Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. Further historical information.



SHEFFIELD, a market and parish-town, in the upper-division of Strafforth and Tickhill, liberty of Hallamshire; 6 miles Rotherham, 12 from Chesterfield, (Derbys.) 13¾ from Penistone, 14 from Barnsley, 16 from Bakewell, 18 from Doncaster and Worksop, (Notts.) 20 from Bawtry, 24 from Mansfield, (Notts.) 24 from Buxton, (Derbys.) by Middleton, and 28 by Bakewell, 55 from York, 162 from London. Markets, Tuesday and Saturday. Fairs, Tuesday in Trinity Week, and November 28, for horses, horned cattle, &c. Bankers, Messrs. Morland and Co. 50, Pall Mall; Sheffield and Rotherham Bank, Messrs. Walkers, Eyre, and Stanley, draw on Messrs. Everett, and Co. 9, Mansion House Street; Messrs, Rimington, and Youngs, draw on Messrs. Masterman, Peters, and Co. 2, White Hart Court, Lombard Street. Principal Inns, Tontine, Angel, Commercial, and Kings Head Hotel. Pop. 42,157. The Church is a vicarage, dedicated to St. Peter, or the Holy Trinity, in the deanry of Doncaster, value, £12. 15s. 2½d. Patron, the Rev. Thomas Sutton. Here are also three Churches, viz. St. Pauls Church built in 1740, in Norfolk Street; St. James' Church, erected in 1788 in the Vicar's Croft, to both these Churches the Vicar of Sheffield is Patron. Here is also a Chapel at the Duke of Norfolk's Hospital, opened in 1777, in which service is celebrated daily: the Rev. Wm. Downs is curate and governor, and the Rev. Thomas Robinson, officiating curate.

Sheffield, from sheaf field, the most populous town in the county, except Leeds, is situated upon an eminence at the confluence of the rivers Sheaf and Don, over each of which is a stone bridge. The parish of Sheffield is above ten miles in length, and its average breadth about three miles. In works of antiquity, the town of Sheffield is not rich, but principally known as a commercial town. "It was once the seat and favourite residence of a race of ancient nobility, by whose history it becomes connected with the general history of this kingdom, men who were called to the councils of Princes, or displayed their prowess in the tented field, while they exercised an almost unlimited authority among a tenantry, whose habitations surrounded their Castle walls. The traces of those times are now few, and fast obliterating. Buildings for commercial purpose, occupy the site of the baronial Hall; the Park and Chases are inclosed; and the summer Mansion is become a mouldering ruin."

The Castle stood at the north east part of the town, which, with the lordship of Sheffield was granted to Thomas, Lord Furnival, 39 Edward III. whose ancestor, Thomas de Furnival, in the reign of Henry III. obtained a charter from the King, for the erection of a Castle at Sheffield. The Manor, &c. had previously been in the hands of the Lovetots, the first of whom, there is reason to think, built the original Castle. From the Furnivals, the Manor and Castle passed to the Nevils, afterwards to the Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury, and lastly, to the Illustrious family of the Howards. It was, during the time of George, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury, who resided here, that this Castle was made the prison of the beautiful Mary, Queen of Scots. In this place, Cardinal Wolsey on his way to London, is said to have drank the fatal draught, which soon afterwards terminated his existence. This Castle was demolished in the civil wars, and scarcely any vestiges of it now remains, except that the names of Castle Hill, Castle Ditch, &c. are still retained by several places in the vicinity.

The town of Sheffield was incorporated, so far as regards the manufactory in 1624, and is styled "the company of Cutlers of Hallamshire." It is governed by a master, two wardens, six searchers, and twenty four assistants, and the rest commonalty. By this act of incorporation, it is enacted, that it shall be lawful for the master, &c. to make laws for the good order, rule, and government of all the members of the said company, &c. and to levy reasonable penalties on those who neglect to observe them. This corporation consists of about 600 members, who have a Hall for the transaction of their business, called Cutler's Hall, built in 1638, and in 1726 was re built in its present form. Sheffield has long been celebrated for its cutlery ware; Dr. Gibson, who published his edition of Camden in 1695, says, that Sheffield had been for 300 years, the staple for knives. The cutlery trade in the town and neighbourhood, was afterwards prosecuted in the various articles of sheath knives, scissors, sickles, scythes, &c. and in 1758, the silver plate manufacture was begun by Mr. Joseph Hancock, on a very extensive scale, comprehending an almost innumerable variety of articles. The importance of Mr. Hancock's discovery soon began to be fully understood: various companies were formed; workmen were easily procured from among the ingenious mechanics of Sheffield, while the streams in the neighbourhood furnished opportunities for erecting mills for the rolling out the metals. Birmingham early obtained a share in this lucrative manufacture; but the honour of the invention belongs to Sheffield, as it is supposed to stand unrivalled in the extent to which the manufacture is carried, and the elegance and durability of its productions. The introduction of this new branch of trade, gave to Sheffield a share in the manufacture of silver plate; and for the encouragement of this manufacture, an assay office was established, and opened in the town in 1731. In 1751, the Don was made navigable to Tinsley, within three miles of the town which greatly facilitates the export of goods. Upon the Don, above the town, a great number of works are erected for forging, slitting, and preparing the iron and steel for the manufactures; and for grinding knives, scissors, &c. The parish of Sheffield is rich in its mineral productions, and especially in iron, coal, and stone. This place, although large, cannot boast much of its public buildings, which are in general calculated more for utility than shew; we shall therefore briefly point out such as may claim the attention of strangers.

The places for divine worship, according to the established Church, are four, viz. St. Peter, or the Holy Trinity, which is the parish church; it stands in the centre of the town, was built in the reign of Henry I. about 1100, it is a rectangular building, having neither porch nor chapel protruding beyond the buttresses. A tower and spire is near the centre of the building. The numerous changes and re edifications have left nothing remaining of the original fabric, except the massy pillars that support the tower. On the south side of the altar is the Shrewsbury Chapel, founded by George, the fourth Earl, in the time of Henry VIII. in which are monuments of four Earls of Shrewsbury, the Talbots.

In the year 1700, was interred here, William Walker, who, from strong circumstances, there is reason to believe, was the executioner of Charles I. --Gents. Magaz. vol. XXXVII.

St. Pauls is an elegant modern structure, in the Grecian style; it was begun in 1720, but not consecrated till 1740, and finished till 1771, being erected through the benefaction of £1000. from Mr. Robert Downs, an opulent silversmith, together with the subscriptions of the gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood. St. James' Church, situated in the Vicarage Croft, erected in 1788. And the Chapel at the Duke of Norfolk's Hospital, opened in 1777, which is calculated to contain a large congregation. Divine Service is daily celebrated in this Chapel, by a minister of the Church of England, and a sermon is preached every Sunday. For Dissenters, Sheffield, like other large towns, has places of worship for almost every sect, there being not less than fifteen edifices used by them for that purpose.

Here is an Hospital, situated near the bridge, called "the Hospital of Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury." It was founded and endowed by Will, dated in 1616, by Henry, Earl of Norwich, great grandson of Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury. In 1770, Edward, Duke of Norfolk, gave to this hospital £1000. which sum was applied to the building of the present Chapel. The Hospital consists of two quadrangles, each containing eighteen dwellings, for the accommodation of eighteen men, and the same number of women, being aged and decayed house keepers, each of whom is provided with a house and garden, and a pension of 5s. per week, with clothing and coals.

On the north side of the town is an Hospital and School, erected by Thomas Hollis, a merchant of London, but a native of Sheffield, for sixteen poor cutlers' widows, who have each a separate habitation, and an allowance of one guinea every three weeks; and the orator, who is also schoolmaster, fifteen guineas quarterly, having also a good house in the Hospital yard. The children in the School of this establishment, amount to about forty, who are taught to read.

About half a mile from the town, is that valuable institution, the Infirmary, built by subscription; the first stone of which, was laid in 1793. It is a handsome stone building; and is supported by voluntary subscriptions; and patients are admitted on the recommendation of subscribers.

Here is a Free Grammar School, founded in 1603 4, by Thomas Smith, of Crowland, (Linc.) who left to it £30. a year. In 1605, it became incorporated by letters patent, of 2nd James I. The present School was erected by subscription in 1648, in Townhead street. It is open indefinitely for boys of Sheffield and the neighbourhood. The head master's salary is fixed at £60. per annum. Here are also National Schools, on the plans of Bell and Lancaster, and several Sunday and Charity Schools, as well as many minor charitable institutions.

The Town Hall, is at the South east corner of Trinity church, and was erected in 1700.

In Norfolk street, in the south part of the town, is an elegant building, comprising the Assembly Room and Theatre, first erected in 1762; but since taken down, and constructed on a larger scale.

Sheffield is the capital of a district, known by the name of Hallamshire.

Here was born, the learned divine, John Balguy. He was Prebendary of Salisbury, and in 1729, he was presented to the vicarage of Northallerton. He wrote religious Tracts and Sermons, on several occasions, were published in 2 vols. 8vo. which are in much estimation. He died in 1748.

John Roebuck, an eminent physician, and great benefactor to Scotland, was a native of Sheffield, and born in 1718. In his prosecution of chemical experiments, he had been led to bestow great attention to the process of smelting iron stone. He died in 1794.

[Description(s) edited from various 19th century sources by Colin Hinson © 2013]