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BEDFORD: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1750.

[Transcribed information from Stephen Whatley's Gazetteer of England - 1750]
(unless otherwise stated)

"BEDFORD, (Bedfordshire) the Co. T. 40 cm. 47 mm. from London, is a clean, well-built populous place, where the assizes are always held. It was famous first of all for the interment of the great K. Offa. It was once destroyed by the Danes, but repaired by Edward the elder. After the conquest a castle was built here, which, though very strong, K. Stephen took from the Empress Maud. K. John took it in the barons wars, and caused it to be demolished. It first gave title of D. to Plantagenet the regent of France; then to John Nevil, Marq. of Montacute, and then to K. Edward IV's son, George Plantagenet, who dying an infant, the title lay vacant till' Henry VII. created his uncle, Jasper Tudor, D. of Bedford, who also died without issue: And thus far, 'tis remarkable, that the title was enjoyed by the first possessor only of each family. But K. Edward VI. making John Russel E. of Bedford, the dignity has been ever since in that illustrious house, with an advancement of it to the title of D. by K. William III. now enjoyed by the most noble Ld. John Russel. It is governed by a mayor, recorder, 2 bailiffs, 12 ald. 2 chamberlains, a T. clerk, and 3 serjeants. Here are 5 Ch. of which St. Paul's is the chief ornament of the T. The N. and S. parts of Bedford are joined by a fine stone-bridge, over the Ouse, which has two gates. The spot where the castle stood is a bowling green, of the greatest same in England. Here is a fr. s. founded in the R. of Q. Eliz. by a native of the T. Sir William Harper, Ld. Mayor of London, besides an hos. for 8 poor people, founded by Thomas Christy, Esq; formerly one of the representatives of this T. in Pt. Here is also a ch. s. and a hos. for Lepers. The adjacent soil being very fruitful in corn, especially barley, and the best wheat; the former is exported by its navigable r. to Holland, by way of Lynn, and the latter is carried by waggons 20 m. off to the Mts. of Hitchen and Hartford, where 'tis bought again, ground and carried in the meal to London. Its r. sometimes, after a rain, makes such an inundation of the isle of Ely, that at such times 'tis common for the people there to say, the Bailiff of Bedford is coming. Here is a Mt. in the N. side of the T. on S. for corn, and on the S. side on Tu. for cattle. Its Fairs are March 4, the first Tu. in Lent, May 2, June 24, Aug. 1 and 10, Sept. 21, Nov. 6 and 30. 'Tis observable, that the Blondells, who are possessed of this ancient barony, claim in right thereof to be Lds. Almoners to the K. at his coronation."

[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2011]