Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Hambleton Drove

Like Cambridgeshire’s Bullock Road and Rutland’s Sewstern Drift, Yorkshire has a route that parallels the Great North Road, used by the drovers. Throughout the 18th century and reaching a peak in the early decades of the 19th, an enormous trade in Scottish cattle developed to feed the rapidly expanding population of London and, to a lesser extent, the industrial cities of northern England. As many as 100 000 cattle may have made the journey per year. There were several routes down the Pennines but a large proportion used the Great North Road through Boroughbridge and Wetherby, where, with 2000 cattle on a busy day, there was considerable congestion at times. Although the cattle were frequently fattened in East Anglia before their final journey to Smithfields, they did need some grazing on the way and space to stop at night. The drovers may also have avoided the tolls on the turnpikes where possible so drove roads that took apparently difficult routes developed.

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