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

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'Rufford', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911), pp. 119-128. British History Online [accessed 22 June 2024].

. "Rufford", in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911) 119-128. British History Online, accessed June 22, 2024,

. "Rufford", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911). 119-128. British History Online. Web. 22 June 2024,

In this section


Ruchford, 1212; Rufford, 1285; Roughford, 1318; Rughford, 1332; Roghforth, 1411.

This township was separated from the parish of Croston in 1793 by an Act of Parliament. (fn. 1) The church and village lie at the southern end of some slightly rising ground in the level tract between the Douglas, flowing north, and the former Martin Mere, while the hall (1798) and park, the principal features of the township, occupy the greater part of the elevation. (fn. 2) Another portion, similarly a little higher than the general level, lies to the north-west, and is called Holmes Wood. (fn. 3) The area of the parish is 3,119 acres, (fn. 4) and the population in 1901 numbered 782, mostly employed in agriculture.

The principal road is that leading north from Ormskirk. It passes through the picturesque village, and thence along the east side of the park. The Old Hall lies on the east side of the road, one branch from which goes eastward past the church and railway station and crosses the Douglas by White Bridge, while another branch goes north-west to Holmes Wood and Crossens. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's railway from Liverpool to Preston passes through the south-east corner of the township and has a station by the Douglas. A branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal also goes north, to the east of the main road.

The village, one of the prettiest in South Lancashire, is much resorted to in the summer by excursionists from the neighbouring towns. Many old cottages remain, one with a picturesque external stone staircase being dated 1676. Another bears the date 1692.

Old Cottage, Rufford

The soil is sand, loam and moss overlying sand. The land is occupied as follows: Arable, 1,742 acres; permanent grass, 772; woods and plantations, 257. (fn. 5) Wheat, oats, rye and potatoes are grown.

A fair is held on 13 May yearly.

The township is governed by a parish council.

Roger Dodsworth, the antiquary, who married Holcroft daughter of Robert Hesketh, was buried in the Hesketh chapel at Rufford in 1654.

The remains of the village cross were removed in 1818. (fn. 6) An ancient canoe was found in 1869. (fn. 7) The village stocks were removed at the same time.

From a plan of part of the south end of the township in 1763 it appears that a large rounded field called the Great Croft occupied the centre of the village; a road went round it, joined by numerous others at different points. The Cockpit was to the east of it, the church standing further to the east. The Whitefields lay to the south of the church. Three fields were named Guild Heys. (fn. 8)


The manor was a member of the Penwortham fee, and Richard Bussel about 1150–60 gave to St. Werburgh's Abbey, Chester, one plough-land in RUFFORD in alms, which the abbot was holding in 1212. (fn. 9) Somewhat later one Richard Fitton (fn. 10) held it of the abbot by a rent of 5s., and gave a moiety to his daughter Maud, who married William de Hesketh. (fn. 11) The other moiety went to another daughter, Anabil or Amabel, who married Edmund de Lea, and in 1285 the two daughters and their husbands were in possession. (fn. 12) The grant to Richard Fitton may have been for life or a term of years, for in 1292 the Abbot of St. Werburgh's claimed Rufford, described now as 4 oxgangs of land, (fn. 13) and in the following year made a fresh agreement with William and Maud de Hesketh and Edmund and Anabil de Lea, by which the annual service was raised to 40s., (fn. 14) at which it continued down to the Dissolution. (fn. 15) This rent is now paid by the lord of Rufford to the Dean and chapter of Chester. (fn. 16) Anabil appears to have had no issue, and in 1318, as Anabil Fitton, she settled her moiety of the manor of Rufford upon John de Hesketh, (fn. 17) who had inherited the other moiety from his father, and thus became sole lord.

Hesketh of Rufford. Argent on a bend sable three garbs or.

William de Hesketh, whose parentage is unknown, (fn. 18) was apparently a 'landless man,' the possessions of the family in Rufford, Great Harwood and Tottleworth being acquired from his wife, Maud Fitton, (fn. 19) or by purchase. He had two sons, the above-named John, who succeeded, and Adam. (fn. 20) The former, in 1323, made a settlement of the manor of Rafford and two-thirds of the manor of Harwood, the remainders being to his children—William, Alice, Katherine and Margaret. (fn. 21) He is described later as Sir John de Hesketh, (fn. 22) and was succeeded by his son William, also a knight. (fn. 23)

In 1339 Sir William obtained the king's charter for a weekly market and annual fair at Rufford; free warren also was allowed. (fn. 24) He fought at Crecy in 1346, and for his services in France was exempted from serving on juries, &c. (fn. 25) He was knight of the shire in 1360, (fn. 26) and was soon afterwards followed by a son or grandson Thomas, (fn. 27) and he by a son Nicholas, (fn. 28) from which time the descent of the manor is clear. Nicholas died in 1416 holding Rufford of the Abbot and convent of Chester in socage by a rent of 40s., also the manor of Harwood and a messuage in Rishton. His son and heir Thomas was ten years old. (fn. 29)

Thomas Hesketh (fn. 30) died in 1458 holding the same estate and leaving as heir a son Robert, thirty-one years of age. (fn. 31) Robert, married to Alice daughter of Robert Booth in 1454, (fn. 32) died in 1491, (fn. 33) leaving a son Thomas, who, in default of legitimate issue, (fn. 34) bequeathed his manors to his natural son Robert, with remainders to Charles and Ellen, brother and sister of Robert. (fn. 35) Thomas Hesketh appears to have added very largely to the hereditary possessions of his family, and died at Rufford on 14 August 1523. (fn. 36)

Robert Hesketh, afterwards knighted, thus succeeded to Rufford, and, after defeating the claim put forward by the heirs-at-law, (fn. 37) died in February 1540–1 holding much the same possessions as his father, but Rufford was now held of the king, 'by reason of the surrender of the Abbot of Chester,' the ancient rent of 40s. being payable. The heir was his son Thomas, then fourteen years old. (fn. 38) Thomas Hesketh was made a knight at the coronation of Queen Mary in 1553, (fn. 39) and he and his family are stated to have adhered to the Roman Catholic religion for some time after the accession of Elizabeth. (fn. 40) He died in June 1588, leaving a son Robert, then about forty years old, (fn. 41) who had in 1567 been contracted to marry Mary daughter of Sir George Stanley of Cross Hall in Lathom, (fn. 42) and who died in 1620, being then succeeded by a son Thomas, fifty years of age. (fn. 43) In the inquisitions for Sir Thomas and Robert the manor of Rufford was found to be held by a rent of 5s.

Thomas is stated to have died in 1646 without issue, and was succeeded by his brother Robert, who, when about eighty years of age, was threatened with sequestration by the Parliamentary authorities in 1652, though he protested he had ever been 'a most perfect and firm assistant to the utmost of his ability to the Parliament and their just and honourable undertakings.' (fn. 44) His son Robert had in 1649 asked leave to compound for his estate, his 'delinquency' being that he had adhered to the forces raised against the Parliament. (fn. 45) A pedigree was recorded in 1664, showing that the younger Robert's son and heir, Thomas Hesketh, was then seventeen years of age, (fn. 46) having succeeded to Rufford. The hall in 1666 had nineteen hearths to be taxed; it was occupied by John Molyneux. (fn. 47) The manor has since descended regularly in the male line to Sir Thomas George Fermor Hesketh, bart., the present lord, who resides at Easton Neston, Northamptonshire. (fn. 48) The estates have recently been offered for sale and considerable portions have been disposed of.

A court baron used to be held annually in October.

RUFFORD OLD HALL is situated on the north side of the village between the highway on the west and the canal on the cast. The site was originally far more sccluded and sheltered than at present, both the canal and the road being comparatively modern, dating only from the latter part of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 49)

The house is usually stated to have been built round three sides of a quadrangle, the fourth side, facing north, being open; but the west wing, which contained the family apartments, has completely disappeared and a new east wing was built in the 17th century. The great hall, however, which forms the south wing, remains substantially as constructed at the end of the 15th or beginning of the 16th century, and is an admirable specimen of the timber construction of the period.

No traces remain of the west wing, which is said to have been burned down, (fn. 50) and its size and extent can only be conjectured. It is likewise uncertain whether the east or kitchen wing was of equal size to the present 17th-century brick building, or was smaller in extent and only occupied the space now covered by the rooms immediately to the east of the great hall, which underwent a very drastic 'restoration,' or were practically rebuilt, in 1821. It seems most likely that this latter is the correct reading of the building, which, as originally designed, would be H-shaped in plan. The great chimney in what is now the entrance hall of the 17th-century east wing is sometimes said to be the original kitchen fireplace, but its position in regard to the doors in the screens would hardly seem to support this theory, and externally it bears all the characteristics of the later work.

The house was probably erected by Thomas Hesketh, who died in 1523, but the only portion of the original building now left is the great hall, a fine apartment 46 ft. 6 in. long by 22 ft. 6 in. wide with open-timbered roof, the side walls, which are of timber on a low stone base, measuring 18 ft. to the wall-plate. The high table was at the west end of the room, but the floor, which is flagged, is the same level throughout, the only mark of the dais being a wood seat attached to the wall between the two doors which opened into the west wing and the fine carved canopy above. The canopy projects about 5 ft. and the line of the front is carried up to the roof, forming a 'secret chamber' behind in the gable, to which there are now no visible means of approach. (fn. 51)

The screens occupy the usual position at the east end, the passage-way being separated from the hall proper by 'speres' standing out 4 ft. from the walls, and the space between, 14 ft. in width, occupied by a movable oak screen 7 ft. wide. There is no minstrels' gallery, the speres going up to support a moulded cambered tie-beam. The roof of the hall between the screen and the canopy is divided into five equal bays by four hammer-beam roof principals, the spaces being plastered between the spans and filled in with shaped wind braces, forming large quatrefoils. All the timber work in the hall is richly moulded and carved, or otherwise ornamented, the hammer-beams terminating in figures of angels holding shields. The posts forming the speres are octagonal on plan, standing directly on the floor, and are apparently cut out of two oak trees of slightly different girth, one being 24 in. and the other 20 in. in diameter. They are moulded and panelled their full height on each face with small trefoil-headed panels and embattled at the top. The tie-beams to the roof principals have also embattled mouldings, but the detail is such as might belong to any period between the end of the 15th and the middle of the 16th century. In the passage behind the screen are five doorways originally opening to the kitchen wing, one only of which is now in use, the others being made up. The door heads, which are slightly arched, are elaborately carved with foliage patterns, and there is a moulded and embattled string above running the full length of the passage. The wall over is of timber construction with quatrefoil panelling. The screen is a very fine and massive piece of work, panelled on each side, the panels being elaborately carved with quatrefoils in circles and with other late Gothic ornament in the cornice and other parts. On each side at the top is the boldly projecting figure of an angel holding a shield, that on the west side bearing the arms of Fitton and that facing east those of Banastre of Bank. In later times apparently the upper part of the screen has been enriched with three tall carved finials of somewhat bizarre and oriental character, but harmonizing in a grotesque kind of way with the late Gothic ornament around them, though altering in a great degree the general appearance of the whole. Between the posts and the walls the speres are panelled in oak, the upper panels having pierced quatrefoils.

Plan of Rufford Old Hall

At the north-west corner of the hall is a bay window 10 ft. 6 in. wide and 10 ft. in depth immediately to the north of the high table, with nine square-headed lights divided by a transom, and there are two square-headed windows, each of four lights, on the north side placed high in the wall, their sills being 8 ft. above the floor. The north wall is the original timber-framed one set on a stone base 2 ft. high, with plain panels between the wall posts, the lower portion being entirely of plaster. Above the windows, however, runs a line of panelling with arched heads and late Gothic ornament, which, together with the hammer-beams and the embattled and moulded wall-plate above, gives a very rich appearance to the room as the eye travels upward. This concentration of ornament in the upper part is indeed one of the reasons for the exceedingly good architectural effect of Rufford Hall, and it is again carried out at the west end, where the plain wood and plaster work behind the high table gives way first to the square panelling and curve of the canopy, then to the moulded and embattled tie-beam, and lastly to the gable above with its elaborate diagonally set quatrefoils. The door heads, like those in the screens, are also richly carved, giving the requisite relief to the otherwise plain lower portion of the wall.

The south side of the hall may have been rebuilt at a later time, but is of timber construction at each side of the fireplace, though very much repaired with deal. (fn. 52) The stone fireplace and chimney would probably replace an old central brazier, though the spacing of the roof principals does not actually suggest a louvre, and the date of the hall is rather late for that means of heating to have been originally employed. Externally the chimney is a substantial one of stone with deeply moulded base and four square stages diminishing in width above, and the wall is built of stone some distance on each side. The present glazed lantern belongs only to the year of restoration (1821), but that a lantern or louvre formerly occupied the same position is shown by a roughdrawn view of the hall on an 18th-century map. Whether this was the original louvre it is, however, impossible to tell. The determination of the date at which the hall was built is rendered difficult by the presence together of a louvre and the crest and badge of the Stanley family—the eagle and child carved on the roof, and the legs of Man in one of the spandrels of the bay window. (fn. 53) The use of the Stanley crest and badge could hardly have occurred at Rufford before the marriage of Robert son of Sir Thomas Hesketh to Mary daughter of Sir George Stanley of Cross Hall about 1568, which would place the building of the hall, if the carvings are contemporary, in the latter half of the 16th century. They may, however, very well be later ornament added to the old work, possibly at the time when the south side was rebuilt and the fireplace added. The arms of the Earl of Derby surrounded by a garter and with helm, crest and mantling, are in the glass of the bay window. In the reconstruction of the south wall the windows appear to have been lengthened, the sills being lowered, and the stone base was apparently raised two courses, increasing its height to 3 ft. 8 in. (fn. 54)

Externally the great hall has been a good deal restored and the oak pegs made rather conspicuous against the black timber by being picked out in white. A plaster cove runs along the north front under the eaves and round the bay window, which is hipped back to the main roof. The spaces between the windows are filled in with quatrefoils and the principal uprights have shallow wooden buttresses with sets-off many times repeated. The roof, together with those of the rest of the house, is covered with stone slates. The west gable, formerly an internal feature, is composed of simple uprights and cross pieces without a barge-board, and though severely constructional has a good effect. Externally there is little of the elaborate detail seen inside the hall, almost the only ornament introduced being in the spandrels of the door to the screens, which are carved with grotesque animals. The windows have diamond quarries, but the general effect of the north front is somewhat spoiled by the rebuilt gabled wing at the east end, which was carried out in a style meant to match that of the hall but at a rather unfortunate period. The painting of the old work has, moreover, unfortunately been carried out to harmonize with the new, in which the windows are large and ugly and the gable pierced by glazed quatrefoil openings at each end. On the south and east sides the rebuilt portion of the house is faced with red brick and has no particular distinction. In plan and internal arrangement it is completely modern, though on the first floor the drawing-room, which runs across the whole length of the wing with windows north and south, probably occupies the position of a similar room in the original building, the open-timber roof of which has been retained. This room is 44 ft. long by 17 ft. wide with a bay window at the south end. The roof is divided into six bays by five principals with embattled tie-beams which appear to be of 16th-century date, but the moulded wall posts belong to the early 19th-century rebuilding. The drawingroom contains a number of pieces of 17th-century oak furniture, some of which, however, have suffered at the hands of restorers. There are also other pieces of furniture of the same period in other parts of the house, which is now occupied by Mr. Robert Rankin.

The north-east 17th-century wing is 52 ft. long by 28 ft. in width, with a smaller wing running eastward, 40 ft. long by 18 ft. wide, containing the kitchen and scullery, to the north of which again larders have been added. The front facing west to the courtyard is a plain design in brick, with squareheaded casement windows and central doorway with semi-domed hood. It is of two stories, with an upper floor in the roof lit on the west side by a series of four dormer gables. Over the door is a stone with the initials of Thomas Hesketh and the date 1662. The front is completely covered with ivy, but at the back, facing the yard, the original 17th-century brickwork is seen, and the elevation, broken by two staircase towers and the chimney of the entrance hall, is exceedingly picturesque. The small 2 in. bricks have weathered a charming colour and are relieved by stone quoins, while the original stone mullioned windows are retained in the tower. The old staircase between the entrance hall and the kitchen is itself of no particular interest and was superseded by the modern one built in 1821 in the new part of the house. Each staircase is marked externally by an embattled tower, but the modern stairs stop at the first floor, the tower merely screening a lantern light. (fn. 55) The great chimney is carried up also in the form of a higher embattled tower in conjunction with that of the older staircase, the whole forming what must be considered one of the most pleasing examples of brick architecture in this part of the county.

The house was abandoned as a residence about 1798. After that date it was 'for a time occupied by a tenant farmer, and the banqueting hall used as a village school,' (fn. 56) until it was repaired and refitted in 1821 for the reception of the eldest son of Sir Thomas Dalrymple Hesketh, who lived there till his succession to the estates in 1842.

The new hall is a plain two-story brick building painted white with classic colonnade, erected in the 18th century, some time before 1763, (fn. 57) but very much enlarged in 1798–9 by the addition on the north side of what is now the main part of the house, with classic portico and large entrance hall. Some of the spout heads bear the initials of Sir Thomas Dalrymple Hesketh and the date 1811, and one is dated 1822. Architecturally the building is without interest.

The landowners in 1628 were Thomas Hesketh, Sir Richard Hoghton, Robert and Cuthbert Hesketh. (fn. 58) The estates of Richard Salvage of Rufford were confiscated and sold by the Parliament in 1652. (fn. 59)


The church of ST. MARY is situated on the east side of the village and is a modern building of red brick and stone erected in 1869 in the Gothic style of the day, replacing an older chapel built in 1736, (fn. 60) then demolished. Of the original and still earlier chapel which is known to have existed in the 14th century no traces remain, with the exception, perhaps, of two moulded capitals, now on either side of the porch, which may have been the responds of a later chancel arch built in the 16th century, and the monumental fragments hereafter mentioned. The form and appearance of the first building and the position of the chancel—apparently a private mortuary chapel— made by Sir Thomas Hesketh in 1588 are unknown. (fn. 61) The 18th-century chapel was a plain parallelogram with two tiers of windows and west door, with an octagonal bell-turret on a square base over the west gable.

The present building consists of a chancel 29 ft. by 19 ft. 6 in., with north chapel 13 ft. 6 in. by 10 ft., and south vestry and organ chamber; nave 60 ft. by 23 ft., with north and south aisles 8 ft. 6 in. wide, west porch and tower with short stone spire at the west end of the north aisle. The chapel north of the chancel is called the Hesketh chapel and contains a recumbent marble figure of Sir Thomas Hesketh (d. 1872). The Hesketh vault is below the chancel.

The building having no pretensions to antiquity is itself uninteresting and architecturally it has little of the appearance of a village church. It contains, however, an alabaster slab and other fragments belonging to the first church and some fittings from the 18th-century structure. The slab is to the memory of Thomas Hesketh (d. 1458) and Margaret his wife and is 6 ft. long by 3 ft. wide and 6 in. thick. It was until lately in the floor of the nave lying north and south, in four pieces, but was removed to the Hesketh chapel in 1907. It has incised on it the figure of a man in armour with his lady and underneath the figures of eleven children, together with the coat of arms of Hesketh. The inscription runs round the slab, 'Domine miserere animabus Thome Hesketh et Margerie | uxoris ejus qui quidem Thomas | obijt xviij die mensis Decembris ao dni mcccclviij: a litera dominicali.' At the bottom are the names of eleven children—Robert, William, Margery, Thomas, John, Hugh, William, Geoffrey, Richard, Henry and Nicholas.

In 1908 two brasses, one with the figure of a knight, 18 in. high, and the other with an inscription to the memory of Sir Robert Hesketh (d. 1541) and Dame Grace his wife (d. 1543), were found in the new hall and were placed in the church. (fn. 62)

In the Hesketh chapel is preserved an alabaster dog, lately brought from the Old Hall, no doubt belonging to a former monument in the original structure. At the east end of the wall of the south aisle, low down under a window, is an alabaster panel, 1 ft. 9 in. square, with moulded border, containing a shield of arms of twelve quarters, (fn. 63) with helm, crest (garb) and mantling, a good piece of heraldic carving of 16th-century date, possibly from the tomb of Sir Thomas Hesketh in the chancel (1588).

In the north aisle is a marble tablet to Sir Thomas Hesketh (d. 1778) with a verse by the poet Cowper, his wife's cousin, and at the east end of the south aisle a monument by Flaxman to Sophia Hesketh (d. 1817). In the vestry is preserved the board with the royal arms, 1763, and a brass chandelier in the nave is of the same date. The font now in use is a handsome modern one of red granite, a Masonic gift in memory of Sir Thomas Hesketh (d. 1872), but the 18th-century hexagonal font is still preserved, with a wooden canopy, round the bottom of which is the inscription: 'NI[PS]ON ANOMHMA MH MONAN O[PS]IN.'

In the chancel is the old 18th-century oak communion table with twisted legs.

There are two bells, the oldest by Luke Ashton of Wigan, 1746, and the other by Taylor of Loughborough.

The plate consists of a tulip chalice, paten and flagon of 1842, given by Mr. L. G. N. Starkie.

The registers begin in 1670.

The churchyard contains a number of 17th-century gravestones with good lettering, the oldest being 1632. On the south side is the base of an old cross.


The origin of the chapel of St. Mary at Rufford is unknown. As the manor was granted to a monastery it is possible that an oratory of some kind existed from early times, tides and floods over the low-lying land cutting the villagers off from the rest of the world. (fn. 64) In 1346 Sir William de Hesketh obtained the king's licence to alienate in mortmain 200 acres of land, &c., in Rufford, Croston and Mawdesley for the endowment of the chantry in the chapel. (fn. 65) The founder, according to the report of 1547, ordained that there should be three priests there, each having his special lands, to sing, celebrate, and minister sacraments as need might require. (fn. 66) Sir William and his descendants were the patrons. (fn. 67) An indulgence was granted to benefactors in 1352 by Hugh, Archbishop of Damascus, then visiting Rufford. (fn. 68) and there are some later notices. (fn. 69) In 1547 the commissioners reported that the three priests resided and celebrated according to their foundation, and the chapel seems to have been decently furnished. (fn. 70) In addition Bartholomew Hesketh had given lands of the value of £10 for the endowment of a stipendiary priest to say mass and teach the scholars of the town of Rufford. (fn. 71) The place was thus well supplied before the confiscation of the endowments by the Crown. The Heskeths were buried in the chapel, and one of the tombs is in the present church. (fn. 72)

The chapel may have continued in use after the Reformation. About 1610 it had a minister, Mr. Bradshaw, who was 'a preacher' (fn. 73); but in 1650 there was no provision for a minister 'save the benevolence of his auditory and the inhabitants there.' (fn. 74) The registers begin in 1670. Bishop Gastrell about 1720 found that the income was £22 13s., of which £20 was paid by the rector of Croston, (fn. 75) who appointed the curate in charge. The chapel in 1793 became a parish church, endowed with the tithes of Rufford and Ulnes Walton, though the latter township remains within Croston. The rector of Rufford was to pay a fifth part of the rent of £45 14s. 4d. payable to the Crown by the rector of Croston. The patronage and the benefice were given by the Rev. Robert Master, patron and rector of Croston, to his son Edward, who in 1818 sold the advowson to the trustees of Le Gendre Starkie of Huntroyd, (fn. 76) and it has since descended with this estate, Mr. E. A. Le Gendre Starkie being the patron.

The following have been among the curates and rectors:—

oc. 1610–19 Lawrence Bradshaw (fn. 77)
oc. 1632 Thomas Kirkham (fn. 78)
oc. 1650 —Woods (fn. 79)
oc. 1671 Thomas Thompson (fn. 80)
oc. 1674 James Thompson
1676 Richard Croston, B.A. (Emmanuel Coll., Camb.)
1684 Edward Atherton (fn. 81)
1706 John Wright, B.A. (fn. 82)
1734 John Gray, B.A.
1752 Thomas Barker, M.A. (Fellow of Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)
1757 John Kynaston, M.A. (Fellow of Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)
1758 Samuel Smith (fn. 83)
1790 William Ion
1793 Robert Master, D.D. (rector of Croston)
1798 Edward Master, B.A. (fn. 84) (Balliol Coll., Oxf.)
1835 Edward Moorhouse Hall, M.A. (fn. 85) (Lincoln Coll., Oxf.)
1843 Thomas Foster Chamberlain, M.A. (fn. 86) (Christ's Coll., Camb.)
1868 James Frederick Hogg-Goggin (fn. 87)
1905 William George Procter, B.A. (fn. 88) (Queens' Coll., Camb.); d. 1911.

The Wesleyan Methodists have had a chapel since 1813. They have also another at Holmes Wood.

The school founded by Thomas Hesketh in 1523 was destroyed with the chantries. Another was built in 1712. (fn. 89)


This parish had formerly some special benefactions, but they have been lost. (fn. 90) It shares in the Lathom, Layfield and Crooke and Master charities, accounts of which are given in the history of Croston. (fn. 91) A board with a list of benefactors has recently been found by the rector and again set up. It reads:—

'The names of the several donors, together with each respective donation to the chapel, school and the poor of Rufford:—

£ s. d.
James Hesketh in part of the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and Decalogue, with the King's Arms 10 0 0
Oliver Tittrington in part of the Chandelier 5 0 0
Jennet Hesketh to the Chapel 8 10 0
Thos. Baldwin to the School 20 0 0
Robert Turner " " 10 0 0
Jennet Hesketh " " 4 10 0
Thos. Baldwin to the Poor 20 0 0
Richard Berrey " " 20 0 0'

As there is a reference to the king's arms (dated 1763) the board cannot have been erected before that year.


  • 1. 33 Geo. III, cap. 24.
  • 2. The ground does not rise anywhere to 50 ft. above sea level.
  • 3. In 1658 this appears to have been reckoned as part of Tarleton; Plund. Mins. Accts. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 240, &c.
  • 4. The Census Rep. of 1901 gives 3,120 acres, including 15 acres of inland water; there are also 2 acres of tidal water.
  • 5. Statistics from Bd. of Agric. (1905).
  • 6. This was probably the market cross. The pedestal of the churchyard cross still exists by the church, where a new cross was erected in 1888; Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. xvii, 15, 16.
  • 7. Ibid. v, 344.
  • 8. The plan is reproduced in Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xxiii, 118, to illustrate an article on the manor by the late Rev. W. G. Procter. The scale shows '8 yards to the pole.'
  • 9. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 32. The grant was confirmed by Albert Bussel; Harl. MS. 1965, fol. 41.
  • 10. See further in the account of Great Harwood. Richard was son of John brother of Sir Richard Fitton of Pownall in Cheshire. He had a son William, who died without issue, when the inheritance was divided between Richard's three daughters—Maud, Anabil and Elizabeth, the last the wife of Roger Nowell of Read. There are large collections of Hesketh deeds in C. Towneley's MSS. DD, RR, Add. MS. 32104, &c.; also notes in Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 105; lxi, fol. 8, &c. Very few, however, are older than the 16th century, so that the earlier descents are obscure. There is also a collection of 326 deeds (copied from the originals in 1852) in Piccope's MSS. (Chet. Lib.), iii, 1–112.
  • 11. Towneley MS. DD, no. 51. The deed orders the division of Rufford between Richard's daughters Maud and Anabil, but their husbands are not named, though the moieties were to descend to their issue. A rent of 1d. was payable to the grantor and his heirs, and 2s. 6d. to the Abbot of St. Werburgh's from Maud's half. The bounds are fully described: From the mere eastwards by a syke to the moss, across this to the head of Monkslache and so to Pepinstrind and the River Douglas; up this river to Ellerbeck, by this stream up to Oxpoollache and so to the Whitstrinds; thence by Sinkfall, Blackpools and Couplacedyke to the mere. The witnesses include Sir Robert Banastre, Sir Henry de Lea (d. 1288), Sir William de la Mare, Sir Richard le Boteler and others, and may be dated about 1260. Margery or Margaret, widow of William Fitton (who was brother of Maud and Anabil), sought dower in the manor of Rufford in 1281, and the claim was continued by her as wife of Alexander Hurel; De Banco R. 42, m. 63 d.; 78, m. 23. She had been dowered by her husband in 1274 at the door of the church of B. Mary of Manchester. Roger Nowell and Elizabeth his wife also put in a claim to the third part of a tenement in Rufford in 1282; ibid. 44, m. 16. In this plea Edmund de Lea is described as 'brother of the parson.'
  • 12. Assize R. 1271, m. 12. This is a complaint that Robert de Lathom and others had disseised them of their tenement in Rufford. It was argued that Edmund could have nothing in Anabil's tenement until he had had offspring by her; it was also alleged that the disputed land was in Lathom and not in Rufford.
  • 13. Ibid. 408, m. 56, 72. Against William de Hesketh and Maud his wife the abbot claimed 2 oxgangs of land, 6 acres of meadow, &c., and 6s. rent in Rufford by Croston; and against Edmund de Lea and Anabil his wife a similar tenement, the rent being excepted. He alleged that Hugh, formerly abbot, was in seisin in right of his church in the time of Richard I. The wood and marsh were held in common.
  • 14. Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 177. For the agreement the tenants gave the abbot £10 sterling.
  • 15. Among the Hesketh deeds above referred to are several acknowledgements of the receipt of this rent. See also Ormerod, Ches. (ed. Helsby), i, 275, 284.
  • 16. The rent of 40s. from the manor was in 1541 granted to the newly founded Chapter of Chester; Pat. 33 Hen. VIII, pt. vii. A grant of the same rent was made by Elizabeth in 1580; Pat. 22 Eliz. pt. xi. In 1590 the Dean and chapter of Chester claimed the 40s. rent from Robert Hesketh, but he replied that it had been paid to the dissolved monastery under an agreement with the abbot that one of the younger sons of the family should be kept at school in the monastery; Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Eliz. cxlix, C 16.
  • 17. Final Conc. ii, 26.
  • 18. Dodsworth says that his father was named John; cxlii, fol. 110. From the notes to the account of the township of Hesketh it will be found that there were about his time a John de Hesketh and a William son of John de Beconsaw; William son of Henry de Hesketh had land there in 1246 and William son of William in 1292. There is nothing to connect any of them with Hesketh of Rufford. William de Hesketh is named in 1305, 1312 and 1318; Towneley MS. DD, no. 1681, 1683, 1686. The executors of Anabil Fitton made claims against the executors of William de Hesketh in 1320; De Banco R. 236, m. 323 d.
  • 19. See the accounts of Harwood and Tottleworth.
  • 20. He occurs in Harwood charters. Adam de Hesketh was pardoned in 1299 for having killed Robert son of John de Rufford by misadventure; Cal. Pat. 1292–1301, p. 483. Maud sister of John le Fleming and wife of Adam son of William de Hesketh the elder is named in 1339; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 109b. William son of Adam de Hesketh of Rufford is also mentioned; Add. MS. 32104, no. 41.
  • 21. Final Conc. ii, 49. The trustee or agent in this settlement was John son of Hugh de Hesketh.
  • 22. John de Hesketh was a sub-custos of Blackburn Hundred in 1323; Cal. Pat. 1321–4, p. 382. In 1330 the Abbot of Chester admitted him, his wife and children to association in the prayers and good works of the abbey; Towneley MS. HE Edw. III, no. 5. In the following year Anabil widow of John de Walbank made a release to Sir John de Hesketh and Alice his wife; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 110b. Alice widow of Sir John in 1347 recovered 2 acres in Rufford against Sir William de Lea and others, who alleged that the land was in Croston; Assize R. 1435, m. 33.
  • 23. Sir William de Hesketh is named in a charter of 1334; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 110b. He in 1354 successfully claimed 40 acres in Rufford against Thomas de Lathom the elder and others, the defence being that the land was in Lathom; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 3, m. 3 d. (Mich.). Three years later he claimed common of fishery in Lathom, Scarisbrick, &c., against Gilbert de Scarisbrick, but did not prosecute his claim; ibid. 7, m. 2.
  • 24. Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 83. The market was to be held on Friday and the fair on 1 May.
  • 25. Staff. Hist. Coll. (W. Salt Soc.), xviii (2), 34, 257. In 1345 a pardon was granted to Sir William de Hesketh and others, including Thomas de Ireland of Rufford, on condition of their readiness to serve in Gascony; Cal. Pat. 1343–5, p. 530. Sir William was exempted from serving on juries, &c., in 1346, and was a custos of the peace in 1350; ibid. 1345–8, p. 476; 1348–50; p. 533.
  • 26. Pink and Beaven, Parl. Repre. of Lancs. 32.
  • 27. Dodsworth (loc. cit.) states that Thomas son of Sir William de Hesketh, kt., was living in 1377 and 1385. Thomas de Hesketh had the bishop's licence for an oratory at Martholme in 1387; Lich. Epis. Reg. vi, fol. 123. It appears, however, that the heir of Sir William in 1362 was a son William, under age, whose wardship and marriage were granted by John Duke of Lancaster to the Abbot of Whalley and Richard de Towneley; Duchy of Lanc. Anct. D. LS 120. It is thus uncertain whether Thomas was a brother or a son of the younger William, but probably the former. Thomas son of Sir William de Hesketh occurs; Towneley MS. GG, no. 1160. In some pedigrees compiled about 1450 the following descent is given: [Sir John] married [Alice] daughter of Richard de Radcliffe -s. Thomas -s. Sir William -s. Thomas -s. Nicholas -s. Thomas, who now is; MS. in possession of W. Farrer. The first Thomas (son of Sir John) does not occur elsewhere, and is probably an error. Thomas de Hesketh and others of Rufford were outlawed for debt in 1411; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxvii, App. 173. Thomas married Sibyl, who was a widow in 1413, when she made a lease of her dower lands to Nicholas de Hesketh; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 105. This Nicholas is not called her son.
  • 28. Dodsworth (loc. cit.) states that Nicholas was the son of Thomas and Sibyl; also that he had a brother Gilbert and sons Thomas and Hugh. On the other hand a later note shows that there was another Nicholas then living. In 1403 the king pardoned (among others) Nicholas son of Thomas de Hesketh and Gilbert his brother for the murder of Adam de Beconsaw in 1399; Cal. Pat. 1401–5, p. 235. From a later record it appears that Nicholas had been outlawed in error. Adam de Beconsaw came to the lidyate in Rufford, and Nicholas struck him on the head with a 'dokke spade,' while Gilbert stabbed him in the shoulder and Lawrence de Lea ran him through with a sword; Coram Rege R. 1 Hen. V, pt. ii, m. 6. Nicholas de Hesketh and Margaret his wife in 1407 made a feoffment of lands in Kendal, Robert de Rufford being the attorney; Duchy of Lane. Anct. D. L 1023. Margaret daughter and heir of John Ward and widow of Nicholas de Hesketh died at Rufford in 1417; Dods. op. cit. fol. 111. See also Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxiii, App. 14.
  • 29. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), i, 126. The clear value of Rufford is given as £22. The original inq. is among the Norris D. (B.M.). The king at once granted the wardship of the heir to Sibyl widow of Thomas de Hesketh and to Gilbert de Hesketh; Duchy of Lanc. Misc. Bks. xvii, 40 d., pt. iii. A little later it appears that Sir Robert Lawrence was guardian; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxiii, App. 22, 29.
  • 30. He proved his age in 1428; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), ii, 21. A Nicholas Hesketh, aged fifty and more, deposed that Thomas was born at the Holmes early in 1406, and baptized at Croston Church, Sibyl Hesketh being his godmother. Thomas Hesketh is usually said to have married Sibyl daughter of Sir Robert Lawrence of Ashton, but there is probably some confusion with the former Thomas; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 111.
  • 31. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), ii, 67. The writ of diem cl. extr. was issued in 1460; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxvii, App. 177. In 1445 Thomas Hesketh was exempted from serving on juries, &c.; ibid, xl, App. 538. A few years later a number of disputes occurred regarding the bounds of Rufford; depositions made in 1450 and later are given in Towneley MS. GG (Add. MS. 32107), no. 1158, 1318, 1442–5. A 'staking-out' made in 1632 is given ibid. no. 1442. See also Cockersand Cbartul. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 470. Thomas Hesketh on his tomb at Rufford is stated to have died 18 Dec. 1463 (lxiii for lviii)—the present inscription is a faulty copy of the old one. His wife's name was Margaret and they had eleven children; Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 81b. Letters dimissory for the ordination of Geoffrey, one of the sons, were given by the Bishop of Lichfield in 1446; Add. MS. 32104, no. 1407.
  • 32. Ibid. no. 1410.
  • 33. The writ of diem cl. extr. was issued 1 Mar. 1490–1; Towneley MS. CC (Chet. Lib.), no. 575. According to his epitaph (Dods. loc. cit.) he died on the preceding New Year's Day. An inquisition made in 1500 shows that he held the manor of Rufford, the advowson of the chantry, the reversion of the lands held by Margaret his mother, with the manor of Martholme and lands in Harwood, &c. The date of his death is given as 29 Sept. 1490, at which time Thomas his son and heir was over twentyfour years old; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 72. Alice widow of Robert Hesketh and their sons Hugh and Richard in 1490–1 came to an agreement with Thomas the heir as to dower, &c.; Towneley MS. HE, Hen. VII, no. 3. She died in 1498 and was buried at Rufford.
  • 34. Thomas first (in 1471) married Elizabeth younger daughter and co-heir of William Fleming of Croston; later she confessed to adultery and a divorce was procured, she afterwards marrying Thurstan Hall. A confirmation of the divorce was given by Alexander VI in 1497; Harl. MS. 2077, fol. 287 (imperfect); Towneley MS. HE, Edw. IV, no. 4. A portion of the Fleming inheritance was retained by Thomas Hesketh and his heirs; ibid. Hen. VII, no. 15. Thomas Hesketh seems to have married Grace Towneley in 1501; ibid. no. 12. She died in 1510.
  • 35. His last will is in Add. MS. 32104, no. 1393. It mentions that he had been accountant to the Earl of Derby and his grandfather. Provision is made for the chantries at Harwood, Rufford, Croston and Longton; for masses for his soul and gifts to the poor; for almshouses and school at Rufford; for building a bridge of stone where there was a 'hyngand brigge' over the Douglas; for paving the roads and repairing the 'bridges called the Cour bridge, the Fisher tree, the market bridge in Croston, the bridge called South brook bridge next Croston, the bridge next the house where William Holme late dwelled, the bridge at the north nook of Church carr, the bridge over Sollom pool nigh the stone cross there in the parish of Croston.' He seems to have settled his manors and lands on his natural children already by a preceding will, made on the occasion of the marriage of his bastard son Robert with Grace Towneley, but some further provisions are made for Robert, Charles and Ellen, and also for Alice Haward, their mother. Other wills are copied in Towneley MS. HE, Hen. VIII, no. 9, 10; the former of these (dated 15 May 1521) makes a settlement of his manors, lands, &c.
  • 36. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, no. 16. In addition to the manor of Rufford, held (as formerly) of the Abbot of Chester by a rent of 40s. and valued at £20 clear, he held lands, &c., in Harwood, Tottleworth, Croston, Mawdesley, Longton, Hutton, Penwortham, Howick, Bretherton, Ulnes Walton, and a great number of other places in the county, with the advowsons of chantries at Croston, Rufford, Harwood and Longton. The will of 2 July 1522 is given, settling the estate upon Robert Hesketh, and several feoffments are recited. Alice Haward had married William Tarleton of Rufford. The lawful heirs were Henry Kighley (son of Richard son of Margery), Richard Aughton (son of Maud), Roland Kighley, clerk (son of Margaret), Roger Nowell of Read (son of John Nowell by Dulcia), which Margery, &c., were sisters of Thomas Hesketh.
  • 37. Henry Kighley and the other heirs named in the inquisition put forward their claim in 1525. They alleged that Thomas was brother and heir of Richard Hesketh, who is not named in the inquisition after the death of Robert Hesketh (1491), but is said to have been an official of the Crown; L. and P. Hen. VIII, i, 1781; Dods. loc. cit. Richard is called a younger brother in 1511; Kuerden MSS. iii, H 8b. Thomas is again described as brother and heir of Richard Hesketh, deceased, in a grant of his in 1523; Towneley MS. DD, no. 392. The defendants in 1525 were the feoffees and executors of the will of Thomas Hesketh, and showed that they had due authority for their action; Duchy of Lanc. Dep. Hen. VIII, xv, K 2.
  • 38. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. vii, no. 14. The tenure of the lands is recorded in but few instances. A pedigree was recorded in 1533, a bendlet sinister on the arms indicating the illegitimate descent; Visit. (Chet. Soc), 120. The memorial brass of Sir Robert and his wife (recently found) gives the date of his death as Feb. 1539–40, but he was certainly living in Oct. 1540; Duchy Plead. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 141. The wardship of the heir was given to Thomas Holcroft in Nov. 1541, and livery of lands was allowed to Thomas Hesketh in 1547; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxix, App. 554. Gabriel and George Hesketh contributed to the subsidy of 1542–3 for lands in Rufford; Subs. R. Lancs. bdle. 130, no. 126.
  • 39. Metcalfe, Book of Knights, 111; a coat of five quarters is given. A settlement of lands in Rufford, Mawdesley, &c., was made by Thomas Hesketh in 1551; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 14, m. 199. Sir Thomas was sheriff of the county in 1562–3; P.R.O. List, 73.
  • 40. Some time about 1584 Sir Thomas Hesketh wrote to the Earl of Leicester asking to be released from the custody of Sir Edmund Trafford, sheriff of the county, to whom he had been committed for not keeping strict rule in his own household; Cal. S. P. Dom. 1581–90, p. 220. Lady Hesketh was in 1591 said to have entertained a missionary priest at Martholme; ibid. 1591–4, p. 149. It had been reported that Sir Thomas's 'wife and eldest son seldom or never resorted to the church and communicated. The same son gave countenance to Worthington, the seminary priest. And the now baron of Walton's wife daughter was corrupted in that house and refused to resort to church, who before her coming thither was very well disposed in religion'; Gibson, Lydiate Hall, 257 (from S. P. Dom. Eliz. ccxl). Thomas Hesketh, described as 'esq.,' was a recusant in 1594; Abram, Blackburn, 536, quoting Great Harwood Church Bks. The wife of Thomas Hesketh and other recusants are named in Rufford in 1628; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 174. Holcroft wife of Roger Dodsworth the antiquary was presented as one in 1622; Visit. Rec. at Chester Dioc. Reg.
  • 41. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xv, no. 56. Sir Thomas had married Alice daughter of Sir John Holcroft, who survived him at Martholme. See Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), i, 278. A pedigree was recorded in 1567; Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 80. Sir Thomas appears to have had a dispute with his son Robert shortly before his death, for he complained in 1587 that divers deeds concerning the manors and lands he had inherited had come into the hands of the son and one Robert Nelson, who asserted that those deeds were void and showed false deeds; Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Eliz. cxxxix, H 14. Sir Thomas's will is in Add. MS. 32104, no. 1. He gave lands in Mawdesley to his second son Thomas; in Becconsall to his third son Richard; in Rufford to his bastard son Hugh Hesketh, who had a son Robert; and in Croston and Wrightington to another bastard son Thomas. Sir Thomas's younger sons Thomas and Richard are noticed in the Dict. Nat. Biog., the former as a botanist, the latter as executed for inciting Ferdinando Earl of Derby to assert his title to the throne. For Thomas see also Pal. Notebook, v, 7. Livery of Sir Thomas's lands was granted to Robert Hesketh in 1589; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxix, App. 554. A recovery in the same year is enrolled in Com. Pleas Recov. R. East. 31 Eliz. Robert Hesketh served as knight of the shire in 1597 (Pink and Beaven, op. cit. 68), and as sheriff in 1599–1600 and 1607–8; P.R.O. List, 73. He was a justice of the peace in 1600; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 244. A settlement of the manors, &c., was made by him in 1602; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 64, no. 7.
  • 42. Add. MS. 32104, no. 1411.
  • 43. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 351–8. Settlements made in 1620 are recited. Robert's wife Jane, who bore him a son before marriage, afterwards married Sir Richard Hoghton, and had the manors of Harwood, Tottlesworth, Mawdesley and Wrightington, with various lands, assigned as dower. Licence for the marriage of Robert Hesketh and Jane Haresnape was granted 6 June 1617; Marriage Act book, Chester, ii. Robert's will is printed in Wills (Chet. Soc. new ser.), ii, 21–4. A pedigree was recorded in 1613; Visit. (Chet. Soc), 128. Thomas Hesketh was sheriff in 1629– 30; P.R.O. List, 73. He paid £50 in 1631 on declining knighthood; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 222.
  • 44. Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 209. Katherine widow of Thomas Hesketh (elder brother of Robert), being a recusant, asked leave in 1653 to compound for the sequestered two-thirds of her estate, a yearly rentcharge of £40 out of the manor of Rufford; ibid. iii, 194. There was living in 1635 another Thomas Hesketh of Rufford, of grossly immoral life (see Cal. S. P. Dom. 1635–6, p. 475), who may be the Thomas who in 1655 claimed an estate in Wrightington, Shevington, &c., as nephew and heir of Thomas Hesketh, esq. (i.e. the elder brother of Robert), the rents having been paid to the elder Thomas's sister Jane, then lately dead; Royalist Comp. Papers, iii, 211.
  • 45. Ibid. iii, 204–6. The younger Robert inherited an estate in Clitheroe after the death of his uncle George in or before 1651; and it was found that neither Robert nor George had been reported for delinquency, recusancy or like offence.
  • 46. Dugdale's Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 135.
  • 47. Subs. R. Lancs. bdle. 250, no. 9; eighty hearths in all were returned in the township.
  • 48. The following outline of the descent will suffice in this place: Thomas, d. c. 1689 –s. Robert, d. c. 1697–bro. Thomas, d. c. 1721 –s. Thomas, M.P. for Preston, 1722–7; d. 1735 –s. Thomas, sheriff, 1754–5; first bart. 1761; d. 1778 –bro. Robert (who took the surname of Juxon for himself only), second bart., d. 1796 –s. Thomas, d. 1781 –s. Thomas Dalrymple, third bart.; sheriff 1801–2; d. 1842 –s. Thomas Henry, fourth bart., d. 1843 –s. Thomas George, fifth bart., who assumed the surname Fermor before Hesketh, and represented Preston in Parliament as a Conservative from 1862 till his death in 1872 –s. Thomas Henry, sixth bart.; d. 1896 –bro. Thomas George, seventh bart., b. 1849. Settlements of the manors of Rufford, Hesketh, Martholme, &c., are indicated as follows:—1696, Robert Hesketh in Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 237, m. 52; 1703, Thomas Hesketh, Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 477, m. 6; 1723, Thomas Hesketh, ibid. 511, m. 5; 1748, Thomas Hesketh, ibid. 569, m. 8 d.; 1798, Sir T. D. Hesketh, ibid. Lent Assizes, 38 Geo. III, R. 7. In 1737 a Private Act was passed (10 Geo. II, cap. 6) to enable the trustees of Thomas Hesketh, deceased, to pay his debts during his son's minority and otherwise to carry out their trust.
  • 49. 'The highway was diverted and the New Park enclosed in 1812'; Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xxiii, 98.
  • 50. The date is not given.
  • 51. It may have been entered from the upper floor of the west wing, though there is no indication of a door in the present outer wall. When the chamber was opened or 'discovered' some years ago a Latin service book is said to have been found on the floor.
  • 52. The wall was in 1908 stripped of the ivy which had long covered it and found to be faced on the outside with deal boards and plaster to imitate half-timber work. When this was done is not known, but it may only date from 1821.
  • 53. The shields carved on the roof principals, reading from the east end, are as follows: 1. Over screen, Minshull; 2. Hesketh; 3. Quarterly (1) Hesketh (2) Banastre (3) Minshull (4) a fesse Twenge. 4. Eagle and Child. 5. Tudor rose. The Minshull arms occur again in the spandrel of the bay window.
  • 54. The original stone base 2 ft. high is still easily distinguished.
  • 55. The external brickwork of this tower indicates that it is modern like the staircase, though the design is similar to that further north. It may, however, possibly be an old staircase tower gutted and refaced.
  • 56. Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xxiii, 102.
  • 57. An estate plan of this date shows the new hall then existing with gardens laid out on the north-west side.
  • 58. Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 165. In the same year Susan Hesketh compounded for the two-thirds of her estate sequestered for recusancy for £3 a year.
  • 59. Index of Royalists (Index Soc.), 41.
  • 60. A brief was issued for a collection.
  • 61. Dodsworth, writing in 1620, mentions the 16th-century chancel, over the door of which was then the inscription 'T.H.K. (Thomas Hesketh, knight) mayd this chancele in the yere of our Lord God mdlxxxviii. In which yere he dyed'; Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xxiii, 109.
  • 62. Dodsworth in 1620 records the monument to Thomas Hesketh as 'a fair monument of alabaster with the portraitures of a man in armour and his wief.' He also notices the inscription to Sir Robert Hesketh and a brass of Robert Hesketh and his wife. The figure recovered in 1908 is probably that of Sir Robert, but the lady is still missing. The inscription on the brass reads: 'Here lyeth under Sr Robert Hesketh knight and dame Grace his wiffe ye which sayd Robert dyed the viii day of flebruary in the yeare of our lord God mdxxxix and the fore sayd Grace dyed the xxviii of May in the yeare of our lord mdxliii.' Dodsworth also notices four other monuments, all of which have disappeared: (1) a man in armour and his wife, in brass, (2) a monument to Richard Hesketh, (3) the portraiture of a cross-legged knight (broken) on the south wall, and (4) a 'comely monument of Sir Thomas Hesketh, knt., in the quyer'.
  • 63. The seventh and ninth quarters are hard to decipher. Somerset Herald (1908) thus gives the twelve pieces: 1. Hesketh. 2. Hesketh ancient. 3. Stafford. 4. Stafford ancient or Totleworth. 5. Fitton. 6. Twenge. 7. Bannaster. 8. Minshull. 9. Lawrence. 10. Delmere. 11. Fleming. 12. Mitshall.
  • 64. Thus in 1548 it was remarked that an arm of the sea intervened between the chapel of Rufford and the parish church of Croston, 'so that often and many times the tide will be so high that no man can pass betwixt the space of four days, by occasion whereof the said priest [of Rufford] with other his fellows be enforced to minister sacraments and sacramentals to the inhabitants adjoining'; Raines, Chantries (Chet. Soc.), 162.
  • 65. Cal. Pat. 1345–8, p. 476. In 1347 Robert de Nevill of Hornby granted messuages and lands in Croston and Mawdesley to Sir William de Hesketh for chaplains celebrating daily in the chapel of B. Mary within the manor of Rufford; Towneley MS. GG (Add. MS. 32107), no. 1361. The licence of Henry Earl of Lancaster was obtained in 1349; ibid. no. 1414. Alice widow of Sir John de Hesketh and Sir William de Hesketh in 1348 granted Bartholomew de Wood Newton, chaplain, various lands in Rufford (in Churchcarr), &c., for life, that he might celebrate mass in the chapel of Rufford for the souls of their ancestors and others; Towneley MS. HE, Edw. III, no. 13.
  • 66. Raines, op. cit. 160–2. Canon Raines thought that there were several founders, and as each priest had separate lands he seems to be justified. On a tomb in the chapel was a request for prayers for the soul of Richard Hesketh, who died in 1511, having founded a perpetual chantry therein; Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 81. In 1535 it was reported that the three chantries were founded by Sir William Hesketh, Alice Hesketh and someone unknown; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 231.
  • 67. This right is evident from inquisitions, &c., cited above. The following chantry priests occur:—
    c. 1390 John Celhod, pres. by Thomas son of Sir William de Hesketh; Towneley MS. GG, no. 1160.
    1425 Richard Todd (vacant by d. of John Layton); Lich. Epis. Reg. ix, fol. 115.
    1435 Thomas Dylle; ibid. ix, fol. 123.
    1476 Mr. Robert Booth, pres. by Robert Hesketh, patron.
    oc. 1481 Richard Yate; Towneley MS. GG, no. 2167.
    oc. 1489 John Todd; ibid. RR (Add. MS. 32108), no. 873.
    1506 Hugh Hesketh, pres. by T. Hesketh, true patron; vacant by d. of John Todd; Lich. Epis. Reg. xiii–xiv, fol. 54b.
    1530 George Parker, pres. by Robert Hesketh on the death of Richard Todd; ibid. fol. 66b.
    It does not seem from any of these notices that there was more than one chaplain at a time. In 1507 Thomas Hesketh, who was patron as heir male of Sir William the founder, consented to the Bishop of Lichfield reforming the foundation; ibid. fol. 75b. The chantry priests in 1527 were Richard Todd, nominated by Thomas Hesketh, deceased about four years previously, and John Smith; the third chantry was vacant, by reason of the death of Edmund Tomlinson, lately incumbent; Duchy of Lanc. Rentals, bdle. 5, no. 15. John Smith seems to have been promoted to the Croston chantry soon afterwards. The priests in 1535 were George Parker, Thomas Banastre and Robert Feilden; Valor Eccl. loc. cit. These three remained in charge till the suppression in 1548, when their ages were sixty-two, fifty-three and forty-seven respectively; Raines, op. cit.
  • 68. Towneley MS. RR, no. 934; it was an indulgence of forty days to such as should assist in the building or enlargement of the chapel, or say the Our Father and Hail Mary for the founders and benefactors.
  • 69. In the last will of Thomas Hesketh, 1523, he left money for a new aisle, 20 ft. by 40 ft., to be built on the south side of Rufford chapel, the east end to have a window like that in the east end of Upholland Priory; or a new chapel might be built to the east of the existing building. A steeple of stone, like that at Brindle Church, was to be built at the west end, and four bells were to be bought and placed there. The chapel yard was to be surrounded with a stone wall. See Add. MS. 32104, no. 1393. There is nothing to show that these provisions were carried out.
  • 70. Raines, op. cit. The first chantry, probably the original foundation, had lands in Croston and Rufford producing £5 10s. 8d. a year. The second chantry, had lands in Bispham, Newburgh and Amounderness, producing only 46s. 8d. The third had lands at Hindley, bringing in £4 18s. The lands were granted out by Queen Elizabeth at various times; Pat. 32 Eliz. pt. vi; 30 Eliz. pt. xv; 25 Eliz. pt. i.
  • 71. The nominal founder was one of the trustees of Thomas Hesketh, who died in 1523, leaving rents for a priest to say mass for his soul, &c., for ever, and to teach a free school for thirteen children, who were to have a dinner or one meal's meat each weekday when the school was open; Towneley MS. HE, 18 Hen. VIII, no. 9. He also left money for five almsmen like those at Lathom.
  • 72. A record of the tombs and inscriptions was made by Dodsworth in 1620; MSS. cxlix, fol. 81. There are modern monuments by Flaxman and Noble.
  • 73. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 11.
  • 74. Commonw. Ch. Surv. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 110. It was then recommended that Rufford be made a separate parish, and some steps were taken towards that end; Plund. Mins. Accts. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 262.
  • 75. Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 366–8. Part of the stipend was £1 14s. 6d. received from the duchy (said to be £3 2s. 2d. in 1588). It is added that in 1664, upon the petition of the inhabitants, it was ordered that the rector should pay the curate £25 a year as former possessors of the tithes had done, and that the bishop should appoint a curate in case the rector neglected to do so within a month of a vacancy. A grant of £200 was obtained from Queen Anne's Bounty in 1720 to augment a similar amount from Thomas Hesketh.
  • 76. Ibid. notes by Canon Raines.
  • 77. Note by Mr. Earwaker; and see text above.
  • 78. Ibid.
  • 79. Commonw. Ch. Surv. 110; he was 'a godly minister, well qualified and conformable to the state and government.'
  • 80. Visitation list at Chester.
  • 81. Ibid. His will was proved in 1705. He was 'conformable' in 1689; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 230.
  • 82. These names are from the papers in the Diocesan registry at Chester. From 1707 to 1727 occurs the name of Henry Walker as officiating.
  • 83. Buried at Ormskirk 30 Oct. 1789.
  • 84. From a return made to the Bishop of Chester in 1821 it appears that the rector then lived at Tarleton, but had a curate. There were services on Sunday morning and afternoon, and sermons were promised on both occasions; the sacrament was administered once a quarter, also on Easter Sunday and Good Friday. The plate consisted of a cup and flagon, and there were two surplices. Edward Master was buried at Croston 23 July 1834.
  • 85. He was incumbent of Corringham and Idle 1830–57, and did not reside at Rufford. He and his successor were nominated by the Crown by reason of the lunacy of Le Gendre Pierce Starkie.
  • 86. Hon. Canon of Manchester 1859, afterwards vicar of Great Limber.
  • 87. Previously rector of Luckington, Wilts. 1863–7. Mr. Goggin assumed the additional surname of Hogg in 1884.
  • 88. Previously vicar of St. Cuthbert's, Darwen. The editors owe him their thanks for many particulars in the preceding account.
  • 89. Notitia Cestr. ii, 367.
  • 90. An official inquiry was made in 1899; the report includes a reprint of that of 1826. Thomas Baldwin and others gave sums amounting to £34 10s., the interest of which was before 1816 paid by the overseers to the school; but in that year a new school was built by Sir Thomas Hesketh and maintained by him, so that the payment out of the rates was discontinued. Thomas Baldwin and Richard Berry had given £20 each for the poor, and 40s. as interest had been paid out of the rates till about 1815, but discontinued.
  • 91. The share of the Lathom charity now received by Rufford amounts to £78 5s. 10d., and is distributed chiefly in clothing, blankets and coal. From Dr. Layfield's charity £4 7s. 10d. is received; it is distributed in doles of calico or flannel. The income of the Crooke and Master charity (£11 18s. 6d.) is received by Rufford once every ten years; it is spent in Bibles, prayer-books and other religious works for the church and individuals.