"WHITBY, a parish, market town, seaport, and parliamentary borough in the liberties of Whitby-Strand and East Langbaurgh, North Riding county York, 20 miles N.W. of Scarborough, and 44 N.E. of York by road, or 56½ by the Pickering branch of the N.E. railway. It is also the terminus of the North Yorkshire and Cleveland branch of the North Eastern railway. The parish includes the borough of Whitby, with the chapelries of Aislaby, Eskdaleside, and Ugglebarnby, and the townships of Hawsker, Newholm, and Ruswarp. It is situated at the mouth of the river Esk, which flowing through the town here falls into the German Ocean, and is crossed by a bridge of three arches, with a cast-iron swivel bridge, constructed for the purpose of admitting ships into the inner harbour. It is supposed to be the Dunum Sinus mentioned by Ptolemy, and was called by the Saxons Streonesheale, where Oswy, King of Northumbria, founded an abbey under St. Hilda in 657, at which a synod was held in 664 for determining Easter after the Roman style. A village on the cliff, of which there are still some traces, sprang up under the shelter of the abbey, but the latter being destroyed by the Danes under Hubba, who landed here in 876, the village first received the name of Presteby, or "priest town," and afterwards Whytebye or "white village," hence its modern name. After the Norman conquest the abbey was restored as a Benedictine priory by William de Percy, and at the Dissolution had a revenue of £437, at which time the town contained 40 houses. The ruins of this pile, situated on a rock 240 feet above the sea, include parts of the cruciform church, which was 300 feet long by 69 feet, or 150 through the transepts, and had a central tower 106 feet high supported upon four pillars of sixteen columns in the cluster, but which fell in 1830. The demesne of the ancient abbey was given by Henry VIII. to the Cholmleys of Honsham, whose mansion, Whitby Abbey, built out of the ruins of the old monastery, was taken by the Roundheads in 1645. There were also two other religious houses in the town, known as the White Hospital and St. John's. The town, which is divided into two nearly equal parts by the river Esk, consists of several narrow streets of old-fashioned houses of brick and stone. It contains the townhall, a substantial building of the Tuscan order, erected by the Cholmleys in 1788, and situated in the market-place, and the baths on the pier of three stories, the first containing the baths, the second the subscription library, and the third the museum of the Literary and Philosophical Society, containing specimens of the fossil crocodile, ichthyosauri, and other saurian:, with which the cliffs abound; the customhouse, savings-bank, two commercial banks, the gashouse, seamen's hospital, dispensary, marine assurance clubs, and shipbuilding yards. The population of the parliamentary borough in 1851 was 10,989, and in 1861, 12,051, inhabiting 2,464 houses, but of the parish 14,014. It is one of the new boroughs created by the Reform Act of 1832, and returns one member to parliament. It is also a polling place for the North Riding, an excise collection, coastguard station, and bonding port. The magistrates for the North Riding hold petty sessions on Tuesday and Saturday weekly, and George Cholmley, Esq., who is lord of the manor, holds his court-leet annually at Michaelmas. The Whitby Poor-law Union comprises 22 parishes or places, the union poor-house being situated in the township of Hawsker-cum-Stainsacre. It is also the head of the new County Court and Superintendent Registry districts. The inland trade of the port is considerable, but its prosperity is chiefly dependent on shipbuilding and the chartering of its numerous vessels. The manufacture of alum was established here in 1615 by the Cholmleys, and more recently the manufacture of jet ornaments has been introduced. The fisheries are prolific, and some of the working classes are employed in the weaving of canvas. There are also extensive patent roperies belonging to Messrs. Morgan of London. The harbour, which is tidal, and almost dries at low water, but rises at high tide from 10 to 15 feet, admitting vessels of 600 tons, is divided into the outer and inner harbours by the bridge. It has been much improved by the construction of the eastern and western piers, the former extending into the sea 645 feet, and the latter 1,560 feet, besides the old Burgess pier, built in 1632 by the Cholmleys, but the entrance is still rendered dangerous by the Whitby Scar, an extensive ledge of black rock near the Sledway passage, which is 300 yards broad. At the end of the W. pier is a lighthouse, put up in 1831, 83 feet high, with a fixed light, visible for 13 miles; and on the E. pier is another lighthouse, recently erected. The harbour is protected by a battery, and has Sandend and Robin Hood's Town for subports. The trade is in coal, timber, stone, alum, hemp, flax, and grain. Near 300 boats are constantly employed in the herring and other fisheries. The alum cliffs extend along the coast for nearly 30 miles, abounding in fossils, and attain an elevation of from 100 to 700 feet above the sea. The living is a perpetual curacy* in the archdeaconry of Cleveland and diocese of York, value £215, in the patronage of the archbishop, who is impropriator of the great tithes. The parish church, dedicated to St. Mary, was built about 1110. It stands on the summit of East Cliff, and is approached by an ascent of 194 stone steps. In the interior are monuments to the Cholmley, Lascelles, and Chapman families. There are besides two chapels-of-ease dedicated respectively to St. John and St. Michael, also an Episcopalian chapel. The Wesleyans, Independents, Baptists, Roman Catholics, Society of Friends, and Unitarians have chapels. There are National, British, and infant schools, and Boulby's almshouses. The local charities produce about £170 per annum. Races take place on the sands in the early part of September. Market day is on Saturday. Fairs are held on 25th August, and on Martinmas-day."
"AISLABY, a chapelry in the parish of Whitby, and liberty of Langbaurgh, in the North Riding of the county of York, 3 miles to the S.W. of Whitby. The river Esk and the Whitby branch of, the North Eastern railway pass through it. The living is a curacy in the diocese of York, value £87, in the patronage of Mrs. Boulby. There is a small endowment for the benefit of the poor, amounting to £11 a year. The stone used in the building of Whitby Abbey, the, docks at Sheerness; and St. Katherine's Docks, was obtained from Bolton's limestone quarry in this place."
"CROSS BUTTS, a hamlet in the parish of Whitby, in the North Riding of the county of York, 2½ miles W. of Whitby. It is situated near the mouth of the river Esk."
"DUNSLEY, a hamlet in the parish of Whitby, liberty of Whitby Strand, in the North Riding of the county of York, 3 miles W. of Whitby. It is united with Newholm. A Roman road, now known as Wade's Causeway, extends for several miles from Dunsley over the moors to York. It is paved with flints, and appears to have been 12 feet wide by 3 high, with a defaced milestone."
"ESKDALESIDE, (or Sleights), a chapelry in the parish of Whitby, Whitby Strand liberty, North Riding county York, 3 miles S.E. of Whitby, its post town. It is a station on the Whitby branch of the North-Eastern railway. In the reign of John a small priory was founded here. Ironstone, building stone, and alum are obtained, and there are several chalybeate springs. The surface rises gradually from the bank of the Esk to a very considerable elevation, forming one of the highest moors in the county, and enclosing on that side one of the most magnificent valleys, through which the Esk pursues its course amidst picturesque and romantic scenery. The living is a perpetual curacy in the diocese of York, value with the perpetual curacy of Ugglebarnby annexed, £329. The church is a small elegant structure, erected in 1767. Henry W. Yeoman, Esq., is lord of the manor."
"HAWSKER CUM STAINSACRE, a township in the parish of Whitby, liberty of Whitby Strand, North Riding county York, 3 miles S.E. of Whitby. It is situated near the coast. The Whitby union poorhouse is situated in this township. There is a place of worship for the Wesleyans."
"IBURN DALE, a hamlet in the chapelry of Ugglebarnby, and parish of Whitby, North Riding county York, 3 miles S.W. of Whitby."
"LITTLE BECK, a hamlet in the chapelry of Ugglebarnby, and parish of Whitby, in the liberty of Whitby-Strand, North Riding of the county of York, 3 miles to the S.W. of Whitby."
"NEWHOLM CUM DUNSLEY, a township in the parish of Whitby, liberty of Whitby-Strand, North Riding county York, 2 miles W. of Whitby. It is situated near the coast. The Wesleyans have a small place of worship."
"RUSWARP, a township in the parish of Whitby, liberty of Whitby-Strand, North Riding county York, 1½ mile S. of Whitby. It is a station on the North-Eastern railway. The village, which is considerable, is situated on the river Esk, here spanned by a suspension bridge, the expense of which was defrayed by the late Colonel Wilson. The township comprises the hamlet of Stakesby. There are two Lancasterian schools, partly supported by subscription."
"SLEIGHTS, a chapelry in the parish of Whitby, Whitby Strand liberty, North Riding county York, 3 miles S.E. of Whitby. It is a station on the York and Berwick branch railway."
"STAKESBY, a hamlet in the township of Ruswarp and parish of Whitby, North Riding county York, near Whitby."
"UGGLEBARNBY, a chapelry and township in the parish of Whitby, liberty of Whitby-Strand, North Riding county York, 4 S.W. of Whitby, its post town, and 1½ mile S. of the Sleights railway station. The parish includes the hamlet of Iburndale, and is intersected by the stream called Little Beck. The manor formerly belonged to Whitby Abbey, and at the Dissolution came into the possession of the Archbishop of York. The living is a perpetual curacy annexed to that of Eskdaleside, in the diocese of York. The church was erected in 1137 by Nicholas, abbot of Whitby. The charities produce about £12 per annum."
The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland
by Colin Hinson ©2013