St Ives, Market Hill circa 1960
IVES (ST.), a market town and parish, in the hundred Of HUSTINGSTONE, county of HUNTINGDON, 6 miles (E.) from Huntingdon, and 59 (N. by W.) from London, containing 2777 inhabitants. The Saxon name of this place was Slepe, by which it is also distinguished in Domesday-book. It belonged to the abbot of Ramsey, who, in the beginning of the eleventh century, founded a church here in honour of St. Ivo, or Ives, a Persian archbishop, who travelled in England as a Christian missionary, and died about 660, and from whom the place derived its present appellation. The town is situated on the north side of the river Ouse, over which there is a good stone bridge, and the approach to it from the London road has recently been greatly improved by the construction of a causeway on arches, reaching a considerable distance, and affording a free passage for the water during the overflowings of the river.

The streets are well paved and lighted, and the inhabitants are amply supplied with water. There is no particular branch of manufacture, but the trade of the town has become very considerable, especially in corn and coal; and, by means of the navigable river Ouse, an extensive commercial intercourse is carried on with Bedford, Lynn, and other places. A market is held on Monday, for corn and cattle, and it is said to be one of the largest cattle markets in the kingdom : there are fairs an Whit-Monday and Michaelmas-day, the former chiefly for cattle and horses, and the latter for horses, cheese, &c. St. Ives comprises two manors, Slepe and Burstellars, for which a court baron and a customary court are held twice a year: the principal part of these manors is in the tenure of copyholders, who possess the unusual privilege of cutting timber not only for repairs but also for sale. A meeting of the magistrates is held every Monday. The living is a vicarage with the curacies of Oldhurst and Woodhurst, in the archdeaconry of Huntingdon, and diocese of Lincoln, rated in the king's books at £6.15., mid in the patronage of John Ansley, Esq., and the Trustees under the will of Henry Grace, Esq. The church, dedicated to St. Ivo, is a handsome edifice, with a tower supporting a lofty spire, and various parts of the building appear to be of ancient construction. Here are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists. Some remains exist of the Benedictine priory, which was a cell to the abbey of Ramsey. Slepe hall, in this parish, now a boarding-school, was for some time the residence of Oliver Cromwell, who is said to have carried on the trade of a brewer here before he attained political celebrity.

This extract is from "Samuel Lewis Topographical Gazeetter - 1831"