A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Hindley lies in the centre of the great Lancashire coalfield, and consists of a level-surfaced country dotted over with collieries and black pit-banks. A close network of tramways and railways covers the face of a singularly dreary stretch of country, where the pastures are scanty and blackened. Frequent pools of water lie between the collieries, indicating subsidences of the earth caused by mining. What trees remain standing appear as dead stumps, with leafless branches reflected weirdly in the 'flashes' of water. In the more favoured parts of the township, wheat, oats, and potatoes manage to find an existence. There is some pasturage also. The area is 2,610½ acres, (fn. 1) and the population in 1901 was 23,504.
The ancient road from Manchester to Wigan goes west-north-west through the township. The town of Hindley lies to the north of this road. At this point is a cross road leading north-eastward from Platt Bridge and Lowe Green to Westhoughton, having a branch north to Aspull. Through the town, adjacent to this cross road, runs a brook known here as the Borden. Near the eastern boundary is the village of Hindley Green; from this a road leads south to Leigh. The London and North-Western Company's Manchester and Wigan Railway passes through the township from east to west, with stations at Hindley Green and Platt Bridge. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's line from Wigan to Manchester also crosses the northern corner, where there is a station; and the two companies' joint railway runs north through the western part of the township, being there joined by a connecting line from the North-Western main line. The Great Central Railway's line to Wigan crosses the western end, and has a station called Hindley and Platt Bridge.
There were formerly two 'burning wells' here, one in Derby Lane, the other near Dog Pool, now called Grange Brook. (fn. 2)
The great business is coal-mining; there is also an iron foundry, and cotton manufacturing is carried on extensively. The first factory is said to have been erected near the end of the 18th century by Richard Battersby at Lowe mill, formerly a water corn-mill. A little later hand-loom weaving was one of the chief industries, each cottage having a weaving shop attached. (fn. 3)
The Local Government Act of 1858 was adopted by the township in 1867. (fn. 4) Under the Act of 1894 an urban district council of fifteen members has been constituted. New council offices were opened in 1904.
A sundial, dated 1699, formerly stood at Castle Hill. (fn. 5)
HINDLEY was no doubt one of the fifteen berewicks of the royal manor of Newton before the Conquest. (fn. 6) After the Conquest it continued to form part of the fee of Makerfield, (fn. 7) and in 1212 one part was held in thegnage, in conjunction with Ashton, by Thomas de Burnhull. (fn. 8) The remainder was held by local families.
Swain son of Leofwin held the Burnhull share, and gave it to a certain Gospatric in free marriage; in 1212 Roger the son of Gospatric held this portion of Thomas de Burnhull. Two oxgangs were at the same time held by Adam de Hindley 'of ancient feoffment,' i.e. by a title going back to the time of Henry I at least. Another half plough-land was held by Richard de Hindley, son of Robert; portions of this had been given to the Hospitallers and to Cockersand Abbey. Some portion was perhaps still held in demesne. (fn. 9)
The mesne lordship of the Burnhulls appears to have been surrendered, and the lords of Makerfield had the various Hindley families as immediate tenants. It appears, however, down to 1330, and the Pemberton holding was part of it. (fn. 10) Gospatric's immediate successors seem to have been the Waleys or Walsh family. (fn. 11)
The two oxgangs of Adam de Hindley may have been joined to that half plough-land or to the half plough-land of Richard de Hindley to form the moiety of the manor held by a family bearing the local name. Gilbert de Culcheth was overlord of this in 1300. In November 1302 Adam de Hindley complained that a number of persons had joined in disseising him of a free tenement in Hindley, a messuage with an acre of land, and an acre of meadow, which he had had from one Adam de Plumpton, who had purchased from Hugh de Hindley. Gilbert de Culcheth replied as chief lord; he had taken possession fearing that the feoffment made by Adam de Plumpton was contrary to the statute. (fn. 12) Some settlement was made, and the claim was not prosecuted.
This moiety was divided into four parts, the descent of which can be traced for some time. (fn. 13)
In 1308 half of the manor was claimed by Robert son of Fulk Banastre. (fn. 14) This was afterwards recovered by Robert de Langton, baron of ewton, from Jordan de Worsley, (fn. 15) and about 1330 the lordship of the whole manor, together with lands in it, was granted to Robert de Langton, a younger son of the Robert just named, from whom descended the Langtons of LOWE in Hindley, (fn. 16) the last of the line being Edward Langton, who died in 1733. The descent is stated in cross-suits by Peter Langton and Ellen widow of John Langton in 1444. The former said that Henry son of Adam de Manchester, chaplain, holding (as trustee) the manor of Hindley, granted it to Robert de Langton and Margaret his wife and their heirs. (fn. 17) In virtue of this their son and heir Robert succeeded them, and was followed by his son John, who married Amice daughter of Roger de Bradshagh of Westleigh. John lived to a great age, dying in July 1443; his son Gilbert died before him, leaving as heir his son, the above-named Peter; John's second wife Ellen was the other party to the suits. (fn. 18) Peter Langton died at sea in May 1450, leaving a son and heir Gilbert, seven years of age. (fn. 19)
In 1528 there was a dispute between Robert Langton of the Lowe and others as to the title to waste lands and the right to dig coal. The plaintiff, son of Gilbert Langton, asserted that he was sole lord and owner of the manor of Hindley, and he had built some cottages on the waste, assigning to each a plot of ground; this was on account of 'the increase and multiplying of the people in those parts,' and sufficient pasture had been left for the other free tenants. Gilbert Culcheth, however, held a manor described as 'half the manor,' and a dwelling called Hindley Hall; and Hugh Hindley of Aspull, whose ancestors had from time immemorial been seised of nine messuages and 80 acres in this moiety of the manor, took the law into his own hand, disregarded the inclosure, and dug and got coal and turf as accustomed, and this 'with strong hand, by the aid of certain his masters, gentlemen.' It appeared that about 1475 permission to get coal had been asked by 'old Hugh Hindley's wife,' and had been granted by Gilbert Langton, then chief lord of Hindley. Inclosures being then a general grievance, the Chancellor of the Duchy and his council ordered seven of the cottages to be pulled down and various parcels of land to be restored to the common, from thenceforth 'not to be kept in severalty by any pretending to be lords of the said waste.' Others they allowed to stand. The tenants were to have the right to take turf and dig coals, which, 'within late years,' had been found on the waste; but to prevent abuses Robert Langton and his heirs were to nominate three charter-holding tenants and Gilbert Culcheth one, to 'appoint the places where coal and turbary should be digged and taken for fuel' of the general body of tenants. (fn. 20)
Peter Langton at his death in January 1572–3 held the manor of Hindley of the heirs of Thomas Langton of Makerfield in socage by fealty only. (fn. 21) The heir was his son Robert, then twenty-six years of age. The tenure is stated 'as in free socage, by a rent of three pepper-corns' in the inquisition after the death (1595) of Robert Langton, who was succeeded by his son Philip, then aged twenty-six. (fn. 22) Robert Langton of the Lowe, a justice of the peace but of 'mean living,' was in 1590 reported to be 'well affected in religion'; he had spoiled his estate and used 'bad company.' (fn. 23) At the same time Edward Langton of Hindley, one of the 'gentlemen of the better sort,' and perhaps a brother of Robert, was a 'recusant and thereof indicted.' (fn. 24) The head of the family, however, soon reverted to the ancient religion, (fn. 25) and Abraham Langton, son and heir of Philip, in 1628, as a convicted recusant, paid double to the subsidy. (fn. 26)
This Abraham Langton, as a 'papist delinquent,' had his estates sold for treason by the Parliament in 1652; (fn. 27) but appears to have recovered at least a portion of them. He was living, sixty-six years of age, in 1664, when he recorded a pedigree at the Visitation. (fn. 28) His son Philip, then aged thirty-six, succeeded him, and was tried in 1694 for participation in the Lancashire Plot. (fn. 29) Very shortly afterwards he was succeeded by his son Edward Langton, (fn. 30) who as a 'papist' registered his estate in 1717. (fn. 31) Edward died without issue in 1733, leaving his property to Catherine his wife for life and to nephews and nieces named Pugh. William Pugh had Hindley, and his nephew and heir, Edward Philip Pugh of Coetmor in Carnarvonshire, sold the manor of Hindley and the Lowe Hall estate to the Duke of Bridgewater, the Earl of Ellesmere being the present owner. (fn. 32)
The Culcheth moiety of the manor descended to Thomas Culcheth, who died about 1744; by his will it passed to the Traffords of Croston. (fn. 33)
Philip Langton of Lowe, Robert Pinnington, and Peter Harrison of Hindley, occur among the freeholders of 1600. (fn. 37) In 1628 Abraham Langton and Christopher Stananought were the freeholders contributing to the subsidy. (fn. 38) Nicholas Ranicars of Hindley had his estate sequestered by the Parliament in 1650 'for delinquency in the late wars,' and was allowed to compound. (fn. 39) A family named Marsh resided here. (fn. 40)
A decree concerning the boundaries between Hindley and Ince, and the division of the wastes, was made in the time of Charles I. (fn. 41)
Before the Reformation there was a chapel at Lowe in Hindley; but the Langtons probably claimed it as private property, and then allowed it to decay. (fn. 42)
The next church in Hindley was erected in 1641 on land given by George Green, (fn. 43) subscriptions being collected for the building from the inhabitants. It was built with the approbation of the rector of Wigan, then Bishop Bridgeman; there was a chancel at the east end, and the Established services were adhered to, one of the Wigan curates officiating. (fn. 44) The place was, as early as 1643, regarded as Puritan, (fn. 45) and its first regular minister, Thomas Tonge, conformed readily to the Presbyterian discipline established a few years later. (fn. 46) He was succeeded by William Williamson, (fn. 47) and he by James Bradshaw, ejected in 1662 for nonconformity. (fn. 48) The chapel seems to have remained unused for six years, and then a succession of curates followed; some of the feoffees were Nonconformists or sympathizers, and thus conforming ministers had probably an uneasy time. (fn. 49) In 1690 a determined attempt was made to secure the chapel for the Dissenters, their worship now being tolerated, by the appointment of Thomas Whalley, an open Nonconformist. (fn. 50) The matter was finally taken into the Duchy Court; after a long trial the chapel was secured for the Establishment and consecrated in 1698 on All Saints' Day. (fn. 51) It was rebuilt in 1766, (fn. 52) and with some alterations remains in use. It is now known as All Saints' Church. The church property is still in the hands of trustees, but the curates and vicars since 1708 have been appointed by the rectors of Wigan. (fn. 53) There is a mission chapel called St. Augustine's.
St. Peter's, Hindley, was consecrated in 1866, the patronage being vested in trustees. (fn. 54) To the recent churches of St. Nathaniel, Platt Bridge (1905), and St. John the Evangelist, Hindley Green (1903), the Bishop of Liverpool collates. (fn. 55)
The Wesleyan Methodists acquired land in 1846, and built a chapel in 1851. Another chapel was built in 1869 in Walthew Lane, Platt Bridge. (fn. 56) The United Methodist Free Church have two chapels at Hindley Green—Brunswick Chapel, built in 1855, and another in 1866. (fn. 57) The Primitive Methodists have one at Castle Hill, built in 1856, and another at Platt Bridge, built in 1854. (fn. 58) The Independent Methodists have one at Lowe Green, built in 1867. (fn. 59)
The Particular Baptists built Ebenezer Chapel in Mill Lane in 1854. (fn. 60)
The Congregationalists made a first effort in 1794, but no church was formed until 1812; St. Paul's Chapel was built in 1815, meetings for worship having been held some years earlier in cottages. Certain differences between the minister, the Rev. William Turner, and the majority of the congregation caused him to resign in 1830; his friends opened a temporary building in the Bridge Croft, and built a church in 1838, where he officiated till 1862. (fn. 61)
The ejected Presbyterians of 1698 built another place of worship for themselves; it has been continuously used, the present congregation being Unitarian in doctrine. (fn. 62)
Nothing is known of the permanence of the ancient religion during the 17th century, but mass was probably said at Lowe Hall as opportunity was afforded. Dom John Placid Acton, a Benedictine, was stationed at this place in 1699, and died there in 1727; succeeding priests, who till 1758 resided chiefly at Park Hall in Charnock Richard, or at Standish Hall, moved the chapel to Strangeways and then to Hindley village; this change was made in 1789. From 1758 there has been a resident Benedictine priest in charge; and the present church of St. Benedict in Market Street was built in 1869. (fn. 63)