"SELBY, is a market town, in the parish of its name, having no dependent township, partly in the liberty of St. Peter of York, East Riding, and partly in the lower division of Barkstone Ash, West Riding, 177 miles n. by w. from London, 61 n.e. from Manchester, 20 e. from Leeds, 15 s. from York, 13 s.e. from Tadcaster, and 7.5 n. from Snaith. The Saxon name of the place was Selebia, whence its present appellation is derived. The town is seated on the river Ouse, over which is one of the most complete timber bridges in the kingdom. It appears not to have been known or noticed in history previous to the conquest, otherwise than as a convenient place for fishermen. In the year 1070 William the Conqueror erected a monastery for Benedictine monks, in memory of St. Germain, who quashed the Pelagian heresy; and having repaired hither with his consort to settle the endowment, she was delivered of a prince, who succeeded to the throne by the title of Henry 1st, from which circumstance the town was endowed with many privileges, and has ever since derived great celebrity from its being the birthplace of one of our kings. A canal from Selby communicates with the Aire and Calder navigation, from which circumstance it has become the unloading port of the West Riding, and since the invention of steam vessels has also become the principal thoroughfare to Hull, the river Ouse being so well adapted for vessels of this description. Previous to the establishment of these vessels, scarcely a stage coach was ever known to enter the town, but now there are several passing through it, to and from York, Leeds and Doncaster ; also a number of regular trading vessels to and from London and Hull, and an establishment of fly boats to Wakefield, Leeds, Huddersfield, Manchester, &c. for the conveyance of goods brought by the steam packets ; affording an expeditious intercourse of commerce between the great manufacturing districts and Hull. There is also a railway constructing from hence to Leeds, which it is expected will be completed about September 1834 ; and a new road to Doncaster, by way of Askern, which will shorten the distance between the two towns six miles. The town is well supplied with water, and lighted with gas ; the houses are in general well built, especially those forming the crescent, which are handsome residences ; and most of the streets are well paved. The Hon. Edward Robert Petre is lord of the manor, and holds manorial courts, leet and baron twice annually ; this gentleman gave the site for the erection of the town hall, which was built in 1825. A branch custom house is established here, and vessels can now proceed from hence direct to any part of the kingdom, without the inconvenience of touching at the port of Hull, to which they were formerly liable ; and upwards of eight hundred vessels, with cargoes, clear coastwise from hence annually. The chief article exported is stone, which is sent coastwise, and the principal trades carried on in the town are sail, rope, and shoe thread making ; boat and barge building , brewing, tanning, and iron and brass founding. A good news room and library will be found at Mr. Galpine's in the Market place.
The church, formerly conventual, and belonging to the abbey, dedicated to St. Mary and St. Germain, is an elegant spacious pile ; many traces of its former magnificence are apparent, and the endless variety of its architecture, although in a state of decay, is beautiful beyond description. The windows contain numerous specimens of stained glass, and in the interior are many curious monuments. The tower fell down in the year 1690, and was rebuilt in its present shape in the year 1702 : the living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Petre family, and incumbency of the Rev. Jonathan Muncaster. The other places of worship are for the Wesleyan and primitive methodists, calvinists, unitarians, society of friends, and Roman catholics, who have each a chapel, and some of them have Sunday schools attached. The other schools and charities are, a free grammar school, founded by Edward 6th ; brown and blue coat schools, for boys, one for girls ; ' Fosters' boy's school ; the feoffee's school and alms houses ; and charities, dispensed by the feoffees, amounting to 200. per annum. The weekly market is on Monday; and the fairs are held on Easter Tuesday, Monday after June 22nd, and October 11th, for cattle, fairs for flax, &c. the Tuesday before Candlemas day, Tuesday before Old Lady day, Tuesday before Whit Sunday, Saturday before Old Michaelmas day, Thursday before Old Martlemas, and Thursday before Christmas. The parish of Selby contained at the census taken in 1821, 4,097 inhabitants, and in 1831, 4,600."