Townships: North Meols

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'Townships: North Meols', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3, (London, 1907), pp. 230-236. British History Online [accessed 23 June 2024].

. "Townships: North Meols", in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3, (London, 1907) 230-236. British History Online, accessed June 23, 2024,

. "Townships: North Meols", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3, (London, 1907). 230-236. British History Online. Web. 23 June 2024,

In this section


Otegrimele, Otringemele, Dom. Bk.; Northmeles, 1232; Nordmele, 1237.

The land in this most northern township in the hundred is very flat, so much so that it is protected from the inroads of the waters of the Ribble estuary by high embankments, and the force of the tide is broken by piles driven at high-water mark along the muddy shore. Within the shelter of these banks the marshy land has been reclaimed and turned to good account; the soil, a rich peat mixed with sand, proves very fertile. Thus a large area of country is occupied by market gardens and fields, where crops of clover, hay, potatoes, corn, &c. flourish. The fields are divided by ditches which serve the double purpose of division and drainage, whilst low hawthorn hedges form the divisions in the more sheltered portions of the township. A wide and deep sluice and several large drains carrying off the water from the district about the site of Martin Mere empty themselves into the sea; constant pumping and draining operations are necessary to prevent this portion reverting to its original state of inundation. There are but few plantations to break the monotony of the level surface of the country, and these are strictly preserved as cover for game.

The area is 8,467 acres. (fn. 1) The population in 1901 was 49,908, of whom 1,825 belonged to the part of the township outside Southport. Half the area of the township has by degrees been included within the borough. The remainder, known by the old name, is governed by a parish council; it contains the hamlet of Banks.


In 1066 five thegns held OTEGRIMELE (fn. 2) for five manors, the whole being assessed as half a hide, or three ploughlands; the value was 10s. It formed part of the privileged three-hide area, and from the second mention of the place in Domesday Book it appears that it was the head of a district. (fn. 3)

In Stephen's reign it was a member of the barony of Penwortham, held by the Bussels. (fn. 4) Richard Bussel gave three oxgangs of land to St. Werburgh's Abbey at Chester; and Richard's brother and successor, Albert, confirmed the gift. (fn. 5) It continued to form part of the demesne of the barons until John, count of Mortain, held the honour of Lancaster (1189–94), when Hugh Bussel gave it to Richard son of Ughtred, lord of Broughton and Little Singleton, master serjeant of Amounderness. The superior lordship passed in 1204, with the rest of the barony, to Roger de Lacy, constable of Chester. (fn. 6) In 1243 the tenure was described as the fourth part of a knight's fee; (fn. 7) but in 1323 it was recorded that 'Thomas late earl of Lancaster and Alesia his wife (as of her right) held the manor of North Meols by homage, the service of 34s. 8d. yearly, and the fourth part and the sixteenth part of a knight's fee.' (fn. 8) The superior lordship continued to be held by the earls and dukes of Lancaster.

The grant to St. Werburgh's appears to have been surrendered or repurchased, for in 1311 Thomas de Sutton held the three oxgangs. (fn. 9) The grant of the manor to Richard de Singleton (fn. 10) was likewise transitory. Alan his son succeeded in 1211, but it seems as if the grant had lapsed with the transfer of the barony in 1204 from the Bussels to the Lacys, for another lord of the manor soon appears in the person of Robert de Cowdray. In 1232 Alan claimed the land from Cowdray, but probably made a compromise with the new lord, as the latter alone is recognized in the inquest of 1243. (fn. 11) Yet in the latter part of Edward I's reign (between 1294 and 1303) the monks of Sawley deemed it advisable to have from Thomas son of Sir Alan de Singleton a release of any claim upon their lands in North Meols. (fn. 12)

The new lord, Robert de Cowdray, or Russel, was in the service of John and Henry III. (fn. 13) The grant to him was made between 1213 and 1222 by John de Lacy, (fn. 14) and the grantee subsequently obtained from the king leave to have a market on Wednesdays, and a fair on the eve and day of St. Cuthbert at his manor of North Meols. (fn. 15) He died in 1222, (fn. 16) and within two years this leave was withdrawn, as it was found that the new market would be to the injury of others in the neighbourhood. (fn. 17)

William Russel was Robert's nephew (nepos) and heir. In 1232 he was in Normandy in the service of Ranulf Blundeville, earl of Chester. (fn. 18) He is called William de Cowdray in the survey of 1243. (fn. 19)

William's son and heir Robert succeeded about 1260, (fn. 20) and was in turn (about 1307) succeeded by his son William, who appears to have married Joan, daughter and heiress of Alan de Meols, who held a quarter of the vill. A grant of all Alan's lands there was made to William de Cowdray in 1326, and it was confirmed by Adam de Meols in 1343. (fn. 21)

It will therefore be convenient to give an account of the Meols family at this point. The first to be noticed is Alan de Meols, who between 1204 and 1209 took oath that he would not interfere with the grant in Ratho to the monks of Sawley. (fn. 22) Early in the reign of Henry III he secured from John de Lacy a confirmation of his lands, the charter describing them as 4½ oxgangs held by homage and a service of 8s. yearly. (fn. 23) The heir of Robert de Meols was holder in 1243, (fn. 24) and in 1296 another Robert de Meols was tenant of Henry de Lacy, rendering 8s. 1½d., while to the same Henry in 1311 Alan de Meols rendered 8s. yearly by custom. (fn. 25) Alan was still tenant in 1323 and 1324. (fn. 26) Adam son of William de Meols, mentioned above, contributed to subsidies in 1326 and 1332. (fn. 27)

Meols of Meols. Argent, three torteaux in chief.

William de Cowdray was thus, in his own right and his wife's, lord of the whole manor. A somewhat earlier acquisition may also be noticed here. Albert Bussel, third baron of Penwortham, who died in 1186, granted to Houkell son of Adam the whole land of Swartbank. (fn. 28) Geoffrey son of Houkell (or Houthkell) afterwards, about 1240, gave this tract to William de Cowdray as trustee, it would seem, for Henry de Pool, ancestor of the Becconsall family, who in turn gave it to Thomas Banastre of Bretherton. In 1298 the latter granted it to William de Cowdray and Joan his wife, (fn. 29) and it thus became incorporated with the possessions of the lords of the manor. (fn. 30)

William de Cowdray was succeeded before 1343 by his son Robert, who died before 1350, (fn. 31) leaving a son and heir William, who died soon after, his heirs being his sisters Katherine and Eleanor. The latter married Henry, son of Gilbert de Scarisbrick, but died about 1346, leaving a daughter Isabel, who died in infancy. (fn. 32) Katherine was twice married—to Alan, son of Richard de Downholland, who died before 1345, leaving an only daughter Eleanor, who died unmarried; (fn. 33) and to Richard de Aughton, a younger son of Walter de Aughton. (fn. 34) The succession was not undisputed, Thomas de Cowdray, uncle of Robert, claiming under an entail to the heirs male of Robert's father William. This, however, only affected the share inherited from the Meols family, and Thomas appears to have enjoyed this portion for life only, so that the whole manor descended to the heirs of Richard and Katherine de Aughton, (fn. 35) and in 1380 the whole was given to William de Aughton, their son, and his heirs. (fn. 36)

Cowdray of Meols. Gules, ten billets, 4, 3, 2, and 1 or.

William married Millicent, one of the four daughters and co-heirs of John Comyn, lord of Kinsale and of lands in the counties of Warwick and Worcester. (fn. 37) He was pardoned some outlawry he had incurred in 1381–2 at the special request of Queen Anne; (fn. 38) and in 1386 had letters of protection on going to Ireland in the king's service. (fn. 39) He died at the beginning of 1388, seised of the manor of North Meols, held of the duke of Lancaster by knight's service, and by the service of 9½d., sake fee, castle-guard rent, and suit to the court of Penwortham. His heir was his son Hugh, fourteen years of age, (fn. 40) whose guardianship was in the following year granted to Matthew de Haydock. (fn. 41)

Aughton. Sable, three garbs or.

The heir came of age at the beginning of 1397, (fn. 42) and shortly afterwards his mother leased to him all her dower lands, (fn. 43) and in 1409 made over to him her inheritance in Newbold Comyn and Hall Moreton. (fn. 44) In 1410 Hugh agreed to an arbitration as to a disputed boundary between North Meols and Scarisbrick. (fn. 45) He died at the beginning of 1417, seised of the manors of North Meols and Thistleton in Amounderness; his son and heir, Hugh, only ten years of age, was given to the guardianship of Nicholas Blundell and Robert de Halsall, who died respectively about 1422 and 1427. In 1429, having proved his age, Hugh received his lands. (fn. 46)

Hugh de Aughton married Joan, daughter of Henry de Scarisbrick, on whom he settled certain lands in 1460, with remainder to his brother Nicholas. (fn. 47) He died 20 July, 1464, without issue, and his heir was his sister Elizabeth, aged fifty years and more. (fn. 48) This finding probably means that Nicholas was half-brother only; he succeeded to the manor under the settlement. In 1469 Nicholas married his son Hugh to Maud, daughter of Robert Hesketh, the former being about five years of age and the latter still younger. (fn. 49) He died in 1488, and at the subsequent inquisition it was found that he had held the Wyke in North Meols and lands in Barton, each by the twelfth part of a knight's fee. Hugh, his son and heir, was twenty-four years of age. (fn. 50)

Hugh Aughton in 1498 contracted his son Richard, then five years old, in marriage to Isabel daughter of James Boteler. (fn. 51) In 1503 a dispute as to the Wyke occurred. (fn. 52) In 1516 Hugh made a feoffment of all his manors and lands in North Meols, Barton, Thistleton, Much Hoole, and Whiston, for the benefit of Thomas Hesketh during life and then to the grantor and his heirs. He died on 11 December, 1520, his heir being his son Richard, aged twentyeight years. (fn. 53)

Richard Aughton in 1522 conveyed to fresh trustees all his lands, to the use of himself and then of his son and heir John; three years later the estates were reconveyed to him in fee simple. (fn. 54) In 1529 he received a confirmation of exemption from the jurisdiction of the Great Admiral of England for his lands and ports from the cross in the Hawes (now Southport) up to Snoterstone, and as far seaward as one might see towards the 'Humbar Barrel'; this allowed him wreck, fishes-royal, &c. (fn. 55) He was made a knight before 1536, in which year he appeared at Sawley with thirty-six men, as part of the force called out to resist the northern rising. (fn. 56) He died on 1 March, 1542–3, his heir being his son John, twenty-six years of age. (fn. 57)

John Aughton had livery of his lands on 26 April following. A few years later another boundary dispute occurred. (fn. 58) A little later the lessee of the leet court of Penwortham attempted to prevent the constables of North Meols from presenting assaults at John Aughton's court-baron. (fn. 59) He died without issue on 26 February, 1549–50, his sisters Elizabeth, aged twenty-eight, and Anne, aged twenty-five, being his heirs. (fn. 60)

Elizabeth was the wife of John Bold, and Anne the wife of Barnaby Kitchen; and these two shared the inheritance. There appears to have been a partition of the lands, and some contention followed concerning the Wykes. (fn. 61) Both sides, however, agreed in resisting the claim to an annual rent of 37s. 5½d. claimed as due to the baronial court of Penwortham. (fn. 62)

Elizabeth Bold died in August, 1558, and her husband in December, 1589; their son and heir was John Bold, aged forty and more in 1590. (fn. 63) In 1576 he conveyed his estates to feoffees, (fn. 64) for the use of himself and his sons, with remainders to Richard Bold of Bold and others. Having no children he in 1588 sold the reversion of the dower of John Aughton's widow and the remainder just named to Richard Bold. He died on 31 December, 1600, his heirs being his sisters Ellen Anderton, widow, and Anne, wife of Thomas Gerard. (fn. 65)

Bold House seems to have been erected about 1550, but after the death of John Bold, when Richard Bold became lord of this moiety, it is unlikely that the owners were in constant residence. Sir Thomas Bold died here in 1612. He was a natural son of Richard Bold and had a grant of this manor, but dying without issue by his wife Bridget, daughter of Sir William Norris, his estate reverted to the Bolds of Bold. (fn. 66) It descended regularly to Peter Bold of Bold, who by his will in 1757 settled it upon his eldest daughter, Anna Maria. She died unmarried in 1813, and Colonel Peter Patten inherited it, as son of the younger daughter Dorothea, who had married Thomas Patten of Warrington; he took the additional name of Bold.

Bold of Bold. Argent, a griffin segreant sable, breaked and legged or.

He died in 1819, leaving four daughters as coheirs. The eldest, Mary, became lady of the manor; she married the Russian Prince Eustace Sapieha, and died without issue in 1824, when the estate went to her sister Dorothea, who married Henry Hoghton, afterwards Sir Henry Bold-Hoghton, bart. This moiety of the manor was sold by him in 1843 to Charles Scarisbrick of Scarisbrick; since his death in 1860 the manorial rights and appurtenant estates have been vested in his trustees. (fn. 67)

The Kitchen moiety of the manor seems to have been the more important, as the family resided in North Meols. Anne Kitchen died in August, 1572, and her husband Barnaby in July, 1603. They had an only daughter Alice, who married Hugh Hesketh, a natural son of Sir Thomas Hesketh of Rufford. (fn. 68) Hugh Hesketh died in 1625, and was succeeded by his eldest son Thomas, who in 1641 paid double to the subsidy as a convicted recusant. (fn. 69) Next year he conveyed his estates to his eldest son William, charging them with annuities to himself and his other children. In 1643 William Hesketh took up arms in the king's service, his estates being thereupon sequestered. He died the same year.

His brother Robert, as heir male, petitioned the Committee for Compounding in 1648; and subsequently his parents and brothers also petitioned. William's wife and daughter lost their income, it being declared in 1652 that the manor and other lands had been sequestered 'for the popery and delinquency of Mrs. Hesketh, then late of North Meols.' In 1653 the sequestration was discharged. (fn. 70)

Thomas Hesketh, the father, lived on till 1666. Robert Hesketh had a long dispute, beginning in 1651, with the widow and daughter of his elder brother, but in the end retained the estate, as Anne the daughter, who married Thomas Selby, died without issue, and her husband then gave up the struggle. (fn. 71) Robert Hesketh died in December 1675, and was succeeded by his son Roger.

The new lord appears to have occupied himself with the care of his house and estate. The great event of his life was the abortive Jacobite trial of 1694, in which he and his wife were among the accused; a carrier had deposed to seeing a quantity of arms distributed in July 1692, to a number of the gentry, Roger Hesketh being one. (fn. 72) He died in June 1720, and was succeeded by his son Robert, who held this moiety of the manor less than two years, dying in May 1722. His son and heir, Roger, then only eleven years of age, enjoyed possession for seventy years, his death taking place in June, 1791; in 1740 he was high sheriff of the county. (fn. 73) His first wife was Margaret, eldest daughter and coheir of Edward Fleetwood of Rossall. Their son and heir was Fleetwood Hesketh, born in 1738, who became lord of Rossall by inheritance from his mother. He married Frances, daughter of Peter Bold of Bold, by whom he had two sons and three daughters. The eldest son, Bold Fleetwood Hesketh, high sheriff in 1797, (fn. 73) died unmarried in 1819, and was succeeded by his brother Robert, who served as high sheriff in 1820. (fn. 73)

He had a numerous family. The story of his son and successor, Peter, belongs to Fleetwood, which town he created; he was made a baronet in 1838, but dying in 1866 without male issue the title became extinct. The manor of North Meols he sold in 1845 to his brother Charles, (fn. 74) who thus became lord of the manor as well as rector. He died in 1876, and his son Edward Fleetwood Hesketh died unmarried in October, 1886.

In the lordship of the manor, however, the Rev. Charles Hesketh had been followed by his widow Anna Maria Alice. By her will it passed, on her death in November 1898, to the son of her husband's sister Anna Maria Emily Fleetwood, who had married John Bibby of Allerton near Liverpool. Mr. Charles Hesketh Bibby, born in 1871, therefore became lord of this moiety of the manor. In February 1899 he assumed the surname of Hesketh by royal licence, and served as high sheriff of the county in 1901.

Hesketh. Argent, on a bend sable three garbs or; a chief azure, thereon an eagle with two heads displayed proper, all within a bordure erminois.

Bibby. Azure, a saltire parted and fretty argent surmounted in the fesse point by a lion rampant pean; two escallops in pale and as many mullets of six points in fesse of the second.

A court-leet and view of frank-pledge is held twice a year, in July and November. In 1805 a number of by-laws were drawn up for the regulation of rights of turbary and common of pasture and for the maintenance of the drains and sea-banks in an efficient state. (fn. 75) An Act of Parliament was obtained in 1825 to enable the joint lords of the manor to apportion the undivided portions of their estates and to make exchanges for their mutual advantage.


The modern town of SOUTHPORT (fn. 76) is bounded by the sea on its north - western edge. The country is very level and the coast flat and sandy, immense sandbanks stretching out into the estuary of the Ribble. Where a broad band of sand-hills once existed as a natural protection to the low-lying land, the pleasant town, with its long promenade, winter gardens and other places of amusement, now stands, at any rate along one-third of the entire sea-frontage. There are marine parks where concerts are given in the summer, on each side of the pier, between the promenade and the lake. There are a fine park and botanic gardens, the mildness of the climate being conducive to the growth in the open air of many sub-tropical plants.

The fishing village of Crossens stands upon a slight knoll of clay, otherwise all the country inland is very flat and extensively cultivated, occupied by market gardens, arable fields, and pasture. A deep drain or ditch, called the New Pool, serves to drain the marshy district east of the township, also forming the boundary between Southport and the present North Meols township.

Towards the end of the eighteenth century visitors began to frequent the North Meols district for bathing in the summer, finding what accommodation they could in the cottages near the shore. In 1792 William Sutton, known as 'the Duke' or 'the old Duke,' son of a Churchtown innkeeper, erected from odds and ends a rude lodging-house in South Hawes, where a little brook ran down to the sea. This was used during the summer only; but in 1798 having constructed a better house—the Original Hotel, afterwards the 'Royal' —he came to reside permanently, and at a house-warming banquet the place was named South Port by an eccentric physician, Dr. Barton of Hoole. (fn. 77) Though the house was called 'Duke's Folly' and the builder soon found himself in a debtor's prison, (fn. 78) a little town sprang up around the spot he had chosen. A start had already been made in 1797 by the erection of Belle Vue Cottage. (fn. 79) In 1805 another hotel was built, and two years later, a row of 'company houses' was erected in Lord Street. A Liverpool paper in 1809 printed a list of 'fashionable arrivals'; and the first guide-book to the district was published. (fn. 80) Independents, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics had opportunities of worship; and the Strangers' Charity had been established for the relief of the sick poor who might be benefited by sea air and bathing.

From 1820 the town increased rapidly—the Directory of 1825 describing the 'village' as consisting of one main street, 88 yards wide, with three large hotels and many boarding-houses. (fn. 81) The amusements of the place were 'those afforded by the theatre, the newsrooms and libraries, the billiard rooms, the repositories, and the assemblies.' (fn. 82) A plan was published in 1824. (fn. 83) In 1836 the first newspaper was attempted, and in 1844 the Visiter commenced to appear. (fn. 84)

In 1846 the first of the Improvement Acts was passed, vesting the government of the town in twentythree commissioners. (fn. 85) A town hall was built in 1852, but has been enlarged and transformed, though the old front remains. In 1848 a market was opened. (fn. 86) Suggestions for incorporation were made in 1863, and the charter was granted in 1866, four wards being constituted with six councillors and two aldermen for each. (fn. 87) The new council was elected on 1 June, 1867. The limits of the borough were extended in 1871, 1875, 1885, and 1900; so that there are now ten wards, each with an alderman and three councillors, (fn. 88) and the population having reached 50,000 Southport has been declared a county borough.

Hesketh Park was opened in 1867; the land had been given by the Rev. Charles Hesketh, rector and one of the lords of the manor; here are the Corporation Observatories. (fn. 89)

There is also a recreation ground. Cambridge Hall, in which are the police offices and a public hall, was opened in 1874, and the Free Libraries Act being adopted in 1876 William Atkinson (fn. 90) offered a library and art gallery, opened in 1878. (fn. 91) The Victoria Science and Art Schools were built by the Corporation in 1887. The cemetery was opened in 1865. In it is a public memorial of the men who lost their lives by a lifeboat accident in 1886.

The gas and electric lighting works are owned by the Corporation. The water supply was in the hands of a company incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1854, its powers having been extended by later Acts, in 1856, 1866, and 1878; (fn. 92) but it is now governed by the Southport, Birkdale, and West Lancashire Water Board.

The sands and bathing were the original attraction offered by Southport and so remain. A breakwater was first attempted in 1821, and in 1834 a promenade along the sea-front was begun by Peter Hesketh, one of the lords of the manor; this has gradually been improved and extended, being now a mile and a half in length. (fn. 93) The foreshore was purchased by the Corporation in 1885. The pier was opened in 1860, and extended in 1864 and 1868, while a marine park and lake have been formed more recently. (fn. 94) Its pure air, good water supply, cleanliness, wide sands, and the beauty of its buildings, streets, and parks have made Southport one of the chief health resorts in the kingdom. (fn. 95) The Winter Gardens were opened in 1874, and the Botanic Gardens at Churchtown two years later. The Opera House in Lord Street was built in 1891.

The growth of the town was aided by the improvement of communications. Railways were projected as early as 1844, but the first was that from Southport to Waterloo, afterwards continued to Liverpool. This was opened in 1848; the original terminus was in Eastbank Street, the present station in Chapel Street being opened in 1851. (fn. 96) Next year passengers by the Liverpool and Preston line were carried to Southport by coach from Ormskirk. The Manchester and Southport line by Wigan was opened in 1855, (fn. 97) and the St. Helens and Ormskirk line, giving access to Southport, in 1858; the West Lancashire Railway was projected in 1871, and the first section—to Hesketh Bank—opened in 1878; the whole line was completed in 1883 (fn. 98); all of these came to Chapel Street Station. Lastly, the Cheshire Lines Extension scheme was opened in 1884; its terminus is in Lord Street. The tramways were begun in 1873; they are now controlled by the Corporation.

The Strangers' Charity, already mentioned, completed its first building in 1823, the later hospital being opened in 1852; a new portion was built in 1883. The name was changed about 1862 to Convalescent Hospital. (fn. 99) In 1825 a dispensary was established, which has since grown into the infirmary. The first building for this purpose was begun in 1870, the new buildings being opened in 1895. (fn. 100) There are numerous other hospitals, orphanages, homes, and benevolent institutions. There are also literary, artistic, and scientific associations.

The fishery is an important one, shrimps, plaice, cod, &c., being taken; but there are no manufactures.

The land in the town is, with scarcely any exception, leasehold of the lords of the manor, and to the restrictions enforced by them is due the absence of courts and slums, almost every house, however small, having garden plots at front and back.


The parish church of North Meols, already described, is now within the borough. Christ Church was built in 1821; (fn. 101) it has since been transformed by numerous alterations. A separate district was assigned in 1865. (fn. 102) Mr. Bibby-Hesketh is the patron. Holy Trinity church was opened in 1837; (fn. 103) St. Paul's in 1864; (fn. 104) and St. Andrew's in 1872. (fn. 105) The patronage of these three churches is vested in various bodies of trustees. All Saints' Church was opened in 1871, as a chapel-of-ease to North Meols; a separate district was assigned in 1878. (fn. 106) Mr. BibbyHesketh is patron. St. Luke's was opened in 1880, and consecrated in 1882. (fn. 107) The patron is the vicar of Holy Trinity. St. Philip's was opened in 1886, an iron church having preceded it. The vicar of Christ Church is patron. St. John's, Crossens, was first erected in 1837. An ecclesiastical district was formed in 1860. (fn. 108) The incumbents are presented by trustees. Emmanuel and SS. Simon and Jude's, built in 1895, as chapels-of-ease to the parish church, became separate parish churches in 1905; Mr. Bibby-Hesketh presents to the former, and trustees to the latter. St. Stephen's-in-the-Banks was built in 1897; (fn. 109) the rector of North Meols is patron.

The Southport Clerical Conference, an annual assembly of the Evangelical (or Low Church) clergy and laity, was inaugurated in 1860.

Wesleyan Methodism is supposed to have originated here in visits paid by Wesley in 1765 and 1770 to North Meols; but the first regular minister was not appointed until 1806. (fn. 110) In Southport itself the Methodists are stated to have had a preaching place in 1809. Two cottages in Eastbank Street were used in 1811, and these were succeeded by Wesley Chapel in 1824. In 1847 this was replaced by a new chapel in Hoghton Street, in turn superseded in 1861 by the present church in Mornington Road. In 1861 a second chapel was erected, known as Ecclesfield Chapel. (fn. 111) In 1864 Trinity Church was built; Southbank Road in 1877, Leyland Road in 1880, and High Park in 1881. A mission at Blowick was begun in 1863 in a workshop, a chapel being opened in 1865. The Primitive Methodists are said to have begun preaching in the neighbourhood as early as 1830, but their first chapel was built at Banks in 1849. In Southport one was built in 1862; there are now three; also others at Crossens and Churchtown. In 1851 a Methodist Reform agitation resulted in Southport in the expulsion of certain members from the Connexion, and two years later the Reformers, now known as the United Methodist Free Church, opened the old dispensary as a chapel. They now have two churches in the town, and others at Churchtown and Crossens. A Methodist New Connexion Church was opened in 1864. There are three Independent Methodist Churches.

The history of Congregationalism in the parish begins in 1801, when the Rev. William Honeywood, stationed at Ormskirk, began to hold meetings at Churchtown and Southport. He was succeeded in 1802 by the Rev. George Greatbatch, who died at Southport in 1864. The first chapel was built at Churchtown in 1807, the minister fixing his residence there, and preaching in many neighbouring villages. In 1808 he preached in Southport during the season. (fn. 112) What was known as the Calvinistic chapel was erected in Eastbank Street in 1823; it has given a name to Chapel Street. (fn. 113) As an offshoot from this the West End church was built in 1862. A division of opinion in this congregation in 1871 led to the church in Portland Street, opened in 1877. There are three other Congregational churches, and there is also a chapel for Welsh-speaking members of this denomination.

'Hall's Chapel' in Little London was built about 1835 for an Anglican clergyman who had adopted Calvinistic doctrines and 'sold his living.' His congregation quickly died away, but from the building Hall Street took its name. (fn. 114)

In 1868 Presbyterian services were begun in the town hall; the congregation built, in 1873–4, St. George's Church. There is a Welsh Calvinistic Methodist church, opened in 1871.

A congregation of Baptists assembled at the town hall in 1861, and in the following year acquired a chapel in Hoghton Street from the Wesleyans. The Tabernacle was opened in 1892, and there is also a Strict Baptist chapel.

A Church of Christ was the outcome of meetings held in 1878; there are two places of worship. The Plymouth Brethren have two meeting places. There are several mission rooms, one used by the Catholic Apostolic Church (Irvingites) and another by the Mission of Love. The Salvation Army has a barracks. The Society of Friends have held meetings here since an early period in the town's history. Their first building, however, was erected in 1865. A Unitarian congregation was formed in 1866, a church being opened the following year. The New Jerusalem Church was opened in 1875.

In 1809 it is stated that mass was said in Southport, no doubt during the season; the guide book of 1826, however, shows that this had been discontinued, the chapel at Scarisbrick being apparently the nearest. Services were re-started in 1827, and in the map of 1834 a chapel is shown in Lord Street, near Union Street. Its successor, St. Marie's church, from designs by A. W. Pugin, was opened in 1841; and the church of the Holy Family in 1893. There is a convent of Sisters of Charity.

A Jewish Synagogue was opened in 1893, in a building formerly used by the Plymouth Brethren.


  • 1. The Census Report of 1901 gives 10,443, including 42 of inland water; of this 5,144 was within Southport. There are also 399 acres of tidal water, and 12,725 acres of foreshore.
  • 2. Odda son of Grim was an ancestor of a certain Mark of Melis; Landnámabok, iii, 17.
  • 3. V.C.H. Lancs. i, p. 284b.
  • 4. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 32.
  • 5. St. Werburgh's Chartul. fol. 141. A century later John, constable of Chester, gave an oxgang in North Meols to Dieulacres Abbey; Dieul. Chartul. fol. 17.
  • 6. Roger gave to Sawley Abbey an acre at Ratho for a saltpit, with rights of pasture and turbary; Sawley Chartul. (Harl. MS. 112).
  • 7. Inq. and Extents, 149.
  • 8. Duchy of Lanc. Rentals and Surveys, n. 379, m. 8.
  • 9. Duchy of Lanc. Knights' Fees, bdle. 1, n. 3.
  • 10. This charter gave 'all North Meols,' the annual service being a mark of silver. Richard paid for the grant by a present of five marks and a hunting boot; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 231. It was immediately confirmed, as 'a reasonable gift,' by Count John; ibid. fol. 231b.
  • 11. Inq. and Extents, l.s.c. In 1282 Thomas de Clayton and Cecily his wife and others claimed three messuages and 20 oxgangs in North Meols against Alan de Singleton; De Banc. R. 47, m. 101.
  • 12. Sawley Chartul. fol. 72b.
  • 13. Farrer, North Meols, 9.
  • 14. The charter gives 'the whole town' of Meols, with the vill and appurtenances, except the fishery and the free tenants and their holdings; the service to be the eighth part of a knight's fee; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 238b.
  • 15. Fine R. 4 Hen. III. m. 8.
  • 16. Close R. 7 Hen. III, m. 28 bis. Robert granted an oxgang of land in North Meols to Dieulacres Abbey; it was confirmed by his brother Henry, but in some way alienated; Palmer MS. (Chet. Lib.), A. xiii-xv.
  • 17. Close R. 8 Hen. III, m. 12. Robert had given a palfrey for this grant, and it was ordered to be returned to his heir on the rescission.
  • 18. Close R. 43, m. 6.
  • 19. Inq. and Extents, l.s.c. An oxgang of land in Barton in Halsall was in 1246 held by William Russel and Amabel his wife; Assize R. 404, m. 5 d. A charter of this period (1222–40) may imply that there was some other claimant to the manor, for by it Henry de Cowdray gave to William Russel, for his homage, all his land in North Meols, a pair of white gloves being payable yearly; Kuerden's fol. MS. 72. Several of William de Cowdray's charters have been preserved. By one he granted to John de Lea a messuage and land extending from the new dyke to Threleholmes, for a yearly rent of a pair of white gloves payable at the feast of St. Cuthbert in autumn; Add. MS. 32106, n. 61. Another gave to Sawley Abbey an acre called Frere Meadow in the townfields, with various easements; the meadow by Otterpool is mentioned; while a third granted to the same house his saltpit at Crossens and land there with sufficient sand and turbary, and directed his body to be buried at Sawley. This charter also confirms 'all that the monks have gained from the sea or may hereafter gain'; Sawley Chartul. The charters are printed in Farrer's North Meols, 11.
  • 20. Robert gave to Sawley an acre in the Warsch, and exchanged another acre in 'the Backfield within Crospeles' for one in Wolfpit, which his father had given to the monks; Sawley Chartul. fol. 71, 72; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 238 In or before 1278 he acquired from his superior lord, the earl of Lincoln, the whole eel fishery, at a rent of two marks; Duchy of Lanc. Anct. D. L. 2369. The 26s. 8d. duly appears in the De Lacy inquests; the fishery was at Otterpool.
  • 21. Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 238, 238b.
  • 22. Sawley Chartul.
  • 23. Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 239.
  • 24. Inq. and Extents, 149. In 1241 he established a claim to an oxgang in Meols, also claimed by Beatrice, wife of William son of Walter, clerk of Much Hoole; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 238.
  • 25. De Lacy Compoti (Chet. Soc.), pp. 9, 106; Inq. p.m. 4 Edw. II, n. 51.
  • 26. Rentals and Surveys, n. 379, m. 8; Mins. Accts. bdle. 1148, n. 6.
  • 27. Exch. Lay Subs. bdle. 130, n. 5; also Exch. L. S. of 1332 (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 15.
  • 28. The grant was made in pure alms for the souls of the grantor, his wife, and others, the service required being 'the maintenance of a certain place of entertainment for those who might have need thereof'—probably those waiting for an opportunity to cross the Ribble; there was, at least later, a crossing at Hesketh Bank, four or five miles from Crossens, and there may have been one at the latter place at the time of the charter. The bounds mentioned are: From Blackpool on the east across to the west of Bradeland; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 225. There is a Brade Lane in Crossens.
  • 29. Ibid. fol. 225b, 226.
  • 30. Galway, or Galwathlands, in North Meols, yielded a rent of 12d. to the Lacys about 1300; see De Lacy Inq. (Chet. Soc.), 9, 106.
  • 31. In 1346 he accused certain persons of killing a tame buck of his; De Banc. R. 346, m. 113 d. His widow Eleanor before 1350 married Adam de Formby.
  • 32. Scarisbrick deeds (Trans. Hist. Soc. New Ser. xii), nn. 74, 75; Duchy Pleadings (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 22.
  • 33. Dods. MSS. xxxix, fol. 138b.
  • 34. His parentage is decided by De Banc. R. 436, m. 58d. Richard and his wife Katherine were in 1350 enfeoffed of 'all lands and tenements, with wardships, escheats, &c.' in North Meols, Crossens, and 'Foly' (? Sollom); also the Cowdray part of Barton by Halsall; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 233.
  • 35. In the Pleadings (1350) Thomas's claim is said to refer to the 'third part' of the manor, while the defendants alleged it was only a sixth part. The story is given very fully in Assize R. 1444, m. 4d. The entail was made by Alan de Meols in November, 1326, and Thomas's claim under it was admitted to be just. Shortly afterwards (1354) the former defendants became plaintiffs, it being alleged that William, the elder brother of Katherine de Aughton and uncle of Isabel de Scarisbrick, had held this sixth part, which should have descended to them, and not to Thomas de Cowdray. The latter does not seem to have contested the matter, so that some agreement had probably been made beforehand. An allied suit had reference to the boundaries; it was decided that the lands in dispute were within North Meols, the bounds being 'from Snoter Pool to Snoter Stone, and so to the thread of Ribble stream'; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 3, pt. ii. m. 3, 3d. In 1361 North Meols was held, as the fourth part of a knight's fee, by Henry de Scarisbrick and Richard de Aughton in right of their wives; Inq. p.m. 35 Edw. III, pt. ii, n. 122.
  • 36. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 1, n. 24. In a previous fine (1359) Katherine daughter of William de Cowdray, first cousin of Richard de Aughton's wife, had put in her claim; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 160.
  • 37. The Aughton family adopted the Comyn arms—sable, three garbs or—as their coat.
  • 38. Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 232b.
  • 39. Cal. Pat. R. (1385–9), 114, 189.
  • 40. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), i, 30, 39. William de Aughton also had a rent of £2 13s. 10d. in Barton. Henry de Scarisbrick, by the courtesy of England, held certain lands in North Meols, with a rent of 3½ marks from the manor. He granted a temporary right of turbary in Scarisbrick to the heir's guardian; Scarisbrick D. n. 123.
  • 41. Towneley MS. CC. (Chet. Lib.), n. 351.
  • 42. Ibid. n. 2101.
  • 43. Dods. MSS. cxlii. She married secondly Richard Massy, of the Hough near Nantwich.
  • 44. Ibid. fol. 226b. She afterwards (about 1417) made complaint as to her disherison by Robert de Halsall and Nicholas Blundell; Early Chanc. Proc. bdle. 5, n. 121.
  • 45. Scarisbrick D. n. 147.
  • 46. Duchy of Lanc. Chan. R. 7, §§ 62, 65.
  • 47. Towneley MS. CC. n. 2146; there are three deeds.
  • 48. Ibid. The manor is said to be held as the twelfth part of a knight's fee; the parcel of land known as the Wyke was held by the same service.
  • 49. Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 233.
  • 50. Towneley MS. C. 8, 13 (Chet. Lib.), A. 33. Nicholas Aughton had farmed out his lands in Newbold Comyn at a rent of £3 10s. in 1487; and Hugh Aughton in 1489 farmed them for twenty-one years; in 1508 he sold the fourth part of the manor of Hall Moretonunder-the-Hill for 20 marks to Henry Smith; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 227, 227b; liii, fol. 92.
  • 51. Ibid. liii, fol. 92; cxlii, fol. 227b.
  • 52. Duchy of Lanc. Depos. iv, L. 7. It was due to a confusion between three places of the name: one, already mentioned, was in North Meols; and two in Scarisbrick, then known as Long Wyke and High Wyke, on the eastern side of a 'great moss ditch' that formed the boundary between the townships. There is now a Wyke in the north-western corner of Scarisbrick; Blowick may be the Wyke in North Meols.
  • 53. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. V. n. 28.
  • 54. Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 234, 112. In 1523 he had petitioned for the restoration of the family muniments; Duchy of Lanc. Pleadings, Hen. VIII, iii, A. 2.
  • 55. Bland, Annals of Southport, 11.
  • 56. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xi, n. 1251.
  • 57. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. viii, n. 3.
  • 58. The bounds were found to begin at Snoterstone, 'standing within the flood marks,' thence to the foot of Walding Pool, and up this to a 'stub' fixed by the commissioners; Farrer, North Meols, 29.
  • 59. Duchy of Lanc. Pleadings, Edw. VI, xxiii, C. 12.
  • 60. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. ix, n. 4. The water-mill in North Meols is mentioned in this inquisition; and Oliver Ball Hey, Moss Hey, and the Frere Hook are also named. In the subsequent assignment of dower to the widow there are some interesting particulars; the document is printed at length in North Meols, 31–4. There was an eel fishery on the water running to the mill; also a fishery on Martin Mere. Marsh Side was then called the Howes, and was waste. A windmill called Ashurst Mill stood to the east of Churchtown.
  • 61. Duchy of Lanc. Pleadings, Eliz. lxiv, B. 12, and xlix, K. 1.
  • 62. Ibid. xlv, F. 15;. the date of the bill of complaint was Easter, 1560.
  • 63. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xv, n. 44. Their share is described as the moiety of the manor of North Meols, four messuages with land in Barton, five messuages and land in Thistleton, an acre in Whiston, and a quarter acre in Much Hoole. Between 1572 and 1585, however, the Bolds had been selling various parcels of their lands, the purchasers being Robert Wright, Gilbert Rimmer, Richard Johnson (alias Brekell), William Clayton, and Richard Lee; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 34, m. 87; 37, m. 199; 38, m. 135, 113; 47, m. 85.
  • 64. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 38, m. 148.
  • 65. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xviii, n. 43. It appears that there were living a halfbrother Henry, and a half-sister Elizabeth, wife of William Muscle of London, who put in claims which afford various particulars as to the family and land; see North Meols, 42–4. From the inquisition it may be gathered that the principal divisions of the township were the Church Town, the New Row, and the Blowick.
  • 66. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 254.
  • 67. Farrer, North Meols, 56.
  • 68. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 23. Barnaby Kitchen's will may be seen in North Meols, 44. The will was questioned, but Matthew French, then rector, deposed that going to visit him the day before he died, he being a parishioner, Barnaby Kitchen desired the rector to write out his will, and he did so; Depos. at the Reg. Off. Chest.
  • 69. His wife Ellen (Molyneux) was a recusant, and his sons William and Robert. His brother William was reported in 1625 to have had a son before marriage and to have been 'married not known where or by whom'; i.e. probably by a missionary priest. The widow, a recusant, subsubmitted in 1627; Visit. Books at Chest. The Bolds had also been recusants; John Bold of North Meols was in 1590 among the esquires who were 'in some degree of conformity, yet in general note of evil affection in religion, non-communicants'; Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 245 (quoting S.P. Dom. Eliz. ccxxxv, n. 4). Henry Bold was in 1592 fined £5 for the queen's service in Ireland for his opposition to the legally established religion; ibid. 262 (S.P. Dom. Eliz. cclxvi, n. 80).
  • 70. Royalist Comp. P. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 209–18.
  • 71. The documents are given in Farrer's North Meols, 48–53.
  • 72. Jacobite Trial (Chet. Soc.), 51. He had probably conformed to the Established religion, as he did not register his estate in 1717.
  • 73. P.R.O. List of Sheriffs, 74.
  • 74. Bland, Southport, 104; part of this share of the manor was, it is stated, sold to Charles Scarisbrick, who had already purchased the Hoghton moiety.
  • 75. Printed in North Meols, 57.
  • 76. Acknowledgement must be made in the first place to E. Bland's Annals of Southport, reaching to 1886; where no other reference is given it may be assumed that the information in the text is derived from this work. Further, to Mr. Frederick W. Brown, mayor of the borough 1903–4, for assistance and criticism liberally afforded, more particularly as to present conditions; and to the Brit. Assoc. Handbook, 1903, permission to use which was obtained through Mr. Brown.
  • 77. This story appears in the second edition of Glazebrook's Guide, published in 1826, p. 58. There is a sketch of the building in Bland, 56. The complimentary description of Southport as 'the Montpelier of England' is attributed to Dr. Brandreth, a popular Liverpool physician of a century ago.
  • 78. He had to leave the hotel in 1802. He was buried at Churchtown, 29 May, 1840, aged 88. He was 'the best monumental mason in the parish'; Bland, 99. The hotel itself was pulled down in 1854 in order to allow the continuation of Lord Street, a new Royal Hotel having been erected; ibid. 119. A lamp with bronze relief marks the spot, near the crossing of Lord Street and Duke Street, where Sutton built his house.
  • 79. Mrs. Sarah Walmesley was the owner; it has developed into a large mansion, and is now the residence of Sir George Pilkington (formerly Coombes).
  • 80. It is a pamphlet of eighty pages by Thomas Kirkland Glazebrook of Warrington, of which about twelve pages are devoted to Southport proper; the name is always spelt South-Port. The book contains an interesting account of the peculiar plants then observable on the shore. A second and greatly enlarged edition was printed in 1826. The author died in 1855; Bland, 120. The earliest printed account, however, was that of G. A. Cooke in his Topographical Description of the county, published in 1805 (p. 313). It was copied into a Liverpool paper, and may be read in Bland, op. cit. 63. Another history or guide was issued in 1830 by P. Whittle, of Preston, in a volume entitled Marina; it gives a plan of the town. In 1832 a brief account of the place was issued by William Alsop, of Southport; and in 1849 a similar account was compiled by J. S., containing a plan and directory. The Gent. Mag. for 1840, pt. i, has a notice of Southport.
  • 81. During the season coaches ran daily from Liverpool and Manchester, and three times a week from Bolton, and other towns; other visitors travelled by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to Scarisbrick Bridge, five miles away.
  • 82. Baines, Lancs. Directory, 1825, ii, 552 4. An Act of Parliament obtained by the lords of the manor provided that Lords Street, now Lord Street, should be 88 yards wide. Thus one of the distinctive beauties of the town was early decided; Bland, p. 86. In 1864 a committee was appointed to consider the question of planting trees and forming gardens in the street.
  • 83. This and another of ten years later are reproduced in Farrer's North Meols.
  • 84. These papers were at first published in the season only. The Visiter now appears thrice a week. Another paper, called the Independent, was started in 1861, re-named the News in 1865, and then made a daily paper; it ceased to appear in 1881. In the following year the Guardian was begun; it is issued twice a week.
  • 85. There are plans, etc. at the County Council Offices, Preston.
  • 86. A new market in Chapel Street was opened in 1857; a fish market being added in 1863. The present building in Eastbank Street was opened in 1881; it contains market hall, fish and wholesale market. The special market days are Wednesday and Saturday.
  • 87. The area under the jurisdiction of the first council extended from the Birkdale boundary to the north-west boundary of Park Ward; inland it was bounded by Fine Jane's Brook and a line drawn northward from the crossing of the railways at Blowick.
  • 88. In 1871 a small area including the gasworks was added; in 1875 the limits were extended east and north to include Churchtown, Crossens, and Marshside; a piece of the foreshore was added in 1885, and in 1900 two small portions at the extreme south and north ends of the borough, the latter of these including the sewage works. The wards are named: Central (including the town hall and other municipal buildings), West, South, Craven, Marine, Talbot, Sussex, Park (including Hesketh Park and the district called Little Ireland), Scarisbrick, and Hesketh (including Churchtown, Marshside, and Crossens). In 1894 Southport civil parish was created out of the part of North Meols parish within the municipal boundary.
  • 89. The Meteorological Observatory was founded by John Fernley in 1871; the Astronomical Observatory was opened in 1901. John Fernley, founder of the Fernley Lecture, died 16 Jan. 1873; Bland, p. 174.
  • 90. This benefactor of the town died 20 Jan. 1883, having resided in Southport for about twenty years; Bland, p. 207.
  • 91. There are two branch libraries.
  • 92. Under this latest Act 'the limits of supply were extended, at the request of the inhabitants of several districts around, so as to include those localities—Birkdale among them—the majority of which had hitherto been supplied from shallow holes dug in the sand, the water in many cases being ladled out with wooden scoops, and in other cases obtained by a pump going a few feet into the sand, thus affording the same source of supply as Southport had prior to 1854'; Southport, Descriptive and Illustrative (1897), p. 36.
  • 93. The promenade was extended to Duke Street in 1873, and northwards in 1881. It was much damaged by a storm in 1852.
  • 94. The portion at the south side of the pier was opened in 1887; the northern portion in 1892. The two were afterwards joined, and the Marine Drive was formed in 1895.
  • 95. The meteorological averages for the thirty-one years 1872 to 1902 given in the Corporation's Year Book, show the mean temperature of the air to have been 48.4, ranging from 38.6 for Feb. to 59.5 for July; and the average rainfall, 33.14 in. in the year on 187 days, Oct. with 3.81 in., having the heaviest fall.
  • 96. In 1904 the electrification of the Liverpool and Southport line was completed.
  • 97. It has a second station at Blowick.
  • 98. On the Preston section are stations at St. Luke's, Hesketh Park, Churchtown, Crossens, and Banks; on the Altcar section, at Meols Cop and Kew Gardens.
  • 99. The buildings now consist of the Strangers' Home, and the hospital erected out of the surplus of the Cotton Famine Fund.
  • 100. An eye hospital, established in 1877, has now been incorporated with the infirmary.
  • 101. There is a view of the original building in Bland.
  • 102. Lond. Gaz. 19 May, 1865.
  • 103. A district was assigned at the same time as to Christ Church.
  • 104. Ibid. 4 Nov. 1864. It was preceded in 1861 by an iron church. There is a mission church.
  • 105. Ibid. 18 Oct. 1872; 27 June, 1873.
  • 106. Ibid. 9 April, 1878. All Souls', Blowick, is an iron mission church.
  • 107. A district was assigned in the following year; ibid. 16 Mar. 1883.
  • 108. Ibid. 30 Aug. 1860; 15 Oct. 1861.
  • 109. A preceding church was built in 1866.
  • 110. Two cottages in Churchtown were fitted up for services, and in 1816 'Sugar Hillock' chapel was erected.
  • 111. Now used as a mission room.
  • 112. In 1812 he used a room in 'Duke's Folly.' The lords of the manor at first refused land for Nonconformist places of worship, and a wooden tabernacle erected in 1821 was the best that could be done until they relented.
  • 113. Nightingale, Lancs. Nonconf. vi, 25–9. For the later history see pp. 30–44. It was rebuilt in 1867.
  • 114. Ibid. 25; a view is given.