III. Leyland Hundred
Croston was anciently the most extensive of the parishes in the hundred of Leyland. In the Valor Beneficiorum of pope Nicholas IV. compiled when this parish was in its integrity, the valuation fixed upon the living amounted to nearly as much as the revenues of all the other four parishes in the hundred. Till the seventeenth century, the parochial limits remained unaltered, but by the authority of parliament this parish has been separated into six entire and independent parishes, namely:
The parish of Croston;
In consequence of these alterations, the parish now contains only five townships, which are immediately adjoining to the village of Croston; these are, Croston, Bispham, Bretherton, Mawdesley, and Ulnes Walton.
Croston is bounded by the parish of Hoole on the north, by Standish and Ormskirk parishes on the south, by Tarleton and Rufford on the west, and by Leyland and Eccleston on the east. The length of the parish of Croston, from the nothern limits of the township of Bretherton to the southern limits of the township of Bispham, is eight miles, and its breadth, from the Douglas on the west to the point where the Yarrow enters the XXXXXX Paganus Villers, the first baron of Warrington, held three fees in Crocstun, Bulham, and Filingham, and Robert arish of Croston on the east, is four miles, comprising in the whole area 9070 statute acres.
The Douglas, celebrated in our ancient chronicles as the scene of four great conflicts between the Britons and Saxons, in all of which, "King Arthur was leader of the war, and stood forth the victor," divides Bispham, Mawdesley, and Croston from Burscough and Rufford, and forming the western boundary of the parish, discharges its stream into the estuary of the Ribble at Hesketh Bank, on the north. Below Bretherton the Douglas receives the Yarrow, which, winding from Eccleston, bounds the village of Croston on the south and south-west, and half a mile below the village joins the Lostock, which, leaving Leyland, runs through Ulnes Walton, between Croston and Bretherton. From the point of confluence of the Douglas and the Yarrow, to the estuary of the Ribble, these waters assume the name of the Asland, and are navigable to the village of Croston, though they are not navigated. Sid Brook, a stream issuing to the south south-east of Croston, falls into the Yarrow on the east side of the village. In wet seasons, the Yarrow is subject to overflow its banks and to occasion much damage, frequently encroaching upon the village, and sometimes entering the church.
In 1201, the king gave to Hugh le Porteur, "Hug Janatori," twenty marks in Croxton in exchange for his inheritance of Corfham and Culminton, and in the same town of Croxton Saracene ten marks; and in 1204 he gave to G. Luttrell 13fs of land which had been Hugh le Porteur's in Croxton, and 10 marks of land in Crokeston which had belonged to William de St. Albins. Roger de Montebegon held the greater part of Croston parish as annexed to his manor of Hornby, and by the Testa de Nevill' it appears that he gave to John Malerbe, his brother, ten carucates and six bovates of land in Croston with their appurtenances, to be held in knight service; and to the hospitallers of Jerusalem one bovate in alms. At the same time the heir of Aumeric Pincerna, who had married the daughter of Mathew, son of Paganus Villers, the first baron of Warrington, held three fees in Crocstun, Bulham, and Filingham, and Robert Fitz Richard held of him one fee in Croxton, Fillingham, and Hiam. The heir of Aumeric Pincerna was his son sir William Boteler. In the chancery roll of 3 John, Nicholas Pincerna, or Butler, is recorded as rendering an account of 100s. in the town of Croxton for three parts of the year, probably the chief rent of his possessions. This member of the Lancashire branch of an illustrious house does not appear in the pedigrees, nor in sir William Dugdale's Baronage, though he was sherif of Lancaster for Theobald Walter in 1198. On the family of Fitton, the Bussels, barons of Penwortham, conferred large estates in this hundred, and Richard Fitton, whose grandfather was lord of the manor of Rufford, left three daughters his coheiresses, one of whom, Elizabeth, married Roger Nowell, of Read; Matilda married sir William Hesketh; and "Annabilla," according to the pedigree of Hesketh of Rufford, obligingly communicated to the author by sir Thomas Dalrymple Hesketh, married "Edmund Leigh, lorde of Crostone, 17 Edw. I. He and his wife gave their inheritence to sir William Heskayte, knt. confirmed by sir William Leigh, 22 Edw. III. 1343." The same authority states, that, "Dame Mawde, d. & coheir of Richard Fytton," who married "Sir William Heskayte," "had all the lands of the coheirs of Richard Fytton by gift." It also appears from the same document, that Isabell, daughter of sir John Dellamere, knt. lord of Crostone and Mawdesleigh, temp. Edw. II. married sir Thomas Fleming, baron of Wath; while another daughter "married Wm. Legh de Legh, of whom," says the pedigree, "Hoghton of Hoghton, and Aston of Croston." The Lansdowne Feodary mentions, that Henry duke of Lancaster holds in demesne and service two knights' fees in Croston, with its members; and one knights' fee which the heirs of sir William Fleming, esq. baron of Wath, married Thomas Heskayt; and Alice, the daughter and heiress of William Lee, married Thomas Ashton, the father of sir William Ashton, of Croston, about the reign of Henry VI. By these donations and marriages the moieties of the manor of Croston were vested in the families of Ashton and Hesketh; but remain in neither. "Ashton of Croston," says a note in lord Suffield's MS. pedigrees, "came from Ashton in Craven. This family became extinct by the matches of Anne Ashton, daughter and coheiress, with John Trafford, the fourth son of sir Cecil Trafford, of Trafford, knight, and Monacha her sister, to ------ son of Bartholomew Hesketh, of Aughton." The moieties of the manor of Croston are at present held by Thomas Joseph Trafford, esq. high sherrif of the county for this year; and by Thomas Norris, esq. who purchased the Hesketh portion about 1825 from the Rev. Streynham Master, rector of Croston, by whom it was bought of sir Thomas Dalrymple Hesketh, of Rufford, bart. Two Courts leet and baron are held at the Grapes inn in Croston for the manor of Croston by the lords twice a year, at Michaelmas and Easter.
church of Croston, dedicated to St. Michael, in the deanery of Leyland,
and the archdeaconry, of Chester, is a large structure, consisting
of a tower, nave, side aisles, chancel, and two chapels, and is
situated near the middle of the village in the vale of the Yarrow.
The tower is a strong square pile, castellated and adorned with
pinnacles, and contains an excellent peal of eight bells. The windows
are semicircular, divided by spandrels, squares, and lozenges, and
separated by buttresses. The chancel, of which the roof is arched,
is divided from the nave by a tall screen of ornamented oak, surmounted
by the royal arms, and is lighted on the south side by arched windows,
nearly lancet shaped. On the N. and S. sides of the nave, which,
as well as the aisles, is broad, are four arches resting on the
columns with plain capitals. The roof is flat, and the oak beams,
of which it is composed, are divided into small compartments or
panels, with simple carvings. The chapels, which are merely canopied
pews, are called Rufford and Becconsall chapels, and are separated
from the chancel by two massive pillars. They were the property
of sir T. Dalrymple Hesketh until purchased by the rector of Croston.
The pulpit has a sounding board, and the font is small and octagonal,
having the date 1663 upon one of its divisions. This piece of local
antiquity is covered with black paint! The gallery is small. In
the east window of the south or Rufford chapel are the arms of the
Heskeths painted on glass, and over the vestry door carved on stone
are those of the Pilkingtons. In other parts of the church the arms
of Farrington of Worden, Nelson of Fairhurst, and the Asshetons
and Traffords of Croston are exhibited. On one of the canopied pews
are painted in Old English characters these words - "This chappel
was beavtified and this seat errected  by Christopher Banastre,
esq. ;" and on one of the windows are the remains of another
memorial - "And for ye good estate of Henry Ba--- of William
Bana---" and above are the letters HBM which are probably the
initials of Henry Banastre and his wife Margaret Worthington, the
parents of William Banastre, all of whom were living in the middle
of the 16th century. An inscription on the north side of the steeple,
indistinct from its situation, purports that the curch was rebuilt
in the 16th century. Subject to the inundations of the river, this
was obviously not the first time of re-erection. A church existed
here in the reign of the Conqueror, when Roger de Poictou, by a
charter, of which a copy is preserved in the register of the Priory
of Lancaster, granted to the monastry of St. Martin of Sees in Normandy,
the priory of St. Mary of Lancaster with a number of dependent churches
and chapels, among which is named the "ecctiam de Croston."
This grant was amply confirmed by John, earl of Moreton, and again
when he became king. Subsequent charters of confirmation were granted
by Ranulf, earl of Chester, and sir Roger Garnet, of Halton, knight.
By a charter without a date, sir John de la Ware, who styles himself
lord of Croston, after confirming the previous charters, surrenders
all his right in the patronage of Croston and the mediety of the
chapel of Eccleston to the abbot and convent of Sees. In 1317, the
rector of Croston claimed Eccleston as a chapel dependent on Croston,
and considerable litigation ensued; but the bishop of Coventry terminated
the dispute by a voluminous decree, in which he decides that Eccleston
is an independent parish church. A memorandum without date, inserted
in the Register of St. Mary, states that the church of Croston in
the county of Lancaster is worth 204s. per annum, that the advowson
belongs to the priory of the Blessed Mary of Lancaster, and that
the dean of St. Stephen of Westminster is rector of the same. In
the Valor of pope Nicholas IV., 1291, it is estimated at
£33. 6s. 8d. The edifice seated on the banks of the Yarrow,
and exposed to the western winds, which in this part are frequent
and strong, was so decayed, that the body was rebuilt in 1767-8,
at a cost of £1834, collected by brief.
The present registers of this parish commence March 25th, 1728, and are all that can now be consulted for legal or statistical purposes. Mr William Henry Baldwin, churchwarden in 1827-28, having removed the preceding registers from their legitimate repository. The following are the results for the two first and the two last years:
The parish of Croston, as at present constituted, does not contain one single chapel of ease, though, as late as the year 1642, Hoole, Hesketh-cum-Becconsall, Tarlton, Rufford and Chorley, were all chapelries dependant upon it. There are two Catholic chapels in the parish, one in Croston, built about the year 1793, and another in Mawdsley; there is also in Croston a Methodist meeting room, opened in 1828.
The partition of this parish, at the request of the rector, has given rise to the inquiry, whether it might not be advantageous, both to the established church and to the parishioners, in certain extensive parishes, to encourage these partitions, inasmuch as the effect would be to place the flock of each pastor under his more immediate inspection, to equalize in some degree the church livings, and to multiply their number, without imposing any additional burdens upon the parishioners. If there be no disadvantages to counterbalance these benefits, except the chimera that "they partake of the genius of republicanism," it is advisable that the legislature should give facilities to such alterations by a general act for carrying them into effect, with the joint consent of the bishop, patron, and incumbent, reserving, if necessary, an appeal to the archbishop of the province, or to the king in council. The principle of the tithe commutation adopted by the parishes of St Michael-le-Wyre and of Lancaster, in this county, under the sanction of parliament, might be combined with these changes, if, in the mean time, a general tithe commutation bill should not pass into law.
The public charities of Croston Parish are exhibited in the XVth Report of the Parliamentary Commissioners for enquiring into public charities, from p.112 to 154, and the following is a compendious abstract of the voluminous return:-
Croston is a long and straggling village on the banks of the Yarrow, and, according to Leland, was a market town in the reign of Henry VIII.:- "Ther is beside Chorle," says the itinerant, "Crosseton, a Market Toune in Lelandshire. It is a iii. Miles from Chorle, and Latham is a iii. mile from hit;" but afterwards he remarks that it is "a poore or no Market." Near the centre of the village, and not far from the parish church and the rectory, is the base of an ancient cross with steps, which may have been the site of the market, and have occaisoned the appellation of the village - Cross-Town. A wake is held annually in Croston, and indeed throughout the parish, on the Sunday next to St. Michael's day. A fair, entirely for cattle, is also held yearly on the Monday preceding Shrove Tuesday, but it does not appear to be chartered. The ancient curfew bell is still rung at Croston church every evening at eight o'clock, from the 25th of March to the 29th of September, both inclusive. The old hall at Croston, built in the 17th century, and standing within living memory, has been taken down, and the present fabric erected. It is a tall building, rough cast, and consisting of a centre and wings, terminating in gables : it is seated among trees on the east of the village, and is occupied by Henry Tempest, esq. a magistrate, who married Jemima, the daughter of Joseph Thomas Trafford, esq. The rectory is a stately edifice, coeval with the old hall.
By an act of parliament, passed in 1799, commissioners were appointed to drain the low lands of Croston, Mawdesley, Rufford, Tarleton, and Bretherton, out of a fund to be raised by a rate on the landowners and tenantry. The first operations under this act were ill-conducted, and attended with much unnecessary expense, but the object was ultimately effected, to the essential improvement of the value of the lands, and the health and comfort of the inhabitants. In the early part of the last century there was a great deal of waste land in Croston, but the act of 1728, for the inclosure of Croston common, much reduced its extent.
MAWDSLEY or MAWDESLEY, is an extensive, flat, and fertile township, between Croston and Wrightington, watered by the Sidbrook. The hall, a large stone edifice erected on a foundation of rock, afforded for many generations a residence to the Mawdesley family, by whom Heskin New Hall in the adjoining township, now occupied by Miss C. Bamford, was built. Adam de Moudesley was a ward of the duchy in 35 Edward III. and Robert Mawdesley, esq. the last of this ancient race, was living at Mawdesley Hall about 1760. The estates of Heskin and Mawdesley became the property of Alexander Kershaw, esq. a military officer, who purchased them out of chancery, and they were lately enjoyed by his grandson Edmund Newman Kershaw, esq. but are now the property of Mr. Mitchell. A moiety of the manor of Maudisleigh was held in 46 Edward III. by William del Lee and Isolda his wife; and it descended with Croston to the families of Hesketh and Trafford, by whom a court leet and baron is held annually at the Black Bull, at Michaelmas. Here the Nelsons, a branch from Fairhurst, held lands as early as 1 Richard II. The celebrated naval hero, lord Nelson, expressed to Mr. Townsend the herald, during the search for his pedigree, a strong desire to establish himself as a descendant from a Lancashire family; but the name of Nelson is of considerable standing in the county of Norfolk, and to that county we are obliged reluctantly to surrender this most distinguished ornament of the British arms. Bamford House, built in the 17th century, formerly the residence of the Bamfords, is now a public house. Black Moor House, now in decay, is of a date coeval with Bamford House. Here is a large Catholic chapel, with a residence for the minister, erected by subscription in 1830. A salt or brine spring is found on the estate of Salt Pit House in Mawdesley, the property of Mr. Trafford.
BISPHAM is a small and thinly populated, but richly cultivated district, near the river Douglas, and opposite Burscough. Bispham Hall, a plain stone building on the south, erected in the 16th century, is the property of lord Skemersdale. The Stanleys, earls of Derby, have long possessed what is called the lordship, but Bispham is merely a factitious manor. The principle landowners here are the Stanleys, the Rigbys, and lord Skemersdale. In this township is the free grammar school founded by Robert Durning.
BRETHERTON is a considerable township, extending from Hoole on the north to Croston on the south, and from the Douglas or Asland on the west to Ulnes Walton on the east. Bank Hall, which existed here previous to the reign of Edward II. was for centuries the manorial residence of the Banastres or Banisters, lords of the manor of Bretherton. In 34 Edward III. a mandate was issued from the duchy court, on the death of Thomas Banastre, directing the escheater to sieze for the king and the duke the lands of Thomas Banastre, among which are named Crofton, (Croston) Farryngton, Thorpe, and Bretherton. A Thomas Banastre is mentioned in the Lansdowne Feodary, 23 Edward III., as the son and heir of sir Adam Banastre, whom Dr. Whitaker conjectures to have been of this family, and who was beheaded in the reign of Edward II. by Thomas, earl of Lancaster, for his active opposition to that powerful and factious baron. The conjecture is therefore improved to be a strong probability, if it be not advanced to absolute certainty. The descent of the Banisters of Bank is not satisfactorily traced before the reign of Henry VIII,. in whose second year died Henry Banister, of Bank.
Geneaology - Banister of Bank (632kb)
On a monument in Leyland church is an inscription, from which it would appear that Christopher, the last named, was married a second time, or that the pedigree of Banister and Ashton of Middleton are both erroneous. The inscription completes the account of this branch of a once distinguished house :- "Elizabeth, daughter & coheir of Christopher Banastre, of Bank, Esq. who was living in 1682, m. Robert Parker, Esq. of Extwistle, & had Banastre Parker of Cuerdon, born 1696. Christopher m. Anne, d. & coheir of William Clayton, of Leverpool, Esq. He was High Sheriff 1670." Bank Hall, inscribed with the year 1608 over the west door, is a stately renovated brick mansion, in the Elizabethian style, with gables, pinnacles, sah windows, and a fanciful tower in the centre, containing a clock. A gothic lodge is placed at the entrance gates, adjoining the Liverpool and Preston road. This hall was possessed, after the Banisters, by Thomas Fleetwood, esq. the first improver of Martin meer, who made it his residence in 1692 ; in the beginning of the last century he was succeeded by Fleetwood Leigh, esq. ; and its present owner is George Anthony Leigh Keck, esq. Carr house, built in the 17th century, has long been the property of the Brethertons of Hoole. In this township are two places of religeous worship; the old Methodist chapel, erected in 1824, and the Independant chapel, built in 1825. The present lords of Bretherton are George A. L. Keck, esq. and sir T. D. Hesketh, bart., by whom a court leet is held annually at the Anchor Inn.
ULNES WALTON, a small township occupied by farmers and yeomanry families, lies east of Bretherton, between Croston and Leyland. In 21 Edward III. Henry earl of Lancaster levied a fine on William de Bracebrigge and Matilda, his wife, for the manor of Vlne Walton, and fourteen years afterwards granted the site of the manor to "Richard de Hibernia, physician of the Duke of Lancaster, with liberty to be Toll free & Hoper free at the duke's mills. Thomas Molyneux had a lease of the manor of Ulneswalton from the crown, in 21 Edward IV., who afterwards granted a moiety of it to Thomas Walton. In the reign of Edward VI. the manor was transferred by the crown to sir Anthony Brown, a justice of the common pleas, and a considerable trafficker in the confiscated property of religious houses. In a miscellaneous manuscript of the Harleian collection is an article entitled "An Abstracte of all such thinges as passed the greate seale of England, &c. out of the Register kept by Thomas, Bishoppe of Ely, &c., keeper of the greate seale, the xxijth of Dec. a Dni 1551;" which contains the following memorandum :-
"A pattente of Purehas graunted to Anthonye Browne of Southweld in the Countye of Essexe Esquir of certayne manners of the Kinges maties namely the mannor of Vlneswalton, Ayland, and Kellemargh, wth theire appurtenances in the countye of Lancaster To haue and to houlde to him and his hearies of the kinges matie in Capite, paienge to the kinges grace for the same M. CCCC. LXXXIIIJ VJ VIIJ, dated quarto die Januarye and sealed the vijth daye of Januarye An 1551."
Ulnes Walton is not at present reputed a manor, but is a district inhabited chiefly by freeholders. Littlewood farm, the property of William Farrington, of Shaw Hall, esq., is the largest in the whole hundred. According to tradition, the farm called Gradwells, in the garden of which is an old well-preserved cross, was formerly a monkish cell. This estate, lately the property of Alexander Kershaw, of Heskin, esq., now belongs to Mr Mitchell.
also Bank Hall by C.
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