A New and Complete History of the County of York (1828-31) by Thomas Allen

YORKSHIRE IN THE PUBLIC DOMAIN
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A New and Complete History of the County of York

  • written by Thomas Allen and published in six volumes between 1828 and 1831

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The following is a transcription of a historic article and may contain occasional errors.

The wapentake of Agbrigg[1] is divided into the upper and lower division. The former contains the following parishes:—

Almondbury, Huddersfield, Kirkburton, Kirkheaton, and part of Rochdale.

The lower division contains the following parishes:—

East Ardesley, West Ardesley, Batley, Crofton, Dewsbury, Emley, Methley, Mirfield, Newland, Normanton, Rothwell, Great Sandall, Thornhill, Wakefield, and Warmfield.

Huddersfield is one of the five principal market-towns in the central part of the West Riding; it is in the liberty of the honour of Pontefract, eight miles from Halifax, sixteen from Leeds, twenty-four from Manchester, and one hundred and eighty-eight from London. The town, which derives its name from Oder or Hudder, the first Saxon colonist in the place, stands on the river Colne, which, rising near the source of the Don above Holmfirth, falls into the Calder near Nunbrook. The valley formed by this stream, with a small quantity of level ground upon its banks, comprehends the parish of Huddersfield.[2] The great, and almost the sole proprietor of this town is Sir John Ramsden, Bart., whose family had a grant of the market by patent, dated as early as the 23d of Charles II. The revenue derived from this property by the Ramsden family is, at the present day, more than princely. The inland navigation of Huddersfield affords to its trade the most ample facilities, both to the east and to the west. The Ramsden canal, which commences at the King's Mills, close to the town, crosses the high road to Halifax, and passing Blackhouse Brook near Deighton, unites with the Calder at Cooper's Bridge. In this way a communication is opened with the great trading towns of Halifax, Wakefield, Leeds, and York, as well as Hull, from whence the merchandise is shipped to foreign countries. The Huddersfield canal, which joins the Ramsden canal at the south end of the town, conveys goods westward, by way of Longwood, Slaithwaite, and Marsden. There is a tunnel, nearly three miles and a half in length, cut through the English Appenines, to within two miles of Dobcross, from which the canal, after crossing the river Tame in several of its windings, comes within a mile of Lydgate, by Mosley and Staleybridge, and unites with the Ashton and Oldham canal near Ashton-under-Line. The navigation to Manchester is then direct, and from thence the communication by water and land is made daily to Liverpool, the great depot of commerce on the western coast.[3]

The manufactures of this town and neighbourhood are principally woollens, and consist of narrow and broad cloths, serges, kerseymeres, and various other woollen fabrics. Formerly, the buyers and sellers of cloth met in an open square; but in the year 1766 a commodious hall was erected for their accommodation by Sir John Ramsden. This building, which is two stories high, forms a large circle, with a diametrical range, one story high, which divides the interior parts into two semicircles. The light is wholly admitted from within, there being no windows on the outside, by which construction security is afforded against fire and depredation. The hall is subdivided into streets, and the benches or stalls are generally filled with cloths, lying close together upon edge, with the bosom up for inspection. Here, in brisk times, an immense quantity of business is done, in a few hours. The doors are opened early in the morning of the market day, which is Tuesday, and closed at half-past twelve o'clock at noon; they are again opened at three in the afternoon, for the removal of cloth, &c. Above the door is a cupola, in which a clock and bell are placed, for the purpose of regulating the time of commencing and terminating the business of the day, and beneath is the following inscription:—

“Erected by Sir John Ramsden, Bart. 1766. Enlarged by his son, Sir John Ramsden, Bart. 1780.”

A century ago, the population and opulence of Huddersfield did not amount to more than one-half of either Halifax or Wakefield ; but it is now equal to the largest of them, and promises fair to maintain the commercial and manufacturing consequence which it has so deservedly acquired. According to a calculation made by Dr. Walker, who has published a topographical account of Huddersfield, it would appear that the place is healthy in a very eminent degree; and that, on an average of five years, the annual number of deaths, in proportion to the population, was only as one to fifty-four and a fraction.[4]

The history of Huddersfield does not furnish much matter for the gratification of antiquarian research, though it is an undoubted fact that the castle hill at Almondbury was, in the early age of our history, crowned with a Saxon fortress, which awed the villages below ;[5] and that the celebrated Roman station of Cambodunum was within the parish of Huddersfield, on the confines of Stainland, and in the township of Longwood.[6] It is also acknowledged that there are some ancient symbols of druidical worship still extant in this parish; and that the site of a cromlech, and several stupendous rocking stones of that kind, remain to this day. Not far from Meltham there is one of these stones; but the finest druidical remain in the parish of Huddersfield is in Golcar, on Wholestone moor.[7] From the rolls of Richard II, it appears that, in the third year of that reign, free warren in Huddersfield was granted to the prior and canons of Nostel. But before this time, so early as the year 1200, Roger de Lacy granted to William de Bellomonte, ancestor of the Beaumonts of Whitley, a grant for his homage and service. A grant was also made by the same Roger de Lacy to Colin de Dammeville, which said Colin, as an act of gratitude to his benefactor, “gave to God, the blessed St. Mary, and the abbots and monks of Stanlaw, for the soul of his lord, Roger de Lacy, all his part of the said mill of Huddersfield, on the river Caune, and 20s. annual rent.”

This neighbourhood enjoys the advantage of several mineral springs, which, if not endowed with those singularly brilliant properties ascribed to springs of greater fame, are important to the labouring classes, to whom access to distant waters is pretty nearly impracticable. At or near Holmfirth, Lockwood, Kirkheaton, and Slaithwaite are to be found springs, yielding, on analysis, different proportions of sulphureous impregnations.

St. Peter's church is a small edifice, comprising a nave and aisles, a large projection similar to a south transept, a chancel and aisles, and an embattled tower at the west end. The whole appears to have been erected at different periods, though Dr. Whitaker says it was rebuilt about the time of Henry VIII. The benefice is a vicarage, valued in the Liber regis at £17. 13s. 4d. Patron, Sir J. Ramsden, Bart.

Trinity church, situate on an eminence, was built by B. Haigh Allen, Esq. (who has an elegant seat here) at Greenhead, at an expense of £12,000.[8] The first stone of this edifice was laid in 1817, and the church was opened for public worship on Sunday, the 10th of October, 1819, having been consecrated two days before by the archbishop of this province. The architect was J. Taylor, Esq. of Leeds. It is a handsome edifice, in the pointed style of architecture, comprising a nave and aisles, chancel, and embattled tower, with pinnacles, at the west end. The interior is fitted up with much taste, and in the gallery, at the west end, is a good organ. The church contains upwards of one thousand five hundred sittings, of which one-third are free seats. Its situation, which is on the north-west side of the town, is very commanding, and in every part of the surrounding country it forms a beautiful object, at once picturesque and impressive.

Two churches have been built by the parliamentary commissioners in this township. The first, in point of date, is at the Paddock. It is a neat edifice, with a tower, in the perpendicular style of architecture. The first stone was laid Nov. 5, 1828, and the church was completed in 1830. The contract amounted to £2,606 12s. 2d. It will hold four hundred and eight persons in pews, and four hundred and fifty-nine in free seats.

St. Paul's church, in Ramsden Street, is an elegant edifice, with a tower and spire, erected from the designs of P. Atkinson, Esq. The first stone was laid November 13, 1829. The contract is £5,486 15s., and the number of persons it will hold, one thousand two hundred and forty-three, of which three hundred and eighty will be accommodated with free seats.

There are also two Methodist chapels, both very commodious buildings ; one of them used by the Methodists of the old, and the other by the Methodists of the new connexion. The former of these erections, which is situate in Queen Street, has been very recently built, at an expense of £8,000, and is the largest Methodist chapel in the kingdom. It will seat two thousand four hundred persons, and is in length one, hundred and two feet, and breadth seventy-two feet, exclusive of the wings. There is likewise an Independent chapel a little out of the town, at Highfield, and a very large and elegant chapel in Ramsden Street, erected at the cost of nearly £6,000 ; and a meeting-house, for the Society of Friends, at the Paddock.

The charitable institutions in Huddersfield are the Huddersfield and Upper Agbrigg Infirmary, erected in 1830, in an airy situation in Trinity Street. It is a neat edifice, consisting of a centre and wings; the Dispensary, established on the 12th of May, 1814, on the restoration of peace ; the Bible Society, established in 1810 ; the Religious Tract Society, established March 16, 1816 ; the National School Society, established in 1819 ; and the Church Missionary Association, established in 1813, besides some other charities, of a more circumscribed nature, for the relief of the poor and destitute.

The markets are large and well arranged, and the streets open and well built. A short distance from the town, on the Sheffield road, are public baths, — a neat edifice, in a pleasant situation. A company for supplying the inhabitants with gas was established a few years ago.

The chapelry of Longwood has a population of one thousand nine hundred and forty-two persons. The church is a perpetual curacy, dedicated to St. Mark, and valued in the parliamentary return at £116. 8s. Patron, the vicar of Huddersfield.

Marsden is an extensive chapelry, with a population of two thousand three hundred and thirty persons. The church is a perpetual curacy, under Almondbury, valued in the parliamentary return at £80.

Scammonden chapelry has a population of eight hundred and fifty-five persons. The church here is a perpetual curacy, under Huddersfield.

The chapelry of Slaithwaite has a population of two thousand eight hundred and seventy-one persons. The church is a perpetual curacy, under Huddersfield, the vicar of which is patron. It is valued in the parliamentary returns at £129 8s. 6d.

The township of Golcar is large, and has a population of two thousand six hundred and six persons. A new church has been erected here, from the designs of J. Atkinson, Esq. It is a handsome edifice, of early pointed architecture, having a tower and well-proportioned spire. The first stone was laid March 13, 1828, and the church was consecrated September 7, 1830. It cost £2,865 17s. 10d. and will hold five hundred and twenty persons in pews, and four hundred and thirty in free seats.

Lindley is also a large township, with a population of two thousand and forty souls. Here is a new church, the first stone of which was laid June 11, 1828, and it was consecrated September 7, 1830. It is a neat edifice, of pointed architecture, consisting of a nave and chancel, with an embattled tower at the west end. The details of this edifice are of all periods, and many entirely fanciful. This church will hold four hundred and eight persons in pews, and four hundred and fifty-nine in free seats. The contract came to £2,615 15s. 8d. J. Oates, Esq. was the architect.

Quarmby, in this township, was anciently the seat of a family of that name. In the reign of King Edward III., 1341, Sir John Elland, being high-sheriff of Yorkshire, a quarrel took place between him and three neighbouring gentlemen — John de Lockwood, Sir Robert Beaumont, and Sir Hugh Quarmby. What occasioned the dispute does not appear, but it arose to such a dreadful height as to cause the death of all the three, who were murdered in one night by the sheriff and his men: a circumstance that strongly marks the ferocious manners of the times.[9]

The parish of Almondbury is very extensive, and has a population of twenty-three thousand nine hundred and seventy-nine persons. It is situate two miles from Huddersfield, and the township contains five thousand six hundred and seventy-nine inhabitants.

The benefice is a vicarage, valued in the Liber regis at £20. 7s. 11d. Patrons, the trustees of the free grammar-school of Clitheroe, Lancashire. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a neat structure of pointed architecture. The roof of the nave is in fine preservation; it is flat and panelled, and on a filleting round the whole of it are some curious verses.[10]

Here is a free grammar-school, founded by patent of King James I., and now endowed with about £120 per annum.

Here is supposed to have been a Roman station, the Cambodunum of Antoninus, as there are marks of an old rampart, and some ruins of a wall, and of a castle. In the Saxon times it was the seat of royalty, and graced with a church, built by Paulinus, the Northumbrian apostle, and dedicated to St. Alban. Afterwards a castle was built here, which was confirmed to Henry Lacy, by King Stephen.[11]

The late Dr. Whitaker says, “that the whole” of what Camden states respecting this place “is so hypothetical as scarcely to merit a confutation. First, Almondbury is not Cambodunum, which has been decisively fixed at Slack near Stainland. Secondly, it is not Roman at all, wanting every symptom which belongs either to the site or the structure of a Roman encampment. Thirdly, it is unquestionably Saxon,” &c. Of the castle hill, Dr. Whitaker has given us a ground plan, from which it appears to occupy upwards of eleven acres. “The crown of the hill has been strongly fortified by a double wall and trenches; the area within has also been sub-divided into an outer and inner enclosure from the gate, and the remains of mortar and stones, almost vitrified, prove beyond all controversy that the place has been destroyed by fire.[12]

Thorpe Villa is the seat of J. Dobson, Esq.

South Crosland is a considerable township, with a population of one thousand five hundred and eighty-three persons. Here is a new church, erected on high ground. It was built by Mr. Atkinson, of York, and is a very plain building of early pointed architecture, with a tower at the west end. The first stone was laid on the 15th of October, 1827, by the Rev. Lewis Jones, the vicar of Almondbury, and the church was consecrated September 8, 1830. It is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, and contains seven hundred sittings, of which three hundred and twenty two are free. The contract was £2,321 4s. 1d. The site was given by Richard Henry Beaumont, Esq.

Crosland Hall is an ancient mansion of the Beaumonts, which was surrounded by a ditch; the remains of which were visible in Mr. Watson's time. This mansion is rendered famous in local history by the family feuds of the Ellands of Elland, Beaumonts of Crosland, and Lockwoods of Lockwood, in the time of Edward III. when Sir Robert Beaumont was slain in this hall.

Farnley Tyas is another considerable township, with a population of nine hundred souls.

Woodsome, the residence of R. Gill, Esq. so called from its situation, almost embosomed in flourishing oak woods, and anciently a seat of the Kayes, but lately of the earl of Dartmouth, whose great-grandfather married the heiress of the Kayes. The house is quadrangular and spacious. The hall is of the latter end of the reign of Henry VIII. or that of his son, Edward VI. This apartment is preserved entire, the rest of the front has been rebuilt, and bears the date of 1600. In this hall are two very singular paintings, on wood, dated 1573. One contains a flat full-faced figure of John Kaye, son of Arthur Kaye, and Dorothy Mauleverer, his wife. Around the father are the figures of his sons, and around the mother her daughters. At the feet of the lady is a cumbent figure of an aged man, marked seventy-six, in black. On the margin of each is a long catalogue of the noble and generous kin of the parties, and on the backs (for they are painted on both sides) the respective arms of the same. To all these are added several singular and rude inscriptions, particulars of which are given by Dr. Whitaker, in his Leodiensis.

The chapelry of Honley is of great extent, having a population of three thousand five hundred and one persons. The church is a perpetual curacy, valued in the parliamentary returns at £124. 9s. 6d. : patron, the vicar of the parish.

Lingarths (population eight hundred and nine), Austonley (population nine hundred and sixty-eight), and Holme (population four hundred and fifty-nine), do not require further notice.

The township of Linthwaite has a population of two thousand one hundred and twenty-seven persons. The new church here was built by the same architect as Golcar, and is very similar in style and appearance. The first stone was laid April 9, 1827, and it was completed in 1829. It will contain eight hundred persons, two hundred of whom are accommodated with free seats. The contract for the building amounted to £2,969. 2s. 10d.

Lockwood has a population of one thousand eight hundred and eighty-one persons. The new church here is an elegant edifice, of decorated pointed architecture. It has a small bell turret on the roof, and, to the credit of the architect (R. D. Chantrell, Esq.), all the details are from specimens of the period he has chosen for the building. The first stone was laid September 4, 1828, and the church was consecrated September 8, 1830. It will contain five hundred and twenty-two persons in pews, and three hundred and ninety-eight in free seats. The contract was £2,950. 15s. 3d. The site was the gift of Sir J. Ramsden, Bart. Here is a large public school, erected by subscription in 1821.

Meltham is an extensive chapelry. Population, two thousand. Here is a chapel of ease to Almondbury, dedicated to St. Bartholomew. Abraham Woodhead, whom Dr. Whitby pronounces the most ingenious and solid writer of the Roman Catholic party, was a native of this place, born in 1608, and is supposed by many to be the author of “The Whole Duty of Man.” He died in 1678.

The township of Nether Thong has a population of nine hundred and twenty-seven persons.

Of the smaller class of churches erected by the parliamentary commissioners, the new church at this place deserves to be ranked among the first, both as regards the chasteness and elegance of the style, and the moderate charge at which it was built. It is small, with a bell turret, surmounted by a finial of excellent character, and the whole of the details are unexceptionable. The cost of the church was £2,869. 12s. 1d. the accommodation, seven hundred sittings, of which three hundred and eighteen are free. The first stone was laid on the 14th of January, 1829, and the building was consecrated September 8, 1830. R. D. Chantrell, Esq. was architect.

Upper Thong has a population of one thousand four hundred and thirty-seven persons.

The parish of Kirkburton is of considerable extent ;[13] the township, situate six miles from Wakefield, contains two thousand one hundred and fifty-three persons.

The name and situation of this place led Dr. Whitaker to conjecture that a Saxon fort once stood here. “Accordingly, at this place, the parish church, from which there is a steep declivity on the north and west, the appearance of a ditch on the south, and a deep narrow lane, at a corresponding distance, on the east, has every appearance of a Saxon fort, though the keep has been levelled. In addition to these appearances, a small sike immediately adjoining to the north-east is still called the Old Saxe Dyke.”

The benefice is a vicarage, valued in the Liber regis at £13. 6s. 8d. Patron, the king.

The present church, built in the reign of Edward III. pays a pension of £4 per annum as a mark of its dependence upon that ancient and fruitful mother of churches, Dewsbury, from which it appears to have been severed about the time of the first earl of Warren.

The Burtons may be traced as lords of this manor to the highest period of local names. In 1455, Edward Kaye, of Woodsome, Esq. was owner of this manor, by marriage of Isabel, the daughter of Thomas Burton; it is now the property of Sir John Lister Kaye, Bart. of Denby grange, his descendant.

The township of Cartworth has a population of one thousand two hundred and eleven persons.

At New Mills is a church, recently erected by the commissioners. It consists of a body and tower at the west, and with pinnacles at the angles. The first stone was laid on April 9, 1829, and it was completed in 1830. It will hold one thousand persons, four hundred and twelve of whom are accommodated with free seats. The contract was £3601. 11s. 10d., and the architect, P. Atkinson, Esq. of York.

Half Cumberworth[14] is a small chapelry, with a population of one thousand one hundred and twenty persons.

The chapel, dedicated to St. Nicholas, is a neat edifice, having a nave, chancel, and tower.

Foulston (population one thousand two hundred and sixty-four), Hepworth (population one thousand and forty-eight), Shelley (population one thousand three hundred and twenty-nine), Shepley (population one thousand), Thurstonland (population nine hundred and eighty-nine), are considerable townships, occupied by manufacturers, and having several chapels in the Wesleyan connexion.

The township of Wooldale is very large, and contains a population amounting to three thousand four hundred and forty-five persons.

This place, like many others, very probably took its name from its abounding with wolves, which were once so numerous in this part of the kingdom, that they attacked and destroyed great numbers of the tame beasts of the villages. The inhabitants, finding all their efforts to destroy them in vain, petitioned king Athelstan, beseeching him to grant them relief, by taking some effectual method to destroy those ferocious animals; for which service, they bound themselves, and their successors for ever, to give every year one thrave of corn, out of every carucate of land in the bishoprick of York. Their petition was granted, and buildings erected in many places, particularly in the woods and forests, for the reception of dogs and huntsmen; by whose means those ravenous creatures were, in a little time, entirely extirpated. It is curious to remark, that the thrave of corn out of every carucate of land was afterwards given, by government, to the cathedral of York; and is, to this day, called Peter-Corn.

Holmfirth, in this township, has a chapel. It is a perpetual curacy under Kirkburton, valued, in the parliamentary returns, at £123.2s. This is the only chapel in the parish of Kirkburton, of the antiquity of which there is nothing known certain, but it was probably erected in the reign of Edward VI. This is a very populous village, situated on the turnpike road to Buxton, partly at the foot of three great hills, and partly climbing up their steep and craggy sides. Holme and Ribbleden waters unite in this village, and this circumstance, together with its proximity to those stupendous mountains, renders it extremely liable to inundations. The houses are scattered in the deep valley, and on the acclivities of the hills, without any regard to arrangement, or the formation of streets. The traveller, at his first view of this extraordinary village, is struck with astonishment at the singularity of its situation and appearance. There is a Methodist chapel, old connexion, and an Independent chapel in this village.

The parish of Kirkheaton[15] is, like the last, very populous. The township, containing two thousand one hundred and eighty-six persons, is situate two miles east of Huddersfield.

The benefice is a rectory, valued in the Liber regis at £25, 13s. 9d in the patronage of T. R. Beaumont, Esq. The church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist.

After the origin of local names, the first race of mesne lords who appear at this place bore the denomination, de Heton. They were benefactors to the house of Fountains, and to their piety the parish church may with great probability be ascribed. The payment of £1. 3s. 4d. to the church of Dewsbury, proves its ancient dependence on that church, from which it was probably severed about the year 1200. In the church-yard is a gigantic yew-tree, supposed to be coeval with the church, as it could scarcely have attained to its great magnitude in less than six centuries. In the north aisle of the choir is a cumbent statue of Sir Richard Beaumont, of Whitley, Bart. : of this family, who have long been lords of this manor, are several other memorials in the church.[16]

Dalton township has a population of two thousand two hundred and eighty-nine souls.

Lepton is a considerable township, containing two thousand seven hundred and twenty-nine persons.

The township of Upper Whitley has seven hundred and sixty-four inhabitants.

Whitly Hall, the seat of the ancient family of Beaumont from the reign of Henry III., stands advantageously on an elevated plain declining to the west, but sheltered by higher grounds on the east. The park was surrounded by its last possessor with plantations, which at once contribute to shelter and render the place conspicuous as an object in the midst of the numerous elevations resembling itself, with which the face of the country abounds.

The present house is of two periods. First, there appears to have been a hall with a centre and two wings fronting northward, the remains of which, both in wood and stone, almost prove it to have been the work of Sir Richard Beaumont, about the end of Elizabeth's reign or the beginning of that of her successor. But in the year 1704 was begun a new and magnificent front, closing the open space between the wings to the north, and forming a complete quadrangle within. There is in this front, of about forty-four paces, a line of nine sashes. The architecture, though rather heavy in modern eyes, is striking. Within is an arcade of stone connecting the different apartments, and on the western side of the principal entrance is the family chapel, fitted up with excellently carved oak, and in the taste formed by Gibbons, if not executed by him. The hall in the centre of the south front, that is, the former house, remained in its ancient state till it was modernized and rendered a magnificent room by the father of the present possessor, and to the regret of the last.

The portraits are unusually numerous. T. R. Beaumont, Esq. is the present possessor.

Denby Grange, the seat of Sir J. L. Kaye, Bart., is seated in a fertile valley, through which winds the river Colne, and bounded by high hills, richly cultivated. The family of Kaye is of great antiquity in this county, being descended from Sir A. Kaye, one of the knights of the warlike table of Prince Arthur. Sir John Kaye, of Woodsome, Knight, was advanced to the dignity of a baronet by King Charles I. He served that unfortunate monarch as colonel of horse, and suffered much during the civil wars, but happily survived the protectorate of Oliver Cromwell, and witnessed the restoration of King Charles II. The second son of the second baronet was George Kaye, Esq. of Denby Grange ; he married Dorothy, daughter of Robert Saville, and dying in 1707, his son succeeded to the property of his two uncles, Christopher Lister, Esq. and Sir Arthur Kaye, Bart, ; he assumed the name of Lister, in addition to his own, and became the fourth baronet of his family; and upon the death of the late Sir Richard Kaye, LL.D. dean of Lincoln, who was the sixth baronet, without issue, the title became extinct, but was renewed, December Rochdale. Saddle- worth with Quick. 28, 1812, in the person of the present proprietor of Denby Grange, sole heir to the estates of the families of Lister and Kaye, by will.[17]

Part of the parish of Rochdale, in Salford hundred, Lancashire, is in this wapentake. It contains the extensive and populous chapelry of Saddleworth with Quick. The population amounts to thirteen thousand nine hundred and two persons.

The church is a perpetual curacy, valued in the Liber regis at £108, Patron, the vicar of Rochdale.

This place gives name to a large valley, about seven miles long, and five broad in the broadest part, situate in an angle of the county between Lancashire and the north-eastern projection of Cheshire. It is a wild, bleak region, of which a part only is under cultivation; but industry has accumulated in it a large number of inhabitants, who gain a comfortable subsistence by the manufacture of woollen cloth, for which the place is peculiarly famous; indeed, many of the superfine broads made here vie with those of the west of England. A tradition prevails that Saddleworth derives its name from an ancient bargain by which one of its possessors sold the whole district for a saddle, hence called Saddleworth ; but it was not, we presume, says Mr. Baines, till it had attained an increased value, that the Stapletons sold the manor to the Ramsdens; by whom it was sold to the Farrers and the Holts of Ashworth, the former of whom sold their share to the tenants. Putting out of consideration the apochryphal tradition of the saddle, property in this mountainous region has advanced in value within the last hundred and fifty years, in an incredible ratio, as the following facts will prove :— On the 9th of August, 1654, William Farrer, Esq., of Ewood, near Halifax, purchased a share of the lands of Saddleworth from William Ramsden, Esq. of Longley Hall, for £2,950. These lands in 1775 brought in an annual rent of £1,500 to James Farrer, Esq. of Bamborough Grange. In 1780, he sold off land to the amount of £10,000, and by advancing the remainder, still kept up the rent of £1,500 a year. At his death, in 1791, it had increased to £2000 a year, much of it in lease for lives, and the estate being sold in small parcels to the occupiers and others, it produced nearly £70,000, making an actual profit in the sales, exclusive of the rents, of upwards of £77,000, upon less than a £3,000 purchase.[18]

The number of woollen looms in Saddleworth, is about three thousand five hundred ; of cotton looms, from three to four hundred ; and there are about one hundred mills turned by the Tame and its tributary streams. Many of the superfine broad cloths made here vie with the cloths of the West of England, and are little inferior to those of the first Leeds manufactures.

Castle Shaw, in Saddleworth, exhibits the remains of an ancient fortification, and is supposed by Mr. Whitaker to have been a fortress of the provincial barons. It appears from the present elevation of the ground and the Husteads and Castle- hills, that the area of this ancient castle extended over several statute acres ; and round beads of the Britons have been dug up here of the same kind as those which have been discovered in the British barrows upon Salisbury plain. It is conjectured that a castrum at Castle Shaw, seated at the foot of Stanedge, within two furlongs of the Roman road to Slack, was a Roman station. The cutting of several turnpike roads within the last fifty years, through this vale, and the Huddersfield canal, which passes through the heart of Saddleworth, have tended very materially towards reclaiming large tracts of land for the purpose of cultivation, and giving facility to trade. This place is divided into four hamlets or quarters, called meres, viz., Quick Mere, Lord’s Mere, Shaw Mere, and Friar Mere. The latter was once an estate belonging to the Blackfriars, who had a house or grange near Delph. Saddleworth, though in this county, is in the parish of Rochdale, Lancashire, on account of Hugo de Stapleton, lord of the manor of Saddleworth, having applied to Hugh, earl of Chester, for leave to erect a chapel for the use of his tenants; to his permission, the earl made it a condition that the chapel should be annexed to the abbey of Whalley. On the dissolution of monasteries, this was annexed to Rochdale.

In this neighbourhood are the much frequented and celebrated rocks of Greenfield, as well as several druidical remains, a rocking-stone, &c. of which, would our limits allow it, a particular description should be given. Mr. Bottomley has written a poem descriptive of the romantic and almost uninhabited part of this country.


Notes and References

  1. “The fee of this wapentake was the property of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, who dying without issue male, his large estates were divided between his daughters, of whom Blanch, being married to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, fourth son of King Edward III had the bailiwick of this hundred assigned for her property with many other estates.” — Magna Brit.
  2. “Naturally, this part of the country is barren and unproductive, but its local advantages for manufacture, arising, principally, from its coal and waterfalls, has raised it to the rank of one of the principal seats of the woollen trade in the kingdom, and where men congregate in large numbers, the soil seldom remains for any long time unproductive.” — Baines' Directory
  3. The Huddersfield canal has answered better for the town, and for the country through which it passes, than for the proprietors. It has been a losing speculation, and ages will probably pass away before it pays common interest for the money invested in the undertaking, which was very considerable.
  4. This return is so evidently fallacious, from such of “the Dissenters and sectaries” as bury at their own places of worship being omitted, that it is calculated only to mislead.
  5. Whitaker’s Leeds.
  6. Watson’s Halifax.
  7. Walker’s Topography.
  8. The entire expense, including the procuring of the act of parliament, enclosing site and endowment, was upwards of £16,000.
  9. Watson’s Halifax.
  10. Printed in Loidis and Elmete, vol. ii. p. 827.
  11. Camden.
  12. Loidis and Elmete.
  13. The entire population of this parish is thirteen thousand six hundred and fifty-nine.
  14. Partly in Silkstone parish; Staincross wapentake.
  15. The entire parish contains twenty-one thousand eight hundred and seventy persons.
  16. Whitaker.
  17. Betham's Baronetage. Neale's Views.
  18. The land under cultivation in this district lets in small farms at from 20s. to 40s. an acre. Some choice meadows will bring £5 or £6.

A New and Complete History of the County of York (1828-31) by Thomas Allen

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This page was last modified on 21 November 2017 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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