NORTHAMPTON - Historic Events

published by Freeman & Son, Market Square, Northampton in 1847


Her Majesty having signified her intention of passing through this town on her route to the christening of the infant daughter of the Marquis of Exeter, at Burleigh house, on Tuesday the 12th of November, the day will long remain indelibly impressed on the minds of everyone who witnessed the scene presented on the occasion. Her Majesty was accompanied by her royal consort, Prince Albert, and having travelled by railway to the Weedon station, they entered the borough at the west bridge, and consequently had to traverse the principal portion of the town, along Gold .street and Mercers' row, to the upper end of Abington street. The whole of the line presented a most pleasing and enlivening scene, nearly every house being decorated from base to parapet with flowers, evergreens, and banners, many of the latter extending across the street; four very handsome triumphal arches were built and handsomely deco­rated in the line of profession; and it is impossible to conceive a more striking and picturesque view, presenting the appearance of a triumphal grove, rather than a street. It is impossible to estimate the numbers assembled on this occa­sion, bat the procession, consisting of the municipal authorities, the town council,


the magistrates, gentry of the town and neighbourhood, three lodges of the protestant confederation, the Manchester and Nottingham lodges of odd fellows, the free brothers, rechabites, foresters, teetotallers, &o. extended more than half the distance the royal visitors had to pass within the borough. Platforms  were erected and every window and balcony filled. A platform in All Saints' church yard (in front of which the royal visitors made a stop to receive the address presented" by the mayor), contained about 2000 children from the various schools, with the masters, monitors, and teachers; and the police, assisted by a number of respect­able inhabitants, and a troop of mounted cavalry, were scarcely sufficient to enable the procession to make their way through tie dense masses assembled.— An excellent dinner, a grand ball, tea and cake for the children, and fireworks in the evening, concluded one of the most important eras in the history of the town.


Her Majesty and the Prince returned on Friday the 15th, when they were again met by the authorities and respectable inhabitants, and escorted to the extremity of the town on their route to Weedon.



northampton has sustained some very severe losses by fire, but these ultimately proved beneficial to the place; for the uniformity and substantial character of the houses, width of the principal as well as several of the other streets, and general arrangement of the town, may be attributed to those calamitous events. Leland says, that most of the houses were made of wood in his time.

On Midsummer day, 1566, a fire destroyed several houses; and in 1668, there was a great fire in Cotton end, only six houses being left standing in the' short space of two hours. But the most memorable occurrence of this nature, was in the year 1675, when a great part of the town was consumed, and many of the poorer inhabitants reduced to the greatest distress. The general loss of property was calculated at £.150000. Above 600 dwel­ling houses were then burnt, and more than 700 families thereby deprived of their habitations and property. £.25000 was collected by briefs and private charity towards their relief, and the King gave 1000 tons of timber out of Whittlewood forest, and remitted the duty of chimney money on this town for seven years, so that it was soon re-built, and changed its wooden houses for more secure and ornamental ones of stone. The church of All Saints fell a victim to the flames. The following is the most authentic account on record of this dreadful catastrophe, which is given from an ancient manuscript:—

"On the 20th of September, 1675, hundreds of inhabitants of Northampton were driven out of their houses, upon little or no warning, by a most sudden and terrible fire. The notice was so short as not to give many of them time to remove any part of

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their goods,  not  even a bed to lie on, or a garment to shift themselves with.    The unhappy instrument of this dreadful mis­fortune was an infamous and common woman, who then lived at the end of St. Mary's street, near the castle, and having some­thing boiling in a pot on the fire, left it carelessly while she went to a neighbour’s, and on her return found the house in flames. It was then about half-past eleven o'clock in the forenoon, when a strong west wind arose, and blew the flames to the rest of the houses in that street, which were chiefly poor thatched buildings, fit matter to kindle a fire.    From thence it communicated to the back of Horsemarket, and soon spread to the south and lower end of the same, from whence it flew, swifter than horse or man, to Derngate, nearly half a mile from the place where it began. From Derngate it soon spread into St Giles's street, and consumed every house therein except one, which was formerly a gate house, whose end walls were higher than the roof, and was by them preserved.    It then fled over the town and seized upon College lane: great quantities of oil, tallow, and other combustible matter being deposited in this part, caused it to burn with greater fury than ever, and it soon communicated with the back part of the Drapery.    The spacious market hill was covered with all sorts of wares and goods, which the affrighted owners were forced to leave one among another, where they were enclosed by a wall of fire, and only one little  door left them  to escape out at, by Mr. Danvers's house (now in the occupation of Mr. T. C. Hall), which was the only house that remained in all that row.    Great quan­tities of goods were spoiled and consumed; and the flames spared neither cross or pump.    It is impossible to describe the distractions of the helpless people, such as old men and women, children and infants, lying-in women, and great numbers who were ill of the small pox, which was at the time very prevalent in the town. By two o'clock the fire was in all parts of the town, so that the inhabitants were entirely driven from their dwellings; and in less than two hours more, upwards of 600 houses were consumed, wherein dwelt above 700 families.    The damage done amounted to £.102008 and upwards, besides the loss of the parish church


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of All Saints, and many other public buildings, to the value of £.50,000 more. It is marvelous (says the writer) that a fire should break out at noon day and get so much strength in such a short time, as to consume so many goods and houses; and a wonderful mercy that only eleven persons perished in the flames, when it is considered with what an amazing force the fire and wind came on in some of the narrow passages, that many people were quite faint and wearied, their eyes dazzled or blinded with dust and smoke, and that several houses fell down while they were running by. And here may be added a very extraordinary circumstance, of a man bringing up a barrel of gunpowder out of an apothecary's cellar, when Gold street was burning on both sides, and covering it only with his coat skirts under his arm, which might have been the death of him and many others; but wonderful to relate, he luckily carried it off safe."

In April, 1779, a dreadful fire broke out in Sawpit lane, which in a short time consumed eight houses adjoining each other, and considerably damaged another. The wind being extremely high, large flakes of fire were blown to a great distance, some of which fell on a wool-warehouse belonging to Mr. Joseph Walker, which it burnt, together with a quantity of wool; other flakes were driven as far as St. Sepulchre's church lane, where they set fire to the thatch, and burnt down two houses. The fire was occasioned by a wooden tunnel, fixed on the top of a chimney, taking fire and communicating to the thatch.

On the 18th of October following, a fire broke out about one o'clock in the morning, and burnt down a stable and an adjoining hovel. A short time after, about seven in the evening, the timber yard of Mr. Dickinson, in Scarletwell street, was discovered to be on fire, but was happily extinguished, before it had done much damage. And about a month afterwards, about ten in the evening, a barley rick, at the upper end of Horsemarket, belong­ing to Mr. William Fox, was completely destroyed by fire before the flames could be extinguished.—At the time these three fires happened, a number of French prisoners lay in the town, and it was supposed that they were the persons who set fire to them.


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In February, 1780, a fire broke out about seven in the morning in the stables belonging to the George hotel, which were consumed, and three horses burnt to death, occasioned by one of the post boys leaving a candle burning in the stable.

About two o'clock in the morning of the 17th of February, 1792, a most calamitous fire broke out at the Shoulder-of-Mutton public house (since converted into a private dwelling house), on the Market square, which entirely consumed the same, and was at­tended by a melancholy loss of life—Mrs. Marriott, the landlady, together with her five children, and two lodgers, perishing in the flames, Mr. Marriott being the only person who made his escape, which he effected by getting out of the garret window, and over the roofs of two adjoining houses, into a garret window of the third. No portion of the property, except some beer in an arched cellar, was saved. Not being insured, a subscription was set on foot, and more than £.130 collected, which covered Mr. M.'s actual loss, but left him without employment.—There is a marble tablet in the portico of All Saints' church, commemora­tive of this shocking event.

In May, 1796, between one and two in the afternoon, the bakehouse of Mr. John Ashton, in the South quarter, was con­sumed by fire, together with a considerable quantity of flour

On the 12th of September, 1808, a fire broke out between five and six in the morning, in the house of Mr. Brown, shoemaker, in Newland, when shoes and leather of the value of £.200 were damaged and destroyed.

On the 2d of June, 1809, a fire broke out between seven and eight in the morning, in the house of Thomas Powell, in Wood Street, and property to the amount of about £.30 consumed.

On the 10th of November following, between three and four in the morning, the warehouse of Mr. Ponton, shoemaker, in Newland, was discovered to be on fire, and soon burnt to the ground, together with a quantity of leather, &c. of the value of £.270, which was fortunately insured.


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About nine in the evening of the 10th of October, 1814, a chimney took fire in Angel street, the sparks from which falling on a shed in the Angel hotel yard, where a large quantity of wood had been placed for rebuilding the hotel, it was soon in a blaze, and property to a considerable amount destroyed.

About three in the morning of the 27th of the same month, the workshop of Mr. Barker, chair-maker, in King Street, was discovered to be on fires, which, with the whole of its contents, were entirely consumed.

On the 21st of November, 1816, about half-past ten in the evening, the family of Mr. Cooke, shoe manufacturer, in the Horsemarket, were alarmed by the smell of fire, and they had scarcely time to escape from a bed-room window, before the house was in flames, when a large stock of shoes and leather, the whole of the furniture, &c. were destroyed. The stock only insured.

On the 24th of March, 1826, the dwelling house and work­shops of Mr. Mason, currier, in Woolmonger Street, were de­stroyed by this destructive element. The fire breaking out in the workshop, a great portion of the furniture of the house was, by the active exertions of the neighbors, rescued from the flames. Mr. Mason's property was insured.

About four in the morning of the 8th of April, 1827, a fire broke out in the shop of Mr. Veasey, druggist, on the Parade; and from the inflammable nature of the stock, the greatest anxiety prevailed for some time; but the neighbours rendering prompt and effectual aid, the devouring element was confined to the shop. A beam laid into the kitchen chimney had caught fire, and com­municated to the floor and skirting.

A fire broke out in the afternoon of the 14th of June, 1834, in Horse-shoe Street. Some sparks from a chimney falling on the thatch, it immediately ignited, and before the flames could be got under, two cottages were destroyed and two others damaged.

About one in the morning of the 26th of March, 1835, the melting house of Mr Ward, chandler, on the Upper Mounts,


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Was discovered to be ob fire; the engines being speedily on the spot, the fire was confined to the candle house and stable adjoining. The loss sustained was about £.100, including a horse belonging to the proprietor. No part of the property insured.

About eight in the evening of the 6th of October, 1835, a fire took place in the dwelling house of Mrs. Rolfe, in Abington Street; but assistance being immediately rendered, it was subdued before much damage was done.

On the 22d of October, 1835, about six in the morning, a stable on the premises of Mr. Wilson, horse dealer, in Green Street, was discovered to be on fire. By immediate assistance from his neighbors, 17 horses were rescued from the flames, but one other was severely burnt; and several tons of hay, a variety of harness, saddles, bridles, &c. with stabling for 15 horses, completely destroyed, to the amount of £.400. The stock was insured but not the building.

About nine in the evening of the 20th of April, 1836, a fire broke out on the premises of Mr. B. Capell, in Sheep street. The engines being stationed only a few yards from the house, and active exertions being used by several gentlemen who were near the spot, the damage was confined to one portion of the house. The property was insured.

A shed for drying skins, in Green Street, was burnt down on the 20th of January, 1837, before effectual assistance could be rendered, though situated close to the river. Insured.

An alarm was given, between four and five in the afternoon of the 15th of December, 1837, in consequence of the curtains of a bed having caught fire in the house of Miss Fox, in Sheep street, who was confined to her bed by illness, and unable to assist herself. Immediate assistance was rendered, and the fire confined to the room where it broke out, but the alarm was so great, that Miss Fox died very soon afterwards.

About half-past one in the morning of the 24th of January, 1838, the workshop of Mr. Bryan, chain-maker, in the Hind yard,


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Sheep Street was found by the watchman to be on fire. With the assistance of some of the night constables, the fire was extin­guished without alarming the neighbourhood.

Between one and two o'clock in the morning of the 15th of December, 1839, the family and inmates of the George hotel were alarmed by the smell of fire. It appeared that the nurse girl had by some means set fire to the bed clothes in her room; and had not the most active and energetic exertions been used by the neighbours, the whole of that extensive establishment must have fell a sacrifice; fortunately however the damage was confined to the girl's room and the adjoining passage.

The tobacco manufactory of Mr. Parsons, in Dychurch lane, was discovered to be on fire between three and four o'clock in the morning of the 23d of August, 1840. Assistance being procured, the fire was soon subdued. Damage about £.20.

The premises of Mr. Turner, in  Dychurch lane, narrowly escaped destruction on the 4th of January, 1841, from a boy , having set fire to some straw in  a cow-house,   but the engines being speedily on the spot, very little damage was done.

Between twelve and one in the morning of the 11th of July, 1842, a fire broke out in the upper story of a house in Bridge Street, occupied by Mr. Haines as a grocer's shop and warehouse. The back part of the premises being closely connected with the George hotel, fears were for some time entertained for its safety. The room where the fire commenced being chiefly filled with paper, it burnt very rapidly, and with the roof of the house was quickly consumed.—A supply of water however being procured, and thrown with effect upon the flames, the fire was subdued, but considerable damage was done to the goods in the lower part of the house; no person slept on the premises.—The house was insured, but not the stock.

July 27th, 1842.—In removing a gas lamp in the shop of Messrs. Whitmore & Son, watchmakers, in Gold street, about eight o'clock in the evening, the gas became ignited, and the

Shop was instantly in a blaze; but by active exertions the premises were saved.    Considerable damage was done in the shop.

About the middle of the day on Saturday the 6th of August, 1842, a warehouse in the yard of the Dolphin Inn, caught fire from some piping used as a chimney, but being market day, and many persons about the yard, it was prevented extending further. The damage did not exceed £.10.

Early in the morning of the 24th of August, 1842, a stack of hay standing near the racecourse, belonging to Mr. Coles, of St. Mary's street, worth about £.150, was destroyed by fire, sup­posed to be the act of an incendiary.

Between two and three o'clock in the morning of the 22d of October, 1842, as the nurse was administering some medicine to Mrs. Brooks, of Wood street (who was ill in bed, with an infant only two days old), the candle set fire to the curtains of the bed. By the greatest exertions of some neighbours whom the nurse instantly alarmed, Mrs. Brooks and the child were providentially rescued; but the bed furniture, mattress, a portion of the bed, and part of the nurse's wearing apparel, were consumed.

Early on Sunday morning the 3d of September, 1843, the workshop of Mr. Alsop, plumber and glazier, in Silver street, was completely destroyed by fire, with the whole of its contents, of the value of £.150, which unfortunately was not insured.

On the 16th of January, 1844, while the workmen were gone to dinner, the workshop of Mr. Camp, situate at the back of his house in Gold Street, was observed to be on fire. The engines being speedily obtained, the destructive element was confined to the workshop, but property to the amount of £.100 was destroyed.

Between twelve and one in the morning of the 19th of April, 1844, an alarming fire destroyed the workshops of Mr. Davis, coachmaker, in Abington street, together with the whole of his stock, including several -new carriages, £.40 in cash, and the workmen's tools. The fire communicated to the premises of the

Peacock hotel, but the exertions of the firemen, effectively assisted by a company of military with the barrack engine, stopped its progress, and confined it to Mr. Davis's premises. The stock was insured for £.1100, and the building for £.500.

About half-past seven in the morning of the 28th of August, 1844, a spark from a chimney set fire to the thatch, and destroyed the roofs of two houses on the Green; the property in the houses was also much damaged.

The proprietors of the George hotel were again alarmed by the cry of fire on the night of the 24th of November, 1845, it being discovered that the billiard room was in flames. The im­mediate attendance of the engines, and the exertions of the firemen, fortunately prevented the fire extending beyond the room in which it broke out.

On the morning of the 12th of February, 1846, when the workmen of Mr. Atherton, timber merchant, in Cotton end, went to their employ, they found the counting house on fire, and the interior of the office was completely destroyed, but having been early discovered, it was prevented extending to the extensive stock of timber on the premises.

About half-past six on the morning of the 7th of March, 1846, a fire was discovered in a warehouse in College street, in the occupation of Mr. Barringer, grocer; immediate assistance being obtained, but little damage was done.

On the 3d of October, 1846, an alarm was given that the town police station in Fish street was on fire: the damage, however, was confined to some old bedding in a fire-proof cell, where a fire had been lighted for the purpose of airing the bed­ding, and which had by some means become ignited.




Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, Volume 3.

At a meeting of the mayor, aldermen, and councillors, being the municipal council of the borough of Northampton, held at the Town Hall in the same borough, on the 1st day of May, 1865—present, the worshipful the mayor, Thomas Osborn, esquire, in the chair—it was
Unanimously resolved, That the members of this council. including persons of all parties in the state, desire to record the deep feeling of horror with which they have heard of the late atrocious murder of the President of the United States of America, and the attempted assassination of his Secretary of State, crimes deserving of the execration of mankind, and which the members of this council doubt not will prove to have been the acts of the guilty perpetrators exclusively.
The council desire further to record their sympathy with the widow of the murdered Chief Magistrate under her bereavement, their condolence with the citizens of the republic, and their sincere trust that under the providential guidance of the Great Disposer of events the path of mercy and conciliation on which Mr. Lincoln had entered may be steadily trodden by his successor, and that the great and kindred nation over which he is summoned to preside may speedily recover from the deep wounds of civil war, and enjoy a bright future of liberty, peace, and prosperity in ever closer and more cordial alliance with our own branch of the English race.
That two copies of the above resolutions be fairly made on vellum, authenticated by the signature of the worshipful the mayor and the common seal of the borough, and sent to his excellency the United States minister in this country, with a request that he will forward one copy to the proper authority of his own government and the other to Mrs. Lincoln.
[seal]                                                                                        THOMAS OSBORN, Mayor.