Clithero, or Clitheroe, is an ancient market town, honour and borough, in the parish of Walley and in the hundred of Blackburn, 216 miles from London, 30 N.N.W . of Manchester, 20 N.E. of Preston and 10 N.N.E of Blackburn. The borough has been represented in Parliament since the first year of Elizabeth, but the elective franchise was not well defined till 1694, when it was ordained by a committee of the House of Commons, that the right of election should be vested in the burgesses and freemen, such being constituted by having freehold or inheritance, in houses or land, within the borough: out-burgesses, holding free burgage tenure within the precincts, having also the right of electing: the freemen are such as live in the houses within the borough, as tenants, but who can only vote when the landlords do not; the number who exercise the suffrage is about 100.
The bailiffs are the returning officers and coroners for the borough; and the present members are, the Hon. Robert Curzon, the the Hon. Peregrine Francis Cust. The borough is not incorporate, but its government is vested in two bailiffs, chosen at the court leet, who exercise the power of one magistrate. Three courts are held in the Moot hall, viz. a court baron, court leet, or court of inquiry, in which courts the bailiffs, or one of them, sits as judge: there is also a court baron held at Clithero castle every three weeks, for the recovery of small debts under 40s.
The exact period of the erection of this castle has not been satisfactorily ascertained, but it is supposed to have taken place either in the reign of the Conqueror, or his son, William Rufus; and in the early period of the Commonwealth was dismantled, by order of parliament: the chapel has totally disappeared, and no thing now remains of the ancient edifice but the square keep, and some portions of the strong wall, by which the whole was surrounded. Within the precincts of the castle a handsome castellated house has been built, as the residence of the steward of the honour, who administers the affairs of one of the largest and most valuable royalties in the kingdom. The privileges enjoyed by the inhabitants of this borough are, an exemption from serving upon juries, at the assizes and sessions for the county; and from doing suit and service at the court leet for the hundred of Blackburn.
Formerly, this place was but unimportant, in regard to trade, but within the last twenty years the manufacture of cotton has been rising in consquence, and at this period, is carried on to a considerable extent; cotton spinning, power-loom manufactories, and print works, are of magnitude; and an immense body of machinery, in operation here, is turned by iron water wheels; and a steam engine has lately been erected to supply a deficiency of water power in the dry seasons. To the north of the town, on the banks of the Ribble, is a valuable and inexhaustible bed of lime-stone, and there are sedom less than ten kilns burning, supplied from this source.
A spa, contiguous to the town, is held in high estimation for its medicinal virtues, and a great object of curiosity is Pendle hill, rising more than 1,800 feet above the level of the sea, from which can be descried vessels riding upon the ocean; and on a clear day, from its summit, York minster may be recognized: it is also remarkable for the great damage sustained by the town and neighbouring country by the discharge of a great body of water from the mountain, on the 18th of August, in 1669; which is described as a mighty torrent, rushing out near the top of the hill.
The church of Clithero, dedicated to St. Michael, is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Earl Howe and incumbency of the Rev. John Taylor Allen; the Rev. Joshua Lingard is the present curate. The methodists, Roman catholics and independents have each a place of worship, with Sunday schools attached; besides which, there is a free grammar school, in the church-yard, founded by Queen Mary, in 1554, which is also used as a church Sunday school. The market is held every Tuesday; and on every alternate Tuesday is a considerable cattle show. The annual fairs are, 24th and 25th of March, 1st and 2nd of August, the Thursday and Friday before the fourth Saturday after the 29th September, and the 7th and 8th of December for horses, cattle, clothing, &c. The population of the borough, in 1801, was, 1,368; in 1811, 1,767; and 1821, 3,213.
Transcribed and provided by Cassie Thornley cassethor[at]ozemail.com[dot]au