"SHEFFIELD, the ancient seat of the cutlery manufactures, and in population and consequence ranks as the second town in the west riding, in the parish of its name, in the southern division of Strafforth and Tickhill wapentake, is 163 miles from London, 53 from York, 41 from Manchester, 33 from Leeds, 18 from Doncaster and 6 from Rotherham. The town is delightfully situated on a rising ground, surrounded by a beautiful valley, with a range of romantic hills in the perspective. It is a place of high antiquity, and its ancient designation was Sheaffield, from being placed at the junction of the rivers Don and Sheaf. When archery supplied the use of fire arms throughout England, it was much celebrated for the manufacture of iron heads of arrows; and the poet Chaucer mentions it as being famous for the blades of knives, for, in speaking of a character in one of his poems, he says, ' A Shefeld Thwytel bare he in his hose.' A thwytel, or whittle, was a knife, such as was carried about the person so late as the time of Charles I. About the middle of the last century the inhabitants began to display their ingenuity and ability in making considerable improvements in the different articles in the cutlery trade, and from that period to the present time, in excellence of quality, in variety of pattern, and in quantity, no place in the world call vie with the trade of Sheffield. The principal goods produced here are table knives and forks, pen and pocket knives, joiner's tools of every description, silver plated articles of particular excellence, Britannia metal goods, and an endless variety of articles of a minor description. A stranger visiting Sheffield will find in the shew rooms of the manufacturer objects of attraction, curious and splendid, and by a reference to the advertisements at the end of this work, he will be guided to establishments where he will be most pre-eminently gratified. Formerly the commercial resources of this town were munch confined, being only extended to some of the principal places in England, and the mode of conveying them to the metropolis was by pack horses, once a week. It is little more than seventy years since it enjoyed the advantages of a trade with the continent of Europe. Mr. Joseph Broadbent was the first person who opened an immediate connection, and the conveyance of goods was much facilitated by the Don being soon after made navigable to within three miles of the town, and has lately been cut so as to come direct up to it. From this moment Sheffield began to grow in spirit and commercial consequence, the pack horse was superseded by the accomplished traveller and the man of business. An increase of orders and wealth produced a corresponding increase in invention and competition; industry and prosperity went hand in hand, and immense quantities of goods have long been exported to all parts of the habitable globe. In the year 1624 the principal cutlers formed themselves into a body corporate, consisting of one master, two wardens, six searchers, twenty-four assistants, and the rest commonalty; and the same year was sanctioned by an act of parliament. The purport of their thus forming themselves as it were into one body, was for the protection of the trade : there are at present about six hundred members, who have a hall for the transaction of business belonging to the company, and for occasionally enjoying a festive hour. In this town and its immediate neighbourhood there are several foundries for iron, brass and white metal; and numerous works are established on the banks of the rivers, for the purpose of slitting and otherwise preparing the iron and steel for the manufactures. The carpet manufacture is also carried on in Sheffield to a considerable extent. The introduction of Sheffield plate naturally gave to the trade here a share in the manufacture of silver plate, and that the manufacturers might be relieved from the necessity of sending their goods to be stamped in London, au assay office was established in Sheffield, which was opened on the 20th of September, 1773.
This town boasts several handsome churches, other public buildings appropriated to trade and the municipal affairs of the town; institutions, scholastic and other charitable establishments, &c. The parish church, called St. Peter's, is a fine specimen of Gothic architecture, erected in the time of Henry I. the interior rendered comfortable and convenient by many recent repairs, highly creditable to those connected with the management; many persons of distinction lie interred in it, amongst, which are, Mary, Countess of Northumberland, Lady Elizabeth Butler, Elizabeth, Countess of Lennox, mother to the unfortunate Lady Arabella Stuart, four earls of Shrewsbury, and Peter Roflet, the French secretary to Mary Queen of Scots. St. Paul's, situated in Norfolk street, is a handsome Grecian structure, erected in 1720. St. James's church, in Vicar's-croft, was built in 1788, and is admired for its general accommodation. St. George's, is situated at Portobello - St. Philip's, at Shales moor; and St. Mary's, at Little Sheffield. There is also a chapel belonging to the Duke of Norfolk's hospital; and upwards of fifteen places of worship for dissenters. Carity, the attribute of feeling minds, displays itself in almost every varied form throughout the town; and schools for imparting knowledge and instruction to the young are every where discernable. An infirmary, situate near, and free from the smoke and noise of the town, yields assistance to those afflicted with the double evil of poverty and disease; this truly laudable institution, a lasting monument of the goodness of the more fortunate part of the community of Sheffield, was raised by a subscription, amounting to about £20,000. in the year 1793, and continues to be supported by voluntary contributions, with a spirit of laudable charity truly praise-worthy. Several ancient endowed hospitals give shelter to the aged and infirm, and affords a home to them in an age of life when the want of mental energy could not supply it for themselves. Amusement appears to be a secondary consideration, as scarcely any town equal in extent possesses fewer resorts for the votaries of fashion and gaiety. The theatre is large, but seldom well attended, especially by the genteeler classes of society. The assembly room, in Norfolk-street, is very handsome, and constitutes the principal fashionable place of recreation. The town-hall is neat and commodious, and in which are held all meetings, sessions, &c. connected with the magistracy and civil government of the town; and a court of requests, for the recovery of debts not exceeding five pounds, weekly. A gas light company was established under an act of parliament obtained in 1818, and on the night of the 10th of October, in the following year, that superior light illuminated the town. The weekly markets are held in a spacious and very commodious building, every Tuesday and Saturday; and fairs are held the Tuesday after Trinity Sunday, and November 28th. The parish of Sheffield, including the townships of Ecclesall, Bierlow, Brightside-Bierlow, Attercliffe-Cum-Darnall, Nether Hallam and Upper Hallam, Contains a population, according to the returns made in 1821, of 65,275, the township of Sheffield containing 42,157 of that number, being an increase since the census of 1801 of 10,843 inhabitants."
Pigot's National Commericial Directory for 1828-29
by Colin Hinson ©2007