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HULL: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.

"HULL, or Kingston-upon-Hull, a town in Hullshire and a borough and county of itself, and one of the principal sea ports in his Majesty's dominions, is locally in the East Riding, 171 miles n. from the metropolis, 94 e. by n. from Manchester, 54 e. from Leeds, 49 n.e. from Doncaster, 38 e. from York, and 9 s. from Beverley. From Edinburgh it is distant 242 miles, from Glasgow 258, and from Dublin, by way of Liverpool, about 250. Its local historians, Gent, Hadley, and Tickell, ascribe its foundation to King Edward 1st, in the year 1296; but this statement is clearly shown to be erroneous, in a recent publication, entitled "Notices relative to the early History of the Town and Port of Hull." by Chas. Frost, Esq. F.S.A. In that work it is satisfactorily established, by reference to ancient records and authentic documents, that for upwards of a century antecedent to the time of its supposed foundation, Hull was a place of considerable mercantile importance; its principal trade at that time consisting in the export of wool, and the importation of wine. The error into which preceding historians had fallen, arose probably from the circumstances of the town having become vested in Edward 1st, by exchange with the Abbots of Meaux, in the year 1293, when it was made a manor of itself, independent of Myton, and upon which occasion its name was changed from that of Wyke-upon-Hull, by which it had previously been known, to that of Kingston-upon-Hull; the latter name occurs in a writ of ad quod damnum, referred to by Mr. Frost, dated 5th of November, 22d Edward 1st, (1294) and addressed to the king's bailiff, at 'Kyngeston-super-Hull.' Although, in legal proceedings and official documents, the town is usually designated by its royal appellation of Kingston-upon-Hull, it is, in common parlance, invariably called Hull, from the name of the river on which it stands; and it is not a little singular, that, in ancient times, it was better known by that name, particularly in relation to commerce, than by its more correct appellation of Wyke-upon-Hull. Of the mercantile importance of Hull, during the century preceding the period of its supposed foundation, Mr. Frost has brought forward various proofs, founded upon the authority of the pipe rolls, and other records. Of these, one of the earliest, and most important, is the compotus of William de Wroteham and his companions, recorded on the great roll of the pipe, of the 6th of King John (1204), whence it appears that Hull was, at that time, only inferior, in the extent of its commerce, to London, Boston, Southampton, Lincoln and Lynn. Another more circumstantial and equally important document, referred to by Mr. Frost, is the record on the pipe rolls, of the accounts rendered by certain companies of Italian merchants, of their receipts for several years subsequent to the 4th Edward 1st, of the great customs of England and Wales, payable on the exportation of wools, woolfels, and leather, which had been granted to them by the king, as a security for the sum of £23,000, advanced to supply his necessities soon after his accession to the throne. The following extract from those accounts of the sums received, within three consecutive years, on exports from Hull, together with the total amount of duties received there, and at all the other ports within the same period, will show that the duties received at Hull amounted to nearly one-seventh of the aggregate sum taken throughout the whole kingdom. In the latter year (18 Edward 1st) Joricius le Fleming was appointed to take the king's recta prisa of wines coming to the port of Hull. From the great roll of the pipe of the following year, it appears that the Sheriff of Yorkshire paid, in obedience to the king's writ, £78. 2s. 10d. in that year, for the carriage of 415 doles and 2 pipes of wine, forwarded from Hull to Brustwyk (Burstwick park), and other places for the king's use. The earliest charter granted to the town is dated 1st April, 27th Edward 1st (1299) and was obtained by the inhabitants upon their petition, presented to the king in person, while he was keeping his Christmas at Cottingham, near Hull; at Barnard Castle, the seat of Lord Wake, and the ancient residence of the Stutevilles, on his return from the North, in the year 1298. Hull was now constituted a free borough; and, in anticipation of an extensive coinage, a royal ordinance was passed on the 30th of March, 28th of Edward 1st, for establishing mints at the following places, viz:--- In the Tower of London 30 furnaces, at Canterbury 8, at 'Kyngeston-seur-Hull' 4, at Newcastle-upon- Tyne 2, at Bristol 2, and at Exeter 2. In May, 1300, the town was favoured with a royal visit, and soon afterwards (10th of August, 30th Edward 1st,) a commission was issued for setting out the great road now in use, leading from the town to Beverley, to Anlaby, and into Holderness.

Other improvements followed rapidly, and a charter, granted in the 6th of Henry 6th, confirmed its former charter; and afterwards this monarch made it a corporate town, constituting it and its precincts a county of itself, and authorising the mayors to have the sword carried erect before them, and granting other civic privileges. In the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries Hull suffered by the devastating effects of both flood and pestilence; the plague that visited it in 1635 lasted three years, during which time famine was added to the other horrors sustained by the inhabitants, as the country people were afraid to bring in the usual supply of provisions. At the breaking out of the civil war between Charles and the parliament, Hull was a great depot of arms; the arms were, at the beginning of the contest, by order of the parliament, removed to London. The king besieged the town, but was repulsed, after repeated sanguinary contests; equally ineffectual was the attempt of the Marquess of Newcastle: during this struggle Sir John Hotham, governor of Hull, was detected privately negociating with the king, for which he and his son were beheaded. Since that period Hull has gone on increasing in size and opulence; and within the last century the alterations and improvements have been very great. Its situation is on the northern side of the Humber, about twenty miles from the mouth of that river, the town extending almost in a direct line along the river Hull, and lying on a level tract of ground, washed on two of its sides by the rivers Hull and Humber.

It is now well secured from inundations by embankments, and the principal streets are broad, well paved, and lighted with gas. The proprietor and conductor of the Hull gas works is Mr. John Malam, who is also owner of several other gas establishments; among which is that at Malton, lately established. The brilliant lantern at the bottom of Queen street, which is thirty feet high, is illuminated from these works, and is very useful to the shipping; the method of lighting it is ingenious --- a tube, perforated at intervals from the bottom to the burner, admits a stream of gas by means of a stop-cock, which, issuing through the apertures, by lighting the bottom jet, the ignition passes rapidly from one to the other, till it reaches the burner in the lantern. The parish of Sculcoates is lighted by the British Gas Light Company, who have their works near the church. The town is well supplied with water, brought by pipes from a reservoir, about five miles in length, which has the appearance of a canal. In commercial importance, Hull ranks as the fourth town in the kingdom. It is the principal port for the whale fishery, and its intercourse with the Baltic is very great. The amount of customs received in 1830, was £713,579; in 1831, £689,742, and in 1832, £628,400. The docks of Hull are upon a scale of magnitude commensurate with the extent of exports and imports of this populous and great trading town. The old dock, begun in 1774, was completed in three years, and is very spacious, being seven hundred yards in length, eighty-five in width, and twenty-two feet deep; the wharfs and quays are commodious, and cover a space of more than thirteen acres; the entrance is immediately from the river Hull. The Humber dock is at the west end of the town; the first stone was laid on the 13th of April, 1807: with the wharf, it covers a space of upwards of ten acres. The Junction dock was commenced in 1826, the first stone laid December 10th, 1827, and was opened June 1st, 1829 --- the cost was £180,000; it is 645 feet long, and 407 feet in breadth. The locks are 120 feet long, & 36 feet 6 inches broad: the draw-bridges are 24 feet wide. The custom-house, in Whitefriar-gate, is a large and elegant brick building, ornamented with stone; and the citadel, originally intended for the defence of the town and harbour, is on the eastern bank of the river, with a battery of twenty-one guns, facing the Humber.

The botanic gardens are pleasantly situated, about a mile from Hull; they contain many scarce and valuable plants and vegetables, a military band plays here occasionally; in short the spirit of improvement and tasteful embellishment keeps pace with the commercial prosperity of the town. Hull does not found its claims to notice as a manufacturing town, its chief productions under this head being sacking, sail-cloth, chains and chain cables; and adjoining the town, on the river, are two large manufactories of spirits of turpentine and tar. The facilities it enjoys, by land and water, of communicating with all parts, will be more duly appreciated by reference to the copious conveyance list following the directory of the town, than by otherwise descanting upon the subject. Its numerous scholastic and scientific institutions, charities, public buildings, offices, &c. have also a place under their peculiar head. The mechanics' institute was established in 1825, and is now a very flourishing state, possessing a handsome building in Charlotte-street, which cost £1,800 : it is liberally supported, and has an extensive library. Three newspapers are issued from the press of Hull weekly, viz: The 'Hull Advertiser and Exchange Gazette', and the 'Hull Packet', both published on Friday, & the 'Hull Rockingham', on Saturday. They are journals conducted with considerable talent, and enjoy a very extensive patronage. There are two asylums here, for those afflicted with insanity --- the 'Refuge', in the immediate neighbourhood of the town, has been established nearly twenty years, and is adapted for the reception of about one hundred patients; one department of the institution is appropriated to gentlemen and different grades of male patients, and another part of the building , to the male and female pauper lunatics of the East Riding of Yorkshire, and of the county and town of Kingston-upon-Hull; it is also open for the reception of paupers from all counties; the average number of patients is sixty-five. The 'Retreat' is situated about a mile out of the town, on the Holderness-road, and is appropriated solely for the reception of ladies. The house, formerly the residence of a gentlemen, is agreeably placed in the midst of plantations; and well adapted, in every respect, for the accommodation of the class of patients for which it is established. In the town are three masonic lodges: the Humber Lodge (65) is a neat modern building, situated in Osborne-street; its warrant is a very ancient document from the Grand Lodge at York, established by King Athelstan, in 926; attached to this lodge is a benevolent fund, for the widows and orphans of its members, which is in a prosperous state.

The courts of law held here, comprise sessions four times a year, before a bench of magistrates, at which the recorder presides as judge; a court of requests for the recovery of small debts, held every alternate Wednesday, at the commissioners room; and a sheriff's court-leet twice in the year. The body corporate are the mayor, the recorder, the sheriff, two chamberlains, and twelve aldermen. The mayor is chosen annually on the 30th of September, and on the 18th of October following he takes the oaths, and is invested with the insignia of office, and he only gives place to, or drops the emblems of authority before the sovereign, or the heir presumptive. The high steward is appointed by the king, on petition of the mayor and burgesses. A chief and twelve petty constables are appointed annually by the corporation; the officers of police are few, yet no town of equal extent is less infested with depredations. This borough returned burgesses to parliament in the 33d of Edward 1st, but from that period none were sent until the 12th of Edward 2nd, since when it has regularly returned two members; the present representatives are Matthew Davenport Hill, Esq. and William Hutt, Esq. : the sheriff is the returning officer. The new Boundary Act ( an appendage to the Reform Bill ), defines the limits of the borough to comprise the several parishes of St. Mary, the Holy Trinity, Sculcoates, and Drypool; together with Garrison-side, extra parochial; and all other extra parochial places, which are surrounded by the parishes before-named; and also such part of the parish of Sutton as is situated to the south of a line, from Sculcoates church, to the point at which the Sutton drain meets the Summergangs drain. By the last-named act, Hull is appointed one of the stations for receiving votes at the election of members to represent the East Riding of the county.

The places for divine worship in this town, under the establishment, and for the various sects of dissenters, are numerous. The church of the Holy Trinity, in the Market-place, is a conspicuous ornament to the town, and a magnificent pile, in the cathedral style of Gothic architecture, erected, according to Mr. Frost's Notices, in the year 1285 : the benefice is a vicarage, in the gift of the corporation, and incumbency of the Rev. J.H.Bromby. St. Mary's, or the Low church, in Lowgate, is of nearly equal antiquity, the living of which is with Samuel Thornton, Esq. of London, and the present vicar is the Rev. John Scott. St. John's, on the Dock side, was erected by the Rev. Thomas Dikes, and first opened in 1792. The parish of Sculcoates contains two churches, viz. Christ church, in Worship-street, and St. Mary's, on the banks of the Hull, to the north of Wincolmlee. There are besides, St. James's church, in the Pottery, finished in 1831; and the Mariner's church, in Junction dock street, which is now rebuilding. The independents have chapels in Hope-street, Fish-street, Sykes-street, Nile-street, and Witham; there are also sixteen other places of worship, belonging to the various denominations of dissenters; and a Jew's synagogue.

The free grammar school was founded in the reign of Richard 3rd, in the year 1486, by the Right Rev. John Alcock, a native of Beverley, and successively Lord Bishop of Rochester, Worcester and Ely. In 1578, the old structure being at that time in a ruinous state, William Gee, Esq. an alderman of Hull, opened a subscription for erecting a new school-house, &c. The erections were soon completed, & the school room, is said to be one of the best in England. This school is open to all sons of burgesses, on the payment of four guineas per annum, for writing, arithmetic, geography, &c. with classical instruction : the sons of non-freemen, are admitted on payment of six guineas per annum. This school has one exhibition of £40 per annum to any college in Cambridge, and a scholarship at Clare hall. The present master is the Rev. William Wilson. There are also the Vicar's school, founded about 1737; the marine school, established in 1786; Cogan charity school, in 1753; national schools, open to children of all denominations; schools founded by the church of England Sunday school association, and the Sunday school union, both in 1819; and many other schools, supported by the dissenters, upon an extensive and liberal scale. The country around Hull is altogether agricultural, very flat, and the land, in general, between Hull and the sea, of excellent quality, feeding very fine cattle, and producing the finest corn in great plenty. The market-days are Tuesday, Frisay and Saturday; the Tuesday's market is a great one for corn; and the others are large meat markets, with garden produce, &c. The annual fair is October 11th, for horses, foals and horned cattle, and the following day for toys, pedlary, &c. According to the returns made to parliament in the years 1811, 1821 and 1831, the population of the Town and county of Kingston-upon-Hull, was as follows: Total in the Town and County, and the suburb of Sculcoates, at the last census, 49,761, being an increase, in thirty years, of 25,695 persons."

[Transcribed by Steve Garton ©2000 from
Pigot's directory (Yorkshire section) 1834]