PONTEFRACT BOROUGH, RECORDS (WMT/PO)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Including signed and copy minutes of council and committees, 1653-1974, registers of local land charges, 1926-1973, records of the parks and cemeteries department 1924-1974, records of the public health inspector's department, 1971-1973, Clerk's department records of legal agreements, 1924-1933, of burials 1923-1971, of public relations, 1946-1974, of local government reorganisations, 1917-1969, of parliamentary elections, 1929-1939, and of the Borough Quarter Sessions 1923-1967. Treasurer's department records comprising general and rate fund accounts, 1907-1974, loan and capital accounts, 1903-1962, housing accounts, 1915-1953, education accounts, 1916-1945, abattoir accounts, 1963-1966, cemetery accounts, 1919-1932, library accounts, 1918-1924, market accounts, 1930-1939 and salaries, wages and personnel accounts, 1934-1951, valuation lists and rate books, 1914-1959, correspondence, 1940-1960, and public utility records, 1904-1956. Surveyor's department records, 1940-1974; and Medical Officer of Health, Chief Sanitary Inspector and Public Health Inspector's records, 1898-1974 including Chief Health Inspectors Monthly Report Book, 1971-1973, registers of factories, 1938-1974, distributors of milk, 1950-1974, hawkers of food, 1952-1972 and smoke control orders, 1960-1974. Pontefract Poor Law Union rate books, 1914-1921, Osgoldcross Assessment Committee cash book, 1940-1950, West Riding (Eastern Districts) Joint Planning Committee minutes, 1944-1948, National Society of Clean Air minutes 1947-1974, Pontefract, Goole and Selby Water Board reports 1961-1967, Featherstone Urban District Council Medical Officer of Health reports, 1907-1950, Borough of Goole accounts, 1955-1961, Selby Urban District Council accounts, 1960-1962, and Pontefract Rural District Council rate book, 1936-37. Borough Charters, 1194-1695 including Roger de Lacy's grant to the burgesses of Pontefract, 1194, charter of confirmation by Henry de Lacy, 1278, charter of incorporation of Richard III, 1484, letters patent of Edward IV, 1550, Charles II, 1677, and James II, 1685. Title deeds, 16th-20th century, Pontefract Quarter Sessions records, 17th-20th century, Borough Court records, 1588-1827, Mayor's accounts, 1785-1799, Corporation accounts, 1831-1973, charities records, 1574-c1950. Street Commissioners minutes, 1810-1854, Carleton Parish Council minutes, 1894-1937, Carleton overseers' records, 1788-1855. Comprising weights and measures certificate of verification, 1847. Registers of new houses, 1924-1939, 1946-1974, papers regarding slum clearance including compulsory purchase orders, 1960s-70s, registers of mortgages, transfers and mortgage accounts, c1929-70, registers of advances from loans (housing), 1950s-1970s, registers of temporary loans repaid, 1970-74, contracts register, c1969-74, personnel registers, 1950s-1960s.

Administrative / Biographical History

Pontefract is one of the oldest boroughs in the country. Soon after the Conquest in 1066, the occupying Norman armies built what would become Pontefract castle. The castle held sway over extensive lands including Leeds, Bradford and over towards Huddersfield. Pontefract received its first charter as a free borough from Roger de Lacy in 1194, confirmed by Henry de Lacy in 1278, under which a public officer, holding office from year to year and known as Headborough was appointed. The title of this dignitary was changed to Mayor in consequence of a further charter in 1484. Richard III granted the first Royal Charter incorporating the Borough and granting a gild merchant together with a hanse. It made the Lord the Mayor, the Steward became the Town Clerk and the Jurors became the Burgers. There were various local privileges attached to the charter rights and these were usually let out by tender to locals who then had the right to collect and would be supported by the Council when appropriate. Henry VII in 1488, on the occasion of a formal visit, confirmed the Charter granted by Richard. Further Charters were granted to the Borough, one by Edward VI, one by James I, one by Charles II, one by James II and one by George I.

The former borough of Pontefract was initially made up of four parts, the Manor of Tanshelf, the Manor of Monkhill, the Borough of Pontefract and Pontefract Park. Pontefract had some 761 enclosures, Tanshelf had 125 and Carleton 123. Tanshelf Manor never had a resident Lord so there was never any need for a Manor House with the usual barns etc in which to store the Lord's produce. There was Tanshelf court in what became Front Street, but this was in the ownership of the Warde family until quite recently. The Tanshelf Pinfold was on the West side of Mill Hill, sometimes referred to as Toll Hill and was absorbed by The Priory Estate in the Eighteenth century by Radcliffe Medley. The Pinfold for the Park was in the area now used for storing Market Stalls to the East of Park Road. Pontefract's Pinfold was at the bottom of Gillygate. Part of Tanshelf was actually Carleton and the usual title was "Tanshelf cum Carleton" but in 1937 the borough was enlarged by the inclusion within the boundaries of the Parish of Carleton and was divided into six wards.

When Civil War broke out Pontefract Castle remained a Royalist stronghold and was reputed to have been the last to fall to Cromwell's armies. The town's motto 'Post Mortem Patris Pro Filio' meaning 'after the death of the father, we are for the son' was originally a royalist motto.

A considerable amount of the running of the town up until the 19th century rested with the Church Vestry Meeting who were responsible for the poor of the town and the Poor Law money collection amongst various other matters. As the Vestry could levy a rate, although it had to be approved by two magistrates, they had possibly more power than the Council at one time. The Council achieved real power under various acts during the late 19th century, modernizing their way of managing the affairs of the town. At one time there were Street Commissioners, usually the largest ratepayers, who looked after the maintenance of the streets and the water supply. Eventually though their powers were taken over by the Borough Council.

The Pontefract Corporation bought the right to make their own decisions and paid the annual fee farm rents for the privilege. In Monkhill and Tanshelf there were Manor Courts held. In Tanshelf and Monkhill administration was by the Manor Court. Tanshelf, Monkhill and the Park had no Church after the demolition of St. John's Priory so there was never any need for Church administration. Pontefract had first All Saints, then after the Civil War, St Giles became the Town's Church.

In the later nineteenth century the town expanded with the growth of liquorice sweet making, the coal industry and the stationing of two regiments in permanent barracks. Between 1871 and 1931 the population of Pontefract tripled as a result of these developments, together with growth in sand quarrying, cast iron making, malting and skinyards. In 1872 Pontefract became noted as the first town to use the secret ballot, which was employed in a by-election.

Conditions Governing Access

These records are available from the Bradford Office by appointment. WYAS uses the CARN readers ticket system, please see our website at http://www.wyjs.org.uk/archives-carn.asp

Custodial History

B000106, B000149, B000156, B000172, B000173, B000181, B000245, B000257, B000269, B000326, A000176 1

Related Material

C440, C1249

Geographical Names