A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Ince, called Ince in Makerfield to distinguish it from Ince Blundell in the same hundred, lies immediately to the east of Wigan, of which it is a suburb, and from which it is separated by a small brook, the Clarenden or Clarington. A large part of the boundary on the south-west and eastern sides is formed by mosslands. Ambers or Ambrose Wood lies on the eastern edge. The ground rises slightly from south-west to north-east, a height of over 200 ft. being attained on the latter boundary. The area is 2,320 acres. (fn. 1) The population in 1901 was 21,262, including Platt Bridge.
Two great roads cross it, starting from Wigan; the more northerly is the ancient road to Hindley and Manchester, while the other goes through Abram to Warrington. A cross road joining these is, like them, lined with dwellings. The portion of the township to the north-west of it is called Higher Ince. Numerous railway lines traverse the township, as well as minor lines for the service of the collieries. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's line from Wigan to Bolton and Manchester crosses the centre from west to east, and has a station called Ince; it is joined near the eastern boundary by the loop line through Pemberton. The London and North-Western Company's main line goes through from south to north, and has junctions with the lines from Manchester and St. Helens, as also with the Joint Companies' railway through Hindley and Haigh. The Great Central Company's line from Manchester to Wigan also crosses the township, with a station, called Lower Ince. The Lancaster Canal traverses it near the Wigan boundary, and the Leigh branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near the western and southern boundaries.
The general aspect is unpleasing, it being a typical black country in the heart of the coal-mining area. The flat surface, covered with a complete network of railways, has scarcely a green tree to relieve the monotony of the bare wide expanses of apparently waste land, much of it covered with shallow 'flashes' of water, the result of the gradual subsidence of the ground as it is mined beneath. A good deal of the ground appears to be unreclaimed mossland. Needless to say no crops are cultivated. All the energies of the populace are employed in the underground mineral wealth of the district, Ince being famous for cannel and other coal.
The northern part of the township merges into the town of Wigan, the principal features being huge cotton mills and warehouses, crowding the banks of the canals and River Douglas, which here degenerates into a grimy ditch, with never a bush or tree to shade its muddy banks.
The Local Government Act of 1858 was adopted by the township in 1866. (fn. 2) The local board was changed into an urban district council by the Act of 1894; it consists of fifteen members.
The manor of INCE appears to have been a member of the royal manor of Newton before the Conquest, (fn. 3) and to have been included in the fee of Makerfield from its formation. (fn. 4) In 1212 Alfred de Ince held this in thegnage with Haydock, (fn. 5) in succession to his father, Orm de Haydock, whose name occurs as early as 1168. (fn. 6) The whole of Haydock had been granted out, and half of Ince was held of Alfred by Richard de Perpoint. (fn. 7)
Some forty or fifty years later Henry de Sefton began to acquire a share in the manor. In 1261 he held the Perpoint moiety by grant of Thomas de Perpoint, (fn. 8) and seems to have acquired the remainder, with the mesne lordship, from Henry son of John de Ince. (fn. 9) He was still living in 1288, (fn. 10) but in 1291 his son, styled Richard de Ince, was in possession. (fn. 11) Richard de Ince occurs as late as 1333; (fn. 12) he was succeeded by his son Gilbert, living in 1347. (fn. 13) At this time Gilbert had a son Ivo living; but in 1382 the manors of Aspull and Ince were granted to feoffees by Richard son of Robert de Ince, whose relationship to Gilbert is not known. (fn. 14) The manor went with Ellen, daughter of probably the same Richard de Ince, who married John Gerard, a younger son of Peter Gerard of Brynn. (fn. 15)
From their son William the manor descended regularly to Thomas Gerard of Ince, who in 1514 had a dispute with Sir Thomas Gerard of Brynn, as to the possession of Turneshea Moss, on the boundary of Ince and Ashton. (fn. 16) At his death in 1545 it was found that he had held the manor of Ince of Sir Thomas Langton in socage by a rent of 5s.; also the manor of Aspull, a burgage in Wigan, and lands in Abram and Hindley. Miles Gerard his son and heir was thirty years of age. (fn. 17) Miles died in August 1558, (fn. 18) leaving a son William, (fn. 19) who in turn was succeeded by his son, another Miles Gerard. (fn. 20) The family adhered to the ancient faith, and Miles Gerard in 1590 was reported to be 'in some degree of conformity, yet in general note of evil affection in religion.' (fn. 21)
Miles Gerard was still living in 1613, when a pedigree was recorded, showing Thomas his son and heir to be twenty-two years of age. (fn. 22) Thomas was a convicted recusant in 1628, (fn. 23) and his estates were in 1643 sequestered 'for his recusancy and supposed delinquency.' (fn. 24) The documents relating to the matter give a number of interesting particulars as to the mining of cannel and the charges upon the lands; (fn. 25) they also show that Thomas Gerard, his son, had fought against the Parliament, and had been taken prisoner at Naseby in 1645; afterwards he took the National Covenant and compounded for his part of the estate. (fn. 26)
It appears to have been Anne, the daughter and heir of the younger Thomas, who carried the manors of Ince and Aspull to her husband John Gerard, a younger son of Sir William Gerard, third baronet; and the manors were afterwards sold to Richard Gerard, uncle of John. (fn. 27) Richard's son and heir Thomas and his wife, Mary Wright, were in possession in 1683. (fn. 28) His son Richard Gerard of Highfield succeeded, but dying without issue the manor of Ince went by the provisions of his will (fn. 29) to his wife Margaret for life and then to his heir, his cousin Richard Gerard's son William. (fn. 30) William's heirs were his sisters, Mary and Elizabeth; but as the latter died unmarried, the whole devolved on the former, the wife of John Walmesley, a relation of the Showley family. (fn. 31) They settled at Westwood House in Ince, and the manor has descended regularly to the present lord, Mr. Humphrey Jeffreys Walmesley, of Ince and Hungerford. (fn. 32) The Hall of Ince was sold by Richard Gerard in 1716 to John Walmesley of Wigan, whose descendant Mr. John Walmesley of Lucknam and Ince is the present owner. (fn. 33)
Ince formerly possessed three halls, each bearing the name of the township; two of them, very much modernized, still stand. The first of these, now known as above mentioned as Hall of Ince, stands in Warrington Road, near the cemetery, and was restored about ten years ago, the old timber work at the back, which was then visible, being removed, and the wall rebuilt in brick. (fn. 34) The whole of the exterior of the building, which was formerly timber framed, is now stuccoed and otherwise modernized, but the roofs retain their old stone slates. The building is now divided into three houses.
Another branch of the Gerard family also resided in Ince from about 1600; their house was called the New Hall. (fn. 35)
The house now known as Ince Hall, which is situated off Manchester Road, near Rose Bridge, was originally surrounded by a moat and approached by a fine avenue of elms. It was a good specimen of timber and plaster building erected about the reign of James I, with a picturesque black and white front of five gables. (fn. 36) The entrance hall is described as being spacious and with a richly ornamented plaster ceiling and wainscoted walls. Three other rooms also were stated to have been panelled in oak, and the drawing-room ceiling was ornamented with 'carved work representing birds, shells, fruit, and flowers. There were two chimney-pieces of fine Italian marble. The staircase was of oak and 6 ft. wide, the ceiling much ornamented with stucco. The best bedrooms were covered with tapestry.' (fn. 37) In 1854 the house was so seriously damaged by fire as to necessitate a practical rebuilding. The ancient timber front has therefore given place to a brick elevation of no architectural pretension, and the house is internally wholly modernized. The line of avenue still remains, but the trees have disappeared, and the opening of coal pits in the immediate vicinity about thirty years ago has destroyed any sense of picturesqueness that the rebuilt structure might have possessed. (fn. 38)
A family using the local surname came into note in the 16th century. (fn. 39) Thomas Ince, who died in April 1573, held a capital messuage and other messuages with lands and wood at Ince of Thomas Langton in socage by a rent of 5s. (fn. 40) The residence was known as Ince Hall, or the New Hall. They also adhered to the ancient faith, (fn. 41) and John Ince's estate was sequestered by the Parliamentary authorities during the Commonwealth, (fn. 42) but not confiscated outright. It descended from him to his great-great-granddaughter Frances Sobieski, daughter of Christopher Ince, and wife of William Anderton of Euxton. She died in 1816, when the family ceased to reside here. (fn. 43)
The third hall, the residence of the family of Ince, stood on a site a short distance from the junction of Ince Green Lane and Warrington Road, part of which is occupied by a building apparently erected some sixty years since from the materials of the former house. Two date stones, now on a rockery in front of the house, are said to belong respectively to the old barn and a stable now pulled down. One bears the date 1578 and the initials GIM, and the other the inscription [below] referring to the above-named William Anderton and Frances his wife. There is also part of a stone sundial, dated G M/1741. The hall is said to have been built about 1721.
Property here was acquired by a family named Brown, (fn. 44) in which it descended for about a century and a half. (fn. 45) Henry Brown, by his will in 1726, left it to his grand-nephew Edward, son of Robert Holt of Wigan; by two daughters and co-heiresses it became the property of General Clegg and Thomas Case of Liverpool. (fn. 46)
Miles and Peter Gerard, Thomas Ince, and Ralph Brown were the landowners recorded about 1556. (fn. 47) Richard Pennington was a freeholder in 1600. (fn. 48) The four halls of Ince were duly noted by Kuerden about 1696. (fn. 49) In 1717 John Clarkson and Richard Richardson, as 'papists,' registered estates here. (fn. 50)
The Established Church has two places of worship in the township; Christ Church, consecrated in 1864, the district assigned being the whole township; (fn. 51) and St. Mary's, Lower Ince, consecrated 1887. (fn. 52) The patronage of both is vested in Simeon's trustees.
The adherents of the ancient religion found assistance in the constancy of the families of Gerard and Ince. The chapel at New Hall was built in 1760; this was closed in 1818. There was a private chapel at Westwood House, and in 1873 the church of St. William was opened. Twenty years later the Church of the Holy Family at Platt Bridge was added. (fn. 53)