Townships: Withnell

Pages 47-49

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


Withenhull, Wythenil, Whytenhull, 1290–2; Wythenull, 1306. Local pronunciation, Winnell.

In the centre of this township is a valley with a watercourse known as the Goit, flowing by a channel artificially constructed from north-east to south-west; here are the principal villages. To the north-west are the Heights, attaining 720 ft. above sea level, and descending on the other side to the valley of the Lostock, which is the north-west boundary of the township. By the borders of this stream is the hamlet of Withnell Fold and Ollerton is near it. Part of the township stretches north from the Goit, the land attaining 600 ft., and contains the hamlet of Stanworth; the eastern boundary of this part is a brook flowing north to the River Darwen. The part of the township to the southeast of the Goit is occupied by the northern slope of the Great Hill, a spur of the Rivington and Anglezarke hills, attaining a height of 1,249 ft. On the north-east slope is the hamlet of Roddlesworth, (fn. 1) and on the northern boundary are several reservoirs formed in 1857 and belonging to the corporation of Liverpool. The hamlet of Brinscall is in the southwest corner. The area is 3,260 acres. (fn. 2) In 1901 there was a population of 3,349.

The principal road is part of that from Chorley to Blackburn, going through the north-west part of the township, and crossed by another important road, that from Bolton to Preston. These roads are also connected by cross-roads through the Goit valley. Through this valley runs the Chorley and Cherry Tree (Blackburn) branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire and London and North Western Railway Companies, with stations named Withnell to the north and Brinscall to the south (on the border of Wheelton). The Leeds and Liverpool Canal passes along the north-western boundary.

The soil is varied and the subsoil rocky; grass is the chief crop.

There are quarries in the hills and in the valleys are cotton and paper mills and bleaching works.

In 1666 there were eighty-nine hearths taxed in this township. The largest houses were those of Richard Girlington with eight hearths and John Fishwick with six. (fn. 3)

The township is governed by an urban district council of twelve members. An isolation hospital was built to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII, chiefly by the Parke family. The Blackburn manure works are at Stanworth.

There is the pedestal of an ancient cross at Ollerton. (fn. 4)


This township was included in the district called Gunolfsmoors, an account of which has been given above under Hoghton; sometimes, indeed, Gunolfsmoors is described as in Withnell. The manor of WITHNELL, if it can be regarded as distinct, was long held with Hoghton. (fn. 5)

Formerly the township and its principal hamlets— Roddlesworth, Ollerton, and Stanworth—gave surnames to freeholders, but very little can be stated concerning them. (fn. 6)

Roddlesworth is often found joined with Withnell in the township name, (fn. 7) and is occasionally referred to as a township. (fn. 8) In the 13th century and later a family named Whalley were prominent there. (fn. 9) Their lands were sold to Sir Adam de Hoghton. (fn. 10) Ollerton also was transferred to the Hoghton family. (fn. 11)

Roger de Stanworth secured the favour of John Count of Mortain, who after his accession to the Crown in 1199 confirmed the charter of protection formerly given. (fn. 12) Roger afterwards sold Stanworth to the monks of Stanlaw, who were to pay the chief rents, viz. 12d. to Adam de Withnell and his heirs for the vill, and 6d. to Adam de Bury and his heirs for the site of the mill-pool and a moiety of the millstream. (fn. 13) The monks obtained other lands in the township, including Bradshaw in Stanworth, which had been given to Cockersand Abbey. (fn. 14) On the confiscation of the Whalley Abbey lands (fn. 15) Sir Richard Hoghton acquired their estate in Stanworth and the neighbourhood. (fn. 16)

The Heskeths of Rufford had a small estate (fn. 17) and the Brownes another. (fn. 18) One or two other names occur in inquisitions, &c. (fn. 19)

Radcliffe Hoghton of Stanworth fell at Preston in 1643, fighting for the king, and his estate was sequestered by the Parliament. (fn. 20) A little later the estate of Elizabeth Girlington, widow, and her son Richard was sequestered for recusancy only. (fn. 21) Richard Anderton of Chorley, Abraham Bate, Andrew Bury and John Whittle, as 'Papists,' registered small estates in 1717. (fn. 22)

A manor of Withnell is stated to have been sold in the 18th century to Henry Sudell (fn. 23); after his death it was again sold, and more recently this lordship was held by William Bashall Park of Ollerton Hall. He and John Park owned nearly all the township. W. B. Park died in 1906, leaving considerable benefactions for Methodist and other charities. His estate at Ollerton, 226 acres, was purchased by Mr. Herbert Thomas Parke of Withnell Fold, owner of the Withnell Hall and Withnell House estates. (fn. 24)

The land appears to have become very much subdivided. Returns of 1783 show that William Talbot, paying double as a Roman Catholic, was the principal contributor to the land tax; in 1798 he, Thomas Dewhurst, William Clayton and Mr. Bilsborrow's heir contributed £8 6s. out of £30 raised in Withnell. (fn. 25)

For the Church of England St. Paul's was built in a central position in 1841, (fn. 26) and St. Luke's at Brinscall in 1887, (fn. 27) as a chapel of ease. The vicar of Leyland has the patronage.

There are Wesleyan Methodist chapels at Withnell Fold, Withnell Mill and Brinscall, and Free Methodist chapels at Brinscall and Abbey village.

The Roman Catholic church of St. Joseph was built in 1884. (fn. 28)


  • 1. Rothesword, Rothelesword, Rothleswrd, 1280–90; Rothelisworth, 1357.
  • 2. 3,705 acres, including 85 of inland water; Census Rep. 1901. In 1877 a small area was transferred from Hoghton to this township; Loc. Govt. Bd. Order 7119. The township was again extended in 1899 by the addition of part of Wheelton; ibid. 39579.
  • 3. Subs. R. 250, no. 9.
  • 4. Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. xvii, 30.
  • 5. See the account of Hoghton. In the Hoghton inquisitions Withnell is reckoned as part of the quarter of a knight's fee in Hoghton.
  • 6. The partition between the co-heirs of William de Withnell has been described under Hoghton, and pedigrees are given in Whalley Coucher (Chet. Soc.), iii, 831. Henry son of Henry de Withnell granted to Sir Adam de Hoghton a third part of the waste in Withnell; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 22b. Agnes the widow of Henry at the same time released her right to dower in the same; ibid. fol. 21. In 1291 a third part of Withnell was held by Adam de Hoghton and Adam son of Henry de Withnell; Assize R. 1291, m. 9 d.; see also Abbrev. Plac. 197b. The latter Adam is probably the Adam grandson of Margery de Withnell of the pedigrees cited; his story has been given under Hoghton. Richard son of Adam de Hoghton included a messuage and land in Withnell in a settlement of 1306; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 207. Amery de Withnell in 1311–12 gave half an oxgang of land to her brother William son of Henry de Withnell; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 22b. Two years later Henry son of Richard de Withnell granted a third part of the mill to Richard son of Richard de Hoghton; ibid. fol. 22. John son of John de Withnell in 1336 gave Sir Richard de Hoghton the homage of Alice and Cecily daughters of Henry de Brereworth; ibid. fol. 35. A fifth part of the manor of Withnell was in the hands of Richard de Hoghton in 1313; Final Conc. ii, 14. Roddlesworth also occurs as a surname; see Add. MS. 32109, fol. 34, 42b, 43.
  • 7. For example, in the Inq. Nonarum, 1341.
  • 8. W. S. White, Leyland Reg. 103 note.
  • 9. In 1283 Ralph de Catterall granted to Henry de Lea the service of Roger de Whalley from 1 oxgang of land in Roddlesworth; Add. MS. 32106, no. 22. Hugh son of Hugh de Mitton made a like grant; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 21. Roger son of Henry de Whalley in 1285 complained that Adam de Hoghton and Geoffrey son of Adam de Hoghton had disseised him of his free tenement in Roddlesworth, but it was held that the land claimed lay in Withnell and not in Roddlesworth; Assize R. 1271, m. 11 d.; 1274, m. 4. Alice widow of Adam de Clough in 1333 gave lands in 'the hamlet of Roddlesworth in the vill of Withnell' to John son of Henry de Whalley and Margaret his wife, with remainders to their sons Robert, John and Roger; Add. MS. 32106, no. 836.
  • 10. In 1353 the Whalley estate appears to have been mortgaged to Sir Adam de Hoghton (ibid. no. 762, 766), who in 1359 regranted it to John son of John son of Henry de Whalley at an annual rent of £2 17s. 10d. for the first twenty years; the remainders were to Roger brother of John and to Alice and Katherine his sisters, with final remainder to Sir Adam; ibid. no. 31. There are later deeds concerning the same matter; ibid. no. 764, 690. See also Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 6, m. 8. Lastly in 1366 Henry del Green and Katherine his wife (probably the sister above named) released to Sir Adam de Hoghton all their right in John de Whalley's land in Roddlesworth; Add. MS. 32106, no. 691. See also ibid. no. 858, 854.
  • 11. In 1282 Edmund Fitton sold to Henry de Lea a rent of 4s. 3d. due to him from Ollerton; Final Conc. i, 160. This would descend to the Hoghton family with the other Lea estates. Richard de Ollerton, the immediate lord, granted to Adam de Hoghton a portion of his land for the rent of a pair of gloves or 1d.; Add. MS. 32106, 928. Afterwards Richard son of Richard de Ollerton sold land called Whitaker to Adam de Hoghton; ibid. no. 686, 659. Cecily widow of Richard son of Richard released her claim for dower in 1281; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 19b. Richard son of Sir Adam de Hoghton in 1313 released to his son Richard all his right in the manors of Ollerton and Withnell; Add. MS. 32106, no. 706. Richard de Ollerton gave land in Great Balshaw on the east side of the syke to Richard Banastre; ibid. no. 396. This was afterwards given by Adam son of Richard Banastre to Richard son of Richard de Hoghton; Whalley Coucher, iii, 851. Richard son of Richard de Ollerton in 1269 gave 2 oxgangs of land in Withnell to Henry son of Henry de Tyldesley, together with the homage of Henry de Withnell and Henry de Broomhurst; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 19b.
  • 12. Roger held Stanworth in right of his wife, one of the co-heirs of William de Withnell. The grant by King John was of 'firm peace' to him and his land of Stanworth, which was to have quittance of county and wapentake and all fines and liabilities except murder and robbery; Whalley Coucher, iii, 830.
  • 13. Ibid. iii, 832. Adam son of Roger de Stanworth and Richard son of Adam confirmed the grant; ibid. iii, 833. Grants made to Roger of the mill and mill-pool are given; ibid. iii, 836. Adam de Withnell gave the monks land called Stanworthley, and Richard Fitton in 1237 gave them a general confirmation of their estate in his fee, viz. Stanworth, Brinscall and Monkshills; ibid. iii, 835, 845.
  • 14. Ibid. iii, 852–6.
  • 15. A rental made about 1538 shows that the abbey had eight tenants for Stanworth and New Close, paying £6 4s. 5d. in all; also lands held by James Brandwood, for which 5s. a year was paid; ibid. iv, 1233–4. The Brandwood lands were probably those anciently called the Clough, and held in succession by Robert de Anglezarke, clerk, and Adam del Bergh; ibid. iii, 866–7. Adam del Bergh claimed land, &c., against the Abbot of Stanlaw in 1291; Assize R. 407, m. 2. John de Bold, Alice his wife and Amery her sister in 1334 claimed a tenement in Withnell against Cecily and Thomas del Bergh and John de Ashton of Euxton; Coram Rege R. 297, m. 99 d. James Brandwood in 1583 sold lands in Withnell and Duxbury to Hugh Marsden and Margaret his wife; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 45, m. 146. Later there were disputes between James and Lawrence Brandwood (the latter a lessee), which were continued in 1597 by the former's daughter and heir Elizabeth, who married Randle Livesey; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 213, 236, 378. Lawrence Brandwood held lands in 1628; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 171. James Brandwood held land here in 1564 and Lawrence Brandwood in 1600; Subs. R. 131, no. 210; 131, no. 275.
  • 16. In June 1539 the king granted Sir Richard a lease of the manor of Wheelton, and all lands, &c., in Wheelton, Stanworth and Withnell belonging to the late monastery of Whalley and in the king's hands through the attainder of John, the late abbot; Pat. 31 Hen. VIII, pt. v, m. 36. A year later the grant was made in fee, Sir Richard paying £180 15s. 4d. and the rent of 18s. 7d.; ibid. pt. v, m. 14.
  • 17. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, no. 16; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 112.
  • 18. This family's chief possessions were in Scales and Newton, and other places north of the Ribble. Their lands in Wheelton and Withnell were held of the Hoghtons by a rent of 10½d. The pedigree is traced in the inquisitions. One James Browne had three sons, William, Henry and Alexander. William's son George dying in 1567 without male issue, the estate went to Henry's son James, who died in 1586, leaving a son and heir Henry; and Henry died in 1601 at Kirkham, leaving a son James, fourteen years of age; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, no. 4; xiv, no. 42; xviii, no. 42. For a dispute as to Forshaw field in Withnell in 1573 see Ducatus Lanc. iii, i, 15, 32. In 1590 Henry Browne and Mary his wife made a feoffment of their messuage, &c., in Wheelton and Withnell; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 52, m. 87.
  • 19. Roger Gillibrand purchased part of a holding from John Turner and Margaret his wife in 1594, and next year sold to John Hoghton the younger; ibid. bdle. 56, m. 22; 57, m. 152. John Gerard of Warton in Amounderness died in 1634 holding a messuage in Wheelton called Alexander House, one in Withnell called Withnell House, and another in Haighton called Rogerson House; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvii, no. 20.
  • 20. Gillow, Bibl. Dict. of Engl. Cath. iii, 325; Civil War Tracts (Chet. Soc.), 74. Radcliffe Hoghton was a younger brother of Sir Gilbert. Some particulars of the estate are given in Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), iii, 294–7.
  • 21. Ibid. iii, 72–6. Elizabeth Girlington petitioned in January 1653–4, but died shortly afterwards, when the trustees for her son Richard renewed the petition. Richard held the manor or capital messuage of Stub Hall, and another capital messuage called Stanworth with land improved from the common of Withnell, these being of the inheritance of Sir Richard Hoghton.
  • 22. Engl. Cath. Non-jurors, 131, 101, 129. Anderton's estate was at Ollerton.
  • 23. Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1836), iii, 457; the manor at that time was said to be held by William Talbot of Preston. From information supplied by Mr. Joseph Gillow it appears that one James Talbot married Mary Parke (a Protestant), and their eldest son, probably, was the William Talbot who appears as chief landowner in 1783. Two other sons, educated at the English College, Rome, served as priests on the mission in England; one became a Jesuit; Foley, Records S. J. vi, 494–5. William Talbot, who lived at Preston, died in 1813, aged eighty, and was succeeded by his son William, founder of the Talbot Schools at St. Walburge's, Preston, who died in 1848, leaving several daughters, of whom Dorothy wife of James Sidgreaves ultimately became sole heir. Later the lords were said to be Robert Bickerstaff, Robert Park and John Park; Baines, op. cit. (ed. 1870), ii, 141. Withnell occurs among Sir Henry Hoghton's manors in 1711; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 493, m. 6.
  • 24. Information of Mr. H. T. Parke.
  • 25. Land tax returns at Preston.
  • 26. A district was assigned to it in the following year; Lond. Gaz. 3 May 1842.
  • 27. From a note in the Chester Diocesan Registry it appears that Brinscall Hall was in 1713 'a licensed place for divine service'; Becconsall papers.
  • 28. The list of recusants in Hoghton and Withnell in 1628 is printed in Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 183.