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The Pockley family: the Flamborough fishermen

Among the Flamborough fishermen cited as defendants in the Second Tithe Dispute of 1753 were John Pockley Sen. and Jun., Matthew Sen. and Jun., and Richard. In 1773 Robert Pockley and two Will. Pockleys were among the Flamborough inhabitants who signed the Declaration of Loyalty to King George III.

The Hull Directory of 1831 shows Pockley & Co. as long distance carriers, who left Bridlington twice weekly on Monday and Thursday afternoons, arriving at Hull on Wednesdays and Saturdays. They also ran from Flamborough to Bridlington, and to York.

On Saturday nights, when the fishermen gathered at the local to read the Hull Weekly News, (price 6d. copy), Milcah Pockley did good business at the Rose and Crown by charging customers a ha'penny an hour for her copy.

In a book called "The Story of Flamborough", reference was made to the old smuggling days, and how the Flamborough housewives were wont to sit at their doorsteps knitting industriously, and concealing kegs of brandy under their voluminous skirts, whilst they chatted in the friendliest manner to the Revenue men searching the cottages behind them.

The book also has a story about a Mrs Tanton Pockley. In 1844 one Robin Jewison was taking his pony Jenny to Flamborough to be shod. On his way a couple of Customs officers asked him if he had seen any Flamborough men about; Robin, who thought he had seen some movement behind a hedge, did not mention it and went quietly on his way to the Rose and Crown to stable Jenny. Mrs Tanton Pockley, who usually made quite a fuss of Robin, said that her husband was very poorly, and was in bed with the ague, while she herself was "awful bad with her rheumatics". To make matters worse, she had lost the key of the stable. However Robin tied Jenny to the stable door and was turning away, wondering at his cool reception, and why the usual pot of beer was not produced, when he heard faint voices, including a voice which certainly belonged to Mr Pockley, apparently coming from under his feet. The curious fact of Mr Pockley's voice coming from underground when he was upstairs in bed interested Robin sufficiently for him to mention it to the miller. The latter was just hurrying off, but told Robin that he "knew for a fact that Tanton Pockley and his nephew were in the cellar hiding smuggled goods".

Robin sat watching by the blacksmith's forge while Jenny was being shod, and by the time he set off for home it was almost dark and there was a half gale blowing. "It was darker still by the time he reached the dyke and began to follow the old snake bend in the road. It was now very still under the dripping trees, and Jenny seemed uneasy, although Robin could see nothing. And then from close by came a low whistle, a hand was laid on Jenny's bridle, and a voice - Tanton Pockley's - said quietly, 'Noo Robin, we've seen a lot of thoo lately and we're allus pleased ti meet thoo. But tak our advice. See nowt, hear nowt and say nowt. One fine day thi grandfather'll mebbe find a bit o' summat extra in' is corn bin. Good neet to thi, Robin.' Jenny tossed her head as the hand left her bridle. There were faint sounds from something which might have been a wagon, then all was quiet once more".

In 1857 there were no fewer than 9 houses at Flamborough occupied by Pockleys.

The book said that the people generally had good health, which was possibly the reason why the last two doctors, finding time hang heavily on their hands, drank themselves to death.

There is a page showing three family coats of arms; Langdale, Major and Pockley. The latter is not the arms registered by John Pockley of Thorpe Willoughby, but is exactly the same as we have, except that there is no bordure. The arms are blazoned: "Argent on a bend sable cotised gules three eagles displayed or." Seeing these three coats of arms, it is interesting that on 5 July, 1744, John Pockley married Hannah Major.

George William Pockley, a fisherman now living at Flamborough, says that to his knowledge his family goes back in the church register some 350 years. They have supplied the coxswain of the Flamborough Lifeboat for generations; his eldest son won "another medal" in 1976. George says he remembers tales of his great grandfather, who "was as broad across the shoulders as he was long; he received arms 'for holding a bridge at York for the Royalty'". The Yorkshire cobles of George's forebears, his brothers and their children have been battling the North Sea waves for generations, and the salt spray is in all their veins.

We Australian Pockleys have so far been unable to trace any direct links with the Burton Agnes or Thorpe Willoughby Pockleys; nor are we able to determine whether we have a common ancestor with the Pockleys with whom we have been in touch in Bridlington, Flamborough and Hedon. I have drawn up trees of all of them; I have pored endlessly over literally hundreds of entries of births, deaths and marriages in English records, and Brian and Tom Pockley (see page 112) have spent a great deal of time and money in efforts to trace the ancestry of Kid Gloves' forebears.

There is a divergence of opinion between records left by my Aunt Ella, who stated that she had "a connected and proved genealogy" giving a line down from a Matthew Pockley, and Tom's researcher. Difficulty is increased by the infuriating habit - from a researcher's point of view - of naming so many children John, Robert, Mathew, etc.; by records which show merely "John son of John", etc.; by variations in spelling, and by the fact that many people now living often cannot be certain of particulars about their father, let alone their grandfather.

I am intrigued by the probability that we derive to some extent from the Burton Agnes clan. My reason is that whilst Kid Gloves gave each of his 7 daughters two girls' names, his 8 sons' second names were all family names:

Robert Fulcher - his mother's family.
Francis Antill - his wife's family.
Arthur Bingham - his aunt's family.
Harry Richardson - another Fulcher family name.
Norman Vanderbyl - relatives of his mother-in-law.
Eustace Mitford - as we have seen, Robert Pockley of Brayton, one of the Burton Agnes clan, married Theodosia Osbaldeston, and her sister married Robert Mitford of Mitford Castle (see page 132).
Harold Campbell - two of his wife's brothers married Campbells.
Eric Osbaldeston); (see page 132).

To me the selection of the names Mitford and Osbaldeston is most significant, when looked at in the light of the other six sons' names.

The elder Matthew Pockley lived first at Bridlington, and his eldest daughter Grace was born there. About 1688 they moved a few miles coast to Flarnborough, where his other four children were baptised.

His great grandson William of Flamborough was baptised, there on 10 March, 1745. On 24 December, 1767, he married Elizabeth Gillbank. They had 5 children, 3 of them named John. The second son, William, was born on 22 December, 1771. On 15 March, 1790 he married Hannah, the daughter of Robert Thompson; he signed the register, she made a cross.

William and Hannah's second son, Robert, born on 22 May, 1795, and baptised on 24th, strayed further afield, and by the time he was 27 felt himself well enough off to think about marriage. In fact, on 17 June, 1822, at St. Paul's Church, Deptford, he married Sarah Ann Fulcher, the 20-year old daughter of the well-to-do William Fulcher; Sarah's sisters Mary and Matilda were witnesses.