Townships: Bilsborrow

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

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'Townships: Bilsborrow', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7, (London, 1912), pp. 330-332. British History Online [accessed 14 June 2024].

. "Townships: Bilsborrow", in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7, (London, 1912) 330-332. British History Online, accessed June 14, 2024,

. "Townships: Bilsborrow", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 7, (London, 1912). 330-332. British History Online. Web. 14 June 2024,

In this section


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)

Several of the neighbouring landowners, great and small, had estates in Bilsborrow, (fn. 17) but there are few inquisitions relating solely to this place. (fn. 18)

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)


  • 1. 851 acres, including 8 of inland water; Census Rep. 1901.
  • 2. For the old station there see Hewitson, Northward, 32.
  • 3. Cockersand Chartul. (Chet. Soc), i, 334.
  • 4. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 4.8.
  • 5. Ibid. 140. In 1244 Alan died seised of 2 oxgangs of land in Bilsborrow, held in chief of the king by 2s. rent; ibid. 160. The Earl of Lancaster in 1297 had 2s. a year from this vill; ibid. 289. In 1324 Adam son and heir of William Banastre held the manor of Bilsborrow by the service of 2s. yearly; Dods. MSS. cxxxi, fol. 39b.
  • 6. Survey of 1346 (Chet. Soc), 50.
  • 7. Alan de Singleton about 1220 granted all his land in Bilsborrow to his brother Richard for a rent of two iron spurs, reserving timber from the wood for building his house, &c.; Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 52. Adam son of John de Goberthwaite granted Richard de Singleton an acre of land; ibid. fol. 51b. Alice widow of Richard de Singleton gave Thomas son of Gilbert de Hetom a release of her right in the lands held by Thomas; ibid. Avice daughter of Richard de Singleton in her widowhood gave her son Henry all her land; ibid. fol. 52. This grant was attested by William de Singleton and Alan his son. Alan de Singleton about 1280 granted to his son Thomas all his land in Bilsborrow with its appurtenances; also a fourth part of the wood. Heybote and mast for pigs were reserved for the grantor and his men of Singleton. The services of the following free tenants were excepted: Geoffrey de Cottam, Eustace de Bilsborrow, Michael de Greenhalgh, William son of Roger son of Maud, Richard son of William Pelle. The service from land held by Sir Richard le Boteler of John de Bilsborrow was also excepted; ibid. fol. 52b.
  • 8. a Land here was among Joan Banastre's possessions in 1303; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 201. Thomas Banastre acquired 2 acres from Henry son of Avice de Singleton and a release from Walter son of Jordan de Goosnargh; Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 46, 48. Richard Balderston in 1445–6 held half a plough-land for the twentieth part of a knight's fee; Duchy of Lanc. Knights' Fees, bdle. 2, no. 20. In the 16th-century inquisitions Bilsborrow is named among the Balderston lands in those of Edmund Dudley, Radcliffe of Winmarleigh, the Earl of Derby and Sir Alexander Osbaldeston.
  • 9. Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 216, m. 10. Gerard obtained an increase of his possessions in the township on the partition of the Butler of Rawcliffe inheritance in 1571; ibid. 231, m. 8. Gilbert Gerard and Anne his wife made a settlement of the manor in 1574; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 36, m. 269. James Anderton of Lostock acquired the manors of Clitheroe and Bilsborrow from Sir Thomas Gerard in 1602; ibid, bdle. 64, no. 70.
  • 10. Both manors were held by Richard Shuttleworth in 1709, by Richard Shuttleworth and James his son and heir-apparent in 1742, and by Robert Shuttleworth in 1773; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 490, m. 6; 557, m. 7; 618, m. 6.
  • 11. John de Barton in 1299 claimed moieties of small parcels of wood in Bilsborrow against a number of persons; De Banco R. 130, m. 213 d. John was called to warrant in 1304; ibid. 152, m. 22 d. In 1370 there was a suit as to the manors of Barton and Bilsborrow between Katherine daughter of William de Barton and Richard de Catterall; ibid. 438, m. 253. Gilbert Barton of Barton in 1476 released to Katherine Urswick a messuage, &c., in Bilsborrow; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 45, m. 14. In the first inquisition after the death of Gilbert Barton (1516) his estate in Bilsborrow was said to be held of Edmund Parkinson in socage by 1d. rent, but in the later inquisition the tenure was unknown; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iv, no. 81; v, no. 33. Thomas Barton in 1554 was said to have held three messuages, &c., of Henry Cottam in socage, as also was Richard Barton in 1572; ibid. x, no. 50; xiii, no. 8. John Barton of Claughton in 1623 held a little land in Bilsborrow, tenure not recorded; ibid, xxvii, no. 7.
  • 12. Lancs. Inq. and Extents, ii, 160.
  • 13. Geoffrey de Glazebrook and Edith his wife in 1227 released to Richard de Cottam an oxgang of land in Bilsborrow; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 47. He is believed to be the Richard son of Robert who granted land to Cockersand Abbey (Chartul. [Chet. Soc] i, 269), Robert being son of Uctred and brother of Richard de Singleton, also benefactors of the abbey; ibid. 264, 268. John de Cottam was plaintiff in 1304 and William de Cottam defendant in the following year; De Banco R. 152, m. 22 d.; 155, m. 144. William de Cottam was again defendant in 1311; ibid. 184, m. 23 d. He contributed to the subsidy of 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 60. Sir Adam de Hoghton (as guardian of Thomas the heir of Sir Adam Banastre) gave Adam de Singleton the wardship of John son and heir of John de Cottam of Bilsborrow, the tenure being of Banastre by knight's service; Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 118. The Cottams then fall into obscurity, but from a pleading of 1570 it appears that in the time of Henry IV Richard son of William Cottam married Margaret daughter of John de Fleetwood and then had land in Bilsborrow settled on him. The descent continues: s. Oliver -s. Richard -s. John -s. Richard -sons Richard (who had a son John), Nicholas and Henry. Henry's daughter Elizabeth married Christopher Parkinson, and these were plaintiffs in 1570, Joan Topping, widow, being defendant; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 228, m. 10 d. The duchy rent was claimed by the king's bailiff in 1522; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), i, 212.
  • 14. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. ix, no. 24. He had married Margaret Clerk of Preston, and left a son John, two years old. Dubberfield, Holecroft and Wheatfield are named; also a water-mill. Christopher and Henry Poulton in 1552 obtained land from Nicholas Cottam: Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 14, m. 75. A settlement of twenty messuages, &c., in Bilsborrow, Scotforth and Lancaster was in 1585 made by Christopher Parkinson and his wife Elizabeth daughter and heir of Henry Cottam; ibid, bdle. 47, m. 127. Thomas Parkinson (son and heir of Edmund) was defendant in 1564; Ducatus Lanc, ii, 299. He had lands, &c., in 1587; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 49, m. 260. William Parkinson of Goosnargh in 1592 held Holme and Scotsholding in Bilsborrow; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvii, no. 21. The tenure is not given. He purchased from Richard Walton (Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 40, m. 188), whose father William had had a rent of 3s. from Bilsborrow; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, no. 27. Edward Parkinson in 1617 held a chief messuage of the king as duke by knight's service; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 215.
  • 15. William Cottam and Oliver his son registered their estates as 'Papists' in 1717; Estcourt and Payne, Engl. Cath. Nonjurors, 136. There is a short continuation of the Cottam pedigree in Fishwick's Garstang (Chet. Soc.), 256.
  • 16. John de Bilsborrow in 1212 has been named. He was probably the John son of Matthew who gave land to Cockersand Abbey (Chartul. i, 262), for Paulin de Garstang, a contemporary, in granting land in Stiholmes mentions land formerly belonging to Matthew de Bilsborrow as adjacent; Add. MS. 32104, fol. 231. In 1266–7 Avice widow of William son of Hamnet de Bilsborrow claimed dower against Paulin de Wedacre and his brother Roger (or Richard) and against Alice widow of Thomas de Grimsargh and Gilbert her son; Curia Regis R. 179, m. 4d.; 180, m. 3 d. A later William de Bilsborrow granted Thomas son of Alan de Singleton the homage of William son of Roger de Bilsborrow and the rent of 12d. due from his 6 acres of land in the vill; Add. MS. 32104, no. 939. Isabel daughter of Richard de Bilsborrow, with her sisters Edusa and Avice, claimed a messuage, &c., against Thomas son of Alan de Singleton in 1289; De Banco R. 79, m. 66 d. Matthew de Bilsborrow was plaintiff in 1302 and later against Richard de Morley (who called Joan widow of John de Fulbume to warrant), William and Robert sons of Grimbald and others; ibid. 143, m. 131 d.; 145, m. 7 d.; 152, m. 22 d.; 153, m. 29; 155, m. 144. The pedigree was thus given: Matthew -s. John -s. Tancard -s. Matthew, plaintiff; ibid. 158, m. 51 d. Hugh de Bilsborrow and Richard de Morley were residents in 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. 61. Hugh son of William son of Eustace de Bilsborrow had claimed common of pasture in 1308–9; Assize R. 423, m. 2 d. 4. The above Matthew was plaintiff and Hugh and others defendants in pleas of 1311–14; De Banco R. 184, m. 23 d.; 189, m. 188 d.; 205, m. 241 d. Adam de Bilsborrow was a benefactor of Cockersand Abbey and Lytham Priory and Matthew son of Adam of the former house, as were John son of Richard and William son of Roger de Bilsborrow.
  • 17. Some have been referred to already. William Vavasour and Isabel his wife in 1490–1 claimed messuages, &c., in Claughton, Bilsborrow and other places; Pal. of Lanc. Writs Proton. 6 Hen. VII. Hugh Shireburne of Stonyhurst in 1528 held two messuages, &c., of the heir of Richard Balderston in socage by a pair of white gloves yearly; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. vi, no. 65. George Kirkby of Upper Rawcliffe held land in 1560 of Thomas Hoghton by a rent of 2s. 4d.; Towneley MS. 'Lancs. Tenures' (in possession of W. Farrer), fol. 101. Sir Richard Hoghton's tenure in 1630 was not recorded; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvii, no. 13. Gilbert Latus of Goosnargh (1568) held the fourth part of messuages, &c., in Bilsborrow of Edward Osbaldeston in socage by a rent of 12d.; ibid, xii, no. 11. James Harrison of Woodplumpton (1612) held land of Thomas Lord Gerard as of his manor of Bilsborrow by 1½d. rent; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 6.
  • 18. Henry Kighley died in 1629 holding a messuage, &c., of the heir of John Osbaldeston. Hugh, his son and heir, was twenty-four years old; Towneley MS. C 8, 13 (Chet. Lib.), 723. Bilsborrow is named in the Hesketh inquisitions, but the tenure of the lands there was unknown. Richard Sollam in 1555 purchased messuages, &c., from Sir Thomas Hesketh and Alice his wife; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 16, m. 164. Henry Sollam in 1635 held six messuages, &c., of Dutton Lord Gerard; George, his son and heir, was of full age; Towneley MS. C 8, 13, p. 1074. Thurstan Tyldesley died in 1634 holding four messuages and the moiety of a water-mill. Edward, his son and heir, was forty-four years old; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvii, no. 29. Richard Tyldesley son of Thurstan died in the same year holding six messuages, &c., of John (sic) Gerard as of his manor of Bilsborrow. He left two daughters, Jane and Mary, aged ten and six in 1638; Towneley MS. C 8, 13, p. 1186. James Walker also died in 1634 holding a messuage of Dutton Lord Gerard in socage by 8s. 6d. rent. His heir was his son Henry, aged fourteen; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvii, no. 22.
  • 19. Several of the gifts have already been referred to. Richard son of Richard and William son of Alan de Singleton, also William de Slene, were other benefactors. The place-names include Blacklache, Dernerakes, Fernyhurst, Foxholehurst, Kirkfurlong, Morilegh, Stanrays and Wernigshurst; Cockersand Chartul. i, 262–9.
  • 20. Adam de Bilsborrow before 1244 granted 4 acres of land from his wood, with easements in the vill of Bilsborrow; Lytham D. at Durham, 2 a, 2 ae, 4 ae, Ebor. no. 44–6. The Prior of Durham was defendant in 1302 in respect of 4 acres, Matthew de Bilsborrow being plaintiff; De Banco R. 143, m. 9. John de Normanby, Prior of Lytham, in 1369 leased the Bilsborrow land to John Whiteshank for fifteen years at a rent of 5s.; Lytham D. no. 47.
  • 21. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 375.
  • 22. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), ii, 63.
  • 23. Lancs, and Ches. Rec. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 175.
  • 24. Fishwick, op. cit. 72.
  • 25. Ibid. 124.
  • 26. End. Char. Rep. for Garstang.