Dewsbury (All Saints)

DEWSBURY (All Saints), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, partly in the wapentake of Morley, but chiefly in the Lower division of that of Agbrigg, W. riding of York; comprising the townships of Dewsbury, Ossett with Gawthorpe, and Soothill, and the chapelry of Hartshead with Clifton; the whole containing 23,806 inhabitants, of whom 10,600 are in the township of Dewsbury, 34 miles (S. W.) from York, and 188 (N. N. W.) from London. This town is supposed to have derived its name, originally Duisburgh, from Dui, the tutelar deity of the Brigantes, to whom a votive altar, dedicated by Aurelianus, was found in the vicinity, and is still preserved at Bradley. In the infancy of Christianity, it was a place of great importance, being the earliest in this part of Britain in which the Christian religion was received, and the spot from which it spread into other portions of the kingdom. In the former part of the seventh century, Edwin, King of Northumbria, had a palace here, where his Queen Ethelburga, who had subscribed to the Christian faith, was attended by Paulinus, first Archbishop of York; and Edwin himself, and his whole court, were subsequently converted, in 627, in memory of which event, a cross was erected on the spot, with the inscription, "Paulinus hic prædicavit et celebravit." Several Saxon and Norman antiquities found near the church have been collected, and are preserved in the gardens of the vicarage-house.

The town is pleasantly situated at the base of a hill rising from the banks of the river Calder, and has been greatly improved by new lines of approach, on which numerous handsome houses have been erected; it is lighted with gas. A public library is supported by subscription; and there is also a parochial library, established by the vicar in 1842, and which at its commencement contained 600 volumes. The trade and consequent prosperity of the town have been promoted by the extension of the Calder and Hebble navigation, and within the last ten years the place has been rapidly advancing. The inhabitants are chiefly occupied in the manufacture of blankets, druggets, carpets, flushings, and coverlets; and the finer descriptions of woollencloths, recently introduced, and for the fulling of which the water of the Calder is peculiarly favourable, are now manufactured to a very great extent, giving employment to more than 5000 persons in the town and neighbourhood. The river Calder, and the canals connected with it, afford direct communication with Liverpool, Manchester, Rochdale, Halifax, and Wakefield, and also with the river Humber; and the Leeds, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, and Manchester railway, and the old Leeds and Manchester railway, pass close to the town. The market is on Wednesday, and there is also a market for provisions on Saturday, which is numerously attended by persons from the surrounding district. Fairs take place on the Wednesday before Old May-day, and the Wednesday preceding the 8th of October; and pettysessions are held every alternate Saturday. The powers of the county debt-court of Dewsbury, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Dewsbury. A court-house was built in 1845.

The parish, which is of great antiquity, and during the heptarchy extended over an area of 400 square miles, including the present parishes of Thornhill, Burton, Almondbury, Kirk-Heaton, Huddersfield, Bradford, Halifax, and Mirfield, now comprises 9551 acres, of which 1335 are in the township of Dewsbury: the soil is fertile, the scenery greatly diversified, and the substratum abounds with coal, which is extensively wrought. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £22. 13. 9., and in the patronage of the Crown, with a net income of £233; impropriators, J. F. and Robert Carr, Esqrs. The vicarial tithes were commuted for land, under an act of inclosure, in 1803. The church, a structure of great antiquity, was, with the exception of the chancel and the columns that support the roof of the nave, rebuilt in 1767, with due regard to the preservation of its original character; it contains a tablet to Henry Tilson, Bishop of Elphin, and some remains of stained glass. At West Town is a church, the first stone of which was laid in May 1847. There are churches also at Hartshead, Hanging-Heaton, Earls-Heaton, Ossett, Dewsbury-Moor, and Batley-Carr, all of which are noticed under their respective heads; they are perpetual curacies, in the patronage of the Vicar. In the town are places of worship for the Society of Friends, Independents, Primitive Methodists, Methodists of the New Connexion, and Wesleyans. The parochial school was founded about 1750, by Mrs. Bedford, Mr. Thomas Bedford, and Mr. William Walker, who endowed it with property now producing £108 per annum; a house for the master, and a spacious schoolroom, were built in 1810, at a cost of £1300, arising from the sale of coal under the estate. Among the other schools is one, now on the national plan, founded by Mr. John Wheelwright, and endowed with £100 per annum, paid by his trustees, of which £50 are received by the master, and £40 by the mistress, for the instruction of 100 boys and 100 girls. The poor law union comprises 11 townships, containing a population of 60,713 persons.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.