Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. Further historical information.



SCARBOROUGH, a parish in the wapentake of Pickering Lythe, and liberty of Scarborough, in 54 degrees 17½ minutes N. latitude, and 22 minutes W. longitude, 17 miles from Pickering, 21 from Whitby, and 22 from Malton. The origin of this place is not known, but its ancient name Scearburg, is of Saxon derivation. Scear or Scar, signifying a rock, and Burgh; fortified place. Fairs, Holy-Thursday, and November 23, for Toys, &c. Bankers, Messrs. Woodall, Tindall, Taylor, & Cook, draw on Messrs. Sir Peter Pole, Thornton, & Co. Bartholomew-Lane. Principal Inns, George, Blacksmiths' Arms, Blue-Bell, New-Inn, Pied-Bull, Talbot, London-Inn.

The town is situated in the recess of a beautiful bay, on the shore of the German Ocean, and in a situation nearly central between Flamborough Head and Whitby. It rises from the shore in the form of an amphitheatre, ledge towering over ledge; and the concave slope of its semi-circular bay has a very picturesque appearance. The situation, which is admired for its various beauties, is thus described by the correct and elegant historian of Scarborough. " To the east stand the ruins of the ancient castle, whose venerable walls adorn the summit of a lofty promontory. To the south is a vast expanse of ocean, a scene of the highest magnificence. where fleets of ships are frequently passing. The recess of the side leaves a spacious area upon the sands, equally convenient for exercise and sea-bathing. The refreshing gales of the ocean, and the shade of the neighbouring hills, give an agreeable temperature to the air during the sultry heats of summer, and produce a grateful serenity."

Scarborough is supposed to have been one of those places which William the Conqueror reduced to a state of desolation so complete, that it is not mentioned in Domesday Book, and the first authentic record we have of it is to be found in a charter granted to the town by Henry II. In 1252 Henry III. granted a patent for making a new pier at Scardeburgh, as it was then called, and one of the charters of that prince mentions it as the New Town, in contra-distinction to Walsgrave or Walesgrif, which was the Old Town.

The piers, for the security of the shipping, date their origin from the time of Henry III. who, in the 36th year of his reign, granted to the bailiffs, burgesses, and inhabitants, certain duties to be taken on all merchants' ships and fishing vessels, "to make a new port with timber and stone." Owing to the confined state of the harbour, and the insufficiency of the ancient pier, an act was passed in the 5th of George II. for enlarging the pier and harbour, and a duty of a halfpenny a chaldron (1 chaldron = 36 bushels -CH 1997) is imposed upon all coals laden in any ship or vessel from Newcastle or parts belonging to it, together with certain duties or imports, exports and shipping, payable at Scarborough. Under the operation of this act the pier was extended to a length of 1200 feet in the whole. But notwithstanding this enlargement, the commissioners deemed it advisable, in order to increase the width and capacity of the harbour still more, to build a new pier, sweeping into the sea, with a large portion of a circle. The foundations of this pier are 60 feet in breadth, and at the curvature 63 feet; it will, when finished, extend 1300 feet into the sea, and about 40 feet are completed annually. The stones used in its construction are immense, many of them weighing from 20 to 30 tons each. They are got from the White Nabb quarry, about two miles to the south of the harbour, and placed in their proper situations by a simple mechanical invention of great power, constructed for the purpose. This harbour is the only port between the Humber and Tynemouth haven where ships of large burden can find a safe refuge in the violent easterly gales which sometimes prevail on this coast. The situation of the harbour unfortunately exposes it to be warped up with sand, and the agitation of the sea, in these strong easterly gales, is the most powerful agent for keeping the port from being absolutely choaked up.

Scarborough is a borough, and sends two members to parliament. It was incorporated by charter in the reign of Henry II. which has been confirmed and extended in succeeding reigns. The corporation consists of two Bailiffs, two Coroners, four Chamberlains, and a Common Council of thirty six members, classed in three branches of twelve each. The following is the list of the members of the body corporate, according to the appointments of the 18th of November, 1822:

Richard Wilson and Henry Hugall, Esquires.

Mr. Henry Cooke and Mr. Robert Marflitt

First Twelve,
Mr. John Woodall sen. Mr. Thomas Foster, Mr. Valentine Fowler, sen. Mr. John Coulson, Mr. Benjamin Fowler, Mr. Robert Tindall, Mr. Anthony Beswick, Mr. John Travis, Mr. Gawan Taylor, Mr. William Travis, Mr. John Woodall, and Mr. Thomas Keld.

Mr. Edward Hopper Hebden, Mr. George Woodhouse Porrett, Mr. Samuel Wharton, jun. and Mr. George Nesfield, sen. and Church-Warden.

Second Twelve,
Mr. Joseph N. Vickerman, Mr. Samuel Wharton, sen. Mr. William Chambers, Mr. William Moorsom, Mr. John Hill Coulson, Mr. Henry Byron, Mr. John Bell, Mr. John Tindall, Mr. James Cooper, Mr. John Maling, Mr. Thomas Duesbery, and Mr. Robert Porrett.

Third Twelve,
Mr. Thomas Adamson, Mr. Christopher Coulson, Mr. George Harrison, jun. Mr. Valentine Fowler, jun. Mr. Thomas Parkin, Mr. Musgrave Robinson, Mr. Richard Williamson, Mr. Edward Donner, Mr. John Wharton, Mr. Thomas Staines, Mr. John Woodall, jun. Mr. George Fowler, Church-Warden.

Those in Italic letters have served the office of Bailiff.

Law Officer of the Corporation.
His Grace the Duke of Rutland, Recorder.
John Travis, Esq. Deputy Recorder and Common Clerk.

This borough sent members to parliament the 23d of Edward I. and is the only place in this county, York and Hull excepted, that regularly returned members before the time of Edward VI. The right of election is in the corporation, consisting of forty-four individuals, as stated above; the Bailiffs are the returning officers, and the patrons of the borough the Duke of Rutland and the Earl of Mulgrave. The present members are the Rt. Hon. Chas. Manners Sutton. Speaker of the House of Commons, Palace yard, London; and the Hon. Edmund Phipps, 64, Mount street, London.

This place gives the title of an Earl to the noble family of Lumley which earldom was conferred by King William III. on the 15th of April, 1690. Richard III, in 1485. changed the constitution of this borough, vesting the government in the hands of a Mayor, Sheriff and twelve aldermen, and by the same charter "the town of Scardeburgh and. the manor of Wallesgrave" were erected into a separate county, but this charter not being recited or recognised by any of the succeeding kings, the corporation returned to its ancient form, and the town and manor merged again into the County of York.

No part of the British coast can afford a situation more convenient or delightful for sea-bathing than Scarborough. The bay is spacious and open to the sea; the water pure and transparent; the sand is clean, smooth and firm, and the inclination of the beach towards the sea so gradual as to be scarcely perceptible. No considerable river impairs the strength of the brine; and bathing may be performed at all times of the tide, and almost in all kinds of weather with security. The celebrated mineral waters which have rendered this a place of general resort, as well for persons of distinction as for families in the middle ranks of life, were discovered so early as the year 1620, by an intelligent lady of the name of Farrow, who having observed that they communicated a russet colour to the stones over which they passed, conjectured that they possessed medicinal qualities, and having ascertained that fact by her own experience, recommended them to others, and soon brought them into a degree of estimation which the test of two centuries has shown to be well founded. The spaws here consist of two wells, the north or chalybeate, and the south or saline well, situated on the sea-shore at the foot of the cliff, a little to the south of the town, where there is a terrace adjoining the spaw-house, from whence they are dispensed (the subscription to the spaws for the season, is 7s. 6d. each individual). in December, in the year 1737, these springs were overwhelmed, and for a time lost by the sinking of a large mass of the cliff, but by diligent search they were recovered and have ever since continued to flow with their original strength, and in unimpaired perfection. These waters, have been of course submitted to repeated analization, and the result appears to be that a gallon of the south well, or purging water, contains 237 grains of solid matter; and the north well or chalybeate water contains 233 grains in the same quantity of water :- thus

ANALYSIS. S. Well. N. Well
Sulphate of Magnesia 128 grains 98
Muriate of Magnesia 16 14
Carbonate of Lime 28 61½
Carbonate of Iron 2.6 3
Sulphate of Lime 58.4 54.4
Muriate of Natron 4 2.1
--------- -------
237 233

The saline water contains 98 ounce measures per gallon of Carbonic acid gas or fixed air; and the chalybeate water 100 ounce measures per gallon and each water contains a small quantity of gas azote or phlogisticated air(Hinderwell's History of Scarborough). The diseases which these waters relieve or remove are various and might be enumerated, but it is always safe for a patient to consult his medical attendant before he puts himself under a course of medicinal waters.

Speaking generally, sea-bathing is beneficial in nervous complaints; epilepsy; palsy; St. Vitus's Dance; disorders of the head; general debility; cutaneous disorders ; gout; rheumatism; obstructions; scrophula; intermittents and scurvy. Healthy persons, may however bathe themselves into ill health by going into the sea heated, or by continuing too long in the water. When the bathing does not produce a moderate glow after quitting the water; when the chilling sensation continues; when the extremities become cold, the spirits languid, the head disordered, or the appetite impaired, it may be concluded that bathing is rather doing harm than good. There are here three separate establishments where warm sea water baths may be had when required, two of them on the cliff; of which one is kept by Mr. Travis, surgeon; the other by Dr. William Harland; & the third, near the Pier, by Dr. Thompson and Mr. M'Turk. There is also a General Sea Bathing Infirmary, supported by voluntary contributions, on the plan of the Margate Bethesda, where the sick poor are allowed to bathe gratis.

Of the inns and lodging-houses it is unnecessary to speak in this place, as they are enumerated with great particularity in the subjoined directory. The business of the post-office, and of the coaches and waggons, a species of information so essential to both visitors and residents, will also be found stated in detail, subjoined to the list of the inhabitants of Scarborough.

The parish church of St. Mary, originally a convent for the Cistercians, is a vicarage, in the patronage of Lord Hotham, of which the Rev. John Kirk, is the incumbent. This church was formerly a spacious and magnificent structure, as the ruins at the eastern part of it sufficiently indicate, and in the time of Henry VIII. It was adorned with three ancient towers; but during the siege of the castle, a lodgment was made in it by Sir John Meldrum, and the present edifice is only a fragment of that which the Carmelites enjoyed. This is now the only church in Scarborough, though the town could once boast its three houses of "friars -gray, black, and white." The other places of worship here, are the Independents, in St. Sepulchre street; the Baptists, in Westgate; the Methodists, in Church street; the Roman Catholics, in Auborough street; and the Quakers, in St. Sepulchre street; on the last of whom it may be remarked, that the founder of their community, George Fox, was imprisoned in the castle here, twelve months, in the time of Charles II. and the room in which he was lodged part of the time, "lying," as he says. "much open, the wind drove in the rain so forcibly, that the water came over my bed, and ran about the room, so that I was glad to skim it up with a platter." This was the nature of his lodging, and of his food he says, "A three-penny loaf lasted me three weeks, and sometimes longer, and most of my drink was water, with an infusion of wormwood!"

The following was transcribed from two plaques on the outside wall of St Marys Church, Scarborough:
"St Marys Chapel First built about AD 1000 and rebuilt in the 12th century and again in the 14th century, it stands in the ruins of a Roman Signal Station built AD 370, to give warning of Anglo-Saxon raiders. Before this time the headland was occupied about 500BC buy Iron Age settlers from the Low Countries or the Rhineland."
"The Parish Church of Scarborough (1170-1200) was originally built with imposing twin towers possibly by the Masons as the Castle. Extensions and alterations, including the removal of the twin towers, were carried out during the fourteenth century. The Central Tower and the Chancel were destroyed by artillery during the Civil War when the Parliamentarians used the Church for their batteries to attack the Royalist held Castle. The existing tower was rebuilt in 1670 and the extent of the original Chancel is marked by masonry." [Rosemary Hayes, 2001]

The ancient and stupendous castle, once the glory, and still the ornament of Scarborough, was built in the reign of King Stephen, by William le Gros; Earl of Albemarle and Holderness. Here Piers de Gaveston, the favourite of Edward II. sought refuge against the exasperated barons, but after a short siege, he was obliged to surrender for want of supplies, and lost his head, as already related, in the castle of Dedington. Robert Aske, the leader of the Pilgrims of Grace, made an unsuccessful attempt upon Scarborough Castle, in 1536. In the time of Wyat's rebellion, in 1553, it was surprised and taken by the stratagem of introducing a number of soldiers, disguised as peasants. This achievement was performed by Thomas, second son of Lord Stafford, but his success was of short duration, three days afterwards the place was retaken by the Earl of Westmoreland, and Stafford; and three other of the leaders were conveyed to London, and executed for high treason. During the civil wars, in the calamitous reign of Charles I. this castle was twice besieged, and taken by the parliamentary army. The first siege lasted for twelve months, and Sir John Meldrum, by whom the forces of parliament were commanded, fell before the works. The command of the besieging army then devolved upon Sir Matthew Boynton, to whom Sir Hugh Cholmley, the governor, was obliged to surrender on the 22d of July, 1645. Colonel Boynton, the successor of the Baronet, having declared for the King, the castle once more came into the hands of the royalists, but the garrison growing mutinous, the Colonel was obliged to capitulate, and on the 19th of December, 1648, the fortress was again surrendered to parliament, and taken possession of, in their name, by Col. Bethel. This castle, sharing the fate of its fellows, was dismantled by order of parliament. But on the breaking out of the rebellion, in 1745, it underwent a temporary repair, and when the danger was over, the present barracks, containing twelve apartments, were erected, and will accommodate 120 soldiers. Since that time, three batteries have been erected for the protection of the town, and harbour, two of them at the South, and one at the North side of the castle yard.

The ruins of the castle are situated at the Eastern extremity of the town, on a lofty promontory, elevated more than 300 feet on the southern, and 330 feet on the northern side, above the level of the sea, and presenting to the north, the east, and the south, a vast range of perpendicular rocks, completely inaccessible. Its western aspect is also bold and majestic, being a high, steep, rocky, slope, commanding the town and the bay. The whole area, at the top of the hill, is upwards of nineteen acres of excellent soil, gently sloping near 20 feet from the north to the south lines. Under an arched vault, towards the East side of the castle yard, near the site of the ancient chapel, is a reservoir of water, which will contain 40 tons, called the " Lady's Well," supposed to be supplied by the rain water which falls upon the castle hill, through subterraneous drains. The approach to the castle is by a gate-way, on the summit of a narrow isthmus, on the western side above the town. Without the ditch is an outwork, which was the ancient Barbican. The walls of the tower are 12 feet thick, cased with square stone, and the mortar is so hard that it is actually crystalized into spar. In this, as in similar structures the different stories have been vaulted, and divided by strong arches. The area of the Ballium, in which the tower is situated, contains half an acre of ground; and the summit of the hill was defended on the western side by embattled walls, flanked with semi-circular towers, from which arrows were discharged, but these are now falling rapidly into decay. It is also said, that large and ponderous pieces of timber were so placed, as to be in constant readiness to be rolled down upon an enemy attempting to approach the walls. From a view of these ruins, it appears, that before the invention of artillery, this ancient and famous castle was absolutely impregnable.

-----"Nature here
Exhausted all her powers. For site she gave
A mountain, neighbour to the moon; for walls
A pensile cliff, whence down the boldest eye
With dizzy horror looks: for moat th' abyss
Of boundless ocean, spiked with guardian rocks;
Then decked the mountains top, a spacious mend
With ever verdant robes." -----

The trade and commerce of Scarborough are on a contracted scale. The exports consist chiefly of corn, butter in firkins, hams, bacon, and salt fish; and the imports of coals from Newcastle; groceries from London; & timber, deals, hemp, & flax, from the Baltic, and, in time of peace, brandy and Geneva from France and Holland. The average tonnage of the port amounts to about 25,000 tons. There are here ship-building establishments, a sail cloth manufactory, and some tolerably extensive rope walks. In the Summer season, the presence of visitors imparts a stimulus to the internal trade of the place, and the shops are, for the most part, well stocked with commodities and handsomely fitted up. The fisheries are not on a large scale, but they are conducted with spirit, and not only afford a supply to the resident inhabitants and to the company who resort hither in search of health and gratification, but they also contribute to supply the interior with wholesome food, drawn from that inexhaustable store house - the Ocean.

Three Steam Packets, the James Watt, the City of Edinburgh, & the Tourist, pass here twice a week, on their voyage between London & Edinburgh, and great facilities are thereby afforded to travellers bound either to the southern or northern metropolis. The Scarborough agents for these vessels, are, Mr. Francis Hill, and Mr. David Nicholson.

The markets, which are amply stocked with provisions, are held twice in the week, namely, on Thursday and Saturday; and the fairs, which are principally for cattle, on Holy Thursday and Old Martinmas day.

Messrs. Woodall & Co., whose banking concern is carried on in Queen street, and who draw upon Sir Peter Pole, Bart. & Co. London. are now the only bankers in Scarbro'.

The public buildings are the Town-hall, prison, the Assembly-rooms, and the Theatre, exclusive of the Baths and the Spaw-house already mentioned. The Town-hall is a spacious building, in Long Room street, where the Sessions are held, and the public business of the town transacted: the Assembly-rooms are situated in the same street, Mr. Cooke is the permanent master of the ceremonies; the subscription for the season is one guinea, and 5s. the admission fee for non-subscribers; the ball nights during the season are Tuesday and Friday in each week. The Theatre is a new building. in Tanner street, neatly fitted up, and well supplied with performers and scenic decorations.

The principal charities here are, the Hospital for worn out and disabled seamen, under the government of the Trinity House, Deptford-Strond, situated on the road to the North Sands, which affords a comfortable asylum to many families and individuals, and is supported by funds arising from ships belonging to the port of Scarborough, each of which pays sixpence per month for every person on board, so long as the ship is at sea. The Amicable Society, for clothing and educating the children of the poor, established 1729. which has under its care fifty boys and twenty girls, supported by voluntary subscriptions, and by collections after sermons preached for its support at the church: A spinning school: a Lancasterian school: a School of Industry and a number of Sunday schools.

There is also a Savings Bank in Scarborough, for receiving the savings of the humbler classes of society, and augmenting them by an annual interest of 4 percent, paid upon all sums invested.

The population of this town is advancing gradually; in 1811 it amounted to 7430; in 1821, to 8188; which, considering the acknowledged salubrity of the air, and the consequent longevity of the inhabitants, is not a very material increase.

The country adjacent to Scarborough is finely diversified with hills and dales, and exhibits a variety of romantic scenery. Weaponness, or Oliver's Mount, (so called from the improbable tradition that a battery directed against the castle was placed here, when Oliver Cromwell commanded the parliamentary armies) is little more than a mile from the town it is approached by an easy ascent, and presents one of the most delightful natural marine terraces in England. from this eminence, which is 500 feet above the level of the sea, there is a magnificent view of the coast, the Castle hill, and its venerable ruin; the town, the harbour, and the piers, with the mighty expanse of the Ocean, bounded only by the horizon. Of the Rides about Scarborough, as they are locally called, it is unnecessary to speak here; the places to which they extend being all described in this work under their proper heads, and it is only necessary to enumerate and refer to Hackness, Filey, Flamborough Head, Burlington (Bridlington), and Robin Hood's Bay.

[Description(s) edited mainly from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson. ©2010]