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Burwell, Cambridgeshire, U.K.


        From my 1839 Pigot's Directory of Cambridgeshire:

        BURWELL is a large and populous village and parish in the hundred of Staploe, 13 miles S.E. from Cambridge, 5 s. from 
        Soham, and 3 N.W. of Newmarket. A most attractive ornament to this village is its beautiful church, built in the Gothic 
        style, and scarcely excelled by any village church in Great Britain: it is dedicated to St. Mary; the living is a vicarage, 
        in the patronage of the Earl of Guildford; the present incumbent is the Rev. J. J. Baines. 
        The malting business is carried on here very extensively, and the timber trade is likewise of considerable importance.
 
        A dreadful circumstance, which ocurred on the 8th of September, 1727, renders this village lamentably memorable:- 
        A great number of persons had assembled in a barn to see a puppet show, and during the exhibition the building accidentally 
        took fire. The rush towards the only passage of egress was tremendous and desperate; unfortunately the door had been affixed 
        so as to open inwardly, and by the pressure from within, this means of escape became impracticable; at length the door 
        was demolished by the crowd that had assembled outside, and the surviving persons were dragged over the dead or expiring 
        victims. Seventy-seven individuals perished by this appalling catastrophe: the bodies were all interred in one capacious 
        grave on the following day, they being so disfigured preclude recognition by their relatives. 
   
        Population of the parish, in 1831, 1,668 

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Burwell Puppet Show Fire 1727 Two PALMER children lost their lives in the Puppet Show Fire - John, aged 16 years and 6 months, & his sister Anne, aged 10 years and 3 months. They were the children of Henry & Sarah PALMER. Henry is the brother [I think] of Robert PALMER, father of the 1st Stephen PALMER in my records; but I hope to verify this once I can consult the Burwell Parish Register transcriptions. John & Anne were buried together by the PALMER vault near the belfry door of St Mary's Church.
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For listings of residents of Burwell, Swaffham Prior & Swaffham Bulbeck in 1839 & 1883, please go to Burwell - List of Residents But one I have to list here: Under "CARRIERS" in 1839 we find: To CAMBRIDGE, Stephen PALMER, from Burwell every Wednesday & Saturday. This is my Gt Gt Gt Grandfather! the Peninsular War veteran. He would have been living on North Street, as that is where I found him and his family on the 1841 & 1861 U.K. Census [courtesey of the CFHS census transcriptions.]
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Burwell in 1883 - from Kelly's Directory of Cambridgeshire - to follow.
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Parish Registers St Mary's Burwell: Baptisms 1562-78, 1599-1636, 1645-1945, Marriages 1562-78, 1599-1640, 1655-1965, Burials 1560-76, 1599-1634, 1655-1932 Banns 1754-1811, 1867-1937 are all lodged with the County Record Office at Shire Hall, Cambridge. The Bishop's Transcripts for 1567-1641 and 1663-1836 are lodged at the the Suffolk County Record Office in Bury St Edmund's. But the good news is that the C.F.H.S. have transcribed the Burwell Parish records, and they are now available on CD.
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PALMERs have been resident in Burwell since at least 1600; and if not earlier. There is a very large PALMER prescence in nearby Soham, although it does seem that a lot of Palmers spread out from Soham after some of the biggest land drainage events in the 17th Cent....... "I suspect they might have been linked to the Knights Templar who were in the Soham region early on" noted a fellow researcher.
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Modern-day Burwell now has it's own website - do pay a visit. Early PALMERs The Peninsular War - 1808-14 Stephen and Maria Return to PALMER Home Page Site Home Page & Index Contact Details if you think you have any information that will help me with my research and these webpages
And don't forget to sign my Guest Book before you leave!
This page created 14 August 2001 & amended/updated 22:31 02/11/2013