A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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This large township, stretching from Bolton in a north-west direction for over 6 miles, has an area of 3,999½ acres, and is divided into an upper and lower portion. The former occupies the eastern slope of the range of hills, including Winter Hill and Whimberry Hill, which goes west and north through Smithills, Rivington, and Anglezarke; it contains the district called Hordern, the village of Belmont, and the hamlet of Bromiley, to the east being a large reservoir, part of the Bolton Waterworks, on the boundary between Sharpies and Longworth. The lower division is cut in two by a detached portion of Little Bolton; its northern part is called the Folds, and its southern part contains a portion of the town of Bolton, called Astley Bridge. (fn. 1) The population of the Belmont portion was 837 in 1901, and that of the southern portion, together with parts of Little Bolton, was 7,674. (fn. 2)
'Sharpies in Harwood' contained forty-three hearths liable to the tax in 1666; no house had as many as six hearths. (fn. 3)
The southern half was formerly joined with the detached parts of Little Bolton to form the Astley Bridge Local Board district, (fn. 4) and has now been included in the borough and township of Bolton. (fn. 5) The northern part was in 1894 constituted a civil parish with the name of Belmont, (fn. 6) and was in 1898 included in Turton Urban District. (fn. 7)
The manor of SHARPLES was a member of Manchester fee. It appears to have been assessed as four oxgangs of land, (fn. 8) but one oxgang was in 1212 held of Robert Grelley by Roger de Samlesbury and Alexander de Harwood by a rent of 3s. This may have been an additional oxgang. (fn. 9) Whether it was so or not it appears to have been the most important part of the district, and its lords being also lords of Harwood and Bradshaw the three were held together, (fn. 10) and as late as the 17th century the 'hamlet of Sharpies' is described as lying 'in the town of Harwood.' (fn. 11) Another part of Sharples was within the Marsey fee; what were known as the detached portions of Little Bolton were probably its constituents. (fn. 12)
The upper and larger part of the township was retained by the lords of Manchester in their own hands, but the Folds, described as 4,000 acres, had in 1427 been occupied by Richard son of Thurstan de Holland, and in 1473 was held by the heir of Henry de Radcliffe. Hordern Solyns, 1,000 acres, was in Thomas La Warre's possession in 1427. (fn. 13)
Sharples proper, the one oxgang, appears to have been divided among several immediate holders; the rent also seems to have been increased to 3s. 2d. Thus in 1320 Henry de Trafford paid yearly 3s. 2d. for Sharples, and gave puture of the Serjeant and foresters, (fn. 14) while Adam de Sharples for the twenty-fourth part of a fee in the same rendered castle ward and puture. (fn. 15)
The local families adopted the surname of Sharpies, and continued to reside for some centuries; (fn. 16) one of them, known as Ward alias Sharples, appears down to the 17th century. (fn. 17) In the absence of documents no proper account can be given of these families. Sharples Hall has for some time been the seat of the Rothwell family; Mr. Richard Rainshaw Rothwell was recently one of the principal landowners. (fn. 18)
One Roger de Sharples in 1315–16 granted to Sir William de Holland, ancestor of the Denton family, his manor of Sharples and all his land there, together with his goods, movable and immovable, in the manor and his share of the waste. (fn. 19) Sir William at once granted it to Thurstan son of Margaret de Shoresworth for life. (fn. 20) Thurstan in 1332 made a feoffment of his lands in the hamlet of Sharples in the vill of Great Bolton and in Harwood; (fn. 21) and in 1335 granted the manor of Sharples to his mother, together with the homages and services of Jordan son of Adam de Sharples and others. (fn. 22) The Holland family acquired other lands in the hamlet or township, (fn. 23) and in 1429 Thurstan de Holland made an agreement with Sir Ralph de Radcliffe touching part of a field called Rodenhey, adjoining the road leading from Smithills. (fn. 24)
From the rental of 1473 it appears that the rent of 3s. 2d. was contributed by three occupiers— Richard Sharples, 18d.; Robert Sharples, 10d.; and Richard Holland of Denton, 10d. (fn. 25) The Holland manor therefore was rather more than a fourth part. It continued to descend with the Denton estates, (fn. 26) and the Earl of Wilton is now reputed to be lord of the manor.
Lord Fauconberg in 1723 sold, among other lordships, the manor of Sharples, which probably represented the estate descending to him from the Bartons of Smithills, who had held the FOLDS. (fn. 27)
The Bradshaws of Bradshaw also had a holding in Sharples, (fn. 28) and some other owners' names are met with. (fn. 29) One Lawrence Longworth, of Sharples, was in 1443 bound to array a man-at-arms and three able archers for the king's service. (fn. 30)
The land tax returns of 1796 show that—Wright, Lord Grey de Wilton, and — Lawson were the chief landowners. (fn. 31) The Wright estate has recently been purchased by the Bolton Corporation for waterworks purposes at a cost of £100,000. (fn. 32)
In connexion with the Church of England St. Peter's, Belmont, was built in 1850, and had a separate district assigned to it in 1861. (fn. 33) It has a tower and spire, with peal of six bells.
The Congregationalists began services in or before 1821; the present church at Belmont was opened in 1898. (fn. 34)
The Roman Catholic church of the Holy Infant and St. Anthony, at Astley Bridge, was opened in 1877. (fn. 35)