Townships
Halsall

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Victoria County History

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William Farrer & J. Brownbill (editors)

Year published

1907

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191-197

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'Townships: Halsall', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3 (1907), pp. 191-197. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=41319 Date accessed: 18 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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HALSALL

Heleshala, Herleshala, Dom. Bk.; Haleshal, 1224; Haleshale, 1275; Halsale, 1278 and usual; Halshale, 1292; Halleshale, 1332; Halsall, xv century.

This township had formerly a great moss on the west, covering about half the surface, and constituting an effectual boundary. Down to recent times there were also three large meres—Black Otter, White Otter, and Gettern. The fenland has now been reclaimed and converted into fertile fields under a mixed cultivation—corn, root crops, fodder, and hay. There is some pasture land, and occasional osier beds fill up odd corners. The soil is loamy, with clay beneath. The low-lying ground is apt to become flooded after wet weather or in winter-time, and deep ditches are necessary to carry away superfluous water. In summer these ditches are filled with a luxuriant fenland flora, which thus finds shelter in an exposed country. The scanty trees show by their inclination the prevalence of winds from the west laden with salt. The ground rises gently to the east; until on the boundary 95 ft. is reached. The total area of the township is 6,995 acres. (fn. 1) The population in 1901 was 1,236.

The principal road is that from Downholland to Scarisbrick and Southport; there are also cross-roads from Ormskirk to Birkdale. The Liverpool, Southport, and Preston Junction Railway, now taken over by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company, formed a branch through the township with a station called Halsall, half a mile west of the church, and another at Shirdley Hill.

The scattered houses of the village stand on the higher ground near the church. To the south-east is the hamlet of Bangors Green; Four Lane Ends is to the north-east. From near the church an extensive and comprehensive view of the surrounding county is obtained. The northern arm of the Downholland Brook rises in and drains part of the district, running eventually into the River Alt, which is the natural receptacle for all the streams and ditches hereabouts. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal crosses the southeastern portion of the township, with the usual accompaniment of sett-laid roads and untidy wharfs. Renacres Hall and La Mancha are on the north.

The township is governed by a parish council.

The wakes are held the first Sunday in July.

The hall is to the south-west of the church; between them was a water-mill, taken down about 1880. North-east of the church are portions of the old rectory house, consisting of a wall 55 ft. long, with three doorways and three two-light windows, several traces of cross walls, and a turret at the north-west. Part is of fourteenth-century date. (fn. 2)

The roads having been diverted, the village green is now within the rectory park. A cross stood there. (fn. 3) The base of the churchyard cross (fn. 4) still remains. Two other crosses—North Moor and Morris Lane—are marked on the 1848 Ordnance map, but have disappeared. (fn. 5)

The turf is left uncut, in order to diminish the danger of floods.

A natural curiosity of the district is the bituminous turf, formerly used for lighting instead of candles. (fn. 6)

MANORS

HALSALL was held by Chetel in 1066; its assessment was two plough-lands, and the value 8s. It was in the privileged three hides, and from the manner in which it is named was evidently one of the principal manors of the district. (fn. 7)

It was granted to the lord of Warrington for the service of a pound of cummin, and the various inquisitions and surveys recognize its dependence on Warrington. (fn. 8)

Pain de Vilers gave Halsall to Vivian Gernet in marriage with his daughter Emma; it was to be held by the service of one-tenth of a knight's fee. In 1212 Robert de Vilers was the lord of Halsall, and Alan son of Simon held of him. (fn. 9) Alan de Halsall, otherwise called 'de Lydiate,' (fn. 10) was probably the husband of the heiress of Vivian Gernet, for his wife Alice is joined with him in Halsall charters. (fn. 11)

To Alan his son Simon (fn. 12) succeeded. A charter by Robert de Vilers, his immediate lord, quitclaimed the rent of 13s. of silver which Robert and his predecessors had annually received from Simon son of Alan and his predecessors in respect of the vill of Halsall, commuting the service into a pound of pepper. (fn. 13)

Simon, still living in 1242–3, (fn. 14) was a little later succeeded by his son Gilbert, who in 1256 acknowledged the suit he owed to William le Boteler's court of Warrington, promising that he would do suit there from three weeks to three weeks. William, on the other hand, remitted all right to claim from Gilbert or his heirs 'bode' or 'witness' or puture for any of his serjeants. (fn. 15) Gilbert's name occurs as a witness and otherwise, (fn. 16) but he seems to have been very soon succeeded by his son Richard de Halsall, who is frequently mentioned about the end of the reign of Henry III. (fn. 17)


Halsall of Halsall (ancient). Argent, two bars azure within a bordure engrailed sable.

Richard died about 1275, in which year his son Gilbert had to answer Robert de Vilers respecting his tenure of a messuage and plough-land in Halsall; the services due from Gilbert were alleged to be homage, doing suit for Robert at the Warrington court, and paying 1 mark a year, and they had been rendered in the late king's reign by Gilbert's father Richard to Robert's father Robert. (fn. 18) Gilbert denied that he held land of Robert; and in reply to a later suit (1278) he showed that there was an error in the writ; for he had only two-thirds of the tenement, Denise, widow of Richard, having the other third in dower. (fn. 19) She afterwards married Hugh de Worthington, and in 1280 the suit by Robert de Vilers was continued, Gilbert de Halsall warranting the third part to her and her husband. The dispute ended by Robert's acknowledging the manor to be Gilbert's right and quitclaiming to him and his heirs in perpetuity; for which release Gilbert gave him 10 marks of silver. (fn. 20) From this time no more is heard of the mesne lordship of Vilers. (fn. 21)

Gilbert's wife was another Denise; by her he had a son Gilbert, who succeeded to Halsall some time before 1296, in which year, as Gilbert son of Gilbert de Halsall he received from William de Cowdray, rector, all the meadow by the mill which had been in the possession of Robert de Halsall. (fn. 22) Two years later he came to an agreement with Sir William le Boteler of Warrington and others as to a diversion of the watercourse in Lydiate near Eggergarth mill. (fn. 23) The succession had been rapid, and Gilbert was no doubt very young at this time; he was still in possession in 1346. (fn. 24) He secured the land called the Edge in Halsall from its owners, Robert and his son Richard, in 1317, (fn. 25) and acquired Ainsdale from Nicholas Blundell of Crosby. (fn. 26) As early as 1325 he made an agreement with Henry de Atherton as to the marriage of his son Otes (fn. 27) with Henry's sister Margaret, and settled upon this son and his wife lands in Halsall and Barton; and Robert de Parr granted them an annual rent of 40s. (fn. 28)

Otes succeeded his father about 1346. (fn. 29) The marriage arranged for him in infancy did not prove altogether satisfactory; and his wife Margaret afterwards sought maintenance before the bishop of Lichfield, her husband having unlawfully allied himself with Katherine de Cowdray. Katherine was the name of his wife in 1354. (fn. 30)

His son and heir was Gilbert, made a knight in 1388. In 1367 Otes de Halsall gave land in Barton to Gilbert his son and Elizabeth his wife, probably on the occasion of their marriage. (fn. 31) Some dispute occurred about 1379 as to the title of David Hulme of Maghull in the manor of Halsall, and this was settled by Gilbert. (fn. 32) He was escheator for the county in 22 Richard II. After his death two inquisitions were made (1404), one of which states that 'on the day of his forfeiture' he had no estates save those found and appraised in an inquisition taken in August, 1403. (fn. 33) The other recites the gifts of Robert de Parr of the manors of Halsall and Downholland and lands there; also Argar Meols and Birkdale, with remainder to Otes son of Gilbert; these had descended to Henry de Halsall, clerk, as son and heir of Sir Gilbert, son of Otes; the grant by the last-named to his son and his wife is also recorded, with the statement that Gilbert died seised thereof, and Elizabeth his wife was still living. (fn. 34)

Henry de Halsall, the heir, had embraced an ecclesiastical career, and was in 1395 presented by his father to the rectory of Halsall, which in 1413 he exchanged for the archdeaconry of Chester. He retained his various preferments till his death on 7 March, 1422–3. (fn. 35) He wished to interfere as little as possible with secular business, for one of his earliest acts was to make a settlement on the marriage of his brother Robert with Ellen daughter of Henry de Scarisbrick; and then to arrange the dower of his mother. (fn. 36)

His brother and successor Robert does not seem to have survived him long, for from 1429 the name of his son Henry frequently occurs. (fn. 37) The inquisitions taken after the death of Henry Halsall in July, 1471, give many details of the family history and property. Otes, his great-grandfather, had acquired a messuage and 24 acres from Emma wife of Thomas the clerk of Edge, and some similar properties. His father Robert appears to have acquired other lands in Halsall and the neighbouring villages—including Thornfield Clerk, Blakehey, Dudleyhey and Branderth in Halsall; and these he had given to Henry in 1426–7 on his marriage with Katherine, daughter of Sir James Harrington, and they had descended to his daughters and heirs, Margaret and Elizabeth (wife of Lambert Stodagh), whose ages were forty and thirty-eight years respectively. Most (or all) of the lands, however, went to the heir male, his brother Richard's son Hugh, who was of full age in 1472. (fn. 38)

Hugh's father Richard had been married at the end of 1448 to Grace daughter of Sir John Tempest. (fn. 39) Of Hugh himself nothing seems known; he was still lord of Halsall in 1483. (fn. 40) His son (fn. 41) Henry, who was made a knight by Lord Strange in Scotland in the autumn of 1497, (fn. 42) married Margaret Stanley, daughter of James Stanley, clerk. (fn. 43) Sir Henry died in June, 1522. At the inquisition taken after his death it was found he had held the manors of Halsall, Renacres, Lydiate, and Barton, and lands in Scarisbrick and elsewhere; also the manors of Downholland and Westleigh. (fn. 44) These had been assigned to trustees to perform his will, made in 1518. (fn. 45) The manor of Halsall was held of Thomas Butler by the twentieth part of a knight's fee; the manor of Renacres of the prior of St. John by the free rent of 12d. yearly, being worth 40s. clear; the manor of Barton of the heirs of Peter Holland by the service of 6d. yearly, its clear value being 40s.; the premises of Downholland were held of the same. (fn. 46)

Of his sons, Thomas the eldest succeeded him; he was knighted in 1533 at the coronation of Anne Boleyn. (fn. 47) His wife was Jane Stanley, daughter and coheir of John Stanley, son and heir of John Stanley of Weaver. (fn. 48) She brought him the manor of Melling and other lands. Sir Thomas died in 1539, and in the subsequent inquisition are recited the dispositions he made of the estates. (fn. 49) The manors and services correspond generally with those recorded in the previous inquisition. Henry his son and heir was eighteen years of age. (fn. 50)

Henry Halsall lived till 1574. (fn. 51) He married Anne, daughter of Sir William Molyneux of Sefton by his second wife Elizabeth, the heiress of Clifton, and this daughter herself, by the death of her brothers without issue, became heiress of the same. There was only one son, Richard Halsall, who died before his father, leaving an illegitimate son Cuthbert.

The inquisition after Henry's death, (fn. 52) which happened on 21 December, 1574, states that he held the manor of Melling in right of his mother; the paternal manors of Halsall, Downholland, and Formby, and various lands; also the advowson of the church of Halsall; in addition, there was his wife's manor of Clifton, with various lands and rights north of the Ribble. A settlement was made of this great estate in the spring of 1572, securing the wife's dower; (fn. 53) the residue going to the following, in successive remainders: To Edward Halsall, bastard son of Sir Henry Halsall, for life; to Cuthbert Halsall, bastard son of Richard, and his lawful male issue; to Thomas Halsall of Melling and heirs male; to James Halsall of Altcar and heirs male; to Thomas Halsall, brother of James, and to his first, second, and third sons and their heirs male; to Gilbert Halsall, bastard son of Sir Thomas, and lawful heirs male; to Thomas Halsall, of Barton, bastard son of Sir Thomas Halsall and lawful heirs male; to Silvester Halsall, bastard son of Henry Halsall of Prescot, and heirs male. (fn. 54) His lawful heirs were his nephew Bartholomew Hesketh (son of his sister Jane), aged twenty-eight, and his sister Maud Osbaldestone, aged forty. (fn. 55) Anne Halsall, the widow of Henry, died in June or July, 1589. (fn. 56)

Edward Halsall, after coming into possession of Halsall, occasionally resided there; he was a member of commissions of array in 1577 and 1580, (fn. 57) and held various public offices. His religious leanings are thus described in the report of 1590: 'Conformable, but otherwise of no good note.' (fn. 58) He died in 1594, having founded the school at Halsall. He was twice married, but his son predeceased him. (fn. 59)


Halsall of Halsall. Argent, three serpents' heads erased azure langued gules.

After his death Cuthbert Halsall succeeded, under the disposition made by his grandfather Henry. (fn. 60) He was made a knight in Dublin, 22 July, 1599, being apparently in the suite of the earl of Essex. (fn. 61) He was a recusant in 1605, and the profits of his forfeitures as such were assigned to Sir Thomas Mounson. (fn. 62) He was one of the knights of the shire in 1614 (fn. 63) and sheriff in 1601 and 1612. (fn. 64) Within thirty years he had dissipated his inheritance, and in 1631 was in prison for debt. Halsall was sold in 1625, along with the advowson, to Sir Charles Gerard, grandson of Sir Gilbert, who was Master of the Rolls in Queen Elizabeth's time. (fn. 65)

Sir Charles Gerard married Penelope, daughter of Sir Edward Fitton of Gawsworth, and one of the heirs of her brother Sir Edward. Sir Charles, who died at York about 1640, was buried at Halsall. (fn. 66) He built a windmill there; and there was also a watermill. (fn. 67) His eldest son, Charles, was born about 1618, and took the royal side in the Civil War, as did his two brothers. He greatly distinguished himself, and was in 1645 created Baron Gerard of Brandon in Suffolk. He was obliged to quit England during the rule of Cromwell, and was reported to be scheming the assassination of the Protector. Returning at the Restoration he had various promotions, and in 1678–9 he was created Viscount Brandon and earl of Macclesfield. Afterwards he intrigued with the duke of Monmouth, and in the time of James II was obliged again to seek a refuge abroad, returning with William prince of Orange, by whom he was rewarded with offices of honour. He died in January, 1693–4, and was buried at Westminster. (fn. 68) So far as the Halsall estate was concerned, Lord Gerard went on with the disputes with Robert Blundell of Ince as to the boundaries of the adjacent manors of Birkdale and Ainsdale and Renacres. These disputes lasted till 1719. (fn. 69)


Gerard, Earl of Macclesfield. Argent, a saltire gules.

His son Charles, born in Paris about 1659, was knight of the shire (Lord Brandon) 1679–85 and 1689–94, and made lord lieutenant on the Revolution. He had been convicted of high treason in connexion with the Rye House Plot, but pardoned. (fn. 70) He died without legitimate issue in November, 1701, and was succeeded in the titles by his brother Fitton, who died unmarried in December, 1702, when the earldom, &c., became extinct. (fn. 71)

Two sisters were co-heirs of the properties: Elizabeth, who married a distant cousin, Digby, fifth Lord Gerard of Bromley, and died in 1700, leaving a daughter and heiress Elizabeth, who married James duke of Hamilton; and Charlotte, wife of Thomas Mainwaring, who left a daughter and heiress Charlotte, who married Lord Mohun, and died in or before 1709. Lord Mohun, by the will of the second Lord Macclesfield, became owner of his wife's share of the Gerard estates, and the duel between him and the duke of Hamilton, in which both were killed (15 November, 1712), originated in a dispute about the division. (fn. 72) His widow was made the heir to his part of the estates, which included Halsall, and carried them to her third husband, Colonel Charles Mordaunt. (fn. 73) Though Colonel Mordaunt had no issue by her, he remained in possession of the Gerard and Fitton properties, and Halsall descended to his son by a second wife, (fn. 74) Charles Lewis Mordaunt, who at one time resided in the hall at Halsall. (fn. 75) Eventually he sold the manor to Thomas Eccleston, lord of the adjoining manor of Scarisbrick, and the advowson of the rectory to Jonathan Blundell of Liverpool. He died at Ormskirk on 15 January, 1808, aged seventyeight. (fn. 76)


Mohun. Or, a cross engrailed sable.


Mordaunt. Argent, a chevron between three estoiles sable.

The manor has since descended with Scarisbrick.

Courts used to be held in July and October; (fn. 77) there is still one kept in November.

The grant of RENACRES (fn. 78) to the Hospitallers has been related, and the Halsall family held it under them. (fn. 79) On the sale of their estates early in the seventeenth century it was acquired by Robert Blundell of Ince, (fn. 80) and became involved in the dispute between the latter and the earl of Macclesfield. In depositions taken at the trial (1664) it was stated that Sir Cuthbert had improved the lands belonging to Renacres and let them in common with the demesne lands of Halsall; and the tenants of Halsall had 'done boon' in Renacres. (fn. 81) The owners or tenants of Renacres had generally been called as suitors at the courts of the manor of Halsall, though none of them seem to have appeared there; and they paid lays to the constable of Halsall. (fn. 82) So far as Renacres was concerned, the cause was decided in favour of the Blundells' claim in 1719, and it has since descended with Ince Blundell. (fn. 83)

Renacres gave its name to one or more families in the neighbourhood. (fn. 84)

SNAPE, as may be implied in its name, was a border farm or hamlet. (fn. 85) Thomas son of Alan de Snape granted (about 1300) certain land in Halsall to Thomas the clerk of North Meols and Emma his wife. After the death of Thomas de Snape, his widow Alice taking her third as dower, this land was claimed by his heiresses—Margery wife of Robert del Riding of Sefton (Roger their son), Goditha wife of Paulinus del Edge of Halsall, Avice wife of Adam de Molyneux, Anabil wife of Robert the Tailor of Lathom—in right of their sister Denise, who, they said, died in possession. The jury found that Thomas the clerk and his wife had been unjustly disseised by force and arms, and must recover, the damages being taxed at 34s. (fn. 86)

Footnotes

1 Including 16 acres of inland water; census of 1901.
2 Trans. Hist. Soc. (New Ser.), xii, 195.
3 Ibid.
4 Henry Torbock of Halsall by his will (1595) desired to be buried 'in the parish churchyard of Halsall near unto the cross.' From the will at Chest.
5 Trans. Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. xix, 158.
6 At the beginning of last century 'a species of inflammable wood, called "firwood," was dug out of the mosses.… The "stock-head," being considered the best, was split into laths, which were used in lieu of candles … principally in public-houses. … A bunch of laths used to be sold at Ormskirk by the old women at the rate of 3d. a bunch, each bunch measuring 18 in. by 12'; Whittle, Marina, 123.
7 V.C.H. Lancs. vol. 1, p. 285a. The two plough-lands probably included several outlying berewicks, as Eggergarth (2 oxgangs) and Snape, its assessment in aftertimes being given as one plough-land only. The church lands were in the fourteenth century described as a quarter of the manor, or 5 oxgangs.
8 Thus in the sheriff's compotus of 1348 'the bailiff of Derbyshire answers for 1½d. of the rent of William le Boteler for the manor of Halsall … viz. for the rent of 1 lb. of cummin.' The 1½d. was still paid in 1548; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 13, m. 142.
9 Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 8.
10 Alan had lands also in Lydiate and Maghull.
11 Alan de Lydiate, 'by the assent and consent of Alice his wife,' granted to Cockersand Abbey in pure alms certain land in Halsall, with the usual easements; the dimensions are thus given: 15 perches in length from Sandiford to the cross in the western part, from this cross 66 perches in breadth to the cross at the head of Bechak, from this cross in length 26 perches to the brook, and thence up the brook to Sandiford, the mill site being excepted; Cockersand Chartul. (Chet Soc.), ii, 637. This was held by Sir Henry Halsall in 1501 for a quitrent of 2s.; Rentale de Cockersand (Chet. Soc.), 7.
'With the counsel and consent' of his wife he granted to God and St. John and the blessed poor men of the Hospital of Jerusalem all the arable lands in Renacres and Wulfou (Wolfhow) from Turnurs creek to the syke flowing into Sirewale mere, and with common of pasture, in pure alms, desiring prayers only in return; but Alfred de Ince was to hold the land under the Hospital by hereditary right, paying 12d. a year; Trans. Hist. Soc. xxxii, 183.
12 Simon de Halsall paid 20s. for licence to agree in 1224–5; Pipe R. 9 Hen. III, n. 69, m. 6d.
13 Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 139b.
As Simon 'de Halsall' he granted to the prior and canons of Burscough land in Halsall, the bounds beginning at the foss which falls into the channel above the ford of Aughton, following the foss as far as the moor, thence by another foss to the boundary of Scultecroft, along this to Alreneshaw syke, and down the syke as far as the first-named channel; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxvi, App. 198.
To Richard de Scarisbrick Simon confirmed a grant previously made by Henry de Halsall, viz. Trulbury, Thornyhead, and Shurlacres (Schirewalacres), the bounds being thus given: Going up from Senecarr as far as Gorsuch, thence to Rodelache between Wolfhow and Shurlacres, returning as far as Snape Head to the west and thence to Snape Brook. The annual rent was to be 2s. in silver; Trans. Hist. Soc. xxxii, 188.
Simon de Halsall was witness to an agreement made about 1220 between Siward son of Matthew de Halsall and Henry Leg of Scultecroft, which mentions the expedition (transfretatio) of Richard earl of Cornwall; Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 139, n. 15.
14 Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 149.
15 Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 129.
16 Trans. Hist. Soc. xxxii, 187.
17 As 'lord of Halsall' Richard confirmed to the Burscough canons all the land he held of them hereditarily—namely, that which Simon de Halsall had formerly given, and which, after being held for a time by Adam de Walshcroft, seems to have been granted back to the Halsall family; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxvi, App. 198. His widow Denise and his son Gilbert afterwards confirmed this; ibid.
Among Richard's other grants are one to Richard son of Alan de Maghull, of land in Halsall for his homage and service, and another of 3 acres to Alan; Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 141b, n. 36, and 143, n. 66.
18 De Banc. R. 14, m. 45d.
19 De Banc. R. 27, m. 16; 30, m. 6 The descent—Simon, s. Gilbert, s. Richard, s. Gilbert—is from Assize R. 1294, m. 10. The first Gilbert (son of Simon) is omitted in the pedigree in a later suit; Assize R. 426, m. 3.
20 Final Conc., 157. Gilbert granted to Richard son of German a portion of his land in Halsall; Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 141, n. 30 and 27.
21 It would appear that it had been forfeited before 1242, at which time the manors held by Robert de Vilers in 1212 —viz. Hoole, Windle, and Halsall—were in the hands of the earl of Derby, as lord of the land between Ribble and Mersey; Inq. and Extents, 147. Windle and Halsall were restored to the lord of Warrington, not to Robert de Vilers, about 1260, so that from this time the Halsalls held directly of the Botelers; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 219b, n. 178.
22 Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 138, n. 1.
23 Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 13; his seal has the motto 'Crede michi.'
24 His lands were over £15 annual value in 1324; and about that time he held public offices; Parl. Writs, ii, 968.
25 Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 141, n. 31.
26 See the account of Ainsdale.
27 Auti, Outhi, or Otho.
28 Dods. loc. cit. fol. 140b, n. 24; 141, n. 27; 142b, n. 53. It should be noted that Otes asserted that he was under age in Dec. 1346; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 3, m. viij.
It is not clear how Robert de Parr was connected with the manor, but in Oct. 1325, he was deforciant and Gilbert claimant of the manor of Halsall, a fourteenth part of the manor of Downholland, a moiety of the thirteenth part of the same, and the advowson of Halsall church, except 8 messuages, &c. Afterwards (1328) Gilbert acknowledged them to be Robert's right, and the latter granted them to him for life; and granted further that the third part of the above tenement, held by Denise as dower 'of the inheritance of the said Robert,' should also go to Gilbert, and after his decease to his son Otes or heirs; Final Conc. ii, 71.
In 1378–9 Alan de Bradley, son and heir of Robert de Parr, quitclaimed to Gilbert son of Otes de Halsall all right to the manor, &c., 'which the said Robert my father had of the gift of Gilbert father of Otes'; Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 142b (52). A family of Parr of Halsall appears in 1355; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 4, m. 7.
29 A Gilbert de Halsall occurs as plaintiff about 1350, but may be Otes's brother; Assize R. 1444, m. 7. There may have been a division of the Halsall estates between Otes and Gilbert his brother; see the account of Maghull.
Otes was the tenant doing suit of county and wapentake for William le: Boteler, in the Survey of 1346 (Chet. Soc.), 38. His seal shows two bars: within a bordure engrailed.
30 Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 142, n. 50, 45. He seems to have been violent and lawless in other respects also. His brother Gilbert, who agreed with him as to land in Halsall in 1346 (ibid. fol. 142, n. 49), had previously (in 1343) accused him of taking his goods, and though Otes was acquitted of this charge, he was convicted of assault and sent to gaol; Assize R. 430, m. 3, 4, 4 d. 7 d. 8. He was charged with other offences, including that of putting Adam de Barton and his wife in, the stocks at Ormskirk; Assize R. 432,. m. 1 d.; Exch. Misc. xc, 13. Afterwards., however, he appears to have reformed.
He might have pleaded that his neigh bours were violent also; he charged John de Cunscough and Adam his son with having set fire to his houses in Halsall; De Banc. R. 349, m. 118.
In 1359 he received from Henry duke of Lancaster a grant of free warren in all his demesne lands of Halsall and Renacres, unless they were within the metes of the duke's forest; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxii, App. 338. In 1361 he had from the bishop licence for two years for an oratory; Lichfield Epis. Reg. v, fol. 7. He was a knight of the shire in 1351 (Pink and Beavan, 30), and was still living in 1377; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 233.
31 Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 143, n. 63.
32 Ibid. fol. 142, n. 51. The Hulme claim may have been based upon the doubtful legitimacy of Gilbert. A compromise seems to have been made; see the account of Ainsdale.
33 He was witness to a charter dated at Ormskirk, 19 June, 1402.
34 Towneley MSS. DD., n. 1464, 1456. An annuity of £20 was granted to Sir Gilbert de Halsall in 1397, the king having retained him in his service for life; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxvi, App. 214. He served in Ireland; Cal. of Pat. Ric. II and Hen. IV.
35 Lich. Epis. Reg. vi, fol. 60 d.; vii, fol. 103 d.; ix, fol. 112 d. The writ of Diem cl. extr. was issued on 12 March, 1422–3; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxiii, App. 24.
36 Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 139b, n. 20 (June, 1405), and n. 19, and fol. 141, n. 29 (Feb. 1406).
37 Robert had other sons, Richard and William; and Gilbert, rector from about 1426 to 1452, may have been another. Gilbert and Richard, sons of Robert, were in 1429 executors of their uncle Henry, late archdeacon of Chester; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 2, m. 8.
A prominent Halsall of the time was Sir Gilbert Halsall, who fought in the French wars and was bailiff of Evreux, afterwards marrying a Cheshire heiress; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xli (Norman R.). App. 758; Rep. xlii, App. 320, &c.; also Rep. xxxvii (Welsh Records), App. 342. A grant of land in Lydiate was made to Sir Gilbert Halsall in 1423; Croxteth D.
38 Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 84– 91, 109. The estate included the manors of Halsall (held under Warrington), Renacres (under the Hospitallers), Lydiate (a moiety), and Barton, and 50 messuages, 300 acres of land, 40 acres of wood, 100 acres of meadow in Birkdale, Argar Meols, Melling, Liverpool, and Aughton.
Henry de Halsall was escheator in 1430; and a knight of the shire several times between 1435 and 1460; Pink and Beavan, Parly. Rep. of Lancs. 55–57. An annuity of £10 granted to him was reserved in the Act of Resumption in 1464; R. of Parl. v, 547. The bishop of Lichfield on 27 Sept. 1453, granted to him and Katherine his wife licence for an oratory where mass and other divine offices might be celebrated; Lichfield Epis. Reg. xi, 46.
39 Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 143b, n. 73.
40 Ibid. n. 56. So also in the Duchy Feodary of 1483.
41 Edward Halsall, clerk, was another son; ibid. n. 48.
42 Metcalfe, Bk. of Knights, 31.
43 Visit. of 1567. This James is usually identified with James Stanley, afterwards bishop of Ely; Margaret's son was born about 1498, so that her birth may be placed about 1480, and her father's about 1460—a possible date.
44 These Sir Henry had recently purchased from Edmund Holland.
45 By this will he provided for his younger sons and the marriage portions of his daughters. Should the rectory fall vacant while his heir was under age the feoffees must present 'one of the next of his blood' to it, or (in default) some other person of good conversation whom they might judge would be 'loving and kind' to his heirs. They were also to set apart land of the yearly value of £4 6s. 8d. to find 'an honest and well-disposed priest' to pray and do divine service in Halsall church for ever for his soul and that of his deceased wife Margaret. His heir was to be found at school and to be kept 'like a gentleman' till the age of 20. As the son and heir was over 28 in 1522, it would appear that the date of the will is much earlier than 1518. In 1520 he gave lands in Scarisbrick, Harleton, Halsall, and Snape to other feoffees for the benefit of his younger (natural) sons Edward and George for their lives.
46 The other properties were held in socage (except where stated otherwise) by small annual rents as follows: Birkdale, abbot of Cockersand, 10s.; Aspemoll in Scarisbrick, James Scarisbrick, 6d.; Melling, prior of St. John, 6d.; halfburgage in Liverpool, the king (as duke) in free burgage, by 6d.; Ormskirk, prior of Burscough, 6d.; Aughton, James Bradshaw, 2s.; manor of Downholland, the king (as duke) by the fourth part of a knight's fee, except a messuage and lands held of the prior of St. John, by 6d.; the manor of Westleigh, John Urmeston, 4s.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, n. 50.
The second son, James, appears to have settled at Altcar, originating the Halsalls of that parish; Richard was rector of Halsall.
47 Metcalfe, Book of Knights, p. 65. Arms: quarterly, 1 and 4, three dragons' heads; 2 and 3, three unicorns' heads.
48 Visit. of 1533 (Chet. Soc.), p. 166; see further under Melling.
49 Provision was made (1525–6) for his son and heir Henry on his marriage; for dower of his own wife, and for several annuities; also for illegitimate sons, Thomas (afterwards called 'of Barton'), Gilbert, and Cuthbert — probably the Cuthbert afterwards rector.
50 Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. vii, n. 13. Henry had special licence of entry without proof of age, 8 Feb. 1543–4; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxix, App. p. 554. Sir Thomas's daughters were Jane, who married Gabriel Hesketh, and had a son and heir Bartholomew; and Maud, who married Edward Osbaldeston.
51 He was in this year called upon to furnish a demi-lance, two light horses, three corslets, pikes, etc.; Lancs. Lieutenancy (Chet. Soc.), p. 38.
52 It is erroneously dated 10 instead of 17 Eliz.; the first date seems to have been taken from his mother's inquisition.
53 His wife's property eventually returned to the Clifton family by default of heirs. See also Duchy of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 34, m. 132.
54 Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xiii, n. 34; Gibson, Lydiate Hall, p. 117. It appears therefore that Henry Halsall himself had no illegitimate children—a fact which deserves notice.
55 Edward Halsall, first in remainder, was living at Eccleston, near Prescot; a life interest was no doubt given to him, being a lawyer, as the most suitable guardian for Cuthbert, who was still a minor in 1590.
56 By her will she directed her body to be buried in the chancel of the parish church, as near as possible to the place where her husband lay. She left numerous legacies, including 12d. 'to every one that I am godmother unto dwelling within this parish of Halsall'; the remainder of her goods and chattels she left to 'Cuthbert Halsall alias Norris, esquire.' Piccope, Wills (Chet. Soc.), iii, 143–6.
57 Lancs. Lieutenancy (Chet. Soc.), 87, 108.
58 Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 244.
59 By his will he desired to be buried in the church or chancel of Halsall, 'wishing (although it may seem but a vanity) that such parts of the body of Ursula my late wife and of Richard my son as shall then remain unconsumed may be taken out of the parish church of Prescot where they were buried and laid in grave with me, where also I am very desirous to have Anne now my wife (when God shall call for her) likewise to lie, if it may so stand with God's pleasure, to the end that we may all together joyfully rise at the last day, to live (as my hope is we shall) with Christ our Lord everlastingly in His glorious kingdom.' The only other expression of his faith is that 'I trust to die a member of God's Catholic Church.' The similar expression, 'I pray and hope to live and die a member of the Catholic Church' in the will of Jane Scarisbrick (1599; see Piccope, Wills, iii, 24), may be noticed, as there is no doubt as to her faith. To his 'cousin,' Cuthbert Halsall, who was to succeed him at Halsall, Edward left all his books, which were for ever 'to remain in safe keeping in the said house to the use of the owners thereof and of their children apt to the study of the common law of this realm or other learning,' as a memorial of the goodwill he bore (as he was bound) to that house. The house he had built for himself at Eccleston was to be kept in order for his widow, and then according to further provisions he had made. Piccope, Wills (Chet. Soc.), ii, 214–18.
60 He was educated at Oxford, where he matriculated early in 1588, being then fifteen years of age, and was at Gray's Inn, 1593; Foster, Alumni Oxon. He was a justice of the peace in 1595; Kenyon MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), 583.
61 Metcalfe, Book of Knights, 209.
62 Pal. Note Book, iv, 232.
63 Pink and Beavan, op. cit. 69.
64 P.R.O. List, 73.
65 A transfer to Richard Shireburne and Edmund Breres was made in 1619; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 95, m. 43; and the sale to Sir Charles Gerard in 1625; ibid. bdle. 107, m. 24. In 1626 the purchaser complained that he could not obtain possession of the deeds. He had not bought directly, but through Shireburne and Breres 'for very great and valuable consideration.' Sir Cuthbert and his wife set up the defence that Barton in Downholland was not a mere hamlet, but a distinct manor in itself, and was not included in the sale. Sir Cuthbert further pleaded that the sale to Shireburne and Breres in 1619 was of the nature of a mortgage, they being bound for his debts; Edmund Breres himself was a man of very 'miserable decayed estate, very far indebted.' By discrediting his title, they had prevented him from marrying his daughter to John Mallet, 'a gentleman of great ability and estate,' who would have given him £10,000. His pleas for delay and rescission of the sale did not avail, and Sir Charles Gerard retained the manors of Halsall and Downholland; Duchy of Lanc. Pleadings, Easter and Trin. 2 Chas. I.
The matter was still before the courts in 1631, on the point 'how much Sir Charles Gerard should pay to Sir Cuthbert Halsall more than he had already paid to Shireburne and Breres'; and in the following year Dame Dorothy, as widow and executrix, continued the application; Decrees and Orders, 7–10 Chas. I, xxxi, fol. 129, 131, 211.
Sir Cuthbert retired to Salwick Hall, part of his grandmother's estate, and died there about 1632; Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 114, 116.
66 Ormerod, Ches. (ed. Helsby), i, 653.
67 Royalist Comp. P. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 16, 18. Radcliffe Gerard was one of the trustees, and had resided at the hall; there is mention of boon hens and other services; ibid. 11.
68 Ormerod, loc. cit.; G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
69 Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 114–16. A deposition in 1664 states the Halsall boundaries thus: From Renacres Mere on the north or right hand to Bull Acre, Corner Hill or Shirleys Hill, Shurlacres Mere on the left, to Birkdale Cop (dividing Scarisbrick and Halsall), east side of Birkdale Brook (dividing Birkdale and Halsall), to Ainsdale Brook (dividing Ainsdale and Halsall), to a ditch from Gettern Hey (parting Formby and Halsall), and another ditch between Barton and Halsall; containing 4,000 acres and more, of the yearly value of £500. Barton was a member of Downholland Manor. Most of the said premises, the complaint adds, were seized and sold by 'the late usurped powers on account of plaintiff's loyalty to His Majesty'; Duchy of Lanc. Pleadings, Easter, 16 Chas. II.
70 He appears to have been distrusted in Lancashire. 'It will not be easily forgot,' it was said in 1689, 'that Lord Brandon had had two pardons—one for murder and another for high treason; and that after the late king had forgiven him he was a violent asserter of that king's dispensing power to the highest degree in that county and in that reign, when he was a deputy-lieutenant to the Lord Molyneux, a grand papist… His actings may administer suspicion what his designs are, if these things were inquired into, viz. what arms besides the militia arms (of which every soldier keeps his own) are stored up in Lancashire by that lord, part at Halsall, part at Liverpool Castle, and other parts elsewhere, in the custody of some Dissenters'; Kenyon MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), 234–5.
71 G.E.C. Complete Peerage.
72 Ormerod, Ches. (ed. Helsby), i, 653; iii, 551; Earwaker, East Ches. ii, 561–7; G.E.C. Complete Peerage; Gregson, Fragments (ed. Harland), 218.
73 Son of General Lewis Mordaunt, brother of the third earl of Peterborough.
74 Part of the estates went to daughters of his wife by her first husband and part was sold. The parties to a fine concerning Halsall in April, 1728, were Sir Richard Rich, bart. and his wife Elizabeth; William Stanhope and Charles Mordaunt; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 299, m. 119.
75 His initials and the date 1769 are on a spout head; his coat-of-arms is over one of the doors.
76 Gregson, op. cit. 218.
77 Baines, Lancs. (1836), iv, 261.
78 The old spelling seems to be Runacres, with variants like Ruinacres, or Rynacres; later (1575) is Renacres. A common modern spelling is Ranicar.
79 About 1540 Sir Thomas Halsall held it of them by a rent of 12d.; Kuerden MSS. v, fol. 84.
80 Among the early charters of this family are the following relating to it: (i) Walter son of Adam grants to William son of Roger an eighth part of Renacres in fee and heredity, paying 6d. to the superior lord and an additional 3d. to the grantor and his heirs; (ii) the same granted a quarter of his land there to Alan son of Adam, perhaps his brother, rendering 12d.; this rent is the same and payable on the same day (St. Bartholomew) as that of Alfred de Ince in the Hospitallers' charter; (iii) Robert son of William de Renacres granted a quarter of his land in Renacres to his brother Roger, with all easements and common rights as contained in Robert's charter from Gilbert de Halsall, rendering 6d. yearly for all services and dues. The bounds of this donation are thus described: From the cross above Turnerliche, following the division between the dry land ('terra certa') and the marsh as far as the ditch going down from the vill to the marsh, and along the same natural boundary to the ditch between Wolfhow and Renacres, and thence by the division between the dry land and the Moss around Wolfhow to the ditch between this place and Shurlacres Mere; thence, transversely, in a straight line to the cross already named; Trans. Hist. Soc. xxxix, 184–8.
'Dame' Mary Blundell, widow of Henry Blundell, appears to have been living at Renacres manor-house in 1717, when she as a 'Papist' registered an estate; Eng. Cath. Non-jurors, III.
81 Duchy of Lanc. Depos. 1664, n. 10d. It is further stated that Jackson's Brook, beginning at North Moor in Halsall, anciently divided Halsall and Renacres, running into a mere called Renacres Mere, which was divided between the two places; afterwards running into Shurlacres Mere in Scarisbrick. The deponent remembered old men saying that formerly there was a 'fleam ditch' kept open, which was part of the boundary; but Mr. Herle, then possessor of Renacres, filled it up, and sedges and withens grew there. Another deponent gave the boundaries of the 'inlands' of Renacres thus: From the head of Skellet Wood down to a sandy hill, and so to Shirleys, and thence along the brookside to Meols Cop, and thence to Scarisbrick. Shirleys Hill derived its name from a recent occupier, the old name was Corney Hill. More interesting names are Kettelwell Moss, 'behind a place called Shirley,' apparently on the Birkdale side; and Kettelsgreave Ditch, part of the boundary between Birkdale and Renacres.
82 Ibid. 1701, n. 3.
83 Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 116 (derived from papers at Ince Blundell).
84 Alan de Renacres occurs about 1240; and Richard son of Alan de Renacres and others made complaint against Gilbert de Halsall in 1305; Herbert de Burscough son of Robert de Renacres, and William son of Simon de Renacres appear about 1260; Simon son of Stephen de Renacres was plaintiff in a dispute as to pasture in Bickerstaffe in 1313; and others occur from time to time. Assize R. 420, m. 5; 424, m. 4d. 6. See also the accounts of Bickerstaffe and other townships.
Adam de Renacres in 1284 secured from Robert de Renacres seven acres in Halsall, the rent being a rose annually; for which concession Adam gave Robert a sor sparrowhawk; Final Conc. i, 163.
85 It is now within Scarisbrick, but formerly appears to have been halved; see the quotation from Inq. Nonarum, given in a former note.
86 Final Conc. i, 190; Assize R. 1321, m. 3; 423, m. 2d.