WHITBY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1829.


"WHITBY, a market-town and sea-port, in the parish of its name, and in the liberty of Whitby strand, north riding, is 244 miles from London, 113 from Manchester, 47 from York, and 20 from Pickering and Scarborough. By the Saxons it was called Streonesheale or Streoneshalh, which, according to the venerable Bede, denotes Tower Bay: in ancient records it is variously spelled Whytebye, Whytbie, Whytby, &c. It owes its origin to a famous abbey, founded here by Oswy, King of Northumberland; which in 867 was almost entirely destroyed by the Danes. The present town is situated on the German ocean, near the mouth of the river Esk, over which there is a draw-bridge, the ruins of Whitby abbey forming an interesting object on the east bank of the river. In 1761 a new street was formed, on the eastern part of the town, the houses rapidly increased to the number of 130, containing above 1,000 inhabitants : the foundation of this street, consisting of a strata of alum rock and free-stone, covered with a loose soil, gradually gave way, and in 1785 a deep chasm of considerable length was observed behind the houses, the rain from time to time falling through the aperture, and the innumerable quick springs below gradually prepared the way for the tremendous catastrophe which followed. On the night of the 24th of December, at midnight, a strong new quay, supporting a pile of buildings eighty feet above the margin of the sea, unable to sustain the pressure of the earth above, menaced approaching danger, the inhabitants had scarcely time to escape before it fell with a thundering crash, followed by large masses of earth intermixed with stones from three to six tons in weight; next morning, from the high cliff which overhung the street, weighty portions of earth and stone descended, so that the whole street was nearly buried in one universal ruin, involving in utter destitution upwards of one hundred and fifty families. During the time of the war Whitby was a place of very great trade, principally with the Baltic and Mediterranean. The manufacture of alum in this neighbourhood is carried on extensively, and in the town are manufactured sail cloths; ship and boat building yards and roperies are here established upon a large scale, and it once derived considerable importance from the Greenland fishery, but this has of late declined, and only four ships from this place are now ht the trade. Colonel George Cholmley is lord of the manor, and holds a court leet annually after Michaelmas, and a court of pleas for the recovery of small debts every third Monday; these courts are held in the town-hall. The government of the town is in a bench of magistrates or justices for the north riding, who hold their sittings every Tuesday and Saturday at their office in Flower gate. The parish church is situated on the cliff, on the east bank of the Esk the living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and incumbency of the Rev. James Andrew, whose assistant curate is the Rev. J. Dufton. Here is also a chapel of ease the curate of which is the Rev. F. S. Pope; six chapels belonging to the various sects of dissenters, besides one for the Roman. Catholics, and a friends' meeting house. The charities in Whitby are numerous, and worthy of those surrounded by a considerable population, many of whom must look up for assistance to the benevolent and affluent; they consist principally of a seaman's hospital, which took its rise in 1676; many free schools for children of the poor, alms houses, and hospitals several charitable societies, instituted and support by the ladies of the town. Religious, scientific, and philosophical institutions have also taken root in this respectable town, and are supported with high credit to the founders and members. There are also news rooms, a public library, a theatre, public baths, and a well-stored museum. The hills near Whitby to the south and west are wild and moorish, but the vale of Esk & the dales that open into it are fertile & pleasant, as is the country immediately adjacent to the town. The coast is bold and romantic, and much picturesque scenery occurs in the neighbourhood. The market is on Saturday; and the annual fairs are on August 25th & Martinmas-day. The entire parish of Whitby contained, by the census of 1821, 12,231 inhabitants, of which number 8,697 were the returns for the township. Lythe, is a villager in a parish of its name, in the eastern extremity of Cleveland, nearly four miles W.N.W. of Whitby. The village is seated upon an eminence, to the south of which is Mulgrave castle, the seat of the Right Hon. the Earl of Mulgrave; the marine view front hence is peculiarly grand. The church is dedicated to St. Oswald, and within these few years has undergone a complete renovation; the living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Archbishop of York. The Earl of Mulgrave is the impropriator of the great tythes, and his lordship is the proprietor of extensive alum works in the vicinity. The population of the parish, in 1821, was 2,194, including 1,134 in the township."

"RUSWARP, is a charming little village, in the parish of Whitby, two miles from Whitby, on the banks of the Esk, which winds its picturesque way along the vale in which this village reposes. The suspension iron bridge across the Esk here, erected by Colonel Wilson, is a conspicuous ornament to the place. In 1821 the population was 1,918."
Note: The directory entry for Ruswarp in Pigot's 1829 Directory is included with Whitby, (in this parish).

[Transcribed from Pigot's National Commericial Directory for 1828-29 ]
by Colin Hinson ©2007