Wisbece was recorded in the 1086 Domesday. The name Wisbech is believed to mean "on the back of the (River) Ouse", Ouse being a common Celtic word relating to water, and the name of a river that once flowed through the town. Alternatively, the first element may derive from the River Whissey which used to run to Wisbech or possibly ‘marshy-meadow valley or ridge’. OE Wisc or wisc + bece or baec. 
During the Iron Age, the area where Wisbech would develop lay in the west of the BrythonicIceni tribe's territory. Icenian coins are known from both March and Wisbech.
Like the rest of Cambridgeshire, Wisbech was part of the Kingdom of East Anglia after the Anglo-Saxon invasion.
The first authentic references to Wisbech occur in a charter dated 664 granting the Abbey at Medehamstead (now Peterborough) land in Wisbech  and in 1000, when Oswy and Leoflede, on the admission of their son Aelfwin as a monk, gave the vill to the monastery of Ely. In 1086, when Wisbech was held by the abbot, there may have been some 65 to 70 families, or about 300 to 350 persons, in Wisbech manor. However, Wisbech (which is the only one of the Marshland vills of the isle to be mentioned in the Domesday Book) probably comprised the whole area from Tydd Gote down to the far end of Upwell at Welney.
In 1216, King John of England visited the castle as he came from Bishop’s Lynn.
Tradition has it that his baggage train was lost to the incoming tide of The Wash.
Treasure hunters still seek the lost royal treasure.
Peckover House on North Brink by the Nene in Wisbech
Peckover House, with its fine walled garden, was built in 1722 and purchased by the Quaker Peckover banking family in the 1790s, and is now owned by the National Trust(NT). Formerly known as Bank House, the house was renamed in honour of the Peckover family by the NT. The Peckover Bank became part of Barclays Bank.
In the 17th century, the inhabitants became known as the "Fen Tigers" for their resistance to the draining of the Fens, but the project turned Wisbech into a wealthy port handling agricultural produce. At the time, Wisbech was on the estuary of the River Great Ouse, but silting caused the coastline to move north, and the River Nene was diverted to serve the town.
In 1797, a corps of volunteer infantry was formed. A light infantry company was added in 1807.
In 1835 a copy of Col. Watson's History of Wisbech was presented to Princess Victoria during her brief halt in Wisbech.
In 1863 a copy of Walker and Craddocks History of Wisbech was presented to the Prince and Princess of Wales on their arrival by train.
The Wisbech Canal joining the River Nene at Wisbech was subsequently filled in and became the dual carriageway leading into the town from the east (now crossing the bypass).
On Thursday 2nd June, 1932 newsreel photographers record the 'Capital of the Fens' as it is brought to a standstill as crowds fill the streets to catch a glimpse of Prince George as he receives the Loyal Address from the Mayor.
In 1934 part of Walsoken parish, Norfolk was merged with Wisbech bringing with it the schools, shops and public houses but leaving the church and much of the rural part in Norfolk. The suburb of New Walsoken is now largely built up. A boundary marker in Wisbech Park was erected to record the event. 
The port of Wisbech now houses a large number of berths for yachts adjacent to the Boathouse development.
On 27 June 1970, the heaviest point rainfall was recorded in Wisbech, when 2 inches (50.8 mm) fell in just 12 minutes during the Rose Fair.
On 21 September 1979, two Harrier jump jets on a training exercise collided over Wisbech; one landed in a field and the other in a residential area. Two houses and a bungalow were demolished on Ramnoth Road, causing the death of Bob Bowers, his two-year-old son Jonathan Bowers, and former town mayor Bill Trumpess.
The 5-mile (8-km), £6 million A47 Wisbech/West Walton bypass opened in spring 1982.
In April 2011 the Princess Royal visited Wisbech and opened the new education centre and library at Octavia Hill's Birthplace House. 
In 2011, the Wisbech magistrates court closed.
On 19 January 2012, BBC Look East reported growing tensions in the town, where one-third of the population were said to be East European immigrants.
In 2015 in his first week with the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Prince William came to Wisbech.
The town's traditional market days are Thursday and Saturday, but the town council now runs markets seven days a week. The Sunday market runs alongside a car-boot sale.
The Town is well known for horticulture, the Rose Fair and other flower festivals. In 2018 the town won the business improvement district (BID) category gold award at the Royal Horticultural Society's (RHS) annual Britain in Bloom awards ceremony. 
Price Charles and the duchess of Cornwall visited Wisbech in November 2018 
Wisbech held a number of charters.
King Edward VI charter raised the town to a corporation. 10 men were to be elected burgesses. The Charter was renewed by King James.
In 1835 the Municipal Bill caused the old charters governing Wisbech to be swept away and Wisbech became a corporate Borough with a mayor, aldermen and councillors replacing the Town bailiff and Capital Burgesses.
The town was divided into two wards:- North and South.
The Wisbech town council elect a town mayor. The town council of 18 councillors is elected every four years.
The town has seven wards:- Clarkson, Kirton, Medworth, Octavia Hill, Peckover, Staithe & Waterlees village.
The town council are responsible for allotments and the market place.
In 2018 they took a lease on Wisbech Castle.
The town also elects councillors to Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.
Wisbech is within the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority.
It is part of the Northeast Cambridgeshire parliamentary seat.
In 1659 John Thurloe was elected to represent Wisbech. He was also elected for Cambridge Borough for whom he preferred to sit.
Wisbech was not a polling station until after 1832.
Coat of Arms
Arms : Azure representations of St. Peter and St Paul standing within a double Canopy Or.
Crest : On a Wreath of the Colours a sixteenth century Ship with three Masts Or on each mast a square Sail Azure the centre one charged with two Keys in saltire wards upwards and the other two charged with a Castle Gold.
The arms were officially granted on November 11, 1929.
The figures of St.Peter and St.Paul, to whom the parish church is dedicated, appeared on the old seal.
The ship recalls the town's former note as a port and the crossed keys on the centre sail refer to St Peter. The castles refer to the ancient stronghold built it is said, by William I, and converted in the fifteenth century into a palace for the bishops of Ely.
Wisbech sits on either side of the River Nene although in the past, prior to drainage schemes, it sat on the Well stream the confluence of the rivers Great Ouse and Nene.
The port is Cambridgeshire's only gateway to the sea. Wisbech Borough was the port authority but this passed to Fenland Distruct Council when local government was reorganised in the 1970s. The port still uses the WI code which is used by those boats registered to the port.
In 1680 the trade of Wisbech had increased sufficiently for the port to be reckoned independent and no longer a member of King's Lynn.
In 1720 the corporation was licensed to buoy the channel for the first time and 1751 it was possible in a dry year to walk across the river bed under Wisbech Bridge.
Ship building was carried out in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
In 1797 the Wisbech Canal opened connecting the river Nene at Wisbech with the inland drains. A custom house was built in 1801.
As well as freight the river was used to convey inland passengers, in 1805 the poet John Clare travelled from Peterborough by Dutch canal boat to travel the 21 miles to Wisbech to visit his uncle Morris Simpson.
The greatest shipowner was Richard Young (1809-1871), who had at various times 43 boats operating from the port. The port of Wisbech could accommodate sailing ships of 400 tons, but its prosperity declined after 1852 when extensive river works impeded navigation.
In 1859 'The Battle of the Dams,' took place when some of the citizens of Wisbech destroyed dams at Waldersea and Guyhirn and burned the remnants on the two market places. 
In 1883 the Wisbech and Upwell tramway opened.
The Wisbech Canal cut to allow narrow boats to connect with the river, no longer does so as parts have been filled in. Narrow boats continue to access inland waterways via the river Nene.
In 1931 A concrete bridge was built to replace the previous town bridge.
In 1971 an additional bridge was erected over the river. Plans to build additional homes and a new school on the west of the town will increase traffic on the existing bridges, and there is a long-term plan to add a third bridge.
The yacht harbour on the river provides 128 berths on the marina, and the nearby Crab Marshboat yard operates a 75-tonne boat lift.
In 2000, a ship grounding further down river stopped river traffic.
The various road bridges at Wisbech allowed travellers between Lincolnshire and Norfolk to cross the river without using ferries or risking the incoming tides.
In 1831 the construction of a lifting bridge at Sutton Bridge finally provided a means to travel directly between Norfolk and Lincolnshire.
The town stood at the crossing of two Class A roads: from Peterborough to King's Lynn (A47) and from Ely to Long Sutton (A1101). The A1101 now crosses the river at the newer 'Freedom bridge' taking some traffic away from the older 'Town Bridge'.
The A47 now bypasses the town. The old part of the A47 inside the town (Lynn Rd and Cromwell Rd) is now the B198.
Wisbech once had three passenger railway lines, but they all closed between 1959 and 1968:
There were also harbour quay lines either side of the River Nene – M&GN Harbour West branch and GER Harbour East branch.
The freight line remained in operation until 2000. 
There is an active campaign to reopen the March–Wisbech line as part of the national rail network, with direct services to Cambridge and possibly Peterborough. A report published in 2009 by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) indicated that this was viable.
It is supported by Wisbech Town Council and subject to reports commissioned by the county council in 2013. The line is currently at GRIP 3 study stage.
Buses and coaches
In 1796 Wisbech had a daily mail coach service to London leaving at 4 pm and returning at 10 am and a stagecoach service three times weekly.
Another service ran three times weekly from Lynn through Wisbech to Spalding and Boston.
As of 2016[update] the population of Wisbech was 33,933, of whom 16,800 were male and 17,133 female. 6,748 were aged under 18 and 7,156 over 65.
In 2014 it was reported by a popular national newspaper that of the town's 28,000 population 5,000 (about 18%) were Lithuanians. Several official places (libraries, surgeries, local council) provide translations into Lithuanian, as well as Polish, Latvian, Russian and Portuguese.
The riverside location and fertile soils surrounding Wisbech allowed the town to flourish.
The first half of the 19th century was a very prosperous time for the town and in 1851 the population was 9,594. It decreased to 9,276 in 1861 and 9,395 in 1891.
The 1931 census was 12,006 and the National Registration of 1939 showed 17,599.
The Wisbech Produce Canners (formed in 1925) on Lynn Rd, was the first in England to produce frozen asparagus, peas and strawberries. It was renamed Smedley's Ltd in 1947 and later taken over by Hillsdown Foods and is presently owned by Princes.
The site was once served by a rail line whose track came across the town between the park and Townsend Rd.
The Metal Box company established their largest manufacturing unit at Weasenham Lane in 1953. The site provides processed food cans for fruit,vegetables, soups, milk and pet foods. The workforce grew to over 1,000 before reducing as a result of automation and redundancies. Steel was brought from Welsh steelworks and also overseas. The site had its own rail yard before the Wisbech to March line closed.
English Brothers Ltd another long established company Wisbech are another importer - of timber brought in at Wisbech port.
In 2010 Dutch based Partner Logistics opened a £12M frozen food warehouse on Boleness Rd employing over 50 staff. The 77,000 pallet, fully automated 'freezer' centre had contracts with Lamb Weston, Bird's Eye and Pinguin Foods.
In recent decades the closure of the Clarkson Geriatric hospital (1983), Bowthorpe maternity hospital (c1983), Balding & Mansell (printers) (c1992), Budgens store(formerly Coop) (2017) and horticultural college (2012), Bridge Street post office (2014) as well as gradual reductions in workforce by CMB indicate a decline in the economy.
Small family businesses such as Bodgers (2013), Franks butchers(2015) and local bakeries have given way to the supermarkets.
The larger employers in Wisbech include Nestle Purina petcare, Cromwell rd and Princes, Lynn Rd.
May 2017 the new Cambridgeshire and Peterborough combined authority announces new investment into the area.
In 2016 the Wisbech High Street project was awarded a £1.9M grant to bring back into use empty properties on the High Street.
The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will run until 2021.
April 2018 plans for £8M redevelopment of the hospital are announced.
Plans for an additional 1,500 homes were announced in the press in May 2018.
It was announced by local M.P. Steve Barclay that Fenland schools would receive £250,000 towards recruiting more teachers.
National Trust property Peckover House and gardens attracts tourists and locals.
The Wisbech and Fenland museum draws in visitors to see the Charles Dickens manuscript, Thomas Clarkson memorabilia or other exhibits.
The Octavia Hill Birthplace House also attracts those interested in the National Trust, army cadet force or social housing.
An annual Rose Fair, music festival and the theatre and cinemas also attract audiences from outside the town.
Wisbech port and marina attracts boating enthusiasts.
The Castle which has now opened to the public after being unavailable for a number of years is starting to attract visitors to its program of events and activities.
The Anglican Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul in parts dates back to the 12th century.
The tower contains the 3rd oldest full peal of 10 bells in the world, cast by William Dobson in 1821 and are still in use.
The Octagon church was erected in 1827 as a chapel of ease, the lantern became unsafe owing to defective foundations and in 1846 was replaced with a battlement but demolished later. The site became a bank and is currently a vet’s.
The Anglican St Augustine’s church on Lynn Rd was erected in 1868-9 and consecrated on 11 May 1869. An associated school building is now the Robert Hall scouting hall. In1997 a new parish centre was created when the church was linked to its nearby hall.
The Ely Place Baptist church was opened on 23, March 1873 on the site of a previous chapel. It Was pulled down in the 1970s and replaced by the new library which opened in 1975.
Baptist, Hill St, Society of Friends, North Brink, United Reformed, Castle Square, King’s Church, Queens Rd, Jehovahs Witnesses, Tinkers Drove, Trinity Methodist, Church Terrace, Salvation Army, West St & Spiritualist, Alexander Rd.
Various denominations met at other locations many of which have been demolished or used for other purposes.
Primary schools in Wisbech include; Clarkson Infants School, St Peters CofE Aides Junior School, Orchards CofE Primary school, Peckover Primary School, The Nene Infant School, Ramnoth Junior School and Elm Road Primary School. There are also specialist schools, Meadowgate School, Wisbech School, The County School & Trinity School. There is also a further education centre: the College of West Anglia formerly the Isle of Ely College.
Plans for a new £23M 600 pupil school to open in 2020 were announced in the Wisbech Standard.
Wisbech Castle & grounds leased by Wisbech town council from Cambridgeshire county council.
Former New Inn, Union St dating to about 1500.
Rose and Crown hotel, located on the market place is an early C17 coaching inn. A date of 1601 and trumpet and pheasant are visible on the exterior of the building. It is listed grade II* by Historic England.
Leach's Mill, located on Lynn Road is remarkable on account of its height and age. Built on a mound and 8 story's in height it had 8 sails. It dates to at least 1778 although the initials SH and 1643 are reputed to have been on a beam inside the mill. The last miller used it in the 1930s. The adjoining flour and provender roller mill suffered a fire in the 1970s.
The mill minus the sails is now used as a residence. None of the other dozen or so mills survive.
Joseph Medworth, (born in Wisbech, 1752–1827) was a builder who developed castle estate into a circus including "The Crescent" in Wisbech and redeveloped "Thurloe's Mansion" into the current villa on the castle site. He died on 17th October, 1827.
Thomas Clarkson MA, anti-slavery campaigner, was born in Wisbech in 1760 and educated at Wisbech Grammar School. The Clarkson Memorial was built to commemorate his life's efforts to end slavery in the British Empire on 25 March 1833. Two local schools and a road are named after him.
William Skrimshire, (born in Wisbech, 1766–1829) was a surgeon and botanist. A walkway 'Skrimshires Passage'is named after him.
Rear-Admiral Spelman Swaine (1769-1848), Chief Bailiff of the Isle of Ely. He sailed the world in 1795 on Endeavour with Capt. Vancouver. He did in Wisbech on 13 January. 
Lt Col William Watson, DL FAS (1770-1834) died on 31 March 1834. Lawyer, brewer, banker, soldier, magistrate, town bailiff, chief bailiff of the Isle of Ely and author of 'A history of Wisbech'. He is buried in Wisbech.
Samuel (Philosopher) Smith (1802-1892), merchant and pioneer photographer. A director of Wisbech Gas Light and Coke company and a member of the Palaeontographical Society of London. His photos taken in the 1850s and 1860s record the development of the town. Collections can be seen in the Science Museum, London and Wisbech & Fenland Museum. He is buried in Wisbech General cemetery.
William Peckover F.S.A.,(1790-1877) philanthropist son of Jonathan Peckover. President of Wisbech & Fenland museum. Died 12 May.
Elizabeth Dawbarn (died 1839) was a religious pamphleteer who addressed children and adults.
Rev. Chaucer Hare Townshend M.A.(1798-1868), philanthropist and owner of property in Wisbech. He was a friend of Charles Dickens and the writer's manuscript of 'Great Expectations' given him by Dickens was left to Wisbech and Fenland museum.
Alderman Richard Young (MP) JP DL (1809–1871) for Cambridgeshire was a ship owner, five times Mayor of Wisbech (1858–62), JP for the Isle of Ely and Norfolk and a sheriff of the city of London & Middlesex in 1871. He was born on 22 March in Scarning, Norfolk, the son of John and Mary Younge. He owned more than 40 ships at different times. He died on 15 October, only two days after being made Sheriff. 
Professor Thomas Craddock (1812-1893), writer and academic. Coauthor of a History of Wisbech, later professor of Literature, Queen's College, Liverpool. Died 9 April 1893 in Liverpool.
Alexander Peckover 1st Baron Peckover FRGS, FSA, FLS (1830-1919) British Quaker banker and philanthropist. Born in Wisbech 16 August 1830. Died 21 October 1919. He married Eliza Sharples and had three daughters.
Sir Thomas George Fardell BA, MP (1833-1917), English politician and lawyer, born on 26 October 1833 he was the youngest son of Rev Henry Fardell, vicar of Wisbech. He dies 12 March 1917
William Digby CIE, (born in Wisbech, 1 May 1849 – 29 September 1904) was an English writer, journalist and liberal politician, and first secretary of the National Liberal Club.
Rev. William Hazlitt,(1737-1820) who was minister at the Presbyterian meeting house here in 1764–66, became an influential Unitarian minister. He was father of the essayist William Hazlitt and the portrait painter John Hazlitt. While resident at Wisbech he married Grace Loftus.
Lilian Ream (1877-1961) photographer. Lilian was born in West Walton, Norfolk. The youngest child of John Thomas and Louise Pratt. She married Sydney Ream in 1905, they had a son Roland 1907 and daughter Mary in 1911. Aged 17 she became photographic assistant to William Drysdale and went on to dominate the local photographic business. After her retirement Roland took the studio and it continued until it eventually closed in 1971. Over 10,000 negatives have survived to form the 'Lilian Ream collection'. This may be the most comprehensive record if it's kind in England. In April 2013 the Wisbech Society erected a blue plaque at 4 The Crescent in her honour.
Arthur Artis Oldham (1886-1980), historian and writer was born in Wisbech. Titles included A History of Wisbech River(1933), Wisbech Bridges, Inns and Taverns of Wisbech(1950), Wisbech Windmills, Windmills around Wisbech and The Inns & Tavers of Wisbech (1979). He married Ellen (Nellie) Fewster and had two children. He retired to Norwich where he died in 1980.
John St Clair Muriel (1909-1975), aka John Lindsey or Simon Dewes, was an author who taught at Wisbech Grammar School. Novels, autobiographies and short stories include: Molten Ember (1930), Voice of One, Still Eastward Bound (1940), Suffolk Childhood (1959), Essex Days (1960) and When All the World was Young (1961). One of his pupils was John Gordon, who also went on to become an author.
Norman G Jacobs MBE (1923 - 2016). Promotor and cinema owner.
John Gordon (1925–2017), attended Wisbech Grammar School and after leaving the Royal Navy became a journalist and later a young-adult fiction writer and author of The Giant under The Snow, The Ghost on the Hill and other stories. The town and the surrounding fens inspired many of his novels, including The House on the Brink (Peckover House) and Fen Runners.
Brian Hitch (1932-2004), diplomat, academic and musician was born in Wisbech.
Anton Rodgers (1933–2007), actor, was born in London on 10th January 1933 and moved to Wisbech during the war.
Professor Sir Harry Kroto FRS (1939–2016), born in Wisbech October 7th, 1939 son of Heinz Fritz Kroton and Edith Kathe Dora Kroto was the 1996 Nobel Laureate in chemistry, for the discovery of fullerenes.
Mick Walker (1942-2012), born 30 November 1942, Wretton, Norfolk. Following 10 years in the RAF he became a sealer, importer and race sponsor. After running his motorcycle business he became assistant or of Motorcycle Enthusiast magazine and an author of over 100 books. He died on 8 March 2012 and was survived by his wife Susan and son Steven.
Malcolm Douglas Moss MA, (born 1943, Lancashire) politician, was a Wisbech Town councillor and later conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire from 1987 until retirement at the 2010 general election.
Mike Stevens (born 1957) is a musical director, session musician and record producer.
In 1963 Anglia TV recorded a film report on Wisbech Castle. This is also available to download on the East Anglian Film Archive.
'The Flood' a 1963 drama filmed using boats from Wisbech.
1975 Anglia TV report about the first purpose-built traveller site in GB. EAFA.
'A Passage to Wisbech'(1986) a BBC documentary on the coaster ships which work around the shores of Britain, followed the voyages of the Carrick, a 30 year old ship owned and skippered by Rick Waters. 
In February 2010 the effect of immigration on the town was featured in the BBC documentary "The Day the Immigrants Left", presented by Evan Davis. The programme looked at jobs in the town reported to have been "taken over by migrants". In the programme, several local unemployed persons were given the chance to try such jobs.
2018 'Celebrating Nestle Communities - Wisbech' was released in September 2018. This is one of a series of films showcasing communities around the UK and Ireland that Nestle operate in.
In December 2018 the American TV Channel "The Late Late Show" with British star James Cordon featured a giant inflatable Santa blocking Cromwell Road. This Father Christmas had broken free from its fixings in a garden and it took several hours to catch.
Isaac Casaubon recorded in his diary his visit to Wisbech on 17 August 1611. He accompanied Lancelot Andrews, bishop of Ely from the episcopal palace at Downham.
Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary his trip to Parson Drove on Thursday 17 September 1663 in order to accompany his uncle and cousin to go to Wisbech in connection with his uncle Day's estate. At Wisbech on Friday 18 September he visited the church and library. 
In 1778/1779 Italian author and poet Giuseppe Marc'Antonio Baretti (aka Joseph Baretti) (1718-1789),took up residence with a family living at the castle for about a fortnight. Afterward he published a series of letters "Lettere Familiari de Giuseppe Baretti" in which a description of his Wisbech visit is featured. He attended horse races, the theatre, public balls, public suppers and assemblies.
Wisbech and its river port are mentioned by Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), M.P. who dined at the Whyte Harte hotel, North Brink.
Wisbech was one of eight towns featured in ‘Old Towns Revisited’ published by Country Life Ltd in 1952.
There are two free newspapers distributed within the town, the Wisbech Standard (owned by Archant) and the Fenland Citizen(owned by Iliffe Media).
Two free local magazines are published monthly - ‘The fens’ and ‘Discovering Wisbech’.
According to a study looking into immigration patterns, Wisbech was once identified as the seventh "most English" town in Britain by Sky News However, on 16 February 2008 a report in the Daily Express titled "Death Of A Country Idyll" wrote about how the influx of Eastern European immigrants may have caused the increase of crime and other illegal activities. Then on 20 February 2008 The Fenland Citizen contained an article opposing the Daily Express article.
In 2011 Wisbech featured in The Guardian 'Let's Move to... column.
Tom Dyckhoff highlighted the Georgian streets, cinemas, local community groups and the poor rail links in the Saturday ion 14 May, 2011.
In January 2012 the Daily Mail ran a story following the murder of Alisa Dmitrijeva, a Latvian teenager and resident of Wisbech, whose body was found on the Queen's Sandringham estate. 
In June 2018 Country Life magazine ran a feature on Wisbech. Market towns - Wisbech.
In November 2018 Wisbech featured in an article in the Daily Telegraph by Jack Rear entitled "The spirited English town with some of Britains' best forgotten history" 
Like the rest of the United Kingdom, Wisbech experiences an oceanic climate, but Cambridgeshire is one of the driest counties in the British Isles along with Essex. February is the driest month, whilst October is the wettest. In temperature terms, both January and December are the coldest months, whilst August is the warmest.