York in 1843
YORK, the capital of the most extensive county in England, and a place of distinction from the earliest period of authentic British history, is situated on the banks of the Ouse (or Ure), which flows through the midst of it, and receiving in its course nearly all the waters of Yorkshire, forms, in conjunction with the Trent, the estuary of the Humber.
York was originally a town of the Brigantes, a people of Celtic origin, inhabiting the country extending north ward from the Mersey and the Humber to the Firth of Solway and the Tyne, and described by Tacitus as the most numerous of the British tribes. Like other ancient British towns, no doubt it was nothing more than a collection of huts surrounded by a trench and the trunks of the trees which had been cut down to clear a sufficient space in the forest. Its British appellation was, most probably, Eburac or Eborac, a name of Celtic origin, denoting a town or fortified place on the banks of a river, or near the confluence of waters. It was converted into a Roman station by Agricola or one of his generals during the second campaign of that illustrious commander in Britain, about A.D. 79, when he marched through and subdued the whole country of the Brigantes ; its original Celtic appellation being retained in the Latinized form of Eburacum or Eboracum. It appears to have very soon become the principal Roman station of the north, and even of the whole province of Britain. Whether it was a colonia or a municipium has been a subject of dispute. In an ancient inscription it is called colonia ; in the work which bears the name of Richard of Cirencester, a municipium. It was the head-quarters of the sixth legion from the time of its arrival in Britain in the reign of Hadrian, till the departure of the Romans from the island. The ninth legion, which came over with the emperor Claudius, had previously been stationed here, and, of course, continued here after its incorporation with the sixth. From the time of Septimius Severus, if not earlier, it was the residence of the emperors when they visited the province, and, in their absence, of the imperial legates. Here the emperors Septimius Severus and Constantius Chlorus died : and here, according to common belief, Constantine the Great was born. But this belief rests upon very insufficient evidence. For its pre-eminence among the Roman stations in Britain, Eboracum was indebted, it is probable, to its situation on the banks of a navigable river, in the midst of a remarkably extensive and very fertile plain, in the heart of the large district which lay between that part of the province of which the Romans had almost undisturbed possession, and that which they never could subdue, with the fierce hordes of which they were compelled to wage unceasing and doubtful warfare. Similar circumstances contributed to maintain the distinction which York enjoyed during many successive centuries.
One of the angle towers and a portion of the wall of Eboracum attached to it, are to this day remaining in an extraordinary state of preservation. In a recent removal of a considerable part of the more modern wall and rampart, a much larger portion of the Roman wall, connected with the same angle-tower, but in another direction, with remains of two wall-towers, and the foundations of one of the gates of the station, were found buried within the ramparts ; and excavations at various times and in different parts of the present city have discovered so many indubitable remains of the fortifications of Eboracum, on three of its sides, that the conclusion appears to he fully warranted that this important station was of a rectangular form, corresponding very nearly with the plan of a Polybian camp, occupying a space of about 650 yards, by about 550, inclosed by a wall and a rampart mound on the inner side of the wall, and a fosse without ; with four angle towers, and a series of minor towers or turrets, and having four gates or principal entrances, from which proceeded military roads to the neighbouring stations mentioned in the ‘Itinerary' of Antonine. Indications of extensive suburbs, especially on the south-west and north-west exist in the numerous and interesting remains of funereal monuments, coffins, urns, tombs, baths, temples, and villas which from time to time, and especially in late years, have been brought to light. Numberless tiles, bearing the impress of the sixth and ninth legions, fragments of Samian ware, inscriptions, and coins from the age of Julius Caesar to that of Constantine and his family, concur with the notices of ancient geographers and historians to identify the situation of modern York with that of ancient Eboracum.
The interval between the final departure of the Romans from Britain and the arrival of the Saxons in the southern parts of the island, which had long been harassed by their fleets, was very short : but more than a century appears to have elapsed before the foundation of any Saxon kingdom north of the Humber was laid. During this long period we have no authentic account of the state of York. The inhabitants were no doubt chiefly descendants of the ancient Brigantes, who, retaining their ancient language, though their ancestors, as Tacitus tells us, had been taught ‘to affect Roman eloquence,' restored the original name of the city, with a very slight variation, and the addition of a British term indicating the increased dignity and strength of the place. For it is most probable that it was during this period, and not, as is generally supposed, prior to the invasion of the Romans, that the city received the appellation of Caer Ebrauch. Though it lost the pre-eminence it had so long maintained, as the different Anglo-Saxon kingdoms rose and flourished, yet it was unquestionably the chief city of the north ; an important bulwark against the incursions of the Picts, from which there is reason to believe that it suffered greatly. No certain relic of this period is known to have been at any time discovered here; but it is not improbable that some of the remains generally regarded as Roman may belong to this period.
In that authentic and valuable record the 'Saxon Chronicle,' no mention of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom north of the Humber occurs till the year 547, when Ida, at the head of a body of Angles, took possession of Bryneich or Bernicia, one of the two great divisions of the country between the Humber and the Forth, and lying north of the Tees. Thirteen years afterwards, the other division between the Tees and the Humber, called Deifyr, or Deira, was seized by Aella, another Anglian chief. These two kingdoms were soon united, and generally continued to form one kingdom under the name of Northumbria, of which York was certainly the capital. By Venerable Beda and other Anglo-Saxon writers the Roman name of the city is retained. On some Anglo-Danish coins it is corruptly called Ebraici. In the Saxon Chronicle and in other Saxon records, it appears generally in the form of Eoterwic. During the Anglo-Saxon and Danish periods, and even to the end of the reign of Henry III, the term occurs on coins struck at York. The orthography is varied, but in every form its relation to the original British Eburac may be easily traced ; as may also the transition from one of its forms, Eurewic, to the present name York.
The historical notices of York from the foundation of the kingdom of Northumbria to the Norman Conquest an indeed scanty, but they are sufficient to show that it continued to be a place of considerable importance. It was the principal royal residence. At York, Edwin, who was not only king of Northumbria, but the fifth Bretwalda, held his court. Here, ‘under the lofty walls of York' says Alcuin, he was baptized by Paulinus ; and here he erected the first metropolitan church. Here many of the kings of Northumbria were consecrated and enthroned ; many were buried here ; and some, abdicating the throne, finished their lives in the peaceful retreat of the cloister of the church. The first Danish invader found it necessary to employ a considerable force in order to make himself master of this bulwark of the north. Athelstan, when he united Northumbria to his dominions, deemed it prudent to demolish the castle of York. Edgar the fifth sole monarch of England held, in the year 966, the Wittenagemot in this city. Siward the Dane, who was earl of Northumberland in the reign of Edward the Confessor, built a church at York, dedicated to the royal Danish saint Olaf or Olave, preparatory to his intended foundation of a monastery, and, dying at York, was buried in that church. Harold was dining in the palace at York, after the battle Stamford-bridge, surrounded with his thanes, when he received the news of the landing of William, duke of Normandy, on the coast ; and having hastened thence to meet him, within twenty days after his departure fell on the field of Hastings.
Very few Saxon or Danish relics have been discovered at York. An interesting portion of the Saxon church erected by Paulinus, or by Albert, has been recently brought to light beneath the choir of the present cathedral ; and fragments of crosses, or commemorative pillars, and some coffins, both of stone and wood, belonging to Saxon period, have occasionally been found. Saxon and Danish coins have at various times been disinterred ; and a large hoard of stycas, a coin peculiar to Northumbria, amounting to more than 5,000, has been lately disinterred, all probably struck at York, the only place in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria at which a mint is known to have been established. The dean and chapter are possession of a large and beautifully carved ivory horn, a Danish relic, presented to the church by Ulphus, a Danish chief and friend of Canute, when he endowed it with all his lands.
Although William was crowned in London by Aldred, archbishop of York, the claims of the Conqueror were for a long while strenuously resisted in the north, where Saxon nobles espoused the cause of Edgar, the son of Harold. As soon as affairs in the south would permit, William took possession of York, built or repaired two castles in it, and strongly garrisoned them with Norman soldiers. Notwithstanding this, Edgar Atheling appeared at York, and was acknowledged king. The citizens, supported by a powerful body of English and Scotch, and a considerable number of Danish auxiliaries, besieged the castles, entered them, and put the garrisons to the sword. During the siege a great part of the city was destroyed by fire. York soon felt the destructive vengeance of the Conqueror ; who, as William of Malmesbury says, 'regarding city as the only nest of sedition in the kingdom, razed it to the ground,' and reduced the whole country of Northumbria to a vast wilderness. In the reign of Stephen, David, king of Scotland, formed the design of seizing York, and for this purpose appeared before it with a powerful army. But his design was frustrated by the great battle of the Standard, in the year 1138. His grand son, Malcolm IV, was summoned to York by Henry II, where he did homage to the English king for Lothian ; and in 1171 William, the successor of Malcolm, did homage at York to Henry for ‘broad Scotland' (as Drake asserts, on the authority of H. Knyghton), and in token of submission offered and deposited upon the altar of St. Peter, in the cathedral church, his breastplate, spear, and saddle. The reign of Richard was ushered in by a general massacre of the Jews. It began in London, apparently by accident : the example of violence and cruelty exhibited in the metropolis was soon followed in other places, and especially in York ; where, it has been computed, not less than a thousand or fifteen hundred of this unhappy race perished by the unbridled fury of the populace, or by their own or each other's hands, in the ruins of the castle, in which many of them had been allowed to take refuge, and to which in despair they had set fire. In the last year of King John the northern barons laid siege to York, but retired on receiving from the citizens 1,000 marks. In the year 1230 Henry III kept his Christmas magnificently at York, with Alexander II of Scotland, the cardinal legate, and a large concourse of nobility. But with still greater magnificence was that festival observed by him in this city in 1251, when he gave his daughter Margaret in marriage to Alexander III in the presence of all the peers of the realm, and a great assembly of the nobility of Scotland and of France. The attempt of Edward I to subjugate Scotland had considerable influence on the state of York during the latter part of his reign. In the year 1298 a parliament was summoned to meet at York ; and in the following spring the whole English army was mustered there, preparatory to their march into Scotland. The Courts of King's Bench and Exchequer were on this occasion removed to York, where they appear to have remained seven years. Edward II, in his vain at tempts to carry on his father's plans in regard to Scotland, made York his head-quarters, which partook of the misfortunes of the king. In 1327 an army of 50,000 men assembled at York, under Edward III, on its march to the frontiers of Scotland ; whence it returned unsuccessful and dispirited. In this year the king kept his Christmas at York ; and on the 24th of January was married in the cathedral church to Philippa of Hainault. Three months after had defeated the French on the plains of Crecy, and while he was reaping the fruits of that memorable victory, his valorous queen was taking the field, with forces she had collected together at York, against the Scotch, who had invaded England under the conduct of David Bruce. The battle of Nevill's Cross put her in possession of the Scotch king, whom she received as a prisoner at York, and thence conveyed to the Tower of London.
The unfortunate Richard II held a parliament at York, and removed thither for a few months the Courts of Chancery and King's Bench. He is recorded to have taken his sword from his side, and given it to be borne before William de Selby as first lord-mayor of York. The city, having received from him several immunities and privileges, gratefully adhered to him in his adversity, and consequently suffered severely from the vengeance of his successor Henry IV. The neighbourhood of York was the scene of some of the bloody conflicts in the War of the Roses ; and the lofty gates of the city exhibited the barbarous spectacle of the heads of Lancastrians and Yorkists alternately, as either party was victorious. The citizens were favourable to the cause of Edward, who was honourably received by them on his way to the north, whither Henry VI and his queen had retired after the battle of Towton : and on his return, after the battle of Hexham, he was crowned again with great solemnity, with the royal cap called 'Abacot,' which had been found in the spoils of his rival. Yet after Henry, by a change of fortune, had recovered the kingly power, Edward could not obtain admittance into York till he had made a solemn declaration that he returned from his short exile not to fight against the king, or in any way to molest him. In 1478 he again visited York, where he was most sumptuously entertained. Richard Ill, who while duke of Gloucester resided much at his favourite castle of Middleham, making, it is probable, frequent visits to York, and endearing himself to the citizens by his affability and the interest he took in their welfare, visited the city with his queen soon after his coronation at Westminster, ‘in order,’ as it is said, ‘for a second coronation at York.' The citizens received him with great pomp and triumph, and a splendid ceremony took place in the Minster : not a second coronation of Richard, but the admission of his youthful son to the honourable degree of knighthood, and his personal investiture with the dignity of Prince of Wales. Henry VII came twice to York for the purpose of suppressing insurrections in the north; after which the history of the city has no particular connection with the events of his reign. The dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII occasioned many insurrections in the north ; the most formidable of which was that styled ‘The Pilgrimage of Grace.' The insurgents made themselves masters of York, and compelled the archbishop to take the oath and join their party. When this and other disturbances of the same nature had ceased, the king visited York, where he remained twelve days, and received the submission of other northern cities. He had previously, in the year 1537, established at York a permanent council for the government of the northern counties ; the president of which, with the title of Lord President of the North, had his palace on the site and built of the materials of the suppressed abbey of St. Mary. This court continued till the year 1641. The palace of the lord president was greatly enlarged by James I, who was twice at York, and intended the palace to be a royal residence. In the events which distinguished the unhappy reign of his son York bore a considerable share. The fist visit of Charles I to York was on his peaceable progress to Scotland in 1633 ; his second, six years afterwards, on his hostile expedition against the Scotch. In the month of August, A.D. 1640, unwilling to call a parliament, he summoned the lords spiritual and temporal to meet him, as the great council of the nation, at York : in the follow ing month they assembled in the deanery, and continued their sittings more than three weeks. The year 1642 opened with the civil war, and in March the king fixed his head-quarters at York, where he was joined by many of the Yorkshire gentry, and several of the peers from London. After a stay of five months he removed to Nottingham, having appointed the earl of Cumberland lord-lieutenant-general of his forces in Yorkshire. The earl came to York with an army of 6,000 horse and foot ; but soon resigned his commission to the earl of Newcastle. In the beginning of the next year the queen, having landed at Bridlington, proceeded to York, and continued there some time ‘with great advantage to the king's cause.' In the month of April. 1644 ; Sir Thomas Fairfax, commanding the parliamentary forces, joined by the Scotch, invested York, which had been strongly fortified and held out for the king. Several batteries were erected against the city : the suburbs, then very extensive, were set on fire ; one of the gates was nearly demolished, and a tower of the abbey of St. Mary, which had been preserved for the use of the Council of the North, and in which the chartularies of many of the northern monasteries had been deposited, was blown up, and many important records destroyed. The fate of the city was decided by the battle of Marston Moor ; and York was compelled to open its gates to the parliamentarians. Cromwell was at York soon after the battle ; and six years afterwards spent one day in the city on his way to Scotland. Charles II, in the last year of his reign, offended at the citizens for not having paid proper attention to his brother James, duke of York, on his second visit to them, took the government of it out of the hands of the lord-mayor, and deprived the city of its charter, which however it was one of the first acts of James after his accession to renew. From thus period till the rebellion in 1745, nothing of a public nature occurred deserving of particular notice. Many who had taken apart in that rebellion were tried and executed at York, and the noble gates were again defiled by a spectacle worthy only of an age of the grossest barbarism.
Among the interesting relics of Eboracum, or of York under the Romans, are remains or memorials of Roman temples ; but although the Britons, as well as the Romans, had undoubtedly embraced the Christian faith long before the departure of the latter, no trace of any sacred Christian edifice of Roman or of British times has been discovered. That churches had been built in many parts of the empire previous to the establishment of Christianity by Constantine is attested by Eusebius : and there is no reason to suppose that a station so important as that of Eboracum would be destitute of them. Whatever edifices of this nature may have existed at York before or after the departure of the Romans, they were most probably destroyed by the Saxons. who when they founded the kingdoms of the Octarchy were universally pagans. Such they continued to be till about the end of the sixth century, when Ethelbert, the Saxon king of Kent, was converted to the Christian faith by the preaching of the monk Augustine. Edwin, the fifth Saxon king of Northumbria, and a native, it is said, of York, had married Ethelburga, the daughter of Ethelbert, and, through her influence and the zeal of Paulinus, a companion of Augustine, became a convert, and with Coiffi, the heathen priest, and a considerable number of the nobles of his kingdom, was baptized by Paulinus on Easter-day, in the year 627, at York, in the church of St. Peter, which, says Beda, he had hastily constructed of wood while he was a catechumen, and preparing to receive baptism. Soon afterwards, by the advice and with the aid of Paulinus, to whom he had given York as his episcopal see, the king made preparations for building a larger and a nobler church, in the midst of which the oratory that he had previously constructed, and in which he had been baptized, might be inclosed. He laid the foundation and began to raise the edifice ; but before the walls were completed he was slain. The work was finished by his successor Oswald ; but when he had also fallen, and Paulinus (who during the life of Edwin had received the pallium from Rome, and been elevated to the rank of archbishop of York) had been compelled to retire with Ethelburga into Kent, the church was wholly neglected, and fell into ruins. From this sad state the celebrated bishop St. Wilfrid, about the end of the seventh century, restored it, adding greatly to its splendour by the assist ance of artists whom he had brought with him from the Continent. About fifty years after this, in the year 741, this edifice was destroyed or greatly injured by fire. In the episcopate of the celebrated Albert, who was elected to the see of York in the year 767, a new church was begun, finished, and dedicated ; from the description of which, by Alcuin, the learned pupil and friend of Albert, in his poem ‘De Pontiff. et Sanet. Eccles. Ebor.,' we are warranted in concluding that it was one of the most magnificent of the Angle-Saxon churches. A small but very interesting portion of this church, comprising a part of the earlier church built by Edwin, has been recently brought to light during the excavation of the present choir, after the calamitous fire in February, 1829. Attached to the church was an episcopal monastery, in the school of which Archbishop Egbert, the predecessor of Albert, taught, and which he enriched with a noble library collected by him with great labour and expense. This celebrated library is supposed to have perished in the conflagration that destroyed a great part of the city and the cathedral in the beginning of the reign of William the Conqueror.
Archbishop Thomas. who was appointed to the see by William, in the year 1070, finding the church ‘thus de spoiled, rebuilt it,' according to the testimony of his friend Hugo the Precentor. 'from the foundation, and adorned and enriched it with books and clergy.' From remains of the crypt, discovered in the recent excavation and pre served beneath the floor of the present choir, a good idea may be formed of the grandeur and beauty by which the entire edifice must have been distinguished. It appears to have been greatly injured, in part perhaps destroyed by fire in the year 1137 ; after which it is commonly believed to have been rebuilt by Archbishop Roger. But there is sufficient evidence to show that it did not then re quire to be rebuilt ; and that the work of Roger was confined to repairs, alterations, and additions. It cannot be ascertained what was the state of the fabric in the beginning of the thirteenth century, when Walter Grey succeeded to the archbishopric ; it is certain however that the present south transept was begun by him about the year 1220, and it was probably finished during his episcopate, about the year 1241. The rebuilding of the north transept, it is thought, was begun by the same prelate, but not completed till several years after his death. There are no documents in existence relating to the building of the chapter-house, but it is conjectured with great probability that the foundation-stone of this beautiful and unrivalled structure was laid in the year 1284, but that the work was not finished before the year 1340. The present nave was begun in the year 1291, in the episcopate of John le Romain, but not finished till the year 1360, in the episcopate of Thoresby, by whom the present choir was begun, but not completed before the year 1472. About that time the central or lantern tower was finished ; and very shortly afterwards the upper story of the north-west tower, the south-western tower having been finished probably about thirty years earlier.
This magnificent cathedral is cruciform, measuring in length from base to base of buttresses east and west about 519 feet, and from base to base of the transepts 249 feet. The internal length east and west is 483 feet, of the transepts 222 ft. 6 in. The church consists of a nave with side aisles, two transepts with side aisles, a choir with side aisles, a Lady-Chapel, a large central tower, two bell towers, and a chapter-house with its vestibule. Offices are attached to the south side. The internal height of the nave is 93 feet, of the choir 101 feet, of the central tower externally about 198 feet, internally 182 feet, 6 inches. The height of the western towers is about 201 feet to the top of the pinnacles, 178 feet, 3 inches to the top of the battlement. The chapter-house is a noble room of an octagonal form, the angular diameter being 60 feet, 6 inches, and the height of the central base from the floor 62 feet, 2 inches. The roof is unsupported by any pillar.
It is a remarkable circumstance in the history of this magnificent church, that two of the principal portions of it have within the space of twelve years been destroyed by fire : the middle aisle of the choir by the fanatic incendiary Jonathan Martin, in the year 1829 ; and the south-western bell-tower with its fine peal of bells, and the middle aisle of the nave, through carelessness in 1840. On both occasions the grand central tower prevented the flames from spreading to the transepts.
The palace of the archbishop was anciently on the north side of the cathedral. Archbishop Roger is said to have rebuilt it in the latter end of the twelfth century, and a small portion of his work is still remaining, as is the chapel of the palace, of a later date. This elegant building, having been long an unsightly ruin, was repaired in the time of Dean Markham, and is now used as the library of the dean and chapter. Near it is the new deanery, the old residence of the dean, which was on the south side of the Minster, having lately been taken down. A house for the residence of the canons residentiary has also been lately erected on the north side of the Minster on the site of part of the ancient archiepiscopal palace.
The monastic institution appears to have been introduced into Britain by Augustine at the end of the sixth century, when a monastery was established at Canterbury by his royal convert. About fifty years afterwards several monasteries were founded in the kingdom of Northumbria ; but no establishment of regular monks is known to have existed at York prior to the Norman conquest. Shortly before that event Siward, the Danish earl of Northumberland, laid the foundation of a monastery near the walls of York ; but the building did not advance beyond the erection of the church ; and the foundation was laid anew, and a great part of the monastery completed, by William Rufus, the original dedication to St. Olave being changed to that of 'The Blessed Virgin Mary.' About the end of the thirteenth century the church and a great part of the monastery were rebuilt ; but several portions of the original structure still remain. During the government of the third abbot, Gaufridus, A.D. 1131, thirteen of the monks, desirous of adopting the Cistercian rule, seceded, and founded the abbey of Fountains near Ripon. William Thornton, the last abbot, surrendered to the king, Nov. 29, 1540, when there were in the monastery fifty monks, including the abbot, prior, and sub-prior, and one novice. The clear value was reckoned to be £1,650, 0 shillings and 7 pence. The abbot of St. Mary enjoyed the dignity of the mitre, and was summoned to parliament. The monastery was situated on the banks of the Ouse, adjoining the city walls on the north-west, in a close of about fifteen acres, surrounded by a wall and towers. At the dissolution it was retained by the crown ; but it shared the fate of most of the religious houses in England at that period : it was doomed to destruction ; and the remains of this noble religious establishment bear striking marks of the furious zeal with which that destruction was accomplished. On the site and from the materials a palace for the residence of the lord-president of the north was erected. In later times grants have been made of the stones for various public uses in York and its neighbourhood, and many were at one period suffered to be converted into lime on the spot. In the year 1827 the site of the greater part of the monastic buildings was granted by the crown to the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, then recently established, on which to erect a museum and form a botanical garden. On that occasion the whole of the ground was carefully excavated, the foundations of the monastery traced, and plans and drawings exhibiting the interesting result were published by the Society of Antiquaries in London. Some beautiful potions of the ancient buildings which had been long buried were brought to light ; and many exquisite specimens of the sculptured ornaments of the monastery and the church now form an attractive portion of the collections in the museum of the society ; and the ruins of the church which have survived the ravages of time and of ruthless spoliation, combine with several other objects of antiquarian interest to give a singularly beautiful and attractive character to the gardens of the society. The monks of the abbey of St. Mary were of the order of St. Benedict. To the same order belonged the priory of the Holy Trinity in Micklegate, a cell to St. Martin's in Tours, founded in the time of the Conqueror. The gateway and a part of the church, both of later date, are remaining. There was also a Benedictine nunnery at Clementthorp, just without the walls. The Dominican Friars, the Franciscans, the Augustinians, and the Carmelites, had each a monastery in York ; and the Gilbertines had a priory. There were no fewer than sixteen hospitals in the city and the imme diate neighbourhood, of which the oldest and most consider able was that dedicated originally to St. Peter, and afterwards, much enlarged, to St. Leonard, said to have been founded by Athelstan. Interesting remains of this extensive religious house are still in existence.
In the time of Henry V there were upwards of forty parish churches standing and fifteen chapels. Two only of the chapels remain, and twenty-three of the churches. Some of these are architecturally interesting ; as that of St. Dionis, St. Lawrence, St. Margaret, and St. Mary Bishop-hill the Younger; and several contain sadly mutilated remains of stained and painted glass.
Besides the parish churches, there are several places of worship belonging to Dissenters. The Roman Catholics have one chapel besides that of the nunnery. One chapel, erected in the year 1692, belongs to the English Presbyterians. The Wesleyan Methodists have four chapels ; the Protestant and the Primitive Methodists have each one chapel. The Independents have three ; and the Friends one spacious meeting-house.
York was governed by a mayor as early as the time of Stephen; and the names of persons serving the office of bailiff occur in records belonging to the reign of Henry III. Richard II conferred on the mayor the additional title of 'lord’, which that officer still assumes ; and in 1397 two sheriffs were, by royal authority, substituted for three bailiffs, and thus York became a city and county of itself. Before the passing of the late Municipal Reform Act, the corporation of York consisted of a lord mayor, twelve aldermen, two sheriffs, the 'Twenty-four,' a body composed of persons who had served the office of sheriff, seventy-two common-councilmen, a recorder, two city counsel, a town-clerk, and two coroners. By the late act the city is divided into six wards, instead of four, as it had been previously, at least during several centuries ; for according to 'Domesday Book,’ at the Conquest it was divided into six wards, besides the ward of the archbishop. Each ward now chooses six councillors (two of whom retire annually), and these elect twelve aldermen, who serve six years. The sheriff and the lord mayor are elected annually by the aldermen and the councillors.
Till the passing of this act the jurisdiction of the corporation was not restricted within the proper bounds of the city, but extended to the Ainsty, which was originally a hundred or wapentake of the West Riding, bounded by the river Ouse, the Wharf, and the Nidd, and a line from the town of Thorp-Arch on the Wharf to Cattal Bridge on the Nidd. The city of York appears to have laid claim to this extensive jurisdiction in the reign of Edward I as having been granted by a charter of King John ; but their claim was disputed : it was finally confirmed by a charter of Henry VI. By the late act the Ainsty is separated from the jurisdiction of York, and annexed partly to the West and partly to the East Riding of the county.
It is impossible to form any conjecture as to the extent of the population of York during the early periods of its existence. It appears from Domesday-Book that in the time of Edward the Confessor the city was divided into seven wards ; one of these belonged to the archbishop, and one was destroyed for the castles. In the remaining five wards there were 1,418 houses, and in the ward of the archbishop 200. Supposing, with Drake, that in the ward destroyed for the castles there were as many houses as to make the whole number 2,000, and allowing five inhabitants to each house, the population at the Conquest would amount to 10,000. Drake supposes further that the suburbs contained an equal number of persons, and thus reckons the whole population at 20,000. But it appears that when the survey was made between the sixteenth and twentieth years of the Conqueror's reign, a great devastation of the houses had taken place, and the population must have been proportionably diminished. If the number of inhabitants may be supposed to bear any proportion to the number of churches, the population had greatly in creased again in the time of Stephen, when thirty-nine of the churches are said to have been destroyed by fire ; and it must have been considerable in the reign of Richard II, since, according to the chroniclers of the times, no less than 11,000 inhabitants were destroyed in 1,390 by pestilence. In the various vicissitudes experienced by the city, the number of its inhabitants must have varied. In the beginning of the present century, when it had lost its im portance as the metropolis of the northern counties, the population amounted to no more than 16,000. Since that time it has been nearly doubled ; the census in 1841 giving 28,883, of which number there were 13,423 males and 15,460 females. But in this census one parish and part of another without the walls, forming in reality a part of York, though belonging to the North Riding, are excluded. Including these, the return is 29,500.
York from its foundation has never ceased to have the appearance of a fortified city ; and although its fortifications have never been permanently accommodated to the art of war as practised in later ages, it made a good defence against the parliamentary forces in the time of the civil war. The walls of the Roman station Eboracum were wholly on the north bank of the Ouse. What changes they underwent in the succeeding British, Saxon, and Danish times, cannot be ascertained ; nor is there any historical evidence relating to the enlargement of them to their present extent. In the time of the Conqueror they inclosed two castles : one, as it is thought, on each side of the river ; but this is very doubtful. In the architecture of the walls, which have been so often repaired and even rebuilt, there is nothing characteristic of any particular age ; but the archway of the gates appears to belong to the Norman period. The barbicans, which were probably added in the reign of Edward III, have been, without any good reason, removed from three of the gates. The walls, since they were extended, have never entirely surrounded the city, there being a space, on the eastern side, of nearly 500 yards, which till recently must have been a complete morass. The extent of the walls is about two miles and a half : a very considerable portion of them is accessible to the public, which, having lately been put into a state of complete repair, forms a very pleasant and interesting walk. There are four principal gates, or bars, as they are usually called, and five postern gates. Two new entrances through the ramparts have recently been formed ; one of them exclusively for the railway to the station, which ought not to have been erected within the walls ; another entrance, which had been closed since the time of Henry VII, has been re-opened. The castle has long since been converted into the county prison and the courts of justice for the county; but some portions of the old work, besides the noble keep, are still remaining. The felons' gaol is an entirely new building, consisting of four radiating double wards, with eight airing courts, the governor's house being
in the centre. The keep, known by the name of Clifford's Tower, the Cliffords having been the ancient wardens of the castle, is generally supposed to have been built by the Conqueror, but the architecture indicates a somewhat later age.
That York was not a strong military station only, but also a place of trade even in the times of the Romans, is by no means improbable ; its situation being as convenient for commerce as for war. Alcuin, in the eighth century, calls it ‘a common emporium of land and sea ;' and says that it was then visited by vessels from the most distant lands. In the tenth century several merchant vessels on their voyage to London from York were captured and plundered by the pirates of the Isle of Thanet. William of Malmesbury, who flourished in the twelfth century, speaks of York as being in his time a great and metropolitan city, to which trading vessels came from Germany and Ireland. York had its merchant-guilds as far back as the reign of Stephen ; and a charter of John confirms to the guild of merchants at York all the privileges which they and their houses had before enjoyed. By a statute of Edward III it is directed that the staple of wool, leather, woolfels, and lead, should be at York and nine other places named ; and when, in the reign of his successor, the staple for the export trade for the whole kingdom was fixed at Calais, the merchants of York had a considerable share in this staple ; some of them were mayors of the staple of Calais, and one of them is named as having been the treasurer. York was long famous for its manufacture of woollen goods. In the days of Henry II and Henry III the weavers of York paid a considerable ‘farm' for their privileges ; and the manufacture was flourishing in the reign of Henry VIII. But this branch of trade has long ceased to flourish here, and York is not now the seat of any extensive manufacture. It has however been long celebrated for the making of leathern gloves, shoes, combs, and other articles of horn. During a long period these were considered as the staple trades of the city, but they are so no longer ; yet York, in proportion to its population, is the seat of respectable and steadily increasing trade, divided into various branches. It has one extensive flax-mill ; many hands are employed in the manufacture of linens; and York bed-ticking supports a high character in distant places. The confectionery of York is much celebrated, and a few large wholesale establishments have connections through a great portion of the kingdom. An extensive business is carried on by several druggists. The wholesale tea and coffee business is a very important and increasing branch of the trade of York : within the last half-century the roasting of coffee was under the exclusive control of the Board of Excise, and London, Bristol, Liverpool, and York were selected as the only places in England for the establishment of public roasting offices. The merchants of York took advantage of this privilege : the tea and coffee trade was extensively cultivated, distant connections were formed, and though the Excise restrictions no longer exist, the trade that was widely formed during their continuance has become a distinct and important part of the traffic carried on in York. A considerable wholesale trade is also carried on by the curriers of York ; and large quantities of corn, and of flour ground here by steam-power, are sent into the West Riding of Yorkshire. The traffic upon the Ouse, though much reduced by the railways and other causes, is still very considerable. Trading vessels of from 110 to 150 tons burthen regularly pass between York and London. Although York has ceased to be the winter residence of the nobility and gentry of the county, it is not only frequently resorted to by them on occasions of public entertainment or business, but it is still the permanent abode of many persons of independent income, a circumstance which exerts a very favourable steady influence on the character and respectability of its internal trade.
There are several fairs annually held at York for cattle and horses ; one for cattle is held every fortnight. There also large markets for wool and leather during stated seasons. The chief weekly market for the supply of the city is held on every Saturday.
Fifty years ago every street in York afforded some interesting specimens of the domestic architecture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries ; but these have almost entirely disappeared, the overhanging and often richly ornamented fronts having given place to plain unornamented and generally mean-looking brick-work, with a few handsome houses indeed of the earlier part of the last century interspersed. York possesses very few pubic buildings besides churches that are deserving of particular notice. The guild-hall is a fine Gothic building erected in the year 1446 : 96 feet in length, and 43 feet in width ; consisting of three aisles : the roof, which is panelled and adorned with knots exhibiting coats of arms and grotesque figures, is supported by two rows of octagonal oak pillars, five in each row. The assembly-room, considered one of the finest in the kingdom, was built after a design from Palladio, by Richard, earl of Burlington ; the foundation being laid in 1730, and the building finished in 1736. The museum of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society is a beautiful structure of the Doric order, designed by W. Wilkins Esq. The Collegiate School is an elegant and justly ad mired building in the Tudor style, by a young artist of great promise, the late John Harper, Esq.
In the eighth century the Episcopal school of York was the resort of students from France and Germany. In that school Alcuin was trained, who became the friend of Charlemagne, tutor to his family, and founder of schools at Tours and other places in France, from which proceeded some of the most remarkable scholars of those times. In the seventeenth century an attempt was made, unfortunately without success, to establish a university at York. A college for the education of English Presbyterian dissenters, removed from Manchester to York in the year 1803, has lately been re-established in the place from which it came. There are and have long been many schools in York, both public and private. St. Peter's School, under the management of the dean and chapter, was founded by Queen Mary in 1557, and endowed with the lands of the suppressed hospital of St. Mary. A small school had previously been established by Archbishop Holgate. The Blue-coat School for boys, founded in 1705, is supported chiefly by annual subscriptions ; in connection with which is the Grey-coat School for girls, who are there trained for domestic service. The number of the boys about 70, of the girls about 50. The Roman Catholics have a school for the higher classes of females, and also a charity school. The York Collegiate School is of recent date, on the proprietary scheme. The Yorkshire School for the Blind is also a recent institution, founded as a memorial of the late Mr. Wilberforce. There are also national schools and Sunday-schools, and several supported by private endowments. The Report of the Select Committee on the Education of the Poorer Classes states the numbers receiving education in the city of York, in 1836, to be :-
Scholars of the working classes, at day and dame schools 1,494
Scholars at better schools 2,697
Attending Sunday-schools in connection with the established church 1,708
Attending Sunday-schools in connection with Dissenters 1,655
The Report of the Manchester Statistical Society in the autumn of 1836, says that 19.97 per cent. of the population of York received instruction.
In the year 1794 a public subscription library was established in York. It is the property of about 350 members, and contains about 17,000 volumes, in various branches of literature and science.
The dean and chapter of the cathedral possess an extensive and very valuable library, founded by Archbishop Mathews, which has been lately opened to the public under necessary restrictions.
The Yorkshire Philosophical Society was established in the year 1822, having for its general object the promotion of science in the district for which it was instituted ; its more particular object being to elucidate the geology of Yorkshire. Its museum embraces all the departments of natural history, and is rich in antiquarian relics of various periods, discovered in York and the neighbourhood.
A more humble, but a very useful institution, established in the year 1827, is the York Institute of Popular Science and Literature.
The Medical Institutions of York are, the County Hospital, founded in the year 1740, the first north of the Trent ; the Dispensary ; the York Lunatic Asylum ; the Retreat, for members of the Society of Friends, the influence of which on other establishments for the reception and cure of the insane has been most highly beneficial ; and the Eye Infirmary.
Charitable establishments are very numerous in York. The principal of these are, Ingram's Hospital for 10 poor widows ; Wilson's for 10 poor women ; the Old Maids' Hospital, founded by Mary Wandesford, spinster, for 10 ten maiden gentlewomen ; Middleton's Hospital for 20 widows of freemen; and Lady Hewley's Hospital for 10 poor aged women.
The prevailing characteristic of the climate of York is stated by an accurate observer to be humidity, although the quantity of rain is small. The mean temperature, on an average of ten years, is 47.82 degrees of Fahrenheit ; the mean height of the barometer, on the same average, is 29.90 degrees, and the quantity of rain, on the same average, 24.114 inches.
The ratio of mortality in York is one in 53 persons.