Photocopies of Handbills and Posters mainly relating to Beverley

Scope and Content

This collection contains photocopies of handbills and posters, predominantly dating from the 19th century, concerning events in and around Beverley. Many of the items relate to local political events including municipal elections, the use of pasture areas and the affect of the Reform Act and Roman Catholic emancipation in the local area. Another significant portion of the collection includes posters advertising local entertainments and other leisure activities, such as race meetings, auctions, poetry, sermons, lectures, concerts, exhibitions and theatre performances. Smaller sections also include adverts for local tradesman, transport links, property to let and rewards offered for petty criminals.

Administrative / Biographical History

Beverley (initially named Inderawuda) was founded in the 7th century with the building of a church by the Bishop of York, later venerated as Saint John of Beverley. Throughout the early and later Middle Ages, the town's connection with John led to it prospering as a centre of pilgrimage. In the tenth century, the town was renamed Bevreli or Beverlac and had established itself as one of the pre-eminent Christian centres in Northern England alongside York and Ripon. During this period, Beverley also became a significant centre for trade, particularly in textiles and leather.

Beverley was spared during the Harrying of the North, after the Norman Conquest, owing to its saintly history and continued to grow, being granted borough status in 1122. Around this time, Beverley also became a noted centre for the wool trade. A dispute between local farmers and the church in the 13th century led to the establishment of pasture rights on the Westwood and other areas, which continues to this day. By 1377, Beverley had become the 10th largest town in England.

The Reformation had a significant impact on Beverley's status, dealing a heavy blow to its pilgrimage trade. Beverley Minister was almost dismantled for its stone and lead, but was saved by the townspeople. Despite this, it was granted its own mayor under Elizabeth I.

The Civil War brought Beverley into a greater rivalry with its close neighbour, Kingston-upon-Hull. Beverley declared for the royalists whilst parliamentarian Hull's refusal to allow entry to Charles I can be seen as marking the beginning of the Civil War. Beverley delighted at the later restoration of Charles II, hanging his royal coat of arms in the Minster which can still be viewed today.

Beverley became the county town of the East Riding of Yorkshire during the Georgian era and established itself as the main market town in the area. Population increases continued but the town soon became dwarfed by is neighbour, Hull. It was connected to the railway network in 1846 and in 1884 a shipyard was established on the River Hull, although most inhabitants still remained in agricultural jobs. The shipyard predominantly built trawlers for the deep-sea fishing fleet which sailed out of Hull; however, it also produced minesweepers for the Royal Navy during both world wars. The yard closed for construction work in 1977. The year 1977 also witnessed the closure of the Victoria Barracks, which had been a permanent military base in the town since 1878. During the First World War, an airfield was maintained on what is now Beverley Race Course.

The town now hosts thousands of tourists each year, attracted by the religious buildings and Beverley Racecourse.

One of the key concerns of local political life in Beverley during the nineteenth century was the management of the town's common pasture land. Initially controlled by the corporation until 1835, in 1836 a local Act was passed which gave management of the land to 12 pasture masters who were elected annually by the freemen. Rights to use of the pasture caused tensions and further tensions were caused when elections became increasingly political, after the 1850s, with the Conservatives and Liberals vying for positions as pasture masters.

Another key issue was that of public health, particularly during the late 1840s when the cholera epidemic reached Beverley. In particular, political arguments raged over Beverley's poor water supply and drainage system. With the Conservatives such as J.R. Pease and Joseph Beaumont arguing for improvements to the system and the Liberals such as Joseph Hind and Alfred Crosskill, arguing against such improvements owing to their mistrust of the Conservatives and the significant amount of money required, the system was not upgraded until the 1880s. Indeed, even by 1913, the water supply had reached only half of Beverley's houses.

During the 1860s, political excitement at a national level was also reflected in Beverley's political scene, with the Liberals (led by Edmund Crosskill) campaigning for an extension of the franchise whilst the Conservatives revived the 'Orange Society' and created the Working Men's Conservative Association. Rival newspapers were also established: the Beverley Recorder (1855) by the Liberals and the Beverley Guardian (1856) by the Conservatives.

From the 1830s, and continuing into the 1860s, there was also a long-running electoral corruption scandal in Beverley, owing in part to a long held tradition that votes were a source of income. The scandal came to a head in 1868, although there had been disqualifications and petitions against elections and elected candidates before this date. The election of 1868, so clearly corrupted, was reviewed by a judge-led commission which was covered in detail by the national press. The report produced by the commission listed over 600 people who had been involved in political bribery since 1857, including Henry Edwards, Christopher Sykes, James Walker, Joseph Hind, J.E. Elwell and Alfred Crosskill. The report also revealed how various local elections, including those of the pasture masters, had been manipulated by bribery and party matters. It was the extensive corruption of all potential avenues of political influence that caused the most scandal, since election bribery was a common practice throughout England at this time. In the end, party rivalries in Beverley's municipal politics became entrenched further and increasingly bitter.

For further details of Beverley's Parliamentary Elections, 1700-1835 please see Victoria County History: A History of the County of York East Riding: Volume 6, the Borough and Liberties of Beverley. References copies can be found in the Searchroom and in the Local Studies Library area.


U DX150/1 Christmas and New Year presents, 1835-1841

U DX150/2 Freemen, 1813-1858

U DX150/3 Mayoral elections, 1825-1855

U DX150/4 Beverley and East Riding Mechanics Institute, 1833-1852

U DX150/5 Notices of meetings, 1821 - 1840

U DX150/6 Municipal elections, 1832-1904

U DX150/7 Parliamentary elections: posters, addresses and squibs, 1799-1868

U DX150/8 Pastures, 1806-1893

U DX150/9 Reform Act 1832, 1831-1835

U DX150/10 Reports and accounts of various bodies, 1820-1876

U DX150/11 Roman Catholic emancipation, 1829-1832

U DX150/12 Sermons and lectures (Posters), 1812-1849

U DX150/13 Miscellaneous (Beverley) 1815-1904

U DX150/14 Almanacs and calendars, 1832-1853

U DX150/15 Anthems and poems, c.1830 - 1904

U DX150/16 Auction sales, 1816-1872

U DX150/17 Entertainments, 1808 - [1928]

U DX150/18 Horses at stud, 1826 - 1836

U DX150/19 Parliamentary elections, 1802 - 1837

U DX150/20 Publications, [1823] - 1832

U DX150/21 Race meetings, 1778-1871

U DX150/22 Reward, 1823 - 1840

U DX150/23 To Let, 1821 - 1837

U DX150/24 Tradesmen, 1826 - [1864]

U DX150/25 Transport, 1824 - 1845

U DX150/26 Miscellaneous (various places), 1814 - 1852

U DX150/27 Miscellaneous, 1830-1848

Access Information

Access will be granted to any accredited reader

Custodial History

Copied March 1982 owned by PM Arnott

Related Material

Collection of Yorkshire prints, handbills and other miscellaneous documents (Ref U DX51)