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Lancaster

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An ancient, well-built, and improving town. On the summit of a hill stands the castle, which is not ancient, but large and strong, and now serves both as the shire house and the county gaol. On the top of this castle is a square tower, called John of Gaunt's Chair, where there is a fine prospect of the mountains of Cumberland, and of the course of the Lune; the view towards the sea extending to the Isle of Man. The town hall is a handsome structure. Lancaster carries on some foreign trade, especially to the West Indies, America, and the Baltic. The exports are hardware, woollen goods, candles, and cabinet work, for the making of which last it is noted; and it has also a manufacture of sail-cloth. It is seated on the river Lune, which here forms a port for vessels of moderate size, and over which it has a new stone bridge of five elliptical arches. It is 235 miles from London. Markets, Wednesday and Saturday, and one on every other Wednesday for cattle. Population, 24,707.

(From Barclay's Complete and Universal Dictionary of 1842.)

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Archives and Libraries

District Central Library,
Market Square,
Lancaster
LA1 1HY

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Cemeteries

Monumental inscriptions for St John with St Anne, the Friends Meeting House, and the United Reformed Church have been published by the LFH&HS.

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Census

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Churches

There are more than 30 churches identified in this place. Please click here for a complete list.
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Civil Registration

The Register Office covering the Lancaster area is Lancaster.

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Description and Travel

You can see pictures of Lancaster which are provided by:

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Gazetteers

A description of the town taken from the Imperial Gazetteer 1872.

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"LANCASTER, a parish, market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, exercising separate jurisdiction, but locally situated in the hundreds of Lonsdale South of the Sands and Amounderness, county Lancashire. It is the county town of Lancashire, 15 miles S.W. of Kirby Lonsdale, 60 N.W. of Manchester, and 240 N.N.W. of London by road, or 230 by the London and North-Western railway, on which it is a first-class station. It is situated about 6 miles from Lancaster Bay, on the river Lune and Lancaster canal. The parish is very extensive, including, besides the county town, the chapelries of Admarsh, Caton, Glasson, Gressingham, Littledale, Overton, Poulton-le-Sands, Quernmoore, Skerton, Stalmine, Wyersdale, and 13 other townships. The town, which is situated in the north-western angle of the county, is built on an eminence rising abruptly from the left bank of the Lune. It occupies the site of a Roman station, as the suffix to its name indicates, probably Ad Alaunam of Richard of Cirencester, or Longovici. It is supposed to have been dismantled after the departure of the Romans, but was restored by the Anglo-Saxon kings of Northumbria, who made it their capital. It is mentioned in the Domesday Survey as Loncastre, and at that time formed part of the crown manor of Halton. In 1094 the Anglo-Norman baron, Roger de Poitou, built the castle, and enlarged the town, which received a charter from King John. In the reign of Edward III. it was made a county palatine, and the manor, with the duchy of Lancaster, conferred on John of Gaunt, the king's son, a dignity still retained by the royal family. In 1322 it was plundered by the Scottish army under Bruce, and part of the castle destroyed, but it was immediately restored, and the gateway tower was then added. During the fear that prevailed in England regarding the Spanish Armada, the castle was used as a fortress, and has ever since been employed as the county prison.

You can see the administrative areas in which Lancaster has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.

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Maps

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View maps of Lancaster and places within its boundaries.

John Speed's map of Lancaster in 1611.

A map of Lancaster around 1845.

Maps of Lancaster North West, North East, South West and South East around 1890.

View a map of the boundaries of this town/parish.

You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SD476613 (Lat/Lon: 54.044856, -2.802077), Lancaster which are provided by:

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Military Records

Names of those who fell in WW1 transcribed from the War Memorial by Pauline Chapman.

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Poor Houses, Poor Law, etc.

The Workhouse site has an interesting description of Lancaster workhouse.

Penny's Almshouses were established from a £700 endowment left by William Penny (Mayor of Lancaster) in 1716. They were built for 12 poor men in 1720.

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Probate Records

For probate purposes prior to 1858, Lancaster was in the Archdeaconry of Richmond, in the Diocese of Chester. The original wills for the Archdeaconry of Richmond are held at the Lancashire Record Office.

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Societies