Wakefield Yorkshire Family History Guide

Westgate, Wakefield, Yorkshire
Westgate, Wakefield, Yorkshire

Wakefield comprises the following parishes:

  • Wakefield All Saints, Yorkshire
  • Wakefield St Mary, Yorkshire
  • Wakefield St John, Yorkshire
  • Wakefield St Andrew, Yorkshire
  • Wakefield Holy Trinity, Yorkshire


  • Alverthorpe, Yorkshire also known as Wakefield St Paul
  • Stanley, Yorkshire also known as Wakefield St Peter
  • Thornes, Yorkshire also known as Wakefield St James

Historical Descriptions

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1851

Wakefield, a parish in the lower division of the wapentake of Agbrigg, union of Wakefield, west riding of Yorkshire. It contains the market-town of Wakefield, the chapelries of Horbury and Stanley, and the townships of Alverthorpe, Thornes, Wakefield, and Wrenthorpe; and is intersected by the Manchester and Leeds railway, which is carried over the Calder at Broadreach by a viaduct of three noble arches, each 63 feet 7 inches on the skew. The North Midland railway, from Derby to Leeds, joins the Manchester and Leeds line a little to the east of Wakefield. Acres 9,390. Houses, in 1831, 4,970 A.P., in 1815, £94,518. Pop. of the parish, in 1801, 16,597; in 1831, 24,538. Poor rates, in 1838, £12,209 13s. The poor-law union of Wakefield embraces 17 parishes and townships. The amount of money expended in the support of the poor in this union, in 1840-1, was £16,271. The manor of Wakefield is above 30 miles in length from east to west, stretching from Normanton westward to the contines of Lancashire. It comprises nearly 150 towns, villages, and hamlets, of which Wakefield and Halifax are the chief. The court-baron of Wakefield has original jurisdiction in matters of replevin, and by statute of 17° Geo. III. jurisdiction for the recovery of debts not exceeding £5. It is held by the steward of the manor, two deputy-stewards, and an eminent barrister. The steward is appointed by the lord of the manor, and receives about £300 per annum of fees. There are usually 19 courts a-year. The population within the jurisdiction of this court exceeds 250,000. Sandal-castle was the court or manor-house of this extensive fee; but the manor-house and moot-hall are now in Wakefield.

Ecclesiastical affairs. Schools, &c.

The living, originally a rectory, is a vicarage in the archd and dio. of Ripon; rated at £29 19s. 2d.; returned, in 1831, at £537. It is in the patronage of the Lord-chancellor. The church, which is situated in Kirkgate, was originally erected in 1329, but has under gone many modern repairs and improvements. It is in a mixed style of architecture, 156 feet in length by 69 in breadth; with a square embattled tower, and an octagonal spire about 237 feet in height. The interior is very handsome. It consists of a nave and aisles, divided by pointed arches. Between the nave and the chancel is a lofty screen; and at the west end of the nave is a font of considerable antiquity. There is a fine peal of ten bells in the tower. In 1792, a church, dedicated to St. John, was erected at an expense of £10,000. It was made parochial in 1815. It is an elegant edifice in a composite Greek style, standing in the centre of St. John square, and surrounded by an extensive cemetery. Living, a curacy in the patronage of the vicar of All Saints. Vicarial tithes commuted in 1793. There are here two Independent churches, formed in 1782 and 1800; a Presbyterian, in 1751; a Wesleyan Methodist, in 1802; and places of worship for the Society of Friends, the Primitive Methodists, the Unitarians, and the Roman Catholics. Here is a free grammar-school for children resident in the town and parish. It was founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1594, and the endowment which now arises from its property exceeds £326 per annum. The school-house is a fine old building, and the site is retired and well-chosen. The governors of this school are a corporate body, 14 in number; and they superintend the distribution of various other bequests and charities connected with the place, which, in 1826, amounted altogether to £2,975. Forty scholars receive a classical education at this school under two masters; the first of whom has a salary of £160, the other £80. Connected with the same establishment is a writing-school, for admission to which a certain quarterly sum is paid, A lending library is attached to this school. Boys who have been three years in this school are eligible to several exhibitions in the universities. The natives of the town have a preference over those of the parish, and these over residents. Two of these exhibitions are in Clare-hall, Cambridge, and were founded by Thomas Cave; one to Queen's college, Oxford, was founded by Lady Elizabeth Hastings; and three, now of £70 per annum each, to either university, were founded by John Storie in 1764. Dr. Richard Bentley, Dr. John Potter, archbishop of Canterbury, and Dr. John Radcliffe, were educated in this school. The Green-coat school for 73 boys and 50 girls, and endowed with upwards of £426 per annum, was founded in 1707. The salary of the master is £70; that of the mistress £30 per annum. — There are two National and two Lancasterian schools, supported by voluntary contributions; also a school-of-industry, and 16 other day schools, besides numerous Sunday schools. In 1722, John Bromley bequeathed property in trust to the governors of the free-school, which, in 1825, yielded £736 3s., for the clothing and apprenticing of poor boys, and to the relief of indigent housekeepers. He also devised other property which, in 1825, yielded a rental of £100, for the use and benefit of the charity school. The income of Leonard Bates' almshouses, in 1825, was £46; of Cotton Home's almshouses £214; of William Horne's almshouses £149 10s. James Hutchison's charity produced £106 10s. in 1825. One-half of this is paid to the master of Fremington school; and the other half distributed among poor cloth- workers. Lady Bolles, in 1662, left £500 interest for educating poor children of Wakefield. Joseph Harrison, in 1825, bequeathed property yielding an annual income of £225, to be divided yearly among 20 poor men and women resident in the parish of Wakefield, members of the Established church. Richard Taylor, in 1686, bequeathed property, now yielding £55 per annum, for clothing and apprenticing poor children of Wakefield. John Foster, in 1670, devised property, now yielding £15 per annum, to the poor of the township of Alverthorpe with Thornes. In 1832, a new seminary of education was founded at Wakefield, under the name of 'The West-Riding Proprietary School.' It bids fair to realize the most sanguine expectations of its projectors. It is attended by about 200 pupils. The property of the school is held in 150 shares of £100, and the average annual expense of each scholar will not, it is calculated, exceed £10. Here are a dispensary and fever-house; also a lunatic asylum for paupers of the West riding. The latter is a handsome structure, erected, on East moor, in 1817, and capable of containing 250 patients. There is another asylum for the insane about 2 miles from the town, capable of accommodating 700 patients. At Stanley and Horbury are mineral springs, possessing qualities similar to those of Harrowgate and Cheltenham.

Town, &c.

The township of Wakefield comprises the greater part of the town of that name; on the south-western side of the township, the buildings of the town advance, in a continuous street, into the neighbouring agricultural township of Alverthorpe. The town — which in many respects may be considered the capital of the West riding — is situated on the northern or left bank of the Calder, on a sloping eminence, in the midst of a beautiful and fertile country, and nearly in the centre of the parish to which it gives name. It consists of well paved streets, built with considerable regularity, lighted with gas, and containing many large and lofty houses, chiefly of brick. The houses on the northern side are modern, and in many instances adorned with gardens. Those particularly around St. John's church are the residence of the wealthy classes. In Wood-street is a handsome structure, containing a library and news-room, with rooms for concerts and assemblies. There are phrenological, horticultural, literary and philosophical societies; and a masonic lodge for the West riding. The market-place is not of great extent; but, in 1823, a handsome corn-exchange, with a saloon over it, was erected in the broad street called Westgate, in 1838. In the centre is the market-cross, which was erected by subscription about the beginning of last century. The river is here crossed by a handsome stone-bridge of eight arches, erected in the reign of Edward III. In the centre of the bridge, projecting over the eastern side, and partly resting on the starlings, is a chapel, which is commonly supposed to have been erected by Edward IV. on the site of a more ancient structure, in memory of his father, the Duke of York, and his followers, who fell in the battle of Wakefield in 1460; but Mr. Chantrell is of opinion that it must have been erected about 1340. It is in the richest style of Gothic architecture. It is a beautiful structure, about 30 feet long by 18 broad. The eastern window, which overhangs the river, is of remarkably elegant design; while the western front is highly decorated, and divided into compartments by buttresses, surmounted by a sculptured entablature representing various scriptural subjects. This chapel was dedicated to the Virgin, and endowed with £10 per annum for two chaplains; but at the dissolution, in the reign of Henry VIII., the revenue was taken away.


The town is under the jurisdiction of the county-magistrates, but its local affairs are superintended by a chief constable who is appointed by the inhabitants. The quarter-sessions for the West riding are held here, and the petty-sessions for the district. The court-house is a very elegant structure, with a Doric portico, in Wood-street. A little to the south-east are what is called the Public buildings, which contain a library, news-rooms, and assembly rooms. The court of the lord of the manor has been already noticed. The house-of-correction for the west riding, is an extensive structure at the bottom of Westgate. It stands in a low situation, on the margin of a water-course. It was built at different periods, and is of considerable extent. The old prison remains in the form of an H, and is appropriated to the male hospital, cells for the refractory, work-rooms, and other uses; the more recent erections consist of a circular range of extensive brick buildings, with airing-yards in front, radiating from the keeper's house as a centre. The tread-wheels with which the prison is furnished, are placed in a detached building of two stories, with separate divisions for each prisoner. A great variety of work is carried on in it. The gaol comprises 312 cells, 5 wards, 57 work-rooms, with 4 airing-courts, and other apartments. The number of prisoners, in 1836, was 3,032. The register-office, and the office of the clerk of the peace for the West riding, are both in the town. The Reform act conferred the privilege on Wakefield of returning one member to parliament. The East moor, the village of Thornes, and parts of the townships of Alverthorpe and Stanley, are included within the boundaries of the parliamentary borough. The number of electors registered in 1837 was 733. The returning officer is appointed by the sheriff of the county. Wakefield is a polling-station in the election of members for the west riding.


This town was formerly celebrated for the manufactures of woollen cloth and worsted yarn, but both these have greatly declined; so much so that the Tammy-hall, an immense room 70 yards in length, and 10 in breadth, which was erected by subscription for the exhibition and sale of woollen stuffs, has been converted into a private manufactory. In 1838, there were 10 woollen and 13 worsted mills in the parish, employing 1,184 hands. The chief trade of the town now consists in the export of corn, coal, and wool. The wool is sent to factors in this town for sale from various parts of England. The coals are sent down the Calder, and thence by the Ouse to York, and by the Humber to Hull. Friday is market-day, when considerable business is transacted in corn and cattle. A large market for cattle and sheep is held at the Upper Ings every alternate Wednesday. Fairs for horses and hardware are held on July 4th and 5th; and for horses and horned cattle, on November 11th and 12th. Pleasure fairs for toys, are held on July 5th and November 12th. If either of these days fall on a Sunday, the fair is held the Saturday before. Leland, describing the town as it existed in the reign of Henry VIII., says, “Wakefeld ys a very quik market-town and meately large: well-served of flesch and fische, both from the se and by rivers, whereof divers be thereabout at hande. So that al vitaile is very good chepe there. A right honest man shal fare wel for 2 pens a meale.” Again: “The building of the town is meately faire, most of tymbre, but some of stone. Al the hole profite of the toune stondith by coarse drapery.” The river was rendered navigable to Wakefield in 1698; and in 1760 the navigation was extended to Salter-Hebble near Halifax. The town is, by railway, distant from Leeds 12½ miles; from Manchester 57½ miles. The station-house of the Manchester and Leeds line is at the bottom of Kirkgate, near its junction with Thornes-lane. By coach-road, Wakefield is 9 miles from Leeds, 10 from Barnesley, 13 from Huddersfield, and 187 from London.

Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; A Fullarton & Co. Glasgow; 1851.

Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Wakefield, 199 miles N.W. London. Market, Wed. P. 29,992

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.


Below is a list of people that were declared bankrupt between 1820 and 1843 extracted from The Bankrupt Directory; George Elwick; London; Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; 1843.

Armitage Samuel Harrison, Wakefield; and Matthew Dodgson, Manchester; maltsters, Aug. 3, 1841.

Aynsley George, Wakefield, Yorkshire, victualler, Aug. 10, 1822.

Backhouse Daniel, Spring Mill, Almondbury, Yorkshire; and Joshua Woodcock, jun., Wakefield; dyers, Jan. 12, 1827.

Backhouse Thomas, Wakefield, plumber and glazier, April 24, 1835.

Barthrop Edwin, Wakefield, Yorshire, woolstapler, Dec. 20, 1836.

Bates Richard, Wakefield, linen draper, May 16, 1834.

Billam John Baron, Wakefield, Yorkshire, manufacturer, Jan. 23, 1835.

Billington John, jun., Wakefield, Yorkshire, scrivener, Feb. 11, 1834.

Binney Thomas; Richard Binney; and Mordecai Binney; Wakefield and Morton, Lincolnshire, corn factors, March 9, 1830.

Blackmore Richard; and John Craven; Wakefield, corn millers, Feb. 8, 1842.

Brown Thomas and Benjamin, Wakefield, Yorksh., linen drapers, Sept. 10, 1841.

Burrell George, Wakefield, Yorkshire, cloth merchant, Nov. 14, 1826.

Burrell Richard, jun., Wakefield, Yorkshire, merchant, July 18, 1826.

Burrell William, Thorne's lane, Wakefield, dyer and merchant, April 20 1824

Burton Benjamin, Wakefield, Yorkshire, cloth manufacturer, May 18, 1827.

Burton John, Wakefield, Yorkshire, woolstapler, March 2, 1832.

Chamock John Henry, Wakefield, share broker and banker. Nov. 27, 1840.

Clapham Charles, Wakefield, wine and spirit merchant, Jau. 30, 1829.

Clarinl Thomas William, Wakefield, Yorkshire, corn factor, Aug. 7, 1840.

Collett Thomas; and Joseph Smith; Ossett, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, cotton spinners, Aug. 2, 1842.

CollinsonThomas, Wakefield, Yorkshire, boat builder, June 29, 1841.

Copley George, Wakefield, Yorkshire, linen draper, Nov. 20, 1827.

Crabtree John, Thorne's lane, Wakefield, victualler, Aug. 10, 1822.

Crosley Thomas, Wakefield, Yorkshire, currier, Aug. 11, 1826.

Crowther John, jun., Wakefield, Yorksh., corn factor & maltster, Jan. 31, 1824.

Dalton Francis, Wakefield, Yorkshire, liquor merchant, Nov. 3, 1821.

Dunnill Jeremiah, jun., Wakefield, Yorkshire, tailor, M a y 23, 1826

Eccles Richard, Wakefield, Yorkshire, worsted spinner, May 16, 1826.

Elliott Stephen; and John Allen; Wakefield, corn factors, Oct. 11, 1839.

Elliott William, Wakefield, Yorkshire, corn factor, Oct. 4, 1839.

Evers Robert, Wakefield, Yorkshire, corn factor, July 27, 1830.

Fernandes Joze Luis; Nowcll Luis Fernandes; and Joze Luis Fernandes, jun.; Wakefield, Yorkshire, corn millers and merchants, Dec. 16, 1842.

Gawthorp Samuel Thurlstone Wade, Wakefield, corn factor, Jan. 26, 1838.

Gloyne Henry, Wakefield, Yorkshire, grocer, Nov. 7, 1837.

Greenwood Richard; and John Hammerton; Dewsbury and Wakefield, Yorkshire, linen drapers, March 21, 1826.

Haigh William Henry, Wakefield, Yorkshire, flour & malt factor, Aug. 13, 1839.

Halliley Henry, Wakefield, Yorkshire, dyer, March 21, 1837.

Hargreaves Thos., jun., Wakefield, Yorkshire, money scrivener, Nov. 22, 1833.

Hemsbrough Peter Thos. Bradbury,Wakefield, worsted manuf., Mar. 21, 1343.

Hird Richard. Wakefield, Yorkshire, bone and cake crusher, Feb. 4, 1826.

Horsfall William, Wakefield, Yorkshire, spirit merchant, Nov. 29, 1825.

Johnson Thomas, jun., Wakefield, Yorkshire, merchant, Jan. 27, 1821.

Lambron Robert, Wakefield, Yorkshire, linen draper, Nov. 12, 1830.

Lee Tottenham, Wakefield, worsted yarn manufacturer, Dec. 21, 1841.

Lee William Thompson, Heath, Wakefield, merchant, Dec. 15, 1829.

Lockwood James; & George Lockwood; Wakefield, merchants, April 26, 1842.

Lupton James; and John Hudson; Wakefield, wool agents, Oct. 26, 1832.

Magnsy Daniel, Wakefield, Yorkshire, hotel keeper, May 12, 1837.

Mellin Richard John Sutclilï, Wakefield. Yorkshire, dyer, Feb. 21, 1840.

Nichols Richard, Wakefield, Yorkshire, bookseller, April 3, 1835.

Nichols Thomas, Wakefield, Yorkshire, bookseller, May 13, 1834.

Preston Roger Robinson, Wakefield, Yorkshire, innkeeper, Jan. 10, 1843.

Robinson Edward, Wakefield, Yorkshire, hosier, Dec. 7, 1832.

Scott John, Wakefield, Yorkshire, grocer, May 1, 1835.

Scott William; and Joseph Scott, jun.; Wakefield, merchants, June 10, 1821

Senior John Hanson, Wakefield, oil crusher, Jan. 9, 1821.

Shaw George, Wakefield, Yorkshire, grocer, Dec. 14, 1841.

Shaw John, Wakefield, Yorkshire, land surveyor, Feb. 14, 1824.

Sowden John, jun., Wakefield, Yorkshire, corn factor, April 12, 1823.

Stead John, Wakefield, Yorkshire, architect and builder, March 5, 1825.

Tute Benj. Northrop, Wakefield, Yorkshire. printer & stationer, July 27, 1824.

Warneford Francis, Wakefield, Yorkshire, tea dealer & grocer, May 29, 1824.

Webb William, Wakefield, Yorkshire, innkeeper. Feb. 11, 1826.

White John, Wakefield. Yorkshire, carpenter and builder, Dec. 16, 1828.

Wilson William, Stanley Ferry, Wakefield, innkeeper, Jan. 26, 1841.

Wright William, Wakefield, Yorkshire, innkeeper, Jan. 14, 1826.