FOWEY (usually pronounced Foy), a seaport and markettown in the Bodmin parliamentary division of Cornwall, England, on the Great Western railway, 25 m. by sea W. of Plymouth. Pop. (1901) 2258. It lies on the west shore of the picturesque estuary of the river Fowey, close to the water's edge, and sheltered by a screen of hills. Its church of St Nicholas is said to have been built in the 14th century, on the site of a still older edifice dedicated to St Finbar of Cork. It has a fine tower and late Norman doorway. Within are a priest's chamber over the porch, a handsome oak ceiling, a 15th-century pulpit, and some curious monuments and brasses. Place House, adjacent to the church, is a highly ornate Tudor building. A few ancient houses remain in the town. Deep-sea fishing is carried on; but the staple trade consists in the export of china clay and minerals, coal being imported. Fowey harbour, which is easy of access in clear weather, will admit large vessels at any state of the tide. St Catherine's Fort, dating from the days of Henry VIII. and now ruined, stands at the harbour's mouth, and once formed the main defence of the town. Opposite the town, and connected with it by Bodeneck Ferry, is the village of Polruan. Its main features are St Saviour's Chapel, with an ancient roodstone, and the remains of Hall House, which was garrisoned during the civil wars of the 17th century.
Fowey (Fawy, Vawy, Fowyk) held a leading position amongst Cornish ports from the reign of Edward I. to the days of the Tudors. The numerous references to the privateering exploits of its ships in the Patent and Close Rolls and the extraordinary number of them at the siege of Calais in 1346 alike testify to its importance. During this period the king's mandates were addressed to the bailiffs or to the mayor and bailiffs, and no charter of incorporation appears to have been granted until the reign of James II. Under the second charter of 1690 the common council consisted of a mayor and eight aldermen and these with a recorder elected the free burgesses. A member for Fowey and Looe was summoned to a council at Westminster in 1340, but from that date until 1571, when it was entrusted with the privilege of returning two members, it had no parliamentary representation. By the Reform Act of 1832 it lost both its members. It had ceased to exercise its municipal functions a few years previously. In 1316 the prior of Tywardreath, as lord of the manor, obtained the right to hold a Monday market and two fairs on the feasts of St Finbar and St Lucy, but by the charter of 1690 provision was made for a Saturday market and three fairs, on the 1st of May, 10th of September and Shrove Tuesday, and only these three continue to be held.
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