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Help and advice for YORK: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1868.

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YORK: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1868.

"YORK, a city, borough, and a market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, a city and county of itself, having exclusive jurisdiction, and the seat of an archdiocese, locally in the Ainsty, on the borders of the East and West Ridings of county York, 198 miles N.W. of London by road, or 191 by the Great Northern, and 220 by the North Midland railways. The city comprises the parishes of{ St Cuthbert,} St Olave, St Mary Bishophill the Younger, St Mary Bishophill the Elder, Holy Trinity Micklegate, St Michael-le-Belfrey, and many others; It is one of the most famous as well as one of the most ancient towns of England. It is situate in a flat spot on the Ouse, where the Foss joins it; was Ebrauc or Eborac of the British Brigantes, on Watling Street, Eboracum of the Romans, who made it an imperial colony, and the capital of Maxima Cæsariensis. It was given up by the Romans 426-7. By the Anglo-Saxons it was called Eoferwic, from the Eure or Yore, another name for the Ouse. Athelstan is said to have established a mint here in 937. It underwent many changes from Saxons and Danes till the time of William the Conqueror, who built a castle here. At the making of Domesday (1080-6) it had 654 houses, of which 145 were French or Norman. It was burnt in 1137 with the cathedral and 40 churches. Being so near the borders of Scotland, it had its share in the turbulent scenes enacted in the border wars; in the wars of the Roses it and its neighbourhood was the scene of many bloody conflicts, and though it chiefly sided with the White Rose party, as might have been expected from the heads of that party deriving their title from it, yet it was frequently occupied by the opposite side, and its lofty gates exhibited the barbarous spectacle of the heads of the Lancasterian and Yorkist chiefs alternately as either party were victorious. It has been visited from time to time by almost all our kings. It rebelled against Henry VII. in 1488; but was soon subdued by the Earl of Surrey, and the leaders of the insurrection executed. In Henry VIII.'s reign, among many insurrections in the north caused by the dissolution of the monasteries, the most formidable, styled by the principal leaders of it "The Pilgrimage of Grace," made themselves masters of the city, and compelled the archbishop to take the oath and join their party. When this and other disturbances of the same nature had ceased, the king visited York and remained twelve days. He had, in 1537, established at York a permanent council for the government of the northern counties; the president of which, with the title of Lord President of the North, had his palace at the King's Manor, built of the materials of the suppressed abbey of St. Mary's. The celebrated Earl of Stafford inhabited it for some time; and his arms, quartered with those of the royal family, may still be seen over the main entrance. At his impeachment by the House of Commons it was made an article in the indictment that he had presumed to place his private shield on a royal mansion. A mint was again set up in York by Lord Chancellor Goodrick, Bishop of Ely, in 1551, 5th of Edward VI. York held with Charles I. in the parliamentary wars, till, after a siege of three months by General Fairfax, and being relieved for a short time by Prince Rupert, it was taken July, 1644, when Cromwell visited it. In 1746, after the retreat of the Pretender into Scotland, many who had taken a part in that rebellion were tried, and eleven persons, mostly gentlemen, were executed at York, and its gates were again defiled by human heads. From the unfortunate Richard II. this city received its principal immunities and privileges. He is recorded to have taken his sword from his side, and given it to be borne before William de Selby, as first Lord Mayor of York; this being the only city besides the three metropolis cities of London, Edinburgh, and Dublin that enjoys the privilege of its chief magistrate being styled "My Lord." The corporation of the city, as stated by the Municipal Corporation Commissioners in their report in 1835, claims to be a corporation by prescription. The earliest charter extant is one of Henry II., which confirms all the liberties, laws, customs, guilds, merchants, &c., in England and Normandy as they were held in the time of Henry I. Richard II. constituted the city of York a county of itself, and authorised it to elect two sheriffs, who, with the lord mayor, should have cognizance of all pleas and actions within the city limits. In the time of Henry VI., the Ainsty, a wapentake of the county, situated on the W. of the city, was annexed to the city, but was, by Act of Parliament in 1837, during the reign of William IV., re-annexed to the West Riding of the county. A common council was established by letters patent in the time of Henry VIII. as a part of the corporation; and a charter of Charles I. introduced the election of 18 members of this council for each of the four wards of the city. Charles II., in the last year of his reign, offended at the citizens for not having paid proper attention to his brother James, Duke of York (afterwards James II.), on his second visit to them, took the government of the city out of the hands of the lord mayor, and deprived the city of its charter, which, however, James on his accession renewed. When the corporation was dissolved by the passing of the Municipal Reform Act in 1835, it consisted of the lord mayor, 12 aldermen, 2 sheriffs, 32 persons who had served the office of sheriff, and were commonly called "the twentyfour," 72 common councilmen, a recorder, 2 city council, a town-clerk, 2 coroners, and a number of interior officers. By the Municipal Corporation Act in 1835, the city was divided into six wards. Previously it had been divided into four, viz:, Micklegate, Walmgate, Bootham, and Monkwards; it has now in addition to these Castlegate and Guildhall wards. Each ward elects six councillors, two of whom go out yearly in turn, but are capable of re-election. The councillors elect 12 aldermen, who serve for six years. Under the old corporation, the lord mayor, aldermen, sheriffs, and twenty-four met in a chamber separate from the councilmen; hence the two were called the Upper and the Lower House. Under the new Act the entire body meet in the same place. The style and title of the corporation is "The lord mayor and commonalty of the city of York," who are charged with the management and protection of the city. There was formerly a board of commissioners appointed to superintend the lighting, paving, and cleaning of the streets; but the recent Health of Towns Act abolished the board, and the duties now devolve upon the corporation, who are constituted by the same Act the local board of health with greatly extended powers. The lord mayor resides during his term of office at the Mansion House. This building was erected in 1725. It is chiefly celebrated for its state-room, which occupies the entire length of the front. The interior is ornamented with the royal arms and the arms of the city over the fireplace at each end. It also contains a collection of paintings, full-length portraits of William III., George II., George IV., Marquis of Rockingham, Duke of Richmond, Lord Dundas, &c. The Guildhall stands behind the Mansion House, and is approached through a gateway which forms part of the front of that building; it was erected by the mayor and commonalty in concert with the master and brethren of the guild of St. Christopher in 1446. At the Reformation this society was dissolved, and its property, including the Guildhall, granted to the mayor and commonalty of the city. It is a Gothic room; the roof is supported by large pillars of oak; over the entrance is a painting of St. Paul pleading before King Agrippa, by Richard Marsden, presented to the corporation in 1852 by the Rev. Thomas H. Lane Fox, of Bramham Park. The hall contains also a massive silver bell, captured from the great Pagoda at Rangoon at the storming of that city in April, 1852, presented to the city by the 51st regiment, or Yorkshire West Riding regiment. It was placed in the hall in July, 1855. The court of sessions for the city is held here before the city recorder. At the further extremity is the petty sessions room, where the magistrates hear minor cases; also council-room, record-room, county court and other offices. The principal courts, however, are in the castle. Some people have supposed that the site of the present castle and Clifford's Tower, at the junction of the rivers Fosse and Ouse, was anciently occupied as a British fortress before it was held by the Romans. William the Conqueror rebuilt the castle and erected the Clifford's Tower, now a ruins, but one of the greatest ornaments of the city. It derived its name from one of the Cliffords being its first governor, and stands on a lofty mound of earth in the castle yard. The castle was rebuilt by Richard III. It continued in the possession of the crown for many years, and was used as the official residence of the high sheriffs of Yorkshire, and the depository of the revenues and munitions of the crown. After it ceased to be used as a military post, it was converted into a county prison. The original county courts were erected in 1673, the old building now forming the debtors' prison in 1708, and the present courts in 1777. They consisted of a county hall 150 feet by 45, with circular civil and criminal courts having domes 40 feet high and Ionic portico of 4 columns. In 1821 it was resolved to remodel the whole prison; the area of the castle was greatly enlarged, the additional space being defended by a lofty stone wall, including Clifford's Tower, which previously stood without the walls: and four double prisons were erected with airing courts radiating from the governor's house in the centre, from which the whole maybe inspected. These alterations cost £203,530, and were finished in 1836. The county courts are on the S.W. side of the area; the building on the opposite side contains the female wards. The old building with clock, formerly the felons' ward, is now assigned to the debtors. The original castle and tower were strongly defended by a deep moat, and approached by drawbridges, which have long been removed. York was the seat of a bishop in very ancient times. Eborius is mentioned as its bishop at the Council of Arles in France, A.D. 314. Gregory the Great made York, as well as Canterbury, an archiepiscopal see. For more than a hundred years a bitter contention existed between the archbishops of the two sees regarding precedency; it was first openly begun in the reign of the Conqueror between Lanfranc of Canterbury and Thomas of York; it was at length settled by the pope in the reign of Henry II., A.D. 1176, who "to end old divisions," says Fuller in his Church History, "made a new distinction, making the Archbishop of York primate of England, and the Archbishop of Canterbury primate of ALL England." The Archbishop of York's province includes the dioceses of York, Carlisle, Chester, Durham, Sodor and Man, and the lately erected sees of Manchester and Ripon; Worcester, Lichfield, and Lincoln anciently belonged to it. It contains the counties of Cheshire, Lancashire, York, Westmoreland, Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, and the Isle of Man (Notts having been transferred to Canterbury). The archbishop is Lord High Almoner, and has the privilege of placing the crown on the Queen Consort's head at coronations. His income is £10,000, with the patronage of about 130 livings. The chapter comprises a dean, income £1,250 (in the year 1379 the deanery was valued at £400), precentor, chancellor, subdean, succentor, 3 archdeacons, 4 canons, and 24 prebendaries (now only honorary), and 5 minor canons. The archbishop's palace is at Bishopthorpe, a village 3 miles S.E. from the city. It is an object of interest to visitors, who are allowed access on certain public days by application to the housekeeper. Anciently the archbishop had a palace on the N. side of the cathedral. Archbishop Boyer is said to have rebuilt it towards the end of the 12th century, and a small portion of his work is still remaining, as is the chapel of the palace of a later date. This building, having long been an unsightly ruin, was repaired in the time of Dean Markham, and is now used as the library of the dean and chapter. This library was originally commenced by the widow of Archbishop Matthews (she died in 1629 at the age of 78), who presented it with all her husband's books. It possesses also some valuable old MSS., some of Caxton's books, Erasmus's Greek Testament on vellum, &c., &c. It is open to the public under certain restrictions. Near this library is the new deanery; the old residence of the dean, which was on the S. side of the minster, having been taken down. A house for the residence of the canons residentiary was a few years back erected on the N. side of the minster, on the site of part of the ancient archiepiscopal palace. York Poor-law Union contains, besides the city parishes, 16 parishes in York Ainsty, 13 parishes of the East Riding, 19 parishes in the North Riding. The superintendent registry contains the same, with the exception of 5 parishes, namely, Benningbrough, Lillings Ambo, Flaxton, Kexby, and Stamford Bridge. The new county-court district corresponds with the registrar's. The greatest ornament of York is its minster or cathedral. It dates from Saxon times. Edwin, the fifth Saxon King of Northumbria, and a native, it is said, of York, had married Ethelburga, the daughter of Ethelbert, King of Kent, and having through her influence and the zeal of Paulinus, a companion of St. Augustine, become a convert to Christianity, was, with Coiffi, the heathen priest, and a considerable number of the nobles of his kingdom, baptized by Paulinus on Easter Day, A.D. 627, at York, in the church of St. Peter, "which," says Bede, "he had hastily constructed of wood while he was a catechumen, and being prepared to receive baptism." Soon afterwards, by the advice of Paulinus, to whom he had given York as his episcopal see (and who, receiving the pallium from Rome, was subsequently elevated to the rank of archbishop), Edwin made preparations for building a larger and a nobler church, in which the oratory that he had previously constructed, and in which he had been baptized, might be enclosed. He laid the foundation and began to raise the edifice, but before the walls were completed he was slain. The work was finished by his successor, Oswald, but when he had also fallen, and Paulinus had been compelled to retire with Ethelburga into Kent, the church was wholly neglected and fell into ruins. From this state the bishop, St. Wilfrid, restored it about the end of the 7th century. About fifty years after this, in the year 741, this edifice was greatly injured by fire. In the episcopate of Albert, who was elected to the see of York in the year 767, a new church was begun, finished, and dedicated. This edifice is said to have been one of the most magnificent of the Anglo-Saxon churches. A small but interesting portion of this church, comprising a part of the earlier church built by Edwin, was brought to light during the excavation of the present choir after the calamitous fire in February, 1829. This building, however, together with its library, collected and given to it by Archbishop Egbert, was destroyed in the great conflagration of the city in the beginning of the reign of William the Conqueror. Archbishop Thomas, who was appointed to the see by William in the year 1070, finding the church thus despoiled, "rebuilt it (according to the testimony of his friend Hugo the precentor) from the foundation, and adorned and enriched it with books and clergy." This building also suffered from fire, being in great part destroyed in the year 1137, after which it was rebuilt, it is generally supposed, by Archbishop Roger, but some say that the work of Roger was confined to repairs, alterations, and additions. The next account we have is the building of the present S. transept by Archbishop Walter Grey, which was commenced about the year 1220, and finished 1241. The rebuilding of the N. transept, it is thought, was begun by the same prelate, but not completed till several years after his death, namely, in 1260, by John le Romaine, treasurer of the cathedral. There are no documents in existence relating to the building' of the chapter house, but it is conjectured with some probability that this structure was erected between the years 1280 and 1340. The present nave was begun in the year 1291, in the episcopate of John le Romaine, son of the treasurer of the same name, but not finished till the year 1360, in the episcopate of Thoresby, by whom the present choir was begun, but not completed before the year 1472. About that time the central or lantern tower was finished; and shortly afterwards the upper story of the north-western tower, the south-western tower having been finished probably about thirty years earlier. This Archbishop Thoresby appears to have been one of the most munificent contributors to the erection of York Minster; he found many liberal co-workers; the central tower was erected by John Skirraw, a prebendary of York; the towers at the W. end by John de Birmingham. This cathedral is cruciform, measuring in length from base to base of buttresses E. and W. about 519 feet, and from base to base of the transept 249 feet. It consists of a nave with side aisles (these are unequalled for grandeur in this kingdom, being as lofty as those at Westminster, but not so narrow), two transepts with side aisles, a choir with side aisles, a lady chapel, a large central tower, two bell towers, and a chapter house with its vestibule. This chapter house is of octagonal form, the angular diameter being 60 feet 6 inches, and the height of the central boss from the floor 62 feet. The roof is unsupported by any pillar. It has been lately decorated by Willement. In it are preserved several curious articles of ancient times, such as the carved ivory horn of Ulphus of Deira, a silver crosier brought from Portugal by Charles II. a queen; &c. &c. The internal height of the nave is 93 feet, of the choir 101 feet, of the central tower (internally) 182 feet. The height of the western towers is about 201 feet to the top of the pinnacles, 178 feet to the top of the battlement. During the Commonwealth period the interior of the cathedral suffered much injury, and several of the ancient monuments were demolished or mutilated, but the greatest injuries were inflicted during the present century, when it has twice been nearly destroyed by fire. The first time was on February 2nd, 1829. It was the work of a maniac, Jonathan Martin (the brother of the famous painter of the "Deluge," "Belshazzar's Feast," &c.). He had concealed himself in the Minster the preceding day, Sunday, after divine service. He was soon apprehended and tried, but acquitted on the ground of insanity. He was sent to a lunatic asylum, where he died, October, 1838. By this fire the whole of the roof of the choir, 222 feet long, was destroyed, with the woodwork on each side; and the walls above the arches of the choir were so much damaged, that it was found necessary to rebuild them; the organ was burnt, and the altar screen so much injured as to render a new one necessary; the communion plate also was melted. No time was lost in repairing these injuries; but the restorations were scarcely, completed when another fire occurred, hardly less destructive in its results. A workman who had been employed to repair the clock, with most culpable negligence, left his candle burning when he quitted his work. This was on the evening of May 20th, 1840; and by nine o'clock the south-western tower, in which he had been working, was discovered to be in flames. By twelve o'clock this tower, with its peal of bells, was destroyed, and the whole of the roof of the nave had fallen in. The progress of the flames was on both occasions checked by the great central tower. The parts destroyed have since been entirely reconstructed by Sir Robert Smirke, at a cost of above £100,000, raised by subscription. In the place of the old peal of 10 bells, a new peal of 12 bells, of large size and fine tone, was presented to the Minster by the late Dr. Beckwith, in 1844. A new great bell was also cast for the Cathedral by Mr. Mears, of London (at whose foundry the peal was cast), in 1845, and paid for by subscription. It is hung in the N.W. tower, and is the largest bell in the kingdom, weighing 113 tons, and exceeding by 4 tons Great Tom of Oxford; it is 123 feet in diameter and 73 high. The new organ, built by Messrs. Elliott and Hill, was presented by the Hon. and Rev. Lumley Savile, afterwards Earl of Scarborough, at a cost of £8,000; it has 53 stops and 4,200 pipes. The communion plate was presented by the archbishop, in addition to his subscription of £2,000. Government made a grant of timber to the value of £500. At the period of the suppression of monasteries by Henry VIII., York contained 41 parish churches, 17 chapels, 16 hospitals, and 10 religious houses; of the churches there remain 23. All Saints Church, in North-street, has a spire 120 feet high. In the S. wall, which is built in part of Roman bricks, is a piece of Roman sculpture. All Saints, Pavement, an ancient church, belonged to Durham Priory, previous to the Conquest. The steeple was in ancient times furnished with a lantern, as a guide to travellers through the forest of Galtres, N. of the city. Holy Trinity, Goodram Gate, is an ancient building, in which are some old monuments and specimens of painted glass. Many of the stones in its walls are marked with fire, supposed to have been occasioned by the fire which, in the reign of Stephen, destroyed the Cathedral and 39 churches, with a large portion of the city. St. Crux, Pavement, belonged atone time to St. Mary's Abbey. It was rebuilt in the early part of the 15th century; the tower about the close of the 17th century. The Earl of Northumberland, who was beheaded in 1572, was buried in this church. St. Dennis, Walmgate, was an ancient rectory, the property of the hospital of St. Leonard. It has an Anglo-Norman porch, in good preservation. During the siege of York by the Parliamentarians, in 1644, the spire of this church was injured by a cannon ball; and being afterwards further damaged by lightning, it was taken down about 60 years ago, and the present spire erected. St. Helen's, Stonegate, occupies, according to tradition, the site of a temple of the goddess Diana, and Roman foundations have been discovered about 7 feet below the surface of the ground. This church was closed by Act of Parliament during the reign of Edward VI., in consequence of its awkward situation at the junction of three streets, but reopened in the following reign. St. Lawrence, without Walmgate Bar, is small, without aisles. Its particularities are, a Roman porch, an ancient and curious font, and St. Lawrence on the gridiron, sculptured on the base of the spire. St. Margaret, Walmgate, is an ancient structure, with a porch concealed from general view by the houses built in front of it. The porch consists of 4 recessed circular arches, with curiously-sculptured representations, and supported on light round pillars. On the top of the porch is a small stone crucifix, a carving supposed to belong to the 11th or 12th century, and to have been brought from the hospital of St. Nicholas, without the city. St. Mary, Bishophill the younger, has the largest square tower of any parish church in the city. St. Mary, Castlegate, has a spire 155 feet high, which has been twice injured by lightning. St. Michael's, Spurriergate, an ancient building, had been much improved by the removal of houses on the S. side. The rectory of this parish was given by William the Conqueror to the Abbey of St. Mary. St. Michael-le-Belfry, Petergate, is the most spacious and the most elegant of the York parochial churches. The present edifice dates from 1545, the previously existing church having been built about the time of the Conquest. St. Olave, Marygate, is, with the exception of the Minster, the oldest ecclesiastical foundation in York. A monastery was founded here by Seward, Earl of Northumbria, who was buried in it in 1005. The buildings were so much injured during the siege in 1644, that in 1732 they were taken down, and the present church built out of the ruins of the abbey. St. Sampson, Church-street, is old, with a steeple, on the W. side of which may be traced the figure of St. Sampson, or Sanxo, who is said to have been Bishop of York in the time of the Britons. The steeple was injured in the parliamentary siege. St. Saviour, St. Saviour-gate, has been recently restored. Among the monuments in this edifice are those of Sir John Harley and his lady, whose bequest for the promotion of religious instruction has been so much under discussion in the chancery courts. The, living was given by William the Conqueror to Whitby Abbey. St. Martin, Coney-street, was a parish church at the time of the Domesday survey. The square tower at the S.W. angle contains a peal of 8 bells, presented by W. Thompson, Esq., in 1729. The interior, and several parts of the exterior, were repaired about 1855, and it is now one of the most beautiful churches in the city. St. Martin cum Gregory, Micklegate, is an ancient building, but the steeple was rebuilt in 1677. The windows contain some painted glass. In 1585 the church of St. Gregory was united with St. Martin, hence its present name. The new churches are St. Paul's, Holgate-road, completed 1852; St. Thomas, Lowther-street, erected in 1854. The other principal buildings in York are the Centenary chapel of the Wesleyan Methodists, erected in 1839; the Unitarian chapel, erected in 1692, principally by Lady Henley; Salem chapel, belonging to the Independents, erected in 1838, at a cost of £5,000, and capable of accommodating 1,700 persons. The Royal school of St. Peter's, Bootham, bought within the present century for the cathedral school founded by Queen Mary in 1557; the Bluecoat charity, on Neaseholme-green; the Diocesan training school, for the supply of schoolmasters for the parochial schools. There are several other grammar schools, founded by charitable individuals in olden times. A school for the blind, which occupies the Manor House before-mentioned as the palace of the Lord-President of the North, was established in 1836, in memory of the late W. Wilberforce, by subscription and donation, which in 1837 amounted to £8,439. The York lunatic asylum, Bootham, was first established in 1772; in 1813 one of the wards of the asylum was burnt down, and four patients, who had been chained to the walls, perished in the flames. The Retreat, a lunatic asylum of the Society of Friends, was built in 1796. It will now accommodate 140 patients. It is situate about one mile E. of the city. Half a mile E. of the city, on the Fulford-road, is the cemetery, 8 acres in extent, formed in 1836, by a company. The County Hospital, in Northgate, was founded in 1740, but the present building was erected in 1850. There are gasworks, waterworks, and cavalry barracks; also a racecourse, about a mile from the city, southward, where a grand stand was erected in 1754 by the corporation. The races are held twice a Year-April and August. There is a theatre in St. Leonard's-place; and assembly rooms, for concerts and balls, designed by the Earl of Burlington, in Blake-street, near the site of the ancient church of St. Wilfrid. The largest room is 112 feet in length, by 40 wide, and as many high. St. Mary's Abbey, in ruins, occupies the site of a monastery founded by Siward, Earl of Northumbria, and dedicated to St. Olave, the Danish king and martyr. In the time of William Rufus its name was changed to St. Mary. In 1137 the monastery was consumed by fire, but rebuilt in 1270 by Simon de Warwick, the abbot, whose building remained till the Dissolution, in 1540. The site and remains of the abbey were in the possession of the crown until purchased by the Philosophical Society in 1826. The first stone of the museum of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society was laid October 24th, 1827, and the building opened February 22nd, 1830. In the museum gardens stands the Roman multi-angular tower, which formed an angle of the wall of the ancient Eboracum. The late Dr. Beckwith, who died in 1843, by his will directed the sum of £10,000 to be paid to the Society, for the better promotion of its objects. Here are attached to the gardens the swimming-baths, the property of the Society; the large bath is 120 feet by 80. The city walls, as rebuilt by Edward I. about 1280, and restored and paved with brick in 1831, make a promenade, and are 2 miles 3 furlongs round, with six gates-Micklegate Bar, where Richard Duke of York's head was placed; Bootham Bar;, Monte Bar, very old, with figures on the battlements, restored 1846; Walmgate Bar, with its old portcullis battlements and barbican, restored 1648 and 1840; Fishergate (postern gone), which, having been walled up, was reopened 1827; and Skeldergate. About 20 towers appear to be left out of the 40 which Leland saw. It gives the title of duke to a prince of the blood royal, the first one being Edward III.'s son Edmund de Langley, 1385. The first newspaper was established in 1790. There is a three-arched bridge over the Ouse, built 1810-20, for £80,000, 40 feet broad, the mid arch 75 feet span, the two others 65 feet. (The old bridge, built about 1235, broken up by floods in 1654, and restored, was at a great slant, on five pointed arches, with the mid arch 81 feet span, 26 feet high.) York has returned two members to parliament ever since the 49th year of Henry III., and by the Reform Act of 1832 the bounds were enlarged so as -to take in, besides the old city, the suburbs of Clifton Haworth and part of Talford; the population in 1851 being 40,359, and in 1861 of 45,385, while the municipal borough contained only 40,433. York is also the place of election, and a polling place for the North Riding. From the time of the Conquest to the middle of the last century, the trade and commerce of York were very considerable. There were numerous guilds or corporations of traders, who were empowered by charters from the crown to pursue their respective callings. The Ouse would admit the passage up to the bridge of the largest class of vessels at that-time employed in the merchant service; but the increase in size of trading vessels, and the distance from the sea, with other causes, led to the gradual decline of the trade of the city. York is not now the seat of any extensive manufacture. It has, however, been long celebrated for the making of shoes and leathern gloves, for combs, and other articles of horn. The confectionery, also, of York, is much celebrated. An extensive business is carried on by several druggists. The wholesale tea and coffee business is an important branch of the trade of York. Within the last sixty years the roasting of coffee was under the exclusive control of the Board of Excise, and London, Bristol, Liverpool, and York, were selected as the only places in England for the establishment of public roasting offices. The merchants of York took advantage of this privilege; the tea and coffee trade was extensively cultivated, distant connections were formed, and, though the excise restrictions no longer exist, the trade that was widely formed during their continuance has become a distinct and important part of the traffic carried on in York. The general market is held on Saturday, besides which there are smaller markets on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The corn market is on Saturday. There is a fortnightly cattle-mart or fair held on Thursday, in the cattle-market commenced in 1826, but which was in 1856 much enlarged and improved by the corporation. There is a weekly wool-market held on Thursday, during the summer months. Live-stock fairs are held on the Saturday before Old Candlemas-day, Old Lady-day, Whit-Monday, Old St. Peter's-day, Old Lammas-day, Old Michaelmas-day, Old Martinmas-day, and Old Christmas-day; the leather fairs are the first Wednesday in March, June, September, and December; the fairs for cattle, &c., are on Whit-Monday, 10th July, 12th August, and 23rd November; the yearly horse-show in the last whole week before Christmas."

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013