A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 1, the City of Kingston Upon Hull. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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Economy (fn. 1)
Though the geographical conditions which had led to the rise of the town remained unchanged, economic changes in the hinterland during the 18th and early 19th centuries transformed Hull from a small medieval river port to a modern artificially extended one. Improvements in inland transport, together with the rapid growth of industry and population, not only resulted in the expansion of the hinterland but also radically changed the character of its economy. (fn. 2)
The growing woollen and worsted industries of the West Riding were brought into closer contact with Hull by the development of the Aire and Calder Navigation, authorized in 1699. (fn. 3) Cloth which had previously been sent by land from Leeds to York at a cost of 6s. a £100-worth and thence by the Ouse to Hull at as little as 1s. 6d. (fn. 4) could now be sent direct to Hull by water. In 1776 the river navigation was further improved by the construction of a canal from Haddlesey, on the Aire, to Selby, on the Ouse, towards which Hull Corporation subscribed £500; (fn. 5) passengers and goods from Leeds and Wakefield were trans-shipped at Selby to be carried to Hull. In the late 1820s steam tugs were introduced between Hull and Selby, again with support from Hull Corporation. (fn. 6) Selby was exempted from paying dues to the Hull Dock Company, although it formed part of the legal port of Hull until 1828, when it was included in the port of Goole. (fn. 7) Indeed, in that year, Selby was superseded by Goole as a port of trans-shipment between the West Riding and Hull as a result of the completion of the Knottingley and Goole Canal, with connexions to Wakefield and Barnsley. The final important link with the West Riding came in 1834 when the Leeds and Selby Railway was completed, although the continuation of the line from Selby to Hull was not opened until 1840. (fn. 8)
The iron and steel industries of south Yorkshire gained easier access to Hull as a result of efforts to improve the course of the Don. (fn. 9) In the early 18th century the Swedish iron used at Sheffield passed through Hull, but direct communication between the two towns by river was impossible. The route followed was from the Humber by way of the Trent and the Idle to Bawtry, and thence 20 miles overland to Sheffield. (fn. 10) Acts of Parliament of 1726, 1727, 1733, and 1740 (fn. 11) resulted in the creation of a navigable waterway from the Humber to Tinsley, near Sheffield, and in 1819 a canal was completed between Tinsley and Sheffield. (fn. 12)
The Lancashire cotton towns, separated from these waterways by the Pennines, had at first to rely on pack-horse and wagon roads to Wakefield, Doncaster, or Rotherham in order to trade through Hull. (fn. 13) This difficulty was eventually overcome by the construction of three canals across the Pennines. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal was authorized in 1770, opened in part seven years later, and completed in 1816. The Huddersfield Canal, authorized in 1774, linked Huddersfield with the Calder Navigation at Cooper's Bridge. The Rochdale Canal, authorized in 1794, connected the Bridgewater Canal at Manchester with the Calder Navigation at Wakefield. (fn. 14)
The varied industries of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, and even the Birmingham area of Warwickshire were given easier access to Hull as a result of improvements to the Trent and its tributaries and the development of the canal systems connecting with it. At the beginning of the 18th century the Trent was navigable only below Wilden Ferry and its tributaries, the Foss Dike and the Idle, below Lincoln and Bawtry respectively. By the end of the century the Trent was one of the main arteries of Hull's inland trade and Wilden Ferry was connected with Liverpool by the Trent and Mersey Canal, or the Grand Trunk, begun in 1766 and finished in 1777. (fn. 15)
Through this network of rivers and canals the expanding industrial hinterland exported its finished products and imported its raw materials, food, and other requirements. The remarkable growth of the textile industries in the 18th century was clearly reflected in the trade of the port. Indeed, the Yorkshire woollen industry was the chief source of Hull's exports. In the first half of the century exports of woollen cloth fluctuated between 100,000 and 200,000 pieces a year, but by 1768 the number had risen to 307,662 and by 1783 to 402,857. (fn. 16) During the century the content of these exports changed. The traditional kerseys declined markedly and dozens and baize came to form the bulk of the trade, with growing numbers of plains, shalloons, and stuffs. Lancashire cotton was mainly exported to the colonies through Liverpool but cotton velvets, which began to be manufactured in the 1740s, (fn. 17) found a ready market in Europe and were sent through Hull. The number of pieces exported rose from only 20 in 1758 to 8,352 in 1768 and 236,834 in 1783. By 1795 Hull was so important to the Manchester merchants that they described it as 'the key through which our manufacturers can alone find a passage for the markets of Germany, Switzerland, and the borders of Italy'. (fn. 18)
Hull also became the main outlet for the cutlery, tools, stoves, grates, and other hardware produced by the growing iron and steel industries of south Yorkshire, although more of this trade began to go to Liverpool with the opening up of the American market towards the end of the century. (fn. 19) In 1702 little over a ton of manufactured iron goods was exported from Hull but the amount rose to 904 tons in 1758 and 2,267 tons in 1768. In the second half of the century the rate of growth of these exports was slower and, even with the addition of the Birmingham trade, they amounted to only 4,676 tons in 1783. During this period, however, technological change produced increasing supplies of rolled iron. Exports of tinned iron plates rose rapidly from 3,375 pieces in 1758 to 500,000 in 1768 and over 5,000,000 in 1783. In the latter year 12,750 cwt. of iron plates also passed through Hull.
Lead from Derbyshire and Yorkshire mines was another important export from Hull, especially in the middle of the 18th century. The amount of lead and lead shot passing through the port rose from about 2,000 tons at the beginning of the century to 3,347 tons in 1758. Thereafter it declined to 3,244 tons in 1768 and 2,074 tons in 1783. Exports of red lead rose from 1,848 cwt. in 1717 to 24,322 cwt. in 1758 and 81,119 cwt. in 1783. Exports of white lead, which began in the 1730s, rose from 735 cwt. in 1758 to 12,903 cwt. in 1783.
The hosiery of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire and, later, the felt hats of Leicestershire were also sent through Hull. Exports of woollen hose rose from 4,448 dozen pairs in 1702 to 47,850 in 1737, declined to 9,680 in 1768, and rose to 45,510 in 1783. By 1783 the export of felt hats had reached 23,200 dozen. Exports of pottery, from Leeds, Staffordshire, and elsewhere, increased rapidly with the improvement of inland waterways. In 1737 about 15,840 pieces of earthenware passed through Hull. The number rose to 449,970 in 1758, over 1,500,000 in 1768, and over 13,000,000 in 1783.
Most of the countries importing from Hull received the whole range of available goods. In the early part of the century there was a large export trade to Norway and Sweden. In 1728 about one-third of all the ships clearing from Hull went to Scandinavia but the trade declined rapidly in volume and by the second half of the century had ceased to be of any importance. This decline was offset by an increase in the number of ships sailing to Russia, Poland, and Prussia. By 1758 26 ships, one-fifth of all ships leaving Hull in freight, went to Russia and after a slight decline in the 1760s the number rose to about 50 a year in the 1780s. Germany and Holland, however, were the principal markets for exports from Hull throughout the 18th century. In 1717 53 per cent. of the ships clearing from Hull went to Germany and Holland, 47 per cent. in 1758, and 52 per cent. in 1802. The growth of trade with Germany, through Hamburg and Bremen, was particularly marked towards the end of the century. Between 1790 and 1802 the number of ships sailing to Germany rose from 45 to 104, 31 per cent. of all ships clearing from Hull, compared with 21 per cent. sailing to Holland and 14 per cent. to Russia. The Dutch and German ports were valuable to Hull not only for trade with their hinterland but also for their entrepot trade, especially in time of war. In 1780 Hull merchants requested a convoy to escort their ships across the North Sea 'loaded with British manufactures to a very large amount . . . part of these cargoes were intended for the Frankfurt Easter Fair, others to be sent by neutral ships now loading at Hamburg for fairs in Italy'. (fn. 20)
With the remaining areas of the world Hull had little trade. There was some increase in exports to France after the Eden Treaty of 1786. In 1790 some 40 ships sailed to France but although they represented 16 per cent. of the total sailings from Hull they accounted for only 7 per cent. of the total tonnage. With the outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars the number declined to the half-dozen or so a year which had been typical of most of the century. Trade with Flanders, Spain, Portugal, and Italy was of a similar magnitude and of no great importance. Hull's geographical position prevented it from playing a prominent part in the export trade to the western hemisphere although, for the Leeds cloth merchants, Hull appears to have been the most convenient outlet to America until the end of the 18th century. (fn. 21)
In the import trade the greatest demand of the rapidly industrializing hinterland was for raw materials. The import trade was, therefore, larger in volume but smaller in value than the manufactured goods of the export trade. Moreover, the countries which were the chief sources of imports were not necessarily the principal markets for exports. An exception to the general pattern was the trade with Holland and Germany, which exported mainly finished or semi-finished goods with a value for each unit of volume comparable with that of the manufactured goods they imported from Hull.
Until the advent of Cort's process in the 1780s, and indeed for some time afterwards, the British iron and steel industry was heavily dependent upon Swedish iron for the manufacture of high-grade products. (fn. 22) The Sheffield cutlers, ironmasters, and steelmakers consequently played a prominent part in the movement to improve the River Don. (fn. 23) Apart from the interruption caused by the Northern War, the import of Swedish iron grew steadily throughout the early part of the century and continued to be substantial until the effects of the introduction of Cort's process were felt. The tonnage of iron imported through Hull was 2,356 in 1702, only 353 in the war year 1717, 2,581 in 1728, 3,964 in 1737, and 6,058 in 1758. By this time cheaper Russian iron was also available. In 1783 Hull imported 7,879 tons of iron, of which nearly 50 per cent. probably came from Russia.
Timber was another leading import from Scandinavia. In the early part of the century Norway was the principal supplier of deals, or sawn boards, on which customs duties were levied by the hundred of 120 pieces, and not on cubic measurement. (fn. 24) Hull's import of deals from all sources rose from 1,498 hundreds in 1702 to 2,804 in 1758, 3,224 in 1783, and 4,530 in 1796. During the course of the century Hull's timber came increasingly from Russia and Prussia and these cargoes consisted not of deals but of 'common timber', which served largely as pit-props. (fn. 25) Measured in loads of 50 cubic feet, the quantity imported through Hull rose from 1,135 in 1758 to 6,928 in 1783, and to 14,813 in 1796. Smuggling, however, extended even to such a bulky commodity as timber. John Holland, the yard-foreman of the Hull timber merchants Haworth and Stephenson, appears to have been involved in it (fn. 26) and if there were others like him the amount of timber arriving in Hull may have been considerably more than the official figures suggest.
The vegetable products of northern Europe, flax and hemp, were imported for the linen, canvas, and rope industries. They came mostly from the Russian ports of Riga and, later, St. Petersburg. The amount of hemp imported through Hull rose from 838 cwt. in 1702 to 18,132 cwt. in 1737. There was a decline during the Seven Years War, but by 1783 the quantity had risen to 26,974 cwt. and by 1796 to 54,671 cwt., about one-tenth of the total English import. Flax imports rose from 1,679 cwt. in 1702 to 10,168 cwt. in 1717, 17,203 cwt. in 1728, and 29,758 cwt. in 1737. After the interruption caused by the war the expansion continued until by 1783 45,734 cwt., about a quarter of the national total, arrived at Hull. Hemp and flax in the form of yarn or finished cloth were also entering the port in increasing quantities. Raw Dutch linen yarn imports, which came mainly from Hamburg but also from Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Bremen, rose from 37,544 lb. in 1702 to 233,912 lb. in 1717 and, after a decline in the twenties and thirties, to 839,274 lb. in 1758 and 1,842,882 lb. in 1790. On average, during the years 1791–3, nearly 60 per cent. of all the linen yarn entering England passed through Hull. (fn. 27) Finished cloth, principally narrow linen and spruce canvas, came in rapidly increasing quantities in the early part of the century, mainly from Russia but also from Germany and Holland. With the growth of the British linen industry, however, the trade declined sharply in the second half of the century. Linseed, coming first from Danzig and later from Bordeaux and Ostend, was increasingly imported to supply Hull's oil-seed extracting and paint-making industries. (fn. 28)
Imports from Germany and Holland, which probably accounted for about one-fifth of Hull's trade by volume, covered a wide range of products. Finished timber and manufactured wooden goods came in a variety of forms, such as staves, wainscot boards, oars, tubs, pipes, spouts, spinning-wheels, and household furniture. Manufactured metal goods included goldsmiths' melting-pots, chimney backs, and kitchen utensils. At the beginning of the century tin plates were imported in fairly large numbers, rising from 27,540 in 1702 to 170,450 in 1717, and falling to 59,850 in 1728; but this trade declined and finally ceased before the middle of the century as a result of the development of the English tin-plate industry. There was also a growth in the import of scrap iron. From Holland came paper, pasteboard, printed books, toys, and rags for pulping. Germany and Holland were also the principal suppliers of dyestuffs. Imports of madder rose from 1,900 cwt. in 1758 to 6,095 cwt. in 1783, and those of smalts (i.e. powdered blue glass made from cobalt) from 44,579 lb. in 1758 to 226,206 lb. in 1783. Other dyestuffs, together with various drugs and spices, were also imported from these countries.
The only other imports of any great account were tar, pitch, and tobacco. In the early part of the century tar and pitch came from Sweden. In 1702 1,156 barrels were imported, 2,752 in 1717, and 960 in 1737. By the middle of the century, however, tar and pitch came exclusively from America as the result of a government bounty. (fn. 29) America also supplied Hull with tobacco. As early as 1702 42,615 lb. were imported. Between 1742 and 1758 the average annual import was over 400,000 lb., although actual amounts fluctuated between as little as 2,000 lb. and as much as 1,000,000 lb. With the cessation of bounties during the War of Independence, Hull merchants turned once again to the Baltic for their supplies of pitch and tar. Tobacco, on the other hand, continued to arrive after the war, imports amounting to over 1,000,000 lb. in 1792. Much of the tobacco arriving at Hull was re-exported to the Baltic countries: during the years 1742–58, for example, about one-third was re-exported.
In addition to this oversea trade Hull was also an important centre of the coasting trade. (fn. 30) Little of this business, however, was in the hands of Hull merchants. Most of the goods were consigned to or from the merchants and manufacturers of the hinterland by way of the Humber and its tributaries. Hull was the head port where these goods were registered by the customs officers, but apart from the provision of facilities for warehousing or trans-shipment the economy of Hull itself was little affected.
London was the principal English port with which Hull traded. The demands of the hinterland for American and oriental products were met by direct contact with the London merchants who imported them. (fn. 31) Moreover, the growing predominance of London over all other English ports meant that many goods from Europe and the Baltic reached Hull by way of London. The leading commodities shipped from Hull to London were foodstuffs. In 1726 Defoe wrote of Hull: 'The butter of the East and North Ridings, brought down the Ouse to York, the cheese brought down the Trent from Stafford, Warwick, and Cheshire, and the corn from all the counties adjacent, are brought down and shipped off here. . . . Their export of corn, as well to London as to Holland and France, exceeds all of the kind, that is or can be done at any port in England, London excepted.' (fn. 32) In the first six months of 1702 Hull shipped 23,000 qr. of oats to London. By the eighties shipments were running at an average of about 84,000 qr. a year, but the trade fluctuated violently with the harvests. (fn. 33) Lead from Derbyshire and Yorkshire was also shipped from Hull to London, together with a little iron and a wide range of metal goods from Sheffield and later from Birmingham. Building materials, such as pantiles, and a great variety of miscellaneous goods made up the rest of Hull's shipments to London.
Hull also traded with most of the principal ports along the east coasts of England and Scotland, many of which were important sources of wool for the West Riding industry. In 1728 11,823 cwt. of English wool were shipped to Hull, rising to 27,806 cwt. in 1737. Shipments of wool averaged 29,439 cwt. a year in the period 1748–55 (fn. 34) and increased to 41,831 cwt. by 1782. Almost half, 18,894 cwt. in 1782, came from the south of England by way of London, and much of the rest came from East Anglian ports such as Yarmouth and King's Lynn. After 1777, however, as a result of the completion of the Louth Canal, (fn. 35) Grimsby became the main outlet for the Lincolnshire wolds. In 1782 it was second to London in the shipment of wool to Hull, sending 9,456 cwt., more than Yarmouth and Lynn together. Hull also received supplies of grain from the East Anglian ports, together with such commodities as herrings from Yarmouth, rape-seed and linseed, mainly from Wisbech, and malt.
Hull's trade with the remaining east-coast ports was of minor importance. In the early part of the century coal was shipped from Northumberland, but Hull's industrial hinterland soon began to exploit more intensively its own reserves and the Northumberland trade declined. The amount fell from about 5,500 chaldrons in 1728 to 1,062 in 1787 and 1,401 in 1788. Meanwhile, Hull was receiving increasing supplies for internal consumption from the south Yorkshire coalfield by way of the Aire and Calder Navigation: the amount was 30,000 tons in 1792. (fn. 36) To all of the east coast ports Hull shipped a wide range of manufactured goods. There was also a steady re-export of timber for mining purposes to Northumberland and an exchange of shipbuilding materials between Hull and Whitby.
It is difficult to measure the general growth of Hull's trade and to compare it with that of other ports. Statistics of the tonnage of vessels entering and clearing the port give some indication of the volume of foreign trade but no indication of its value (see Table 1). The tonnage entering the port was periodically reduced during war-time conditions: during the War of the Austrian Succession (1739–48), the Seven Years War (1756–63), the American War of Independence (1775–83), and the Napoleonic Wars (1793–1815). The tonnage clearing the port was similarly affected, though it did not share in the rapid rise after the Seven Years War and was less quickly affected by the onset of the Napoleonic Wars. There was also a considerable increase in the coasting trade from about the middle of the 18th century (see Table 2).
The exceptionally high figure for the tonnage of foreign-going vessels entering the port in 1825 has perhaps exaggerated the picture of Hull's decline between 1825 and 1835. The commissioners appointed to inquire into municipal corporations were of the opinion in 1835 that 'the commercial and shipping interests of the town, especially the latter, have greatly declined, and there does not seem much probability of their recovering their former state'. (fn. 37) The high figure for 1825 has been attributed to 'certain custom reductions in the preceding year which greatly stimulated the national importation of wool', and other factors associated with the subsequent decline included competition from the rival port of Goole after 1827 and the general inadequacy of Hull's dock facilities. The high figures of 1825, however, were again reached in 1839. Moreover, the exceptionally high figures for coasting vessels entering the port in 1825 cannot be explained in terms of custom reductions on raw wool. Again, the subsequent decline has been explained by the rise of Goole: 'In 1841 Hull's coastwise tonnage was equalled by that of Goole's and, although it tended to increase, it was less in 1845 than in 1827.' (fn. 38)
|Year||Inwards tons||Outwards tons|
|1709||8,090||5,780 (fn. 438)|
|1766||31,750||16,610 (fn. 439)|
|1779||40,579||23,589 (fn. 438)|
|1790||92,470||44,081 (fn. 441)|
|Year||Inwards tons||Outwards tons|
|1766||39,438||36,062 (fn. 442)|
|1789||101,103||102,587 (fn. 443)|
|1825||239,375||261,401 (fn. 444)|
No doubt all of these factors played their parts in influencing the volume of trade. J. R. McCulloch stated in 1839 that 'The port of Goole has latterly drawn off some portion of the trade of Hull', but he attributed the sharp decline in the number of foreign-going vessels entering the port in 1832 to the cholera epidemic and the interruption of trade with Holland. (fn. 39) The commissioners took the view in 1835 that the rise of Goole 'very materially entrenched upon the trade of Hull, as well its coasting as its foreign trade'. They also mentioned the influence of Grimsby on the coasting trade: 'The business, however, drawn to that place from Hull, is of inconsiderable extent. Still it assists, in decreasing the trade of the latter port.' The commissioners considered that the decline in the import of raw materials was due to 'various causes affecting the sale of those articles generally'. (fn. 40) The general falling off in demand was no doubt as potent a factor as any in the decline of Hull's import trade from the high 1825 level. According to Beveridge's index (fn. 41) 1825 was a year of exceptionally high industrial activity, never surpassed and rarely approached in the whole period from 1785 to 1938.
|Port||1829 (fn. 445) Tons||1835 (fn. 446) Tons|
Another rough indicator of Hull's rate of growth is the tonnage of vessels belonging to the port. This increased throughout the 18th century, rising gradually from over 7,000 in 1702 (fn. 42) to over 20,000 in 1773, and then more sharply to over 37,000 in 1785. (fn. 43) In the latter year the methods of reckoning tonnage and of compiling the statistics were changed, and thereafter all ships had to be registered at the port of ownership whether or not they traded there. (fn. 44) Thus the figures for the years before and after 1786 are not strictly comparable. The tonnage of ships registered at Hull, however, continued to rise sharply from over 52,000 in 1788 to over 65,000 by the end of the century. (fn. 45) The rate of increase then slackened and the tonnage eventually declined. In 1829 Hull's registered tonnage was 72,000, (fn. 46) but by 1835 it had fallen to 64,000. (fn. 47)
These two rather unsatisfactory methods of measuring Hull's rate of growth, the tonnage of vessels using the port and the tonnage of vessels registered there, may also be used for comparing Hull with other ports, although such comparisons are of doubtful value because of differences in the character of the trade of different ports. Throughout the 18th century Hull ranked with London, Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Whitehaven as one of the leading ports of the country, measured by the tonnage of vessels entering and clearing. (fn. 48) Newcastle and Whitehaven, (fn. 49) however, were deeply involved in the coal trade and in terms of foreign trade they were surpassed by Hull. The tonnage of vessels registered at the leading ports (see Table 3) also gives some indication of their relative importance, although the vessels registered at Newcastle, Sunderland, and Whitehaven included large numbers of colliers.
In the early part of the 19th century the direction of Hull's foreign trade was much the same as it had been throughout the 18th century (see Table 4). The main source of imports was the Baltic and the main market for exports was Europe, excluding the Baltic and the Mediterranean areas. Wool, timber, cereals, hemp, and oil-seeds were the chief articles imported, in exchange for cotton-twist, textiles, pottery, lead, and a variety of foodstuffs. In the 1830s cotton-twist, largely from Lancashire, became the greatest single export and wheat, to feed the growing industrial population of the hinterland, was the leading import. There was a small but growing trade with North America, and a small trade with France, Portugal, and the Mediterranean. In 1815 Hull was declared a suitable place for the landing of goods shipped from the East India Company's territory and in 1817 the port sent its first ship, the Harmony, of 429 tons, to Calcutta. Little came of this expedition although an attempt was made to revive the eastern trade after 1835. (fn. 50)
The Direction of Hull's Foreign Trade, 1790–1830 (fn. 447)
Another important branch of Hull's trade was the whale fishery. This provided two products, oil and whalebone, both of which were of much value before coal gas and steel appeared as cheaper substitutes. Hull had played a prominent part in the development of whaling during the 17th century, although London became the leading whaling port. (fn. 51) In the early 18th century Hull imported whale oil from North America, but the outbreak of war there in 1752 led to a temporary decline of the whaling industry and Hull merchants were obliged to seek supplies elsewhere. One of them, James Hamilton, sent his ship the York direct to Greenland in 1754, and others, such as William Welfitt, a tobacco merchant, followed his example. A group of such merchants formed the Hull Whale Fishery and Company which monopolized the trade from 1758 until 1762, when it lapsed with the resumption of American imports. (fn. 52)
In 1766 a duty on oil imported from the colonies, together with an existing bounty to encourage English whaling, led to a revival of the trade in Hull. Samuel Standidge, wholly on his own account, fitted out and sent one ship to the Greenland seas. It returned with one whale and 400 seals. Sealskins were generally thrown overboard, and when the Hull tanners refused 'to foul their tubs with them' Standidge arranged for the skins to be tanned in the country. 'And thus', according to Craggs, 'was the tanning of sealskins introduced first into England; a discovery of such importance having escaped the penetration of the sagacious Hollander; and a thing at that time unprecedented in Europe'. (fn. 53) The success of his voyage led Standidge to despatch three whaling ships in 1768. Others followed his example but it was not until the early 19th century that whaling became an important industry in Hull (see Table 5).
During the most prosperous period of the industry, between 1815 and 1825, Hull was sending one-fifth of the British ships which engaged in the Northern fishery (fn. 54) and producing an average of nearly 5,000 tuns of oil a year. More than 2,000 men were employed in the trade. It was a hazardous occupation for the crews and the ships were frequently damaged. During the period 1772 to 1852 about 4 per cent. of the Hull whalers leaving port never returned. (fn. 55) After 1822 the supply of whales off the eastern shores of Greenland diminished and hunting was increasingly transferred to Davis Strait. (fn. 56) By 1835 whaling was declining, not only at Hull but in Great Britain generally, as a result of the gradual extinction of the northern whale.
Number and Tonnage of Whaling Vessels entering the Port of Hull to Discharge Cargoes, 1790–1832 (fn. 448)
At the beginning of the 18th century much of the shipping trade of Hull was concentrated in the hands of about two dozen merchant houses. In 1702 116 individuals made shipments outwards but 94 of them made fewer than 10 shipments and many made only one or two. Of the remaining merchants, eleven made between 10 and 20 shipments, four made between 20 and 40, and seven more than 40. (fn. 57) Later in the century the degree of concentration was much the same. Of the 174 shipments outwards in the third quarter of 1783 55 were made by two firms, (fn. 58) and in 1793 a petition from the principal merchant houses about the situation of a new dock had 22 signatures. One of the reasons for the constancy of the number of great merchant houses, despite the growing volume of trade, was that until the first dock was opened no merchant could develop a sizeable business who did not own or have access to a private staith. These private wharves were limited in number but far exceeded the area of the public staiths. As a result, new capital could be brought into the shipping trade only by amalgamation with existing firms. In the early 18th century most of the big merchant houses were run by individual proprietors, such as William Crowle, John Thornton, Philip Wilkinson, and Daniel Hoare. Later in the century the partnership was the dominant form of organization. Sons were often brought into the business, as in the case of Joseph Sykes & Sons, or firms such as Williamson & Co., Stephenson & Co., and Wray & Hollingsworth were created.
Merchants tended to specialize in particular trades. It was from Joseph Sykes & Sons, who later secured a virtual monopoly of the trade, that the Huntsmans obtained the supplies of Swedish iron necessary for the production of crucible steel. (fn. 59) But specialization was rarely complete. The timber merchants Haworth & Stephenson handled Norwegian iron, imported hemp and flax from the Baltic, and traded with Holland in ironmongery, lead, and cloths. (fn. 60) The Maisters were principally iron and tar importers, but they also exported lead to France and corn to Portugal and Spain. (fn. 61)
Most of the important merchant houses employed inland correspondents and travellers, and also oversea factors to advise them on the state of the market and to place orders. For several generations such families as the Maisters, Mowlds, and Wilberforces had at least one member representing them in Scandinavia or Russia. (fn. 62) The house of Haworth & Stephenson enjoyed the services of Thomas Fearnley, a merchant who settled in Norway in 1753. In order to evade the customs regulations Fearnley visited the Swedish district of Uddevalla to assemble timber cargoes which were then shipped from Norway. The factor sometimes arranged the means of payment. As soon as a cargo was loaded a bill of exchange was drawn on the importer; it was customarily at two months' sight and for preference payable at London. A more favourable rate on foreign financial centres would occasionally lead to bills being drawn on them. Fearnley, for example, arranged in 1754 to draw on J. A. Crop & Co., of Amsterdam, when it should be of advantage, and did so at thirty days' sight in the same year. The Fearnley letters and accounts also make it clear that some degree of barter persisted throughout the 18th century in the Hull timber trade. (fn. 63) Similar conditions no doubt prevailed in other trades and would help to explain the rarity of complete specialization.
The Hull merchants became a powerful and wealthy group which dominated the life of the town. Many of them were active in politics, local government, and the administration of charities, and they formed effective caucuses in the controversies which surrounded the improvement of the harbour. It is more difficult to assess their wealth than their power. Many of them occupied fine houses in Hull and the surrounding district. Sir Samuel Standidge, who revived the fortunes of whaling in Hull and was sheriff in 1775, mayor in 1795, and Warden of Trinity House in 1777, 1782, 1788, 1795, and 1800, is said to have been worth £76,000 when he died in 1801. His father had left the whole of his property to another son by his first wife, observing that 'Samuel had brains enough to work his own way'. (fn. 64) In 1784 Osbourne, a Hull timber merchant, formed the Glenmore Company and bought the forest of Glenmore from the Duke of Gordon for £20,000. Elizabeth Grant later wrote: 'They made at least double off it, and it had been offered to my uncle Rothie, wood and mountain, glen and lake, for £10,000, and declined as a dear bargain.' (fn. 65) Hull merchants also regularly gave long credits to Sheffield manufacturers 'and thus shared the capitalistic responsibilities of the trade'. (fn. 66)
Trade stimulated the growth of banking and insurance in Hull. The earliest bankers were the wealthier merchants themselves, such as Joseph Pease, who began commercial banking in 1754. (fn. 67) Well-known country banks, such as the East Riding Bank and Smith's of Nottingham, also functioned in Hull. The banks played an important part in financing the trade of the port. Shortly after the East Riding Bank had been acquired by Raikes, Currie & Co. in 1808, some 20 per cent. of its assets were advances to the public, mostly to merchants and traders. The heaviest borrower was the merchant house of Maisters & Parker. Substantial advances to three timber merchants clearly represented the finance of one of Hull's staple import trades. Messrs. Thompson's borrowing averaged £5,979 between 1811 and 1813; Osbourne & Sons averaged £5,680 between 1809 and 1811; and from the end of 1809 to the middle of 1812 the average debit balance of Newmarch & Tealby was £3,748. (fn. 68)
The links between banking and insurance were close. Eight of the 28 underwriters in Hull in 1791–2 were members of families engaged in banking as well as trade. (fn. 69) Messrs. Wilson & Co., insurance agents and brokers, were financed by Raikes, Currie & Co. They received temporary accommodation between 1809 and 1812: £5,479 had been borrowed by the end of 1809, to be followed by a credit balance six months later; £8,552 was due at the end of 1810, and then there were credit balances until the end of 1812, when £899 was due. (fn. 70)
The growth of trade in the 18th century soon rendered the haven inadequate. Goods were loaded and unloaded at the staiths on the west bank of the River Hull or by means of lighters in the river. The east bank of the Hull was not available for the general activities of the port since it was occupied by the fortifications of the Citadel. By the middle of the century agitation for the improvement of the haven had gathered strength but there was much disagreement over the policy to be adopted. (fn. 71) The problem of increasing the capacity of the port was complicated by the intervention of the Commissioners of Customs, who were anxious to prevent smuggling. Evasion of custom duties had been made easy by Acts of 1559 and 1674 (fn. 72) which exempted Hull alone among English ports from the necessity of landing and shipping goods at 'some open place' or legal quay. This anomaly resulted from the character of the west bank of the River Hull, where the congestion of private warehouses and staiths, broken by only occasional public wharves, left no space for a legal quay. The commissioners were determined that a legal quay should be instituted at Hull. The High Street merchants, on the other hand, were anxious to retain their virtual monopoly of landing stages and the 'valuable exemption we now enjoy on the security of Parliament'. (fn. 73) Other merchants, less fortunately placed, were in favour of the building of additional public staiths. The town corporation and Trinity House, torn between the various conflicting interests, recognized the need for action but had no clear policy.
Against this background of controversy the Hull Dock Act was obtained in 1774. (fn. 74) The Act created the Hull Dock Company, the first statutory dock company in Britain. The company was empowered to raise capital of £80,000 in 160 shares of £500. Ultimately only 120 shares of £250 were issued; about 87 per cent. were taken by residents of Hull, Trinity House and the corporation taking ten shares each. (fn. 75) The company was to receive a tonnage duty from ships using the dock, the rate of the duty depending upon length of voyage and nationality. British ships paid between 2d. and 1s. 9d., and foreign ships twice that rate. Coasting vessels plying to or from the Trent, the Ouse, or their tributaries, however, were under certain conditions exempt from the duty. The company had also the valuable privilege of levying wharfage at London rates. The dispute over the legal quay was settled and the rights of the High Street merchants safeguarded by the provision that 'sufferance' goods could still be landed in the haven, on newly-constructed staiths which might project fifteen feet from the river bank and remain open to customs authorities. (fn. 76) Until the 1830s work on the dock and the administration of the dock by-laws were the responsibilities of fifteen unpaid commissioners, nine of whom were elected by the shareholders. Decisions about dividends or dock extension were taken by the whole body of shareholders. Company meetings were ill-attended, however, as an increasing number of shares was held by people living at a distance from Hull. (fn. 77)
The new dock, (fn. 78) 9¾ acres in area, was approached through the old haven. The foundation stone was laid in 1775 and the dock completed three years later; in September 1778 the first ship sailed in. The legal quay was opened for business a year later. (fn. 79) The cost of the dock with its ancillary buildings and approach roads was £83,000. (fn. 80) The costing was originally carried out by John Wooler and John Grundy, and Grundy was retained by the projectors of the dock during the committee stages of the Bill. After the passing of the Act the services of Henry Berry, engineer to the Liverpool Dock Trustees, were obtained. The resident engineer was Luke Holt. (fn. 81)
The Dock Company was an immediate financial success. The first dividend, declared in 1781, was £52 a share, about 21 per cent. on capital paid up. For the original investors who retained their shares until 1803 the dividend averaged 23 per cent. on capital paid up; in that particular year it reached 44 per cent. (fn. 82) The success of the company was due to two factors. First, the company had reduced the amount of capital required from shareholders by obtaining a grant of land from the Crown, by being allowed to levy tonnage duty during the construction of the dock, and by obtaining a grant from the Commissioners of Customs to cover the cost of the legal quay. (fn. 83) Secondly, the growth of shipping using the dock led to a steady rise in tonnage duties. After 1803, however, dividends decreased temporarily as the increasing number of shareholders drew more heavily on the profits, and as money available for dividends was used for repairs to the dock. (fn. 84)
In 1786 there was already agitation for another dock. The Dock Company, however, refused to bear unassisted the cost of building one, and this brought it into conflict with the corporation, Trinity House, and the merchants of Hull. The question was aired again in 1788 and in the 1790s. (fn. 85) The location of any projected dock was also in dispute. The merchants favoured the west side of the town, while the company recommended that the haven be improved, presumably to encourage the establishment of a dock on Garrison Side entered from the haven. So involved were the participants in the controversy over dock accommodation that the creation in 1796 of the Grimsby Haven Company seems to have gone virtually unnoticed by them. This company had the explicit intention of attracting trade away from Hull, and as a result of the early neglect of its work by Hull it had partly achieved its object by the mid-19th century. (fn. 86)
Negotiations for a new dock recommenced in 1800 when there was a prospect of peace in Europe and of an increase in trade which would render existing dock accommodation inadequate. (fn. 87) In 1802 an Act (fn. 88) empowered the company to build a new dock within seven years. Humber Dock, covering 6½ acres, was begun in 1803 and finished in 1809. It lay on the west side of the town, between Myton and Hessle Gates, and had direct access from the Humber. John Rennie and William Chapman designed it, and John Harrop was the resident engineer. The cost was £233,000. (fn. 89) The company found half of the required capital, Trinity House and the corporation a quarter each. The last two were assisted by a grant from the government of land on Garrison Side for which they paid £8,000. The renting and resale of this land, however, did not cover their contributions and both made substantial losses. (fn. 90) Like the first dock, Humber Dock had a small office building beside the lock-pit. These two offices were replaced by a new Dock Office in 1820, at the north end of High Street.
The Act of 1802 also foresaw the construction of a third dock which would connect the other two and provide an alternative approach to the original dock. With the recovery of trade after the Napoleonic Wars the need became more pressing. A parliamentary committee reported in 1825: 'Many instances have lately occurred of ships having performed their voyages from St. Petersburg and other ports in the Baltic to the port of Hull, in less time than ships have of late been able to pass from the River Humber to the Old Dock.' (fn. 91) Controversy again delayed the necessary improvement. The Dock Company wished to increase the existing dock dues to finance the new construction, the High Street interest feared the diversion of business from the old haven, and the corporation was apathetic. It was not until 1827 that work began on the new dock. Junction Dock (renamed Prince's Dock in 1854) was opened in 1829 and covered just over 6 acres lying between Beverley and Myton Gates. The engineer was James Walker. The dock cost £165,000, this sum being borne by the Dock Company with the assistance of loans of £90,000 from the Exchequer and £15,000 from the corporation. The loans were subsequently repaid by a limitation on dividends between 1834 and 1844. (fn. 92) After 1829 vessels preferred to make for Humber Dock and it was estimated that the value of property along the old haven decreased by 20 per cent. in consequence. (fn. 93) Further complaints were made about the inadequacy of the docks in 1835 but no further provision for dock construction was to be made until the Act of 1844. (fn. 94)
Hull was not only slow to provide adequate accommodation for vessels but also charged high rates, since dues had to be paid to the corporation and Trinity House, as well as to the Dock Company. The water-bailiff's dues were payable to the corporation in respect of goods imported and exported, though goods which were the sole property of Hull freemen, in British ships, were exempt. Resident freemen at York and some other places were also exempt from these dues, but if they moved to Hull or elsewhere their exemption ceased. The principal commodity affected by the dues was timber. One merchant, who was not a freeman, estimated in 1833 that he paid about £100 annually in dues to the corporation, and another stated that he had, in the course of the year, shipped from 1,000 to 1,500 tons of merchandise into the port of Grimsby rather than pay the higher dues at Hull. The water-bailiff's dues were carried into the general funds of the corporation and the amount collected was said to be very much greater than the amount expended on the maintenance of the haven. (fn. 95)
The corporation's handling of the construction of the ferry-boat dock was another example of Hull's failure to provide adequate accommodation for shipping. The Act of 1801 which authorized the corporation to enlarge the market-place, and to make a new street leading from it, provided that a dock for ferry-and market-boats should be built on the Crown land which was granted to the corporation. (fn. 96) As the result of the reclamation of land from the Humber the dock eventually built was well to the south of the intended site. In about 1809 the corporation built a timber breakwater, parallel with the new shore, without gates at either end. This 'dock' proved inadequate for the accommodation of all the ferry- and market-boats frequenting Hull. The Act of 1801 did not authorize any charges for the use of the ferry-boat dock, but boats which could not get into it were obliged to go to other landing stages and pay dues. Large sales were made by the corporation, both of the land granted by the Crown and of that reclaimed from the Humber, but no account of the receipts or expenditure was ever made public. It became a matter of complaint that the corporation, in departing from the strict construction of the Act, had preferred its own profit to the convenience of the inhabitants and the good of the public. (fn. 97)
The growth of Hull as a port stimulated the development of industry. Apart from those which might be expected to develop to meet the needs of any populous town, the principal industries of the 18th and early 19th centuries were those associated with shipping and the processing of some of the raw materials which came into the port.
Shipbuilding was the most important industry in the 18th century. Shipbuilders in and around Hull provided vessels not only for Hull and other Yorkshire shipowners but also for the Admiralty. One of the leading Admiralty shipbuilders of the early 18th century was probably John Frame, who in 1693 launched from his yard at Hessle Cliff the 80-gun Humber. Hugh Blaydes, who built fourteen war vessels at Hull and Hessle Cliff between 1739 and 1762, was the most important local shipbuilder of the mid-18th century. Others who were engaged on Admiralty contracts at various times down to the end of the Napoleonic Wars included John Reed, Hodgson & Bryan, Blaydes & Hodgson (at 'Charles Town'), Thomas Walton, Thomas Steemson (at Paull and Thorne), Peter Atkinson, William Gibson, James Shepherd, and Barkworth & Hawkes (at Hessle Cliff). The first steam packet in England is said to have been built on the River Hull, in a Wincolmlee yard, in 1796, under the direction of Furness, from Beverley, and Ashton, a Hull physician. They were subsequently granted a patent and £70 a year each for life by the then Prince Regent. (fn. 98)
By the end of the 18th century the output of the Hull shipbuilding industry compared favourably with that of the other major shipbuilding ports. During the period 1787 to 1799 Hull in most years was one of the three leading ports with reference to the number of ships built: only London consistently surpassed it. By tonnage, however, Hull usually ranked only 4th or 5th, often surpassed by Newcastle, Liverpool, Sunderland, or Whitby, as well as by London. (fn. 99) It is evident that the naval vessels, some of which were well over 1,000 tons, were among the largest vessels built at Hull. (fn. 100) The average tonnage of all ships built there during this period was only 127, much lower than the average tonnage of the naval vessels built there and of the vessels built at the other ports. Around the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industries there grew the usual ancillary trades, such as sail-making, rope-making, and the production of pitch.
The raw materials flowing into Hull gave rise to a number of industries engaged in processing and refining. The oldest of these was the oil-seed extracting industry. There are references to the milling of rape-seed in Hull from the early 16th century and by the middle of the 18th century the industry was well established. As early as 1740 Joseph Pease, later head of the banking firm, had built an oil-mill at the corner of Lowgate and Salthouse Lane, and by the end of the century, when there was a growing demand for linseed oil for cloth-making processes, for paint, and for soap, there were numerous such mills. (fn. 101) In 1796 in one street alone, Wincolmlee, there were 'three wind oil-mills, one belonging to Messrs. Jarratt & Coates, worked by a steam engine, besides horse-mills for the same purpose'. (fn. 102) The growth of the extracting industry is reflected in the quantity of cattle cakes exported: this rose from about 150,000 in 1717 to over 400,000 in 1737. Thereafter exports were recorded in tons, 52 tons being exported in 1758. Similarly, the quantity of linseed brought to Hull rose from 1,902 bushels in 1725 to 18,880 in 1758 and over 66,000 in 1783. English oil-seed was also being brought from East Anglia and from those parts of Yorkshire where flax-growing was developing. (fn. 103) The value of rape and other seed sent to Hull by the Aire and Calder Navigation in 1792 amounted to £9,750. (fn. 104)
Two industries which arose in connexion with the oil extracting industry were the manufacture of paint and the production of machinery for the extraction process. Samuel Tudor is reputed to have founded a paint firm in Hull in 1749 which later became Tudors, Mash & Co. The main development of the industry, however, came in the early 19th century; in 1803 Sissons Bros. began manufacturing paint in Hull, and in 1811 Henry Blundell. White lead was made in Hull from at least the 1740s, and Pickard's factory was established in 1791. (fn. 105) The hydraulic press, invented by Joseph Bramah in 1795, was taken up by the Old Foundry, which was later to become Rose, Downs, and Thompson, specializing in the manufacture of oil-mill machinery. One of Hull's paint firms installed in the early 1820s a plant which had vertical presses with 12-inch rams. This new type of plant gave a great impetus to seed-crushing and remained standard equipment until 1874. (fn. 106)
Other industries concerned with the processing of the raw materials entering the port were the extraction of whale oil, the refining of sugar, and the manufacture of soap. 'Greenland Yards' adjoined the River Hull outside the town; a large sugar-house, probably nine stories high, was built in 1731; (fn. 107) and both sugar and soap were among the 'considerable manufactories' of the town in 1817. (fn. 108) The range of industrial establishments existing at this time is indicated by a map of the town in 1818; there were eleven corn-mills, two sugar-houses, two oil-mills, a whiting-mill, two lead-mills, a glue manufactory, a soapery, a foundry, an engine manufactory, six roperies, and manufactories for making sail-cloth and spinning woollen yarn. (fn. 109)
The earlier fishing industry had fallen into abeyance by the 18th century, but the corporation made frequent attempts to revive it towards the end of the century. In 1773 it began to offer premiums to fishermen who should bring the largest catches to the town, and in 1792 it extended these to include fish brought by land. (fn. 110) The boats claiming these bounties, however, often came from towns other than Hull. (fn. 111) In 1801 the Treasury offered a bounty of £1,500 to promote an ampler supply of fish at Hull, and it was proposed to fit out one or more boats there to fish on the Dogger Bank. In 1821 the corporation employed two trawlers from Plymouth, (fn. 112) but it was not until the 1840s that the industry came to be successfully established. (fn. 113)
It is impossible to estimate the population of Hull for most of the 18th century with any high degree of accuracy. The town husband was ordered in 1778 to make a count of the inhabitants, (fn. 114) but there is no record of action being taken. The first known enumeration is one made in 1792. (fn. 115)
Population of the Town and County of Hull, together with Sculcoates, 1700–1800 (fn. 449)
|Year||Number of baptisms||Town, county and Sculcoates||Town and Sculcoates|
|1710||57||8,253 (fn. 450)||7,758|
|1720||70||9,563 (fn. 451)||8,989|
|1790||191||22,925 (fn. 451)||21,549|
Population of the Town and Sculcoates, 1801–31 (fn. 452)
For the greater part of the century estimates can be made by applying to Hull the method used by Rickman in 1801 to estimate the population of England and Wales. (fn. 116) It has been suggested that Rickman's method had a margin of error of 10–15 per cent. for the whole country, (fn. 117) but the margin may well be greater when the method is applied to a smaller area. In 1801 the population of the town and county of Hull, together with Sculcoates, was 29,516. In the five years 1796–1800 the average annual number of baptisms, in the town and county, reported in the census of 1801 was 225, the information coming from the parishes of North Ferriby with Swanland, Hessle, and St. Mary's, Hull. (fn. 118) The ratio of reported baptisms to population was therefore one to 131. This ratio may be applied to the figures of reported baptisms for the 18th century to give an estimate of the population at ten-yearly intervals. Since this method can establish no more than trends, the fluctuations in the figures of reported baptisms have been reduced, where possible, in Table 6 by the use of moving averages. The population of the county in 1801 was about 6 per cent. of the total population of town, county, and Sculcoates; this percentage has therefore been used to obtain an estimate for the town and Sculcoates alone throughout the century. Comparable figures are available for 1801–31 (see Table 7).
The estimate for 1700 is consistent with that derived from the hearth-tax return of 1673. (fn. 119) The estimate for 1790 approximates to the enumeration made in 1792 by the 'society for literary information'. (fn. 120) The society discovered that Hull, together with Sculcoates, had a population of 22,286 in 5,256 families: an average of 4.2 persons in each family. The number of recorded births, including those of nonconformists and Jews, in 1789–92 was found to average 752 a year, and from this the society deduced a birth-rate of one in 30¼. (fn. 121) Using this rate the society estimated the population to have been 12,964 in 1767 and 15,678 in 1777. Again these figures lend support to the estimates given in Table 6.
The enumerators of 1792 also recorded the average annual number of burials in Hull and Sculcoates in 1789–92 as 662 and deduced a burial-rate of one in 33½. (fn. 122) This rate compared favourably with those of London, Liverpool, and Manchester, which were stated to be one in 21, 27, and 28 respectively. One reason for a low death-rate at Hull was probably its relatively low density of population. In the town itself the density in 1831 was only 34.3 persons to an acre, and in the town and Sculcoates together only 23.6, compared with 113.2 in London, 67.7 in Manchester, and 47.8 in Liverpool. Housing conditions, however, appear to have been worse in Hull in 1801, with 1.7 families to a house (1.6 in Hull and Sculcoates together), compared with 1.5 in both Manchester and Liverpool. (fn. 123)
Improvements in water-supply, sewerage arrangements, refuse disposal, and street paving and cleansing (fn. 124) no doubt also played a part in reducing the death-rate, especially after the mid-18th century. The number of people paying water rates, for example, is said to have doubled between 1777 and 1792. (fn. 125) Improved medical attention for the poor (fn. 126) was no doubt another factor. It is nevertheless clear that the rapid growth in the population of Hull (see Table 8) cannot be attributed solely to natural increase.
Much of the increase was the result of migration, consequent upon the rapid expansion in the port's trade which was particularly marked after about 1780, when the full effects of changes in the hinterland were beginning to be felt. According to the estimates made in 1792 the population increased at the rate of 271 a year in the ten years before the first dock was opened in 1778, and at the rate of 440 a year in the fifteen years following. (fn. 127) The actual gain by migration is difficult to measure in the absence of reliable figures for births and deaths. Some tentative estimates, however, may be made (see Table 9). (fn. 128) These figures suggest that, despite the increasing atten- tion which was given to health and public hygiene, the incidence of disease was high until the closing decades of the 18th century.
|Period||Increase||Natural increase or decrease||Net gain by migration|
There were few formal changes in the government of Hull during the period 1700 to 1835. Its structure remained that established by earlier charters, and the corporate body still consisted of mayor, aldermen, and sheriff. There was no common council to provide a representative element in the town's government, as there usually was elsewhere, a fact stressed by the Municipal Corporations Commissioners in 1835. They found 'more secrecy in the proceedings of the bench, and less consideration and courtesy shown by them to the burgesses than in other corporate towns; which we think is partly attributable to the absence of a body of common council men'. (fn. 129) The autocratic nature of the town's government is well illustrated by the handling of its financial affairs in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 130) The inhabitants were sometimes consulted by the bench and they could bring matters to its attention, meetings being held at the Guildhall for this purpose, (fn. 131) but it is not clear how effective these representations were.
The courts held in the town also continued much as before. The Quarter Sessions, conducted by the mayor and aldermen, (fn. 132) the mayor and sheriff's court, for local civil actions, (fn. 133) and the sheriff's county court (fn. 134) all went unchanged. Assizes continued to be held, too, until transferred to York in the 1790s. (fn. 135) There was, however, one new court, the Court of Requests. This was established by an Act of 1761 for the recovery of debts not exceeding £2, and it was to be held before three commissioners from among the mayor, aldermen, and 30 named townsmen. Its powers were extended to debts of up to £5 in 1808. (fn. 136)
The officers appointed under the town's charters also included the high steward, recorder, coroners, chamberlains, and town clerk. Other officers numbered more than a dozen, some of long standing but others appointed towards the end of this period as the responsibilities of the corporation increased. Such were the superintendent of the ferry-boat dock, appointed under the Act of 1801, the surveyor of property, first appointed in 1803, and the house steward, first appointed in 1823. The dock superintendent was paid only £5 a year, but since no true dock was built his very appointment was criticized before the commissioners in 1833. (fn. 137) The surveyor at first received £84 a year but by 1833 £250. (fn. 138) The house steward took charge of the mansion house and all the premises constituting the Guildhall, and he had a salary of £150 together with various allowances. (fn. 139)
There were notable changes in the salaries of some of the leading officers. That of the mayor was variable, normally between £100 and £150, but in 1784 it was increased to £210. (fn. 140) In 1798, however, the salary was abolished to set an example of economy in the national crisis, (fn. 141) and in 1833 the mayor's only emoluments were dues in kind on fish, apples, potatoes, and coal landed at the port. (fn. 142) Similarly the salary of the town clerk, having been between £20 and £30 for most of the 18th century, was raised to £60 in the 1770s and was £150 in 1830. By 1833 it was £300 and various other duties under the corporation added another £350. (fn. 143) The town's husband, whose responsibilities greatly increased during the 18th and early 19th centuries, (fn. 144) enjoyed a comparable rise in salary. It was increased at least six times before 1800, rising from £25 to £90, stood at £145 by 1810, and was raised to £250 by 1833, exclusive of other emoluments. (fn. 145) One officer who played an important part in the town's financial administration was paid on a pro rata basis by the later 18th century: the water-bailiff, whose 5 per cent. of his gross receipts brought him £250–£300 a year by 1833. (fn. 146)
Many of the officers were appointed by the corporation, but the mayor, aldermen, sheriff, and chamberlains were elected by the freemen. Admission to the freedom of the town continued to be by patrimony, apprenticeship, purchase, or gift. Admission by purchase was rare and the bench normally demanded a high price: payments of between £20 and £42 are recorded before 1767. (fn. 147) In December that year, presumably in connexion with the forthcoming election, (fn. 148) 'many persons' were admitted and for small payments; 92 fines paid into the cash chest totalled only £145. It was promptly resolved that for the future the minimum fine should be £31 10s. (fn. 149) By the early 19th century the fine was very much greater: it was recalled in 1833 that seven freedoms had been purchased during the previous 20 years, for between 100 and 300 guineas each. (fn. 150) Admission by gift was likewise rare, usually accorded for services to the town. William Hammond, for example, got it in 1766 for his father's services; a Bridlington man in 1779 for giving intelligence of enemy vessels off the coast, and the captains of two ships for their action against them; a water-bailiff in 1782 for his work in that office; and Captain Ross in 1833, when he reached Hull after seeking the north-west passage. (fn. 151)
The proportion of freemen in Hull was small. At the time of the 1832 elections there were in the borough, and within a radius of seven miles of it, 1,631 freemen registered and 59 disallowed, making a total of 1,690. The number of non-resident freemen was between 1,000 and 1,200, about 1,000 out-voters usually voting before the passing of the Reform Act. (fn. 152) The commissioners remarked in 1835: 'The freemen are generally persons in a low situation of life, and the manner in which they are bribed shows how little worthy they are of being entrusted with a privilege from which so many of the respectable inhabitants of the town are excluded.' Even the members of the bench, with one exception, agreed that the franchise should be extended to all £10 householders. (fn. 153)
The elections of chamberlains, sheriff, aldermen, and mayor had the appearance of being popular, but in reality they were closely controlled. In addition to the narrowness of the franchise, the bribery of voters crept in towards the end of the 18th century and soon became extensive. The usual bribe in all these elections was from 5s. to 7s. and a jack of rum. The number of voters varied. On some occasions only 200 or 300 voted, on others as many as 700, 1,000, or even 1,300. Most of the voters took bribes. In one election there were 783 voters, of whom 671 took a bribe of 5s. 3d. each. In an election to the office of sheriff, one candidate who offered bribes had 300 votes; the other who did not had only ten. It could easily be arranged between two candidates which of them should succeed and such arrangements were sometimes made. (fn. 154) Moreover, the choice of the burgesses was always confined to the two candidates, or 'lites', nominated by the bench.
The burgesses did not always elect the candidate who had most support from the bench (fn. 155) and by the early 19th century they began to dispute the method of election. In 1803 there were 'riotous and turbulent proceedings' when Thomas Osborne was elected alderman, and several burgesses unsuccessfully challenged the practice of choosing 'lites' in the King's Bench. (fn. 156) In 1805 Aldermen Melling, Etherington, and Bateman insisted that the method of selecting 'lites' for mayor was contrary to usual practice but they were overruled. (fn. 157) In the following year, when the members of the bench were equally divided on the choice of one of the two 'lites' for an aldermanic election, the mayor did not exercise his casting-vote as on previous occasions. (fn. 158) Instead, both names were withdrawn and others brought forward. (fn. 159) In the mayoral election of 1802 Sir Henry Etherington complained to the bench that Alderman Wray had not been successful because 'several false and illiberal reports had been most industriously circulated for the purpose of raising the public clamour' against him. As a consequence Alderman Bolton had been elected 'contrary to the wishes and inclinations of that gentleman as well as the bench who have ever been desirous that the aldermen should have the office in rotation'. (fn. 160)
Refusals to accept office occurred infrequently. The penalty was usually a fine. In 1700–1 William Crowle was elected alderman but did not wish to serve, and a committee was appointed to meet him and negotiate the payment of a £200 fine. Crowle was again elected in 1703 and this time refused either to take office or to pay the fine. Eventually the case was heard at York Assizes and Crowle was ordered to pay £100. (fn. 161) Thereafter the fine for aldermen was usually £300. (fn. 162) A fine of £21 was imposed in 1768 for exoneration from the chamberlainship, and one of £340 in 1747 for alderman and sheriff together. (fn. 163) By 1833 fines for exoneration had become very rare. (fn. 164) Dissenters were excused from taking office, as in the case of Samuel Wright who was nominated as one of the 'lites' for sheriff in 1774 and given leave to withdraw. (fn. 165)
Resignations also sometimes incurred penalties but the practice was rather more flexible than that in connexion with refusals to accept office. In 1712 Alderman Hoare, 'being at this time greatly embarrassed in his circumstances', sought permission to resign from the bench. Not only was this request readily granted but the bench also supplied him with money for the payment of his creditors. (fn. 166) Similarly in 1771 William Wilberforce, the elder, a much-respected alderman who had served 48 years, was allowed to resign on the grounds of age and infirmity. (fn. 167) When William Cookson resigned from the bench in 1775 he was given a pension of £40 a year. (fn. 168) When, however, Alderman Bramston wished to resign because of his 'infirm state of health' he had to pay a fine of £105 in 1793. (fn. 169) In 1767 it was decided that Aldermen Cogan, Watson, and Shaw who were not attending meetings of the bench should be asked to resign. (fn. 170)
There were few changes in the procedure of the corporation. The aldermen were reminded in 1761 that 'when anything is proposed at a meeting of the bench the proposal be made to Mr. Mayor and that only one of the aldermen speak at a time'. (fn. 171) In 1769 it was ordered that aldermen, sheriff, and chamberlains should attend, in their gowns, at the annual election of officers, at Quarter Sessions, and on St. Luke's Day unless they had good excuse; a penalty of £2 2s. was to be imposed for negligence. (fn. 172) In 1778 it was ordered that questions were to be determined 'by ballot instead of voting', but the use of the ballot was soon afterwards confined to questions which could be answered 'Aye' or 'No'. (fn. 173)
The government of Hull remained almost entirely in the hands of the great merchants. Some, as has been seen, were reluctant to take office and others, such as Nathaniel Maister, Richard Sykes, and Samuel Mowld, refused even to become burgesses, preferring to pay water-bailiff's dues to the corporation. (fn. 174) But the normal course for a successful young merchant was to be elected first chamberlain, then sheriff, then alderman, and finally mayor, an office which might be held more than once. Thus Joseph Sykes was chamberlain in 1751, sheriff in 1754, and mayor in 1761 and 1777. (fn. 175)
The management of the corporation's income is to a considerable extent revealed in the accounts of the two chamberlains, but, as in the 17th century, the whole of the town's revenues did not pass through the chamberlains' hands. (fn. 176) The revenues for which they were responsible amounted to some £800–£900 in the early 18th century, rising to over £1,000 after 1730, and twice exceeding £1,500 in the 1750s. By 1761–2 they had fallen back to £1,100, but the town's finances were reorganized in the 1760s (fn. 177) and by 1770–1 the chamberlains' income had reached almost £2,000; it steadily increased to well over £6,000 in 1830–1.
The chief source of income received by the chamberlains was rent from the town's property. Rents rose from some £200 at the beginning of the 18th century to nearly £500 in 1760–1. With the changes of the 1760s they were increased to £1,300 by 1770–1, now including some items which had previously appeared separately in the accounts. The increase seems, however, to have been achieved mainly by the raising of rents, a task undertaken, for example, by a committee appointed in 1767. (fn. 178) Other regular sources of income until the 1760s included the rent of the South Ferry, which had increased from £20 to £35 since the beginning of the century; part of the waterbailiff's dues on goods shipped, which had remained fixed at £40; part of the market tolls, which had increased from £50 to £100; and the revenues from the manor of Myton and sixth part of the manor of Sutton, which had increased from well over £200 to a little over £400. One other notable source was port dues, which the water-bailiff also collected. These were jettage, which sometimes produced over £50 in the early 18th century but subsequently much less; ballast money; and hostage of strangers, which sometimes brought in £50–£100.
During the first twenty years of the 18th century the chamberlains' income was normally more than enough to meet their expenditure; thereafter it was hardly ever so. There were four outstanding categories of expenditure. The first was salaries, which amounted to over £200 at the beginning of the 18th century; they had reached £300 by the 1730s, and were almost £500 in 1780–1 and almost £600 in 1790–1. After that economies were made and the total fell in some years to £400. The second category, repairs and building, sometimes reached £500–£700. Thirdly, the miscellaneous payments made 'by command' were often over £200. And fourthly, expenditure on the corporation's manors usually amounted to £150–£250. By the end of the 18th century the chamberlains accounted for an additional heavy item of expenditure: the payments made to almshouses, which rose to between £300 and £400 in the early 19th century.
Whenever repairs and building placed an intolerable burden upon the chamberlains' regular sources of income they had recourse to money taken from the town's chest— sometimes £100–£200 or more. When the chamberlains had a surplus at the end of the year they paid it into the chest; but, as in the earlier period, (fn. 179) a great deal of money reached the chest without being handled by the chamberlains at all. Water-bailiff's dues, market tolls, weigh-house and waterworks profits, the balance of the mayor's personal account, fines for exoneration from office, payments for the admission of new burgesses, interest on loans made, and the principal of loans raised were all among the moneys paid into the chest. (fn. 180)
This practice explains the stability of the receipts from the market-keeper and the water-bailiff which were accounted for by the chamberlains. The rent paid by the market-keeper for tolls was set at £100 in 1740 and was ordered to be paid to the chamberlains. (fn. 181) When the tolls were managed directly by the corporation in 1742–3, however, the profits amounted to over £270, (fn. 182) and when the tolls were relet in 1750 the rent was raised to £312. (fn. 183) The chamberlains nevertheless still received only £100, and from the 1760s onwards nothing at all: the whole rent then went into the chest. Similarly, the chamberlains' £40 represented only a small proportion of the waterbailiff's dues. It was the amount at which the water-bailiffship had been farmed, but from about 1720 onwards the water-bailiff was a salaried officer and the balance of his profits went into the chest. (fn. 184) Throughout the 18th century the corporation was at pains to enforce these dues and brought suits against those who refused to pay them, if all else failed; in the later years of the century, when the problem was especially acute, a committee was appointed to manage the affairs of the dues. (fn. 185) Large sums were paid into the chest, and after the 1760s probably the whole of the profits. In 1766–7, for example, the chest received £370 from the water-bailiff, in 1767–8 £550, and in 1768–9 £490. The water-bailiff kept his own accounts and took his rewards from the receipts: in 1744 he was said to be given 'salary and samples', in 1768 his salary was increased to £50, and in the 1770s and 1780s he took 1s., later 1s. 6d., in the £ from the receipts. (fn. 186) The weigh-house and waterworks keepers also kept separate accounts, took their salaries, and paid the profits into the chest.
The balance of the mayor's account paid into the chest was rarely very large. He had a rental which increased from £85 to £130 up to 1760, (fn. 187) but most of his income was promptly spent, much of it for the relief of the poor. (fn. 188) The mayor's account was ordered to be abolished in 1792 because it tended 'to create confusion in the accounts of the corporation'. (fn. 189) Fines for exoneration from office made only occasional though substantial contributions to the chest, and payments for the admission of burgesses were also highly variable. (fn. 190) Interest on loans made by the corporation was never a major source of income; £100 was out at 5 per cent. in 1742, for example, and later in the 1740s Alderman Wilberforce was responsible for laying out £300–£400 in bank annuities. (fn. 191) Again, in the 1750s the corporation lent £300, at 4 per cent. to help the Corporation of the Poor to obtain its new Act of Parliament. (fn. 192) Dividends of a few pounds were still received on bank annuities later in the century. (fn. 193) Dividends of a different kind were received after the corporation bought shares in the Dock Company: in 1795–6 they amounted to about £500 and in 1801–2 £1,100. (fn. 194)
Money borrowed by the corporation made a larger contribution to the chest. When the corporation bought out the other shareholders in the waterworks in 1765, (fn. 195) for example, it not only paid interest on the purchase money but also had to seek loans to pay it off. Richard Sykes lent £1,000 for this in 1766. In 1770, perhaps also in connexion with the waterworks, the corporation arranged to borrow £1,000 from Joseph Pease at 4½ per cent. (fn. 196) By 1788–9 loans of this kind totalled £4,800, mostly at 4½ per cent. interest, including £2,000 lent by William Walker and £1,000 by Robert Wray; (fn. 197) by 1795–6 they had reached £11,300. (fn. 198) The practice of obtaining money by offering annuities seems to have begun in 1781, when £200 was borrowed in this way. When Hull advertised in the York Courant for £3,000 in 1784 at least four prospective annuitants replied, and the following year £1,780 was borrowed from eight people at returns ranging from 6 to 14 per cent. In 1796 over £5,600 was held on annuities, and by 1808 the corporation had as many as 112 annuitants. (fn. 199)
No single person had control of the chest. It was laid down in 1743 that money should be removed from it only on the order of the bench, and in 1745 the keys of its three locks were held by the corporation's treasurer, the mayor, and an alderman. The 1743 order was rescinded in 1765 when it was ordered that the chest might be opened in the presence of the mayor, or the treasurer, or of any two aldermen. (fn. 200) The treasurer was responsible at different times for receiving money that was to be paid into the chest, (fn. 201) but his precise role is not clear; he may have been appointed under the terms of the County Rates Act of 1739, (fn. 202) and he may have helped to keep the chest accounts. (fn. 203) After 1792, however, these accounts were kept solely by the town's husband. (fn. 204)
The reorganization of the town's finances which took place in the 1760s was, as already noted, marked by some increased revenues and by the transfer of some receipts from the chamberlains' accounts to the chest accounts. The chief feature of this reorganization, however, was the supplanting of the chamberlains by the town's husband, or common officer. The husband's traditional function was the conservation of the corporation's property, but during the course of the 18th century his duties were gradually enlarged. He collected arrears of rent in 1732. He received the balances of the weigh-house account in 1737 and of the waterhouse account in 1739. He supervised the market-keeper's accounts in 1742 and received his rent in 1750. (fn. 205) And he continually had money from the chest to pay workmen's bills. He was ordered in 1758 to make various disbursements approved by the bench, to draw up a rental of corporate property, and to give each alderman a quarterly account of the state of the town's money. (fn. 206) By 1761 he was infringing further upon the chamberlains' duties: the chamberlains were ordered to pay part of their balance to the treasurer, the rest of the balance 'appearing to the bench to be due . . . from the town husband'. (fn. 207) Finally, in 1766 the corporation decided to indemnify the chamberlains if they employed the husband to collect their rents. (fn. 208) When a committee was appointed to examine the state of the town's finances in 1779 it was natural that the husband should be asked to provide them with information; (fn. 209) and in 1792 the bench reaffirmed the principle that the husband was alone responsible for the corporation accounts. (fn. 210)
The question was fully aired before the commissioners investigating the state of the corporation in 1833. They heard that the chamberlains' office was merely nominal, that the husband had fully taken over their duties in 1766, and that the husband had been keeping their accounts even before that. A complete change in the form of the surviving accounts suggests that the latter practice began in 1762–3. For keeping the accounts, still in their names, the chamberlains each paid the husband £6 16s. 6d. a year. But they were not even permitted to see the accounts and, since the husband was appointed by the bench, the state of the corporation's finances could be kept secret from the burgesses and from every town officer in whose election the burgesses participated. Moreover, the finance committee which examined the husband's accounts consisted of members of the bench: in 1833 two of the four committee-men were also sureties for the husband, and one was his father. The general auditors, furthermore, were appointed by the bench and were either members of, or closely connected with, the bench; their audit was 'confessedly nominal'. (fn. 211)
The husband had thus assumed responsibility for both the chamberlains' accounts and the cash chest. He was ordered in 1792 to prepare an annual account of all the town's revenues and expenditure. (fn. 212) For several years around 1800 comprehensive accounts exist, and though the identity of the accountant is not stated he was presumably the husband. (fn. 213) Comparison with the chamberlains' accounts shows how important the chest was at this time. In 1796–7, for example, the chamberlains' accounts show revenues of £3,272 and expenditure of £3,258, but the totals in the comprehensive account are £4,623 and £4,722. The chief item of income which did not appear in the chamberlains' accounts remained the water-bailiff's dues: these produced about £1,000 in 1794–5, £1,700 in 1795–6, £1,300 in 1796–7, and £1,900 in 1801–2. The average income from this source in 1830–2 was almost £4,000, nearly half arising from dues on goods, the rest from port dues. (fn. 214)
The authority of the corporation for the administration of poor relief had passed as early as 1698 to a separate body, the Corporation of the Poor. (fn. 215) It was not until late in the 18th century, however, that the corporation suffered any further loss of responsibility. In the sphere of street improvement the Act secured in 1755 (fn. 216) had confirmed the corporation's authority, and in 1761 it had been empowered to collect rates for street cleansing and lighting. (fn. 217) The administration of this work was in 1763 entrusted to the churchwardens of Holy Trinity and St. Mary's, and the rates were to be set by specially elected assessors. (fn. 218) The inadequacy of these measures led to the appointment of a body of commissioners in 1810 to administer the watching, lighting, and cleansing of the Old Town and the districts of Myton and Trippett. The parish of Sculcoates, which was not brought within the borough until 1837, had been administered by a similar body of commissioners since 1801.
The Act of 1810 (fn. 219) appointed some 110 commissioners, including the mayor, recorder, aldermen, and town clerk. Qualifications for commissioners included the possession of property worth £100 a year or of personal estate worth £3,000; Quakers were specifically made eligible for election, a significant change from the practice of the corporation. The assessors elected in accordance with the Act of 1763 continued to be responsible for the rates in the Old Town and in Trippett, but the commissioners had sole responsibility in Myton. The commissioners were also empowered to raise loans and, with the corporation's approval, to make mortgages upon the rates; such approval was given soon after the passing of the Act. (fn. 220) The Sculcoates Act of 1801 (fn. 221) had appointed about 40 commissioners, with similar powers to those later given to the Hull and Myton Commissioners.
Though some inconvenience arose from the division of responsibility between the corporation and the Hull and Myton Commissioners, it was said in 1833 that the two bodies had worked harmoniously together. The large number of commissioners appointed in 1810 was later much reduced, and in 1833 there were 40–50 of them. (fn. 222) It seems likely that substantial improvements were made by both sets of commissioners. (fn. 223) The Sculcoates body was spending over £1,400 a year on improvements in 1802–7 and nearly £1,300 a year in 1823–8. (fn. 224)
As the reform agitation gathered momentum the inhabitants of Hull became increasingly critical of their system of local government. They found a willing leader in James Acland, who came to live in the town in 1831 and published a weekly periodical, the Hull Portfolio. 'From August, 1831, until November, 1832', reported the commissioners in 1835, 'the public peace in the town was constantly broken by the assemblage of mobs, and the committal of the most daring and outrageous acts of violence'. (fn. 225) Acland addressed nightly meetings in the streets on the iniquities of the corporation, during which 'persons going about their ordinary business were frequently molested and assaulted by the mob'. (fn. 226) On one occasion the sergeant to the Court of Requests was seized and brought before Acland by the mob, and a solicitor who intervened to protect him was, on Acland's instructions, hooted through the streets by a large crowd. (fn. 227)
Acland soon questioned the legality of the market tolls. These had last been regulated by the bench in 1771 (fn. 228) and were the source of much dissatisfaction. (fn. 229) Acland persuaded stallkeepers to resist payment and in November 1831 himself erected a stall in front of the statue of King William, selling amongst other things his Portfolio and refusing to pay stallage. (fn. 230) A great crowd assembled and it was said that 'the peace of the town on that occasion [was] entirely in the control of Mr. Acland'. No attempt was made to prevent the opening of the stall or to disperse the meeting. (fn. 231)
Acland also attacked the lessees of the Humber ferry and chartered a steamboat to carry passengers and goods at a low rate. (fn. 232) He also toured the bridges of the town, refusing to pay the tolls, and he organized an anti-toll association. So great was the excitement that on 23 November 1,000 special constables were sworn in to preserve the peace. (fn. 233) Legal proceedings against Acland for libel were taken by the corporation in the King's Bench, but in February 1832 the case was adjourned until the following term. Acland returned to a great popular welcome in Hull. On 31 March he was tried at York for his activities in connexion with the ferry; he was found guilty but was ordered to pay only a farthing damages. Since he could not pay the costs of £270, however, Acland barricaded himself in his house to avoid arrest. Soon afterwards he was elected as a churchwarden of Holy Trinity, at the head of the poll. In May the corporation brought another action against him in the matter of the tolls, and the stallkeepers contributed £250 towards Acland's defence. He was subsequently imprisoned for failing to pay the 'ferry trial' costs, and at the Assizes in August he was convicted of libel against one of the trustees of Cogan's Charity, as well as in the corporation's action against him. (fn. 234)
When the time came, in September, for the election of town officers, Acland, though not a burgess, and a confederate offered themselves for election as chamberlains in opposition to the four official candidates. It is said that they received 162 and 158 votes respectively. (fn. 235) While the magistrates were at church disorder increased; 170 pensioners, sworn-in as special constables, were in attendance and before the service ended 300 more had been sworn. All the constables who had been sworn on 23 November 1831 were also called out but only seven of them responded. The constables were attacked by the mob and order was restored only with the aid of cavalry; Acland was arrested. (fn. 236)
Soon afterwards Acland announced his intention of standing as Radical candidate for Hull in the forthcoming general election. This led to further unrest, and over 500 townsmen signed a declaration 'to support the magistracy in all legal and proper measures . . . for repressing these violent and disorderly proceedings'. About this time Acland opened a shop, his 'Anti-Corporative Castle', for the sale of 'Anti-Corporate tea', 'Public Opinion coffee', and 'Radical tobacco'. By November he was in the King's Bench prison and was subsequently sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment at Bury St. Edmunds. He continued to publish his Portfolio, however, and stood as candidate in the general election of December 1832, whilst in prison. (fn. 237) He received only 433 votes. (fn. 238) In 1834 he wrote from Hull prison to ask his followers, if any were left, 'for assistance in his hour of need'; (fn. 239) but the excitement of the passing of the Reform Bill was over, a commission had been appointed to inquire into the municipalities, and Acland was soon forgotten in Hull. (fn. 240)
The commissioners in 1835 called attention to the many unsatisfactory features of local government in Hull. They did not subscribe to the view that all the discontent in the town was due to Acland: 'Mr. Acland, the evidence established, had cherished, not kindled the flame, and roused the lurking discontent into action'. (fn. 241) They found much dissatisfaction with the electoral system, the narrowness of the franchise, and the auditing and control of the accounts. There were also some complaints about the administration of justice. (fn. 242) The corporation was also criticized for the secrecy surrounding its dealings with the rival gas companies in the town, for deficiencies in the supply of water, and for its handling of the market-and ferry-boats. The commissioners felt that the disturbances of 1831–2 'plainly show the great extent of disunion prevailing betwixt the governing body of the corporation and the inhabitants of the town'. (fn. 243) They commented adversely on the failure of the magistrates and the police to maintain order. (fn. 244)
The Trinity House refused to submit to a full investigation by the commissioners on the ground that the House was not a municipal corporation but a charitable one. The commissioners argued, however, that the governing body possessed, if it did not exercise, extensive judicial authority over the pilots and mariners of the port of Hull. They therefore collected what evidence they could without the co-operation of the House. They concluded that 'it was represented by several merchants of the highest respectability, that great dissatisfaction has long existed as to this corporation, and they concurred in attributing all the existing evils to the closeness of the system, to selfelection, irresponsibility, secrecy, and partiality'. (fn. 245)
For long periods during the 18th and early 19th centuries Hull, like other boroughs, was represented by men chosen with little or no regard for their political affiliations. Some of them were local country gentlemen, others were Hull merchants. Frequently a local squire and a merchant sat together, and such combinations may have given Hull its most effective representation. National issues played as little part in Hull politics during the 18th century as they did elsewhere, and it was usually on account of local circumstances that sitting members were defeated or withdrew their candidature. In the 19th century, moreover, the growing zest of the freemen for a contest often led them to give indiscriminate support to the 'third man' who caused the election to be contested.
The members were expected to work for local legislation desired by the corporation, to seek naval protection for Hull ships and to arrange convoys during war-time, (fn. 246) and to obtain special favours for their supporters. Their duties were often arduous. The younger Pitt is said to have limited Members of Parliament to receiving fifteen letters and sending ten letters a day, free of charge, after consulting Samuel Thornton about his parliamentary correspondence during a period of much local business. (fn. 247) And when Hull's members were striving to secure the Improvement Act of 1764, the mayor suggested that 'it was some such long affair that killed old Mr. Carter'. (fn. 248)
The government exerted considerable influence at Hull, a garrison town, through the military governor. One governor, General Pulteney, was elected one of the town's members in 1744; and Lord Robert Manners owed some of his success to his appointment as lieutenant governor in 1749. Custom house and excise officers were also influential. Lord Robert Manners is said to have told them how to vote in the election of 1774, (fn. 249) for instance. They were disfranchised in 1782, but their posts continued to provide the government with patronage, and the customs men had powers of persuasion over local merchants, who naturally wished to stand well with them.
The corporation also wielded some political influence. The sheriff was the returning officer; and the bench could control the admission of freemen, though it seems to have abused this power only rarely. (fn. 250) Purchase of freedom, at any rate, was unusual and expensive. (fn. 251) The number of freemen rose steadily. In the earlier 18th century it stood at about 900, increasing to some 1,200 between 1754 and 1790, and to 2,500 by 1832. Under the Reform Act of 1832 the franchise was extended to £10 householders, the resident freemen retaining the vote. The boundaries of the parliamentary borough were also enlarged by the Act. Two other bodies played a part in local politics: the Dock Company, after its creation in 1774, and Trinity House. The House tried to exercise a corporate influence on elections in the early 18th century, (fn. 252) and later appears to have been a stronghold of the parliamentary opposition.
Among local families powerful in Hull politics were the Maisters and the Sykes. The branch of the Sykes family at Sledmere declined in influence, but the family of Joseph Sykes, of West Ella, kept in close touch with municipal affairs, especially through Joseph's sons, the Revd. Richard Sykes and Daniel Sykes. (fn. 253) Many other Hull merchants influenced the votes of the lesser freemen. Thomas Williamson and his partner William Waller, for example, were regarded as 'the most powerful interest in Hull' in the 1780s. (fn. 254) Wider political interests also played a part. For a considerable period the most influential figures at Hull were the Marquess of Rockingham, who was chosen High Steward of Hull in 1766, (fn. 255) and Sir George Savile. In 1766–80 and 1782–4 one member was always their nominee. After Rockingham's death, moreover, the candidates of his heir, Lord Fitzwilliam, represented the town in 1790–6, 1806–7, and 1818–20. Both Daniel Sykes and W. B. Wrightson should also probably be counted as belonging to Fitzwilliam's interest.
By 1792 it could be said that for more than 30 years the poorer freemen had habitually been paid £2 2s. for each vote, and that they regarded this money 'as a sort of birthright'. (fn. 256) It was the custom to make these payments even when there was no contest. Polling money was certainly paid in 1766 (fn. 257) and 1768, (fn. 258) and the sums are clearly revealed in the accounts of Walter Spencer Stanhope in 1784 and 1796. (fn. 259) It made Hull an expensive seat to fight, for the other expenses of an election were also heavy. (fn. 260) The election of 1768 cost Weddell £5,000, Manners £6,200, and even the defeated Capt. Lee £3,000. (fn. 261) Wilberforce spent £8,000 in 1780 and £5,000 in 1784, (fn. 262) and the uncontested election of the latter year cost Stanhope £3,000. (fn. 263) In 1790 Fitzwilliam gave £5,000 to support Lord Burford's campaign, and Burford himself had to find £2,500. (fn. 264) Stanhope paid over £1,300 to 620 voters in 1796, his other expenses amounting to over £1,500, (fn. 265) and in the same election Sir Charles Turner spent at least £8,000. (fn. 266) It cost £8,500 to elect Graham in 1818, (fn. 267) and Wrightson spent £5,400 to hold his seat from 1830 to 1832. (fn. 268)
Sir William St. Quintin and William Maister represented Hull from 1700 to 1716. Both were Whigs, (fn. 269) and indeed for so long as the labels of Whig and Tory had any meaning in the earlier 18th century Hull always returned Whig members, with the possible exception of Richard Crowle. Maister was succeeded, at his death in 1716, by his brother-in-law Nathaniel Rogers, another Hull merchant. St. Quintin and Rogers were re-elected in 1722, despite a strong challenge by George Crowle. (fn. 270) In 1724, after St. Quintin's death, Crowle stood again in opposition to Sir Henry Hoghton. The government and the corporation supported Hoghton, but Crowle had the backing of Trinity House, despite Hoghton's attempts to secure it. (fn. 271) It was an exciting election. Many freemen were admitted and it was alleged that there was discrimination against Crowle's adherents. Hoghton paid much money for votes, but as a stranger and a Presbyterian he was unpopular in the town and Crowle was elected. (fn. 272)
In 1727 Crowle was returned with Viscount Micklethwaite, who had estates in the East Riding. The unsuccessful candidate was Matthew St. Quintin, who received little support in spite of his uncle's long connexion with the town. (fn. 273) Micklethwaite died in 1734 and was succeeded by Henry Maister, son of William Maister, without a contest. (fn. 274) Crowle and Maister were returned in the general election later that year against only token opposition. In 1741 Crowle was again returned, his colleague being William Carter, a Lincolnshire squire. (fn. 275) Maister retired reluctantly, (fn. 276) and he again thought of standing in 1744 after Carter's death. (fn. 277) Carter's place was then taken without opposition, however, by General Harry Pulteney. At the general election of 1747 Pulteney, Richard Sykes, of Sledmere, and Sir William Milner all thought of standing, (fn. 278) but the eventual government candidates were Thomas Carter and Lord Robert Manners. Carter, the son of William Carter, believed himself to be well supported among the place-men. (fn. 279) The unsuccessful opponent was Richard Crowle, who stood without the support of his brother George who 'plumped' for Manners. (fn. 280)
In 1754, however, Crowle had many more votes than Manners when they defeated Henry Maister's son, another Henry. (fn. 281) Crowle came to be regarded as either an opposition Whig or a Tory, (fn. 282) and at his death in 1757 he was succeeded by a local government follower Sir George Metham, who had property near Hull. (fn. 283) Metham and Manners were returned unopposed in 1761. During the short Rockingham administration Metham accepted a minor office and vacated his seat; he was replaced by a nominee of Rockingham and Savile, William Weddell, of Newby. Weddell remained loyal to his patrons after Rockingham's fall, but Manners supported every administration except that of Rockingham. Weddell and Manners were challenged at the general election of 1768 by Capt. Thomas Lee, a native of Hull, who had some naval support and who claimed that the 40 customs officers would vote for him. (fn. 284) Despite a mixed reception during their campaign (fn. 285) Weddell and Manners were comfortably elected.
By 1774 the situation had greatly changed. William Hammond, Rockingham's chief supporter in Hull, now wanted to bring in two Rockingham members. The corporation, however, assured Manners of its support (fn. 286) and Weddell was himself being criticized in the town. In due course David Hartley, a close friend of Savile, stood in place of Weddell, and he and Manners defeated the third candidate, Capt. Thomas Shirley, by a narrow margin. (fn. 287) Hartley, however, was never fully accepted by the Rockingham group; (fn. 288) he also became extremely unpopular in Hull, perhaps because of his economy in paying polling money, his criticism of the views of the corporation on the American war, and the anti-Catholic feeling of the period. (fn. 289) By the time of the election of 1780, moreover, William Wilberforce, the younger, had appeared as a candidate, and he won handsomely, Manners being returned with him. Nevertheless, when Manners died in 1782 Hartley succeeded him without opposition: this was during the second Rockingham administration and Hartley was thus a government supporter. Both Robert Manners, Lord Robert Manners's son, and Henry Thornton canvassed the town but did not stand. (fn. 290)
After Rockingham's death Hartley supported the Fox-North coalition and suffered from its general unpopularity. Wilberforce, who opposed the coalition, stood at Hull in 1784 with his cousin Samuel Thornton, a wealthy Hull merchant. Hartley was well beaten. Wilberforce gave up the seat, however, when he was elected also for the county, and he gave his support in the by-election to Walter Spencer Stanhope, (fn. 291) who in the event was returned unopposed. (fn. 292) Hull was thus represented until 1790 by two government supporters, but the opposition did not easily acquiesce in the total loss of the town. Stanhope's position was in any case weak: he had not been the genuine choice of the town and he was not eager to spend money. (fn. 293) But while Stanhope was unpopular (fn. 294) Thornton's position was regarded as secure through his commercial interests and nonconformist connexions. (fn. 295)
The opposition candidate chosen by Lord Fitzwilliam was a relative, Lord Burford, who, through his wife, had connexions with Hull. Burford's candidature was threatened by the embarrassment felt by Sir Henry Etherington, Lady Burford's uncle, and by William Hammond in supporting an opposition candidate. (fn. 296) Both these men, however, played their parts in ensuring Burford's election in 1790. Thornton himself seems to have been impressed by Burford's strength at Hull, (fn. 297) where over 1,100 freemen promised to vote for him. (fn. 298) Burford's opponents could find nobody willing to stand, (fn. 299) and, since Stanhope retired on the ground of ill-health, (fn. 300) there was no contest.
Burford was said to be popular in Hull, (fn. 301) but he did not stand at the general election of 1796 because of the political misfortunes of his patron, Lord Fitzwilliam. (fn. 302) Mark Sykes, of Sledmere, refused to stand (fn. 303) but at the last moment a third candidate, Sir Charles Turner, appeared to oppose Thornton and Stanhope. Richard Sykes, working on behalf of Fitzwilliam, eventually engineered the election of Turner and Thornton. To Sykes Turner seemed more likely than Stanhope to become in the future a supporter of Fitzwilliam. (fn. 304) Stanhope's friends were bitter at the result (fn. 305) but could not challenge it since he and Thornton were political allies.
Turner was the first successful 'third man', a candidate, that is to say, who had been nominated merely to make a contest. If a third man did not intend to stand again he could afford to neglect his constituents, and this was the case with Turner. The corporation came to address its requests for services to Thornton alone (fn. 306) and his prestige was consequently increased, especially after he obtained the Dock Act of 1802. The corporation, (fn. 307) Trinity House, and the Dock Company all supported him at the election of that year.
Fitzwilliam chose W. J. Denison, a Whig, as his candidate and visited Hull in 1801 to 'coax up an interest' for him. In the same year Fitzwilliam also became high steward of the town. (fn. 308) Denison was criticized, however, for not immediately courting the burgesses himself and feelers were put out for another candidate. Nearly 700 freemen, moreover, pledged themselves to support a third man. (fn. 309) As a result a local bookseller, William Bell, announced his candidature, attacking corruption and, by implication, undertaking not to pay polling money. He believed—or pretended to believe—that the 700 freemen had meant to support him, later confessed to having misunderstood them, and withdrew. (fn. 310) A third man had meanwhile been chosen: John Staniforth, who had the support of his uncle Philip Green, a local merchant. (fn. 311) On the second day of the poll another candidate was nominated to take votes from Staniforth, who countered by nominating Green, but both names were soon withdrawn. (fn. 312) Finally, Bell decided to stand in a token protest against corruption. Thornton and Staniforth finished far ahead of Denison, and Bell got three votes. (fn. 313)
The advantages of being a third man were again demonstrated at the general election of 1806. Denison had decided not to stand and Fitzwilliam played no part in the election. (fn. 314) Though Thornton's position was thought to be weak, he and Staniforth seemed likely to be returned without opposition. To satisfy the freemen, however, the Sykeses put up Denison (fn. 315) and Thornton was defeated. The fall of the government produced another general election in the following year. Denison refused to stand because of a 'sort of despair about the country and a weariness of the teasing requests of his constituents'. (fn. 316) An attempt was made to put up Samuel Thornton's son John, (fn. 317) and this allowed Lord Mahon, a Whig, to stand as the third man. Thornton, however, refused to pay polling money and withdrew, (fn. 318) leaving Staniforth and Mahon to be returned unopposed.
At the general election of 1812 Mahon, despite his absence from the country and his unpopularity, was expected to be re-elected. (fn. 319) The freemen, however, were determined for a contest and eventually secured G. W. Denys, who was on his way to contest Beverley, as their third man. (fn. 320) Staniforth and Denys were comfortably returned. The Fitzwilliam interest was unrepresented until the general election of 1818. There were several prospective candidates in the field, (fn. 321) including Staniforth and John Mitchell, a Tory of a wealthy West Indian family. Richard Sykes did not favour trying to defeat either of them. (fn. 322) Fitzwilliam, however, chose J. R. G. Graham, who was able to enter the contest as the third man. Graham, a Whig, stood for peace, retrenchment, moderate parliamentary reform, Roman Catholic emancipation, and the abolition of slavery. (fn. 323) Staniforth was criticized for not opposing the suspension of habeas corpus and the activities of 'Oliver the Spy', but he was praised for his opposition to the Corn Law of 1815. (fn. 324) He was in financial difficulties and was enabled to stay in the field only by a subscription raised by his friends. Mitchell headed the poll, with Graham narrowly ahead of Staniforth, and there was a scrutiny before the result was confirmed. Of the £8,500 spent by Graham, £2,000 was for the scrutiny and £2,500 for polling money; Fitzwilliam appears to have borne the brunt of the burden. (fn. 325)
Graham was nevertheless unwilling to stand again at the general election of 1820, for even an uncontested election would have cost over £3,000. (fn. 326) Mitchell, despite his unpopularity, (fn. 327) was prepared to stand and eventually Daniel Sykes, Recorder of Hull, stood as a Whig with him. They were returned unopposed. The election cost Sykes only £300, but he felt obliged to pay an additional £2,000 in polling money and a family subscription was raised to help him do so. (fn. 328)
The general election of 1826 saw a return to previous practices. Some 700 freemen promised support for a third man, and this position was filled by A.J. O'Neill, a government supporter. O'Neill advocated free trade and a modification of the Corn Laws, but was opposed to Roman Catholic emancipation. (fn. 329) Mitchell withdrew, but Sykes, though he feared the expense, was persuaded to stand: he was strongly supported as a local man, and was said to be surrounded by 'Whigs and Tories, Loyalists and Radicals'. (fn. 330) Mitchell's withdrawal enabled C. P. Villiers, who had been living in Hull to assist his brother in the election at Hedon, (fn. 331) to enter the field, but O'Neill and Sykes were elected.
At the general election of 1830 Sykes and O'Neill both retired, the former preferring to contest Beverley. The third man, T. G. Burke, was thus left in sole possession of the field. The freemen, however, put forward George Schonswar, and Sykes nominated W. B. Wrightson, whom he described as 'a good Liberal'. (fn. 332) Burke was defeated, the only third man not to be elected at Hull. In 1831 Schonswar and Wrightson were re-elected unopposed, both supporting parliamentary reform. (fn. 333)
The Radical movement in Hull in support of reform received a new impetus after the 1831 election from the activities of James Acland. In addition to his attacks on the corporation, (fn. 334) he championed parliamentary reform and he helped to found the Hull Political Union. (fn. 335) Although he was then in prison, Acland was a candidate at the election of 1832. This proved a solidly Whig election, M. D. Hill and William Hutt being comfortably elected. Acland received few votes, but a strong challenge was made by David Carruthers, a Conservative, who was a London insurance broker and merchant. Carruthers was to have his revenge in 1835. (fn. 336)
When Defoe visited Hull in 1726 he commented: 'The town is exceeding close built, and should a fire ever be its fate, it might suffer deeply on that account; 'tis extraordinarily populous, even to an inconvenience, leaving really no room to extend itself by buildings.' (fn. 337) Less than a hundred years later, in 1817, it was said that 'Hull, like most of the great commercial towns, at present very little resembles what it was at its origin; indeed the alterations and improvements have been very great within the memory of many of its present inhabitants'. (fn. 338)
During the 18th and early 19th centuries economic growth rather than military needs was the principal factor responsible for changing the face of Hull. The town, still bounded by its walls to the north and west, was considered by Defoe 'capable of being made impregnable, by reason of the low situation of the grounds round it'. He also observed: 'The greatest imperfection, as to the strength of Hull in case of a war, is that lying open to the sea, it is liable to a bombardment, which can only be prevented by being masters at sea.' (fn. 339) The defence of the town against the threat of Jacobite and French invasions involved little change to the old military works. During the rebellion of 1715 the Citadel was repaired and troops billetted in Hull; (fn. 340) and during 1745 the old Civil War ramparts were fortified, weapons refurbished, and volunteer companies raised in the town. (fn. 341) The danger of invasion from the 1770s onwards was met by the posting of night watches, the sinking of piles to secure the entrance to the haven, and the raising of volunteers. (fn. 342) During the Napoleonic Wars Hull housed a large militia garrison and steps were taken to guard the Humber approaches to the town, but the only alteration to the fortifications was the building of an armoury at the Citadel in 1804–7. (fn. 343)
The mounting volume of trade and shipping was the main factor leading to physical changes in the town. Constant attention to the jetties and piles, and to the mud-banks and obstructions, of the old haven (fn. 344) were inadequate to meet the demands put upon it. Nor were the common staiths capable of sufficient improvement, despite continual efforts, (fn. 345) and the extension of private staiths (fn. 346) further restricted space in the river. After prolonged debate about the best means of providing adequate accommodation, a dock was built on the west side of the River Hull, occupying the site of the defences along the north side of the town. It was opened in 1778. The town defences on the west were similarly removed before the end of the century and replaced by two other docks, opened in 1809 and 1829. Parts of the defences on the east bank of the River Hull were also demolished, after they were acquired from the Crown by the corporation and Trinity House in 1802, though the Citadel itself remained. (fn. 347) With the provision of docks the role of the haven was changed. After 1778 sufferance goods alone were landed there, but until Junction Dock gave access to the Humber in 1829, the first dock could be reached only by means of the haven. (fn. 348)
Hull's frontage to the Humber was also changing during the 18th century. As silting enlarged the area of the foreshore at the South End, so the new ground was increasingly used by mast-and block-makers, by shipwrights, and for the building of warehouses. (fn. 349) From early in the century there had also been a privy—the 'boghouse'—and a cucking stool at the South End. (fn. 350) As early as 1756 there was a foreshore along the whole length of the town wall, (fn. 351) and by the 1790s the enlarged South End had a shipyard and a dry dock. (fn. 352) One section of the foreshore, the 'foul' South End, remained a dumping place for the town's refuse for most of the century. (fn. 353)
The South End was transformed in the early 19th century following an Act of 1801 by which the corporation obtained from the Crown part of the Artillery Ground there. (fn. 354) The Act authorized the making of a new street from the market-place southwards and the building of a dock for ferry-boats. The work carried out was in fact far more extensive. Much more land was reclaimed from the Humber, by the dumping of soil excavated from Humber Dock, which was being made near by at this time. On the new ground several streets were laid out: that which was in part authorized by the Act became Queen Street, and Nelson and Wellington Streets ran at right-angles to it. The ferry-boat dock took the form of a breakwater lying offshore from Nelson Street. (fn. 355) The improvement of the South End also seems to have made it possible for small ships to berth there, and steps were taken to regulate their mooring and to collect wharfage dues. (fn. 356)
Improvements to streets elsewhere in the town were frequently made in the later 18th century. (fn. 357) The market-place was several times enlarged by the removal of buildings, most notably in 1762. (fn. 358) The street at the west end of Holy Trinity Church, thenceforth called King Street, was widened and improved in the 1770s; (fn. 359) and a new street, Parliament Street, was made from Whitefriargate towards the new dock in the 1790s. (fn. 360) From 1755 onwards Acts were secured for the improvement of street paving, lighting, and cleansing; (fn. 361) signs and posts obstructing the streets were removed; (fn. 362) and the first order for street names to be put up was made in 1779. (fn. 363) The regulation of transport within the town was undertaken in 1783, and plans for carriages to convey goods were sought in Leeds and elsewhere. (fn. 364) By the early 19th century the narrow streets of the Old Town no doubt presented a serious problem: one solution was to make one-way streets, as was done with Bishop Lane in 1828. (fn. 365)
Outside the town walls the open ground in Trippett, Sculcoates, and Myton underwent little significant change until the later 18th century. Brickyards were still in use outside North and Myton Gates, (fn. 366) and lime-kilns near the Humber at Lime-kiln Clow. (fn. 367) The corporation's responsibilities outside the walls remained much as in earlier periods: the repair of bridges and clows; the upkeep of the fresh-water ditches; and the maintenance of the Humber bank, the timber breastwork along the shore, which was ultimately replaced by a brick wall, and the 'long jetty' outside Hessle Gate. (fn. 368) In the Humber itself the corporation owned the fishing rights. (fn. 369) Myton Carr long remained the dominant feature to the west of the town. In 1773, however, it was inclosed and the 170 acres which it then comprised were allotted to the former commoners. (fn. 370)
During the last quarter of the century the growth of suburbs began outside the area of the Old Town. Very little development of this kind had taken place before the opening of the first dock in 1778, (fn. 371) but within a few years a fashionable suburb had been created on the north side of the dock, around George Street, and a less fashionable one to the north-west, around Mill Street. (fn. 372) The mayor was among the residents on the north side of the dock in 1786, and the corporation deemed this to be in the county of Hull so that the usual procession with regalia might take place. (fn. 373) One of the new streets laid out in this locality (fn. 374) was St. John Street (now part of Queen Victoria Square), which was made in 1829 to link Whitefriargate with Carr Lane. (fn. 375) It was here that a monument to William Wilberforce (d. 1833) was erected in 1834–5. (fn. 376)
While the northern suburb was being built development was also taking place to the west of the Old Town. The beast market and the gaol were moved there in the 1780s (fn. 377) and by the 1790s there was housing, too. This largely working-class suburb was greatly extended after the turn of the century, with a network of streets appearing around Great Passage Street and, near the Humber bank, around English Street and St. Mark's Square. By this time the working-class suburb north-west of the town, adjoining Prospect Street, was much increased in size and a large area of similar housing had extended northwards, on the west bank of the River Hull. On the east bank of the river there were several new streets of houses, too, as well as many commercial and industrial premises. (fn. 378)
Further out from the Old Town the first attempts were made to provide a public 'walk': a 'Spring Bank Improvement Society' was formed in 1824, receiving a subscription from the corporation, and in 1830 the corporation also subscribed to a new road along Derringham Bank. (fn. 379) Suburban houses, largely middle-class in character, were being built both along Spring Bank and along the older main roads leading from Hull during these early decades of the 19th century.
Social Life and Conditions
Hull was seen by the young William Wilberforce in the early 1770s as 'one of the gayest places out of London. The theatre, balls, large supper and card parties were the delight of the principal merchants and their families'. (fn. 380) The assembly rooms were an important centre of social life in Hull. Assemblies were at first held in the Grammar School but a new room was built in Dagger Lane in the mid-century. (fn. 381) It was here that a great ball was given in 1788 to celebrate the centenary of the 'Glorious' Revolution. 'Such an assemblage of beauty and brilliancy had never before shone forth in these rooms', wrote one observer. (fn. 382) It was not until the 1820s that larger premises were provided, but in 1831 the impressive new public rooms were opened in Kingston Square. (fn. 383) Less formal were such meetings as those of the George Club, whose members dined, played cards, and made wagers with one another on Saturday evenings. (fn. 384) The arrival of the judges at Hull, the election of aldermen, and other civic occasions were celebrated by official dinners at which the corporation's wines, plate, linen, and china, valued in 1836 at £2,630, (fn. 385) were no doubt used to good effect. The waits performed on these occasions, too, and in 1792 two of them became trumpeters for a new ceremonial procedure when the mayor went to the sessions. (fn. 386)
Hull also had a flourishing playhouse, the Theatre Royal, built in Finkle Street in 1768 and replacing an earlier theatre in Lowgate. (fn. 387) Managed by Tate Wilkinson, it was visited by leading actors, such as the elder Matthews, Munden, and Knight. Wilkinson wrote that 'Hull for hospitality and plenty of good cheer, with too much welcome, entitles that town, in my opinion, to the appellation of "the Dublin of England"'. (fn. 388) In 1810 Tate Wilkinson's son opened a new Theatre Royal in Humber Street, with Kemble playing in 'Tancred and Sigismunda'. (fn. 389) Two smaller theatres also flourished in Hull in the late 1820s and 1830s and permanent circuses were beginning to provide other entertainments. (fn. 390) The popular amusements in the town included cockpits, like that at the George Inn, (fn. 391) and there were no doubt executions to be watched on Myton Carr. The gallows there are said to have been last used in 1778, but they were not ordered to be removed until 1811. (fn. 392) There was also a town hunt. (fn. 393)
The families of seamen, labourers, and industrial workers lived mainly in the south and west parts of the town in the 18th century, and in the new suburbs near the River Hull and along the Humber bank in the early 19th century. Here the density of population and the number of families to a house were much higher than the average for the town. (fn. 394) Incomes were low and subject in most cases to seasonal fluctuations. In 1768 the seamen, the most numerous section of the poorer classes, were paid £1 8s. 0d. a month for voyages to Russia, Sweden, Prussia, and the Baltic, and £1 5s. 0d. a month for voyages to America, the West Indies, and further south. For sailing to Norway, and to Newcastle and Sunderland for coal, they were paid by the voyage, receiving £3 and £1 15s. 0d. respectively. These rates were evidently considered to be inadequate by the seamen for they refused to sail and demanded £2 a month for the northern voyages and £1 15s. 0d. a month for those across the Atlantic. For sailing to Norway and to Newcastle and Sunderland they wanted £5 and £2 10s. 0d. respectively. Moreover, on the coal voyages, they demanded an extra payment of 1s. a day after the ship had waited six days to be unloaded. (fn. 395) During the Napoleonic Wars attempts to impress sailors for the navy led to many riots in Hull, (fn. 396) and the corporation had to issue protection passes to men fishing in the Humber. (fn. 397)
As working-class standards of living declined during the wars poverty in Hull became acute. In the winter of 1799 a committee for the relief of the poor was set up at a public meeting at the Guildhall, (fn. 398) and the bench ordered the erection of a temporary soup shop near the house of correction 'for the convenience of serving the poor with soup or such other provisions as the committee may judge proper for them'. It also granted twenty guineas towards providing 'cheap food for the necessitous poor'. (fn. 399) With poverty went lack of resistance to disease. During the cholera epidemic of 1832 there were 270 deaths in Hull. (fn. 400)
The normal machinery for dealing with poverty in Hull in the 18th century was that of the Corporation of the Poor, established in 1698 and having 24 guardians. (fn. 401) Throughout the century pauperism was increasing and the laws of settlement were vigorously enforced in order to minimize the burden of the poor-rates. In 1718 the constables were ordered 'to examine in their several wards, what strangers were come in, who might be chargeable, give an account of their names, and summon them to appear at the Town's Hall'. (fn. 402) In the period 1 January 1794 to 25 December 1795 no fewer than 166 families were sent out of the town. (fn. 403) Despite this policy the number of paupers who had a legal settlement in Hull was steadily increasing. In 1710 the annual assessment was increased by £150 and in 1742 and 1755 the maximum annual assessment was progressively raised to £650 and £1,000. (fn. 404) Thereafter the sum raised was to be fixed by the corporation.
Poor-Rate Assessments, 1728–98: total of money raised, noting only those years in which the rate changed (fn. 453)
From the actual amounts raised by the poor-law authority in the 18th century (see Table 10) it appears that the greatest increase in poverty occurred in the last quarter of the century when the population was increasing most rapidly and the impact of the Napoleonic Wars was beginning to be felt. In 1792 about 1,000 persons were receiving outdoor relief and 276 were resident in Charity Hall, which was maintained by the poorlaw authority and by private benefactions. (fn. 405) Conditions in Charity Hall were said to be good. 'The poor are employed in spinning wool in the house; but the value of all their labour, it seems, amounts to little more than one hundred pounds per annum. . . . The children are taught to read in the house, by the persons qualified to instruct them. At stated times on the week days, prayers are read to all who are able to attend, and on Sundays they all attend divine service in Trinity Church, forenoon and afternoon.' (fn. 406)
In 1824 a new body was established to manage the affairs of the poor in Hull. (fn. 407) The town was divided into eight wards (fn. 408) and the justices were authorized to appoint annually one householder as overseer for each ward. Besides the overseers there were 40 guardians, five for each ward, who were incorporated under the old title of the 'Governor, Deputy Governor, Assistants and Guardians of the Poor'. The guardians were to be elected by inhabitants rated to the relief of the poor on a rental of £10 a year. The elected guardians were to hold office for three years but the 24 who were in office at the time of the passing of the Act were to continue for life. The mayor, recorder, and aldermen were exempt from serving.
The guardians were to hold courts monthly. They were authorized to make by-laws, impose fines, and appoint committees. They were also to appoint annually from themselves a governor, deputy governor, eight assistants, and other officers. The guardians had the power to employ the poor and to establish a school in the workhouse for the instruction of poor children. They were vested with the same power as the overseers. They were to certify from time to time, to the overseers, the amount necessary to be raised by rate. The churchwardens and overseers were then to apportion this sum amongst the wards so that the rate fell equally on all of them, and the mayor and aldermen were to issue warrants to the churchwardens and overseers to make the assessments. The guardians were to appoint annually from among themselves three auditors, and the mayor and one or two aldermen were to appoint six others who were not to be guardians but inhabitants of the town rated at £20 a year. The auditors were to publish annually a general abstract of the accounts, which were also to be open to the inspection of ratepayers on payment of 1s.
In addition to the poor-law authority the many almshouses and other charities which had been founded in Hull continued to help the needy in the 18th and early 19th centuries. The Charterhouse hospital, for example, was rebuilt in 1778–80 and later extended, providing accommodation for more than 50 pensioners. (fn. 409) Trinity House also continued in various ways to alleviate poverty among seamen and their widows and children. The old Trinity Almshouse was rebuilt in 1753, and several new almshouses were built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. After 1742 Trinity House was responsible for administering a fund arising from the monthly levy of sixpence on every seaman's wages: from this fund 'a great number of decayed seamen, their widows, and children, who otherwise would have no claim on the guild, obtain a comfortable relief'. (fn. 410) There were also improvements in medical care. The Hull General Infirmary was opened in 1782 for patients who were unable to support themselves and pay for their cure, and a dispensary for the poor followed in 1814. (fn. 411) The corporation subscribed to both institutions and in 1813 gave the freedom of the town to John Alderson for his work as honorary physician at the infirmary. (fn. 412) The Lying-in Charity also began its work for poor married women in 1802. (fn. 413)
During the 18th century, too, a number of friendly societies was formed in Hull. (fn. 414) It is said that 'the Friendly Society' was instituted in 1726, and that 'the Sailors' Society' was in existence about 1730. (fn. 415) By 1796 there were at least 25 such societies and by 1812 nearly 80, (fn. 416) no doubt in consequence of the Friendly Societies Act of 1793. (fn. 417) In the early 19th century the local friendly societies began to be rivalled by the Hull branches of various 'orders' or groups of societies. The first Oddfellows' lodge was founded in Hull in or about 1811; others soon followed and several of the old friendly societies joined the orders. (fn. 418)
Much of the religious life of Hull was centred on Holy Trinity Church. Civic services were held there and the corporation continued to appoint to the vicarage and lectureship until 1835. (fn. 419) The mayor and aldermen ordered seats both there and at St. Mary's to be provided with new red velvet for the mayor and purple cushions for the aldermen in 1733. (fn. 420) The corporation also subscribed towards the repair and improvements of both churches. (fn. 421) A strong evangelical tradition developed at Holy Trinity and St. Mary's in the later 18th century, fostered especially by the Wilberforce and Thornton families, and by Joseph Milner, the headmaster of the Grammar School and lecturer at Holy Trinity. (fn. 422)
Church extension in the early 19th century tended to reinforce this tradition. The growth of population in the suburbs and the situation of the two older churches in an area that was increasingly becoming the business quarter of the town made the provision of new churches an urgent necessity. Thomas Dykes, a strong evangelical, played an influential part in providing them. The first of the new churches, St. John the Evangelist, was opened in 1792 with Dykes as its incumbent. Dykes was a friend of Simeon, whose influence may be seen in the later history of church extension in the town; (fn. 423) and he introduced the Scott family to Hull, John Scott (d. 1834), son of the biblical commentator Thomas Scott, coming there as his curate in 1799. (fn. 424)
The second new church, Christ Church, Sculcoates, was intended to serve the middle-class suburb around Albion and Charlotte Streets; it was consecrated in 1822, and John King, another strong evangelical, was instituted to the church. (fn. 425) One new church was deliberately planted in a working-class district, and again it owed much to the initiative of Thomas Dykes. (fn. 426) This was St. James's, in Myton, which was consecrated in 1831. The only other new church built before 1835 was that of St. John the Evangelist, at Newland; none was founded in the growing suburb of Drypool, but the medieval parish church of St. Peter there was rebuilt in 1822. (fn. 427)
Of a different character was the Mariners' Church in Prince's Dock Street, opened in a former Independent chapel in 1828. The corporation had been prepared to help in the establishment of an Anglican free church on that site as early as 1805, but in 1826 the provision of a floating chapel was being considered. The Dagger Lane Independent chapel was occupied instead, however, under the auspices of the Mariners' Church Society with a small gift from the corporation. The premises were rebuilt in 1834. (fn. 428) Dykes had again been the moving spirit in this venture.
Roman Catholicism continued to survive in Hull, a small congregation worshipping in various meeting-places. Numbers increased in the early 19th century, and the church of St. Charles, in Jarratt Street, was opened in 1829. (fn. 429) After 1780 the Jews took over the former Roman Catholic chapel in Posterngate, but their numbers remained small. (fn. 430) In marked contrast, the growth of Protestant dissent in Hull during the 18th century was rapid. (fn. 431) The Toleration Act of 1689 led to the registration of several new meetingplaces in the early 18th century, in addition to the chapels of the two chief congregations which already existed by 1700. By 1743, out of just over 1,000 families in Holy Trinity and St. Mary's parishes, some 100 were nonconformist, including Presbyterians, Independents, and Quakers. There was also by this time a Baptist congregation, and in 1746 Methodist meetings began to be held. During the period of Wesley's visits to Hull Methodism became firmly established in the town, and Hull also played an important part in the formation of the Methodist New Connexion in 1797. In the early 19th century, as the population of Hull increased and the town expanded, nonconformity made great progress. Of most consequence at this time was the rise of Primitive Methodism which, here as elsewhere, largely attracted the working classes, in contrast to the other nonconformist groups which included some of the most wealthy and influential merchants among their congregations.
The principal school in Hull at the beginning of the 18th century was still the Grammar School. (fn. 432) The corporation continued to accept full responsibility for it and to appoint the master. The sons of the wealthier merchants, such as the young William Wilberforce, attended the school before being sent away to complete their education. (fn. 433) For the poor there were sporadic attempts to provide education in Charity Hall, and the Vicar's School, Cogan's School, and Trinity House Navigation School were all founded during the 18th century. Towards the end of the century and in the early 19th there was a rapid expansion of educational facilities in the town. Sunday schools, spinning schools, and day schools all helped to discipline the 'lower orders' and increase the supply of trained servants. There were, too, large numbers of private academies and seminaries for middle-class education.
The artistic and intellectual life of Hull, which had previously been centred on the theatre and the churches, now began to develop in other ways. (fn. 434) The Hull Subscription Library was founded in 1775, the 'society for literary information' in 1792, and the Literary and Philosophical Society in 1822. The educational needs of working men were also provided for when the Mechanics' Institute was founded in 1825. By the 1820s a prominent place in the Hull literary field was already being occupied by Charles Frost (? 1781–1862). His Notices relative to the Early History of the Town and Port of Hull, published in 1827, was a notable contribution to historical writings on the town. Abraham de la Pryme had consulted the town's records to write his unpublished history of Hull at the very beginning of the 18th century, (fn. 435) and his work was widely used in the histories of Gent (1735), Hadley (1788), and Tickell (1798). Frost's work on both local (fn. 436) and national records, however, broke new ground and he was the first to demonstrate that Hull had not been founded by Edward I. (fn. 437)
The growth of educational facilities and intellectual activities from about 1780 coincided with one of the most formative periods in the evolution of Hull. This was the town's greatest period of economic expansion, which inevitably changed its character both politically and socially. By 1835 it was no longer a rather conservative, though important, 18th-century seaport but one of the main doors to the rapidly growing 'workshop of the world'. The social changes brought about by the coming of the new industrial society could scarcely fail to leave their impact upon Hull.