The Reverend Thomas Rigby left the parish of Parr on Merseyside in December 1867 to take up a new post in Sheffield. His diary entries over the festive season give details of his first impressions of Sheffield, including the boisterous merrymaking of New Year’s Eve in the town:1 January 1868: ‘Last evening my slumber was frequently broken by the tumults in the streets. There seems to be a custom here – “Sheffield” – of youths dressing themselves up in the most ridiculous costume and going from door to door and screaming a kind of song or hymn, which ends with the words ‘May God send you a happy New Year’.
Furthermore, he added ‘…if the door be not opened, a good attempt is made to break the bell’. All this was, he concluded, ‘an intolerable nuisance’ - a far cry from the night before when he reported to be ‘much pleased with the music of a brass band and hymns sung by a well-trained choir’.
Such was the vicar's dismay at the townsfolk's revelry, he dedicated a full page in his diary to describing the night's activities!Pictured: manuscript diary of Rev. T. Rigby, for 1868, as curate of St George’s (then a perpetual curacy of Sheffield) (Sheffield Archives: PR62); engraving of St George's Church, Brook Hill (Picture Sheffield: s04737).