A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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The extreme length of the ancient parish of Huyton from north to south is over seven miles, and its breadth about three and a half. The area is 10,383½ acres. (fn. 1) The highest ground is in Knowsley Park, about 330 ft. above sea level.
Before the Conquest half was held by Uctred and half by Dot, each holding one hide. After the Conquest, though Croxteth Park was cut off, the parish was given, perhaps not all at once, to the barons of Halton as part of their fee of Widnes. (fn. 2) By these again the whole, as one knight's fee, was granted to the Lathom family or their predecessors in title. The partition indicated in Domesday Book again reveals itself, Roby and Knowsley being retained as demesne, while Huyton and Tarbock became parted among junior branches of the Lathom family.
The story of the parish is uneventful. The Reformation seems to have made no commotion here. (fn. 5) In the subsidy roll of 1628 only one man—Peter Stockley of Knowsley—paid double as a convicted recusant. (fn. 6)
The Civil War also produced little or no disturbance in Huyton. Lord Derby's property was of course seized, but Knowsley was reserved for his children and countess, and of the sequestrations for religion or politics there are only the cases of Bootle, (fn. 7) Brookfield, (fn. 8) Holme, (fn. 9) and Hutchins (fn. 10) in Knowsley, and Harrington in Huyton. The influence of William Bell, vicar of Huyton during the Commonwealth, was sufficient to bring round him a congregation of Nonconformists after the re-establishment of the Anglican system, and he ministered to them for some years.
The agricultural land in the parish is thus returned: Arable land, 3,481 acres; permanent grass, 1,954 acres; woods and plantations, 1,021 acres. The following are the details:
The later history of the parish has been just as even and tranquil. The growth of Liverpool has had the effect of transforming Huyton to some extent into a suburb, and Roby has also been affected; but Tarbock remains agricultural, its collieries having given out, and Knowsley is divided between agricultural land and the park.
The freeholders in 1600, in addition to the manorial families, were William Spencer and Edward Stockley of Huyton, Robert Knowles and John Easthead of Tarbock. (fn. 11) The subsidy roll of 1628 shows as landowners John Harrington and Thomas Wolfall in Huyton, Robert Knowles in Tarbock, and Peter Stockley in Knowsley (fn. 12); the two first-named compounded on refusing knighthood in 1631. (fn. 13)
The hearth-tax return of 1662 shows a considerable number of houses with four hearths and upwards. (fn. 14)
The church is dedicated in honour of St. Michael, and stands on high ground in the north-west of the village, the ground falling from it on all sides. Being built of the local red sandstone, which weathers badly, it has been almost entirely re-faced in modern times, and shows no ancient work outside, except some rubble masonry at the north-west angle of the original nave and a few details on the tower.
In 1555 the church of Huyton was reported to be in a very ruinous condition, and Philip and Mary ordered an inquiry. The chancel, measuring 31 ft. by 30 ft., was so dilapidated that service could not be held there, the body of the church only being used. The stonework seems to have been sound, for about £5 was the estimated cost of repairs, but the roof was 'ready to fall,' and the timber and workmanship would cost £22; in addition the slating would be £5, and the glass and other small necessaries about 50s. (fn. 15) It does not appear that any substantial repairs were made, for about 1592 the lay rector was called upon to repair the chancel, which was 'ruinated.' (fn. 16)
The building consists of chancel 34 ft. by 24 ft., with north vestry and organ chamber, nave 60 ft. by 25 ft., with aisles and south porch, and west tower. So little ancient work remains that nothing can be said of the development of the plan, but the irregularity of the line of the south arcade of the nave is noticeable. The north side of the nave was rebuilt in 1815, and the south, east, and west (fn. 17) walls in 1822, while a further general repair took place in 1873. (fn. 18) The chancel roof is stone slated, the aisles have blue slates, and the nave is covered with copper sheeting. The chancel has a five-light east window with tracery and three singlelight windows in the north and south walls, all being modern. On the south side is a small priest's doorway with a four-centred head, which appears to be of late fifteenth-century work, and retains its old door, though now built up. The chancel roof dates from the repairs of 1663, and is an interesting example, with hammer beams and turned pendants, and curved brackets below the lower hammer beams. (fn. 19) There is no chancel arch, and no evidence of the date of removal of any which formerly existed, the chancel roof being designed for the present arrangement.
The north arcade and aisle of the nave are modern, but the south arcade is of the latter part of the fourteenth century, with plain chamfered arches of two orders, and octagonal moulded capitals and shafts. The curve which is to be seen in its line is doubtless due to some process of adaptation to older work which has now disappeared. The south doorway of the nave is in part of the fifteenth century, having a pointed head under a square label, with panelled spandrels and quatrefoils in the hollow moulding of the head and jambs. The ornamental tooling in the quatrefoils seems to be in part old, and is a curious detail.
The nave clearstory is of a very plain type, not uncommon in the neighbourhood, with square-headed windows of three uncusped lights, and the roof is of low pitch with moulded tiebeams, ridges and purlins, and carved brackets, probably late fifteenth-century work. Over the eastern tiebeam is the Stanley crest, and on the next beam a cherub's head of seventeenthcentury style.
The west tower is of three stages, with a vice in the south-west angle, and has retained but little old detail. Over the west doorway is a band of panelling, and the west window above it has a fifteenth-century crocketed label, though all the rest of its stonework is modern; The tower buttresses also retain the stumps of pinnacles on their lower sets-off. The tower arch is of two orders, the inner order dying out above the springing.
The chancel screen is a very good example, with a wide central doorway and seven openings on either side, their heads and those of the solid panels below being filled with elaborate tracery. Above is a cornice carved with a vine pattern and surmounted by open cresting. The screen dates from c. 1500, and has two canopied niches on either side of the central opening, and above it a shield bearing a fret [Harrington] impaling six fleurs de lys with a crescent for difference [Ireland]. In the spandrels are crowned roses flanked by two other shields.
There was formerly an interesting inscription on the screen as follows:—
PVLD DOWNE IN TIME OF REBELLION 16/47 SET UP AND REPARED BY JOHN HARINGTON ESQUIRE 1663 FECIT RICHARD HALSALL.
This was taken away at the last 'restoration' and has not yet been recovered.
No other woodwork in the church is old, except the litany desk, which is a curious piece of work, apparently of seventeenth - century date, rectangular, with carvings on each side, the Five Wounds, the IHS monogram, the Agnus, with an inscription ECCE AGNUM (sic) DEI, and a shield between the letters A S.
The font now in use is octagonal with a panelled bowl and moulded base, and dates from the latter part of the fifteenth century; the bowl appears to have been cut down. At the east end of the south aisle is a second font, found under the west tower in 1873. It belongs to the first half of the twelfth century, and has a round bowl ornamented with eleven arched panels, in each of which is a human head, and above a row of five-pointed stars. (fn. 20) It is set on a modern pedestal. In the east part of the churchyard is what may be a third font, quite plain, with a hole in one side, which is probably the ground for a tradition that it was formerly used for grinding corn.
Before 1871 the font now in use stood in the chancel near the priest's door, and the middle of the east end of the nave was taken up with a large 'three-decker' of pulpit, reading desk, and clerk's desk.
At the east end of the south aisle is a slab with a tonsured effigy wearing a monastic habit, much damaged but of very good style, c. 1300, and in the chancel are several late brass plates, one to Jonathan Fletcher, archdeacon of Sodor and Man, 1668, (fn. 21) another to John Stockley, 1695, another to John Lowe, vicar, 1706, and another to Elizabeth Farren, countess of Derby, 1829.
The church plate consists of a silver cup and cover paten of 1695, the cup inscribed 'The gift of Capt. John Case of Redhassles, Anno Domini 1695'; two plates inscribed 'The gift of Dorothy Case,' with the mark of Benjamin Branker, a Liverpool silversmith; a breadholder of 1714; a flagon of 1719 with the arms of Case; two modern chalices of Sheffield make, 1873; a silver-topped glass cruet; and a strainer of 1799.
There are six bells, the treble, second, and fourth by C. and G. Mears of Whitechapel, 1846, the third and fifth by the same firm as Mears and Stainbank, 1872, while the tenor is inscribed:—
IACOBUS WILLIAM EARLE OF DARBIS ED. TORBUK ESQ. IAC. HARINGTON ESQ. HEN. STANLEY ESQ. 1606 TOM. STANLEY ESQ. TO. WOOLFALL GEN. ED. STOCKEY. IOHN ORME. W.M. W.D. I.H.
A small bell formerly here was given to the new church of St. Gabriel in 1894.
'On Sunday one bell is rung at 7 a.m., and two bells at 8 a.m., in addition to the ordinary ringing for divine service. The passing bell is tolled as follows— two for a child under twelve, three for a woman, and four for a man; after a short interval the bell is again tolled for a number of strokes equal to the age of the deceased. The curfew bell is rung from the first Thursday after the 12 October—this date being what is known as Huyton Wakes—and continues ringing each evening to the 25 March.' (fn. 22)
North-east of the church stands the late seventeenthcentury mausoleum of the Case family, now used as a quire vestry. On its east wall is a tablet to Elizabeth wife of John Case, 1681.
The registers begin in 1578. In a terrier of 1778 they are described as in three old books—1578–1667, 1672–1726, and 1727–1759; and two new books beginning in 1759 and 1754 respectively.
One volume of churchwardens' accounts exists for 1783–1834.
The church of Huyton was granted by Robert son of Henry de Lathom to the priory he founded at Burscough about 1189. (fn. 23)
In 1277 Roger de Meulan, bishop of Lichfield, ordained a vicarage. Its possessions were to be the competent residence (manse) which the chaplains had been accustomed to have, next to the cemetery, and three selions of land extending as far as the wood, the prior and canons having right of way across them to their grange. Its revenues were to be various offerings, as those at marriages and burials, in Lent, candles at the Purification, &c., also small tithes. The vicar was, however, to pay half the ordinary charges upon the church, such as synodals and the like, and to be responsible for extraordinary ones, on the assumption that his income was 10 marks. The dean and chapter of Lichfield saw and confirmed this ordinance, as did the prior and convent of Coventry. (fn. 24) The vicars were sometimes canons of Burscough Priory and sometimes secular priests. The prior and convent were patrons down to the suppression; after which the crown presented to the vicarage until it sold the rectory.
In 1291 the church was said to be worth £10. (fn. 25) In Henry VIII's time £21 7s. 2d. was the value of the rectory, and £6 9s. that of the vicarage. (fn. 26) From a rental of this time it appears that £6 13s. 4d. (10 marks) was paid to the vicar by the prior and canons, who also paid a fee of 26s. 8d. to their bailiff at Huyton. (fn. 27)
In 1553 Queen Mary leased the rectory of Huyton to Sir Urian Brereton for twenty-one years; and in 1568 Queen Elizabeth demised it to Lawrence Mynter, for thirty-one years after the expiry of the preceding lease, at a rent of £21 3s. 11d. The rectory was in 1602 sold for £955 19s. 2d. to Edward Cason and Richard Barrell, to be held at the same rent. Three years later, the grantees transferred it to Edward Torbock, junior (afterwards Sir Edward), for £1,380; the rent of £21 3s. 11d. was to be paid 'at the audit to be holden in the honour and fee of Halton.' The rectory, like the manor of Tarbock, came into the possession of Sir Richard Molyneux. The latter's descendants have since sold various portions of the rectory (fn. 28) —the advowson and the tithes of all the townships except Tarbock—to the earls of Derby and the Seels; the earl of Sefton is still the rector of Huyton, being responsible for the due repair of the chancel, and has the tithes of Tarbock. (fn. 29) The earl of Derby presents to the vicarage.
The Commonwealth surveyors in 1650 reported that the tithes were worth £150 per annum; of this £80 was paid to Mr. Bell. The vicarage was worth £10, and the profits were in the hands of Mr. Starkie. (fn. 30) Bishop Gastrell about 1720 found the value of the vicarage to be £42, including the house and tithes; there was also £5 a year for a charity sermon. (fn. 31) In 1778 the value was about £65, including the modus in lieu of tithes, £42, the vicarage house and 'fourteen young lime trees in the churchyard.' (fn. 32) The value is now given as £600.
Copyhold land in Deysbrook Lane, West Derby, is held by the churchwardens of the parish church in trust for the repair of the building. (fn. 33)
Of the earlier clergy of Huyton the names of two only have been preserved—Ernald, who was chaplain in 1191, (fn. 34) and Richard son of Robert (formerly rector of Walton), who was rector about 1228, probably the 'Richard rector of Huyton' occurring a little later than this, and the Richard de Walton rector in 1254. (fn. 35)
The following is a list of the vicars:—
|Institution||Name||Patron||Cause of Vacancy|
|oc.||1291||Henry (fn. 36)||—||—|
|—||Thurstan de Wigan||—||—|
|12 March, 1308–9||Adam de Ashton (fn. 37)||Burscough Priory||d. of Th. de Wigan|
|—||Adam de Ruycroft (fn. 38)||—||—|
|25 Jan. 1338–9||William de Donington (fn. 39)||Burscough Priory||d. of A. de Ruycroft|
|23 Sept. 1349||Simon le Walsschs (fn. 40)||Burscough Priory||d. of W. Bryde|
|—||Robert de Breton (fn. 41)||—||—|
|15 April, 1378||John de Forneby (fn. 42)||Burscough Priory||d. of R. de Breton|
|oc.||1381–2||John Layot (fn. 43)||—||—|
|oc.||1394||Thomas del Ryding (fn. 44)||—||—|
|oc.||1418||Richard de Kar (fn. 45) (or Baxter)||—||—|
|27 Oct. 1433||Robert Laithwayte (fn. 46)||Burscough Priory||—|
|5 Feb. 1454–5||John Lathom (fn. 47)||—||—|
|20 May, 1461||Ralph Langley (fn. 48)||Burscough Priory||res. J. Lathom|
|7 Sept. 1473||Thomas Reynold, LL.B. (fn. 49)||" "||d. of R. Langley|
|oc.||1488||John Tyrell (fn. 50)||—||—|
|— Dec. 1495||John Haydock (fn. 51)||Burscough Priory||d. of J. Tyrell|
|3 May, 1517||Roger Mason (fn. 52)||" "||d. of J. Haydock|
|— 1558||James Smith||—||—|
|8 Aug. 1558||Edward (Edmund) Lowe (fn. 53)||The Crown||res. of Jas. Smith|
|1 July, 1587||Roger Devias (fn. 54)||The Crown||d. of last incumbent|
|27 Jan. 1607–8||Samuel Hankinson, B.A. (fn. 55)||Edward Torbock||d. of Roger Devias|
|13 July, 1615||Lawrence Starkie (fn. 56)||Sir R. Molyneux||d. of S. Hankinson|
|oc.||1645 (1653)||William Bell, M.A.||'Free election of the people'||—|
|16 Feb. 1662–3||John Lowe (fn. 57)||Earl of Southampton||ejection of W. Bell|
|30 Sept. 1706||James Lowe||Duke of Somerset||d. of John Lowe|
|25 May, 1708||Thomas Fleetwood, M.A. (fn. 58)||William Farington||—|
|14 Dec. 1737||Edward Jones||Jacob Jones||d. of T. Fleetwood|
|10 July, 1765||Thomas Mallory, LL.B. (fn. 59)||Lord Strange||d. of E. Jones|
|26 May, 1786||John Barnes, M.A. (fn. 60)||Earl of Derby||d. of T. Mallory|
|10 Sept. 1809||Geoffrey Hornby, LL.B. (fn. 61)||"||d. of J. Barnes|
|12 Aug. 1813||Ellis Ashton, B.D. (fn. 62)||"||res. of G. Hornby|
|18 Aug. 1869||Oswald Henry Leycester Penhryn, M.A. (fn. 63)||"||d. of E. Ashton|
|15 July, 1890||Edward Manners Sanderson, M.A. (fn. 64)||"||res. of O. Penrhyn|
Roger Mason, instituted in 1517, seems to have held the benefice for forty years. (fn. 65) His stipend of 10 marks had been paid by Burscough Priory, and he himself was described in 1535 as 'canon.' In 1541 there was a staff of six priests; (fn. 66) in 1548 the visitation list shows an increase to eight. In 1554 the number had fallen back to six, and the two chantry priests appear to have died shortly afterwards; the staff consisted practically of the aged vicar and his curate, who seems to have been absent. (fn. 67) Roger Mason was for a brief period succeeded by James Smith, whose place was filled by Edmund (or Edward) Lowe on the presentation of Philip and Mary. In 1562 Edmund Lowe appeared as vicar; the name of the curate, Hugh Brekell, was erased, and John Whitefield (fn. 68) written instead. In 1565 Lowe appeared alone, the six or eight clergy of the pre-Reformation times having been reduced to one. (fn. 69) Though he must have complied with the Elizabethan changes to some extent, he showed himself hostile as far as he dared. (fn. 70) How long he continued at Huyton is unknown, but in 1569 William Wade was vicar. (fn. 71)
Nothing appears to be known about him or his successor, Roger Devias, except that the latter in 1590 was described as 'no preacher.' (fn. 72) Mr. Hankinson, however, is said to have been an excellent one; he was one of the King's Preachers for the county. (fn. 73) There was a 'lecturer' at Huyton in 1622. (fn. 74)
William Bell is probably the most distinguished of the vicars of Huyton. He was son of William Bell of Manchester, and is described as M.A. of Oxford. (fn. 75) He was one of the King's Preachers in Lancashire, but willingly conformed to the Presbyterian constitution in 1646, joining the 'Harmonious Consent' of 1648. The commissioners of 1650 described him as 'a man well qualified for all parts, and a godly, studious preaching minister, who came into that place [the vicarage] by the free election of the people and the approbation of the Parliament.' On his tombstone it said that he was vicar 'above twenty years,' but the 'free election of the people' suggests an appointment later than 1642. (fn. 76) He was ejected in 1662, not being able to accept everything in the revised Prayer Book, and retired to Manchester; after a time he returned to Huyton and opened a meetinghouse for Nonconformists (1672), dying there in 1683–4, in his eightieth year. (fn. 77) His will has been printed. (fn. 78)
St. Gabriel's chapel of ease at Huyton Quarry was consecrated on 1 November, 1894. (fn. 79)
Two chantries were founded here at the altar of St. Mary by Richard de Winwick, canon of Lincoln, as brother and heir of John de Winwick, formerly treasurer of the cathedral of York, who was buried in Huyton church. John appears to have procured the rectory of Radcliffe-upon-Soar in Nottinghamshire from the prior of Norton in 1358, with the intention of endowing at Oriel College, Oxford, exhibitions for poor scholars. He died in the following year, and his brother obtained, in 1381, the appropriation of the rectory to the priory of Burscough on the ground of the poverty of the house; the canons, however, in addition to paying the vicar of Radcliffe, were to pay stipends of 10 marks each to two fit secular priests in Huyton church. (fn. 80) These cantarists were to say mass, &c., daily for the souls of Edward III, John de Winwick, and the faithful departed; and to keep in good repair the chapel on the south side of the church, in which the said John was buried. His obit was also to be solemnly kept in Burscough Priory church. (fn. 81)
In accordance with the statutes the Ashtons of Croston afterwards presented. Hugh de Pemberton acted as patron in 1421 and 1423. Sir William Molyneux and Richard Standish presented in 1530, and in the following year Alexander, son and heir of Ralph Standish, and the other feoffees of Thomas Ashton, deceased. (fn. 82)
At the confiscation Robert Standish and William Prescot were the cantarists, celebrating according to their foundation for the souls of John Winwick and his family, with a yearly obit for the said John. Their stipends (20 marks) (fn. 83) had been paid by the priory of Burscough, and were continued after the dissolution by the receiver in virtue of a decree of the Duchy Chamber. (fn. 84)
The 'Chantry Well' marked on the six-inch Ordnance map is about a hundred yards north of the church; it is a walled-in dipping well. (fn. 85)
The tithe maps are kept at the vicarage.
A grammar school at Huyton was founded in the sixteenth century or earlier.
The charities of Huyton, (fn. 86) apart from a recent benefaction by Sir Thomas Birch, (fn. 87) are small in amount. (fn. 88) Knowsley has a share in the charity founded by William Marsh in 1722. (fn. 89)