A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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This township has an area of 2,880 acres. (fn. 1) The surface is undulating, varying between 100 ft. and 450 ft. above sea level; the highest ground is in the north-east. The northern end of the township, including the district called Greaves, has become a populous suburb of Lancaster; the greater part remains agricultural, with some large residences and patches of woodland here and there. The population in 1901 was 1,847, mostly within the borough of Lancaster.
The principal road is the main road south from Lancaster to Preston; after passing through Greaves, with the Royal Albert Institution for Imbeciles standing out on the west, the village of Scotforth is reached, other roads here branching off in several directions. Further south Bailrigg, Big Forth and Hazelrigg lie to the east and Burrow to the west. The road to Cockerham goes through the north-west corner of the township, passing the above-named institution. On the other side a road goes from the barracks south-east, past the mill and Hala Carr and over the rising ground (350 ft.) down to a ford over the Conder on the way to Wyresdale. Still further east from high land of Lancaster Moor another road goes to Abbeystead and the upper part of Wyresdale, descending a little and then rising steadily till 440 ft. is attained, then falling somewhat quickly into the Conder valley. To the south-west of this road, about a mile above the river, is Langthwaite. The mill above-named is placed on a brook which flows southwest and south through the central depression and at last turns west towards the Lune, passing through Ashton. The London and North-Western Company's main line north runs through the township, and the Preston and Lancaster Canal also passes through it at the north-west corner, the steep banks on each side being here clothed with trees and affording a picturesque walk. Broken back Bridge, over the canal, affords the photographer a good subject. The Lancaster electric tramcars run out as far as Scotforth village.
In 1900 the urban portion adjoining Lancaster was taken into the borough; the remainder, known as Scotforth Rural, is governed by a parish council. The council controls the small cemetery which was formed in 1890.
The agricultural land is chiefly used as meadow and pasture. The soil is loam and clay, with gravel and clay underlying. A brown earthenware pottery existed by the ford over the brook to the east of the village from 1845 to 1869. (fn. 2)
The Royal Albert Institution was founded in 1868 as a charity for the care and training of idiots and imbeciles of the northern counties, and has been frequently enlarged since, now containing about 600 patients. The estate occupies a considerable area between the railway line and the Cockerham road.
John Taylor, D.D., a Nonconformist divine and Hebraist of note, was born at Scotforth in 1694, being son of a Lancaster timber merchant. He became one of the tutors in the Warrington Academy, and dying in 1761 was buried at Chowbent. (fn. 3)
Before the Conquest SCOTFORTH was, with Ellel and Ashton, held by Cliber, Machern and Gillemichael, and was assessed as two plough-lands. (fn. 4) Afterwards it came into the hands of Count Roger of Poitou, and later was granted to the Lancaster family. (fn. 5) The lordship descended in much the same way as Ashton, being parted among the heirs of Lancaster, (fn. 6) and held later by Gentyl, (fn. 7) Washington, (fn. 8) Lawrence (fn. 9) and Gerard. (fn. 10) No manor seems to be claimed at present. William de Lancaster I, who died about 1170, granted two plough-lands (fn. 11) in Scotforth to Hugh le Norreys or Norman, to be held by knight's service. (fn. 12) Hugh had a daughter Amice, who by her husband Ailward de Scotforth had a son and heir Roger, a benefactor of Lancaster Priory and Cockersand Abbey. (fn. 13) Hugh Norman or his daughter appears to have granted a part of the manor to Hugh de Letwell (Littlewell), William de Meluer and Anabil his wife and others. Parts of these alienations were repurchased by the chief lord, Gilbert Fitz Reinfred and Hawise his wife, who acquired them in 1204. These may have formed the third part of the manor named in 1319. The local surname appears later, (fn. 14) but the descent cannot be traced, and the land seems to have become divided among a number of small resident holders and the neighbouring lords. (fn. 15)
BAILRIGG, one of the hamlets, was sometimes called a manor. In part at least it belonged to Cockersand Abbey. It gave a surname to a local family, (fn. 16) and came into the possession of John Gardiner, the benefactor of the grammar school at Lancaster. (fn. 17) In recent times it was acquired by Sir Thomas Storey, who died in 1898, and became the residence of his son, Mr. H. L. Storey. Burrow, once a separate vill, (fn. 18) Hazelrigg (fn. 19) and Hallatrice, at one time the capital messuage of the Stodagh family and their successors the Southworths, (fn. 20) are mentioned in the records and charters which have been preserved.
As already stated, Lancaster Priory and Cockersand Abbey had lands in Scotforth. (fn. 21)
Robert Caton of Scotforth in 1631 paid £10 as a composition on declining knighthood. (fn. 22)
In connexion with the Church of England St. Paul's was built in 1875–6; it has since been enlarged. A district was assigned to it in 1876. (fn. 25) The patronage is vested in five trustees. A Wesleyan chapel was opened on the Greaves in 1909.