A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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THORNLEY WITH WHEATLEY
This township stretches from south-west to northeast for over 4 miles along the northern slope of Longridge Fell, the highest point within the township being about 1,100 ft. The Loud forms the north-west boundary; it falls into the Hodder just outside the limits. Wheatley, which anciently was the principal member of the township, is now considered to be no more than a small area of 55½ acres, somewhat south of the centre. The whole township measures 3,220½ acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 had a population of 313.
The principal road is that from Longridge eastward through the length of the township, which it enters about half a mile north of Longridge railway station. Passing Cockleach it descends till it comes to the Loud, and then for a mile and a half runs near this stream, passing between Wheatley on the south and Lee House on the north. At Higher Arbour it divides, part going north-west, crossing the Loud (fn. 2) into Chipping, and part ascending eastward past Thornley Hall and Bradley Hall, the latter being near the boundary of Chaigley. From Thornley Hall a branch goes north to cross the Hodder.
Included in the grant of Chippingdale in 1102 THORN LEY descended like Clitheroe. (fn. 3) From later records it seems that the Osbaldeston family were lords of the place. (fn. 4) The immediate lordship was held by a family using the local name, (fn. 5) who were about the beginning of the 14th century succeeded by the family of Knoll or Knolls (fn. 6); as early as 1302 John de Knoll held of the Earl of Lincoln the eighth part of a knight's fee in Thornley and Wheatley. (fn. 7) John shortly afterwards acquired two messuages, 2 oxgangs of land, &c, in Thornley, which had been granted by Thomas son of Hugh le Surreys to John son of Jordan de Mitton. (fn. 8) In 1319 Thomas son (and heir) of John de Knoll called upon Thomas de Osbaldeston as mesne lord to acquit him of the service in respect of a tenement in Wheatley claimed by the Earl of Lancaster; (fn. 9) and Osbaldeston claimed the custody of the manors of Wheatley and Thornley, Thomas de Knoll being a minor, because John his father had held by knight's service. (fn. 10)
Thomas de Knoll died between 1350 (fn. 11) and 1354, his widow Margaret and son Richard having the lordship in the latter year. (fn. 12) Richard and his brother Adam were defendants in 1358 against a claim by John Maudson of Core. (fn. 13) From later deeds it appears that Adam ultimately inherited; he had three sons — Richard, John and Adam. (fn. 14) Richard repudiated his wife and married another, but on trial this was decreed unlawful and he had to return to his first spouse. She bore him two sons, Miles and Gerard. (fn. 15) The former had a daughter Margaret, who married John Singleton, (fn. 16) and the latter had a son Richard, whose son John Knoll was the heir male, when, about 1500, Thomas first Earl of Derby purchased the manor of Thornley. (fn. 17) From the rental of 1523–4 it appears that a rent of 4s. 4d. was due to the king and 12d. to the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem. (fn. 18)
The manor descended like Knowsley until 1600, when William the sixth earl sold it to Baptist Hicks of London, (fn. 19) who in turn sold it to Michael Doughty of Lathom, (fn. 20) one of the clerks of the kitchen there. (fn. 21) Henry Doughty and his son William took part against the Parliament in the Civil War, and the estate was sequestered and afterwards sold. (fn. 22) As in other cases, part or the whole was recovered for the family. John Doughty, the eldest son, who died in or before 1647, (fn. 23) left two daughters, Mary and Susan. (fn. 24) The former married Thomas Patten of Preston, who died in 1697, leaving as heir his daughter Elizabeth wife of Sir Thomas Stanley of Bickerstaffe. (fn. 25) By this marriage the manor has descended to the present Earl of Derby in the same way as Bickerstaffe. (fn. 26) Manor courts are still held once a year. (fn. 27)
THORNLEY HALL, sometimes known as Patten Hall, stands at the foot of Jeffrey Hill on the north side of Longridge Fell, and is a plain two-story house very much modernized, but retaining some ancient features. Over the doorway is the inscription ' B. O. Michael Dovghtie 1605,' and in the dining-room over the mantelpiece is a small cupboard on which are the initials of Elizabeth and Mary Patten and the date 1709. All the windows are modern sashes and the house has little architectural interest, but the front lay-out is effective with balled gate piers, low fence wall and a tall clipped yew tree close up to the building rising to the level of the eaves.
WHEATLEY was in 1066 the important part of the township, being named in Domesday Book as assessed at one plough-land. (fn. 28) In later times it is sometimes named before Thornley and sometimes after it, as at present. Occasionally Wheatley appears to have been regarded as a separate manor. (fn. 29)
BRADLEY was held by the Hospitallers, (fn. 30) the tenants being a family assuming that name, (fn. 31) who had lands also in Chaigley and neighbouring townships. A pedigree was recorded in 1567. (fn. 32) Thomas Bradley died in 1564. holding the capital messuage called Bradley Hall with 60 acres of land, &c, in Thornley of the queen as of the late priory of St. John of Jerusalem in England by a rent of 4s. (fn. 33) John, his son and heir, then thirtysix years of age, died in 1597, leaving three daughters as coheirs, viz. Ellen wife of John Osbaldeston, Elizabeth widow of Thomas Talbot and Jane wife of Francis Ducket, aged respectively forty, thirty and twenty-eight years. (fn. 34) It descended to the heirs of Alexander Osbaldeston (1660), (fn. 35) and from them was purchased in 1764. by the Earl of Derby. (fn. 36)
Apart from these estates there is but little record of the landowners of former times. As in Chipping, the Leylands of Morleys and their successors had lands in Thornley, Wheatley and Studley, held of the Earl of Derby in socage. (fn. 39) The Wawne family held their land in Wheatley of the Crown as of the dissolved priory of St. John of Jerusalem by a rent of 12d (fn. 40); and Richard Shireburne of Stonyhurst in acquiring the Hospitallers' manors and lands in Stidd and Chipping acquired therewith rents and lands in Thornley, Wheatley, Studley and Cockleach. (fn. 41) John Rodes, another landowner, also held of the Hospitallers. (fn. 42)
One or two other names occur. (fn. 43) John Bradley and John Rodes contributed to the subsidy of 1524 in respect of their lands. (fn. 44) The widows of John Bradley and William Rodes so contributed in 1543 (fn. 45) and John Rodes in 1597, in which year Thomas Wawne was in ward to the queen. (fn. 46) John Rodes and William Wawne paid for their lands in 1626, and many others paid as non-communicants. (fn. 47) Thomas Bourne paid £10 on refusing knighthood in 1631. (fn. 48)
James Bradley (fn. 49) and Ellen Wilkinson, (fn. 50) recusants, had two-thirds of their estates sequestered during the Commonwealth. Thomas Eccles of Thornley, as a 'Papist,' registered his estate in 1717, as also did Stephen Dilworth. (fn. 51) The land tax return of 1787 shows that the following were chief landowners: Lord Derby, Robert Rhodes and Roger Kenyon. (fn. 52)
Archbishop Sancroft about 1685 purchased farms in Thornley called New House and West House, and gave them to augment the stipends of the vicar of Blackburn and the curates of the chapels of ease. (fn. 53)
A decree concerning the wastes of Thornley, Wheatley and Studley was made in the time of James I. (fn. 54)
The only place of worship is St. William's Roman Catholic church, Lee House, founded by the abovenamed Thomas Eccles in 1738. (fn. 55) He gave it to the English Franciscans, and on their approaching extinction in 1826 the secular clergy took charge for a time; but owing to a dispute between the Rev. Francis Trappes and the vicar apostolic the chapel was closed from 1841 to 1859. (fn. 56) Since then it has been served by the English Benedictines. (fn. 57) In the churchyard is the base of an old cross removed from the road between Chipping and Longridge. (fn. 58)