To the rear of the main French Gate street there were yards where people lived too. This accommodation was often less than desirable, nevertheless it provided valuable living quarters for a certain cross class of society. Here I will provide a little information about each one in a list form, starting with:
Situated on the east side of the street, this yard was owned by a Richard Aldred. The yard had been in existence on this site since the early 1700’s. Mr Aldred was an iron merchant in Doncaster. He died at the rare old age of 93 on the 17th of July, 1839 at Liverpool.
Situated on the west side of French Gate, this yard was owned by Mr Thomas Boothman and his wife, Anne. He was a shoemaker in the town and died on Thursday 20th March, 1845, at the tender age of 57. He was buried in the Parish Church yard. His wife, Anne, who outlived him to the age of 80 died on June 8th, 1865 and was buried in Doncaster (now Hyde Park) cemetery.
This was essentially a passage which linked French Gate and Factory Lane. It was named after the pub sign at the upper end of the alley, namely the Three Cranes which was erected in 1784-85. In a deed of 1612, the Three Cranes is listed as an inn, “sometymes called the Crane and nowe bearing the signe of the Crowne,” and, was at the time, occupied by a William Cowper. It was sold in 1698 to Thomas Squire, of Doncaster, gent. for £300 and was then described as an “inn heretofore called the Crane, since then called the Crowne,” and occupied by Mr Gibbins. In 1788 it was sold to Mr Dey, and is spoken of as being “divided, and made into several tenements” (apartments) and was occupied by a number of different persons. It is possible that the Three Cranes was a corruption of the Three Crowns – the Tiara or triple crown of Rome. There was a pub that went by the name of the Three Crowns listed on the High Street in 1684.
Situated on the west side of French Gate and owned by the Oxley family since the year 1561. Mr Thomas Oxley was the secretary to the Doncaster Gas Light Company. He was a descendant of Robert Oxley who, for many years was a ‘Fellmonger’ (a dealer in hides and skins, particularly sheep skins) in the town.
Situated on the west side of French Gate and faced Church Lane. The owner and occupier was Mr Thomas Priest. He grew flowers for a living and boasted that his ‘tulips were better than those of the Dutch’. Back then, the tulip was a flower only for the super rich. In 1835, a bulb of the variety called Miss Fanny Kemble was sold by public auction in London for seventy five pounds! Mr Priest belonged to the Royal Jubilee Lodge of Ancient Druids, established at the Green Dragon on 9th October, 1809. He had a ‘pleasant word and a cheerful smile, not only for children, but for adults. His father was also called Thomas Priest and was a baker of this town.
This yard was to be found on the west side of French Gate. The owners were Samuel Lyon, a tailor and his wife Sarah. They died within 6 weeks of each other in 1868, both of them in their 70’s.
This was situated on the east side of French Gate and was more of an open thoroughfare than a yard. It stretched from Friars’ Bridge all the way to the Parish Church-yard (the Minster). It was also an inn yard which was ‘bounded on one side by the back of houses and on the other side by a strong paling, behind which ran a river’ (the Cheswold).