A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Ekeleston, 1203; Ecliston, 1252; Hecleston, 1284; Eccleston, 1301.
The township of Eccleston is divided into two parts by the River Yarrow, which flows through it westward to join the Douglas. The parish church, with the village, stands near the centre, on the southern bank of the river; in the northern half are Tingreave and Sarscow, while in the southern is Bradley Hall. The hamlet of Eccleston Green is near the border of Heskin. The surface rises from the Yarrow to the north-east and the south-east, reaching about 160 ft. above the ordnance datum in the south-east corner. The area is 2,089½ acres, (fn. 1) and the population in 1901 was 1,249.
The principal road is one between Wigan and Preston, passing north-west through the Green and the village to the church, where it crosses the river by a bridge, the mill being adjacent. Afterwards it divides; the main branch goes north to Preston, while the other goes north-west to join the road to Bretherton. From the village a road goes southwest to Mawdesley.
The hearth tax return of 1666 shows that there were then ninety-five hearths liable; the principal houses were those of Thomas Abbott with nine hearths, John Todd and Edward Parr six each. (fn. 2) Parr Hall is a three-story brick house with stone quoins and blue-slated roof, without architectural distinction except for the doorway, which has a good semi-domed hood on brackets, and a stone panel with the date 1721 and initials E P I TP.
There are several collieries, quarries and a cotton mill. Some hand-loom weaving also is carried on.
The soil is loamy, the subsoil clay. Wheat and oats are grown.
The manor of ECCLESTON, in which Heskin was long included, was from an early period held in moieties. This appears from the grant of a moiety of the church by Roger of Poitou in 1094, the other moiety being probably held by the predecessor of the Walton family. (fn. 3) No detailed account is given in the survey of 1212, when Eccleston and Heskin were no doubt included in the knight's fee held by Roger Gernet by the office of forester (fn. 4); but forty years later it was found that Roger Gernet had held of William Earl of Ferrers two plough-lands in Eccleston by service of the forest and to find a judge at the county court and a suitor at the earl's court. One plough-land was in demesne, and the other was held of Roger by Warine de Walton by the service of 4s. yearly. (fn. 5) Together with Halton and other members of the forester's fee this moiety of Eccleston, apparently known as the Manor of BRADLEY, descended to the Dacre family, (fn. 6) and after the temporary forfeiture (fn. 7) and partition in the time of Edward IV was by the king in 1473 assigned, together with Fishwick, to Sir Richard Fiennes and Joan his wife, the granddaughter and heir of Thomas Lord Dacre, who died in 1458. (fn. 8)
Their grandson Thomas Lord Dacre in 1506 sold his manors of Fishwick and Eccleston to Edmund Dudley, the minister of Henry VII. (fn. 9) After Dudley's execution and forfeiture these manors were with other lands allowed to his heir John, afterwards Duke of Northumberland. (fn. 10)
Bradley Hall was sold to Adam Rigby, rector of Eccleston, (fn. 13) and came by 1836 into the hands of a sister of General John Rigbye Fletcher. (fn. 14) The present owner of the estate is said to be Mr. Charles Robert Fletcher Lutwidge. (fn. 15)
Of the hall practically nothing remains except a portion of the moat which is yet filled with water. The house, which stands at the south-east end of the village, a mile from the church, is now a modern farmstead, but parts of the farm buildings, which are of stone, apparently belong to an older building.
The other moiety of the manor, once held by the Waltons of the Gernets and their heirs, (fn. 16) was sold by the daughter and heir of William de Walton to Henry Earl of Lancaster in 1347, (fn. 17) but land in the township was held by the heirs of another branch of the Walton family, and as the manor of TINGREAVE descended in the line of Radcliffe (fn. 18) and Barton of Smithills until the 17th century. (fn. 19) The moiety of the manor of Eccleston, however, like the earldom and duchy of Lancaster, became part of the Crown's possessions, and after several grants, including one made in 1481 to Thomas Molyneux, (fn. 20) was sold by Henry VIII in 1545 to Thomas Fleetwood for £607 6s. 8d. (fn. 21) About fifty years later it was sold to Sir Richard Molyneux, (fn. 22) descending like Sefton until it was alienated in 1729 to pay off charges and debts. (fn. 23)
Sarscow appears to have been held by the Tunstall family in the 14th century. (fn. 24) Other surnames occurring in the earlier pleadings, &c., are Shurvington, Rawe, Whithalgh and Whittingham, but no detailed account can be given of these families. (fn. 25)
In the 16th century there were disputes as to the manor courts. (fn. 26)
Cockersand Abbey (fn. 27) had some land in the township.
Of the minor families of Eccleston one at least bore the local name, (fn. 28) but the Dicconsons, afterwards of Wrightington, became the most prominent. Hugh and Richard Dicconson have been named. Thomas son of John Dicconson died in 1597 holding a messuage and lands in Eccleston and other property in Euxton and Charnock Richard; he left a son and heir named John, two years old. (fn. 29) The principal representative of the family was William Dicconson, who died in 1604 holding a considerable estate in Eccleston, Heskin, Wrightington and other neighbouring townships. His heir was his nephew Edward son of Thomas Dicconson, then forty years of age. (fn. 30) A pedigree was recorded in 1664. (fn. 31) by which time Hugh grandson of Edward Dicconson had succeeded to Wrightington. (fn. 32)
Their house, known as Brick Hall, as its name denotes, is a brick-built 17th-century two-story building standing at the north end of the village, with gabled stone-slated roofs and stone quoins, but without any distinctly architectural features.
A number of landowners' names may be collected from the inquisitions. (fn. 33) The freeholders in 1600 were Edward Crane, William Dicconson, William Eccleston, Hugh Nelson and Henry Rawe (or Rowe). (fn. 34) In 1628 William Dicconson and James Waring, a convicted recusant, were the landowners contributing to the subsidy. (fn. 35)
A court leet and court baron were formerly held a fortnight after Michaelmas each year for the joint manor of Eccleston and Heskin. (fn. 36)
The parish church has been described above. There is a small Wesleyan Methodist chapel, built in 1900, to replace one erected as early as 1813. (fn. 37)