Bury, a market-town and municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Lancashire, England, on the river Irwell, 195 m. N.W. by W. from London, and 10&FRAC12; N. by W. from Manchester, on the Lancashire & Yorkshire railway and the Manchester & Bolton canal. Pop. (1891) 57,212; (1901) 58,029. The church of St Mary is of early foundation, but was rebuilt in 1876. Besides numerous other places of worship, there are a handsome town hall, athenaeum and museum, art gallery and public library, various assembly rooms, and several recreation grounds. Kay's free grammar school was founded in 1726; there are also municipal technical schools. The cotton manufacture is the principal industry; there are also calico printing, dyeing and bleaching works, machinery and iron works, woollen manufactures, and coal mines and quarries in the vicinity. Sir Robert Peel was born at Chamber Hall in the neighbourhood, and his father did much for the prosperity of the town by the establishment of extensive print-works. A monument to the statesman stands in the market-place. The parliamentary borough returns one member (since 1832). The county borough was created in 1888. The corporation consists of a mayor, 10 aldermen and 30 councillors.
Area, 5836 acres.
Bury, of which the name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon burhg, birig or byrig (town, castle or fortified place), was the site of a Saxon station, and an old English castle stood in Castle Croft close to the town. It was a member of the Honour of Clitheroe and a fee of the royal manor of Tottington, which soon after the Conquest was held by the Lacys. The local family of Bury held lands here during the 13th century, and at least for a short time the manor itself, but before 1347 it passed by marriage to the Pilkingtons of Pilkington, with whom it remained till 1485, when on the attainder of Sir Thomas Pilkington it was granted to the first earl of Derby, whose descendants have since held it. Under a grant made by Edward IV. to Sir Thomas Pilkington, fairs are still held on March 5, May 3, and September 18, and a market was formerly held under the same grant on Thursday, which has, however, been long replaced by a customary market on Saturday. The woollen trade was established here through the agency of Flemish immigrants in Edward III.'s reign, and in Elizabeth's time this industry was of such importance that an aulneger was appointed to measure and stamp the woollen cloth.
But although the woollen manufacture is still carried on, the cotton trade has been gradually superseding it since the early part of the 18th century. The family of the Kays, the inventors, belonged to this place, and Robert Peel's print-works were established here in 1770. The cognate trades of bleaching, dyeing and machine-making have been long carried on. A court-leet and view of frank pledge used to be held half-yearly at Easter and Michaelmas, and a court-baron in May. Until 1846 three constables were chosen annually at the court-leet to govern the place, but in that year the inhabitants obtained authority from parliament to appoint twenty-seven commissioners to undertake the local government. A charter of incorporation was granted in 1876. The well-known Bury Cooperative Society was established in 1856. There was a church here at the time of the Domesday Survey, and the earliest mention of a rector is found in the year 1331-1332. One-half of the town is glebe belonging to the rectory.