Townships: Wigan

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

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'Townships: Wigan', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 68-78. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

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Wigan, 1199; Wygayn, 1240; Wygan, common. Pronounced Wiggin (g hard).

The River Douglas, in its unrestricted days, flowed down from the north and turned to the west round the hill upon which Wigan Church stands, thence running north-westward and northward to the Ribble. The township of Wigan consists of the triangular area inclosed by the river and a line drawn across in a north-easterly direction from one part of the river's course to the other; in addition there are the district called Scholes on the eastern side, inclosed between the Douglas and a brook once called the Lorington, and now the Clarington, (fn. 1) which formerly joined it near the southernmost point of its course; and a small area to the south of the river. It is curious that Wigan is cut off by the river from the rest of the parish and hundred, and has on the north no marked physical separation from Standish, in a different parish and hundred. The area is 2,188 acres, including 47 of inland water. The population in 1901 numbered 60,764.

The church stands on the crest of the hill, which slopes away rapidly to the south and more gently to the north. To the north-west is the hall or rectory, with Hallgate leading to it, and beyond this again the Mesnes—part of it now a public park—or rectory demesne lands. Further away in the same direction lie the districts known as Gidlow and Brimelow, (fn. 2) the latter on the Standish boundary; while to the west is Woodhouses, near the river.

On the eastern side of the church is a street representing the ancient Roman road to the north, opening out just at that point into the irregular area in which the market was formerly held, and from which Market Street goes off to the north-west. As the main road goes northward it is called in succession Standishgate and Wigan Lane, with Mab's Cross as dividing mark, and has Swinley and Whitley on the west and Coppull on the east. The ground once again rises as the northern limit is neared, attaining about 250 ft.

The same road, descending south from the church and turning to the west through the more level ground running nearly parallel to the Douglas, is there called Wallgate. The border district to the south of Wallgate is called Poolstock.

Another road, called Millgate, begins at the old Market-place, and proceeding south-east, crosses the Douglas by a bridge, (fn. 3) near which was formerly the principal corn-mill of the town, and then goes northeast through the Scholes and Whelley. There is an easterly branch called Hardy Butts, starting near the river and proceeding through Hindley towards Manchester, probably on the line of another ancient Roman road.

Around the church and along the main roads mentioned the town of Wigan grew up. As the head of a great coal-mining district, the Douglas navigation scheme of 1720, (fn. 4) and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, opened in 1774, have been of great service; the Lancaster Canal followed in 1794, and a branch to Leigh connected the town with the Worsley Canal. The railway companies have also contributed to the progress of the place; the London & North Western Company's main line from London to Scotland passes through the place, (fn. 5) having a station in Wallgate, to the south of the church. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's Liverpool and Bury line, opened in 1848, has a station (1860) in Wallgate, near to the church; the company's Wigan and Southport branch (1855) turns off here. More recently the Great Central Railway has found access to the town, having a station near Millgate, opened in 1892.

Wigan is identified with the Coccium of the Antonine Itinerary; it stands at the point where the Roman road, north and south, was joined by another important road from Manchester. Its position on a hilltop, surrounded on two sides of its triangular area by a rapid stream, suggests that it had been a British fort. Various Roman remains have been found. (fn. 6)

The town continued to grow and prosper throughout the mediaeval period, and Leland thus describes its appearance about 1536: 'Wigan paved; as big as Warrington and better builded. There is one parish church amid the town. Some merchants, some artificers, some farmers.' (fn. 7)

Apart from its internal growth, the history of Wigan is interesting on account of the part taken in the Civil War. The townspeople were Royalist, (fn. 8) and the Earl of Derby appeared to make it his head quarters, its central position rendering it very fit for the purpose. He placed a garrison there, (fn. 9) but on 1 April 1643, the town was captured by the Parliamentary forces under Colonel Holland, after only two hours' resistance. Many prisoners were taken, and the soldiers were allowed to plunder and carry away what they could. (fn. 10) The Earl of Derby, who was 12 miles away, marched to its relief, but hearing that the town had surrendered, and that the Parliamentary forces had retired after breaking down some of the defensive works, he desisted and went to Lathom. (fn. 11) A second assault and capture took place three weeks later. (fn. 12) In 1648 Duke Hamilton's forces occupied Wigan after their defeat by Cromwell near Preston, but after plundering the people 'almost to their skins,' retired to Warrington, pursued by Cromwell. (fn. 13) A pestilence followed. (fn. 14)

When, in August 1651, the Earl of Derby was raising a force for Charles II, he again tried to secure Wigan. On 26 August a hot fight took place in Wigan Lane between his forces and those of Colonel Lilburne. At first the former were victorious, but a reserve of horse coming to Lilburne's assistance, put the Royalists to flight. Lord Derby took refuge in Wigan for a brief time, and after his wounds had been dressed, he went south to join Charles at Worcester. Sir Thomas Tyldesley and other notable Royalists were killed in the battle. (fn. 15)

The Restoration and Revolution do not appear to have affected Wigan much. (fn. 16) Some of those condemned for participation in the rising of 1715 were executed here. (fn. 17) The Young Pretender with his Highland army passed through the town on 28 No vember 1745, on his way to Manchester, and again on 10–11 December on his retreat northward. The inhabitants were not molested, but no recruits joined the force. (fn. 18)

At present the whole of the district is thickly populated, the industrial town of Wigan occupying the greater part of the township, whilst its collieries, factories, &c., fill the atmosphere with smoke. There is, however, a fringe of open country beyond the town itself, on the north, and here are arable and pasture lands, the crops raised being chiefly potatoes and oats. The soil is clayey and sandy. The woodlands of Haigh in the adjoining township make an agreeable background. The Douglas, turning many a factory wheel on its way, winds erratically across the district. The south-westerly part of the township lies very low, and is almost always flooded, the result of frequent subsidences of the ground.

The worthies of the town include Ralph Brooke or Brooksmouth, York Herald in the time of Elizabeth; (fn. 19) Henry Mason, divine and benefactor, 1573 to 1647; (fn. 20) John Leland, nonconformist divine and apologist for Christianity, who died 1766; (fn. 21) Anthony Wilson, alias Henry Bromley, publisher of catalogues of Engraved British Portraits, 1793; (fn. 22) John Fairclough, a minor Jesuit writer, 1787 to 1832; (fn. 23) John Roby, author of the romances entitled Traditions of Lancashire, 1795 to 1850; (fn. 24) John Howard Marsden, antiquary, 1803 to 1891; (fn. 25) John C. Prince, minor poet, 1808 to 1866; (fn. 26) and John Fitchett Marsh, antiquary, 1818 to 1880. (fn. 27)

A number of tokens were issued by local tradesmen in the 17th century. (fn. 28)

The printing press is said to have been introduced into Wigan about 1760; books dated in 1780 and later years are known. (fn. 29) There are three newspapers, two published three times a week and the other weekly. (fn. 30)

Coal-mining is the characteristic trade of the place, but there are large cotton mills also; ginghams, &c., are made. Forges, iron and brass foundries, wagon, screw and nail, oil and grease works, and breweries are also in operation. The ancient walk-mills show that cloth was made here from early times. A goldsmith was killed at Wigan in 1341. (fn. 31) The potters' right to dig clay on the wastes was vindicated in 1619. (fn. 32) 'Digging and delving mines for coals' was common in 1595. (fn. 33) Bell-founding is a lost trade; it was formerly in the hands of the Scott and Ashton families. (fn. 34)

In 1624 Bishop Bridgeman notified his objection to the 'barbarous and beastly game of bear baiting' at the wakes; but on the mayor's request he allowed the baiting to take place on the market hill after the market was over and the people had packed up their wares. (fn. 35)

An old Wigan nursery rhyme is printed in Harland and Wilkinson's Legends. (fn. 36)

The stocks were formerly near the main entrance to the churchyard from Wallgate. There was a cross in the market place, where proclamations were made, and the base of Mab's Cross, already mentioned, is in Standishgate. (fn. 37)

There was formerly a spa in Scholes. (fn. 38)

The curfew bell, anciently rung at eight o'clock, was in 1881 rung at half-past ten. (fn. 39)

A body of volunteers, called the Wigan Rifles, was raised in 1804. (fn. 40) The present volunteer force consists of five companies of the 6th battalion of the Manchester Regiment.


In Domesday Book WIGAN is not named; it was only 'the church of the manor' of Newton, (fn. 41) and a century later it is the church that brings it forward once more, a resident vicar being appointed. (fn. 42) The rectors were thus from before the Conquest until recently lords of the manor of Wigan under the lords of Newton, and the rectory was the hall. From the account of them already given it will be seen that a large number were non-resident, and exercised their authority by deputies.

Among the rights which gave most trouble to the rectors were those over the mills. Rector Fleetwood in the first year of his incumbency (1571) had instituted a suit against Hugh, Gilbert, and James Langshaw to recover seisin of two ancient water-mills, described as walk mills. (fn. 43) The dispute went on for many years. (fn. 44) Bishop Bridgeman, thirty years later, complained that William Langshaw was endeavouring to deprive the rector of his ownership of the mill. (fn. 45) The mills were situated at Coppull and a little lower down the river by the school; in 1627 they paid a rent of £4 a year to the rector. (fn. 46)

The corn mills, of which in the year just named there were five, also caused trouble. The principal was that on the Douglas in Millgate, of which Miles Leatherbarrow was the tenant in 1617. (fn. 47) In Rector Fleetwood's time a new water corn-mill was erected by Miles Gerard of Ince upon Lorington or Clarington Brook, the boundary of the manors of Wigan and Ince, and the water-course was diverted to feed it. The rectors complained of the injustice done to them, but Dr. Bridgeman allowed the mill to stand on condition that 20s. a year should be paid for tithe. (fn. 48)


In his first year Dr. Bridgeman received £16 13s. 2d. as manor rents, (fn. 49) and 10s. each for seven mortuaries. (fn. 50) It is an indication that there was a strong community existing around the church to find one of the absentee rectors, the busy official John Maunsel, procuring from the king a charter creating a borough. This was granted on 26 August 1246 to John Maunsel; the town of Wigan was to be a borough and a free borough for ever; the burgesses should have a gild merchant, with a hanse and all the liberties and free customs pertaining to such a gild; and no one but a member of the gild should do any business in the borough except by consent of the burgesses. Further, to the burgesses and their heirs the king conceded that they should have soke, sac, toll, theam, and attachment within the borough, infangenthef, utfangenthef; that they should throughout the country and sea ports be free of toll, lastage, pontage, passage, and stallage; that they should do no suit to county or wapentake for tenements within the borough; also that traders, even foreigners, provided they entered England peaceably and with the king's leave, should be allowed to pass in safety to and from the borough with their merchandise upon paying the usual dues. (fn. 51)

The rector's concomitant charter grants that the burgesses of Wigan and their heirs and assigns should have their free town, with all rights, customs, and liberties as stated in the king's charter; that each burgess should have to his burgage 5 roods of land; that they should grind at the rector's mill to the twentieth measure without payment, should have from his wood sufficient for building and burning, quittance of pannage and other easements; and that they should have their pleas in portmote once in three weeks, with verdict of twelve men and amercements by the same; paying annually to the rector 12d. a year for each burgage for all services. Robert Banastre, lord of Makerfield and patron of the church, added his confirmation; as did also Roger, Bishop of Lichfield. (fn. 52)

The burgesses, (fn. 53) regarded as equals, thus became the free tenants of the rector, as lord of the manor, with the usual liberties, and the special privilege of a portmote. The royal charter looks on the place as a trading centre and gives internal and external privileges accordingly; these last, which the rector could not give, were doubtless the reason for invoking the king's help. A later charter, 1257–8, granted that the rectors should have a market at their borough of Wigan on Monday in every week, and two fairs there of three days each, viz., on the vigil, day and morrow of the Ascension and of All Saints. (fn. 54)

In 1292 Adam de Walton, then rector, was called upon to show by what warrant he claimed certain liberties; it was asserted that Master Adam and his bailiffs had exceeded the terms of the charters by trying persons accused of felonies beyond their jurisdiction, when those persons had placed themselves on a jury of their country. In reply to particular charges the community of the vill appeared by twelve men of the vill. As to the court and liberty of the vill they said that these belonged to the rector, and they were suitors there. The jury decided that soke and sac and other liberties had been granted to the burgesses, who did not claim them, and not to the rector, who did; let them therefore be taken into the king's hands. As to the taking of emends of the assize of bread and beer on the market and fair days the rector's claim was allowed; but as he had punished some frequent transgressors at his discretion and not judicially, he was at the king's mercy. (fn. 55) The liberties claimed by the rectors were afterwards restored, on the application of the guardian of Robert Banastre's heiress. (fn. 56)

The commonalty of Wigan were sued for a debt in 1304. (fn. 57)

In 1314 Robert de Clitheroe obtained from the king a confirmation of the charter of 1246. (fn. 58)

About 1328 the rector complained that the burgesses, his tenants, every day held a market among themselves, and with strangers, in divers goods, although these be ill-gotten or stolen; taking toll for such merchandise and appropriating it to themselves. They also made assay of bread and tasting of beer every day except Monday, taking amercements and profits by force and power; all to the prejudice of the rector's market. (fn. 59) Possibly it was on this account that the charter was confirmed in 1329. (fn. 60)

A further confirmation was granted in 1350; (fn. 61) with a special indemnity to the rector and the burgesses for any abuse or non-claim of the liberties and acquittances of former charters. The king also granted a view of frankpledge, freedom from the sheriff's tourn, cognizance by the bailiffs of the rector of all pleas concerning lands, tenures, contracts, &c., within the borough; with many similar and complementary liberties. 'Moreover, whereas there has been a frequent concourse at the said borough, as well of merchants and others, for the sake of trading and otherwise,' the rectors, as lords of the borough, might for ever 'have a certain seal, by us to be ordained, of two pieces, as is of custom to be used, for recognisances of debts there according to the form of the statutes published for merchants; and that the greater part of the seal aforesaid may remain in the custody of the mayor or keeper of the borough aforesaid for the time being, or other private person of the greater or more discreet men of the borough to be chosen for this purpose (with the assent of the rector) if there shall not be a mayor or keeper there.' (fn. 62)

As a result of this charter suits by Wigan people were frequently stopped in the assize court by the bailiffs of the rector appearing to claim the case as one for the local court. (fn. 63) Another result was probably the regular election of a mayor, the language of the charter implying that the burgesses had not hitherto had such a generally recognized head. There are numerous instances of 'statutes merchant' before the mayor of Wigan commencing about 1370. (fn. 64) From a petition of Rector Wyot (1506–19) it appears that, 'for a long time past,' the custom had been that on a vacancy in the mayoralty the burgesses elected three of their number and presented them to the rector, who chose one to act for the ensuing year. (fn. 65)

The rectors in the time of Henry VIII, and probably much earlier, exercised their authority as lords of the borough through a steward and a bailiff, with an under-steward who was clerk of the court. (fn. 66)

About 1560 Bishop Stanley began to assert his rights as lord of the manor, and he challenged the claim to hold markets, (fn. 67) fairs, and courts leet put forward and exercised by the mayor and burgesses. Those accused of withdrawing 'did not know' whether suit was due to the rector's law-day or leet, or to his three weeks court, though 'most of them had done so, until now of late'; and they endeavoured to draw attention from this aspect of the question by an allegation of outrage upon the mayor by one of the bishop's servants. Nothing seems to have been done, except that the bishop confirmed Maunsel's charter to the burgesses. (fn. 68) He yielded 'upon fear and for a fine of money received,' according to Dr. Bridgeman. (fn. 69)

Under Rector Fleetwood the struggle was more determined. The corporation about 1583 laid claim to the lordship of the manor, as lords improving the wastes and commons, and letting the houses built thereupon; also digging for coal within the demesnes of the manor, and in many other ways usurping the rector's rights. They stated that a mayor, two bailiffs, and sundry burgesses were annually elected for the town and borough of Wigan, which had also five aldermen, the Earl of Derby being one; that Maunsel's charter gave the burgesses all the liberties in dispute; and that the moot-hall was their inheritance. They had kept courts, taken waifs and strays, &c., in accordance with their right. The rector's reply traversed all this, alleging in particular that the burgesses had no grant enabling them to elect a mayor to be head of the corporation, though they had done so 'for divers years' by usurpation, and that the appointment of aldermen was a recent usage, 'without due rite.' (fn. 70) A charter was granted about this time, viz. in 1585. (fn. 71)

A decree in the nature of a compromise was made in 1596 by the Chancellor of the Duchy. It was ordered that the corporation should keep such courts as they had usually kept, except the leets, and take the profits to their own uses; that, as to the leets, the rector should appoint a steward to sit with the mayor and burgesses or their steward and take half the profits. Clay and stone might be dug as customary, but the ways must be mended as quickly as possible, and any damage done to the moat round the rectory must be repaired. As to the fairs and markets and the profits arising from them, the corporation should have them as before, but the rector's tenants must not be required to pay any increase upon the customary tolls. The rents claimed by the rector must be paid, with arrears. The question as to the improvement of the wastes does not seem to have been decided. (fn. 72)

The corporation were then left at peace for twenty years. Dr. Massie seems to have been very yielding. (fn. 73) Bishop Bridgeman, however, an able man and strong in the royal favour, upon being appointed to the rectory made a vigorous and fairly successful effort to recover certain of his manorial rights as against the corporation. (fn. 74) The ownership of the markets and fairs, with the tolls belonging to them, had been held by the town for upwards of fifty years. On 17 October 1617, being the eve of the fair, the rector sent his man to the mayor, entreating him not to deal or meddle with the fair until the controversy as to all these matters had been decided, and inviting the mayor and aldermen, &c., to meet him at the pentice chamber next morning. At this conference the rector desired them to allow him the rights his predecessors had enjoyed, without any lawsuits; they answered that he had what his predecessors had, and ought not to ask more. The mayor was bold enough to challenge the rector's right to the manor, but met no support from the burgesses, who acknowledged their obligation to pay 12d. for each burgage plot. On matters of land-ownership no opposition was made; but when the rector claimed the fairs, markets, courts leet, courts of pleas, and courts baron and other privileges, the burgesses' reply seems to have been firm and unanimous: 'They had a right to them and hoped so to prove in law.' No compromise was possible, the answer being that they were 'all sworn to maintain the privileges of the town.' (fn. 75)

A special tribunal was appointed, and at the beginning of 1619 a decision was given: the rector was lord of the manor, with a right to the wastes and court baron and suit and service of the freeholders and inhabitants; the moot-hall to be common to the rector and corporation for the keeping of their courts, of which the pentice plea and court of pleas should be the corporation's, the leets at Easter and Michaelmas being adjudged, the former to the rector and the latter to the corporation; the Ascension-day fair and the Monday market to be the rector's, but St. Luke's fair and the Friday market to be the corporation's. (fn. 76)

In October 1620 the mayor of Wigan appeared in the moot-hall where the justices were sitting at quarter-sessions, and, 'putting on his hat before them,' claimed the ordering of the alehouses in Wigan, as belonging to his leet. The justices objected to his manners, and as he refused to find sureties for good behaviour sent him to prison; but their action was annulled, though the mayor's action for false imprisonment also failed. (fn. 77)

Bishop Bridgeman in 1622 claimed the pentice chamber in the moot-hall as built upon his waste within living memory, and appears to have succeeded. (fn. 78) His next correction of the assumptions of the corporation was provoked by the latter; they refused liberty to one William Brown to sell his goods, on the ground that he was not a burgess. The bishop pointed out that they had no right to elect burgesses; the true burgesses were those who paid the lord of the manor 12d. rent for a burgage, and he had made William Brown a burgess by selling to him a burgage house recently bought of Thomas Gerard of Ince. The mayor and burgesses were by this time convinced that it was useless to contend with their lord; they made no demur, and asked him to appoint his son Orlando as one of their aldermen; he, however, did not judge it well to do so. (fn. 79)

From this time, 1624, till after the Restoration there appears to be no record of any dispute between rector and corporation. It can scarcely be doubted that the Commonwealth period would be favourable to the latter, and when in 1662 Sir Orlando Bridgeman was selected as arbitrator in a fresh misunderstanding, he ruled that though the rector was lord of the manor and must keep a court baron, yet in view of the municipal court of pleas it was of little importance except for inquiring into the chief rents due to the rector, and preventing encroachments on the waste. Hence the court baron was to be held once in two years only, in the moot-hall; no pleas were to be held between party and party; and the mayor and such aldermen as had been mayors should be exempt from attending. The streets and wastes were to be regulated as to encroachments by the rector and mayor. Sir Orlando's father had, by his advice, leased the rector's Ascensiontide fair and weekly market to the corporation; and the arbitrator recommended the continuance of this system as 'a great means to continue peace and goodwill' between the parties, a lease, renewable, for 21 years being granted at a rent of five marks a year. The lease included the yearly fair, weekly market, and court leet, and all tolls, courts, piccage, stallages, profits, commodities, and emoluments belonging to them. (fn. 80)

Forty years ago the corporation purchased the manorial rights, an agreement being made 9 July 1860 between the rector and patron on the one side, and the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses on the other. The rights transferred were the summer fair, the Monday market, and various tolls; quit rents and manorial rights in slips of waste lying uninclosed adjoining streets in the borough and in mines under these slips; rights in Bottling Wood and the wastes; and the ancient quit rents amounting to £45 3s. 4d. The price paid was £2,800. The conveyance was signed by the rector on 2 September 1861. (fn. 81)

The charter of 1662, under which the borough was governed down to the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835, confirmed to the mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses of Wigan all their ancient liberties, and ordained that the corporation should consist of a mayor and eleven other aldermen, a recorder, two bailiffs, and a common clerk. The mayor was to be not only a magistrate for the borough, but also for the county, but this privilege was not maintained. (fn. 82) A supplementary charter was granted by James II in 1685, (fn. 83) providing in particular that eighteen burgesses might be chosen to act as 'assistants,' so that there should be a common council of thirty-two in all. The mayor was to be chosen yearly 'on the Sabbath day next after the feast of St. Michael.' The corporation, like others of the time, was a close or self-electing one, the townsmen being able to make their wishes known only through the jury and court leet. The mayor was coroner ex officio. (fn. 84)

The election of burgesses was in the jury and court leet. The corporation had the power of admitting non-resident and honorary burgesses to vote at elections without limitation; in 1802 they made a hundred burgesses in order to rid themselves of the Duke of Portland's 'patronage.' (fn. 85)

Under the Act of 1835 Wigan was classed with other boroughs having a commission of the peace; it was divided into five wards, to each of which were assigned two aldermen and six councillors. (fn. 86) In 1888 it became a county borough, and in the following year a rearrangement of the wards was authorized; the borough was divided into ten wards, each with one alderman and three councillors, the membership of the council being thus unchanged in number. (fn. 87) The inclusion of Pemberton in 1904 has caused the increase of the council to fifty-six members, chosen from fourteen wards.

The old town hall, rebuilt in 1720 at the expense of the members for the borough, stood at the western side of the market-place. It was pulled down and rebuilt in the first half of last century. It stood on pillars, the space underneath being subsequently filled with shops. The moot-hall, a stone building in Wallgate, with meeting-room above and shops below, was demolished in 1869, and 'the new town hall' in 1882, the present town hall and borough courts having been finished in 1867. A new council chamber was opened in 1890. The county police courts date from 1888. The Fish-stones, which were at the northern side of the market place, were removed in 1866. The new market hall was opened in 1877; there is a separate fish market. The ancient cloth hall was superseded by a commercial hall in the market-place, erected in 1816.

The Public Libraries Act was adopted in 1876, and two years later there was opened the new free library building, presented to the town by Thomas Taylor, who died in 1892. A Powell Boys' Readingroom, presented by the member for the borough, was added in 1895. A school board was created in 1872. The mining college was founded in 1858; in 1903 the present mining and technical building was opened.

The corporation have acquired or inaugurated a number of works and institutions for the health and convenience of the people. The first Wigan Water Act was passed in 1764; the waterworks were purchased by the corporation in 1855; the gasworks, established in 1822, were acquired in 1875; and the tramways, opened in 1880, in 1902. An electricpower station was erected in 1900, and the following year the corporation electric tramways started running. The Mesnes Park was opened in 1878, the sewerage works in 1881, public baths in 1882, and a sanatorium in 1889. Victoria Hall was built in 1902. The cemetery was established in 1856.

A dispensary was started in 1798, and a building in King Street provided in 1801, now the Savings Bank. The Royal Albert Edward Infirmary was opened by the King, then Prince of Wales, in 1873.

A court of quarter-sessions was granted to the borough in 1886.

Impressions of the borough seal of the 15th century are known. (fn. 88) The device upon it—the moot-hall— is used as a coat of arms for the borough.

As a borough Wigan sent two burgesses to the Parliaments of 1295 and 1306, but not again until 1547. From this year the borough regularly returned two members until 1885, except during the Commonwealth, when owing to its royalist tendencies it was disfranchised by Cromwell. (fn. 89) In the 17th century the burgesses were of two classes—in and out; the latter were principally neighbouring gentry, and do not seem to have availed themselves to any great extent of the privilege of voting. On the other hand a large number of the townsmen made strenuous efforts to obtain a vote, and in 1639 the mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses prepared a memorial to Parliament on the subject. This stated that they were 'an ancient corporation by prescription, and that all such persons as are or have been burgesses of that corporation have always been received into that corporation by election made by the burgesses for the time present of that corporation, and have been afterwards sworn and enrolled as burgesses in the burgess roll,' and that from time immemorial only such enrolled burgesses had voted for the burgesses who served in the Parliament; but at the recent election, after the choice had been made—but apparently before a formal declaration— 'divers inferior persons, labourers, and handicraftsmen, being free only to trade within the said town and not enrolled burgesses,' demanded voices. The mayor and bailiffs had replied asking them 'to make it to appear that they or any others of their condition had any time formerly any voices in election of the burgesses for the Parliament'; they could not prove anything of the sort, and so their votes were not allowed; but the mayor and bailiffs, at the instance of the elected burgesses, judged it right to inform the Parliament concerning the matter. (fn. 90) By the Redistribution Act of 1885 Wigan was allowed but one member instead of two as previously.

A number of families come into prominence from time to time in the records. One of the early ones took a surname from Wigan itself, (fn. 91) another from Scholes. (fn. 92) Other surnames were Jew, (fn. 93) Botling, (fn. 94) Birkhead, (fn. 95) Duxbury, (fn. 96) Preston, (fn. 97) Ford, (fn. 98) and Scott. (fn. 99) The Crosse family, afterwards of Liverpool and Chorley, were long closely connected with Wigan: Adam del Crosse (fn. 100) appears in 1277, his son John in the first half of the 14th century. (fn. 101) John's son Thurstan (fn. 102) was followed by Hugh del Crosse his son, (fn. 103) after whose death the property went to Richard del Crosse of Wigan and Liverpool. He may have been a descendant of Aymory the Walker, who appears to have been a Crosse also. (fn. 104) The Marklands were prominent up to the beginning of the 18th century. (fn. 105) A number of deeds concerning the Marsh family have been preserved by Kuerden. (fn. 106) Other surnames were derived from various trades carried on here. (fn. 107) In few cases can any connected account be given of them.

Crosse. Quarterly gules and or a cross potent argent in the first and fourth quarters.

By an inquisition taken in 1323 it was found that one William de Marclan had held two messuages and two acres of land and half an acre of meadow in Wigan of the rector by the service of 12d. yearly, and other lands in Shevington of Margaret Banastre. He granted them to feoffees, who in turn granted a moiety to Robert de Holand. The last-named at Christmas 1317 assigned an annual rent of 29s. 6d. out of his share to Aline the recluse of Wigan for her maintenance. This payment ceased when Sir Robert's lands were forfeited; whereupon the recluse petitioned for its restoration, and inquiry was made. (fn. 108)

William Ford and the widows of James Houghton and Nicholas Standish contributed to a subsidy of Mary's reign as landowners. (fn. 109) The following were returned as freeholders in 1600: Gilbert Barrow, Peter Marsh, Oliver Markland, William Foster, Hamlet Green, Charles Leigh, William Burgess, Edward Challenor, John Tarleton, Gilbert Bank, Ralph Markland of Meadows; Thomas Molyneux and Edward Laithwaite of Wigan Woodhouses; Alexander Ford of Swinley, William and Hugh Langshaw, and William Bankes of Scholes. (fn. 110) William Ford contributed to the subsidy of 1628 as a landowner. (fn. 111)

Wigan people generally were royalists, but William Pilkington was in 1650 singled out as a 'grand delinquent'; he escaped with a fine of £29 5s. (fn. 112) Minor offenders against the Parliament were Robert Baron, William Brown, and William Tempest. (fn. 113) The following 'papists' registered estates at Wigan in 1717: Nicholas Mather of Abram, Richard Tootell, Thomas Naylor of Orrell, Gilbert Thornton, Thomas Scott, gent., John Thornton, Dr. Thomas Worthington, and Anne Laithwaite of Borwick. (fn. 114)

The parish church has been described above. The first additional church in the township in connexion with the Establishment was St. George's, between Standishgate and the Douglas, consecrated in 1781. A district was assigned to it in 1843, and this became a parish in 1864, on the resignation of Sir Henry Gunning, rector, as did the two following: (fn. 115) St. Catherine's, Scholes, consecrated in 1841, had a separate district assigned in 1843. (fn. 116) There is a small graveyard attached. St. Thomas's, consecrated in 1851, had in the following year a district assigned to it. (fn. 117) The rector of Wigan is patron of the above churches. St. James's, Poolstock, was consecrated in 1866, for a district formed in 1863. The patronage is vested in Mr. J. C. Eckersley. (fn. 118) St. Andrew's, Woodhouse Lane, consecrated in 1882, had a district assigned to it in 1871. (fn. 119) The church of St. Michael and All Angels, Swinley, was consecrated in 1878 as a chapel of ease to the parish church, and became parochial in 1881. (fn. 120) The patronage of these two churches is vested in the rector of Wigan.

The various bodies of Methodists have in all eight churches and mission-rooms, the Wesleyans having two, the Primitive Methodists three, the Independents two, and the United Free Church one. The Wesleyans have also built the Queen's Hall, a large structure opened in 1908.

A Particular or Calvinistic Baptist congregation was formed in 1795 by seceders from the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion (St. Paul's); (fn. 121) the chapel in King Street was opened in 1854. There is another chapel in Platt Lane.

What provision was made by those who became Nonconformists by the Act of 1662 does not appear. In 1689 William Laithwaite's barn was certified as a meeting-place of the Wigan Dissenters, (fn. 122) and two years later Roger Kenyon knew of two meeting-places, one held by Mr. Green, the supporter of Presbyterianism in Hindley, and the other by 'dissenters who do furiously dissent from each other.' (fn. 123) An 'old English Presbyterian congregation' is mentioned in 1773, and a little later William Davenport, also minister at Hindley, was in charge. He was probably a Unitarian, but after his death the chapel was about 1797 secured for the Scottish Presbyterians, who have retained possession to the present time. Trinity Presbyterian Church was built upon the old site in 1877. (fn. 124)

The Congregationalists formed a church about 1777, probably as a protest against the Unitarianism taught at the existing chapel; in 1785 they opened a chapel, now St. Paul's Congregational Church. For some time it belonged to the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion. Becoming 'unhealthy' in 1839, it was dissolved and reformed. (fn. 125) A new Gothic church replaced the old building in 1902. A new minister coming to Wigan in 1812 drew a congregation from dissatisfied Nonconformists, and a chapel was opened in 1818. Hope Congregational Church, opened in 1889, is a short distance from this older chapel, and continues its work. (fn. 126) Silverwell Congregational chapel originated in a secession from St. Paul's in 1867 and continued till 1888, when it was bought by the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company. (fn. 127) There is a chapel in Gidlow Lane.

The Welsh Presbyterians have a place of worship; the Christian Brethren have two; and the Catholic Apostolic Church has a meeting-room. There are two unsectarian mission-rooms.

The Swedenborgians have a meeting-place called New Jerusalem.

Something has already been recorded of the loyalty of a large number of the people of Wigan to the ancient faith at the Reformation. (fn. 128) In 1681 there were ninety-one 'convicted recusants' in Wigan, and an attempt to levy a fine for recusancy—a result of the Protestant agitation of the time—led to a riot. (fn. 129) The Jesuits were in charge of the mission. In the time of James II they had a flourishing school and well-frequented chapel, but at the Revolution the excited mob destroyed the buildings and the work was stopped for a short time. (fn. 130) The Society of Jesus, however, still possesses the ancient property. Fr. James Canell is known to have been there in 1696, and died at Wigan 1722. (fn. 131) Fr. Charles Brockholes built a house about 1740, the upper room being designed as a chapel. (fn. 132) Near this a chapel was built in 1785, and enlargement being necessary it was replaced by the present church of St. John in 1819. It is still served by the Jesuits. (fn. 133) The other churches, served by secular clergy, are St. Mary's, Standishgate, built in 1818; (fn. 134) St. Patrick's, Scholes, founded in 1847 and rebuilt in 1880; St. Joseph's, 1870; and the Sacred Heart, Springfield, 1903. A convent of Sisters of Notre Dame is served from St. John's. (fn. 135)

The grammar school was founded before 1596.


  • 1. Bridgeman, Wigan Ch. (Chet. Soc. new ser.), 239. Bottling Wood was in the northern part of Scholes.
  • 2. Between these and Wigan town the Birley Brook flowed south to the Douglas.
  • 3. This is supposed to have been the first bridge constructed over the Douglas. In 1348 Henry Banastre of Walton granted to John son of Oliver (? Amory) the Walker, a strip of land stretching from the Millgate and the Stanrygate to the Douglas; also land called the Mill Meadow, with a cottage adjoining Schole Bridge; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2221. In 1477 John Crosse of Liverpool confirmed to John Burgess of Wigan a parcel of land near Schole Bridge, between Scholes and the lane leading to Ince; ibid. no. 2335. 'Atam' Bridge, between Wigan and Pemberton, was the subject of a dispute in 1334; Coram Rege R. 297, m. 11 Rex. Each township should keep in repair its own half of the bridge, which had, however, become so broken that there was no longer any crossing.
  • 4. This scheme was formed as early as 1711 (Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 450); the Act was passed in 1720 (9 Geo. I, cap. 28). It was purchased by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in 1783.
  • 5. As the Preston and Parkside (Newton) Railway this portion of the system was opened in 1838.
  • 6. Watkin, Roman Lancs. 199; Pal. Note Bk. iv, 133.
  • 7. Itin. vii, 47.
  • 8. 'Wigan was better manned with soldiers than Preston, it being the next garrison to the earl's house and the most malignant town in all the county; for there were (for anything that was heard) not many in it that favoured the Parliament;' Lancs. War (Chet. Soc.), 16. Wigan, however, had joined in the Protestation of 1642; Pal. Note Bk. i, 81.
  • 9. The Wigan garrison, 'full of desperate cavaliers,' had made several assaults upon Bolton; Lancs. War, 32; Civil War Tracts (Chet. Soc.), 63, 81–3.
  • 10. Lancs. War, 36; also Stanley Papers, (Chet. Soc.), iii, p. lxxxvi, where a facsimile of the Countess of Derby's letter, announcing its fall, is given. See also Civil War Tracts, 93, 225–7.
  • 11. Lancs. War, loc. cit.
  • 12. Civil War Tracts, 98.
  • 13. Ibid. 263; 'a great and poor town, and very malignant,' is Cromwell's description of the place; see Carlyle, Cromwell Let. i, 286, &c., for the details.
  • 14. Civil War Tracts, 278; there were 'two thousand poor, who for three months and upwards had been restrained, no relief to be had for them in the ordinary course of law, there being none at present (April 1649) to act as justices of the peace.' The Wigan registers contain many entries referring to the deaths from plague, the last burial being on 23 July 1649. A petition by the mayor and others in 1660, addressed to Charles II, states that the people of the town had garrisoned it at their own charge for the king; that it had been seven times plundered, burdened with free quarters, &c., by the Parliament army; and that many estates had been sequestered; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1660–1, p. 119.
  • 15. Stanley Papers (Chet. Soc.), clxxxiv-ix. For the monument to Sir T. Tyldesley near the spot where he fell, see cccxxxiii; Lancs. and Ches. Hist. and Geneal. Notes, iii, 62. A graphic account of the battle is given in Lancs. War, 74–6.
  • 16. Ogilby, writing about 1670, called it 'a well-built town, governed by a mayor, recorder and twelve aldermen, &c., and electing Parliament men.' It had two markets, on Monday and Friday, but the former was discontinued, and three fairs. It was noted for its pit coal, ironworks, and other manufactures. A somewhat later description, by Dr. Kuerden, giving many details, may be read in Local Glean. Lancs. and Ches. i, 209, 211, 212, 214. Bishop Cartwright procured an address to James II from the mayor and corporation in 1687; Bridgeman, op. cit. 570. Their action was not popular; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 189. Several persons went to Chester in 1687 to be touched by the king for the evil; their names are given in Trans. Hist. Soc. i, 26.
  • 17. See Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. iii, 70. James Blundell, James Finch, John Macilliwray, William Whalley, and James Burn, who had been tried and sentenced at Preston, were executed at Wigan 10 Feb. 1716; see Pal. Note Bk. iv, 93.
  • 18. The town was then famous for its manufactures of coverlets, rugs, blankets, and other sorts of bedding, brass, copper, &c., as well as for the adjacent Cannel coal mines; Ray, Hist. of Rebellion, 154. There is a brief notice of the place as it appeared in 1791 in Pal. Note Bk., ii, 2–5, and a description written in 1825 in Baines, Lancs. Dir. ii, 610.
  • 19. Pal. Note Bk. iii, 33.
  • 20. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Gillow, Bibl. Dict. of Engl. Cath. ii, 218.
  • 24. Dict. Nat. Biog. For a note on the Rev. James Clayton of Wigan, the inventor of gas, see Local Glean. Lancs. and Ches. i, 140, 248.
  • 25. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 26. Ibid.
  • 27. Ibid.
  • 28. Lancs, and Ches. Antiq. Soc. v, 93, 94.
  • 29. See Local Glean. Lancs. and Ches. i, ii. The 1780 book was a translation of Gessner's Death of Abel, printed by R. Ferguson, ii, 57. The 'Local Catalogue' issued from the Wigan Free Library gives a list of nineteen books printed at Wigan between 1780 and 1796. At the end is a list of printers.
  • 30. The offices of the Examiner were formerly the Public Hall or Mechanics' Institute.
  • 31. Assize R. 430, m. 12 d.
  • 32. Bridgeman, Wigan Ch. 222.
  • 33. Ibid. 161; see also 242. The Industries of Wigan, by H. T. Folkard, R. Betley, and C. M. Percy, published in 1889, gives an account of the development of coal-mining and other trades.
  • 34. J. P. Earwaker, Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), vi, 170; N. and Q. (Ser. 10), v, 257. The will of John Scott was proved in 1648, and that of Jeffrey Scott in 1665. William Scott occurs 1670–1700; R. Ashton 1703–17, and Luke Ashton 1723–50.
  • 35. Bridgeman, op. cit. 286.
  • 36. Op. cit. 182.
  • 37. a Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. xix, 228, 232.
  • 38. b Ibid. 234; quoting from England Described, 1788. It had been ruined by 1824; Baines, Lancs. Dir. ii, 612.
  • 39. Lancs. and Ches. Hist. and Geneal. Notes, ii, 33.
  • 40. Local Glean. Lancs. and Ches. ii, 182, 217. The Earl of Balcarres was colonel; there were eight companies, and 552 men.
  • 41. V.C.H. Lancs. i, 286.
  • 42. Farrer, Lancs. Pipe R. 436. See also Engl. Hist. Rev. v, 395.
  • 43. Bridgeman, op cit. 143. In 1316 Edmund de Standish granted to Aymory the Fuller land adjoining a narrow lane leading towards the Coppedhull mill; Crosse D. (Trans. Hist. Soc.), n. 27.
  • 44. Bridgeman, op. cit. 144–6.
  • 45. Ibid. 225. The defendant relied upon the charter of John Maunsel; he was a burgess of Wigan, and had by descent from his ancestors divers burgages in the said borough; and those ancestors had enjoyed his share in the mills as parcel of their own inheritance, paying the accustomed rent for the same. The rector's right to the mills, as part of his glebe, was affirmed by a decree of June 1618; ibid. 227, 229.
  • 46. Ibid. 309.
  • 47. Ibid. 220, 231. Miles seems to have claimed ownership. He died early in 1628, and his widow Alice begged that either she or her son Orlando might be admitted as tenant. The bishop told her to take comfort, as he had never dealt unkindly with his tenants; but as his right to this mill had been questioned he had determined to take it into his own hands for a time that there might be no possibility of dispute in future. On receiving this answer the widow refused to give up possession, and Lord and Lady Strange took up her cause. The bishop promised them that the widow should have the mill after a while; but as she still remained obstinate, the matter came before the quarter sessions. It was not till the end of March 1630 that she finally submitted, gave up the key, and allowed the bishop to take possession. He retained it for three weeks, and then admitted her as tenant; ibid. 320–8.
  • 48. Ibid. 240, 241. Two horse-mills were allowed to stand, rent being paid to the lord; ibid. 240, 243.
  • 49. Ibid. 189.
  • 50. Ibid. 192.
  • 51. This charter is known by its recital in that of Edw. II; see Bridgeman, op. cit. 9, 32. The charters are printed in Sinclair's Hist. of Wigan. See Chart. R. 7 Edw. II, m. 4, 3; 24 Edw. III, 145, m. 2, 4; m. 3, 7. The charter of 1314 is still preserved at Wigan.
  • 52. Bridgeman, op. cit. 9, 10. Not many years later William de Occleshaw granted to Simon son of Payn de Warrington and Emma his wife a burgage and an acre of land in Wigan, rendering to the rector of Wigan 12d. yearly, and to the grantor a peppercorn. In 1284 Simon Payn, son of the said Simon (son of) Payn, claimed the land; Assize R. 1268, m. 11. Simon Payn and Amabil his wife were engaged in suits in 1292; Assize R. 408, m. 77d. 60. Simon Payn of Wigan obtained a house and land here in 1336; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 101.
  • 53. There does not seem to be any means of ascertaining the number of burgages. The earliest poll-book, 1627, shows that there were then about a hundred in-burgesses, but does not state their qualifications; Sinclair, Wigan, i, 197.
  • 54. Bridgeman, op. cit. 33. A charter for a fair at All Saints and a market on Monday had been secured in 1245; Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, p. 284. In 1314 the All Saints' fair was changed to the vigil, day, and morrow of St. Wilfrid the Bishop; Chart. R. 7 Edw. II, m. 4, 4 d.; but in 1329 reverted to the old day; ibid. 3 Edw. III, m. 6, 14. The autumn fair was afterwards held on the vigil, feast, and morrow of St. Luke; Wm. Smith, Descr. of Engl. 1588; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 4.
  • 55. Bridgeman, op. cit. 31–6, from Plac. de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 371, 372. The rector stated that he did not claim utfangenthef, though named in the charter.
  • 56. Bridgeman, op. cit. 37. There exists a petition by the people of Wigan for the restoration of their franchises made after the death of Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, 1296; Anct. Petitions, P.R.O. 316, E 225.
  • 57. De Banco R. 151, m. 112. In 1307 there were complaints that Welshmen, returning probably from the Scottish wars, had been maltreated and killed at Wigan; Assize R. 422, m. 4 d.
  • 58. Bridgeman, op. cit. 41.
  • 59. Ibid. 44.
  • 60. Ibid. 45. The king granted a tax called pavage (for the mending of the ways) to the men of Wigan in 1341, Cal. Pat. 1340–43, p. 163; see also p. 313.
  • 61. Bridgeman, 48–53. In the same year is mentioned the smaller seal for the recognizances of debts; Cal. Pat. 1348–50, p. 553.
  • 62. At the instance of Rector James de Langton the borough charters were confirmed by Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V at the commencement of their reigns in 1378, 1400, and 1413; Bridgeman, op. cit. 57, 59.
  • 63. Thus in 1350, when Richard de Mitton claimed in the King's Bench a messuage in the town from William del Cross, who had entry by Robert son of John del Cross, the rector's bailiffs appeared, made a statement of the jurisdictions conferred by the charter and drew the case to the local court; De Banco R. 363, m. 203. In subsequent years the same thing happened.
  • 64. Early in 1406 Adam de Birkhead, mayor of Wigan, and William de Medewall, clerk, for taking recognizances of debts at Wigan, certified that in March, 1372–3, Sir William de Atherton came before Thomas de Heywood, then mayor, and Thomas Clerk, then clerk, and acknowledged that he owed his brother, Nicholas de Atherton, £100 sterling; which he ought to have paid at the Christmas next following, but had not done so; Pal. of Lanc. Chan. Misc. bdle. i, file 9, m. 38.
  • 65. Bridgeman, op. cit. 72.
  • 66. Ibid. 101. Sir Thomas Langton, who, as lord of Newton, was chief lord of the manor, about this time laboured hard to secure appointment as the rector's steward, and though rejected he took it upon himself to act, making himself very obnoxious to the corporation. In 1539 the mayor and burgesses complained that whereas it had been their custom to elect a mayor on the Saturday after Michaelmas Day, Sir Thomas with a number of associates had disturbed the election, and declared that he would not take Adam Bankes for mayor, though he had been duly chosen. A few weeks afterwards there was an invasion of the town by the Langton faction, which necessitated an inquiry by the Crown. It then appeared that the disturbers asserted the election of mayor to belong to the rector of Wigan or his steward; ibid. 108–11.
  • 67. A book of tolls 1561–7 is among Lord Kenyon's deeds; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 4.
  • 68. Bridgeman, op. cit. 133–8.
  • 69. Ibid. 213.
  • 70. Ibid. 147–57.
  • 71. A contemporary paper copy is extant at Wigan. In Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 253, m. 26, are copies of the earlier charters.
  • 72. Bridgeman, op. cit. 157, 158.
  • 73. Ibid. 213. Dr. Bridgeman affirmed that 'none of his predecessors, except Dr. Massie, were without the use and possession of all those things which he claimed; or did at least claim and sue for them as Mr. Fleetwood did.' Dr. Massie was rector from 1605 to 1615.
  • 74. Ibid. 205.
  • 75. Ibid. 213–15.
  • 76. Bridgeman, op. cit. 221, 222. The bishop, accordingly, as rector, held his first court leet and court baron for the manor of Wigan just after Easter 1619, and at Ascension-tide his first fair. The matter was of great importance as preserving the lord's rights, but the profits of the courts were barely sufficient to pay the fees of the officers; ibid. 237. The following year he discharged one William Brown from his service because though no burgess he had served in the mayor's court, 'as they call it,' upon the jury. He did so because in former times the corporation had claimed the courts as their own on finding that servants of the rector had sued or served in them; ibid. 270, 271.
  • 77. Ibid. 265, 266.
  • 78. Ibid. 268, 274. On Christmas-eve in the same year, 'and properly no market day,' he prohibited the serjeants and bailiffs of the town from receiving toll, 'because the wastes and streets are the parson's'; and the jury were instructed to find that the town officers had wronged the lord of the manor by receiving such tolls on the Saturday before the wake day. The jury demurred to the contention that the streets were part of the wastes, but gave way, and the tolls collected that day were given to the rector; ibid. 274.
  • 79. Bridgeman, op. cit. 287. The dispute marks another step in the growth of the rights of the community; first was the election of mayor; next, the appointment of aldermen; and thirdly, the co-option of burgesses. The last was important, because the burgage plots had a tendency to become the possession of a very few persons.
  • 80. Bridgeman, op. cit. 486–91. See also Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 441, for a declaration in this sense by the corporation in 1708. In 1743 Dr. Roger Bridgeman refused to renew the lease, and a lawsuit followed which lasted for many years; 'the result appears to have been that the fair and markets remained in the rectors' hands, but the courts leet were never afterwards held by them'; Bridgeman, op. cit. 632.
  • 81. Bridgeman, op. cit. 664–71. A list of the quit rents is given. They range from 4d. up to £6 14s. 8d., this sum being paid by the Canal Company. A considerable number were of the exact 1s., probably representing ancient burgage rents.
  • 82. Pat. 14 Chas. II, pt. xviii, m. 5. The charter specially mentions the loyalty of the town to the late king; it therefore allowed a sword to be borne before the mavor.
  • 83. The charters of 1662 and 1685 are in the possession of the corporation.
  • 84. Baines, Lancs. Dir. ii, 616.
  • 85. Ibid. ii, 607.
  • 86. The wards were: All Saints, the central portion of the town around the church; St. George's, a narrow strip along the Douglas; Scholes; Queen Street, in the south; and Swinley, in the north.
  • 87. The central ward is called All Saints; to the north is Swinley ward, and to the west of both St. Andrew's ward. The small but populous district in the south has three wards, Victoria and St. Thomas, on the west and east, being divided by Wallgate; and Poolstock, to the south of the Douglas. Scholes has four wards: St. George and St. Patrick the innermost, divided by the street called Scholes; and Lindsay and St. Catherine outside, divided by Whelley.
  • 88. Lancs. and Ches. Hist. and Geneal. Notes, iii, 100; an impression of it occurs among the De Trafford deeds.
  • 89. Pink and Beaven, Parl. Rep. of Lancs. 217, where an account of the members will be found.
  • 90. Sinclair, Wigan, i, 222.
  • 91. In 1292 in various suits appear Quenilda widow of Nigel de Wigan, Thurstan de Wigan, Henry son of Hugh de Wigan, and others; Assize R. 408, m. 54 d, 97, &c. About 1290 Roger son of Orm de Wigan was defendant; De Banco R. 167, m. 8 d. In 1307 Maud widow of Adam son of Orm de Wigan claimed dower in Wigan lands from Adam son of Roger son of Orm; De Banco R. 162, m. 258 d.; Assize R. 421, m. 4. Lands of Richard son of Adam son of Orm are mentioned in 1310; Crosse D. (Trans. Hist. Soc.), no. 19. Margery widow of Roger de Wigan (son of William son of Hugh de Wigan) in 1331 claimed certain lands as her inheritance. A deed granting portion of them to her brother John atte Cross was produced, but she denied it to be hers; De Banco R. 287, m. 106.
  • 92. In 1291 and 1292 Richard son of Adam de Scholes claimed various tenements in Wigan; his legitimacy was denied, but he appears to have recovered possession; Assize R. 407, m. 1; 408, m. 3.
  • 93. Alice widow of Thomas the Jew, and Alice wife of Robert the Jew, occur in local suits in 1350; Assize R. 1444, m. 4, 7. Robert son of Richard de Ince in 1352 granted land in the Scholes, adjoining John de Longshaw's land, to Hugh son of Henry the Jew; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2618. In 1383 William de Whittington released to William the Jew, chaplain, his claim to the land called Jewsfield near Whelley Cross; Add. MS. 32106, no. 1351. William the Jew was a trustee in 1417; Crosse D. (Trans. Hist. Soc.), no. 126.
  • 94. William Botling was a burgess about 1300. Richard Botling made a feoffment of his estate in 1333; Crosse D. no. 6, 44. John son of William Botling of Wigan claimed three messuages, &c., from Richard Botling and others in 1344; Assize R. 1435, m. 45 d.
  • 95. This family held a good position in the town, and furnished several of the mayors. There is a quaint note concerning the Birkheads in Leland's Itinerary, vi, 14; he suggests a relationship with the Windermere Birkheads or Birketts. In 1308–9 John de Birkhead, son of Ralph, granted a burgage to Richard del Stanistreet; Kuerden MSS. ii, fol. 253. John de Birkhead attested various local charters down to 1324; Adam de Birkhead others from 1377 to 1417; in the last-named year his son and grandson, Henry and John, also attested; Crosse D. nos. 41, 72, 126. John Birkhead was living in 1434; Towneley MS. OO, no. 1301. In 1471 Richard was son and heir of Henry Birkhead; ibid. no. 148. John Birkhead appears in 1504; ibid. no. 165. In 1338 Hugh son of Robert de Birkhead claimed from Richard de Birkhead, litster, various tenements in Wigan, but did not prosecute his claim; Assize R. 1425, m. 2. Thurstan de Birkhead and John his brother were defendants in 1356; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 5, m. 26; and Matthew son of Thurstan de Birkhead, in 1376; De Banco R. 461, m. 276 d. Adam de Birkhead and Joan his wife were plaintiffs in 1374; De Banco R. 456, m. 10 d.; 460, m. 364. Euphemia daughter of William son of Richard de Birkhead, litster or tinctor, demanded in 1357 20 acres in Wigan from Sir Robert de Langton, Robert his son and others; Pal. of Lanc. Misc. 1–8, m. 3, 4, 5; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 6, m. 3. The younger Robert defended, saying the land had been granted to himself and Margaret his wife and their issue. An undated petition, addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, as Chancellor, complained that John Birkhead, feoffee of Richard Birkhead, had refused to make over an estate in the latter's land to William Marsh, the cousin and heir; Early Chan. Proc. 16–528. Richard Birkhead, who died in or before 1512, held land in Rivington and a burgage in Wigan; Joan, his sister and heir, was four years of age; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iv, no. 26. A later inquisition shows that they were the children of Hugh, son of Richard, son of Henry 'Birkenhead' of Wigan. The lastnamed Henry, who had another son John, had granted nine burgages in Wigan and other lands there, held of the rector by a rent of 43s. 4d., to feoffees who had granted five burgages to Maud, the widow of Richard Birkhead for her life, and four burgages to Elizabeth, widow of Hugh Birkhead, who died 16 Jan. 1510–11, ibid. v, no. 23. Joan, the heiress, married Thomas, son and heir of Thomas Tyldesley of Wardley; Visit. of 1567 (Chet. Soc.), 44.
  • 96. Thomas de Duxbury was mayor of Wigan in 1402–3; he or another of the name was outlawed in 1420; Crosse D. (Trans. Hist. Soc.), no. 95, 127. John de Duxbury also occurs; ibid. no. 116, 130.
  • 97. In 1277 Maud widow of Orm de Wigan claimed burgages and land in Wigan against William son of William de Preston, and Eleanor his wife and others; De Banco R. 21, m. 62 d. About the same time Adam del Crosse obtained from the same William and Eleanor a messuage and 14 acres of land in Wigan; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 153. From one of the Crosse D. (no. 19), dated 1310, it appears that Eleanor de Preston was a daughter of Nicholas de Wigan, clerk; this charter concerns land in Henhurst Meadow, Hitchfield, Lorrimer's Acre, Loamy Half-acre, Hengande Half-acre, &c.; the Stonygate is mentioned. Adam Russell of Preston had land here in 1307; De Banco R. 163, m. 214 d. For Henry Russell see Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 275.
  • 98. There were two families of this name, of Swinley and of Scholes; see Bridgeman, Wigan Ch. 259. They supplied many mayors. In Oct. 1864 representatives of James Horrocks of Spennymoor, claiming to be the heir of Robert Ford who died in 1772, took possession of the 'Manor House' in Scholes and were besieged for some days, to the excitement of the town.
  • 99. 'Roger Scott's land' is mentioned in 1323; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2561. Roger son of Roger Scott of Wigan in 1345 complained that Robert del Mourihilles had been wasting lands 'held by the law of England'; De Banco R. 345, m. 95 d. Further particulars of the family will be found in the account of Pemberton.
  • 100. About seven hundred of the family deeds are contained in Towneley's MS. GG (Add. MS. 32107), no. 2196–905. Some of these and others are printed in the Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), v-ix, Crosse D. no. 1–224. The first of the family of whom any particulars can be stated is the Adam del Crosse, 1277, mentioned in a preceding note. Two grants to him are known, one being of land in Holywell Carr; Crosse D. no. 7; Towneley's GG, no. 2535. To his daughter Ellen he gave land in the Rye Field and Holywell Carr; Crosse D. no. 13. She was living in 1292; Assize R. 408, m. 32 d. Adam del Crosse was also living in 1292; ibid. m. 32. The Adam son of Richard del Crosse of 1311 (Crosse D. no. 20), was probably a different person. The de Cruce of Latin deeds also appears as 'de la Croyz,' 'atte Crosse,' and 'del Crosse.' The family seems to have come from Lathom; Crosse D. no. 5. In 1277 Richard, rector of Wigan, had a dispute with William del Crosse as to whether the latter's toft belonged to the church of Wigan or to a lay fee; De Banco R. 18, m. 54.
  • 101. John son of Adam del Crosse was defendant, with others, in a plea of mort d'ancestor in 1295; Assize R. 1306, m. 20 d. Later he had various disputes with Alan son of Walter the Fuller, husband of his sister Ellen. As early as 1299 he released all his right in the lands his father had given Ellen on her marriage, and in 1315 a final agreement was made; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2638, 2435; Crosse D. no. 14, 23. He was a defendant in 1292 in two Wigan cases, Henry de Leigh being one plaintiff, and Hugh son of William the reeve the other; Assize R. 408, m. 54, 76. In 1304 he had a grant of land in the Strindes in the islands of Wigan, on the east side of the high road from Wigan to Out-town Bridge; Crosse D. no. 14*. In 1324–5 he granted to his son Thurstan on the latter's marriage the burgage upon which his capital messuage was built; another burgage which he had received from his sister Margery; the Greater Hey called the Eiclyves, and other lands; with remainders to the grantor's son William, and to his daughter Maud, wife of Henry Banastre; ibid. n. 36. In 1329, by fine, Henry Banastre of Walton secured from John del Crosse four messuages and lands in Wigan; Thurstan son of John and the rector of Wigan putting in their claims; Final Conc. ii, 73. About the same time Robert de Clitheroe the rector called on John del Crosse to render an account for the time he was the rector's bailiff in Wigan, viz. from Michaelmas 1313 till the end of August 1316, during which time the profits of three mills, markets, and fairs amounted to £160; and from September 1316 to 4 April 1324, during which time the issues of the church as in corn, hay, beasts, great tithes, small tithes, oblations, obventions, and other profits, amounted he said to £1,500. The money receipts during the same period amounted to £335 11s. 7d. At the trial John did not appear, but the jury decided against him and he was committed to the Fleet Prison; De Banco R. 279, m. 61. In the following year the rector sought to make it clear that four messuages and lands held by John del Crosse and Thurstan his son were free alms of the church of Wigan and not their lay fee; De Banco R. 283, m. 147. John seems to have died about this time, and Thurstan only is named in the following year; ibid. R. 285, m. 15 d.
  • 102. Thurstan del Crosse and Emma his wife were plaintiffs in a Wigan dispute in 1334; Coram Rege R. 297, m. 6. Thurstan appears as witness to charters from 1346 to 1367; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2753, 2423. He was defendant in a suit of 1355; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 4, m. 6.
  • 103. Hugh son of Thurstan del Crosse made sundry grants in 1370, charging an annual rent of 1 mark on his Wigan lands in favour of William son of Adam de Liverpool, who seems then to have married Katherine widow of John son of Aymory; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2269, 2896. In 1382 he made a feoffment of his lands in Wigan and Leigh; Crosse D. no. 75; and in 1386 he was mayor of the town; ibid. no. 80. He appears to have died about 1392. Katherine his widow, afterwards wife of Thomas de Hough, in 1403 granted to trustees the lands she had had from her late husband; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2343. In 1395 the feoffees of Hugh del Crosse gave lands received from him to his son Henry, with remainders to his widow Katherine (for life); to Imayne daughter of Hugh and Katherine; to William and to Gilbert, brothers of Hugh; ibid. GG, no. 2356. These are not heard of again. From all this it appears that Katherine, who was a daughter of Adam son of Matthew de Kenyon (Crosse D. no. 56), was four times married: (1) to John son of Aymory, about 1366; (2) to William, son of Adam de Liverpool, who died in 1383 (ibid. no. 77); (3) to Hugh del Crosse, who died about 1392; and (4) to Thomas de Hough, of Thornton Hough in Wirral, who died in 1409; see Ormerod, Ches. (ed. Helsby), ii, 549, 550 (from p. 576 it appears that Thomas had a previous wife, also named Katherine). She had issue by the three earlier marriages. She was still living in 1417; Crosse D. no. 126. The pedigree recorded in 1567 Visit. (Chet. Soc. 107) gives her yet another husband, William de Houghton, the first of all; but this may be an error.
  • 104. Adam del Crosse, who heads the pedigree, had another son William, who may have been the William del Crosse already mentioned in 1277. In 1292 William son of William the Tailor of Wigan claimed a tenement from William son of Adam del Crosse on a plea of mort d'ancestor; Assize R. 408, m. 46 d. This William married Emma daughter of Thomas de Ince. The widow in 1316 released to John del Crosse all her right in her husband's lands in Ormskirk; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2384. There seems, however, to have been another of the name, for in 1331 Isolda widow of William de Cros complained that she had been deprived of 40s. rent from a messuage and 60 acres in Wigan; Assize R. 1404, m. 18 d. In 1329 Aymory the Walker, son of William del Crosse, granted to feoffees all his lands in Wigan; these were regranted forty years later, with remainders to William, John, Henry, and Thurstan, sons of Aymory; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2513, 2556. An Aymory the Walker appears as early as 1309, when William the Frere granted him half a burgage next to the half-burgage he already held; ibid. GG, no. 2588. In 1316 he had a grant from Richard de Ince; ibid. GG, no. 2654. In 1345 Lora widow of Robert de Leyland granted to Aymory the Walker land called the Souracre ('Sowrykarr') in Wigan; ibid. GG, no. 2544; and in the same year he is named in De Banco R. 344, m. 432. Before 1347 John son of Aymory had acquired land near Standishgate from Adam son of John Dickson, whose divorced wife in that year released all claim to it; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2568. A little later he purchased land in Liverpool from Adam son of Richard de Liverpool; ibid. GG, no. 2576. In 1347 William son of Aymory granted to Thomas son of Henry Fairwood a toft lying in the Wirchinbank; ibid. GG, no. 2604. In July 1359 William son of Aymory the Walker and Isobel his wife were non-suited in a claim against Agnes, widow of Aymory; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 7, m. 3 d. William had a son Aymory, who about 1380 made a feoffment of his lands in Wigan; ibid. GG, no. 2567, 2534. In 1388 Aymory the Walker leased the Priestsacre in Botlingfield to Richard de Longshaw; Crosse D. no. 96. John son of the elder Aymory in or about 1366 married the above-named Katherine daughter of Adam de Kenyon; Crosse D. no. 56; see also Towneley MS. GG, no. 2550. He died in 1369, leaving three sons by her, Richard, Nicholas, and Thurstan; Crosse D. no. 66. In 1377 Robert de Picton, cousin and heir of Robert Barret of Liverpool, released to William son of Adam de Liverpool, Katherine his wife, and Richard son of John Aymoryson of Wigan, all actions; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2713. It is uncertain whether the Richard del Crosse who followed Hugh was the latter's son or the Richard son of John Aymoryson and Katherine born about 1367. The latter is the statement in the Visit. of 1567, and has probabilities in its favour. The charters state Richard del Crosse to have been the son of Katherine, but do not name his father, and he is not named in the remainders to Hugh's feoffment of 1395. Richard del Crosse first occurs in the charters in 1400–1 (when, if he were son of Hugh, he could not have been of full age); Towneley MS. GG, no. 2526; Crosse D. no. 96. On the other hand, in a writ excusing him from serving on juries, dated 1445, he is said to be over sixty years of age, while Richard the son of John and Katherine would have been nearly eighty years of age; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2286. In 1423–4 Richard Aymory son of Henry Aymoryson (i.e. son of Aymory son of William) released to his 'cousin' Richard del Crosse all his right in land which had belonged to Aymory the Walker, son of William, son of Aymory de Wigan; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2511. Richard del Crosse prospered. He was receiver for Lady Lovell (ibid. GG, no. 2199); and acquired lands in Liverpool and Chorley at the beginning of the 15th century. Settling in the former town he and his successors had little further direct connexion with Wigan. A schedule of lands in Wigan included in the marriage settlement of John Crosse and Alice Moore in 1566 is printed in Crosse D. no. 224. Some of these were sold in 1591 and later years; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 53, m. 13, &c. For a complaint by John Crosse regarding trespass on his lands at Wigan see Local Glean. Lancs. and Ches. ii, 203.
  • 105. A pedigree was recorded at the Visit. of 1664 (Chet. Soc.), 193. A descendant acquired Foxholes in Rochdale by marriage with an Entwisle heiress; Fishwick, Rochdale, 411. The surname is derived from Markland in Pemberton. Adam son of Richard de Marklan(d) attested a charter dated about 1280; Matthew and Henry one in 1323; Crosse D. no. 13, 34. John and Matthew Markland occur in the time of Richard II, and John son of Matthew Markland in 1413; Kuerden MSS. ii, fol. 253. John Markland of Wigan, mercer, occurs in 1443 and 1445; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 5, m. 1; 7, m. 2, 6 d. Alexander son of Matthew Markland was one of the receivers of the persecuted priests in 1586; Bridgeman, Wigan Ch. 166, quoting Harl. MS. 360. Ralph Markland, as a landowner, contributed to the subsidy in 1628; Norris D. (B.M.). Captain Gerard Markland had served in a regiment of horse raised for the Parliament, but disbanded in 1648, after which he applied for arrears of pay. He may be the alderman Gerard Markland who left £5 to the poor of Wigan; Cal. of Com. for Compounding, i, 173; Bridgeman, Wigan Ch. 716. A short letter of his is printed in Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 62.
  • 106. Kuerden MSS. ii, fol. 253. Grants of land were made to Roger del Marsh by Richard son of Adam son of Orm de Wigan and by Adam son of Roger son of Orm de Wigan in 1322 and 1336. In 1323–4 John son of Robert del Marsh granted his inheritance to John del Marsh and Roger his brother. John son of Roger del Marsh gave land in Scholefield to Robert de Laithwaite and Anabel his wife. In 1398–9 Adam del Marsh received from the feoffees the lands he had granted them with remainders to Roger his son by his first wife; this seems to have been upon the occasion of his later marriage with Joan, daughter of Hugh de Winstanley. Deeds of the time of Hen. VI show the succession; Roger—s. William, who married Isabel—s. Robert, whose wife was Margaret. In the time of Hen. VIII the lands of this family appear to have been sold to Thomas Hesketh.
  • 107. The following occur in the 14th and 15th centuries: Baxter, Bowwright, Carpenter, Ironmonger, Litster, Lorimer, Potter, Skinner, Tanner, Teinturer, Walker, and Wright. Three minor families occur in the Visitations. The Rigbys of Wigan and Peel in Little Hulton recorded a pedigree in 1613; Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 65. In 1664 Colonel William Daniell of Wigan recorded a pedigree; Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 95. Also the Pennington family; ibid. 232. David de Pennington and Margery his wife occur in pleas of 1374; De Banco R. 455, m. 424d.; 457, m. 341. Margery afterwards married Richard del Ford, and in 1384 a settlement by fine was made between them and John de Swinley and Alice his wife concerning the latter's inheritance; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 2, m. 27. For the Baldwins of Wigan see Pal. Note Bk. i, 54.
  • 108. a Inq. a.q.d. 17 Edw. II, no. 137; Anct. Petitions, P.R.O. 150–7470.
  • 109. Mascy of Rixton D.
  • 110. Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 239–43. Richard Molyneux of Wigan Woodhouses was trustee for lands in Orrell in 1522; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 11, m. 192. Thomas Molyneux was buried at Wigan, 18 Nov. 1611. John Molyneux of the same place followed; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 279. In the same work (ii, 154) is the inquisition taken after the death of John Lowe of Aspull, who died in 1619, holding lands in Wigan.
  • 111. Norris D. (B.M.).
  • 112. Cal. of Com. for Compounding, iii, 2175. 'It was by his aid that the Earl of Derby got into Wigan; he helped in its defence, assisted Prince Rupert with hay and money, and told the Earl of Derby that all the Wiganers would go with the Prince to York or Liverpool and turn out the Roundheads; and when others refused, he went himself.' He had an estate of great value, which he had gone to London to underrate.
  • 113. Ibid. iv, 2913; iii, 1804, 2011.
  • 114. Engl. Cath. Nonjurors, 97, 124, 125, 136, 144. At the time of the Oates Plot Dr. Worthington of Wigan and his son Thomas fled into Yorkshire for fear of an indictment; Lydiate Hall, 125, 126. 'Old Dr. Worthington' in 1682 entreated Roger Kenyon to withdraw the warrant out against him; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 139; Dr. Thomas Worthington was with other suspected persons imprisoned in 1689; ibid. 314.
  • 115. Bridgeman, op. cit. 783; Lond. Gaz. 1 Aug. 1843; 28 July 1863. Under an Act obtained in 1904, St. George's will be removed to the east side of the Douglas. The Rev. Benjamin Powell, incumbent from 1821 to 1860, was the father of Sir Francis Sharp Powell, bart., M.P. for Wigan from 1885 to the present.
  • 116. Bridgeman, op. cit. 786; Lond. Gaz. 1 Aug. 1843; 14 June 1864; 14 Jan. 1868. There is a mission church in Whelley.
  • 117. Bridgeman, op. cit. 788; Lond. Gaz. 24 Feb. 1852; 14 June 1864; 19 May 1876.
  • 118. Bridgeman, op. cit. 788; Lond. Gaz. 1 May 1863; 28 July 1863; 5 Aug. 1870. There are two Eckersley memorial brasses in the church. There is a licensed chapel at Worsley Mesnes.
  • 119. Bridgeman, op. cit. 789; Lond. Gaz. 28 Mar. 1871; 28 Apr. 1871; 13 Apr. 1883. The incumbent, the Rev. W. A. Wickham, has given assistance to the editors.
  • 120. Bridgeman, op. cit. 790; Lond. Gaz. 5 Apr. 1881; 15 June 1883.
  • 121. Nightingale, Lancs. Nonconformity, iv, 84. For notice of the congregation in 1798 see Rippon, Bapt. Reg. iii, 21.
  • 122. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 232.
  • 123. Ibid. 270.
  • 124. Nightingale, op. cit. iv, 67.
  • 125. Ibid. iv, 74.
  • 126. Ibid. iv, 84.
  • 127. Ibid. iv, 88.
  • 128. E.g. in the account of Rector Fleetwood. In 1580 the sons of Ford of Swinley and Markland were being educated beyond the seas, 'where they were accustomed and nourished in papistry'; Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 218, 226, 240. For Alexander Markland see Foley, Rec. Soc. Jesus, vi, 147; Douay Diaries, 12, 321, &c. For James Ford, ibid. 12, 202, &c. In 1583 the Bishop of Chester described the 'papists' about Preston, Wigan, and Prescot, as 'most obstinate and contemptuous,' and desired the Privy Council to arrange 'to deal severely and roundly' with them; ibid. 222 (from S.P. Dom. Eliz. clxiii, 84). The story told by John Laithwaite, born at Wigan in 1585, gives a picture from the other side. He was the son of Henry Laithwaite by his wife Jane Bolton, and he and three brothers became Jesuits and two of them laboured in England. He stated, on entering the English college at Rome in 1603, 'I made my rudiments at Blackrod under a Protestant schoolmaster, with two of my brothers; but being a Catholic, our parents removed us and we received instruction at home from a Catholic neighbour for about half a year. At length it was arranged for our attending schools at Wigan until we were older, and that I did for four years or more. My father's family is descended from the Laithwaites, a wealthy family of the middle class. 'For his faithful adherence to the Catholic religion my father was driven away by the Protestants, and compelled to abandon all his property and possessions, and seek an asylum in another county, until at length, by favour of Henry Earl of Derby, he was reinstated in his property, but rather in the condition of a serf, totally dependent upon the pleasure and ambition of the earl, who had the power of committing or discharging him at will. He was thus enabled to live quietly and securely at home, protected by the earl from the insults of the heretics, for the space of two years; after which, at the earl's pleasure, he was thrown into Lancaster Gaol, but was liberated after two months, on account of corporal infirmity, and returning home with health completely broken, he died a fortnight after. 'My mother, who is descended from the ancient stock of the Boltons, persevering in the Catholic faith, about three years after my father's death suffered the loss of her whole property; but death at length released her from all her tribulations.' A Joan Laithwaite, widow, of Pemberton, was 'a recusant and indicted thereof' in 1590; Lydiate Hall, 247. 'I have five brothers, of whom the eldest, upon my mother's death, yielding to the solicitations and threats of many and the dread of the loss of his property, unhappily lapsed into heresy… . My second brother is a Catholic, and (as I hear) is a priest in Spain. My third brother is now a Protestant. In the first or second year after my mother's death he was seized by the pursuivants who are employed to hunt down the Catholics, and was taken before the Bishop of Chester, who endeavoured both by threats and blandishments to entice him to heresy, but in vain, for he preferred torture and death itself to abandoning his religion. But it seems his words were widely different from his actions, for having been discharged from custody, being under age, he was afterwards seduced by a certain intimate friend and, now, though utterly ignorant, yet he is obstinate, and as he declares, acts by the inspiration of the Spirit. My fourth and fifth brothers were always brought up Catholics; the younger of them is now in grammar at Douay. I have two sisters, both Catholics; one married, one still a child. I was always a Catholic.' Foley, Rec. Soc. Jesus, iv, 641, 642. The stories of the other brothers (op. cit.) are full of interest. The Recusant Roll of 1641 shows but few names in Wigan township; Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xiv, 239.
  • 129. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 128, 132. The bailiffs made a distress on the goods of Anne, widow of Richard Pennington, for a fine of £100. A great disturbance ensued; the bailiffs were kept imprisoned in the house for an hour and a half, and on venturing into the street were set upon by 'some hundreds,' and the distress rescued, the men hardly escaping with their lives.
  • 130. Foley, op. cit. v, 319. 'Some of the fathers resided there and taught several classes, numbering more than a hundred scholars… . There were constant sermons, which the mayor, or chief magistrate of the town, and his suite were accustomed to attend… . The Society had very large chapels in other places, which were much better attended than the neighbouring Protestant churches.' These sentences are from the Annual Letters of 1685, &c. In 1687 Bishop Leyburn confirmed 1, 331 persons. Dr. Kuerden passing through Wigan about 1695, after crossing the Mill Bridge from Scholes, saw 'without the bars, a fair built house lately styled a college, with officers of learning belonging to it, but since violently pulled down, and the ruins thereof yet remaining, but neither Romanist master nor scholars are left.' Thence by the bars he passed into Millgate; Local Glean. Lancs. and Ches. i, 214.
  • 131. Foley, op. cit. v, 405. His stipend in 1701 amounted to £31 4s., of which £10 came from the people; ibid. 321.
  • 132. Ibid. v, 406. His income in 1750 was £47 10s., of which £18 came from his family and £6 10s. from the congregation; sixty general confessions were made (for the Jubilee), and the 'customers' or attendants numbered 300. Bishop Matthew Gibson confirmed 230 in 1784, when there were 660 Easter communions; in 1793 the numbers were 285 and 300 respectively. The return made to the Bishop of Chester in 1767 shows an increase of 'papists' from 594 in 1717 to 1,194 in the main portion of the parish, apart from the chapelries; Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xviii, 215.
  • 133. Liverpool Cath. Ann. 1901.
  • 134. a For the controversy about it see Gillow, Bibl. Dict. of Engl. Cath. iv, 270.
  • 135. Liverpool Cath. Ann. 1901.