History of Maldon

Maldon  © Copyright The Francis Frith Collection 2005. http://www.francisfrith.com
THigh Street, Maldon, 1901
Reproduced courtesy of The Francis Frith Collection.

History of Maldon >> White's Directory 1848

White's Directory of Essex 1848

Part 1. Continues Part 2 >>.

MALDON, or Malden, is an ancient borough, port, and handsome market towm, pleasantly and picturesquely situated on a commanding eminence, rising abruptly from the south bank of the Blackwater, near the point where that river begins to expand into a broad estuary, and near the basin and short canal, which connect the Chelmer and Blackwater navigation; 10 miles East of Chelmsford, 6 mile South South East of Witham; 14 miles South West of Colchester, and 39 miles North East by East of London.

Maldon and Braintree Railway, now nearly completed, has a commodious station on the south side of the town, and crosses the Eastern Counties Railway at Witham.

Maldon is the head of a Pollling District in the Southern Division of Essex, and of a large Union, and a District of the County Court; but has separate Quarter and Petty Sessions.

The Municipal Borough comprises the three parishes of All Saints, St. Mary, and St. Peter, which comprises 2715 acres of land, and had 3967 inhabitants in 1841.

The Parliamentary Borough, as extended by the Reform Act of 1832, comprises also the parish of Heybridge, which has 1177 inhabitants and 2226 acres of land, and forms a northern suburb of the town on the north side of the Blackwater, in Thurstable Hundred, near the navigation hasin, where there are several wharfs, granaries, maltings, two large iron foundries, etc.

The area of the Pariiamentary Borough is 4941 acres; and the population of the four parishes forming the town and suburbs was 5144 in 1841, though in 1801 it only amounted to 2726 souls.

The Railway Station is on Polman Marsh, which lies between Maldon and Heybridge, and is skirted by the Blackwater and one of its creeks, both navigable for vessels of 80 tons, and having wharfs on each side of them where much business is done in corn, coal, timber, etc.

Heybridge, or Highbridge, has its name from the large ancient bridge which crosses the creek, said to have formerly been the main channel of the river, which now flows under Fullbridge, on the opposite side of the marsh, close to the town and the Custom House.

High street, London road, and Church street, form a broad thoroughfare, lined with good houses, shops, and inns, and extending the whole length of the town; The Market place is in the centre of High street, from which branches several short streets, northward to the river, and southward to the Fair-ground, etc.

The Maldon, Witham, and Braintree Railway Company intend to make a large dock near their Station, and to deepen the river up to the town, which is a free port; no dues of any kind being paid, except in the Chelmer Navigation, which extends up to Chelmsford, and falls in to the estuary of the Blackwater, opposite Northey Island, in Heybridge parish, more than a mile east of Maldon.

The Market, held every Thursday, is well supplied with corn, flesh, fish, poultry, vegetables, etc., and here are two annual Fairs for cattle, toys, pedlery, etc., held on the first Thursday in May, and Sept. 13th and 14th.

The town is well paved, and is lighted from the Gas Works, which was established by private individuals some years ago, but were purchased by a Company for £3000 in 1844, in £20 shares, since increased to £21.

The inhabitants are supplied with water, chiefly by wells and springs, and one of the latter supplies a public reservoir and pump on Cromwell hill. Adjoining the river is suit of Sea Water Baths, built about 2 years ago, and belonging to Mr. J. Handley, who has recently improved them.

The higher parts of the town command extensive and beautiful views of the vale of the Blackwater, down to the ocean; and at the west end of it, where there were considerable barracks during the war with France, many genteel residences have been built within the last twenty years.

The parish of All Saints (only 55A.) is wholly within the town, but St. Mary's and St. Peter's (each about 13000 acres) extend into the country, and are fertile and highly cultivated.

The earliest mention of Maldon by historians refers to the year 913, when Edward the Elder encamped here to impede the progress of the Danes, while a fortification was constructing at Whitam. In 920, he again encamped at Maldon, and, according to Marianus, built a Castle here; but as no traces of this structure can he found, it seems probable that our author alludes to the entrenchment, on the west side of the town, which apparently enclosed about 24 acres, and was of an oblong form. Three sides of the rampart can yet be traced; but the other is defaced by buildings.

The strength of this fort was probably considerable, as in 921, a great army of Danes are said to have besieged it without effect. In 993 it was again attacked by the Danish forces, commanded by Unlaf; on which occasion, Earl Byrhtnoth, coming to oppose them, was defeated and slain, and the place fell into the hands of the enemy.

The battles fought here against the Danish invaders were the subjects of many poems amongst the Saxons, and one of them described the death of Earl Byrhtnoth is still preserved.

In Domesday Survey, Maldon is styled a half-hundred; and described as having 180 houses and a hall held by the burgesses of the king, who had also a house here in his own possession. It was anciently called Maldune, that is, the cross-hill, from a cross which is supposed to have stood in the highest part of the town, in the Saxon era.

Maldon claims to be a borough by prescription, and in the reign of Henry I., Robert Fitz-Richard, was lord of it. Afterwards it was granted by Henry II. to one Patridge, a Norman, who gave port of it a hospital in Normandy, but this portion was soon afterwards obtained by exchange, by the Bishop of London, who subsequently acquired the other moiety by grant or purchase.

High Street, Maldon © Copyright Footstepsphotos 2006. http://www.footstepsphotos.co.uk/index.html
High Streetr, Maldon, c.1905
Low resolution copy courtesy of Footsteps' Shop on Ebay. Quality postcards of Essex.

Charters, etc.:- The first recorded charity of Maldon was granted by Henry II., at the request of William de Mandeville, Earl of Essex. It granted to the burgesses and their successors all their lands, possessions, and tenements, within and without the borough, as far as the baylieu; namely, Haylspet, Morisbroke, Limborne, Billinbroe, Buherne, Cravenhoe, and Elmcroft, to be held for ever, free and quit, with sac, soe, etc., and all their liberties and free customs in lands, waters, etc.

Among the other privileges secured to the burgesses by this charter was an exemption from all foreign service, except the finding one ship occasionally for the king's use, for 40 days, at their own expense. It also confirmed to them the right of pasturage and estovers on Tiptree Heath.

By another charter, granted by Queen Mary, in 1553, the borough was incorporated, and its government vested in two bailiffs, to be chosen annually, six aldermen, 18 capital burgesses, etc. This charter empowered the Corporation to purchase and receive lands, manors, etc., to the clear yearly value of £40, provided they were not held in capite, or by knight's service; and to hold their mote-hall, courts of pleas, assize, view of frank pledge, etc.

This charter was confirmed and extended by succeeding sovereigns; but in 1768, the bailiffs, then the head of the corporate body, were illegally elected, and judgment of ouster was obtained against them. The time for a new election was suffered to elapse, and the corporation was consequently dissolved; and continued in abeyance till 1810, when a new charter was granted by George III.

Under this charter the Corporation consisted of a mayor, 8 aldermen, 18 capital burgesses, and an indefinite number of freemen or burgesses with a recorder, town clerk, water bailiff, and other officers, the mayor was constituted a civil as well as a nominal judge, within the limits of the borough, which were made co-extensive with the three parishes of All Saints, St. Peter, and St:, Mary.

The recorder was appointed to act as magistrate within the borough, and no trial at the sessions was to take place in his absence. The water bailiff was appointed to protect the town fishery, in the Blackwater, for which purpose he was authorised to apprehend all persons fishing without a license from the council; also to superintend the beacons, and execute the mayor's warrants upon the water.

Under this charter, the freemen of the borough was to be acquired by birth, marriage, servitude, purchase, and gift. Local Courts were instituted, viz., a court of sessions, to be held three or four times a year; a court of record, for the trial of civil actions, and passing the estates of married women; a Court Admiralty; and a court of piepoudre.

By the Municipal Reform Act of 1832, the borough was appointed to have a commission of the peace, and to be governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and 12 councillors, with a town clerk and other officers, under the usual corporate style. The income of the borough, arising chiefly, from rents and borough rates, with a mortgage of £1000, amounted in 1840 to £1638, and its expenditure in the same year to £1136.

The River, Maldon © Copyright Footstepsphotos 2006. http://www.footstepsphotos.co.uk/index.html
The River, Maldon
Low resolution copy courtesy of Footsteps' Shop on Ebay. Quality postcards of Essex.

Quarter sessions are held four times a year, and petty sessions every Monday, at the Town Hall, a lofty brick building erected in the reign of Henry VI., and having on the ground floor the borough gaol, on the second floor the court room, and on the third floor the council room and town clerk's office.

The stair case is in an octagonal turret, and in the council room are fine portraits of Queen Anne, Queen Elizabeth, George III., CharIes II., and Dr. Plume. The building is some times called D'Arcy, Tower, and was sold by the D'Arcy family in 1575, to Thomas Eve, one of the aldermen, for £55. Its leaded roof commands extensive prospects of the town and surrounding country.

The County Court is held here monthly, for the district comprising the whole of Maldon Union. All prisoners, except those under examination, are sent to the county gaol at Springfield, near Chelmsford.

Maldon has returned two members to Parliament since the 2nd of Edward III. The right of election was formerly in the freemen, most of whom resided at distant places, in all parts of the kingdom. The greatest number of electors ever polled was at the election in 1826 when the polling continued 15 days, and 3113 freemen voted. Upwards of £50,000 was expended in this contest.

The Reform Act of 1832 has extended the parliamentary borough to the parish of Heybridge, and disfranchised all the freemen residing beyond the distance of seven miles. The number of voters registered in 1837 was 876, of whom 699 were freemen, and 177 £10 householders.

The present Parliamentary Representatives of the Borough, elected in 1847, are David Waddington and T.B. Lennard; Esqrs.; Mr. Waddiongton is a merchant of Manchester largely concerned in railway undertakings; and Mr. Lennard is son of Sir T.B. Lennard, Bart, of Belhus.

The CUSTOM HOUSE is an old brick building, near the river, at Fullbridge, and the officials are James Bennet, Eeq. collector; Mr. Thomas Cummings, comptroller, tide surveyor, etc.; Mr. J.F. Shynn, clerk; and James Boyton, James Hewitt, Charles Eve, and John Handley, tide waiters.

The officers at the OUT STATIONS are - Mr. W.H. King, sub-collector, and principal coast officer at Leigh; and three other principal coast-officers, viz. - Mr.James Richmond, at Rochford; :Mr. E.C. Lawrence, at Burnham; and Mr. Jamas Cockett, at Bradwell.

The limits of the port MALDON extend to Tollesbury Point on the north side of the Blackwater; and thence southward to the mouth of the Thames; and thence westward along the north side of the Thames, to the west entrance to Belmevoy creek, near Tilbury Fort. Within these limits are the river Crouch and many navigable creeks. Leigh is called sub-port, and Burnham, Bradwell, and Rochford are oalled creeks under Maldon.

About 30 fishing boats are employed here in catching flat fish, codlings, eel, oysters, etc. Vesse1s of 80 tons come to the wharfs at Fullbridge, but there is depth of in the navigation basin, at Heybridge, for vessels of 20O tons.

The Railway Company are about to deepen the river and to make a large dock, close to the town and the Railway Station.

street view and boats
The Hythe, Maldon.
© Copyright Trevor Harris contributor to the Geograph Project and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The import Customs Duties paid here amounted in 1839 to £5444; in 1845 to £2283; in 1846, to £1534; and in 1847, to £1514. The foreign trade, in 1847 comprised 32 vessels inwards, and 69 outwards, with cargoes; and in the same year there were 1098 coasting vessels inwards; and 1309 outwards.

The number of registered vessels belonging to Maldon was 156 in 1846, 154 in 1846, and 154 in 1847. Timber, oil seed cake, and coal, are the principal imports; and the exports are chiefly corn, oysters, etc.

Maldon is a bonding port for timber, deals, staves, and other wood goods, and its trade and commerce will no doubt be much increased after the completion of the railway and the intended new dock, is the former will afford a direct communication with the towns of Witham and Braintree. Six Trinity Pilots are stationed here.

In the year ending January 5th, 1846, no less than 57,680 tons of coal were imported here. Among the exports in the same year were 45,596 quarters of wheat, 14,296 of beans, 2848 of peas, 2789 of barley, and 7607 of malt, besides 61,771 sacks of flour.

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Maldon - Cary's New and Correct English Atlas, 1798

Maldon - First Series Ordnance Survey Map 1805

This work is based on data provided through www.VisionofBritain.org.uk and uses historical material which is copyright of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project and the University of Portsmouth. Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence BY-SA-4.0

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