A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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Merkesden, 1195; Merclesden, Merkelstene, 1242; Merclisden, 1258.
The township of Marsden is or was divided into two parts, Great Marsden, at one time called Aske Marsden, (fn. 1) with an area of 3,108 acres, and Little Marsden to the south-west, with an area of 1,581 acres—4,689 acres in all. The boundaries are to a great extent marked by streams. Colne Water is the northern boundary, and flows into Pendle Water, which forms the western one; Great and Little Marsden are separated by Walverden Water, flowing north-west to join Pendle Water near Reedyford, while Catlow Brook, an affluent of the Walverden, forms the southern boundary of Great Marsden. On the north-east the brook flowing down Foxclough divides Marsden from Trawden and part of Colne. In Great Marsden, Shelfield in the south-east attains 1,110 ft. above sea level, and the surface descends from it to the bounding streams in all directions except the south-east, on which side after some fall higher levels are attained on the moorlands, 1,117 ft. near the Deerstones, and 1,200 ft. on Willy Moor. In Little Marsden, in the south-east, an elevation of 900 ft. above the sea is reached near Marsden Height, from which point the surface descends in all directions. The lowest ground is of course along the streams forming the north and west boundaries, the fall of the water being from 450 ft. at Colne to 375 ft. at Reedyford and 320 ft. at the border of Reedley.
In Great Marsden near the centre is Marsden Hall with the ancient earthwork known as Castercliff (fn. 2) to the north-east; further away are Birchenley and Lenches, this last being by Waterside Bridge, where there is a crossing into Colne. (fn. 3) East and south-east of the hall are Slitterforth and Shelfield; to the south are Townhouse, Southfield and Catlow; to the west Hendon and Bradley; to the northwest Lee and Swinden; and to the north White Walls, Grindlestone Hurst and Whackersall, this last being near Primet Bridge, another passage into Colne. In Little Marsden the village of Marsden is or was a little north of the centre: it has been absorbed in the town of Nelson, growing up to the north-west; Linedred is to the west. Another town is Brierfield in the south-west; this has Limefield and Chamber Hill to the north and west; Lane End and Catlow Row to the east, with Scholefield, Marsden Height and Finsley further away. Walverden Reservoir has been formed at the junction of Catlow and Walverden Brooks.
Owing to the progress of the cotton manufacture, Colne has extended itself into the northern part of Marsden, while the new town of Nelson has grown up in the west; and in 1894 the old township was dissolved, about 430 acres being added to Colne, and the remainder divided between the new townships of Nelson (3,464 acres) and Brierfield (807 acres). (fn. 4) The population of the former Marsden was 44,045 in 1901, including 3,945 in Colne, 32,717 in Nelson, and 7,383 in Brierfield. (fn. 5)
The principal road is that from Burnley through Brierfield and Nelson to Colne; from Brierfield a road goes west by Quakers' Bridge into Pendle, and from Nelson one goes north by New Bridge to Barrowford. Other roads go east from the same places. The Accrington and Colne branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway also passes through Brierfield and Nelson, with stations at these places. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal also winds north through Brierfield and Nelson, passing into Barrowford over an aqueduct near Swinden. Tramcars run constantly between Burnley, Nelson and Barrowford; electric traction was adopted in 1902.
In addition to the staple manufactures of cotton and worsted goods there are minor industries, such as brewing, quarrying, corn milling, the making of soap, confectionery, bricks and sanitary pipes and iron foundries. A newspaper called the Nelson (or Brierfield) Leader is published weekly. The agricultural land is almost entirely used for pasture, the return showing (fn. 6) :
|Arable land ac.||Permanent grass ac.||Woods and plantations ac.|
There were formerly coal mines in the northeast and north of the township at Foxclough and Swinden. (fn. 7)
The towns of Brierfield and Nelson have grown up near the canal and along the road from Burnley to Colne. Nelson is also on the older road between the same places, and at the place where the northward road branched off; it has spread south to include Lomeshaye and east over Bradley. As stated more fully below, it is now a municipal borough. Brierfield, which obtained a local board in 1868, (fn. 8) has been an urban district since 1894, with a council of twelve members chosen equally from the East, West, North and South Wards.
One of the Pendle witches of 1634, Margaret Johnson, a widow aged sixty, confessed that she first met her 'familiar' in Marsden. (fn. 9) There was a cross in Little Marsden; 'Walton Spire' is a monolith on Shelfield. (fn. 10)
The Colne sewage works are on the north-west border of the township.
There does not appear to have been any manor of MARSDEN, (fn. 11) Great Marsden being part of Colne, and Little Marsden of Ightenhill, and tenanted by copyholders. The first inhabitants to come into notice are Peter, Richard and Osbert de Marsden, who in 1194–5 were fined for some fault of Uvieth, for whom they were pledges. (fn. 12) The value of Great Marsden to the lord of Clitheroe was estimated at £5 2s. in 1241, Little Marsden rendering £2 11s. (fn. 13) In 1251 Marsden was named in the grant of free warren to Edmund de Lacy, (fn. 14) and this right was defended in 1292. (fn. 15) At the death of Edmund de Lacy in 1258 it was found that there were in Marsden 6 oxgangs of land, each of 9 acres, rendering 4d. an acre; the tenants of each oxgang were bound to plough one perch of land yearly and to reap for three days in autumn, each of these services being valued at 1½d.; the total value was thus 19s. 6d. One free tenant is named, Robert de Marsden, who held 31 acres of land by charter, each acre being worth 4d. (fn. 16) In 1296 the farm of Little Marsden was 79s. 0½d., and 14d. was paid for works remitted (fn. 17); a slight increase is shown in the account for 1305. (fn. 18)
The inquest of 1311 taken after the death of Henry de Lacy shows that there were 16 oxgangs of land held in bondage in Marsden, 12½ in Great and 3½ in Little Marsden by twelve and four customary tenants, and that each oxgang rendered 3s. as in 1258. The earl also had 335 acres in Great Marsden let to tenants at will at 4d. an acre, and 243½ acres in Little Marsden, let similarly. Cottars held four tofts at will at 6d. each in the former part of the township, and in the latter part two cottars held two cottages at 4d. each. The customary tenants paid 6s. 3d. and 14d. respectively for works remitted, and those in Great Marsden paid 10½d. for the fishery there. (fn. 19) In a rental of 1527 the rents amount to £7 15s. 9½d., perhaps for Little Marsden alone. (fn. 20) In 1553 inquiry was made as to improving the wastes near Colne called Castle Townfields and Grindlestone Hurst. (fn. 21)
A number of free tenancies were created from time to time, but it is not possible to give a clear account of them. Robert de Lacy gave an oxgang of land in Great Marsden to William de Vescy son of Eustace Fitz John, his uncle, before 1183, (fn. 22) and also gave 2 oxgangs of land there to the Cluniac Priory of St. John, Pontefract. (fn. 23) These oxgangs were later held by Robert Mey, who surrendered his claim in them to the priory, (fn. 24) as did his son William. (fn. 25) Edmund de Lacy in 1258, on granting Barnside to the priory, confirmed the gift of 2 oxgangs of land in Marsden made by William de Vescy. (fn. 26) After the suppression of monasteries this land was sold by the Crown to Richard Crombleholme of Dutton in 1543. (fn. 27)
One or more families took a surname from the township. (fn. 28) Henry Duke of Lancaster in 1352, in reward for the good service of Richard de Walton, his stock-keeper in Blackburnshire, confirmed Richard's tenements, with remainders to John son of Alice de Rossendale, James his brother and Joan their sister, and granted a modified charter in 1354, naming lands in Colne and Marsden, including Whackersall and Northman Hill. (fn. 29) The Waltons were long connected with Marsden, (fn. 30) and the residence called the Hall belonged to them, having been rebuilt in 1740 by Henry Walton, who inherited the lordship of Altham from his mother. (fn. 31) It is now owned by Mrs. Haworth of Altham. The Banastres also held lands in Great Marsden. (fn. 32)
Adam son of Nicholas de Holden in 1311 gave to Richard de Marsden, clerk, perhaps as trustee, lands at CATLOW in the vill of Marsden demised to him by Robert de Catlow, who attested the charter. (fn. 33) Robert and Adam de Catlow occur in 1332. (fn. 34) In 1435 all the lands Sir Nicholas Radcliffe had of the gift of Sir Richard Radcliffe of Clitheroe at Catlow in Marsden, he granted to Sir Richard's son James Radcliffe. (fn. 35) This James in 1449 granted his manor of Catlow and lands in Marsden and Scholfield to Richard Radcliffe of Clitheroe. (fn. 36) William Radcliffe of Winmarleigh had land in Great Marsden at his death in 1561, (fn. 37) and it descended to Sir Gilbert Gerard, who had lands at Chamber in Little Marsden also. (fn. 38) In the 17th century a family named Sagar (fn. 39) was established at Catlow in Great Marsden and continued to hold it till recently. William Sagar died in 1616 holding a messuage at Catlow, &c., of the king as duke in socage; his heir was his grandson Henry Walton, aged six. (fn. 40) Another Sagar family had land at Southfield, (fn. 41) where in 1407 William Marsden of Swinden gave Henry his son land called 'The Six-acre' (fn. 42); Henry in 1432 gave it to his son Richard. (fn. 43) William Sagar of Southfield, who died in 1809, and Richard Sagar were strong supporters of the Methodist movement in this district. (fn. 44) Mr. William Berry is the present owner of Southfield House.
SWINDEN was another estate sometimes called a manor or lordship. (fn. 45) John de Lacy, constable of Chester, granted Adam de Swinden 16 acres of land in Great Marsden in fee at a rent of 5s. 4d. for all services. (fn. 46) John de Marsden in 1323 held a field called Swinden by charter, paying 17s. 6d. for all services. (fn. 47) John Banastre of Wakefield in 1427 agreed with Christopher Marsden respecting the manor of Swinden; John's title was acknowledged, but Christopher was to hold it for life. (fn. 48) Henry Banastre, Alice his wife and Robert his son and heir in 1565 sold two messuages in Marsden to John Halsted, (fn. 49) and John Halsted of Swinden had John de Lacy's charter in his keeping in 1660. (fn. 50) The same grantor gave 12 acres in Heggengrene to Adam de Swinden in fee at the rent of 4d. an acre; in 1655 the owners were Lawrence Robinson and Richard Hartley of Wycoller. (fn. 51) In 1693 Swinden Hall was in the possession of William Hargreaves, and in 1719 was acquired by James Folds of Trawden, from whom it descended to Mary Folds, living a century ago. (fn. 52)
The Towneley family (fn. 53) and others also had estates in Great Marsden. (fn. 54) Henry Mancknowles died in 1561 holding the messuage called Townhouse with 40 acres of land; his son John was sixty-five years of age. (fn. 55) The estate of Henry Mancknowles, 'Papist,' was sequestered by the Commonwealth authorities. (fn. 56) Lawrence Mancknowles of Townhouse was a benefactor to the poor of Colne. (fn. 57) Edmund son and heir of John Parker of Colne in 1443 released land at Birchinley to Lawrence Lister of Middop. (fn. 58) Henry Farrer in 1597 claimed from various persons the expenses incurred in obtaining a decree about the wastes of Marsden, according to agreement. (fn. 59) Bradley was the subject of a dispute in 1598. (fn. 60)
Little Marsden contained part of the Radcliffe of Winmarleigh estate called 'Chamber in Pendle,' now marked by Chamber Hill. (fn. 61) Families named Legh had Linedred and Claverhole, and were in the former succeeded by the Towneleys. (fn. 62) Coldweather House was in 1586 in dispute between Thomas and Henry Willisill. (fn. 63) Lawrence Townley of Barnside died in 1623 holding messuages in Little Marsden of the king in socage by a rent of one rose yearly. (fn. 64) Lower Lomeshaye and Reedyford at one time belonged to the Banisters of Park Hill in Barrowford. (fn. 65) The former is the property of Mr. W. Farrer Ecroyd, in whose family it has continued for nearly 200 years. Reedyford House is owned by Mr. H. Tunstill, and Edgend, long the estate of the Hargreaves family, by Mr. Edward Ecroyd.
The lord of Clitheroe had a mill at Walverden in 1311. (fn. 66) Some time before 1482 Richard Towneley made a corn-mill called Walverden Mill within the lordship of Colne, and had the tenants to grind there to the loss of the king's mills at Colne and Burnley. Hence Lord Strange was commanded to see that none but the king's mills should be used by the tenants. (fn. 67) In 1495 John Towneley was forbidden to use the mill for grinding corn or malt, but the king granted him a lease of the Colne Mills for fourteen years. (fn. 68)
The following contributed to subsidies for their lands:—In 1524 Nicholas Legh, John Kippax, John Hargreaves, John Wilson, Henry Walton and Lawrence Legh. (fn. 69) In 1543 John Higgin, Richard Kippax, Lawrence Legh, Henry Walton and Lawrence Towneley. (fn. 70) In 1564 John Taylor and William Hartley. (fn. 71) In 1597 Alexander Banister and George Hartley. (fn. 72) In 1626 William Hartley and Ambrose Walton. (fn. 73)
Marsden in 1666 had 240 hearths liable to the tax. There was no very large house, but Giles Hammond's had eight hearths, George Hartley's of Bradley six, and the following five each: Richard Hargreaves, John Halsted, Lawrence Hargreaves, Miles Whitaker, Henry Walton and William Hargreaves. (fn. 74)
As already stated the town of NELSON has sprung up at the junction of the old roads between Burnley and Colne, a crossing being formed by the road north through Barrowford. At this point an inn called the 'Lord Nelson' existed as early as 1818, (fn. 75) and it gave a name to the town which grew up owing to the rapid development of the textile trade. (fn. 76) In 1864 a local board was formed for 'the district of Nelson,' (fn. 77) and directly afterwards the existing gas-works were purchased (fn. 78) and waterworks were established. (fn. 79) In 1890 a charter of incorporation was granted; under it the town is governed by a mayor, six aldermen and eighteen councillors, chosen by the six wards into which the area is divided, viz. Central, Whitefield, Bradley, Netherfield, Walverden, and Southfield. A coat of arms has been granted. The corporation possesses a town hall, begun in 1882 and greatly enlarged; a park, 1888–97; market hall, 1889; free library, opened 1890, building 1895 and 1908; technical school, 1895; electric light and power works, 1902 (fn. 80); sewage works, 1893; cemetery, 1895. There is a smallpox hospital at Catlow, built in 1902. A separate commission of the peace was granted in 1893. (fn. 81) In the same year a school board was formed. The police belong to the county constabulary, but the fire brigade is the town's. In addition to the public buildings, schools and churches, Nelson has political club-houses, banks and a theatre.
A small chapel existed at Marsden before the Reformation, its chalice being seized by the Crown about 1547. (fn. 82) Whitaker describes it as 'a very poor and mean structure, apparently of the age of Henry VIII, and with the cipher IHS on the little belfry. In the yard was a very large block of freestone, the base of a cross.' (fn. 83) It was secured for the inhabitants (fn. 84) and served by the curate of Colne, but used only occasionally, (fn. 85) though a small endowment belonged to it. (fn. 86) In 1809 it was pulled down and rebuilt, and at the next vacancy at Colne a resident incumbent was appointed. (fn. 87) It is called St. Paul's, Little Marsden, and has a net income of £348. (fn. 88) A district was assigned to it in 1877. (fn. 89) The Hulme Trustees are patrons.
The following have been curates and vicars:—
|1852||Thomas Molineux Jackson, M.A. (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1864||James Wilson Taylor, M.A. (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1876||Horatio Bentley, M.A. (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1891||Henry Joseph Stephens, B.A. (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
|1898||Herbert Taylor, M.A. (fn. 90) (Brasenose Coll., Oxf.)|
More recent churches and patrons are: St. John the Evangelist's, Great Marsden, 1848, (fn. 91) the Crown and the Bishop of Manchester alternately; St. Luke's, Brierfield, 1872, (fn. 92) the Bishop of Manchester; St. Mary's, Nelson, 1879, (fn. 93) five trustees; and St. Philip's, Nelson, 1902, the Bishop of Manchester. To Great Marsden belong the mission churches of Holy Trinity, Primet Bridge and St. James, Waterside.
Methodism has long been represented in Marsden. The Wesleyan Methodists now have four churches at Nelson and one at Brierfield (fn. 94); the Primitive Methodists two at Nelson and another at Brierfield; the Methodist Free Church and the Independent Methodists each one at Nelson.
The Congregationalists in 1837 built Providence Chapel on Marsden Height, the result of services begun in 1835. Evening services were begun at Brierfield in 1873, where a school-chapel was opened in 1878, when the old chapel ceased to be used, except as a school. (fn. 95) At Nelson services were begun in 1865 and soon afterwards Hope Chapel was built, which has been succeeded by the present church in Manchester Road, begun in 1884. The old building was sold in 1890. (fn. 96) A second church has been opened more recently.
The Baptists have three churches at Nelson, the earliest dating from 1874, and another at Brierfield.
The Society of Friends has had members in Marsden since about 1660. (fn. 97) A meeting-place on Marsden Height was erected early in the 18th century. (fn. 98) It was afterwards converted into cottages, when the new Meeting House was erected near Edgend about the year 1760. (fn. 99)
The Roman Catholic church of St. Joseph, Nelson, was built in 1897, having been preceded by a schoolchapel in 1883 (fn. 100); St. Saviour's, Bradley, was opened in 1898, and there is a cemetery chapel, All Souls', which is used for service. At Walverden is a chapel of ease, St. George's, 1899, served from St. Joseph's. There are two convents, those of the Franciscan Sisters and St. Joseph's Foreign Missionary Sisters. The mission of Holy Trinity, Brierfield, was established from Nelson in 1895–6.