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LYMINGTON, a municipal borough and seaport in the New Forest parliamentary division of Hampshire, England, 98 m. S.W. from London by the London & South Western railway. Pop. (1901) 4165. It lies on the estuary of the Lymington, which opens into the Solent. The church of St Thomas A. Becket is an irregular structure, dating from the reign of Henry VI., but frequently restored. There is some coasting trade, and yacht-building is carried on. Regular passenger steamers serve Yarmouth in the Isle of Wight. In summer the town is fre quented for sea-bathing. It is governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen and 12 councillors. Area, 1515 acres.
There was a Roman camp near Lymington (Lentune, Lementon), and Roman relics have been found, but there is no evidence that a town existed here until after the Conquest. Lymington dates its importance from the grant of the town to Richard de Redvers, earl of Devon, in the reign of Henry I. No charter has been found, but a judgment given under a writ of quo warranto in 1578 confirms to the burgesses freedom from toll, passage and pontage, the tolls and stallage of the quay and the right to hold two fairs - privileges which they claimed under charters of Baldwin de Redvers and Isabel de Fortibus, countess of Albemarle, in the 13th century, and Edward Courtenay, earl of Devon, in 1405. The town was governed by the mayor and burgesses until the corporation was reformed in 1835. A writ for the election of a member to parliament was issued in the reign of Edward III., but no return was made. From 1585 two members were regularly returned; the number was reduced to one in 1867, and in 1885 the representation was merged in that of the county. Fairs on the 13th and 14th of May and the 2nd and 3rd of October, dating from the 13th century, are still held. The Saturday market probably dates from the same century. Lymington was made a port in the reign of Henry I., and its large shipping trade led to frequent disputes with Southampton as to the levying of duties. The case was tried in 1329 and decided against Lymington, but in 1750 the judgment was reversed, and since then the petty customs have been regularly paid. From an early date and for many centuries salt was the staple manufacture of Lymington. The rise of the mineral saltworks of Cheshire led to its decline in the 18th century, and later the renewed importance of Southampton completed its decay.
See E. King, Borough and Parish of Lymington (London, 1879).
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