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Hull in 1838

HULL, or KINGSTON-UPON-HULL is a borough and county of itself, and one of the principal seaports of the United Kingdom. It is the chief town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and is situated on the north side of the estuary of the Humber, where it is joined by the river Hull. It is distant from London 174 miles north, from Beverley 9 miles south, from York 38 miles south-east. Hull returns two members to parliament. It has its old constituency of freemen, and it contains 3,133 ten-pound houses. The borough comprises the parishes of St. Mary, Holy Trinity, Sculcoates, Drypool, and Garrison-side, as well as other extra-parochial places within these parishes. The population may be thus stated:-

The town part of the town and county : 32,958
Sculcoates parish : 13,468
The county part : 3,335
TOTAL : 49,761

For municipal purposes Hull is divided into seven wards, with fourteen aldermen and forty-two councillors.

This place took its name of Kingston from its purchase by Edward I, who saw the great natural advantages of its position, and determined on the foundation of a fortified town and port. The researches however of a recent historian of Hull satisfactorily establish the fact that it was a place of considerable mercantile importance for more than a century prior to 1296, the date to which its foundation is usually referred. The following circumstances indicate its early importance. From the fifteenth to the eighteenth years of Edward I the duties on exports received at Hull amounted to nearly one-seventh of the aggregate sum received throughout the whole kingdom ; and in the twenty-eighth of Edward I it was appointed, by a royal ordinance for establishing mints, one of the places for the erection of furnaces. Other proofs of its early mercantile importance might easily be offered. Several visitations of the plague at intervals during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, caused much suffering to the inhabitants. The visitation of 1635 was accompanied by famine, as the country people were afraid of bringing in supplies of provisions. At the breaking out of the dissensions between Charles and the parliament Hull was a great depot of arms. The authorities of the town refused to receive the earl of Northumberland, whom the king sent to take possession of the town in his name, and after some hesitation they admitted Sir John Hotham as governor, who was sent by the parliament. At this time the magazines of Hull contained more warlike stores than the Tower of London, and it was the policy of the parliament to have them conveyed to London. On the 23rd of April, 1642, Charles I, accompanied by his son, afterwards Charles II, with a train of from two to three hundred servants, and attended by many gentlemen of the county, set out from York to Hull, and when within a few miles of the town sent an officer to inform the governor that he intended to dine with him that day. Sir John Hotham was not disposed to accept this honour, and he sent a message to the king humbly beseeching him to forego his intended visit, as the governor could not without betraying the trust committed to him open the gates to so great a train as his majesty was attended by. The king then demanded entrance for himself and twenty of his followers. The governor pleaded the trust confided to him, at the same time declaring himself to be a faithful and loyal subject of his majesty. The king, finding that threats and entreaties were alike unavailing, retired to Beverley, where he lodged that night. The next morning he sent a herald to Sir John, summoning him once more to open the gates on pain of being proclaimed a traitor, and with a promise of forgiveness for the past if he complied. The herald proved unsuccessful, and the king returned to York grievously disappointed. This was the first act of hostility between the king and the parliament. A short time after this the king laid siege to the town, which was defended by Sir John Hotham and Sir John Meldrum, who was sent by the Parliament to his assistance. Sir John Hotham received overtures by means of Lord Digby for delivering up Hull to the king. His treachery was suspected by the Parliament, and they were induced to watch his movements. The appointment soon after of Lord Fairfax to the office of general of the parliamentary army in the north gave great umbrage to Sir John Hotham, and he was in duced to seek opportunities to deliver up Hull to the Royalists. His son Captain Hotham joined him in this purpose. Sir John found means, when his designs became known, to escape to Beverley, where he was taken, and sent with his son to London ; they were both charged with having traitorously betrayed the trust reposed in them by parliament, and were executed on Tower Hill. After these events Hull was again laid under siege by the marquis of Newcastle, and was successfully defended by Lord Fairfax and Sir John Meldrum. During the short period of excitement which terminated the Stuart dynasty and placed William III on the throne of England, Hull was again a scene of warlike activity. The town, fort, and citadel were in the hands of the Catholic party. But measures were concerted and acted upon with such decision and promptitude that the governor was taken in his quarters before he had even heard of such a design. The anniversary of this event is still celebrated by the name of ‘the town-taking day.’

The exports of Hull formerly were chiefly wool, woolfels, and leather ; its imports wine and timber. At present the coasting-trade, of which Hull has a greater share than any other port in the kingdom, except London, is one of its chief branches of profit. It has also an extensive commerce with the Baltic, with the north of Germany, Holland, and Denmark. The Greenland fishery owed its revival, about 1766, and its subsequent importance, to the mercantile enterprise of Hull. The facilities of communication between Hull and the interior of the kingdom are numerous ; the Ouse, Trent, Aire, and Calder, all communicate with the Humber, and these means of internal communication are extended by the Leeds and Selby railway, and will be again augmented by the continuance of the line from Selby to Hull, a work which is at present in progress. It is computed that the manufactured goods, coal, stone, &c., yearly introduced into Hull from the West Riding of Yorkshire alone, amount in value to at least five millions sterling. In some years within the present century more than sixty ships left Hull for the whale fisheries of Greenland and Davis's Straits. Since 1819 this number has been gradually diminishing ; in 1834 twenty-seven ships were sent out, and the number has continued to decrease since that time, though Hull may still be regarded as the principal seat of the northern whale-fishery. The establishment of Goole as a port, about twenty miles up the Humber, has caused the general commerce of Hull to de cline in a slight degree since the year 1828. Within the last few years Hull has become a principal steam-packet station. These packets may be classed as sea-packets and river-packets. Of the former eight are constantly employed between Hull and London ; seven between Hull and Hamburg; three between Hull and Rotterdam ; and four between Hull and Newcastle. Ocean-steamers to Berwick, Aberdeen, and Yarmouth also pass between these places and Hull at regular intervals. The river-packets and steam-tugs are more than twenty in number. They go to Gainsborough, Selby, Goole, York, Barton, New Holland, Thorne, and Grimsby. The prosperity of Hull has been greatly increased by the progress of steam-navigation, and it may be considered as the second great centre of this mode of transit on the eastern coast.

The Docks
The Old Dock was formed in 1775 ; its length 1,703 feet, breadth 254 feet, and depth 24 feet ; its wharfs and quays occupy an area of 13 acres ; the entrance to it is from the river Hull, a little higher than that part of it called the Old Harbour. The Humber Dock, at the west part of the town, was commenced in 1807 ; its length is 914 feet, breadth 342 feet, and depth 31 feet : the wharfs cover a space of more than 10 acres. The Junction Dock was commenced in 1826, and completed in 1829 ; as its name imports, it connects the Old Dock and the Humber Dock. Its dimensions are as follow : length 645 feet, breadth 407 feet, area 29,191 square yards ; it will contain 60 square-rigged vessels. The area of the quays is 15,643 square yards; the locks are 120 feet long, 36 feet broad, and 25 feet deep; the two bridges are each 24 feet wide. It may here be remarked, that the Hull docks occupy the site of the ancient fortifications, and encircle the part which was the old town with water in place of its former walls. Attached to the Humber Dock is a capacious basin with its piers. This spot is the focus of the extensive traffic occasioned by the steam-packet trade. Hundreds of passengers land here daily, for whose accommodation the extension of the piers to low-water mark would be an improvement so obvious that its accomplishment may be looked for at no very distant time.

The manufactures of Hull are neither numerous nor extensive. The expressing and refining of oil from linseed is effected by wind-mills and steam-mills ; the residue of the seed is prepared as food for cattle – rape-oil is also refined by similar means. There is a large sugar-house, a soap manufactory, several white-lead works, ship builders' yards, turpentine and sail-cloth manufactories, extensive ropewalks, and several breweries. A flax and cotton mill has recently been erected on a large scale, which at present employs 200 persons ; when completed it will employ 500. New lines of houses for the workpeople have risen up in the neighbourhood of this factory.

Public Buildings
The public buildings connected with the trade and commerce of Hull are the custom-house, the dock-office, the pilot-office, the excise-office, the exchange, the post-office, the stamp-office, the corn-exchange, and several banks. The establishments connected with the internal economy of the town are the waterworks, the gas works, the public baths, the shambles, the savings' bank, and the fire-engine establishment. The mansion-house is a plain brick edifice, at the rear of which is a court-house, and a building for the court of requests: the other law-courts are the county court, and the court of venire for determining civil causes, which has a jurisdiction extending to the town and county of Hull. The quarter-sessions are held in the Guildhall. The new gaol and house of correction is in Kingston Street on the Humber bank ; it cost £22,000. The prisoners are classed according to their age, sex, and degrees of delinquency, and they are kept employed. Crime and mendicity have been much checked by the establishment of a new police on the system of the metropolis (London). The citadel, which is on the east bank of the river Hull, at its junction with the Humber, is surrounded by a wall, with ramparts and ditches, and is occupied by a regular garrison. The magazines are capable of containing 20,000 stand of arms, and ordnance stores for twelve or fifteen sail of the line. There is a handsome equestrian statue of William III in the Market-place, which is covered with leaf gold. The Wilberforce Memorial is a fine fluted Greek Doric column, which stands on a square pedestal, on each side or which is a wreath and an inscription : the inscriptions state that the first stone of this memorial was laid on the 1st of August, 1834, the day on which Negro slavery was abolished, and that it was erected by voluntary subscription. Above the capital of the column is a small circular pedestal, on which stands a statue of Wilberforce in his senatorial robes. The column with the figure is 80 feet high. This monument was executed by Messrs. Myers and Wilson of Hull.

The educational charities are - the Trinity House school for 36 boys, who receive a nautical education ; the Vicar's school for 50 boys ; Cogan's charity-school for 40 girls ; the national school, which is open to children of all denominations, and which contains 400 children of the two sexes ; the Sculcoates and Drypool national schools, each of which contains upwards of 300 children ; the Catholic free-school, which is attended by nearly 100 children ; the British and Foreign school, which will accommodate nearly 500 children ; the Savings' Bank school, which is mainly supported by the managers of that institution, and which contains about 250 children ; and the Sunday-schools which are attached to the various denominations of Christians, and which have under their charge several thousands of children. The free grammar-school was founded by Bishop Alcock, a native of Beverley, in 1486. Originally the sons of freemen received a classical education at this school on the payment of 14 shillings per annum ; at present there are no classical scholars, and the more common branches of learning are taught. Many men who have risen to eminence received some part of their education here, among whom may be named Andrew Marvell, Dr. Watson, bishop of Llandaff ; and William Wilberforce. The educational wants of the town have given birth to two new proprietory institutions, one of which is denominated the Hull College, and the other the Kingston College. The latter is exclusively for education on the principles of the Established Church ; the other is open to all. Both are in full operation ; Hull College has 109 pupils, and Kingston College 129. Both have preparatory schools attached to them, where it is intended that the better parts of the infant system shall be carried out. The other educational institutions of Hull are the Literary and Philosophical Society, which possesses an excellent museum ; the Mechanics' Institute, which has a good library of nearly 2,000 volumes ; the Hull Subscription Library of 15,000 volumes, and of which there is an admirably-classified catalogue published ; and the Lyceum Library, containing 5,000 volumes. The Hull Philosophical Society occupies a part of a splendid pile of buildings in Kingston Square. These rooms were erected for public meetings, concerts, and lectures. Hull has several musical societies, and a convenient theatre.

Medical Institutions
The General Infirmary of Hull was commenced in 1782. The present building is of brick with stone dressings ; it has accommodations for 70 in-patients. On the lawn in front of the building is a neat monument in memory of the late Dr. Alderson, by William Westmacott, jun. The other medical institutions are the Dispensary, established in 1814, the Refuge for the Insane, the Dispensary for Diseases of the Eye and Ear, and the Hull and East-Riding School of Medicine and Anatomy. The Botanic Garden, established in 1811, is about a mile from the town, comprises five statute acres, and is the property of 300 shareholders.

Places of Worship
The Holy Trinity church is the most ancient in Hull, and is said to be one of the largest parochial edifices in the kingdom. It is 272 feet long from east to west : the length of the nave being 144 feet ; the breadth of the nave of the transept under the tower is 28 feet; and the length of the chancel is 100 feet ; the breadth of the nave of the church is 172 feet ; the length of the transept 96 feet ; and the breadth of the chancel 70 feet. The transept is of brick, covered with composition, and is said to be the oldest brick building, not Roman, in Eng land (The arrival of the art of brick-making has been attributed to Hull. In 1321 William de Pole had, without the north gate of the town, a tilery or brick-yard). This church is thus mentioned by Rickman, in his 'Gothic Architecture' :- ‘The east end to the street is decorated. It is a cross church, and in the centre has a very lofty and beautiful tower. The western part is perpendicular, of good character, remarkably light, and with very small piers. The transepts are of very early decorated work, and the great window of the south transept is curious from its tracery and mouldings. Only a part of the nave is pewed ; the chancel is open and has a very fine effect ; there is in it a decorated monument, with rich canopy and buttresses, and some niches and stalls ; there is also some wood screen work. The font is large, and much enriched.' The other churches are those of St. Mary's, St. John's, the Mariners' church, the parish churches of Drypool and Sculcoates, St. James's church, and Christ church. Of dissenting chapels, the Unitarians, Swedenborgians, Primitive Methodists, New Connexion Methodists, Church Methodists, Catholics, Friends, and Jews, have each one ; the Baptists have three, the Wesleyans four, and the Independents six ; there is also a floating-chapel, at which service is gratuitously performed by the Methodist, Independent, and Baptist ministers.

The endowed charities which have not yet been enumerated are the Charter-house, which has fifty-seven apartments for as many poor persons ; and the following hospitals or almshouses - Gregg's, Harrison's, Ratcliff's, Weaver's, Crookhay’s, Gee's, Lister's, Crowle's, and Watson's. Each of these establishments receives a certain number of poor and aged persons, from six to fourteen, and provides them with a residence, a small weekly sum of money, and other advantages. The other charities are the Lying-in Charity, the Poor and Strangers' Friend Society, the Benevolent, and the Clothing Societies.

The persons of eminence connected with Hull are : the De la Poles, afterwards dukes of Suffolk ; Luke Foxe, who revived the attempt to discover a north-west passage in 1631 ; Andrew Marvell, admiral Sir John Lawson, commodore Edward Thompson, John Mason, the poet, Benjamin Thompson, the translator of the ‘Stranger' and many other German dramas, Daniel Sykes, and William Wilberforce.