OTLEY: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.


"OTLEY, is a small well built market town and township, in the parish of its name, which is partly in the upper division of the wapentake of Skyrack, and partly in the upper division of the wapentake of Claro, West Riding ; 196 miles from London, 45 from Manchester, 29 w. by s. from York, 18 n. from Halifax, 15 e.s.e from Skipton, 12 e. by n. from Keighley, 10 n.w. from Leedsand the like distance from Harrogate. The name is said to be derived from Oat-Lea, from the quantity of oats formerly cultivated in the neighbourhood ; but with more probablility believed to be a corruption of Othelai, as spelt in Domesday book, signifying the field of Othe or Otho. The town, which is situated on the banks of the river Wharf, in the beautiful valley of Wharf dale, formerly enjoyed a good woollen trade, but it has long since departed, and established itself in situations more contiguous to fuel and better placed for inland navigation. The principal manufacturing concern, here now, is in the hands of Mr. William Ackroyd, which is a respectable establishment. The other principal trades are tanning and malting. The Archbishop of York is lord of the manor, and holds a court baron and leet for the recovery of small debts, and the magistrates hold their commissions under him. The quarter sessions are held on January 16th, April 16th, July 16th, and October 15th -- all these courts are held in the free school room. This scholastic institution was founded by Thomas Cave, in 1611, and named ' Prince Henry's school ;' it was originally well endowed, but at the present time the revenue is small.

The parish church, dedicated to All Saints, is a spacious building, and originated in Saxon times, but nothing now remains of the ancient structure except the north door. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the lord chancellor, and incumbency of the Rev. H. Robinson. The other places of worship are for independents, Wesleyan and primitive methodists, and the society of friends. The vale of wharf is adorned with mansions of several distinguished persons, and the views obtained from the elevated situations around here are noble and commanding. The market which is held on Friday, is of very ancient standing, having existed above nine centuries ; it combines the features of a market and fair, and is excellently supplied with calves, sheep, corn, and the common necessaries of life. There are also four spring cattle fairs, the first held on Wednesday in Easter week, the second and third on the two succeeding fortnights, and the last on Whit Wednesday. A midsummer fair is held on the first Monday after the 3rd of August, and two statute fairs take place on the Friday before old Martinmas and the following Friday. Besides these there is a very considerable show, called the Wharfdale agricultural show, held in the month of April, at which, among many other useful exhibitions, there are very interesting ploughing matches. The parish of Otley contained in 1821, 9,358 inhabitants, and in 1831, 10,163, of which last number 3,161 were returned for the township."

"BURLEY, is a large village and chapelry, in the parish of Otley, 2 miles west from that town, containing two extensive cotton mills, which furnish employment to many of the inhabitants. The horses and cattle bred here are considered of great excellence ; and much of the land is occupied by graziers. There is a chapel of ease, subject to Otley, of which the Rev. John Smith is the minister. Population of the chapelry, at the last census, 1,448."

"POOLE, is a small village and township, in the parish of Otley, 3 miles east of that town, seated close to the river Wharf, upon which are two extensive paper mills, and one for grinding corn. The places of worship are a chapel of ease (of which the Rev. William Smith is curate), and one for baptists. Population at the last census, 315."

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