During the reigns of Georges I. and II., the best red brick buildings in Wakefield were erected; those in Westgate being done mainly by one builder. The Rev. Benjamin Forster, an early friend of Gough, the Editor of "Camden," who visited the town in 1766, says, "Wakefield town and parish at that time numbered 18,000 souls, and these were kept in order by two constables, one for the town and the other for the outlying townships. Salmon were to be found in the Calder, and it was no uncommon thing to see them leap up in the dam stakes at Kirkgate Bridge, but they do this at two efforts, receiving the fall of the water on their tails, while by a sudden spring they reach the top. "Kirkgate was a beggarly place then. The rich merchants and doctors lived at the bottom of Westgate, from which there was a fine outlook to Sir John Kaye's on Grange Moor. In Northgate and about the Church lived those of blue blood-dowagers', younger brothers, and half pay colonels. The "fair area of the market place" mentioned by Leland had been blocked up by the Lords of the Manor with fine rows of buildings, which did not belong to it, and here, mainly, are the shops. There is a famous tree standing just within the town called `The Cliffield Tree,' but it stands in peril of life as people are digging under it for gravel. * * * I have no conception that one of the 2,000 to whom I preach in the Parish Church can hear me. One comfort is that it is no manner of consequence to them whether they do so or not, and, as I do not find myself in the least fatigued by preaching to them, not much to me. There is no chance here for anybody but the Vicar who has a thundering voice, and is commended for being a boisterous man."
The Wakefield Tragedy.
This tragedy, which has been ascribed to the pen of Shakespeare, is founded on facts occurring in 1604 in connection with Calverley Hall, the residence, for six centuries, of the Calverleys. Walter Calverley married at the close of the 16th century Phillia, daughter of Sir John Brooke, by whom he had three sons - William, Walter, and Henry. The father's dissipation proved the ruin of the family, and when rioting at a Wakefield Tavern he made up his mind to deliver his children from beggary by taking away their lives. His brother had been committed to prison for security given to Walters and this proved the crisis in the father's madness. On returning home at night he noticed his eldest son, four years of age, playing in the gallery of his hall, and, rushing upon him in his frenzy, he inflicted two or three wounds with his dagger, and then carried the bleeding child to his bedroom, where his wife was asleep. The nurse was dressing another child in the room, and the mother, aroused from her sleep by the noise, became alarmed and tried to save the second child, but in vain, for he plunged the reeking dagger into the child's heart while it was clasped in her arms. His fury was then directed against his wife, whom he stabbed several times. He then left the house on horseback, and rode into the village to the house where his infant child was being nursed. One of his servants, however, rode after him, threw him from his horse, and secured him. The next morning he was brought to Wakefield, lodged in custody, and then taken before Sir John Saville and Sir Thomas Bland, two of the magistrates of the West Riding, to whom he confessed his crime, alleging as the reason that his wife had many times uttered speeches and made signs and tokens to give him to understand that he was not the father of the children. He was committed for trial, and tried at the Assize at Wakefield, the plague raging at York. He was executed in the Castle at York on August 5th 1604. His wife recovered, and his son Henry succeeded to the estate. It remained in the family until 1754, when Sir Walter Calverley, who took the name of Blackett, sold it to Thomas Thornhill, of Fixby. At this time the Vicar of Calverely, and five of his parishioners, sent a certificate to the Judges of Assize, declaring that Robert Hare, Isabella Hare, his mother, Ann Brigg, and Elizabeth Birkenshaye, of that parish, were suspected of the "devilish art of witchcraft, and had done much hurt and mischief to their neighbours for twenty years."
A Rare Find.
In May, 1756, in the loft of an ancient house used as a chapel at the bottom of Northgate, a number of statues were found by a workman. They were in different metals, and admirably executed. Some were in wood and alabaster, each adorned with an appropriate emblem. They were supposed to have been conveyed from Sandal Castle and the chapel on Kirkgate Bridge in the reign of Henry the Eighth, through a subterranean passage to the house where they were found - so said the advertisement of Mr. Bucktrout, who travelled with the figures as an exhibition. They represented Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Christ, the Apostles, Magi, St. Anne, St. William, Archbishop of York, and other saints.
Supposed Roman Remains.
A few years ago, Mr Goldthorpe, yarn spinner, of Westgate, found about a cartload of broken pottery at the rear of his mill. One of the jugs is intact, except in the handle. The pottery shows an ingredient of ironstone and is very hard. There is also an attempt at brown glazing. The form is exactly that of the Roman style, and it may be that the "locas in quo" was a pottery furnace of the time of the Brigantes.
Churchwarden's Book: Sacramental Wine.
By a report of a public meeting held September 5, 1717, it appears that there were then four taverns in the town - (White Hart, Westgate; Black Bull, Corn Market; Cross Keys, near Market Place; and the Crown, in Northgate), - at each of which sacramental wine was to be bought quarterly; the vinters' bills were to be paid yearly, and the Vicar should have, as formerly one quart of clarot and one pint of sack, or the value in other vine; the curate, one pint of claret, and Mr Barber (the Parish Clerk), a similar quantity on every sacrament day from the wine in the vestry; that any stranger preaching at the Parish Church on the Sunday morning should have one quart of wine and no more, and that no livery should be given to the sexton, as his profits were sufficient.
The Cross Chamber.
There is a documents in the Churchwarden's Books stating that the inhabitants of the town, having no convenient place for public meetings or a sale of provisions, agreed to erect a cross with a chamber over it, and for that purpose raised money by voluntary subscription, with which they erected the building of the New Cross, and it would appear that a cross formerly stood on the same spot, for we read that William Philips, the grave for Wakefield, in the time of Richard II., received 2s 10½d. for the increased rent of the town opposite the cross, let to the wife of Roger Forester, and also that he received 2s. 11d. from Richard Spencer for two shops, one in the Market Place opposite the Cross, and one in the Bread Booths. Mr John Smythe assisted to build the Cross Chamber, as the subscription was not sufficient. The Chamber was removed in 1866, being sold on September 16th of that year, by order of the Corporation, so as to improve the entrance to Cross Square. In the turret was a bell inscribed "Henry Radcliffe, 1665." The Radcliffes were a respectable family in the town at that time.
The Wakefield Borough Market Company.
This company was incorporated by Statute 10 and 11 Vic. Cap. 49, with a capital of £12,000, with power to borrow, on mortgage or bond, £4,000. By a deed dated January 30th, 1852, William Singleton, for £5,999. conveyed to the company 17,000 square yards of the Rectory estate to be used as a market place by the Company, and bounded on the east, north, and partly on the south by other portions of the estate, and on the west by Goody Bower. The first directors were - Joseph Holdsworth, William Teall, Henry Illingworth, Charles Dunbar Atkinson, William Wood, and William Brooke Naylor. By Statute 13 and 14, Vic. Cap. 8., the Company was authorised to purchase another portion of the Rectory estate. The plan for the sale of the Rectory estate shows the positions of the adjacent streets and property at that time, and is of much interest. It shows the Vicars' Lane, now called Vicarage Street, and the Vicarage and Rectory houses. It was at that time that the present streets were laid out around the Market and down to Warrengate. The Borough Market now occupies the gardens formerly known as Goody Bower.
The Wakefield Manor. Its Extent and Antiquity.
From a book recently found at the Rolls Court I extract the following:-
The Manor of Wakefield in the County of York is one of the most large and extensive Mannors in England. The greatest part of the west country, from Normanton, four miles East of Wakefield, to Lancashire, being parcels of it, and no less distance than 34 English miles.
It contains 118 towns, villages, or hamletts, of which Wakefield and Halifax are the chief.
This Manor was parcel of ancient Demesne, and surveyed under the tide of T.R.S. before the Conquest and it continued a parcel of the possessions of the kings of England till King Henry the First who, about the 16th year of his reign, Anno Domini; 1107, did give this Manor among others to William de Placetis, son of the first William Earl Warren, in consideration of his service for taking Robert de Courtois the King's brother, prisoner in Normandy. This William, to whom this grant was made, had issue a daughter named Isabel. She first married to William son of King Stephen, with whom she had no issue, and after to Hamelin Plantagenet, the natural son of Jefrey Plantagenet, by whom she had issue William.
This William married the daughter of William, Earl of Norfolk, by whom he had issue John.
This John had issue William, who married the daughter of Robert, Earl of Oxford but dyed in the lifetime of his father leaving his wife with child, who had issue John, who dyed without issue in the 21st year of King Edward the Third.
This last John Earl of Warren, built the Castle of Sandal, situate about a mile south of Wakefield, and made it the chief seat of the Manor. He having diverse bastards, and no lawful issue, gave all his Honours, Castles, Mannors, Lands, and Tenements to King Edward the Second in the ninth year of his reign, of intent to have re-grant to his bastard's intaile. The King the year after made a grant to the Earl and to one Matilda de Mairford, his concubine, for life, remainder to John de Warren, son of the said Matilda, and the heir male of his body, etc. Remainder to one Thomas de Warren other son of the said Matilda, and the heir male of his body. Remainder to the heir of the body of the said Earl, lawfully begotten, and for want of such issue to return to the King. In the 12th year of the said King Edward the Second this John, Earl Warren, by virtue of license from the King, did grant this Mannor of Wakefield to Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, for and during the term of the natural life of the said Earl Warren.
The Earl of Lancaster enjoyed it but for a small time, for he was beheaded at his own Castle at Pontefract within three years after (viz.) in the 15th year of King Edward the Second. After the death of the Earl of Lancaster, this John, Earl Warren, had the Mannor of Wakefield again, and enjoyed it during his life. He dyed the 21st year of Edward the Third, and had married the said Matilda, his concubine, before, who survived him. She lived until the 33rd year of King Edward the Third, and kept courts at Wakefield in the name of Countis de Warren. And her two sons, John and Thomas, before-mentioned, dyed before her without issue. So that from the first grant of the Manor to the death of the Countis de Warren it appeareth to be 252 years.
After the death of Matilda, Countis de Warren, King Edward the Third in the 36th year of his reign created Edmund de Longley, his son, Earl of Cambridge, and gave him in augmentation of his revenues the Manor of Wakefield. King Richard the Second created this Edmund, Duke of York, who had issue Edmund, Duke of York, who dyed at the Battle of Agen Court. His second son, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, was father to Richard, Duke of York, who was slain at Wakefield Battle, whose son, Edward the Fourth, after he had gotten the victory at Totonfield, built Wakefield Bridge and a stately chappel thereupon in memory of his father and of those who lost their lives with him. This victory was in the year 1461; so that this Mannor of Wakefield was the inheritance of the Dukes of York for about the space of 100 years.
From the beginning of Edward the Fourth's time it continued parcel of the possessions of the kings of England till the year 1554, at the marriage between King Phillip and Queen Mary, at which time it was united to the Dutchie of Lancaster.
In the sixth year of King Charles the First this Mannor of Wakefield was granted from the Crown to the Earl of Holland, so that it appeareth to have been a parcel of the possessions of the Crown for the space of 190 years.
This Earl of Holland married his daughter to Sir Gervas Clifton, and gave him this Mannor of Wakefield as her marriage fortune. About the year 1665 this Sir Gervas Clifton sold it to Sir Chrofer Clapham. And the heirs of Sir Chrofer Clapham in the year 1700 sold it to his Grace the Duke of Leeds, the present Lord of this Mannor.
A Description of the Situation of its Several Parts and its Boundaries.
This great Mannor of Wakefield is not altogether intire and contiguous, for in several places it is broke off by yr. Honor of Pontefract and othor Mannors.
The most eastern part four miles from Wakefield lye Normanton and Woodhouse, a town and hamlett, which are bounded round with the Honor of Pontefract (viz.) Whitwood to the Easte, Snydale to ye South, Warmfield to the West, and Altofts to ye North, within this Division is the Mannor of Woodhouse.
About fourteen miles north-west from Wakefield lyeth Eclesell, another branch of the Mannor, and is also incompassed by ye Honor of Pontefract and other Mannors, and broak off at least eight miles from ye nearest part of any of the rest of ye Mannors, and is bounded by Horsford and Calverly to ye East, Tongue and Pudsey to the South, Bradford and Bolton to the West, and Idle to the North. It's reputed one of the inferior Mannors.
About twelve miles west of Wakefield lyeth Dalton, another branch of the Mannor, and is incompassed by the Honor of Pontefract and other Mannors, and broke off about two miles from the rest. Its bounded by Kirkheaton to ye East, Almondbury to ye South, Huddersfield to ye West, and Dighton and Bradley to ye North. It is also reputed one of the inferior Mannors.
The rest of ye Mannors may properly be divided into three branches (viz.), Wakefield Branch, Holmfirth Branch, and Halifax Branch. Wakefield Branch joyns on Holmfirth Branch, and is in length from the East end of Wakefield, Outwood, to Emley, south-west, being the nearest part of Holmfirth Branch, about ten miles. It is very iregular in its form, for in some places it is seven or eight miles broad and in others not above one. Within this Branch are the graveships of Wakefield, Stanley, Alverthorpe, Thornes, Sandall, Horbury, and Osset, and hath also within it the inferior Mannors of Walton, Crigglestone, Bretton, Soothill, Ardsley, Southwood, the Rectory Mannor of Wakefield, and the Rectory Mannor of Dewsbury. It is bounded by Medley, the River of Calder, Heath, Oakenshaw, Crofton, and Chivit to the East, Woolley, Bretton, Do., to the South, Emley and pt. of Holmfirth Branch, Midgley, Nether, Shitlington, Thornhill, Mirfield, Heckmondwike, and Batley to the West, Morley, Midleton, East Ardsley, Lofthouse, and Carleton to the North.
Holmfirth Branch extends from North-East to the County palatine of Chester West, being about fourteen miles. Within this Branch is ye graveship of Holme, the inferior Mannors of Emley, Burton Cumberworth, Shelly, Shepley, and Thurstonland. It is bounded by Bretton (part of Wakefield Branch) and Midgley to the East; Clayton, Skelmanthorpe, Denby, Thurlston, and Peniston to the South; the County of Chester, Sadleworth, to the West; Marslim, Melton, Tongue, Honley, Farnley, Stors, High-Burton, Lopton, and Denby Grange to the North.
Hallifax Branch is disjoyned from the other Branches by the Honor of Pontefract and other Mannors. The nearest and most Eastern part, about two miles of Wakefield Branch, begins at Hartchstead, and extends westward to the County of Lancaster, being about 23 miles. Within this Branch are the Graveships of Sowerby, Hipholme, Scammonden, and Rastrick; the inferior Mannors of Hallifax, Brighous, Hipholme - thorne, Shelf, Ovenden, Skircoat, Rottonstall, Stanfield, Wadsworth, Heptonstall, Midgley, Barkisland, Stainland, Rishworth, Norland, Goldcarr, Ffixby, Crosland, Lindley, and Quarmby. It is bounded by High Town, Robert Town, and Mirfield to ye East; Kirkheaton, Bradley, Huthersfield, Lockwood, South Crosland, and Slagwaite to the South; Marsden and Lancashire to the West; Haworth, Thornton, Clayton, Northbyerly, Wike, and Scoles to the North.
Within the Mannor of Wakefield are holden four Court Leets or Sheriff Turnes at Wakefield, Halifax, Brighouse, and Burton.
Under the Court Leet at Wakefield are the Constableries following (viz.),
Wakefield, Sandall, Normanton, Osset, Horbury, Stanley, West Ardsley, Walton- cu-Bretton, Soothill, Dewsbury, and Ecceleshill.
Under the Court Leet at Halifax are Halifax, Sowerby, Skircoat, Ovenden, Wailey, Wadsworth, Midgley, Rishworth-cum-Norland, Stansfield, Langfield, Heptonstall, and Erringden.
Under the Court Leet at Brighouse are the Constableries following (viz.),
Hipholme-cu-Brighous, Rastrick, Ffixby, Northowram, Shelf, Quarmby, Dalton, Hartchstead-cu-Clifton, Stainland, and Barkisland.
Under the Court Leet at Burton are the Constableries of Kirk-Burton, Shelly, Shepley, Cumberworth, Emley, Blockton, Thurlstonland, and Holme, with its villages of Falstone, Scholes, Woodall, Cartworth, Austonley, Hepworth, and Thwong.
Following the names of the Freeholders within the said Constableries is a foot note as follows:-
"N.B.:-By a reasonable computation above 1000 men have out of the Manor of Wakefield votes for election of the knights of the County."
The Tower and Spire of the Parish Church, Wakefield.
Mr. Joseph Latham, builder and contractor, says: On breaking off the vane of the Parish Church, May 9th, 1861, I found in the largest ball a small copper case containing two pieces of parchment. These appear to have been written at the time of the preceeding two restorations of the spire in the year 1823 and 1803. The latest gives the height of the old tower and spire including the vane and the dimensions of the present spire.
The old spire before it was pulled down: Height of Tower from the ground, 165 feet.
Height of Spire from Tower to top of stonework, 122 " .
Length of old vane and rod, 10 " .
The Tower refaced and the new Spire measure, Tower as above 105 feet.
Spire above Tower to the top stonework, 135 " .
Vane, rod, and weathercock, 7 " .
Total 247 feet.
The following is a copy of the first parchment:-
"The Tower and Spire of this Church, repaired in the year 1803, M. Bacon, vicar, Francis Mawd, Charles Mann, Joseph Hall, James Wilby, George Addy, John Hurst, Joseph Issot, Ralph Walker, Churchwardens for the Town and Parish. I. H. Fecit. Wm. and George Parkin, stonemasons; Robert Greaves, plumber, Jerh. Clapham, brazier; John Hampson, whitesmith; G. Braithwaite, Curate; J. M. Naylor, lecturer; Thomas Rogers, master of the Grammar School and evening lecturer; Henry Clementshaw, organist. September 10th, 1803. The spire of this Church partly rebuilt and repaired in the year 1715. The scroll was found in the ball under the vane the 28th June, 1823.
The following is a copy of the second parchment:-
In consequence of the dangerous and dilapidated state of the upper part of the Spire of this Church, arising probably from the vane having been stationary for nearly 20 years, and during that time having acted as a powerful lever, it was deemed necessary to take it down 15 feet and rebuild the same in the most substantial manner, it also afforded an opportunity of raising the Spire to its, original height, which in the repairs of 1715 had been diminished. These repairs were completed in September, 1823, the following gentlemen holding appointments at the time:- Samuel Sharpe, M.A., vicar; churchwardens for the town, John Hartley, John Scargill, Richard Nichols, Jonathan Barthorpe, Thomas Shaw, Robert Wright; churchwardens for Stanley and Alverthorpe, John Gill, George Adams; G. W. Lewis, curate; M. J. Naylor, B.D. lecturer, and head master of the Grammar School; Thomas Rogers, M.A., evening lecturer, and chaplain to the House of Correction; J. L. Sissons, M.A., second master of the Grammar School and evening reader, John White, organist; Stephen Priestley, parish clerk; John Addy, constable of the town; Charles Mountain, architect; George Perkin, stone mason; William Hardisty, whitesmith.
Height of Tower from the ground, 105 feet.
Height of spire from the Tower to top of the vane, 132 " .
Total height of the Tower and Spire 237 feet.
Richard Nichols, Bookseller, Scriptist, Sept. 30th., 1823.
These two parchments were found in the ball or the vane of the Parish Church after the Restoration of the Tower and Spire just now completed. 9th May, 1861.
The Height of the Tower is 105 feet. Of the spire to the top of the stone work 135 " . Of the vane above that 7 " . ---------- Total 247 feet. Edward Latham, Wakefield, builder; Joseph Latham, Wakefield, foreman, 29th May, 1861.
Census Records | Vital Records | Family Trees & Communities | Immigration Records | Military Records Directories & Member Lists | Family & Local Histories | Newspapers & Periodicals | Court, Land & Probate | Finding Aids