A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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The ancient parish of Childwall has an area of 16,043 acres, to which 3,252 acres tidal water must be added and about 4,500 acres of foreshore. The principal physical feature is the central ridge, which rises at one point to nearly 300ft. Thus there is a general slope to Childwall Vale to the north-east, and to the Mersey on the south-west and to the southeast. Childwall Heath formerly extended along the boundary between Wavertree and Childwall into Little Woolton.
The parish comprises ten townships, anciently arranged in four 'quarters' thus: (1) Childwall; (2) Wavertree, Thingwall, (fn. 1) Much Woolton, Little Woolton; (3) Garston, Allerton, Speke; (4) Hale, Halewood. To the 'fifteenth' the parish paid £8 11s. 9¼d. out of an assessment of £106 9s. 6d. for the hundred, (fn. 2) while to the county lay it contributed a sixteenth part of the hundred levy, so distributed that when this amounted to £100 the 'quarters' of Childwall paid as follows:—Childwall, 5s.; Hale, 13s. 4d., Halewood, 26s. 8d.—£2; Much Woolton, Little Woolton, Wavertree, 13s. 4d. each—£2; Speke, 20s., Garston, 15s., Allerton, 5s.—£2; the total being £6 5s. (fn. 3)
Henry earl of Derby in 1591 gave his decision in the dispute between the parishioners of Childwall in general and those who lived in the chapelry of Hale, touching the repairs of the parish church. On the Hale side it was urged that they were practically separate for worship and the sacraments, and had never paid to the repair of Childwall church or churchyard. The other side said it was notorious that Hale was part of the parish, and the tithes were collected thence as from other parts of it; further, the vicar of Childwall allowed £4 a year towards the stipend of the curate of Hale; it was proved also that within the previous twenty years a lay had been imposed on the parish for church repairs and that Hale had contributed its share, a third. Accordingly the earl decided that Hale must pay its due proportion. (fn. 4)
Though the market and fair at Hale and the ford across the Mersey at that place must have brought some traffic into the district, the record of the parish has few striking events. The freeholders in 1600 were John Ireland of the Hutt, Edward Norris of Speke, Evan Haughton of Wavertree, William Woodward and Thomas Orme of Woolton, William Brettargh of Aigburth, Hugh Leike of Childwall, Edward Molyneux, David Ford, and William Whitefield of Speke. (fn. 5)
The ecclesiastical changes made by Elizabeth were received with as little favour here as elsewhere in Lancashire. The chapel at Garston had ceased to be used for service and fell into ruin. In 1590 Edward Norris of Speke and George Ireland of the Hutt, both esquires 'of fair and ancient living,' were classed among those 'of some degree of conformity, yet in general note of evil affection in religion, non-communicants'; and the wife of the former was 'a recusant and indicted thereof.' Thomas Molyneux of Speke, one 'of the gentlemen of the better sort,' was a 'comer to church but no communicant.' (fn. 6) One of the Brettarghs of the Holt became a Puritan, and suffered some persecution from his neighbours in consequence. The quarrel between Sir William Norris and Edward Moore indicates the bitterness engendered by the attempts to enforce conformity to the new order. The parish afforded a victim to the laws in the person of John Almond of Speke, executed for his priesthood in 1612.
Other indications of the condition of the parish are afforded by the records of the bishop's visitations. In 1592 two men were excommunicated for piping upon the Sabbath day in the churchyard; others suffered for standing in the churchyard and talking at service and sermon time; William Lathom of Allerton and Thomas Greaves of Wavertree for talking in the church itself at sermon time, but the latter on appearing was excused on making a public confession of his fault; another was sentenced because his children did not come to be catechized. (fn. 7) In 1635 the churchwardens prosecuted certain persons as absenting themselves from church and others as recusants, others for 'usually sleeping' in church during the service. Thomas Mackey of Speke was charged with having 'an ale' and tippling, revelling, and dancing at his house upon the Sunday; and Mary Norris, a widow, for a similar offence. (fn. 8) Next year the churchwardens had to describe the 'uncivil and barbarous manner' in which one Sunday the vicar (Mr. Lewis) had been attached and apprehended; and this at the instigation of one of the chapelwardens of Hale. (fn. 9)
In 1628 the landowners in the parish paying the subsidy were John Pearson in Much Woolton, Nehemiah Brettargh in Little Woolton and Aigburth, Sir William Norris and Edward Tarleton in Speke and Garston, and John Ireland in Hale. (fn. 10)
In the Civil War the two chief families took opposite sides, but while Gilbert Ireland was a vigorous supporter of the Parliamentary cause, the Norrises, except Edward Norris, who died in the midst of the struggle, remained inactive. The parliamentary commissioners found much work in the parish in connexion with the forfeited or sequestered estates of Royalists (fn. 11) and recusants. (fn. 12)
After the Restoration the lists of contributors to the hearth tax provide a basis for judging the condition of the inhabitants. (fn. 13) In Childwall in 1666 only three houses had three hearths or more liable, Gilbert Tarleton's having seven and the vicarage five. In Wavertree William Ellison's of Greenside was the largest, with five hearths. In Much Woolton only two houses had as many as three hearths, but in little Woolton there were nine, including Brettargh Holt with nine hearths. Speke Hall had twenty-one hearths, and Allerton Hall eight. In Garston there were only four houses with three hearths at least. In Hale the great houses of Sir Gilbert Ireland, with seventeen hearths at Hale and twenty-two at the Hutt are prominent.
The growth of Liverpool in more recent times has had its inevitable effect on a large portion of the parish. Wavertree and Garston have become populous urban districts, and were incorporated in the borough of Liverpool in 1895 and 1903 respectively; Childwall, the Wooltons, and Allerton, have also a suburban character, while Speke, Hale, and Halewood still remain agricultural.
The agricultural land in the parish is occupied as follows:—Arable land, 8,934 acres; permanent grass, 2,838; woods and plantations, 337. (fn. 14)
There were races held at Childwall early in the eighteenth century. (fn. 15)
A report on the wasting of the lands by the Mersey was made in 1828. (fn. 16)
In 1804 a company of volunteers was formed from Hale, Halewood, and Garston, under the commandership of John Blackburne of Hale, and with Richard Weston as captain. (fn. 17)
The church of All Saints (fn. 18) is situated on the north-eastward slope of the hill about half-way up. The building has has but little ancient work to show. It consists of chancel with north chapel and vestry, nave with north and south aisles, south chapel and south porch, and west tower and spire.
A few twelfth-century stones have been found in the course of repairs, but nothing in the building appears to be older than the fourteenth century. The north arcade and aisle were rebuilt early in the nineteenth century, and are now again (1906) in process of complete rebuilding. The chancel (fn. 19) has on the south side a square-headed two-light window which may be of fourteenth-century date, while the east window and a north window like that on the south are modern, of fourteenth-century style. The chancel arch of two chamfered orders dies into the walls at the springing. The south arcade of the nave is of fifteenth-century date, with octagonal columns and moulded capitals, and pointed arches of two orders. Originally of five bays, one of its columns has been removed and two of the arches thrown into one, in order to improve the view of the nave from the south nave chapel (the Salisbury chapel), which is an eighteenth-century building with a large round-headed south window.
The south aisle has several fifteenth-century twolight windows, and the embattled south porch is of the same date, while the clearstory over the south arcade has square-headed windows which may be of the sixteenth century. In the south aisle are two arched recesses in the wall, probably sepulchral, and in the same place are preserved the figures of a man in plate armour and a lady, said on the authority of a much more modern inscription to be those of Henry Norris of Speke, 1524, and Clemence his wife. The tower, which was rebuilt in 1810 on the old foundations, except that the east wall was set further west, is of little architectural merit. The jambs of the old east arch of the tower remain in a damaged condition, apparently the result of a fire. The font, of red sandstone, is ancient, but completely rechiselled, and appears to have been altered from an octagon to a round.
The registers begin in 1557, the earlier entries having been copied on parchment about 1597. The first volume contains baptisms, marriages, and burials up to 1613 or 1614, with a few odd entries up to 1650. The next volume begins in 1653, so that there is a break of about forty years; from this time the series appears to be complete. There is a rude drawing of the church on the cover of the second volume. The churchwardens' accounts begin a little before 1600. The tithe award and maps are in the vestry.
The silver communion plate includes a flagon, two chalices, and two patens, 1779. (fn. 20)
In the church besides the Norris brass, (fn. 21) now hung on the wall, are monuments to Richard Percival of Allerton, who died in 1700, Theophilus Kelsall, formerly vicar, and others.
There is a ring of six bells, dating from 1720.
The priest of the place is mentioned in Domesday Book as having half a plough-land in alms. (fn. 22) About 1094 Roger of Poitou granted the church of Childwall, among others, to the abbey of St. Martin at Séez, and thus for a time it became attached to the priory of Lancaster. This grant appears to have been revoked by Henry I on the forfeiture of Roger's possessions, but was confirmed in a charter by John count of Mortain. (fn. 23) The priory received an annual pension of 20s. from the holder of the benefice, through a compromise arranged by the abbots of Chester and Stanlaw and the prior of Birkenhead as papal delegates, and confirmed by Geoffrey the bishop of Coventry about 1205. (fn. 24)
The manor having been granted to the baron of Manchester, he also claimed the patronage of the church, and in 1232 this right was in dispute between Thomas Grelley and the prior of Lancaster. (fn. 25) The former was successful, and a Grelley is found among the rectors soon afterwards, while in 1293 and 1299 the king presented to Childwall, because of the minority of Thomas son of Robert Grelley the patron. (fn. 26)
The rector being a non-resident pluralist, the bishop appears to have thought it proper to establish a vicarage at Childwall. Accordingly in December, 1307, a vicar was instituted on the presentation of the rector. He was to receive for the maintenance of himself and the ecclesiastical organization of the parish—three chaplains and a deacon are named—all oblations and tenths, Easter dues, tithes of linen, cheese and milk, &c. He (or they) were to have a dwelling place on the land of the church called 'Green land,' near the church, and to satisfy all the ordinary charges. (fn. 27)
Only two years after this Sir Robert de Holand presented to the rectory and then assigned it to his college of priests at Upholland. (fn. 28) In 1311 the rector was presented by the dean of this college. Licence for the alienation had been granted by Edward II in June, 1310, after the usual inquiry. (fn. 29) On the transference of the college to a monastery of Benedictines in 1319, the advowson of Childwall was transferred also, with a reservation of the usual ecclesiastical rights and a pension of 40s. a year to the cathedral church of Lichfield. This pension continued to be paid down to the dissolution. (fn. 30) The rectory was appropriated, the monks presenting to the vicarage until the suppression.
The rectory with the patronage was granted to augment the endowment of the new see of Chester by Philip and Mary in 1557–8, (fn. 31) and this, after confiscation, was renewed by Elizabeth in 1561, (fn. 32) and the later presentations were made by the bishops of Chester until the see of Liverpool was created by Act of Parliament in 1880, when the patronage was transferred to its bishop.
The tithes were farmed out (fn. 33) in Elizabeth's reign (fn. 34) and later to the Anderton family, (fn. 35) so the Commonwealth surveyors found. Bishop Bridgeman had in 1632 leased the tithes to John Poole and others for three lives for a yearly rent of £57 14s. 4d., (fn. 36) and the lease was 'lately in the possession of James Anderton, a Papist, and now under sequestration for his delinquency.' The actual value of the tithes was about £400. There was no parsonage house certainly known, but the parish had lately bought from the earl of Derby a house for the vicar as well as two acres of land supposed to have belonged to the parsonage. (fn. 37)
In 1291 the rectory was valued at £40, (fn. 38) and in 1535 at £38 13s. 4d., out of which certain fees and pensions had to be paid, the vicarage being worth £6. (fn. 39) Bishop Gastrell about 1720 found the value of the vicarage £58 3s. 10d. (fn. 40) At present the gross value is given as £440, with a vicarage house opposite the church. £4 is paid to Hale chapel.
The vicar of Childwall formerly presented to various churches within the old parish, Wavertree, Woolton, &c., but this patronage has been transferred to the bishop of Liverpool.
The following is a list of the rectors and vicars:—
|Instituted||Name||Presented by||Cause of Vacancy|
|oc.||1177–8||Robert (fn. 41)||—||—|
|c.||1190||Robert Fukes (fn. 42)||Richard de Lathom||—|
|c.||1205||H. (and R.) (fn. 43)||—||—|
|c.||1232–46||John Cotty (fn. 44)||—||—|
|1260 and after||Herbert Grelley (fn. 45)||—||—|
|15 Mar. 1292–3||John de Droxford (fn. 46)||The King||—|
|9 Nov. 1309||Adam de Preston (fn. 47)||Sir Robert de Holand||res. of J. de Droxford|
|18 Mar. 1310–11||Henry de Leicester (fn. 48)||Dean of Holland||res. of A. de Preston|
|17 Dec. 1307||Henry de Wavertree (fn. 49)||The Rector||—|
|20 Dec. 1338||Richard de Barnby (fn. 50)||Holland Priory||d. of H. de Wavertree|
|3 July, 1349||Nicholas de Thorne (fn. 51)||"||d. of Ric. last vicar|
|—||John Dibbleda (fn. 52)||—||—|
|26 Jan. 1353–4||Roger de Poghden (fn. 53)||Holland Priory||pro. J. Dibbleda|
|6 Mar. 1386–7||Richard de Moston (fn. 54)||"||d. of R. de Poghden|
|oc.||1421||Thomas Caton (fn. 55)||—||—|
|16 Aug. 1426||William Walton (fn. 56)||Holland Priory||d. of T. Caton|
|oc.||1430–35||William Mercer (fn. 57)||—||—|
|24 Jan. 1443–4||Christopher Lee (fn. 58)||Holland Priory||—|
|oc.||1464||Geoffrey Whalley (fn. 59)||—||—|
|16 May, 1473||? Richard Dey, LL.B. (fn. 60)||Holland Priory||res. G. Whalley|
|11 Nov. 1496||John Merton (fn. 61)||"||d. of Richard Dey|
|17 Oct. 1514||Robert Greves (fn. 62)||"||res. last. incum.|
|10 July, 1546||John Ainsdale (fn. 63)||W. J. & R. Ainsdale||d. of R. Greves|
|12 Jan. 1569–70||David Catton (fn. 64)||Bishop of Chester||res. W. Crosse|
|24 Oct. 1588||Lawrence Blackborne (fn. 65)||—||[d. D. Catton]|
|18 Jan. 1588–9||Thomas Williamson, M.A. (fn. 66)||Bishop of Chester||—|
|28 June, 1589||Edmund Hopwood (fn. 67)||—||—|
|oc.||1616||William Knowles (fn. 68)||—||—|
|17 April, 1617||Henry Taylor (fn. 69)||Bishop of Chester||—|
|10 Aug. 1624||James Hyett, B.D. (fn. 70)||"||dep. or cession of H. Taylor|
|20 May, 1625||James Critchley||"||res. Jas. Hyett|
|7 Dec. 1632||William Lewis, M.A. (fn. 71)||—||—|
|c.||1645||David Ellison (fn. 72)||Com. of the County||—|
|18 Dec. 1657||John Litherland (fn. 73)||Lord Protector||—|
|2 Mar. 1661–2||Bishop of Chester|
|5 Mar. 1663–4||William Thompson (fn. 74)||"||—|
|15 Oct. 1664||Joshua Ambrose, M.A. (fn. 75)||"||—|
|18 Feb. 1686–7||Thomas West, M.A. (fn. 76)||"||res. J. Ambrose|
|19 June, 1690||Ralph Markland, M.A. (fn. 77)||Bishop of Chester||res. T. West|
|12 Jan. 1721–2||Theophilus Kelsall, B.A. (fn. 78)||"||d. of R. Markland|
|6 Mar. 1734–5||Roger Barnston, M.A. (fn. 79)||"||d. T. Kelsall|
|25 July, 1737||William Ward, B.A. (fn. 80)||"||res. R. Barnston|
|18 Sept. 1740||Robert Whiston (fn. 81)||"||d. W. Ward|
|29 Jan. 1741–2||Abel Ward, M.A. (fn. 82)||"||res. R. Whiston|
|13 Jan. 1745–6||Thomas Tonman, M.A. (fn. 83)||"||res. Abel Ward|
|10 Sept. 1778||Matthew Worthington (fn. 84)||"||res. T. Tonman|
|24 April, 1797||William Bowe (fn. 85)||"||d. M. Worthington|
|10 Feb. 1818||James Thomas Law, M.A. (fn. 86)||"||res. W. Bowe|
|15 Oct. 1821||Henry Law, M.A. (fn. 87)||"||res. J. T. Law|
|15 May, 1824||Augustus Campbell, M.A. (fn. 88)||"||res. H. Law|
|14 Nov. 1829|
|20 Sept. 1870||George Winter Warr, M.A. (fn. 89)||"||d. of A. Campbell|
|14 Jan. 1896||Peter Sorensen Royston, D.D. (fn. 90)||Bishop of Liverpool||d. G. W. Warr|
|16 Oct. 1903||Richard Montague Ainslie, M.A. (fn. 91)||"||res. P. S. Royston|
Robert Greves was vicar during the greater part of Henry VIII's reign. In 1541 he paid an assistant named Richard Greves; there were three other priests, (fn. 92) probably serving the chapels at Hale and Garston, and the chantry priest, so that the staff numbered five or six. At the visitation of 1548 the clergy remained the same in number, but at the visitation in 1554, when the Edwardian changes had had effect and the temporary reaction was only beginning, the clergy had been reduced to three. (fn. 93) The services at Garston chapel had probably been discontinued. The vicar had held his place through several changes; it is not known whether he died or resigned before the next, but in January, 1557–8 Bishop Scott gave him leave to agree with Richard Norris, priest, as to his retirement, Norris to pay him a suitable pension. (fn. 94)
William Crosse, the next vicar, was ordained deacon at Chester in 1555, (fn. 95) and as he answered as vicar at the visitations of 1562 and 1565 must be considered a conformist—for the time at least; in 1563 he was absent, 'excused by the bishop,' and in 1569 he resigned. He was the only clergyman who represented Childwall in 1562–3. (fn. 96)
The chantry at the altar of St. Thomas the Martyr was founded in 1484 by Thomas Norris of Speke to celebrate for the souls of himself and his ancestors. (fn. 97)
The church, according to an old rhyme, was famous for 'ringing and singing.' (fn. 98)
As to the charities of the parish, Bishop Gastrell was in 1718 able to report little in addition to the schools at Much Woolton and Hale. (fn. 99) The commissioners of 1828 gave a much longer list, (fn. 100) but even in 1903 the amount for the parish as a whole was very small; (fn. 101) Hale (fn. 102) and Halewood (fn. 103) had some considerable bequests, but the charity founded recently by Mrs. Mary Jane Cross for the relief of poor residents of Much and Little Woolton suffering from accidents and noninfectious diseases is the most important from its amount. (fn. 104) The other townships have little or no funds of the kind. (fn. 105)