Facts: Knottingley Origins & Development
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.
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.
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.
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
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.