A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Kirkelund, 1246; Kyrkelund, 1254; Kyrkelond, 1292; Kyrkeland, 1331.
This township is bounded on two sides by the Wyre, which flows south and then turns sharply to the west at a point where it is joined by the Calder from the east; on its north bank is situated the old parish church, nearly two miles south of Garstang. The hamlet called Churchtown adjoins. The hall is somewhat to the north of it, and Humblescough lies in the north-west corner. The area measures 974½ acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 there was a population of 274.
The principal road follows the course of the river from Garstang to St. Michael's; there is a bridge somewhat to the west of the bend named above, by which there is a connexion with the main road to Preston. The surface is in general level and lies low, the highest ground, about 50 ft. above the ordnance datum, being near the eastern edge.
The dead-wood of 'Kirkelund' is mentioned in a charter made before 1245. (fn. 2) There is now very little wood in the township, the land being mostly in pasture. The soil is gravelly, with subsoil of sand and clay.
A large boulder stone lying about half a mile from the church is called Crappencrop. It is said to have been thrown from the church tower and to turn round when the bells ring. The spot was considered haunted. (fn. 3)
The township is administered by a parish council.
The village cross has a sundial. (fn. 4)
Sir Edward Frankland, a distinguished chemist, was born at Churchtown in 1825. After a long and brilliant career he died in Norway in 1899. (fn. 5)
This formed part of the lordship of Nether Wyresdale. All his land of KIRKLAND was by William de Lancaster III granted to Robert the Tailor and his heirs, (fn. 6) with other land adjacent and free fishery in all waters within his demesne of Wyresdale. (fn. 7) The Tailors were sometimes styled 'de Kirkland.' The manor descended regularly (fn. 8) to William de Kirkland, who died in 1361 holding various lands of that moiety of the manor of Wyresdale which had belonged to William de Coucy by the service of 1d. or half a pound of cummin yearly. He had three daughters, and his wife Margaret was pregnant at his death, (fn. 9) but the child if a son must have died early, as Kirkland passed with the eldest daughter Alice to her husband John Boteler and their issue. (fn. 10) The descent is not clearly established, (fn. 11) but William Boteler died in 1505 holding the manor of Kirkland and various lands, &c., of Margaret Countess of Richmond by the service recorded in 1362. His son and heir Thomas was six years of age. (fn. 12)
Thomas Butler died in 1526 holding the manor of the king and John Rigmaiden as of the lordship of Goberthwaite in socage. (fn. 13) He left a daughter and heir Margaret, aged eight, but the manor went to his brother John, who died in possession in 1543 holding of the king by a rent of 2d. and other service not known. The heir was his son John, aged ten. (fn. 14) This John Butler recorded his pedigree in 1567, (fn. 15) and his son and heir John made a settlement in 1591, including the capital messuage called Kirkland Hall in the town of Garstang, forty messuages, water-mill, &c., and a parcel of meadow called Bolon-wray; he died a few days afterwards, leaving a son James, only four years old. (fn. 16) James Butler died in 1600, during his minority, and his younger brother John, aged nine, succeeded him. (fn. 17)
John Butler, who recorded a pedigree in 1613, (fn. 18) lived on until 1659. Though he compounded for recusancy in 1632 (fn. 19) the estates do not appear to have been molested by the Parliamentary authorities during the Civil War. (fn. 20) His son John fought for the king and took part in the burning of Lancaster (fn. 21); he was killed at Marston Moor, 1644. (fn. 22) His son Thomas, aged twenty-nine in 1665, succeeded his grandfather and recorded a pedigree. (fn. 23) By this time the family had probably become Protestant, but Thomas's son Alexander is said to have been a Jacobite. (fn. 24) He died in 1747, (fn. 25) and his son Thomas in the following year, leaving a son Alexander Butler high sheriff in 1767, (fn. 26) and constable of Lancaster Castle. Through his mother Dorothy Cole he acquired Beaumont Cote, near Lancaster. He had no children and bequeathed his estates, with an obligation to take the surname of Cole, to his brother Thomas's grandson Thomas, (fn. 27) who on succeeding in 1811 was sixteen years old.
Thomas Butler Cole, an eccentric man, (fn. 28) died in 1864, having bequeathed Kirkland to Major Thornton for life, with remainder to Captain Clarke, maternal uncle, with remainder to his second son and male issue; failing issue it was to revert to the heirs of the Butler family. (fn. 29)
Kirkland Hall stands about half a mile to the north of Churchtown village and has a plain 18th-century brick front facing south, three stories in height, with cornice, wide pediment, and sash windows retaining their original wood bars. On the pediment are the Butler arms and over the porch is the date 1760 with the initials of Alexander Butler. The oldest part of the house, however, is at the back, a stone at the north-west corner bearing the date 1668 and the initials of Thomas Butler and Elizabeth (Fleetwood) his wife. Another stone in a gable near to this has the same initials and the date 1679, and on the north-east side is a good I7th-cen tury doorway with moulded jambs and hood mould, the ornamental head of which is dated 1695 and has the initials of Alexander Butler and Elizabeth (Parker) his wife. The door, which is the original one, with ornamental iron hinges and ring handle, is panelled and profusely studded with nails.
The whole of the land in this township except the glebe has long belonged to the Butlers, so that there is little or nothing to record of minor families. (fn. 30) At one time Leicester Abbey owned the pasture called Bolon-wray mentioned above. (fn. 31) Robert White of Garstang compounded in 1631 for declining knighthood. (fn. 32) In the Civil War he took the king's side; his lands in Garstang, Kirkland and Catterall were declared forfeit, (fn. 33) and were purchased by John White his son. (fn. 34) It is noteworthy that 'burgages' are mentioned in the White possessions in Kirkland and the neighbourhood.
The history of the parish church has already been given. There is no other place of worship in the township.
The school was formerly considered a grammar school. It was founded, according to Bishop Gastrell, by the representatives of Walter Rigmaiden of Wedacre in 1602, and certainly existed in 1624, when an inquiry was made as to its funds. (fn. 35) The Butlers of Kirkland gave £100 for endowment, and this was augmented later. (fn. 36)