HEMSWORTH, a parish-town, in the wapentake of Staincross, liberty of Pontefract; (Hemsworth Hall, the seat of Sir Francis Lindley Wood, Bart.) 5½ miles S. of Pontefract, 7 from Wakefield, 9 from Barnsley, 29½ from York. Pop. 963. The Church is a rectory, dedicated to St. Helen, in the deanry of Doncaster, value, £20. 1s. 0½d. Patron, William Wrightson, Esq.
Here is an Hospital for a master, ten poor men, and ten poor women, founded and endowed by Robert Holgate, Archbishop of York, by Will, in 1555. The master of this hospital originally was to have yearly 20 marks, and each of the brethren and sisters 3s. 4d. towards their support. Great abuses in the distribution of the rents by its Trustees having afterwards happened, who had "combined together to defraud the master, brethren, and sisters, of their lands and hereditaments," and in the granting of leases, Bills in Chaucery were at different times filed, the last in April, 1805, which suit was long protracted, but on the 29th of Nov. 1816, a Decree was pronounced amply to the satisfaction of the present Master, the Rev. John Simpson, whose fidelity and resolution, in steadily pursuing the rights of the hospital, deserve the highest commendation. The estates belonging to the hospital are all situate in the three Ridings of this county. The present reserved rents are nearly £2,000. per annum. The masters share of all the revenues is one fifth, and the remaining four fifths are equally divided amongst the ten brethren and ten sisters, who are each to be not under sixty years of age when elected, except in case of blindness or other great infirmity. --Carlisle's Gram. Schools.
Thus the poor pensioners have risen from a state of poverty to affluence. The Lord Chancellor is the visitor.
Here was also founded a Free Grammar School, by Robert Holgate, Archbishop of York, in the last year of Henry VIII. 1546, which he endowed with lands and tenements to the amount, at that time, of £24. per annum. The present reserved rental of that part of the property which is now attached to Hemsworth School, is about £150. besides incidental fines on renewals of Leases. The entire patronage of, and nomination to the same, is vested in the Archbishop of York, and his successors for ever.
Archbishop Holgate was born at Hemsworth, he seems to have been not less liberal in disposing of the Manors of his See, than he was in founding schools and hospitals; for it is said in one morning, he passed away to Henry VIII. thirteen Manors in Northumberland, forty in Yorkshire, six in Nottinghamshire, and eight in Gloucestershire. --Drake.
[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]