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Universal British Directory, 1791

Dunstable, Bedfordshire

DUNSTABLE is 33 miles distant from London, and the same distance from Northampton; 18 from Newport Pagnel; and nine from Wooburn. It stands on a chalky hill at the entrance of the Chiltern, where the old Roman Watling-street is crossed by the Ickneld-street; and Roman coins have been sometimes picked up near it, which the country-folks called madning money. Not far from it also, on the very descent of the Chiltern-hills, is an area of nine acres, with a deep ditch and rampart round it, which is called Maiden-bower. This town, having been ruined by the Danes, was rebuilt by Henry I. who made it a royal borough, but it never sent members to parliament, though once summoned i the reign of Edward II. In 1224 a council was held here by the archbishop of Canterbury. King Edward I. erected a cross here, with the arms of England, &c. in memory of his Queen Eleanor. Here several of the Lollards were martyred, in the reigns of Henry V. and VII. The church is part of a priory, built by Henry I. and opposite to it is a farm-house, called Kingsbury, once a royal palace. An epitaph in its church mentions a woman here who had [vol. 2, page 851] nine children born at three several births, and six more at three others. The church was part of the priory; and archbishop Cranmer was the last prior, who here pronounced the sentence of divorce against queen Catherine.

Here is a charity-school. The larks taken hereabouts are said to be the largest and best in the kingdom. The road here being broad, well-beaten, and plain, and it being also the centre of many roads to London, has given rise to the proverb, "As plain as Dunstable road." Here are four streets, answering to the four cardinal points; and, for want of springs here, they have each a public pond, which, though only supplied by rain-water, are never dry. It is a populous town, and has several good inns, some of which are like palaces, it being a great thoroughfare to the counties in the North and North-west, and consequently to Scotland and Ireland.

This place seems, in former times, to have been famous for brewing; and at this time, the women hereabouts carry on a great manufacture of hats, and other conveniences and utensils made of straw; in which, it is said, they excel all the world. This part of the county was formerly very woody, and, together with the fastnesses in the Chiltern-hills, was a harbour for great gangs of highwaymen; to curb whom, Henry I. built Kingsbury above-mentioned, after the town had been ruined by the Danes, and then re-peopled the place, by promising great privileges to such of his subjects as were willing to come and settle here.

In the reign of king Henry VII. Dr. Smith, bishop of Lincoln, ordered William Tillsworth to be burnt here for denying the pope's supremacy, with this remarkable circumstance of cruelty, that his only daughter was compelled to set fire to the faggots.

The gentlemen of Bedfordshire, some time since, came to the laudable resolution of sloping the chalk-hill near this town, for the benefit of the road, which, in s frost, or after a shower of rain, usued to be so slippery, that neither men nor horses could keep their feet, which often occasioned great damage to both; to prevent which for the future, they employed a number of hands to lower it.

The market is on Wednesdays for corn, straw, plat, and hats. There are four fairs in the year, viz. Ash-Wednesday; 22d of May; 12th of August; and 12th of November; for horses and all sorts of cattle.

The post comes in every morning except Monday, and goes out every evening except Saturday.

A great number of stage-coaches pass and repass almost every hour of the day, and the fare to London is eight shillings.

Lesley's stage-waggon from Toddington goes from the Nag's Head inn in this town, every Monday and Friday morning, to the Golden Lion, St. John's-street, and returns every Wednesday and Sunday morning.

The following is a list of the principal inhabitants:


Miller John, Esq. (F.) Receiver
   General and Justice of the Peace
Miller Miss
Reynolds Mr. William, (F.)


Hughes Rev. Mr. (F.) Dissenting

Mead Rev. William, (F.) Rector
   of Higham Gobian, and
   Curate of Dunstable


Farr Charles Surgeon and Apothecary


Cooke Thomas, (F.) Attorney


Hooper John, (F.) Attorney


Arnold Richard, Butcher
Brown Mark, (F.) Straw Hatter
Boddington John, Victualler
Coates Tho. Inn and

Custance James, Sadler
Church John, Peruke-maker
Cole Thomas, Victualler
Coleman Mary, Shopkeeper
Champkin Matthew, Victualler
Crouch George, (F.) Bricklayer
Crouch William, (F.) Taylor
Cooke John, (F.) Victualler
Chibnal Geo. Blacksmith and Farrier

[vol. 2, page 852]


Coles William, (F.) Grocer,
   Tallow-chandler and Draper

Christmas William, (F.)

Durrant David, Innkeeper
Elliott Joseph, (F.) Straw-worker
Elliott William, Straw-worker
Eggleton Robert, (F.) Currier
Fowler William, Baker
Fossey George, (F.) Farmer
Fossey Jer. Victualler and Gardener
Fossey Elizabeth, Innkeeper
Fox John, Collar-maker
Feary John, Bricklayer
Gosstelow James, (F.) Farmer
Gutteridge P. (F.) Brazier
   and Auctioneer

Gutteridge Richard, (F.) Farmer
Gresham J. School-master
Holton William, (F.) Common-brewer
Hedges Thomas, Victualler
Hickman John, (F.) Common-brewer
Hickman Robert, Bricklayer
Hickman William, (F.) Shepherd
Hall George, (F.) Shoemaker
Holland Thomas, Coach-master
Hobbs Thomas, (F.) Innkeeper
Kent Richard, Victualler
Mellor Thomas, (F.) Maltster
Naile William, Peruke-maker
Oliver James, (F.) Farmer
Nichols Mary, Blacksmith
Norris Joseph, (F.) Shoemaker
Oliver William, (F.)
Oliver George, Butcher
Orsborn Daniel, Wheelwright



Parker Daniel, (F.) Common Brewer
Parrott Richard, Glover
Pearson Thomas, (F.) Cordwainer
Powell Thomas, Watch-maker
Proctor James, (F.) Farmer
Puddyphatt Jeremiah, Carpenter
Porter J. School-master
Queneborough William, Baker
Queneborough Daniel, (F.) Grocer
Read John, Butcher
Rutland Thomas, Victualler
Roberts Thomas, Carpenter
Roe Elizabeth, Butcher
Snoxell Edward, (F.) Farmer
Squire Thomas, (F.) Grocer
Simonds George, (F.)
Shelton John, Bookseller
Smith William, Victualler
Smith Nassau, (F.)
Smith Mary, Innkeeper
Sanders William, Taylor
Stern William, Victualler
Simmonds Samuel, Brandy-merchant
Taylor Ann, Baker
Twigg Wm. Victualler and Blacksmith
Waterer John, Peruke-maker
Walter Jonathan, Victualler
Waterfield William, (F.) Shoemaker
Ward J. W. Coach-master
West Mark, Innkeeper
Wright Leeson, (F.) Draper and

White Richard, (F.)
Willoughby James, (F.) Glazier


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