A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) by Samuel Lewis

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"WALTHAMSTOW, a parish in the hundred of BECONTREE, county of ESSEX, 6 miles (N. E. by N.) from London, containing 4304 inhabitants.

According to, the Norman survey, wherein it is written Welanneslun, the manor was in the possession of Judith, niece to the Conqueror; and having subsequently belonged to the Earls of Warwick, on the attainder and execution of Earl Thomas, in 1396, it lapsed to the crown. The name appears to be of Saxon origin, consisting of weald, a wood, and ham, a dwelling; the adjunct stowe, a place, being intended to distinguish this from other Walthams within the county; and the entire name being accurately descriptive of the village, which consists of numerous dwelling-houses and mansions, detached and encompassed with trees and woodland, and pleasantly situated on the borders of Epping Forest, through which a new road has been recently cut to Woodford, in order to form a nearer communication with the great road from London to New-Market.

The parish is separated from the county of Middlesex by the navigable river Lea, over which is a bridge, and on its banks are extensive copper-mills and to oil-mill, which furnish employment to about sixty persons. Courts leet and baron, for the manors within it, are held as occasion requires.

The government of the parish was entrusted to a select vestry of seventeen persons, besides the minister and churchwardens, according to a grant of Bishop Montaigne, in 1624, which does not appear to have been otherwise acted upon.

The living is a vicarage, in the jurisdiction of the Commissary of London, concurrently with the Consistorial Court of the Bishop of London, rated in the king's books at £13. 6. 8., and in the patronage of the Rev. W. Wilson, B. D.; it has been endowed with about £125 private benefaction. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a neat structure, originally built of flint and stone, with a tower at the west end, situated on an eminence; the tower was partly rebuilt by Sir George Monox, who also built the chapel at the east end of the north aisle, in 1535: it was enlarged, repaired, and beautified, in 1817, at an expense of about £2000; in the chancel is a circular window, divided into compartments of stained glass, representing a "Gloria"; it was originally intended for Southampton castle, but was presented to this parish by Miss Russell. Among the various sepulchral memorials which adorn the interior are those of Sir George Monox, Lord Mayor of London in 1514, and his lady; a splendid monument of white marble, with figures as large as life, to Sigismond Trafford, his wife, and infant daughter; and another in memory of Lady Lucy Stanley, erected by her husband, Sir Edward Stanley. In the churchyard is a white marble tomb, by Chantry, in memory of Jesse Russell, Esq., father of the above-named benefactress. At Chapel End, in this parish, a chapel of ease was erected, at an expense of £1800, raised by subscription: it will accommodate about four hundred persons.

There are places of worship for Independents and Unitarians.

A free school, for clothing and educating children, and an almshouse for thirteen poor people, at the north side of the churchyard, were founded and endowed with a-rent-charge of £42. 17. 4.: the latter was further endowed with a proportion of the income arising from certain land bequeathed for the benefit of the parish by Henry Maynard, in 1686. In 1815, Mr. Richard Banks bequeathed a reversionary legacy, now producing £30. 4. 9.; and in 1825, a bequest of £500 four per cent. annuities was made, in aid of the almshouse fund, by William Bedford, Esq. A National school, in which one hundred and twenty boys and ninety-four girls receive instruction, is supported by voluntary contributions, and bequests of charitable individuals, amounting to £17. 10. per annum; it was established in 1819, and the building was enlarged by subscription in 1825. An infant school, in which are one hundred and seventy children, was established in 1823, and is supported in a similar manner: the building adjoins the churchyard, and comprises a large school-room, with separate houses for the master and mistress. In a school belonging to the Independents thirty girls receive instruction, of whom twenty are clothed. Almshouses for six poor widows were built and endowed by Mrs. Mary Squires, in 1797: the annual income is £78. The sum of £10 per annum was given by Mrs. Mary Newell, in 1810, as an annual apprentice fee; she also gave £200 to the Sunday school. George Gascoigne, a poet of considerable repute, and author of several dramatic pieces, was a native of this village; he died in 1578.

The Rev. William Piers, D.D., Bishop of Bath and Wells, lies interred in the chancel of the church; he died at the advanced age of ninety-four, and was at the time the oldest bishop in Christendom, both with respect to years, and date of consecration. Edward Rowe Mores, an eminent scholar and antiquary, and one of the principal agents in forming the Equitable Society for Assurance on Lives, was buried here in 1778. Thomas Cartwright, afterwards Bishop of Chester, and Edmund Chishall, a learned antiquary and divine, and author of Travels in Turkey, and Antiquities of Asia before the Christian Era, were respectively vicars of the parish."

From Samuel Lewis A Topographical Dictionary of England (1831) - copyright Mel Lockie 2016