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incorporate; " and the inhabitants thereof, and their predecessors have hitherto had and held divers liberties, franchises, privileges, and immunities, as well on account of different prescriptions and, customs used in the said borough from time immemorial, as from, donations and grants made by different of our progenitors, once kings of England.” It then proceeds to state, that, in consequence of petitions from the mayor and burgesses, the corporate and politic body was to be created anew, by the name of “mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses, of the borough of Leicester.” By this charter certain regulations were particularly specified for “maintaining the peace and good government of the people.” The corporation were hereby empowered to buy and sell lands, houses, &c.; constitute freemen; refuse the building of malt-kilns within the distance of thirty yards from any other building, &c. It grants also a market for wool-yarn and worsted, and other commodities. All fines and amerciements were ordered to be applied to the use of the poor. As a Parliamentary borough, Leicester returned inembers to the national councils from the time of Edward the First. In the reign of Henry the Eighth, one of the burgesses was elected by the “mayor and his brethren,” and the other by the commonalty of the town. This freedom of election excited much popular disturbance, even so far back as the time of Henry the Seventh, who ordained that “the mayor and his brethren should choose fortyeight of the most discreet inhabitants of the town,” who should make election of all officers for the borough, as well as members of parliament. Thus it continued till the reign of Charles the Second, when Sir John Pretyman solicited the votes, and was returned by the “commons at large.” Though the corporation endeavoured to overrule this election, the House of Commons admitted its validity; and from that time the right of election has been vested in “the freemen, not receiving alms, and in the inhabitants paying scot and lot".” The number of voters is supposed Z 2 to
• Throsby's History and Antiquities of the ancient town of Leicester, 4to.
to be about 2000. The history of parliamentary elections generally unfolds so many traits of human baseness, depravity, and statecorruption, that the reflecting mind cannot contemplate it without. emotions of sincere sorrow and regret. At the general election for 1790, a violent struggle arose in this town, when two candidates. in the court interest, and two, called the opposition, claimed and entreated the suffrages of the voters. After a poll of several days, the parties coalesced, and one on each side agreed to decline the contest. But, previous to this, the populace, provoked at the circumstance of having two court candidates forced on them, com-mitted many depredations, and, “had it not been for the timely interference of the military, their proceedings would have terminated only in the destruction of the place”.” CHURCHES. At the time of the Norman conquest, there appears to have been no less than six churches in this town, and it would be highly interesting to the architectural antiquary to ascertain if either of the present structures contains any part of the building then standing. According to a manuscript in the Cottonian Library, the following nine churches, &c. were standing here in 1220: St. Mary's, St. Nicholas's, St. Clement's, St. Leonard's, All Saints, St. Michael's, St. Martin's, St. Peter's, St. Margaret's; also a chapel of St. Sepulchre. Of the religious edifices now remaining, that called St. Nicholas's Church is esteemed the most ancient. This stands contiguous to the Jewry-Wall, and appears to have been partly constructed with the bricks, tiles, &c. taken. from the fallen parts of that building. Not only the walls, but some of the arches of the church are very similar to the Jewry-Wall, whence some antiquaries have thought that they are both parts of the same structure, or built about the same period. The church consists only at present of a nave and south aile, with a square tower at the west end. The latter has semi-circular arches, and arcades near the top, and altogether exhibits that style of archio tecture
* History of the Boroughs of Great Britain, Vol. II. p.201.
tecture called Saxon. Between the nave and aile is a series of low semicircular arches, springing from massy columns. The Church of St. Mary, distinguished by the addition of infra or juxta castrum, is a large pile of irregular building, composed of various specimens, or styles of architecture, from a very early period, to a late one, when all styles were disregarded. These varieties tend to mark “ the disasters of violence, accident, and time,” and prove that the neighbourhood of the castle, within whose outer ballium, or precincts, it stood, was often most dangerous. That there was a church on this spot in “the Saxon times seems almost certain, from some bricks, apparently the workmanship of that people, found in the chancel; and the chevron work round the windows of this chancel proves that the first Norman Earl of Leicester, Robert de Bellomont, when he repaired the mischiefs of the Norman conquest, or rather of the attack made by William Rufus, upon the property of the Grentemaisnels, constructed a church on a plan nearly like the present, and adorned it with all the ornaments of the architecture of his times. This Earl founded in it a college of twelve canons, and among other donations for their support, he endowed it with the patronage of
all the other churches of Leicester, St. Margaret's excepted *.” The interior of this church is spacious, and on the south side of the nave is a singularly large semicircular arch, having a span of thirty-nine feet. The south aile is said by Mr. Carte to have been built by John of Gaunt. At the east end of this aile was a chapel, or choir, held by a guild, or fraternity, called the Trinity Guild. This was founded in the time of Henry the Seventh, by $ir Richard Sacheverele, knt. and the good Lady Hungerford. Respecting this guild, the following list of articles, bought in for the year 1508, will serve to shew the value of money, and prices of provisions at that period. “A dozen of ale, 206.; a fat wether, 2s, 4d.; seven lambs, 7s.; fourteen goslings, 4s. 8d.; fifteen Z 3 capons,
* Walk through Leicester, p. 87.