A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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Penket, 1242; Penkith, 1293; Penketh, 1290 and usually. Also occur: Penecke, 1285; Pentketh and Pentekech, 1302; Penkeheth, c. 1360.
This township, originally formed from Great Sankey, has an area of 1,003½ acres. (fn. 1) It has the typical features of the districts situated along the Mersey, being decidedly flat, sparingly timbered, with open fields. The soil is loamy, with clay lying below the surface, the crops raised being principally barley, oats and wheat, with occasional fields of potatoes. The ground by the riverside lies very low, and consists of marshy pastures, jutting out into the numerous bends of the river. The southern portion of the township is not destitute of trees; the landscape is pleasantly varied by fields of corn and roots. The geological formation here and in Great Sankey is the same. The eastern boundary is partially formed by Whittle Brook. In 1901 the population was 1,735.
A road from Farnworth to Warrington runs eastwardly through the centre of the township; along it the village is built. The London and North-Western Company's Liverpool and Warrington line traverses the southern part of the township, having a station near the river side, called Fiddler's Ferry and Penketh; it was opened about 1852. On the river side of this railway is the Sankey Navigation Canal between St. Helens and Widnes, entering the Mersey below Fiddler's Ferry. The Liverpool and Manchester section of the Cheshire Lines Committee's railway crosses the northern corner.
Forty years ago there were about one hundred acres of waste or common land, called the Greystone Heath and Doe Green. An award for enclosure was made in 1868 and confirmed in 1869, ninety acres being divided among the freeholders, while six acres were reserved for a recreation ground, and five acres for a cemetery for Penketh.
The township has a parish council of seven members.
The ancient ferry across the Mersey called Fiddler's Ferry (fn. 2) was owned in 1830 by Mrs. Hughes of Sherdley Hall, Sutton; there was an acknowledgement due to Sir Richard Brooke for permission to pass over his land. (fn. 3)
PENKETH, originally a hamlet in Great Sankey, (fn. 4) was part of the demesne of the lords of Warrington. It is not clear when the manor was first granted out, (fn. 5) but in 1242 Roger de Sankey held the twentieth part of a knight's fee here under the heirs of Emery le Boteler. (fn. 6) The descent from Roger is obscure. About 1280 Gilbert de Penketh and Robert de Penketh were joint lords of the manor; (fn. 7) later records prove that the descendants of the latter held under those of the former.
Gilbert de Penketh had two sons, Henry and Richard. (fn. 8) The inheritance went to seven daughters, or grand-daughters, upon whom in 1325 the succession was settled. (fn. 9) Margery, the eldest of these, married Richard son of William de Ashton, (fn. 10) and their descendants retained the lordship of the manor down to the seventeenth century. (fn. 11) John Ashton, who died in 1620, had the distinction of being one of the very few who were 'soundly affected in religion' in 1590. (fn. 12) He left five daughters, coheiresses; but Christiana, who seems to have been the eldest, married Hamlet Ashton of Glazebrook, and thus the succession continued in a line bearing the old name. (fn. 13)
Their son Thomas, who died in 1645, (fn. 14) had a numerous family. The eldest son, John, was killed at Bolton in 1643, on the Royalist side; (fn. 15) Thomas, who succeeded to the manor, also bore arms for the same cause, but very quickly surrendered, took the National Covenant, and compounded for his estates. (fn. 16) He was succeeded by his son Colonel John Ashton, who was buried at Ormskirk in 1707. (fn. 17) As he does not appear to have had any connexion with Penketh, the manor had probably been alienated before his time.
It was subsequently in the possession of the Athertons, and has descended, in the same manner as Great Sankey, to Lord Lilford. (fn. 18)
The manor held of the Ashtons by the Penketh family descended from Robert de Penketh, living in 1284, (fn. 19) to his son Jordan, (fn. 20) his grandson Richard, (fn. 21) and his great-grandson Roger. (fn. 22) The Penkeths recorded pedigrees in 1567 and 1613, (fn. 23) but afterwards seem to have fallen into obscurity. (fn. 24) They remained faithful to the Roman Church, (fn. 25) and some of their descendants were priests in Lancashire during the centuries of proscription. (fn. 26)
Mrs. Hughes of Sherdley about the year 1830 claimed manorial rights, and courts had been held; her claim was not generally acknowledged. (fn. 27)
Various families are mentioned in the early pleadings and charters as holding lands in Penketh, as the Quicks (fn. 28) and Wetshaws. (fn. 29) The prior of Norton also possessed certain rights here. (fn. 30) Henry Russell of Penketh, hanged for felony in 1292, had lands in Wigan. (fn. 31)
The Wesleyan Methodists built a chapel in Penketh in 1818.
The Society of Friends early had a meeting here; it was duly certified and recorded in 1689. (fn. 34) A day school was carried on from 1678 to 1878; (fn. 35) a boardingschool was founded in 1834 and still flourishes. (fn. 36)