A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Kearsley, formerly a part of Farnworth, has become a separate township. Its north-eastern boundary is formed by the Irwell, and the road from Manchester to Bolton passes north-west through the centre, having a length of a mile and a half within the boundaries. The total area of the township is 997 acres. (fn. 1) The surface in general slopes from the higher land on the south west border to the steep banks of the Irwell. Lower Kearsley, by the bridge over that river, is often called Ringley, being considered part of Ringley in Pilkington.
Kearsley proper clusters along the south-east end of the main road mentioned; but Farnworth is extending over the Kearsley borders in the north, and Stoneclough is a hamlet near the Irwell on the road to Radcliffe. Clammerclough is a district to the north-west of the last - named, and lies between Darley in Farnworth and the Irwell. Kearsley Moss formerly occupied the south-west quarter of the township. The Manchester and Bolton line of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company passes through Kearsley parallel to the high road, and has a station near Stoneclough called Kearsley.
In 1901 the population recorded was 9,218. (fn. 2)
The township is a busy industrial place. There are collieries, iron foundries, paper mills, powerloom mills, spindle works, and chemical works; (fn. 3) bricks and tiles are made and cotton-spinning carried on.
A local board was formed in 1865; (fn. 4) in 1894 this was replaced by an urban district council of twelve members elected by two wards, east and west.
William Hulme's house, with seven hearths, was the only large one in the township in 1666, when the total number of hearths liable to the tax amounted to thirty-nine. (fn. 5)
Dorning Rasbotham in 1787 wrote thus:—'Oak and alder trees have been found deeply embedded in the turf upon Kearsley moor. The timber was as black as ebony,' but not so well preserved as usual. (fn. 6)
There was anciently no manor of KEARSLEY, which was merely a part of Farnworth, itself a hamlet in Barton. The earliest deed relating to it is a grant of the whole by Edith de Barton to Cockersand Abbey. (fn. 7) A number of the neighbouring families had lands and common rights in Kearsley, and one of the lords of Farnworth appears to have been specially associated with it, so that it will be convenient to give the descent of his family in this place.
Richard son of Adam de Redford, who was living in 1276, is the earliest on record. (fn. 8) He was succeeded regularly by his descendants, Richard, (fn. 9) John, (fn. 10) and another Richard. The last-named, who married Alice daughter of Robert de Worsley, (fn. 11) left two daughters as co-heirs—Ellen, who married Adam son of Henry de Prestall, (fn. 12) and Alice, who married a Standish, and left a daughter and heir Joan, wife of Richard Seddon. (fn. 13)
The Prestalls' share descended to a son Richard (fn. 14) and granddaughters Joan and Isabel. Joan Prestall was three times married. Her first marriage, in infancy, was not ratified; her second husband was John Leigh, by whom she had a son Thomas, (fn. 15) whose son Richard sold the inheritance to Ralph Assheton of Great Lever; (fn. 16) her third husband was Edmund Bolton, whose great-grandson, Robert Bolton, was living in 1598, and had Prestall. (fn. 17) Isabel, the other Prestall co-heir, married Henry Southworth, but had no children, and her share was sold to the Traffords. (fn. 18)
The Seddons' share descended to Giles, (fn. 19) Ralph, and Thomas Seddon, son, grandson, and great-grandson respectively of Joan and Richard. Thomas Seddon, who died during his father's lifetime, left two daughters as co-heirs. Elizabeth, the elder, married Thomas Marcroft, (fn. 20) and had a son Robert; Cecily, the younger, married Peter Seddon, and left a son Ralph, described as 'of Pilkington.' (fn. 21)
Of all these the Boltons and Marcrofts are specially associated with Kearsley. There does not appear to be any record of their history. Robert Marcroft sold his lands to Richard Ashton, who in 1651 sold to the Starkies of Huntroyde; Kearsley Hall is still in the possession of this family. (fn. 22) In 1836 Ellis Fletcher of Clifton owned the waste. (fn. 23) The only 'manor' of Kearsley claimed in recent times is that of the Hultons of Over Hulton, apparently as part of the Farnworth estate acquired from the Hultons of Farnworth. (fn. 24)
Kearsley occurs as a surname. (fn. 25)
In 1790 the principal landowners were Le Gendre Starkie, Sir John Mosley, and Jonathan Dorning. (fn. 26)
Kearsley Hall was in the 17th century the residence of William Hulme, the founder of the Hulmeian exhibitions at Brasenose College, Oxford. (fn. 27)
In connexion with the Established Church, St. John's, Halshaw Moor, on the boundary of Farnworth, was built in 1826, and had a district assigned to it in 1829. (fn. 28) The incumbent, with the designation of vicar of Farnworth, is appointed by Hulme's trustees. St. Stephen's, Kearsley Moor, was built in 1871; the vicar of Farnworth is patron. (fn. 29)
The Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists each have chapels. (fn. 30)
The Congregational Church, built in 1901, replaces a school-chapel. A Sunday school had been held as early as 1845. (fn. 31)
The Swedenborgians have a place of worship known as New Jerusalem. (fn. 32)