Selby, Yorkshire Family History Guide

Selby is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Yorkshire.

Alternative names:

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1579
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1746

Nonconformists include: Independent/Congregational, Presbyterian Unitarian, Primitive Methodist, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, Unitarian, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

SELBY, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in W. R. Yorkshire. The town stands in a flat country, on the river Ouse, on a short canal connecting that river with the Aire and Calder navigation, and at a convergence of railways from respectively Leeds, York, Market-Weighton, Hull, and Doncaster, 20 miles E of Leeds; was anciently called Sele-bi; is supposed by some writers, but without any fair evidence, to have been of Roman origin; does not appear on record prior to the Norman conquest; had a mitred Benedictine abbey, founded in 1069 by William the Conqueror; is said to have been the birthplace of Henry I.; suffered capture, in 1644, by Fairfax; serves now as a port to the interior of Yorkshire, without need of communicating with any port on the Humber; is a sub-port to Goole, and a seat of petty sessions and county courts; publishes a weekly newspaper; is tolerably well built, paved, lighted, and supplied with water from an artesian well 330 feet deep; and has a head post-office, a r. station with telegraph, two banking offices, three chief inns, a handsome timber swivel bridge, a town hall, an old Gothic market cross, a branch custom-house, a volunteers’ drill-shed, two churches, five dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a recently-formed ultra-mural cemetery, a mechanics’ institution, three charity schools, a subscription school, alms-houses, a workhouse built in 1841, at a cost of £5,650, and charities £283. The abbey was one of the wealthiest foundations in the N of England; enjoyed great splendour and prosperity at the time of the dissolution; was sold, in 1542, to Sir Ralph Sadler; passed, through various hands, to the family of Lord Petre; went by sale, in 1854, to Lord Londesborough; and is now represented by the parish church, by a barn 313 feet long and 29 feet wide, and by a SW building with stone basement, and with two upper stories of timber stud-work. The church was made parochial immediately after the Reformation; measures 296 feet in length and 56 feet in width; comprises a transition Norman nave of nine bays, with aisles, a decorated English choir of six bays, with aisles, a Lady chapel, of two bays, and a N transept, 50 feetlong; had a central tower and spire, which fell in 1690, destroying the S transept; has now an ungainly steeple, 160 feet high, built in 1702; exhibits a W front, simple yet grand and richly ornate, repaired in 1743; contains several sedilia, carved oak stalls, and numerous monumental slabs; and was proposed, toward the end of 1865, to be restored, altered, and enlarged, with reconstruction of the steeple, and with addition of two W towers and of a S transept, at a cost of between £50,000 and £60,000. St. James’ church was erected in 1868. The R. Catholic chapel was built about 1859, at a cost of £6,000; and is in the early decorated English style. A weekly market is held on Monday; fairs, on Easter Tuesday and the Mondays after 22 June and 8 Oct.; wool fairs, on the first and second Friday of June; and sail-making, rope-making, flax-scutching, linen-thread-making, boat-building, barge-building, iron-founding, tanning, and brewing are carried on. Pop. of the town in 1851, 5,109; in 1861, 5,271. Houses, 1,173. The parish comprises 3,180 acres. Real property, £18,921; of which £61 are in quarries, and £430 in gas-works. Pop., 5,424. Houses, 1,195. The manor belongs to Lord Londesborough. The head living is a vicarage, and St. James’ a p. curacy, in the dio. of York. Value of the former, £300. Patron, the Archb. of York. The sub-district contains also the parishes of Brayton, Wistow, and Cawood, and parts of W. Haddlesey, Ryther, and Kirk-Fenton. Acres, 26,774. Pop., 10,091. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Carlton, containing Carlton township, Drax parish, and three townships of Birkin parish; and the sub-district of Riccall, electorally in E. R. Yorkshire, and containing the parishes of Riccall and Skipwith, and parts of Hemingbrough and Stillingfleet. Acres of the district, 56,014. Poor-rates in 1863, £7,441. Pop. in 1851, 15,672; in 1861, 16,001. Houses, 3,534. Marriages in 1863, 99; births, 586, of which 54 were illegitimate; deaths, 377, of which 159 were at ages under 5 years, and 11 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 991; births, 5, 206; deaths, 3, 348. The places of worship, in 1851, were 13 of the Church of England, with 5,075 sittings; 1 of Independents, with 440 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 178 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 150 s.; 22 of Wesleyans, with 3,716 s.; 8 of Primitive Methodists, with 942 s.; and 2 of Roman Catholics, with 571 s. The schools were 29 public day schools, with 1,706 scholars; 31 privateday schools, with 749 s.; 30 Sunday schools, with 2,158s.; and 1 evening school for adults, with 15 s.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].


Debtors Prison

The people listed below were sent to the debtors prison.

James Brown late of Selby, Yorkshire, Labourer, In the Gaol of York. - The London Gazette Saturday the 25th day of January 1851


Vision of Britain historical maps


  • County: Yorkshire
  • Civil Registration District: Selby
  • Probate Court: Court of the Peculiar of Selby
  • Diocese: York
  • Rural Deanery: New Ainsty
  • Poor Law Union: Selby
  • Hundred: Barkstone Ash
  • Province: York