I do not feel that there are any definite documents as to how Bottomboat was so named, but over the years there has been interesting documents researched which give some clues of fact.
There was a ford in 1202 which was named 'Stanlie Bothom'. Then during the period 1298 to 1307 it was named Le Bothom in the Wakefield Court Rolls. In 1640 there was a name 'Bothom House'. In the Wakefield Manor book in 1709 it was referred to as 'Bottom Boat'.
By 1817 Bottomboat Ferry was on some maps, so it appears to have been known as 'Bottomboat' since 1709. The 'boat' obviously refers to the Ferry plying across the River Calder Bottom, probably from an old English name or word meaning Valley Bottom. Centuries ago there were two ferry boats near each other in the Stanley and Altofts area being known as the Top Boat and the one on the Stanley part of the river, the Bottomboat. An interesting project for our young ones to sort out.
THE BOTTOMBOAT FERRY
There is evidence that a boat was used to transport people and animals across the River Calder as an organised ferry before 1605. It was reported in that year at the Leeds Sessions that the boat in use was in a poor and dangerous condition, so much so that there were fears that it would sink during the crossing and lives would be lost. Neighbouring districts were asked to contribute towards a new boat following the drowning of ten people. The new boat cost £16 - 4s - 6d. The original Ferry Boat Inn would have been built during this period as a place of residence for the owner and operator of the boat and a food and ale house for users of the ferry. In the 18th century it was followed by The Ship Inn, then The Rising Sun.
The River Calder was used to carry goods upstream to Bottomboat until the end of the 17th century. Their cargoes were unloaded and stored in warehouses and then collected and transported to their final destinations by road.
Records in the Manor Rolls show that the land in this area was farmed in the 13th & 14th centuries and the River Calder would no doubt be crossed to enable farmers to trade with each other on opposite sides of the river. So I suggest that there would be a means of 'ferrying' across the river during that period.
Part of the Manor Rolls make reference to a Richard Del Botham, Henry Del Botham and Simon Del Botham. Edward II was the king from 1284 to 1306 and during his reign he applied a 'lay subsidy' whereby a ninth of all personal property was to be granted to him. Richard Del Botham had the following property:- 1 horse worth 2/-, 1 ox worth 5/-, 1 cow worth 9d, 1 quarter of wheat worth 3/-, 8 quarters of oats worth 6/-. The taxable amount he had to pay in 1297 was 2/5d.
In 1296 Richard had problems with one of his neighbours, a Nicholas De Gaylli. Re brought an action against him accusing him of assault by wounding by a blow on his head with a sword, also for taking a horse which he had captured in his corn. Nicholas denied the charges stating that he had acted in self-defence having been attacked by Richard with a stick, also that Richard had used insulting words.
Richard was in trouble again in 1297 for stealing some timber from the Earl. Perhaps Richard was a little aggrieved at being taxed on his few belongings and felt that a little timber was 'just compensation'. So records show these families in Bottomboat, and there would be other families in the Altofts area on the opposite side of the river. They would trade with each other and have a social life together and so it seems likely that they would have a 'ferry' in those days.
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