Friday, 8 November 2013

Features: New light shed on Wakefield history

A new book by a Halifax historian sheds new light on Wakefield life in the early 19th century.

Historian John A. Hargreaves spent many months researching the Wakefield Manor Court rolls.


The rolls kept a record of all the land transfers in the wider Wakefield area from medieval times to the 19th century.

And Dr Hargreaves' believes they reveal a great deal about everyday life during this period and has written about them in his forthcoming book Wakefield Manor Court 1812-13.

“1812 has often been described as the worst year in British history,” said Dr Hargreaves.

“Britain was in the middle of the wars with Napoleonic France, we became engaged in a war with America, bread prices were at a record high, the Prime Minster was assassinated in May 1812 and there was widespread machinery-breaking taking place in West Yorkshire,” he added.

These records have never been used before in historical research, and Dr Hargreaves said they provide a rare glimpse into many different aspects of people's lives.

Dr Hargreaves said: “There's information covering everything from manufacturing to bankruptcies, to the price of pews in local chapels.”

The great Manor of Wakefield held three substantial areas of land, totalling some 150 square miles, lying between Todmorden to the west to Normanton in the east, and reaching as far south as Holme.

Historians including Dr Hargreaves will be hosting a day school for people interested in local and family history at Northowram Methodist Chapel on November 23.

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