, two mendicant ecclesiastics came to solicit charity, at the same time informing her that they were going to Rome, where her husband, Sir John, then resided. On this intelligence, she wrote a letter to her husband, and told him of the horrid scene she had just witnessed, and requested him to make interest with the Pope to erect the Chapel of Mirfield into a parochial Church, that the inhabitants might no longer be exposed to the dangers she had experienced on the way to their parish Church. This letter the priests delivered to Sir John, who prevailed on his Holiness to elevate Mirfield into a Rectory, and bestow the patronage on Sir John and his posterity, who immediately conferred the living on his younger brother, who built the Rectory house about the year 1300. The original is given in Latin by Hopkinson among his MSS., a copy of which is inserted in Loidis et Elmete.
A composition was made 31st De cember 1533, between the mayor and commonalty of Pontefract and the Prior and Convent, touching the finding and sustaining of certain Chaplains within this Church.
At the Dissolution, the patronage came to the Crown.
Catalogues of the Vicars, and accounts of the monuments, testamentary burials, &c., may be found in Torre's MS. and in Boothroyd.
Four Chantries are named in the Valor Ecc.
In Pope Nicholas's Taxation, the Church of Pontefract is valued at £30, and the Vicarage at £16 per annum, and in the King's books at £13. 6s. 8d. (being the amount of pension paid by the Priory).
The Parliamentary Survey, vol. xviii. page 393, contains the following :-" We find only one parish Church situate in the lower part of the town, and so ruinated and demolished by the war about the Castle, that it cannot be repaired again as before with less than £3,000 expense. Vicarage, the profits consisting of privy tithes and oblations, which for these three years last past bath not been worth above £10 per annum. Mr. Joseph Ferrett, a painful orthodox and pious Minister, is Parson there, by confirmation under the Great Seal, whose pains have been extraordinary in the work of the Ministry. There is no certain maintenance at all in a manner for the said Mr. Ferrett. The augmentation of £40 per annum, granted out of Charles Thimbleby's estate, in the tithes of Carleton (a Papist and Delinquent), being denied him by the Committee for Sequestrations in this county, and the poverty of the town is such that they are like to lose their said Vicar, for want of means for himself and family to live on."
The Notitia Parochialis, No. 653, also contains the following particulars : -" All the tithe corn and hay are impropriated. Pontefract tithe corn to the Hon. W. Pierrepoint ; tithe corn of Carleton to Lord Arglass ; tithe corn of East Hardwick to Mr. Heward ; tithe corn of Spittle Hardwick to Mr. Stubb ; tithe corn of Knottingley to Sir John Cope ; tithe corn of Ferrybridge to John Savile, Esq.; tithe hay of Pontefract to R. Frank, Esq.; tithe hay of Knottingley to John Savile, Esq. The Church is endowed with all oblations, obventions, and small tithes, together with wool, lamb, liquorice, hemp, line, rape, and all manner of fruit, seeds, &c. 20s., given by William and Isabel Oates for an anniversary sermon on St. Thomas day, and 20s. given by Alderman R. Moor for two sermons, one on May-day, and the other on All Saints day. The parish Church was burnt down and ruined. The Chapel of St. Giles, in which we celebrate Divine Service, is also mightily decayed, and in great danger of falling. All the revenues, belonging to St. Giles, were taken away at the Dissolution. The Vicarage is not worth above £40 per annum. Only one close of glebe and a little house adjoining St. Giles's Chapel. The tithe of wool and lamb, &c., of the inhabitants of Pontefract, growing in Pontefract Park, and likewise the tithe of wool and lamb of the inhabitants of Knottingley, put upon Brotherton Marsh, belong to the Vicar of Pontefract by ancient custom and decree. Note, that the Procurations payable out of this Vicarage are to be paid by the King's Receiver out of the Dissolved Abbey Land. Note, that £5 per annum, out of the tithes of Campsall, belonging to the Chapel of St. Clement's, and was always paid to the Vicars of Pontefract, and even since the Restoration, are now lost and past away among concealments. We have two other Chapels, one at Knottingley, to which belongeth nearly £10 per annum in land, but sacrilegiously made use of by the Inhabitants for lay services. The other, at East Hardwick, which together with the School was founded (though not yet consecrated) by Stephen Cawood, and endowed with (present) £20; but about forty years hence, at the expiration of a lease, the lands belonging to the Chapel and school will be worth £60 per annum." Signed, " F. Drake,Vic."
There were five Chantries in the Church.
This Church was reduced to a ruin during the siege of the Castle.
After the Restoration, the sum of £1,500 was raised by a brief and subscription for the purpose of repairing the Church, but unfortunately the money was misapplied, and the design consequently fell to the ground. £200 was bequeathed by the Earl of Strafford towards the repairs, but not being wanted, was given by his residuary legatee towards building a workhouse.
By Act of Parliament, 28th Geo. III., cap. 56, the Chapel of St. Giles was declared to be the parish Church.
Partial restoration of the Church. -The transept was repaired in 1831, and the Rev. Francis Stainforth licensed to preach therein. The Church has not been re-consecrated, nor Churchwardens appointed, as the Archbishop declined taking any further steps until an endowment was made.
No occasional duty is performed except funerals, which are for the whole parish.
24th June 1809, an additional burial-ground was consecrated.
The registers are kept at St. Giles.
In 1832, a confirmation of two galleries was granted, reserving one pew for the minister.
Free Grammar School. This school, of which the patronage belongs to the Crown in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, was re-founded by charter, bearing date the 13th February 1792, by the name of the King's School ; and by the charter, the Chancellor of the Duchy is appointed visitor thereof. Vide 16th Report, page 431. Mr. Gilbert *1 says the school is open to all boys of the town. The same author also states that this school is entitled, upon certain conditions, to two scholarships at Emanuel College, Cambridge, founded by John Frieston, of Altofts, who also left certain lands to University College, Oxford, to pay out of the rents of the same £10 per annum as an exhibition, and £5 for two scholars from this school, with the addition of rooms, &c.
St. Nicholas's Hospital, founded and rebuilt soon after the year 1673, partly by aid of £100 by Mr. T. Sayle, for thirteen poor persons. Income consists of 5a. 0r. 16s. of land, rent-charges of £8. 10s., and interest of £10.
Knolles's or Trinity Almshouse. Part of a dissolved hospital, founded by Sir Robert Knolles in the reign of Richard II., And augmented by the will of John Mercer, dated 20th May 1574. Seven men and nine women are maintained in it, whereof two women are servants to the rest. The income consists of the rent of a moiety of two houses, rentcharge of £63. 7s., and interest of £120. The income is received by the overseers, who pay £2. 3s. weekly amongst the alms-people, and distribute coals. The corporation appoint the alms-people.
Perfect's Hospital, founded by Alderman W. Perfect, endowed with 2a. 10r. of land and three houses. Three men and their wives, nominated by the corporation, have 15s. per week amongst them, paid by the overseers, who are in possession of the property.
Beadhouse Hospital, foundation unknown. In 1811 converted into a workhouse, but, in the opinion of the Commissioners, without authority.
Catherine Favell's gift, by will, dated 2nd July 1723. Rent of a close called Slutwell Garth, to be divided amongst six poor widows. The Vicar and the heirs of Mr. Walker are the trustees. The Commissioners could not ascertain either the quantity or value of the land, and recommended that proper steps should be taken by the trustees.
Richard Thwaites' Hospital, founded by will, dated 31st May 1620. Two cottages for four single women, to be nominated by the corporation, who receive each 10s. per annum and two horse-loads of coals. Income consists of a rent-charge of £3 per annum.
John Franks, addition to the above. £1 per annum, by gift, in 1618.
Robert Cowper's Hospital, founded by will, dated 21st May 1668, for four poor widows, and endowed with a rentcharge of 20s. per annum to each.
Matthew Swiney augmented the stipends in 1765 with the interest of £100.
Matthew Franks' Hospital, date of foundation unknown. The rent of a messuage, four cottages, and 2r. 24p. of land, is applied towards the support of two widows.
Robert Franks' Hospital, for two poor widows, founded by will, dated 26th December 1737. Rent of 4a. 2r. 30p. of land and a rent-charge of 10s. per annum.
Dr. Edward Watkinson's Hospital, founded by will 17th April 1765, for nine unmarried Protestants. Trustees : the Rector of Ackworth, the Rector of Hemsworth, the Vicar of Pontefract, and the mayor, recorder, and two senior aldermen. The income consists of the dividends of £2,624. 6s. old south sea annuities.
chool, commenced about 1710. Income : rent of 30a. 3r. 32p. of land, interest of £100, and payment from Lady Betty Hastings's charity of £10. 10s. per annum, and annual subscriptions. In 1816, this charity was converted into a national school, and £80 per annum allotted for the master's salary. About 170 children are educated in the school.
Thomas Sayle's charity, by will, dated 8th June 1673. Rent of 6a. 2r. 24s. of land to the poor ; half given by the mayor, and the other half by the Vicar. -Vide 16th Report, page 422.
Torre's MS., page 35. Nonae Roll, pages 221. 225, 226. Bodleian MS., Nos. 5101. 8487. Boothroyd's Pontefract and Fox's Pontefract.
*1 Liber Scholasticus.