Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Background notes to the Fishlake river crossing from town boat to ferryman.

Fishlake Ferry OS Map 1854

Fishlake Ferry from OS Map 1854. Thanks to Ordnance Survey.

Evidence taken from the Fishlake Bylaw books 1582 to 1675 and 1680 to 1808. With additional material from the parish registers.

1582   gibson for town botte viijd

1584 receevyd  by thomas Pkyn owing for town bott ijd

1586 pd rychad pkyn for tow boytte iijs iiijd

1587 & for ..... by Wm Trymynghm for tow ij peases of wood to mak tow bott  nalles   viijd

pd to rychad pkn for two bott ijs

1588 Whereof payde to the mandinge of the boote iijs jd

1589 Im of Edmonde Wayte for towne bote (and)   

Im a comon letton george gybson for ropes     xijd

1590 George Gybson to have his comons & fynde Ropes fo the towne boote.

1591 George Gybson to fynd ropes for e towne boote for this yere

1598 It to George Gybson for mending the towne boote.

lette to Wm Allenone pece of common in towninge for fyndinge of ropes for one whole yere for our towne boate & for Kepeinge her in thyme at the water syde.

1603 Edmounde Wayte for fyndinge of a towne boate & Ropes.

1604 and that Edmond Wayt shall have the common findinge a bote & ropes suffitently so long as the common will serve.

1616 The Comons in towninyge  letton to Richard Clarke yong to said a Bote and ropes suffycient at Wadingstead for this year next followinge.

(Wadingstead were the town boat was situated is mentioned several times, stead means place, wading means crossing so we have … crossing place…, but it is impossible to know exactly where that would have been in present day Fishlake).

1617 The comons in towneynge letten to Richard Clerk butcher he findings and keepinge a suffycient bote & Ropes at wadingstead so longe as nede shall require before next st Mkes day

1623 The Comons lotton to Richard Clarke to maintaine the towneboate wth ropes. [1624 and 1631 ditto above]

1633 John Storr is to kepe the Boate at wadeingsteade he is to have the come pece & of everie able man iiij pen[ torn page] iijd everie man.

1636 Itm it is agreed that John Storr shall find bott for the towne for this year till St Marke day next 1637 he diligentlie helpinge ovr the townes people & their goode & to have for his wage the comon peice & of everie householdr 4d & everie cottagr ijd and likewise to helpe people on the new River that they be not …

1637 It is agreed that John Storr shall find a bote for the towne for this year until St Marke Day 1638 to have for his wages the Comon peice.

1639 John Storr and 1640 [as above ditto]

1641 Willm Whittacare is ellected to kepe the towne boate from this day for their whole yeare and is to have for his wage onelie iiijd of everie able man ijd of everie cottagr and he is likewise to have the comon peice in Towne ynge and to find a suffycient boat as well for men as horses & his wages at or before Michalm next. It is likewise agreed that if any townseman shall at any tyme take ovr the towne boat & doe not call upon the boat kep or his wife shall forfitt for everie thime xijd.

1645 -1650 [ ditto to have his old wages]

1651 - 1655 [ditto also Bylaw to help him collecting his wages by force].

1662 John Whityear Elected for Keeping the towne boat [boat crossed and out replaced with Ferry] this yaer 1662.

1663 [ditto Town boat]

1664 John Wittercar Elected boatman this year.

1665 John Whittacker ie Elected for to Kepe the boote is to have the Commen pece & his Euesall wages & the bylwasmen to assit him on the gathering of itt every suffictint person 4d & every Cottage 2d  + looking after the blacksick Clowe.

1666, 1667 [ditto]

1668 John Carter Elected for to kepe the Bote to be according to the ancient custom.

1669 [ditto] Boatman + look to Blacksick Clow.

1670 [ditto] Boatman.

1671 John Carter elected boteman for this yeare he is to kepe ye bot at ye prtinge of ye river at Hangman his & is to cast a bancke [page torn] for pepole to get dry to ye bote & is to drawing up of ye blaxed clow shutes & putting them downe agayne in time before ye water day flowin & he shall for his wages 3s 4d.

John Petty for to mace a banke for people to get dry to ye bote & 1s by John Petty to Tho Stapellton

1672 John Carter botman

1673 [ditto]

1674 Francis Bladworth Elected boteman for this yeare & that he is not to kepe any ale to sell.

From Bylaw book 1680-1808

Francis Bladworth ferryman for up 1687.

George Goodridge 1689. Again in 1690 provided he do not Brew ale or kep a public house.1691 George Goodridge and Mr Perkin.

George Goodridge 1692 - 1708 he died 1713 from burial register.

1717-1728 Joseph Henthorn ferrymen.

1731 John Padley.

1766 John Wood

1773 John Case.

From the burial register those recorded as ferryman;

1771 John Chester

1777 John Wood ferryman and Butcher.

1788 John and Susanne Case

1794 John Nell

1805 John Vickers

The above records appear to suggest that to begin with the town boat was made available to town folk to use on a self-help basis. The Bylaw officers took responsibility to ensuring the boat was kept repaired and ropes made available by paying individual on an ad hoc basis for maintenance work.

By 1598 named individuals were identified to be responsible for boat maintenance for the whole year, a boat caretaker.

1604 reference is made to the named caretakers being given certain rights to common lands, usually Towne Ing, for their trouble.

By 1633 there is emerging a more organised funding arrangement to support the provision of the boat and its maintenance. In effect a local taxation was in operation which provided a regular wage. The bylawman to assist in the collection as necessary.

In 1636 John Storr was not only finding and maintaining a boat but also assisting travellers when using the boat. As the years went by individuals and their wives regularly acted as boat keepers year after year.

By 1641 the boat keepers role is more formally elected yearly at the bylaw meeting on 25 th April, St Marks Day, with extra duties such as banking up and looking after the sluices, in other words a more comprehensive job description.

In 1662 we see the first mention of the word ferry instead of boat.

1671 reference to Hangmans Hill. (This references the other ferry crossing at what is now known as Jubilee Bridge).

First reference to the occupation Ferryman is 1687 who at that time was Francis Bladworth, when selling ale was strongly prohibited.

Further work is being undertaken telling the Fishlake Ferry story.


Rob Downing November 2018