THE TOWN OF WAKEFIELD,
Few towns in the West Riding of Yorkshire enjoy equal natural advantages with the Borough of Wakefield,
Beautiful as to its locality, being "principally situated on the side of an eminence sloping to the river Calder,"
and surrounded on all sides by pleasing and picturesque scenery; abounding in coal of excellent quality, and
water admirably adapted for the purposes of dyeing; possessing also peculiar facilities for the conveyance of
goods as well to the German Ocean as to the densely populated districts of Lancashire,—it is somewhat remarkable that it should not have continued to advance in wealth and bnportance with the large towns In Ita imi
diate vicinage. "The traveller/' says Dr. Whitaker, "who turns westward from the (mat North Road toward
the English Apennine, quickly discovers that he is entering upon an inferior country. The vecnery, indeed,
becomes more varied and interesting; but the buildings begin to grow rude, and the ehurehes decline in
Several years have now elapsed since Wakefield could number among it> citizens man] rich, enterprisingj
and influential foreign merchants, who were then carrying on trade upon a largi nd accumulating immen*
Leland, in describing it three centuries ago, states that it derived its principal revenue from the manufacture
of woollen cloths—"it standeth now al by clothying." This branch of trade has, however, <>t late yean given
place to an extensive traffic in corn and wool, which are its staph' commodities* For the accommodation of
those gentlemen who are engaged in the former business, a beautiful stone building, of large dimensions (called
the Corn-Exchange), has, within the last five years, been erected, at a cost of several thousand pounds.
Though various and fanciful have been the conjectures relative to the derivation of the name by which the
town is designated, still the best authorities would seem to deduce it from its first Saxon possessor. " Nothn
says Dr. Whitaker, "was more common, at the time when the villare of this country was formed, than to
denominate whole townships by the terminating syllable, field."*
The coins and other Roman antiquities which, during the last century, have been discovered near Lingwell
Gate,t sufficiently indicate the existence of a Roman station not far from hence. J
Intimately connected with the history of Wakefield is the history of its manor, which is one of the largest
in the kingdom, extending from east to west a distance of more than thirty miles, and comprising a population
* See History of Leeds, p. 275.
t Camden, the father of British antiquaries, derives the name of this place from a body of Lingones, a people of ancient Gaul, who
were stationed there—most likely a detachment from the legion of Lingones long stationed at Olicana, now Ilkley.
t " In March, 1821, on breaking the ground with the plough, a number of Roman coins, with several of the moulds in which they
were cast, were unexpectedly turned up near Lingwell Gate; and subsequent search discovered many more, some in the very matrixes in
which they had been cast. Four crucibles, in which the metal had been fused, were also found at the same place."—Dr. Naylor's