A History of the County of York: the City of York. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1961.
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The importance of York as a social centre grew during the century. By 1660 regular hackney coach services linked the city with London, (fn. 1) and visitors from far and near, drawn to York on business or pleasure, lodged in the many inns, some of which earned compliments for the standard of their hospitality; perhaps the best known were the 'George' in Coney Street and the 'Talbot' in Petergate. (fn. 2) Many county families lived in their 'town houses' for at least part of the year, and in such circles, in which wealthier citizens also found their place, polite diversions proliferated. There were dancing, music, and feasting, venison dinners being particularly notable. (fn. 3) This social atmosphere was stimulated not only by the occasional presence of royalty and of such grandees as the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, but also by the official junketings of the corporation in some of which the higher ranks of local society participated. (fn. 4)
Royal visits perhaps provided the best public entertainment for ordinary citizens; the king was in York in 1603, 1617, 1633, 1639, 1640, and 1642, and on each occasion, even the last, there was much merry-making. (fn. 5) In 1679, however, political animosities caused such a cool reception for James, Duke of York, that the king rebuked the lord mayor. (fn. 6) Civic ceremonies and national celebrations added their quota of pleasure, with their pageantry, bell-ringing, and bonfires. (fn. 7) From time to time travelling players visited the city, (fn. 8) one company being commissioned in 1629 as 'His Majesty's servants for the city of York' to present all the usual stage plays; (fn. 9) horse racing took place intermittently; (fn. 10) and two new sources of enjoyment in the city were tobacco shops, first licensed in 1632, (fn. 11) and coffee-houses which had appeared by 1669. (fn. 12) For the rest, humbler citizens had to rely on the pleasures of the alehouse and on the usual sports and pastimes of the period, (fn. 13) and for many families living in squalor and poverty, life in the town had few compensations.
There is no sign that educational facilities expanded very much, though a Roman Catholic girls' boarding school was founded at the Bar Convent in 1686. (fn. 14) The two endowed grammar schools apparently enjoyed a fairly undisturbed existence, but the buildings of St. Peter's School were damaged in the siege, and the school was moved to the Bedern. Although little is known of the quality of the schools' work, it seems likely that they had a fair reputation: both sent pupils to the universities, both had some wellqualified masters, and St. Peter's at least attracted pupils from outside the city. (fn. 15) In addition to small private schools, a number of charity schools were founded during the century, (fn. 16) and the corporation itself sometimes paid teachers to give instruction to poor children. (fn. 17) Lastly, in 1641 and 1648 the corporation promoted two unsuccessful petitions for the foundation of a university in York. (fn. 18)
There was, however, a measure of intellectual and artistic activity in the city. Theologians, teachers, and lawyers had long been established there, and by 1700 physicians and surgeons formed another professional group, (fn. 19) among them the physician Martin Lister (1638?-1712) who was also a prominent antiquary and naturalist. (fn. 20) Literary interests were stimulated by the revival of printing at York in 1642 by the royal printer, Robert Barker (d. 1645). He and his successor, Stephen Bulkley, printed royalist proclamations and broadsides, and in 1644 they were followed by Thomas Broad, whose press issued parliamentary orders and Puritan tracts. Printing was, therefore, well established by 1660 and was allowed to continue under the Licensing Act of 1662. Bulkley set up his press again in 1662, and produced many theological works. Another important printer was John White who, as a reward for printing the declaration of William of Orange in November 1688, was subsequently created royal printer for the northern counties. Printers often co-operated in publishing with York booksellers who seem to have increased in number during the century, congregating around the minster and in Stonegate for the most part. (fn. 21) Many of the works printed and sold in York were by local authors. Innumerable sermons were published by the clergy, and, among others, Edmund Bunny (1540-1619), John Cosin (1594-1672), Thomas Calvert (1606-79), and Thomas Comber (1645-99) produced more substantial theological works. Important writings by lay residents included the medical and scientific books of Edmund Deane, Robert Wittie, and Martin Lister. (fn. 22) During his recordership, Sir Thomas Widdrington compiled his Analecta Eboracensia but the corporation refused to be associated with its publication which was therefore delayed until 1897. The first printed history of York, A list or catalogue of all the Mayors, and Bayliffs &c., which came from Bulkley's press in 1664, was published anonymously by Christopher Hildyard, a lawyer and an 'ingenious antiquary'. (fn. 23) Another edition of the book was wrongly ascribed to J[ames] T[orre] (1649-99). Torre in fact did much better work. He came from Lincolnshire to York at an unknown date and once in the city devoted his life to ecclesiastical antiquities. He drew on a wide range of church records for his information, and his manuscript volumes, now preserved in the Minster Library, form not only an index to those records but often preserve matter that would have otherwise been lost. Drake and all writers who have followed him have depended much upon his collections. (fn. 24)
The work of numerous local craftsmen was in demand not only in the city but farther afield. Plasterers from York decorated the king's lodging in Edinburgh castle. (fn. 25) Silversmiths made not only domestic silverware but chalices for churches throughout the northern province. (fn. 26) Country gentry gave their patronage to painters, engravers, carvers, and sculptors, including Edmund Horsley, Andrew Kearne, and Samuel Carpenter. Many of the Renaissance monuments and furnishings in the minster and the churches were the work of local men, one of whom, John Etty the elder, employed Grinling Gibbons for a time. (fn. 27) Glass-painting was continued by Edmund and Henry Gyles. The former made a comfortable living, but though the latter did not, he was sufficiently prominent to gather round himself a small literary and artistic coterie; the design and colours of his surviving work indicate that the art had declined. (fn. 28)
The outstanding characteristic of church life in York under the early Stuarts was the expanding influence of Puritanism. This was no doubt assisted by the tolerance and sympathy of Archbishops Hutton and Matthew, who did little to disturb Puritanminded clergy and laity. (fn. 29) One Puritan clergyman, John Conyers, was indeed prosecuted for an offensive sermon in 1621, (fn. 30) but another, Henry Hooke, was appointed Archdeacon of York in 1617 and precentor of the minster in 1623. (fn. 31) The corporation encouraged preaching and 'exercises' in the city by using its authority to enforce attendance at church services (fn. 32) and by appointing Puritans to the office of city preacher, founded in 1581. (fn. 33) The city preacher in 1607, Richard Harwood, was permitted to preach wherever he could attract the largest congregation and was asked to continue 'exercises' on Sunday afternoons. (fn. 34) He was succeeded in 1615 by the aforementioned Henry Hooke, who had already shown Puritan tendencies and who was recommended by Lord Sheffield, the Puritan lord president of the Council in the North. (fn. 35) Although he was frequently absent, the corporation was reluctant to accept his resignation, and when it did so Henry Aiscough, a moderate Puritan, was appointed to succeed him in 1624. (fn. 36) By this time the city preacher was giving a sermon every Sunday morning at All Saints', Pavement, and was also preaching once or twice a month on Sunday afternoons at the lord mayor's parish church, but in 1628 these afternoon sermons became weekly, and an assistant preacher was appointed. (fn. 37) The corporation showed further zeal for sermons in the city by giving fees to occasional preachers and by maintaining for at least three years a weekly sermon at Holy Trinity, King's Court. (fn. 38)
During the thirties Puritan clergy were entrenched in important central parishes in the city and were attracting investigation by the officials of the two successive Laudian archbishops, Samuel Harsnett and Richard Neile, especially the latter. In 1632 the corporation with some difficulty obtained the livings of All Saints', Pavement, and St. Saviour's for Aiscough and his assistant preacher, John Whittacres, respectively. (fn. 39) In 1633 both were charged with failing to read set prayers, and the latter was also presented for preaching on Sunday afternoons at St. Michael-le-Belfrey, thereby hindering catechizing. (fn. 40) In 1637 Aiscough took the Yorkshire Puritan preacher John Shaw as his lecturer. (fn. 41) Clergy serving the churches of St. Martin, Coney Street, St. Michael, Spurriergate, and St. Sampson were cited at different times for Puritan irregularities, including offensive sermons. (fn. 42) In the archbishop's visitation of 1633 the incumbents of the parishes of St. Michael-le-Belfrey, St. Mary, Castlegate, Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, Holy Trinity, King's Court, St. Helen, St. Denys, and Holy Trinity, Micklegate, were presented for non-adherence to the prayer book. (fn. 43) Perhaps the most notoriously Puritan parish at this time, however, was St. Martin's, Micklegate, where John Birchall became rector in 1633. He followed two earlier Puritan incumbents, and it seems likely that Archbishop Neile decided to make an example of this parish and its rector. The churchwardens were cited for conniving at clerical nonconformity and at lay irreverence in church—in which three aldermen were implicated—and they were obliged to submit and to 'beautify' the church after the Laudian manner. Birchall was charged with a variety of Puritan offences, including non-adherence to the prayer book, failure to catechize or baptize, administration of communion to non-parishioners, and conducting conventicles in York and elsewhere, and this attempt to discipline a recalcitrant Puritan dragged on for six years before Birchall submitted. (fn. 44) It seems that Puritan clergy enjoyed lay support for there is no evidence of popular opposition during this period.
Other disclosures about parish life in York were not spectacular, for visitations brought to light only the usual faults. At Neile's visitation in 1633, (fn. 45) for example, many citizens in four parishes were presented for non-payment of church rates, one parishioner of St. Cuthbert's having beaten a churchwarden when the money was demanded; there were four instances of disorderly conduct in church or churchyard. Deficiencies in ten parishes included the absence of parish chests, poor boxes, and pewter pots, the non-repair of broken seats, and the lack of tables of scripture, of a large bible, and of tables of kindred and affinity; neither St. Helen's nor Holy Trinity, Micklegate, had a register of preachers. The dilapidation of the church was reported at St. Mary's, Bishophill, Junior (where the vicarage house was also decayed), and St. Olave's; in the churchyard of All Saints', North Street, there was an alehouse, and animals were grazing in the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Micklegate. The churchwardens of 12 parishes were presented for neglecting their duties. In 3 parishes a considerable number of people had failed to close their shops on Sundays or holy days. Finally, at this visitation, 51 men and women from 13 parishes were presented for recusancy, with the greatest concentration in the parishes of St. George and St. Denys. This figure may be compared with a total of 58 recusants in 1604 (fn. 46) and 54 presented in 1623. (fn. 47) It suggests that there was little change in the strength of recusancy in York, and may partly reflect the spread of Puritan sympathies.
In the decade preceding the civil war several prominent members of the corporation were closely associated with Puritanism. Aldermen Hoyle, Breary, and Topham had links with Birchall and were members of the congregation at St. Martin's, Micklegate; (fn. 48) Aldermen Micklethwaite, Dickinson, and Allanson had connexions with other Puritan clergymen; (fn. 49) Archbishop Neile regarded Alderman Vaux as the leader of the Puritans in the city. (fn. 50) Moreover, in addition to its continued support of preaching, the corporation displayed its Puritan outlook at this time in several other ways. It reiterated its orders for the observance of Sunday despite the re-issue of the book of sports; (fn. 51) it suspended certain feasts, a practice begun by Hoyle and Vaux in 1621; (fn. 52) it showed a lively interest in Parliament's proposals in 1641 for a preaching ministry; (fn. 53) and it prepared a petition against bishops and church courts in the same year. (fn. 54) Even as late as 1643, when the three principal Puritan aldermen surviving—Hoyle, Allanson, and Vaux—had left the city, the corporation refused to accept a royal nominee as city preacher and clearly wanted Shaw in that place. (fn. 55)
During the thirties relations between the chapter and the city were disrupted by an acrimonious dispute caused by the former's jurisdiction in St. Peter's Liberty and by struggles for the dignity and precedence of the corporation in the minster. The charter of 1632, which infringed capitular rights, was the mainspring of the actions of both sides; (fn. 56) but the situation was complicated by the Puritanism of the corporation and by the dominance of a group of Laudian clergy at the minster, including the chancellor, the precentor, and the archdeacons of York, Cleveland, and the East Riding. (fn. 57) Friction in the minster arose at first from a claim in 1632 that certain seats should be reserved for the aldermen and 'twenty-four'. (fn. 58) In the next year Allanson, the lord mayor, claimed the right to a prominent stall occupied by Archdeacon Wickham. Wickham was eventually persuaded by the Privy Council to give way and this arrangement proved to be lasting, though the lord mayor had to protest his rights in 1664 and 1684. (fn. 59) The second point at issue in the minster was caused by objections from the chapter in 1637 to the lord mayor's wearing the civic insignia when present at services. When the chapter petitioned the king on the subject, it seems that the lord mayor, Vaux, threatened to cease attending services in the minster. The king at first ordered him to go to services without the insignia, but Vaux's resistance was vindicated subsequently when the royal order was cancelled as an infringement of the charter. (fn. 60) The immunity of St. Peter's Liberty from the city's authority engendered three related causes for dispute: the arrest of York citizens by officers of the liberty in the minster yard and elsewhere; the existence of the capitular commission of the peace which claimed authority over the liberty's scattered property in the city; and the failure of the liberty's J.P.s to make assessments for poor relief and other parochial charges. (fn. 61) All these questions, which were aired in the thirties, remained unsettled when the corporation purchased the liberty during the Interregnum, but they seldom arose after 1660 so perhaps an accommodation was reached.
Church life in York, as elsewhere during the Civil War and Interregnum, was disrupted. The clergy of the minster were among early sufferers, for three principal members of the chapter were under impeachment in 1641. (fn. 62) Two years later all cathedral chapters were abolished by Parliament, (fn. 63) although this did not occur in York until the end of the siege, during which large congregations attended the usual services. (fn. 64) Fragmentary evidence points to the dislocation of parochial worship. Some of the city's incumbents fled; the Rector of St. Denys's, for example, escaped from the royalist garrison to Hull, and the Rector of St. Cuthbert's left after the city fell. (fn. 65) Several were ejected as 'malignant' or 'scandalous' ministers. (fn. 66) By 1649 no fewer than twelve livings were vacant, (fn. 67) and the possibility of another unification of parishes was canvassed. (fn. 68) Unauthorized strangers held services in the city, (fn. 69) but among the active preachers there were probably some Anglican clergymen who were permitted to continue in their benefices; there were others who were 'pious' or 'painful and conscientious ministers' and merited the approval of the parliamentary commissioners. (fn. 70) The corporation maintained its support of preachers at various churches during and after the war. (fn. 71) Moreover, in 1645 it successfully petitioned Parliament for an ordinance allowing £600 yearly from the sequestered capitular revenues for the maintenance of four preaching ministers to officiate at the minster and in other churches. Edward Bowles, Thomas Calvert, Nathaniel Rathband, and Theodore Herring were appointed, the two latter being replaced by Peter Williams and Richard Perrott before 1660. (fn. 72) These official preachers, of whom Bowles was the most prominent, were without doubt the principal religious leaders in York during the Interregnum. (fn. 73) The arrangement found so much favour with the corporation that it agreed to maintain the ministers if the sale of capitular lands resulted in a diminution of their stipends. (fn. 74) As late as 1661 it gave approval to an offer by the four preachers to continue their work and supported an appeal for subscriptions to assist them in doing so. (fn. 75)
It is possible that at least a modified form of Presbyterianism was instituted in York with the support of the corporation for it exerted some pressure on citizens to take the Covenant and petitioned in 1646 for the establishment of the Presbyterian system, of which the official ministers seem to have been adherents. (fn. 76) Although it is impossible to determine how far Anglican rites were observed in secret, the use of the prayer book, when detected, was punished. (fn. 77) Quakerism spread after George Fox spoke in the minster in 1651 (fn. 78) but there is little evidence for the activities of the sects in the city. (fn. 79) The corporation again endeavoured to enforce the observance of Sunday and tried to reduce unseemly merry-making by controlling bell-ringing at weddings and funerals; feasting at funerals was banned. (fn. 80) In the absence of ecclesiastical courts, moral offenders and disturbers of church services were punished, often severely, at Quarter Sessions. (fn. 81)
From 1645 the city's committee of the Northern Association controlled the minster, leasing capitular property, carrying out repairs, and selling organ-pipes, plate, and brass. (fn. 82) In 1654 an ordinance vested the unsold revenues of the chapter in the corporation for the use of St. Peter's School and the upkeep of the minster. (fn. 83) In 1646 the same committee had ordered the destruction of all fonts, crucifixes, images, pictures, and stained glass in the churches, (fn. 84) but the extent of survival, especially of stained glass, indicates that this task was perhaps not executed with the vigour intended.
Anglican services had begun again in the minster by 1661 with the re-establishment of the chapter (fn. 85) but complete restoration of Anglican worship and organization was not possible until the Act of Uniformity of 1662. Only the four preaching ministers and the Rector of St. Michael's, Spurriergate, seem to have been unable to make the necessary subscription under the terms of that Act and were ejected. (fn. 86) At least three of the other ministers conducting services in the city before 1661 held livings in 1664. (fn. 87) The archbishop's visitation of 1663, however, indicated a number of deficiencies that required remedy. (fn. 88) In 4 parishes there were presentments for withholding bequests or failing to account for parochial moneys. Irregularities were reported in 6 parishes in the choice of parish clerks, and there were 3 cases of unlicensed midwives and schoolmasters. The churchwardens of 12 parishes were presented for failing to produce registers and terriers; some churches also lacked books of homilies and canons. Dilapidations were alleged in 7 parishes, including St. Mary's, Bishophill, Junior, where Henry and Phineas Mace, ministers during the Interregnum, had failed to keep the vicarage house and its orchard in good order. In the visitation of 1667 (fn. 89) no similar offences were presented which, even allowing for omissions in the return, probably indicates the reassertion of ecclesiastical discipline in the city. A more formidable problem concerned the treatment of dissenters. Non-payment of church rates was alleged in 10 parishes in the visitation of 1663, (fn. 90) and in 9 parishes many habitual or occasional absentees were presented, some being charged with such related offences as presence at clandestine burials and failure to secure baptism for children. Some of the citizens accused of these offences were probably loyal though negligent members of the Church of England, but there can be no doubt that many were nonconformists, some of them Quakers, who deliberately withheld their dues and absented themselves from their parish churches. Similar offences were almost the only ones presented at the visitations of 1667 and 1684. (fn. 91) In the former, for example, absentees were presented in 16 parishes, the greatest number of these offenders being in St. Martin's, Micklegate, where 'Anglo-Puritanism' had flourished before 1640.
Nonconformity spread in York after 1662, encouraged by the ministrations of ejected clergy, of whom Ralph Ward was perhaps the most notable, (fn. 92) and the nonconformist divine Oliver Heywood occasionally preached to congregations in the city. (fn. 93) Presbyterian, Independent, and Baptist places of worship were licensed in 1672. (fn. 94) A number of influential citizens were members of these nonconformist gatherings, including Sir John and Lady Hewley, Sir John Brooke, the Rokebys, Brian Dawson (an ex-alderman), and the widow of Alderman Watson. (fn. 95) Moreover, although Ward and others were eventually brought before the courts for their activities in 1681 and 1684, there was suspicion that some of the magistrates had sympathy with conventicles. (fn. 96) The corporation itself appointed city preachers intermittently between 1662 and 1676, two of those enjoying that position being men who had ministered in York during the Interregnum. (fn. 97) The Quakers grew in numbers, stimulated by Fox's several appearances in the city and undiscouraged by the imprisonment of Friends from all parts of the county in York castle. (fn. 98) They and the Independents were pleased by James's first Declaration of Indulgence in 1687. (fn. 99) Until the eighties the Roman Catholics remained quiescent. Fortyeight recusants were presented in 1663, the largest number being still in St. George's parish under the influence of the Palmes family, (fn. 100) and 58 in 1674, including members of such county families as Vavasour and Fairfax. (fn. 101) The numbers are nearly the same as those returned before 1640. The papists seem to have been encouraged not only by James II's support but also by the foundation of the Bar Convent School and, above all, by the unconcealed presence of several priests in the city. Even so, Reresby reported, possibly with a fair degree of accuracy, that there were only 60 Roman Catholics in York in 1687. (fn. 102) The achievement of toleration in 1689 for Protestant Dissenters gave them the opportunity to possess their own chapels, (fn. 103) but the Roman Catholics, being excluded from the Toleration Act, suffered from a renewed attempt by the magistrates to enforce the penal laws after 1690. (fn. 104)
Opposition to the religious policy of James II came largely from the minster, where the precentor, Thomas Comber, persuaded all the chapter except the dean not to sign a resolution thanking the king for his first Declaration of Indulgence. (fn. 105) In 1688 Comber, who had refused to act on the orders of the new Court of High Commission, convened a meeting to protest against the second Declaration of Indulgence and played some part in the political activities in York at the time. (fn. 106) The attitude of the parochial clergy to James's measures cannot be ascertained but may be partly reflected in the fact that only one incumbent, the Curate of St. Michael-le-Belfrey, became a non-juror together with two of the vicars-choral. (fn. 107) Finally, the laity showed no enthusiasm for the romanizing policy. They celebrated the acquittal of the seven bishops, one of whom, Dr. Lake, had been the victim of the apprentices' Shrove-tide riot in 1673; they attacked the 'masshouse'; and, dissenters apart, seemed to Reresby 'very firm and very quiet of the Church of England'. (fn. 108)