A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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|NETHERTON||LITTLE CROSBY||ORRELL AND FORD|
This parish, lying on the coast near the entrance of the Mersey and bounded on the east and north by the River Alt, has an area of 12,687½ acres. The surface is level and lies very low, so that in rainy seasons the Alt floods a considerable extent of land; the greatest height is attained in the south, part of Orrell being 125 ft. above sea level.
Anciently the townships were arranged in four quarters as follows: i, Sefton, with Netherton and Lunt; ii, Ince Blundell, Little Crosby; iii, Thornton, Great Crosby; iv, Down Litherland with Orrell and Ford, Aintree. Each quarter paid equally to the county lay. (fn. 1) Within recent years the seaside townships of Waterloo and Seaforth, governed in combination, have been formed from Great Crosby and Litherland respectively. In these a large urban population has grown up, but the greater part of the area is still rural. The agricultural land of the parish is mainly arable, viz. 7,356 acres; while 1,869 acres are in permanent grass, and 240 in woods and plantations. The population in 1901 was 45,846.
The parish has but little connexion with the general history of the country. At Flodden Sir William Molyneux of Sefton greatly distinguished himself, and Henry Blundell of Little Crosby fell in the battle. The change of religion made by Elizabeth was most distasteful to the people. In 1624 and 1626 'riots and rescues,' occasioned by the unwelcome visits of the sheriff's officers to seize the cattle of the recusant William Blundell of Little Crosby, became a Star Chamber matter, resulting in the imposition of a heavy fine upon the perpetrators. (fn. 2) As was to be expected, in the Civil War the gentry took the king's side, and their possessions were consequently sequestrated by the Parliament. The smaller people also suffered. (fn. 3) The Lancashire Plot of 1694 brought more trouble on the district, (fn. 4) but the risings of 1715 and 1745 do not appear to have drawn any support from Sefton.
The principal landowners of the parish have long been the lords of Sefton, Ince Blundell, and Little Crosby. In 1792 the earl of Sefton, Henry Blundell, and Nicholas Blundell contributed £192 to the land tax out of £481 charged upon the parish. (fn. 5)
The life of the district in the first part of the eighteenth century is well illustrated in Nicholas Blundell's Diary. In the way of sports there were hunting, coursing—the Liverpool hounds sometimes going so far out as Little Crosby—horse-racing at various places in the neighbourhood, as Great Crosby and Aughton, cock-fighting, bull-baiting, and bowling matches on the various greens. Visits were made to Ormskirk—then relatively more important than at present—to Lathom Spa, and to Liverpool; the latter place might be reached by road in the coach or over the sands on horseback. Nicholas Blundell fulfilled the usual duties of a landlord, as when he fixed 'the boundaries between Great Crosby and the Moorhouses that each town might know their liberty to fish in'; (fn. 6) and there were discussions about drainage, enclosures, and other improvements, the Foremoss Pool gutter being mentioned several times. Lord Molyneux desired that 'the River Alt might be scoured as usual,' and the setting and cutting of the star grass on the sandhills had to be regulated. Smuggling was also carried on: 'This night (says Squire Blundell) I had a cargo of sixteen large ones brought to White hall … . W.Ca. covered the cargo very well with straw.' (fn. 7)
Every now and again, especially in winter, there would be a 'merry night' at the hall, when the squire's sword dance might be performed or his tricks of legerdemain exhibited to divert the company. Companies of players seem to have visited the district occasionally, performing here and there as they found patronage and accommodation. Of local customs he particularly notices the throwing at the cock on Shrove Tuesday, and the dressing of the crosses at Great Crosby and Ince Blundell on Midsummer Day. The Goose Feast at Great Crosby was regularly celebrated in the middle of October with great festivity; a maypole and morris-dancing are mentioned at Little Crosby, nor is the tossing of pancakes forgotten. On 2 November, 1717, 'we dealt soul loaves to the poor, it being the first time any soul loaves were given here, as I remember.' At Easter he gave the parish clerk '2d. instead of twelve paist eggs.' On 31 December, 1723, 'there was a riding for Anne Norris, who had beaten her husband.' He records that on 6 October, 1717, 'it being near full moon I cut my wife's hair off.'
When his new marl-pit was dug it was 'flowered,' and the occasion was quite a festal one. A procession was formed, 'the fourteen marlers had a particular dress on their heads, and each of them carried a musket or gun; the six garlands, &c., were carried by young women in procession; the eight sword-dancers went with them to the marl-pit, where they danced'; and a week later a large bull was baited, 'to admiration,' at the bottom of the new pit. Again, a week later the marling was finished with feasting and dancing. (fn. 8) Incidentally the diarist mentions the spinning of wool and the 'breaking' of flax. (fn. 9) The preceding process of 'reeting' or retting flax is noticed in an earlier document. (fn. 10) A peculiar word he uses is 'songoars,' for gleaners.
At the present time the stories of 'M. E. Francis,' such as In a North Country Village, have made the life of the rural portion of the district familiar.
The regulation of the Alt, effected by an Act passed in 1779, (fn. 11) was of great importance to the whole district. Its provisions may be summarized thus: Nearly 5,000 acres of low-lying lands along the banks of this stream in the parishes of Altcar, Sefton, Halsall, and Walton were rendered almost valueless by the overflowing of the water; certain commissioners (fn. 12) were therefore empowered to change and clear the course of the river below Bull Bridge in Aintree and Melling, and to make a new channel in Altcar, Formby, and Ravensmeols down to low-water mark; to clear and change the course of several tributary brooks, but without damage to the water for Sefton mills; to plant star grass on the sandhills; to take evidence as to damage and compensation, appoint officers, raise money for the needful works and salaries, and prosecute offenders. (fn. 13) The first meeting of the commissioners was fixed for 18 May, 1779, in Sefton church. The expenses were to be paid by an annual tax upon the owners or occupiers of the low lands to be improved, assessed by an acre rate according to the improvement effected; copies of estimates, &c., were to be kept in the vestry of Sefton church.
A detailed report on the state of the coast a century ago has been printed. (fn. 14)
CHURCH (fn. 15)
The church of St. Helen has a chancel 21 ft. by 44 ft., with an eastern vestry, and north and south chapels 17 ft. by 25 ft., nave 21 ft. by 60 ft. with north and south aisles 17 ft. wide, south porch, and west tower 12 ft. square with a tall stone spire. All measurements are internal. There is no structural division between the nave and chancel, the nave taking up the first four bays of the arcade from the west, and the quire seats occupying the fifth. The fifth and sixth bays are enclosed with screens on north and south, and a line of screens runs across the church at the west of the fifth bay. The eastern bay of the chancel projects 18 ft. eastward from the line of the chapels, and is lighted by an east window of five lights, the mullions and tracery being modern, and north and south windows of four lights, with uncusped tracery and two transoms.
The architectural history of the church is not a long one, as the greater part was rebuilt in the sixteenth century, leaving too little older work standing to give much clue to its earlier form. (fn. 16)
The east bay of the north chapel belongs to the first half of the fourteenth century, and the west tower is nearly contemporary with it. There was formerly a north aisle of this date, part of its west wall with the jamb of a west window still remaining. If this window was centrally placed the aisle would have been narrower than at present; the north arcade also was 15 in. further to the north than that which now exists. There was at this time no south aisle to the nave, as may be seen from the details of the south-east buttress of the tower. In the early part of the fifteenth century the north chapel seems to have been lengthened westward, and at a later date in the same century the north aisle was rebuilt and made equal in width to the chapel. At some time in the first half of the sixteenth century the chancel, the south aisle and both arcades of the nave were rebuilt, destroying all traces of former work except such as have already been mentioned. A vestry east of the chancel and a south porch also belong to this time. There is some difficulty about the exact date. The rebuilding has been attributed to Anthony Molyneux, rector 1535–57, apparently on the strength of a passage in his will which mentions that he has 'made so greatt costes of ye chauncell and revestrie.' If this may be taken to mean a rebuilding of those parts of the church for whose maintenance he as rector was liable, the rest of the sixteenth-century work, being of like detail and design, may well have been undertaken about the same time. But it is unlikely that the rector did more than his particular share of the work, and the few remains of inscriptions on glass point to gifts of windows, at any rate, by other benefactors: Sir William Molyneux 1542, William Bulkeley 1543, and [Lawrence] Ireland 1540. These dates all point to 1535–40 as the probable date of the rebuilding. It must, however, be noted that the quire stalls bear the initials 1 M, which may refer to James Molyneux, rector 1489–1509. These initials also occur on the screen west of the stalls, but are accompanied with ornament of distinct Renaissance type, and it is extremely doubtful if this can be of so early a date as the first decade of the sixteenth century. A displayed eagle also occurs on the stalls, perhaps in reference to the arms of Cotton, to which family Anthony's mother belonged. (fn. 17)
The present east window of the chancel is filled with modern tracery, inserted about 1870, and replacing a tracery window of five lights with three transoms, all openings being without cusps, and the heads under the transoms rounded. The side windows are still of this type, as are those lighting the south chapel and aisle, and would fit very well to the probable date 1535–40. East of the chancel is a low building, contemporary with it, and entered from the west by a door on the south of the altar, which is the 'revestre' built by Anthony Molyneux, and still used for its original purpose.
The nave arcades are of six bays with coarsely moulded arches and piers, with four engaged shafts and moulded capitals and bases. The clearstory has four-light windows with uncusped tracery, the mullions crossing in the head, and all the nave roofs are of flat pitch and modern. The weathering of a former high-pitched roof remains on the east wall of the west tower.
The north chapel has a tall three-light east window of early fourteenth-century style, (fn. 18) and the contemporary north window is flat-headed, of three trefoiled lights with reticulated tracery. Below it is an arched recess, now containing a late thirteenthcentury effigy, while a somewhat later one lies near by. The second window from the east has three cinquefoiled lights under a segmental head, and the two others to the west of it three cinquefoiled lights with tracery over. The north doorway is small and plain, the principal entrance to the church being by the south porch, which has a four-centred outer arch with a shield and 1 H S at the apex, and an upper story lighted on the south by a four-light squareheaded window. Above it is a canopied niche, and the porch, like the rest of the aisles and the clearstory, is finished with an embattled parapet and short angle pinnacles. It retains its original flat ceiling with heavy moulded oak beams, and the Molyneux arms occur on the buttresses and the labels of the outer arch.
The west tower is of three stages with diagonal buttresses at the western angles and a vice in the south-west angle. The west window of the ground story is of two trefoiled lights with a quatrefoil over, and the four belfry windows are of the same type. In the intermediate stage are small single trefoiled lights. The tall stone spire is quite plain, and rises from a plain parapet with four low conical angle turrets. It is to be noted that a plinth of the same section as that on the tower is continued round the later part of the north aisle, suggesting that it may be re-used material from the former north aisle, which seems to have been contemporary with the tower. (fn. 19)
The great interest of the church lies in its woodwork and monuments.
The rood screen, though damaged by repairs in 1820 and 1843, is a very fine example, with projecting canopies on either side. These are unfortunately not in their original condition, the eastern canopy having been formerly a canted tester with a panelled soffit, and a brattishing of nine hanging cusped arches. No other part of the rood loft remains, and the position of the stair which led to it is doubtful.
The screen has five openings, each with two cinquefoiled arches in the head divided by a pendant, and in the central opening are double doors, unfortunately not the original ones, which were destroyed at one or other of the dates mentioned above. The bands of ornament on the rails and cornice are richly wrought, and show a mixture of the Gothic vine-trail with Renaissance detail, as already noted. The pendants of the western canopies are finished with angels holding shields with Molyneux bearings or the emblems of the Passion. The openings of the screen, as well as of the side screens of the chancel, are filled in with iron stanchions ending in fleurs de lys; these side screens have good carved cornices and cresting, and pierced tracery in the heads, but show no Italian detail, and their lower panels are solid, with cinquefoiled heads. They appear to have had canopies at one time, and to have lost them in some repair. In the west bay of the chancel are fourteen stalls, three being returned on each side of the chancel door, their floor level being two steps above that of the pavement, and the desks are set on a stone base with quatrefoiled openings to the area below the floor of the stalls. The standards at the ends of the desks are carved with a variety of devices, the lower part being in all a conventional pineapple, while above are deer, a lion, a unicorn, a griffin, an owl mobbed by small birds, an eagle, an antelope, &c. The letters 1 M occur here as before noted. The screen across the north aisle, at the west of the Blundell chapel, is somewhat plainer than the rest, but has a good carved cornice and pierced tracery in the head of each opening, and on the lower panels a plain fluted linen pattern showing classic influence. Against the north wall of the chapel is an early seventeenth-century seat with panelled back and return benches on east and west, and corresponding desks in front, having on the upper part of one of the standards a seated squirrel, the Blundell crest.
At the east end of the south aisle is another late Gothic screen of very rich detail with elaborately carved uprights and solid lower panels with ornament derived from the linen pattern, and on the top a canopy projecting east and west, the east side being canted like the former east canopy of the wood screen, and the west side coved. Both have ribs and a carved cornice with pendants, but the south end of the screen has been damaged by galleries, and is now partly hidden by the Sefton pew, which was formerly on the north side of the nave, and is of the same date and detail as the screen at the west of the Blundell chapel.
Both blocks of seats in the nave, twelve on each side, belong probably to the second quarter of the sixteenth century, and have good poppy heads and a most interesting set of carved bench ends. Those in the north block have crowned fleurs de lys on the four corner bench ends, and the rest have, for the most part, various conventional floral patterns. In the south block the corner seats have the Molyneux cross, while the rest have an alphabet, complete except for x, y and z, one letter to each bench end. At first sight they suggest some method of marking the seats analogous to modern numbering, but the absence of any such arrangement in the north block goes to show that the letters are merely ornamental. It must also be noted that the floor beneath the benches is modern, so that they may not be in their original positions. In various places the emblems of the Passion occur, and several devices whose meaning is obscure, and at the west end of the south aisle is a churchwardens' pew containing work of the same period, with a linen-pattern panelled front.
At the west end of the north aisle are the seats once occupied by the members of the mock corporation of Sefton, the mayor's seat being in front of the west respond of the north arcade.
The pulpit, which formerly stood against the middle
pier of the north arcade of the nave, is now set
against the rood screen on the north side of the entrance to the chancel, displacing the Sefton pew, now
in the south aisle. It is octagonal, with pilasters at
the angles and two tiers of moulded panels, the
whole surface being worked with arabesques in low
relief. It stands on a tall octagonal stem and has
over it an octagonal tester with pendants at the angles
and a panelled soffit. It is dated 1635, and has two
inscriptions, one round the tester:—
My sonne feare thou the Lorde and the Kinge and medle not with them that are given to change,
and another round the cornice of the body of the pulpit:—
He that covereth his sinne shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercie; happy is the m[an]—
the end of the inscription being lost.
There are a few pieces of old stained glass. In the east window of the south aisle are several symbols of the Passion, and part of a rood, with an inscription recording the gift of a window by Sir William Molyneux, 1542. In the window near Margaret Bulkeley's brass in the south aisle, is a partly modern inscription recording the making of a window in her memory in 1543, and in the next window is a third inscription naming 'William' Ireland of Lydiate and Ellen his wife, 1540. The word William is a modern insertion; the original was Lawrence.
The traces of ritual arrangements, apart from those already described, are not many. There are three sedilia on the south side of the chancel, and a recess for a piscina to the east of them, while in the north wall of the chancel is a large arched recess with an ogee head, now fitted with a door. It may be modern, but the position is a normal one.
The north chapel as already noted belongs to the early part of the fourteenth century, and the tomb recess in its north wall is contemporary. In the east wall, near the south end, is a double piscina of c. 1330, with a flowing quatrefoil in the head over two trefoiled arches. It may have been moved to its present position at the building of the arcades in the sixteenth century.
The font stands under the west tower, and is of red sandstone, octagonal, with blank shields in sixfoils on each face and raised fillets on the angles of bowl, stem and base. It probably belongs to the end of the fifteenth century, and has a pyramidal oak cover inscribed R R : H M : C W. 1688. In the north, south, and west walls of the tower are rectangular recesses, those on the north and south extending eastward beyond the line of their openings in the thickness of the wall, and bearing marks of the fitting of shelves. One such recess in this position would serve as a fontlocker to keep the chrismatory, &c., but the presence of three points to some additional use, and this part of the church may have been used as a vestry.
When the whitewash was taken off the arcades in 1891, black-letter texts of Jacobean date were found in the spandrels of the arches. The panelling on the east wall of the chancel was given by will by Mrs. Anne Molyneux, c. 1730, (fn. 20) and the three brass chandeliers hanging in the church were given in 1773.
There are six bells, the first four by Henry Oldfield of Nottingham, and the fifth and tenor of 1815
by Dobson of Downham. The inscriptions on the
first four are:—
Treble.—God bles the founder heareof. 1601.
Second.—Nos sumus constructi ad laudum (sic) Domini. 1601.
Third.—Hec campana beata Trinitate sacra fiat. Fere God. Henri Oldfelde made thys Beyl.
Fourth as Third, omitting the word 'beata.'
The Latin inscriptions on the third and fourth
bells are a version of the mediaeval hexameter,
Trinitate sacra fiat haec campana beata,
and one or both of the bells may have been so inscribed before their recasting by Oldfield.
The very interesting series of monuments begins with the mailed effigy in the recess on the north of the north-east chapel. The figure has knee-caps which may be of leather, but is otherwise entirely in mail, and wears a short surcoat and a sword-belt, from which hangs a sword which he is drawing from its sheath. On the left arm is a shield with the cross moline of Molyneux. The date of the effigy is c. 1280–1300, and it may represent William de Molyneux, who died c. 1289. Near it is a second effigy wearing a peaked bascinet with raised vizor, a mail hauberk and short surcoat, and plate (or leather) knee-caps and jambes, the feet being in mail. He is bearded, and has a blank shield on the left arm, and draws his sword like the other effigy. The date is c. 1330, but there is nothing to show who is the person represented. A curious detail is the crouching human figure in a long gown on whom the feet of the effigy rest. In the same chapel is a panelled altar tomb with an alabaster slab and a damaged inscription to Lady Joan Molyneux, 1440.
In the south aisle, and now enclosed by the Sefton pew, is the fine brass of Margaret Bulkeley, 1528, with a figure under a double canopy between four shields, bearing the arms of Molyneux, Bulkeley, Dutton, and Molyneux. At the feet is a long inscription recording her foundation of a chantry in the church.
On the south side of the chancel is a floor-slab with the brass figures of Sir William Molyneux and his two wives, Jane (Rudge) and Elizabeth (Clifton), 1548. The inscription records his feat of capturing two standards at Flodden, and over his head is the Molyneux shield with the standards above it—only one being now perfect, that of Huntly, with its motto or cry 'Clanc tout.' Above each of the wives was a lozenge with heraldry, one only being now left, and below the inscription a shield with Molyneux with ten alliances, and the motto 'En droit devant.' The figure of Sir William is in armour of the time, with the curious exception that the head is covered with a coif of mail, and the lower part of a hauberk shows above the knees. It is possible, as has been already suggested elsewhere, that the figure represents his actual appearance at Flodden, in old armour hastily chosen from among the suits at Sefton on the sudden alarm of war.
On an altar tomb just south of this slab, and balancing the tomb of Lady Joan Molyneux on the other side of the chancel, are the brass figures of Sir Richard Molyneux, 1558, and his two wives, Eleanor (Radcliffe) and Eleanor (Maghull). Below is a rhyming inscription in eight lines and a group of five sons and eight daughters. Of the marginal inscription there only remains enough to identify the tomb.
In the south-east chapel are later monuments, one of white marble to Caryll Molyneux, third viscount, 1700, and others to his wife and daughter-in-law.
The most notable of the modern monuments is that of Henry Blundell of Ince, who died in 1810; it was designed by John Gibson and represents the deceased relieving Genius and Poverty. (fn. 21)
The church plate consists of a chalice with the letters [see figure below] and the inscription 'The gift of Mrs. Alice Morton to the church of Sephton, 1695'; a flagon, inscribed 'The gift of Mrs. Anne Jackson of Sephton, 1715'; another chalice, with 'The gift of Mrs. Ann Molyneux to the parish church of Sephton, 1729,' and among the plate marks B.B. for Benjamin Branker, a Liverpool silversmith; a cylindrical cup with handle, engraved with a crest of three arrows, tied with ribbon, and the points resting on a wreath; and a silver paten, which fits an old silver chalice now at St. Luke's, Great Crosby.
The churchwardens' accounts begin in 1746. (fn. 22)
The registers begin in 1597, but were not regularly kept until 1615, from which time they are continuous. (fn. 23)
From its position the parish of Sefton appears to have been taken from that of Walton. The earliest record of its independent existence is in 1203, when the abbot of Combermere and others, by virtue of a commission from Innocent III, adjudicated in a dispute as to certain tithes in Crosby between the prior of Lancaster and the rector of Sefton. (fn. 24) In 1291 the value of the benefice was £26 13s. 4d., (fn. 25) and in 1340 it was assessed at 40 marks for the ninth of sheaves, lambs, and wool. (fn. 26) The net value in 1535, including the rectory house, was £30 1s. 8d. (fn. 27) By 1718 this had increased to £300, (fn. 28) and now the gross value is said to be £1,300. (fn. 29)
The Molyneux family, as lords of Sefton, were the patrons, (fn. 30) until after the Revolution, when Caryll, Lord Molyneux, being disqualified by his religion from presenting, sold the advowson to a connexion, George, earl of Cardigan. (fn. 31) It is found in a list of the Molyneux properties made in 1770, but had been finally disposed of in 1747 to the Rev. James Rothwell, vicar of Deane, (fn. 32) whose representatives, the trustees of the late marquis de Rothwell, of Sharples Hall, are the present patrons. (fn. 33)
The following is a list of the rectors:—
|Instituted||Name||Patron||Cause of Vacancy|
|oc.||1203||Richard (fn. 34)||—||—|
|oc.||1288||William de Kirkdale (fn. 35)||—||—|
|c.||1310||Richard de Molyneux (fn. 36)||—||—|
|9 May, 1339||Gilbert de Legh (fn. 37)||Ric. de Molyneux||d. of Richard|
|27 Nov. 1339||John de Massey (fn. 38)||Ric. de Molyneux||d. Gilbert|
|— (July), 1364||Mr. Jordan de Holme (fn. 39)||Duke of Lancaster||exchange|
|3 Nov. 1376||William de Oke (fn. 40)||"||d. Jordan de Holme|
|19 May, 1378||Simon de Melburn (fn. 41)||"||res. W. de Oke|
|31 Aug. 1404||Roger Hawkshaw (fn. 42)||Mr. Ric. de Winwick, &c.||d. of S. de Melburn|
|oc. 1416–24||John Totty (fn. 43)||—||—|
|oc.||1427||Richard de Haydock (fn. 44)||—||—|
|10 Feb. 1432–3||Nicholas de Haydock (fn. 45)||Will. de Heth, &c.||d. R. de Haydock|
|27 Oct. 1433||Richard del Kar (fn. 46)||"||d. N. de Haydock|
|30 May, 1462||John Molyneux, M.A. (fn. 47)||Rob. Molyneux, &c.||d. R. Kar|
|12 July, 1485||Henry Molyneux, M.A. (fn. 48)||James Stanley, &c.||d. J. Molyneux|
|27 March, 1489||James Molyneux (fn. 49)||Ric. Molyneux, &c.||d. H. Molyneux|
|15 Oct. 1509||Edward Molyneux (fn. 50)||Will. Molyneux||d. J. Molyneux|
|17 Jan. 1535–6||Anthony Molyneux, D.D. (fn. 51)||Sir W. Molyneux||d. E. Molyneux|
|2 Sept. 1557||Robert Ballard (fn. 52)||Sir R. Molyneux||d. last rector|
|29 Oct. 1564||John Finch (fn. 53)||"||d. R. Ballard|
|4 Feb. 1567–8||John Nutter, B.D. (fn. 54)||"||d. J. Finch|
|17 July, 1602||Gregory Turner, M.A. (fn. 55)||"||d. J. Nutter|
|—||— 1633||Thomas Legh, D.D. (fn. 56)||—||d. G. Turner|
|21 June, 1639||Edward Moreton, D.D. (fn. 57)||The king||d. T. Legh|
|3 April, 1640||Lord Molyneux|
|21 June, 1640||The king|
|c.||1646||Joseph Thomson (fn. 58)||—||exp. E. Moreton|
|—||— 1660||Edward Moreton||—||reinstated|
|8 Sept. 1675||John Bradford, D.D. (fn. 59)||The king||d. E. Moreton|
|23 Aug. 1678||Jonathan Brideoak, B.D. (fn. 60)||Lord Molyneux||res. J. Bradford|
|30 Aug. 1684||Richard Richmond, M.A. (fn. 61)||Ric. Legh of Lyme||d. J. Brideoak|
|26 Dec. 1721||Richard Hartley (fn. 62)||John Clayton||d. R. Richmond|
|13 April, 1722||Thomas Egerton, M.A. (fn. 63)||Lord Cardigan|
|12 Jan. 1763||Richard Rothwell, M.A. (fn. 64)||James Rothwell||d. T. Egerton|
|3 May, 1802||Richard Rainshaw Rothwell, M.A. (fn. 65)||The bishop||d. R. Rothwell|
|1 July, 1863||
Roger Dawson Dawson-Duffield,
LL.D., (fn. 66) Count Dawson-Duffield
|Marquis de Rothwell||d. R. R. Rothwell|
|10 Feb. 1871||Englebert Horley, M.A. (fn. 67)||" "||d. R. D. Dawson-Duffield|
|10 Aug. 1883||Edward Horley, M.A. (fn. 68)||" "||d. E. Horley|
|2 Dec. 1890||George William Wall, M.A. (fn. 69)||" "||d. E. Horley|
Of the earlier rectors little is known; Dr. Anthony Molyneux, 1536–57, was the most distinguished. In 1541, in addition to the rector and two chantry priests there were only two others recorded in the parish, Hugh Whitfield and Robert Ballard, paid respectively by the rector and Sir William Molyneux, (fn. 70) but eight clergy appeared at the visitation in 1548. Besides the parish church there was the chapel at Great Crosby to be served. Even in 1554 comparatively little change was shown, the rector, Anthony Molyneux, his curate, and four others appearing. In 1562 Master Robert Ballard, the rector, an opponent of the Elizabethan changes, appeared by proxy, his curate coming in person; three others, nominally attached to the parish, were absent. Next year the rector was described as decrepit, but his curate appeared; the names of the other three, entered from an old list by the registrar's clerk, have been crossed out. In 1565, no one was recorded but the rector, John Finch, whose name is written over that of Robert Ballard. (fn. 71) John Finch died or resigned shortly afterwards, and in 1568 John Nutter, afterwards dean of Chester, succeeded. Though 'a preacher,' he seems to have been but a money-seeking pluralist, who went with the times and joined, perhaps rather to procure favour than out of zeal, in the persecution of his recusant parishioners. (fn. 72) He had in 1590 an assistant, who was 'no preacher.' (fn. 73) About 1610 the conditions remained unaltered; the incumbent, Mr. Turner, was a preacher, but the curate of Great Crosby was not. (fn. 74)
The Parliamentary Commissioners in 1650 were satisfied with the two ministers they found in the parish, but recommended that two more churches should be erected, one at Ince Blundell and the other at Litherland, 'both places being well situated for conveniency of many inhabitants and distant from any church or chapel two miles and upwards, the want of such churches being the cause of loitering and much ignorance and popery.' (fn. 75) No steps, however, seem to have been taken to build them. Bishop Gastrell found that there were 310 families in the parish in 1718, and 156 'Papists,' with two chapels; there was only one dissenting family. (fn. 76) The return of 1767 allows 603 'Papists' to Sefton and 154 to Crosby. (fn. 77) The growth of the seaside towns during the last century has totally altered the conditions; the Nonconformists, for instance, formerly unknown, have now many churches and meetingplaces.
There were only two endowed chantries in Sefton church at the time of the confiscation in 1548, and those were of recent establishment. By her will of 1528 Margaret Bulkeley, widow, gave various lands to Sir William Leyland and other feoffees, to find 'an able and honest priest to say and celebrate mass and other divine service … at the altar of our Blessed Lady of Pity,' for her soul and the souls of John Dutton and William Bulkeley, formerly her husbands, and for others. (fn. 78) This chantry was in the south chapel. Robert Parkinson, one of the feoffees, was the only cantarist of the foundation; he died in or before 1554. The endowments, which included the mill at Thornton, were valued at £4 14s. a year. (fn. 79) The second chantry, in the north chapel, was founded in 1535 by Edward Molyneux, rector. (fn. 80) The only priest was Thomas Kirkby, probably he whose presentation to Aughton caused much dispute. (fn. 81) The amount of the endowment was £5 18s. 3d. (fn. 82)
In 1718 Bishop Gastrell found about £400 had been given by various persons to charities in the parish, apart from Great Crosby School; 'all these sums,' he says, 'are in good hands and the interest duly paid.' (fn. 83) The charity commissioners of 1828 found various 'poor's stocks' in existence, the origin of which was unknown. (fn. 84) There was then only one charity for the whole parish, and in 1898 it was found to have been 'discontinued before living memory.' (fn. 85)
For Sefton quarter the poor's stock was £84 in 1828, but it had been lost before 1898. (fn. 86) On the other hand, a benefaction by Anne Molyneux in 1728 had been increased by several donations, and the net income of £6 4s. was in 1898 distributed by the rector to six widows. (fn. 87) The Netherton poor's stock of £120 in 1828 is supposed to have included Peter Halewood's gift of £100 in 1815, afterwards augmented by £200 bequeathed by his daughter Margaret; the interest, £10 17s. 6d. net, is distributed by trustees appointed by the parish council. (fn. 88) James Holland Lancaster desired £100 to be given as a prize for St. Philip's National School, Litherland; and in 1886 his representatives carried out his wish. (fn. 89)
For Great Crosby the £10 left by John Lurting and James Rice had been gradually augmented, and in 1898 was supposed to be represented by £44; formerly the interest was applied to apprenticing poor boys, but now is handed to the vicar of Great Crosby to be used for the poor at his discretion. (fn. 90) Over £1,000 has in more recent times been given by the brothers John and Samuel Bradshaw. (fn. 91) Thomas Fowler's bequest of £20 for binding poor children to trades appears to have been lost, (fn. 92) but the interest on Anne Molyneux's £10 provides a junior prize in divinity for Merchant Taylors' School. (fn. 93) George Blinkhorn of Great Crosby, by his will dated 1820, charged his lands with £4 a year for the benefit of the poor; this continues in force. (fn. 94)
At Little Crosby in 1828 the poor received £2 7s. 6d. a year, and a small portion of this is still paid, a voluntary rate being levied. (fn. 95) Various sums have been given for the school at Ince Blundell, (fn. 96) and £5 10s. is still paid to the priest in charge of the mission there for the benefit of the poor; but as the 'constable's levy' can no longer be enforced, various sums charged upon it for the poor have ceased to be paid. (fn. 97) Edward Holme in 1695 left the residue of his estate as a poor's stock for Thornton; it realized £100, now said to be represented by a field in Holmer Green, let at 10s. a year. The parish council has charge of this charity. (fn. 98)