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Bingley in 1835

Bingley, a market-town and parish in the wapentake of Skyrack, in the West Riding of Yorkshire, 179 miles N.W. from London and 31 miles W.S.W. from York. The name signifies "the field of Bingel or Bing," the original proprietor in Saxon times. In Domesday it is called Bingheleia, and was one of thirty-two lordships which the Conqueror gave to Erneis de Burun. It had then six hamlets belonging to it. The manor afterwards went through a great number of hands, and was ultimately bought in 1668 by Robert Benson, Esq., whose son was created Lord Bingley by Queen Anne, whose descendant in the female line is the present proprietor.

The town is pleasantly situated on an eminence between the river Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. It is tolerably well built, partly of brick and partly of stone, and consists chiefly of one long street, in which the market is held on Tuesdays. The market was granted by King John at the instance of the then proprietor, William de Gant. The fairs are on the 25th January and the 25th, 26th, and 27th of August.

The parish of Bingley at present consists of four hamlets, namely, Bingley, Harden, Mickelthwaite, and Merton, the three first of which constitute one township, and Merton another. These hamlets provide for their own poor separately, but join in the support of the church according to their population. The number of houses in the township of Bingley, Harden, and Micklethwaite, was 1,606 in 1831, and the population amounted to 8,036 persons, of whom 4,037 were females. This is 1,861 higher than at the census of 1821, and the great increase is attributed to the extension of the worsted and stuff manufactures. The population of the whole parish was 9,256. The manufacture of worsted yarn is carried on to a considerable extent in the town and neighbourhood, besides which there are some cotton-spinning concerns, a paper manufactory, and some trade in malt.

The church dedicated to All Souls was given to the priory of Drax by William Paganell, the founder, in the time of Archbishop Thurstan, who held the see of York from 1119 to 1147. It is a plain and decent structure, accommodating 500 persons. It was probably restored in the reign of Henry VIII, which Whitaker demonstrates to have been the era in which most of the churches of this district were enlarged and adorned. The devout liberality of the people, which had previously exhausted itself in benefactions to monastic-establishments, then directed itself to the improvement of the parish churches, which had been comparatively neglected. The living is a discharged vicarage in the diocese of York. It is in the gift of the crown, and the annual income is estimated at £233 in the recent report of the commissioners for inquiring into ecclesiastical revenues ; but this is somewhat overrated ; the income arises principally from Easter dues. There are also in the town chapels for the Methodists, Baptists, and Independents. In the reign of Henry VIII William Wooler devised certain lands, the rents to be appropriated towards enabling a schoolmaster to teach grammar within the town of Bingley. The commissioners who inquired into the state of this charity in 1622 vested the power of appointing and removing the master, and of receiving the rents, in a committee of the inhabitants ; and decreed that the master, besides being competent to bring up his pupils in the doctrines of Christianity, must be “of a virtuous and reformed course of conversation, no light or disordered person, and industrious and diligent in teaching, and moderate and discreet in his corrections.” The endowment, as increased by subsequent benefactions, produced about £375 per annum at the time of the commissioners visit ; the income is received by the master, who also occupies a good house and garden belonging to the institution ; but the master has to pay £45 out of the entire amount to the poor, and gives a salary of £80 to the usher. The net income to the master, after paying the charities to the poor and the usher, does not now exceed £250.

The Charity Commissioners, who were there in 1826, say, “the present master used to receive and educate boarders, but has lately discontinued to do so. In his time the school has been attended occasionally by between twenty and thirty free scholars at a time, but there were ten free scholars only in the school at the time of this inquiry. The boys are taught reading, writing, and accounts, at a moderate charge, and they are instructed in English and in the principles of religion.” We are informed that from twenty to thirty free scholars is the general number attending the school ; the circumstance of there being only ten at the time of the Commissioners' inquiry was a rare occurrence. The school is strictly a grammar-school ; and writing and accounts are only taught for the accommodation of the inhabitants. There is also a large national school in the town.