STAMFORD, a market town and municipal borough, chiefly in the South Kesteven or Stamford parliamentary division of Lincolnshire, but partly in Northamptonshire, on the river Welland, at the landward edge of the fen country. Pop. (1901), 8229. The town stands picturesquely on the steep banks of the river, and is of the highest antiquarian interest. It formerly possessed fourteen parish churches, but now has only six, viz. St Mary's, erected at the end of the 13th century, possessing an Early English tower, with Decorated spire, the principal other parts of the building being Perpendicular; All Saints', also of the 13th century, the steeple being built at the expense of John Browne, merchant of the staple at Calais, in the beginning of the 15th century; St Michael's, rebuilt in 1836 on the site of the one erected in 1269; St George's, Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular, for the most part rebuilt in 1450 at the expense of William Bruges, first garter king-at-arms; St John Baptist's, Perpendicular, erected about 1452; and St Martin's, Perpendicular, in which Lord Treasurer Burghley is buried. Formerly there were several religious houses: the Benedictine monastery of St Leonard's, founded in the 7th century, of which there are some Norman and later remains; the Carmelite monastery (1291), of which the west gate still stands; and houses for Grey Friars (time of Henry III.), Dominicans (1240), Gilbertines (1291), and Augustinians (1316). The principal secular buildings are the town hall (rebuilt 1776), the corn exchange (1859), and the literary and scientific institute (1842), with a library of 6000 volumes. There are a large number of charitable institutions, including the Stamford and Rutland infirmary (1828), Browne's hospital, founded in the time of Richard III., with its picturesque Late Perpendicular building, Snowden's almshouses (1604), Truesdale's almshouses (1700), and Burghley hospital, founded by Lord Treasurer Burghley (1597). The modern grammar school building incorporates remains of the church of St Paul. To the south of Stamford, in Northamptonshire, is Burghley House, the seat of the marquis of Exeter, a fine quadrangular mansion dating from 1587, containing a noteworthy art collection. It stands in a well-wooded park. The prosperity of the town depends chiefly on its connexion with agriculture. It possesses iron foundries, agricultural implement works, wagon factories and breweries. There is also some trade in coal, timber, stone and slates. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen and 1 8 councillors. Area, 1918 acres.
Apart from the tradition preserved by Henry of Huntingdon that the Saxons here defeated the Picts and Scots in 449, Stamford (Staunford) is a place of great antiquity. The Danes built a fort here on the north bank of the Welland, round which a town existed when in 922 King Edward fortified the opposite side of the stream. It passed again into Danish hands and was one of the five boroughs recaptured by Edmund AEtheling in 941. The priory of St Leonard was a cell of Durham, and a charter of Edgar dated 972 mentions a market and a mint. In the reign of Edward the Confessor Stamford was a royal borough governed by twelve lawmen, reduced in 1086 to nine, and divided into six wards. The Norman castle, built before 1086, was thrice besieged by Henry II. while Duke of Normandy, but only yielded in 1153. Two years later he granted it and the manor to Richard Humet; forfeited by his son it was given to John, earl of Warenne, in 1206. In 1337 it passed to William de Bohun, earl of Northampton, and thence to Edmund Langley, afterwards duke of York, finally reverting to the Crown on the death of Cicely, duchess of York. Elizabeth granted it to the first Lord Burghley. The barons met here in 1215 on their march to London, and in 1309 a parliament was held at Stamford. In 1256 Henry III. gave the burgesses freedom from tolls, the right of receiving tolls and immunity of their goods from arrest; privileges confirmed and enlarged in the following year. William, earl of Warenne, in 1275 permitted the burgesses to choose their chief officer or alderman, who was still sworn in at the manor court as late as 1615 and was first called " mayor " in 1663. Edward IV. incorporated Stamford by the name of the alderman and burgesses in 1461 and granted the town immunity from all external jurisdiction and gave it a common seal. The charters have been frequently confirmed. As early as 1292 Stamford was well known for its monastic schools, and in 1333 was chosen as the headquarters of the students who seceded from Oxford, and an Early Decorated gateway remains of Brasenose Hall. The attempt to establish a regular university was prohibited by royal authority. The defeat of the Yorkists here was followed by the decay of the castle in the reign of Richard III., and the history of the place henceforth centred chiefly round the family of Cecil, whose ancestor, David Seyceld, settled here about 1566. Stamford occasionally returned two members to parliament from 1295 until 1832. The representation was reduced to one by the act of 1867, and was abolished in 1885. The fairs are of ancient origin, and are mentioned in 1245 and the reign of Edward I. These are the May fair, town fair, and spring fair, and fairs on various dates representing Candlemas, mid-Lent, the feasts of Corpus Christi, St James and SS. Simon and Jude. A market is still held every Friday. In 1182 there were dyers, weavers and fullers here, but these were only the usual home industries. In 1822 silk throwsting was successfully carried on, but this has long ceased.
See E. C. Mackenzie-Walcott, Memorials of Stamford, past and present (Stamford, 1867); John Drakard, The History of Stamford in the County of Lincoln, comprising its ancient progressive and modern state (Stamford, 1822); Charles Nevinson, History of Stamford (Stamford, 1879); Victoria County History : Lincoln.