Shrewsbury Street Names Articles
Burton Street in Castlefields is named after Robert Burton (1796 – 1860). He was the head of the Burton family of Longner Hall, near Attingham Park (not to be confused with Longnor Hall, which is in the village of Longnor, just off the Shrewsbury to Church Stretton road). Longner also has Longner Street in Frankwell named after it.
The first record of the Burtons at Longner is in 1346, but they were probably there prior to that time. It is quite a feat for one family to have been in continuous occupation of one estate for almost 700 years, though the house itself was rebuilt in 1803. Perhaps the most famous of the Burtons was one Edward, who, as a zealous Protestant in the time of Catholic Queen Mary, was often on the run. One day in 1558 he could hear the sound of church bells in Shrewsbury, and, knowing that Queen Mary was dying, he sent his son to Shrewsbury to see if her sister Elizabeth, a Protestant, had acceded to the throne. He told his son that when the young man could see Longer Hall from the road he was to throw his hat into the air if Elizabeth had indeed acceded. His son did just that, but old Edward was so overcome with emotion that he died on the spot. It is said that the clergy of St Chad’s Church in Shrewsbury declined him burial, but as his will stated that ‘no mass-monger should be present at the funeral’, the clergy (who were all Catholic) would have little option but to decline to bury him. So he was buried in the garden at Longner, and his tomb is still there.
Longner Hall, designed by John Nash
Robert Burton inherited Longner from his uncle in 1841. He was well-liked and very public spirited, described as a ‘good, kind and worthy gentleman’ at his funeral. He was the head of the banking firm of Burton, Lloyd, Salt, How and Co (also known as the Salop Bank). This had been founded in 1812, with his father as one of the original partners. In 1885 it merged with a similar bank, the Shrewsbury Old Bank, to form the Salop Old Bank, whose headquarters were a fine building at 1 The Square in Shrewsbury (next to Ireland’s Mansion on High Street). The Salop Old Bank was eventually taken over by Lloyd’s Bank in 1918.
Salop Old Bank 1888 ©Shropshire Archives PH/S/13/S/32/70/1
As well as banking, Robert Burton was also active in local politics, being of a moderate Tory (Conservative) persuasion. He was chosen as an alderman to the old town council in 1834, and was elected as Mayor in the autumn of the following year. At this time the Municipal Corporations Act, which replaced the old Shrewsbury Corporation with an elected council, was being passed by Parliament, and as a result Robert Burton has the dubious distinction of being the only Mayor in modern times to have been ejected from office part way through his mayoralty. The election was bitterly contested, with a good deal of evidence of malpractice, especially on the Tory side, if the Liberal- supporting Shrewsbury Chronicle is to be believed. When the Liberals won a majority they were in no mood for compromise, and Robert Burton was summarily replaced as Mayor by William Hazledine the ironmaster.
However, Robert Burton was elected to the new town council in 1843, and once again chosen as mayor for the following year. His generous spirit is demonstrated by the fact that after being elected mayor ‘he gave a ball and sumptuous entertainment, to which he invited many of the nobility and all the respectable inhabitants of the town’, presumably Liberal as well as Tory!
The author gratefully acknowledges the help given by the Burton family of Longner in the preparation of this article and for allowing photos to be taken.