A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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This township occupies a plateau from 70 ft. to 100 ft. above the ordnance datum, and, as the surface falls sharply on the north and north-east to the level ground by the Ribble, the straggling village, with the church at the extreme northern end, seems to be perched up on a bluff. The castle stood near the church, the name of Castle Hill alone remaining. (fn. 1) The low ground by the Ribble, on the north-east, is called The Holme; it is common to the parishes of Penwortham and Preston. The area is 2,230½ acres (fn. 2) and the population in 1901 was 2,523.
To the south-east of The Holme is the bridge over the Ribble to Preston. (fn. 3) One road to it comes northward from Wigan; another, from Ormskirk and Liverpool, mainly going north-east, after nearing the river turns south-east to reach the bridge. Several lines of railway pass through the township, but there is no station in it; the West Lancashire portion of the Lancashire and Yorkshire line, coming from Southport, crosses the Ribble near the bridge named, and also turns eastward to join the Blackburn line and reach the passenger station in Preston by its bridge; and the London and North Western Company's main line to the north passes through the eastern end of the township, crossing the Ribble by a large bridge. The latter line is joined by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's Liverpool to Preston line.
The soil is various—marsh, marl and red loam. The land is chiefly used for pasture. (fn. 4)
In 1666 there were eighty-two hearths taxed in the township, but the only house of any size was that of Edward Fleetwood, with seventeen hearths. (fn. 5)
The pedestal of a cross may still be seen in the avenue from the high road to the church. St. Mary's well lies to the south of the high road. The stocks were in the village, some little way to the southwest. (fn. 6)
William Adam Hulton (1802–87), judge of Preston County Court, long resided in the township. He edited the Whalley Coucher and Penwortham Priory for the Chetham Society. The lych-gate of the churchyard is a memorial to him.
Owing to its proximity to Preston and its pleasant situation by the Ribble the township has recently grown in population, and several handsome residences have been erected. Penwortham Hall, formerly called the 'Lodge,' was built in 1800 by John Horrocks, founder of the Preston cotton manufacture, and was sold by his son Peter to William Marshall, whose son Frederick died in 1889, leaving it to his sister, wife of the Rev. T. Ross Finch. (fn. 7)
In 1066 King Edward held PENWORTHAM, in which were two ploughlands rendering 10d. By 1086 a castle had been built, and there were 2 ploughs in the demesne and 6 burgesses, 3 radmans, 8 villeins and 4 oxherds, who in all had 4 ploughs. The moiety of the fishery, woodland and eyries of hawks remained as in the time of King Edward, but the value was £3. (fn. 8) The two plough-lands may have been Penwortham and Howick. The castle is commemorated by Castle Hill, near the church, but nothing further is known of its history or of the borough which seems to be implied by the record of burgesses.
It was probably early in the next century that Penwortham became the head of a barony held by Warine Bussel, apparently the Warine who in 1086 held half a hide in West Derby Hundred and two plough-lands in Salford. The barony included a large part of Leyland Hundred, with many manors outside it, and was in 1205 acquired by Roger de Lacy, afterwards descending like Clitheroe to the Earls and Dukes of Lancaster and to the Crown. (fn. 9)
In the 16th century there were many disputes as to the suit and service due to the court of Penwortham from the members of the fee. (fn. 10)
In 1628 the royal manor was sold by Charles I to Edward Ditchfield and others, (fn. 11) and shortly afterwards was acquired by the Faringtons of Worden in Leyland. (fn. 12) It has since descended like this estate. Courts were held till recently, and numerous court rolls and books are preserved at Worden Hall. (fn. 13) Suit and service were demanded from a large number of townships in the county. (fn. 14)
The other manor of Penwortham was that of the abbey of Evesham, to which not only the church but 3 oxgangs of land were granted by the Bussels. (fn. 15) The abbey acquired other lands by gift or otherwise, (fn. 16) and having also Howick, Farington, and part of Longton, the Priors of Penwortham, as representing the abbey, became the chief resident landowners in the parish. Their tenure was peaceful, the principal dispute being due to a claim for puture made by the queen or the Earl of Lancaster in 1343; it was successfully resisted. (fn. 17) After the Dissolution John Fleetwood, who had in 1539 obtained a lease of the Evesham manors and lands, (fn. 18) purchased their estate from the Crown in 1543, (fn. 19) receiving a confirmation or extension in 1564. (fn. 20) He continued to prosper, and in 1578 was sheriff of the county. (fn. 21) A pedigree was recorded in 1567. (fn. 22) He died in 1590 holding among other estates the manors of Penwortham, Farington, Howick and Longton, the grange of Penwortham with the demesnes, fishings and turbaries there, various messuages, lands, water-mill, windmill, rents, fisheries in Ribble and Asland, &c., in Penwortham, Middleforth, Howick, Longton, Hawe, Hutton and Leyland; the manors and lands being held of the queen in chief by the fortieth part of a knight's fee, and the grange with its appurtenances, including the advowsons of the rectory of North Meols and vicarage of Leyland, by the twentieth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 23) Leaving his lands in Staffordshire to his eldest son, he in 1568 settled Penwortham on his second son Richard Fleetwood, who in 1582 married Margery daughter of Thomas Leigh of Egginton in Derbyshire. (fn. 24)
Richard Fleetwood in 1599 purchased from the Crown the rectories of Penwortham and Leyland, of which he already held the patronage. (fn. 25) Richard's eldest son Edward died before his father, having married a daughter of Sir William Norris of Speke. This gave the father great offence on religious grounds, and by his will he strictly ordered that the wardship of his heirs, Edward's children, should 'by no ways or means' come into the hands of Sir William Norris 'or any other who is not conformable to the laws ecclesiastical now established.' (fn. 26) In 1625 he made provision for his wife Margery, and died in April 1626, being succeeded by his grandson John, aged fifteen, son of Edward. (fn. 27)
John Fleetwood at first took the king's side in the Civil War, sending men and arms, but he does not appear to have served personally. (fn. 28) His estates were sequestered by the Parliament, and in 1647 he compounded for them, paying a fine of £617 3s. 4d. (fn. 29) He died in February 1656–7, (fn. 30) and was succeeded by his son Edward, (fn. 31) who, being childless, settled his manors and lands on Arthur Fleetwood of Westminster and his male issue, with remainders to other Fleetwoods. (fn. 32) Henry, the son of Arthur, who succeeded Edward Fleetwood in 1704, had no children, and after his death in 1746 the estates were found to be burdened with a debt of £16,000, while the rents were under £800; it was therefore resolved to sell the estates, a Private Act of Parliament being obtained in 1748 by Henry's trustees and representatives. (fn. 33)
John Aspinall (fn. 34) purchased them in 1749, and in 1752 sold most of the Penwortham lands to James Barton of Ormskirk, (fn. 35) by whose representatives they were sold to Colonel Rawstorne of Hutton. (fn. 36) They have since descended with Hutton.
The later house called The Hall, but at present known as Penwortham Priory, is a picturesque modern brick building of two stories with gables and mullioned windows, erected in 1832 on part of the site of the Priory buildings. (fn. 37)
Albert Bussel granted 4 oxgangs of land in Penwortham to Gerald de Clayton, who was to act as seneschal. (fn. 38) This descended with Clayton for some time, (fn. 39) but at length was perhaps sold or surrendered and granted out to others, becoming the origin of several estates occurring in the records. Philip de Penwortham made settlements of messuages and lands in 1333 (fn. 40); part of these appears to have been given to John de Ellisley in 1376, (fn. 41) and in the 17th century 'Ellisley lands' were owned by Alexander Rigby of Middleton. (fn. 42) In 1542–3 the following contributed to the subsidy for their lands: Christopher Charnley, Robert Aughton and William Werden, clerk. (fn. 43) In 1564 John Fleetwood and William Forshaw are named in the same way. (fn. 44) Ploket, (fn. 45) Bower, (fn. 46) Forshaw, (fn. 47) Hesketh, (fn. 48) Norris, (fn. 49) Pleasington, (fn. 50) Sutton, (fn. 51) and Werden (fn. 52) occur in pleadings and inquisitions (fn. 53); and Lord Mounteagle held lands, probably as successor to James Harrington. (fn. 54) William Farington of Worden acquired an estate in Penwortham known as the Lower Hall. (fn. 55) There were many disputes as to the moss. (fn. 56)
In 1783 the principal landowners were James Barton, Serjeant Aspinall and the heirs of Sir William Farington, who together paid about half the land tax. (fn. 57)