Townships: Sharples

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

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, 'Townships: Sharples', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911) pp. 260-262. British History Online [accessed 23 May 2024].

. "Townships: Sharples", in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911) 260-262. British History Online, accessed May 23, 2024,

. "Townships: Sharples", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911). 260-262. British History Online. Web. 23 May 2024,

In this section


Charples, 12I2; Sharples and Scharples, 1292.

This large township, stretching from Bolton in a north-west direction for over 6 miles, has an area of 3,999½ acres, and is divided into an upper and lower portion. The former occupies the eastern slope of the range of hills, including Winter Hill and Whimberry Hill, which goes west and north through Smithills, Rivington, and Anglezarke; it contains the district called Hordern, the village of Belmont, and the hamlet of Bromiley, to the east being a large reservoir, part of the Bolton Waterworks, on the boundary between Sharpies and Longworth. The lower division is cut in two by a detached portion of Little Bolton; its northern part is called the Folds, and its southern part contains a portion of the town of Bolton, called Astley Bridge. (fn. 1) The population of the Belmont portion was 837 in 1901, and that of the southern portion, together with parts of Little Bolton, was 7,674. (fn. 2)

The principal road is that from Bolton to Preston, which passes through the whole length of the township, from Astley Bridge to the boundary of Withnell.

'Sharpies in Harwood' contained forty-three hearths liable to the tax in 1666; no house had as many as six hearths. (fn. 3)

The township contains some cotton-mills, the large dye works and print works at Belmont, and a paper works at Spring Side in Folds. The Eden Orphanage is situated at Astley Bridge.

The southern half was formerly joined with the detached parts of Little Bolton to form the Astley Bridge Local Board district, (fn. 4) and has now been included in the borough and township of Bolton. (fn. 5) The northern part was in 1894 constituted a civil parish with the name of Belmont, (fn. 6) and was in 1898 included in Turton Urban District. (fn. 7)


The manor of SHARPLES was a member of Manchester fee. It appears to have been assessed as four oxgangs of land, (fn. 8) but one oxgang was in 1212 held of Robert Grelley by Roger de Samlesbury and Alexander de Harwood by a rent of 3s. This may have been an additional oxgang. (fn. 9) Whether it was so or not it appears to have been the most important part of the district, and its lords being also lords of Harwood and Bradshaw the three were held together, (fn. 10) and as late as the 17th century the 'hamlet of Sharpies' is described as lying 'in the town of Harwood.' (fn. 11) Another part of Sharples was within the Marsey fee; what were known as the detached portions of Little Bolton were probably its constituents. (fn. 12)

The upper and larger part of the township was retained by the lords of Manchester in their own hands, but the Folds, described as 4,000 acres, had in 1427 been occupied by Richard son of Thurstan de Holland, and in 1473 was held by the heir of Henry de Radcliffe. Hordern Solyns, 1,000 acres, was in Thomas La Warre's possession in 1427. (fn. 13)

Sharples proper, the one oxgang, appears to have been divided among several immediate holders; the rent also seems to have been increased to 3s. 2d. Thus in 1320 Henry de Trafford paid yearly 3s. 2d. for Sharples, and gave puture of the Serjeant and foresters, (fn. 14) while Adam de Sharples for the twenty-fourth part of a fee in the same rendered castle ward and puture. (fn. 15)

The local families adopted the surname of Sharpies, and continued to reside for some centuries; (fn. 16) one of them, known as Ward alias Sharples, appears down to the 17th century. (fn. 17) In the absence of documents no proper account can be given of these families. Sharples Hall has for some time been the seat of the Rothwell family; Mr. Richard Rainshaw Rothwell was recently one of the principal landowners. (fn. 18)

Sharples of Sharples. Sable three crescents argent, between the points of each a mullet of the last.

One Roger de Sharples in 1315–16 granted to Sir William de Holland, ancestor of the Denton family, his manor of Sharples and all his land there, together with his goods, movable and immovable, in the manor and his share of the waste. (fn. 19) Sir William at once granted it to Thurstan son of Margaret de Shoresworth for life. (fn. 20) Thurstan in 1332 made a feoffment of his lands in the hamlet of Sharples in the vill of Great Bolton and in Harwood; (fn. 21) and in 1335 granted the manor of Sharples to his mother, together with the homages and services of Jordan son of Adam de Sharples and others. (fn. 22) The Holland family acquired other lands in the hamlet or township, (fn. 23) and in 1429 Thurstan de Holland made an agreement with Sir Ralph de Radcliffe touching part of a field called Rodenhey, adjoining the road leading from Smithills. (fn. 24)

From the rental of 1473 it appears that the rent of 3s. 2d. was contributed by three occupiers— Richard Sharples, 18d.; Robert Sharples, 10d.; and Richard Holland of Denton, 10d. (fn. 25) The Holland manor therefore was rather more than a fourth part. It continued to descend with the Denton estates, (fn. 26) and the Earl of Wilton is now reputed to be lord of the manor.

Lord Fauconberg in 1723 sold, among other lordships, the manor of Sharples, which probably represented the estate descending to him from the Bartons of Smithills, who had held the FOLDS. (fn. 27)

The Bradshaws of Bradshaw also had a holding in Sharples, (fn. 28) and some other owners' names are met with. (fn. 29) One Lawrence Longworth, of Sharples, was in 1443 bound to array a man-at-arms and three able archers for the king's service. (fn. 30)

The land tax returns of 1796 show that—Wright, Lord Grey de Wilton, and — Lawson were the chief landowners. (fn. 31) The Wright estate has recently been purchased by the Bolton Corporation for waterworks purposes at a cost of £100,000. (fn. 32)

In connexion with the Church of England St. Peter's, Belmont, was built in 1850, and had a separate district assigned to it in 1861. (fn. 33) It has a tower and spire, with peal of six bells.

The Congregationalists began services in or before 1821; the present church at Belmont was opened in 1898. (fn. 34)

The Roman Catholic church of the Holy Infant and St. Anthony, at Astley Bridge, was opened in 1877. (fn. 35)


  • 1. An Astley family had lands in Sharples in 1577; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 51.
  • 2. Census Returns.
  • 3. Subs. R. Lancs. bdle. 250, no. 9.
  • 4. Lond. Gaz. 26 Jan. 1864. The district was made a civil parish or township in 1894.
  • 5. By the Bolton, Turton, &c., Extension Act, 1898.
  • 6. Local Govt. Bd. Order 31690.
  • 7. By the Act of 1898.
  • 8. Harland, Mamecestre (Chet. Soc), ii, 377; there is, however, a various reading —Holnton. The four oxgangs contributed 2s. each to the maintenance of the foresters of Horwich.
  • 9. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 58.
  • 10. The descent of the lordship of this part of Sharples probably went with Harwood, but cannot be traced clearly. The Earl of Derby, however, appears as a mesne tenant in 1575.
  • 11. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 112.
  • 12. Ormerod, Ches. (ed. Helsby), i, 37. It will be seen in subsequent notes that Sharples was sometimes said to be in Bolton.
  • 13. Chan. Inq. p.m. 5 Hen. VI, no. 54. The Folds, 'waste and pasture,' held by Thomas La Warre of the king as of the duchy, was in 1404 granted by him to his feoffees at a rent of £4 6s. 8d.; the Hordern Solyns, also waste and pasture, was granted to the same feoffees at a rent of 13s. 4d. The rents represented the annual value. For the tenant in 1473 see Mamecestre, iii, 481; Folds is called a 'manor,' and the rent of 1d. was due from it to the lord of Manchester. In 1409 the Folds and Hordern Solins in 'Harwood' were held by James de Radcliffe of Radcliffe for life, with remainder to Henry de Radcliffe and his heirs; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), i, 95. They descended to Thomas Radcliffe, who died childless in 1527, he being son of Thomas son of Geoffrey son of Henry younger son of the above James de Radcliffe; ibid, ii, 151; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. vi, no. 45. Afterwards they seem to have been acquired by the Bartons of Smithills.
  • 14. Mamecestre, ii, 290. Henry de Trafford seems to have acquired the right of Roger de Samlesbury and his partner in 1212. The Trafford family are not named later as lords of Sharples.
  • 15. Ibid, ii, 289. Knight's service is not again named in connexion with Sharples; and Adam de Sharples was probably a sub-tenant of Henry de Trafford.
  • 16. In 1246 Randle de Sharples acknowledged that he had granted 'Folescalis' in Sharples to his brother Henry; Assize R. 404, m. 8 d. Randle de Sharples attested a Great Lever charter; he is called dominus; Lever Chartul. (Add. MS. 32103), no. 3. Robert de Sharples, Roger his son, Adam son of Richard de Sharpies, William de Coulsaye, and Mabel his wife in 1282 made an agreement with Richard son of Gervase regarding lands in Sharples; Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 158b/194b. Roger de Sharples son of Adam son of Quenilda de Sharples claimed a messuage and lands in 1292 against Adam de Pilkington; Assize R. 408, m. 64. The defendant said that he held by the law of England, having married Maud daughter of Amabel, to whom the tenement was given in free marriage; Thomas son of Roger demised the same to Roger de Pilkington, to whom the reversion belonged. It may be added that the charter of Thomas son of Roger de Manchester and nephew of Geoffrey de Manchester, chaplain, the original donor to Amabel, granting the reversion of the land to Roger de Pilkington the brother of Adam, is among Lord Wilton's deeds; see also Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 156/192. At the same time William son of Maud de Sharples claimed a messuage and lands under a grant by Quenilda de Sharples to Henry de Entwisle and Maud his wife and their issue; the defendant, Henry son of Alexander de Wood, denied that William was of the blood of Henry and Maud—i.e. apparently was the son of Maud, but not of Henry; Assize R. 408, m. 15. A charter for Hayhurst in Sharples by Alexander de Wood to his son Henry is printed in Various Coll. (Hist. MSS. Com.), ii, 13. John son of Elias de Tonge was in 1310 pardoned for the death of William de Sharples; Cal. Pat. 1307–13, p. 298. John de Sharples occurs in 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 37. Some further occurrences of the name will be found in the text and notes.
  • 17. A brief pedigree is printed in the Visit. of 1567 (Chet. Soc). p. 10; it covers the 16th century. That printed in Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc), 269, may be a more correct version of the same. In 1351 John de Hulton of Halliwell made provision for the marriage of his son Richard to Margery daughter of Adam the Ward of Sharpies; Hulton Ped. 5. Adam the Ward of Sharples occurs again in reference to lands at Gorton and at Turton in 1369 and 1371; Coram Rege R. 434, m. 7; De Banco R. 444, m. 173 d. His descendants were probably the Richard Ward of Sharples, a defendant in 1443 (Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 5, m. 9b) and the Richard Sharples who paid a rent of 1s. 6d. to the lord of Manchester in 1473; Mamecestre, iii, 494. Alexander Sharples alias Ward died in 1588 and was succeeded by his son Richard; Manch. Ct. Leet Rec. ii, 29. A settlement of ten messuages and lands in Sharples and Bolton was made by Alexander in 1571; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 33, m. 178. From a pleading of 1597 it appears that he, being seised of the manor of Sharples, granted half the estate to his grandson Alexander (son of Richard) on his marriage with Anne [Aughton]; after his death Richard, his heir, entered upon one moiety and Alexander and Anne upon the other. They agreed to exchange, and Alexander in 1593, shortly before his death, mortgaged or sold his part to Ralph Heaton the younger; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 55, m. 108. The widow afterwards married Hugh Wood, and complained that a certain Thomas Heaton had conspired with his father-in-law Thomas Anderton and his brother-in-law Christopher Anderton to deprive her of her jointure and secure the wardship of Roger the son and heir of Alexander, who was born about 1589. The conspirators had shut her up in Thomas Anderton's house at Chorley for four days, and by many threats had induced her to sign an agreement according to their desires; Duchy of Lanc. Plea. Eliz. exev, W. 2. Richard Ward alias Sharples seems to have lived on till 1613, and Roger the grandson acted as a juror in 1619; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 234; ii, 113, 153. Roger Sharples alias Ward contributed to the subsidy in 1622; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 159. The family continued more than a century after this. Alexander the son of the last-named Roger died in 1677; he was probably the Alexander Sharpies of Bolton presented to the Bishop of Chester as a 'papist' in 1671. He was followed, it would appear, by another Roger, and then by a John Sharples, who died in 1736, aged fifty-six. He left two daughters, Anne wife of Roger Brandwood of Wayoh, and Mary wife of the Rev. Samuel Lawson. In 1749 a partition was effected, by which Sharples Hall came to the latter family. John Lawson the son and heir succeeded, and by his will in 1793 gave Sharples to his son John Sharples Lawson. The heir mortgaged it to Richard Rothwell, rector of Sefton, in 1797, and in 1815 sold it to James Rothwell of Much Hoole for £6,250; Bolton Hist. Gleanings ii, 128, 187–9 (from Piccope MSS. xiv, 43–4).
  • 18. There is a pedigree in H. T. Crofton's Newton (Chet. Soc), ii, 224.. See further in the account of Much Hoole.
  • 19. Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 145/181; there are three charters, and Adam de Sharples attested one of them. John son of Roger de Sharples at the same time released all his right; ibid. fol. 156/192. The Pendlebury family had had an estate in Sharples, which was acquired by Sir William de Holland and his son Thurstan. William son of Roger de Pendlebury granted to John de Prestwich, rector of Whitwell, all the lands in Sharples coming to him on the death of Maud daughter of his brother Ellis de Pendlebury; ibid. fol. 145b/181b. Lettice, another daughter of Ellis, released to the same John de Prestwich in 1301 all her interest in the lands in Sharples and Great Bolton granted by her uncle William son of Roger de Pendlebury; ibid. 160b/196b. Beatrice, a third daughter, in 1331 released all her right in Sharples in the vills of Great Bolton and Harwood to Thurstan son of Margaret de Shoresworth; ibid. fol. 145b/181b. In the meantime, apparently in 1307, John de Prestwich had granted to Sir William de Holland all his lands in Sharples, with rents, homages, wards, reliefs, &c.; ibid. fol. 145/181. Roger de Bindloss of Sharples at the same time released to Sir William all his claim to the lands, rents, &c., including the homage and service of Alexander de Turton; ibid. fol. 145b/181b, 158/194. Another ancient estate also seems to have come into the Hollands' possession —perhaps that of the Alexander de Turton named above. Ellis son of Gamel the White (Albi) of Turton granted all his land in Sharples and the Boothstead to his son Alexander; and in 1307 Margery the widow of Ellis son of Gamel released to the same Alexander her right in Sharples in the vill of Bolton; Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 158/194, 159/195.
  • 20. Ibid. fol. 145/181.
  • 21. Ibid. (1) A grant by Thurstan son of Sir William de Holland to William de Halliwell; (2) Re-grant by William son of Richard de Halliwell to Thurstan. Thurstan [de Holland] son of Margaret de Shoresworth, holding two-thirds of a tenement in Harwood, Joan widow of John de Belowe of Sharples, holding onethird, and others were defendants to a claim made by William de Halliwell in 1325; Assize R. 426, m. 6. The claim was renewed in 1331, when Thurstan's mother was called Margaret del Booth; Assize R. 1404, m. 19. The claim was for common of pasture in 300 acres of moor and pasture in Harwood and Great Bolton.
  • 22. Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 145/181. The original charter is among Lord Wilton's deeds; the under-tenants, in addition to Jordan de Sharples, were William de Halliwell, Alexander de Turton, and Henry del Wood.
  • 23. Some of these have been mentioned in a previous note. Thurstan de Holland, the son of Sir William, in 1328 procured from John son of Robert de Sharples all his title in the heritage of Jordan de Sharples; ibid. fol. 145b/181b. At the same time he obtained Hughurst in Sharples in the vill of Harwood from Robert son of John de Sharples; ibid, fol. 157b/193b; while from Roger son of Henry del Wood he regained 8 acres in Sharples granted by Sir William de Holland to the said Henry; ibid. fol. 146/182. Thomas son of Alexander de Turton in 1341 granted to Thurstan all his lands in Sharples in the vill of Bolton-on-theMoors; ibid. fol. 145b/181b. In the following year Thurstan acquired lands in Bolton formerly belonging to Mabel daughter of Adam de Sharples; ibid. fol. 149/185; also from Maud widow of Adam son of Adam de Sharples, a halfburgage in Bolton; ibid. fol. 157b/193b. This half-burgage was in 1350 confirmed to Thurstan by Richard son of Adam and Maud de Sharples; ibid. fol. 152/188. For a settlement in 1368 referring to lands in Harwood see Final Conc. ii, 174. In 1330 Thurstan de Holland complained that certain persons had cut down his trees and done other damage on his lands in Harwood and Little Bolton; De Banco R. 283, m. 181 d.
  • 24. Harl. MS. 2112, fol. 145b/181b, 146/182. One of the series of deeds is among Lord Wilton's muniments. It is a grant by Thurstan de Holland to Sir Ralph de Radcliffe of the fourth part of a field called Rapeden Hey; the bounds began at the bridge leading to Smithills, went to the Foulescoles, across the townfield of Paradise, and by hedges and ditches to the water of Rapeden, descending this to the water of Egburden, then ascending the water of Rapeden as far as the said bridge in Bolton. In 1560 there was a suit as to Rapheden Hey in Bolton between Hamlet Radcliffe on the one part and Robert Barton and Alexander Ward on the other; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), ii, 231. Raveden Clough divides Smithills from Sharples.
  • 25. Mamecestre, iii, 479. The estate of Robert Sharples seems afterwards to have been divided into three equal parts. Edmund Haworth died at Rochdale in 1598 holding two messuages, &c., in the hamlet of Sharples in Harwood of Nicholas Mosley in socage by a rent of 3⅓d.; Randle his son and heir was fourteen years of age; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvii, no. 53. Randle Haworth died at Sharples in 1621 seised of a similar estate, leaving James his son and heir, an infant two years old; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 296. Another third part was held by James Birch, who also died in 1621, by the same rent of 3⅓d.; his son and heir Richard was thirteen years of age; ibid. iii, 295. The remaining third was held by Lamuel Openshaw, who died in 1606 holding two messuages, lands, &c., in Sharples in Harwood by the same rent; James Openshaw, the son and heir, was forty-five years old; ibid. i, 112. Lamuel had succeeded in 1597; Manch. Ct. Leet Rec. ii, 121. In 1564 Randle Haworth of Whitworth stated that one John Heyward of Rochdale held a messuage and lands in Sharples, and left a daughter and heir, the mother of Randle; but certain deeds having come into the hands of Margery Sharples of Bolton and Thomas her son, they had expelled him from his possession; Duchy of Lanc. Plea. Eliz. lix, H. 23. In 1594 Lamuel Openshaw claimed the further Ashlands in Sharples and Harwood against Richard Birch and others; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 341.
  • 26. Edward Holland of Denton in 1570 held an estate in Sharples and Harwood of Lord La Warre in socage by a rent of 6d.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xiii, no. 20. The tenement is again mentioned in 1631; ibid, xxvii, no. 42. See also Lancs. Inq.p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 146.
  • 27. The Barton tenement in Sharples is mentioned in their inquisitions as held of the lords of Manchester. Afterwards they acquired the Folds, perhaps by purchase from the heirs of Radcliffe of Radcliffe (see a former note), for in 1580 Robert Barton of Smithills was found to have held some messuages, lands, &c., in Folds of Sir William West in socage, by the rent of 1d. yearly; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xiv, no. 24. See also Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 211. Lord Fauconberg's manor of Sharples was registered as a 'papist's' estate in 1717; Engl. Cath. Nonjurors, 113. It was sold six years later; Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.), iii, fol. 220, from Roll 8 of George I at Preston.
  • 28. Simon de Bradshagh occurs in 1292, when Richard de Urmston and Syreda his wife claimed a messuage, &c., of which Adam de Westleigh, the grandfather of Syreda, had died seised. The defendant Simon said the tenement was given to him in free marriage with Amarica or Ameria his wife; Assize R. 408, m. 32, 77 d. In the inquisitions of the Bradshaws of Bradshaw in the time of Edward VI and Elizabeth the lands in Sharpies were stated to be held of the Earl of Derby in socage by a rent of 2d.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. ix, no. 31; xiii, no. 39.
  • 29. Another Radcliffe family had an estate in Sharples in the 16th and 17th centuries. Robert Radcliffe in 1589 made a settlement of two messuages and lands; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 51, m. 125. From him a James Radcliffe appears to have acquired eight messuages, &c., in Radcliffe and Sharples in 1595; ibid, bdle. 57, m. 23. James died 20 July 1633, holding a messuage, &c., of Edward Mosley as of his manor of Manchester; Robert his son and heir, was over fifty years of age; Towneley MS. C. 8, 13 (Chet Lib.), fol. 999. Alexander Stones in 1571 acquired a toft, &c., from Richard Birch the younger; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 33, m. 7. Ralph Assheton of Great Lever, who died in 1616, held a messuage and land in Sharples in socage; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 288, 290. Lawrence Haslum at his death on 6 Aug. 1630, also held a messuage and lands there of Edward Mosley; Lawrence, his son and heir, was three years of age; Towneley MS. C. 8, 13 (Chet. Lib.), fol. 533.
  • 30. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. x, App. iv, 227.
  • 31. Returns at Preston; Wright's lands paid two-fifths of the whole.
  • 32. a Information of Mr. S. Partington.
  • 33. Lond. Gaz. 6 Aug. 1861.
  • 34. Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1836), iii, 90. A Methodist chapel also is stated to have been built in Sharples in 1821. For a full account of Congregationalism in Belmont, see Nightingale, Lancs. Nonconformity, iii, 78–81. A second chapel, called Bethel, was erected in 1840, mainly by the efforts of the workmen of the village.
  • 35. It was served from St. Mary's, Bolton, till 1882; Kelly, Engl. Catholic Missions, 59.