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Huntingdon, England

HUNTINGDON, ENGLAND, a market town and municipal borough and the county town of Huntingdonshire, England, on the left bank of the Ouse, on the Great Northern, Great Eastern and Midland railways, 59 m. N. of London. Pop. (1901) 4261. It consists principally of one street, about a mile long, in the centre of which is the market-place. Of the ancient religious houses in Huntingdon few traces remain. The parish church of St Mary occupies the site of the priory of Augustinian Canons already existing in the 10th century, in which David Bruce, Scottish earl of Huntingdon, was afterwards buried. The church, which was restored by Sir A. W. Blomfield, in 1876, contains portions of the earlier building which it replaced in 1620. All Saints' church, rebuilt about a century earlier, has slight remains of the original Norman church and some good modern, as well as ancient, carved woodwork. The church registers dating from 1558 are preserved, together with those of the old parish of St John, which date from 1585 and contain the entry of Oliver Cromwell's baptism on the 2gth of April 1599, the house in which he was born being still in existence. Some Norman remains of the hospice of St John the Baptist founded by David, king of Scotland, at the end of the 12th century were incorporated in the buildings of Huntingdon grammar school, once attended by Oliver Cromwell and by Samuel Pepys. Hinchingbrooke House, on the outskirts of the town, an Elizabethan mansion chiefly of the 16th century, was the seat of the Cromwell family, others of the Montagus, earls of Sandwich. It occupies the site of a Benedictine nunnery granted by Henry VIII. at the Dissolution, together with many other manors in Huntingdonshire, to Sir Richard Williams, alias Cromwell, whose son, Sir Henry Cromwell, entertained Queen Elizabeth here in 1564. His son, Sir Oliver Cromwell, was the uncle and godfather of the Protector. Among the buildings of Huntingdon are the town hall (1745), county gaol, barracks, county hospital and the Montagu Institute (1897). A racecourse is situated in the bend of the Ouse to the south of the town, and meetings are held here in August. The town is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 1074 acres.

Huntingdon (Huntandun, Hunter sdune) was taken by the Danes in King Alfred's reign but recovered c. 919 by Edward the Elder, who raised a castle there, probably on the site of an older fortress. In 1010 the Danes destroyed the town. The castle was strengthened by David, king of Scotland, after the Conquest, but was among the castles destroyed by order of Henry II. At the time of the Domesday Survey Huntingdon was divided into four divisions, two containing 116 burgesses and the other two 140. Most of the burgesses belonged to the king and paid a rent of 10 yearly. King John in 1205 granted theni the liberties and privileges held by the men of other boroughs in England and increased the farm to 20. Henry III. further increased it to 40 in 1252. The borough was incorporated by Richard III. in 1483 under the title of bailiffs and burgesses, and in 1630 Charles I. granted a new charter., appointing a mayor and 12 aldermen, which remained the governing charter until the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 changed the corporation to a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. The burgesses were represented in parliament by two members from 1295 to 1867, when the number was reduced to one, and in 1885 they ceased to be separately represented. Huntingdon owed its prosperity to its situation on the Roman Ermine Street. It has never been noted for manufactures, but is the centre of an agricultural district. The market held on Saturday was granted to the burgesses by King John. During the Civil Wars Huntingdon was several times occupied by the Royalists.

See Victoria County History, Huntingdon; Robert Carruthers, The History of Huntingdon from the Earliest to the Present Times (1824); Edward Griffith, A Collection of Ancient Records relating to the Borough of Huntingdon (1827).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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