Townships: Over Darwen

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

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'Townships: Over Darwen', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911), pp. 269-275. British History Online [accessed 19 June 2024].

. "Townships: Over Darwen", in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911) 269-275. British History Online, accessed June 19, 2024,

. "Townships: Over Darwen", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6, (London, 1911). 269-275. British History Online. Web. 19 June 2024,

In this section


Overderewente, 1276; Overderwend, 1332; Derwent o' the Mores, 1380; Overderwent, xiv-xvi cent.; Overderwyn, -darwyn, xvi-xvii cent. Provincially 'Darren.'

The township lies in the upper part of the valley of the River Darwen, from which it is named, and extends over the expanse of moss and heath in which that river takes its rise into the watershed of Bradshaw Brook, a tributary of the River Irwell, between Turton and Entwisle. Along this range of hills are elevations varying from 1,000 to over 1,300 ft. above the ordnance datum. On Darwen Moor, to the south-west, are White Hill (1,318 ft.) and Brown Lowe (1,280 ft.); above Cadshaw, in the southern angle of the township, is Smith's Height (1,050 ft.); on the south-east are Cranberry Moss (960 ft.) and Grimehills Moor (900 ft.); and on Hoddlesden Moss are Soot Hill (1,050 ft.) and Greystone Hill (1,087 ft.). Where the old road to Manchester passes over Blacksnape an elevation of 1,060 ft. is attained. On the road are traces of the Roman road which led from Blackburn to Manchester. (fn. 1) The Coal Measures underlie the whole township, except on the west, where the Millstone Grit crops out on the hillsides beneath the superincumbent Coal Measures. The soil varies greatly from sand to clay. The land consists almost entirely of meadow and pasture; there is a fair amount of woodland in Earnsdale and in ravines on the south side of the town. (fn. 2) On the northern side of Darwen Moor, above Sunnyhurst Hey, during the construction of the town's reservoir, there were seen beneath 2 ft. of surface-peat the remains of many hundreds of prostrate trees, chiefly oaks and birches. (fn. 3) The township extends to an area of 5,136 acres, the municipal borough to 5,959 acres by the incorporation of that part of Lower Darwen not included in the municipal borough of Blackburn and part of Eccleshill. (fn. 4) The population of the borough in 1901 numbered 39,145 persons. (fn. 5)

The main road from Blackburn to Bolton, constructed in 1797, runs along the west side of the river, passing over the watershed below Cranberry Moss. The road from Blackburn to Manchester passes over higher ground to the east, as stated. The Bolton, Blackburn and Hellifield branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company's railway traverses the township, with stations at Darwen, opened in 1848, and Spring Vale, and passes under the moors on the south-east, through the Sough tunnel, which is 2,000 yards in length. A single line, two miles in length, connects the village of Hoddlesden with the main line.

By the destruction of the banks of the reservoir below Radfield Fold, in 1848, after a great storm of rain on the moors, twelve persons were drowned, and great destruction to property was caused by the ensuing flood. (fn. 6)

Over Darwen was noted as far back as the 17th century for the weaving by hand-looms of checked cotton cloths and calicoes, the industry being conducted in the houses of yeomen and husbandmen. From 1700 to 1720 many natives are described in the parish register as 'webster.' At this time the supply of yarn for weaving and the sale of cotton pieces in various markets was in the hands of resident 'chapmen,' who were generally small freeholders in the township. The prosperity of the hand-loom weaving industry reached its height about the beginning of the last quarter of the 18th century, when several block-printing works were established here, the principal works being those established by Mr. James Greenway at Livesey Fold, afterwards removed to Dob Meadows. Calico-bleaching works were also established, but have long ceased to exist; the earliest, before 1800, by Mr. Richard Hilton and others; in 1812 by Samuel Crompton, inventor of the spinning mule. Paper-making was introduced by Richard Hilton before 1836, and was carried on in works on the site of one of the existing mills of the Darwen Paper Mill Company. Paper-staining works were established by Charles and Harold Bolter in 1841, (fn. 7) and are still carried on, together with paper-making, by the Wall Paper Manufacturers, Limited.

Cotton-spinning by machinery was first introduced here about the year 1820, by William Eccles, at Bowling Green Mill. (fn. 8) Since then cotton-spinning and weaving have become the staple industries of the town. In addition to these there are iron and brass foundries, machine works, sanitary pipe manufactories, collieries, flag and stone quarries, glazed and building-brick works, and iron-works.

The more noteworthy buildings of the place are the Theatre Royal in Railway Road and the Hospital at Bull Hill. There are three political clubs. The Darwen Industrial Co-operative Society's Stores, in School Street, erected in 1866, include two large halls for public meetings.

Within the township are the hamlets of Sough or Spring Vale, Grimehills, Blacksnape, Chapels and Earnsdale.

At Hoddlesden, formerly a separate township, are three cotton factories, a colliery and sanitary pipe and fireclay works.


Between 1160 and 1177 Henry de Lacy gave this vill, with Walton-le-Dale and other manors, to Robert Banastre, baron of Newton in Makerfield, (fn. 9) to hold by knight's service, of which the proportionate share due from this vill was the eighth part of a knight's fee. The subsequent descent of the superior lordship through the barons of Newton is similar to that of the manor of Walton-le-Dale; the various steps in the descent to the person of Sir James de Hoghton, bart., the present lord, may therefore be traced in the account of that manor. (fn. 10)

Early in the 13th century the manor was held in shares by the families of Derwent and Alston. Alexander de Derwent, living in the time of Roger, Constable of Chester (1194–1211), (fn. 11) was probably the father of Siward, living in 1209, who had lands in Rainford and Halsnead in right of his wife Juliana, a kinswoman of William de Rainford. (fn. 12) Siward was living in 1246, when he and Adam his son, Richard de Alston and Roger his son, and Henry de Whalley were unsuccessfully sued by Roger de Eccleshill for land alleged to be in Eccleshill. (fn. 13) Richard son of Adam was seised of half the manor, but died without male issue; to whom succeeded Adam his brother, living in 1277. (fn. 14) The descent here becomes uncertain: possibly Alan succeeded as son and heir of Adam, and was the father of Alice, who married Geoffrey de Cuerdale, (fn. 15) for that lady certainly brought to her husband in her own right half of the manor. (fn. 16) In 1311 Geoffrey de Cuerdale and the heirs of Salmesbury held a plough-land here of the Earl of Lincoln's mesne tenant. (fn. 17) From that time one-half of the manor descended in the heirs of Geoffrey with the manor of Cuerdale.

The other moiety of the manor was vested before 1250 in the persons of Richard de Alston and Henry de Whalley son of Geoffrey the elder, Dean of Whalley, as free tenants as to one-fourth part of the manor of William de Samlesbury, and as to the other of the Earl of Lincoln. About that date they respectively granted to Henry de Grimshagh the fourth part of a ridding in Over Darwen called Brocholes. (fn. 18) About the year 1275 Alexander de Cuerdale, who had a house and free tenement here, released his right in this ridding to Adam de Grimshagh, (fn. 19) and Roger de Whalley son of Henry having given to Stanlaw Abbey the site of a tithe barn, with common right to take rushes or turves for thatching, and wood for making the barn-walls and an inclosing fence, (fn. 20) granted his lands and tenements here with the services of his free tenants to Roger son of Richard de Alston. (fn. 21) The estate held by the Alston family descended in the same manner as onehalf of the manor of Alston, in the parish of Ribchester. Richard de Alston contributed to the subsidy levied here in 1332, and probably the same Richard in 1349 released his lands here with an oxgang of land and his share of the lordship to John de Barton and Dionisia his wife. In 1371 Barton gave his lands here to Thomas his son. (fn. 22) It is probable that this interest soon after passed to the Southworths.

About 1275 the Earl of Lincoln granted the fourth part of the manor to William de Samlesbury, kt., (fn. 23) so that the whole of this moiety of the manor became vested in the Samlesbury family, and was held by Nicholas Deuyas and Robert de Holand, kt., as heirs of Samlesbury, at the earl's death in 1311, (fn. 24) and was subsequently divided between them.

Samlesbury. Argent a cheveron between three crosslets sable.

One-fourth part was settled by fine made early in 1322, recorded in 1332, upon Alan, Robert and Thomas, sons of Sir Robert, successively, (fn. 25) and so descended with the other Lancashire possessions of this family until they fell to the Crown by the forfeiture of the Duke of Exeter and of the heirs of Lovel respectively. (fn. 26) The remaining fourth part descended with Samlesbury in the Southworth family. But in both cases manorial rights seem to have been resigned or permitted to lapse, for at the death of Thomas Southworth in 1432 his estate here is coupled with estates in Mellor and Alston, the whole being described as held of the Duke of Lancaster in socage by the yearly service of 4s. 6d. (fn. 27) On the other hand, the inquest taken after the death of Geoffrey Osbaldeston, who died in 1475, refers to the latter as holding the manor of 'Derwind' of Richard Langton, esq., by fealty and a yearly rent of 7s. (fn. 28); so also in subsequent inquests taken after the death of the heads of both families.

In the time of Henry VI there was variance between the two families touching their respective titles to the wastes and moors in the manor, and this was renewed in the time of Philip and Mary. In 1556 John Osbaldeston, esq., lodged a petition in the Duchy chamber complaining that John Southworth, kt., had entered a parcel of waste ground called 'Darwynd Moore,' containing by estimation 6,000 acres, had depastured complainant's herbage and had dug over 1,000 loads of turves and carried them away; and notwithstanding many requests that he would disclose his title by showing his evidences, refused to do so. Southworth, in reply, stated that Sir Thomas, his father, was lawfully seised, together with Edward Earl of Derby, by lawful conveyance of the fourth part of the manor and moor. Depositions made on behalf of the complainant showed that the manor and demesnes were yearly worth £20 to complainant, but defendant's lands were only of the yearly value of 30s. or thereabouts; that complainant's ancestors had always been known as the only owners of the manor and waste, and had kept their court at Over Darwen, to which Sir John was called to appear, and his tenants-at-will, Lawrence Gorton, Ralph Baron and Henry Ducksbury; that complainant and his ancestors had appointed the constables within the lordship, had made inclosures of the wastes without let, had caused the waste to be driven and the beasts and cattle of strangers dwelling out of the lordship to be 'pynden or folden there in a pynfold' belonging to complainant, and had occupied the mansion place at Over Darwen and the demesne of Darwen Hall in severalty as sole tenants. On the other side it was deposed that Ralph Holden, esq., had done service to Sir John Southworth and his father 'because of his libertie upon the waste and moor in varyance.' (fn. 29)

Osbaldeston. Argent a mascle sable between three pellets.

The dispute was terminated in 1566 by the purchase from John Southworth, kt., of five messuages, 320 acres of land, and a large extent of moor, described as lying in Over Darwen and Osbaldeston. (fn. 30) Three years before, John Osbaldeston had also acquired from Edward Earl of Derby six messuages, 180 acres of land, 540 acres of moor in Over Darwen. (fn. 31) In 1570 he also acquired two messuages and lands here and in Entwistle from Edward Tyldesley, esq. (fn. 32) By these transactions he undoubtedly acquired a complete right to the moiety of the manor originally vested in the Holands and Southworths. In 1568 an agreement was made between John Osbaldeston and Richard Grimshagh of Clayton, lord of the manor of Eccleshill, as to the boundary between their respective manors and for the making of ditches to mark the same. (fn. 33) In 1593–4 John Osbaldeston, grandson of the before-mentioned John, disposed of nearly a dozen small tenements in the manor to a number of persons probably inhabitants. (fn. 34)

In 1658 Alexander Osbaldeston sold the manor to Edward Warren of Poynton, (fn. 35) whose son John Warren in 1699 lodged a bill of complaint against Henry Hulton of Hulton, alleging that Hulton in confederacy with others had endeavoured to extend the boundary of Longworth so as to inclose part of the manor of Over Darwen, had pastured cattle and sheep and made inclosures on Over Darwen Moor. (fn. 36) The manor was advertised for sale in 1766 by Sir George Warren, K.B., great-grandson of John Warren, and was eventually purchased by or for John Trafford, then of Croston and afterwards of Trafford, (fn. 37) who erected a house upon the eastern edge of Darwen Moor, overlooking the valley of the Darwen. The house, which is known as Lord's Hall, stands at an elevation of 1,200 ft. above the ordnance datum in a bleak and dreary situation. It is now used as a keeper's lodge. (fn. 38) Mr. Trafford did not long reside in the township, and in 1811, a few years before his death, sold the manor to George Duckworth. (fn. 39) Mr. Duckworth died in 1815 and was succeeded by his eldest son Samuel Duckworth, a barrister-at-law and Master in Chancery, sometime M.P. for Leicester, who died unmarried in 1847, when he was succeeded by his brother William Duckworth of Beechwood Forest, co. Hants, afterwards of Orchardleigh, co. Somerset. Mr. Duckworth died in 1876 and was succeeded by his eldest surviving son the Rev. William Arthur Duckworth of Orchardleigh Park, Frome, M.A. Cantab., rector of Puttenham, Guildford, 1859–77, and present lord of the manor.

In the time of Henry VI Geoffrey Osbaldeston gave puture to the king's serjeants of the wapentake for one plough-land here, for which in 1662 the sum of 4s. 2d. was paid rateably by the inhabitants. (fn. 40)

The number of hearths assessed to the tax in 1666 was 119. (fn. 41)

In 1788 the principal landowners were Mr. Trafford's executors and Mrs. Walshaw Aspinall. (fn. 42)

The family of Baron held an ancient freehold here. In 1332 William le Baron contributed 4s. towards one mark levied from the township to the subsidy. (fn. 43) In 1345 Richard son of Adam son of Alan de Derwynd demanded from John son of Adam Juddison and William son of Thomas le Baron three messuages in Over Darwen and Eccleshill. (fn. 44) Robert Baron was assessed upon goods 40s. to the subsidy of 1524 in Hoddlesden. (fn. 45) In 1540 Richard Baron of Eccleshill, yeoman, and others were attached to answer Alexander Osbaldeston, kt., on a charge of trespass and delivering turves at Over Darwen. (fn. 46) James Baron in 1543, Edmund in 1570 and John in 1599 were assessed upon land to the subsidies levied here. In 1574 Edmund Baron conveyed two messuages, 70 acres of land and 66 acres of moor in Over Darwen and Eccleshill to trustees. (fn. 47) John Baron, yeoman, died in 1611 seised of an estate called 'Baron's Ouldlande' and two other messuages held of Edward Osbaldeston in socage. James his son died in 1620 without male issue. (fn. 48) John Baron paid for three hearths in 1666. (fn. 49)

Duckworth. Argent a cross pointed sable voided or, in chief two griffons' heads erased each surmounting four spear-heads conjoined in saltire proper.

Nicholas of the Cross was also a contributor to the subsidy of 1332. Richard Crosse was a trustee of the Earl of Derby's chantry in Blackburn Church founded in 1514, and was assessed upon £2 lands in 1524, as was Richard Crosse in 1543. John Cross living 1556 was the father of William Crosse who was assessed to the subsidy of 1570 and was ancestor of Crosse of Turncroft in Over Darwen. The last representative of the family was Major Egerton Cross of Kersley Hall, who died in 1803. (fn. 50)

The family of Fish were also small freeholders here, the first on record being Michael Fisshe living in 1404. (fn. 51) Mr. Abram gives an account of this and of many other yeomen families of Over Darwen. (fn. 52)

HODDLESDEN (fn. 53) formed in the 12th century the westernmost limit of the Forest or Chase of Rossendale, from which it was gradually severed by the industrious natives of the lords of Clitheroe in the adjoining township of Haslingden, who broke up the wastes, created a community there and so at length elevated Haslingden to the status of a vill. This cut Hoddlesden off from the main body of the forest, and when in 1296 it first comes into view it is being dealt with as a stock-raising farm of the Earl of Lincoln, the lord of Clitheroe. We read of nine calves, the issue of the heifers at Hoddlesden, being delivered to the chief stock-keeper of the honor; of herbage sold and old brushwood supplied during thirteen weeks to a forge or smelting furnace at a charge of 1s. a week; of repairs to the dwelling-house and fences there; of manuring of meadows, mowing and haymaking; of the building and thatching of a new house and of the sale of materials from an old cottage. (fn. 54) Nine years later we read of similar receipts and outlay, including 44s. spent in mowing, making and carrying hay from 72 acres of meadow, and 3s. 5d. for cleaning out the ditches and making new fences. (fn. 55) In 1324 and for a few years before the vaccary of 'Hoddesden' and the herbage of the forest there had been let to farm to Adam de Holden at a yearly rent of 24s. (fn. 56) There are signs of development in the accounts of 1342; the same rent is being paid, but Queen Isabella has a stock of breeding cattle here also, and Adam son of Henry de Grimshagh of Grimshaw in the adjoining township of Eccleshill is paying a yearly rent of 4s. 8d. for 14 acres of waste in the chase of Hoddlesden. (fn. 57) At the death of Duke Henry in 1361 the herbage of the wood of 'Hoddesden' was said to be worth 29s. 6d. yearly. (fn. 58)

For some years before 1464 James Radcliffe of Radcliffe was farming the vaccary for 10 marks a year and Henry Grimshagh (for Robert Grimshagh) the Newhey in Hoddlesden for 7s. 8d. yearly. (fn. 59) They were still farming these tenements in 1483. (fn. 60) The commissioners for disforesting the forests in the hundred returned their report in 1507 that 'an other vacherye callid Hodlesden and an othir litill parcell of ground callid Newhey in Hodlesdon (are) to be leten to John Radclyf esquier for 10/i. (fn. 61) Thenceforward the lands in this booth or vaccary were held by copy of court roll of the honor of Clitheroe and were rapidly parcelled out into tenements. In 1524 three persons were assessed to the subsidy in 'Hodilsden,' as if it were a township, (fn. 62) but this does not occur again, and in subsequent rolls the inhabitants are recorded in Over Darwen. For the levy of county rates Hoddlesden Booth was included m Rossendale and paid one-fourteenth of the whole levy on the forest. (fn. 63) In 1539 the heir of John Radcliffe paid £9 12s. 4d. and Thomas Grimshay 7s. 8d. for Hoddlesden and Newhey. (fn. 64)

At the date of King James' decree confirming the copyholds in the hundred, viz. 11 February 1608–9, the following were the tenants of Hoddlesden:—

s. d.
Nicholas Grimshaw 7 8
Thurstan Maudsley 12
George Holden, sen. 16
George Holden, jun. 16
Gilbert Hey 8 0
William Yate, sen. 11
Giles Holme 11 4
Robert Yate 12 0
Henry Bacon 14
John Welsh, jure uxoris 11 0
Giles Yate 14
James Yate 14 10½
James Knowles 17 8
Elizabeth Sharp 3 10
George Yate 2 8
Robert Brindle 7 8
William Yate, jun. 17 8
Sum £9 19

In the survey of 1662 the following particulars were returned from Hoddlesden (fn. 65) :—

s. d.
Richard Grymeshaw, esq. 7 8
Thomas Fish and Anne his wife for the lands late of Thurstan Maudsley 12
George Houlden 16
James Walmesley and Anne his wife for the lands late of George Holden, jun. 16
Robert Houlden, esq., for the lands late of Gilbert Hey 8 0
William Yates 11 11¼
James Cowper for the lands late of Gyles Holme 11 4
James Yates for part of the land, late of Robert Yates 6 0
William Yate for part of the same 6 0
Thomas Fish and Anne his wife for their part of land late of Henry Baron 12 03/8
James Kershaw jure uxoris for part of the same 2 6
Henry Atough for part of the same lands late of John Welch 6 6
Thomas Fish for part of the same 4 6
John Yate for the lands late of Gyles Yate 14
—Walton, clerke, for part of the lands late of James Yates 5 0
John Ormeroid for part of the same 7
Marianna Fleetwood for part of the same 0 6
James Cowper for part of the same 1 0
William Houlden for part of the same 1 0
William Rothwell for the lands late of James Knowles 17 8
James Walmesley for the lands late of Elizabeth Sharpe 3 10
William Yates 2 8
John Holden for part of the lands late of Robert Brindle 7 0
Andrew Houlden, gent., for part of the same 0 8
Robert Yates 17 8
Total £9 19 113/8


The town of Over Darwen, now usually called DARWEN, adopted the Local Government Act of 1854 the same year, and was incorporated in 1878. The borough is divided into six wards and governed by a mayor, six aldermen and eighteen councillors. The wards are named Central, West Central, North-west, North-east, South-east, and South-west. A commission of the peace was granted in 1881. The boundaries of the borough were extended so as to include portions of Lower Darwen and Eccleshill in 1879 and 1884. (fn. 66) Waterworks were established in 1847 by a private company, being afterwards purchased by the town. There are three reservoirs, at Sunnyhurst Hey, and in Earnsdale. Gas-works were established in 1839 by a private company, and were afterwards purchased by the corporation. Sewage disposal works were completed in 1897 and an electrical generation plant in 1900. The public cemetery on the south side of the town, with three mortuary chapels, was opened in 1861 and enlarged in 1893. The market hall completed in 1882 contains a council chamber, municipal offices and at the west end a fish market. The free public library and technical school in Knott Lane was originally established in 1871 in succession to a mechanics' institution, founded in 1839. (fn. 67) New buildings were opened in 1894, and contain reading rooms, a school of art and offices for educational purposes. In 1908 a free library building was given to the town by Mr. Carnegie. There are public baths in Peel Street erected in 1854 and enlarged in 1883. Whitehall Park lies on the south side of the town; Bold Venture Park to the south-west below Darwen Hill.

Borough of Darwen. Or a fesse wavy cotised wavy azure between three branches of the cotton plant proper.

The market is held on Monday and Saturday, the annual fair on the third Monday in July.


The first notice of the existence of ST. JAMES'S, Darwen, occurs in 1577. (fn. 68) It had no endowment, and was irregularly served, (fn. 69) till about 1648 the Parliamentary Committee ordered £40 a year to be paid to Joshua Barnett, minister at Darwen. In 1650 he was called 'an able and godly divine.' (fn. 70) In the same year £50 a year was allowed him from the profits of Kirkham rectory sequestered from Thomas Clifton, 'delinquent.' (fn. 71) Such grants would cease altogether at the Restoration, and in 1683 there was only a monthly service in the chapel. (fn. 72) Many of the people were Nonconformists, and in 1687, a licence for 'a meeting-place erected in Darwen' having been obtained, they seized the existing chapel; but on the vicar complaining they had to relinquish it and the licence was forfeited. (fn. 73) The vicar then appointed a curate for Darwen and Tockholes jointly, the chapels being served on alternate Sundays, and this arrangement lasted till further endowments were procured; from 1720 there seems to have been a resident curate. The certified income in 1717 was £9 16s. 8d. (fn. 74) Augmentations have been secured, and the net value of the benefice is now stated to be £468. (fn. 75) The vicar of Blackburn presents the incumbents, who are styled vicars. A district chapelry was formed for it in 1842. (fn. 76) The church was restored in 1852. The following have been incumbents:—

oc. 1672 —Clayton
1695 William Stones (fn. 77)
1722 John Folds, B.A. (fn. 78) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)
1772 Henry White, M.A. (fn. 79) (Oriel Coll., Oxf.)
1789 Jeremiah Gilpin, M.A. (fn. 80) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)
1790 Thomas Exton (fn. 81)
1816 Matthew Yatman Starkie, LL.B. (fn. 82) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)
1851 Charles Greenway, M.A. (Dur.)
1868 William Hodgson Blamire
1902 James Blackburn Brown, M.A. (Dur.)

There is a mission room at Holden Fold.

The second church was Holy Trinity, built in 1829 by a parliamentary grant; a parish was assigned to it in 1842, (fn. 83) and the vicar of Blackburn presents to the vicarage. There is a mission room. St. Paul's, Hoddlesden, was opened (fn. 84) in 1863, and St. John the Evangelist's, Turncroft, in 1864 (fn. 85); the Bishop of Manchester collates to these. In connexion with St. John's are three mission rooms—St. Barnabas' (1884), St. Aidan's (1890) and Grime Hills. To St. Cuthbert's, 1878, (fn. 86) and St. George's, 1903, the Bishop of Manchester collates likewise.

Methodism took root in Darwen about 1785. The Wesleyans opened a room in 1788 and built a chapel in Back Lane in 1791. This was replaced by Centenary Chapel, now schools, in 1839, and in 1866 Wesley Chapel in Railway Road was opened. (fn. 87) The Wesleyans have now three other chapels, in Bolton Road, Blackburn Road (1891–1904) and Hoddlesden. The Primitive Methodists appeared in 1825 and built a chapel in 1832; this was replaced by a larger one in 1875, (fn. 88) and a second has been added. The Wesleyan Association, afterwards merged in the Methodist Free Church, built a place of worship in 1838 (fn. 89); another was built in 1906.

The power of the Nonconformists in the place is shown by their seizure of the chapel in 1687. (fn. 90) Though ejected they procured a meeting-house of their own, and used it from the grant of toleration in 1688. The first minister was Charles Sagar, educated at St. John's College, Cambridge, and master in the grammar school at Blackburn from 1656 to 1665, when he was deprived for nonconformity under the Five Mile Act. He went on preaching, and in 1683 was imprisoned at Lancaster. He died in 1698. (fn. 91) The chapel was called 'a Presbyterian meeting-house' in 1714. In 1719 a permanent place was built, known as the Lower Chapel; it eventually became dangerous owing to mines, and was partly rebuilt in 1853 and remains in the hands of the Congregationalists. A division in the congregation in 1736 led to the erection of a new chapel, called Yates's, from its minister; it was closed about 1750, the congregation rejoining that of Lower Chapel. (fn. 92) Another secession took place in 1792, owing to a dispute over the choice of a minister; a chapel was built in Pole Lane, and a secession from it in 1808 led to another chapel, the Refuge; these congregations united in 1822 and rebuilt the latter chapel, calling it Ebenezer. This becoming too small, Belgrave Meeting-house was built on an adjacent piece of land in 1847. (fn. 93) When Lower Chapel became dangerous in 1852, a large part of the congregation built a new chapel in Duckworth Street, and it was opened in 1853. (fn. 94) Bolton Road Church (1892–3) originated in Astley Street School about 1840, but was not formally separated from Belgrave till 1883. (fn. 95) Hollins Grove Church began in 1876. (fn. 96) There is another chapel at Hoddlesdon (1900) (fn. 97) and a mission room at Highfield.

A Baptist church was formed in 1858, and a chapel was erected in 1862. (fn. 98) The Salvation Army has a barracks.

No Roman Catholics were known in this chapelry in the 18th century. (fn. 99) Mass was said at the Black Horse Inn from about 1850, (fn. 100) and a school-chapel, that of St. William, was opened in 1856; the present church of St. Joseph succeeded it in 1884. There is a convent of Sisters of the Holy Cross and Passion.


Mrs. Mary Smolley in 1794 gave a rent-charge of £1 1s. for an annual gift of linen cloth to the poor. This was void in law, but the money has always been paid out of White Hall estate, and is distributed in tickets for food and other articles. The more recent endowments in Over and Nether Darwen noticed in the charity report are chiefly for schools and churches. William Balle Huntington in 1897 provided an endowment for winter lectures in science or literature, and there are a Jubilee Nursing Fund and a Nurses' Home.


  • 1. For ancient remains at Over Darwen see Trans. Hist. Soc. xviii, 273.
  • 2. The agricultural returns for 1905 give arable land 1½ acres, permanent grass 2,805 acres, woods and plantations 114 acres.
  • 3. Abram, Hist. of Blackburn, 489.
  • 4. Over Darwen, 5,136 acres; part of Lower Darwen, 655 acres; part of Eccleshill, 168 acres; total, 5,959 acres, of which 72 acres are inland water; Ordnance Surv. 1849 and 1901–2; Census Rep. 1901.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Abram, op. cit. 495.
  • 7. Ibid. 490–2.
  • 8. Ibid. 493. For an account of the district in modern times see J. G. Shaw, Darwen and its People.
  • 9. V.C.H. Lancs. i, 318; Whitaker, Whalley (ed. 1876), ii, 330.
  • 10. See also Abram, Blackburn, 719.
  • 11. Whalley Couch. (Chet. Soc.), i, 287.
  • 12. Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 29.
  • 13. Lancs. Assize R. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 15, 29, 47.
  • 14. In a grant of land in Hodisdene (Hoddlesden) from Henry de Whalley to his daughter Ameria a yearly service of 12d. is named as due equally to Richard de Alston and Richard de Derwent; Kuerden MSS. (Coll. of Arms), iv, D 4. In Michaelmas term, 1312, John del Wode and Emma his wife demanded from Geoffrey de Cuerdale half the manor of Over Darwen as the right of Emma and one Alice wife of Jordan le Taillur of the Morehouses. Geoffrey demanded a view; De Banco R. 195, m. 90. In Hilary term, 1316, plaintiffs brought the same plea against John son of Geoffrey de Cuerdale. Richard de Derwent, grandfather of Emma and Alice, whose heirs they alleged they were, was formerly seised of half the manor; ibid. 213, m. 51.
  • 15. In Michaelmas term, 1278, Roger son of Matilda de Rowington, who had withdrawn his plea the year previous against Adam son of Adam de Derwent (Assize R. 405, m. 4d.), demanded from Alan son of Adam de Derwent a messuage and an oxgang of land here; De Banco R. 27, m. 125.
  • 16. Alice relict of Geoffrey married William Lawrence and had dower in half the manor. See the account of Cuerdale.
  • 17. Inq. p.m. 4 Edw. II, no. 51. The service was that of the eighth part of a knight and suit to the three weeks court of Clitheroe.
  • 18. The ridding lay on the upper side of Brochol by the west side of Hoddisdene broc and below Croueshah, adjoining land of Robert de Whalley on the west and of Henry de Grimshagh on the south; Towneley MS. DD, no. 1578.
  • 19. Ibid. 1589. He derived his title from Roger de Whalley.
  • 20. Whalley Couch. i, 124.
  • 21. Towneley MS. OO, no. 1545.
  • 22. Ibid. GG, no. 1004, 1106; Southworth D.
  • 23. Kuerden MSS. iv, D 4.
  • 24. Inq. p.m. 4 Edw. II, no. 51.
  • 25. Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 193; Inq. p.m. 23 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 58; 47 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 19.
  • 26. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 3. Probably this fourth part was represented merely by some trifling free rents.
  • 27. Ibid. 46. In 1341 Gilbert de Southworth let to farm to Adam de Turton for life all his lands in Over Darwen for 100s. yearly rent; Kuerden MSS. iii, D 2.
  • 28. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 109.
  • 29. Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Philip and Mary, lxxix, O 3; Rec. Soc. Publ. xl, 208. The dispute in the time of Henry VI was between Richard Southworth and Geoffrey Osbaldeston concerning the waste.
  • 30. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 28, m. 219.
  • 31. Ibid. bdle. 25, m. 14.
  • 32. Ibid. bdle. 32, m. 48. William Leyland, kt., held a messuage here at his death in 1547 of John Osbaldeston, esq.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. ix, 43. It descended to Edward Tyldesley in right of his wife Anne daughter and co-heir of Thomas Leyland son and heir of Sir William; ibid. xiv, 10. The messuage had probably belonged to the dissolved monastery of Whalley.
  • 33. Towneley MS. OO, no. 1091. There had been frequent trespasses committed by Grimshagh's tenants within the manor of Over Darwen. The boundary awarded by arbitrators began at the north-west corner at 'Hoddleston,' parcel of Osbaldeston's inheritance within 'Derwind,' following a new ditch made by Osbaldeston unto the Brydestones to a hole made amongst the same stones by the mediators, so westward to other holes and so to a 'Holling Bush' growing in the wall at the north end of a tenement belonging to Osbaldeston in 'Overdarwind.'
  • 34. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 55, m. 116; 56, m. 141. The purchasers were: Henry Mawdsley, John Crosse, Ralph Marsden, John Crichelowe, Thomas Fisshe, sen., John Pylling, George Holden, Thomas Sharpe, Ralph Fisshe, Peter Waddington, William Waddington, Thomas Fisshe, jun., Lawrence Heye, sen., Lawrence Heye, jun., Anne Entwisle, John Yate and William Ellison. In a deed of 1612 vesting the estates of Edward Osbaldeston in trustees there is mention of 'coal mines in Over Darwen'; ibid. bdle. 80, m. 66.
  • 35. Ibid. bdle. 163, m. 117. The manorial estate included forty messuages, a mill, thirty cottages, 1,200 acres of land, 1,200 acres of heath, £3 of free rents, and view of frankpledge.
  • 36. Complainant stated in his bill that his father and ancestors had been seised of the manor and its members and of several large uninclosed commons, moors and moss grounds, parcel of the manor; that Henry Hulton was seised of lands in the manor of Longworth, where there were great moors; that Over Darwen adjoined Turton on the east, belonging to (Edward) Chetham, esq., and Sharples on the west, belonging to Sir Rowland Bellasis. The boundary of Over Darwen was thus described. At 'top of boundary' between Over Darwen and Turton was a place called Redmeris, further westward another ancient mere called the Turne Law or Little Law, where the manors of Turton, Longworth and Over Darwen all met; westward again was a mere called Oakenclough Head, and again westward a syke or current of water falling under another mere called Warcockelowe; thence the boundary ran northward by the said syke or current, called Darwen Head or Darwen Shield, dividing Over Darwen from Bromeley pasture in Sharples; these meres separated the parish of Blackburn from that of Bolton-in-theMoors; Duchy of Lanc. Plead. bdle. 458.
  • 37. In 1766 Sir Geo. Warren passed the manor by fine to James Watson and Robert Slack; Feet of F. bdle. 378, m. 99; in 1780 Slack passed it to Richard Trafford, probably executor of John Trafford, sen., of Croston; ibid. bdle. 404, m. 80. In the meantime there appears to have been a mortgage upon the estate, which the heirs of Ed ward Chetham passed by fine in 1775 to Edward Earl of Derby; ibid. bdle. 394, m. 52.
  • 38. Abram, Blackburn, 499.
  • 39. Pal. of Lanc. Rec. R. 17, no. 13.
  • 40. MSS. at Huntroyde and penes W. Farrer.
  • 41. Lay Subs. Lancs. bdle. 250, no. 9. Margaret Crosse, John Barron, James Horridge, William and Roger Walsh, each three hearths.
  • 42. Land tax return.
  • 43. Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 84.
  • 44. De Banco R. 344, m. 507.
  • 45. Lay Subs. Lancs. bdle. 130, no. 82.
  • 46. Pal. of Lanc. Writs Proton. bdle. 28, no. 60.
  • 47. Feet of F. bdle. 36, m. 191.
  • 48. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xx, 5; xxii, 75; Lancs. Inq. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 176; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvi, 115; see Abram, Blackburn, 501.
  • 49. Lay Subs. Lancs. bdle. 250, no. 9.
  • 50. Abram, Blackburn, 503, where a pedigree of the family is given.
  • 51. Pal. of Lanc. Chan. Misc. bdle. 1, file 9, m. 28. He had in his possession chattels belonging to William Jenkynson alias the Taillourson of Nether Darwen, a rebel who had been outlawed, but was afterwards pardoned, probably in connexion with Henry Percy's rising; ibid. m. 94; file 6, m. 19.
  • 52. Abram, op. cit. 505.
  • 53. Hoddisdene, circa 1250; Hoddesdene, 1295; Hoddelesden, 1324.
  • 54. De Lacy Comp. (Chet. Soc.), 1–39 passim.
  • 55. Ibid. 87–108.
  • 56. Duchy of Lanc. Mins. Accts. bdle. 1148, no. 6; Lancs. Ct. R. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 73.
  • 57. Duchy of Lanc. Mins. Accts. bdle. 1091, no. 6. At Michaelmas 1342 there were 20 cows, a steer, 2 heifers, 2 stirks, and 16 calves, all drafted in from other vaccaries in Pendle and Rossendale.
  • 58. Inq. p.m. 35 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 122.
  • 59. Duchy of Lanc. Receiver's Acct. bdle. 90, no. 1649. In 1465 Radcliffe renewed his lease for fourteen years at the same rent; Duchy of Lanc. Reg. vol. xix.
  • 60. Receiver's Acct. no. 1653.
  • 61. MS. at Huntroyde.
  • 62. Lay Subs. Lancs. bdle. 130, no 82. William Yate was assessed on lands £3, Robert Fyshe on goods 40s., and Robert Baron the same.
  • 63. Bk. of Rates, p. 64, penes W. Farrer.
  • 64. Hon. of Clitheroe, MS. 294, 305, MS. penes W. Farrer; Forest Decr. 75, MS. penes W. Farrer.
  • 65. Hon. of Clitheroe MS. 168.
  • 66. 42 & 43 Vict. cap. 202; 47 & 48 Vict. cap. 210, altering the previous Act.
  • 67. Abram, op. cit. 495.
  • 68. This account is derived mainly from Abram, op. cit. 511–17.
  • 69. At the Bishop of Chester's visitation in 1611 James Metcalfe, curate at Darwen, was presented for not wearing the surplice or living conformably. He appeared and said there was no surplice there; if one were provided he would either wear it or leave his place. He was still there, as little 'conformable,' in 1614; Visit. Rec. at Chester. He was 'maintained by the inhabitants'; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 10. He was buried at Blackburn 25 Sept. 1621. James Walton is mentioned at Darwen in 1637; Raines MSS. (Chet. Lib.), xxii, 70.
  • 70. Commonw. Ch. Surv. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 161; he is called Josiah Barnard.
  • 71. Plund. Mins. Accts. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 93, 237. Joshua Barnett was at Tockholes in 1652 (ibid. ii, 27), and in 1657 Jeremy Marsden was described as 'minister of the Gospel in Whalley and Darwen'; ibid. ii, 185. It was proposed to make Darwen a parish in 1658; ibid. ii, 241.
  • 72. Abram, loc. cit.
  • 73. The vicar's letter to the Bishop of Chester and the king's reply are printed by Abram.
  • 74. Gastrell, Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 283; all divine offices were performed every other Sunday. There was no chapelwarden.
  • 75. Manch. Dioc. Dir.
  • 76. Lond. Gaz. 20 Sept. 1842.
  • 77. The church papers at Chester diocesan registry begin with him. He served both Darwen and Tockholes, as stated in the text.
  • 78. He had been licensed to Balderston just before.
  • 79. Rector of Fyfield; did not reside at Darwen.
  • 80. See Bolton-le-Moors and Broughtonin-Furness.
  • 81. Also at Balderston.
  • 82. Non-resident; was rector of Rushbury 1818.
  • 83. Lond. Gaz. 20 Sept. 1842.
  • 84. For district, ibid. 15 Sept. 1863.
  • 85. Ibid. 7 Feb. 1865.
  • 86. Ibid. 30 Jan. 1874.
  • 87. Abram, op. cit. 526.
  • 88. Ibid. 527.
  • 89. Ibid.
  • 90. Ibid. 518; Nightingale, Lancs. Nonconf. ii, 238–60. In 1672 the house of William and Henry Bury in Over Darwen was licensed as a Presbyterian meetingplace; Cal. S. P. Dom. 1672, p. 578. In the royal licence of 1687 the denomination was 'Congregational.'
  • 91. Abram, loc. cit.
  • 92. Nightingale, op. cit. ii, 264–6.
  • 93. Ibid. 267–77.
  • 94. Ibid. 261–4.
  • 95. Ibid. 277. The Astley Street building was acquired by the Wesleyans in 1870.
  • 96. Ibid. 278; the building had been used by the United Free Methodists from 1870.
  • 97. Ibid. 283; services were begun about 1832, and a school, afterwards used as a chapel, was built in 1835.
  • 98. Abram, op. cit. 527.
  • 99. There were thirteen 'Papists' in Tockholes in 1767; Trans. Hist. Soc. (new ser.), xviii, 216.
  • 100. J. G. Shaw, Darwen and its People, pt. ii, 84.