Townships: Pilsworth

Pages 169-170

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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Pylesworth, 1243; Pilliswrthe, c. 1270.

The township of Pilsworth has an extreme length of more than 3 miles; the area is 1,482½ acres. The surface is undulating, being highest in the centre and on the eastern side, over 400 ft. above sea-level, and lowest along the Roch and the Hollins Brook, which form the boundary on the west and south. There is no village or considerable hamlet in the greater part of the township, but in the north-east is Broadfield, which is becoming a suburb of Heywood. The population in 1901 was not returned separately.

The principal roads meet at Three Lane Ends near the centre. From this point one road goes northeast to Broadfield and Heywood; another, north-west to Heap Bridge and Bury, with a branch turning west and south to Hollins in Unsworth; the third, southeast to Birch and Middleton. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company's line from Bury to Rochdale crosses the north-east corner and has a station called Broadfield, opened in 1869.

The soil is sandy, with subsoil of clay; wheat and potatoes are grown, and there is pasture. There are bleach works and a cotton-mill.

There were thirty-eight hearths liable to the hearth tax in 1666; the largest dwelling was that of Dorothy Lomax with five. (fn. 1)

By a re-arrangement of boundaries made in 1894, Pilsworth has ceased to exist as a separate township, being divided among Heywood, Bury, and Unsworth. (fn. 2)

In 1770 a festival called a 'guild' was held at Pilsworth; a procession and a musical performance were the chief features of the programme. (fn. 3)


There does not appear ever to have been a manor of Pilsworth. (fn. 4) The chief residences were those called Meadowcroft Fold, (fn. 5) long the habitation of a Wolstenholme family, and Lomax's, so-called from the family dwelling there, (fn. 6) ancestors of the Grimshaw Lomaxes of Great Harwood. There are but few references to it among the ancient deeds available. (fn. 7)

The Commonwealth surveyors in 1650 recommended that a church should be built at the End of Streethough in Pilsworth, but nothing was done. (fn. 8)


  • 1. Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9, Lancs.
  • 2. Loc. Govt. Bd. Order 31671. Uns-worth has the greater part; Broadfield has been added to Heywood.
  • 3. E. Butterworth, Middleton, 52.
  • 4. It is usually named among the hamlets or appurtenances of the manor of Middleton in inquisitions and settlements of the Assheton family; e.g. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 105. By the partition of the Assheton estates it has descended to the Earl of Wilton. The land tax return of 1789 states that Lord Grey de Wilton was the 'landlord of all Pilsworth.'
  • 5. For some notice of the Meadowcroft family see the account of Smethurst in Birtle.
  • 6. One James Lomax, born about 1556 and educated at Cambridge, was reconciled to the Roman Church and went over seas to Douay. Returning as a missionary priest in 1583 he was arrested on landing, and died in prison a year later; Gillow, Bibl. Dict, of Engl. Cath. iv, 321. James Lomax in 1573 purchased land in Middleton from Lawrence Bury, Agnes his wife, Richard the son and heir, and Agnes his wife; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 35, m. 115. A James Lomax of Pilsworth died in 1623, leaving his son Richard as his heir; but the lands named in the inquisition were in Todmorden; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), iii, 441. Richard Lomax of Pilsworth (1759), by his marriage with Rebecca, heiress of John Heywood, acquired the Grimshaws' estate of Clayton Hall in Whalley; Abram's Blackburn, 540.
  • 7. Robert de Hulton about 1260 gave this land in Pilsworth to William de Radcliffe, son of Peter de Pilsworth, for a yearly rent of two pairs of white gloves; and William granted the same to Ellis Moscrop to hold by the same service, due at St. Leonard's feast; Add. MS. 32106, no. 1339, 1271. In the second deed Pilsworth is called a vill, and its liberties, easements, &c. are mentioned; Dods MSS. cxlii, fol. 74. Ellis Moscrop and Cecily his wife were, in 1292, defendants in a Middleton case respecting land, wood, and mill; Assize R. 408, m. 21 d.
  • 8. Commonwealth Ch. Surv. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 25.