Thursday, 6 July 2017

City status

6th July 2017 is the one hundred and twentieth anniversary of Hull being awarded the title and status of a City. On 6th July 1897, in commemoration of her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Victoria granted by Letters Patent that “Our said Town and County of Kingston upon Hull shall henceforth for the future and for ever hereafter be a City and shall be called and styled “The City and County of Kingston upon Hull.”

Letter Patent conferring City Status, 1897 (ref C BRC/32) 
The new title was in response to a petition from the Lord Mayor and Hull’s three MPs. In it, they pointed out to the Queen-Empress that Hull had a population estimated at 225,000; that it had a rich and honourable history; and that it was “the only great town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and it ranks as a port next to London and Liverpool.”

Portrait of Queen Victoria to commemorate her visit to Hull
in 1854 by George Pycock Everett Green, in the Guildhall.

The Queen and her Prime Minister Lord Salisbury were persuaded, and a document, Letters Patent, was issued granting the new title. The whole process cost £1, five shillings and sixpence.

The 1897 Letters Patent may have stipulated that Hull should be a City for ever, but this continuity was interrupted at the reorganisation of local government in 1974. Between the implementation of the 1972 Local Government Act on 1 April 1974, and a re-grant of the status of City by the current Queen on 18 March 1975, Hull was a Borough once again; a second tier local authority in the County of Humberside.

In 2012, the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, Hull City Council petitioned for the re-creation of the ancient offices of High Steward and Sheriff of Hull, which had also been abolished in 1974. As a result of the petition, and to commemorate her Diamond Jubilee, Her Majesty revived both offices, which are now held by Lord (Peter) Mandelson as High Steward, and Lady (Virginia) Bottomley as Sheriff.

Martin Taylor
City Archivist

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