A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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OLD ACCRINGTON, NEW ACCRINGTON
Acrinton, 1277; Akeringtone, 1296; Akryngton, 1311.
The two townships of Accrington, united since 1878, have the following areas: Old, 792 acres; New, 2,633 acres. (fn. 1) Old Accrington forms the northern edge of the whole, but has two detached portions (fn. 2) within New Accrington, while the modern town spreads over both portions. The population in 1901 numbered 43,122.
The town lies at the foot of Hameldon Hill to the east and the Haslingden hills to the south, and from these hills three brooks descend westward, north-west and north to join near the old church, and as one stream flow west to the Hyndburn. The town grew up along the road from Clitheroe to Haslingden and the south, here called Whalley Road, Abbey Street and Manchester Road in succession. It passes close to the brooks named near their junctions, and is joined by the Blackburn Road from the west, while the Burnley Road goes off from it to the north-east. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company's line from Clifton to Colne passes through the centre of the town, the station (1848) being in Old Accrington; at that point the line is joined by one from Blackburn.
On the north side of the town are the districts of Milnshaw, Meadow Top and Lane Side. On the west side the town is continuous with Church; Antley, Dunnyshope and Scaitcliffe being to the south-west. On the south side are Woodnook and Hollins, and on the south-east border, on the road to Haslingden, is the modern village of Baxenden. On the east of the town are High Riley and Warmden Clough.
The hearth tax return of 1666 shows that thirtyeight hearths were liable in Old Accrington, only one house there having as many as four; but ninetythree were liable in New Accrington, where John Cunliffe had the largest house, six hearths, and there were others with five and four hearths. (fn. 3)
A century ago Accrington was only a 'considerable village,' but by 1830 it had become a centre of calico printing and cotton spinning. These trades continue to be the principal ones, but there have also grown up extensive works for supplying the machinery used in those factories, and some minor industries. Collieries and quarries are worked, and there is a brewery. A mine of ironstone is mentioned in 1462. (fn. 4) The agricultural land is almost entirely devoted to pasture, there being no arable land, 1,987½ acres in permanent grass and 26 used for woods and plantations. (fn. 5) The soil is a heavy clay. Near Accrington is a good deal of bog soil, out of which oak trees have been dug. (fn. 6)
At a point in the east of the township, where the boundaries of Hapton and Huncoat join, was a well formerly called Mare or Mere Hole Well, at which a popular festival was formerly held on the first Sunday in May. (fn. 7)
The town contains a Mechanics' Institute, founded in 1845, and possessing a good library. There are also Liberal and Conservative clubs. The Cooperative Society has a large membership. The Victoria Cottage Hospital was founded in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria's jubilee; there had been a dispensary previously. The Territorial Army is represented by part of the 5th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment. There are three local newspapers, published once or twice a week, the Advertiser, Observer and Gazette.
William Ryley the elder, herald and archivist, a Parliamentarian, is supposed to have sprung from the Ryleys of Accrington.
The manor of ACCRINGTON was a member of the honor of Clitheroe, and was by Henry de Lacy granted to Hugh son of Leofwine together with Altham before 1177. (fn. 8) It must have been surrendered to the grantee or his successor, for Robert de Lacy gave it to the monks of Kirkstall by way of compensation for the grange at Cliviger which had been recovered from them by Richard de Elland. (fn. 9) The gift was confirmed by William son of Hugh de Altham for the love of God and for the salvation of the souls of himself, his wife and kindred. (fn. 10)
The bounds recited in Robert de Lacy's charter (fn. 11) show that the whole of New Accrington was granted, and possibly Old Accrington also; the New may be 'the wood called the hey' which is mentioned, for in later times New Accrington was regarded as in the forest, while Old was copyhold land. (fn. 12) The monks made a grange there, removing the inhabitants to make room for it; and these, taking it ill, revenged themselves by setting fire to the new building, destroying everything in it and killing the three lay brothers who were in charge. Due punishment was meted out. (fn. 13) The monks' tenure was of no long continuance, for in 1287 the abbot resigned his lands to Henry de Lacy, who agreed to pay 80 marks a year in return, chargeable upon Accrington, Cliviger, Huncoat and other manors. (fn. 14) From that time the manor has remained a part of the lordship of Clitheroe. It is often called a chase. (fn. 15)
The Lacy accounts of 1296 (fn. 16) show that considerable amounts of oats, cheese (fn. 17) and butter were sold; linseed is mentioned. Ryley Carr was at farm for 6s. 8d.; Broadhead was the free tenement of William de Bradshagh, and 3s. was paid as dower to his widow Mary. The mill and bridges had had something spent upon them. Robert de Ryley had charge of the grange. In the receipts are sums of 31s. 9d. from the farm of 52¼ acres, 103s. 1¾d. from three vaccaries, 36s. 8d. from the mill, 34s. for brushwood and ore sold to the forge, and other moneys from the herbage of Brockholehurst (Brocklehurst), Pesecroft, &c. Of the stock of cattle some had died of murrain and others had been killed by a wolf. The officers named are Gilbert son of Michael the Stockkeeper, Macock and William de Antley, Simon the Geldherd and Geoffrey the Parker. 'Accrington' in the accounts extended over Huncoat, Hoddlesden and Cliviger. Further accounts have been printed for 1305, (fn. 18) 1311 (fn. 19) and 1323–4. (fn. 20) No free tenants are named. The Court Rolls for 1324 have been printed, (fn. 21) and there are others at Clitheroe Castle and the Record Office. In 1349 the Earl of Lancaster held one plough-land in Accrington by the eighth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 22) The manor was sold by Charles I, (fn. 23) and Humphrey Chetham in 1653 purchased it from William Farrer and others. (fn. 24)
The Act of 1609 for confirming the copyholds of Clitheroe applied to Accrington. (fn. 25) Tenants of the 'old hold' (fn. 26) and the 'new hold' (fn. 27) appear in pleadings of the time of Elizabeth, but there is little to record of the township till modern times. (fn. 28) There was a dispute as to the boundary between Accrington and Oswaldtwistle in 1559. (fn. 29)
The Radcliffes of Winmarleigh had some land in Accrington, said to be held in socage. (fn. 30) The families of Rishton of Antley (fn. 31) and Rishton of Dunnyshope or Donishope (fn. 32) recorded pedigrees in 1664. Higher Antley now belongs to St. James's Church, Accrington. Other prominent names were those of Cunliffe of Hollins, (fn. 33) Hayleys, (fn. 34) Kenyon (fn. 35) and Ryley. (fn. 36)
ICORNHURST, though considered to be in Old Accrington, was part of the forest. In 1464 it was held by Edmund Waddington at a rent of 16s. 2d. (fn. 37) In 1527 this rent was paid by Nicholas Rishton and Edward Kenyon. (fn. 38)
BAXENDEN, in New Accrington, in 1527 contributed a rent of £5 13s. 4d., the tenants being Henry Cunliffe, Denis Ryley, Lawrence Holden, Ralph Holden and the Abbot of Whalley. In 1609 John Cunliffe held the first and second of these tenements, while the third had become divided between Abraham Holden and Agnes Hargreaves. John Cunliffe was the chief tenant in 1662. (fn. 39)
FRIARHILLS, also in New Accrington, was in 1527 tenanted by Nicholas Rishton, who paid 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 40) The tenants of Cowhouses, High Ryley, New Laund and Fernhagh at that time are also recorded. (fn. 41)
William Ryley and Thomas Kenyon contributed to the subsidy in 1543 for their lands; in 1600 the contributors were John Ryley and Christopher Kenyon in Old Accrington, Nicholas Rishton, William Rishton and John Hargreaves in New Accrington; in 1626 Thomas Ryley and William Kenyon in Old, and in New Nicholas Rishton, Edmund Rishton, John Cunliffe, Christopher Hargreaves and James Walmesley. (fn. 42)
The land tax returns of 1788 show that Widow Kenyon and Lord Petre were the chief owners in Old Accrington; Robert Nuttall, Wilson Braddyll, Mr. Aspinall and William Halsted in New Accrington. (fn. 43)
Charles I in 1632 gave a lease of the mines of coal, iron, &c., to Roger Nowell for twenty-one years, but the lessee in 1639 surrendered it. (fn. 44)
A local board was constituted for Old and New Accrington by Act of Parliament in 1853, (fn. 45) and the town was incorporated in 1878, with mayor, eight aldermen and twenty-four councillors. There were at first four wards, (fn. 46) but in 1901 the borough was divided into the following eight: Central, East, North, South, West, Higher Antley, Peel Park and Spring Hill. A Commission of the Peace was granted in 1880, and a police force was formed in 1882. Gas and water were supplied by a private company, (fn. 47) but the undertaking was taken over by the Accrington District Board, formed in 1894 for Accrington, Clayton-le-Moors, Great Harwood, Rishton, Church, Huncoat and part of Altham. (fn. 48) Electric lighting works were opened in 1900. There is also a sewerage board for Accrington and Church. (fn. 49) The town hall, (fn. 50) built in 1857, was purchased by the local board in 1864, the market hall was built in 1869, the abattoir in 1891, the technical school, recently enlarged, in 1894, and the free library in 1908. The corporation have opened baths, two public parks—Milnshaw (1880) and Oak Hill (1893)—and a cemetery (1864); this last is in Huncoat. It has also established an electric tramway service to Church on one side and Rawtenstall on the other. Fairs are held in April and August (fn. 51); Tuesday and Saturday are the market days.
It is possible that the monks of Kirkstall during their brief tenure built a small chapel adjacent to their grange (fn. 52) for the convenience of the brethren or officials residing there and their tenants in the township, but nothing is known from the records. At the Reformation the chapel at Accrington, whatever its true origin, was confiscated by the Crown as a chantry, (fn. 53) but was restored to the inhabitants in 1553 on a payment of 46s. 8d. (fn. 54) The vicar of Whalley was responsible for the maintenance of divine worship, but the place had usually no minister of its own, being served, when served at all, by the curate of one of the adjacent chapels. (fn. 55) Yet about 1610 Accrington was regarded as 'well affected,' the inhabitants 'maintaining Mr. Marcroft of their voluntary benevolence.' (fn. 56) Under the Commonwealth also (fn. 57) it had in 1650 a minister of its own, Roger Kenyon, 'an able and orthodox divine,' who had £40 a year allowed him out of Royalist or ecclesiastical sequestrations. (fn. 58) The allowance was increased to £50. (fn. 59) On the return of the old order at the Restoration it ceased to have a curate, (fn. 60) and in 1717 was served by the curate of Church, who preached there once a month (fn. 61) and then was from 1721 to 1804 united with Altham. The vicar of Whalley nominated the curates until Hulme's Trustees acquired the patronage about 1840.
The endowment in 1717 was only 15s. yearly, but subscriptions were raised to the amount of £8 12s., (fn. 62) and in 1729 the Rev. Roger Kay left £100 on condition that the people raised another £100, so that a grant from Queen Anne's Bounty might be obtained, and this was effected in 1731. (fn. 63) Other augmentations have been secured and the net value is now £560 a year. (fn. 64) A district was assigned in 1870. (fn. 65) The registers date from 1754. St. James's Church was built in 1763, replacing the old chapel.
The following have been curates and vicars:—
|1813||Thomas Thoresby Whitaker, M.A. (fn. 66) (University Coll., Oxf.)|
|1854||George Garbett, M.A. (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1865||William Kenneth Macrorie, M.A. (fn. 67) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1869||John Rogers, M.A. (fn. 68) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1905||Abraham Spencer, M.A. (fn. 69) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
In connexion with St. James's is a school-chapel at Green Haworth.
In recent years a number of new churches have been erected. Christ Church, Quarry Hill, was built in 1840–1 (fn. 70); the patronage is vested in five trustees. The iron mission church of St. Paul is connected with it, and services are held in St. Mary's School. St. John the Evangelist's, Burnley Road, was built in 1864–70 (fn. 71); St. John's, Baxenden, 1877 (fn. 72); St. Peter's, Richmond Street, 1889 (fn. 73); St. Mary Magdalen's, Milnshaw, founded as a school church in 1895, (fn. 74) raised a permanent building in 1904; St. Andrew's, 1898, is a temporary iron church. (fn. 75) The vicar of St. James's presents to all except Baxenden, which is in the gift of the Bishop of Manchester.
The Free Church of England is represented by St. Matthew's, built in 1889.
Methodism was introduced a century ago and the Wesleyans built a chapel in Union Street in 1807, replaced by the present church in 1845. An additional one was opened in 1866 and more recently others at Antley and Baxenden; there are also three school-chapels and a mission room. The Primitive Methodists built a chapel about 1828 and it was rebuilt in 1894; they have also another, and the United Free Methodists have one also.
Congregationalism was introduced in 1839, when a church of six members was formed; they built a chapel in Oak Street, opened in 1842, to which the present church succeeded in 1889. (fn. 76) A secession in 1875 led to the founding of a school-chapel in Whalley Road (fn. 77); another chapel has since been added.
A Baptist cause was founded from Bacup at Oakenshaw in Clayton-le-Moors about 1735, (fn. 78) and from it sprang the Accrington church in 1760; the present building in Cannon Street was erected about 1874. There are two other churches dating from 1858 and 1891; also two Particular Baptist chapels and one Strict Baptist (Salem).
The Swedenborgians built their first place of worship in 1805; this was succeeded by the present New Jerusalem in 1849.
The Unitarians, Catholic Apostolic Church (Irvingites) and Salvation Army have meeting-places and there is also an unsectarian mission room.
The Roman Catholic mission was formerly served from Clayton-le-Moors. (fn. 79) The first chapel in the town was opened in 1851 (fn. 80) and the present church of the Sacred Heart was built in 1868; it is in the hands of the Jesuits. St. Anne's school-chapel, served by secular priests, was founded in 1897.
A school was built in 1716, but was not endowed till a century later. (fn. 81)