A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The township of Flixton measures about 2¼ miles from east to west, with an average breadth of nearly 1½ miles. Its area is 1,564½ acres. (fn. 1) The general slope of the surface is from the north and east towards the opposite boundaries, the Mersey and Irwell, but nowhere is a greater height than 65 ft. above sea-level attained. The village and church lie near the centre of the southern boundary, with Shaw in the southeastern corner. The population in 1901 was 3,656. (fn. 2)
The principal road is that from Irlam—where formerly there was a ferry over the Irwell, as now over the ship canal—to Urmston and Stretford. From that road another runs southward to the church and then to the side of the Mersey; there is a bridge over the river at Carrington. (fn. 3) From the church a second road runs east to join the former one at Urmston. The Cheshire Lines Committee's railway from Manchester to Liverpool crosses the township diagonally, and has a station at Flixton, opened in 1873. (fn. 4) The Manchester Ship Canal passes along the western border, between large embankments, and has recently been adopted as the boundary of the township. (fn. 5) It should be observed that as the Mersey's course has varied from time to time, its stream as at present is not everywhere the exact boundary of the township and county. The land by the river on the south is called the Eea. In the south-west corner the land was assigned partly to Irlam and partly to Flixton.
The annual wake was held on the Sunday next after St. Michael's Day; it was noted for ecl pies. (fn. 6)
Thomas Wood, a Methodist minister and writer, was born at Flixton in 1761. (fn. 7)
The well between Shaw Hall and Shawtown is never known to fail. (fn. 8)
Thralam, Cawdoe, and other field-names are recorded in a deed of 1699. (fn. 9)
A stone celt was found in 1846 near Shaw Hall. (fn. 10)
The stocks in the village were taken down about 1823. (fn. 11)
Throwing at cocks on Shrove Tuesday, pace-egging at Easter, and other customs, were practised. (fn. 14)
The place first appears in the records as contributing a mark to the aid on the vills and men of the honour of Lancaster in 1176–7. (fn. 15)
From surveys of 1212 and 1226 it appears that at that time, and probably for a century before, FLIXTON was held in moieties, one half belonging to the demesne of the Crown, the other to the barony of Manchester. (fn. 16) The former or Salford moiety was granted with Ordsall to David de Hulton, (fn. 17) and passed to two branches of the Radcliffe family—of Ordsall and of Smithills, (fn. 18) descending with these estates till the 17th century, when the Radcliffe of Ordsall moiety was sold to the Asshaws of Shaw (fn. 19) and the Radcliffe of Smithills moiety, which had in the meantime descended to the Bartons and their heirs, was sold to a number of proprietors. (fn. 20) In 1779 a total rent of 20s. was paid to the duchy by—Greatrix (13s. 9d.) and a number of others. (fn. 21)
The Manchester moiety, which included the church, was granted as one plough-land by Albert Grelley senior to Henry son of Siward, to be held by the yearly service of 10s. (fn. 22) It did not, however, descend like Lathom, having become parted among younger branches of the family, so that about 1200 Roger son of Henry and Henry son of Bernard were in possession 'by hereditary right.' (fn. 23) The descent is obscure, but the whole seems to have been acquired by the Hulton family, (fn. 24) who held the other moiety. After the partition of their estates about 1330 one half, called SHAW, was held by the Hultons of Farnworth, and of them by the Valentines, (fn. 25) while the other half was divided between the two Radcliffe families, like the Salford moiety, and was in like manner disposed of in the 17th century. (fn. 26)
Thus about 1500 the manor of Flixton was held in a number of fractions, viz., the Salford moiety by Radcliffe of Ordsall and Radcliffe (or Barton) of Smithills; and the Manchester moiety as to twofourths by the same families, and as to the other half by Valentine, of Hulton of Farnworth as mesne tenant. (fn. 27)
The Valentine family appear early in the 1 3 th century. (fn. 28) In 1292 William Valentine secured from Richard de Urmston and Siegrith his wife the third part of two messuages and two oxgangs in Flixton; (fn. 29) and in 1308 Richard Valentine obtained from William Valentine an acknowledgement of his title to certain messuages and lands in Flixton, which William was to hold for life. (fn. 30) Richard Valentine was a tenant in 1320, (fn. 31) and Richard and Robert his son were among the defendant landholders of Flixton in 1338. (fn. 32)
Richard de Langley and Joan his wife at Pentecost 1352 claimed the wardship of John son and heir of Robert Valentine, against Thomas del Booth and John son of Robert de Worsley, on the ground that Robert had held a messuage and 80 acres in Flixton of Joan La Warre in socage, and Joan the plaintiff was next of kin to the heir on his mother's side, 'to whom the inheritance could not descend.' The heir had already been married to a Worsley, and the plaintiffs' claim being upheld damages were awarded to them. (fn. 33) If this refers to the main line of the family the heir must have died shortly afterwards, for in 1355 William son of John de Hulton successfully claimed the rent due from John son of Richard Valentine and heir of his 'ancestor' Robert Valentine, for lands in Flixton held of the plaintiff, who in turn held of the lord of Manchester in socage by a rent of 8s. a year. Plaintiff and defendant were both minors and had been taken into ward by the Lady La Warre, on the allegation that they held by knight's service, and the wardship of John Valentine had been granted by her to William son of Robert de Worsley. (fn. 34)
John Valentine died in 1395–6 holding land called the Shaw in Flixton, and leaving as heir his grandson John son of Richard Valentine, fourteen years of age. (fn. 35)
Nearly eighty years later Thomas Valentine held a moiety of the Manchester part of Flixton of Lord La Warre in socage by a rent of 8s. 2d., giving puture of one serjeant and doing suit to the court of Manchester. (fn. 36) In 1476 John son and heir apparent of Thomas Valentine, on his marriage with Joan, apparently a daughter of William Holland of Clifton, made a settlement of the estate in Flixton granted him by his father. (fn. 37) Joan the daughter and eventual heiress of John Valentine is stated to have married Lawrence Asshaw of Shaw; she had no children by him, but made him a grant of her lands, which he in turn bequeathed to his nephew Leonard, a younger son of Roger Asshaw or Ashall of Hall on the Hill in Charnock. (fn. 38)
The younger Leonard died on 31 December 1594 holding the manors of Astley and Shaw, and various lands in Flixton, Tyldesley, Worsley, Hulton, Barton, & In 1587 he had settled the manor of Shaw and various lands upon his second son, Lawrence, who, however, died without issue two years later and then a fresh settlement was made in 1591 in favour of the third son, Leonard, and his heirs male. (fn. 39) The eldest son, Edward, was still living, thirty-four years of age, in April 1595. Shaw and the lands in Flixton were stated to be held of George Hulton by fealty and a rent of 16s (fn. 40)
Leonard, who thus inherited Shaw, died there 12 April 1633, holding the manors of Shaw and Flixton, with views of frankpledge, the former of Thomas Hulton of Farnworth in socage, and the latter of Edward Mosley, as of his manor of Manchester, also in socage by a rent of 18d. Elizabeth, his daughter and heir, thirty years of age, was the wife of Peter, son of Sir Ralph Egerton of Ridley in Cheshire. (fn. 41)
Peter Egerton, who thus became lord of Shaw and Flixton in right of his wife, was one of the most prominent men in the county during the Civil War period. He was sheriff in 1641. (fn. 42) On the outbreak of the war he embraced the side of the Parliament, taking part in the defence of Manchester in 1642 (fn. 43) and the sieges of Lathom House; as General Egerton he received the surrender of this place in December 1645. (fn. 44) He died in 1656 by the accidental administration of poison. (fn. 45)
He was succeeded by his son Leonard and grandson Peter. (fn. 46) The family appear to have become impoverished, and their lands were gradually sold in the latter part of the 17th century. Peter Egerton died in 1712, and his son John sold the Shaw Hall estate in 1722 to William Latus. (fn. 47) On the new owner's death in 1764 it was advertised for sale. (fn. 48) It passed through various hands, and was in December 1845 purchased by Colonel George John Miller Ridehalgh of Fell Foot near Ulverston, and on the death of his widow became the property of Mr. George Ridehalgh. (fn. 49)
Shaw Hall lies to the east of the parish church about a quarter of a mile north of the River Mersey, and is said to have been built in the reign of James I. The house, however, has been almost entirely modernized, and on the outside no ancient features remain. It is a two-story gabled building the walls of which are now covered with modern rough-cast (except at the back, or west side, where they are of brick), and the roofs with blue slates, and the general appearance is uninteresting. The gables, of which the building possesses no less than fifteen, are rough-cast like the walls, and have either modern barge boards or copings, and all the windows are late insertions. A cupola, formerly containing a bell, which was originally a feature of the building on the outside, has disappeared.
The house is now divided into two separate dwellings, and contains some of its original fittings, though the plan has been a good deal altered. There is some good oak panelling in two of the lower rooms of the south house, but it has been patched with pitchpine, and painted and varnished. A lower room in the north house is also panelled in oak, similarly patched, but painted white. The hall is now divided, but there is an interesting staircase in the south house the balusters of which take the form of Tuscan, Ionic, and Corinthian columns, repeating in threes, with a thicker Corinthian column as newel. The handrail is modern. The other house has a good Jacobean staircase with twisted balusters, square newels, and original wide handrail.
The chief interest now attaching to the interior of Shaw Hall, however, lies in two pieces of tapestry in one of the upper rooms representing scenes from the life of Alexander, and a painting on the cove of the hall ceiling representing the wife of Darius kneeling before Alexander, together with a smaller allegorical circular painting on the ceiling of what is now the entrance porch to the north house. The paintings and tapestry are part of the original furniture of the house, and are said to be coeval with the building.
There was formerly a good deal of 17th-century heraldic glass in the windows, but most of this was taken out when the present sashes were inserted. It is still preserved, however, in the house, and though much broken and mutilated could easily be put together again and replaced.
Some fragments are still in position in the staircase window in the south house, the two upper lights of which contain two shields, one bearing the royal arms of the Stuart sovereigns, encircled by a garter, and the other being a quartered shield of the arms of Trafford with the crest of a man and flail. In the lower lights is a quarry with floral ornamentation and the words 'Asshawe de Shawe,' and another with a shield of Asshawe with five quarterings. The house is said formerly to have had a moat, but this had partially disappeared in 1847 (fn. 50) and is now planted over.
No courts have been held for a long period. As in other townships within the barony the constable of Flixton was in the 17th and 18th centuries summoned to attend the Court Leet at Manchester, but no attention was paid to the summons. (fn. 51)
Flixton House was formerly the residence of Ralph Wright, who died in 1831. (fn. 54) His estate, partly inherited and partly purchased, he endeavoured to make more compact and secluded by the closing and diverting of footpaths. This roused great opposition in the neighbourhood, and after several years of expensive litigation the attempt was defeated. (fn. 55)
The land tax return of 1787 shows that the land was then much divided; the largest contributor was William Allen, who paid about a sixteenth. (fn. 56)