A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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This is the smallest township in the parish, having an area of 1,036½ acres (fn. 1); the population in 1901 was 227. The eastern half is occupied by comparatively high land, 50 ft. above sea level; the west is low and flat.
In 1066 Earl Tostig held, as member of his Preston fee, ELSWICK, assessed as three plough-lands. (fn. 2) Afterwards it was included in the lordship or barony of Penwortham, and in part at least was given by Richard Bussel to Richard Fitton. (fn. 3) This gift was probably surrendered, there being no indication that the heirs of the Fittons had any share in Elswick. Before 1212 it had been given to the lord of Freckleton to be held by knight's service. (fn. 4) It was then assessed as two plough-lands, of which a fourth part was in 1242 held in demesne, while a plough-land was held by Warine de Whittingham and the other half plough-land by Alan de Singleton. (fn. 5) These subdivisions were increased by later grants, and in 1322 the holders were Ralph de Freckleton, 4 oxgangs of land; Adam son of William Banastre, 3 oxgangs; Thomas de Bradkirk, ½ oxgang; Orm Travers, 5 oxgangs; and William son of Ellen ¼ oxgang, rendering the service due where eight plough-lands make one knight's fee. (fn. 6)
The Freckleton demesne descended like the chief manor (fn. 7) to Huddleston and the Earls of Derby, whose estate was augmented by a share of the Singleton portion. (fn. 8) In 1603 the manor of Elswick was sold with other estates to a number of purchasers and probably subdivided. (fn. 9) The demesne lands were afterwards the property of the Leckonbys of Great Eccleston, whose estates were dispersed in 1762, this portion being purchased by Edward Rishton; from him it descended by marriage to Alderman King of Manchester (1891). (fn. 10)
Another part of the Freckleton share seems to have been held in the 15th century by Dicconson, who sold to Clifton. (fn. 11) A Molyneux family had some lordship, (fn. 12) Swarbrick, (fn. 13) Ballard (fn. 14) and Turner (fn. 15) all holding of William Molyneux in the time of James I. Other lands were held of the Crown (fn. 16) and of Butler of Rawcliffe. (fn. 17)
The Whittingham moiety of the manor became subdivided. (fn. 18) Bradkirk (fn. 19)—to whom in part succeeded Goosnargh (fn. 20)—and Travers (fn. 21) seem to have been the chief participants in 1322, but others who took the surname of Elswick (fn. 22) had shares. William de Elswick gave his lands to the Singletons in return for maintenance. (fn. 23)
Whalley (fn. 24) and Cockersand (fn. 25) Abbeys and the Priory of St. John of Jerusalem had lands in Elswick, (fn. 26) represented later probably by the estates of Fleetwood, (fn. 27) followed by Hulton, (fn. 28) Eccleston (fn. 29) and Shireburne. (fn. 30) Other of the neighbouring landowners also had lands in this township.
An apportionment of the pasture was made in 1305, when Thomas Travers, Dame Joan Banastre, Walter de Goosnargh and Roger son of Adam de Elswick were lords. By it the holder of an oxgang of land was allowed to send four oxen, four cows, four young beasts, two horses or mares, ten sheep, and four geese with one gander at the close time. There was also a horse-mill in the township, and for its maintenance five horses or mares might be sent to the common pasture. (fn. 31)
Apart from the Leckonby family the sequestrations by the Commonwealth authorities do not seem to have affected this township. In 1717 several 'Papists' registered estates. (fn. 32)
During the Commonwealth period the inhabitants built a chapel on the waste or Leys, and had an allowance of £50 a year from the Committee of Plundered Ministers. (fn. 33) After the Restoration this stipend would cease, and it is said that the Prayer Book services were occasionally used in it (fn. 34); but the vicars of St. Michael's, perhaps themselves indifferent or finding no support from the people and landowners, do not seem to have made any serious attempt to gain it. It was therefore used as a school until the brief indulgence of 1672, when it was licensed for Congregationalists. (fn. 35) From before the Revolution (fn. 36) it has been regularly used by this denomination, and from it many other churches have sprung. It was rebuilt in 1753, and succeeded by the present church in 1873–4.