Middleham in 1843
Middleham is a parish and small market-town in the wapentake of Hang-West, liberty of Richmondshire, and North Riding of Yorkshire, about 226 miles from London, 41 miles north-west of York, and two or three miles south of Leybourn.
The living is a royal peculiar, with a net income of £325. The church is dedicated to St.Mary and St. Alkeld, and was made collegiate by Richard III when duke of Gloucester. The town contains places of worship for Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, and some daily and Sunday schools ; and it is built, chiefly in the form of a square, upon a gentle acclivity on the south bank of the Ure. The market-day is Monday, but the trade of the town, which was never considerable, has almost fallen away since the rise of Leybourn ; fairs are held on Easter-Monday, Whit-Monday, and the 5th, 6th, and 7th of November. Petty sessions for the wapentake of Hang-West are held here, and there are small manufactures of woollen.
The most interesting feature of the town is its ancient castle, built about 1190, by Robert Fitz-Ranulph. In the reign of Henry VI it belonged to the earl of Salisbury, who marched hence with 4,000 men towards London to demand redress for his son's grievances. Here also, according to Stow, the bastard Falconbridge was beheaded in 1471. Edward IV was confined for a time in Middleham Castle by Richard Nevill, earl of Warwick, after he had been taken prisoner at Wolvey, but he subsequently escaped while hunting in the park. After defeating the earl of Warwick at Barnet, Edward gave Middleham Castle to his brother the duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III, who took a great liking to the place, and was preparing to found a college in Frodingham-field, when he died. His only son Edward was born here, but since that time hardly anything is known of the history of the castle, excepting that it was inhabited, in 1609 by Sir Henry Linley. Tradition says that it was reduced to ruins by Cromwell, but there is no historical evidence to prove it. The ruins of the castle stand on a rocky eminence near the town. The population of the parish of Middleham was 914 in 1831, and 930 in 1841.