Townships: Southworth with Croft

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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'Townships: Southworth with Croft', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 168-170. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

In this section


Suthewrthe, 1212; Sotheworth, 1293; Suthworth, 1306. Croft, 1212.

Croft, the eastern portion of the township, has the larger area, 1,364 acres, and was frequently placed first; but the only hall was in Southworth, which contains 519½ acres. There is now no defined boundary between the two. A brook on the east and south of Croft affords a natural boundary, except that a portion to the south of the brook, reclaimed from the moss, has been added to Croft. The total area is 1,883½ (fn. 1) acres.

The country is mostly flat, with slight irregularities of surface in places, traversed by fairly good roads and covered with open fields, under mixed cultivation, alternating with pastures. The crops principally grown are potatoes, oats, and wheat, in a loamy soil. The Pebble Beds of the Bunter Series of the New Red Sandstone are everywhere in evidence.

The population in 1901 was 970. There are many small freeholders.

The principal road is that leading eastward from Winwick to Culcheth.

There is a tumulus in the north-west corner of Southworth.

In the Winwick registers 3 February, 1683–4, is a certificate signed by Dr. Sherlock, rector, for Henry son of Ralph Bate of Croft, 'who had the evil and was touched by his majesty.'

There is a parish council.

A school board was formed in 1875. (fn. 2)

The somewhat scattered village of Croft is a favourite resort of picnic parties.


Of the two manors, SOUTHWORTH and CROFT, held by different tenures of the lords of Makerfield, (fn. 3) the latter appears to have been the more important, as it gave its name to the lord, who in 1212 was Gilbert de Croft. He held it by the service of falconer, and it was held of him in unequal portions by Hugh de Croft and the heir of Randle, the latter of them discharging the service. (fn. 4) Gilbert de Croft also held Southworth by a rent of 20s., but in 1212 it was, for some reason unknown, in the king's hands. (fn. 5)

Very soon afterwards, before 1219, Gilbert de Croft, who also held the manor of Dalton in Kendal, (fn. 6) granted Southworth to Gilbert son of Hugh de Croft, who was probably a near kinsman, and this Gilbert, taking the local surname, was the founder of the Southworth family, which held the manors of South worth and Croft until the beginning of the 17th century. The service to be rendered was a pound of pepper annually. (fn. 7) Thurstan Banastre, lord of Makerfield, confirmed this charter, and reduced the annual rent payable to him to 13s. 4d. (fn. 8) The remaining part of Croft was later acquired by the Southworth family; 1 oxgang of land therein was granted to Gilbert de Southworth by Agnes daughter of Randle de Croft, (fn. 9) and 2 oxgangs to Gilbert son of Gilbert. (fn. 10) From this time Southworth and Croft have descended together.

By the marriage of Gilbert son of Gilbert de Southworth and Alice daughter of Nicholas de Ewyas in 1325 a moiety of the manor of Samlesbury came to the family, (fn. 11) which was thenceforward known as Southworth of Samlesbury, continuing till the latter part of the 17th century. In addition the manors of Middleton, Houghton, and Arbury, adjoining Southworth, were acquired, and some junior branches of the family settled in them. (fn. 12)

As to Southworth itself but little record remains. (fn. 13) In 1287 and 1292 there was a settlement of the boundary between Croft and Kenyon by the lords of the manors. (fn. 14) An inquisition made in 1325 respecting 'half the manor of Southworth' shows that Sir Robert de Holland had obtained a grant of it. (fn. 15) There are a few later charters. (fn. 16)

The steadfast adherence of Sir John Southworth to the ancient faith in the time of Elizabeth, with the consequent fines and imprisonments, must have made a serious inroad upon the family resources; the manors and lands in the Southworth district were mortgaged and sold early in the 17th century. (fn. 17)

Sir Thomas Ireland of Bewsey purchased Southworth and Croft in 1621. (fn. 18) A century later the manor was held by the Gerards of Ince, and bequeathed in 1743 by Richard Gerard to his brother Thomas, a Jesuit priest. (fn. 19) This was no doubt a gift to the society to enable it to maintain the local missions, and thus Southworth came into the possession of Stonyhurst College. It was sold about 1820 to Thomas Claughton of Haydock; he failed in 1823, (fn. 20) and it was sold to Edward Greenall of Warrington, (fn. 21) whose granddaughter Elizabeth, Lady Shiffner, sold it to Samuel Brooks, the banker, after whose death it passed to a younger son Thomas. The latter's sons, Mr. Joseph Raynor Brooks and Mr. Edward Brooks, are the present owners. (fn. 22) No manor courts are held, nor are any manorial rights claimed.

Aspshaw anciently gave a surname to the family settled there. (fn. 23)

A branch of the Southworths was established in Croft. (fn. 24) About 1556 the heirs of Henry Southworth and James Hey contributed to the subsidy as landowners. (fn. 25) No freeholders appear in the list of 1600, but in 1628 John Hay contributed to the subsidy. (fn. 26) James Bankes of Winstanley held some land in Croft in 1618. (fn. 27) Christopher Bate, a recusant, petitioned in 1654 for leave to contract for the sequestrated two-thirds of his estate in Croft. (fn. 28) In 1717 Elizabeth Kay, widow, as a 'papist,' registered a house and 8 acres in the same place. (fn. 29)

The 'chapel of Southworth' is mentioned in 1292, (fn. 30) but nothing further is known of it; perhaps it was a domestic chapel.

During the last century several places of worship have been erected. For the Established religion Christ Church was built in 1832. The benefice became a rectory by the Winwick Church Act of 1841; the patron is the Earl of Derby. (fn. 31)

An Independent Methodist chapel was built at Croft in 1817, (fn. 32) but has disappeared.

When the Unitarians were ejected from the old Risley Chapel in Culcheth they built for themselves a small chapel in Croft, opened in 1839. (fn. 33)

After the suppression of the ancient worship by Elizabeth nothing is known until 1701 of any survival or continuance; but Gervase Hamerton, a Jesuit, was in that year in charge of the mission of Southworth. (fn. 34) The private chapel in the hall continued to be used even after the sale; but in 1827 the present church of St. Lewis was opened. (fn. 35) The mission is now served by the secular clergy. (fn. 36)


  • 1. 1,887, including an acre of inland water, according to the census of 1901.
  • 2. Lond. Gaz. 28 Sept. 1875.
  • 3. See V.C.H. Lancs. i, 366 n. for the Makerfield lordship; also Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), i, 138; ibid. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 105.
  • 4. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 77. From a subsequent note it will be found that the falconer's service due from the heir of Randle —apparently a daughter—was commuted into a rent of 15d. Ulf de Southworth was fined ½ mark in 1184–5; Farrer, Lancs. Pipe R. 55.
  • 5. Inq. and Extents, i, 78.
  • 6. Ibid. 90.
  • 7. Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 23, no. 4; in a collection of Southworth charters. About five hundred of these deeds are contained in the Towneley MS. HH; and a number of abstracts are in Kuerden's folio volume (Chet. Lib.). Gilbert de Croft's charter was made 'with the leave of his heir.' The witnesses included Thurstan Banastre (who died in 1219) and Robert his brother; also Henry and Roger de Croft. The pound of pepper does not seem to have been demanded, and Southworth was later described as held directly of the lords of Makerfield. For Gilbert de Croft see Lancs. Pipe R. 77, 152, &c.
  • 8. Dods. MSS. loc. cit.; Gilbert de Croft is called son of Roger. It is possible that in the charter the 'manor' was Southworth and the 'land' Croft. Later Robert Banastre released to Gilbert de Southworth his claim on the land outside his park of Lee by the boundary of Southworth, together with all his land outside the park at Edricshill on the east; Towneley MS. HH, no. 2086.
  • 9. Agnes released to Gilbert all her share in Aspshaw appertaining to her 3 oxgangs; the bounds included Aspshaw Brook as far as 'the oak marked with a cross'; Kuerden fol. MS. 75, no. 313. The name Aspshaw occurs also in Newton. When a widow she granted 1 oxgang in the vill of Croft, with two messuages formerly held of her by Hugh son of Wion and William son of Henry; rents of 1d. and 5d. were payable to her and the chief lord respectively; ibid. 74, no. 119.
  • 10. Robert 'Sceryswerz' (? de Erbery or Deresbery) was the grantor; he had probably acquired them from Agnes daughter of Randle; Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 17b. The date of this charter is about 1250; 'N.' rector of Winwick, otherwise unknown, was a witness. Robert son of Robert Banastre released to Gilbert de Southworth all his right in land called Richard's Croft; ibid. fol. 21, no. 49.
  • 11. Towneley MS. HH, no. 1729; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 62.
  • 12. See the account of the township.
  • 13. All the lords of the manor from 1220 to 1380 seem to have been named Gilbert, so that it is difficult to determine the succession. In the above-cited grant of two oxgangs, Gilbert son of Gilbert was the recipient. Emma wife of Gilbert de Southworth is mentioned in 1290; Assize R. 1288, m. 11 d. Gilbert son of Gilbert made a grant in 1294; Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 19, no. 34; and the marriage of another Gilbert son of Gilbert was agreed upon, as stated, in 1325.
  • 14. The land in dispute in 1287 had the following boundaries: Beginning at Strid Lache, where it fell into Kenylaw Lache, up Strid Lache to a ditch in the east, along this southward to Quitslade Lache head, thence to Kenylaw Lache and the starting point. The decision was a compromise, the land to be common to Croft and Kenyon; Towneley MS. HH, no. 1650. In 1292 the dispute was concerning land between Kenylaw ends and Southworth Chapel and between Edricshull syke and Kenylaw Lache; a division of the land was made, a ditch 4 ft. wide being ordered to mark the boundary; ibid. no. 1697.
  • 15. The jury decided that it would not be to the king's injury to allow Gilbert de Southworth to enfeoff John de Middleton of the moiety of the manor of Southworth, which he held of the king in chief, in order that the said John might grant it to Gilbert, with remainder to Gilbert his son and Alice his wife and their heirs. The moiety was held in socage of the king (by the forfeiture of Robert de Holland) by fealty and the service of 15d. yearly at Christmas, and was worth 43s. 4d. No other lands remained to Gilbert in the county; Inq. a.q.d. 19 Edw. II, no. 35; see also Final Conc. ii, 62. The service of 15d. indicates that this 'moiety' of Southworth was the three oxgangs in Croft held in 1212 by the heirs of Randle, for 5d. to the chief lord was due from one of the oxgangs. In 1334 it was declared that Southworth was not a vill, but a hamlet of the vill of Croft; Coram Rege R. 297, m. 3 d.
  • 16. Gilbert de Southworth in 1331 granted to Gilbert de Rixton and Denise his wife for life, and their children Richard and Emmota, lands in Croft; Towneley MS. HH, no. 1534. Thomas son of Gilbert de Southworth was a plaintiff in 1353; Assize R. 435, m. 4. He is probably the Thomas de Southworth of later settlements. In the previous year a feoffee had delivered certain lands, &c., in Arbury, Middleton, Houghton, and Woolston to Geoffrey son of Thomas de Southworth, with remainders to William and other children of Thomas; Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 27b. William de Southworth and Maud his wife appear to have been in possession in 1404; ibid. Southworth is named among the family manors in inquisitions and settlements; e.g. of Sir John Southworth, who died at Harfleur in 1416; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), i, 117; Thomas, the son of Sir John, and Joan his wife, in 1428; Towneley MS. HH, no. 1975, 1602, 1706. This Thomas died in 1432 holding lands in Southworth, Croft, Middleton, Houghton, and Arbury of the lord of Makerfield in socage by a service of 24s. a year; Lancs. Inq. ii, 45. The service, if correctly stated, must have been made up of the 13s. 4d. due from Southworth, with perhaps 1s. 3d. from part of Croft and the remainder from the parts of Middleton which had by that time been acquired. In a record of previous inquisitions made in 1511 the service due from the Southworth group is stated as unknown; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 18; see no. 41, 100, 103, 104. In later ones— e.g. Sir John Southworth's in 1597—the service is given as 33s. 11d., probably made up chiefly of 13s. 4d. for Southworth (and Croft) and 20s. for Middleton; ibid. xvii, no. 3.
  • 17. A settlement was made in 1605, Thomas Southworth and John his son and heir being deforciants in a fine; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 68, m. 5. A year later John Harrington appears to have been mortgagee, John Southworth being in possession; ibid. bdle. 70, no. 80. In 1612 Thomas Ireland was one of the plaintiffs; ibid. bdle. 82, no. 60. Ten years later the transfer was complete; ibid. bdle. 100, no. 20.
  • 18. By an inquiry made in 1648 on the petition of Anne Mort, widow of Thomas Southworth, who sought dower, it was found that in Sept. 1621 Sir Thomas Ireland of Bewsey had acquired from Thomas Southworth of Samlesbury the latter's manors, messuages, lands, tenements, rents, and services in Southworth, Croft, Middleton, Arbury, Houghton, Winwick, Hulme, Orford, Warrington, Fearnhead, Poulton, and Woolston, except a few parcels already sold to James Bankes and Thomas Goulden, in accordance with agreements formerly made by Thomas and John Southworth, the grandfather and father of the vendor. The price paid was £500, Sir Thomas also undertaking to pay William Southworth his annuity of £13 6s. 8d.; Ct. of Wards and Liveries, 21A, no. 1, 2. There was a dispute between Sir Thomas Ireland and the lord of Newton concerning a warren, and the inclosing of lands in the manors of Southworth and Middleton; Lancs. and Ches. Recs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 241, 292. Sir Thomas Ireland died in 1625 holding these and other manors, and was succeeded by his son and heir Thomas; Lancs. Funeral Certs. (Chet. Soc.), 49–51; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvi, no. 58. George Ireland succeeded him in the Southworth manors and in Pennington; there is some uncertainty as to his birth, so that he was probably illegitimate. In 1626 he received the manors from his brother Thomas; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 110, no. 3; and died 6 May, 1632, being buried at Winwick the following day. He left by his wife Helen a daughter and heir Margaret, nearly six years of age; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxviii, no. 30. He had settled the manors on his heirs male, with reversion to the heirs male of Thomas Ireland of Bewsey and his brothers; but, as male issue was lacking, Margaret his daughter succeeded. She married in or before 1648 Penistone Whalley, son of Thomas Whalley of Kirton, Notts., and by him had a daughter Elizabeth; Visit. of Notts. (Harl. Soc.), 118. She was the widow of Cuthbert Clifton of Clifton, but had no issue by him; Dugdale, Visit. (Chet Soc.), 87. See Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 144, m. 17; 148, m. 67 (1650); in this Alexander Breres and Anne his wife are joined with Penistone Whalley and Margaret his wife as deforciants; also bdle. 156, m. 146 (1654).
  • 19. Piccope, MS. Pedigrees (Chet. Lib.), i, 119, quoting Roman Catholic deeds in the Preston House of Correction; Thomas Gerard was to divide the profits equally with his brother Caryll (also a priest), and his sisters Anne, Mary, Bridget, and Clare. There was a recovery of the manor in 1761, Thomas and Caryll Gerard being vouchees; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 593, m. 4.
  • 20. See the note on the Winwick charities. He married in 1806 Maria sister of Thomas Legh of Lyme, the Eastern traveller; Earwaker, East. Ches. i, 306. He sat for the borough of Newton from 1818 till his resignation in 1825; Pink and Beaven, Parl. Repre. of Lancs. 293. He was the father of Dr. Thomas Legh Claughton, Bishop of Rochester, 1866–77, and of St. Albans, 1877–90; and of Dr. Piers Calveley Claughton, Bishop of St. Helena, 1859–62, and of Colombo, 1862–71.
  • 21. Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1836), iii, 631. Edward Greenall died in 1836; his third son John, who died in 1850, appears to have received Southworth.
  • 22. Ibid. (ed. Croston), iv, 369; and information of Mr. T. Algernon Earle. Elizabeth Lady Shiffner was the daughter and heir of John Greenall of Middleton in Winwick.
  • 23. In the time of Edward I are grants from and to Gilbert son of Gilbert de Southworth his chief lord, to and by William son of John de Aspshaw; the land was in Croft. In one of the charters Emma widow of Gilbert is mentioned; Towneley MS. HH, no. 1985, 1983; Kuerden fol. MS. 37, no. 272. John son of Richard de Aspshaw was in 1359 a claimant against John de Aspshaw; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 7, m. 6. In 1411 the feoffees released lands to Joan widow of Hugh Tailor and daughter of Richard de Aspshaw; Towneley MS. HH, no. 2030.
  • 24. In 1480 there was an arbitration between Robert Southworth of Croft and William his son on one side, and James (son of William) Hay and John his son on the other, respecting a boundary; Kuerden fol. MS. 388 S. In 1517 Richard Southworth of Shenston, son and heir of Henry Southworth, released his lands in Croft to Sir Thomas Southworth at a yearly rent; Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 18, no. 16; Kuerden, loc. cit. Gilbert Southworth of Croft by will in 1504 bequeathed money for an obit by the Austin friars of Warrington, with a gift of 3s. to the poor; Raines, Lancs. Chant. (Chet. Soc.), i, 65.
  • 25. Mascy of Rixton Deeds.
  • 26. Norris D. (B.M.).
  • 27. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 98. Among minor inquisitions preserved by Towneley are those of Henry Birch, who died in 1635, holding lands in Croft and Southworth of Sir Richard Fleetwood; Henry, aged twenty, being son and heir; MS. C 8. 13 (Chet. Lib.), 60; of Thomas Ellam, son and heir of George, 401; and of Thomas Goulden, who died in 1639 leaving a son and heir Thomas, aged four years; 459. The Gouldens are noticed also under Winwick and Windle.
  • 28. Cal. of Com. for Compounding, v, 3185. The inquisition after the death of Ralph Bate is in Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxix, no. 75; his lands were held of Sir Richard Fleetwood, and he left a son and heir Thomas. In 1727 disputes arose concerning the estate of Ralph Bate (will made 1705) and Ralph Bate his son (will made 1727), in Croft and Fearnhead; Cal. Exch. of Pleas B. 68, 66, C. 284.
  • 29. Engl. Catholic Nonjurors, 117. Kays appear in the recusant roll of 1641; Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xiv, 245.
  • 30. Deed above quoted.
  • 31. Raines in Gastrell, Notitia Cestr. ii, 262; the Act is 4 Vict. cap. 9. See also Lond. Gaz. 3 Dec. 1844.
  • 32. Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1836), iii, 631.
  • 33. Nightingale, Lancs. Nonconformity, iv, 255–65.
  • 34. Foley, Rec. S.J. v, 321; his salary from various sources was £18. In 1750 the mission seems to have been confused or combined with Culcheth, Henry Stanley being in charge; 322. In 1767 the Bishop of Chester recorded the fact that Mr. Royle and Mr. Horne, priests, were at Croft and Southworth; Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xviii, 216. In 1784 thirtyfour persons were confirmed, and there were seventy communicants at Easter; Foley, op. cit. v, 364.
  • 35. The priest in charge was a French refugee, Louis Richebeque, which accounts for the dedication. For some interesting particulars see Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 210, 211.
  • 36. Liverpool Cath. Annual, 1901.