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Facts: Knottingley Origins & Development

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Knottingley Origins & Development, Page 1


6th Century Saxon Settlement
The township of Knottingley, situated three miles north-east of Pontefract in the Wapentake of Osgoldcross, developed from a 6th century Saxon settlement in a forest clearing on the south bank of the river Aire. By the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066 the settlement had acquired the status of a manorial vill.

First Documentation
The first documentation concerning the settlement of Knottingley is an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 which reveals that Baret, a Saxon thane, had been dismissed as the manorial head and replaced by the Norman, Ranolf, a sub tenant of the de Lacy’s, Tenants in Chief to William I and lords of the honour of Pontefract of which Knottingley was a constituent part.

Crown Land
With the death of Henry de Lacy in 1311 the lordship of Pontefract became the fiefdom of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who inherited the holding through his marriage to Alice, daughter of Henry de Lacy. Thereafter Knottingley was to remain a manor of the Lancasters’ and following the seizure of the crown by Henry Bolingbroke in 1399, the manorial vill became Crown land.

Manor of Knottingley
The dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 made large tracts of land available to the Crown which from the sixteenth century was sold to subsidise the extravagant lifestyle of the impecunious Tudor and early Stuart monarchs. The manor of Knottingley was held by the Wildbore family from whom it eventually passed to one Grimsditch who had married the daughter of Richard Wildbore.

Sir Arthur Ingram
In 1637 Sir Arthur Ingram, a nouveau rich capitalist of a type engendered by the spirit of that era, having financial interests in the township and its vicinity, purchased the manorial rights at Knottingley and installed his nephew and namesake in a newly built manor house at Hill Top, close to the mansion of the Wildbores’ which stood adjacent to St. Botolph’s Church.

Ingram Family Descendants
For 150 years from 1637, the manor of Knottingley was in the possession of the Ingrams and their descendants but following the demise of the Rev. Gooderick Ingram in 1787 the manor was again sub divided and at the time of the enclosure survey in 1795 the manorial lands were held by the families of Frank, Wasney, Poole and Thompson.

Inland River Port
The erection of a mill on the river bank to the west of the manorial demesne necessitated the construction of a weir across the waterway to provide the motive power to drive the mill wheel. Consequently, navigation of the waterway above the mill dam was curtailed, necessitating the transhipment of all goods and materials below that point. As a result, the manor of Knottingley became an important inland river port having a dual capacity as the port which serviced the hinterland of the West Riding of Yorkshire and also as the base from which the nearby fortress of Pontefract Castle was victualled.

Shipbuilding
The rise of Knottingley as a significant river port involved with the coastal and inland trade from the fourteenth century also encouraged the introduction of local shipbuilding and allied trades as a corollary to the maritime activity. Thus, by the beginning of the nineteenth century the place was a hive of activity with the potential for further industrial and commercial development stimulated by the rapid progress of the Industrial Revolution.

Limestone Extraction
The limestone extraction industry, whilst long established within and around the township of Knottingley, developed rapidly from the mid-eighteenth century stimulating land purchase. As a result, by the first decade of the nineteenth century much of the manorial land, particularly within the former open field to the south of the town, had been acquired by limestone merchants such as Edward Gaggs, William Moorhouse and Benjamin Atkinson.



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