A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain (1720s) by Daniel Defoe

Published in several volumes between 1724 and 1727, the books give an account of the author's travels around the country.

A later edition in four volumes is available on the Internet Archive web site:

Volume III contains a short description of Huddersfield within a section on the West Riding of Yorkshire and is reproduced below in both the original spelling and then again with modern spellings.


Due Eaſt from Halifax, is Kirkley, a ſmall Village, ſituated on the Calder, near which is the Monument of the famous Robin Hood ; and upon the Moor, his Butts, Two little Hills, ſo called, about a Quarter of a Mile aſunder. I have now traced this Hero from the Foreſt of Shirwood, the Scene of his Exploits, to his Grave. I before doubted whether there ever was ſuch an one ; but Epitaphs, as great Liars as they are, I ſuppoſe, are Evidence that ſuch a Man once exiſted. His is as follows:

Here undernead diſlaid Stean
Lais Robert Earl of Huntingtun.
Nea areir ver az hie fa geud,
An Pipl kauld im Robin Heud :
Lick Utlawz hi an is Men
Vil England niver ſee agen.

Near this Place is a little Town, called Burſtall, where they make Broad Cloth, ſo called in Diſtinction from Kerſeys and Druggets, and the like, tho’ the Cloths in this Country are called Narrow, when they are ſpoken of in London, and compared with the Broad Cloths made in Wilts, Glouceſter, Somerſet, and Devonſhire.

This Town is famed for Dying, and there are made here a ſort of Cloth in Imitation of Glouceſter Whites, which, tho’ they may not be ſo fine, yet their Colours are as good.

From hence to Leeds, and every way round, the Country appears exceedingly buſy and diligent. The Houſes are not ſcatter’d and diſperſed, as in the Pariſh of Halifax, but crouded up in large Villages, and thronged with People.

A few Miles South-weſt of Halifax is Huthersfield, upon the Calder, which is the firſt noted Town it comes to. This Town is one of the Five, where that vaſt Clothing-trade, which I have already mentioned, is carried on. They have a Market here for Kerſeys every Tueſday.

While I am ſpeaking of their Manufactures, I muſt not forget that very eſſential one, called Yorkſhire Ale, which indeed is in its Perfection in all this Part of the County. But I cannot paſs over Huthersfield without taking notice of its old Neighbour, Almondbury, a famous Town in the Time of the Romans, and called Campodunum ; but ’tis now a Village only. Mr. Camden calls it a Royal Town ; and ſays, it had a Cathedral Church in it, dedicated to St. Alban, from whom it was called Albanbury, whence its preſent Name. The Ruins of a Stone Caſtle and Rampire are ſtill to be ſeen near it.

The River Calder having been made navigable to Wakefield, and great Benefit ariſing from it, it is now [Ann. 1741.] about to be made further navigable, to the Towns of Ealand and Halifax ; which will be of inexpreſſible Service to thoſe populous and improving Places, and all the Villages and Towns adjacent. And as there have juſt paſſed new Acts to mend the Road from Selby to Leeds, Bradford, and Halifax, and from Ealand to Leeds, which have been torn in Pieces by the heavy Carriages paſſing to and fro in the carrying on the vaſt extended Trade of thoſe Parts ; ’tis hardly to be conceived what Benefit will accrue from theſe publick Works.


Due east from Halifax, is Kirklees, a small village, situated on the Calder, near which is the monument of the famous Robin Hood; and upon the moor, his Butts, two little hills, so called, about a quarter of a mile asunder. I have now traced this hero from the Forest of Sherwood, the scene of his exploits, to his grave. I before doubted whether there ever was such an one; but epitaphs, as great liars as they are, I suppose, are evidence that such a man once existed. His is as follows:

Here undernead dislaid Stean
Lais Robert Earl of Huntingtun.
Nea areir ver az hie fa geud,
An Pipl kauld im Robin Heud:
Lick Utlawz hi an is Men
Vil England niver see agen.

Near this Place is a little Town, called Birstall, where they make broad cloth, so called in distinction from kerseys and druggets, and the like, though the cloths in this country are called narrow, when they are spoken of in London, and compared with the broad cloths made in Wiltshire, Gloucester, Somerset, and Devonshire.

This town is famed for dyeing, and there are made here a sort of cloth in imitation of Gloucester Whites, which, though they may not be so fine, yet their colours are as good.

From hence to Leeds, and every way round, the country appears exceedingly busy and diligent. The houses are not scattered and dispersed, as in the Parish of Halifax, but crowded up in large villages, and thronged with people.

A few miles south-west of Halifax is Huddersfield, upon the Calder, which is the first noted town it comes to. This town is one of the five, where that vast clothing-trade, which I have already mentioned, is carried on. They have a market here for kerseys every Tuesday.

While I am speaking of their manufactures, I must not forget that very essential one, called Yorkshire Ale, which indeed is in its perfection in all this part of the county. But I cannot pass over Huddersfield without taking notice of its old neighbour, Almondbury, a famous town in the time of the Romans, and called Campodunum; but it is now a Village only. Mr. Camden calls it a Royal Town; and says, it had a cathedral church in it, dedicated to St. Alban, from whom it was called Albanbury, whence its present name. The ruins of a stone castle and ramparts are still to be seen near it.

The River Calder having been made navigable to Wakefield, and great benefit arising from it, it is now [Ann. 1741.] about to be made further navigable, to the towns of Elland and Halifax; which will be of inexpressible service to those populous and improving places, and all the villages and towns adjacent. And as there have just passed new Acts to mend the road from Selby to Leeds, Bradford, and Halifax, and from Elland to Leeds, which have been torn in pieces by the heavy carriages passing to and fro in the carrying on the vast extended trade of those parts; it is hardly to be conceived what benefit will accrue from these public works.


A Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain (1720s) by Daniel Defoe

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This page was last modified on 10 June 2018 and has been edited by Dave Pattern.

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