TADCASTER, a market and parish-town, in the wapentake of Barkston-Ash and Ainsty, a part in the liberty of St. Peter; 6 miles from Aberford, 7 from Wetherby, 10 from York, 12 from Ferrybridge, 12½ from Selby, 14 from Pontefract, 15 from Leeds, 190 from London. Market, Wednesday. Fairs, last Wednesday in April, May, September, and October, for horned cattle, sheep, pigs, &c. Principal Inns, White Horse, Rose and Crown, and the Angel. Pop. 1,651, the Ainsty: 775. The Church is a vicarage, dedicated to St. Mary (see Churches for photograph), in the deanry of the Ainsty, value, ~£8. 4s. 9d. Patron, the Earl of Egremont.
Tadcaster, a clean well built town, stands on both sides of the river Wharfe, upon the high road to London; and although it is not a place of much trade, the thoroughfare gives it an appearance of liveliness and bustle.
This town is supposed to have been the Calcaria of the Romans; as the distance from York, exactly corresponds with that given by Antoninus in his Itinerary. Many coins of the Roman Emperors have been found here; and the place is still famous for its limestone. Here was formerly a castle; from the ruins of which the present noble bridge was erected, near 100 years ago. The middle of this bridge, is the out bounds of the Ainsty; and may be said to be the very out post or gate of the city of York on that side.
The trench, which surrounded the town, and of which there are still some remains, was probably thrown up during the civil wars of Charles I. by the troops under The Earl of Newcastle.
Sir Thomas Fairfax relates, that, on his hearing the Earl, with 4,000 men, was advancing to attack him in Tadcaster, where he lay with only 900 men, the town being quite untenable, he marched out; and a sharp conflict took place, which lasted from 11 o'clock in the forenoon, till it was quite dark, when both parties drew off. Sir Thomas retreated to Selby, during the night; and the Earl of Newcastle took possession of Tadcaster, where the royalists remained, till near the commencement of the siege of York. There were slain, on both sides, about 300, but none of note, except Capt. Lister, who was shot in the head by a musket ball. In Thoresby's Ducatus Leod. there is a remarkable instance of filial affection, relating to that gentleman. His son passing through Tadcaster many years after, had the curiosity to enquire where his father was buried; and, finding the sexton digging in the choir, he shewed him a skull, just dug up, which he averred to be his father's; the skull, upon handling, was found to have a bullet in it; which testimony of the truth of the sexton's words, so struck the son, that he sickened at the sight, and died soon after.
The neighbourhood of this town, is particularly remarkable for the bloody field of Towton, the Pharsalia of England. See Towton.
[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]