Sheffield, a municipal, parliamentary, and county borough in the West Riding of Yorkshire, in a hilly country, at the confluence of the Sheaf with the Don, 46 miles SSW. of York, 41 E. of Manchester, and 165 NNW. of London. It possesses some fine public buildings, such as the parish church of St Peter, supposed to have been erected in the reign of Henry I., 240 feet long by 130 feet broad; St Mary's Roman Catholic Church (1850), surmounted by a spire 195 feet high; the Albert Hall (1873), cutlers' hall, corn exchange; the new market-hall, or Norfolk Market, erected in 1851 by the Duke of Norfolk at a cost of about £40,000; music-hall, assembly-rooms, theatres, etc. In 1875 and succeeding years a street improvement scheme was carried out at a cost of upwards of half a million. The new town-hall (1891-97) cost, with site, about £130,000. There are botanic gardens and fine cemeteries; the Free Grammar-school, the Wesley College (1838). The Firth College (1879) became a university in 1905, with faculties of arts and science, and medicine, and a technical department, including laboratories, foundries, and machine-shops. The Mechanics' Institution dates from 1832. There are free and other public libraries, an Athenaeum, a Literary and Philosophical Society, and the Mappin Art Gallery; and Mr Ruskin founded the St George's Museum here (formerly at Walk-ley, but since 1890 in the town itself), in which he deposited an important collection of minerals, illuminated manuscripts, engravings, and drawings. Sheffield has long been noted for the manufacture of cutlery; and at the present day an endless variety of articles in brass, iron, and steel is produced, such as knives, silver and plated articles, Britannia-metal goods, coach-springs, spades, spindles, hammers, files, saws, boilers, stoves, grates, buttons, etc. The introduction of the manufacture of armour-plates, railway-springs, tires, and rails in 1871 gave a remarkable impetus to the growth of the town. Sheffield has several public parks (one presented in 1878), and two sets of public baths. Pop. (1821) 69,479; (1841) 111,091; (1861) 154,093; (1881) 284,508; (1901)380,717.
Sheffield has from Saxon times been the capital of a district known as 'Hallamshire.' William de Lovetot built a church at it about 1103. The next lords of Sheffield, the Furnivals, sided with Henry III. against the barons, and the castle was burned in 1266. The Talbots inherited Sheffield, and the third Earl of Shrewsbury greatly increased the dignity of Sheffield castle. Queen Elizabeth imposed on the sixth Earl of Shrewsbury the responsibility of holding Queen Mary of Scotland a prisoner here (1572-86, with short intervals). Through the Arundels, the vast Sheffield estates ultimately vested in the Dukes of Norfolk. Sheffield sided against King Charles; and in August 1644 the castle was taken by the parliamentarians, and soon afterwards demolished. The cutlery trade had existed from the earliest times; the ' Sheffield whittle' was spoken of by Chaucer, and the Cutlers' Company was founded in 1624. Up to the middle of the 18th century Sheffield was a mean place, but rose in the 19th to be the ' capital of steel' in Britain, and perhaps in the world. Till 1845 the whole town was included in one parish; there are now thirty-seven ecclesiastical parishes. Sheffield was first enfranchised in 1832; and by the bill of 1885 the borough was divided into five parliamentary districts, each with one member. In March 1864 a new embankment, constructed for the Sheffield Water Company, at Bradfield, gave way; 250 persons perished; mills, houses, and hamlets were swept away, and damage done to private property to the extent of near £300,000. In 1866 trade outrages in the form of 'rattening,' long a discredit to Sheffield, were put an end to. See Hunter's Hallamshire (1819; new ed. 1869); Gatty's Sheffield, Past and Present (1873); Leader's Reminiscences of Old Sheffield (1875); and Leader's Sheffield in the Eighteenth Century (1901).