A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
This is a large township, having an area of 5,872½ acres, (fn. 1) embracing open country, flat on the north and west and undulating on the south-east. The highest ground, rising to 300 ft. above sea level, is near the village of Crank, a bare exposed spot. In the northern portion of the district there are coal mines; the remainder is agricultural, the principal crops raised being potatoes, oats, wheat, and clover. The soil is clayey. The Sankey or Rainford Brook flows through the whole length of the township from north-west to south-east, on its way towards the Mersey. The geological formation consists mainly of the coal measures, but from Rainford village to the chase in Knowsley Park there is a belt three-quarters of a mile in width of the lower mottled sandstone of the bunter series (new red sandstone), and the pebble beds of the same series are just touched at Kirkby Moss. Formerly the land can have been of comparatively little value, the large area of moss being shown by such names as Reeds Moss, Rainford Moss, and Mossborough; occasional patches of unreclaimed mossland are still met with. About 1720 the northern half was called Chapel end, and the southern, Haysarm end. The village of Rainford is in the former, and the hamlet of Crank in the latter. Rainford Hall (Col. Pilkington, J.P.) is a large modern house on an old site, east of the village.
The principal road is that from St. Helens to Ormskirk; it runs alongside the brook, which it crosses before reaching the village. Here it is joined by another road coming from Prescot in the southwest. The London and North-Western Company's line from St. Helens to Ormskirk also runs parallel to the brook, with stations at Crank, Rookery, and Rainford. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's line from Liverpool to Manchester crosses the northern end of the township, and where it passes under the other railway is a station called Rainford Junction.
A local board was formed in 1872; (fn. 2) and in 1894 became an urban district council of fifteen members.
The early history of RAINFORD is obscure. In 1324 it was held by Robert de Lathom in socage, without any service; (fn. 3) it descended from the Lathoms to their heirs the Stanleys, (fn. 4) and the earl of Derby is the lord of the manor. No manor court is now held, but eighty years ago one used to be held on the first Tuesday after Easter. (fn. 5) The land was early divided among a large number of free tenants, one or more of whom took the local surname, (fn. 6) others being known as Haysarm, (fn. 7) Parr, (fn. 8) and Forshaw, (fn. 9) but no connected history of these families can be given.
The descent of HAYSARM, now owned by Lord Derby, is to some extent cleared by pleadings of 1539–40. Alan Haysarm, seised of the hall and estate, granted it to his son John, with remainder to Alan's sister Alice, wife of Thomas More. As John died childless the hall and lands were claimed by John Marsh, son and heir of Henry, son and heir of Janet, wife of John Marsh and daughter and heir of Alice. The plaintiff further alleged that the said Alice was formerly in the custody of one Margaret Haysarm, who in conjunction with her husband Jenkin Parr caused her to marry Thomas More, Parr's servant, and that by More's consent a Robert Parr obtained possession. Edward Parr, the actual holder, in defence stated that the said Robert, his grandfather (died 1492), was in lawful possession, and was followed by a son and heir William (died c. 1536), to whom Edward (born 1489) had succeeded as son and heir. (fn. 10)
The number of the free tenants in 1246 is indicated by the complaint by Richard Whitehaud and Alice his wife, and Henry de Lascelles and Agnes his wife, against Alan de Windle, Hugh the Serjeant, and twenty others, including Cecily de Rainford, as to 10 acres, of which the plaintiffs alleged they had disseised them, and which hereupon were restored to them. (fn. 11) References to other early suits bearing witness to the same subdivision will be found in the notes. (fn. 12)
Sir Robert de Lathom, who died in 1324, is said to have given Rainford to his brother Thomas, who settled at MOSSBOROUGH. (fn. 13)
Richard son of Thomas de Lathom, perhaps acting as trustee, made a grant to Henry de Haysarm in 1325–6, and a further one ten years later; while, as Richard de Lathom, lord of Rainford, he leased four acres to the same Henry de Haysarm and Margery his daughter in 1340. (fn. 14) In the actions for dower brought by Maud widow of William de Rainford, in 1323–4, Richard the son and Joan the widow of Thomas de Lathom were principal defendants. (fn. 15)
Richard appears to have held the manor for about fifty years. He was twice married; by his first wife, Margaret, he had a son and heir Thomas, against whom his widow Hawise recovered dower in 1377. (fn. 16) The next to occur is John Lathom, of whom Sir Thomas Gerard held his land in Rainford in 1416. (fn. 17)
Some change in the tenure seems to have occurred at this time. The lands of Sir Peter Gerard, who died in 1447, were found to be held of Sir Thomas Stanley; (fn. 18) and in the much later inquisitions of the Lathoms of Mossborough no 'manor of Rainford' is claimed, but Mossborough is said to be held of the earls of Derby by the old 4s. rent or more. (fn. 19)
In 1444 Sir Thomas Stanley brought a suit against John Lathom of Rainford for cutting down trees and doing other damage. (fn. 20)
For the next century little is known concerning the family. (fn. 21) The inquisition after the death of John Lathom of Mossborough, taken in 1558, shows that he held lands also in Prescot, Wigan, Billinge, and Ashton in Makerfield. (fn. 22) His son and heir Henry was only seven years old at the time. He appears to have been brought up strictly in the Roman Catholic faith, and suffered much for it in Elizabeth's reign. 'On 22 March, 1583, the Council was advised that Henry Lathom of Mossborough had lately fled out of the county of Lancaster, and was supposed to be hiding in the house of Lady Egerton at Ridley in Cheshire. Shortly afterwards Mossborough Hall was visited by the queen's officers and ransacked. Not content with carrying off everything of a sacred character, they declared all the goods, movable and immovable, confiscated to the royal exchequer, and put seals on all the doors, chests, &c. Mrs. Lathom, who was in the house at the time, was treated in a most barbarous manner by the miscreants, who tore open her dress even to her under-garments, under pretence of examining her person for medals, rosaries, or other pious objects. At length Mr. Lathom was apprehended and imprisoned at Lancaster, where he was lying in 1590. In November, 1592, he was sent up to London, and brought before Archbishop Whitgift, who committed him to the Fleet. There he lay for some years, but ultimately appears to have obtained his release and to have returned to Mossborough.' (fn. 23) He died on 11 April, 1620; his heir being his son Henry, forty-three years of age. (fn. 24)
Henry Lathom the younger followed in his father's steps as regards religion, suffering accordingly. (fn. 25) He married Frances daughter of Richard Molyneux of Cunscough; by her he had three sons and several daughters. The eldest son, Thomas, took up arms in the royal cause in the Civil War, and was slain at Newark; (fn. 26) the second, Henry, became a monk at Paris; (fn. 27) and the third, William, came into possession of Mossborough. After his death it passed, by his daughter Frances' marriage with Robert Molyneux of Melling, to this family. (fn. 28) Their sons Robert and William in succession followed. (fn. 29) The last-named married Anne, daughter of John Harrington of Huyton; and, secondly, Gertrude Frances, daughter of James Gorsuch of Scarisbrick, and on his dying in 1745, Mossborough passed to Frances his daughter by the second marriage. She married Sir Edward Blount of Sodington in 1752. (fn. 30) Mossborough was sold by the trustees to the earl of Derby in 1786; (fn. 31) his descendant, the present earl, now owns it.
Excluding Mossborough Hall, there were in 1666 only fifteen houses having three hearths and more. (fn. 34)
The improvement of Rainford Moss was begun about 1780 by John Chorley of Prescot. (fn. 35)
Of the origin of the chapel and its ancient dedication no record has been found. In 1541 Lawrence Robe(y) was the curate in charge. (fn. 36) Its fate at the Reformation is unknown. In 1590 it was distinguished by having 'a preacher' as curate, (fn. 37) but in 1592 the curate, having given no monitions, was excommunicated, as were the principal man in the township, Henry Lathom, and his wife Margaret. (fn. 38) By 1610 it had sunk to the usual level of chapels of ease, being served by 'a reading minister,' who was 'no preacher.' (fn. 39) Mr. Cheeseman was curate in 1622. (fn. 40) The Parliamentary Committee, with their usual care for religion, in 1645 ordered that £35 should be paid out of the tithes of Prescot, sequestered from the earl of Derby, towards the maintanance of a minister at Rainford. (fn. 41) In 1650 Mr. Timothy Smith, 'an orthodox, godly, preaching minister,' was in charge, with a stipend of £40 out of the sequestrations; in addition there was a capital stock of £60 or more given by various benefactors for the minister, when there might be one, or for the poor of the township. On the chapel-yard was erected a small building called the chapel chamber, in which the minister had lived in former times, and which had also been used as a schoolroom. In 1650 Ralph Smith was in occupation during the town's pleasure. (fn. 42) Two years later, however, Mr. James Smith was minister at Rainford, with an allowance of £50 a year. (fn. 43)
The chapel remained in the hands of the Presbyterians, (fn. 44) apparently with the approval of the township, until about 1700, when it was recovered for the Established Church, a body of trustees being appointed, with the right of nominating the curate, the vicar of Prescot approving. (fn. 45) The township was formed into a district chapelry in 1869, (fn. 46) and the present church of All Saints was built near the old one in 1878. The registers date from 1718.
The later incumbents, nominated by the vicar of Prescot, have been (fn. 47) :—
|1722||Robert Peploe (fn. 48)|
|1739||Edward Jones, B.A.|
|1873||Gilbert Coventry Master|
|1879||John Barnacle, M.A. (St. John's College, Cambridge)|
|1888||John Wright Williams|
|1892||John Bridger (fn. 49)|
The old congregation of the chapel, on being evicted, continued their worship elsewhere. Reynald Tetlaw seems to have been minister for about forty years; his congregation numbered 665, of whom sixty-three had county votes. (fn. 50) A chapel was built in 1702 or 1703, and was succeeded in 1867 by the present Congregational church. (fn. 51)
So long as the Lathoms held Mossborough the Roman Catholic faith and worship were maintained in the district, (fn. 52) and there seems to have been a resident priest down to the time when the estate was sold. (fn. 53) At Crank also in the seventeenth century the old form of worship was conducted, Anne Singleton in 1676 bequeathing £40 for the priest there, who was to 'celebrate every year six masses for the good of her soul and the souls of the family of Mossborough and Crank and the rest of the souls in Purgatory'; this was kept up until the beginning of the eighteenth century. (fn. 54) For about a century there was no Roman Catholic chapel in Rainford itself; but in 1873 land was purchased, and a school-chapel built; the church of Corpus Christi was opened in 1875. (fn. 55)