Townships: Heskin

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

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'Townships: Heskin', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, ed. William Farrer, J Brownbill( London, 1911), British History Online [accessed 16 July 2024].

'Townships: Heskin', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Edited by William Farrer, J Brownbill( London, 1911), British History Online, accessed July 16, 2024,

"Townships: Heskin". A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Ed. William Farrer, J Brownbill(London, 1911), , British History Online. Web. 16 July 2024.

In this section


Heskyn, 1301.

This township, formerly united with Eccleston, lies on the northerly slope of the hills of Parbold and Wrightington, the surface descending from the 200 ft. to the 100 ft. level. The north-east boundary is formed by the Syd Brook, on which lies the hamlet of Heskin Green. Barmskin is in the south-west corner. The area is 1,242½ acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 there was a population of 537.

Three roads go north through the township; the two on the eastern side join at Heskin Green, while the third joins at Eccleston Green, just beyond the northern boundary. From the last-named road a branch goes north-west to Croston.

Pedestals of ancient crosses are known at Oxhey, Heskin Hall and Cooper's Lane. (fn. 2)

There were sixty-seven hearths recorded for the tax in 1666. The principal house was the New Hall, Alexander Mawdesley's, with fifteen hearths, the next being Mr. Dicconson's, with seven. (fn. 3)

Thomas Heskin, a Dominican divine of the Reformation period, is supposed to have been of this township. Being deprived of his preferments by Elizabeth, he went abroad. (fn. 4)


The manor of HESKIN was originally included in Eccleston, but seems to have been regarded as separate after coming into the possession of Sir Richard Molyneux. It has no independent history; for though one Robert de Heskin in 1323 asserted that he and Randle de Dacre were lords of Heskin, a separate hamlet in Eccleston, his claim to lordship was rejected. (fn. 5) The Heskin family, though of long continuance, have left little or no record. (fn. 6) Thurstan Heskin, described as of Wrightington, died in 1591, leaving a son and heir Nicholas under age. (fn. 7) Nicholas Heskin, who died in 1640, held lands in Heskin, Parbold and Wrightington, to which his son Thurstan, aged fourteen, was heir. (fn. 8)

Many of those who have been described as owning estates in Eccleston also had land in Heskin; indeed, as the former place-name included the latter, it is not always possible to tell in which portion land 'in Eccleston' was situated; but among those who were more especially concerned in Heskin were the families of Hoghton of Hoghton, (fn. 9) Rutter, (fn. 10) Banastre (fn. 11) and Lancaster. (fn. 12) The Fleetwoods of Heskin are said to be the original stock of a widespreading family, including those of Penwortham and Rossall. (fn. 13) Sir William Fleetwood, an eminent lawyer, who died in 1594, was an illegitimate offshoot. (fn. 14) A few other names occur—e.g. Thomas Haworth and — Waterworth were freeholders in 1600. (fn. 15) In the time of the Commonwealth Thomas Howorth compounded for his sequestered estate, (fn. 16) and the following recusants petitioned to be allowed to contract for theirs: Anne Banastre widow, David Baron and Thomas Prescott. (fn. 17) Several 'Papists' registered estates in 1717. (fn. 18)

Thurstan Mawdesley had a messuage in Heskin in 1594, and other members of the family also had an interest. (fn. 19) The Mawdesley estates were in 1739–44 purchased by Alexander Kershaw.

Alexander Kershaw, who acquired other lands in Ulnes Walton and elsewhere, sprang from a Rochdale family, (fn. 20) and, amassing a large fortune, settled at Heskin. He never married, but had a number of illegitimate children, three of whom he chose as his heirs by his will of 1786—Edmund Newman (Kershaw), John Cooper and James Kershaw, and their lawful male issue successively, then to the testator's right heirs. He died in 1788, and Edmund Newman (Kershaw) succeeded, and on his death without lawful issue John Cooper followed, and when he died in 1833, also without lawful issue, there was a dispute as to the succession. After a trial in 1837 the estates were adjudged to be the right of the heirs of Mary Stott, (fn. 21) sister of Alexander, to be held in moieties by (1) Lewis Chadwick Hargrave, grandson, and (2) Letitia Maria Ahmuty and her sister Catherine Constantia (Ahmuty) wife of James Charles Michell, great-granddaughters. About 1856 the estates were divided. The Mawdesley and Ulnes Walton portions were given to Hargrave, the Heskin and Eccleston lands to the Rev. William Michell, and lands in Leyland, &c., to Miss Ahmuty, who bequeathed them to Mr. Michell and his sister, so that this moiety was reunited. The whole has since been sold in parcels, Heskin Hall having been purchased about 1885 by the late Henry Rawcliffe of Gillibrand Hall, Chorley.

HESKIN OLD HALL stood on the extreme north-west of the township, but was pulled down at the beginning of the last century. The new hall stands about three-quarters of a mile to the east, and is a fine brick mansion of three stories with gables and mullioned windows, having a front elevation facing south of about 86 ft. It is now used as a farm-house. The building belongs to the middle of the 17th century, and is constructed of small red bricks, varying in size from 2 in. to 2¼ in., with blue diaper patterns similar to other work of the same period in the district. (fn. 22) A spout head on the front of the house bears the date 1670 and the initials of Alexander Mawdesley, but whether this is the date of erection or merely of some later work is uncertain. The plan follows to some extent the usual arrangement of an earlier date, of the central hall with projecting end wings, and the principal elevation is one of much picturesqueness and not a little dignity, being well broken up by bay windows. The regularity of the design is somewhat lost by the bay window of the hall being placed out of the centre, and by the porch, which is in the angle of the east wing and the hall, being carried up two stories with a small gable over, though a certain balance is given to the elevation at this end by another small gable at the other side of the east wing. The brickwork has weathered a charming colour, but the roofs have been covered at a later period with green slates. There is a northeast wing about 50 ft. in length, containing the offices and kitchen, externally more severe in appearance than the front, with three regularly spaced and equal gables facing east on the top floor. From the north-west this wing, however, is very picturesque in appearance, and is a very excellent example of domestic brick architecture. The grouping of the octagonal staircase, which is corbelled out to a gable at the top, with two well-designed stacks of chimneys, is very effective. There is a similar staircase turret finishing in a corbelled gable at the end of the principal front facing east. At a later date, probably in the early part of the last century, a considerable change was made at the back of the house by the addition or rebuilding of a large dining-room and staircase. (fn. 23) These additions, which are of two stories, are built with modern bricks, and are architecturally uninteresting; but, not being seen from the front, detract little from the general appearance of the building. The interior has been a good deal modernized in the last century, but retains some features of interest. The hall is 34 ft. 6 in. long by 20 ft. in breadth, and has a flagged floor. The porch is in the south-east corner, and the bay window 5 ft. from the west end, the space between them being occupied by a four-light mullioned window, the sill of which is 7 ft. from the floor. The original oak nailstudded door with heavy ring knocker remains in the porch, the doorway itself having a low fourcentred arch. The ceiling, which is 12 ft. 6 in. high, is plain, and, together with the fireplace and fittings generally, is modern. The drawing-room in the west wing is panelled its full height all round with good Renaissance oak wainscot, the walls being divided into bays by fluted Ionic pilasters with architrave, inlaid frieze and shallow cornice, the whole on a surbase 3 ft. 9 in. high. Between the pilasters the panels are elaborately treated with inlay and strap-work, but below they are plain. The fireplace is of stone, but has been painted, and the panelling above (fn. 24) has been removed and portions of plain chamfered and moulded wainscot inserted. The large bay window may be later than the room itself, but the threelight mullioned window on the west side is original. The other rooms are uninteresting, being almost wholly modernized. In a bedroom over the hall, however, there is some old oak wainscot on one of the walls. The spiral octagon stair at the east end is now removed, only the walls of the staircase remaining, and the plan of the house has been a good deal altered at this point. There is an external doorway in the angle of the staircase turret, but the original opening to the staircase itself from the outside is now blocked up. This is also the case with the other octagonal staircase in the north wing, the only entrance to which is now from the passage at the end of the kitchen. This staircase retains its original oak treads and newel. The east staircase was apparently the original means of access to the first and upper floors or attic. This latter is occupied by a long gallery in the roof 75 ft. long by 10 ft. 6 in wide and 9 ft. high, extending the full length of the house, with recesses on the south side, which have apparently at some later time been partitioned off into separate rooms in the gables. The gallery, which has a fireplace and window at its west end, is now in a dilapidated condition, the plaster having fallen from the studding, leaving the room open to the roof on each side. In the north-east wing are three large rooms, each with a fireplace and a four-light mullioned and transomed stone window, and approached from the northern staircase.

Plan of Heskin Hall

A grammar school was founded at Heskin in 1597. (fn. 25)


  • 1. Including 1 of inland water.
  • 2. Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. xvii, 17.
  • 3. Subs. R. Lancs. bdle. 250, no. 9.
  • 4. Dict. Nat. Biog.; Gillow, Bibl. Dict. of Engl. Cath. iii, 292.
  • 5. Assize R. 425, m. 6; also 424, m. 2.
  • 6. Adam son of Adam de Walton transferred to Adam son of Reynold de Heskin the gift of land—namely, a third part of his inheritance in Heskin—which Robert, brother of the latter Adam, had given to the grantor; Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 85. b. Robert son of Richard de Heskin was a juror in 1301; Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 310. Richard de Heskin in 1327 acquired messuages and land in Wrightington and Parbold from William the Fisher of Rufford and Maud his wife; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 67. Robert and Richard de Heskin contributed to the subsidy in 1332; Excb. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 49. John de Heskin in 1376 complained that Nicholas de Rigby, William his brother, Cecily daughter of Robert de Heskin and others had broken his close at Heskin; De Banco R. 463, m. 21 d. Richard de Heskin, outlawed for felony, is named in 1408; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxiii, App. 7. John de Heskin about the same time had the New Close in Eccleston; Towneley MS. CC (Chet. Lib.), no. 459.
  • 7. Manch. Ct. Leet Rec. ii, 67, 121.
  • 8. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxix, no. 61. Nicholas Heskin of Heskin had paid £10 in 1631 on refusing knighthood; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 214.
  • 9. Among the Hoghton charters is a grant of land in Heskin by Adam del Fairhurst; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 56. Sir Richard Hoghton in 1446–7 had a lease of lands reclaimed by his grandfather Sir Richard; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xl, App. 539. Land in Heskin is named in a Hoghton arrangement in 1497; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 146. See also Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 128. In 1559 and later the land was said to be held of the queen in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, no. 2, &c. Richard Hoghton of Park Hall in Charnock died in 1622 holding land in Heskin of Sir Richard Molyneux; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 456.
  • 10. Richard Rutter of Heskin had in 1400 and later years leases of land in Heskin and Eccleston; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xl, App. 527–31. Similar grants were made to Thomas de Mawdsley (Horse Carr), William Painter (Ermet Bank in Heskin), Nicholas de Rigby and Richard Cooper; ibid. 524, &c. A lease of 1414 to Richard Rutter was for the lives of himself, his wife Joan and his sons Nicholas and Robert; Towneley MS. CC, no. 464. William Rutter was plaintiff in 1445; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 7, m. 7b.
  • 11. Anthony Banastre of Heskin occurs in 1447; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 10, m. 2b. Ralph Banastre died in 1518 holding lands in Heskin of Arthur Plantagenet by the rent of 2d.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, no. 29.
  • 12. Nicholas Lancaster purchased land in Heskin and Wrightington in 1579–81; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 41, m. 63; 43, m. 53. Richard (son of John) Lancaster, who died in Oct. 1632 holding lands in Wrightington, Coppull and Heskin, left as heir his sister Ellen wife of John Crooke; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvii, no. 27. Another Richard Lancaster died in the ensuing February, having settled his land in Heskin, held of Sir Richard Molyneux, on his younger son Richard, though Robert, the elder son, was living; ibid. xxviii, no. 44.
  • 13. William Fleetwood of Heskin had three sons: (1) John had Thomas of Colwick, father of Sir Richard Fleetwood, bart. (see Newton in Makerfield), and Richard of Penwortham; (2) Thomas of the Vache had Sir William of Cranford, Middlesex, ancestor of the Fleetwoods of Aldwinkle, &c., and Edmund of Rossall; (3) Robert had a natural son Sir William, noticed below.
  • 14. William Fleetwood is said to have been born at Heskin. He was of the Middle Temple, M.P. for Lancaster 1559 to 1567, recorder of London 1569, queen's serjeant 1592. 'He was a learned man and a good antiquary,' says Anthony a Wood, 'but of a marvellous merry and pleasant conceit,' and published some legal works. He was distinguished for his severity in executing the laws against vagrants and Catholics, the latter regarding him as 'one of the chiefest persecutors of those days'; Misc. (Cath. Rec. Soc.), ii, 191, where an instance of his cruelty is recorded. He acquired an estate at Great Missenden, Bucks., where his descendants were seated for some generations. See Wood's Athenae; Dict. Nat. Biog.; Funeral Cert. (Chet. Soc.), 28. His short outline of the Duchy history is printed in Baines' Lancs. (ed. 1868), i, 55.
  • 15. Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 245. Thurstan Waterworth died in 1593 holding a messuage, &c., in Heskin, and leaving a son and heir Andrew, one year old; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvi, no. 26. Another Thurstan died in 1640 holding a messuage and lands including Heskin Green and Harwood Hey, and leaving a son and heir Andrew, fifteen years old; ibid. xxx, no. 24. Part was held of Lord Molyneux by knights' service. Thurstan Waterworth, yeoman, as a 'Papist,' registered his freehold house in 1717; Estcourt and Payne, Engl. Cath. Non-jurors, 110. Edward Robinson died in 1608 holding land of the king by the three-hundredth part of a knight's fee; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 114. John Haydock of Coppull (1622) and Richard Smith (1632) also held of the king by knights' service; the heir of the latter was a son Robert, forty-two years of age; ibid. iii, 314; Towneley MS. C 8, 13 (Chet. Lib.), p. 1085. Richard Waring died at Heskin in 1619 holding land there of Sir Richard Molyneux by knights' service, and leaving as heir his son George, over sixty years of age; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc.), ii, 130. Roger Sankey of Burscough (1613) held his land in Heskin of the same lord in socage, and the same statement was made after the death of his son Richard in 1634; ibid. i, 277; Towneley MS. C 8, 13, p. 1076. See below, p. 177 n.
  • 16. Cal. Com. for Comp. iii, 1951.
  • 17. Ibid. iv, 3175.
  • 18. Thomas Miller, yeoman, Thomas Mawdesley, Matthew Cragg of Camerton, Cumberland, and Richard Martin; Engl. Cath. Non-jurors, 108–10, 129.
  • 19. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 36, m. 63; 43, m. 53. See also the account of Mawdesley.
  • 20. Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1836), iii, 478, 404. A more elaborate account of the family, with a full abstract of the will of Alexander Kershaw, will be found in Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Notes, ii, 132–40. An Act was passed in 1834 (4 Will. IV) to authorize the investment of moneys accumulated under the trusts of the will of Edmund Newman Kershaw of Heskin Hall. There are named South Tunley in Wrightington, Lydiate in Eccleston, Newhouse in Heskin and fields in Ulnes Walton. The details in the text are taken chiefly from the printed report of the trial in 1837—Gibson v. Hargrave, supplemented by information from the Rev. Prebendary Michell, to whom a moiety of the Kershaw estates descended, and who has a number of ancient Mawdesley deeds. The report contains pedigrees and abstracts of wills and other documents. From these it appears that Edmund Kershaw of Higher Town House (d. 1689) married Sibyl daughter of Alexander Kershaw of Ealees in Hundersfield (see Fishwick, Rochadale, p. 443), by whom he had several children, including Abel, Mary (wife of James Bamford) and Elizabeth (wife of Abraham Gibson). Abel had issue Alexander Kershaw of Heskin (1696 to 1788) and Mary. The plaintiffs at the trial were the representatives of Bamford and Gibson, each claiming a moiety, and they alleged that Mary, sister of the testator, was never married to a certain Ralph Stott, with whom she lived from about 1713 till her death in 1767. The story ran that as on the day fixed for her marriage with someone else she was riding to church with Ralph Stott, pillionwise, the pair ran off together instead and were then made man and wife, the expectant bridegroom being left disappointed. No proof of the marriage was forthcoming at the date of the trial, but evidence was produced from the parish registers, court rolls, &c., that they had always been regarded as married and the jury without hesitation took this view.
  • 21. Ralph and Mary Stott had a number of children, of whom Catherine married John Anderson and Anne married John Hargrave. The Andersons had (besides other issue) a daughter Maria Elizabeth, who married John Ahmuty of Grenada, and whose daughters were two of the defendants at the trial; the Rev. William Michell (born 1830) is son of the younger. The other defendant was the son of John and Anne Hargrave; he had a son James Augustine Hargrave of Port Mahon, Minorca, whose children married Spaniards. Their lands were sold about fifty years ago.
  • 22. e.g. at Bank Hall, Rufford Old Hall, Carr House and Hoole Church.
  • 23. The lower part of the wall on the north side is built of old 2-in. bricks, suggesting there may have been a building here before. Some old materials, however, may simply have been used in a new addition.
  • 24. There may have been a picture in the wainscot over the fireplace.
  • 25. Gastrell, Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc.), 373; Local Gleanings Lancs. and Ches. ii, 105; End. Char. Rep.