LEEDS, a market and parish-town, in the lower-division of Skyrack, liberty of Pontefract; 8 miles from Harewood and Dewsbury, 9 from Wakefield, 10 from Bradford and Otley, 11 from Aberford, 13 from Pontefract, 15 from Ferrybridge, 16 from Harrogate, Wetherby, and Huddersfield, 16 from Tadcaster, 18 from Knaresborough, 20 from Selby, 25 from York, 194 from London. Markets, Tuesday and Saturday, for woollen cloth, provisions, &c. Fairs, July 10 and 11, for horses and pedlary ware; November 8 and 9, for horned cattle, &c. Bankers, the Old Bank, Messrs. Beckett, Blayds, and Co. draw on Messrs. Sir R.C. Glynn, and Co. 12, Birchin Lane; New Bank, Messrs. Fields, Greenwood, and Co. draw on Messrs. Curtis, Roberts, and Co. 15, Lombard Street; Commercial Bank, Messrs. J. & W. Perfect, and G. Smith, draw on Messrs. Sir J. Lubbock, and Co. 11, Mansion House Street; Union Bank, Messrs. Nicholson, Brown, and Co. draw on Messrs. T. & S. Nicholson, Janson, and Co. 32, Abchurch Lane. Principal Inns, Hotel, White Horse, Bull and Mouth, Golden Lion, Rose and Crown, and Kings Arms. Pop. 48,603. There are five Churches, the Parish Church, called the Old Church, is a vicarage, dedicated to St. Peter, in the deanry of the Ainsty, value, £38. 0s. 2½d. To which there are 25 Patrons. St. Johns Church (see Churches for photograph), is a perpetual curacy, value, p.r. £120. Patrons, the Vicar of the Old Church, the Mayor, and three senior Aldermen. The Holy Trinity is a perpetual curacy. Patrons, the Vicar and Curate of St. Johns, and the Recorder of Leeds. St. Paul's is a perpetual curacy, value, p.r. ~£120. It was built by the Rev. Miles Atkinson, who has the Patronage for two turns, then the Vicar of St. Peters. St. James Chapel, built by the Rev. . King, who possesses the same right to presentation as is given over St. Paul's. There are also two Churches now building, under the Million Act.
St. Peters Church is of considerable antiquity, but the name of its founder and the time of its foundation, are unknown.
The parish and borough of Leeds are nearly co-extensive, extending about 7 miles from north to south, and 7½ miles from east to west, and containing a population of 83,746, about 14,000 of which are employed in manufactures. The town of Leeds is situated upon the river Aire, which runs through it, and covers an eminence gently rising from that river to the upper end of the town, and falling with an easy slope to the east and west, as well as to the south. The breadth of the town from north to south, is nearly a mile, and it extends not less than a mile and a half in length, from east to west. The river Aire is navigable from the Humber to the town; which river having a direct communication with the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, within a quarter of mile of the town, now affords an easy communication to both the eastern and western Seas, whilst the various branch Canals open immediate access to every place of importance in the island. The neighbourhood abounds with coal, the very soul of steam engines; and which has of late years so much tended to the increase of wealth and population. The river Aire supplies the town with water, which is brought by a tunnel from the Kings Mills to the water works near the bridge. Leeds, uniting the advantages of water and coal, has long been distinguished as one of the first manufacturing towns in the county, particularly in woollens: yet there are but few manufacturers in the town, and these chiefly in the outskirts. Though now only considered of importance as a manufacturing town, it is an ancient place; the earliest mention of which is by Bede, above 1,000 years ago, --Leyland says, "it is a pretty market-town, but not so quick as Bradford." It once had a Castle, probably built by one of the Lacys, who was possessed of extensive lands here, about the reign of the Conqueror. This Castle was besieged by King Stephen, in his march towards Scotland in 1139: and in it Richard II, was confined, previous to his barbarous murder in Pontefract Castle. The site of this Castle, of which not a vestige remains, was situated at Mill Hill. Leeds had its share of troubles that took place in the contest between the King and Parliament, during the reign of Charles I. when many skirmishes and battles took place hereabouts, particulars of which may be seen in Fairfax's Memoirs of himself. The borough of Leeds, though not a parliamentary borough, is ancient. It was incorporated by Charles I. in 1682; a second charter was granted by Charles II.; and a third by James II. in 1684. The second was restored by William and Mary, in 1689, under which the town is now governed: viz. by a mayor, twelve aldermen, and twenty four common councilmen, assisted by a recorder and town's clerk. The corporation has no peculiar privileges or restrictive laws, as at York, Beverley, and Ripon, &c. but every man is at liberty to exercise any trade or profession he chooses, and in what part of the town he likes. The mayor and aldermen have within the borough the same power as is derived by a commission of the peace. A Sessions for the borough is held every three months, at which the mayor presides and a general Sessions for the West Riding is held here at Michaelmas. The town of Leeds is in general well built, the streets in the upper part of the town, towards Kirkgate, are narrow, but in other parts broad and spacious, particularly Briggate, which is not only broad, but its length from the bridge to the top of cross parish, is not less than half a mile; and as soon as the old buildings attached to the Moot Hall are removed, of which there is now every appearance, is may vie with almost any street in the kingdom. The west part of the town may be considered as the new town, where the most respectable part of the inhabitants reside, and where there are several open squares, the areas of which and in some cases planted, in others used as tenter grounds.
The first house that was built of brick, in this beginning of the reign of Charles I. retains the name of Red House, to this day; and in this house that unhappy monarch was lodged, while in the hands of the Scots: it is situated near to Burley Bar.
Amongst the public buildings that claim particular notice, will be found the Mixed Cloth Hall, erected by subscription in 1758. It consists of a main body and two wings; 127½ yards in length, and 66 in breadth, it is divided into six long streets or aisles, and encloses an open area. Each street contains two rows of stands, the freehold property of separate manufacturers. Each stand is 22 inches in front, and the whole number is 1770. This building forms the principal part of the south side of a square, the west side of which is denominated East Parade; the north, South Parade; and the east, Park Row. In 1810, an additional story was erected on the north side of this Hall and is used principally for the sale of ladies cloths, in the undyed state. The White Cloth Hall, built in 1774, is a large square building, 297 feet in length, and 210 in breadth; divided into five streets, each containing two rows of stands, the whole number of which is 1,210. Over this building is an elegant suit of Assembly Rooms. The cloth market, at both Halls, is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays; on which days none but merchants are permitted to buy, or even to look at the pieces. The commencement of the market is announced by the ringing of a bell; upon which, in a few minutes, without noise, hurry, or the least disorder, the whole market is filled, each manufacturer standing behind his own goods, and the sales immediately commence; after it has continued an hour, a second bell rings, and after the expiration of a quarter of an hour, a third bell gives notice that the market must be cleared. The last bell continues to ring about five minutes; and should any merchant remain in the Hall after it has done ringing, he is subject to the penalty of five shillings, and for every five minutes afterwards, he must forfeit the same sum. The Mixed Cloth Hall opens at half past eight in summer; nine in spring and autumn; and half past nine in winter. The White Cloth Hall opens when the other closes. Here is also a Cloth Hall, for the accommodation of irregulars, who have not served a regular apprenticeship to the trade, and are therefore not permitted to sell their cloth in the other Halls.
The general Infirmary is a very handsome and spacious edifice, situated in a line with the mixed Cloth Hall; it was built by subscription in 1768, and open for the reception of patients in 1771
The Philosophical Hall. A Literary and Philosophical Institution, for the promotion of literature, science, and the arts; situated in Park Row; a neat stone edifice of the Grecian order, containing a spacious Lecture room, Library, and Museum, with Laboratory and other conveniences; built by subscription, from the design, and under the direction of Mr. R.D. Chantrell, in 1820.
The Free Grammar School situated in North Street, was originally founded and endowed by Sir William Sheafield, by Will, dated 6th March, 1552. The original school being in a very inconvenient situation, was removed by the munificence of John Harrison, Esq. alderman, the common benefactor of the town, to its present situation, where he erected the present edifice; and in 1692, Godfrey Lawson, Esq. added a new apartment. This School has furnished several eminent men, both to the Church and State. Dr. Samuel Pallam, afterwards Archbishop of Tuam, was the first master. Since that period, the Madras system has been introduced (the Madras system was brought into this country by Dr. Bell); and the plan of instruction similar to that which has been used in the Charter House School. A third master has been added for the instruction of two lowest forms, and the salaries of the others made so as to "secure them respectable and independent situations, whilst every care has been taken to provide for the due exertions of their duty." It is open for all boys within the borough, free of expense.
The new Court House and Prison, with Rotation Office, &c. situated at the bottom of Park Row, built in 1812, is one of the handsomest public buildings in the town. The Philosophical and Literary Society's Hall, a modern edifice, facing the Park Row, ranks amongst the public buildings of the place. The Moot Hall, in which all the public meetings have for many years been held, is situated at the north end of Briggate, and was erected in 1713, in the front of which is a marble statue of Queen Anne, presented to the town by Alderman Milner; and executed by Carpenter, of London.
Near to Buslingthorpe, Horse Barracks are now erecting, for which purpose, a grant was made by Parliament of £28,000. The site of the building, with the Parade ground, &c. occupies about eleven acres of ground. To the public institutions already named, we may add the Baths, two Subscription Libraries, the Theatre, erected in 1771, Concert Room and Riding School.
In 1653, John Harrison, Esq. a native of Leeds, founded and endowed an Hospital for forty indigent an aged women. To these, others have been erected, pursuant to the Will of Arthur Ikin, Esq. the former habitations being now improved, together, afford a comfortable asylum for sixty four aged men and women, each of whom receives a stipend of £10. per annum.
Mr. Harrison also built and endowed St. John's Church, built the Free School, and erected a Cross for the convenience of the market.
Potter's Alms Houses, established in 1737, by a widow of that name, for the widows of ten decayed tradesmen, who are each allowed an annuity of twelve guineas per annum.
Jenkinson's Alms Houses, founded by Josiah Jenkinson, about 1643; He devised unto Feoffees, &c. eight dwelling Houses at Mill Hill, for Alms Houses, and endowed the same with a farm at Great Woodhouse. They were re built at the beginning of the present century; and each dwelling is now occupied by a poor woman, who receives an annual stipend of £5.
The Charity School established in 1705, and removed to the Chapel in St. John's yard in 1726, in which sixty poor girls are taught, in the same manner and subject, to the same discipline, as a National School; they are annually furnished with clothing, made almost by themselves. The House of Recovery, Vicar Lane, built by public subscription in 1802. The Benevolent, of Stranger's Friend Society, for the relief of the distressed of all religious denominations. Two National Schools, on the plan of Bell and Lancaster. Three Schools of Industry, Sunday Schools, two or three Clothing Societies, &c. There are not less than eighteen Chapels, &c. for dissenters of various denominations.
Of literary men born at Leeds, we have the following: Ralph Thoresby, a very eminent and learned antiquary, born in 1658. He was the son of a respectable merchant; and after some education at the Grammar School of this place, he was sent to London for improvement. He was a great master of the antiquities of his own country, was skilled in genealogy and heraldry, and possessed uncommon knowledge of coins and medals. His great works is "Ducatus Leodiensis," published in 1715, folio. He died in 1725.
William Lodge, a spirited and tasteful engraver, was born here in 1649. He went abroad with Lord Bellasis, and meeting with Barris's "Viaggio Pittoresco," he translated it, and added heads of the painters, of his own engraving, and a map of Italy. Returning to England, he assisted Dr. Lister, of York, in drawing various subjects of natural history. He died at Leeds, in 1689.
John Berkenhout, a miscellaneous writer, was the son of a Dutch merchant, who had settled here. He was educated in the Grammar School of this place, and was intended for the mercantile profession, which he quitted, and entered first into the military service of Prussia, and next into that of England. In 1760, he went to Edinburgh and studied physic, but took his Doctor's degree at Leyden, in 1765. While at Edinburgh he published his "Clavis Anglicat Linguae". He published several works, in which he has distinguished himself by some valuable compendia of natural history. He was a man of lively and versatile talents; and died in 1791, aged 60. --Biog. Dict.
Newcombe Cappe, a dissenting Divine, was born here in 1732. He was educated under Dr. Doddridge, at Northampton, and finished his studies at Glasgow; after which, he became minister of a congregation at York. He published some single Sermons; a Selection of Psalms; Remarks in Vindication of Dr. Priestley; and Discourses on the Providence and Government of God, 8vo. In 1802, were published, Critical Remarks on many important ports of Scripture; to which were prefixed, Memoirs of his Life, by his widow, Catharine Cappe, 2 vols. He died at York in 1800.
Dr. James Scott was born here in 1738; his father was minister of Trinity church, and vicar of Bardsey; he was educated at Bradford School, and admitted pensioner of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, in 1752, but afterwards removed to Trinity College. In 1771, he was presented to the rectory of Simonburn, in Northumberland, and in 1775, took the degree of D.D. Dr. Scott published ten occasional Sermons; three Seatonian Prize Poems, &c. and was the author of the Letters signed Anti Sejanus, which were published in the public Advertiser. --Nichols' Lit. Anecdotes.
Christopher Saxton, the chorographer, if not a native of the town, he appears to have been born within the parish. (Quote from Imperial Dictionary of 1850: Chorographer, A person who describes a particular region or country; or one who forms a map or maps of particular regions or countries. CH. 1999)
Mr. Benjamin Wilson, an eminent painter, was a native of this place; he flourished about the year 1760, and was particularly distinguished for his Etchings, in imitation of Rembrandt.
Leeds produces three weekly Newspapers, the Intelligence, The Mercury, and the Independent; all being decidedly party papers, each has its votaries.
[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]