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A borough is an administrative division of various countries. In principle, the term borough designates a self-governing township although, in practice, official use of the term varies widely.

The word 'borough' derives from a common Indo-European language cognate, meaning fort: compare borough, bury (England), burgh (Scotland), Burg (Germany), bourg (France), burgo (Spain), borg (Scandinavia), borgo (Italy), burcht (Dutch). The incidence of these words as suffixes to place names (e.g. Canterbury, Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Edinburgh, Hamburg, Gothenburg), usually indicates that they were once fortified settlements.

In the Middle Ages, boroughs were settlements in England that were granted some self-government; burghs were the Scottish equivalent. In medieval England, boroughs were also entitled to elect members of parliament. The use of the word borough probably derives from the burghal system of Alfred the Great. Alfred set up a system of defensive strong points (Burhs); in order to maintain these settlements, he granted them a degree of autonomy. After the Norman Conquest, when certain towns were granted self-governance, the concept of the burh/borough seems to have been reused to mean a self-governing settlement.

The concept of the borough has been used repeatedly (and often differently) throughout the English-speaking world. Often, a borough is a single town with its own local government. However, in some cities it is a subdivision of the city (e.g. London, New York City, and Montreal). With New York City, for instance, each of the five counties which make up New York City are also called boroughs (New York County or Manhattan, Bronx County, Kings County or Brooklyn, Queens County, Richmond County or Staten Island). In such cases, the borough will normally have either limited powers delegated to it by the city's local government, or no powers at all. At certain times, London has had no overall city government and London boroughs were the main unit of local government for Londoners. In other places, such as Alaska, a borough does not designate a single township, but a whole region; Alaska's largest borough, the North Slope Borough, is comparable in area to the entire United Kingdom. In Australia, 'borough' can designate a town and its surrounding area, e.g. Borough of Queenscliffe.

Boroughs as administrative units are to be found in Ireland and the United Kingdom, more specifically in England and Northern Ireland. Boroughs also exist in the Canadian province of Quebec and formerly in Ontario, in some states of the United States, in Israel, and formerly in New Zealand.

Contents

Pronunciation

In many parts of England, "borough" is pronounced /ˈbʌrə/ ( listen) as an independent word, and as /brə/ when a suffix of a place-name. As a suffix, it is sometimes spelled "-brough".

In the United States, "borough" is pronounced /ˈbʌroʊ/ or /ˈbʊəroʊ/. When appearing as the suffix "-burg(h)" in place-names, it's pronounced /bɜrɡ/.

Uses of 'borough'

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England & Wales

Ancient & Municipal boroughs

During the medieval period many towns were granted self-governance by the Crown, at which point they became referred to as a borough. The formal status of borough came to be conferred by Royal Charter. These boroughs were generally governed by a self-selecting corporation (i.e., when a member died or resigned his replacement would be by co-option). Sometimes boroughs were governed by bailiffs or headboroughs.

Debates on the Reform Bill (eventually the Reform Act 1832) had highlighted the variations in systems of governance of towns, and a Royal Commission was set up to investigate the issue. This resulted in a regularisation of municipal government (Municipal Corporations Act 1835). 178 of the ancient boroughs were reformed as municipal boroughs, with all municipal corporations to be elected according to a standard franchise based on property ownership. The unreformed boroughs either lapsed in borough status, or were reformed (or abolished) at a later time. Several new municipal boroughs were formed in the new industrial cities after the bill enacted, according to the provisions of the bill.

As part of a large-scale reform of local government in England and Wales in 1974, municipal boroughs were finally abolished (having become increasingly irrelevant). However, the civic traditions of many boroughs were continued by the grant of a charter to their successor district councils. In smaller boroughs, a town council was formed for the area of the abolished borough, while charter trustees were formed in other former boroughs. In each case, the new body was allowed to use the regalia of the old corporation, and appoint ceremonial office holders such as sword and mace bearers as provided in their original charters. The council or trustees may apply for an Order in Council or Royal Licence to use the former borough coat of arms.

Parliamentary boroughs

From 1265, two burgesses from each borough were summoned to the Parliament of England, alongside two knights from each county. Thus parliamentary constituencies were derived from the ancient boroughs. Representation in the House of Commons was decided by the House itself, which resulted in boroughs being established in some small settlements for the purposes of parliamentary representation, despite their possessing no actual corporation.

After the Reform Act, which disenfranchised many of the rotten boroughs (boroughs which had declined in importance, had only a small population, and only a handful of eligible voters), parliamentary constituencies began to diverge from the ancient boroughs. Whilst many ancient boroughs remained as municipal boroughs, they were disenfranchised by the Reform Act.

County boroughs

The Local Government Act 1888 established a new sort of borough – the county borough. These were designed to be 'counties-to-themselves'; administrative divisions to sit alongside the new administrative counties. They allowed urban areas to be administered separately from the more rural areas. They, therefore, often contained pre-existing municipal boroughs, which thereafter became part of the second tier of local government, below the administrative counties and county boroughs.

The county boroughs were, like the municipal boroughs, abolished in 1974, being reabsorbed into their parent counties for administrative purposes.

Metropolitan boroughs

In 1899, as part of a reform of local government in the County of London, the various parishes in London were reorganised as new entities, the 'metropolitan boroughs'. These were reorganised further when Greater London was formed out of Middlesex and the County of London in 1965.

When the new metropolitan counties (Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Tyne & Wear, West Midlands, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire) were created in 1974, their sub-divisions also became metropolitan boroughs; in many cases these metropolitan boroughs recapitulated abolished county boroughs (e.g. Stockport). The metropolitan boroughs possessed slightly more autonomy from the metropolitan county councils than the shire county districts did from their county councils.

With the abolition of the metropolitan county councils in 1986, these metropolitan boroughs became independent, and continue to be so at present.

Other current uses

Elsewhere in England a number of district and unitary authority councils are called "borough". Historically, this was a status that denoted towns with a certain type of local government (a municipal corporation). Since 1974, it has been a purely ceremonial style granted by royal charter, which entitles the council chairman to bear the title of mayor. Districts may apply to the British Crown for the grant of borough status upon advice of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, local government was reorganised in 1973. Under the legislation that created the twenty-six districts of Northern Ireland, a district council whose area included an existing municipal borough could resolve to adopt the charter of the old municipality and thus continue to enjoy borough status. Districts that do not contain a former borough can apply for a charter in a similar manner to English districts.

Scotland

Canada

In Quebec, the term borough is generally used as the English translation of arrondissement, referring to an administrative division of a municipality. Only eight municipalities in Quebec are divided into boroughs. See List of boroughs in Quebec.

It was previously used in Metropolitan Toronto, Ontario, to denote suburban municipalities. The Borough of East York was the last Toronto municipality to hold this status, relinquishing it upon becoming part of the City of Toronto on January 1, 1998.

United States

In the United States, a borough is a unit of local government below the level of the state. The term is currently used in seven states.

The following states use, or have used, the word with the following meanings:

Mexico

In Mexico as translations from English to Spanish applied to Mexico City, the word borough has resulted in a delegación (delegation), referring to the 16 administrative areas within the Mexican Federal District. (see: Boroughs of the Mexican Federal District)

Australia

In Australia, the term "borough" is an occasionally used term for a local government area. Currently there is only one borough in Australia, the Borough of Queenscliffe in Victoria, although there have been more in the past.

Republic of Ireland

Under the Local Government Act 2001 section 10 (3) and schedule 6 part 1 chapter 1, the following continue to be known as Boroughs (though this is largely a matter of nomenclature) Clonmel, Drogheda, Kilkenny, Sligo, Wexford. In Section 10 (7) continues the "use of the description city in relation to Kilkenny, to the extent that that description was used before (January 1, 2002) and is not otherwise inconsistent with this Act."

New Zealand

New Zealand formerly used the term borough to designate self-governing towns of more than 1,000 people, although 19th century census records show many boroughs with populations as low as 200.[1] A borough of more than 20,000 people could become a city by proclamation. Boroughs and cities were collectively known as municipalities, and were enclaves separate from their surrounding counties. Boroughs proliferated in the suburban areas of the larger cities: By the 1980s there were 19 boroughs and three cities in the area that is now the City of Auckland.

In the 1980s, some boroughs and cities began to be merged with their surrounding counties to form districts with a mixed urban and rural population. In 1989, a nationwide reform of local government completed the process. Counties and boroughs were abolished and all boundaries were redrawn. Under the new system, most territorial authorities cover both urban and rural land. The more populated councils are classified as cities, and the more rural councils are classified as districts. Only Kawerau District, an enclave within Whakatane District, continues to follow the tradition of a small town council that does not include surrounding rural area.

Israel

Under Israeli law, inherited from British Mandate municipal law, the possibility of creating a municipal borough exists. However, no borough was actually created under law until 2005–2006, when Neve Monosson and Maccabim-Re'ut, both communal settlements (Heb: yishuv kehilati) founded in 1953 and 1984, respectively, were declared to be autonomous municipal boroughs (Heb: vaad rova ironi), within their mergers with the towns of Yehud and Modi'in. Similar structures have been created under different types of legal status over the years in Israel, notably Kiryat Haim in Haifa, Jaffa in Tel Aviv-Yafo and Ramot and Gilo in Jerusalem. However, Neve Monosson is the first example of a full municipal borough actually declared under law by the Minister of the Interior, under a model subsequently adopted in Maccabim-Re'ut as well.

It is the declared intention of the Interior Ministry to use the borough mechanism in order to facilitate municipal mergers in Israel, after a 2003 wide-reaching merger plan, which generally ignored the sensitivities of the communal settlements, largely failed.

Etymology

The word borough derives from the Old English word burh, meaning a fortified settlement. Other English derivatives of burh include bury and brough. There are obvious cognates in other Indo-European languages. For example; burgh in Scots and Middle English; burg in German and Old English[2], borg in Scandinavian languages; parcus in Latin and pyrgos in Greek.

A number of other European languages have cognate words which were borrowed from the Germanic languages during the Middle Ages, including brog in Irish, bwr or bwrc, meaning "wall, rampart" in Welsh, bourg in French, burg in Catalan (in Catalonia there is a town named Burg), borgo in Italian, and burgo in Spanish (hence the place-name Burgos).

The 'burg' element is often confused with 'berg' meaning hill or mountain (cf. iceberg). Hence the 'berg' element in Bergen relates to a hill, rather than a fort. In some cases, the 'berg' element in place names has converged towards burg/borough; for instance Farnborough, from fernaberga (fern-hill).

References

  1. ^ 1881 census summary
  2. ^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition (2000)

See also


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010
(Redirected to The Borough article)

From Wikisource

The Borough
by George Crabbe


Old Peter Grimes made fishing his employ,
His wife he cabined with him and his boy,
And seemed that life laborious to enjoy
To town came quiet Peter with his fish,
And had of all a civil word and wish.
He left his trade upon the Sabbath day,
And took young Peter in his hand to pray;
But soon the stubborn boy from care broke loose,
At first refused, then added his abuse;

His father's love he scorned, his power defied,
But, being drunk, wept sorely when he died.
Yes! then he wept, and to his mind there came
Much of his conduct, and he felt the shame
How he had oft the good old man reviled,
And never paid the duty of a child;
How, when the father in his Bible read,
He in contempt and anger left the shed;
"It is the word of life," the parent cried;
"This is the life itself," the boy replied;
And while old Peter in amazement stood,
Gave the hot spirit to his boiling blood:
How he, with oath and furious speech, began
To prove his freedom and assert the man;
And when the parent checked his impious rage,
How he had cursed the tyranny of age—
Nay, once had dealt the sacrilegious blow
On his bare head, and laid his parent low:
The father groaned—"If thou art old," said he,
"And hast a son—thou wilt remember me;
Thy mother left me in a happy time,
Thou kill'dst not her—Heaven spares the double crime."

On an inn-settle, in his maudlin grief,
This he revolved, and drank for his relief.

Now lived the youth in freedom, but debarred
From constant pleasure, and he thought it hard;
Hard that he could not every wish obey,
But must awhile relinquish ale and play;
Hard! that he could not to his cards attend,
But must acquire the money he would spend.

With greedy eye he looked on all he saw,
He knew not justice, and he laughed at law;
On all he marked he stretched his ready hand;
He fished by water, and he filched by land.
Oft in the night has Peter dropped his oar,
Fled from his boat and sought for prey on shore;
Oft up the hedgerow glided, on his back
Bearing the orchard's produce in a sack,
Or farmyard load, tugged fiercely from the stack;
And as these wrongs to greater numbers rose,
The more he looked on all men as his foes.

He built a mud-walled hovel, where he kept
His various wealth, and there he ofttimes slept;
But no success could please his cruel soul,
He wished for one to trouble and control;
He wanted some obedient boy to stand
And bear the blow of his outrageous hand;
And hoped to find in some propitious hour
A feeling creature subject to his power.

Peter had heard there were in London then—
Still have they being! — workhouse-clearing men,
Who, undisturbed by feelings just or kind,
Would parish boys to needy tradesmen bind;
They in their want a trifling sum would take,
And toiling slaves of piteous orphans make.

Such Peter sought, and when a lad was found,
The sum was dealt him, and the slave was bound.
Some few in town observed in Peter's trap
A boy, with jacket blue and woolen cap;
But none inquired how Peter used the rope,
Or what the bruise, that made the stripling stoop;
None could the ridges on his back behold,
None sought him shivering in the winter's cold;
None put the question, "Peter, dost thou give
The boy his food? — What, man! the lad must live.
Consider, Peter, let the child have bread,
He'll serve thee better if he's stroked and fed."
None reasoned thus — and some, on hearing cries,
Said calmly, "Grimes is at his exercise."

Pined, beaten, cold, pinched, threatened, and abused—
His efforts punished and his food refused—
Awake tormented—soon aroused from sleep—
Struck if he wept, and yet compelled to weep,
The trembling boy dropped down and strove to pray,
Received a blow, and trembling turned away,
Or sobbed and hid his piteous face; while he,
The savage master, grinned in horrid glee.
He'd now the power he ever loved to show,
A feeling being subject to his blow.

Thus lived the lad, in hunger, peril, pain,
His tears despised, his supplications vain;
Compelled by fear to lie, by need to steal,
His bed uneasy and unblessed his meal,
For three sad years the boy his tortures bore,—
And then his pains and trials were no more.

"How died he, Peter?" when the people said,
He growled — "I found him lifeless in his bed";
Then tried for softer tone, and sighed, "Poor Sam is dead.
Yet murmurs were there, and some questions asked—
How he was fed, how punished, and how tasked?
Much they suspected, but they little proved,
And Peter passed untroubled and unmoved.

Another boy with equal ease was found,
The money granted, and the victim bound;
And what his fate? One night it chanced he fell
From the boat's mast and perished in her well,
Where fish were living kept, and where the boy
(So reasoned men) could not himself destroy:—

"Yes! so it was," said Peter, "in his play
(For he was idle both by night and day),
He climbed the mainmast and then fell below";
Then showed his corpse and pointed to the blow.
'What said the jury?" They were long in doubt,
But sturdy Peter faced the matter out.
So they dismissed him, saying at the time,
"Keep fast your hatchway when you've boys who climb."
This hit the conscience, and he colored more
Than for the closest questions put before.

Thus all his fears the verdict set aside,
And at the slave shop Peter still applied.

Then came a boy, of manners soft and mild—
Our seamen's wives with grief beheld the child;
All thought (the poor themselves) that he was one
Of gentle blood, some noble sinner's son,
Who hail, belike, deceived some humble maid,
Whom he had first seduced and then betrayed.
However this, he seemed a gracious lad,
In grief submissive and with patience sad.

Passive he labored, till his slender frame
Bent with his loads, and he at length was lame:
Strange that a frame so weak could bear so long
The grossest insult and the foulest wrong;
But there were causes—in the town they gave
Fire, food, and comfort, to the gentle slave;
And though stern Peter, with a cruel hand,
And knotted rope, enforced the rude command,
Yet he considered what he'd lately felt,
And his vile blows with selfish pity dealt.

One day such draughts the cruel fisher made,
He could not vend them in his borough trade,
But sailed for London mart; the boy was ill,
But ever humbled to his master's will;
And on the river, where they smoothly sailed,
He strove with terror and awhile prevailed;
But new to danger on the angry sea,
He clung affrightened to his master's knee:
The boat grew leaky and the wind was strong,
Rough was the passage and the time was long;
His liquor failed, and Peter's wrath arose—
No more is known—the rest we must suppose,
Or learn of Peter—Peter says, he 'spied
The stripling's danger and for harbor tried;
Meantime the fish, and then th' apprentice died."

The pitying women raised a clamor round,
And weeping said "Thou hast this Prentice drowned."

Now the stern man was summoned to the hall,
To tell his tale before the burghers all:
He gave th' account; professed the lad he loved,
And kept his brazen features all unmoved.

The mayor himself with tone severe replied,
"Thenceforth with thee shall never boy abide;
Hire thee a freeman, whom thou durst not beat,
But who, in thy despite, will sleep and eat;
Free thou art now! — again shouldst thou appear,
Thou'lt find thy sentence, like thy soul, severe."

Alas! for Peter not a helping hand,
So was he hated, could he now command;
Alone he rowed his boat, alone he cast
His nets beside, or made his anchor fast;
To hold a rope or hear a curse was none—
He toiled and railed, he groaned and swore alone.

Thus by himself compelled to live each day,
To wait for certain hours the tide's delay;
At the same times the same dull views to see,
The bounding marshbank and the blighted tree;
The water only, when the tides were high,
When low, the mud half-covered and half-dry;
The sunburnt tar that blisters on the planks,
And bankside stakes in their uneven ranks;
Heaps of entangled weeds that slowly float,
As the tide rolls by th' impeded boat.

When tides were neap, and, in the sultry day,
Through the tall bounding mudbanks made their way,
Which on each side rose swelling, and below
The dark warm flood ran silently and slow;
There anchoring, Peter chose from man to hide,
There hang his head, and view the lazy tide
In its hot slimy channel slowly glide;
Where the small eels that left the deeper way
For the warm shore, within the shallows play;
Where gaping mussels, left upon the mud,
Slope their slow passage to the fallen flood;
Here dull and hopeless he'd lie down and trace
How sidelong crabs had scrawled their crooked race;
Or sadly listen to the tuneless cry
Of fishing gull or clanging goldeneye;
What time the sea birds to the marsh would come,
And the loud bittern, from the bulrush home,
Gave from the salt-ditch side the bellowing boom.
He nursed the feelings these dull scenes produce,
And loved to stop beside the opening sluice,
Where the small stream, confined in narrow bound,
Ran with a dull, unvaried, saddening sound;
Where all presented to the eye or ear
Oppressed the soul with misery, grief, and fear.

Besides these objects, there were places three,
Which Peter seemed with certain dread to see;
When he drew near them he would turn from each,
And loudly whistle till he passed the reach.

A change of scene to him brought no relief;
In town, 'twas plain, men took him for a thief;
The sailors' wives would stop him in the street,
And say, "Now, Peter, thou'st no boy to beat";
Infants at play, when they perceived him, ran,
Warning each other, "That's the wicked man."
He growled an oath, and in an angry tone
Cursed the whole place and wished to be alone.

Alone he was, the same dull scenes in view,
And still more gloomy in his sight they grew.
Though man he hated, yet employed alone
At bootless labor, he would swear and groan,
Cursing the shoals that glided by the spot,
And gulls that caught them when his arts could not.

Cold nervous tremblings shook his sturdy frame,
And strange disease — he couldn't say the name;
Wild were his dreams, and oft he rose in fright,
Waked by his view of horrors in the night—
Horrors that would the sternest minds amaze,
Horrors that demons might be proud to raise;
And though he felt forsaken, grieved at heart,
To think he lived from all mankind apart;
Yet, if a man approached, in terrors he would start.

A winter passed since Peter saw the town,
And summer lodgers were again come down;
These, idly curious, with their glasses spied
The ships in bay as anchored for the tide,
The river's craft, the bustle of the quay,
And seaport views, which landmen love to see.

One, up the river, had a man and boat
Seen day by day, now anchored, now afloat;
Fisher he seemed, yet used no net nor hook;
Of seafowl swimming by, no heed he took,
But on the gliding waves still fixed his lazy look:
At certain stations he would view the stream,
As if he stood bewildered in a dream,
Or that some power had chained him for a time,
To feel a curse or meditate on crime.

This known, some curious, some in pity went,
And others questioned, "Wretch, dost thou repent?"
He heard, he trembled, and in fear resigned
His boat; new terror filled his restless mind,
Furious he grew, and up the country ran,
And there they seized him — a distempered man.
Him we received, and to a parish-bed,
Followed and cursed, the groaning man was led.

Here when they saw him, whom they used to shun,
A lost, lone man, so harassed and undone,
Our gentle females, ever prompt to feel,
Perceived compassion on their anger steal;
His crimes they could not from their memories blot,
But they were grieved, and trembled at his lot.

A priest too came, to whom his words are told,
And all the signs they shuddered to behold.

"Look! look!" they cried, "his limbs with horror shake,
And as he grinds his teeth, what noise they make!
How glare his angry eyes, and yet he's not awake.
See! what cold drops upon his forehead stand,
And how he clenches that broad bony hand."

The priest attending, found he spoke at times
As one alluding to his fears and crimes:"
It was the fall," he muttered, "I can show
The manner how — I never struck a blow."
And then aloud — "Unhand me, free my chain;
On oath, he fell — it struck him to the brain—
Why ask my father?—that old man will swear
Against my life; besides, he wasn't there—
What, all agreed? — Am I to die today? —
My Lord, in mercy, give me time to pray."

Then as they watched him, calmer he became,
And grew so weak he couldn't move his frame,
But murmuring spake, while they could see and hear
The start of terror and the groan of fear;
See the large dew-beads on his forehead rise,
And the cold death-drop glaze his sunken eyes;
Nor yet he died, but with unwonted force
Seemed with some fancied being to discourse;
He knew not us, or with accustomed art
He hid the knowledge, yet exposed his heart;
"Twas part confession and the rest defense,
A madman's tale, with gleams of waking sense.

'I'll tell you all," he said, "the very day
When the old man first placed them in my way:
My father's spirit — he who always tried
To give me trouble, when he lived and died —
When he was gone, he could not be content
To see my days in painful labor spent,
But would appoint his meetings, and he made
Me watch at these, and so neglect my trade.

"Twas one hot noon, all silent, still, serene,
No living being had I lately seen;
I paddled up and down and dipped my net,
But (such his pleasure) I could nothing get—
A father's pleasure, when his toil was done,
To plague and torture thus an only son!
And so I sat and looked upon the stream,
How it ran on, and felt as in a dream;
But dream it was not; no! I fixed my eyes
On the mid-stream and saw the spirits rise;
I saw my father on the water stand,
And hold a thin pale boy in either hand;
And there they glided ghastly on the top
Of the salt flood, and never touched a drop;
I would have struck them, but they knew th' intent,
And smiled upon the oar, and down they went.

"Now, from that day, whenever I began
To dip my net, there stood the hard old man—
He and those boys: I humbled me and prayed
They would be gone — they heeded not, but stayed.
Nor could I turn, nor would the boat go by,
But gazing on the spirits, there was I.
They bade me leap to death, but I was loath to die;
And every day, as sure as day arose,
Would these three spirits meet me ere the close;
To hear and mark them daily was my doom;
And 'Come,' they said, with weak, sad voices, 'come.'
To row away with all my strength I tried,
But there were they, hard by me in the tide,
The three unbodied forms — and 'Come,' still 'come,' they cried.

"Fathers should pity — but this old man shook
His hoary locks, and froze me by a look.
Thrice, when I struck them, through the water came
A hollow groan, that weakened all my frame.
'Father!' said I, 'have mercy.'
He replied, I know not what — the angry spirit lied —
'Didst thou not draw thy knife?' said he. 'Twas true,
But I had pity and my arm withdrew;
He cried for mercy which I kindly gave,
But he has no compassion in his grave.

"There were three places, where they ever rose—
The whole long river has not such as those—
Places accursed, where, if a man remain,
He'll see the things which strike him to the brain;
And there they made me on my paddle lean,
And look at them for hours — accursed scene!
When they would glide to that smooth eddy-space,
Then bid me leap and join them in the place;
And at my groans each little villain sprite
Enjoyed my pains and vanished in delight.

"In one fierce summer day, when my poor brain
Was burning hot and cruel was my pain,
Then came this father-foe, and there he stood
With his two boys again upon the flood;
There was more mischief in their eyes, more glee
In their pale faces when they glared at me;
Still did they force me on the oar to rest,
And when they saw me fainting and oppressed,
He, with his hand, the old man, scooped the flood,
And there came flame about him mixed with blood;
He bade me stoop and look upon the place,
Then flung the hot-red liquor in my face;
Burning it blazed, and then I roared for pain,
I thought the demons would have turned my brain.

"Still there they stood, and forced me to behold
A place of horrors — they cannot be told —
Where the flood opened, there I heard the shriek
Of tortured guilt — no earthly tongue can speak:
'All days alike! for ever!' did they say,'
And unremitted torments every day' —
Yes, so they said." — But here he ceased and gazed
On all around, frightened and amazed;
And still he tried to speak, and looked in dread
Of frightened females gathering round his bed;
Then dropped exhausted and appeared at rest,
Till the strong foe the vital powers possessed;
Then with an inward, broken voice he cried,"
Again they come," and muttered as he died.


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

BOROUGH (A.S. nominative burh, dative byrig, which produces some of the place-names ending in bury, a sheltered or fortified place, the camp of refuge of a tribe, the stronghold of a chieftain; cf. Ger. Burg, Fr. bor, bore, bourg), the term, for a town, considered as a unit of local government.

History of the English Borough

After the early English settlement, when Roman fortifications ceased to shelter hostile nations, their colonies and camps were used by the Anglo-Saxon invaders to form tribal strongholds; nevertheless burhs on the sites of Roman colonies show no continuity with Roman municipal organization. The resettlement of the Roman Durovernum as the burh of the men of (East) Kent, under a changed name, the name "burh of the men of Kent," Cant-wara-byrig (Canterbury), illustrates this point. The burh of the men of West Kent was Hrofesceaster (Durobrivae), Rochester, and many other ceasters mark the existence of a Roman camp occupied by an early English burh. The tribal burh was protected by an earthen wall, and a general obligation to build and maintain burhs at the royal command was enforced by Anglo-Saxon law. Offences in disturbance of the peace of the burh were punished by higher fines than breaches of the peace of the "ham" or ordinary dwelling. The burh was the home of the king as well as the asylum of the tribe, and there is reason to think that the boundary of the borough was annually sanctified by a religious ceremony, and hence the long retention of a processional perambulation. Possibly the "hedge" or "wall" of the borough gave it, besides safety, a sanctity analogous to that enjoyed by the Germanic assembly while gathered within its "hedge," which the priests solemnly set up when the assembly gathered, and removed when it was over. While the "peace" of the Germanic assembly was essentially temporary, the "peace" of the burh was sacred all the year round. Its "hedge" was never removed. The sanctity of the burh was enjoyed by all the dwellings of the king, at first perhaps only during his term of residence. Neither in the early English language nor in the contemporary Latin was there any fixed usage differentiating the various words descriptive of the several forms of human settlement, and the tribal refuges cannot accordingly be clearly distinguished from villages or the strongholds of individuals by any purely nomenclative test. It is not till after the Danish invasions that it becomes easier to draw a distinction between the burhs that served as military strongholds for national defence and the royal vills which served no such purpose. Some of the royal vills eventually entered the class of boroughs, but by another route, and for the present the private stronghold and the royal dwelling may be neglected. It was the public stronghold and the administrative centre of a dependent district which was the source of the main features peculiar to the borough.

Many causes tended to create peculiar rconditions in the boroughs built for national defence. They were placed where artificial defence was most needed, at the junction of roads, in the plains, on the rivers, at the centres naturally marked out for trade, seldom where hills or marshes formed a sufficient natural defence. The burhs drew commerce by every channel; the camp and the palace, the administrative centre, the ecclesiastical centre (for the mother-church of the state was placed in its chief burh), all looked to the market for their maintenance. The burh was provided by law with a mint and royal moneyers and exchangers, with an authorized scale for weights and measures. Mercantile transactions in the burhs or ports, as they were called when their commercial rather than their military importance was accentuated, were placed by law under special legal privileges in order no doubt to secure the king's hold upon his toll. Over the burh or port was set a reeve, a royal officer answerable to the king for his dues from the burh, his rents for lands and houses, his customs on commerce, his share of the profits from judicial fines.L - At least from the 10th century the burh had a "moot" or court, the relation of which to the other courts is matter of speculation. A law of Edgar, about 960, required that it should meet three times a year, these being in all likelihood assemblies at which attendance was compulsory on all tenants of the burghal district, when pleas concerning life and liberty and land were held, and men were compelled to find pledges answerable for their good conduct. At these great meetings the borough reeve (gerefa) presided, declaring the law and guiding the judgments given by the suitors of the court. The reeve was supported by a group of assistants, called in Devon the "witan," in the boroughs of the Danelaw by a group of (generally twelve) "lawmen," in other towns probably by a group of aldermen, senior burgesses, with military and police authority, whose office was in some cases hereditary. These persons assisted the reeve at the great meetings of the full court, and sat with him as judges at the subordinate meetings which were held to settle the unfinished causes and minor causes. There was no compulsion on those not specially summoned to attend these extra meetings. At these subordinate jurisdictional assemblies, held in public, and acting by the same authority as the annual gathering of all the burh-wara, other business concerning borough administration was decided, at least in later days, and it is to these assemblies that the origin of the town council may in many cases be ascribed. In the larger towns the division into wards, with a separate police system, can be traced at an early time, appearing as a unit of military organization, answerable for the defence of a gate of the town. The police system of London is described in detail in a record of 930-940. Here the free people were grouped in associations of ten, each under the superintendence of a headman. The bishops and reeves who belonged to the "court of London" appear as the directors of the system, and in them we may see the aldermen of the wards of a later time. The use of the word bertha for ward at Canterbury, and the fact that the London wardmoot at a later time was used for the frankpledge system as well as for the organization of the muster, point to a connexion between the military and the police systems in the towns. At the end of the 9th and beginning of the 10th century there is evidence of a systematic "timbering" of new burhs, with the object of providing strongholds for the defence of Wessex against the Danes, and it appears that the surrounding districts were charged with their maintenance. In charters of this period a "haw," or enclosed area within a burh, was often conveyed by charter as if it were an apanage of the lands in the neighbourhood with which it was conveyed; the Norman settlers who succeeded to lands in the county succeeded therewith to houses in the burhs, for a close association existed between the "thegns" of the shire and the shirestow, an association partly perhaps of duty and also of privilege. The king granted borough "haws" as places of refuge in Kent, and in London he gave them with commercial privileges to his bishops. What has been called the "heterogeneous" tenure of the shirestow, one of the most conspicuous characteristics of that particular type of borough, was further increased by the liberty which some burgesses enjoyed to "commend" themselves to a lord of their own choosing, promising to that lord suit and service and perhaps rent in return for protection. Over these burgesses the lords could claim jurisdictional rights, and these were in some cases increased by royal grants of special rights within certain "sokes." The great boroughs were honeycombed with sokes, or areas of seignorial jurisdiction, within which the royal reeve's authority was greatly restricted while that of the lord's reeve took precedence. Even the haws, being "burhs" or strongholds within a stronghold, enjoyed a local "peace" which protected from official intrusion. Besides heterogeneity of tenure and jurisdiction in the borough, there was also heterogeneity of status; there were burh-thegns and cnihts, mercatores, burgesses of various kinds, the three groups representing perhaps military, commercial and agricultural elements. The burh generally shows signs of having been originally a village settlement, surrounded by open fields, of which the borough boundary before 1835 will suggest the outline. This area was as a rule eventually the area of borough jurisdiction. There is some evidence pointing to the fact that the restriction of the borough authority to this area is not ancient, but due to the Norman settlement. The wide districts over which the boroughs had had authority were placed under the control of the Norman castle which was itself built by means of the old English levy of "burhwork." The borough court was allowed to continue its work only within its own immediate territory, and, to prevent conflict, the castle was placed outside the borough. Losing their place in the national scheme of defence, the burgess "cnihts" made commerce their principal object under the encouragement of the old privileges of the walled place.

Besides the great co-operative strongholds in which many lords had burgesses, there were small boroughs held by a single lord. In many cases boroughs of this "seignorial" type were created upon the royal estates. Out of the king's vill, as a rule the jurisdictional centre of a hundred, there was sometimes created a borough. The lines of division before Domesday Book are obscure, but it is probable that in some cases, by a royal grant of jurisdiction, the inhabitants of a populous royal vill, where a hundred court for the district was already held, were authorized to establish a permanent court, for the settlement of their disputes, distinct from the hundred court of the district. Boroughs of this type with a uniform tenure were created not only on the king's estates but also on those of his tenants-in-chief, and in 1086 they were probably already numerous. A borough was usually, though perhaps not invariably, the companion of a Norman castle. In some cases a French "Bourg" was created by the side of an English borough, and the two remained for many generations distinct in their laws and customs: in other cases a French "bourg" was settled by the side of an English village. A large number of the followers of the Norman lords had been almost certainly town-dwellers in their own country, and lost none of their burghal privileges by the migration. Every castle needed for its maintenance a group of skilled artisans, and the lords wished to draw to the castle gates all kinds of commodities for the castle's provision. The strength of the garrison made the neighbourhood of the castle a place of danger to men unprotected by legal privilege; and in order to invite to its neighbourhood desirable settlers, legal privileges similar to those enjoyed in Norman or English boroughs were guaranteed to those who would build on the plots which were offered to colonists. A low fixed rental, release from the renders required of villeins, release from the jurisdiction of the castle, and the creation of a separate borough jurisdiction, with or without the right to choose their own officers, rules fixing the maximum of fees and fines, or promising assessment of the fines by the burgesses themselves, the cancelling of all the castellan's rights, especially the right to take a forced levy of food for the castle from all within the area of his jurisdiction, freedom from arbitrary tallage, freedom of movement, the right to alienate property and devise land, these and many other privileges named in the early seignorial charters were what constituted the Norman liber burgus of the seignorial type. Not all these privileges were enjoyed by all boroughs; some very meagre releases of seignorial rights accompanied the lord's charter which created a borough and made burgesses out of villeins. However liberal the grant, the lord or his reeve still remained in close personal relation with the burgesses of such places, and this character, together with the uniformity of their tenure, continued to hold them apart from the boroughs of the old English type, where all varieties of personal relationship between the lords and their groups of tenants might subsist. The royal charters granting the right to retain old customs prevented the systematic introduction into the old boroughs of some of the incidents of feudalism. Rights of the king took precedence of those of the lord, and devise with the king's consent was legal. By these means the lords' position was weakened, and other seignorial claims were later evaded or contested. The rights which the lords failed to keep were divided between the king and the municipality; in London, for instance, the king obtained all escheats, while the borough court secured the right of wardship of burgess orphans.

From Norman times the yearly profit of the royal boroughs was as a rule included in the general "farm" rendered for the county by the sheriff; sometimes it was rendered by a royal farmer apart from the county-farm. The king generally accepted a composition for all the various items due from the borough. The burgesses were united in their efforts to keep that composition unchanged in amount, and to secure the provision of the right amount at the right time for fear that it should be increased by way of punishment. The levy of fines on rent arrear, and the distraints for debt due, which were obtained through the borough court, were a matter of interest to the burgesses of the court, and first taught the burgesses co-operative action. Money was raised, possibly by order of the borough court, to buy a charter from the king giving the right to choose officers who should answer directly to the exchequer and not through the sheriff of the county. The sheriff was in many cases also the constable of the castle, set by the Normans to overawe the English boroughs; his powers were great and dangerous enough to make him an officer specially obnoxious to the boroughs. Henry I. about 1131 gave the London citizens the right to choose their own sheriffs and a justiciar answerable for keeping the pleas of the crown. In 1130 the Lincoln citizens paid to hold their city in chief of the king. By the end of the 12th century many towns paid by the hand of their own reeves, and John's charters began to make rules as to the freedom of choice to be allowed in the nomination of borough officers and as to the royal power of dismissal. In Richard I.'s reign London imitated the French communes in styling the chief officer a mayor; in 1208 Winchester also had a mayor, and the title soon became no rarity. The chartered right to choose two or more citizens to keep the pleas of the crown gave to many boroughs the control of their coroners, who occupied the position of the London justiciar of earlier days, subject to those considerable modifications which Henry II.'s systematization of the criminal law had introduced. Burgesses who had gone for criminal and civil justice to their own court in disputes between themselves, or between themselves and strangers who were in their town, secured confirmation of this right by charter, not to exclude the justices in eyre, but to exempt themselves from the necessity of pleading in a distant court. The burgess, whether plaintiff or defendant, was a privileged person, and could claim in this respect a "benefit" somewhat similar to the benefit of clergy. In permitting the boroughs to answer through their own officers for his dues, the king handed over to the boroughs the farming of his rents and a large number of rights which would eventually prove to be sources of great profit.

No records exist showing the nature of municipal proceedings at the time of the first purchase of charters. Certain it is that the communities in the 12th century became alive to the possibilities of their new position, that trade received a new impulse, and the vague constitutional powers of the borough court acquired a new need for definition. At first the selection of officers who were to treat with the exchequer and to keep the royal pleas was almost certainly restricted to a few rich persons who could find the necessary securities. Nominated probably in one of the smaller judicial assemblies, the choice was announced at the great Michaelmas assembly of the whole community, and it is not till the next century that we hear of any attempt of the "vulgus" to make a different selection from that of the magnates. The "vulgus" were able to take effective action by means of the several craft organizations, and first found the necessity to do so when taxation was heavy or when questions of trade legislation were mooted (see GILDs). The taxation of the boroughs in the reign of Henry II. was assessed by the king's justices, who fixed the sums due per capita; but if the borough made an offer of a gift, the assessment was made by the burgesses. In the first case the taxation fell on the magnates. In the levy per communam the assessment was made through the wardmoots (in London) and the burden fell on the poorer class. In Henry II.'s reign London was taxed by both methods, the barones majores by head, the barones minores through the wardmoot. The pressure of taxation led in the 13th century to a closer definition of the burghal constitutions; the commons sought to get an audit of accounts, and (in London) not only to hear but to treat of municipal affairs. By the end of the century London had definitely established two councils, that of the mayor and aldermen, representing the old borough court, and a common council, representing the voice of the commonalty, as expressed through the city wards. The choice of councillors in the wards rested probably with the aldermen and the ward jury summoned by them to make the presentments. In some cases juries were summoned not to represent different areas but different classes; thus at Lincoln there were in 1272 juries of the rich, the middling and the poor, chosen presumably by authority from groups divided by means of the tax roll. Elsewhere the several groups of traders and artisans made of their gilds allpowerful agencies for organizing joint action among classes of commons united by a trade interest, and the history of the towns becomes the history of the struggle between the gilds which captured control of the council and the gilds which were excluded therefrom. Many municipal revolutions took place, and a large number of constitutional experiments were tried all over the country from the 13th century onward. Schemes which directed a gradual co-optation, two to choose four, these six to choose more, and so in widening circles from a centre of officialdom, found much favour throughout the middle ages. A plan, like the London plan, of two companies, alderman and council, was widely favoured in the 14th century, perhaps in imitation of the Houses of Lords and Commons. The mayor was sometimes styled the "sovereign" and was given many prerogatives. Great respect was paid to the "ancients," those, namely, who had already held municipal office. Not till the 15th century were orderly arrangements for counting "voices" arrived at in a few of the most highly developed towns, and these were used only in the small assemblies of the governing body, not in the large electoral assemblies of the people.

In Londom in the 13th century there was a regular system for the admission of new members to the borough "franchise," which was at first regarded not as conferring any form of suffrage but as a means to secure a privileged position in the borough court and in the trade of the borough. Admission could be obtained by inheritance, by purchase or gift, in some places by marriage, and in London, at least from 1275, by a municipal register of apprenticeship. The new freeman in return for his privileges was bound to share with the other burgesses all the burdens of taxation, control, &c., which fell upon burgesses. Personal service was not always necessary, and in some towns there wore many non-resident burgesses. When in later times admission to this freedom came to be used as means to secure the parliamentary franchise, the freedom of the borough was freely sold and given. The elections in which the commons of the boroughs first took interest were those of the borough magistrates. Where the commons succeeded for a time in asserting their right to take part in borough elections they were rarely able to keep it, not in all cases perhaps because their power was feared, but sometimes because of the riotous proceedings which ensued. These led to government interference, which no party in the borough desired. The possibility of a forfeiture of their enfranchised position made the burgesses on the whole fairly submissive. In the 13th century London repeatedly was "taken into the king's hand," subjected to heavy fines and put under the constable of the Tower. In the 5th century disturbances in the boroughs led to the issue of new constitutions, some of which were the outcome of royal charters, others the result of parliamentary legislation. The development of the law of corporations also at this time compelled the boroughs to seek new charters which should satisfy the now exacting demands of the law. The charters of incorporation were issued at a time when the state was looking more and more to the borough authorities as part of its executive and judicial staff, and thus the government was closely interested in the manner of their selection. The new charters were drafted in such a way as to narrow the popular control. The corporations were placed under a council and in a number of cases popular control was excluded altogether, the whole system being made one of cooptation. The absence of popular protest may be ascribed in part to the fact that the old popular control had been more nominal than real, and the new charter gave as a rule two councils of considerable size. These councils bore a heavy burden of taxation in meeting royal loans and benevolences, paying per capita like the magnates of the 12th century, and for a time there is on the whole little evidence of friction between the governors and the governed. Throughout, popular opinion in the closest of corporations had a means of expression, though none of execution, in the presentments of the leet juries and sessions juries. By means of their "verdicts" they could use threats against the governing body, express their resentment against acts of the council which benefited the governing body rather than the town, and call in the aid of the justices of assize where the members of the governing body were suspected of fraud. Elizabeth repeatedly declared her dislike of incorpora tions "because of the abuses committed by their head rulers," but in her reign they were fairly easily controlled by the privy council, which directed their choice of members of parliament and secured supporters of the government policy to fill vacancies on the borough bench. The practice in Tudor and Stuart charters of specifying by name the members of the governing body and holders of special offices opened the way to a "purging" of the hostile spirits when new charters were required. There were also rather vaguely worded clauses authorizing the dismissal of officers for misconduct, though as a rule the appointments were for life. When under the Stuarts and under the Commonwealth political and religious feeling ran high in the boroughs, use was made of these clauses both by the majority on the council and by the central government to mould the character of the council by a drastic "purging." Another means of control first used under the Commonwealth was afforded by the various acts of parliament, which subjected all holders of municipal office to the test of an oath. Under the Commonwealth there was no improvement in the methods used by the central government to control the boroughs. All opponents of the ruling policy were disfranchised and disqualified for office by act of parliament in 1652. Cases arising out of the act were to be tried by commissioners, and the commissions of the majorgenerals gave them opportunity to control the borough policy. Few Commonwealth charters have been preserved, though several were issued in response to the requests of the corporations. In some cases the charters used words which appeared to point to an opportunity for popular elections in boroughs where a usage of election by the town council had been established. In 1598 the judges gave an opinion that the town councils could by by-law determine laws for the government of the town regardless of the terms of the charter. In the 18th century the judges decided to the contrary. But even where a usage of popular election was established, there were means of controlling the result of a parliamentary election. The close corporations, though their right to choose a member of parliament might be doubtful, had the sole right to admit new burgesses, and in order to determine parliamentary elections they enfranchised nonresidents. Where conflicts arose over the choice of a member, and two selections were made, the matter came before the House of Commons. On various occasions the House decided in favour of the popularly elected candidate against the nominee of the town council, on the general principle that neither the royal charter nor a by-law could curtail this particular franchise. But as each case was separately determined by a body swayed by the dominant political party, no one principle was steadily adhered to in the trial of election petitions. The royal right to create boroughs was freely used by Elizabeth and James I. as a means of securing a submissive parliament. The later Stuarts abandoned this method, and the few new boroughs made by the Georges were not !made for political reasons. The object of the later Stuarts was to control the corporations already in existence, not to make new ones. Charles II. from the time of his restoration decided to exercise a strict control of the close corporations in order to secure not only submissive parliaments, but also a pliant executive among the borough justices, and pliant juries, which were impanelled at the selection of the borough officers. In 1660 it was made a rule that all future charters should reserve expressly to the crown the first nomination of the aldermen, recorder and town-clerk, and a proviso should be entered placing with the common council the return of the member of parliament. The Corporation Act of 1661 gave power to royal commissioners to settle the composition of the town councils, and to remove all who refused the sacraments of the Church of England or were suspected of disaffection, even though they offered to take the necessary oaths. Even so the difficulty of securing submissive juries was again so great in 1682 that a general attack on the borough franchises was begun by the crown. A London jury having returned a verdict hostile to the crown, after various attempts to bend the city to his will, Charles II. issued a quo warranto against the mayor and commonalty in order to charge the citizens with illegal encroachments upon their chartered rights. The want of a sound philosophical principle in the laws which were intended to regulate the actions of organized groups of men made it easy for the crown judges to find flaws in the legality of the actions of the boroughs, and also made it possible for the Londoners to argue that no execution could be taken against the mayor, commonalty and citizens, a "body politic invisible"; that the indictment lay only against every particular member of the governing body; and that the corporation as a corporation was incapable of suffering a forfeiture or of making a surrender. The judges gave a judgment for the king, the charters were forfeited and the government placed with a court of aldermen of the king's own choosing. Until James II. yielded, there was no common council in London. The novelty of the proceedings of Charles II. and James II. lay in using the weapon of the quo warranto systematically to ensure a general revocation of charters. The new charters which were then granted required the king's consent for the more important appointments, and gave him power to remove officers without reason given. Under James II. in 1687 six commissioners were appointed to "regulate" the corporations and remove from them all persons who were opposed to the abolition of the penal laws against Catholics. The new appointments were made under a writ which ran, "We will and require you to elect" (a named person). When James II. sought to withdraw from his disastrous policy, he issued a proclamation (October 17, 1688) restoring to the boroughs their ancient charters. The governing charter thenceforth in many boroughs, though not in all, was the charter which had established a close corporation, and from this time on to 1835 the boroughs made no progress in constitutional growth. The tendency for the close corporation to treat the members of the governing body as the only corporators, and to repudiate the idea that the corporation was answerable to the inhabitants of the borough if the corporate property was squandered, became more and more manifest as the history of the past slipped into oblivion. The corporators came to regard themselves as members of a club, legally warranted in dividing the lands and goods of the same among themselves whensoever such a division should seem profitable. Even where the constitution of the corporation was not close by charter, the franchise tended to become restricted to an ever-dwindling electorate, as the old methods for the extension of the municipal franchise by other means than inheritance died out of use. At Ipswich in 1833 the "freemen" numbered only one fifty-fifth of the population. If the electorate was increased, it was increased by the wholesale admission to the freedom of voters willing to vote as directed by the corporation at parliamentary elections. The growth of corruption in the boroughs continued unchecked until the era of the Reform Bill. Several boroughs had by that time become insolvent, and some had recourse to their member of parliament to eke out their revenues. In Buckingham the mayor received the whole town revenue without rendering account; sometimes, however, heavy charges fell upon the officers. Before the Reform era dissatisfaction with the corporations was mainly shown by the number of local acts of parliament which placed under the authority of special commissioners a variety of administrative details, which if the corporation had not been suspected would certainly have been assigned to its care. The trust offered another convenient means of escape from difficulty, and in some towns out of the trust was developed a system of municipal administration where there was no recognized corporation. Thus at Peterborough the feoffees who had succeeded to the control of certain ancient charities constituted a form of town council with very restricted powers. In the 17th century Sheffield was brought under the act "to redress the misemployment of lands given to charitable uses," and the municipal administration of what had been a borough passed into the hands of the trustees of the Burgery or town trust.

The many special authorities created under act of parliament led to much confusion, conflict and overlapping, and increased the need for a general reform. The reform of the boroughs was treated as part of the question of parliamentary reform. In 183 2 the exclusive privileges of the corporations in parliamentary elections having been abolished and male occupiers enfranchised, the question of the municipal franchise was next dealt with. In 1833 a commission inquired into the administration of the municipal corporations. The result of the inquiry was the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, which gave the municipal franchise to the ratepayers. In all the municipal corporations dealt with by the act, the town council was to consist of a mayor, aldermen and councillors, and the councils were given like powers, being divided into those with and those without a commission of the peace. The minutes were to be open to the inspection of any burgess, and an audit of accounts was required. The exclusive rights of retail trading, which in some towns were restricted to freemen of the borough, were abolished. The system of police, which in some places was still medieval in character, was placed under the control of the council. The various privileged areas within the bounds of a borough were with few exceptions made part of the borough. The powers of the council to alienate corporate property were closely restricted. The operations of the act were extended by later legislation, and the divers amendments and enactments which followed were consolidated in the Municipal Corporations Act 1882. (M. BAT.) Irish Boroughs. - In Ireland the earliest traces of burghal life are connected with the maritime settlements on the southern and eastern coast. The invasion of Henry II. colonized these Ostman ports with Anglo-Norman communities, who brought with them, or afterwards obtained, municipal charters of a favourable kind. The English settlement obviously depended on the advantages which the burgesses possessed over the native population outside. Quite different from these were the new close boroughs which during the plantation of Ulster James I. introduced from England. The conquest was by this time completed, and by a rigorous enforcement of the Supremacy and Uniformity Acts the existing liberties of the older boroughs were almost entirely withdrawn. By the new rules published (in terms of the Act of Settlement and Explanation) in 1672 resident traders were permitted to become freemen, but neither this regulation nor the ordinary admissions through birth, marriage and apprenticeship succeeded in giving to Ireland free and vigorous municipalities. The corrupt admission of nonresident freemen, in order to outvote the ancient freeholders in parliamentary elections, and the systematic exclusion of Roman Catholics, soon divorced the "commonalty" from true local interests, and made the corporations, which elected themselves or selected the constituency, dangerously unpopular.

Scottish Boroughs

In Scotland burghs or burrows are divided into royal burghs, burghs of regality and burghs of barony. The first were erected by royal charter, and every burgess held direct of the crown. It was, therefore, impossible to subfeu the burgh lands, - a distinction still traceable in modern conveyancing. Where perhaps no charter ever existed, the law on proof of immemorial possession of the privileges of a royal burgh has presumed that a charter of erection once existed. The charter gave power to elect provost, bailies and council, a power long exercised under the act of 1469, which directed the new council to be chosen annually by the retiring council, and the magistrates by both councils. The jurisdiction of these magistrates, which was specially reserved in the act of 1747 abolishing heritable jurisdictions, was originally cumulative with, and as large as, that of the sheriff. It is now confined to police offences, summary ejections, orders for interim aliment (for prisoners), payment of burgh dues and delivery of title deeds. Three head courts were held in the year, at which all burgesses were obliged to attend, and at which public business was done and private transactions were ratified. There were three classes of burgesses - burgesses in sua ante, members of one or other of the corporations; burgesses who were gild brothers; and simple burgesses. The Leges Burgorum apparently contemplate that all respectable inhabitants should have the franchise, but a ceremony of admission was required, at which the applicant swore fealty and promised to watch and ward for the community, and to pay his "maill" to the king. These borough maills, or rents, and the great and small customs of burghs, formed a large part of the royal revenue, and, although frequently leased or feued out for a fixed duty, were on the accession of James I. annexed to the crown as an alimentary fund. Burgh customs still stand in the peculiar position of being neither adjudgeable nor arrestable; they are therefore bad security. The early charters contain the usual privileges of holding a market, of exemption from toll or tribute, and that distraint will be allowed only for the burgess's own debts. There was also the usual strife between the gildry and the craftsmen, who were generally prohibited from trading, and of whom dyers, fleshers and shoemakers were forbidden to enter the gildry. Deacons, wardens and visitors were appointed by the crafts, and the rate of wages was fixed by the magistrates. The crafts in Scotland were frequently incorporated, not by royal charter, but, as in the case of the cordiners of Edinburgh, by seals of cause from the corporation. The trade history of the free burghs is very important. Thus in 1466 the privilege of importing and exporting merchandise was confined to freemen, burgesses and their factors. Ships were directed to trade to the king's free burghs, there to pay the customs, and to receive their cocquets or custom-house seals; and in 1503 persons dwelling outside burghs were forbidden to "use any merchandise," or to sell wine or staple goods. An act of 1633, erroneously called a Ratification of the privileges of burghs, extended these privileges of buying and selling to retail as well as wholesale trade, but restricted their enjoyment to royal burghs. Accordingly, in 1672, a general declaratory act was passed confirming to the freemen in royal burghs the wholesale trade in wine, wax, silk, dyeing materials, &c., permitting generally to all persons the export of native raw material, specially permitting the burgesses of barony and regality to export their own manufactures, and such goods as they may buy in "markets," and to import against these consignments certain materials for tillage, building, or for use in their own manufactures, with a general permission to retail all commodities. This extraordinary system was again changed in 1690 by an act which declared that freemen of royal burghs should have the sole right of importing everything by sea or land except bestial, and also of exporting by sea everything which was not native raw material, which might be freely exported by land. The gentry were always allowed to import for their personal consumption and to export an equal quantity of commodities. The act mentions that the royal burghs as an estate of the kingdom contributed one-sixth part of all public impositions, and were obliged to build and maintain prisonhouses. Some of these trade privileges were not abolished till 1846.

In the north of Scotland there was an association of free burghs called the Hanse or Ansus; and the lord chamberlain, by his Iter, or circuit of visitation, maintained a common standard of right and duties in all burghs, and examined the state of the "common good," the accounts of which in 1535 were appointed to be laid before the auditors in exchequer. The chamberlain latterly presided in the Curia Quatuor Burgorum (Edinburgh, Berwick, Stirling, Roxburgh), which not only made regulations in trade, but decided questions of private right (e.g. succession), according to the varying customs of burghs. This court frequently met at Haddington; in 1454 it was fixed at Edinburgh. The more modern convention of royal burghs (which appeared as a judicial persona in the Court of Session so late as 1839) probably dates from the act of James III. (1487, c. 111), which appointed the commissioners of burghs, both north and south, to meet yearly at Inverkeithing "to treat of the welfare of merchandise, the good rule and statutes for the common profit of burghs, and to provide for remeid upon the skaith and injuries sustained within the burghs." Among the more important functions of this body (on whose decrees at one time summary diligence proceeded) were the prohibition of undue exactions within burghs, the revisal of the "set" or mode of municipal election, and the pro rata division among the burghs of the parliamentary subsidy required from the third estate. The reform of the municipalities, and the complete representation of the mercantile interests in the united parliament, deprived this body of any importance.

273 Burghs of regality and of barony held in vassalage of some great lordship, lay or ecclesiastical, but were always in theory or in practice created by crown grant. They received jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters, generally cumulative with that of the baron or the lord of regality, who in some cases obtained the right of nominating magistrates. Powers to hold markets and to levy customs were likewise given to these burghs.

The Scottish burghs emerged slowly into political importance. In 1295 the procurators of six burghs ratified the agreement for the marriage of Edward Baliol; and in 1326 they were recognized as a third estate, granting a tenth penny on all rents for the king's life, if he should apply it for the public good. The commissioners of burghs received from the exchequer their costages or expenses of attending parliament. The burghs were represented in the judicial committee, and in the committee on articles appointed during the reign of James V. After the Reformation, in spite of the annexation of kirk lands to the crown, and the increased burdens laid on temporal lands, the proportion of general taxation borne by the burghs (viz. is. 6d.) was expressly preserved by act 1587, c. 112. The number of commissioners, of course, fluctuated from time to time. Cromwell assigned ten members to the Scottish burghs in the second parliament of Three Nations (1654). The general practice until 1619 had been, apparently, that each burgh should send two members. In that year (by an arrangement with the convention of burghs) certain groups of burghs returned one member, Edinburgh returning two. Under art. 22 of the treaty of Union the number of members for royal burghs was fixed at fifteen, who were elected in Edinburgh by the magistrates and town council, and in the groups of burghs by delegates chosen ad hoc. (W. C. S.) See C. Gross, Bibliography of British Municipal History (1897), which contains all needful references up to that date; F. W. Maitland, Township and Borough (1898); A. Ballard, Domesday Boroughs (1904); M. Bateson, Borough Customs (1904-1906); S. and B. Webb, English Local Government (3 vols., 1906-1908). For the character of the modern Scottish burgh see Mabel Atkinson, Local Government in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1904), where other works are mentioned.


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From Familypedia

A borough is an administrative division used in various countries. In principle, the term borough designates a self-governing township although, in practice, official use of the term varies widely.

In the Middle Ages, boroughs were settlements that were granted some self-government. Boroughs were particularly common in England, Germany, and Scotland. In medieval England, boroughs were also entitled to elect members of parliament. The Borough in Southwark, London is thought to have been the original 'borough' from which all others derive.

Usually, a borough is a single town with its own local government. However, in some cities it is a subdivision of the city (e.g. London, New York City, and Montreal). In such cases, the borough will normally have either limited powers delegated to it by the city's local government, or no powers at all. At certain times, London has had no overall city government and London boroughs were the main unit of local government for Londoners. In other places, such as Alaska, a borough does not designate a single township, but a whole region. In Australia, 'borough' can designate a town and its surrounding area, e.g. Borough of Queenscliffe.

Boroughs are to be found in the United Kingdom, more specifically in England, Northern Ireland and Ireland. Boroughs also exist in the Canadian provinces of Quebec and Ontario, in some states of the United States, in Israel, and formerly in New Zealand.

Several places in Britain owe part of their name to borough, but with a variety of spellings; e.g.:

A few places, e.g. Brough and Bury, are named exclusively for their being a borough.

These forms of the word borough were carried to North America. The Scottish forms are found in the American South and West. The suffix -bury is found in New England. The ending -boro is also common in the American South, especially in North Carolina. Borough is a rare surname, most common in the UK and USA; but derivatives of the word, such as Brough, are a little more common. The related German word Burg (castle) is common in German place names and is also found in North American place names.

Nominally self-governing boroughs existed in medieval France and Spain, called bourg in French and burgo in Spanish. Both these terms are found in some place names.

Contents

Pronunciation

In many parts of England, "borough" is pronounced as IPA: /bʌrə/ (listen file— play in browser) as an independent word, and as /brə/ when a suffix of a place-name. As a suffix, it is sometimes spelled "-brough".

In the United States, "borough" is pronounced as /ˈbʌroʊ/. When appearing as the suffix "-burg(h)" in place-names, it's pronounced /bɝg/.

Present-day boroughs

Canada

In Quebec, the term borough refers to an administrative division of a municipality. It was previously used in Metropolitan Toronto, Ontario, to denote suburban municipalities.

Only eight municipalities in Quebec are divided into boroughs. See List of boroughs in Quebec.

United Kingdom

Main article: Borough status in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the name "borough" is applied to various types of local government districts.

In England, there are three types of boroughs: London Boroughs, metropolitan boroughs, and non-metropolitan boroughs. The term London Boroughs is used to describe a type of district with borough status that have been in existence in Greater London. Reorganized in 1965, Greater London currently has thirty-two of these type of borough, including the City of Westminster. Districts with borough status within the six metropolitan counties of England are known as metropolitan boroughs. Districts granted a charter outside Greater London and the six metropolitan counties are non-metropolitan districts are simply known as boroughs.

Elsewhere in England a number of district and unitary authority councils are called "borough". Historically, this was a status that denoted towns with a certain type of local government (a municipal corporation). Since 1974, it has been a purely ceremonial style granted by royal charter, which entitles the council chairman to bear the title of mayor. Districts may apply to the British Crown for the grant of borough status upon advice of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom.

In Northern Ireland, local government was reorganised in 1973. Under the legislation that created the twenty-six districts of Northern Ireland, a district council whose area included an existing municipal borough could resolve to adopt the charter of the old municipality and thus continue to enjoy borough status. Districts that do not contain a former borough can apply for a charter in a similar manner to English districts.

Several unitary authorities in Wales are called county boroughs. Apart from the title of the authority and its civic head, there is no difference in powers between these and the other Welsh unitary county councils.

A number of boroughs have additionally been granted the higher status of a city.

For Scottish usage of a cognate term, see burgh.

United States

Main article: Borough (United States)

The word "borough" has many meanings relating to local government in the United States. Since the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution makes local government for the most part a matter for the states rather than the federal government, the states are free to have political subdivisions called "boroughs", or not to do so, and to define the word in many different ways.

The following states use, or have used, the word with the following meanings:

Australia

In Australia, the term borough is an occasionally used term for a local government area. There is only one borough in Australia; The Borough of Queenscliffe in Victoria.

Israel

Under Israeli law, inherited from British Mandate municipal law, the possibility of creating a municipal borough exists. However, no borough was actually created under law until 2005-2006, when Neve Monosson and Maccabim-Re'ut, both communal settlements (Heb: yishuv kehilati) founded in 1953 and 1984, respectively, were declared to be autonomous municipal boroughs (Heb: vaad rova ironi), within their mergers with the towns of Yehud and Modi'in. Similar structures have been created under different types of legal status over the years in Israel, notably Kiryat Haim in Haifa, Jaffa in Tel Aviv-Yafo and Ramot and Gilo in Jerusalem. However, Neve Monosson is the first example of a full municipal borough actually declared under law by the Minister of the Interior, under a model subsequently adopted in Maccabim-Re'ut as well.

It is the declared intention of the Interior Ministry to use the borough mechanism in order to facilitate municipal mergers in Israel, after a 2003 wide-reaching merger plan, which generally ignored the sensitivities of the communal settlements, largely failed.

Republic of Ireland

Under the Local Government Act 2001 section 10 (3) and schedule 6 part 1 chapter 1, the following continue to be known as Boroughs (though this is largely a matter of nomenclature) Clonmel, Drogheda, Kilkenny, Sligo, Wexford. In Section 10 (7) continues the "use of the description city in relation to Kilkenny, to the extent that that description was used before (January 1, 2002) and is not otherwise inconsistent with this Act."

Historical boroughs

In its original Anglo-Saxon connection with its modern meaning, a borough was a number of households or an extended household, surrounded by a defensive wall. This might have been a stockade or a walled town. In place-names therefore, it can refer to the walled enclosure of a lord's hall or to a walled town. When the Five Burghs of the Danelaw were given that name, this was people's view of them. By the late medieval period, a charter from the king and a civic organization became more significant in defining a borough than the wall was.

England and Wales

Municipal boroughs

In England and Wales, boroughs developed as a method of providing a corporate identity for a town, particularly in relation to rights obtained from local barons or from the English Crown. The formal status of borough came to be conferred by Royal Charter.

These boroughs were generally governed by a self-selecting corporation (i.e., when a member died or resigned his replacement would be by co-option). Sometimes boroughs were governed by bailiffs or headboroughs.

Debates on the Reform Bill (eventually the Reform Act 1832) had highlighted the variations in systems of governance of towns, and a Royal Commission was set up to investigate the issue. This resulted in a regularisation of municipal government (Municipal Corporations Act 1835), with all municipal corporations to be elected according to a standard franchise based on property ownership. At the same time, a procedure was established whereby a town could petition Parliament to be given borough status. The 178 reformed boroughs, and those that followed them, became known as municipal boroughs. A number of unreformed boroughs remained after 1835, these being finally abolished in 1886.

The reform of county government in 1888 established the county borough, a city or town that had a corporation as any other borough, but with additional powers equivalent to those of a county council.

As part of a large-scale reform of local government in England and Wales in 1974, both county boroughs and municipal boroughs were abolished. However, the civic traditions of many boroughs were continued by the grant of a charter to their successor district councils. In smaller boroughs, a town council was formed for the area of the abolished borough, while charter trustees were formed in other former boroughs. In each case, the new body was allowed to use the regalia of the old corporation, and appoint ceremonial office holders such as sword and mace bearers as provided in their original charters. The council or trustees may apply for an Order in Council or Royal Licence to use the former borough coat of arms.

Parliamentary boroughs

From 1265, two burgesses from each borough were summoned to the Parliament of England, alongside two knights from each county. Representation in the House of Commons was decided by the House itself, which resulted in many cases of a borough being represented in Parliament despite it having no corporation or mayor (or vice versa).

By the 19th century, the population changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution had created a situation in which a major conurbation might have no representation in Parliament, whilst towns which had declined in size to mere villages still retained their seat. Additionally, the electoral franchise varied from borough to borough, some of which had become rotten boroughs.

The Reform Act 1832 sought to rationalise this system to some extent, as well as eliminating corrupt practices. Many boroughs, some of which existed in little more than name, were disenfranchised, whilst some of the industrial towns which had developed in the North came to be represented in Parliament for the first time.

Subsequent Reform Acts gave more parliamentary seats to the expanding boroughs, whilst disenfranchising the smaller ones. From 1884, voters in county and borough seats had the same franchise, so the distinction between the two was essentially eliminated; however, on the assumption that the smaller, urban boroughs would require less travelling for electoral candidates than in the larger, more rural county seats, the distinction between the two sorts of constituency was retained for the purposes of calculating maximum permitted electoral expenses.

Metropolitan boroughs

In 1899, as part of a reform of local government in the County of London, the various parishes in the county were reorganised as a new entity, the metropolitan borough. These became reorganised as London Boroughs in a subsequent reform, in 1965.

As part of the 1974 reform of local government in England, six major urban areas were established as "metropolitan counties", divided into "metropolitan districts". A number of those districts over time were granted the dignity of "borough", and thus became known as a metropolitan borough.

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

For the similar situation in Ireland cf Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840.

New Zealand

New Zealand formerly used the term borough to designate self-governing towns of more than 1,000 people. A borough of more than 20,000 people could become a city by proclamation. Boroughs and cities were collectively known as municipalities, and were enclaves separate from their surrounding counties.

In the 1980s, some boroughs and cities began to be merged with their surrounding counties to form districts with a mixed urban and rural population. In 1989, a nationwide reform of local government completed the process. Counties and boroughs were abolished and all boundaries were redrawn. Under the new system, most territorial authorities cover both urban and rural land. The more populated councils are classified as cities, and the more rural councils are classified as districts. Only Kawerau District, an enclave within Whakatane District, continues to follow the tradition of a small town council that does not include surrounding rural area.

Borough as a place name

There is a neighbourhood in the London Borough of Southwark simply called The Borough, south of London Bridge across the Thames from the City. There are several villages in England, such as those in Cumbria and the East Riding of Yorkshire, called Brough, pronounced /bɹʌf/.

El Burgo in Spain is across the river Ucero from the smaller City of Osma; also in Spain lies the city of Burgos. See also below under the places mentioned in the next section on Etymology.

Etymology

The word borough has cognates in other Germanic languages. For example, burgh in Scots, Burg in German and borg in both Danish and Swedish; the equivalent word is also to be found in Frisian, Dutch, Norwegian, and Icelandic. Alternate forms and spellings in English include bury and burrow.

The English borough and the Scots burgh are derived from the Anglian word burh (with other dialectal variants including burg, beorh, beorg, and byrig). The word originally indicated a fortified town, and was related to the verb beorgan (cf. Dutch and German bergen), meaning "to keep, to save, to make secure".

A number of other European languages have cognate words which were borrowed from the Germanic languages during the Middle Ages, including brog in Irish, bwr or bwrc, meaning "wall, rampart" in Welsh, bourg in French, burg in Catalan, borgo in Italian, and burgo in Spanish (hence the place-name Burgos).

Also related are the words bourgeois and belfry (both from the French), and burglar; more distantly, it is related to words meaning "hill" or "mountain" in a number of languages (cf. the second element of iceberg).

References

See also


This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at Borough. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
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Simple English

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

A borough is an administrative division in many countries. In principle the term borough means a self-governing township.

In medieval times, boroughs were settlements with some self-government. Boroughs were particularly common in England, Germany and Scotland. In medieval England, boroughs had also the right to elect members of parliament. (The Borough in Southwark, London is thought to have been the original 'borough' of which all others come from.)

Usually a borough is a single town with its own local government. But in some cities it is a sub-division of the city (e.g. London, New York, Toronto, Montreal). In such cases the borough will normally have either limited powers delegated to it by the city's local government or no powers at all. At certain times London has had no overall city government and London boroughs were the main unit of local government for Londoners. In other places, such as Alaska, a borough does not mean a single township, but a whole region. In Australia borough can mean a town and its surrounding area, e.g. Borough of Queenscliffe.

Boroughs exist in United Kingdom, more specifically in England and Northern Ireland, in the Canadian province of Quebec, in some states of the United States, in Israel, and formerly they also existed in New Zealand.

At the end of a word, -borough (or -brough) is found in the name of many towns and cities in England; in southern England it is usually spelt -bury. The suffix -bury is also used in the New England region of the United States, while -burg (or -burgh) is more common in Scotland and the American South and West.


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