[Transcribed mainly from Samuel Lewis's Topographical Dictionary of England 1831]
"THORNEY, a market town and parish in the hundred of WISBEACH, Isle of ELY, county of Cambridge, 35 miles (N.W.) from Cambridge, and 86 (N.) from London, containing 1970 inhabitants. This place derived its original name of Ankeridge from a monastery for hermits, or anchorites, founded here, in 662, by Saxulphus, abbot of Peterborough, who became its first prior; the edifice having been destroyed by the Danes, the site lay waste until 972, when Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, founded upon it a Benedictine abbey, in honour of the Virgin, which became so opulent that, at the dissolution, its revenue was valued at £508. 12. 5.: of this abbey, which was a mitred one, the only remains are portions of the parish church, a gateway, and some fragments of the old walls. A Literary Society was established, in 1823, which possesses a good library. The market, granted in 1638, is on Thursday; and fairs are held on July 1st and September 21st, for horses and cattle, and on Whit-Monday is a pleasure fair. Upwards of three thousand sheep are sent annually from this district to the London market. The petty sessions are held here."