DONCASTER, a market and parish-town, lower-division of Strafforth and Tickhill, in the soke of Doncaster; 7 miles from Tickhill, 9 from Bawtry, 11 from Thorne, 12 from Rotherham and Blythe, (Notts.) 15 from Ferrybridge and Pontefract, 16 from Worksop, (Notts.) 20 from Wakefield, 37 from York, 165 from London. Market, Saturday. Fairs, April 5 and August 5, for horses, horned cattle, &c. Bankers, Messrs. Cooke, Childers, and Co. draw on Messrs. Gosling and Sharp, 19, Fleet Street; New Bank, Messrs. Leathams, Tew, and Co. draw on Messrs. Dennison, and Co. 106, Fenchurch Street. Principal Inns, Angel, Red Lion, Rein Deer, Black Boy, and Green Dragon. Pop. 8,544. The Church is a vicarage, dedicated to St. George, in the deanry of Doncaster, value, £32. 19s. 2d. p.r. !£100. Patron, the Archbishop of York.
Doncaster, pleasantly situated on the river Don, whence it has its name, is nearly a mile in length, and is one of the neatest towns in the kingdom, and the neighbourhood is remarkable for opulent families. It was formerly a Roman station, by Ninius called Caer Daun; by Antoninus, Danum, and so likewise by the Notitia, which relates, that the Prefect of the Crispinian horse garrisoned here: this body of cavalry probably took its name from Crispus, son of Constantine the Great. The remains of a Roman road are still visible; and in digging a cellar in St. Sepulchre's Gate, in 1781, a Roman votive altar of a exquisite workmanship was discovered, which, from the inscription, appears to have been dedicated to the Deae Matres. Mr. Watson supposes Doncaster to have been the campadonum of Bede; an opinion controverted by Dr. Whitaker, but his arguments are not very satisfactory.
The Church is a very ancient structure, and was given to the abbey of St. Mary's, York; the chief relic contained in it is a Saxon font, still used for the purpose of baptism. In this church is a curious monument to the memory of Robert Byrks, who gave Rossington wood to the poor of the parish, with this uncouth inscription on his tomb :-
How, how, who is here? I Robin of Doncaster, and Margaret my freare, that I spent that I had, that I gave that I have, that I left that I lost, A.D. 1597, quoth Robertus Byrkes, who in this world did reign three score years and seven, and yet lived not one. --Camden.
"Here was," says Leland "a right goodly house of White Freres, in the mydle of the towne, now defaced." There was also, he says, "a house of Grey Freres at the north ende of the bridge, communely caulled the Freres Bridge."
Here is a mansion House, a handsome theatre, a free grammar school, alms house, and public dispensary.
The Corporation possesses a revenue of about £7,000. per annum, which is liberally expended for the benefit of the inhabitants. It is governed by a Mayor, a Recorder, 12 Aldermen, and 24 Common Councilmen. The first charter was granted by King Richard I, and confirmed, and others granted, by many of his successors.
Here is an excellent race course, and the grand stand is inferior to none in the kingdom. The races, which have for many years been increasing, are of considerable advantage to the town; and the St. Leger stakes excite a lively interest among the votaries of the turf.
At or near this place was born that celebrated naval commander, Sir Martin Frobisher, who distinguished himself by attempts to discover a north west passage to China. In 1585, he served under Admiral Drake in the West Indies; and in 1588, he had a share in the defeat of the Spanish armada. He was killed in assaulting a fort near Brest, in 1594. --Biog. Dict.
The Rev. William Bingley, was born at this place in January, 1774. Having completed the early part of his education at the grammar school in this town, he was entered as a student in St. Peter's college, Cambridge, where he took the degree of M.A. He was afterwards chosen a fellow of the Linnaean Society. In 1800, he published a Tour through Wales, in 2 vols. 8vo. and in 1802, his Animal Biography, which has met with general approbation.
[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]