Sheffield, a town of Yorkshire, England, in the West riding, at the junction of the Sheaf and three smaller streams with the Don, 141 m. N. N. W. of London; pop. in 1871, 239,-946; in 1874 reported at 261,029. The streams which unite here have their source in the surrounding high lands, and supply a large amount of effective water power. The town occupies a natural amphitheatre opening toward the northeast, and was originally confined to the angle between the Don and the Sheaf, but has extended up the slopes of the hills. The streets are well paved and lighted with gas, and the rivers are crossed by fine bridges. The original parish Church was erected in the time of Henry L, and there are several handsome modern churches. In 1872 there were 123 places of worship, of which 28 belonged to the church of England, 62 to various denominations of Methodists, 13 to the Con-gregationalists, 4 to the Baptists, and 4 to the Roman Catholics. The higher educational institutions are the People's college, the church of England institute, the Wesley college, the collegiate school, the old endowed grammar school, the mechanics institution, and the government school of art, one of the best conducted in England. Its benevolent institutions are numerous and well sustained.
A great music hall was opened in 1873, and a public park in 1874. The town, partly from the want of suitable drainage and partly from the un-healthfulness of some of the occupations, has a higher rate of mortality than most of the large towns of England. The river Don was made navigable to within 3 m. in 1751, and a canal subsequently prolonged the navigation to the town. The canal basin is accessible to vessels of 60 tons. Sheffield has for several centuries been renowned for its knives, and it is the chief seat of the English manufacture of cast, shear, and blister steel of all kinds, steel wire, cutlery and tools of almost every variety, railway and carriage springs and buffers, and many other kinds of steel and iron ware, as well as all classes of silver, silver-plated, electro-plated, German silver, britannia, and other white metal goods. Britannia metal and the process of silver-plating were invented here. Snuff is largely produced. There are extensive iron and brass founderies, and plates have been made for iron-clad ships. Among other important manufactures are those of optical instruments, especially spectacle glasses, and of articles in great variety from pressed horns and hoofs.
The cutlers' company had its origin in the 16th century, and was incorporated by statute in the reign of James I. Its restrictions, which interfered with the prosperity of the trade, were mitigated in 1801, and wholly abolished in 1814. It is the trustee of several important charities, besides which its only duties are the granting of trade marks to cutlers. - Sheffield was a Saxon town, and received a charter as a market town from Edward I. in 1296. Early in the 15th century it came under the control of the earls of Shrewsbury, who had a castle in the town, and a manor house in a park a mile east, in one or the other of which the greater part of the captivity of Mary, queen of Scots, was passed. The castle was demolished in 1648 by order of parliament, and the park divided into farms in 1707. The great development of the town as a centre of manufacture has made it the scene of some of the most violent demonstrations in connection with the trades unions. In 1864 the bursting of the Bradfield reservoir in the hills above it resulted in the loss of 300 lives and of property valued at about £1,000,000.