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It became the county town of the West Riding of Yorkshire and was the seat of the West Riding County Council from 1889 until 1974, when the county and council were abolished, and of the West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council from 1974 until its dissolution in 1986.
The name "Wakefield" may derive from "Waca's field" – the open land belonging to someone named "Waca" or could have evolved from the Old English word wacu, meaning "a watch or wake", and feld, an open field in which a wake or festival was held.
The settlement was recorded as Wachfeld in the Domesday Book of 1086, and covered a much greater area than present day Wakefield, much of which was described as "waste".Men from Kirkgate, Westgate, Northgate and Sandal were amongst them and all returned by August.At the time of the Civil War, Wakefield was a Royalist stronghold.In 1203 William de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey received a grant for a market in the town.In 1204 King John granted the rights for a fair at the feast of All Saints, 1 November, and in 1258 Henry III granted the right for fair on the feast of Saint John the Baptist, 24 June.
In the Domesday Book of 1086, it was written Wachefeld and also as Wachefelt.