Townships: Westby-with-Plumptons

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.

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'Townships: Westby-with-Plumptons', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7, (London, 1912) pp. 174-176. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section


Westbi, Dom. Bk.; Westby, 1226.

Pluntun, Dom. Bk.; Plumton, 1226.

This township is divided into five hamlets. Westby is the central one. The two Plumptons, anciently known as Fieldplumpton for distinction from Woodplumpton, occupy the northern part, Great Plumpton lying to the north of Little Plumpton. Ballam (Higher and Lower) and Brown Moss Side in the south-west are considered parts of Westby. The measurements are as follows: Westby, 877½ acres; Ballam, 666½; Brown Moss Side, (fn. 1) 724½–2,268½; Great Plumpton, 665; Little Plumpton, 664.; or in all, 3,597½ acres. (fn. 2) The population in 1901 was 532. There is some comparatively high land in the north, Great Plumpton being 100 ft. above sea level; but the surface falls away to the south-west, and the greater part of Ballam and Moss Side is below the 25 ft. line.

Two roads cross the township from Kirkham to Lytham and Blackpool, and there are cross-roads uniting the different hamlets, one of them going north to Weeton. The railway from Preston to Blackpool crosses the northern end of the township, and that from Preston to Lytham runs along near the southwestern border, having two stations called Wrea Green and Moss Side.

The soil is clayey; about a third of the land is arable, the rest being pasture.

There was formerly a stone cross in Westby. (fn. 3)

Two presidents of Ushaw College were born at Westby—John Gillow, 1811–28, (fn. 4) and Charles Newsham, 1837–63. (fn. 5)

The township is governed by a parish council.


In 1066 WESTBY and PLUMPTON, each assessed as two plough-lands, formed part of Earl Tostig's Preston lordship. (fn. 6) Later they are found to be held of the king in thegnage as part of the estate of the lords of Clifton. (fn. 7) In 1372 Robert de Clifton and his men were charged with having seized one William Garlick at Little Singleton, carried him off to Westby and there imprisoned him for a fortnight, carrying off also his corn and other goods. In defence it was pleaded that Garlick was a villein as of Clifton's manor of Westby and had absconded. (fn. 8) Except for about a century—from 1512 onward—the manors, usually regarded as one, viz. Westby-with-Field Plumpton, have descended like Clifton, in the account of which will be found also the story of the exceptional period referred to. During that time Westby was the residence of the Clifton family.

In the 14th century Great Plumpton appears to have been held by a junior branch of the Clifton family, using Plumpton as a surname. (fn. 9) A 'manor' of Field Plumpton was held by Thomas Lathom in 1370. (fn. 10) The Singleton family had a part of Plumpton, (fn. 11) and one or two other estates occur in the inquisitions. (fn. 12)

Cockersand Abbey had a little land in Plumpton. (fn. 13) James Sanderson and a number of others registered their estates as 'Papists' in 1717. (fn. 14)

'The Cliftons maintained a priest at Westby throughout the days of persecution. If he was not at all times resident in the hall, owing to the surveillance of the pursuivants, he was not far distant; and perhaps sometimes there was more than one priest attending to the wants of the district.' (fn. 15) About 1700 James Barrow, a Jesuit, had charge. In 1716, after the defeat of the Jacobites at Preston, he was convicted of recusancy and declared an outlaw. He escaped capture. (fn. 16) The Jesuits remained in charge till 1791, and were succeeded by Benedictines and then by the secular clergy. A chapel was built at the west end of the hall in 1741, but closed by Thomas Clifton, who had become a Protestant, in 1845. The congregation was then joined to Kirkham until in 1860 the present church of St. Anne was opened. (fn. 17)


  • 1. Brown Moss adjoined Lythe Carr in a release of claim (by Henry de Clifton in 1259); the calendar speaks of 'common in the moss called Brown Moss outside Lythe Carr,' but the name is not in the deed itself; Lytham Charters at Durham, 2a, 4 ae, Ebor. no. 31.
  • 2. 3,600 acres, including 15 acres of inland water; Census Rep. 1901.
  • 3. Foxlane Ends Cross; Lancs, and Ches. Antiq. Soc. xx, 187.
  • 4. Dict. Nat. Biog.; Gillow, Bibl. Dict. EngL Cath.
  • 5. Gillow, op. cit.
  • 6. V.C.H. Lancs, i, 288a.
  • 7. See the account of Clifton. Richard de Holland and Margery his wife claimed 4 acres of brushwood and 150 acres of moss against the Priors of Durham and Lytham, who proved that the 4 acres were in Lytham, and alleged that Henry de Clifton, formerly husband of Margery, had allowed them common in the moss, but on this point the verdict was for the plaintiffs; Assize R. 407, m. 3. In 1323 the capital messuage of Westby was worth 40d. a year; in demesne were 72 acres of arable land, worth 8d. each, and 6 acres of meadow, worth 12d. each, a water-mill, a horse-mill, and a windmill, each worth 13s. 4d. Tenants at will held eight cottages, 96 acres of arable land and 4 acres of meadow. In Little Fieldplumpton were eight cottages and 96 acres of arable land held by tenants at will, and in Great Fieldplumpton two cottages and 32 acres, held similarly; Inq. p.m. 17 Edw. II, no. 32. The rental of Westby (Towneley MS. OO) shows that the demesne was worth £12 a year in 1509; the tenants' rents and services were valued at £12 13s. 7½d. The field-names include Gude Marton, Stanall, Prestoft, Humbur and Smerdell. Peel in Marton and Ballam are mentioned in the account of Clifton. The former pasture belonged to the Earl of Derby, and was about 1520 occupied by William Clifton, who paid £2 a year, as appears from the rental at Lathom.
  • 8. De Banco R. 446, m. 96. Plaintiff said his grandfather William Garlick had come to Westby from Hoole in the time of Edward I.
  • 9. Thomas de Clifton seems to have held 4 oxgangs of land in Great Fieldplumpton in 1289–that would be a fourth part of Plumpton; De Banco R. 80, m. 125 d. In 1299 Egelina widow of Walter de Clifton claimed dower in a messuage, &c., ana 4 oxgangs of land in Great Fieldplumpton against Gilbert de Singleton, who called Thomas de Clifton to warrant him; ibid. 127, m. 114d. Afterwards Thomas called John son of Walter de Clifton to warrant him; ibid. 138, m. 99. Isabel widow of William de Clifton claimed dower in two messuages, &c., and 4 oxgangs of land in Field Plumpton in 1324–5 against William son of William de Clifton, and recovered; Assize R. 426, m. 8. Nicholas del Marsh in 1327 complained that John son of Walter de Clifton and William his son had carried off certain goods of his at Great Plumpton; De Banco R. 269, m. 63 d. Then in 1345 Joan widow of John son of Walter de Plumpton claimed dower in a messuage and 4 oxgangs of land in Great Fieldplumpton. against William son of John de Plumpton; ibid. R. 342, m. 336 d. This was probably the estate of six messuages, 4 oxgangs and 8 acres of land, and 60 acres of pasture, which was in 1359 settled upon Robert Griffin and Joan his wife and their heirs male, with remainders to Thomas Tittele, to the issue of Joan, and to Sir William de Clifton; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 160. It may be added that Denis son of Nicholas del Marsh was plaintiff and William de Clifton defendant in a dispute as to land, &c., in Westby in 1322; De Banco R. 244, m. 128.
  • 10. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. ii, no. 7. It is recorded that Thomas de Lathom 'died seised of the service of Robert de Clifton, who held of him the manor of Field Plumpton in socage, rendering yearly 6s. 8d., which manor Thomas held of the manor of Penwortham by the said service.' This last clause seems to be erroneous, but it is possible that the Robert de Clifton here named as tenant was the Robert Griffin of the last note.
  • 11. Gilbert de Singleton of Broughton has been named above. In 1325 he held a fourth part of the vill of Great Plumpton, which Nicholas del Marsh held of him for life by the service of a rose at Midsummer; Inq. p.m. 19 Edw. II, no. 67. In the 16th century the Singletons of Staining held land in Plumpton, but the tenure is not stated.
  • 12. Thomas Earl of Derby in 1521 held lands in Plumpton, but the tenure is not recorded; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, no. 68. This may have been the ancient estate of Thomas de Lathom in Field Plumpton. In the Derby rentnl of the time (preserved at Lathom) appears '£4 from the farm of the manor and 8 oxgangs of land with the appurtenances' in Plumpton demised to John Skillicorne. The name appears again in 1653 among the confiscated estates of the seventh earl; Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 237. George Allen of Poulton died in 1579 holding messuages, &c., in Plumpton of Cuthbert Clifton in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xiv, no. 80; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 198. The tenure of the lands of Shireburne of Stonyhurst is not stated. Anthony Billington died in 1631 holding a messuage, &c., in Plumpton of Robert Bannester; John his son and heir was nineteen years of age; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxx, no. 70.
  • 13. Walter son of Osbertgave the canons the house which had been Alan Taylor's, with the croft, also a moiety of Pilatefurlong, with common in the vill of Plumpton; Cockersand Chartul. (Chet. Soc.), i, 2ii. William son of Walter confirmed the gift. Richard son of Richard Russel seems to have been the tenant in 1268; ibid. 212. The rental is printed ibid, iii, 1262.
  • 14. Estcourt and Payne, Engl. Cath. Non-jurors, 90, 96, 97. The other names were William Lund, William Hodgson, Grace Thompson, widow, Roger Taylor, John Postlethwaite, Thomas and Richard Kirby, Thomas Blackburne of Great Plumpton, William Bamber, George Ball, Edward Parkinson of Ballam (under the will of Gregory Crook), George Cowburn of Little Plumpton, and William Lathom (at Tarbock).
  • 15. Gillow, Haydock Papers, 31. 'In the days of persecution mass was said at two farm-houses in this district, one at Mossside, the other at Little Plumpton, where William Hodgson used to live, one room, containing theological books, being always kept locked'; Estcourt and Payne, op. cit. 90.
  • 16. Gillow, op. cit. 232–4. The government's officer gives a lively account of his search for the priest and his spoliation of the chapel, in which he had been assured there was good quantity of plate; 'this I gathered,' he says, 'from one of the dragoons who was of these congregations about four years since, but now a true Protestant, and was privy to all those secret places.' He did not find the plate, and the people vainly endeavoured to rescue the books, &c., which he took. Fr. Barrow had £12 from the college (i.e. his order) and £6 from Sir T. Clifton and others; his successor in 1751 had the more liberal stipend of £80 10s.; Foley, Rec. S. J. v, 321–5;.
  • 17. Full particulars will be found in Gillow, op. cit. 236–8; Hewitson, Our Country Churches, 345. Bishop Gibson visited Westby in 1784 and confirmed 78 persons; the number of communicants was given as 360.