1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ellesmere

ELLESMERE, a market town in the Oswestry parliamentary division of Shropshire, England, on the main line of the Cambrian railway, 182 m. N.W. from London. Pop. of urban district (1901) 1945. It is prettily situated on the west shore of the mere or small lake from which it takes its name, while in the neighbourhood are other sheets of water, as Blake Mere, Cole Mere, White Mere, Newton Mere and Crose Mere. The church of St Mary is of various styles from Norman onward, but was partly rebuilt in 1848. The site of the castle is occupied by pleasure gardens, commanding an extensive view from high ground. The town hall contains a library and a natural history collection. The college is a large boys’ school. The town is an important agricultural centre. Ellesmere canal, a famous work of Thomas Telford, connects the Severn with the Mersey, crossing the Vale of Llangollen by an immense aqueduct, 336 yds. long and 127 ft. high.

The manor of Ellesmere (Ellesmeles) belonged before the Conquest to Earl Edwin of Mercia, and was granted by William the Conqueror to Roger, earl of Shrewsbury, whose son, Robert de Belesme, forfeited it in 1112 for treason against Henry I. In 1177 Henry II. gave it with his sister in marriage to David, son of Owen, prince of North Wales, after whose death it was retained by King John, who in 1206 granted it to his daughter Joan on her marriage with Llewellyn, prince of North Wales; it was finally surrendered to Henry III. by David, son of Llewellyn, about 1240. Ellesmere owed its early importance to its position on the Welsh borders and to its castle, which was in ruins, however, in 1349. While Ellesmere was in the hands of Joan, lady of Wales, she granted to the borough all the free customs of Breteuil. The town was governed by a bailiff appointed by a jury at one of the court leets of the lord of the manor, until a local board was formed in 1859. In 1221 Henry III. granted Llewellyn, prince of Wales, a market on Thursdays in Ellesmere. The inquisition taken in 1383 after the death of Roger le Straunge (Lord Strange), lord of Ellesmere, shows that he also held two fairs there on the feasts of St Martin and the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. By 1597 the market had been discontinued on account of the plague by which many of the inhabitants had died, and the queen granted that Sir Edward Kynaston, Kt., and thirteen others might hold a market every Thursday and a fair on the 3rd of November. Since 1792 both have been discontinued. The commerce of Ellesmere has always been chiefly agricultural.