A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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Standing on the north bank of the Lune opposite Lancaster this township has always been closely connected with the town, and part of it has been included in the borough boundaries since 1888, its suburban character being thus recognized. The township proper has an area of 1,316 acres, including 6½ acres of salt marsh; a detached portion lies a mile to the north-west of the main body, adjoining Bare. The population in 1901 was not rendered separately. (fn. 1)
The principal road goes north from the bridge over the Lune towards Bolton and Carnforth, having on the west side Ryelands, the seat of Lord Ashton, and Hammerton further north. Three other roads go west to Morecambe, joining at Cross Hill on the border of Torrisholme. Another road, known as Main Street, goes north near the river bank towards Halton; it is lined by the older and poorer houses. It touches the river-side at the Lune Mill, recently closed. The strip of land along the river bank to the north of the mill has been made into a garden and presented to Lancaster Corporation by Lord Ashton. It is called Lune Park. There is a small cemetery near it. The southern half of the township is low-lying and flat in general, but the northern half, called Beaumont, is more elevated, a height of 200 ft. above sea level being attained at one point. The Lancaster and Kendal Canal winds west and north through the township, and two railways cross each other on the southern boundary—the London and North-Western Company's line going north to Carlisle and the Midland Company's going west to Morecambe and Heysham. Tramway cars also run through Skerton to Morecambe.
As a township Skerton has now ceased to exist. After part had in 1888 been taken into the borough of Lancaster, the remainder, as Skerton, was from 1894 governed by an urban district council, till in 1900 this remaining portion was divided among the adjoining townships. (fn. 2)
The worthies of the township include Sir John Harrison, 1589–1669, (fn. 3) and the Rev. Robert Housman, 1759–1838. The latter was one of the Evangelical or Calvinistic divines of the Church of England in the time of revival, and founded St. Anne's in Lancaster, ministering there till his death. (fn. 4) The Rev. Robert Simpson, incumbent of St. Luke's from 1850 till his death in 1855, published a History of Lancaster in 1852. (fn. 5)
In 1066 Earl Tostig held SKERTON as a member of the Halton fee; it was then assessed as six plough-lands. (fn. 6) Afterwards it was retained in demesne by the lords of Lancaster, (fn. 7) but half a plough-land was granted to the reeve to be held by this serjeanty. (fn. 8) The ancient assize rent of the vill for 10 oxgangs of land in bondage seems to have been 7s. 6d. (fn. 9); this was increased by 42s. 9d. about 1200. (fn. 10) Skerton contributed to the tallages, (fn. 11) and about 1240–60 the rents and dues received from it amounted to some £20 a year. (fn. 12) The Lune Mill belonged to the lords of Lancaster, and thus ultimately came back to the Crown. (fn. 13) In 1297 there were three free tenants —Lawrence son of Thomas de Lancaster, the Abbot of Furness and Alan de Paries 'for Richard lands.' Thomas Travers and Thomas de Bolron also contributed to the ploughing. In place of the rendering of two cows, called cowmale, the whole vill paid 16s. yearly. (fn. 14) Court Rolls of the halmote for 1324–5 have been published. (fn. 15)
A survey of 1346 also has been preserved. (fn. 16) The water-mill called Lune Mill and the old mill called Brook Mill were worth £12 a year. There were twelve messuages and 10 oxgangs of land held in bondage, each oxgang containing 24 acres of land, 1 1/10 acres of meadow by the perch of 20 ft., and rendering 13s. 4d. yearly. The tenants were bound to harrow, reap and carry the harvest in the demesne, but the services had been commuted for a rent of 6s. 8d. an oxgang. Every other year a due of 16s. called Belton cow was levied, to supply two good cows for the lord's stock; each tenant paid his share. Timber had to be carried for the building and repair of the castle, as well as firewood, victuals and grain for the mill. The tenant himself owed rent to Lune Mill to the thirteenth measure. When elected reeve he was to have nothing for his trouble. At death the second best beast was given as heriot; his widow was to make agreement for his tenement. Three cottagers are named. Among the tenants at will the Abbot of Furness held an acre of meadow beside the Lune where he could dry his nets, paying 3s. 4d. a year. There were 244 acres of land and 15 acres of meadow, each acre paying 17d. rent. William de Bolron ploughed with the lord one day at the winter sowing and another at the Lent sowing, for 60 acres in Bolron, and reaped two days in harvest; but these works were commuted to rents of 8d. and 4d. Others of the tenants in and around Skerton paid small sums in lieu of these ploughing and reaping services. The custom of cowmale (2s. 6d.) was due from Gressingham. The total revenue from Skerton was then £26 5s. 9d. The free tenants were the Abbot of Furness, the Prior of Lancaster, John Lawrence and John de Paries. (fn. 17)
The accounts of the greave of Skerton for the year ending Michaelmas, 1440, show that he received various sums from the outlying parts of the demesne for services due in Skerton, e.g. the 2s. 6d. cowmale from Gressingham, 12d. from John Oxcliffe for the works of reaping the corn, &c., for his tenement in Oxcliffe and the like. The twelve messuages and 10 oxgangs of land in Skerton rendered £6 13s. 4¼d. Other rents and dues brought the total to £9 17s. 3¼d. 'Beltoncough' did not fall due that year. The demesne produced £13 and the Lune Mill £6 13s. 4d. The farmer of the mill, Alexander Radcliffe, was bound to keep it in repair, but was allowed timber free from the forest. Perquisites of the courts amounted to 4s. 3d. The net receipts were £28 4s. 6¼d. (fn. 18)
In 1526 the tenants complained that much greater sums of money were being exacted for their 'oxgang lands' than had ever been paid before. The king's steward at a court held twelve months previously empanelled a lawful inquest of the tenants of the lordship to make inquiry. (fn. 19) A custom of the manor was alleged in 1527. Robert Turner stated that he had purchased from Lord Mounteagle, deceased, and had paid his 'God's penny'; but it was alleged on the other side that Turner was not named as tenant in the Court Roll, and that if a tenant alienated without permission of the lord he forfeited his holding. (fn. 20)
The manor remained in the hands of the Crown till 1630, when it was sold to Charles Harbord and others, (fn. 21) and appears to have been divided among the tenants, who became freeholders. A payment due to the Crown was apportioned to each under the name of 'king's rent.' The owners maintained or revived a court. The 'annual court leet' of the township was held 21 October 1850, and it was announced that a large sum (about £1,200) would be received from the North-Western Railway (now the Midland) for 'waste land' sold for making the line to Morecambe. It was 'unanimously resolved by the landowners present at the court that the money should be devoted to the purpose of introducing gas into the village.' (fn. 22) About 1890 all the waste remaining was sold and the court was dissolved. The manor was not sold. It was decided that those who paid the 'king's rents' were to be considered the lords of the manor, and the funds were divided among them in due proportion. The 'king's rents' have in many cases been redeemed by the owners. (fn. 23)
BEAUMONT may have been part of the Neuhuse of Domesday Book, which was assessed as two ploughlands, (fn. 24) and held in 1066 by Earl Tostig. Warine son of Orm received half a plough-land in this part of Skerton in marriage with Berleta his wife, and they afterwards gave it to Furness Abbey in alms, receiving a small gift and, it was said, the promise of maintenance during life. (fn. 25) The estate of the abbey, which was augmented by other gifts of land in this (fn. 26) and adjacent townships, was regarded as a manor down to the 18th century. The abbey's fishery rights in the Lune pertained to it until 1759, when they were purchased by William Bradshaw of Halton; a rent of £12 was payable to the Duke of Buccleuch. (fn. 27)
After the Dissolution Beaumont was retained by the Crown until 1628, when it, together with other estates of the abbey in this district, was sold to Edward Ditchfield and others. (fn. 28) Sir John Harrison later became its owner, (fn. 29) and was followed by the Foster or Buckley family. In 1749 Sir Thomas Bootle of Lathom was enfeoffed of the manor of Beaumont by Thomas Buckley (late Foster) of Rochdale, Thomas Townley and Sarah his wife. (fn. 30) The hall is now owned by Mr. Henry Melville Gaskell of Kiddington, (fn. 31) but nothing is known of any manor.
SCALE was perhaps the estate in the township held by Thomas Travers in 1324, (fn. 34) which seems to have descended to Lawrence (fn. 35) and Singleton (fn. 36) of Brockholes, but the evidence is not clear. The last-named family owned it about 1600. It was in 1636 sold to the Bradshaws of Preesall and Wrampool, (fn. 37) but being forfeited for treason in the Civil War time was confiscated by the Parliament and sold to Thomas Sclater, M.D. (fn. 38) It seems to have been repurchased or redeemed by the Bradshaws, afterwards of Halton, but has long been owned by the Hornbys of Dalton. (fn. 39) The hall is a farm-house.
Among the owners occurring in the inquisitions and other records are Lawrence of Ashton (fn. 40) and of Yealand, (fn. 41) Cansfield (fn. 42) and Waller. (fn. 43) Robert Carter of Skerton, having refused knighthood, paid £10 in 1631 as composition. (fn. 44) Richard Blackburne in 1633 had to pay £3 6s. 8d. a year in lieu of sequestration for his recusancy. (fn. 45)
A school was founded in 1767. (fn. 48)