RETFORD (officially East Retford), a market town and municipal borough in the Bassetlaw parliamentary division of Nottinghamshire, England, 1382 m. N. by W. from London by the Great Northern railway, the station being a junction with the Great Central railway. Pop. (1901) 12,340. The church of St Swithin dates from the 13th century, but was rebuilt in 1658 by a brief granted by Richard Cromwell. Modern buildings are the town hall, the corn exchange, the court house, and the covered markets. There is a large trade in corn and cheese, and the town possesses iron foundries, paper and corn mills, and india-rubber works. The town is governed by a mayor, 6 aldermen, and 18 councillors. Area, 4656 acres.
The situation of Retford (Redforde, Retford), near one of the Roman roads and on the river Idle, where there was possibly a ford, may account for its origin. In 1086 the archbishop of York 1 Per Jessel, M.R. Talbot v. Frere (1879), L.R. 9. C.D. 568, 574.
2 In re Williams; Holder v. Williams (1904), i Ch. 52.
owned a mill at Retford, and Roger de Bush; had rights here. Retford was a borough by prescription, and was in the hands of the crown when, in 1276, Edward I. granted it to the burgesses in fee-farm with the right of electing bailiffs. This charter was confirmed by Edward III., Henry VI. and Elizabeth. In 1607 James I. granted a charter of incorporation to the bailiffs and burgesses, under which the town was governed until 1835, when it was reincorporated under a mayor. East Retford returned two members to parliament in 1315, and again from 1572 till 1885, when it was disfranchised. Henry III. granted the burgesses an eight-days' fair at Holy Trinity, altered by Edward II. to St Gregory. Edward III. granted a six-days' fair at St Margaret, and Henry VI. a four-days' fair at St Matthew. Fairs are now held in March, June, July and December. The market held on Saturdays by prescription was sanctioned by Edward III. and still exists.
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