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Sheffield was a comparatively late developer among the great English cities. Its situation was determined by the river Sheaf joining the Don: William de Lovetot built a castle in the angle in the 12th cent. together with a bridge. The property passed to the earls of Shrewsbury and thence to the dukes of Norfolk. As early as the 14th cent. Sheffield had a national reputation for cutlery, since Chaucer's Miller from Trumpington had a ‘Sheffield whittle’, a short dagger or knife, in his hose. By Leland's day, in the 1540s, it was ‘the chief market town of Hallamshire’. Its development as a great steel town depended upon local supplies of iron, the water-power of the Loxley, Rivelin, and Porter, as well as the Sheaf and Don, and sandstone for grinding. Camden's Britannia (1580s) found Sheffield ‘remarkable, among many other places hereabouts, for blacksmiths, there being much iron digged up in these parts’. The Cutlers' Company was granted a charter under the master cutler in 1624. Mary, queen of Scots, was held prisoner in the castle for thirteen years in the custody of George, earl of Shrewsbury, and the castle changed hands several times during the Civil War. Defoe in the 1720s found the town ‘very populous and large, the streets narrow, and the houses dark and black, occasioned by the continued smoke of the forges, which are always at work’. Two innovations in the 1740s and improved communications brought about the vast expansion. Thomas Boulsover invented Sheffield plate, silver on copper, and Benjamin Huntsman a new process for making steel: the Don was made navigable to Tinsley in 1751 and turnpike roads were opened to Chesterfield (1756), Wakefield (1758), and Worksop (1764). By 1801, Sheffield, with a population of 31,000, was the tenth town in England. It was given parliamentary representation by the Great Reform Act of 1832, acquired a town council in 1843, and by 1861 was fifth largest, with 185,000 people. It became a city in 1893, gained a university in 1905, was given cathedral status in 1914. But perhaps it took greater pleasure from passing Leeds in population in 1911. By the 1990s communications had been further improved with the M1 motorway, the population exceeded half a million, and it was the capital of the South Yorkshire metropolitan region.

J. A. Cannon

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SHEFFIELD , steel manufacturing city in N.E. England. Some Jews may have settled in Sheffield in the 18th century, but the first family of note was the Bright family, many of whose descendants, however, later married non-Jews. There was an incipient community in 1827 centered around the Jacobs family, who maintained a synagogue in their own home and employed a shoḥet. A permanent congregation was organized in 1838 and in 1851 was able to buy the premises used as a synagogue and advertise for a minister. During the mass immigration of 1881 to 1914, a number of Russo-Polish refugees settled in Sheffield; by the beginning of the 20th century the Jewish population was 800. However, it was more difficult for Jews to enter steel industries than clothing industries and consequently Sheffield attracted proportionately fewer Jews than many other manufacturing cities in northern England. In 1953 the two synagogues were amalgamated; there were a number of communal and Zionist organizations in the city, as well as a University Jewish Society and Hillel House. In 1969 Sheffield had a Jewish population of 1,600 (out of a total of 490,000). In the mid-1990s the Jewish population dropped to approximately 800. In 2001, the British census found 763 declared Jews in Sheffield. The city has an Orthodox and a Reform synagogue. Armin Krausz's Sheffield Jewry (1980) is a sociological study of the community.


C. Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 99; Lipson, in: Transactions of the Hunter Archeological Society, 6 no. 3, 117–25; jyb; V.D. Lipman, Social History of the Jews in England, 18501950 (1954), 24, 102, 138, 171.

[Vivian David Lipman]

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Sheffield City and county district in South Yorkshire, n England. A hilly city, it lies at the confluence of the River Don and its tributaries, the Sheaf, Rivelin, and Lordey. It is a major industrial centre, noted for its steel. Pop. (1997) 530,600.

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