A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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SOUTHWORTH WITH CROFT
Croft, the eastern portion of the township, has the larger area, 1,364 acres, and was frequently placed first; but the only hall was in Southworth, which contains 519½ acres. There is now no defined boundary between the two. A brook on the east and south of Croft affords a natural boundary, except that a portion to the south of the brook, reclaimed from the moss, has been added to Croft. The total area is 1,883½ (fn. 1) acres.
The country is mostly flat, with slight irregularities of surface in places, traversed by fairly good roads and covered with open fields, under mixed cultivation, alternating with pastures. The crops principally grown are potatoes, oats, and wheat, in a loamy soil. The Pebble Beds of the Bunter Series of the New Red Sandstone are everywhere in evidence.
A school board was formed in 1875. (fn. 2)
Of the two manors, SOUTHWORTH and CROFT, held by different tenures of the lords of Makerfield, (fn. 3) the latter appears to have been the more important, as it gave its name to the lord, who in 1212 was Gilbert de Croft. He held it by the service of falconer, and it was held of him in unequal portions by Hugh de Croft and the heir of Randle, the latter of them discharging the service. (fn. 4) Gilbert de Croft also held Southworth by a rent of 20s., but in 1212 it was, for some reason unknown, in the king's hands. (fn. 5)
Very soon afterwards, before 1219, Gilbert de Croft, who also held the manor of Dalton in Kendal, (fn. 6) granted Southworth to Gilbert son of Hugh de Croft, who was probably a near kinsman, and this Gilbert, taking the local surname, was the founder of the Southworth family, which held the manors of South worth and Croft until the beginning of the 17th century. The service to be rendered was a pound of pepper annually. (fn. 7) Thurstan Banastre, lord of Makerfield, confirmed this charter, and reduced the annual rent payable to him to 13s. 4d. (fn. 8) The remaining part of Croft was later acquired by the Southworth family; 1 oxgang of land therein was granted to Gilbert de Southworth by Agnes daughter of Randle de Croft, (fn. 9) and 2 oxgangs to Gilbert son of Gilbert. (fn. 10) From this time Southworth and Croft have descended together.
By the marriage of Gilbert son of Gilbert de Southworth and Alice daughter of Nicholas de Ewyas in 1325 a moiety of the manor of Samlesbury came to the family, (fn. 11) which was thenceforward known as Southworth of Samlesbury, continuing till the latter part of the 17th century. In addition the manors of Middleton, Houghton, and Arbury, adjoining Southworth, were acquired, and some junior branches of the family settled in them. (fn. 12)
As to Southworth itself but little record remains. (fn. 13) In 1287 and 1292 there was a settlement of the boundary between Croft and Kenyon by the lords of the manors. (fn. 14) An inquisition made in 1325 respecting 'half the manor of Southworth' shows that Sir Robert de Holland had obtained a grant of it. (fn. 15) There are a few later charters. (fn. 16)
The steadfast adherence of Sir John Southworth to the ancient faith in the time of Elizabeth, with the consequent fines and imprisonments, must have made a serious inroad upon the family resources; the manors and lands in the Southworth district were mortgaged and sold early in the 17th century. (fn. 17)
Sir Thomas Ireland of Bewsey purchased Southworth and Croft in 1621. (fn. 18) A century later the manor was held by the Gerards of Ince, and bequeathed in 1743 by Richard Gerard to his brother Thomas, a Jesuit priest. (fn. 19) This was no doubt a gift to the society to enable it to maintain the local missions, and thus Southworth came into the possession of Stonyhurst College. It was sold about 1820 to Thomas Claughton of Haydock; he failed in 1823, (fn. 20) and it was sold to Edward Greenall of Warrington, (fn. 21) whose granddaughter Elizabeth, Lady Shiffner, sold it to Samuel Brooks, the banker, after whose death it passed to a younger son Thomas. The latter's sons, Mr. Joseph Raynor Brooks and Mr. Edward Brooks, are the present owners. (fn. 22) No manor courts are held, nor are any manorial rights claimed.
Aspshaw anciently gave a surname to the family settled there. (fn. 23)
A branch of the Southworths was established in Croft. (fn. 24) About 1556 the heirs of Henry Southworth and James Hey contributed to the subsidy as landowners. (fn. 25) No freeholders appear in the list of 1600, but in 1628 John Hay contributed to the subsidy. (fn. 26) James Bankes of Winstanley held some land in Croft in 1618. (fn. 27) Christopher Bate, a recusant, petitioned in 1654 for leave to contract for the sequestrated two-thirds of his estate in Croft. (fn. 28) In 1717 Elizabeth Kay, widow, as a 'papist,' registered a house and 8 acres in the same place. (fn. 29)
The 'chapel of Southworth' is mentioned in 1292, (fn. 30) but nothing further is known of it; perhaps it was a domestic chapel.
During the last century several places of worship have been erected. For the Established religion Christ Church was built in 1832. The benefice became a rectory by the Winwick Church Act of 1841; the patron is the Earl of Derby. (fn. 31)
An Independent Methodist chapel was built at Croft in 1817, (fn. 32) but has disappeared.
When the Unitarians were ejected from the old Risley Chapel in Culcheth they built for themselves a small chapel in Croft, opened in 1839. (fn. 33)
After the suppression of the ancient worship by Elizabeth nothing is known until 1701 of any survival or continuance; but Gervase Hamerton, a Jesuit, was in that year in charge of the mission of Southworth. (fn. 34) The private chapel in the hall continued to be used even after the sale; but in 1827 the present church of St. Lewis was opened. (fn. 35) The mission is now served by the secular clergy. (fn. 36)