Townships: Poulton

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

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

'Townships: Poulton', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7, (London, 1912) pp. 225-228. British History Online [accessed 24 April 2024]

In this section


Poltun, Dom. Bk.; Pultune, 1160; Pulton, 1196 to xvi cent. The local pronunciation is Pole-ton.

This triangular township lies between two brooks which join together at its northern end and then flow into the Wyre, which is about half a mile to the north. The parish church stands near the centre of the area in the part called Great Poulton. Little Poulton is a hamlet to the east, while Compley lies in the south-west corner. In general the surface is even with a slope to the north, but the three portions named are on slight elevations. Angelholme lies on the north-west boundary. The area is 914 acres, (fn. 1) and there was a population of 2,223 in 1901.

A road leads north through the township, passing the church to west and to east and descending the Breck to Skippool, as that part of the united streams flowing to the Wyre is called. The portion of this road to the south-west of the church has been formed into a little square or market-place, at the entrance of which are the market cross, fish stones, whipping post and stocks. (fn. 2) From the ends of the market-place roads branch off north-west to Fleetwood and Bispham and south-west to Blackpool. Pococke described Poulton in 1754 as 'a little neat town built of brick, subsisting by trade and tillage.' (fn. 3)

The Preston and Wyre railway goes through the centre of the township, with a station in the Breck, just to the north of the church, opened in 1896. The line then divides, part going north to Fleetwood and a branch turning west to Blackpool. The old station (1840), still existing, was lower down the Breck, the line to Fleetwood being straighter than at present; the alteration was made to avoid the very sharp curve at which the Blackpool line turned off.

The port at Skippool was formerly of local importance. (fn. 4) There was a market on Monday and customary fairs are still held in February, April and November. (fn. 5) A court of requests for the recovery of small debts was established in 1770.

The soil is clayey, overlying stiff clay.

Poulton is governed by an urban district council of twelve members. The town has been lighted by gas since 1851; the works were purchased by the council in 1903.

There is a cemetery in the Breck, laid out in 1883.

A halfpenny token was issued in 1667 by James Smith, a Quaker, who had suffered imprisonment for refusing to take an oath. (fn. 6) A shilling token was issued about 1812. (fn. 7)


Before the Conquest POULTON, assessed as two plough-lands, was held by Earl Tostig (fn. 8) and afterwards became part of the lands of Count Roger of Poitou, who, as stated in the account of the church, gave it to the Abbey of St. Martin of Sées. (fn. 9) Thus it became part of the endowment of St. Mary's Priory at Lancaster and afterwards of the Bridgitine Abbey of Syon in Middlesex. Beyond the charters of endowment and a few later acquisitions (fn. 10) there is but little record of the place, and no 'manor' seems to have been acknowledged in later times, (fn. 11) except in 1634, when Alexander Rigby of Middleton and others held it. (fn. 12) Thornber, writing in 1837, says: 'The principal part of Poulton . . . passed into the hands of the Rigbys of Layton Hall, in whose name the greatest number of its houses are leased for the remainingterm of 999 years.' (fn. 13)

Rigby of Layton. Bendy of six indented argent and azure on a chief sable three cinquefoils or.

The Prior of Lancaster complained in 1330 that he had been seized and imprisoned at Poulton by Sir Adam Banastre, Richard the Demand and others, and that his men had been assaulted, &c. A fine of a mark was imposed. The dispute seems to have arisen over a right of way and the collection of tithes, an agreement being made at the same time by which the prior and his men were to have two sufficient roads for men and wagons through Sir Adam's lands in Thornton, Staynall and Singleton. One road was to go from Thornton and Poulton by Skippool through Little Singleton to the ford of Aldwath over the Wyre; the other road was to go through Poulton and Thornton, crossing the Wyre by the ford of Bulkes. (fn. 14)

Two families at least used the local surname, (fn. 15) but there is practically no record (fn. 16) of them. The inquisitions show that a number of the neighbouring landowners had possessions in the township (fn. 17) and after the Dissolution Thomas Fleetwood acquired land in Little Poulton with Rossall and in Poulton with the advowson. (fn. 18) The Heskeths of Mains recorded pedigrees as 'of Poulton,' (fn. 19) but the resident owners seem to have been of no higher than yeoman rank. (fn. 20) The Bamber family was prominent in the district. (fn. 21)

From about 1535 to 1570 there was a dispute about the mill-house and various lands between John Lancelyn and Margaret his wife on one side and William Butler on the other. (fn. 22)

Cockersand Abbey had some land in Poulton (fn. 23) and the Knights Hospitallers also. (fn. 24)

James Taylor of Poulton was a freeholder in 1600. (fn. 25) There appear to have been no sequestrations under the Commonwealth, but Thomas Bamber as a 'Papist' registered his estate in 1717. (fn. 26)

The parish church has been described above.

The Wesleyan Methodists built a chapel in 1819. This was replaced by the present building in 1861. (fn. 27)

The Congregationalists began preaching as early as 1778, but their chapel was not built till 1809, Its fortunes have fluctuated, but the building was restored in 1886. (fn. 28)

The Society of Friends had a meeting-house at Poulton in 1825, (fn. 29) but did not retain it.

After the Reformation a considerable portion of the people in Poulton as elsewhere in the Fylde clung to Roman Catholicism openly or secretly. As the persecution slackened in the time of James I they appear to have thought concealment less needful, and in 1622 it was reported to the Bishop of Chester that various persons in the parish did 'deprave publicly the religion now established and openly maintain popery, wearing crosses in their hats as badges thereof.' Further, Thomas Singleton of Staining, Thomas Westby of Burn and others had 'christened their children with popish priests and not at their parish church.' (fn. 30) Mass was said, it is probable, at Burn and Mains and other houses in the district, but the first public church, that of St. John the Evangelist, Breck, was not built till 1813; it represents the old mission at Singleton. (fn. 31)


  • 1. The Census Rep. 1901 gives 915 acres, including 2 of inland water.
  • 2. Lancs. and Chet. Antiq. Soc. xx, 188–9. The stocks were renewed in 1874. There are remains of a churchyard cross, and another cross formerly stood in the Breck.
  • 3. Travels through England (Camd. Soc), ii, 6.
  • 4. In 1722–3 it was a member of the port of Chester, and its bounds extended from Ribble mouth round to the Wyre estuary. Timber from America and flax and tallow from Russia were landed there, and the town did a considerable business in flax, which came from Ireland also; Fishwick, Poulton (Chet. Soc), 33–4. A rate for the repair of Skippool bridge was levied in 1702; ibid. 200.
  • 5. Thornber, Blackpool, 290.
  • 6. Lancs, and Ches. Antiq. Soc. v, 87.
  • 7. By R. D. Hall; Pal. Note Bk. i, 84.
  • 8. V.C.H. Lancs, i, 288a. In later times Poulton was considered as three ploughlands; Lanc. Ch. (Chet. Soc), ii, 483, the plough-land given to the church being the third part of the vill.
  • 9. Ibid, i, 9; 'in Amounderness Poulton and whatever belonged to it.' This was confirmed by John when Count of Mortain, and again after he became king; ibid. 13, 16.
  • 10. In 1205–6 half a plough-land was in dispute between the Prior and monks of Lancaster on the one side and Richard de Singleton, Robert the C erk his brother, Richard de 'Workedel' (Worsley) and Maud his wife on the other. The monks' right was acknowledged, and the other parties received the land for life at a rent of 2s.; ibid, ii, 385. Robert son of Alexander de Stanford released to the monks the toft he held, and received it again at a quit-rent of 3d., with remainder to his sister Edusa; ibid, ii, 389–91. Several similar grants follow. Walter son of William del Moor gave them 2 acres of land lying in various places, viz. two lands on Carrfurlong, one ferling next the 'Orsegate' leading to Carleton, half a land on the Trimlands, half a land on the Ouand, and half a land on the Ferns; ibid, 402. He also gave land on the Overland of the Marsh, on Cantelow (afterwards Cantley), &c., and half an oxgang of his land in Poulton; ibid. 403–5. In one deed the 'vill of Great Poulton' is named; ibid. 408. In Little Poulton Geoffrey de Whittingham gave half an oxgang of land to Robert son of Richard de Poulton; ibid. 411. Robert del Marsh of Little Poulton, perhaps the grantee, having incurred a fine of 30 marks, pledged his lands, &c., to the Prior of Lancaster, who had became surety for him; ibid. 418. In 1295 Nicholas son of John Baldwin, living in Poulton, released to his chief lord the prior all his title in half an oxgang of land he had had from his brother William; ibid. 422. Inquiry was made in 1299 as to whether or not it would be to the king's loss to allow the prior to acquire certain lands in Poulton; Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 304; Cal. Pat. 1292–1301, p. 482. A grant by Walter son of William de la Moor in the time of Henry III is in the Record Office; Anct. D., B 2948.
  • 11. The lordship of the Prior of Lancaster was fully recognized in 1293, when he complained of disseisin by John son of James de Poulton, John son of Adam de Poulton and others. The two Johns alleged that their ancestors had been coparceners with Roger of Poitou, and had given freely, for the benefit of the church, a rent of 6d. per oxgang of land. The verdict was for the prior, who claimed an approvement in right of his lordship; Lanc. Ch. ii, 480–6. There seems to have been a very determined resistance to the prior's claims, judging by the number of those who joined in throwing down the ditches, &c.; Lancs. Inq, and Extents, i, 277.
  • 12. The deforciants in a fine respecting the manor of Poulton, the tithes of Poulton and Marton, various lands in Goosnargh, &c., were Alexander Rigby, Lucy his wife, Joseph and George Rigby, Robert Mawdesley and Dorothy his wife; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 122, no. 21.
  • 13. Hist, of Blackpool, 291.
  • 14. Lanc. Ch. ii, 468, 471.
  • 15. They occur in the Lancaster Chartulary quoted in preceding notes. Adam de Poulton, John de Poulton and James his son, John son of Baldwin and Robert his brother, and John de Kirkby successfully resisted a claim by Alexander rector of Poulton in 1246; Lancs. Assize R. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 48. At the same time Sibyl wife of Adam de Larbreck claimed a toft, &c., in right of her sister Agnes daughter of Adam; but Adam son of Robert de Poulton said that another sister, Avice, had left a daughter Alice, who should have been joined in the complaint; ibid. 26. In 1301 John Curteys claimed a messuage and an oxgang of land in Poulton against Henry de Poulton; De Banco R. 135, m. 360. Alice widow of John son of Roger de Poulton in 1308–9 claimed dower in a toft and an oxgang of land against Alice daughter of Roger son of John de Poulton; ibid, 174, m. 225. Adam le Wayte in 1338 claimed a messuage and oxgang of land in Kirk Poulton held by Beatrice widow of John son of James de Poulton; ibid. 315, m. 214 d. Thomas son of John son of James de Poulton occurs in 1346; ibid. 346, m. 3 d. In 13 5 3 the lands of Robert de Poulton, deceased, who held of the priory of Lancaster, were committed to John son of Robert de Farington, together with the marriage of Nicholas, next of kin and heir, a minor; Fine R. 154 (27 Edw. III), m. 19. The possessions of the priory were in the king's hands by reason of the war with France. The inquisition states that Robert had held a messuage, 40 acres of arable land, 5 acres of meadow and 15 acres of pasture of the priory of Lancaster by knight's service, rendering 2s. 10½d. yearly. The heir Nicholas (son of John son of Robert) was fifteen years old; Inq. p.m. 27 Edw. III (1st nos.), no. 4. Nicholas de Poulton and Agnes his wife in 1408 made a grant of land within their manor of Poulton which afterwards (1461) came into the hands of John son of Nicholas Boteler of Rawcliffe; Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 101b.
  • 16. Some minor cases may be recorded. In 1334 John son of Adam le Wayte of Kirk Poulton did not prosecute a claim against Roger son of John son of James de Poulton Parva and William de Bartaill; Coram Rege R. 297, m. 5 d. The same John was plaintiff respecting an oxgang of land in Kirk Poulton in 1357; his father Adam was son of Richard de Poulton by his wife Alice daughter of Walter del Moor. The defendant, Nicholas son of John son of Robert de Poulton, held in his grandfather's right; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 4, m. 5 d.; 6, m. 3 d. The above-named William de Bartaill acquired a messuage and land in Kirk Poulton in 1330; Final Conc. ii, 76. In 1333 he claimed from Henry the Sumpter and Agnes his wife the performance of an agreement as to a toft, &c., in Little Poulton; De Banco R. 294, m. 237. The Prior of Lancaster as rector of Poulton claimed a messuage and 2 oxgangs of land in 1319 against Gilbert de Howath and Joan his wife, the matter of dispute being whether the estate was free alms or a lay fee; De Banco R. 231, m. 121 d. It seems to have been the property of Joan, and in 1334 was settled on Alan son of Gilbert de Howath and his heirs by Cecily daughter of William de Howick, with remainders to Alan's sisters Christiana and Maud; Final Conc, ii, 94. Alice widow of Robert del Marsh in 1292 claimed dower against the Prior of Lancaster in three messuages and 3 oxgangs of land in Poulton; Assize R. 408, m. 24 d. In Little Poulton in 1328 Nicholas del Marsh obtained half an oxgang of land from William de Meols and Alice his wife; Final Conc, ii, 72. The grant, dated 1326, is among the deeds of Mr. Fitzherbert-Brockholes. The custody of lands in Little Poulton was in 1363–5 claimed by the Prior of Lancaster against Alice widow of Henry de Worsley and William de Bradkirk, during the minority of Adam brother and heir of John gon of Adam de Bradkirk; De Banco R. 413, m. 81 d.; 420, m. 257 d. Adam de Bradkirk had held 3 oxgangs of land of Lancaster Priory by a rent of 2s. 6d.; Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. III (2nd nos.), no. 1a. Pleasington and Shaffar occur among the landowners in 1387 and 1395; Final Conc. iii, 29, 45. The former estate is said to have been sold to Richard Boteler m 1469; Fishwick, Poulton (Chet. Soc), 11, quoting Harland's MSS.
  • 17. Sir James Harrington of Wolfage in 1497 held lands in Great and Little Poulton, but the tenure was not known; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), ii, 168; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 40. After the death of his widow Isabel in 1518 the lands in Poulton were said to be held of the priory of St. John of Jerusalem; ibid, v, no. 2. The Poulton lands seem to have been applied to the endowment of a chantry at Brixworth, according to Sir James's will; afterwards they were given by Queen Mary to the Savoy Hospital; Pat. 4 & 5 Phil, and Mary, pt. xv. They were perhaps purchased by James Massey of Layton; Thornber, Blackpool, 291. James Massey in 1562 purchased lands in Great Poulton and Marton from the Butler family; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 24, m. 82, 117. John son and heir of James held two messuages, &c., in 1585; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 47, m. 154. Sir Robert de Shireburne and Alice his wife received land in Poulton from the Prior of Lancaster in 1334; Anct. D. (P.R.O.), B 2945. Richard Shireburne of Stonyhurst was in 1441 found to have held a messuage and land in Poulton of the Abbess of Syon in socage; Lancs. Rec. Inq. p.m. no. 30, 31. His successor in 1513, Sir Richard, was said to hold of the heirs of Sir James Harrington in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iv, no. 46. This was recorded also of some of his successors, but Richard Shireburne in 1628 was stated to have held of the king as of his abbey of Syon lately dissolved; ibid, xxvi, no. 4. Thomas Catterall in 1579 held his land of Sir Richard Shireburne in socage; ibid, xiv, no. 4. Alexander Rigby of Middleton in 1621 held tithes and land of the king as of his manor of East Greenwich; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), iii, 458. In some other cases the tenure was not recorded. This happened with Skillicorne of Preese, whose lands were sold to William Hodgkinson in 1567; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 29, m. 64.
  • 18. Pat. 7 Edw. VI, pt. ix; 2 Mary. Thomas Fleetwood died in 1576 holding lands in Poulton as part of the Rossall estate by knight's service; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xii, no. 2. George Allen in 1579 held his land in Poulton of William Fleetwood in socage; ibid, xiv, no. 80.
  • 19. Their residence in Poulton was known as Little Poulton Hall. An account of the family has been given under Singleton. From the Brockholes of Claughton D. it appears that Bartholomew Hesketh, the father of George and Gabriel, was the Bartholomew Hesketh concerned in the foundation of Rufford chantry, and that he purchased lands in Great and Little Poulton, Hoole and Bretherton in 1523–4 from Thomas Harrington of Newington in Kent. George Hesketh died in 1571 holding messuages and lands in Poulton of the queen as of the late monastery of Syon by a rent of 5s.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m.xiii, no. 15; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc.), iii, 363.
  • 20. Thomas Bocher and Agnes his wife had an estate in 1556, the remainder was to Richard Law; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 17, m, 140. Robert Clark died in 1599 holding a messuage in Poulton and another in Carleton, but the tenure was not recorded. Henry his son and heir was nineteen years of age; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvii, no. 44. Thomas Atkinson, who died in 1640, held a messuage, &c., of the king as of his duchy. His heir was a daughter Alice, only five years old; ibid, xxx, no. 48. She died in 1642, the heir being her uncle Christopher Atkinson, aged thirtyfour; ibid, xxix, no. 55.
  • 21. Fishwick, Poulton, 177. Thomas Bamber of Great Poulton in 1616 held a messuage there of the king by the two-hundredth part of a knight's fee, also lands in Thornton and Norcross by unknown tenures. His heir was his son John, aged fifteen; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc.), ii, 45. John Bamber of Poulton was among those who compounded for refusing knighthood in 1631; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 222.
  • 22. There are many references to the matter in the Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), i, 156, &c. From a statement made in 1540 it appears that John Lancelyn and Margaret (in her right) claimed messuages and lands not only in Poulton, but in many of the surrounding townships. Margaret was the daughter of Richard Butler, who had two sons, George and Thomas. George dying without issue, the estate went to Thomas, and William Butler claimed as his son and heir; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 168, m. 6. The claimant's legitimacy was disputed, and he was known as Butler alias Parr alias Ward alias Taylor. He appears to have succeeded, and as William Butler of Hackinsall died in 1586 holding land in Poulton of the queen as of her duchy in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xiv, no.47.
  • 23. Robert son of Richard de Burgh (or Burrow) gave half an oxgang of land which he had purchased from Richard son of Waldeve, for the souls of himself and Avice his wife, in payment of the third of their goods, which should go to Cockersand Abbey at their decease; Cockersand Chartul. (Chet. Soc), i, 189. Waldeve de Poulton released his right; ibid, i, 190. For rentals 1451 to 1537 see ibid, iii, 1266–9. In the Lancaster Chartulary (Lanc. Ch. ii, 413) is a grant by Richard son of Walter (sic) de Poulton to Robert son of Richard de Boure and Avice his wife of half an oxgang of land. John son of Waldeve also gave them half an oxgang (ii, 414); while Robert son of Richard son of Waldeve gave Lancaster Priory an oxgang of land; ibid, ii, 415.
  • 24. This appears from the Harrington inquisition above. It was not named among the hospital's possessions in 1292.
  • 25. Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 233.
  • 26. Estcourt and Payne, Engl. Cath. Nonjurors, 139.
  • 27. Hewitson, Our Country Churches, 407. This writer (1872) states that Methodism appeared in Poulton about 1800, but had not flourished there. The first meeting-place was an out-house at the back of the 'King's Arms,' and considerable persecution had to be endured.
  • 28. Nightingale, Lancs. Nonconf. i, 122–6. The chapel has had to be closed several times—in 1816, 1826, 1833 (with slight exceptions) to 1850, 1864 to 1866.
  • 29. Baines, Lancs. Dir, ii, 462. This may refer to the meeting at Thornton.
  • 30. Visit, presentments at Chester Dioc. Reg. For convicted recusants in the parish c. 1670 see Misc. (Cath. Rec. Soc), v, 169, 182–3, 197–8. In 1717 the number of 'Papists' in the parish was returned to the Bishop of Chester as 67, in 1767 as 164; Trans. Hist. Soc. (new sen), xviii, 218.
  • 31. Hewitson, op. cit. 403–6. The Calvinistic Evangelicals of a century ago regarded this district as 'the most dark and miserable part of the county. . . . A few attempts from time to time were made to diffuse throughout it the light of the Gospel; but a very large proportion of the inhabitants being Catholics it will be easily conceived that peculiar difficulties attended every exertion to spread the truth . . . [in a tract] so awfully obscured with the mists of Popish ignorance, error and superstition'; Nightingale, op. cit. i, 126, from the report of the Lancashire Congregational Union, 1808.