A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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Population and Topography
Some indication of the 18th-century population and its fluctuations may be derived from registers of baptisms and burials and from returns made to archiepiscopal visitations in 1743 and 1764. In 1743 there were said to be c. 480 families in St. Mary's parish, c. 70 in St. Nicholas's, and c. 340 in St. John's and St. Martin's together. (fn. 1) Perhaps one fifth of the population of St. John's and St. Martin's was in the outlying townships which comprised St. John's parish, (fn. 2) leaving a total of some 820 families in the town itself. At 4-5 persons to a family that suggests a total population of between 3,300 and 4,100. Similar calculations for 1764, when there were said to be c. 500 families in St. Mary's parish, c. 80 in St. Nicholas's, and 368 in St. John's and St. Martin's, give a total of some 870 families and a population of between 3,500 and 4,400. (fn. 3) Mid 18th-century parish registers (fn. 4) and 19th-century census returns both suggest that St. Martin's parish contained c. 44 per cent of the town's population and St. Mary's and St. Nicholas's together c. 56 per cent. It would thus seem that the figures given by the vicar of St. Mary's in 1743 and 1764 were over-estimates and that the lower population figures of 3,300 and 3,500 respectively are the more realistic.
The population may also be estimated by an analysis of baptisms, although that is practicable only after 1715 because of gaps in the register for St. John's and St. Martin's (see Table 8). The estimated figures for 1741 and 1761 are similar to those calculated from the visitation returns, and the figure for 1801 is close to the census total of 5,401.
Despite the fluctuations shown in Table 8 it appears that by the 1740s Beverley had experienced a modest but definite rise in population from the level calculated from the hearth-tax return of 1672. (fn. 5) That rise presumably owed much to migration, for the natural decrease evident in the second half of the 17th century continued into the early 18th century. (fn. 6) During the period 1715-39 burials exceeded baptisms in 14 years out of the 25, and there was a decrease by natural causes of 233. The decrease was particularly severe in the epidemic years of 1720-1, when there were 318 burials and only 161 baptisms, and 1728-9, with 314 burials and 202 baptisms. Other crisis years were 1746 and 1763. Soon after 1763, however, the population began to rise again, increasing from c. 3,500 in 1764 to 5,401 in 1801. Since there was a natural increase of 1,071 between those years, nearly half of the total increase was due to migration into the town. The decennial census figures (see Table 9) show a more modest expansion continuing until the 1830s, when in both St. Mary's and St. Martin's parishes the population declined.
In 1700 Beverley was still largely confined within its medieval bounds and during the 18th century much of the growing population was housed in closely built-up lanes and yards behind the existing streets. In contrast the houses of the gentry and professional men occupied substantial sites both within the built-up area and on its fringe. The late 17th-century house of the Moysers, in North Bar Within, was set in 4 a. of formal gardens, with avenues, parterres, and statues. (fn. 7) Other large grounds belonged to the Hothams' house in Eastgate, the Hall in Lairgate, home of the Pennymans, Newbegin House, built for the Wartons and bought in 1771 by John Courtney, (fn. 8) and Norwood House, built for the attorney Jonathan Midgley. (fn. 9) The laying out of such grounds imposed limitations on further building, especially between the centre of the town and Westwood, and suburban growth in the 18th century, such as there was, took place mainly in North Bar Without.
More than half of the increase in the number of taxable properties in Beverley in the period 1796-1802 took place in the suburban ward of Without North Bar (see Table 10). Although there were buildings outside North bar in the late 17th century it was not until c. 1730 that more houses began to be built there, and the laying out of New Walk in the 1780s encouraged further growth. (fn. 10) By 1801 Without North Bar, Newbegin, Within North Bar, and Norwood wards were clearly the most fashionable residential areas, for together they contributed 76.5 per cent of the tax paid in the town on male servants and 87 per cent of the tax on fourwheeled carriages. In contrast, the wards of Beckside and Flemingate contributed nothing to those taxes and Keldgate, Saturday Market, and Toll Gavel very little. It was in the industrial and working-class residential wards of Beckside and Flemingate that growth was most marked after 1800: the number of houses in St. Nicholas's and St. Martin's parishes rose from 640 in 1801 to 978 in 1831. (fn. 11)