A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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Cherchebi, Dom. Bk.; Karkebi, 1176; Kirkeby, 1237.
This township has a length from east to west of 4½ miles, with an average breadth of a mile and a half. The area is 4,175 acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 the population was 1,283. The country is open, generally flat, with a slight rise in the centre of the township of some 130 ft. above sea-level. The soil is mostly reclaimed 'moss,' portioned out into arable fields, divided by low hawthorn hedges. There is but little pasture. Potatoes, wheat, and oats are largely cultivated in a sandy and clayey soil. There are scattered farmsteads and isolated plantations of different kinds of trees, with undergrowths of rhododendrons. These plantations are strictly preserved, and afford cover to much game, chiefly hares and pheasants. There still exists in the east of the township a patch of original moss-land covered with birch-trees, heather, and cotton-sedge. Stacks of peat are to be seen piled up by the sides of deep ditches which intersect the moss. The roads are typical of this part of Lancashire, being made of roughly-laid sets. The quaint fences of flag-stones, clamped together with iron bands, are frequently seen in the neighbourhood. The geological formation of the entire township consists of pebble beds of the bunter series of the new red sandstone or trias. The Alt, which crosses the south-west corner, is joined by two brooks—one flowing from Simonswood past Kirkby church, the other westward, between this township and Knowsley.
Little Britain, so called from an inn, 'The Little Briton,' is a hamlet to the southeast of the village. Ingoe Lane runs north and south in the western part of the township.
The principal road is that from Liverpool to Ormskirk; branches from it run east to Knowsley and Simonswood. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's Liverpool and Manchester railway crosses the township, with a station at the village.
The township is governed by a parish council.
Parts Brow Cross at Three Lanes Ends has remaining a portion of the shaft in a stone pedestal. There was formerly another cross about half a mile east of the church. (fn. 2)
Peter Augustine Baines, O.S.B., Bishop of Siga and Vicar Apostolic of the Western district from 1829 to 1843, was born at Kirkby in 1787. He was a preacher and author of some note. (fn. 3)
This was one of the manors held by Uctred the thegn in 1066, and then included Simonswood; the latter being no doubt the principal portion of the woodland appurtenant to Uctred's six manors, which measured two leagues square, or approximately 1,440 customary acres. It was rated as two ploughlands. (fn. 4) From the beginning of the twelfth century it formed a portion of the Widnes fee of the Constable of Chester, parcel of his barony of Halton, being held by the fifth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 5)
In 1176 Richard son of Roger of Woodplumpton held it, presumably in right of his wife Margaret, daughter and heir of Thurstan Banastre. (fn. 6) On his death it fell to the share of his daughter Margaret, wife of Hugh de Moreton. (fn. 7) With her husband's consent she gave the manor, the men dwelling there and all the appurtenances, together with her body, to Stanlaw Abbey, to hold in free alms; (fn. 8) but on her dying without issue, the gift became inoperative, her sisters and their heirs claiming it. In 1242 Robert de Stockport, Roger Gernet, and Thomas de Beetham, held it in right respectively of Maud, mother of Robert; Quenilda, wife of Roger; and Amuria, wife of Thomas. (fn. 9) Quenilda died childless in 1252, and Kirkby was afterwards held in moieties by Sir Robert de Stockport and Sir Ralph de Beetham. (fn. 10)
The share of the latter, known as Kirkby Beetham, descended like Bootle and part of Formby, (fn. 11) was forfeited to the crown after the battle of Bosworth, and like them was granted to the earl of Derby at the beginning of Henry VII's reign. (fn. 12)
The share of the former, afterwards generally known as Kirkby Gerard, did not long remain with the Stockports, being granted by Robert de Stockport to Richard de Byron. (fn. 13) In 1292 Robert de Byron seems to have been in possession. (fn. 14) In 1301 Thomas de Beetham, Robert de Byron, and Emma, widow of Robert de Beetham, were suing Alan de Burnhull (fn. 15) and William de Walton, (fn. 16) for lands which the defendants alleged to be in Windle and Walton respectively. With Robert de Byron's daughter Maud, wife of William Gerard of Kingsley in Cheshire, (fn. 17) this moiety of Kirkby came into possession of the latter family and descended with the other Gerard lands until the sixteenth century. (fn. 18)
In 1565 Sir Thomas Gerard of Bryn sold his moiety to Sir Richard Molyneux of Sefton; (fn. 19) and the latter's grandson, Sir Richard, purchased the other moiety in 1596 from Thomas Stanley alias Halsall, upon whom it had been conferred by his father, Henry, earl of Derby. (fn. 20) The Molyneux family thus acquired the whole of the manor, and it has since descended in the same way as Sefton, the earl of Sefton being the present lord. (fn. 21)
Ingewaith gave a surname to a resident family, of which few particulars can be given. (fn. 22) A branch of the Norris family settled here in the fifteenth century; (fn. 23) as also a branch of the Torbocks. (fn. 24) William Fazakerley was a freeholder in 1600, (fn. 25) and his grandson William in 1628 contributed to the subsidy. (fn. 26) The Tatlocks of Kirkby appear on the recusant roll of 1641. (fn. 27) Thomas Barker had his lands sequestered for recusancy by the Commonwealth. (fn. 28) In 1717 James Harrison of Grange, Thomas Tatlock, and William Sheppard as 'papists' registered estates here. (fn. 29) Lord Sefton, Edward Standish, and Thomas Tatlock were the principal landowners in 1785. (fn. 30)
The church of St. Chad succeeds an ancient parochial chapel of unknown origin. The name of the township (fn. 31) and the invocation of the chapel indicate the existence of a church here anterior to the Conquest. The ancient building was replaced in 1766 by a plain red brick structure; (fn. 32) the present church was begun in 1869, and consecrated 4 October, 1871. (fn. 33) This is in the Transition style, and consists of chancel, nave with side aisles, and north and south porches; it has a central tower, with saddle-back roof, containing two bells. The only relic of antiquity belonging to it is the circular red sandstone font, (fn. 34) which dates from the twelfth century, and has on the bowl an arcade of ten round 'arches' enclosing standing figures. The only certain subject is the Temptation of Adam and Eve. Below the bowl is a cable moulding formed of three entwined serpents, and the base has a similar but larger moulding. The shaft is modern. In the churchyard is a cross erected in 1875. The registers date from 1678. The later earls of Sefton have been buried here.
Practically nothing is known of this chapel previous to the Reformation. (fn. 35) Subsequently the services were probably not kept up regularly, and in 1566 the people seem to have refused to pay the vicar of Walton his dues; in consequence a decree was made, ordering the vicar to have certain services once on every Sunday at least. (fn. 36) In 1590 and 1612 there were only 'reading ministers' serving the place. (fn. 37) In 1650 the Parliamentary commissioners found that there were belonging to the chapel, a chapelyard, a little house and orchard, and a croft of 3 roods; they recommended that it should be made a parish church, with Kirkby and Simonswood as its district. (fn. 38) This recommendation was repeated in 1657, and though confirmed ceased to be effective at the Restoration. (fn. 39)
In 1719 the value of the curacy was £24, (fn. 40) but within fifteen years after this had been augmented to £90. (fn. 41) In 1850 the then earl of Sefton endowed it with £160 a year. The benefice is now a vicarage, in the gift of the earl of Sefton.
The following have been curates and incumbents:
|1607||James Hartley (fn. 42)|
|1609||Robert Hole (fn. 43)|
|1650||— Pickering (fn. 44)|
|1656||William Williamson (fn. 45)|
|1662||— Ambrose (fn. 46)|
|1678||John Barton (fn. 47)|
|oc.||1686||William Atherton (fn. 48)|
|oc.||1689||Ralfe Reeve (fn. 49)|
|1696||Peter Becket (fn. 50)|
|1723||William Mount, B.A. (fn. 51) (St. Edmund Hall, Oxf.)|
|1764||Thomas Wilkinson (fn. 52)|
|1786||John Rigby Gill, B.A. (fn. 53) (Brasenose Coll. Oxf.)|
|1793||Robert Cort (fn. 54)|
|1850||Robert Henry Gray, M.A. (fn. 55) (Christ Church, Oxf.)|
|1877||James Butler Kelly, D.D. (fn. 56) (Clare Coll. Camb.)|
|1881||John Leach, M.A. (fn. 57) (Caius Coll. Camb.)|
There was an ancient school in Kirkby, built on the glebe, but it was burnt down. The children were afterwards taught in the vestry, until Lord Sefton erected a school on his own land. (fn. 58)
Mass is occasionally said on Sundays at a mission room which is served from Maghull. (fn. 59)