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LISKEARD, a market town and municipal borough in the Bodmin parliamentary division of Cornwall, England, 15 m. W.N.W. of Plymouth, on the Great Western and the Liskeard and Looe railways. Pop. (1901) 4010. It lies high, above two small valleys opening to that of the Looe river, in a hilly, picturesque district. The Perpendicular church of St Martin, with a tower of earlier date, having a Norman arch, is one of the largest ecclesiastical buildings in the county. The site of a castle built by Richard, brother of Henry III. and earl of Cornwall, is occupied by public gardens. At the grammar school, which formerly occupied a building in those gardens, Dr John Wolcot, otherwise known as Peter Pindar, was educated. Liskeard was formerly an important mining centre. Its manufactures include leather and woollen goods, and there are iron foundries. The borough is under a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 2 704 acres.
Liskeard (Liscarret) was at the time of the Domesday Survey an important manor with a mill rendering 12d. yearly and a market rendering 4s. By the Conqueror it had been given to the count of Mortain by whom it was held in demesne. Ever since that time it has passed with the earldom or duchy of Cornwall. The fertility of its soil and the river Looe probably led to early settlement at Liskeard. Richard, king of the Romans, recognized its natural advantages and built the manor house or castle and resided there occasionally. In 1240 he constituted Liskeard a free borough and its burgesses freemen with all the liberties enjoyed by the burgesses of Launceston and Helston. 1266 he granted fairs at the Feasts of the Assumption and St Matthew. His son Edmund earl of Cornwall in 1275 granted to the burgesses for a yearly rent of r8 (sold by William to Lord Somers) the borough in fee farm with its mills, tolls, fines and pleas, pleas of the crown excepted. Liskeard was made a coinage town for tin in 1304. Edward the Black Prince secured to the burgesses in 1355 immunity from pleas outside their franchise for trespass done within the borough. Queen Elizabeth granted a charter of incorporation in 1580 under which there were to be a mayor, recorder and eight councillors. This charter was surrendered to Charles in 1680 and a new one granted by his brother under which the corporation became a self-elected body. From 1295 to 1832 Liskeard sent two members to the House of Commons. The parliamentary franchise, at first exercised by the burgesses, was vested by James' charter in the corporation and freemen. By determining to admit no new freemen the voters became reduced to between 30 and 60. Sir Edward Coke was returned for this borough in 1620, and Edward Gibbon the historian in 1774. In 1832 Liskeard was deprived of one of its members and in 1885 it became merged in the county.
Besides the fairs already mentioned a third was added by Elizabeth's charter to be held on Ascension Day. These are still among the most considerable cattle fairs in the county. The same charter ratified a market on Mondays and provided for another on Saturdays. The latter is now held weekly, the former twice a month. The flour mill at Lamellion mentioned in the charter of 1275, and probably identical with the mill of the Domesday Survey, is still driven by water.
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