ISLINGTON, (or Islington St. Mary) a parish, forming part of the Metropolitan borough of Finsbury, in the Finsbury division of the hundred of Ossulstone, county Middlesex. It is an extensive suburban parish, 2 miles N. of St. Paul's, London and has stations on the Blackwall and Kingston and North London railways at Highbury, and a station on the Great Northern at Holloway. The parish includes besides Islington proper, the populous suburban districts of Highbury, Holloway, Ballspond, Battlebridge, Barnsbury Park, Kingaland, and Newington Green.
This place, called in Domesday Book Iseldone, or the "lower town," appears to have derived its name from its situation with regard to Tolentone, the modern Highbury. In the vicinity of Barnsbury Park were until recently traces of a Roman camp, supposed to have been that of Suetonius Paulinus, who encamped here previous to his battle with Boadicea, whom he defeated at Battle Bridge. There is also a Roman camp at Highbury, and many coins and weapons were discovered at Islington in 1845, near White Conduit House, some of the coins bearing date 110. It was a place of some importance in the time of the Saxons, and subsequently supplied the inhabitants of London with many agricultural products. It is mentioned in Percy's "Reliques" as the "merry country village," The Welsh chiefs who visited Edward I. took up their quarters at Islington. In 1466 Henry VI. was taken prisoner at this village after the battle of Hexham by the Earl of Warwick. Henry VII. was escorted through this place after the defeat of Lambert Simnel. Henry VIII. and Queen Elizabeth frequently visited Islington, and the Earl of Leicester, Sir John Spencer, Robert Dudley, and Sir Thomas Fowler resided here. During the reign of Mary many of the inhabitants suffered death for their adherence to the Protestant faith. Canonbury House, of which the tower and other remains are still standing, was the seat of the Prior of St. Bartholomew's Monastery in Smithfield. From the tower a view of the surrounding country and London are obtained. At Highbury was the moated seat of the Prior of St. John's, Clerkenwell, which was demolished by the mob under Wat Tyler. During the Civil War extensive fortifications were erected here by order of the parliament for the protection of the Metropolis. The parish, which is situated on rising ground on either side of the New River, has latterly become a populous suburb of London. It is well paved, lighted with gas, and abundantly supplied with water (the latter by the New River Company). There are many squares; among the principal are Cloudesley, Lonsdale, Milner, and Gibson, Highbury and Barnsbury Parks, Highbury Crescent, and Canonbury, and many residences of the city merchants and tradesmen. Among the principal buildings are the Vestry Hall, situated in Upper-street, a modern' erection; the Clerkenwell new county court; the model prison, for solitary confinement, situated in the Caledonian-road; City prison, Metropolitan police station, and the Agricultural Hall, erected in 1862, in this last are held the annual cattle shows of the Smithfield club, and occasionally concerts, balls, &c.; it is the largest hall in London, being capable of holding 50,000 people; the Church Missionary college, opposite Tyndale-place, was erected in 1827, and is capable of accommodating 46 students; the Church of England training college is a brick building, erected in 1826, at a cost of £22,000, it has a portico in the centre, with two wings; the Church of England proprietary school; Church of England young men's society; literary institution; working men's institute; athenæum, dispensary, savings-bank, and branch of the London and County bank, and four hospitals. On Islington Green is a well-executed statue of Sir Hugh Myddelton, inaugurated in 1863. The new Cattle Market occupies 65 acres, and is capable of accommodating 3,000 cattle and 50,000 sheep. The living is a vic, in the diocese of London, value £1,400, in the patronage of trustees. The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, is erected on the site of an older one, and has a tower crowned by a spire containing a peal of bells and illuminated clock. The tower was repaired is 1787 by means of a curious wicker scaffold, put up by a person named Birch, a basket maker. In the interior are two ancient brasses, and tombs of Lady Owen, Dr. William Hawes, founder of the Royal Humane Society, Dr. William Cave Aubert, of Highbury House, Poole, the founder of the Small-pox Hospital, Baxter, and Cloudesley. In the churchyard are buried the Rev. John Lindsay, an eminent non-Irving clergyman, John Hyacinth-de-Magelhaens, the natural philosopher, Osborne the bookseller, and Nichols the antiquary. In addition there are the following district churches St. Stephen's, a perpetual curacy, value £400, in the patronage of the vicar; St. Peter's, a perpetual curacy,* value £400, in the patronage of the vicar; Christ Church, a perpetual curacy, value £550, in the patronage of trustees; St. James's, a perpetual curacy, value £600, in the patronage of the vicar; St. Clement's, a perpetual curacy, value £300; St. Luke's, a perpetual curacy, value £400, in the patronage of trustees; Chapel-of-ease at Holloway, with the curacy of St. Barnabas, value £700, in the patronage of trustees; St. Philip's, a perpetual curacy, value £300, in the patronage of trustees; St. John's, a perpetual curacy, value £600, in the patronage of trustees; St. Mark's, a perpetual curacy, value £300, in the patronage of the Incumbent of St. John's; St. Mary's, a perpetual curacy, value £400, in the patronage of the Incumbent of St. Matthew's; St. Paul's, a perpetual curacy, value £550, in the patronage of trustees; St. Matthew's, a perpetual curacy, value £400, in the patronage of the Incumbent of St. Paul's; St. Jude's, a perpetual curacy,* value £200, in the patronage of the Incumbent of St. Paul's; Holy Trinity, a perpetual curacy, value £485, in the patronage of trustees; All Saints, a perpetual curacy, value £300, with the curacy of St. Matthias, in the patronage of the Incumbent of Trinity; St. Andrew's, a perpetual curacy, with the curacy of St. Michael's, value £450, in the patronage of the Incumbent of Trinity; St. Thomas's, a perpetual curacy, value £300, in the patronage of trustees. Dr. William Cave, Bishop Wilson, and Strahan. once held the living of this parish. There are places or worship for Independents, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Unitarians, and Irvingites. There are numerous charities, among which are Whittington's College, or almshouses, at Holloway, erected near the spot where he heard "Bow bells." The Clothworkers' almshouses, situated in Froglane, are for widows of decayed members. They were founded in 1538 by Margaret Countess of Kent. In Queen's Head-lane are 8 almshouses, founded by Mrs. Davis in 1794, and endowed with £2,000 in the Three per Cent. Console. There are also almshouses for bricklayers, bookbinders, &c. There are several charitable bequests for distribution among the poor. This parish shares with Clerkenwell in the benefit of Lady Owen's schools and almshouses. In 1517 Richard Cloudesley left certain money and lands called the Stonefield Estate, for endowing the Hermitage chantry, now pulled down. By an Act of Parliament obtained in 1811, the proceeds of this charity, amounting to £925 per annum, wore applied to the repairing and maintenance of the chapel-of-ease and of the three district churches erected in 1827. The parochial schools have an endowment of £160 per annum. There are National, Lancasterian, British, and infant schools in different parts of the parish. The Caledonian Asylum for the maintenance and education of the children of Scotch soldiers and sailors who have either died or been disabled in the service, and also of the children of Scotch parents resident in London, was incorporated in 1815. The children wear the Scotch national costume. The building is a brick structure situated in the Copenhagen Fields, and has a portico of four fluted columns surmounted by a statue of St. Andrew. Among the many eminent persons who were residents or natives of this parish may be mentioned Sir Walter Raleigh, G. Morland, the painter, Pepys, Topham, the strong man, Nichols, the antiquary, Edmund Halley, the astronomer and mathematician, Bagford, the antiquary, Pain who wrote the "Rights of Man," Oliver Goldsmith, Addison, De Foe, Cruden, Dr. Pitcairn, Clarke, the Orientalist, Mrs. Robinson, who translated the "Death of Abel," Charles Lamb, Collins, T. S. Surr. Bishop Stillingfleet, Colley Cibber, Dr. Price, the Rev. John Palmer, Lady Owen, and Samuel Rogers, the poet. Market days are Tuesday, Wednesday, and, Thursday.
[Description(s) from "The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland" (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]
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