Pen and Pencil Pictures of Old Bradford

William Scruton, 1889

Scruton cover page

This is the front page of William Scruton's book of 1889. Chapter one is republished here. It is our intention to publish more chapters in the future.

Chapter 1 Historical Survey

IN attempting to tread "the long extent of backward time," in the study of history, it is better to be guided by the calendar of events rather than by the mere enumeration of years. It is easy to speak of five hundred years as so many round figures, but not so easy to form a just conception of the actual span of time represented by the same. Only by taking a glance at the more prominent features or landmarks of history can this be even fairly realised. Thus it ,will be necessary to look far beyond the days of the Commonwealth, the Spanish Armada, the Reformation, and even the Wars of the Red and White Roses, before we approach the time when the Plantagenet King, Edward III., sat upon the throne, and Chaucer wrote his "Canterbury Tales." Three hundred years of Feudal bondage takes us further back to the Norman Conquest, and well nigh the same period intervenes before Egbert subdues the seven Saxon Kingdoms, and under the name of "England" makes them into one, of which he was himself the first proud monarch. Then comes a long stretch of some eight hundred years ere we get back to the Roman invasion, at which point we take leave of the written page of history, and fall back upon the wide domain of conjecture and speculation.

But the scholarly Caesar tells us of the painted and skin-clad Briton whom he found upon our shores, and of the priests or Druids who chanted the lays of the valorous deeds of their forefathers. He also tells us (but doubtless from hearsay) of the Brigantes - those fierce and warlike Britons of the hill-country, to conquer ,whom it took many long years of severe encounter and bitter struggle. But this sturdy race was eventually compelled to surrender before the disciplined and numerous troops that fought under the Eagle standard.

That Bradford occupies the site of what was once a Brigantian town is not at all improbable, although the place is destitute of any British remains sufficient to prove the fact. Dr. Whitaker the historian says, that in these northern parts the towns of the ancient Britons were generally in the hollows of the valleys, either upon the margin of one stream or the confluence of two, for the convenience of water, and security from winds. It may therefore be assumed that as Bradford answers pretty well to this description, it was "once upon a time" a Brigantian town, and consisted of a number of huts surrounded by a forest in which the bear, the wolf, the wild ox and other ferocious animals abounded. These huts, the dwelling-places of our remote ancestors the ancient Britons, were made in the form of pits from six to eight, or even sixteen to eighteen feet in diameter, and had for a top a conical roof made weatherproof by wattling - a covering of rushes and branches, matted together with hurdles and sods of turf. Of the people who inhabited these rude abodes, it is recorded that they lived on the wild fruit of the forest, and that their clothing was made from the skins of wild beasts, their shoes being made of untanned leather. They tipped their arrows with flint, used hammers made of stone; were not unacquainted with the use of bronze and iron, and traded with coins made of tin. They were tall of stature, had blue eyes and red hair. and by way of adding to these attractions they tattooed and stained their bodies with paint, and coloured juices, and altogether appeared to live in pretty much the same style as did the wild and uncivilized tribes of the North American Indians of more recent times.

It is the common belief that Bradford derived its name from a broad-ford by which the stream at the foot of the Church hill was formerly crossed. Dr. Whitaker, however, contends, that the name is to be traced to the word brae, a hill; - Bradford thus meaning the ford at the foot of the hill.

In Domesday book, however, it is spelled Bradeford, but Mr. James, author of the "History of Bradford and its Parish," although favouring the derivation Broadford, found it difficult to get over the fact that the syllable broad could hardly be applied to a passage over such an inconsiderable stream as that known to Bradfordians of modem times. "Some old inhabitants," he says "call it Bratforth or Bradforth, but this is a mere corruption of no very old date." In this statement, however, Mr. James is not correct, for in the wills at York of former Bradford inhabitants, dating so far back as 1420, the name is invariably spelled Bradforth.

But it must be impossible to form, at this time of day, anything like a just conception of what the width of this stream would be eleven or twelve hundred years ago - the probable period when Bradford took its name. It is worth remembering that the old topographer, Leland, in his "Itinerary" (temp Henry VIII.) makes special mention of the "brokes" of the town in his reference to Bradford. It is also supposed that the "mill" of which he speaks, as well the ancient fulling mill referred to in the "Inquisition" of 1311 stood on the stream near the ford. There is the fact too, that the name "Broadstones" was taken from the large flat stepping-stones by which the beck had formerly to be crossed.

The authentic history of England commences with the invasion of the Romans, B.C. 55, but so far as Bradford is concerned there is little evidence to lay hold of by which to link it with the Roman period. There are certainly traces of Roman roads not far away, one of which even passed through the town by way of Westgate and Whetley Hill, and forward to Colne (Colunio). Another, in. close proximity to Bradford, was that running by way of Dudley Hill and Adwalton, known (to this day) as the "Street," from Stratum denoting a Roman way.

But unquestionably one of the most distinct traces of the Roman occupation of this district was that mentioned by the learned Dr. Richardson, of Bierley Hall, who in a letter to his friend Hearne, said "That iron was made in this neighbourhood (Bierley) in the time of the Romans, a late discovery sufficiently convinced me. Upon removing a heap of cinders to repair the roads with, a quantity of copper Roman coins was discovered, some of which I have in my possession. They were of the period of Constantine, Diocletian, and the usurper Carausius. This country abounds with such heaps of cinders, though we have not so much as any tradition that ever iron was made here." For four hundred years the Romans were masters of Britain. The withdrawal of their Legions however, left all these northern parts at the mercy of the Picts and Scots. The Saxons, then a powerful and warlike people, were invited to come over to assist the Britons against their ferocious enemies. The invitation was accepted. They came over and drove out the foe, but only that they might in their turn become despoilers of the land and masters of the people. Alas! the poor Britons were in a pitiable plight. A new enemy now appeared in the shape of the savage and blood-thirsty Danes, and slaughter and rapine swept over the land. The story is too well known to need recapitulation. It is a stain upon the page of history; but happily history tells us that at length (A.D. 876) through the wisdom of the great and good King Alfred, a time of peace was brought about, and the inhabitants for many long years cultivated the land, and tended their flocks in uninterrupted quietness.

It would be difficult, perhaps, for the imagination to realise the appearance of Bradford at this early stage of its history, but Mr. James, a careful and accurate historian, and by no means given to painting fancy pictures, has left us the following sketch of what he believed would be its general aspect as a Saxon village.

"On the site of the lower part of Kirkgate stood a few huts, one story high, without chimneys, and thatched with straw or covered with sods; formed of mud, wattles or wood, according to the poverty or. opulence of the inhabitants, placed at straggling distances, and without order. Around each hut was the homestead, or erection for the shelter of the cattle, enclosed by its toft or; croft. On the summit of the hill where the church now stands, there was, enclosed with wood, probably a small chapel, or oratory of wood, in which the humble devotions of the inhabitants were offered up. The land around, which had been cleared for cultivation or pasturage, lay open and unenclosed and had no bound but the thicket or the brake! All the land would be in common as far as enclosures went. The inhabitants ploughed and reaped together, and divided the fruits of the earth according to their respective quantities of land or importance in the village."

In the famous survey, known as the "Domesday Book," which was, begun in the year 1080, and was six years in completing, we are told that Bradford was the chief "vill." of the manor, and had six berewicks, or groups of houses dependent upon it, comprising fifteen carucates, or fifteen hundred acres of cultivated land, on which eight ploughs were employed. The manor was then in the possession of one Gamel, who appears to have been a person of some Importance, as he was also owner of a great number of other manors in this part of the country. Soon after the Conquest, however, the Bradford manor fell into the hands of Ilbert de Lacy, one of the adventurers who came over from Normandy with William the Bastard; fought valiantly under his standard at the battle of Hastings, and for his pains had no less than 150 manors in the West Riding given to him. He was made Baron of Pontefract, and at Pontefract he built himself a castle in which he took up his quarters.

Barely a year had elapsed since the coronation of William, when a revolt, chiefly in Yorkshire, Northumberland, and Durham, took place, which so incensed the "Conqueror" that he swore "by the splendour of God" (his favourite oath) that he would not leave a soul alive in those counties. History has recorded how literally he carried out his threat. Simeon the Chronicler of Durham, says the country between York and Durham was so devastated that it lay waste for nine years, and that the inhabitants who escaped ate rats, mice, and other vermin, to sustain life. William of Malmesbury also, records that there were destroyed and laid waste "such splendid towns, such lofty castles, and such beautiful pastures, that had a stranger viewed the scene he must have been moved with compassion."

Bradford, of course, shared in this wide spread devastation, for says the Domesday record Ilbert has it and it is waste. The thrifty Saxon village pictured by Mr. James would be completely transformed, for many of the inhabitants were massacred, and cattle, crops, and everything that could support human life were destroyed. One of the Norman chroniclers has left the sad record that not fewer than a hundred thousand persons perished in Yorkshire at this time, and that the whole country was made into a desert.

But it would seem as if nothing could crush the spirit of the people, for in course of time the population steadily increased; tracts of land were brought into a state of comparative cultivation, and various species of handicraft and trade were introduced.

Bradford eventually became one of the most valuable possessions of the Lacies, and it was to the interest of these feudal lords, who ruled over their manors as though they were kings, to obtain for the industrious inhabitants as many privileges as possible, Thus we find that Edmund de Lacy, who was in favour with the king, obtained several important grants, among which (in 1251) was a charter for holding a market at Bradford, and a grant of free warren in the manor. Passing on to 1277 when an "Inquisition" was taken, we get an interesting glimpse of how the people of Bradford were ruled in that remote period of its history. The Inquisition sets forth that "Henry de Lacy (Earl of Lincoln) hath many liberties in the town of Bradeford; to wit, a gallows, assize of bread and beer, a marketplace, and a free court from ancient times."

The right of gallows was traced from the time of the Saxons, as express mention is made of it in the laws of Edward the Confessor. Mr. James believed that the Bradford gallows stood near to the present Bowling Foundry, because a certain field there is still known by the name of the "Gallows Close."

At the Free Court named in the Inquisition, fines could be imposed for unruly tempers, for gaming, card-playing at night, and other such trifling offences, while it had the power to inflict a fine of 10s. for an assault where blood was drawn, and 3s. 4d. for an assault where no blood was drawn. The assize of bread and beer was a right which the Lord of the Manor had of overlooking the weight and measure, and ascertaining the purity of those two articles. If any delinquencies were discovered the offenders were severely punished.

The Inquisition also contains the curious item - "And they say that Nicholas de Burton, Steward of Henry de Lacy, had Evam, weaver, of Gomersal, in the prison at Bradeford, and took from him two cows, and him permitted to go without judgement." This is interesting as showing that weaving was carried on in or near to Bradford at so very early a date. We are kept in ignorance of the man's crime, but whatever it was, he paid the penalty of it by the loss of two cows.

It is also interesting to find that so early as 1287, Frizinghall is mentioned as belonging to Robert de Everingham, Lord of the Manor of Heaton. The name is of Flemish origin, and is believed to have been taken from certain cloths called frieze or frize for the making of which the Flemings were noted. Differences of opinion are held as to the correct derivation of the name Frizinqhall. To those who give the preference to the termination ley over that of hall, we would simply state the fact that in the Manor Court Rolls of Bradford for 1348 a "Robert de Frizinghall" is mentioned; and in the Poll Tax for Manningham (1378) the name of a certain "Adam Ffrisynghall" occurs. A modern authority on local nomenclature maintains that Frizinghall was the hall in the ing where frieze was manufactured. Old inhabitants in the district, however, still cling to "Frizingley."

Upon the death of Henry, Earl of Lincoln, who was the last Lacy who owned the Manor of Bradford, an Inquisition of all his lands and possessions was taken at Pontefract on the 3rd day of March, 1311. This document throws a flood of light upon the position held by Bradford in the earlier part of the fourteenth century. The following are some of the items mentioned in it "The Earl had at Bradford a Hall (Aulum} or Manor-house, with chambers, and it is nothing worth beyond necessary repairs, and there are forty acres in demesne, demised to divers tenants at will, and the value whereof yearly is (8d. an acre) £1. 6s. 8d.

And there is one Water-mill valued by the year at £10, and a Fulling mill which is worth yearly £1. And there is a certain Market every seventh day, upon the Lord's Day, the toll of which is worth yearly £3. And there is a certain Fair which is held annually upon the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the toll of which is worth yearly £3. And there are certain Villains who hold twenty-three oxgangs of land in bondage, and render yearly, at the FeaSt of Saint Martin, (4s. for every oxgang) £4 16s. Od. And the same Villains do work in autumn, which is worth yearly, for every oxgang 3d."

Commenting on the facts set out in this Inquisition, Dr. Whitaker says - "The Parish of Bradford is about fifteen miles in length, and at an average four in breadth; it contains therefore, forty thousand acres, more or less. Of these, little more than fifteen hundred appear to have been reclaimed at the time of the Inquisition. There were twenty-eight burgage-houses, a few free tenants at will, and a few in bondage, but from the smallness of their rents their numbers cannot have been considerable. If we suppose them to have equalled the burgesses it will perhaps give a fair estimate of the population of the town. The profits of the Corn mill amounted to more than one-fourth of all the lord's receipts for the parish. The soke must therefore have extended over the whole. From the existence of a Fulling mill I do not see how we can avoid inferring that the cloth manufactory had been commenced. The market was held on the Lord's-day, a concession (however inexcusable) to the circumstances of the greater part of the parish; for the church was situated at one extremity, and few, perhaps, would have resorted to it from the more distant quarters, who had not the additional inducement of purchasing and carrying home necessaries for their families. The glebe of the church was eight oxgangs, or one carucate, which, according to another survey, extended to ninety-six acres, so that the oxgang at Bradford equalled twelve acres."

Mr. James, while giving Dr. Whitaker credit for being "the best of all our topographers," at the same time takes exception to some of his conclusions, and especially his statement that the Soke must have extended over the whole parish. He maintains that there is every reason for believing that it merely extended over the same district as in recent times. He also differs from him in his estimate of the population of the town, and bases his own estimate upon the following figures. "Allowing ten acres of land for every family in the town, including bondmen, cotters, and the lowest rabble, the number of families would be one hundred. There were also twenty-nine burgage-houses, and reckoning one family to each, the whole number of families would be about 130, which, at five persons to a family, gives a population of 650 persons."

It seems pretty certain that Bradford could boast of a castle at this period of its history, which would be built by the Lacies as a halting place in their passage to and from Blackburnshire, and those portions of the south which they were occasionally in the habit of visiting, its probable locality being near the spot where the Bermondsey Hotel recently stood.

The precise time when the parish of Bradford was formed, and its first church erected, is involved in obscurity, but distinct mention is made of the existence of the latter in 1281, and from the Inquisition above mentioned we learn that its patrons, the Lacies, endowed it with ninety-six acres of land. As a recognition of its ancient dependence upon its mother church at Dewsbury it paid, and we believe still continues to pay to the latter, the sum of eight shillings per annum.

The very curious custom of holding the market on "Lord's Day," and in the church-yard, was not at all peculiar to Bradford. In the 13th Edward I., a statute was made forbidding the holding of fairs and markets in church-yards, but the law on this point seems to have been "more honoured in the breach than the observance," for the custom was continued for a long time afterwards in different parts of the country. Quarrels and fights were events of common occurrence at the monastic lairs in church-yards, and one authority states that when they were held within the precincts of a cathedral or a monastery, it was not uncommon to compel everyone to take an oath at the gate, previous to his admission, that he would "neither lie, nor steal, nor cheat." So recently as the 7th year of Elizabeth's reign it was directed that at all fairs and common markets falling upon Sunday, "there be no shewing of any wares before the service be done."

From the Inquisition of 1311 we get an insight into the feudal system of classifying the inhabitants. These consisted of bondmen or villains, tenants at will, burgesses, free farmers, and free-holders. Of the villain class, Sir William Temple in his "Introduction to English History" says, they were "in a condition of downright servitude, used and employed in the most servile work, and belonging, both they, their children and effects, to the lord of the soil, like the rest of the cattle or stock upon it." So degraded was their condition that the Commons petitioned King Richard the Second that no villains should put their children to school. The tenants in bondage and tenants at will are said to have been the predecessors of our copy holders, and the burgesses were the handicraftsmen of the town to whom were committed the arts and mysteries of trades. They were regarded as a superior class to the tillers of the soil.

The Inquisition makes the following mention of the freeholders of Bradford -

"And there are certain freeholders who held their own tenements of the Earl, and tendered yearly the rents and services at the Feast of Saint Martin, according to the particulars thereof underwritten."

Then follow the names of thirty-two freeholders with the amounts which they severally paid. These freeholders were the most considerable men in the parish; and many of their descendants for centuries after were large owners of land in the same locality. The Pollards, the Balmes, the Thorntons, the Northrops, and others being examples.

The Manninghams were the custodians of the manorial records, and clerks or registrars of the proceedings of its courts. They appear to have been an important family in their time, but evidently they did not flourish long as their name has been lost sight of for many generations past.

A source of much profit to the Lord of the Manor was the Free Court at which all tenants were required to attend. There was also a Sheriff's Turn Court Leet for the whole of the parish, as there were no Justices of the Peace, and the Assizes were few and far between. This Court was worth £30 a year of our own money, and was a speedy and cheap way of redress. Among other privileges which the Lord of the Manor enjoyed was the gate toll, which was to keep cattle from straying in from the commons. These gates being placed at the head of what were then the three principal streets of the town, doubtless gave rise to the names by which they have so long been known - Kirk-gate, Ive-gate and West-gate.

The surveys of this period shew that the inhabited portion of the town was almost entirely on its north-western side, and extended from Barkerend, about the Parish Church, and in a more scattered form along Kirkgate and Westgate as far as White Abbey, down Millbank, into the Turles (near Tyrrel Street) and for a little way into Little Horton.

The social and domestic condition of the people at this time and for a long stretch into the fourteenth century was of a deplorable character. The huts or cottages of the poor consisted of one room, the fire being in the centre, and as there were no chimneys the smoke had to find its way out of the door or the roof. The people slept on straw pallets, with a log of wood for their pillow.

The well-to-do strewed their floors with rushes, which lay for months without being removed. The houses of the "lower orders" were either mud-walled, wattled, or of wood, the windows of which were mere loop-holes filled in with lattis work instead of glass. The food then in use consisted of bread of rye, barley, beans, peas, oats, and in times of famine, (then not uncommon) of acorns. Herds of pigs wandered about in the surrounding woods. These were slain and salted, and formed the chief flesh diet of the poor.

This portion of our subject may be fittingly concluded by quoting some curious items of cost from a scale of the average prices of certain articles about the year 1310, based upon Stow and other authorities of the period. "Wheat was 6s. a quarter; oats, 3s.; a cow, 12s. 6d.; a sheep, 1s. 2d.; a fat hog, 3s. 4d.; a fat goose, 2½d.; wine, 4d. a gallon; ale, 0½d. a gallon; a labourer's wages 1½d. a day, in harvest time 2d.; a journeyman carpenter, 2d. a day; a pair of shoes, 4d.; an English slave and his family were sold for 13s. 4d.; a Bible was worth £33 6s. 8d. The rule for reducing money of this period to that of our standard is (as laid down by Mr. Whitaker and other authorities) to multiply the former by fifteen.

By the male heirs of the Lacies becoming extinct, the manor of Bradford passed by marriage into the hands of the Earls of Lancaster.

In 1361, Henry, Duke of Lancaster, died and left two daughters, Maude and Blanche, as his heiresses; and the latter, who succeeded to the manor, married John of Gaunt, who eventually acquired the whole of the manorial estate. On his death Richard II seized the estates, and thus the manor of Bradford became attached to the Crown. It is to the period of John of Gaunt's ownership that we have to trace the origin of that very singular tenure of horn-blowing, which has survived nearly to our own day. It is thus described by Gough in his Britannia.

"Bradford belonged to John of Gaunt, who granted to John Northrop, of Manningham, and his heirs, three messuages and six bovates of land, to come to Bradford on the blowing of a horn in winter, and to wait upon him and his heirs, on their way from Blackburn here, with a lance and hunting dog, for thirty days; to have for yeoman's board one penny for himself, and a half-penny for his dog.

A descendant of this Northrop afterwards granted land to Rushworth, of Horton, to hold the lance while Northrop's man blew the horn. The name of Hornman or Hornblowing Land, was imposed upon the lands in question, and the custom is still kept up. A man comes into the market-place with a horn, halbert and a dog, and is there met by the owner of the lands in Horton. After the proclamation made, the former calls aloud, 'Heirs of Rushworth, come hold me my hound while I blow three blasts with my horn, to pay the rent due to our Sovereign lord the King.' He then delivers the string to the man from Horton, and winds his horn thrice. The original horn is still preserved though stripped of its original ornaments."

Tradition kindly steps in to complete the above narrative; and to a certain James Hartley, a schoolmaster, who flourished in Bradford about the middle of last century, we are indebted for the following version of it:

"A ravenous wild boar" says he, "of a most enormous size, haunted a certain place called the Cliffe Wood, and at times very much infested the town (Bradford) and the neighbouring inhabitants thereof; so that a reward was offered by the Government to any person or persons, who would bring the head of this boar; which much excited some to attempt it. Now the story runs thus: that this boar frequented a certain well in the aforesaid wood to drink, which to this day is called the 'Boar's well'; that he was watched by a certain person who shot him dead there, took his tongue out of his head, and immediately repaired to court to claim the promised reward. Presently after his departure from the well, another person came thither upon the same intention; and finding the beast dead, without any further examination, cuts off his head, and away he hastes towards the same place, and in expectation of the reward as the former, and there arrives before him. Being introduced into his Majesty's presence, the head was examined, but was found without a tongue, concerning which the man being interrogated could give no satisfactory account.

"Whilst this was held in suspense, the other man was introduced with the tongue, claimed the promised reward, and unfolded the riddle, by informing his majesty, how, and by what means he killed the beast; and thus received the following grant, namely, a certain piece or portion of land lying at Great Horton, known by the name of Hunt Yard, and for the tenure of which he, and his heirs for ever, should annually attend in the market-place at Bradford, on St. Martin's Day in the forenoon, and there, by the name of the heir of Rushforth, hold a dog of the hunting kind, whilst three blasts were blown on a Gelder's horn and these words ("Come, heir of Rushforth, etc.") expressed aloud."

This is the oldest bit of tradition of which Bradford can boast, and there is this to be said for it, that it gave rise to the town's crest or, arms. The horn, one of our most ancient and interesting relics, after passing through many hands has at length found a resting-place in the public museum, Darley Street, where, we trust it may now remain undisturbed.

The span of history known as the "Plantagenet Period" might be very well passed over, so far as Bradford is concerned, but for the happening of certain events which seriously affected its progress.

The battle of Bannockburn (1314) was a tremendous blow to England, and especially to the North, which suffered severely from the incursions of the Scots, who plundered and devastated all before them. The cultivated districts of Craven-dale, we are told, were laid waste. Northallerton and Boroughbridge; and Scarborough and Skipton were reduced to ashes, and even Bradford shared in the wide-spread disasters.

The following figures are significant of how the town had sunk in wealth and status. In 1292 the living of the church was valued as follows: -

"Church of Bradford, £53 6s. 8d.
Vicarage there, £13 6s. 8d.

Re-valued in 1318 it stood thus -

"Church of Bradford, £28 0s. 0d.
Vicarage, £5 0s. 0d.

But a worse enemy than even the savage Scot came in the shape of plague and famine. From the plague known as "the Black Death" - the most frightful scourge that England has ever known - none seemed to be exempt, for the York Registers of the time show that more than half the parish priests in the county were swept away by it. What then must the poorer classes have suffered? There is little or nothing to show to what extent Bradford was affected by this terrible visitation. Considerable light however, is thrown on the position of the town in the year 1378, by that wonderful document known as the Poll Tax of Richard II. This obnoxious tax was levied for the purpose of raising funds by which he might be the better able to carryon his wars. Lists were made of all persons above sixteen years of age, and the sums which, according to their station in life, they had to pay. An esquire was charged 20/-; an attorney, 6/8 (!); merchants, 13/4 to 20/-; tradesmen and artificers not gaining anything from land, from 6d. to 6/8; man and wife, not merchants, 4d.; and each single person, not a merchant, 4d. But following so soon on the heels of plague and famine, this impost came as a great hardship, especially to the poor, for although fourpence does not seem a large sum, it represented at that period at least four day's labour. The revolt which followed on the part of the peasantry, headed by Wat Tyler and ,Jack Straw, is matter of history, and need not be dwelt upon here.

Considered apart from its unhappy associations, however, this Poll Tax is of peculiar interest, giving, as it does, a faithful and accurate picture of the Bradford of five hundred years ago. The following are the lists for Bradford and Manningham:-

Willelmus Burges, Hostiler, & ux (wife) xijd.
Johannes Leggard, Hostiler, & ux xijd.
Willelmusde Horneby, Hostiler,. & ux xijd.
Henricus Ouroune, Cissor, & ux xijd.
Thomas Walker, Fullo, & ux xijd.
Johannes Cote, Sutor, & ux vjd.
Willelmus filius Thorne, Sutor, & ux vjd.
Johannes de Hetton, Cissor, & ux vjd.
Willelmus Dynghale, Cimentor, & ux vjd.
Willelmus Harper, & ux iiijd.
Robertus del Syke, & ux iiijd.
Adam Nichelson, & ux iiijd.
Ricardus Walker, & ux iiijd.
Willelmus Ayell, & ux iiijd.
Johannes Elys, & ux iiijd.
Johannes de Preston, & ux iiijd.
Ricardus Barker, & ux iiijd.
Johannes Clerk, & ux iiijd.
Johannes Margaret, & ux iiijd.
Johannes Milner, & ux iiijd.
Gilbertus Chellawe, & ux iiijd.
Willelmus de Bulton, & ux iiijd.
Robertus filius Ricardi, & ux iiijd.
Willelmus filius Willelmi, & ux iiijd.
Hugo Nuttebroune, & ux iiijd.
Thomas Smyth, & ux iiijd.
Ricardus de Ourom iiijd.
Johanna Webster iiijd.
Alicia filia Roberti iiijd.
Celicia Sclater iiijd.
Alicia Scharpe iiijd.
Johanna Walker iiijd.
Willelmus Elys iiijd.
Alicia filia Walteri iiijd.
Johanna de Bynglay iiijd.
Isabella de Preston iiijd.
Dionisia de Horton iiijd.
Margareta relicta (widow) Ricardi iiijd.
Elizabetha Perkyn iiijd.
Adam Webster iiijd.
Margareta de Horneby iiijd.
Alicia relicta Rogeri iiijd.
Willelmus filius Johannis iiijd.
Christiana filia Johannis iiijd.
Margeria Manyngham iiijd.
Alicia filia Juliane iiijd.
Christiana, serviens (servant of) Willelmi iiijd.
Christiana filia Roberti iiijd.
Johannes Burges iiijd.
Alicia filia Willelmi iiijd.
Amicia Vttyngwyf iiijd.
Margaretta filia Walteri iiijd.
Johannes ffabe iiijd.
Robertus, serviens Johannis iiijd.
Thomas filius Willelmi iiijd.
Alicia filia Thorne iiijd.
Thomas Elys iiijd.
Johanna, serviens Willelmi iiijd.
Alicia filia Gilberti iiijd.
Alicia filia Johannis iiijd.
Summa xxiijs.

*From the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal.

Dionisius de Manyngham iiijd.
Johannes de Northorp & ux iiijd.
Johannes de Sthelwora & ux iiijd.
Adam atte Yate & ux iiijd.
Willelmus filius Ricardi & uxor iiijd.
Adam ffrisynghall & ux iiijd.
Robertus filius Willelmi & ux iiijd.
Robertus atte Yate & ux iiijd.
Agnes, relicta Scerlonis iiijd.
Margeria Curtays iiijd.
Johannes filius Roberti iiijd.
Willelmus filius Ade iiijd.
Summa iiijs. iiijd.

Want of space precludes our setting out the names of those who paid the Poll Tax in the surrounding townships. They may be summarised as follows:- Horton; twenty-three persons paid 4d. each except "Thomas filius Rogeri," who was described as a merchant, and who was therefore mulcted in 12d. Bowling; nineteen paid 4d. each, and John Bowling 6/8. Thornton; twenty-one paid 4d. each, except William Leventhorp, who as a franklin (gentleman) had to pay 3/4. Allerton; forty at 4d. each. Clayton; twelve at 4d. North Bierley; twenty-four at 4d.; and Shipley, twenty-eight at 4d.

In contrast with certain other towns in the Riding, Bradford appears to have been put down at a very low figure. Thus, Pontefract paid £14 10s. 0d.; Doncaster, £11 13s. 4d.; Sheffield, £6 11s. 2d.; Selby, £6 6s. 0d.; and Wakefield, £4 15s. 8d. Of the neighbouring manufacturing towns of today, which were then of but little importance, we find Halifax paying 12/8; Morley, 11/4; Dewsbury, 13/4;Batley, 39/-; Gomersal, 17/-; and Heckmondwike 4/8.

Curiously interesting are many of the items that peep out of these taxation lists. Not only do they give the names of the inhabitants above sixteen years of age, but also their several callings and conditions in life.

Thus, we learn that in Bradford there were three innkeepers, (hostilers); two tailors (cissors); two shoemakers (sutors); one fuller, and one mason (cimentor). Why the innkeepers were taxed the highest of these is not shown.

There were then in Bradford twenty-six married couples; thirteen unmarried males and twenty females, of whom two were widows.

In Manningham there were seven married couples; two unmarried males and three females, one of whom was a widow.

Horton had seventeen married couples; two unmarried males and five females.

Bowling had thirteen married couples; four unmarried males and three females.

For Bolton there is the simple but sad record that "no one remains in this township, therefore nothing collected." Are we to assume that the terrible ravages of the Black Death, of some twenty years previous, had left the place destitute of inhabitants.

The population of Bradford five hundred years ago has been estimated at about 300. At the present time of writing it is over 220,000.

During the severe and long-protracted struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster, Bradford again came in for its share of suffering and depression. The inhabitants ranged themselves on the side of the Lancastrians (the Red Rose); but for all that Edward the Fourth (White Rose) was gracious enough to overlook the offence, and not only granted them exemption from toll, but gave them a grant for holding two annual fairs of three days each.

With the breaking down of the old feudal system came greater freedom for the people, and from this time right away to the unhappy contention between King Charles and his people, Bradford made rapid strides in prosperity, and greatly increased both ill trade and population.

It was in the reign of Henry VIII. that Leland the topographer, made the following curious, and yet flattering remarks about Bradford in his famous "Itinerary" - "Bradforde, a praty quik market towne, dimideo ant eo amplius, minus Wackfelda. It hath one paroche churche, and a chapel of Saint Sitha. It standith much by clothing, and is distant vi. miles from Halifax and four from Christeal Abbay." He then adds, -" Ledis (Leeds) two miles lower than Christeal Abbay, in Aire Ryver, is a praty market, having one paroche churche reasonably well builded (that is, the town) and as large as Bradeforde, but not so quik." Leeds must soon, however, have rapidly outstripped Bradford, for early in the seventeenth century it had increased so much in size as to have doubled the population of the latter town.

The Civil Wars dealt a tremendous blow at Bradford's progressive career. The "quik towne" that had got such a reputation for its "clothing," figured somewhat conspicuously in that sad conflict; more so indeed than was good for it, as it took well nigh a hundred years ere it fully recovered from its disastrous effects. The following figures, taken from the Parish Church Registers, tell their own tale.

1639 209 61 183
1659 113 38 117
1739 182 94 134

Very soon after the rupture between the King and his Parliament, the former sent troops to be quartered here. Indeed it would seem that Bradford was the scene of the first civil conflict which took place in the Northern Counties, for Fairfax commences his Memoirs by saying, - "The first action we had was at Bradford." The conduct of the King's troops was hardly of a kind however, to encourage a spirit of loyalty among the inhabitants, for, according to Lister, in his "Genuine Account of the Sore Calamities that befel Bradford in the time of the Civil Wars," they threatened what they would do in the way of destroying the town by fire and sword, as soon as they received orders from head-quarters. "We therefore began," says Lister, "to think of putting ourselves in some position of defence; accordingly we called to our assistance the neighbouring villages, who willingly seconded our resolution."

The first attack upon Bradford was made on Sunday, December 18th, 1642. "When the enemy approached the town, a number of horsemen were at once despatched to Halifax, Bingley, and the small towns about, who came with all speed with such arms as they had, and did much service. "One of such messengers went to Coley Church (the scene of the faithful labours of good Oliver Heywood), and the minister there exhorted his flock to such good purpose that brave Captain John Hodgson and many more at once "put their hands to the plough." Hodgson, with a well-armed body of Halifax men, arrived just as the Royalists were on the point of assaulting the Parish Church, in which the devout inhabitants were assembled for worship. He attacked them with great fury, and forced them to retreat to their battery; nor did he give them much time to recover from their surprise. He led on his brave handful of men, and they rushed into the ranks of the enemy fighting without any order, but resolutely, and hand to hand.

The hottest work was in Dead Lane, so called, it is said, from the large number that were found slain there. Late in the afternoon the Royalists drew off, and ignominiously retreated to Leeds.

Captain Hodgson and his gallant companions spent the night on guard, talking over the exploits of that memorable Sabbath day, and blessing God for his deliverance. If the Puritan cloth-workers of Bradford could pray and sing psalms, the Cavaliers were not long in finding out that they could fight too.

Sir Thomas Fairfax was at this time at Selby, but on hearing the position of affairs at Bradford, he lost no time in making his way here, in order to cast in his lot with its valiant defenders, The news of "fiery Tom's" arrival spread like wild-fire from village to village, up the vales of Aire and Wharfe, and round over the hills to Halifax and Dewsbury. Men armed with clubs, and scythes fastened to poles came crowding into Bradford, and Captain Hodgson, who was on the point of going home again to Halifax, changed his mind, and resolved to serve permanently under the banner of Fairfax.1

Church Steeple hung with Wool-packs

The Earl of Newcastle becoming acquainted with this repulse, at once sent a more formidable force under the command of Sir William Savile, who on arriving, erected a battery in Barkerend, from which the principal objects of attack were the Church (which seems to have been improvised as a sort of fortress by the besieged), and the steeple, which was hung round with wool-packs. The Royalists also fired from the windows of two houses lying within a few yards of the church. "The largenesse of the church windows, and smallnesse of the houses, made their assault secure and our defence dangerous, which our men perceiving, resolved to win or lose all at once; watching an opportunity betwixt the discharge and charge of the enemy, they sallyed out of the church, and being seconded by those in the lanes, rushed in upon the houses, burst open the doors, slewe those that resisted, tooke those that yielded; the rest fled into the next field, whither some of ours followed, and in the field the skirmish was hotter than ever."

The fight lasted altogether eight hours, and was not brought to a close till the enemy had been driven back as far as Bradford Moor.

Such was what is known as the first siege of Bradford. The second was a much more serious matter. The Earl of Newcastle, after the battle on Adwalton Moor, in which the Roundheads had met with a most signal defeat, turned his force towards Bradford and took up his quarters at Bowling Hall. The commanding position of this spot had doubtless attracted his military eye: and from this standpoint he at once set about investing the town. He took three or four days in doing this, although there were no batteries to raise, as the hills surrounding Bradford were near enough to render such unnecessary. He placed his guns in two positions, and opened a heavy fire, which was returned by Sir Thomas Fairfax - who was defending the town with volleys of musketry. But this time the odds were sadly against the Bradfordians, brave fighting men though they were. The church steeple was again hung with wool-packs, on the side facing the enemy; but the latter "presently began (says Lister) to play their cannon upon us with the greatest fury and indignation imaginable, so that their shot cut the cords whereon the sheets of wool hung, and down they fell, which the enemy perceiving, loudly huzza'd at their fall! but night approaching, the fire of their cannon in some measure ceased, and we in some sort repaired our breaches."

Reduced at length, to the extremity of possessing only one barrel of powder, but no match, Sir Thomas saw that he must either cut his way through the Royalists, or surrender with the town. He adopted the former course, and by this step all hope of saving Bradford from falling into the hands of the enemy was abandoned. He succeeded in getting safely to Leeds, but his wife, Lady Fairfax, was taken prisoner on horse-back at the spot in High Street where the "Cock and Bottle" now stands; but the Earl of Newcastle, with that manly and noble courtesy which distinguished the true Cavalier, sent her home in his own carriage.

The besieged at Bradford now found themselves in a most pitiable plight, for they were completely at the mercy of the enemy. "Oh! that dreadful and never-to-be-forgotten night, which was mostly spent in firing those deadly engines upon us! so that the blaze arising therefrom appeared like lightening from heaven, the elements being as it were on fire, and the loud roaring of the cannon resembling the mighty thunders of the sky! . . . Oh! what a night ,,as that in which Bradford was taken; what weeping and wringing of hands none expecting to live any longer than till the enemy came in to the town, the Earl of Newcastle having charged his men to kill all - man, woman, and child. Words cannot express, thoughts cannot imagine, nay, art itself is not able to paint out the calamities, and woeful distresses we are now overwhelmed withal! Every Countenance overspread with sorrow,; every house overwhelmed with grief; husbands lamenting over their families; women wringing their hands in despair; children shrieking, crying, and clinging to their parents; death, in all its dreadful forms and frightful aspects stalking in every street, and every corner! In short, horror! despair! and destruction! united their efforts to spread devastation, and compleat our ruin!"

It is pleasant to turn from this heartrending picture, and to find that after all the town was to be spared.

Ghostly apparition at Bolling Hall

What courage and bravery had failed to do, as accomplished by an apparition - the ever-memorable Bolling Hall Ghost! While the Earl was sleeping (so runs the tradition) in one of the rooms of the hall, (known as the "Ghost Room" even unto this day), on the eve of the day that was to witness the destruction of the town, a lady in white appeared, pulled the clothes off his bed several times, and cried out with a lamentable voice, "Pity poor Bradford!" on which he sent out orders that neither man, woman nor child should be killed; whereupon the apparition, which had so disturbed his slumbers, left him and went away.

Of course, in these days of Board Schools, and science lectures, a story like this has not the ghost of a chance of gaining credence; hence some will have it that ill the carousals of the soldiers, ill anticipation of the carnage to take place on the following day, the wine had flowed a little too freely, and that the Earl, in a restless, broken sleep had conjured up some weird unearthly shape in his dreams, which, in a superstitious age would readily be taken as some spectre from the spirit land. Others, again, have gone the length of regarding it as the clever performance of some Bradford lass, who, afraid lest anything should happen to her relations, or possibly her lover, boldly assumed this ghostly guise in order to frighten the Earl from his cruel purpose. For ourselves, we prefer to take the legend simply on its merits, and without offering any apology for it whatever. It is enough to know that the Earl gave final orders that Bradford should be spared and that he speedily withdrew his troops, to the no small joy and relief of many who were quaking with fear, believing that, verily they were in the jaws of death.

Bradford had to pay dearly for its zeal in the Parliamentary cause. Its trade, once so flourishing, was now utterly paralysed, and for many a long year the erstwhile "quik" town lay as if in a stupor. Even when the end of the century was reached, it was found that the annual value of its "stallages," tolls, etc., was less than when "bluff King Hal" sat upon the throne.

There is nothing on record to show with what feelings the news of the Restoration was received by the good Puritans of Bradford. Some of them were implicated in that foolish attempt at conspiracy known as the "Farnley Wood Plot," but somehow they contrived to escape the fate of the unfortunate ones who suffered the penalty of death for their pains. The inhabitants, however, had not a happy time of it during the reign of the so called "merrie monarch" - Charles II. During the terrible plague of 1665, the infection was accidentally brought to Bradford in a bundle of old clothes; the disorder spread rapidly, and many died from its effects. The roads were so infested with highwaymen that it was almost impossible to travel in safety from one town to another. Persecution for religious and political principles was rampant, and for very trifling offences people were thrust into prison, or incarcerated in the stocks or the pillory. It was at this time that John Wynn the pious Quaker of Bradford was bitterly persecuted for preaching the gospel, and was thrice stripped of all he possessed.

With the ascension of William and Mary a new era began - the dawn of a happier and more prosperous state of things. The woollen manufacture, for which Bradford had once been famous, having failed to revive after the Civil Wars, the inhabitants wisely (as the sequel showed) turned their attention to the making of worsted goods.

So rapid was the progress made in this industry, that although the hum of the spinning wheel could be heard in every house, the looms became so numerous that yarn could not be produced in sufficient quantities in the town to supply them, and the demand had to be met by supplies from Craven-dale and the northern valleys of Yorkshire.

It was surely a distinct evidence of recovery, that Bradford could now afford to interest itself in matters affecting the well-being of the nation, for when in 1782 rumours were current that an invasion of England was contemplated by France and Spain, and orders were issued by the Government, for the formation of armed bodies in all the principal towns of the kingdom, the inhabitants of Bradford at once responded to the summons, and held themselves in readiness to be called upon. Again in 1794, during the earlier stage of the French Revolutionary Wars, a Volunteer corps was formed here, under the command of Col. Busfeild, their dress consisting of scarlet coats turned up with buff, white breeches, and black caps and bobtails. The Corps came to be known as the "Ready and Steady" from the Circumstance of the men having these words inserted as a motto on their buttons.

The Holme, the first Bradford factory

Soon after the middle of the eighteenth century, unmistakeable signs of commercial prosperity appear, first, in the opening of a Bank (Leach, Pollard & Hardcastle's); then, in the erection of the Piece Hall (1778), followed soon after by the formation of the Bradford canal - events big with importance to a town composed of not more than 4,200 inhabitants. The year 1790 saw the introduction of the first spinning-jenny into Bradford, this branch of industry having been hitherto done by hand, and the year 1798 will ever be memorable as the one in which the first Bradford factory was erected.

The census of 1801 shews that the population of the parish of Bradford was 29,794. Of this number, the inhabitants of the borough, which included the four townships, Bradford, Horton, Bowling and Manningham -comprised 13,621, the township of Bradford alone containing a population of 6,393 persons, out of which 1,290 were employed in trade or manufactures.

But with all its progress in trade and population, Bradford was, as yet, only a small rural town, surrounded by green fields and quiet country lanes, and composed chiefly of tradespeople - "clothiers, weavers, and husbandmen" - and a fair sprinkling of landed gentry.The town proper consisted of a cluster of buildings in the neighbourhoods of Kirkgate, Westgate, the Turls (Tyrrel Street), Bridge Street, New (now Market) Street; and from this centre, straggling and irregular lines of buildings, chiefly houses, stretched out in the direction of Good-mans-end, Barker-end and Westgate. Beyond, all was open country, pleasantly diversified by trees and hedgerows (in modern times replaced by ugly walls), waving corn-fields, and here and there the quaint old homesteads or mansions of a race of gentry long since departed. We have it on indisputable authority that Bradford was at this time a really pleasant and picturesque spot; almost every dwelling had its bit of garden, or paddock, and charming walks and pathways abounded where now are granite pavements and noisy tramways.

The well-to-do people had their houses in Kirkgate, Westgate, the neighbourhood of the Parish Church, and at "Town-end." The last-named place was a cluster of good residences reaching from Chapel Lane to the bottom of Horton Road, and was then regarded as the very "West-end" of the town.

In the space between Kirkgate and the front of the Bowling Green Hotel a rookery flourished, and in Hall Ings there was a fine plantation of trees.

Indeed, we might point to many other evidences of the rural character of Bradford at this period. From the accompanying plan it will be seen that the Bradford beck and its tributary streams were quite uncovered, except by the bridges at the main crossings. These latter, by the way, were the Ive-bridge at the bottom of lvegate; Cuckoo-bridge opposite the end of the present Leeds Road; Newbridge near Messrs. Brown & Muff's shop, and Church-bridge near Broad-stones. The old Cuckoo-bridge was one of the most interesting bits of old Bradford, and we regret that we have been unable to secure a sketch of it for this work.

For purposes of traffic the roads leading from Bradford were in a very unsatisfactory condition. There were only two roads by which to get to Manningham; one by way of Skinner Lane (Cheapside) and the other by Westgate and Northgate (then known as Fair-Gap). Manningham Lane lay between hedges, and was so narrow that Mr. E. C. Lister found it difficult to get along it with his carriage, and usually preferred driving round by Whetley Hill and Westgate.

The market was still held near the bottom of Westgate, but it was hardly worthy of the name, for it consisted of little more than a few straggling stalls and shambles running up each side of the street.

Bradford Parish Church, mid-eighteenth century

The town, as yet, could boast of only one church - the Venerable St Peter's, which was then, as it always had been, regarded as a grand and imposing structure for so insignificant a place. But it was not, as now, begrimed with smoke, or hidden from view by erections much more pretentious in style, but inferior in taste. The Wesleyans were still worshipping in their quaint little sanctuary in Horton Road -the Octagon Chapel. The Congregationalists (then better known as "Independents") had but recently taken possession of their spacious chapel in Little Horton Lane. The Baptists had entered upon a new phase of their history by the erection of a new chapel, which from its elevated position soon became known as the "Top o't taan Chapel." The Unitarians and Quakers were not apparently in haste to "arise and build," but were content to worship in peace and quietness in buildings that were growing hoary with age, and which had the history of "olden times" written on their very walls.

But perhaps the most convincing proof of the simple style of life of our forefathers, and how very little sufficed them in the way of "local government," is to be found in the fact that at the close of the century, the town had no other protection than what half a dozen watchmen could give, the said watchmen being entirely supported by voluntary subscriptions. The streets had no better light than what a few dismal oil lamps could impart, which with an eye to economy, were placed at considerable distances apart. That time-honoured functionary, the Parish Beadle, was still an important personage in Bradford, notwithstanding that his services were but poorly remunerated, for his stipend only amounted (exclusive of perquisites) to four pounds, and one suit of clothes per annum.

With the begining of a new century a new order of things began. The birth of the steam engine was the birth of a new life for the inhabitants of Bradford. From its long repose in the bosom of its peaceful valleys, the town shot upwards and outwards with the suddenness of the American aloe, which atones in a few weeks for the apparent rest of a century; and from the dimensions of a miniature country town it assumed the size and importance of a manufacturing capital. As the limits of the old town became too circumscribed for the rapidly increasing population, the outlying districts were invaded by capitalists and builders, and became absorbed into a general mass of stone and mortar, pretty much as one blue speck of sky after another becomes absorbed into the gathering thunder-cloud.

Tall chimneys, huge factories, costly warehouses and shops, and innumerable streets of houses were reared in all directions, swelling out into the vast proportions that make up the Bradford of to-day!

For a long time however, the social, intellectual, and municipal wants of the town, failed to keep pace with its increasing wealth and commercial importance. The streets, mostly unpaved and without footpaths, were miserably lighted, and many of the dwellings of the poorer classes were unfit for human habitation. The education and mental advancement of the labouring population were almost wholly neglected - indeed the long hours of toil left little time either for the cultivation of the mind or the recreation of the body. When the first half of the century had been reached it was said of Bradford that it was more backward in all that related to art and science than any town of half its size in the kingdom. Of private, money-making enterprise there was plenty, but of public, philanthropic spirit, alas! there was but too little. Happily there were some worthy citizens whose creed was not self, and who sought and laboured for the elevation of the people, and the true advancement of the town, from pure motives, and with untiring energy. All honour be to their memory! As the result of their disinterested and self-denying efforts, other buildings besides factories and shops, sprang into being, churches, chapels, schools, scientific and literary institutions, and places set apart for recreation and amusement.

But, indeed, progressive strides have in recent times been made in all directions, and, looking around us at this present time of writing, we behold, in Bradford, a town to which we may well point with pride and satisfaction as one of the handsomest, healthiest, and best regulated in all Her Majesty's dominions.

In the chapters succeeding this brief "historical survey" we hope to be able to show how, these good and desirable changes have been brought about; and how, Bradford has gained the prominent and proud position which it now holds.

Old Gateway, Unitarian Chapel


1. Markham's Life of The Great Lord Fairfax (back)