Townships: Pillling

Pages 332-335

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

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Pylin, 1194.

This large township, containing 6,060 acres, (fn. 1) is level and lies very low, the highest ground within it scarcely exceeding 25 ft. above sea level. A large part is moss-land, much of which has been reclaimed. A small detached portion lies within Preesall to the west, and another within Cockerham to the north. (fn. 2) The principal village lies in the northern end, near the place where the central brook runs into Morecambe Bay, the boundary on that side; in the southern half is a hamlet called Eagland Hill where 33 ft. above sea level is reached; on the border of Upper Rawcliffe lies Eskham. The population in 1901 numbered 1,407.

From the village roads branch out in several directions—to Cockerham, Garstang, St. Michael's, Knott End and the shore of the bay. A single-line railway from Garstang, opened in 1870, has its terminus near the village, from which the connexion with Knott End (for Fleetwood) was completed and opened in 1908.

About half the land is arable, and turf is taken from the moss for fuel.

Damage was, done in 1719 by the sea breaking in. (fn. 3) An outbreak of part of the moss near Eskham took place in 1745. (fn. 4) A road across the moss called Kate's Pad or the Danes' Pad was made of oak planks resting on sleepers. (fn. 5) The local proverb said, 'God's grace and Pilling moss are endless.'

In 1765 a quadruple birth was recorded at Pilling. The children lived for three weeks. (fn. 6)

The village was formerly isolated from the rest of the parish by the moss-lands. The road to Preesall and Stalmine was formed in 1780 and that to Garstang was made passable in 1808. (fn. 7) There is a parish council for administering the affairs of the township.


PILLING is not named in Domesday Book, being then, it is supposed, a member of Garstang. It was not granted to the Lancaster family, but retained by the Crown with the hundred, so that it was Theobald Walter who about 1194 granted it as 'the hey of Pilling' to the canons of Cockersand. (fn. 8) This grant was confirmed or renewed by King John in 1201, (fn. 9) and again by Henry III in 1227. (fn. 10) The canons were called upon to prove their title in 1292, (fn. 11) and continued to hold Pilling down to the Dissolution. (fn. 12) In 1543 the Crown sold the grange to John Kechyn or Kitchen of Hatfield, (fn. 13) who also acquired parts of the Whalley Abbey estates.

Kitchen settled Pilling or some part of it upon his son John and Grace his wife, but the younger John dying, the widow, in conjunction with her second husband William Hameldon, granted the estate to John Kitchen the father in 1548. (fn. 14) Settlements were made in 1557 (fn. 15) and 1561, (fn. 16) by the former of which a daughter Anne wife of Robert Dalton had Pilling. She died without issue in 1593, having survived her husband, and the heir was her brother Barnaby Kitchen, aged fifty-eight. (fn. 17) He died ten years later, leaving three daughters as co-heirs: Alice wife of Hugh Hesketh of North Meols, Anne wife of Thomas Ashton of Croston and Elizabeth wife of Nathaniel Banastre of Altham. (fn. 18) A partition was made in 1649, and the manor for over a century descended in thirds.

The Banastre share was in 1678 bought by Edmund Hornby of Poulton, and his descendant, the Rev. Geoffrey Hornby, is stated to have purchased a further share; this part has descended to Mr. Edmund Geoffrey Stanley Hornby of Dalton, near Carnforth. (fn. 19) The Heskeths (fn. 20) about 1770 seem to have sold their third to the other lords, so that the manor was held in moieties, the Rev. Geoffrey Hornby presenting to the curacy. (fn. 21) The Ashton part descended like Croston to the Traffords, (fn. 22) and it was afterwards sold. In 1825 the lords of the manor were Edmund Hornby, John Gardner and William Elletson, and in 1850 Edmund Hornby, the owner of the hall, John Gardner and Daniel Elletson. (fn. 23) The last-named died in 1856, but had about 1840 sold his share to John Gardner of Sion Hill, Garstang, his brother-inlaw, whose son the Rev. John Gardner, LL.D., rector of Skelton 1857–86, succeeded. He bequeathed it to his cousins, the Misses Margaret Jane and Emily Elletson, daughters of Daniel. (fn. 24) The advowson of the chapel goes with the lordship. No courts are held. Nothing remains of the old hall. (fn. 25)

The marsh and sea frontages have lately been sold by the duchy to the Rev. James Cardwell Gardner of Fluke Hall. (fn. 26)

Ulkrigge or Ulrick Meadow was in part acquired by Robert Hawes, (fn. 27) and William Hawes, who died at Bromley in Middlesex 1625, held 80 acres there. He left two daughters as co-heirs. (fn. 28)

Robert Bindloss acquired messuages in Pilling and the neighbourhood in 1587. (fn. 29)

The three coparceners of the manor all suffered as 'delinquents' in the Commonwealth period. (fn. 30)

The owner of Eskholme Houses in 1734 complained that his right of way through Nateby to Garstang and Preston had been denied. (fn. 31)

The small detached portion of the township adjoining Cockersand has resulted from an agreement in 1340 between the canons there and the monks of Leicester. It is in the hundred of Amounderness but in the parish of Cockerham. (fn. 32)


The canons of Cockersand probably established the chapel of ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST near their grange when they were placed in possession. (fn. 33) Agnes Shepherd had in 1493 the bishop's licence to live a solitary in a cell at Pilling chapel. (fn. 34) After the dissolution of the abbey it seems that £2 a year was allowed for the maintenance of a curate, (fn. 35) but as this was obviously insufficient it is probable that the chapel was used only irregularly during the latter half of the 16th century. (fn. 36) In 1621 some sixty of the inhabitants petitioned the king about the neglect of service, complaining that though they had to pay tithes there was no curate provided. The £2 granted out of the duchy revenues was to be renewed; Sir Robert Bindloss, the lay rector, promised £10 a year from the tithes, the inhabitants were ordered to provide another £8, and the farmer of the demesne £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 37) How far this award became operative is uncertain but Mr. Lumley was curate in 1639 (fn. 38) and remained there till in the Commonwealth time he was 'silenced for several misdemeanors. (fn. 39) In 1650 the chapel was vacant, and there was no proper maintenance. (fn. 40) Early in 1652 it was ordered that £50 a year be paid to the curate out of 'delinquents'' estates. (fn. 41)

The list of curates shows that the chapel was served regularly from about that time. The certain income in 1717 was £11 13s. 4d. (fn. 42) It was then found necessary to build a larger chapel, and the present site was chosen, about a mile west of the old one, for the greater convenience of the inhabitants. (fn. 43) This was built in 1717 and consecrated in 1721; it is a small rectangular structure with a bellcot over the west gable. Additional endowments were obtained from Queen Anne's Bounty and other sources. (fn. 44) A census of religions was made by the wardens in 1755. They reported 'about 100 families, most in communion of the Church of England, two Protestant Dissenting families, six or eight single persons who are Papists.' (fn. 45) A new church was built in 1887, and consists of chancel, clearstoried nave with north and south aisles, south porch, and western tower and spire. It is in the Gothic style and the spire forms a prominent landmark. The lords of the manor present alternately. The net value is given as £250. (fn. 46)

The following is a list of curates and vicars:—

1676 Oswald Croskell (fn. 47)
oc. 1686 Richard Hardy (fn. 48)
1687 Gabriel Dawson (fn. 49)
oc. 1701 Thomas Hunter
1715 John Anyon (fn. 50)
1731 John Coulton (fn. 51)
1758 George Holden (fn. 52)
1767 Cuthbert Harrison, B.A. (fn. 53) (Trin. Coll., Camb.)
1774 John Hunter (fn. 54)
1781 William Bateson (fn. 55)
1797 Thomas Godfrey (fn. 56)
1802 James Potter (fn. 57)
1825 James Dawson Banister (fn. 58)
1876 John Wilson Waithman, M.A. (St. John's Coll., Oxf.)
1893 Richard Titley Gardner, M.A. (Emmanuel Coll., Camb.)
1897 Thomas Pearson, M.A. (Christ's Coll., Camb.)

There is a mission chapel (St. Mark's) at Eagland Hill, built in 1869.

The Wesleyan Methodists have a chapel, built in 1813.

The Roman Catholic church of St. William was opened in 1891.

A free school was founded and endowed by Robert Carter in 1710. (fn. 59)


  • 1. 6,175 acres, including 9 of inland water; Census Rep. 1901. There are also 1,801 acres of foreshore.
  • 2. The former of these detached portions was added to Preesall under the Divided Parishes Act of 1882, the latter to Cockersand Abbey in 1887 by Loc. Govt. Bd. Order 20099.
  • 3. A brief was issued for a collection for those injured; Arch. Æliana, xvii, 81.
  • 4. a Letter from Legh Richmond, vicar of Garstang, in Fishwick's Garstang (Chet. Soc), 40.
  • 5. Rev. R. Bannister in Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc. vi, 338–40. He states that 'does' were found wild on the moss till a late period.
  • 6. Fishwick, op. cit. 275.
  • 7. Ibid. 109.
  • 8. Cockersand Chartul. (Chet. Soc), ii, 375; a facsimile of the charter serves as frontispiece. The grant was made for the souls of Henry II, Richard I, John Count of Mortain, Ranulf de Glanvill his beloved, Hubert Archbishop of Canterbury his brother, Harvey Walter and Maud, his father and mother, &c. It was to be held in free alms, quit of 'deerward' of the forester and all secular exactions.
  • 9. Ibid. i,44. Theobald Walter's grant seems to have been ignored.
  • 10. Ibid. 45. Thebounds of the demesne of Pilling Hey are given ibid. 47–9. An agreement was made with the monks of Leicester as to the land and tithes between Wrampool and Pilling, the land being divided equally; ibid, ii, 379. For a further agreement see ibid. 390.
  • 11. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 379. A later summons de quo warranto was issued in 1498; Pal. of Lanc. Writs Proton. 13 Hen. VII.
  • 12. There are rentals 1451–1537 in Cockersand Chartul. iii.
  • 13. Pat. 35 Hen. VIII, pt. iii. A further grant was made to Edward Wymark in 1588; Pat. 30 Eliz. pt. vii.
  • 14. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 13, m. 162. From pleadings of 1590–1 (printed by Fishwick, op. cit. 245) it seems that the younger John had a posthumous child which did not survive long, and that he had bequeathed his estate in Pilling to a cousin, William Copwood of Totteridge, whose heirs were the claimants. Grace was then the wife of John Barker, clerk.
  • 15. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 17, m. 6; the estate is described as the manors of Cockersand and Pilling, 100 messuages, water-mill, two dovecotes, 3,000 acres of moss, &c., with a free fishery in the water of Lune.
  • 16. Ibid. bdle. 23, m. 167; three messages, dovecote, water-mill, lands, &c., in Pilling. John Kitchen is said to have died about that time. In 1579 his daughter, described as Anne Dalton of Penwortham, widow, complained that her father's widow, Jane Kitchen of Forton (previously wife of Roger Dalton), had possession of part of her estate in Pilling. Jane answered that it had been settled upon her younger son Roger Dalton; Fishwick, op. cit. 244, giving the pleadings. A survey of the manor was desired in 1583; Exch. Dep. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 3.
  • 17. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xvi, no. 43. Robert Dalton was the son and heir of William Dalton.
  • 18. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 24. The manors, &c., in Pilling, Garstang and Cockerham were together held of the king in chief by the twentieth part of a knight's fee and £3 17s. rent. Settlements made between 1599 and 1602 are recited in the inquisition. Pilling was divided into three parts and Ulkrigge Meadow into two (for Banastre and Hesketh). Of the co-heirs Alice Hesketh was aged fifty, Anne Ashton twenty-two and Elizabeth Banastre seventeen.
  • 19. Fishwick, op. cit. 246. In a recovery of the manors of Dalton and Pilling in 1810 the Rev. Geoffrey Hornby and his wife and Edmund Hornby were vouchees; Pal. of Lanc. Lent Assizes, 50 Geo. III, R. 6. The descent is thus given in Burke's Landed Gentry: Edmund Hornby -s. Geoffrey -s. Edmund -s. (Rev.) Geoffrey, d. 1812 -s. Edmund, d. 1857 -s. Edmund George, d. 1865 -s. Edmund Geoffrey Stanley, b. 1839.
  • 20. a Hugh Hesketh died in 1625 holding in right of Alice his wife a third part of messuages, water corn-mill, &c., in Pilling and Ellel and a moiety of Ulkrigge Meadow in Pilling; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxv, no. 16. See North Meols. The following fines refer to the Hesketh third: 1600, Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 62, no. 247–Hugh Hesketh and Alice his wife; 1611, bdle. 79, no. 71–same; 1664, bdle. 173, m. 71–Thomas Selby and Anne his wife; 1668, bdle. 181, m. 143–same and Robert Heaketh; 1670, bdle. 184, m. 15–Robert Hesketh and Ursula his wife; 1710, bdle. 264, m. 72–Roger Hesketh and Mary his wife.
  • 21. In 1794 the lords were the Rev. Geoffrey Hornby and John Trafford; Preston Guard. Local Sketches, no. 1129. The Hesketh demesne lands were divided, one moiety being held by the late Richard Cardwell Gardner of Fluke Hall, Pilling, and the other by G. T. R. Preston of Ellel Grange; information of the Rev. James Cardwell Gardner.
  • 22. a Anne Ashton died in 1618 and her husband Richard in 1621, leaving a son Thomas, aged seventeen. Her third part was held by knight's service; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 291. Thomas Ashton died in 1632 holding the third part of the manors of Pilling and Ellel, with messuages, lands, &c., including sixty salthouses, of the king by the twentieth part of a knight's fee; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxix, no. 6. See the account of Croston for the succession. The following refer to the Ashton third: 1692–3, Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 230, m. 38–John Trafford of Croston, Katherine his wife and Anne Trafford, widow; 1771, Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 613, m. 10 (recovery)–Humphrey and John Trafford; 1797, Aug. Assizes, R. 11 (moiety of manor)—John and Humphrey Trafford.
  • 23. Raines in Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc), ii, 413.
  • 24. Information of Miss Elletson, Ambleside.
  • 25. a 'In making excavations near the present hall (which is used as a farmLouse) many beautifully carved stones have from time to time been exhumed . . . and about ten years ago (from 1879) in the centre of the barn was discovered an oval hole or pit, some 18 ft. deep and from 6 ft. to 9 ft. wide, covered with rafters having over them about 3 ft. of sand.' Above the door of one of the barns was a stone dated 1675; Fishwick, op. cit. 246.
  • 26. Other owners of land, &c., have put forward claims to easements in the Marsh.
  • 27. Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 286, 338, 355. The suits related to the part of the estate held by Jane Kitchen the widow, as mentioned in a former note.
  • 28. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xxvi, no. 32; the heirs were Anne Hawes, aged twenty-one, and Susan, aged eighteen.
  • 29. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 49, m. 21; the deforciants were Richard Bold, John Fleming and Roger Dalton.
  • 30. Richard Ashton's rents in Cockerham and Pilling in 1652 amounted to £25 12s. 2d.; Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 97. Richard Banastre of Altham; ibid, i, 126. Thomas Hesketh of North Meols; Cal. Com. for Comp. iii, 2051; iv, 2934.
  • 31. Cal. Exch. of Pleas, P 94.
  • 32. Cockersand Chartul. ii, 385.
  • 33. The petition presented to the Bishop of Chester in 1716 records an 'ancient tradition' that the old chapel was built in or about 1209, when there were but seven families in the township; Ch. P. at Chester Dioc. Reg.
  • 34. Cockersand Rental (Chet. Soc. lvii), 30.
  • 35. This appears from the petition of 1621.
  • 36. The chapel is not mentioned at all in the list of 1610 in Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 8.
  • 37. Fishwick, op. cit. 105–8. It is probable that the payments by the inhabitants and the farmer could not be levied. Bishop Gastrell does not mention them. The registers go back to 1621; ibid. 113.
  • 38. Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 124.
  • 39. Commonw. Ch. Surv. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), 150.
  • 40. Ibid.
  • 41. Plund. Mins. Accts. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, no, 247. James Threlfall, 'a godly and orthodox divine,' was then minister; the maintenance did not exceed 20 nobles a year (£6 13s. 4d.), and there were 120 families.
  • 42. Gastrell, Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc), ii, 413; the Crown gave £1 13s. 4d. and the impropriator £10.
  • 43. The petition has been cited above. It states as a reason for changing the site that 'such of the inhabitants as live westward of the present chapel [were] forced to go above two miles on lands not well to be ridden upon, being soft and mossy.' It was added that 'there is not one Dissenter in the chapelry.' The agreement made is printed by Fishwick, op. cit. 109–11.
  • 44. Ibid. 112, where a brief description is given, with a notice of the monuments.
  • 45. Visit. Ret.
  • 46. Manch. Dioc. Dir.
  • 47. Visit. List of 1677 at Chester. Short notices of the curates will be found in Fishwick, op. cit. 113–20; some of the following details are derived therefrom.
  • 48. Rector of North Meols 1689– 1708. One of these names graduated from Pembroke Coll., Camb.; M.A. 1674.
  • 49. Of St. John's Coll., Camb., but did not graduate; Mayor, Admissions to St. John's, ii, 93. He was licensed to Pilling 28 Jan. 1686–7; Visit List of 1691. He was 'conformable' in 1689; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 230. He died in 1692.
  • 50. The records in the church papers at Chester Dioc. Reg. begin with this curate. He was nominated on the death of Thomas Hunter by Roger Hesketh and Edward Hornby, two of the lords of the manor, 'the third lord being a reputed Papist.' Anyon was afterwards curate of Ribby and Lund in Kirkham. In 1731 he was still at Pilling and presented for incontinence; Visit. Ret. at Chester.
  • 51. Nominated by Roger Hesketh and Geoffrey Hornby on the resignation of J. Anyon. He resided at Pilling in 1743, but also ministered at Shireshead every other Sunday afternoon; Visit. Ret. at Chester.
  • 52. Nominated by Roger Hesketh and Edmund Hornby on the death of J. Coulton. Holden was under-master at Bentham School. He became curate at Tatham Fell 1767 and compiled Holden's Tide Tables, still published at Liverpool. He had a son George, whose son George Holden was curate of Maghull in Halsall 1811– 65; Fishwick.
  • 53. Nominated by Roger Hesketh and Geoffrey Hornby, two of the lords of the manor, the third (Humphrey Trafford) being 'a reputed Papist.' Mr. Harrison was of the Singleton family.
  • 54. Curate of Broughton; nominated by Geoffrey Homby of Preston, sole patron, on the resignation of C. Harrison.
  • 55. Son of Anthony Bateson of Wray in Melling; nominated by Geoffrey Hornby, rector of Winwick, on the death of J. Hunter.
  • 56. Nominated by G. Hornby on the death of W. Bateson. He was 'minister' in 1793.
  • 57. Nominated by G. Hornby on the death of T. Godfrey.
  • 58. Nominated by Edmund Hornby, John Gardner and William Elletson, lords of the manor, on the death of J. Potter. He resigned in 1876.
  • 59. End, Char. Rep. for Garstang.