BIGGLESWADE: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1866.
"BIGGLESWADE, a parish, a town, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred, in Beds. The town stands in a fertile valley on the right bank of the river Ivel, adjacent to the Great Northern railway, 10½ miles ESE of Bedford, and 41 NNW of London. It was anciently called Bykleswade. It suffered destruction of 150 houses by fire in 1785; and it now contains many neat modern houses. The parish church is early English, with late chancel; was originally collegiate; had a chantry, belonging to the guild of the Holy Trinity; and contains brasses of W. Halstede and angels with St. John's head. There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, and Methodists; a free school, with endowed income of £51; other charities with £154; and a workhouse, erected at the cost of £4,850. The town has a head post-office, a railway station with telegraph, a banking-office, and three chief inns; and is a seat of petty sessions and a polling-place. A weekly market is held on Wednesday; and fairs on 14 Feb., Easter-Saturday, Whit-Monday, 2 Aug., and 8 Nov. A good trade exists in corn, timber, and coals, and is aided by the Ivel being navigable hence to the Ouse; and the manufacture of thread-lace and straw-plait is carried on. Some Roman relics, several armour-clad human skeletons, and about 300 gold coins of Henry VI. have been found in the neighbourhood. The environs are pleasant, and contain some handsome villas and mansions. Pop. of the town, 4,027. Houses, 838.
The parish includes also the hamlets of Holme and Stratton. Acres, 4,310. Real property, £14,741. Pop., 4,631. Houses, 920. The property is not much divided. At Stratton Park, about a mile SE of the town, the Cottonian Library was preserved, after being removed from Connington, in the time of the civil war. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ely. Value, £347. Patron, the Bishop of Ely. — The sub-district contains the parishes of Biggleswade, Edworth, Astwick, Stotfold, Arlsey, Henlow, Clifton, Langford, Warden, Southill, Campton, Meppershall, and Upper Stondon, and the extra-parochial tracts of Chicksands Priory and Shefford-Hardwick. Acres, 31,916. Pop., 16,113. Houses, 3,102. — The district includes also the sub-district of Potton, containing the parishes of Potton, Tempsford, Blunham, Northill, Sandy, Everton, Cockayne-Hatley, Wrestlingworth, Sutton, Eyworth, and Dunton. Acres of the district, 58,041. Poor-rates, £12,413. Pop. in 1841, 20,694; in 1861, 25,393. Houses, 5,021. Marriages, 175; births, 905, — of which 83 were illegitimate; deaths, 557, — of which 254 were at ages under 5 years, and 11 at ages above 85 years. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,694; births, 9,007; deaths, 5244. The places of worship in 1851 were 24 of the Church of England, with 8,674 sittings; 2 of Independents, with 506 sittings; 10 of Baptists, with 3,504 sittings; 11 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 2,565 sittings; 1 of Primitive Methodists, with 110 sittings; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 140 sittings; 1 of Roman Catholics, with 21 sittings; and 2 undefined, with 350 sittings The schools were 23 public day schools, with 1,753 scholars; 23 private day schools, with 448 sittings; 34 Sunday schools, with 3,529 sittings; and 6 evening schools for adults, with 168 sittings — The hundred contains only thirteen parishes and part of another. Acres, 27,672. Pop., 12,371. Houses, 2,488."