Townships: Breightmet

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

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'Townships: Breightmet', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911) pp. 266-268. British History Online [accessed 21 April 2024]

In this section


Brihtmede, 1257; Brightemete, 1277; Breghmete, Breghtmed, 1292; Brithmete, 1302; Brightmede, 1510; Breightmet, 1574.

The township of Breightmet lies between Bradshaw and Blackshaw Brooks, and has an area of 872½ acres. The highest point, Breightmet Hill, a little over 525 ft., is near the centre of the northern boundary, and from it the surface slopes away in all directions, chiefly to the south. The township ceased to have an independent existence in 1898, being included in the borough and township of Bolton by the Extension Act of that year. The population was in 1901 reckoned with that of Tonge.

Numerous roads cross the area, but the chief road is that from Bolton eastward to Bury; and next is the more northerly road called Red Lane, between the same places, having Thicketford Bridge at the west and Red Bridge at the east. Running from the one to the other is that called Church Street and Withins Lane.

In the southern part of the township are Oakenbottom and Compton Fold; in the centre are Stonelow Cottages.

There are a number of mills and bleach works, also a heald and reed factory. There is a colliery.

A number of miscellaneous notes relating to this township are printed in Bolton Historical Gleanings. (fn. 1)

A native of Breightmet, John Crompton, 1611–69, was one of the Nonconformist divines ejected through the Act of Uniformity in 1662. (fn. 2)

The hearth tax of 1666 found forty-nine hearths liable; Peter Longworth had the largest dwelling, with six hearths. (fn. 3)


The manor of BREIGHTMET formed a moiety of the Marsey fee in the parish of Bolton, (fn. 4) and was in the 12th century held as one plough-land by Augustin de Breightmet. (fn. 5) By his wife Edith de Barton he had as his heir a daughter, Cecily, who married William de Notton, (fn. 6) the tenant in 1212. (fn. 7) Some forty years later it was held by Avina de Samlesbury, and divided among her three daughters; (fn. 8) but as Margery the eldest had no issue, the other two ultimately had each a moiety of the manor. (fn. 9)

Of these Cecily married Sir John D'Ewias, and her moiety descended to the Southworths of Samlesbury, who retained it till the beginning of the 16th century. (fn. 10) In 1510 it was in the possession of the Gerards of Aughton, (fn. 11) then of the Ainsworths, (fn. 12) from whom, in the 17th century, it passed to a branch of the Banastre family. (fn. 13) In 1725 Breightmet Hall and estate were purchased from the Baguley family by John Parker, (fn. 14) high sheriff of the county in 1732, (fn. 15) in whose family it remained for over a century. (fn. 16) No manor seems now to be claimed in respect of this part.

The other daughter, Elizabeth, married Sir Robert de Holland, (fn. 17) and her moiety of the manor descended in the male line of this family (fn. 18) until 1461, when it became forfeit together with the other possessions of Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter. (fn. 19) In 1484 it was granted by Richard III to Thomas, Lord Stanley, and his son Lord Strange, (fn. 20) and this moiety of the manor has descended to the present Earl of Derby. (fn. 21)

The building known as the Old Manor House stands at the junction of Meadow Lane with Breightmet Fold Lane, a short distance north of the main road from Bolton to Bury, with its principal front facing south. The building is now divided into several tenements, and has been rebuilt at the east end in brick; but the older part, now in a rather dilapidated condition, is of stone, with long, low mullioned windows and stone-slated roofs. Part of the building is of three stories, with an abutting lower wing on the west side having a gabled baywindow in the principal front. At the back some original timber-framing remains, but the building has suffered so much from decay and has been so much patched with brickwork that it has lost most of its interest. The interior is said to have retained a shield with the date 1516 and some initials until 1908, but this has disappeared. (fn. 22) The building, however, has the appearance of belonging to the 17th century, though the earlier date may be that of a timber house to which a stone front was afterwards added. Some rebuilding was done in the 18th century, a stone on the north side high up in the wall bearing the inscription, 'James Crompton, Ann Crompton, the 9th of May, 1713.' Below is a door with a good wooden semi-domed hood.

Few other families appear in the records as holding lands in the township, (fn. 23) but the Hultons of Farnworth (fn. 24) are named.

The Manchester chantries had lands in Breightmet. (fn. 25)

In connexion with the Church of England, St. James's was built in 1855; the patronage is exercised alternately by the Crown and the Bishop of Manchester. (fn. 26)

The other places of worship are a Wesleyan chapel, built in 1848, and a Free Church. Oliver Hey wood preached in Breightmet in 1666, and later at the house of his relatives, the Cromptons, but no permanent congregation seems to have resulted. (fn. 27)


  • 1. Edited by B.T. Barton, 1881 and 1882. The census for Breightmet in 1801 is printed at ii, 118–21; Extracts from the township minute book at i, 58–60.
  • 2. Diet. Nat. Biog.
  • 3. Subs. R. Lanes, bdle. 250, no. 9.
  • 4. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 71.
  • 5. Augustin de Breightmet about 1180 gave to his brother Patrick de Mobberley a moiety of Mobberley with reversion of the rest after his own death; Lord Edmund Talbot's MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com. Various Coll. ii, 290).
  • 6. See the account of Barton-on-Irwell; also Ormerod, Ches. (ed. Helsby), i, 422.
  • 7. Inq. and Extents, loc. cit.; he paid a rent of 8s. Later, Breightmet was described as the eighth part of a knight's fee.
  • 8. In 1257 Avina de Samlesbury acknowledged the right of Robert de Hampton and Margery his wife to a mill and eight oxgangs of land (less 12 acres) in Breightmet, for which they were to pay her ½ mark a year for life; after her death Robert and Margery were to have one-third, and Cecily and Elizabeth, the younger sisters of Margery, were to have the other two-thirds; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 131, and note on p. 130. In a charter without date John de Altaripa granted to Cecily daughter of William de Samlesbury and her heirs six oxgangs of land in the territory of Bolton and a culture called 'Hallerode wra.' One of the oxgangs was held in demesne, and the rest by Edmund Brun (2), Mabel (2), and Hervey (1); Kuerden MSS. v, fol. 117 (2).
  • 9. In 1292 John D'Ewias and Cecily his wife complained that Robert de Holland and Elizabeth his wife would not agree to make a division of two parts of the manor of Breightmet, the inheritance of Avina de Samlesbury, mother of Cecily and Elizabeth; 40s. damages was awarded; Assize R. 408, m. 3 d.; De Banco R. 92, m. 11. Robert de Holland and John D'Ewias in 1302 jointly contributed to the aid, in respect of the eighth part of a knight's fee held by them in Breightmet of the Earl of Lancaster; Lancs. Inq. and Extents, i, 314. Nicholas D'Ewias held the moiety of the hamlet of Breightmet in 1324 by the service of the sixteenth part of a knight's fee, 4s. for castle ward, and 1s. 3d. for sake fee; and Robert de Holland held the other moiety by the like service; Dods. MSS. cxxxi, fol. 37b. It is noticeable that Breightmet is called a 'moiety of the vill of Bolton,' showing that the former Marsey holding in Bolton parish was regarded as a unit. Again in 1346 Maud de Holland and Gilbert de Southworth held a plough-land by the eighth part of a knight's fee, rendering 8s. and puture, as well as 2s. 6d. sake-fee; Add. MS. 32103, fol. 146. John de Holland and Richard de Southworth held the manor in 1445–6 for the eighth part of a fee; the relief due was 12s. 6d., payable by each equally; Duchy of Lanc. Knights' Fees, 2/20. In a later Feodary (1483) it is stated that Christopher Southworth held one moiety of the manor, and that the Duke of Exeter lately held the other; Duchy of Lanc. Misc. Bks. cxxx.
  • 10. See the preceding note. Richard Southworth, who died in 1472, and his son Christopher, who died in 1487, held messuages and land in Breightmet of the king as of his Duchy of Lancaster by the eighth part of a knight's fee, a rent of 8s. and 2s. for sake-fee; the clear annual value was 100s.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 103, 41. John Southworth, the son and heir of Christopher, a few years after coming of age, sold or mortgaged the manors of Breightmet and Harwood in 1506 to Sir John Cutt, Miles Gerard, James Molyneux, Peter Gerard, and William Standish; Final Conc. iii, 161; see also a writ of 1511; Pal. of Lanc. Writs Proton. file 2 Hen. VIII. They are not found later among the Southworth manors.
  • 11. Miles Gerard, Elizabeth his wife, and Peter Gerard, clerk, were deforciants in a fine of the manors of Breightmet and Harwood; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 11, m. 247. The manors were probably sold, as they do not appear later among the Gerard estates. From the Hulton inquisition quoted below it seems that in 1557 Sir Edmund Trafford and Giles Ainsworth were lords of the manor, or of this portion of it.
  • 12. Joan widow of Thomas Ainsworth of Breightmet is named in 1 542; Duchy Plead. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 177. Thomas Ainsworth of Ainsworth held fourteen messuages, a water-mill, &c., in Breightmet and Harwood of the queen as of her manor of East Greenwich in socage; he died in 1594 leaving his brother Peter's son Robert his heir; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvi, no. 8. The estate is not called a manor. Giles Ainsworth is found in 1576 claiming lands in Breightmet and Harwood against Thomas Ainsworth and others; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 38. By a fine of 1588 Ralph Booth appears to have acquired the estate of Thomas Ainsworth; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 50, m. 29. In 1597 the Earl of Derby sold to Ralph Booth of Ainsworth and William Bromeley the elder of Breightmet, in consideration of £20 paid by Giles Ainsworth of Ainsworth, a tenement in Breightmet formerly occupied by Abraham and Margaret Crompton and then by the said Margaret Crompton and Giles Ainsworth; Hulme D. no. 107. The Ainsworth estate was in 1609 'put into the Crown to prevent a remainder, and granted out again to Thomas Twisden and others'; Pat. 7 Jas. I, pt. xxvi. A decree was made in 1563 in a suit between Ainsworth and Isherwood respecting lands in Breightmet and Harwood; Lancs. and Ches. Rec. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 252. From the later history it may be inferred that Giles Ainsworth left two daughters as co-heirs—Katherine, who married Richard Banastre, and Jane, who married Richard Meadowcroft.
  • 13. In 1623 there was a fine of the manors of Breightmet and Harwood, the deforciants being Richard Banastre and Katherine his wife, Richard Meadowcroft and Joan his wife; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 100, no. 10. From the Visitation of 1664–5 it appears that Richard Banastre of Bolton was a younger son of William Banastre of Bank, Christopher being another son; the name of Richard's wife is not given, but he had three sons—Henry, William, and Alexander; Dugdale's Visit. (Chet. Soc), 23. Richard Meadowcroft, who died about 1660, married Jane, a daughter and coheir of Giles Ainsworth; ibid. 196. From this the parentage of Richard Banastre's wife may be inferred. In 1632 the whole estate appears to have come into the possession of Richard and Katherine Banastre; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 119, no. 37. By a further fine three years later Christopher Banastre acquired, perhaps as trustee, a moiety of the manors of Breightmet and Harwood from Richard and Henry Banastre; ibid, bdle. 125, no. 24. William Hulme, father of the benefactor, married Christine daughter of Richard Banastre of Oakenbottom; Earwaker in Manch. Ct. Leet Rec. iii, 265.
  • 14. Bolton Hist. Gleanings, ii, 325. In his will, William Hulme the son mentioned Richard Baguley his brother, Christopher and Alexander Baguley his uncles, and William Baguley his cousin; Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc), ii, 72. Alexander Baguley and Katherine his wife are mentioned in 1655; she may have been the widow of Richard Banastre; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 157, m. 50. William Baguley of Kearsley in 1698 leased an acre in Breightmet to William Hilton of the latter township; Hulme D. no. 115. William Baguley by his will dated 1725 left £200 towards founding and endowing a charity school in Breightmet, which was afterwards built on the site of an ancient messuage at Roscow Fold, granted by William Hulton; End. Char. Rep. for Bolton Boro. 1904, p. 23.
  • 15. P.R.O. List, 74. There are pedigrees of the Parker of Astle family in Ormerod, Ches. (ed. Helsby), iii, 714, and Earwaker, East Ches. ii, 363. From these it appears that John Parker married Alice daughter of Thomas Smith of Breightmet, and died in 1778; his son, the Rev. John Parker, died in 1795, leaving a son and heir Thomas, who died in 1840 without issue, his heirs being his five sisters or their representatives. See also Bolton Hist. Gleanings, i, 176, 274; Local Gleanings Lancs. and Ches. i, 251.
  • 16. John Parker in 1779 paid a duchy rent of 2s. 7d.; Duchy of Lanc. Rentals, 14/25 m. The land of the Rev. John Parker contributed nearly a third of the land tax of 1789 (returns at Preston), the rest of the township being apparently much divided.
  • 17. See preceding notes.
  • 18. A moiety of the manor of Breightmet was included in 1322 in a settlement of various manors of Robert de Holland and Maud his wife entailed on the heirs male; Final Conc. ii, 193. It was alsoamong the possessions of Maud widow of Sir Robert de Holland in 1349, and of her son Sir Robert de Holland, Lord Holland, who died in 1373, being at the latter date held of the Duke of Lancaster by a rent of 2s. only; Inq. p.m. 23 Edw. Ill (1st nos.), no. 58; 47 Edw. Ill (1st nos.), no. 19. A similar return was made in 1451 after the death of Sir John Holland, except that the service was stated as 5s.; Lancs. Rec. Inq. p.m. no. 45, 46.
  • 19. See Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), ii, 3.
  • 20. Cal. Pat. 1476–85, p. 476. See also Lancs. and Ches. Rec. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 330.
  • 21. Lands in Breightmet were held by Thomas, Earl of Derby, at his death in 1521, but no particular record of them is given in the inquisition; Duchy of Lanes. Inq. p.m. v, no. 68. The account of Alexander Lever, the bailiff for Breightmet, Harwood, and Darwen in 1523–4, shows that John Hulton of Farnworth, a free tenant, paid 1s. rent for his holding in Breightmet; the tenants at will paid £4 10s. 5d. in all. No courts were held in the year; roll in possession of Lord Lathom. The manor is mentioned again in 1597 as in the possession of the Earl of Derby; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 58, m. 291. For a subsequent dispute on the matter see Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Eliz. ccii, D. 10. It formed part of the dower of Charlotte, Countess of Derby, for which she compounded with the Parliamentary Commissioners in 1653; the 'old rents' were £6 7s. 8d.; Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 185.
  • 22. a Bolton Journ. and Guard. Oct. 2, 1908. The house is said to have been raided 'during the last few months,' when apparently the dated panel was destroyed or stolen.
  • 23. Roger son of Adam de Sharples in 1292 claimed a messuage and lands in Breightmet against Adam de Pilkington, but the jury decided that the tenements were in Bolton; Assize R. 408, m. 1. This was probably merely a technical defence.
  • 24. John Hulton in 1487 held a messuage, 60 acres of land, 4 acres of meadow, 20 acres of wood, and 100 acres of pasture and turbary in Breightmet of Thomas Stanley and John Southworth, by the yearly rent of 2s.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 26. In 1557 it was stated that William Hulton had held of Sir Edmund Trafford and Giles Ainsworth; ibid. x, no. 32. Two fines are on record —in 1574 and 1591; from the latter it seems that the Hultons' estate was then sold to Katherine and Jane Ainsworth; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 36, m. 115; 53, m. 217.
  • 25. There was in 1549 a dispute concerning them between Alice Roscoe and Ralph Roscoe and his wife Ellen; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), i, 244. They are not mentioned in Raines, Lancs. Chant.
  • 26. The district is officially known as Tonge-cum-Breightmet.
  • 27. O. Heywood, Diaries, i, 224, 241, &c. There are many references to people of the township in these diaries.