A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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This township was, like Tarleton, separated from Croston by Act of Parliament in 1821, and constituted an independent parish. (fn. 1) In early times Becconsall appears to have been the important part of the township, Hesketh being subordinate; but about 1718 Bishop Gastrell gave Hesketh Bank as an alias of Becconsall. The parish lies on the west bank of the Douglas estuary, the Ribble forming the northern boundary. In ancient times almost the only habitable part must have been the elevated patch in the south-east corner, a continuation of the Tarleton ridge, Becconsall being at the southern end of this patch and Hesketh at the north-west. The northern half of the land has in the main been reclaimed from the Ribble since 1834, chiefly through the operations of the Ribble Navigation Company. (fn. 2) The area is 4,736 acres. (fn. 3) In 1901 there was a population of 901.
The soil is chiefly a black, heavy loam overlying clay; elsewhere it is light, and in some parts sandy loam. There are now 2,394 acres of arable land, 648 acres of permanent grass and 30 acres of woods and plantations. (fn. 4) Wheat, oats and potatoes are grown. Beyond the cultivated land to the north are Hesketh sands, stretching to the stream of the Ribble, the thread of which forms the boundary of parish and hundred. It was formerly a seaside resort. (fn. 5)
The principal road is that coming north from Tarleton, which at Hesketh Bank turns sharply to the west, going to the hamlet called Hundred End and then to Southport. The line of the West Lancashire Railway, opened in 1878, and now owned by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company, runs through the southern part of the parish with a station at the east end called Hesketh Bank and another at the west called Hundred End.
The joint township was a member of the fee or barony of Warrington, and as one plough-land was given by Pain de Vilers to the Knights Hospitallers in alms. (fn. 6) It remained in their possession (fn. 7) till the Suppression in the time of Henry VIII, the immediate holders being the families of Beconsaw and Banastre of Bank, each having a moiety and paying a rent of 5s. (fn. 8) As in the case of other manors held in alms, little is known of its history.
The Beconsaw family held their moiety until the 16th century. (fn. 9) Edward Beconsaw recorded a pedigree in 1533, (fn. 10) and died on 19 April 1535, holding the manor of Becconsall and lands there of Sir Thomas Weston, Prior of St. John of Jerusalem in England, in socage by a rent of 5s., the clear annual value being £10. He had lands also in Lydiate, Aughton, Aspinwall in Scarisbrick and Much Hoole. His heir was his son Henry, nineteen years of age. (fn. 11) Henry left a daughter, Dorothy, whereupon the manor and lands were claimed by Adam Beconsaw, brother of Henry, as heir male. After some disputing a settlement was made, chiefly in his favour, (fn. 12) but he did not enjoy possession long, dying in December 1544, and leaving it to a son George, two years old. (fn. 13) In 1551, George having died, the manor of Becconsall and lands there and in Hesketh, Much Hoole and Aughton were settled upon Richard Beconsaw, with remainders to his wife Joan for life, and then to the issue of Richard, or in default to Richard Ashton of Croston. (fn. 14) The claim by Richard seems to have been unjust, for this moiety of the manor went to Dorothy, and was sold to Sir Thomas Hesketh of Rufford, (fn. 15) who thus gained possession of a lordship in the place from which his surname was derived. It has since descended with Rufford.
The only other local family requiring notice is that of Thornton. The landowners contributing to the subsidy of 1542–3 were Adam and Elizabeth Beconsaw, Richard and Hugh Thornton. (fn. 19) Richard Thornton died in July 1555 holding two messuages and 40 acres in Becconsall and Hesketh of Sir Thomas Hesketh and Henry Banastre of Bank in socage by a rent of 2s. a year to the former and 19½d. to the latter. Hugh, his son and heir, was forty-four years of age. (fn. 20)
Salt-making about 1560 led to disputes between the lords of the manor and their tenants. (fn. 21)
Two recusants compounded in 1628. (fn. 22) William Hodkinson of Hesketh Bank paid £10 on refusing knighthood in 1631. (fn. 23) Under the Commonwealth William Jump and John his son, holding a house and land at Hesketh Bank on lease, had it sequestered as recusants, and Henry Banastre of Bank, the owner, in 1653 petitioned for a removal of the sequestration, the tenants being dead. (fn. 24)
The hearths taxed in 1666 numbered twenty-three, but the only house of any size was that of the Heskeths (John Molyneux) with six hearths. (fn. 25) This was Becconsall Hall, which stood to the north-west of the existing chapel. The old building has disappeared and a modern farm-house stands on the site; there is still preserved, however, a stone with the inscription, 'John and Lucy Molyneux built this house, Anno 1667,' and the initials 'T.H.' The date is now very much worn and the second '6' indecipherable.
James Lumpton, Robert Banister and William Jump of Hesketh Bank registered estates as 'Papists' in 1717. (fn. 26)
The chapel of BECCONSALL was erected in 1764 and stands on slightly rising ground on the left bank of the Douglas near a bend of the river, which flows past the building on the south and east. It is a plain brick structure with a stone slated roof, consisting of a small chancel 8 ft. in depth by 15 ft. wide, nave 36 ft. 6 in. by 24 ft. and west porch. There is a small vestry south of the chancel and the west gable has a wooden bell-cote containing one bell. The east window of the chancel is of three lights, the centre one with a semicircular head and keystone, and the nave has two semicircular-headed windows on each side. The windows, however, except at the west end, are modern and inserted in 1875, at which date the ceiling was taken down and the roof lined with pitch pine. There is a gallery at the west end, with fairly good 18thcentury detail in the front, supported on square fluted wood posts with moulded caps. The gallery contains an organ given in 1907. The font is the original 18th-century plaster one of scallop pattern.
The origin and dedication of the pre-Reformation chapel of Becconsall are unknown. A chantry was founded there by George Beconsaw in the early years of the 16th century, and the incumbent here, as at Tarleton, was 'enforced to minister the blessed sacrament' to the people oftentimes, because the tides prevented them going to the parish church for days together. (fn. 27) The endowment was only 62s. 7d. a year, and on its confiscation by the Crown the chapel appears to have fallen into disuse and at last became a ruin. (fn. 28) The patronage continued to be claimed by Banastre of Bank down to 1640, (fn. 29) but seems to have lapsed to the rector of Croston on the rebuilding of the chapel about 1700. (fn. 30) It was rebuilt again in 1764. (fn. 31) On the separation of the township from Croston parish in 1821 it became the church of the new parish, but the rector of Croston continued to hold it till his death, and was also patron. He afterwards sold the advowson (fn. 32) to Sir T. D. Hesketh, from whom it has descended to Sir T. G. Fermor Hesketh. In 1717 there was no income beyond £2 7s. 11d., being a grant from the duchy revenues, and the chapel was 'supplied six times a year' only. (fn. 33) The value is now given as £280. (fn. 34)
The following were curates (fn. 35):—
|1821||Streynsham Master, M.A. (fn. 36) (Balliol Coll., Oxf.).|
|1864||Richard O'Brien, M.A. (fn. 37) (T.C.D.).|
There are no special charities for this parish, (fn. 40) but it receives a share of Dr. Layfield's Croston charity, which is distributed in cotton-cloth to the poor, (fn. 41) and every tenth year the Crooke and Master benefaction for religious books is received and distributed. (fn. 42)