A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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Cantesfelt, Dom. Bk.; Canceveld, 1202; Cancefeld 1208; Cauncefeud, 1241; Cauncefild, 1283.
This township is bounded on the north in part by Cant Beck, on the south by the Greeta. At the west it extends to the level ground along the Lune, though it does not actually touch this river; to the east it becomes more hilly, a height of 300 ft. over sea level being attained in the south-east corner. The village lies near the centre, with Thurland Castle nearly a mile to the west. There is an area of 1,221½ acres, including 17 acres of inland water, and in 1901 the population was 103. (fn. 1)
The road from Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale crosses the western end of the township, and from it another road, which passes through the village, goes east into Yorkshire.
As a member of the lordship of Whittington Earl Tostig held Cantsfield in 1066, it being then assessed as four plough-lands. (fn. 2) Somewhat later it was with Tunstall included in the Hornby fee, (fn. 3) and the dependence continued until 1885, when a payment of £2 10s. due annually to the lord of Hornby for Tunstall and Cantsfield was redeemed by Mr. North. (fn. 4) The latter township was granted together with Farleton to Geoffrey de Valoines, (fn. 5) and then to Hugh de Morewich, (fn. 6) whose son Hugh came of age and succeeded about 1200. (fn. 7) Later it was held in moieties known as the manors of Thurland and Cantsfield, of which the former was the principal, its lords having Tunstall also, and acquiring the manors of Burrow and Leck.
The lordship of THURLAND, a name which may have been used from the first, though it does not occur till 1402, has an obscure origin. In 1201 Gilbert de Notton released to Akarias de Austwick all his title to three plough-lands in Cantsfield. (fn. 8) A year afterwards Akarias came to an agreement with William de Tunstall and Thomas his son respecting boundaries and common rights. (fn. 9) Akarias held the manor of Cantsfield at the beginning of 1208, when he had a dispute with Hugh de Morewich, lord of Farleton and Cantsfield—six plough-lands in all. (fn. 10) This dispute was settled at the end of the same year by Richard de Heggefeld, Godith his wife, Thomas de Tunstall, Maud his wife, Ingrith, John and Akarias on one side and Hugh de Morewich on the other, the former party releasing all their right in the multure of the three plough-lands in Farleton, and Hugh releasing 12s. 4d. out of the 39s. due to him for the manor and mill of Cantsfield and from the multure of the said six plough-lands held of him. (fn. 11) It is probable that Godith, Maud and Ingrith were daughters and heirs of Akarias de Austwick, John and Akarias being near of kin and tenants also. Thomas de Tunstall had a son William, (fn. 12) who in 1241 obtained from Sarah daughter of Robert de Stanton a release of 6 oxgangs of land in Austwick and 2 out of 5 oxgangs in Cantsfield. (fn. 13) William son of Thomas de Tunstall was living in 1246, when Joan widow of Roger de Tunstall claimed dower against him. (fn. 14) In the same year he acquired from John de Cansfield 7 oxgangs of land in Cantsfield, with a further messuage and 6 oxgangs there, an eighth part of Old Wennington, and land in Wrayton. (fn. 15)
William de Tunstall was succeeded (fn. 16) by a son (fn. 17) and a grandson, (fn. 18) each named John. The chief messuage of the family had been fixed in Cantsfield before 1292. (fn. 19) William son and heir of John de Tunstall was a minor in 1315, when his wardship was claimed by John son of Robert de Harrington. (fn. 20) He had come into possession by 1328, when the Abbot of Croxton claimed a debt of 20 marks from him, (fn. 21) and his son William was in possession in 1359. (fn. 22) William added the manors of Over Burrow, Nether Burrow and part of Leck to the family inheritance in 1370, (fn. 23) and thus made the Tunstalls more prominent. He is probably the William de Tunstall who was knight of the shire in 1384. (fn. 24) He obtained a charter of free warren in his demesne lands in Tunstall, Cantsfield, Burrow, Leck and Newton in 1376, (fn. 25) and in 1381 received a general pardon. (fn. 26) He died in 1387. (fn. 27)
He was succeeded by Sir Thomas Tunstall, probably his son, who was already a knight in 1382, (fn. 28) and who in 1402 obtained the king's licence to crenellate his manor of Thurland and to inclose and impark 1,000 acres of meadow, &c., called Fairthwaite. (fn. 29) Sir Thomas died in 1415 holding the manor of Cantsfield of John Harrington in socage by a rent of 3s. 4d.; also the manors of Tunstall, Burrow and Leck, Newton and Hubberthorn. His son and heir, William Tunstall, was twenty-four years old. (fn. 30) The new lord made a feoffment of his castle or manor of Thurland in 1417 and of his other possessions. (fn. 31) He did not long survive, for in 1425–6 his widow Anne made agreements with Thomas Tunstall, his brother and heir male, as to her dower, for which she received £40 a year. (fn. 32)
Thomas Tunstall was serving in the French wars in 1418. (fn. 33) He was made a knight in 1426 for his conduct at the battle of Verneuil in 1424. (fn. 34) Sir Thomas and Eleanor his wife were pardoned in 1427 for having married without the king's consent; she was the widow of Sir Philip Darcy. (fn. 35) Sir Thomas was on a commission of array in the same year. (fn. 36) There is again a slight defect in the evidence, (fn. 37) the next to appear being Sir Richard Tunstall, (fn. 38) a Lancastrian who was attainted in 1461, (fn. 39) but was afterwards pardoned and restored. (fn. 40) Sir Richard, who made a settlement of his manors in 1490 (fn. 41) and died in or before 1492, had a son William, who died in 1499, and a daughter Eleanor, whose son and heir Christopher Askew was then aged twentyone. (fn. 42) The heir male was Thomas son of Thomas brother of Sir Richard, aged twenty, and his wardship was granted to Sir Edward Stanley of Hornby. (fn. 43)
Thomas was dead in February 1503–4, when his brother Brian was allowed to enter on the inheritance. (fn. 44) Brian enjoyed the lordship for less than ten years, being slain at Flodden 9 September 1513. (fn. 45) He held the castle and manor of Thurland as before, viz. in socage of Lord Harrington. By Isabel his wife he left three children—Marmaduke, aged six, Anne, aged three, and Brian, born after his father's death. The guardianship of the heir he bequeathed to his 'brother Doctor' Cuthbert Tunstall, the most famous member of the family, (fn. 46) Bishop of Durham from 1530 to 1559, when he was deprived by Queen Elizabeth. Marmaduke was to be put to school so that he might learn to serve God in His commandments. (fn. 47) He entered on his inheritance in 1529 (fn. 48) and was made a knight in 1533, at Anne Boleyn's coronation. (fn. 49) He aided in the suppression of the northern rebellion in 1536. (fn. 50) At his death in 1557 he held the manor of Thurland and other manors as before, with the addition of an eighth part of the manor of Hackinsall and Preesall. (fn. 51) His heir was his son Francis, aged twenty-seven, who entered on possession in 1561. (fn. 52)
Francis Tunstall was externally a conformist in religious matters when the Elizabethan changes were made, but being notoriously disaffected (fn. 53) he was brought up for examination in 1568 before the queen's commissioners. He replied that he had usually attended service at Tunstall Church within the past twelve months, but had not received the communion; he had entertained Vaux, the exWarden of Manchester, but had not been aware that the laws forbade it. (fn. 54) In spite of his religious dangers he was able to purchase the manor of Garneygarth in Whittington. He made a settlement of Thurland and other manors in 1585, (fn. 55) and died in or before 1587, leaving a son Francis as heir, but under age, being seventeen years old. (fn. 56) He obtained the inheritance in 1591, (fn. 57) but was involved in a number of disputes and money difficulties, (fn. 58) and about 1605 sold Thurland and the other manors in Tunstall to John Girlington, removing to Scargill in Yorkshire, inherited from his grandmother the wife of Sir Marmaduke. (fn. 59) The new lord of Thurland died in 1612, but was not then seised of any manors or lands in the county. Nicholas, his son and heir, was twenty years of age. (fn. 60)
Nicholas Girlington recorded a pedigree in 1613 as 'of Thurland,' (fn. 61) and in 1619 made a feoffment or mortgage of the castle of Thurland, the advowson of Tunstall, &c. (fn. 62) Like their predecessors the Girlingtons were Roman Catholics, (fn. 63) and John the son and heir of Nicholas (fn. 64) zealously espoused the king's cause at the opening of the Civil War. (fn. 65) He was made a knight (fn. 66) and major-general, (fn. 67) and was killed in 1645 near Melton Mowbray, (fn. 68) or died of wounds received. In North Lancashire in 1643 many of the Royalists took refuge in Hornby and Thurland Castles. Sir John Girlington, reputed a 'strong malevolent in those parts,' kept Thurland, but in June surrendered it to Colonel Assheton upon conditions which, as was alleged, he did not keep. (fn. 69) Later in the year he was again in possession, and having, wrote Colonel Rigby, the Parliamentary commander, 'drawn forces into his castle of Thurland, he began to plunder the country and commit robberies and murders. And thereupon for the suppression of him and his adherents I repaired thither, and after seven weeks' strait siege of the castle it was delivered unto me to be demolished, upon agreement to suffer him and all his in the castle to pass away with their lives and goods.' The Royalists of Cartmel and Furness had joined with those of Cumberland and Westmorland in an attempt to raise the siege, but were defeated on l October; the castle was surrendered two or three days later and almost demolished. (fn. 70)
The heir, John Girlington, was born about 1638, so that he was a minor at his father's death. Thurland Castle and other lands were seized by the Parliament, and in 1646 were granted on lease to Edward Aspinwall and Robert Cunliffe, paying a rent to the agents for sequestration to the public use. (fn. 71) The fortunes of the family were probably broken by the war, and though after the Restoration John Girlington acted as high sheriff in 1662–3 (fn. 72) and recorded a pedigree in 1665, (fn. 73) the whole estate or lordship was sold in 1698, (fn. 74) to John Borrett, a wealthy London lawyer, afterwards of Shoreham. (fn. 75) By his will of 1738 he left Thurland to his son Thomas, who died in 1751, leaving two daughters. The elder, Susannah, married William Evelyn, and her trustees sold to Robert Welch in December 1771. (fn. 76) In 1780 Robert's son Henry sold it to Miles North of Newton, who had inherited part of the lands of Thurland from his grandfather James Bordrigge, brother-in-law and beneficiary under the will of John Borrett. The North family retained it until 1885, in which year it was sold by Mr. North North to the late Edward Brown Lees of Clarksfield, Oldham. (fn. 77) He died in 1896, and was succeeded by his eldest son Mr. Eric Brown Lees, now lord of the manors of Tunstall, Cantsfield and Burrow. (fn. 78)
THURLAND CASTLE (fn. 79) is situated about half a mile to the west of Cantsfield village and about a quarter of a mile to the south of Tunstall, and stands on a low natural mound completely encircled by a moat about 25 ft. wide filled with water. The site, which is at the foot of the slope of a hill between the River Greeta on the south and the Cant Beck on the north, was originally a defensive one, the castle effectively commanding the whole of its surroundings. The building appears to have been originally erected in the 14th century, and early in the 15th century Sir Thomas Tunstall obtained a licence to crenellate the house. Very little of this building, however, now remains, it having been left in a more or less ruinous state after the siege in 1643, when the interior was burned and a considerable portion of the house destroyed. Sir John Girlington fitted up a few apartments on the site of the hall and adjoining rooms when he was high sheriff in 1662–3, (fn. 80) but the house remained in a ruined state till 1809, when it was partly restored by Richard Toulmin North, from designs by Jeffrey Wyatt. The original building was built round three sides of a courtyard, the fourth or south side of which was occupied by a gateway. The hall was at the east and the kitchen and offices at the west end of the north wing; the east wing contained the chapel, and the west wing, which has now disappeared, probably consisted of stables and outbuildings. Wyatt's rebuilding is said to have consisted of the 'chapel and entrance court,' (fn. 81) and some years later, about 1829, further additions, which however were never completed, were made to the east wing, extending it southward. (fn. 82) A fire which occurred on 17 April 1876 destroyed the greater part of Wyatt's work, and since that date the house has been almost entirely rebuilt and is now practically a modern mansion. (fn. 83) Whitaker, writing in 1819, states that the first rebuilding was 'very judiciously ' done on the old foundations, 'the preservation of the old walls as far as they reach having a most happy effect on the colour of the whole,' (fn. 84) and later rebuildings have preserved such parts of the old building as were left by Wyatt. The existing house is a reconstruction of the old north and east wings, the former being about 128 ft. in length, with an average width of 28 ft. and having a later extension to the west; and the latter, which is swung round to the west at an acute angle, 125 ft. in length. The building is of two stories in the castellated style of domestic architecture, with mullioned and transomed windows and embattled parapets, the east and west ends of the north wing being carried up as towers. The whole of the interior has been remodelled and the chapel has ceased to exist, the only portions of the original building now remaining being probably the lower parts of the external walling of the east end of the north wing and the north end of the east wing. It is, however, difficult actually to distinguish the extent of the ancient walling, as the rubble masonry erected at the beginning of the last century, much of which still remains, has now weathered so as to have the appearance of much earlier work. Only two architectural features of the mediaeval house remain, one a small slit window opening, now built up, at the north end of the east wing, and the other an interesting gritstone doorway on the south side of the north wing, probably of early 15th-century date, with trefoiled pointed head and external hood mould. The jambs of the doorway, which probably opened on to the screens at the west end of the hall, have been carved with ornament, of which that on the west side remains, consisting of two fleurs de lis, a lion, a pomegranate and a rose. On the east side the ornament has been worn away, but on the soffit of the middle foil, at the crown of the arch, there is a carved head. The wall is here 5 ft. 6 in. thick, as on the north side of the hall, but the walls at the north end of the east wing are a foot less. The house is approached from the south by a bridge over the moat, the entrance being in the east wing facing the courtyard, and a terrace with stone retaining wall and buttresses runs along the north and east sides, forming upper and lower gardens between the moat and the house.
The manor of CANTSFIELD properly so called, of which Thurland was held, belonged to a family using the local name, but little is known of its history. (fn. 85) About the middle of the 13th century Sir Richard de Cansfield married Aline Fleming and so acquired the manor of Aldingham. They had three children, John, William and Agnes, the last ultimately succeeding. She married Robert de Harrington, and their son John inherited Cantsfield and Aldingham. (fn. 86) The lordship thus passed to the Harringtons of Aldingham, but a smaller manor of Cantsfield was long held by a family, also surnamed Cansfield, (fn. 87) whose principal seat was at Robert Hall in Tatham, (fn. 88) and has descended in the same way to Captain Frederick Gerard. No manor is now claimed.
But few other estates appear in the records (fn. 89) Robert Townson, who had served in the Civil War under Sir John Girlington, compounded for his 'delinquency' in 1649 by a fine of £25s. (fn. 90) Christopher Parkinson of Laithbutts and Nicholas Gardnett in 1717 registered their estates as 'Papists.' (fn. 91)
Thomas de Tunstall obtained the king's licence in 1397 to endow a chaplain to celebrate daily in the church of Tunstall. (fn. 92) This chantry seems to have been transferred to the altar of St. John Baptist in the chapel in Thurland Castle, for in 1469 John Bentham was appointed its chaplain. (fn. 93) The right of presentation belonged to Cockersand Abbey, and one of the canons acted as cantarist. (fn. 94) At the Suppression in 1547 Abraham Clitheroe was the priest, celebrating daily for the souls of his founders, and having a stipend of £6 a year from lands in Wennington and elsewhere. (fn. 95) Since then there has been no place of worship in the township.