A young Pocklington shoemaker called John Champley was sentenced for two years hard labour for being party to the theft of eighty pounds of butt leather in Pocklington on 13th December 1817. He was sent to the House of Correction in Beverley but attempted an escape by scaling the wall with a rope but was caught and sentenced to transportation to Australia. He arrived in the penal colony of Sydney in October 1819. After serving his sentence, he was assigned to a shoemaker in Parramatta and eventually left with the shoemaker’s wife. In 1829, Champley and his family left Sydney to live in a place called Bong Bong, and following a robbery in the area, he was falsely accused of the crime and sentenced to death at Campbelltown. Champley and his two alleged accomplices were saved from the gallows following appeal, and sentenced to a life of hard labour in irons and sent to the notorious Norfolk island. About a year later two captured bushrangers confessed to the robbery and Champley, and the other two accused men were brought home and pardoned. The full story is told in a book called "The Campbelltown Convicts" by Peter J. Hinds and is available to read in Pocklington Library.
This story, and others, provides a fascinating account of how Pocklington and district residents were convicted of the most petty of crimes, and then transported to the colonies where they served their sentences, and later released to help build the fledgling communities of the British colonies. Other stories include that of Jane Read, a 12 year old maid of the innkeeper Christopher Scaife of the Old Red Lion in Regent Street. In 1789, she stole 3 guineas and was eventually transported to Australia, and then moved to Norfolk Island aboard the ship ‘Lady Juliana’. Another case was of William Linton, aged 45, who stole 10 sheaves of oats, the property of Charles Weddell. The sentence was to be transported for seven years and tragically in the court his wife cried to the judge "What shall I do?, Please your honour do transport me too, what will become of my poor child?". Some emigrants were attracted not only by a new life start but by making their fortune, such as Henry Wright, son of Thomas Wright of Pocklington, who sent money back from the Gold Diggings in Australia for the coal fund for relieving the poor, for the schools, the clothing clubs for the poor and to the Byron lodge of Oddfellows. Canada was settled by people from this area, and in Ontario familiar place names like Malton and Pickering were established. Thomas Rispin (a farmer from Fangfoss) and his friend, John Robinson took one of the ships that came out to Nova Scotia in 1774. A newspaper report at the time tells about the two ships which sailed from Scarborough
"They had on board a large number of emigrants for Halifax and Fort Cumberland in Nova Scotia. It is much to be feared that few of them have considered the consequences attending so large a number of people being for at least two months crowded together four in a bed, and those beds one upon another three deep, with not so much room betwixt each as to admit even the smallest person to fit up on end : Some of them it is said were in high spirits, exporting great advantages on their arrival at their destined port ; others, on the contrary, were much depressed, fearing they had been too precipitate in their resolution of leaving their native home. It is confidently said, that the overseers of the poor of a market-town on the sea coast of this County paid freight for as many of the poor in their parish who were, or were likely to become, chargeable, and were contented to be thus transported, in hopes of changing their present poverty for a better prospect in a distant clime.”
My Great Uncle Henry Sleightholme builds a stable in New Zealand
Thousands emigrated to the New World from East Yorkshire in the C18th and C19th, many of them from Pocklington and surrounding villages. C19th trade directories note the population of a number of parishes declining due to emigration, with Kirby Underdale and East Cottingwith singled out as places where emigration to America had been particularly popular. There are people with the surname Pocklington throughout the world and there is a tiny hamlet called Pocklington in South Africa's Free State. The Pocklington vine was an early New York native variety of grape. Pocklington Reef is a coral atoll in the Pacific, Pocklington is a district in New South Wales, Australia. Pocklington Point is on the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Was Melbourne in Australia named after Melbourne in the East Riding? That’s another story !