Townships: Great Eccleston

Pages 276-279

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

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Eglestun, Dom. Bk.; Eccliston, 1212; Ecleston, 1285; Great Eccleston, 1296.

This township has a considerable amount of lowlying land by the Wyre, which river forms the northern boundary; but the Copp, which occupies the south-west quarter, rises to a height of 55 ft. above the sea level. On the northern slope of it is the village of Great Eccleston. The area is 1,469 acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 the population numbered 583.

The roads spread out from the village. Eastward goes one to St. Michael's; east and south, another to Inskip; west, to Little Eccleston, in the parish of Kirkham, affording a way across the Wyre by Cartford Bridge; south, through Copp hamlet to Elswick.

The township is governed by a parish council.

There have long been three cattle fairs—in March, April and November, held by custom.

The soil is clay, and principally used for pasture land, but wheat, oats, barley and beans are grown. Rushes were formerly a staple commodity, and rushlights were made.

Thomas Barrow, a local portrait painter of some ability, was born at Great Eccleston in 1737 and buried at St. Michael's in 1822. (fn. 2)

A ghost story was connected with Cross House, (fn. 3) formerly owned by the White family.


In 1066 Earl Tostig held GREAT ECCLESTON, assessed as two ploughlands, as a member of his Preston lordship. (fn. 4) Later it is found to have been included in the Wyresdale or Garstang fee of the Lancaster family, and the immediate tenants in 1212 have been identified as Ralph de Eccleston and Walter son of Swain, lord of Carleton. (fn. 5) In 1242 Adam de Eccleston held of William de Lancaster by knight's service. (fn. 6) In 1347 it was found that in William de Coucy's lordship of Wyresdale Sir Richard de Kighley held one plough-land by knight's service, and the heir of William de Bartail or Bartle held another plough-land similarly. (fn. 7) At other times Kighley and Bartail were said to hold two-thirds and one-third respectively.

In the absence of evidence it is impossible to trace the lordship clearly. The Kighley manor seems to represent that of Adam de Eccleston in 1242, (fn. 8) and to have been joined in practice with Inskip (fn. 9) it descended to the Cavendish family. (fn. 10) The Earl of Derby is now said to be lord of the manor. (fn. 11) The Bartail manor was held of Boteler of Rawcliffe, whose title came, in part at cast, from a grant of the homage of William son of Uctred de Eccleston made by Walter son of Sir William de Carleton to Richard le Boteler about 1260. (fn. 12) Thomas de Bartail died in 1349 holding a third part of Great Eccleston. (fn. 13) Of the Boteler tenure there is little to record. (fn. 14)

Great Eccleston: Raikes Road

The Bartail manor, or part of the manor, was in 1592 held by Thomas Ecleslon of Henry Batler of Raweliffe in socage, (fn. 15) and descended to his son Adam, then sixteen years of age. (fn. 16) Soon afterwards it was sold to Sir Richard Hoghton, (fn. 17) and then acquired by Thomas Stanley, (fn. 18) whose son Richard died in 1640 holding of William Butler the capital messuage called Eccleston Hall in the Fylde, a windmill and lands, and leaving a son and heir Robert, aged five years. (fn. 19) Thomas, the father, died in 1641, and his grandson Robert following him about six weeks later, the heir was another grandson, Thomas, aged six. (fn. 20)

The Stanleys were Roman Catholics, (fn. 21) but the youth of the heir probably saved his estates from sequestration during the Commonwealth period. (fn. 22) Thomas Stanley recorded a pedigree in 1664, (fn. 23) and left a son and heir Richard. He married Anne daughter and eventual co-heir of Thomas Culcheth of Culcheth, by whom he had a son Thomas, a Jacobite attainted in 1716, when the Eccleston Hall estates were forfeited. (fn. 24) The hall was advertised for sale in 1796, the owner at that time being James Greenhalgh of Heysham. (fn. 25) It was in 1891 owned by the Misses Westby, but it does not appear that any manor is claimed.

Among the minor families of the place were Heriz, (fn. 26) Peacock (fn. 27) and Whittingham (fn. 28) in earlier times, and Blackburne, Gaunt, (fn. 29) Leckonby, Shireburne, (fn. 30) White and others (fn. 31) later. The Blackburnes of Stockenbridge in Upper Rawcliffe (fn. 32) were also landowners in Great Eccleston; their estates descended to the Leckonbys, another recusant family long resident in Eccleston and Elswick, who were 'ruined by the dissipation or extravagance of Richard Leckonby,' a prisoner for debt in Lancaster Castle from 1762 to 1783, when he died. (fn. 33)

The Whites can be traced back to the 14th century. (fn. 34) John White died in July 1557 holding a capital messuage, &c., in Great Eccleston of the heir of William Pleasington in socage by 4s. rent, and other property in Esprick and Upper Rawcliffe. His heir was a cousin Nicholas, son of William White, aged twenty-two. (fn. 35) The residence of the family was known as Cross House, (fn. 36) and remained with them till about a century ago. (fn. 37)

A small piece of land was granted to Cockersand Abbey, (fn. 38) but more considerable gifts were made to Dieulacres, (fn. 39) which, together with Rossall, were acquired by the Fleetwoods after the Dissolution. (fn. 40)

Some sequestrations are recorded in the Commonwealth period, (fn. 41) and in 1717 several 'Papists' registered estates. (fn. 42)

There are four places of worship in the township. For the Church of England, St. Anne's, Copp, was erected in 1723, because, Elswick Chapel 'being never consecrated and in the possession of Dissenters, it was thought more proper to build a new chapel here than to seize upon that. (fn. 43) The vicar of St. Michael's presents to this church.

The Wesleyan Methodists, after holding meetings in a cottage, built a chapel in 1841. (fn. 44) The Baptists also have a chapel.

As the chief resident families adhered to Roman Catholicism at the Reformation, it is probable that mass was said with comparative regularity during the times of proscription, but no connected story of the mission in the township can be given before 1700, soon after which there appears to have been a chapel of St. Lawrence at Raikes, rebuilt in 1760. The present church of St. Mary, in the village, was opened in 1835. (fn. 45)


  • 1. The Census Rep. of 1901 gives 1,467 acres, including 13 of inland water.
  • 2. Fishwick, St. Michael's (Chet. Soc.), 199.
  • 3. 'It is said that strange and unaccountable noises have been heard in the house, and on several occasions a lady dressed in white has appeared at a small window looking out of the attics into the garden below'; Hewitson, Our Country Churches, 419.
  • 4. V.C.H. Lancs, i, 288a.
  • 5. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 2, 3.
  • 6. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 154. Adam de Eccleston was non-suited in a claim against William de Lancaster in 1246; Assize R. 404, m. 5. Adam de Eccleston seems to have been living in 1258; Lancs. Inq. and Extents, i, 212. His successors were perhaps the Roger and his son Richard of whom the Kighleys were later stated to have held.
  • 7. Inq. p.m. 20 Edw. III (2nd nos.), no. 63.
  • 8. In 1285 Alice widow of Richard le Boteler acknowledged the right of Henry de Kighley and Ellen his wife to the manor of Inskip and two-thirds of the manor of Great Eccleston; these were to descend to the heirs of Ellen, with reversion in default to the heirs of Alice; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 163–4. Alice was daughter of William de Carleton; see Out Rawcliffe. Henry de Kighley and Ellen in 1296 purchased the third part of an oxgang of land in Great Eccleston from Roger de Kirk by and Margaret his wife; ibid. 181. Another half oxgang was acquired by Richard de Kighley in 1326, the vendors being John de Thurstinton and Maud his wife; ibid. ii, 64. Richard de Kighley in 1323 made an exchange of land in Roscaldcarrfield with Richard son of Robert de Eccleston (see below); Add. MS. 32106, no. 87 (fol. 255). A moiety of the manor (1½ oxgangs excepted) was settled by the Kighleys in 1330; Final Conc. ii, 193. Gilbert de Kighley in 1357 granted his share of the stream and fishery of the Wyre—from Crossford to Skepulford—to Robert de Hornby, Margery his wife, and William their son; Dods. Mss. cxlix, fol. 95.
  • 9. Sir Henry Kighley in 1526 held the manor of Inskip with lands in Eccleston of the heir of Richard Eccleston; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p. m. vi, no. 44. Henry Kighley in 1567 was said to have held of the heir of Richard son of Roger de Eccleston; ibid. xi, no. 10.
  • 10. See the account of Inskip. Lord Chesham was recently reputed lord of the manor, but see p. 281 below.
  • 11. Information of Mr. Windham E. Hale.
  • 12. Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 86; the tenement is described as 5 oxgangs of land and the third part of an oxgang. The tenant is elsewhere called William son of Uctred son of Swain, so that he may have been a relative of William de Carleton. He gave land in the field called Gaseflosland to Cockersand Abbey; Chartul. (Chet. Soc.), i, 190. To him Emma daughter of Roger de Eccleston sold a toft in Eccleston; Dods MSS. cxlii, fol. 59. William son of Uctred de Eccleston about 1240 granted his part of the fishery to his lord William de Lancaster, who gave it to Richard de Kirkby; Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 87, 87b. William seems to have been succeeded by Robert de Eccleston, who occurs from 1249 to 1297; Lancs. Inq. and Extents i, 172, 297. William son of Robert de Eccleston gave his brother Richard, about 1304, all his right in 2 oxgangs of land in Great Eccleston; Add. MS. 32106, fol. 254b. Robert son of Richard de Eccleston in 1319 granted all his lands in the vill to his son Richard; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 53. This Richard son of Robert has been named above (note 8). William de Bartail summoned John de Bildeswath in 1330 to hold to a covenant respecting the third part of the manor of Great Eccleston; De Banco R. 283, m. 231d. He in 1331 secured the third part of the third part of the same manor from Thomas de Eyvill and Margery his wife; Final Conc. ii, 79. The said William soon afterwards purchased half an oxgang of land there; ibid. 90. The Coucy inquest already cited shows that William de Bartail was dead in 1346.
  • 13. a He held of the king (through escheat after the death of William de Coucy) by knight's service. There were 2½ oxgangs of land, worth 2s.; a fishery (part), 4s. rent from a free tenant, also half an oxgang of land held of Sir Richard de Kighley by the rent of a pair of gloves. John son of John Dautry was next of kin and heir, and six years old; Inq. p.m. 23 Edw. III, pt. ii (1st nos.), no. 112. By 1353 William de Tarleton and Margaret his wife (in her right) had succeeded to this third part of the manor; Final Conc. ii, 137. In 1361 they claimed lands. &c., in Great Eccleston against Gilbert de Kighley and others, but did not prosecute; Assize R. 441, m. i d. An agreement had probably been made; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 58b.
  • 14. b Richard son of Robert del Hall of Eccleston complained in 1346 that Nicholas Botler had taken a horse a of his in the shortbutts at Westmeadowend. Nicholas said that he took it for rent due, the tenement being part of 5½ oxgangs of land which he held of the king by paying 12d. yearly and 3s. 4d. to a scutage of 40s.; De Banco R. 346, m. 22 d. In 1354 an agreement as to a fishery in the Wyre was made between Sir Richard de Kighley, Gilbert his son and William de Tarleton on one side and Sir Nicholas Boteler on the other; Dods. MSS. liii, fol. 97b. The manor of Great Eccleston is named among the estates of Nicholas Butler in 1555, but the tenure is not recorded; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. x, no. 4.
  • 15. Ibid. xvi, no. 38. Nothing is known of any connexion of this Eccleston family with the earlier tenants. The father of Thomas was named William and died in or before 1563; Dods. MSS. cxlii, fol. 56b. A John Eccleston of London, grocer, obtained land in the township in 1538; Add. MS. 32106, no. 820. Thomas Eccleston's estate spread over several neighbouring townships and included Singleton Grange. He purchased Ellison House in 1582 from Henry Ellison, and acquired other land; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 44, m. 13; 45, m. 44; 51, m. 60; Add. MS. 32106, no. 958.
  • 16. A settlement of the moiety of the manors of Great Eccleston and Elswick, with various lands, &c., was made by Adam Eccleston in 1596; Doda. MSS. cxlii, fol. 56b.
  • 17. The sale took place in 1598; ibid.; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 60, m. 359. In the following year Sir Richard Hoghton made a further agreement respecting a moiety of the manor with James Worthington and Anne his wife; ibid. bdle. 61, no. 23, 328. It appears to have been sold or mortgaged in 1602, Sir Richard Molyneux and Sir Richard Hoghton being deforciants; ibid. bdle. 64, m. 17. The real purchaser in 1602 was Sir Edward Brabazon; Raines D. in Chet. Lib. A number of references to the estate, 1593–1601, will be found in Ducatus Lanc, iii, 280, &c. From the contemporary pedigree it appears that Anne Worthington was a daughter of Adam Eccleston and co-heir to her nephew Adam Eccleston; Dugdale, Visit. of 1613 (Chet. Soc), 126. From this the relationship of the two Adams is left obscure, but the elder was probably great-grandfather of the younger.
  • 18. Thomas Stanley was an illegitimate son of Henry fourth Earl of Derby (d. 1593). The purchase is recorded in Richard Stanley's inquisition. Thomas Stanley was 'of Eccleston' in 1622; Preston Guild R. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 79. He in 1631 compounded for refusing knighthood by a payment of £13 6s. 8d.; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 222.
  • 19. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxviii, no. 73; the marriage settlement (1629) for Richard Stanley and Mary Tyldesley is recited. Thomas, the father, was still living at Eccleston in 1639. The lands were held of William Butler of Rawcliffe in socage.
  • 20. Ibid, xxix, no. 14. The lands in Eccleston were held of Henry Butler in socage.
  • 21. Fishwick, St. Michael's (Chet. Soc.), 187, where there is a pedigree.
  • 22. Mrs. Stanley, probably the widow of Richard, showed herself friendly to the Cavaliers; War in Lancs. (Chet. Soc), 61, 74.
  • 23. Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc), 286; Richard the son of Thomas was three years of age.
  • 24. Fishwick, loc. cit.; Lancs, and Ches. Rec. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 175. In 1724 an annual charge of £30 on the lands in favour of Henry Stanley was operative, but the lands had passed to William Greenhalgh. The pedigree is thus given: Thomas Stanley -s. Richard, who married Anne Culcheth -s. Thomas and Henry; Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.), iii, 228, from R. 10 of Geo. 1 at Preston. Henry was a priest, S.J.
  • 25. Preston Guard. Loc. Sketches, no. 1273.
  • 26. In 1249–50 Mabel widow of Geoffrey Heriz claimed dower in 3 oxgangs of land in Eccleston, a fishery being appurtenant, against Richard Heriz; Curia Regis R. 137, m. 16d., 17 d. Again in 1314 dower was claimed by Margery widow of Richard de Heriz in seven messuages, 5 oxgangs of land, &c., in Great Eccleston against Henry de Croft the elder; De Banco R. 204, m. 3.
  • 27. In 1315 Anabil widow of Alan son of William de Eccleston obtained dower in half an oxgang of land, &c., in Great Eccleston against John Pacok; De Banco R. 211, m. 48. John Pacok and John Pacok the younger occur in 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 62. In 1369 Robert Pacok and Agnes his wife obtained an oxgang of land, &c., from John Pacok; Final Conc, ii, 175.
  • 28. Geoffrey de Whittingham in 1297 had a rent of 4s. from Eccleston; Lancs. Inq. and Extents, i, 283. Adam de Whittingham in 1401 granted to Robert de Urswick the younger two messuages and 5 acres of land in Mickle Eccleston, which Thomas de Whittingham, grantor's uncle, formerly had of the gift of Clemency sometime wife of Sir Gilbert de Kighley; Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 92b.
  • 29. John Gaunt and Nicholas White were freeholders in 1600; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 232–3. Four messuages, &c., were in 1563 held by John Lawson, Joan his wife, Joan Lawson, widow, Roger Gaunt and William Thornton; the remainders were to Roger Gaunt, Isabel his wife, William Thornton, Joan his wife, to the right heirs of Joan wife of John Lawson and Joan Lawson, widow; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 25, m. 41. A moiety of four messuages, &c., was in 1594 held by John Gaunt; ibid. bdle. 56, m. 45. William Thornton had a son John; ibid. bdle. 57, m. 163. See Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), ii, 214.
  • 30. Robert Shireburne of Stony hunt in 1492 held land, &c., in Great Eccleston of Sir Henry Kighley in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 93.
  • 31. Henry Beesley of Goosnargh and Jane his wife had land in Great Eccleston in 1578; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 40, m. 81. Jane Beesley died in 1585, but the tenure of her land was not recorded; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvi, no. 24. Francis Beesley in 1609 held of the heir of Henry Kighley; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 138–9. William Pleasington of Dimples held of the king in socage in 1621; ibid, ii, 240. This family had held lands as early as 1489; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 68, m. 6d. The tenure was not recorded in regard to the tenement of Richard Burgh of Larbreck, 1639; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxx, no. 100. Thomas Taylor of Freckleton held land in Eccleston in 1640 of the king as of his duchy in socage; ibid, xxx, no. 15.
  • 32. In 1579 Joan wife of William Thornton (named in a former note) was called daughter and co-heir of Richard Blackburne; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 41, m. 179. A later Richard Blackburne held a cottage and land in Eccleston of Henry Butler in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxix, no. 81. John Blackburne, who had sons Richard and Edward, had his estate sequestered for recusancy under the Commonwealth. After his death (about 1649), his son Richard being also a recusant, the younger son Edward, apprentice at York, applied to have a messuage and land which had been assigned to him by his father; Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 186–9.
  • 33. Fishwick, op. cit. 188–9, where a full pedigree is given, showing the descent thus: John Leckonby, d.1650 -s. Richard, d. 1675 -s. John -neph. William (son of Richard), d. 1729 -s. Richard, d. 1783 -gd.-dr. Mary (da. of William), who married Thomas Henry Hele Phipps of Leighton House, Wilts. John Leckonby of Ecdeston and Richard his son were burgesses ot Preston in 1642, and other members of the family in 1662; Preston Guild R. 115, 148. Richard Leckonby, described as 'of Elswick,' took arms against the Parliament, and submitted at Greenhalgh Castle in 1645; he took the National Covenant and Negative Oath, and compounded for his estate; Royalist Camp. Papers, iv, 76–7. The family afterwards became Roman Catholics, and in 1717 William Leckonby as a 'Papist' registered his estate at Eccleston and Elswick, subject to a rentcharge of £25 to Anne his wife; Estcourt and Payne, Engl. Cath. Nonjurors, 132. Through this marriage the Leckonbys acquired the manor of Hothersall. The son Richard, named in the text, by his marriage acquired Stockenbridge and other estates; his wife was Mary daughter of William Hathornethwaite of Stonyhurst and in 1757 heir to her brother John; Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.), iii, 288, from R. 31 of Geo. II at Preston. For the bankruptcy see ibid, iii, 372, 380, 384.
  • 34. Roger the White contributed to the subsidy in 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. 62. John son of Roger the White had a dispute concerning land with Adam son of Roger the White and Adam son of Hugh de Elswick in 1348; De Banco R. 355, m. 124.
  • 35. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, no. 55. A settlement of messuages, &c., in Much Eccleston and Tarnacre was made in 1590 by Nicholas White and Isabel his wife; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 52, m. 119. Thomas White in 1560 claimed a capital messuage, &c., in Eccleston, Tarnacre, Upper Rawcliffe and Chamley Eaves against Nicholas White; Ducatus Lanc. ii, 235. In 1589 the tenure was in dispute, Robert Pleasington alleging that it was by fealty and a rent of 4s., while Nicholas White asserted that it was in socage by a castle-guard rent of 6s.; ibid, iii, 225.
  • 36. This was part of the rectory estate, having belonged to Battlefield College; Fishwick, op. cit. 190.
  • 37. Ibid. 191–2. An account of a dispute as to a settlement by Thomas White in 1675 was printed in Preston Guard. Loc. Notes, 16 Feb. 1878. For the family, who were recusants, see Misc. (Cath. Rec. Soc), v, 190.
  • 38. Cockersand Chartul. i, 190.
  • 39. Dieulacres Chartul. (Wm. Salt Soc.), 324. Uctred son of Swain released to the monks Roger and Adam sons of Elsi of Great Eccleston, and William son of Uctred confirmed this grant, as he did also that of half an oxgang of land made by Adam son of Richard de Eccleston. The dates range from about 1210 to 1230.
  • 40. Pat. 7 Edw. VI, pt. ix; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xii, no. 2.
  • 41. See preceding notes. Two-thirds of a small tenement in Much Eccleston was sequestered for the recusancy of William Gurnall. He being dead in 1653, his son Robert, aged six, who was 'a conformable Protestant,' petitioned for the discharge of the sequestration, and it was granted; Royalist Comp. Papers, iii, 137.
  • 42. Elizabeth Butler, widow; Thomas Penswick, Alice Taylor and Joan Caton, widow; Estcourt and Payne, Engl. Cath. Nonjurors, 105, 135, 141.
  • 43. Gastrell, Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 453–4. From correspondence printed in the notes ibid, it appears that the chapel was built by subscription and that Mr. France was the chief promoter. See also Fishwick, op. cit. 89–95, where a list of curates and vicars is given; Hewitson, Our Country Churches, 420.
  • 44. Fishwick, op. cit. 133; Hewitson, 426.
  • 45. Fishwick, op. cit. 96–102; Hewitson, 423. The first resident priest known is William Caton, of a local family, educated at the English College, Rome, 1694– 1701; Foley, Rec. S. J. vi, 445; Tyldesley Diary, 61, 109, 174. There is a short notice of the Caton family in Misc. (Cath. Rec. Soc), v, 191. In 1774 there were confirmed 114 persons, and ten years later thirty-seven. Belonging to the church are a portable altar-stone such as the missionary priests carried with them in the penal times, two early chalices, and another of Queen Anne's time; Fishwick, loc. cit.