A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1912.
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Billesburgh, 1212; Billesburg, 1226; Billesburch, 1266; Billisburgh, 1297. The spelling Bilsborough. is still in use.
This pleasantly wooded township on the south side of the Brock occupies land which rises gradually from west to east, from about 70 ft. above sea level to about 250 ft. The area is 852½ acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 the population was 181.
The main road from Preston to the North goes along the western boundary. From it a road through Bilsborrow goes east into Goosnargh, with a branch crossing the township north-westward, and passing into Claughton by Higher Brock new bridge. The London and North-Western Railway's main line runs across the western end, and has a station named Brock (fn. 2) on the boundary of this township and Claughton.
The soil is clay and gravel; wheat, oats and potatoes are grown. There is a large paper-mill at Matshead.
This place does not occur by name in Domesday Book, having at that time probably been part of Barton. (fn. 3) In 1212 BILSBORROW, or part, was held of the king in chief by a rent of 6d., being assessed as 2 oxgangs of land. Alan son of Richard (de Singleton) and John de Bilsborrow were the tenants. (fn. 4) Afterwards the grant seems to have been enlarged and the service changed and augmented, for in 1226 Alan de Singleton held 2 oxgangs of land there in drengage by a rent of 2s., (fn. 5) while a century later, in 1346, his heir Thomas Banastre held half a plough-land in Bilsborrow by the twentieth part of a knight's fee and 2s. a year, payable at the four terms. (fn. 6) Several free tenements existed in the 13th century. (fn. 7) The manor descended, like other Singleton manors, (fn. 8) to the heirs of Balderston, and on the division in 1564 was assigned to Gilbert Gerard. (fn. 9) Afterwards the manor was held with Barton by the Shuttleworth family. (fn. 10)
The Bartons of Barton, predecessors of the Shuttleworths, had long held lands in Bilsborrow. (fn. 11)
In 1324 it was stated that the Banastres held the hamlet half in demesne and half in service. (fn. 12) The latter half seems to have been held for several centuries by a family named Cottam. Thus Richard de Cottam held an oxgang of land in 1227, (fn. 13) and a later Richard in 1548 held a third part of the manor by the fortieth part of a knight's fee and 6d. rent— i.e. a moiety of the military service and a fourth part of the rent. (fn. 14) The principal estate passed to the Parkinsons, but the Cottam family are found in the township down to the beginning of the 19th century. (fn. 15)
There are numerous references to families using the local surname, but they are disconnected. (fn. 16)
Cockersand Abbey, (fn. 19) Lytham Priory (fn. 20) and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem (fn. 21) held lands in the township. The estate of the last-named was considered a manor, and was held by the Balderstons by 12d. rent. (fn. 22)
Joseph Wadsworth's Bilsborrow estate was forfeited for taking part in the Jacobite invasion of 1715. (fn. 23) He was one of the three hanged at Garstang; another was Thomas Cartmell of Bilsborrow. Thomas Walmesley, innkeeper, was acquitted. (fn. 24)
The Wesleyan Methodist chapel was built in 1815. (fn. 25)
A free school was founded by John Cross in 1718. (fn. 26)