Our East Riding convicts can be linked to many places around Hull and the East Riding through the local villages in which they lived, the courtrooms in which they were tried and the gaols in which they were imprisoned.
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Courtrooms in the East Riding, Hull and York
Most of the courtrooms in which crimes committed in the East Riding were tried can still be visited today.
Parts of the local gaols which held East Riding prisoners awaiting transportation survive today.
Beverley gaols and the East Riding House of Correction
There was a Borough Gaol in Toll Gavel, Beverley until 1810, and it is likely that Beverley prisoners awaiting trial in the East Riding quarter sessions would have been held here.
Until 1810, prisoners from the wider East Riding awaiting trial at the quarter sessions would have been held in the East Riding house of correction adjacent to the Beverley Guildhall.
A new East Riding house of correction was built next to the new Sessions House on New Walk in 1810. From 1810, prisoners awaiting trial in the quarter sessions, or transportation after being sentenced, would have been held here. Although much of the 1810 house of correction has now been demolished, the turnkey's hexagonal house which sat in the centre of the prison yards can still be seen today.
After 1810, the old house of correction adjacent to Beverley Guildhall was turned into a borough gaol, and used mainly as a temporary lock-up for prisoners for awaiting magistrates court trials in the Guildhall.
In 1785, New Gaol on Castle Street replaced an older medieval gaol, and those prisoners accused of transportable crimes due to be tried in the Kingston-Upon-Hull Quarter Sessions would have been held here.
In 1829, New Gaol was replaced with a new combined Hull Gaol and House of Correction on Kingston Street.
Both buildings have long since been demolished. However, an old wall standing in what is now the Trinity burial ground is thought to be the wall of New Gaol exercise yard.
Parts of the gaol used for holding prisoners awaiting trial at York Assizes survive today as the York Castle Museum.
East Riding villages
Although East Riding villages have been inhabited since before the Norman Conquest, most of the buildings surviving in these villages are no more than 200 years old. A medieval church and a few 18th and early 19th century farmhouses and cottages represent the main tangible links with the period of penal transportation.
Almost all of the villages of the East Riding of Yorkshire date back at least to the Anglo-Saxon and Viking period, and are mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086.
East Riding villages developed as 'nucleated settlements', in which houses were grouped together at the centre of their farmland. This land was divided into a few large 'open fields' and areas of common pasture. During the period of transportation, however, the landscape changed as landowners divided the large open fields into the smaller square fields we see today. Farmers moved out from the villages to live on their newly enclosed land plots.
During the 19th century, most residents of East Riding villages would have earned a living directly or indirectly from arable farming - as farmers, labourers, tradesmen (blacksmiths, wheelwrights) serving the agricultural industry, or publicans or retailers selling to farmers and labourers.
Most villages had a stone medieval church, but in this period Methodism became very popular in the East Riding; by 1850 many villages had both a Wesleyan and a Primitive Methodist chapel.
Because there is little stone available for building in the East Riding, most houses were built of timber and mud before the 18th century, and do not survive today. However, during the late 18th and early 19th century brick became a very popular building material in the county, and houses from this period survive in most villages - if our convicts were to return to their villages today it is likely that they would remember some of houses.
Although the town had shrunk in size and importance, it still returned two Members of Parliament until 1832 - it was one of these Members of Parliament, William Chaytor, who sent a letter to the Home Secretary appealing William's sentence of transportation. Despite its shrunken size, Hedon also retained borough status, and had a mayor and corporation until 1974. Some of William's relatives held the position of mayor of Hedon in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Brandesburton was a large village - in 1851 it contained c.4,500 people. Most of the houses here date from the 19th century. Two pubs from Sarah's time are still open - the Black Swan pub has served the village since the 18th century, and the Dacre Arms was opened in 1823, though was called the Cross Keys until 1872.
The architectural historian Nicholas Pevsner, who wrote extensively on the historic townscapes of Britain, described Beverley as 'among the finest of England's small country towns'. Much within the town's historic core is relatively unchanged from the period when our convicts were tried in the town. Beverley was an important town in the early middle ages and has two fine churches from this period - the Minster and St Mary's - as well as a medieval town gate. In the 18th century, Beverley was a centre for fashionable life, and had a race-course and assembly rooms; wealthy East Riding residents built town houses here. Many of the buildings which line the streets and two market places are medieval in origin but were given a new façade during these prosperous years.