Townships: Bispham

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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'Townships: Bispham', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911), pp. 100-102. British History Online [accessed 16 June 2024].

. "Townships: Bispham", in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911) 100-102. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024,

. "Townships: Bispham", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911). 100-102. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024,

In this section


Bispcham, 1288; Byspam, 1292; Byspaym, 1294; Bispham, 1324.

This small township forms the southern corner of the parish. The Douglas is the boundary on the south-west, while on the north the Bentley brook forms most of the separation from Mawdesley. The surface rises almost continuously from below the 25-ft. level near the Douglas to about 150 ft. above the ordnance datum at the eastern border. There are two small hamlets—Bispham Green and Grimshaw Green—in the north and south respectively. The area is 926½ acres, (fn. 1) and the population in 1901 numbered 321. Roads go north through the township from Wrightington to Rufford and to Croston, crossed by a road from Ormskirk.

The hearth tax of 1666 has a record of only thirty-two hearths; the largest house in the township, belonging to the Earl of Derby, had four hearths. (fn. 2)


The history of the manor of BISPHAM is very obscure. It was held of the lords of Leylandshire, by whom in former times the place appears to have been considered a hamlet or appurtenance of Chorley, (fn. 3) though the boundaries were separated by a distance of 5 miles at least. In 1288 it was found that Amery de Bispham held the place of William de Ferrers by the service of 40d. yearly. (fn. 4) Soon afterwards it passed, probably by marriage, to the Dalton family, who took their surname from the township of that name on the western side of the Douglas. Sir Robert de Dalton was in possession about 1324, (fn. 5) and died in 1350. (fn. 6) He and his son Sir John fought at Crecy in 1346. (fn. 7) Sir John made himself notorious by the violent abduction of Margery de la Beche from her manor-house at Beaumes (Beams), near Reading, in 1347; he afterwards married her. (fn. 8) He was pardoned for this offence and apparently received into the king's favour once more. (fn. 9) Sir John died in September 1369 holding the manor of Bispham of Sir William de Ferrers and the other lords of Leylandshire by the rent of 3s. 4d. John his heir, a son by a later wife, was six years of age. (fn. 10)

DALTON of Bispham. Azurecrusilly a lion rambant guardant argent.

This John, afterwards a knight, (fn. 11) left two sons, of whom the elder, Richard, by Katherine his wife, left a daughter and heir Alice. She married one William Griffith in or before 1448, (fn. 12) and soon afterwards the manor appears to have been sold to the Stanleys of Lathom, (fn. 13) for in 1521 Thomas Earl of Derby held various lands in Bispham by the ancient rent of 40d. payable to the lords of Leylandshire. (fn. 14) It appears to have descended regularly with Knowsley to the present Earl of Derby. (fn. 15)

John de Dalton's younger son Robert, though he failed in his claim for the manor of Bispham, (fn. 16) recovered various lands there. (fn. 17) His son Richard married Elizabeth, one of the daughters and co-heirs of William Fleming of Croston, (fn. 18) and was followed by his son Roger (fn. 19) and his grandson William. (fn. 20) William's son Robert in 1558 sold the Bispham estate to William Stopford, (fn. 21) and the latter's residence was known as the Hall of Bispham. (fn. 22) This estate was sold to William Ashhurst of Dalton in 1610, (fn. 23) and seems to have descended since that time like Dalton. (fn. 24)

STANLEY, Earl of Derby. Argent on a bend azure three stags' heads cabossed or.

John Singleton and Richard Tinckler were landowners about 1620. (fn. 25) The Earl of Derby was the chief landowner in 1789, paying more than half the land tax. Richard Wilbraham Bootle paid about an eleventh. (fn. 26)

There was a chapel in the manor in 1522, but nothing is known of its history. (fn. 27)

A free school was founded at Bispham in 1692 by Richard Durning. (fn. 28) It was meant to be a grammar school, and was in fact at one period a classical school of some repute. Girls as well as boys had been taught. In 1825 there were about 35 boys, and two of them were instructed in Latin. The school continued to decline in standing and has long been a public elementary school. The endowment, which now produces over £200 a year, is regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners made in 1878. (fn. 29) The old school building bears the inscription 'Donum R.D. 1692.'


  • 1. The Census Rep. of 1901 gives 929 acres, including 3 of inland water.
  • 2. Subs. R. Lancs. bdle. 250, no. 9.
  • 3. In 1332 'Chorley with Bispham' was the name of the township; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 48. In 1383 Bispham is called a hamlet of the vill of Chorley; Towneley MS. DD, no. 376.
  • 4. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 270. The right of William de Ferrers may be the 'manor of Bispham' mentioned, without any record of tenure, as held by the Shireburne family in the 16th century; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvi, no. 3. Of the Bispham family practically nothing is known. It was perhaps the above - named Amery who married Matthew son of Robert de Holland, for this Matthew and Amery his wife made an agreement with Sir John de la Mare, perhaps about 1250, regarding disputes as to the woods of Mawdesley and Bispham; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 44b. Henry de Bispham son of Warine Banastre occurs; Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.), xiv, 42. He may be the Henry, defendant in 1292 to a claim for a tenement in Bispham and Chorley brought by William son of Warine de Bispham, who was non-suited; Assize R. 408, m. 18. In 1294 Adam son and heir of Henry de Bispham recovered the manor of Bispham against William de Ferrers, Roger son of Henry de Bispham and others. Adam was under age, and William de Ferrers had claimed wardship; it was shown, however, that the manor was not held by knights' service, but by a rent of 40d.; Assize R. 1299, m. 15. In the same year William son of Warine claimed a free tenement in Bispham against Henry de Charnock and William de Ferrers, but did not prosecute it; ibid. m. 14d. In Harl. MS. 2042, fol. 275b is an erroneous pedigree of Bispham of Billinge, traced to Matthew de Bispham, lord of the manor 'in the time of King John.' This may possibly be the Matthew de Holland above-named.
  • 5. In 1324 Cecily widow of Henry de Bispham claimed dower in certain messuages, &c., against Robert de Bispham, John de Burscough, Alice his wife, John de Hoole, Maud his wife, Robert de Taldeford and Henry son of William son of Adam de Wrightington; De Banco R. 251, m. 98. The first of the defendants is probably the Robert de Dalton against whom Richard del Lunt and Maud his wife shortly afterwards claimed a third part of two-thirds of the manor of Bispham. Maud was the widow of Adam de Bispham, and the defence was that she had lived in adultery with Richard at Lunt in Sefton; De Banco R. 252, m. 79; 255, m. 144. Sir Robert de Dalton, Mary his wife and Thomas son of Roger de Bispham were about the same time defendants to a claim put forward by Robert de Taldeford and Emma his wife; Assize R. 426, m. 2.
  • 6. Cal. Pat. 1348–50, p. 552.
  • 7. Crecy and Calais (Salt Arch. Soc.), 35, 39, &c. He was 'beyond the seas' in 1343; Cal. Pat. 1343–5, p. 25.
  • 8. This outrage was committed on Good Friday morning, Sir John being assisted by Sir Robert de Holland, Sir Thomas de Arderne and many others. It was the more scandalous as the king's son Lionel, keeper of England, was then at Reading, and the offence was committed 'within the verge of the Marshalsea of the household of the said keeper.' Margery, widow of Nicholas de la Beche, had been married again to Gerard de l'Isle. Michael de Ponings, 'the uncle,' and Thomas the Clerk of Shipton seem to have been killed at the same time, and many were wounded. The arrest of Sir John and his companions was at once ordered. They fled north to Lancashire, and for a time took refuge in the neighbourhood of Dalton, thus bringing into the number of their 'accomplices' Sir John's father, Lady Maud de Holland, the Priors of Upholland and Burscough and others, the offenders having, apparently, taken refuge in the lands of Lady Maud and the rest without their knowledge. There are a large number of references to the affair in Cal. Close, 1346–9 and Cal. Pat. 1345–8, 1348–50. Margery died 30 Sept. 1349; ibid. p. 460. See also N. and Q. (Ser. 7), ix, 46, &c.
  • 9. Cal. Pat. 1348–50, pp. 498, 540, 552. The pardon was granted for his 'good service.' The father Sir Robert and Mary his wife had in 1348 been pardoned for their share, nominal or real, in the same outrage; ibid. p. 99.
  • 10. Inq. p.m. 43 Edw. III, pt. i, no. 31. The manor of Bispham was valued at £22 9s. 4d. a year. There was a hall with other buildings and garden; 60 acres of arable land were worth 60s. a year; 12 acres of meadow, 24s.; a several pasture, 40s.; a windmill, 6s. 8d.; a water-mill, 6s. 8d. The tenants at will held sixteen messuages with tofts, also 300 acres of arable land and 20 acres of meadow; the annual value was £13 12s. Settlements made by Sir John are recited, in which his wife Ellen and a younger son Robert are named. The widow afterwards married Robert de Urswick of Up Rawcliffe; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 12, 43.
  • 11. In 1381 John son and heir of Sir John de Dalton was re-enfeoffed of his manor of Bispham and other lands; Towneley MS. DD, no. 453. A settlement of the manor was made the following year; Final Conc. iii, 12. Sir John was in 1385 pardoned for having married Isabel daughter of Roger de Pilkington and widow of Thomas de Lathom without the licence of the Duke of Lancaster; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xl, App. 524. He appears to have been a lawless man; Pal. of Lanc. Chan. Misc. bdle. i, file 3, no. 82. By charter of May 1399 Sir John de Dalton granted the manor of Bispham and lands in Mawdesley, Halewood, Dalton, Holland and Whittington to feoffees, who within the same month re-enfeoffed Sir John and Isabel his wife in fee-tail, with remainder to the right heirs of Sir John; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxiii, App. 3. The seal of Sir John de Dalton in 1406, appended to a deed respecting lands in Ulnes Walton, is drawn in Harl. MS. 2042, fol. 85b. It shows the lion rampant and crosslets.
  • 12. The pedigree is given in pleadings of 1443, &c., at which time Alice was a minor and living in Northamptonshire; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 5, m. 13, 13b. Alice and her husband William Griffith were plaintiffs in 1448; ibid. 11, m. 10; 12, m. 18. For later pleadings see Coram Rege R. East. 38 Hen. VI, m. 31, 32. In the pedigree in Harl. MS. 2042 the husband is called 'of Hentryn in the county of Carnarvon.'
  • 13. An 'inspeximus' of the charters of 1399 was granted to Thomas Earl of Derby in 1488; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xl, App. 541.
  • 14. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, no. 68; the tenure is not stated. In the rent-roll of the estates (in possession of Lord Lathom) are a number of particulars as to Bispham. The rents of free tenants and tenants at will amounted to £14 0s. 3d. The demesne lands included Ryecroft, Overlee, Bowkerflat, Walkerscroft, Heulefield, Cheker, &c. The water-mill was demised on lease at 56s. 8d. a year. The tenants paid 4s. for leave to carry turf across the lord's pasture called Horsecarr. No courts had been held during 1523. The outgoings included the 40d. paid to the lords of the wapentake.
  • 15. It is mentioned at various times among the family manors; e.g. Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 487, m. 4; 540, m. 11; 567, m. 3; 623, m. 1a.
  • 16. References to the Plea Rolls have been given in a preceding note; there may be added Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 8, m. 25; 10, m. 10.
  • 17. Add. MS. 32107, no. 1230. Robert Dalton of Bispham and Richard his son and heir-apparent were parties to deeds in 1472; Add. MS. 32104, no. 1470, 1473.
  • 18. See the account of Croston.
  • 19. Roger, son and heir-apparent of Richard Dalton, made a feoffment of his lands in 1492; Add. MS. 32108, no. 627.
  • 20. A grant of various tenements in Bispham to William Dalton, with remainder to Richard his brother, was made in 1500; Add. MS. 32104, no. 1459. Another grant made in 1527 by Roger Dalton and William his son and heirapparent mentions William Dalton the elder, brother of Roger's father Richard, as still living; Towneley MS. DD, no. 364. The will of William Dalton (1543) is in Add. MS. 32104, no. 1474. It names Jane his wife, Richard his younger son, his four daughters and Richard Radcliffe his uncle. For pedigree in 1567 see Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), vi, 100.
  • 21. Robert Dalton of Bispham and Joan his mother, widow of William Dalton, entered into a bond to observe covenants in Dec. 1557; Towneley MS. DD, no. 375. The fine concerning the sale of Bispham seems to be that in Add. MS. 32107, no. 914, William Stopford and Richard Mason being plaintiffs and Joan Dalton, widow, Robert Dalton and Anne his wife being deforciants. Another messuage in Bispham was sold a little later to James Haresnape; Towneley MS. DD, no. 378.
  • 22. In 1560 the feoffecs gave to William Stopford all his messuages, &c., in Mawdesley and Bispham; ibid. no. 377. For the Stopford family see also the accounts of Wrightington and Parbold. A claim to the capital messuage in Bispham, late William Stopford's, was in 1596 made by John Stopford alias Langley; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 279, m. 10.
  • 23. Harl. MS. 2042, fol. 291. By this deed Richard Nelson of Fairhurst, William Stopford of Melling, Ursula, Dorothy and Blanche Stopford (sisters and co-heirs of Henry Stopford of Lathom), James Stopford of Ulnes Walton and James Stopford of Lathom sold 'the capital messuage called Bispham Hall or the Hall of Bispham,' with barns, stables, &c., late the inheritance of William Stopford, with other lands.
  • 24. Lands in Bispham remained in the possession of the Ashhurst family until the sale of their Lancashire estates to Sir Thomas Bootle in 1751; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 347, m. 26.
  • 25. John Singleton died in 1623, leaving a son and heir John, aged forty-eight; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvi, no. 16. Richard Tinckler died in 1627, his son Christopher being forty years of age; ibid. xxvi, no. 15. The tenures are not stated.
  • 26. Land tax return at Preston.
  • 27. A small sum for repairs was allowed in the Earl of Derby's rent roll above referred to.
  • 28. Gastrell, Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 358. The founder's will, dated 1692, is preserved at Chester.
  • 29. End. Char. Rep. for Croston, 1899. The governors meet once a year. The minutes are in existence from the foundation.