UK Genealogy Archives logo

Richmond, North Riding of Yorkshire

Historical Description

Richmond, a market and onion town, a municipal borough, a township, and a parish in the N.R. Yorkshire. The town stands on an eminence near the river Swale, at the terminus of a branch of the N.E.R., 237 miles from London, 13 from Darlington, and 19½ WNW of Northallerton. It is supposed by some to have been originally called Rich Mount, on account of the fertility of the land around it; belonged to Edwin the Saxon; was given, with the title of Earl, by William the Conqueror to Alan Rufus; became then the head of an honour of 164 manors, called Richmondshire; acquired in the time of Alan a great castle, serving as a bulwark of the Norman domination in the north; grew rapidly to consequence under the castle's shadow; became a market-town so early as the middle of the 12th century; suffered occasionally from raids and forays of the Scots; went into possession of John of Gannt, and through him to the Crown; was given, with the title of Duke, by Henry VIII. to his son Henry; passed, with the title of Duke, in the time of Charles II. to the Lennoxes; and continues to give the title of Duke to the family of Lennox. The town is a seat of petty sessions, the head of a county court district, and a polling-place; presents a well-built and pleasant appearance, with charming environs; and has a head post office, a railway station, two banks, a handsome three-arched bridge, a town-hall, a market-house, a police station, a masonic hall, a cottage hospital, two established churches, Congregational, Wesleyan, and Primitive Methodist chapels, a, Roman Catholic chapel, erected in 1868 at a cost of about £3000, a public library, a mechanics' institute, a free grammar school, several other schools, a workhouse, three suites of almshouses with aggregately about £30 a year, and other charities.

The castle stood on a rock, 100 feet high, overlooking the Swale; underwent enlargements till 1146; occupied an area of about 5 acres; was the prison of William the Lion, king of Scotland, after his defeat at Alnwick; was never the scene of any notable event in the military annals of the country; and forms now an imposing ruin, including the Gold Hole Tower, Robin Hood's Tower, the Hall of Scotland, 72 feet by 27, and the Keep or Great Tower, with walls 11 feet thick and 100 high, one of the finest and most perfect Norman keep-towers in England. Part of the castle has been converted into stores for the North York Militia. A modern terrace extends between the castle and the river, 60 feet above the latter, and forms an agreeable promenade. The town-hall is a handsome edifice, and contains an assembly-room and a court-room. The market-house was built in 1854. St Mary's Church includes portions from Norman to Later English, has a tower erected about 1390, was restored in 1860, and further improved in 1892. It consists of chancel, nave, aisles, and tower, and contains a reredos, several sedilia, some beautiful carved wood stalls, and a few handsome monuments and armorial bearings. Trinity Church is supposed to have been the original parish church, belonged formerly to St Mary's Abbey at York, appears to have been rebuilt about 1260, was repaired in 1740, and now consists only of a nave, N aisle, and a detached tower, the property of the corporation, and containing one bell which has been rung from time immemorial at 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., and on all solemn occasions. A beautiful tower in the Perpendicular style, rebuilt shortly before the dissolution at a Grey friary founded in 1258 by Ralph Fitz-Ranulph, stands at the N entrance to the town; some remains of St Martin's Priory, founded about 1100, are near the railway station; and scantier remains of St Nicholas Hospital, founded in 1172, are incorporated with a modern house on the Catterick Road. The grammar school was founded in the time of Queen Elizabeth, and is now a handsome edifice in the Pointed style, rebuilt in 1849 as a memorial to the Rev. James Tate, who was master of the old grammar school for thirty-seven years. It was enlarged in 1867, and has about £350 a year from endowment. A weekly market is held on Saturday, and a cattle market every fortnight; fairs are held on Holyrood Day, the Saturday before Palm Sunday, and 2 and 3 November; and there are a paper-mill and several training stables. The town is a borough by prescription, was first chartered by Elizabeth, and is now governed by a mayor, 4 aldermen, and 12 councillors, who act as the urban district council. It has a commission of the peace and a separate court of quarter sessions, sent two members to Parliament both before and after the Reform Act of 1832, was reduced to the right of sending only one member by the Act of 1867, and by the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, its representation was merged into the Richmond division of the Riding. The municipal borough is conter-minate with the parish. Acreage, 2520; population, 4216. The manor belongs to the corporation. The hills command fine views. Roman coins have been found. Greathead, the inventor of the lifeboat, was a native. The living of St Mary is a rectory, and that of Trinity is a perpetual curacy, in the diocese of Ripon; net value of the former, £300 with residence; net value of the latter, £84. Patron of both, the Bishop of Ripon.

Richmond Parliamentary Division of Yorkshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 54,439. The division includes the following:-Allertonshire-Ainderby Steeple, Birkby, Borrowby, Brompton, Cotcliffe, Crosby, Deighton, East Harisey, Ellerbeck, Hutton Bonville, Knayton-with-Brawith, Landmoth-cum-Catto, Lazenby, Leak, Morton-upon-Swale, Newby Wiske, Northallerton, North Otterington, Osmotherley, Romanby, Sigston Kirby, Smeaton (Little), Sowerby-under-Cotcliffe, Thimbleby, Thornton-Ie-Beans, Thrintoft, Warlaby, Welbury, West Harisey, West Bounton, Winton, Yafforth; Gilling (East)- Barton, Bolton-on-Swale, Brompton-on-Swale, Cleaseby, Cowton (East), Cowton (North), Cowton (South), Croft, Dalton-on-Tees, Danby Wiske, Ellerton, Eryholme, Kiplin, Langton (Great), Langton (Little), Manfield, Middleton Tyas, Moulton, Newton Morrell, Scorton, Stapleton, Uckerby, Whitwell; Gilling (West)-Aldbrough,Arkengarthdale, Aske, Barforth, Caldwell, Carkin, Cliffe, Dalton, Easby, Eppleby, Forcett, Gayles, Gilling, Hipswell, Hudswell, Kirby Ravens-worth, Layton (East), Layton (West), Marrick, Marske, Melbecks, Melsonby, Muker, New Forest, Ravensworth, Reeth, St Martin, Skeeby, Scotton, Stanwick (St John), Whashton; Greta Bridge-Bamingham, Boldron, Bowes, Brignall, Cotherstone, Egglestone Abbey, Gilmonby, Holwick, Hope, Hunderthwaite, Hutton Longvilliers, Lartington, Lune-dale, Mickleton, Newsham, Ovington, Rokeby, Romaldkirk, Scargill, Stratforth, Wycliffe-with-Thorpe; Hang (East)- Ainderby-with-Holtby, Aiskew, Appletons (East and West), Bedale, Brough-with-St Giles, Burrill-with-Cowling, Burton-on-Ure, Catterick, Clifton, Colbourn, Crakehall, Ellingstring, Ellingtons (High and Low), Exelby Leeming and Newton, Fearby, Firby, Hackforth, Healy-with-Sutton, Hornby, Ilton-cum-Pott, Killerby, Kirkby Fleetham, Langthome, Masham, Newton-with-Ruswick, Patrick Brompton, Rand, Rookwith, Scruton, Snape, Swinton-with-Warthermask, Thim, Thorn-ton, Watlass, Tunstall, Well; Hang (West)-Abbotside (High), Abbotside (Low), Akebar, Arrathorne, Askrigg, Ays-garth, Bainbridge, Barden, Bellerby, Bishopdale, Burton Constable, Burton-cum-Walden, Caldbergh, Carlton Town, Carlton Highdale, Carperby, Castle Bolton, Coverham, Down-holme, Ellerton, Fingall, Garriston, Grinton, Harmby, Haux-well (East), Hauxwell (West), Hawes, Hunton, Hutton Hang, Leyburn, Melmerby, Middleham, Newbiggin, Preston, Bed-mire, Scrafton (West), Spennithorne, Stainton, Thoralby, Thornton Rust, Thornton Steward, Walburn, Wensley, Wit-ton (East, Within), Witton (East, Without), Witton (West); Richmond, municipal borough.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for the North Riding of Yorkshire is available to browse.


Online maps of Richmond are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following North Riding newspapers online:

CountyNorth Yorkshire
RegionYorkshire and the Humber
Postal districtDL10
Post TownRichmond