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Also by Terry Spencer

The following studies by Terry Spencer are now available on the Knottingley website:

KNOTTINGLEY CARNIVAL
By the last quarter of the nineteenth century the August Bank Holiday period at Knottingley abounded in fun and frolic with the Feast as the hub of the festivities. The fair was supplemented by community sports and of the sporting element within the town none was more prominent than Knottingley Town Cricket Club.

KNOTTLA FLATTS:
Situated on the southern bank of the River Aire, to the north side of Aire Street, lies Knottingley Flatts. Today, the Flatts occupy only a small portion of the original layout which comprised the greater part of Knottingley Ings.

KNOTTLA FEAST:
The modern image of the fair is one of outdoor entertainment for pleasure seeking people but such a concept is one which has developed over the last two centuries being born as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

HOSPITAL SUNDAYS:
Prior to the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948 local people relied for health care in the event of sickness or serious injury upon charitable institutions such as Pontefract Dispensary and Leeds Infirmary.

KNOTTINGLEY COAT-OF-ARMS:
The application by Knottingley Urban District Council for a grant of arms was made to the College of Arms, London, in mid 1942.

FERRYBRIDGE GLASSWORKS:
That there was a glassworks at Ferrybridge is indisputable for it was both documented and photographed. That it was situated on the north bank of the River Aire "..where the Parish of Brotherton merges into the Parish of Ferrybridge" is confirmed by map reference. The doubt lies not in the existence or location of the furnace but with its origin.

NINETEENTH CENTURY KNOTTINGLEY:
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

KNOTTINGLEY PLAYING FIELDS:
As the process of industrialisation and urban development gained pace in the second half of the nineteenth century the provision of public spaces such as municipal gardens and parks for the purpose of public recreation and amenity became increasingly desirable.

CAPTAIN PERCY BENTLEY:
Percy Bentley, scion of a prominent Knottingley family, was born in that town on the 18th January 1891, the son of James William and Helena Bentley, and was baptised in the parish church of St. Botolph on the 11th February.

KNOTTINGLEY WAR MEMORIAL:
On Wednesday, 25th September 1918, a committee previously sanctioned by Knottingley Urban District Council in meeting assembled, met in the Council Chamber at Knottingley Town Hall to consider the form of memorial to the men who had fallen during the Great War.

FERRYBRIDGE WAR MEMORIAL:
No less than the citizens of its larger neighbour, the inhabitants of the village of Ferrybridge decided to honour those drawn from the community and slain in the Great War.

THE 'K' SISTERS:
For approximately a decade from the mid 1940's the 'K' Sisters, Marjorie and Pamela Kellett, were prominent throughout the town and district of Knottingley as all-round entertainers who harnessed their talent to providing public enjoyment and in so doing raised large amounts of money for local charities.

THE PALACE CINEMA:
The new cinema, one of the earliest purpose-built picture houses in the country, was situated on an oblique strip of land some 560 square yards in extent, adjacent to Ship Lane at the junction with lower Aire Street. The hall was designed to seat 600 people: 500 in the area and 100 in the balcony.

KNOTTINGLEY PUBLIC HOUSES & BREWERIES:
In 1752, eighteen residents of the township of Knottingley in company with John Mitchell, the Parish Constable, agreed to be bound over in the sum of £10 each to observe the legal and moral obligations attendant upon being granted a licence as an innkeeper.

KNOTTINGLEY TOWN HALL CLOCK:
In the Spring of 1994, the recently deceased and much lamented Edwin Beckett arranged for the installation of a clock at the top of the Town Hall turret. The event was celebrated in verse by Mrs Joyce Bell who concluded her eulogy by stating that her mother, Dolly Lightowler, had always wished to see a clock set in the "bare face" of the Town Hall - a wish which had now come true.

STATUE OF THE BLACK PRINCE:
Awareness of a link between my native Knottingley and the Prince's statue came quite recently when Mrs Shirley Bedford of Knottingley informed me that her great grandfather was the master of a barge which had transported the statue from Hull to Leeds in 1903.

KNOTTLA NICKNAMES:
It was in the course of a recent conversation with Roger Ellis that the subject of nicknames arose, following which, in an idle half-hour, I casually began to compile a list of those I recalled. My list quickly exceeded fifty in number and I was seized by a natural desire to list as many more as I could obtain.

KNOTTINGLEY SILVER BAND:
The origin of Knottingley Band is obscure. In 1980 the Band celebrated its conjectured centenary year, the date being taken from an old letterhead of 1880.  However, a subsequent documentary source has been located which indicates that the genesis of the Band may lie much further in the past.

KNOTTINGLEY TOWN HALL:
The burgeoning spirit of civic pride found practical expression on 29th October 1864, when a group of prominent citizens of the town formed the Knottingley Town Hall & Mechanics’ Institute Company Limited.

FIELD SYSTEMS AND PLACE NAMES OF OLD KNOTTINGLEY:
The purpose of this study is to consider the topography of modern day Knottingley and formulate a theoretical model concerning the development of the settlement during the medieval and post medieval eras as reflected in the field systems adopted.

GAZETTEER OF KNOTTINGLEY PLACE NAMES:
An A-Z listing of Knottingley field and place names.

LIME GROVE AND THE CARTER FAMILY
One of the most impressive and graceful houses ever built at Knottingley was Lime Grove. The large attached house was the residence of the Carter family and was built to the orders of Mark Carter at Mill Close, Hill Top, about 1808.

WAR SAVINGS WEEKS:
Conflict is fuelled by finance so it is unsurprising that following the outbreak of war in 1939, local savings committees were established to encourage people to curb personal expenditure and invest surplus cash in the National War Savings Scheme in order to assist the cost of the war.

SELECT VESTRY RIOTS 1874:
The township of Knottingley became a semi-autonomous parish in 1789 following the ecclesiastical reorganisation of that period but remaining under the patronage of the Vicar of Pontefract until it became an independent parish in 1846

 
Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History

ASPECTS OF CIVIL ADMINISTRATION AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN

NINETEENTH CENTURY KNOTTINGLEY


By TERRY SPENCER B.A. (HONS), Ph D.

Preliminary Draft May 2005

CHAPTER THREE

KNOTTINGLEY POOR LAW : INDOOR RELIEF

For those whose abject need arose from inability to fend for themselves due to age or infirmity and who had no alternative means of subsistence the only recourse was admittance to the workhouse as designated recipients of indoor relief. However, the general reluctance of Knottingley Select Vestry to sanction indoor relief on grounds of economy and lack of space may be judged by the 1850 resolution;

"That William Pew be not allowed to come into the Workhouse." (1)

Again, in 1856,

"Rather than Jessie Walker and his wife should come into the House the Committee have decided that Pay should be allowed as before. Say 2s 6d per week." (2)

Conversely, the natural aversion of some paupers, even in the face of dire need, may be seen by the decision of the Select Vestry that;

"If Joseph Bolton refuse to come into the House he be allowed only one shilling per week."

Also, in January 1843,

"Thomas Colley be compelled to come into the House." (3)

In borderline cases admittance to the workhouse was optional.

"William Smith to have 2s 6d per week or come into the House." (4)

By judicious selection, the workhouse population was confined for the most part to those such as orphans, women with dependant children and those of advanced years, mainly males, too old to undertake hard physical work. An example of the latter case may be seen from a decision of November 1857 that,

"Geo Marshall come into the House or remain on the roads whichever he pleases." (5)

Marshall perhaps being considered too old for the rigorous labour of breaking stones to maintain the parish highway in accordance with statutory demand for able-bodied paupers to qualify for relief.

Analysis of the Census Return for 1841 shows the justification of the policy of judicious selection. At that date the modest sized workhouse held 17 inmates (plus being a residence for the Workhouse Master, his wife and daughter) 13 males, 4 females, of which total 3 were children and 11 were over 65 years of age.

Similarly, in February 1840 it is recorded;

"That Daniel Shaw be sent to work in Mr. Shaw’s quarry and his wife to be sent to work in Mr. Shaw’s warehouse and they be separated at night."

Clearly, the authorities were anxious to avoid having to assume parish responsibility for any offspring. (18) Presumably, the precautionary measure was de rigueur under the old Poor Law but the Act of 1834 which established the New Poor Law had emphasised the policy of separation of the sexes and doubtless influenced events at Knottingley even though a local Poor Law Union, as prescribed by the Act, was not established until 1862. (19)

To reinforce the high morale tone inmates were subjected to additional limitations on their freedom. In July 1839 for instance, it was decreed that;

"All persons in receipt of parish pay shall attend some place of worship on the Sabbeth day" (20)

and to supplement theocracy on the rates, seasonal constraint on the freedom of the inmates was enforced viz: -

"From the 1st November no pauper to be allowed out of the workhouse after 6.00pm until the 1st March." (21)

Yet despite such restrictions admittance to the workhouse was deemed a favour by the authorities as shown by the members of the Select Vestry in 1831 who, denying a widow’s application for relief, agreed that she be

"…given the privilege of coming into the House."  (22)

The ‘privilege’ was not obtained without corresponding exactions, the last ounce of energy being extracted from those classified as able-bodied.

"John Tree be sent to the Surveyor to work for what he is worth" (23)

begs the question as to whether the local grandees regarded Tree’s likely contribution to be minimal in nature or were merely content to allow the Surveyor to assess his labour value; presumably very little in either eventuality.

Work based relief also extended on occasion to applicants seeking outdoor relief. In June 1835 Jane Chapman was granted one shilling per week conditional upon her attendance one day per week to assist in the cleaning of the workhouse. (24)

A prerequisite for those entering the workhouse was the surrender of all personal belongings. Thus it is recorded that;

"William Osmond’s goods be taken by the Overseers" (25)

and that

"Richard Cliffe come into the House and give up his goods." (26)

Likewise

"That Jane Finney be removed into the House… and her effects, if any, be taken possession of." (27)

Ostensibly the measure was to safeguard against theft as shown in a case in July 1852 when a new inmate was admitted and it was resolved;

"That Widow Thrask’s goods be marked to prevent her friends taking them." (28)

A further indication of such a likelihood may be contained in the order of February 1842, that;

"John Howram have the oven that was taken by Amelia Mountier." (29)

It is possible however, that goods seized may have been placed in the custody of a third party, hence the instruction that;

"William Longwood’s goods be released from Mrs Hobson." (30)

On occasion goods surrendered were, at least in part, restored to an inmate. Joseph Bolton whose reluctance to enter the workhouse is recorded above, was allowed the use of his clock, bed and a few chairs some eighteen months after being admitted (31) and when James Crabtree was committed in July 1844 for arrears of Poor Rate totalling £1-13-4, he was allowed to take his bed into the workhouse. (32)

On occasion confiscated goods were used to defray the cost of relief previously donated. In April 1834 when the wife and three children of Edward Tupman were granted 4s per week relief the Select Vestry ordered;

"An inventory of [Tupman’s] goods be taken…to pay the Town for the money advanced to his family." (33)

Possession of personal effects by the Overseers provided the Select Vestry with a bargaining counter as seen in the case of a dispute with one John Standidge. Standidge’s wife was committed to the workhouse in June 1854, possibly on account of her feeble mindedness. Charged for her maintenance, Standidge sought to be excused payment but was refused and threatened with being summonsed for his default. (34) However, in June 1855, the Select Vestry concluded;

".. that 3s per week for John Standidge to pay his wife is sufficient" (35)

but Standidge either could not or would not pay. Later, upon the (presumed) death of his wife, Standidge applied for the return of her personal belongings but was informed that he could;

"… have the things left by his wife when he paid her maintenance." (36)

The impasse continued and in October 1856, it was resolved;

"That notice be given to John Standidge that his wife’s goods will be sold in a week if he does not pay the money due for her maintenance." (37)

The outcome of the dispute is unrecorded.

Upon leaving the workhouse the inmates had their goods restored to them. When provision was made for Mary Jobson’s move to Hull in September 1859 it was stated that, inter alia, she should;

"… have her boots" (38)

Similarly, when Sarah Ann Gill was allowed out of the House about that time it was stipulated that she should;

"… have the articles belonging to her." (39)

Sometimes an inmate’s goods were only restored in part as in the case of Widow Braithwaite who upon applying to leave the workhouse in 1829 to go to live with her daughter, was faced with the decree that;

"The Town take what goods they think proper and she take the rest along with her children." (40)

Following the death of an inmate with no obvious next of kin the deceased’s clothes were disbursed at the discretion of the Workhouse Master, subject to the approval of the Select Vestry Committee. An example of such thriftiness is seen in the proposal that;

"Sarah Gill have the wearing apparel of the late Kitty Bramley." (42)

While paupers in receipt of outdoor relief had their pay stopped upon entering the workhouse (43) there are, however, numerous indications of concessions to inmates which reveal that the harsh uniformity associated with the post 1834 Union workhouses was not applicable in the administration of the Old Poor Law system. For example, in 1839 William Agas was allowed;

"1 pint of sago and a glass of wine per day and a little of something nourishing by Dr. Hill’s recommendation." (44)

When Widow Newton was admitted to the workhouse in a state of destitution in 1841, it was resolved that she be given a few shillings (45) and in February that year the oldest inmate, 85 year old Sarah Dyson, was sanctioned to;

".. have a bit of savoury meat and cheese" (46)

and in June 1846 it was approved that William Darnford have 1lb of meat extra. (47)

Upon entering the workhouse paupers were sometimes allowed to bring along a few personal effects. In 1848, the Vestry resolved that;

"John Heap have a few things brought in that are absolutely necessary" (48)

and when John Wild became a parish pauper in 1831 his goods were disposed of by public sale, the Overseers attending the sale at the command of the Select Vestry to purchase a few items considered necessary for his use. (49) Again, in 1857, it was agreed that;

"a few of William Lightowler’s things be brought." (50)

Holiday’s and ‘leave days’ were not uncommon for regular inmates although one suspects that the authorities may have had an underlying motive for granting the same.

When Sarah Dyson was;

"allowed to go see her friends at Stock.." [undecipherable]

in March 1841, the concession may have been tempered by the hope that her visit would become permanent. However, Dyson’s recorded residence at the workhouse the following June reveals that any such hope was abortive. (51)

Again, in November 1841, clothes were provided for Maria Oxley to attend the Statutes fair at Pontefract it was clearly hoped that she would be hired for domestic or agricultural service and thus cease to be a charge upon Knottingley parish rate. (52) The mission was obviously unsuccessful and when Maria applied for leave to go to York later the same month, her request was denied. (53)

Notwithstanding the attempts to control the number of paupers seeking indoor relief requirement always outstripped available space resulting in overcrowding and potential danger to health and safety of the inmates. By the end of 1858 it was decreed that;

"Mr Smith [Assistant Overseer and Workhouse Master] provide by the next Vestry and account of the number of Men, Women & Children now in the workhouse and also an account of the number of rooms and Beds and how many sleep in each bed." (54)

Unfortunately, there is no record of Smith’s report but it is known that generally there were double beds for women and single beds for men with children often sleeping three to a bed. (55) Whatever the statistics concerning the accommodation at Knottingley Workhouse we may be sure that the conditions were claustrophobic and unhygienic.

©2005 Dr. Terry Spencer


| INDEX | INTRODUCTION | CHAPTER ONE | CHAPTER TWO | CHAPTER THREE | CHAPTER FOUR |
| CHAPTER FIVE | CHAPTER SIX | CHAPTER SEVEN |
CHAPTER EIGHT | CHAPTER NINE | CHAPTER TEN |


 

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