A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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The northern half of this hilly township is traversed by the Lostock, here flowing from east to west and then north. In the angle thus formed lies the village, with the hamlet of Rip Row to the north. The ground here rises to over 400 ft. above sea level. The larger part of Whittle south of the Lostock has Shaw Hill on the western side, the ground rising to 360 ft., and other hills on the eastern side, attaining 460 ft. at the boundary of Chorley. The area is 1,355 acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 the population was 2,333.
The principal road is that from Chorley to Preston, which goes north, by Rotherham Top and Waterhouse Green, through the village. From this point other roads branch off to Heapey in the east, (fn. 2) Brindle in the north-east, and Leyland in the west. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal winds through the eastern part of the township, a part or branch of it (the Lancaster Canal) going north-west through Rip Row.
The soil is sand, and the land is chiefly in pasture. Cotton is manufactured and calico printing carried on. There are excellent quarries, from which millstones are obtained. There is also a large brewery, and an alkaline spring discovered in 1845 is utilized for brewing. The springs and the scenery attract many picnic parties in the summertime. At the end of the 17th-century a lead mine was worked on Sir Richard Standish's land. (fn. 3)
In 1666 there were sixty hearths to be taxed in Whittlele-Woods. The largest house was Crook Hall with nine hearths; Swansey House had five. (fn. 4)
The manor of WHITTLE, a member of the fee of Penwortham, was included in the grant of eight plough-lands made by Richard Bussel to Richard Fitton. (fn. 7) It was afterwards held in moieties, one of which, like Gunolfsmoors, was acquired by the lord of Hoghton. The other moiety became in some way unknown the possession of the Cliftons of Clifton and Westby, (fn. 8) and of them was held by the Botelers of Rawcliffe from about 1250 to 1550. (fn. 9) In 1378 the 'lords of Whittle-le-Woods' contributed 5s. to an aid as for the fourth part of a knight's fee (fn. 10); and in 1445–6 Sir Richard Hoghton and Nicholas Boteler held the fourth part of a knight's fee, contributing equally to the relief when due. (fn. 11) The mesne lordship of the Clifton family was then, as usually, ignored; in inquisitions post mortem lands were stated to be held of Hoghton and Boteler.
The Hoghton moiety long descended with Hoghton, (fn. 12) but appears to have been sold about 1610. (fn. 13) The Boteler moiety was divided between co-heirs in 1572, (fn. 14) one-fourth part of the manor becoming the share of Standish of Duxbury, (fn. 15) and may still be vested in the trustees of this family, (fn. 16) the other fourth going to Anderton of Clayton (fn. 17) and being sold with another fourth part, making a moiety, in 1666 to William Crook. (fn. 18) This portion has been sold again, and the lordship of the manor is now indeterminate.
The estate of CROOK, in the north-west of the township, often called a manor, descended in the Crook family for several centuries, (fn. 21) but the two daughters and co-heirs of Anthony Crook (fn. 22) in 1569–70 sold their moieties to John and Thomas Clayton, (fn. 23) stated to have been the sons of Ralph Clayton of Clayton. (fn. 24) John's moiety, known as the New Crook, descended to his son, Dr. Richard Clayton, Dean of Peterborough, (fn. 25) who died without issue, (fn. 26) and then to the issue of another son, Ralph. Richard Clayton, grandson of Ralph, died without issue in 1659, (fn. 27) and was succeeded by his sister Dorothy, wife of George Leycester of Toft in Cheshire. (fn. 28) The Old Crook descended from Thomas Clayton (fn. 29) in the male line (fn. 30) to Captain Robert Clayton of Fulwood, near Preston, who sold it to the above-named William Crook. (fn. 31) The New Crook came soon afterwards into the possession of the same family. (fn. 32)
Other families occurring in the records as holding lands in the township were those of Bank, (fn. 33) Farington, (fn. 34) Foster, (fn. 35) Garstang, (fn. 36) Gerard of Brindle, (fn. 37) Shireburne of Stonyhurst, (fn. 38) Swansey (fn. 39) succeeded by Walmesley, (fn. 40) Wilson, (fn. 41) and Woodcock. (fn. 42) William Clayton and John Hilton were freeholders in 1600. (fn. 43) The heir of John Clayton is named in 1628. (fn. 44) Under the Commonwealth the estate of Hugh Tootell was confiscated for treason and ordered for sale (fn. 45); but Tootell was afterwards allowed to compound for part at least. (fn. 46) James Crook, Ralph Davenport, Peter Heatley and Richard Wilson, as 'Papists' in 1717 registered estates in Whittle. (fn. 47) In 1789 the chief landowners were Sir Frank Standish of Duxbury, Samuel Crook of Old Crook, Thomas Crosse of Shaw Hill, Thomas Townley Parker, Dr. Lowe and John Threlfall. (fn. 48)
The Shaw Hill estate, now the most prominent in the township, is said to be the result of a number of small purchases, added to lands inherited from Sarah daughter and heir of Robert Ashburner of Preston, who married Thomas Crosse of Cross Hall in Chorley in 1750. (fn. 49)
The Knights Hospitallers held lands in Whittle from early in the 13th century; the Molyneux family were tenants in later times. (fn. 50)
For the members of the Church of England St. John's was built in 1830 and rebuilt in 1882. The patronage is vested in the vicar of Leyland. (fn. 51)
A school was founded in 1769. (fn. 52)
The Roman Catholic church of St. Chad, South Hill, represents a mission known to have existed in the adjacent parish of Brindle in the 17th century. (fn. 53) The first fixed place of worship was the upper room of a house at Slatedelph in Wheelton, secured from William Blacklidge and Henry his son in 1729. (fn. 54) It remained in charge of the Jesuits (fn. 55) till the death of Fr. George Clarkson in 1813; he was a native of the place and built a new church at South Hill in 1791. (fn. 56) This was rebuilt in 1896. It is in the hands of the secular clergy. (fn. 57)