A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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This composite township stretches along the coast for about 3 miles, and has an area of 1,624 acres, (fn. 1) including 1,119½ acres in Bispham and 504½ in Norbreck. The church lies close to the eastern boundary, about the centre of the township, with the village of Bispham a little to the south of it. A small detached part of Bispham lay at the south end of Layton; it was called Bispham Hawes, and was added to Layton in 1883. (fn. 2) Of the three hamlets, Little Bispham is inland to the north of the church, (fn. 3) with Norbreck to the west of it on the coast; Great Bispham occupies the southern part of the township. Angersholme is a farm in Norbreck. The population of the present township was 985 in 1901.
The coast-line is protected by hillocks about 50 ft. high, the inland portion being much lower. The principal road is that from Blackpool to Cleveleys, passing inland through the village and by the church. There is a road from the village to the shore, also one from Little Bispham to Norbreck. Formerly the principal road seems to have gone north along the coast, but it was undermined or washed away by the sea. (fn. 4) At present the electric tramway from Blackpool to Fleetwood passes along near the shore.
Most of the dwellers in Great and Little Bispham seem to have signed the Protestation of 1641. (fn. 5)
Earl Tostig in 1066 held Bispham and Layton as parts of his lordship of Preston or Amounderness. The former manor was assessed as eight plough-lands. (fn. 8) Afterwards it was divided; one moiety was given to the abbey of Shrewsbury and the other to the lord of Warrington.
The former moiety, LITTLE BISPHAM and NORBRECK, was given to the monks by Roger of Poitou. (fn. 9) Between 1129 and 1133 Henry I ordered Stephen Count of Mortain to allow them to hold the moiety of Bispham free and quit of all customs, pleas and suits of the hundred court, (fn. 10) and a few years later David, King of Scots, confirmed the moiety, to be held as freely as in the time of any of his predecessors. (fn. 11) About 1270 the Abbot and convent of Shrewsbury granted their vills of Norbreck and Little Bispham to the Abbot and convent of Dieulacres, who already held the adjacent Rossall, in fee farm at a rent of 8 marks. (fn. 12) It thus became merged in the Rossall estate, and after the Dissolution was with it granted in 1553 to Thomas Fleetwood, (fn. 13) and descended in the same way. A manor of Chornet named in the inquisition after his death as part of the Rossall estate does not occur again. (fn. 14)
The other moiety, GREAT BISPHAM, was a member of the lordship of Layton and descended with it. (fn. 15) It was purchased in 1539 by John Browne and sold by him in 1550 to Thomas Fleetwood, (fn. 16) who, as just stated, soon afterwards purchased the rest of Bispham as appurtenant to Rossall.
Of the local families there is little on record. By a grant which may be dated about 1160 Robert Abbot of Shrewsbury restored to William son of the daughter of Aschetil, as to the right heir, one ploughland in Bispham which the said Aschetil had held in the time of Henry I at a rent of 4s. (fn. 17) As this deed has been preserved among the Shireburne muniments, the 5 oxgangs of land purchased by Walter de Shireburne from Roger son of Roger Noel and Maud his wife in 1310 (fn. 18) were probably part of the ploughland. The free rent of 2s. 6d. subsequently paid agrees with this supposition. (fn. 19)
Bispham gave a surname to residents. In the time of Henry III Richard de Bispham granted 2 oxgangs of land held of the Abbot of Shrewsbury to a nephew Adam, son of his brother Thomas, at a rent of 2d. in addition to the 12d. which was payable to the abbot. (fn. 20) In 1411–12 it was found that a former Abbot of Dieulacres had purchased a messuage and 10 acres in Bispham from Amery de Bispham without obtaining the royal licence. (fn. 21)
Norbreck (fn. 22) also provided a surname for residents, (fn. 23) but nothing definite is known of them. The Abbot of Shrewsbury and William de Bispham had some disputes in 1194 respecting the succession to 6 oxgangs of land in Norbreck. (fn. 24) In 1241 Richard de Dutton acquired 3 oxgangs of land in 'Norhicbiec'—supposed to be Norbreck—from Richard de Freckleton. (fn. 25) To the Abbot of Dieulacres were granted several parcels of land, (fn. 26) and he was in 1362 found to have acquired a messuage and 2 oxgangs of land in Norbreck from John de Leckhampton. (fn. 27) John Allen in 1490 claimed land, rent, &c., in Norbreck from Henry Pleasington, (fn. 28) and later the Allens were found to hold land there of the Fleetwoods of Rossall. (fn. 29) The same is true of other owners in that part of the township, (fn. 30) but in consequence of the alienations made by William Fleetwood of Layton lands in Great Bispham were usually said to be held of the king as of his duchy of Lancaster. (fn. 31)
In 1323 a complaint was made by William Boteler of the invasion of his turbary at Bispham by a number of the neighbouring landowners and tenants. These disputed the boundaries, stating that there were large moors and turbaries in the vills of Thornton, Carleton, Norbreck and Little Bispham, in which the plaintiff had no right, and when his men would have dug turves there Robert de Shireburne and the others prevented them. (fn. 32)