In 1545 the fourth wealthiest man in Pocklington after Robert and John Sotheby and William Dolman was William Ridyard whose inventry of goods and chattels following his death in 1551 shows his wealth came from Malting and became a major industry in the town in the sixteenth century. A number of wealthy wool merchants are also recorded living in Pocklington. This includes Thomas de Berewick who in 1334 was appointed to William de la Pole to buy wool for the king in Yorkshire using loans for the king amounting to a huge £40,000. Berewick has left his reminder in the church when the south transept of the church was known as “Barwyk Aisle”.
The De Pocklington family were the Sheriff’s of Cumberland and of the Albermarle estates in Holderness and these were the owners of the Manor until the honour passed to the Sotheby and Dolman families, both of which families are recorded in the church. The Dolman or Dowman family are best remembered for the founding of the school in Pocklington in 1514. The town’s prosperity and fortune have been very much tied up with those of the school.
The parish of Pocklington was large until it was divided in 1252. It took in the townships of Yapham, Meltonby, Ousethorpe, Allerthorpe, Waplington, Barmby Moor, Bolton, Fangfoss, Spittle, Great and Little Givendale, Grimthorpe, Hayton, Bielby, Millington, Thornton, Melbourne and Storwood. It has remained a consistent size and did not grow in size like Driffield but did not decay as some other similar sized towns did in the area. One reason for the lack of growth is the odd position away from the main York to Hull trunk road and was not helped until the arrival of the railways and the canal in the 19th century. It is the only town in the area not near a main road junction. The position of it was mentioned by Daniel Defoe in 1778 when he states “to the north stands the market town of Pocklington which we were told was so inconsiderable that it would be not worth our while to go much out of our way to see it”
Pocklington’s wealth grew and mostly lie in the hands of its wealthy landowner and main families of the town. The leading families were the Sotheby and Dolman families. Roger Bellingham, a leading local historian, believes the centre of town actually started in two early streets of Chapmangate and Pavement leading to George Street (previously Hungate). He believes that Market place grew up in the late Middle Ages as the animal market and the trading centre of the market town shifted towards Market Place. The old medieval names of streets were gradually replaced.
Medieval Name Later Name
Hungate George Street
Southgate Regent Street
St. Helen’s Gate London Street
St. Peter’s Gate Union Street
By the start of the 18th Century there were two manors in Pocklington, one being the freehold Manor of Robert Dolman and the Copyhold manor of the Dean of York. The Manor Court was run by a jury of freeholders paying “fee farm rents” and administered the open field system until the time of enclosures. The Freehold manor had within it two lesser manors of Hallharth (Stoddow) and the Barwick. The Copyhold court of the Dean of York managed to obtain a Rectory for Pocklington in the time of Henry I. The most active court was the Freehold with a jury consisting of 12 copyholders or tenants. It appointed two constables and four byelawmen, a pinder, a swineherd, two affeerers and four searchers to maintain order. The Copyhold court only had two officers, a constable and pinder.
The town was surrounded by six large open arable fields, which were divided into two groups of three. Enclosures started at the beginning of the eighteenth century and began to a a real impact on the town manor court system by the end of the eighteenth century.