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Help and advice for SHEFFIELD: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.

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SHEFFIELD: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1834.

"SHEFFIELD, the ancient seat of the cutlery manufactures, in the parish of its name, which is partly in the northern division of the wapentake of Strafforth and Tickhill, but mostly in the southern division of that wapentake, is 163 miles n.n.w. from the metropolis, 41 e. from Manchester, through Castleton, &c. but only 38 by way of Glossop, &c., 53 s. from York, 33 s. from Leeds, 14 s. from Barnsley, 38 n. by w. from Nottingham, and 12 n. from Chesterfield. In population and consequence it ranks as the second town in the West Riding of Yorkshire, and as a place of high antiquity, numerous evidences may be adduced to establish the fact. It was formerly called Sheaffield, from its situation on the river Sheaf, near its confluence with the Don, and forms the principal town of the extensive Saxon manor of Hallam, now called Hallamshire. At the time of the Norman survey, the manor of Sheffield was held, under a niece of the Conqueror, by Roger de Busli, and the widowed Countess of the Saxon Earl, Waltheof, who was beheaded for entering into a conspiracy against William ; afterwards it was owned by the family of De Lovetot, who is supposed to have erected the ancient castle. Cardinal Wolsey, after his arrest in 1529, was detained in the manor house here for eighteen days, in custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury ; and Mary, Queen of Scots, suffered confinement in the same place, or in the castle, for many years. In the civil war in the reign of Charles 1st, the inhabitants sided with the parliament, and offered resistance to the Earl of Newcastle's forces ; but the town and castle were soon taken. The Earl of Manchester, however, subsequently obtained possession of the place for Cromwell, and the castle was soon afterwards demolished by order of parliament. When archery supplied the use of fire arms throughout England, Sheffield is stated to have been celebrated for the manufacture of iron heads for arrows ; and it was known by Chaucer as a place, also, where blades of knives were made : for a character, in one of this celebrated author's poems, is mentioned as being furnished with a ' Shefeld thwytel ' (whittle), a knife, which, in those times, and down to the reign of Charles 1st, was carried about the person. Formerly the commercial resources of this town were much confined, being only extended to some of the principal places in England, and the mode of conveyance to the metropolis was by pack horses once a week. It is little more than seventy years since it enjoyed the advantages of trade with the continent of Europe, and the conveyance of goods was much facilitated by the Don being soon after made navigable to within three miles of the town, and has been cut so as to come direct up to it. From this moment Sheffield began to grow in spirit and commercial consequence. An increase of orders and wealth produced a corresponding increase in invention, & immense quantities of goods have since been exported to all parts of the habitable globe. In the year 1624 the principal cutlers formed themselves into a body corporate, consisting of one master, two wardens, six searchers, twenty-four assistants, and the rest commonalty ; and the same year was sanctioned by an act of parliament. The purport of their thus forming themselves as it were into one body, was for the protection of the trade : there are at present about six hundred members, who have a handsome hall in Church street, for the transaction of business belonging to the company, and for occasionally enjoying a festive hour. About the middle of the last century the inhabitants began to display their ingenuity and ability in making considerable improvements in the different articles in the cutlery trade, and from that period to the present time, in excellence of quality, in variety of pattern, and in quantity, no place in the world can vie with Sheffield. The principal goods produced here are table knives and forks, pen and pocket knives, joiners' tools of every description, silver plated articles of particular excellence, Britannia metal goods, and an endless variety of articles of a minor description. Connected in some degree with the cutlery, but embracing a great variety of other objects, are ivory goods of every description, and horn worked into various forms ; some of the articles made from the latter material are exquisitely polished, and furnish elegant appendages to different kinds of cabinet work. The introduction of Sheffield plate naturally gave to the trade here a share in the manufacture of silver plate, and that the makers might be relieved from the necessity of sending their goods to be stamped in London, an Assay Office was established in Sheffield, which was opened on the 20th September, 1773. The manufacture of articles from the metal called ' German silver ' is a branch recently introduced, and carried on to a great extent ; the metal is applicable to all purposes where real silver is used -- the imitation is most perfect, the colour durable, and the price considerably lower than that of the articles made from the precious metal. A stranger visiting Sheffield will find in the shew rooms of the manufacturer objects of attraction, curious and splendid. In the town and its vicinity there are several foundries for iron, brass, and white metal ; and numerous works are established on the banks of the rivers, for the purpose of slitting and otherwise preparing the iron and steel for the manufactures.

The town is delightfully situate on a gentle eminence, rising from a spacious valley, which, with the exception of an opening to the north east, is sheltered by a chain of lofty hills, richly clothed with wood, and nearly surrounded by the rivers Don, Sheaf and Porter. Bridges, erected in convenient situations, cross the rivers, and afford communication with all parts of the town, which is generally well paved, and was first lighted with gas in 1819, by an incorporated company, whose extensive works are situate at Shudehill. From the eminences a most interesting and animated view of almost every part of Sheffield is obtained ; and there is scarcely a street in the town from which some of the hills encompassing it are not visible. The environs abound with beautiful scenery and pleasant walks, and are ornamented with elegant residences belonging to the more opulent families. The town is at present withih the jurisdiction of the magistrates for the district, who meet in the town hall every Tuesday and Friday, for the determination of petty causes ; the October sessions for the West Riding are also held here. A court is held every third week under the steward of the manor of Ecclesall, for the recovery of debts under 5 ; and a court of requests weekly, for the recovery of sums not exceeding that amount. The town hall, situate at the bottom of the Haymarket, is a large and substantial square edifice, surmounted by a cupola and clock ; the latter having four dials illuminated with gas. A new post office is in progress of erection in High street -- a more central situation than that where the present one stands. Sheffield was created a parliamentary borough by the Reform Bill, and returns two members to the British Senate. At the general, and first election under the new bill, in December, 1832, the candidates who presented themselves to contest the honour of representing the new borough, and the number of votes polled for each, were, Messrs. John Parker 1,515, James Silk Buckingham 1,498, --- Ward 1,210, and --- Bailey 812. The master cutler, the returning officer, declared the two first named gentlemen duly elected, and they are the present sitting members. Unfortunately some rioting took place at the termination of the contest, in consequence of which the military were called out, who firing on the mob, three men and two boys lost their lives, and several other persons were wounded. The borough and parish of Sheffield are co-extensive ; and by the new Boundary Act (an appendage to the Reform Bill) the town is appointed one of the stations for receiving votes at the election of members to represent the North Riding of the county.

This town boasts several handsome churches, other public buildings appropriated to trade and the municipal affairs of the town, scholastic and other institutions, charitable establishments, &c. The parish church, dedicated to St. Peter, is a fine specimen of Gothic architecture, erected in the time of Henry 1st, and situate in nearly the centre of the town. It is 240 feet in length and 130 feet in breadth, having a lofty and ornamental tower and spire, rising from the centre : the present vicar is the Rev. Thomas Sutton. Many persons of distinction lie interred in it, amongst which are, Mary, Countess of Northumberland ; Lady Elizabeth Butler ; Elizabeth, Countess of Lennox, mother to the unfortunate Lady Arabella Stuart ; four earls of Shrewsbury, and Peter Roflet, the French secretary to Mary, Queen of Scots. St. Paul's, situate in Norfolk street, is a handsome Grecian structure, erected in 1720, by subscription : the Rev. James Knight is the present minister. St. James's church, in Vicar's croft, was built in 1788, by money raised in shares, and is admired for its general accommodation : the Rev. Thomas Best is the minister. St. George's, at Portobello, built by the parliamentary commissioners, was finished in 1825 : it has a fine tower, nearly 140 feet in height, and forms, with the parish church, a conspicuous appearance when entering the town, as well as from the surrounding heights : the present minister is the Rev. Stephen Langston. St. Phillip's, at Shales moor, was finished in 1828, and St. Mary's, at Little Sheffield, was completed in 1830 : both were erected by the parliamentary commissioners. The Rev. Henry Farish is the minister of St. Mary's, and the Rev. John Livesey of St. Paul's. The churches of St. Peter and St. Paul are ornamented with illuminated dials ; and from their situation present prominent objects, uncommon and pleasing, in approaching the town by night. There is also a chapel belonging to the Duke of Norfolk's hospital. In addition to these places of worship, there are no fewer than twenty two others for the different sects, dissenting from the establishment, comprising eleven chapels for methodists (who have another large one erecting in South street,) five for independents, and one each for baptists, presbyterians, Roman catholics and the society of friends. Charity displays itself in various forms throughout the town ; and schools for imparting knowledge and instruction to the young are every where discernible. An infirmary, situate near, and free from the smoke and noise of, the town, yields assistance to those afflicted with the double evil of poverty and disease ; this truly laudable institution, a lasting monument of the goodness of the more fortunate part of the community of Sheffield, was raised by a subscription, in the year 1793. It cost about 18,000. beside which nearly 6,000. was expended in the purchase of land attached. It continues to be well supported by voluntary contributions, with a spirit of charity truly praise worthy. The next principal institution is the ' Hospital,' occupying an elevated site on the eastern side of the town. It was originally founded in pursuance of the will of Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, in 1616, for the maintenance of twenty poor persons ; but now accommodates eighteen alms men, who receive 10s. per week each, and the like number of women, who each receive 8s. weekly. The buildings consist of a handsome Gothic chapel, a house for the chaplain, and thirty six convenient dwellings for the inmates. The sole right of appointing trustees, nominating alms people, &c. is vested in the Duke of Norfolk and his heirs. There are besides several other endowed hospitals, a dispensary, an eye infirmary, &c. The literary societies, &c. consist of the Sheffield library, first established in 1771, and containing now upwards of 7,000 volumes ; the mechanics' library, in Watson's walk, containing between three and four thousand volumes, established in 1824 ; besides several subscription and circulating libraries ; together with two spacious, well attended news rooms. The literary and philosophical society, established in 1822, has a respectable museum in the music hall, where their meetings are held. The mechanics' institute, established in 1832, is situate in apartments in George street ; and the medical and anatomical academy in Surrey street. Four newspapers are issued from the press here, weekly ; their titles, days of publication, &c. will be found under their proper head. Amusement appears to be a secondary consideration, as scarcely any town equal in extent possesses fewer resorts for the votaries of fashion and gaiety. The theatre is large, as is also the assembly room, but the former is seldom open.

The weekly markets are held in a spacious and very commodious building, every Tuesday and Saturday. The butchers' shambles, situate in the Haymarket, are extensive, extremely neat, and well adapted for the purpose ; and the corn exchange, in the Park, is also worthy of notice. Fairs are held the Tuesday after Trinity Sunday, and November 28th. The parish of Sheffield comprises the townships of Ecclesall Bierlow, Brightside Bierlow, Attercliffe cum Darnall, Nether Hallam, Upper Hallam, and Sheffield township : the entire contained, by the government returns, in 1821, 65,275 inhabitants, and in 1831, 91,692. The township contained, in 1821, 41,157, and in 1831, 59,011. The most populous township, next to that of Sheffield, is Ecclesall Bierlow, which contained, at the last census, a population of 14,279 persons."

"ATTERCLIFFE, is a considerable village, in the township of Attercliffe with Darnall, and parish of Sheffield, situate on the road leading to Rotherham and Doncaster, one mile and a half east from the Market place in Sheffield -- the manufactures of the place being of the same character as those of that town. In 1822 a handsome church was erected here, by grant from the parliamentary commissioners. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Vicar of Sheffield : the Rev. John Blackburn is the present incumbent. The other places of worship are for calvinists and Wesleyan methodists. Population of the township at the last census, 3,741 persons."

"HEELEY, (Upper and Nether) form a populous hamlet, in the township of Nether Hallam, and parish of Sheffield, about two miles south of that town. The manufacture of pen and pocket knives is the principal occupation of the inhabitants. In the village are a chapel for methodists, and Sunday schools. Population returned with the township, which contained, at the last census, 4,658 inhabitants."

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