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HE development of our post-office is so intimately interwoven with the rise of the town, as a centre of commerce, and the simultaneous growth of the great system of high roads, that treatment of one cannot be excluded from a cursory consideration of the other. I have, therefore, to refer to all of them seriatim in the course of my account.


The first definite reference is towards the middle of the sixteenth century, temp. Henry VIII., when a statute, passed 1542, tells us that "Manchester is well inhabited for its trade, both in linen and woollen; the inhabitants. have obtained riches and wealthy livings and have employed many artificers and poor folks, causing by their strict and true dealing the resort of many strangers from Ireland and elsewhere, with linen and wool and other necessary wear, for making of cloth, to be sold there." And again: “Many strangers, inhabiting in other townships, have used customarily to resort to the said town


with a great number of cottons to be uttered and sold to the inhabitants, whereby many poor people have been well set to work, as well with dressing and greasing of the said cotton as with putting to size the same.” Ten years later, temp. Edward VI., an Act was passed for regulating the weight and dimensions of Lancashire and Cheshire cottons and Manchester rugs and friezes.


The population probably ranged from five to six thousand people. Its trade had already risen into sufficient prosperity to cause a considerable influx from the immediate out-townships and various parts of Lancashire and Cheshire. Analysing the list of surnames in the Court Leet Records we find that a great number of Scottish people had by that time settled in the town, for Scotland was one of the sources from which the merchants and chapmen of Manchester drew their linen yarn and wool. The Welsh element is sufficiently shown by the occurrence of seven names, while Irish nationality is represented by four surnames. The population was, therefore, already well leavened with new blood, a sure criterion of the expansion of industrial Manchester; this fresh infusion gave a further impulse to the restless trading spirit of this busy little manorial market place.

Leland, riding into the town in 1542, calls it in his terse way, "the fairest, best built, quickest, and most populous of all Lancastershire;" but when we come to 1552 the outlines become much clearer. The town stretches in one direction along the bold rocky brows of the Irk valley up Milne Bridge (Scotland Bridge), which takes us to the town's oak woods at Collyhurst. On its banks are the Walke Mill, the Collyhurst and Smedley

fulling mills for working the friezes and rugs. There are only a few badly paved, narrow, winding streets—fenell street, hengynge dyche, mylne gate, smethe door, and huntsbank; from the top of the rocks rise the College and the Old Church, and reached from the town side by a finely arched stone bridge, spanning the deepchannelled ditch. The centre of life is the market place; there are the booths, the stone cross, and the conduit. Crossing over we are in Market Stede Lane, and walk down Saynt Marys gate and the old Market stede; a few steps lead us to Deynsgate, where they are building new black-and-white timber houses for the wealthier class; in the distance extends Aldport Park and Knot Mill Bridge; on the east side, without the pale of Hyde Cross, stretches Wythegraves. The martial spirit is kept up by two pairs of butts, one in Market Stede Lane for the inhabitants of the south side of the church, the other upon Collyhurst for those on the northern side. The crowded market is held twice a week, and the great annual fair in autumn at Acresfield. The Irish merchants with their linen yarn haggle at Patrick Stone, near Smithy Door. Aulnegers and leather-sellers are scrutinising cloth and leather packs. The town numbers among its burgesses many rich mercers, grocers, haberdashers, clothiers, linen drapers, corvisers, and merchants and chapmen, who give employment to many linen and wool websters, shearmen, fullers, dyers, tanners, and whitlawers. The timbered dwelling-houses and shops are scattered in picturesque irregularity; some old houses are still in homely thatch. From the backs of the houses we step at once on rural ground and pasturage. The pleasant appearance of the town is further enhanced in the outskirts by a number of quaint old halls-Hulme Hall, on the brink of the Irwell, leads by a ford to

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