A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Westbi, Dom. Bk.; Westby, 1226.
Pluntun, Dom. Bk.; Plumton, 1226.
This township is divided into five hamlets. Westby is the central one. The two Plumptons, anciently known as Fieldplumpton for distinction from Woodplumpton, occupy the northern part, Great Plumpton lying to the north of Little Plumpton. Ballam (Higher and Lower) and Brown Moss Side in the south-west are considered parts of Westby. The measurements are as follows: Westby, 877½ acres; Ballam, 666½; Brown Moss Side, (fn. 1) 724½–2,268½; Great Plumpton, 665; Little Plumpton, 664.; or in all, 3,597½ acres. (fn. 2) The population in 1901 was 532. There is some comparatively high land in the north, Great Plumpton being 100 ft. above sea level; but the surface falls away to the south-west, and the greater part of Ballam and Moss Side is below the 25 ft. line.
Two roads cross the township from Kirkham to Lytham and Blackpool, and there are cross-roads uniting the different hamlets, one of them going north to Weeton. The railway from Preston to Blackpool crosses the northern end of the township, and that from Preston to Lytham runs along near the southwestern border, having two stations called Wrea Green and Moss Side.
The soil is clayey; about a third of the land is arable, the rest being pasture.
There was formerly a stone cross in Westby. (fn. 3)
The township is governed by a parish council.
In 1066 WESTBY and PLUMPTON, each assessed as two plough-lands, formed part of Earl Tostig's Preston lordship. (fn. 6) Later they are found to be held of the king in thegnage as part of the estate of the lords of Clifton. (fn. 7) In 1372 Robert de Clifton and his men were charged with having seized one William Garlick at Little Singleton, carried him off to Westby and there imprisoned him for a fortnight, carrying off also his corn and other goods. In defence it was pleaded that Garlick was a villein as of Clifton's manor of Westby and had absconded. (fn. 8) Except for about a century—from 1512 onward—the manors, usually regarded as one, viz. Westby-with-Field Plumpton, have descended like Clifton, in the account of which will be found also the story of the exceptional period referred to. During that time Westby was the residence of the Clifton family.
In the 14th century Great Plumpton appears to have been held by a junior branch of the Clifton family, using Plumpton as a surname. (fn. 9) A 'manor' of Field Plumpton was held by Thomas Lathom in 1370. (fn. 10) The Singleton family had a part of Plumpton, (fn. 11) and one or two other estates occur in the inquisitions. (fn. 12)
'The Cliftons maintained a priest at Westby throughout the days of persecution. If he was not at all times resident in the hall, owing to the surveillance of the pursuivants, he was not far distant; and perhaps sometimes there was more than one priest attending to the wants of the district.' (fn. 15) About 1700 James Barrow, a Jesuit, had charge. In 1716, after the defeat of the Jacobites at Preston, he was convicted of recusancy and declared an outlaw. He escaped capture. (fn. 16) The Jesuits remained in charge till 1791, and were succeeded by Benedictines and then by the secular clergy. A chapel was built at the west end of the hall in 1741, but closed by Thomas Clifton, who had become a Protestant, in 1845. The congregation was then joined to Kirkham until in 1860 the present church of St. Anne was opened. (fn. 17)