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siderable place than Peterborough. In that reign, Leland observes, that it was a borough, and ever after belonged to the crown *. In the time of the Danes it was reckoned one of the five great cities of the Danish kingdom, whose inhabitants, for the purpose of distinction, were termed Fisburgenses. The others were Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, and Lincoln; to which two more were afterwards added, Chester and York: when the appellation was changed to Seafenburgenses, which name they retained till the close of the Danish dynasty in England. By the Saxon annals calling it Byrigh, and Florence of Worcester Arr, it was evidently then a walled town.—Leland says there were seven principal towers on the walls of Stamford, to each of which the freeholders were occasionally allotted, to watch and ward; and, according to Speed's plan of the town, there were also four smaller forts, which made the number eleven. Besides these, the town was defended by seven principal, and two postern gates, and a strong citadel. The castle was probably built by the Danes: for the Saxon Chronicle, and Henry of Huntingdon, speaking of its being taken from them by Edmund Ironside, A. D. 942, observes, it had been then a long time in their possession. But Leland, following Matthew of Westminster, states, that Elfreda, sister of Edward the elder, rebuilt the castle of Stamford, on the northern bank of the Welland, A. D. 914. The Danes again repossessed themselves of the castle, and held it till the death of their last king, in the year 1041, when it reverted again to the English. But by William conquering the kingdom, it fell, A. D. 1066, into the hands of the Normans. At the time of the general survey, there were in Stamford one hundred and forty-one mansionst, and twelve lagemen", who had within their own houses sac and soc, over their own men, except the tax and heriots, and the forfeiture of their bodies, and felons' goods. In the reign of Stephen, the castle was besieged by Henry of Anjou, afterwards King Henry the Second ; who took it, and bestowed both that and the town, excepting the barons' and knights fees, on Richard Humez or Humetz, to hold them of the crown by homage and other service. By King John they were granted to William Earl of Warren, to hold by a similar tenure. After his death, they were granted by John Earl of Warren to Edward the First, and by the king regranted to the said earl, for the term of his life; on whose demise, by a previous agreement, they reverted again to the crown. After many grants, and as many reversions arising from forfeiture, or failure of male issue, the manor was given by Queen Elizabeth to William Cecil, first Lord Burleigh; and by marriage of Anne, his grand-daughter and coheiress, with William Earl of Exeter, it descended to Henry Grey, first Earl of Stamford, in which family it continued for several descents; but is now again, by purchase, vested in the family of Cecil. In the reign of Richard the Third the castle was thrown down and demolished. The hill on which it stood, to the north-west of the town, appears to have been nearly artificial, the various layers of earth lying horizontally; and by the side are the small remains of a stone wall.
3E 2 men,
* Itin. Vol. VI. f. 28.
t Mansio or mansion, comprehended more in its ancient, than its present acceptation; for in Domesday it is stated, that “Roger de Busli had in Snottingham, or Nottingham, three mansions, in which were situated eleven houses.”
In the time of the Conqueror, Stamford was governed by the lagemen or aldermen. In the time of Edward the Fourth it cbtained the privilege, which it still retains, of sending two members to parliament: and in the first year of that reign a charter was granted, by virtue of which the aldermen and other officers were incorporated, under the name of the “Aldermen and combur
* These were judges of the laws, and were the first civil governors of towns; having sac, that is the privilege granted by the king to judge and try causes, and receive the forfeitures arising from crimes within a certain limit: The place of such jurisdiction was denominated Soc.
gesses of the first and second bench.” Various other privileges were conferred by different cliarters in succeeding reigns; but the town was not governed by a mayor till the reign of Charles the Second", who, when he recalled the royal charters throughout the kingdom, granted a new one to Stamford, which was confirmed in the reign of James the Second. By that charter it was again incorporated; and the corporation made to consist of a mayor, thirteen aldermen, and twenty-four capital burgesses, by the name of “The mayor, aldermen, and capital burgesses of the town or borough of Stamford.” By the same deed, the mayor and corporation are empowered to chuse a recorder, deputy recorder, a coroner, and a town clerk, “to enter debts, according to the statutes of merchants, and the statute of Acton Burnell.” In Stamford were formerly four religious houses, besides one in the parish of St. Martin, or Borough Stamford. The principal of these
A BENED1 ct; NE PRIORY, called St. LEONARD's, was founded, according to Mr. Peck, by Wilfred, in the seventh century; and refounded in the time of the Conqueror by Bishop Carileph, A. D. 1082, who made it a cell to Durham. The site is at a small distance from the town, but formerly was included within it. A part of the conventual church is standing. The ailes and transepts are down. A portion of the nave, sixty feet long and twenty-one broad, is an interesting ruin. On the north side is a range of circular arches, with a waving ornamental moulding; in the west front is a doorway, with a semicircular arch. This is connected with two lateral niches, and over them is an
arcade with an oval window in the pediment. 3 E 3 The
* This appears from a letter directed to Robert Fawcet, alderman, by Lenthall, the speaker of the House of Commons, at the latter end of Charles the First's reign; and in consequence of an ordinance, which soon followed that circular letter, the alderman put in nomination, for his loyalty to the king, was declared an improper person, and another was nominated in his place, and served the office of chief magistrate.