DONCASTER: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.


"DONCASTER, is a borough and market town, in the parish of its name, in the wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill, West Riding, 161 miles from London, 51 e. from Manchester, 37 s. from York, 18 n.e. from Sheffield, and 15 s. by e. from Pontefract. This town was the Danum of Antoninus, a Roman station ; by the Saxons it was called Dona Ceaster, from which its present name is derived. The town is pleasantly situated on the south bank of the river Don, and on the great north line from London to Edinburgh, which passes through its whole length, the inhabitants deriving considerable advantage from the never ceasing intercourse kept up on this road. The high or main street, for length, width and beauty, is allowed to be the best on the road betwixt the two capitals ; this noble street is about a mile in length, from the Hall-cross on the south, to the Mill-bridge on the north. The mansion house, which is a superb building, is a great ornament to this handsome street ; the foundation was laid in the year 1744 : in 1800 it was repaired, and an attic raised above the columns to screen the roof. The mayor, three justices, and the town clerk attend in this building every Monday morning, to hear and determine upon all complaints brought by the inhabitants of the borough, and the concerts and balls, during the races and at other times, are held in it. This town had a residence especially appropriated for its chief magistrate, before either London or York. The first charter of incorporation was granted by Richard 1st ; the body consists of a mayor, recorder, town clerk, twelve alderman, and twenty four common council men ; the three senior aldermen being empowered to act as justices of the peace. The sessions for the borough and soke of Doncaster are held quarterly at the town hall, and a court of record, for the recovery of debt to any amount ; the annual sessions for the wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill are held here in January, and a court of requests for the recovery of debts under 40s. the first Thursday in every month. The town hall, which occupies the site of a church, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene, was thoroughly repaired and beautified in 1784, and considerably enlarged and improved in 1828 ; it is now one of the most convenient court rooms in the county.

Doncaster is one of the stations appointed under the new Boundary Act, for receiving votes at the election of members to represent the West Riding of the county. It does not appear that this has ever been noted as a manufacturing town, or a place of peculiar trade. The corn and malt trades are carried on here to some extent, as is that in timber ; there are three iron foundries, a manufactory or two for agricultural machines, and several roperies. A very excellent newspaper is issued from the press of this town weekly ; it is published on Friday, and called the ' Doncaster, Nottingham, and Lincoln Gazette.'

The church, dedicated to St. George, stands on the site of the old castle ; it is a majestic and spacious cruciform structure ; there is no certainty of the time of its erection, but it is evident that one part of the church was built at a different period to the other, and that the east end was erected in the reign of the Conqueror, by the date 1071 being on an old stone taken out of that part about twelve years since, when the church was repaired. The tower is extremely elegant, and from its architecture shows it to have been built at a later date, probably during the reign of Henry 3rd, when a great number of our present handsome churches were erected. The living is a vicarage, in the gift of the Archbishop of York, and incumbency of the Rev. John Sharpe. A new church, in the later style of English architecture, called Christ church, was founded and endowed by the late John Jarratt, Esq. a native of Doncaster, and formerly an iron master at Bowling, near Bradford ; he munificently bestowed £13,000, and the corporation gave the land for its site ; the first stone was laid in Mr Jarratt's life time, by Richard Littlewood, Esq. the then mayor, on the 9th of October, 1827 ; the top stone of the spire was fixed by William Hurst, Esq. mayor, and one of the architects of the church, on the 26th of June, 1829, and the consecration took place on the 10th of September, in the same year. The edifice consists of a nave and side aisles, is ninety five feet long, and fifty two feet wide, separated by slender shafted pillars : the spire, which is remarkable for its lightness and elegance, is one hundred and sixty feet in height. The other places of worship are for Independents, Wesleyan and primitive methodists, presbyterians, and the society of friends. The charitable institutions are a dispensary, established in the year 1792 ; a poor house, erected in 1719 ; a school of industry, opened in 1799 ; Sunday schools, and a large school upon the national plan ; in the latter upwards of two hundred boys and one hundred girls are instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic ; in addition to which, the girls are taught needle work.

St. Thomas's hospital, which was erected and endowed by Thomas Ellis, Esq. in the year 1588, with an estate, worth at that period only £10. per year, now produces £256. per annum. The theatre is a neat building, with a portico in front, and stands near to the town hall ; it was erected at the expense of the corporation. The inhabitants pay no assessment for lighting and paving the streets, as the corporation keep them in excellent order at their own expense. The town of Doncaster, for beauty and salubrity, the excellent roads, and delightful promenades, may perhaps vie with any town in the kingdom ; the environs, too, are remarkably pleasant, and on the western side truly picturesque. Besides these local advantages, this town possesses another benefit, paramount in splendour and attraction in its kind, to any other in this country -- this is the races. The race ground, about a mile from the town, perhaps stands unrivalled ; and the grand stand, built at the expense of the corporation, for its elegance and accommodation is not to be excelled. The corporation patronise these sports munificently ; there is His Majesty's plate of 100 guineas ; and the stewards give a gold cup of the like value. The St. Leger stakes in particular excite a lively interest among the votaries of the turf in every part of the kingdom. The races are generally held the third week in September, and continue five days, affording considerable emolument to the town. In 1826 a beautiful building, in the Ionic order, was erected, called the ' Betting Room' : it is ninety feet long, and twenty feet wide ; during the day it is lighted by means of a handsome dome, and at night with gas, introduced into superb chandeliers. The market is on Saturday, and the fairs are held on the 2nd of February, 5th of April, and 5th of August, for cattle, horses, sheep, and woollen cloth : a wool market commences on the second Saturday in June, and continues every Saturday until the 6th of August.

The parish of Doncaster contained, by the government returns for 1821, 9,117 inhabitants, and by those for 1831, 11,572, of which last number 10,801 were returned for the borough."

"BALBY, a joint township with Hexthorp, in the parish of Doncaster, 1 mile s.w. from that town, is remarkable as one of the places where the celebrated George Fox, the founder of the society of friends, with his followers, held their first meeting, and where they suffered persecutions, as severe as they were unmerited. The number of inhabitants in the township, by the returns to government for 1831, was 420."

"LOVERSALL, was in the parish of Doncaster; but became a parish in its own right between 1832 and 1840. It contains a small village, which is about three miles from Doncaster. that town. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the vicar of Doncaster. The parish contained, at the last census, only 154 inhabitants.
Please see Doncaster Parish for the 1834 trades directory for this township."

[Transcribed by Steve Garton ©2000 from
Pigot's directory (Yorkshire section) 1834]