LOUTH, LINCOLNSHIRE, a market-town and municipal borough in the E. Lindsey or Louth parliamentary division of Lincolnshire, England, on the river Lud, 141 J m. N. of London by the Grimsby branch of the Great Northern railway. Pop. (1901) 9518. By a canal, completed in 1763, there is water communication with the Humber. The Perpendicular church of St James, c6mpleted about 1515, with a spire 300 ft. in height, is one of the finest ecclesiastical buildings in the county. Traces of a building of the 13th century are perceptible. There are a town hall, a corn exchange and a market-hall, an Edward VI. grammar school, which is richly endowed, a commercial school founded in 1676, a hospital and several almshouses. Thorpe Hall is a picturesque building dated 1584. In the vicinity are the ruins of a Cistercian abbey (Louth Park). The industries include the manufacture of agricultural implements, iron-founding, brewing, malting, and rope and brick-making. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen and 18 councillors. Area, 2749 acres.
Louth (Lud.es, Loweth) is first mentioned in the Domesday record as a borough held, as it had been in Saxon times, by the bishop of Lincoln, who had a market there. The see retained the manor until it was surrendered by Bishop Holbeach to Henry VIII., who granted it to Edward, earl of Lincoln, but it was recovered by the Crown before 1 562. Louth owed much of its early prosperity to the adjacent Cistercian abbey of Louth Park, founded in 1 139 by Alexander bishop of Lincoln. The borough was never more than prescriptive, though burgesses were admitted throughout the middle ages and until 1711, their sole privilege being freedom from tolls. The medieval government of the town was by the manor court under the presidency of the bishop's high steward, the custom being for the reeve to be elected by eighteen ex-reeves. The original parish church was built about 1170. During the 13th and 14th centuries nine religious gilds were founded in the town. Fear of confiscation of the property of these gilds seems to have been one of the chief local causes of the Lincolnshire Rebellion, which broke out here in 1536. The disturbance began by the parishioners seizing the church ornaments to prevent their surrender. The bishop's steward, who arrived to open the manorial court for the election of a reeve, agreed to ride to ask the king the truth about the jewels, but this did not satisfy the people, who, while showing respect to a royal commission, seized and burnt the papers of the bishop's registrar. After swearing several country gentlemen to their cause, the rebels dispersed, agreeing to meet on the following day under arms. Edward VI. in 1551 incorporated Louth under one warden and six assistants, who were to be managers of the school founded by the same charter. This was confirmed in 1564 by Elizabeth, who granted the manor of Louth to the corporation with all rights and all the lands of the suppressed gilds at an annual fee-farm rent of 84. James I. gave the commission of the peace to the warden and one assistant in 1605; a further charter was obtained in 1830. Louth has never been a parliamentary borough. The markets said to have been held from ancient times and the three fairs on the third Sunday after Easter and the feasts of St Martin and St James were confirmed in 1551. Louth was a seat of the wool trade as early as 1297; the modern manufactures seem to have arisen at the end of the 18th century, when, according to the charter of 1830, there was a great increase in the population, manufactures, trade and commerce of the town.
See E. H. R. Tatham, Lincolnshire in Roman Times (Louth, 1902) ; Richard W. Goulding, Louth Old Corporation Record* (Louth, 1891).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)