Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for DONCASTER

DONCASTER, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district in W. R. Yorkshire. The town stands on the river Don, Watling-street, and the Great Northern railway, 34¾ miles S of York; and has direct communication, through the Great Northern, the South Yorkshire, the Lancashire and Yorkshire, and the Sheffield, Manchester, and Lincoln railways, with all parts of the kingdom. It was the Danum of the Romans, the Caer-Dann of the ancient Britons, and the Donacercen, Donacastre, and Doncastle of the Saxons and the Danes. An important Roman station occupied its site; but has left few relics of any note, except one finely-sculptured votive altar. A castle and a palace of the Saxon kings succeeded the Roman station; but have left no traces. The second earliest Christian church in Northumbria was erected here, about 628, by Paulinus, under the immediate inspection of King Edwin. The Danes destroyed the town in 794; and were defeated in battle at it in 833. It was given by William the Conqueror to Robert de Mortaigne; and it rose speedily to a flourishing condition under its Norman masters; but was entirely destroyed by fire in 1204. Henry III. was at it in 1230; Henry IV., after landing at Ravenspur; Edward IV., in 1469; Richard III., in 1483; Henry VIII., to treat with Robert Aske, the leader of the "Pilgrimage of Grace, " in 1536; James I., in 1603; Charles I., in 1641, and again in 1644; the parliamentarian forces, in 1642; and Captain Paulden, with 22 men, nearly carrying off Colonel Rainsborough from his troops, in 1647. Sir Martin Frobisher, the naval commander, the Rev. Wm. Bingley, author of "Animal Biography, " and John Lacy, the dramatist, were natives. The town gives the title of Earl to the Duke of Buccleuch.

The environs are rather tame; and large portions of them were formerly morasses; but these have been well drained, and are now very fertile. Wheatley Hall, Cusworth, Car-House, Nether-Hall, and other fine residences are in the neighbourhood. The town is one of the cleanest, neatest, and most beautiful in the kingdom. The chief street is nearly a mile long; others are extensive; and many parts have great wealth of ornamental feature. Two stone bridges cross the Don; and causeways go beyond them, raised above the occasional inundations of the river. The town hall, used for borough and quarter sessions, is a noble building. The mansion-house boasts a prior origin to that of York or London; and is elegant and spacious. The post office is a reconstruction of 1859. The markets raised on the site of the old town hall, and of St. Mary Magdalene's Norman church, in 1847-8 and in 1863, are splendid structures. A cattle market at a cost of £5, 452, was erected in 1869. The Hall cross is a cylindrical column 18 feet high. A new theatre was built in 1867. An infirmary and general dispensary was built in 1868. A new building for the grammar-school, at a cost of about £7, 000, was erected in 1869; and the school has £100 a year from endowment, and a scholarship at Jesus' college, Cambridge. St. George's church, chiefly of later English date, was destroyed by fire in 1853; was rebuilt in 1857 after designs by G. G. Scott, at a cost of £52, 000; is a magnificent cruciform edifice, in the early decorated style, with a square tower, 170 feet high; measures 168¾ feet from east to west, 92 feet along the transept, 65 feet in width, and 75 in height; and has a grand eight-light east window, 47½ feet by 22½, very grand interior decorations, and a font of Cornish serpentine. Christ church was built in 1829, by gift of John Jarratt, Esq., who gave £10, 000 for the building and £3, 300 for an endowment to it; and is a handsome structure, in the style of the 14th century, with a tasteful tower and spire. St. James' church was built in 1858, at a cost of £5, 000; consists of two nave-like portions, the one rather higher and wider than the other, with a row of alternately round and octagonal pillars down the middle; and has a spire 120 feet high. There are chapels for Independents, Baptists, Quakers, Wesleyans, P. Methodists, Free Methodists, and Unitarians, a Roman Catholic chapel of 1867, six large public schools, a deaf and dumb institution, a girls' reformatory, a working men's college, three public libraries, a homœopathic hospital, alms-houses, a workhouse, large general charities, and an ultra-mural cemetery; and there were anciently a grey friary, and two lepers' hospitals.

The town has a head post-office, ‡ a chief station on the Great Northern railway, a telegraph office, two banking offices, and six chief inns; is a seat of sessions, a polling place, and a head-quarters of militia; and publishes three weekly newspapers. Markets are held on Saturdays; and fairs on 2 Feb., 5 April, 5 Aug., and 16 Nov. Extensive works of the G. N. railway are here. A large trade in corn and some manufacture of linen and sacking are carried on. Races, established in 1703, and run annually in the third week of September, have great celebrity, and draw a vast concourse. The race-course adjoins the town on the south-east; has a magnificent grand stand; and yields the corporation upwards of £3, 000 a year. The town was chartered by Richard I.; and is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors. The boundaries of the borough and those of the township are conterminate. Acres, 1,879. Real property, £45, 509; of which £150 are in iron-works, and £500 in gas-works. Pop. in 1841, 10, 455; in 1861, 16, 406. Houses, 3, 594.

The parish includes also the townships of Langthwaite-with-Tilts, Balby-with-Hexthorpe, and long Sandall-with-Wheatley. Acres, 6, 527. Real property, £54, 677. Pop., 17, 632. Houses, 3, 862. The manor, after being held by the De Mortaignes, went to the Frossards, the Mauleys, and the Salvaynes; and was released, by the last, to the corporation. The livings of St. George, Christ-church, and St. James are vicarages, in the diocese of York. Value of St. George, £415; *of Christ-church, £300.* Patron of St. George and St. James, the Archbishop of York; of Christ-church, G. J. Jarrat, Esq. The p. curacy of Loversall and the vicarage of Balby-with-Hexthorpe are separate benefices. -The sub-district is conterminate with the borough. -The district comprehends also the sub-district of Tick-hill, containing the parishes of Tickhill, Stainton-cum-Hellaby, Edlington, Wadworth, Loversall, Warmsworth, and Conisbrough, and the townships of Balby-with-Hexthorpe, Braithwell, and Denaby; the sub-district of Barmbrough, containing the parishes of Barmbrough, Adwick-upon-Dearne, Bolton-upon-Dearne, Thurnscoe, Clayton-with-Frickley, Hooton-Pagnell, Brodsworth, Marr, Hickleton, High Melton, and Sprot-brough, the township of Mexborough, and the extra-parochial tract of Stotfold; the sub-district of Campsall, containing the parishes of Campsall, Bentley-with-Arksey, Kirk-Bramwith, Adwick-le-Street, Owston, and Burgh-Wallis, and the townships of Langthwaite-with-Tilts and Thorpe-in-Balne; and the sub-district of Bawtry, containing the parishes of Kirk-Sandall, Armthorpe, Cantley, Rossington, Misson, and Finningley, -the last partly, the next last wholly, electorally in Notts, -and the townships of Bawtry, Austerfield, Long Sandall-with-Wheatley and Barnby-upon-Don. Acres, 109, 031. Poor-rates in 1862, £12, 306. Pop. in 1841, 32, 402; in 1861, 39, 388. Houses, 8, 619. Marriages in 1860, 298; births, 1, 331, -of which 90 were illegitimate; deaths, 853, -of which 343 were at ages under 5 years, and 29 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 2, 770; births, 13, 013; deaths, 7, 978. The places of worship in 1851 were 42 of the Church of England, with 12, 610 sittings; 3 of Independents, with 1, 230 s.; 1 of Baptists, with 230 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 336 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 160 s.; 44 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 5, 901 s.; 1 of New Connexion Methodists, with 156 s.; 18 of Primitive Methodists, with 1, 752 s: 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 40 at.; 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 40 s.; and 2 of Roman Catholics, with 292 s. The schools were 37 public day schools, with 3, 126 scholars; 66 private day schools, with 1, 541 s.; 168 Sunday schools, with 4, 762 s.; and 2 evening schools for adults, with 64 s.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district"   (ADL Feature Type: "cities")
Administrative units: Doncaster AP/CP/Tn       Doncaster SubD       Doncaster RegD/PLU       Yorkshire AncC
Place: Doncaster

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.