Townships: Leck

Pages 240-241

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.

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Lech, Dom. Bk.; Lecke, 1212; Lec, 1251; Leck, Leke, 1346.

The western boundary of the township is termed by the Roman road going north to Carlisle, which here is about 200 ft. above sea level. From it the surface gradually rises by successive undulations till the foot of the fell is reached, and then it ascends steeply by Leck Fell and Greygarth Fell till a height of 2,000 ft. is reached at the meeting point of Lancashire, Westmorland and Yorkshire. The area is 4,636½ acres, (fn. 1) and in 1901 the population numbered 211.

The principal road is that from Settle to Kirkby Lonsdale, which crosses the lower end of the township and has a branch north-east to the village of Leck and then up the fell side. Close to the main road the London and North-Western Railway Company's Ingleton branch runs through, but has no station.


In 1066 LECK, as three ploughlands, was a member of Earl Tostig's Whittington lordship, (fn. 2) and later was like Burrow granted to the Forester of Lancaster, and descended with Halton. (fn. 3) Two plough-lands in it were granted to the Gernets of Caton and Burrow, (fn. 4) and these appear to have formed the manor of Leck, afterwards held with Burrow by the Tunstall family, (fn. 5) and reckoned as three—Over Leck, Nether Leck and Todgill. (fn. 6) Gifts were made to Cockersand Abbey, (fn. 7) and these were transferred to Croxton Abbey, (fn. 8) which held other lands, (fn. 9) and this estate also was called a manor. (fn. 10)

The Tunstalls' part of Leck descended like Thurland till the 17th century. An estate in Leck was purchased from — Robinson by Robert Welch of Caton, who acquired Thurland in 1771. The Leck Hall estate has continued to descend in his family, (fn. 11) but no manor is claimed.

There is little about the township in the records, but families surnamed Leck (fn. 12) and Fairthwaite (fn. 13) occur in earlier times and Edmundson and others later. (fn. 14) About 1555 there was a dispute concerning Loglands pasture. (fn. 15)


The origin of the chapel of Leck is unknown. Before the Reformation it was probably served by the canons of Croxton, either in person or by a chaplain. Its fate after the destruction of the abbey is uncertain. The chapel is not mentioned in the list of 1610 or in the clerical subsidies of Charles I, and even in 1650 it had neither maintenance nor minister, though there was a congregation desiring to have it made parochial. (fn. 16) Nothing seems to have been done, and in 1717 it was recorded to be 'uncertainly served,' though a curate had been licensed in 1695. The vicar of Tunstall preached there four times a year and read prayers sometimes. (fn. 17) The certified income was only £2 18s. a year. Augmentations have been secured, and the net value is now stated as £196 a year. (fn. 18) A district chapelry was formed in 1859. (fn. 19) The present church of St. Peter was built in 1879. In 1691 the inhabitants elected Thomas Hunter, the schoolmaster, to be reader at Leek Chapel, (fn. 20) but in 1725 the vicar of Tunstall nominated, as he did till 1899, when the patronage was transferred to the Welch family, and Mr. H. E. P. Welch is now patron.

The following have been curates and vicars (fn. 21) :—

1775 John Marshall
1823 Samuel Blyth (fn. 22)
1825 John Merry, B.A.
1827 Edward Thurtell (fn. 23)
1837 Robert Dunderdale, M.A. (fn. 24) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)
1870 Humphrey Edward Owen, M.A. (Hertford Coll., Oxf.)
1874 George Turner Tatham, M.A. (St. John's Coll., Camb.)
1893 Josiah Brown Pearson, D.D. (fn. 25) (St. John's Coll., Camb.)
1895 William Armstrong Buck, M.A. (Peterhouse, Camb.)
1896 Charles Coverdale Tancock, M.A. (Exeter Coll., Oxf.)
1899 Francis Hanmer Webb-Peploe, M.A. (fn. 26) (Pembroke Coll., Camb.)
1904 Thomas Simcox Lea, B.D. (fn. 27) (Hertford Coll., Oxf.)
1907 James Turner, M.A. (fn. 28) (Gonville and Caius Coll., Camb.)

There is a Wesleyan Methodist chapel at Cowan Bridge.


  • 1. 4,631 acres; Census Rep. 1901.
  • 2. V.C.H. Lancs. i, 289a.
  • 3. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 43. William son of Benedict Gernet gave 2 oxgangg of land in Leck to his sister Margery, who was to render a pound of pepper yearly, another oxgang there to Osbert by the same rent, and 30 acres in Alton (old town) to Gilbert son of Orm, by a rent of spurs or 3d.; ibid. 44.
  • 4. In 1252 Roger Gernet of Halton held one plough-land in Leck and the mill there in demesne; the other ploughlands were held of him by Matthew de Burgh and the heir of Caton by knight's service. All belonged to the fee of the forest; ibid. 187. Roger de Caton had died a year before holding a plough-land in Leck of Roger Gernet of Halton as above; he had 6 oxgangs in demesne, and the other 2 had been granted to the Abbot of Croxton in free alms. In addition he held half a plough-land of Matthew de Burgh, likewise by knight's service; ibid. 185.
  • 5. Only 1 oxgang of land in Leck, with 6s. 8d. rent, was included in the purchase of the manors of Over Burrow and Nether Burrow by William de Tunstall in 1370; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 179. After the forfeiture by Sir Richard Tunstall in the time of Edward IV, part of his estate, viz. the manor of Leck, with water mill, &c., half the manor of Cantsfield and other lands were granted in 1466 to John Tunstall; Cal. Pat. 1461–7, p. 422.
  • 6. The manors of Burrow and Leck were held of Lord Dacre by services unknown in 1499; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, no. 37. The manors of Over Leck and Nether Leck with messuages, &c., there were in 1557 held of Lord Dacre in socage; ibid, x, no. 5. Francis Tunstall as lord of the manor claimed common of pasture on Leck Fell in 1594; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 318, 329. In 1605 the manors of Over Leck, Nether Leck and Todgill are named in a Tunstall feoffment; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 68, no. 42.
  • 7. Cockersand Chartul. (Chet. Soc.), iii, 894–7. The benefactors were Matthew Gernet, Godith his wife (1 oxgang of land), Roger Gernet of Burrow, William son of Sir Roger Gernet of Halton and Godith daughter of Richard de Burgh. In 1268 Ughtred de Leck held the land by a rent of 6d., with ½ mark at death. The 'court of the brethren' is named, and the field-names, &c., include Cultirbeck, Lidiate, Langavenam, Langland on Haverbergh, Linbutt in Brackenwray.
  • 8. Ibid. 895; a rent of 4s. a year was to be paid. The Croxton canons agreed to take land of the same value in exchange for that in Leck, should the Cockersand canons be able to purchase it. The 4s. rent was paid down to 1537; ibid, iv, 1292–3.
  • 9. See the Caton inquest above cited. Matthew de Burgh was in 1325 allowed to grant to Croxton Abbey a rent of 23s. 6d. from his lands in Leck; Cal. Pat. 1324–7, p. 128. In 1336 Richard de Craven, Godith his wife and William his son claimed half an oxgang of land against the Abbot of Croxton; De Banco R. 305, m. 173 d.
  • 10. In 1498 the Abbot of Croxton was summoned to prove his right to view of frankpledge in Leck; Pal. of Lanc. Writs Prothon. 13 Hen. VII. This privilege was not mentioned in 1202; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 377.
  • 11. Information of Col. North. The present owner of Leck Hall is Mr. Henry E P. Welch, J.P., son of the late Henry Thomas Welch.
  • 12. William son of John the Clerk of Leck occurs in 1347 and John his son in 1348; De Banco R. 352, m. 368; 355, m. 226 d. John de Leck in 1352–4 claimed a messuage and land in Burrow and Leck against Robert de Martindale and Alice his wife. It was alleged that Richard del Bank had granted it to John del Bank and his issue in the time of Edward I; that John had a son and heir William, whose son was the plaintiff. Alice defended as daughter of Margaret daughter and co-heir of one Thomas Muscel. Margaret's sister Alice had a son and heir John Rydale; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 2, m. 8; 3, m. 5. It may be noted that a Simon Ridell claimed lands in Todgill and Leck in 1591; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 513.
  • 13. In 1262 Adam son of Thomas de Fairthwaite (Fauerwayt) obtained an oxgang of land in Leck from Roger son of Adam de Ritthow and Alice his wife; Final Conc. i, 136. An Adam Faytwayt, perhaps the same, occurs in 1277; Assize R. 1235, m.11. Thomas son of Thomas de Faurthwait appears in 1347; De Banco R. 349, m. 311 d. William Fairthwaite was a tenant of Cockersand Abbey in Leck in 1451–61 and Oliver Fairthwaite in 1501–37. His rent was 6d., so that he was the successor of the Ughtred de Leck of 1268; Chartul. iii, 1292–3. In 1565 Michael Redmayne acquired a messuage, &c., in Leck and Todgill from John Fairthwaite, Anne his wife and William Craven; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 27, m. 134.
  • 14. Anthony Edmundson held in 1631 in Leck of John Girlington as of his manor of Leck; he also held in Over Burrow, Towneley MS. C 8, 13 (Chet. Soc.), 401. Thomas Nelson held similarly in 1636, leaving a son and heir John, aged twenty-one; ibid. 913.
  • 15. Ducatus Lanc. ii, 197.
  • 16. Commonw. Ch. Surv. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 119.
  • 17. Gastrell, Notitia Cestr. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 491.
  • 18. Manch. Dioc. Dir.
  • 19. Lond. Gaz. 29 Apr. 1859.
  • 20. Church Papers at Chester Dioc. Reg.
  • 21. The Church Papers at Chester give a complete list from 1691. Richard Thompson had been curate there from 1675; he was also curate of Gressingham; Visit. List of 1691. The same list shows that William Lancaster had been licensed as schoolmaster at Leek in 1690. There was no endowed school; in 1694 it is called 'a private school.' The curates were usually young men who stayed a year or two, and few particulars are known concerning them. Thomas Waring, B.A., 1695–1725, was of Queen's Coll., Oxf., and his successor William Garforth, B.A., of Christ's Coll., Camb. John Waller, 1762–6, had a stipend of £16.
  • 22. Leck is styled a perpetual curacy.
  • 23. Afterwards curate of Caton.
  • 24. He published some volumes of Poems and Sermons.
  • 25. He had a distinguished university career, being fellow of his college, Hulsean lecturer, &c. He was vicar of Newark 1874 and Bishop of Newcastle, Australia, 1880–9, when his health broke down. He died 10 Mar. 1895; Eagle, xviii, 600; xix, 89.
  • 26. Vicar of St. Peter's, Preston, 1903.
  • 27. Vicar of St. Ambrose, Widnes, 1898–1904.
  • 28. Vicar of Ingleton 1884–97.