A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Pemberton is cut off from Wigan on the north-east by the River Douglas, and from Ince on the east by another brook running into that stream. Through the township runs eastward the brook dividing Orrell from Winstanley. Going north from this brook on the eastern side are found Hindley Hall, Worsley Hall, Newtown, Laithwaite House, Marsh Green, Walthew House, and Markland (fn. 1); and on the western side Tunstead, and Lamberhead Green, Norley, Kit Green, and Orrell City. To the south, on the eastern side lie Smithy Brook, Worsley Mesnes, Goose Green, Hawkley, (fn. 2) and Wheatlees. The lowest ground is that in the Douglas valley; the surface rises to the south-west, where a height of 245 ft. is attained. The area is 2,894 acres. (fn. 3) The population in 1901 was 21,664, including Goose Green, Highfield, Little Lane, and other hamlets. The whole district is unpicturesque, bare and open, occupied for the most part by collieries, mine shafts, and pit banks. There are, however, fields where some crops are raised, potatoes and oats surviving the smoke of the environs. Pastures are scattered about also. The soil is clay and loam, over Coal Measures and stone.
There are several important roads. That from Ormskirk to Wigan enters the township at Lamberhead Green and passes through Newtown, where it is joined by the road from St. Helens through Billinge, and by that from Warrington to Wigan, through Goose Green. This last road has a branch to Wigan through Worsley Mesnes. The principal railway is the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's line from Liverpool to Wigan, which has a station called Pemberton; a loop line, avoiding Wigan, goes east to join the Wigan and Bolton line. The same company's Wigan and Southport railway crosses the northern corner of the township. There are minor lines for the service of the collieries.
The Local Government Act of 1858 was adopted by the township in 1872. (fn. 4) The board was changed to an urban district council of fifteen members by the Act of 1894. It has now been dissolved and the township added to the borough of Wigan, with four wards each returning three councillors and having an alderman.
A hospital was erected in 1886 by the local board. A public park was given by Colonel B. H. Blundell in 1903; and a Carnegie library has been opened.
Coal-mining is the principal industry. There are stone quarries, boiler works, iron foundry, cotton mill, and brick-making. The soil is loam and clay, with subsoil of clay, stone, and coal; potatoes and oats are grown, and there is some pasturage.
The pedestal and portion of a cross exist at Goose Green. (fn. 5)
There was formerly a burning well at Hawkley. (fn. 6)
At Lamberhead Green in 1775 was born William Atherton, a Wesleyan divine, president of the Conference in 1846. He died in 1850. (fn. 7)
During the 12th century it was held in thegnage by a certain Alan, (fn. 10) whose son Alan, settling at Windle, was known as Alan de Windle. At the Survey of 1212 the latter was holding Pemberton, assessed as two plough-lands, by the rent of 20s. and the service of finding a judge for the court of Newton. (fn. 11) Like other Windle properties this mesne lordship may have descended to the Burnhulls (fn. 12) and Gerards (fn. 13); no record of it occurs in their inquisitions, but Sir Thomas Gerard, who died in 1621, held certain lands in the township 'of the lords of Pemberton.' (fn. 14) It seems, however, to have been alienated to the Walton family, (fn. 15) and so to have descended with Northlegh or NORLEY to Legh of Lyme. (fn. 16)
The first Alan de Pemberton had created a subordinate manor for a younger son, known as Adam de Pemberton. (fn. 17) He in 1212 was holding it of Alan de Windle, and had granted out a quarter of it to Henry son of Lawrence, who in turn had granted an oxgang, i.e. a quarter of his share, to Alan son of Aldith. (fn. 18) Adam de Pemberton made grants to the Hospitallers (fn. 19) and to Cockersand Abbey. (fn. 20) He was still living in 1246. (fn. 21) His descendant William died about 1292, (fn. 22) leaving a son Adam, (fn. 23) who in 1331 made a settlement of the manor, his son William, who had married Eleanor, being the heir. (fn. 24)
In or before 1362 William died, leaving Eleanor a widow, (fn. 25) with six children. Thurstan, the heir, was a minor, and his wardship was in 1367 claimed by Robert de Legh and William son of Robert de Radcliffe, in right of their wives. (fn. 26) Thurstan died soon afterwards and his five sisters were his heirs. One of these died young; the other four each had a share, and it is easy to trace the descent of two: that of Emma, who married Robert de Hindley of Aspull; (fn. 27) and of Katherine, who married Alexander de Worsley. (fn. 28) The family of Molyneux of Rainhill had Hawkley in Pemberton, and in 1578 acquired a fourth part of the manor. (fn. 29) As late as 1415, however, the lord of the manor was said to be Henry de Pemberton. (fn. 30)
But few particulars can be given of the descent of the various portions of the manor. HINDLEY HALL became the property of Meyrick Bankes of Winstanley, and is held by his trustees. (fn. 31) The Worsleys of WORSLEY MESNES (fn. 32) were succeeded by the Downes of Wardley, (fn. 33) and their estates are now held by the Earl of Ellesmere. (fn. 34) The Molyneuxes of HAWKLEY continued in possession until the death of Bryan William Molyneux in 1805. (fn. 35) By his will the Rev. William Hockenhull of Lymm in Cheshire succeeded, and assumed the surname of Molyneux. (fn. 36) Hawkley, however, was afterwards sold, and is now the property of the trustees of Meyrick Bankes. (fn. 37)
The estate called TUNSTEAD was in the possession of a branch of the Pembertons during the whole of the 15th century. (fn. 38) One of the daughters and coheirs of George Pemberton then carried it by mar riage to Robert Molyneux of Melling, (fn. 39) and it descended with the other lands of this family (fn. 40) until they were sold in the middle of the 18th century.
Alexander Worsley, Thomas and John Molyneux, Gilbert Scott, and Robert Higginson, contributed to a subsidy of Mary's reign as landowners. (fn. 43) The freeholders in 1600 (fn. 44) were: Ralph Worsley, — Downes, (fn. 45) Richard Molyneux of Hawkley, Robert Arrowsmith, Thomas Laithwaite, (fn. 46) Richard Pemberton, (fn. 47) Hugh Scott, (fn. 48) William Walthew, (fn. 49) Thomas Whalley, (fn. 50) Humphrey Winstanley, and John Worthington. The landowners who contributed to the subsidy of 1628 were Roger Downes, for Worsley's lands; Richard Molyneux, and the heirs of Richard Pemberton. (fn. 51) Several 'delinquents' compounded for their estates under the rule of the Commonwealth. (fn. 52) The following 'papists' registered estates here in 1717: Barbara and Margaret Green, George Unsworth, and William Winstanley. (fn. 53) The land tax returns of 1787 show the chief owners to have been the Duke of Bridgewater, the heirs of T. Barton, Mrs. Percival, W. B. Molyneux, and John Markland.
During the last century a number of places of worship have been erected in Pemberton. In connexion with the Established Church St. John's was consecrated in 1832 as a chapel of ease to the parish church; a burial ground was attached to it. The rector of Wigan is the patron. (fn. 54) The church of St. Matthew, Highfield, built in 1894, serves as a chapel of ease. St Mark's, Newtown, was built in 1891. The patronage is vested in trustees. There is a licensed chapel at Worsley Mesnes.
The Methodist denominations are well represented, the Wesleyan, Primitive, Independent, and United Free Methodists having places of worship. There are also Free Gospel and Congregational chapels.
The Roman Catholic church of St. Cuthbert dates from 1872; it was enlarged in 1887. (fn. 55)
A schoolhouse was built at Goose Green by Thomas Molyneux; but no endowment was provided. (fn. 56)