, gave to the Body Corporate of Wisbech £1,000, the interest to be applied to the purposes and objects of the Wisbech Dorcas Society; the income, about £47 10s. yearly, is paid over to the treasurer of the society.

Elizabeth Stevens, by will dated 1835, gave to the Corporation of Wisbech £500 to be invested, and the interest to be paid to 15 poor widows: the endowment consists of £498 4s. 11d. Stock: the income is distributed accordingly.

There are 12 almshouses in Wisbech, erected by the Corporation, containing upper and lower rooms, for 24 aged persons.

Elizabeth Wright, spinster, by will in 1732, gave to trustees certain estates in Wisbech and the adjoining parishes of Leverington, Parson Drove, Sutton, Gedney, Wisbech St. Mary and Tydd St. Mary, the rents and profits thereof to be applied, partly in support of the charity schools, and partly for distribution amongst poor women living in good credit and reputation and attending at church. The income, amounting to about £312 yearly, is applied according to the directions of the will.

Judith Mayer, spinster, by will in the year 1811, gave to trustees £500, to erect a building to be used as an asylum, to be called after her name, for the reception of such poor persons of Wisbech afflicted with palsy, rheumatism, gout, blindness or other complaint, as a lasting token of her good wishes and regard for the town and its inhabitants; she also gave to the capital burgesses and to the vicar and churchwardens the sum of £1,200, to be invested and the dividends applied towards the support and repair of such building, as well as for the use and benefit of the occupants and for the purchase of coals annually. The trustees, in 1815, built an asylum, consisting of 5 tenements; each occupant receives £10 a year and an allowance of coals.

The Ecclesiastical Commissioners are lords of the manor of Wisbech Barton, which extends into the following parishes, Wisbech St. Peter, Wisbech St. Mary and Leverington (including Parson Drove and Guyhirn), Tydd St. Giles, Elm, Upwell, Outwell and Welney, and are also lords of the manor of Wisbech Rectory, which extends into Wisbech St. Peter and St. Mary.

The soil is loam; subsoil, clay. Chief crops, wheat, market garden produce and pasturage. The area is 6,434 acres of land, 42 of water, 46 of tidal water and 20 of foreshore; rateable value, £42,747; the population of Wisbech in 1901 was 9,808, including 14 officers and 156 inmates of the workhouse. The population of St. Augustine ecclesiastical parish in 1901 was 3,086.

The population of the wards in 1901 was:-North, 4,947, and South, 4,884.

Petty Sessions are held at the Sessions House, South brink, every Saturday at noon. The following places are included in the petty sessional division:-Elm, Leverington, Newton, Outwell. Parson Drove, Tydd St. Giles, Upwell, Wisbech St. Mary.

WISBECH UNION

Board day, thursday, fortnightly, at 10.30 a.m. at the Workhouse, Lynn road.

The Union comprises the following parishes, viz.:-In Cambridgeshire: Elm, Leverington, Newton, Outwell, Parson Drove, Tydd Saint Giles, Upwell, Wisbech St. Mary & Wisbech St. Peter. In Norfolk: Clenchwarton, Emneth, Outwell, Terrington St. Clement, Terrington St. John, Tilney All Saints, Tilney-cum-Islington, Tilney Saint Lawrence, Upwell, Walpole St. Andrew, Walpole St. Peter, Walsoken, Walsoken Hungate & West Walton. The population of the union in 1901 was 33,105; area, 111,789 acres; rateable value in 1904, £226,577.

Workhouse is extensive & stands in spacious grounds on the Lynn road & is capable of containing 445 inmates & averages 150 inmates.

PLACES OF WORSHIP, with times of services

SS. Peter & Paul Church, Rev. Robert Edward Reginald Watts M.A. vicar; Rev. Frederic Benjamin Brando Whittington M.A. & Rev. Alfred Robert Ashton M.A curates; 8 & 11 a.m. & 3 & 7 p.m.; week days, 10.13 a.m. & 5 p.m. & 5 Wed. 7 p.m.

St. Augustine’s District Church, Rev. Charles Hannibal Crossley M.A. vicar; Rev. Anthony Fourdrinier Fenn, curate; 7, 8, 9.45 & 11 a.m. & 3 & 7 p.m.

Chapel of Ease, Old market, Rev. Bichard Boyer M.A. incumbent; 11 a.m. & 7 p.m.

Our Lady & St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, New Wisbech, Rev. George J. Page, priest; mass 9 a.m. or 11.30 a.m.; evening service, 7 p.m.; holidays obligation, mass 8 & g.30 a.m. & evening service, 8 p.m.

Friends’ Meeting House, 16 North brink; 10.30 a.m. & 3.30 & 7 p.m.; Wed. 10.30 a.m.

Congregational, Castle square, Rev. James Thomas; Sun. 10.30 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Thur. 7.15 p.m.

Baptist (General), Ely place, Crescent, Rev. James Hardaker Brooksbank; Sun. 10.45 a.m. & 6.45, p.m.; Tues. 7.30 p.m. & Thur. 8 p.m.

Baptist (Particular), Upper Hill street, Revs. John Cockett, & J. W. Campbell; 10.30 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Thur. 7.15 p.m.

Baptist (Zion), Victoria road, Rev. H. Newton; 10.30 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Wed. & sat. 7 p.m.

Primitive Methodist, Church terrace, Rev. John Wardman Venables; 10.30 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Mon. 7 p.m.

United Methodist Free Church, Little Church street, Rev. George Atkinson; 10.45 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Thur. 7 p.m.

Wesleyan, Crescent, Rev. James Spensley (supt.) & Rev. Wesley T. Bosward; 10.30 a.m., & 6.30 p.m. 1 Wed.7 p.m.

Salvation Army Barracks, East street; 11 & 3 & 6.30 p.m.

New Wisbech Mission Hall, Artillery street (Baptist); 10.30 a.m. & 6.30 p.m.; Fri. 7.45 p.m.

Railway Mission Hall, Alexandra road, Pollard, supt.; 3 & 7 p.m.; sat. 7 p.m. North Brink Baptist Mission Chapel (various); Sun. 6.30 p.m.

SCHOOLS

The Endowed Grammar School, South brink, was founded in 1379, & reconstituted by the Charity Commissioners in 1878: amongst the earliest endowments is that of Sir Nicholas Sandys A.D. 1639: attached to the school are also four exhibitions of £70 yearly, founded by William Holmes in 1638, of which three are tenable for 4 years at Magdalene College, Cambridge, the for the same period at any other University: the master of the school is allowed, to take boarders:, there are now (1904) about 50 boys, 7 being boarders: the governing body is as follows:-Alexander Peckover esq. LL.D., Rev. Canon Stokes M.A., Henry Farrow esq., W. S. Collins esq. W. R. Girling esq. J G. A. Peskett esq. M.A., the Rev. Robert Edward Reginald Watts M.A., E. B. Bellars esq., C. E. F. Copeman esq., A. W. May esq. & Arthur S. Ramsey esq. governors; Edward Hugh Jackson esq clerk; Arthur William Poyser M.A. hea.m.ster & five assistants.

Charity Schools:-There are two charity schools in the town, one for boys & one for girls, & one Sunday school, partly supported by the interest of various sums, amounting to £674, given by benefactors to the burgesses of Wisbech for the benefit of the said schools, & by the rents of an estate in Leverington, Cambridgeshire, consisting of 23 acres, purchased with two sums of £500 each, given to the said burgesses for that purpose by the Rev. Abraham Jobson D.D. & John Edeg esq. & also by the rents of an estate given by Elizabeth Wright, by her will in 1732, & by the interest of £500 left by the said Abraham Jobson & by dividends of £108 stock: the income amounts to about £10, & is applied in support of the schools.

Public Elementary Schools

Managers of Wisbech Provided Schools, formed July, 1903, in lieu of late School Board; E. H. Jackson, 18 Lower Hill street, correspondent; managers meet at correspondent’s office, 1st thursday in the menth at 10 a.m.

Boys’, Victoria road, erected 1840, for 280 children; average attendance, 218.

Girls’ & Infants’, Elm road, erected 1878 & opened April 15, 1879, for 200 girls & 150 infants; average attendance, 172 girls & 160 infants.

Mixed, South brink, erected 1879, for 60 children; average attendance, 50.

The undermentioned non-provided schools are controlled by six loca.m.nagers; E. H. Jackson, is Lower Hill street, correspondent.

St. Peter’s (boys), Church terrace, erected 1874, has to endowment of £250 yearly & is supported in part from the charities previously mentioned; number of children, 250; average attendance, 207.

St. Peter’s (girls & infants), Lower Hill street, erected in 1814; average attendance, 142 girls & 115 infants; this school also participates in the same charities.

St. Augustine’s (girls), Monica road, erected 1874, for 115 girls & 150 infants; average attendance, 95 girls & 130 infants.

Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire (1904)

WISBECH ST. MARY is a parish, with a station on the Peterborough and Lynn section of the Midland and Great Northern joint railway, 3 miles south-west of Wisbech, in the Northern division of the county, Wisbech hundred, union, petty sessional division and county court district, rural deanery of Wisbech, and in the peculiar archidiaconal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Ely, Isle of Ely. The civil parish includes the ecclesiastical districts of Guyhirn and Murryw, and the hamlets of Thorney Toll and Tholomas Drove, and a portion of Wisbech Fen. The church of St. Mary is an ancient edifice of brick and stone in the Perpendicular style, consisting of chancel, restored in 1873 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, clerestoried nave, aisles, south porch and an embattled western tower containing a clock and 5 bells: there are a number of curious brackets, and in the south porch the remains of an unusually large stoup: the church was restored in 1894 at a cost of £831, and again in 1901 at a cost of £950, and affords 360 sittings. The register dates from the year 1557. The living is a vicarage, net yearly value £450, with residence and 12 acres of glebe, in the gift of the Bishop of Ely, and held since 1882 by the Rev. Richard Devereux Jones M.A. of Trinity College, Dublin. The living is at present subject to a pension of £230 to the late vicar. There is a Primitive Methodist chapel. The charities include 61 acres left A.D. 1593 by Mr. Bend, with 8 acres added by the Commissioners of the Bedford Level (temp. Charles II.), comprising, with other lands, 75 acres, the-rents of which, about £240 yearly, are given to the poor; 21 acres of land left in 1726 by Francis Hardy for the endowment of a school for the parishioners; £50 left in 1605 by Mrs. Bend, the interest to be given-two-thirds to this parish and one-third to Parson Drove; in 1833—4 25a. 3r. 26p. of land were allotted by the Enclosure Commissioners, to be let in small lots to the poor of this parish at nominal rentals: fifteen cottages have been erected for the use of poor labourers, who pay 1s. each yearly for them. The rentals of lands let to the poor are applied to the poor relief fund. The charities enumerated are enjoyable by the whole of the parishioners of Wisbech St. Mary. The Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who are lords of the manor; the Duke of Bedford K.G.; the trustees of the late Right Hon. Hugh Culling Eardley Childers P.C. (d. 1896); Lady Ulrica Thynne, of Munthem Court, Worthing; the Rev. James Bellamy D.D. president of St. John’s College, Oxford; the Rev. Francis Cotton Marshall, late rector of Little Wilbraham; the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy; St. Peter’s College, Cambridge, and Guy’s Hospital, London, are the principal landowners. The soil is loam; subsoil, clay. The chief crops are wheat, oats, peas, potatoes, root crops and fruit. The area is 10,164 acres of land, 23 of water, 44 of tidal water and 11 of foreshore; rateable value, £16,451; the population in 1901 was 1,965 in the civil and 732 in the ecclesiastical parish.

Public Elementary School (mixed), erected in 1859, for 140 children; average attendance, 111.

Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire (1904)

Surnames Found in Wisbech

RankSurnameNo. of People% of Population
1Smith2312.03
2Johnson1020.89
3Wright930.82
4Wilson920.81
5Ward710.62
6Clarke710.62
7Barnes680.60
8Brown590.52
9Thompson590.52
10Howard590.52
11Jackson510.45
12Clark490.43
13Taylor470.41
14Hall470.41
15King450.39
16Chapman450.39
17Foster450.39
18Fisher440.39
19Walker420.37
20Watson420.37
21Pratt420.37
22Jones410.36
23Mason410.36
24Allen400.35
25Burrows400.35
26Tawn400.35
27Thorpe390.34
28Cooper380.33
29Gilby380.33
30Holmes370.32
31Davis350.31
32Miller350.31
33Teed350.31
34White340.30
35Parker340.30
36Baxter340.30
37Gray330.29
38Cole330.29
39Hammond330.29
40Cooke320.28
41Hill310.27
42Cox310.27
43Palmer310.27
44Baker300.26
45Saunders300.26
46Cross300.26
47Flint300.26
48Peck300.26
49Southwell300.26
50Adams290.25
51Brooks290.25
52Wells290.25
53Garner290.25
54Morton280.25
55Cousins280.25
56Hercock280.25
57Pentelow280.25
58Morris270.24
59Cook270.24
60Lee270.24
61Marriott270.24
62Pattrick270.24
63Tegerdine270.24
64Gibson260.23
65Bradley260.23
66Oldham260.23
67Tansley260.23
68Bouch260.23
69Quince260.23
70Burton250.22
71Frost250.22
72Coulson250.22
73Butt250.22
74Roughton250.22
75Dawbarn250.22
76Snushall250.22
77Green240.21
78Marshall240.21
79Wilkinson240.21
80Friend240.21
81Ayers240.21
82Collins230.20
83Payne230.20
84Briggs230.20
85Leach230.20
86Nixon230.20
87Whitfield230.20
88Stapleton230.20
89Anderson220.19
90Boulton220.19
91Dunn210.18
92Archer210.18
93Benton210.18
94Culy210.18
95Skells210.18
96Gill200.18
97Hutchinson200.18
98Collier200.18
99Salmon200.18
100Catling200.18