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Sunderland Parish, 1848

SUNDERLAND (Holy Trinity), a sea-port, newly enfranchised borough, and parish, and the head of a union, in the N. division of Easington ward and of the county of Durham, 13 miles (N. E.) from Durham, and 269 (N. by W.) from London; the parish containing 17,020 inhabitants. This town, which is situated on the south bank of the river Wear, was anciently included in the parish of Bishop-Wearmouth, of which it continued to form a part till the year 1719, when it was separated, and erected into an independent parish. Soon after the Conquest, Malcolm, King of Scotland, in one of his predatory incursions, traversing the Durham coast, met with Edgar Atheling, heir to the English crown, with his sister Margaret, afterwards Queen of Scotland, and a numerous retinue of distressed Saxons, who, fleeing from the victorious Normans, were waiting in the harbour here for a wind favourable for their escape into Scotland. About the close of the 12th century, the inhabitants of Sunderland, of which the history up to that time is identified with that of Wearmouth, received from Bishop Pudsey a charter of free customs and privileges similar to those exercised by the inhabitants of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and in this deed appears the first authentic notice of Sunderland as a distinct maritime and commercial town and port. Its present name, which it acquired under the charter, is supposed to have been derived from its peninsular situation, being almost separated from the main land by the influx of the river Wear on the north, and by Hendon Dene, a deep ravine on the south, formerly capable of floating vessels of considerable burthen. Under the privileges of its charter, the town gradually increased in extent and importance, and in the reign of Henry VIII. had become a place of considerable trade. At the commencement of the 17th century, several Scottish families and many foreign merchants established themselves in the town, which by a charter of Bishop Morton had acquired a municipal corporation. During the war in the reign of Charles I., the inhabitants embraced the cause of the parliamentarians, by whom the town was garrisoned in 1642, in consequence of the seizure of Newcastle by the royalists, and the prohibition of supplies of coal from that place. A parliamentary commissioner was sent to take up his residence here. Repeated skirmishes occurred in the vicinity between the contending parties, during 1644 and 1645, and the resident Scottish families suffered greatly from want of provisions, owing to the wreck of some vessels laden with supplies from Scotland, and the capture of others by the royalists in the river Tyne, whither they had been driven by adverse winds.

The town, exclusively of Bishop-Wearmouth, consists of one principal street called High-street, which is spacious and well built, extending more than half a mile in length, and of several smaller streets in various directions. The main street is well paved, and the footpaths flagged; the houses, with the exception of a few in the lower part, are generally of handsome appearance. Considerable improvements have been made under the provisions of an act of parliament obtained in 1809, and the streets are lighted with gas, partly from works erected at an expense of £8000, by a company formed in 1823. The inhabitants are partly supplied with water from a copious well at the head of BishopWearmouth, raised by steam, at the rate of 150 gallons per minute, into two ample reservoirs, from which it is conveyed by pipes to the houses; the works were constructed by a body of shareholders, at an expense of £5000. In 1846 two acts were passed, one for better supplying the town with gas, and the other for better supplying it with water. A newsroom was opened about 1800, at the George inn, and, on the subsequent erection of the Exchange, was removed to that building. The assemblies were formerly held in Church-street, but since the erection of the Athenæum in Fawcet-street, Bishop-Wearmouth, a handsome and commodious suite of rooms in that edifice has been appropriated to the purpose. A neat theatre has been erected in Drurylane. Barracks were built on the town moor in 1794, and in 1828 a portion of the building was taken down, and the remainder new fronted with brick; they contain accommodation for 800 men, with stabling for 10 horses, an hospital for 20 patients, and a good ground for parade.

The increase and prosperity of the town to an extent, and with a degree of rapidity, almost unprecedented, may be attributed to its advantageous situation on the coast, near the mouth of a navigable river, which has its source in the western part of the county, and flows through a district abounding with coal, limestone, and freestone. The staple trade is the exportation of coal, which appears to have commenced in the reign of Henry VII. The coal is sent chiefly to London and the western coast of England, but large quantities are also shipped to Holland, France, and other parts of the continent; among the principal coal-staiths are those of the Earl of Durham and the Hetton Coal Company. The quantity shipped from the port in a recent year was 1,205,332 tons. Next in importance to the coal-trade is that in lime, with which the neighbourhood abounds, and of which, upon an average, 30,000 chaldrons are annually shipped for the ports of Yorkshire and the eastern coast of Scotland, employing numerous vessels averaging from 30 to 130 tons' burthen. The remainder of the export trade consists mostly of the produce of the extensive manufactories in the town and neighbourhood, for which the abundant supply of coal, suitable for their use, though too small for being shipped, affords ample encouragement. The chief imports are flour, wine, spirituous liquors, timber, tallow, iron, flax, and various articles of Baltic produce. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port in a recent year was 876, of the aggregate burthen of 174,983 tons; the number of men and boys employed in navigating them was 7365, and the amount of duties paid at the custom-house during the same year was £119,681. The value of shipping insured by the mutual insurance companies in the town was £850,000, exclusively of vessels which were either uninsured, or insured at other places.

The estuary of the Wear was formerly exposed to all winds from the south to the north-east, and the entrance of the river was rendered dangerous by shifting sand-banks; but certain dues, now amounting to about £16,000 per annum, have been applied by commissioners appointed under successive acts of parliament, to the cleansing and improvement of the harbour. The entrance is formed by two piers, by which the depth has been so increased, that ships drawing from 15 to 20 feet water can at any time enter or leave the port in perfect safety. The south pier was begun in 1723, and has been successively extended into deep water till it has attained a length of 1950 feet. Its eastern portion, for about 600 feet, is 40 feet in width, and of solid ashlar masonry, forming a fine promenade; the western portion lately showing symptoms of decay, 850 feet have been removed, and with a view of diminishing the swell of the sea, the line has been placed farther back, under the superintendence of Mr. Murray, engineer to the commissioners. The north pier, which was begun in 1787, has during the last fifteen years been gradually extended to 1770 feet in length, in an equally substantial manner; and on its eastern head is placed an elegant octagonal lighthouse. This lighthouse was originally built in 1802, at a distance of 450 feet from its present site, to which it was removed in one entire mass, without the slightest appearance of a crack, in 1841, at the suggestion and under the superintendence of Mr. Murray. It is 78 feet in height, 15 feet in diameter at the base, and 9 feet at the cornice; and the entire weight is 338 tons. On the completion of this arduous undertaking, Mr. Murray received the thanks of the commissioners, and was presented with a piece of plate valued at £100. In 1846 an act was passed for constructing a wet-dock and other works, of which the first stone was laid by George Hudson, Esq., M. P., in February 1848. The old customhouse, which was situated in Silver-street, was lately abandoned, and a commodious edifice for the purpose erected on a more eligible site, fronting the river, at an expense of £5600, by a company of subscribers; the building was taken by government on a renewable lease of 21 years, and was opened in 1837.

Ship-building is carried on here to a greater extent than at any other port in the empire. There are not less than 30 yards for building ships, and 5 for building boats, with 11 floating and 4 dry docks; and frequently from 100 to 200 vessels are on the stocks at one time. In the year 1846, 151 ships were built, of 43,937 tons' burthen. The salmon-fishery was formerly extensive, and a few salmon are still found occasionally at the mouth of the harbour, but that source of trade has been abandoned, and the fish now taken are cod, ling, turbot, haddock, skate, herrings, and crabs. The manufactures carried on in the town and neighbourhood are numerous and important. There are four large iron-foundries, one of which affords employment to 300 persons; several brass-foundries; some sailcloth manufactories; a factory for making blocks, which is worked by steam; some roperies, also worked by steam, in which patent machinery has been introduced; manufactories for chain-cables and anchors, and alkali and copperas works. Large potteries are carried on, in which earthenware of every description is made; and the town contains considerable manufactories of glass bottles, and of flint, crown, and window glass. Two paper-mills are also at work, and several flour and saw mills which are impelled by steam.

The exchange, situated in High-street, was erected in 1814, at an expense of £8000, by a proprietary. It is a handsome structure, comprising on the basement story kitchens and vaults, and on the ground floor an area surrounded with a piazza for the accommodation of the merchants, behind which are apartments for the use of the magistrates, for public sales, and offices for brokers. The principal story contains a newsroom, 68 feet long and 28 wide, in which is a full-length portrait of Sir Henry Vane Tempest, presented by the Marquess of Londonderry; and there are various rooms for the different public boards. The market, formerly on Friday, is now on Saturday, and is abundantly supplied with provisions of all kinds; fairs, chiefly for pedlery, wares, and toys, are held on May 13th and 14th, and October 12th and 13th, and a statute-fair twice in the year. The market-place, the site of which was purchased in 1830, for £4200, is a commodious area with ranges of shambles, and stalls for butchers' meat, poultry, butter, eggs, and other articles; the. entrance from High-street is under a handsome arcade, over which is a spacious room for auctions, exhibitions, and other uses. Facility of communication is afforded by good roads, and by the Durham and Sunderland railway, which commences at Sunderland moor, near the town, and is 13½ miles in length.

The government, under the charter of Bishop Pudsey and his successors, was vested in a bailiff appointed by the bishops, till the year 1634, when Bishop Morton granted the inhabitants a charter, by which the "New Borough of Sunderland" was placed under the control of a mayor, twelve aldermen, and a commonalty. This form of government was not, however, practically continued for any length of time. By the act 5th and 6th of William IV., c. 76, the corporation at present consists of a mayor, fourteen aldermen, and forty-two councillors; and the total number of magistrates for the borough, which is divided into seven wards, is eighteen. Pettysessions are held daily at the new police court in BishopWearmouth, where also the magistrates for the division hold petty-sessions every Saturday. The powers of the county debt-court of Sunderland, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Sunderland. The various properties of the borough are held on two leases under the bishop, one of which includes the boroughcourts, fairs, market-tolls, anchorage and beaconage, and the office of water-bailiff; and the other, the ferryboats, metage, and tolls of fruit, herbs, and roots. By the act of the 2nd of William IV., Sunderland was constituted a parliamentary borough, with the privilege of returning two members to parliament, the right of election being vested in the resident £10 householders of a populous district comprising 4761 acres: the mayor is the returning officer. The municipal borough includes the parish of Sunderland, the townships of Monk-Wearmouth, Monk-Wearmouth-Shore, Bishop-WearmouthPans, and so much of the parish of Bishop-Wearmouth as is included within a circle of one mile radius from the centre of the bridge. The parliamentary borough contains, in addition to these, the parish of Southwick, and the remainder of the parish of Bishop-Wearmouth.

The living is a rectory, in the patronage of the Bishop of Durham, with a net income of £241. The church, which is situated in the upper part of the town, was erected in 1719, and repaired in 1803, and is a neat structure of brick, with a square tower; the altar is placed in a recess between two fluted pilasters of the Corinthian order. The chapel of St. John, which stands at the head of Barrack-street, on a site given by Marshall Robinson, Esq., was built in 1769, chiefly at the expense of John Thornhill, Esq.; it is a spacious edifice of brick, with a square tower, and contains sittings for the soldiers in the barracks. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Bishop; net income, £288. A school for girls was endowed in 1764, by Mrs. Elizabeth Donnison, who bequeathed a sum for its support, now vested in the three per cents., and producing £120 per annum. A national school in Vine-street, instituted in 1822, is supported by the proceeds of £1000 three and a half per cents, given in 1823 by Mrs. Elizabeth Woodcock, by £20 from Bishop Crewe's trustees, and contributions from the Marchioness of Londonderry and the rector; the building was erected at a cost of £1750. Some almshouses in Assembly Garth, for 38 inmates, superannuated seamen or their widows, belonging to the "Muster Roll," were purchased in 1750, by the trustees of the "Seamen's fund," appointed under an act of the 20th of George II. This act compels all masters of vessels to levy sixpence per month from each sailor towards the support of the institution, from which more than 700 individuals derive benefit. A new building, called Trafalgar-square, at the east end of the churchyard, is appropriated to the same benevolent purpose. In Church-street are houses for eight widows; and there are numerous societies for the relief of the sick and indigent. The poor-law union of Sunderland comprises eleven townships and chapelries in the parishes of Sunderland, and Bishop and Monk Wearmouth, containing a population of 56,226. The town confers the inferior title of Earl upon the Duke of Marlborough.—See Wearmouth.

Extract from: A Topographical Dictionary of England comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate and market towns, parishes, and townships..... 7th Edition, by Samuel Lewis, London, 1848.

Sunderland County Durham, 1848 - Parishes and Townships Bishopwearmouth Parish, 1848 Monkwearmouth Parish, 1848
A topographical dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis, 7th Ed., 1848
- A topographical dictionary of England comprising the several counties, cities, boroughs, corporate and market towns, parishes, and townships, and the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, and Man, with historical and statistical …

Added by
Simon Cotterill
Bishopwearmouth Parish, 1848
  Co-Curate Page
Bishopwearmouth Parish, 1848
- WEARMOUTH, BISHOP (St. Michael), a parish, partly in the union of Houghton-le-Spring, but chiefly in that of Sunderland, N. division of Easington ward and of the county of Durham, 11 …
Monkwearmouth Parish, 1848
  Co-Curate Page
Monkwearmouth Parish, 1848
- WEARMOUTH, MONK (St. Peter), a parish, in the union of Sunderland, E. division of Chester ward, N. division of the county of Durham; containing, with the district parish of Southwick, …


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