The fourth in a newly-regular series exploring books and other items selected from our vast collections. In this entry Librarian Antony Ramm is looking at the rather odd requirements of an 18th-century Lord Mayor in Yorkshire…
Before discussing the book in question this week, it’s probably worth saying a little bit about how we’re choosing the items we’re focusing on in this series. As most people probably know, Library books are catalogued using the Dewey code system – a sequence from 001 to 999 that identifies the subject of each work. For the Chimney Corner entries, rather than manually trying to identify something worth highlighting each time, we’ve instead turned to a random number generator, which returns us a number between the aforementioned 001 to 999…we then take that number off to our shelves and stacks in search of the first interesting book that catches our eye at that Dewey entry.
Which is how we’ve come to be looking at this week’s entry, which dates from 1731 and holds the rather grand (and intriguing!) title The customs and orders of the Lord-Mayor, aldermen, sheriffs, four and twenty, and commons of the City of York. Touching the wearing of their several gowns, and the several treats or entertainments at elections, and admittance into counsel, and other antient customs.
We have to say here that we’re not really experts in York’s history. So, in search of some context for this slim book, we did what any decent Librarian would do and…Googled it. And in the results of that search we found a very informative blog that answered all our questions – and more. So, rather than us repeating what’s in that piece, we can only suggest you take a look for yourself: https://streetlifeyork.uk/discover/so-you-want-be-eighteenth-century-lord-mayor
At least after reading that excellent article you know you can visit us at the Central Library in Leeds and take a look for yourself at this charming volume. Do contact us if you would like to take up that opportunity to see what weird and wonderful demands were made of the York Lord-Mayor in the early 18th-century: LibraryEnquiries@leeds.gov.uk or 0113 37 85005
All that remains are to give you these images from our copy of the book, which should give you a flavour of its whimsically-amusing oddities.
Oh! And we should also point out the book was printed and published by legendary York printer Thomas Gent, who was also responsible for another title we’ve previously written about in these pages – his The History of the Loyal Town of Rippon, which (slightly oddly) contains a wonderful image of Leeds in the early 18th-century. (Check out that earlier article to see it!)