A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Eglestun, Dom. Bk.; Eccliston, 1212.
Lairbrec, 1212; Leyrebrec, 1242; Leirbreck, 1329.
The component parts of the township are divided by Thistleton Brook flowing north-east to join the Wyre, which river is here the northern boundary of township and parish. Little Eccleston, with an acreage of 445½, lies to the east of the brook, thus adjoining Great Eccleston in St. Michael's; while Larbreck, or Larbrick, containing 835 acres, lies to the west. The total area is 1,280½ acres. (fn. 1) There was a population of 188 in 1901. The surface is comparatively level, rising a little on each side of the brook to over 80 ft. above sea level on the east and over 60 ft. on the west, thence falling again to the north and further west.
The principal road is one going west and southwest from Great Eccleston through Larbreck hamlet to Little Singleton; from it other roads lead south to Little Eccleston hamlet, joining there and going on to Elswick, while another, in the north-east corner of the township, goes north, crossing the Wyre by Cartford Bridge.
Dr. Leigh about 1700 wrote: 'The most remarkable cold spring in these parts is that at Larbreck. . . . Upon immersing your hand into it the part immediately grows extremely red and you will then perceive a most violent pain. Fishes of several sorts I have seen put into this spring, which make but one effort and instantly expire. It is an Acidula or Chalybeate Water.' (fn. 2)
The soil is clayey; wheat, oats, beans and potatoes are grown, and there is much pasture land.
In 1066 the two Ecclestons, assessed as two and four plough-lands, were held by Earl Tostig. (fn. 3) Afterwards five ploughlands there are found in the fee of the barons of Kendal (fn. 4); they were later still members of the lordship of Nether Wyresdale. (fn. 5) These five plough-lands, of which two were in Great Eccleston in the adjacent parish of St. Michael's, had been granted in marriage by William de Lancaster, and in 1212 were held by Richard de Molyneux of Sefton, William Blundell of Ince, Ralph de Eccleston, Walter son of Swain and Geoffrey. (fn. 6) The tenure was later described as knight's service. (fn. 7)
From the subsequent history it is clear that Molyneux and Blundell held LARBRECK equally, though the former was principal. (fn. 8) It was rated as a ploughland and a half, and the Blundell part, (fn. 9) having been granted to Norreys (of Sutton), (fn. 10) descended regularly till the 16th century, when the tenants were Molyneux (fn. 11) and Daniell of Daresbury. (fn. 12) The manor was purchased in 1565 by William Burrow or Burgh, (fn. 13) who died in 1601 holding the manor of the queen by suit at the court of Goberthwaite and a rent of 12d. yearly. (fn. 14) Richard Burgh, his son and heir, then aged thirty-nine, died at Larbreck in 1639 holding the manor as before and leaving his brother William as heir. (fn. 15) Richard had made a settlement in 1637, with remainders to Alice his wife, William his brother and Dorcas his sister for life, and then to his nephews Peter and John Woodhouse, sons of his sister Sarah still living in 1640, when William Burgh was found to be a lunatic. (fn. 16)
William Woodhouse, (fn. 17) another son of Sarah, succeeded, and on his death in 1661 was followed by his daughter Alice, who married Edward Shuttleworth. They had two daughters—Dorothy, who married Dr. Charles Leigh of Singleton Grange, (fn. 18) and Fleetwood, who married Richard Longworth of St. Michael's. Eventually the moiety of the former was acquired by Richard Harrison of Bankfield in Singleton in 1747; while the other moiety by various sales passed to the Pedders of Preston, (fn. 19) and was purchased from—Pedder of Lancaster in 1858 by Richard Whiteside, father of Mr. George Whiteside, the present owner. (fn. 20) No manor is now recognized.
But little is known of the minor tenants of Larbreck, though at one time there was a family so surnamed. (fn. 21) Some other owners appear in the inquisitions. (fn. 22) Cockersand Abbey had land there, adjoining Singleton Pool, (fn. 23) which was afterwards owned by the France family. (fn. 24)
The descent of LITTLE ECCLESTON is obscure. The local family soon disappears, (fn. 25) and in 1346 the plough-land and a half there were held by Henry de Bickerstath of the lord of Wyresdale. (fn. 26) At other times only 6 oxgangs of land are ascribed to them, (fn. 27) and in the 16th century their heirs were stated to hold of Boteler of Rawcliffe. (fn. 28) In the Boteler inquisitions the tenure of their land in Little Eccleston is not recorded; they appear to have been succeeded in the 18th century by the France family. (fn. 29) The 'manor' does not appear in the records, but a few minor owners are named. (fn. 30)
Richard Burgh of Larbreck paid £25—the highest fine in the parish—and John France of Little Eccleston £10, on refusing knighthood in 1631. (fn. 31) A few 'Papists' registered estates in the township in 1717. (fn. 32)