A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The parish of Bury, of which two townships— Cowpe-Lench and Musbury—lie in the hundred of Blackburn, has an area of 24,915 acres. The Irwell flows southward through the middle of it, and it is bounded by hills on the east, west, and north, those in Tottington attaining elevations of 1,200 to 1,500 ft. The Carboniferous Rocks occur throughout the parish. At Bury, Elton, and Redvales the Coal Measures cover a considerable area; elsewhere the Lower Coal Measures occur, except between Walmersley and Birtle, where the Millstone Grit is thrown up by faults.
Anciently there were only two manors or townships in the parish, but these were later subdivided, the old 'hamlets' becoming townships; and in recent years great changes have been made in the boundaries to accord with the changes that have taken place in the distribution of the population and the resulting progress of local government. To the county lay of 1624 Bury and its hamlets paid £6 16s. 6d., and Tottington £3 8s. 3d., when the hundred contributed £100. (fn. 1) To the fifteenth the payments respectively were £2 3s. 4d. and 15s. 8d. out of £41 14s. 4d. (fn. 2)
There is evidence in the history of the town of Bury of the disturbances raised by Adam Banastre in the time of Edward II, Henry de Bury being killed by his emissaries. Many people of the district no doubt accompanied the Pilkingtons, whose fortified dwelling stood in the town, to the foreign wars, as well as to the fatal fields of Bosworth and Stoke. There were also domestic wars nearer home; for about 1447 a number of the people of Butterworth and Spotland, having gathered a company of sixty 'malefactors,' came to Bury arrayed in manner of war, with a white banner carried before them; they then marched off to Hundersfield in Rochdale, where the demonstration ended in the death of one Roger Smethley. It seems to have been intended to intimidate the Holts. (fn. 3)
The Reformation appears to have passed by without any resistance or opposition, the people here, as in the neighbourhood, soon becoming favourable to the Puritans. On a certain Sunday of July 1588 the town was disturbed by a number of Oldham men, who, in time of divine service, made 'foul disorders' by galloping horses in the street, shouting and piping; 'a lamentable spectacle in the place of preaching ministry,' as the narrator remarks. (fn. 4) About the same time the mining industry comes into notice, by a dispute concerning 'mines, delphs, and pits of coal.' (fn. 5) The making of woollen yarn had been mentioned by Leland fifty years earlier.
In the Civil War the lord of Bury took the lead on the king's side, and the rector was also a Royalist, while John Greenhalgh and Edward Nuttall distinguished themselves in the same cause. A conflict is reported to have taken place close to the town of Bury on 14 August 1648. (fn. 6) The restoration of Charles II was cordially welcomed in Bury, (fn. 7) but the revolution appears to have been acquiesced in as readily, and nothing is known of any Jacobite sympathizers in the risings of the 18th century.
In 1798, during the French War, a volunteer force was created under the name of the Loyal Bury Volunteer Association. (fn. 8) A rifle corps was formed in 1859, and the town is now the head quarters of the 5th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers (Territorials). (fn. 9)
Bury has had its share in the great development of Lancashire manufactures, and here, as elsewhere, distress in times of bad trade produced disturbances, of which the most notable examples were the riots of 1826, (fn. 10) and the 'plug drawing' of 1842. The agricultural land in the parish is now apportioned thus: Arable land, 1,315 acres; permanent grass, 12,691; woods and plantations, 61. The following are details:—
|Arable acres||Grass acres||Woods, &c. acres|
The worthies of the parish include Henry Dunster, 1609–59, the first president of Harvard; Captain William Kay, who took part in the defence of Lathom House in 1644, and died a prisoner for debt in Lancaster Castle in 1670; Edward Rothwell, a Nonconformist divine, who ministered in Bury, Holcombe, and the district, and died in 1731; John Warburton, 1682–1759, book collector; Josiah Nuttall, naturalist, 1771–1849; John Ainsworth, local historian, born near Chamber Hall, 1777–1858; (fn. 11) James Bateman, botanist, born at Redvales in 1811, and died at Worthing in 1897; Sir James Phillips Kay-Shuttleworth, bart., a founder of the system of school inspection, 1804–77; his brother, Sir Edward Ebenezer Kay, judge, 1822–97; Sir John Holker, politician and judge, 1828–82; and Sir William Hardman, 1828–90, sometime Recorder of Kingston and editor of the Morning Post. Lives of most of them will be found in the Dictionary of National Biography. Others are noticed in the different townships.
The church of ST. MARY stands in the centre of the town, to the north of the market-place, on an ancient site, but is itself a modern building erected entirely in the 19th century. A church is said to have been built here in the 13th century, and restored or rebuilt about 1535; but it had fallen into a state of decay by the middle of the 18th century, and in the year 1773 was taken down, with the exception of the tower, and a new building erected between the years 1773 and 1780. Old prints show this church to have been rectangular in plan, with a square projecting chancel, built in pseudo-Gothic style, with two tiers of pointed windows, straight parapets, and drafted angle quoins. The tower, which is described in 1829 as an 'old small semi-spire steeple' detracting from the appearance of the church, (fn. 12) having been damaged in 1839, was taken down four years later, and the present tower and broach spire built in 1844–5. The 18thcentury church stood till 1870, when the chancel was taken down and the present one begun; but in the course of reconstruction the whole of the old building was declared to be unsafe, and was pulled down in 1872. The present handsome church was erected between 1870 and 1876, Mr. F. S. Crowther being the architect, and consists of an apsidal chancel 56 ft. 6 in. long by 27 ft. 8 in. wide, with south chapel and north vestry, nave 84 ft. 6 in. long by 30 ft. wide, with north and south aisles and south porch. The tower of 1845 was retained at the west end, and is joined on to the new church by a wide narthex extending the whole width of the nave and aisles, to which it is open by three arches. The building is of stone, in the style of the 14th century, with lofty clearstory and roof, quite overshadowing the tower and spire, which, though too big for the church as it was before 1870, is now too small. The interior is partly lined with bricks, and is a fine example of modern Gothic work. The height of the chancel is 63 ft., and that of the nave 76 ft. The fittings, like the structure, are all modern, and there is nothing about the building of antiquarian interest.
There is a ring of eight bells, six by A. Rudhall of Gloucester, 1722, recast by Mears & Stainbank, and the two trebles by Taylor & Co., of Loughborough, 1892. (fn. 13)
The plate is all modern, and consists of two chalices of 1860–1, two patens of the same date, and a silver bread-box given by Archdeacon Blackburne. One of the patens is inscribed 'The gift of Elizabeth Plant, relict of Thomas Plant, to the church of Bury,' and the other 'The gift of Mary Hutchinson, relict of William Hutchinson, to the church of Bury.' There are also two large plated flagons given by the Rev. James Bankes (rector 1710–43), and a plated paten.
The registers date from 1590 (baptisms 1590, marriages and burials 1591), and have been printed, up to 1698, by the Lancashire Parish Register Society. (fn. 14)
The church of Bury is known to have existed at the end of the 12th century. The patronage has always descended with the lordship of the manor, (fn. 15) the Earl of Derby now having the right of presentation. In 1291 the income was taxed at 20 marks, (fn. 16) but fifty years later the ninth of sheaves, wool, &c., was only worth half that sum, Bury proper contributing 102s. 2d., and the moiety of Tottington 31s. 2d. (fn. 17) The gross value of the rectory in 1534 was returned as £30 6s. 8d. (fn. 18) Nearly two centuries later it was given as about £250. (fn. 19) A large amount of the glebe lying in the town of Bury, the rector was empowered in 1764 to grant building leases for ninety-nine years. (fn. 20) This greatly enhanced the rector's income, which in 1834 was nearly, £2,000, and afterwards increased. It is now given as £2,000. (fn. 21)
|Institution||Name||Patron||Cause of Vacancy|
|oc. 1189||Peter the Chaplain (fn. 22)||—||—|
|bef. 1226||Henry (fn. 23)||—||—|
|oc. 1275||Geoffrey (fn. 24)||—||—|
|—||Roger de Freckleton (fn. 25)||—||—|
|14 Jan. 1318–19.||Richard de Radcliffe (fn. 26)||Margery, lady of Bury||res. R. de Freckleton|
|23 Dec. 1323||Adam de Radcliffe (fn. 27)||" "||d. R. de Radcliffe|
|12 Dec. 1331||John de Radcliffe (fn. 28)||Margaret de Radcliffe||d. A. de Bury|
|13 Mar. 1334–5||Henry de Over (fn. 29)||Henry s. of Sir Henry de Bury||res. John|
|17 May 1335||John de Radcliffe (fn. 30)||Henry de Bury||res. H. de Over|
|22 Oct. 1367||John de Pilkington (fn. 31)||Sir Roger de Pilkington||d. J. de Radcliffe|
|28 Aug. 1406||Thomas de Hulton (fn. 32)||Sir John de Pilkington||—|
|17 July 1442||Roger Bradeley (fn. 33)||"||—|
|9 May 1462||George Pilkington (fn. 34)||Thos. Pilkington||d. R. Bradeley|
|16 Feb. 1482–3||John Nabbs, B.Can.L (fn. 35)||Sir T. Pilkington||d. G. Pilkington|
|19 Oct. 1507||Richard Smith, LL.B (fn. 36)||John Ireland||res. J. Nabbs|
|4 Feb. 1554–5||Richard Jones, M.A. (fn. 37)||Hugh Jones||d. last rector|
|21 Aug. 1568||Gowther Kenyon (fn. 38)||Earl of Derby||d. R. Jones|
|—||John Shireburne, B.D. (fn. 38)||—||—|
|— 1572||Peter Shaw, B.D. (fn. 40)||—||—|
|6 July 1608||Hugh Watmough, B.D. (fn. 41)||John Favour||d. P. Shaw|
|23 Aug. 1623||George Murray, B.D. (fn. 42)||Earl of Derby||d. H. Watmough|
|16 Mar. 1632–3||Peter Travers, B.D. (fn. 43)||"||d. G. Murray|
|— 1654||William Alt, M.A. (fn. 44)||Oliver, Protector||—|
|— 1654–6||John Lightfoot (fn. 45)||Countess of Derby||—|
|2 Mar. 1660–1||John Greenhalgh, D.D. (fn. 46)||"||res. J. Lightfoot|
|26 Feb. 1674–5||Thomas Gipps, B.D. (fn. 47)||Earl of Derby||d. J. Greenhalgh|
|19 May 1710||James Bankes, M.A. (fn. 48)||Thos. Bankes||d. T. Gipps|
|19 July 1743||Hon. John Stanley, D.D. (fn. 49)||Earl of Derby||d. J. Bankes|
|6 Feb. 1778||Sir William Henry Clerke, bart., B.C.L. (fn. 50)||"||res. J. Stanley|
|23 Sept. 1818||Geoffrey Hornby, LL.B. (fn. 51)||Earl of Derby||d. Sir W. H. Clerke|
|28 Mar. 1850||Edward James Geoffrey Hornby, M.A. (fn. 52)||d. G. Hornby|
|10 Sept. 1888||Frank Edward Hopwood, M.A. (fn. 53)||d. E. J. G. Hornby|
|13 Feb. 1894||Foster Grey Blackburne, M.A. (fn. 54)||"||d. F. E. Hopwood|
|27 Apr. 1909||John Charles Hill, M.A. (fn. 55)||d. F. G. Blackburne|
Little is known of the condition of the pre-Reformation clergy. There was no endowed chantry at the parish church, but probably each of the chapels of ease, at Holcombe, Edenfield, and Heywood, had a curate of its own. Richard Smith, rector in 1542, paid a curate, and the stipend of another assistant priest was contributed by Charles Nuttall and others. (fn. 56) In 1548, however, only the rector and these two assistants are named in the bishop's visitation list; in 1554 there were four, a curate having been found for Edenfield; the same names reappear in 1563, when the rector was 'excused,' perhaps for absence, and two years later there are five names in the list—showing an increase in the number. This extraordinary statement is somewhat modified by the fact that two of those named did not appear, and that another's name was marked out, the active clergy being reduced to the rector and his curate, Roger Hodgkinson. (fn. 57) It was reported to the royal commissioners in 1559 that the curate of Bury did not read the Gospel, Epistle, Lord's Prayer, and Ten Commandments, according to the proclamation. (fn. 58) A similar indifference or hostility, though perhaps from other causes, appears in 1592, when the rector and curate were ordered to use the Catechism, go the perambulations, and 'observe her majesty's injunctions in all things'; the churchwardens were to provide Jewell's Reply and Apology. (fn. 59) About 1610 the incumbent was 'a preacher,' and the three chapels were 'maintained by the inhabitants.' (fn. 60)
During the sequestration under the Commonwealth the curates in charge preached constantly every Sabbath day and once every Thursday, the market day, keeping a constant lecture there, as had been accustomed; they lived in the parsonage house. (fn. 61) The Restoration appears to have been quietly accepted in Bury itself, where the two landowners, the Earl of Derby and the rector, were both Royalists. Nonconformists, however, were numerous, and in 1669 the vicar reported to the Bishop of Chester that he heard that several conventicles were 'constantly kept at private houses of Independents, Presbyterians, Dippers and other such like jointly, of the bset rank of the yeomanry and other inferiors.' (fn. 62) The matter became evident after the Revolution, (fn. 63) and Bury has now, like other Lancashire parishes, provision for a great variety of worship and doctrine.
Apart from the grammar school at Bury, founded in 1625 and refounded in 1726, (fn. 64) and some other endowments for ecclesiastical and educational purposes, the general charitable funds have an income of about £190 a year. (fn. 65) Some ancient benefactions have been lost. The whole parish participates in the sums given by John Guest in 1653, (fn. 66) Thomas Rothwell in 1737, (fn. 67) and Rector Bankes in 1743. (fn. 68) The old manor or township of Bury, including Bury, Heap, Elton, and Walmersley, benefits under the will of Samuel Waring, 1742. (fn. 69) Bury proper had in 1828 two small charities. (fn. 70) In Heap, in addition to Heywood School, 1737, is the foundation of John Nuttall, 1763, (fn. 71) with the more substantial recent gifts of William Clegg, 1887, and others. (fn. 72) Walmersley had a school at Baldingstone, founded in 1716, (fn. 73) and over £22 for the general benefit of the poor, the gifts of Richard Haworth, 1760, (fn. 74) and John Hall, 1867. (fn. 75) The most considerable single charity is that founded in 1892–6 by Miss Nancy Haworth for the poor of Walshaw, partly in Tottington Lower End and partly in Elton. (fn. 76) Tottington has old school endowments and some gifts for the poor, including £35 a year from Miss Jane Brennand's bequest in 1882. (fn. 77) The township of Cowpe Lench participates in Mrs. Alice Martha Crabtree's bequest. (fn. 78)