A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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This parish, from which Bispham has been detached, has an area of 16,691½ acres, including 1,523½ acres of tidal water, and its population in 1901 numbered 27,987. The country is in general level, with gentle undulations. The town of Poulton was formerly a place of importance in the district, being called the 'metropolis of the Fylde' in 1837, (fn. 1) but the formation of Fleetwood at the mouth of the Wyre, and, still more, the growth of Blackpool, have left it far behind. In former times the estuary of the Wyre was 'proverbial for the safety of its navigation,' (fn. 2) and Poulton was the port on it.
The history of the parish has been that of a quiet agricultural community. There are slight traces of Roman occupation. (fn. 3) Before the Reformation a large portion of the land was held by religious houses, represented by the bailiffs at their granges, and the resident gentry were little more than yeomen, cultivating their estates and apparently living in peace with each other. The destruction of the monasteries made little practical change, though it introduced an important resident family—that of Fleetwood of Rossall—but the religious revolution found a number of victims, great and small. One or two here, as in other parishes of the Fylde, suffered death for their work as missionary priests, and the most powerful opponent of the Elizabethan establishment of religion was a native of the parish—Cardinal Allen. The Civil War and the Revolution do not seem to have disturbed this parish in any noteworthy manner. One of the minor gentry, Thomas Singleton of Staining, lost his life in 1643 in the cause of Charles I. The school at Rossall, though of recent origin, provides a distinctive feature.
To the tax called the county lay of 1624 the various townships contributed as follows when the hundred paid £100: Poulton, £2 10s. 6½d.; Carleton, £1 16s. 1½d.; Thornton, £2 0s. 5¾d.; Hardhorn-with-Newton, £2 10s. 2¼d.; and Marton, £2 0s. 3¼d.; in all, £10 17s. 7¼d. (fn. 4) The older fifteenth shows much the same relative values. (fn. 5)
With the exception of Fleetwood the district remains almost entirely agricultural. The land is now occupied very largely as pasture, as may be seen by the following table (fn. 6):—
|Arable land ac.||Permanent grass ac.||Woods and plantations ac.|
A village called Singleton Thorp, near Rossall Grange, is said to have been destroyed in 1555 by an irruption of the sea. (fn. 7)
One Robert Hey, 'a wise man, a witch or charmer,' was presented by the vicar in 1611 for the Bishop of Chester's censure for telling fortunes and the like. He was known as 'the wise man of the Fylde,' but appeared to disclaim the title, and as the vicar did not press his accusation and the churchwardens averred that he was 'an honest man, a good churchman' and a communicant, he was merely ordered to appear in Poulton Church on Sunday during service and declare his sorrow for giving offence, renouncing publicly the title of 'wise man of the Fylde.' (fn. 8)
The protestation of 1641–2 was signed by Peter White the minister and ninety-seven inhabitants. (fn. 9)
In 1643 a large Spanish ship laden with arms for the Low Countries appeared in the Wyre, having been driven out of its course, and created great excitement by firing guns as signals. The Parliamentarians first seized it, but the Earl of Derby having heard visited the place, took possession, and ordered the ship to be burnt, allowing the crew to go free. A Parliamentary major who also went to see the vessel was not able to save it; his force being small, he had to avoid the earl. (fn. 10)
Several ancient customs lingered in the Fylde till recent times, such as the bonfires on All Hallows' Eve, known locally as 'Teanley night.' A gala day marked the close of marl-getting. Onion seed had to be sown on St. Gregory's Day. A small stone through which a hole had been bored was tied to the stable key to protect the horses from witchcraft. 'Ignaging' was a dance performed by the village lads at Easter. (fn. 11)
John Hull, M.D., a botanist of some note, was born at Poulton in 1761. He practised as a physician at Manchester and died in 1843. (fn. 12) George Long, a classical scholar, was born at Poulton in 1800; he became Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, edited the Penny Cyclopaedia, 1833–46, and afterwards established the Bibliotheca Classica. He died in 1879. (fn. 13)
The church of ST. CHAD stands on an elevated site in the centre of the town of Poulton at the north end of the market-place, and consists of an apsidal chancel 20 ft. by 17 ft. 6 in., nave 93 ft. 6 in. by 36 ft. and west tower 12 ft. square, all these measurements being internal. The site is an ancient one, but all trace of the original church has vanished, the oldest part of the present building being the tower, which is said to have been erected in the reign of Charles I. The nave dates from 1752–3 and the apse from 1868.
The old structure, (fn. 14) which was pulleddown in 1751, is described as being built of red sandstone with double-gabled roof supported down the middle by four octagonal pillars and semicircular arches and lit by round-headed windows. It appears to have been originally, like Bispham, a narrow, aisleless building with small chancel, enlarged at a later date by the addition on the north side of an aisle which perhaps doubled its width. The descriptions left of the building do not materially assist in determining the date of its erection. The tower, which stood at the west end of the original nave, was retained when the church was pulled down, and, the walls of the new building being erected on the old foundations, is therefore at the south-west corner of the present church. A stone with the date 1622 and the name of Peter White, vicar, and another with the initials of six churchwardens and the date 1638, apparently indicate some rebuilding or alterations in these years. (fn. 15) In 1883 the building underwent extensive repairs, and a further renovation and decoration took place in 1908.
The apse is built in a modern Norman style with three groups of double round-headed windows, and forms the sanctuary, the chancel arrangement being carried into the nave for a distance of 19 ft. The chancel arch is of 1868 date and is semicircular in form. The nave is a fairly good example of 18thcentury work, with round-headed two-light windows and drafted quoins at the angles. On the south side are two good classic doorways with Tuscan pilasters carrying entablature and pediment, above which the wall is pierced by elliptical windows. The doorway on the north side has a plain moulded architrave. The roof, which is of one wide span and covered with slate and with an external stone cornice, is divided inside into nine bays by eight plain principals plastered between. On the south-east corner is the vault of the Fleetwood family, approached from the outside by a door within a small stone porch of good classic design with moulded architrave and pedimented head carried on consoles. Over the door is the inscription, now somewhat defaced, 'Insignia Rici Fleetwood an hujus eccliae patronis, Anno Dni 1699.' (fn. 16) The spout heads on each side of the building are of handsome design with the date 1753, the arms of Fleetwood-Hesketh, and the Hesketh double-headed eagle.
The tower is of gritstone and very plain in design, with diagonal buttresses of seven stages and a vice in the south-east corner. It finishes with an embattled parapet and angle pinnacles of Renaissance type, and the belfry windows are of two plain, round-headed lights with slate louvres, but without hood mould or any ornament, the whole having the appearance of very late work and giving some credibility to the local tradition of its being of 17th-century date. The west side is quite plain, without door or window, but the masonry in the lower part appears to have been rebuilt in a way suggesting a former window. There is a clock on the south side to the market-place, and also a small round-headed doorway, apparently an 18th-century insertion, which is the only means of access to the tower, the arch having presumably been built up when the nave was erected. The interior of the tower was renovated in 1908.
The nave has galleries on the north, south and west sides supported by small stone classic columns and approached by a staircase in the north-west corner. The north and south galleries, which stop about 20 ft. from the cast end of the nave, retain their original square pews, but the west gallery, along with the nave, has been reseated with modern benches and all the fittings are of modern date. Over the vault in the south-east corner were originally the Fleetwood pews, but the whole of the east end of the 18th-century structure is now thrown into the quire, the organ being placed on the north side. The baptistery, however, which occupies the southwest corner, is formed by a carved oak 17th-century screen of good design, originally part of the pew belonging to Sir Peter Hesketh, the Hesketh garb being carved on two of the posts and the doubleheaded eagle and a griffon introduced into the decorative treatment. The low door, however, bears the crest of the Rigbys of Layton, together with the initials A.R. and the date 1636, and belongs to a pew of that family's. In the baptistery are the two dated stones already mentioned, and there is also an oak cupboard with the date 1730 and the names of the churchwardens. On the south wall at the east end are preserved four sides of an octagonal oak Jacobean pulpit discovered in 1877 encased in a later pulpit supposed to have been erected in 1753. The sides are richly carved and divided into three panels of unequal size, the middle ones with the common semicircular arched ornament of the time, while along the top is carved crie alovd spare not lift up thy voyce lyke . . . (fn. 17) There are some brasses belonging to the older church, one to Ann wife of Richard Harrison, vicar (d. 1697), and others to Geoffrey Hornby (d. 1732) and Dorothy his daughter (d. 1740). A number of hatchments of the Fleetwood and Hesketh families are hung on the walls above the galleries, and there are monuments to Fleetwood Hesketh (d. 1769), Francis Hesketh (d. 1809), Bold Fleetwood Hesketh (d. 1819), and Edward Thomas Hesketh (d. 1820). (fn. 18)
There is a ring of six bells cast in 1741 by Abel Rudhall of Gloucester. The sixth was recast in 1865 and has the names of the vicar and wardens of that date. The whole were re-hung in 1908. (fn. 19)
The old plate (fn. 20) consists of a large paten of 1698–9 inscribed 'Poulton 1699'; a small visiting chalice 6 in. high and cover paten, the chalice inscribed 'Given for the use of the poor sick Communicants in the Parish of Poulton in the County of Lancaster' and the cover '1735,' both by R. Richardsun of Chester; and a flagon with the makers' mark B and W. There are also two modern chalices, two patens, and a flagon presented by the Rev. T. Clark in 1866.
The registers begin in 1591. The three earliest volumes, extending to 1677, have been printed. (fn. 21)
The churchyard, which is almost entirely inclosed by surrounding buildings, (fn. 22) is intersected by flagged paths and has an entrance at each of its four corners, that at the south-west leading from the market-place. It was at one time a 'filthy place almost surrounded by a ditch.' (fn. 23) On the south side is an octagonal stone sundial shaft without plate on two older circular steps.
The church of Poulton, with one plough-land and all appurtenances, was given by Roger of Poitou to the Abbey of Sees in 1094. (fn. 24) In spite of a confirmation, (fn. 25) Theobald Walter was able, a century later, to lay claim to the advowson, but in 1196 released his right to Poulton and Bispham on being allowed the advowson of Preston. (fn. 26) The Prior of Lancaster, as representing Sees, appears to have retained a moiety of the rectory (fn. 27) and given the other moiety to a clerk who would be responsible for the maintenance of divine worship. In 1247, however, it was agreed that on the next avoidance of the latter moiety the whole should be appropriated to Lancaster Priory, (fn. 28) a vicarage being ordained. The vicar was to receive 20 marks a year, being responsible for all ordinary dues, and was to be duly instituted by the archdeacon to the cure of souls. (fn. 29) Afterwards the vicar was paid out of the small tithes and oblations, but had a house provided for him. (fn. 30) In 1291, when the rectory was valued at 70 marks a year, the vicarage was estimated at 10 marks. (fn. 31) The destruction wrought by the Scots in 1322 seems to have been unusually great in this parish, for the value of the rectory was reduced by 70 per cent, in consequence of it, while that of the vicarage fell to 40s. (fn. 32) As in other cases, the rectory was, as part of Lancaster Priory endowment in 1432 transferred to Syon Abbey, (fn. 33) and was in 1535 valued at £62, (fn. 34) the vicarage being then worth £7 16s. 7d. clear. (fn. 35)
During the wars with France the advowson had several times been in the king's hands (fn. 36) owing to seizures of the temporalities of foreign houses, and on the suppression of Syon it was again taken by the Crown. It was in 1554 purchased by Thomas Fleetwood of Rossall, (fn. 37) and has descended to Mr. C. H. Fleetwood-Hesketh of North Meols.
The rectory became divided among several impropriators. (fn. 38) In 1650 the vicar had a house with 2 acres of land, the small tithes and tithe salt throughout the parish, which then included Bispham, but in some parts these dues were limited by prescription; the whole was worth about £55 a year. (fn. 39) About 1717 Poulton, without Bispham, was certified as worth only £28 18s. a year, but some additional endowments were given. (fn. 40) A terrier of 1755 has been preserved; it shows a total revenue of £67 2s. 6d. (fn. 41) At present the vicar's income is reported to be £260. (fn. 42)
|Instituted||Name||Presented by||Cause of Vacancy|
|c. 1160||Gamel (fn. 43)||—||—|
|c. 1200||Richard (fn. 44)||—||—|
|oc. 1246–7||Alexander de Stanford (fn. 45)||—||—|
|oc. 1294||Roger (fn. 46)||—||—|
|oc. 1325||John (fn. 47)||—||—|
|oc. 1332||William de Sellerdale (fn. 48)||—||—|
|1 Apr. 1338||William de Stalmine (fn. 49)||The king||—|
|2 July 1339||William de Preston (fn. 50)||"||exch. W. de Stalmine|
|7 Oct. 1349||John de Fishwick (fn. 51)||"||—|
|oc. 1356||William de Clayton (fn. 52)||—||—|
|oc. 1365–9||Ralph de Penwortham (fn. 53)||—||—|
|6 Sept. 1383||William de Southworth (fn. 54)||The king||—|
|23 Aug. 1403||William Tyndour (fn. 55)||"||—|
|21 May 1422||John Lytham (fn. 56)||"||d. W. Tyndour|
|7 June 1437||William Cronkshaw (fn. 57)||Syon Abbey||—|
|25 June 1442||Richard Brown (fn. 58)||"||d. W. Cronkshaw|
|18 June 1469||John Oxcliffe (fn. 59)||"||d. R. Brown|
|oc. 1500||Richard Singleton (fn. 60)||—||—|
|c. 1512–20||William Bretherton (fn. 61)||—||—|
|oc. 1530–5||Hugh Sneyd, B.D. (fn. 62)||—||—|
|oc. 1548–52||Robert Clerke (fn. 63)||—||—|
|20 Dec. 1552||Randle Woodward (fn. 64)||The king||—|
|oc. 1557||Richard Cropper (fn. 65)||—||—|
|6 Nov. 1565||William Wrightington (fn. 66)||John Fleetwood||d. R. Cropper|
|9 Sept. 1573||Richard Greenhall (fn. 67)||Bridget and William Fleetwood||d. W. Wrightington|
|11 Jan. 1582–3||Peter White (fn. 68)||Edward Fleetwood William Parson||—|
|16 Jan. 1644–5||Robert Freckleton (fn. 69)||John Browne||—|
|oc. 1650||Peter White (fn. 70)||—||—|
|oc. 1653||Thomas Rigby, M.A. (fn. 71)||—||—|
|1 Aug. 1662||George Shaw (fn. 72)||Bishop of Chester||—|
|6 Oct. 1674||Richard Harrison, B.A. (fn. 73)||Richard Fleetwood||d. G. Shaw|
|6 Aug. 1714||Timothy Hall, B.A. (fn. 74)||Edward Fleetwood||d. R. Harrison|
|4 July 1726||Robert Loxham, M.A. (fn. 75)||"||d. T. Hall|
|28 Nov. 1770||Thomas Turner, B.A. (fn. 76)||Frances Hesketh||d. R. Loxham|
|28 Dec. 1810||Nathaniel Hinde, M.A. (fn. 77)||Bold Fleetwood Hesketh||d. T. Turner|
|13 July 1828||Charles Hesketh, M.A. (fn. 78)||Peter Hesketh||res. N. Hinde|
|6 Oct. 1835||John Hull, M.A. (fn. 79)||Rev. C. Hesketh||res. C. Hesketh|
|21 June 1864||Thomas Clark, M.A. (fn. 80)||"||res. J. Hull|
|Mar. 1869||William Richardson, M.A. (fn. 81)||"||d. T. Clark|
|10 June 1889||Thomas Hill Guest, M.A. (fn. 82)||Mrs. Hesketh||d. W. Richardson|
|7 Apr. 1907||John Young, M.A. (fn. 83)||C. H. Fleetwood-Hesketh||res. T. H. Guest|
The list of clergy contains nothing of note except the long incumbency of Peter White, nearly seventy years except for a very brief interval. Before the Reformation there was no endowed chantry, (fn. 84) and those at Staining and Carleton, of which there is early mention, were probably not permanent. The Visitation List of 1548 shows four clergy in addition to the vicar; one of them would serve Bispham. (fn. 85) In 1554 there were the vicar and an assistant at Poulton and another at Bispham, but in 1562 the vicar and the curate at Bispham were the only clergy recorded. This probably continued to be the regular staff till recent times, the building of Marton Chapel, about 1750, leading the way to further changes.
A catalogue of the library at the parish church in 1720 is preserved at Chester. (fn. 86)
Schools were founded by James Baines in 1717 at Poulton, Thornton and Marton. That at Carleton originated from a bequest by Elizabeth Wilson in 1680. (fn. 87)
Official inquiries into the parish charities were made in 1824 and 1898. The report of the latter inquiry, published in 1899, contained a copy of the former report, and from it the following account is taken.
For the whole parish there is available the endowment given by the above-named James Baines in 1717, the earliest charity known to have been established in Poulton. He gave £800 to trustees, for the 'maintenance, use, and best advantage' of the poor not receiving help from the rates and for the apprenticing of poor children. Half the interest was to be given for both objects to the township of Poulton and half equally for apprenticing only among the other four townships. The distribution was to be made at Christmas. A farm was bought at Little Carleton, now known as Carleton House Farm. The net income is about £112, which is divided into eight parts, Poulton receiving four and the other townships one each. Very few apprentices are now bound, and in Poulton the £30 given in doles 'appears to be wasted' as to the greater part. Thus the capital is accumulating, but the charity is not so useful as it might be. The poor of this parish have an interest in the Foxton Dispensary at Blackpool.
For the township of Poulton Nicholas Nickson of Compley, by will of 1720, left £100 to the vicar and the poor. Land called Durham's Croft was purchased for £120, the additional £20 coming from the rates. The rent was divided thus: one-sixth to the rates, the remainder equally between the vicar and the poor. The poor's portion was given in small doles in 1824. The vicar of Poulton is in possession of the land, and gives £4. 1s. 8d. a year to the overseers as the portion due to the poor rate and to the poor. Doles of 2s. are given to twenty-eight poor persons.
Ellen Whitehead of Poulton (1727) left money or land for the poor of Hardhorn-with-Newton. In 1824 there were three cottages and a weaving shed (built in 1817) on the land. The rents were distributed in doles, but irregularly. The gross income is now £12 11s. 8d., of which about £8 is distributed to the poor in gifts of 5s. or 5s. 6d. each.
For Marton there are several charities, over £31 being distributed in food and clothing. Edward Whiteside, a sailor, of Little Marton, in 1721 left his plot of land for cloth for the poor; it consists of 5 acres in Poulton called the Long Marsh, and is let for £20. About £18 is available for a distribution of cloth made in November to thirty or more persons. William Whiteside in 1742 gave £100 for clothing. This is represented by rent-charges on Marton Green and Webster's farms. (fn. 88) John Hodgson in 1761 left land to be sold for endowing a dole of meal for Great Marton; it seems to have produced £100, and is represented by rent-charges of £2 10s. each on Top o' the Town and Whittam farms. The two charities are combined in working; the doles of meal have ceased, and the income of £8 6s. 8d. is used for doles of calico to a large number of persons in Great Marton. Edward Jolly in 1784 gave £60 for a weekly dole of bread to be distributed at the chapel on Sunday mornings to such poor persons as might have attended service. Should the chapel become a dissenting meeting-house the destination of the gift was to be changed. The income is £1 15s. 8d., and nine penny rolls are given each Sunday after service.
The Thornton charities are recent. Elizabeth Goulding of Fleetwood left the residue of her estate for the benefit of poor widows living at Fleetwood; the capital is represented by £151 11s. 1d. consols, and there is an annual income of £4 3s. 4d. distributed according to the founder's wish. Elizabeth Bond of the same town in 1880 left securities, now bringing in about £5 10s. a year, for the benefit of the poor, to be distributed by the vicar of Fleetwood at his discretion.