Hedon, or Heydon (St. Augustine)

HEDON, or Heydon (St. Augustine), an incorporated town and a parish, possessing separate jurisdiction, and formerly a representative borough and a market-town, in the union of Sculcoates, locally in the Middle division of the wapentake of Holderness, E. riding of York, 44 miles (E. S. E.) from York, and 179 (N. by E.) from London; containing 998 inhabitants. This is reputed to have been anciently a very considerable sea-port. A charter was given to the burgesses by King Athelstan; and in 1199, King John granted to Baldwin, Earl of Albemarle and Holderness, and to his wife Hawis, free burgage here, by the same tenure and with the same privileges as at York and Lincoln; but Hedon has possessed little commercial or maritime importance since the foundation of the port of Hull by Edward I. In the year 1656, a great part of the town was consumed by fire, after which it was rebuilt in a more handsome and substantial manner. It is pleasantly situated in a level, fertile, and well-cultivated country, within a mile and a half of the Humber, and consists chiefly of one street, in the middle of which is the market-place. The Holderness Agricultural Society hold their meetings here every quarter, and possess a valuable and select library of the best works that have been written on agriculture, and on subjects connected with it. Assemblies are regularly held during the season. The old haven has long been choked up; but a canal, cut from the Humber, extends to within a quarter of a mile of the town, and is navigable for small craft. The weekly market on Saturday has been abolished, but a market for cattle is held on every alternate Monday throughout the year, and there are considerable fairs on Aug. 2nd and Sept. 22nd for horses, and Nov. 17th and Dec. 6th for cattle, &c.

The government of the borough, by charter dated in the 14th of James I., is vested in a mayor, recorder, two bailiffs, and nine aldermen, assisted by a town-clerk, and other officers, with an indefinite number of burgesses: the mayor is annually elected from among the aldermen, and the bailiffs, who during their office are justices of the peace, from the burgesses; the late mayor acts as coroner. Hedon sent members to parliament in the 23rd of Edward I., but discontinued till the 1st of Edward VI., from which time it made regular returns, until it was disfranchised in the 2nd of William IV.; the right of election was vested in the burgesses generally, in number about 300, and the mayor was the returning officer. The corporation hold quarterly courts of session for offences not capital, and a court of record for the determination of pleas and the recovery of debts to any amount. The powers of the county debt-court of Hedon, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Patrington, and part of the districts of Skirlaugh and Sculcoates. The parish comprises 312 acres, which are chiefly pasture and garden-grounds attached to the houses of the place. The living is a rectory, in the patronage of the Archbishop of York; net income, £45. There were formerly three churches in the town: of those of St. Nicholas and St. James, only traces of the foundations are visible; the remaining church, dedicated to St. Augustine, is a venerable and spacious cruciform structure, in the early, with a lofty central tower in the later, English style. The front of the north transept is a remarkably fine specimen of early English, and in the south transept is a very beautiful window, though mutilated; many portions of the edifice display elegance of design and richness of detail, and parts of the exterior are of Norman character. Here are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans, and a Roman Catholic chapel. An hospital for lepers, dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre, was founded at Newton, near the town, in the reign of John, by Alan, son of Oubernus, for a master and several brethren and sisters; the revenue at the Dissolution was £13. 15. 10.

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