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The Town of Bury
in the County of
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The Town of Bury

The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bury
The Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Bury

The name derives from the Saxon meaning a stronghold. The early centre of the town is the Market Place, a market being established there in 1440, on the west side of the parish church (St. Mary) with the obligatory hostelry, The Two Tubs (previously known as The Globe built in the early 18th C) nearby. They are situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the River Irwell and nearby excavations have revealed stonework foundations of what is thought to be Bury Castle, a fortified and castellated mansion, licenced.for building in 1465 to Thomas Pilkington, but destroyed by Parliamentary troops in 1644. In the mid 1300’s, it is said that Flemish weavers settled in Bury, giving rise to the woollen industry in the town, and the reason for a sheep being depicted on the Coat of Arms. With the close proximity of both the rivers Irwell and Roach, the town was an ideal location for cotton spinning and weaving in the 1800’s.

The market still continues to this day, although it had a number of different locations, and is famous, not only in Lancashire but nationwide.

The ancient parish of Bury was part of the administrative area known as the Salford Hundred. An excellent description of the Salford Hundred, which covered much of SE Lancashire may be found here.

The ancient parish of Bury was a long and fairly narrow parish. It was divided into eight Townships, Tottington Higher End, Tottington Lower End, Walmersley cum Shuttleworth, Elton, Bury and Heap, together with two townships in the Hundred of Blackburn, Musbury, and Cowpe with Lench. These were the names in use in 1834 when the new Poor Law Act came into force. This Act was the start of a period of constant change in civic administration that has continued until recently.

The Industrial Revolution brought the growth of new settlements, notably in the context of Bury, the growth of the towns of Heywood, Ramsbottom, and Tottington.

In 1974 there was another big change and larger local authorities were formed, in the case of Bury, the Metropolitan Borough of Bury. This was still based largely on the ancient parish, but the most northerly parts, Musbury, and Coupe, Lench and New Hall Hey, were lost to a new authority in the north called Hyndburn. Also lost to Rochdale was the Township of Heap, or, as it has been known recently, the town of Heywood. The new Bury gained the ancient Parish of Radcliffe, and the northern parts of the ancient Parish of Prestwich.

Fuller details of the sequence of these changes may be found on the Bury Reference & Information Services website particularly in "Routes: a guide to family history in the Bury area" which is available for download from the site.

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