A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1914.
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Lancester; Aldcliffe; Bulk; Ashton with Stodday; Scotforth; Thurnham (part) (fn. 1); Skerton; Overton; Poulton, Bare and Torrisholme; Heaton with Oxcliffe; Middleton; Quernmore; Over Wyresdale; Caton; Gressingham
Bleasdale (fn. 2); Myerscough; Fulwood; Stalmine with Staynall; Preesall with Hackinsall
To the townships above enumerated as forming the parish of Lancaster there have sometimes been added Simonswood and Toxteth Park, near Liverpool, (fn. 3) for these were parts of the forest of Lancaster and therefore theoretically within the parish just as were Fulwood, Myerscough, Bleasdale and the southern half of Over Wyresdale. While the parish received this wide extension for civil reasons the chapelries of Gressingham, Stalmine and probably Caton were added to it through the donation of their churches or chapels to Lancaster Priory; and it may be observed that in later times, while Lancaster and Stalmine were in the deanery of Amounderness, Caton and Gressingham were in that of Lonsdale. It is possible on the other hand that Cockerham was once in this parish, the intervening township of Thurnham being divided between the two.
The eastern portion of the parish, including Caton, Gressingham and the forest, is hilly, and the fells dividing Quernmore and Caton on the north from Over Wyresdale on the south and parting the valleys of the Lune and Wyre contain the highest land in the main portion of the county, attaining 1,836 ft. above sea level at Ward's Stone; this is a little higher than Pendle. The western or lowland portion of the parish is bisected by the Lune; the north-western half, known in part as the Little Fylde, is flat and lies low, while the south-eastern half, though it has some marshy land, stands higher. There are two boroughs, the ancient one of Lancaster now extending into Scotforth, Bulk and Skerton, and the modern one of Morecambe. The population in 1901 numbered 60,019; this includes that of the whole of Thurnham (540) and that of Bleasdale also (403), but not that of the various detached parts. The total area is 70,540 acres, of which 18,098½ acres are in Amounderness.
Considering its position on one of the great roads to the north—that through the more level country bordering the Irish Sea—the history of the parish is surprisingly obscure. Such as it is it is almost entirely connected with the town of Lancaster, for the hill country to the east was utilized by the Norman lords for a forest, and so has practically no story, the Little Fylde was out of the main track, Aldcliffe and Bulk were in ecclesiastical hands, and the other townships of Skerton, Scotforth and Ashton were closely associated with the town.
From the remains which have been discovered it is certain that there was about the end of the first century a Roman settlement or military station at Lancaster, (fn. 4) but its name is unknown. (fn. 5) The choice was probably determined by the defensible bluff rising in a bend of the Lune at a point where the river was still tidal and navigable and yet fordable at low water. Though several miles from the great Roman road through Over Burrow the station was of some importance; a fort was built upon the Castle Hill, and what seems a fragment of the wall, formerly called Wery Wall, remains on the northeast slope, near Bridge Lane. (fn. 6) The ancient crosses found by the church, place-names, and traces of defence works show the introduction of Christianity and English settlement during the 7th century. It is alleged that there was a mint at Lancaster during the reign of Harold I (1035–40), for coins have been recorded with the name lac, landc, and lancs. (fn. 7) Nothing further is known till the meagre record of Domesday, which shows that, although there was a church at Lancaster, (fn. 8) the manor like a large part of the parish was merely a member of the great lordship of Halton held in 1066 by Earl Tostig, (fn. 9) the brother of Harold, who was killed at Stamford Bridge in that year. Count Roger of Poitou, on receiving the district from William the Conqueror or his son,judged Lancaster the proper place to be the seat of his lordship; there he built his castle, (fn. 10) the keep going back to his time, and in the adjacent church, by his grant of it to the abbey of St. Martin of Sées, he procured the establishment of a small body of monks so that the worship of God might be maintained in due state and regularity. Probably it was Count Roger who made a borough there, and the monks who set up the school.
Soon afterwards, perhaps even from Roger's own day, there was an 'honour of Lancaster' held by him and then by the king or a near relative, and a county was formed giving in course of time the title of earl and duke and receiving palatine jurisdictions. (fn. 11) A great family, lords of Kendal and Wyresdale, took their surname from the town. (fn. 12) Ecclesiastically, as stated already, Lancaster was for a time the head of a deanery in the archdeaconry of Richmond and diocese of York.
LANCASTER CASTLE is finely situated on the west side of the town on the summit of a steep isolated hill round which the River Lune sweeps in a curve about a quarter of a mile to the north. The site has been already described in the section on Ancient Earthworks, (fn. 13) the mediaeval building having replaced an earlier mount and court earthwork castle with timber palisading, the plan of which is still recognizable. 'Tradition' has attributed some portions of the masonry of the building to the Roman period, but this has no doubt arisen from the Norman fortress being erected partly on the site of a former Roman castrum. (fn. 14) Probably by the time the earthwork castle was constructed the Roman station had fallen into ruin. The evidence of the trenches goes to show that no portion of the Roman work was incorporated in the Saxon fortress, and by the time the Norman building was erected it is probable that nearly if not quite all traces of the Roman masonry had disappeared from the site. The Norman keep occupies the position of the Saxon mount and was erected by Roger of Poitou some time before 1102, being probably the only portion of the Norman structure then built in stone. The moats and fosses were constructed c. 1209, and to this period the work in the south-west tower, known as Adrian's Tower, corresponds, together with what remains of the curtain wall stretching between it and the keep, so that it seems probable a great deal of building was done about this date, the keep being supplemented by a range of buildings running southward from its south-west angle and standing in front of it, with a round tower at each end. There is evidence, too, of transitional work in the round staircase turret of the great south-east gateway, and probably also in the vault below the Well Tower north of it, indicating that the castle of the beginning of the 13th century occupied approximately the area which it covered during the later middle age period and down to modern times before the great additions made at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century.
The mediaeval castle covered an irregular area measuring about 380 ft. from west to east by about 350 ft. from north to south, the keep and the later buildings south of it occupying the west side and the gateway the lowest point of the site, at the south-east corner, facing the town. Directly north of the gateway, and connected with it by a short curtain wall, was a square tower, known as the Well Tower, and a second square tower called the Dungeon Tower stood on the south side of the courtyard midway between the gateway and Adrian's Tower on the south-west corner. Between the towers and the gateway the courtyard was inclosed by straight curtain walls on the south and east and by a longer curtain on the north, irregular on plan, the three parts of the wall running at obtuse angles, carrying the line of the fortification beyond the face of the keep on that side. At one of the angles of this curtain there was a circular flanking tower, the foundations of which were discovered in excavating for the erection of the prison building at the end of the 18th century.
All that now remains of the mediaeval building is the keep, sometimes called the Lungess Tower, the round south-west tower known as Adrian's, the gateway, and the square tower north of it known as the Well Tower. The building south of the keep inclosing the west side of the courtyard, together with the square tower on the south side known as the Dungeon Tower, and all the original curtain walls, have disappeared. The greater part of the gateway and Well Tower are of early 15th-century date, probably replacing older structures on the same site, as shown by the traces of older work, already mentioned, in the gateway. The Dungeon Tower seems to have been of the same date, and everything points to considerable rebuilding of the castle in the early years of the reign of Henry IV, the structure having suffered from invasions of the Scots in the 14th century. The gateway was probably rebuilt on the foundations of an older gatehouse of the reign of King John, and the upper portions of the Well Tower and Dungeon Tower had been so far destroyed that their almost complete reconstruction probably became necessary about the same time. (fn. 15)
In 1645, after the castle had sustained more than one Royalist attack, Parliament ordered that ' all the walls about it should be thrown down, only the gatehouse, the buildings upon the south and west, with the towers,' being retained. The order, however, does not appear to have been very effectually carried out, for the building must still have remained a fortress of considerable strength, as it was successfully held for the Parliament against Sir Thomas Tyldesley in 1648. (fn. 16) In June 1649, however, the Parliament gave further orders that the castle should be demolished 'except such parts thereof as are necessary for the sitting of the Courts of Justice and for the keepe of the common gaol of the county' (fn. 17); and more than eighteen months after, in 1651, the Council of State sent three officers to view the castle 'to see whether it be so far demolished as to be untenable according to former order.' (fn. 18) After the Restoration, however, in 1663, the high sheriff and justices of the peace petitioned the king to see the castle 'repaired as formerly,' the building being described as consisting heretofore of 'several strong and stately towers and lines,' but the lines had been 'demolished in the late unhappy wars and the roofs of the towers and lodgings of officers are fallen into decay and the records in danger of spoil.' (fn. 19) Orders accordingly were issued (fn. 20) for a survey of the fabric and 'all the decays and ruins thereof,' and an estimate of the charges required for the repairs, which amounted in all to £1,957, was returned on 12 January 1663–4. (fn. 21)
The repairs then effected seem to have subsisted down to the end of the 18th century, (fn. 22) but in 1788, in consequence of a general Act of Parliament for improving prisons, Lancaster Castle was directed to be altered and enlarged, and an amount of rebuilding was then begun which materially altered the plan and appearance of the fabric. The Governor's House, which filled up the whole of the space between the gateway and the Well Tower, was first erected, after which, in 1793, the female felons' prison, extending from the south side of the gateway to the Dungeon Tower, was completed, the Dungeon Tower being still left standing. The building of the male felons' prison on the north side of the court followed, necessitating the destruction of the curtain wall. This range of buildings, which was carried further northward than the original extent of the castle over the site of the moat, joining the Lungess Tower at its north-west angle, includes two towers each four stories high, with other necessary accommodation, and four radiating courts, the whole inclosed by a high boundary wall. The new Crown Hall was erected in 1796 on the west side of the Lungess Tower, terminating at its north end with a round tower containing the grand jury room, all this being to the north of the ancient line of buildings inclosing the west side of the courtyard and containing the old Crown Hall. The County or Shire Hall—the large semi-polygonal Gothic building which is such a prominent feature in all external views of Lancaster Castle from the west side—was erected in 1798, and the additions were completed by an arcade, or covered promenade for debtors, in front of the old Crown Hall within the castle yard, with rooms for debtors over it. (fn. 23) The Dungeon Tower stood till 1818, when it was taken down to make way for a female penitentiary, which was erected between the female felons' building and Adrian's Tower in 1818–21. Alterations were carried out in the castle in 1889–90, and again in 1892–3 (more particularly in Adrian's Tower), at both of which periods discoveries of considerable architectural and antiquarian interest, hereafter referred to, were made.
The Keep, or Lungess Tower, is a square of nearly 80 ft. externally, with walls 10 ft. thick of characteristic Norman masonry, the stones being short and set with wide joints. (fn. 24) On each face are three flat buttresses, one at each end and one in the middle of the wall. The tower consists of three stories and is 70 ft. in height, but the upper story is said to have been added in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. It is most likely, however, a rebuilding of formerly existing work, some of which probably yet remains. The date 1585 with the initials E.R. and those of Richard Assheton (high sheriff in 1586, when probably the work was completed) are on the battlements on the north side. The Elizabethan work included also the insertion of two large square windows of three transomed lights on the south side. The tower is divided its full height by a central wall running from west to east, and the original entrance was at the first floor level by an external flight of steps on the south side. On the north side the first floor has been removed, the two lower stories being thrown into one, now used as a chapel. 'Some of the rear arches of the ancient windows remain, of which two, facing east, on each original floor remain open, being plain round-headed ones with a shaft on each side.' (fn. 25) The lower story on the south side was used till 1816 as the County Lunatic Asylum. The south-west corner contains a vice, and is surmounted by an embattled turret rising 10 ft. above the parapet of the keep, usually known as John o'Gaunt's Chair, but probably an addition of the 15th century. The northern half of the keep was unroofed after the Civil War and remained a ruin until the end of the 18th century. (fn. 26)
The Great Hall lay to the south-west of the keep, connected with it by a short length of wall, and was 50 ft. by 25 ft. internally and divided into six bays. The hall does not appear to have occupied the whole extent of the building on the west side of the court between the two round towers, its north end being apparently occupied by a smaller apartment between the hall and the tower. The hall was used as the Crown Court before the erection of the new buildings in 1796–8, but the alterations then and afterwards made have almost destroyed all its original features. It has been divided into two, and the old external west wall is hidden within the modern buildings and disfigured with large modern windows. (fn. 27) The basement consisted of six transverse cellars with barrel vaults, one of which at the south end yet remains, having been excavated in recent years. 'The end walls of the vault are built up against the curtain, not jointed into it, the inner face of the curtain running unbroken behind the later masonry.' (fn. 28) These vaults seem to have been used, one as a passage to Adrian's Tower and the rest as prisons in the 18th century. (fn. 29) The north circular tower, the site of which is approximately covered by the new Crown Hall, appears to have been attached to the north-west angle of the range of buildings, at some little distance from the west wall of the keep.
Adrian's Tower, however, at the south end of the western range of buildings, abuts on the full length of the south wall of the Great Hall, projecting but slightly in front of it on the west side. It is distant from the keep about 70 ft., and consists of two stories. The whole of the exterior was encased in ashlar at the end of the 18th century, in the Gothic style employed in the other new buildings with large blank pointed windows which do not correspond with the floors. Old views, however, show the walls originally battering and the tower terminating in an embattled parapet carried on corbels. The interior of the lower story is of ashlar masonry in regular courses, but in the upper part the walling is rougher, irregularly coursed, and the stones, except those for doors and window rear arches, are roughly dressed, as if intended originally to have been covered with plaster. (fn. 30) The original entrance was on the north side from a passage under the Great Hall, and on each side of the door, in the thickness of the wall, is a vice leading to the roof and curtain walls. The eastern one seems to have been built up with solid masonry at a time not very long after its construction, as on its discovery in 1892–3 the masonry was found to be as fresh and the masons' marks as clear as when first built. The lower room had two loopholes commanding the south curtain wall and the external west wall of the hall, the rear arches of which remain. The southern loophole opens from a little watching chamber in the thickness of the wall. In 1810 the upper story was made into a record room, and was so used till the end of the last century. During the alterations of 1892–3, however, when the tower was converted into a museum, the floor was taken out and a circular gallery erected. The plaster was at the same time removed from the upper part of the walls, revealing the rougher masonry, and the soil and rubbish with which the ground floor had been filled up to a height of some 5 ft. or 6 ft. was cleared out. (fn. 31) When the excavations were made two large stones with sockets were found below the floor level in the centre of the tower. (fn. 32) There is a tradition that a horse-mill was used in this tower by the Romans and continued in use down to late mediaeval times. (fn. 33) The tooling of these stones is different from that in the rest of the building and may be Roman work, and it is possible that the stones are the remains of a mill, but whether in its original position or not cannot be stated. It may have been brought here from some ruined villa and the tower fitted to contain it. (fn. 34) Probably the tower came to be used in late mediaeval times as a kitchen or bakery, its proximity to the hall rendering such an arrangement likely. In the upper part are four wide arches in the thickness of the wall, one being the entrance door. 'The second led into a chamber running eastwards at the end of the hall; the third formerly opened to a gallery in the south curtain wall, but was, a little later, made into a large fireplace. The fourth arch leads to the second staircase by which the summit of the tower is reached.' (fn. 35) The inner order of the second arch is carried on corbelled shafts with moulded capitals of transition character, a further indication of the date of the tower as c. 1200.
From Adrian's Tower two fragments of the ancient curtain wall extend towards the east and north. The eastern one, which originally joined the Dungeon Tower, is now covered up by modern work, but old drawings show it to have had an embattled parapet both on its inner and outer face. Of the other fragment there exists a short length in its original state with a corbelled parapet, probably of the same date as the tower, but the rest of the wall is much defaced by modern openings and alteration. (fn. 36)
The Dungeon Tower stood about 75 ft. to the east of Adrian's Tower, and was a rectangular structure of two stories, 35 ft. by 30 ft. externally, the greater length being from west to east. It was not quite parallel with the curtain, and from the evidence of old drawings seems to have dated from the early part of the 15th century, having apparently been erected at the time the gatehouse was rebuilt. The floor was of singular construction, ' being of long stones set on end, about 4 ft. long and 6 in. to 8 in. square, clamped together with iron.' (fn. 37) This solid filling may have been to counteract attack by mining. Between the tower and the moat there projected a stone platform, like a low square bastion, which would also serve the same purpose. (fn. 38)
The gateway, which lay about 90 ft. to the east of the Dungeon Tower, is a picturesque structure of three stories, consisting of two semi-octagonal towers with machicolations and embattled parapets flanking a wide four-centred arched opening. The total width of the structure is 65 ft., the towers being each 25 ft. and the entrance 15 ft. wide. The depth is about 52 ft. from the front of the towers, and the walls are 9 ft. thick. The lower story of each tower is occupied by a guard-room commanding the approach to the castle on all sides by loopholes, originally cruciform in shape but now altered, in each face of the wall. The upper floor is divided into three rooms of about equal size and very lofty, but scantily lighted by small square-headed openings facing east. 'The middle room was a chapel, but has no ornament beyond an arch in the wall at the east end.' (fn. 39) Like the other rooms it is quite bare, but all retain their original ceilings, which have massively framed oak beams carried on stone corbels. Above the roof, which is flat and leaded, rise four square embattled turrets, two at the rear of each of the towers, the height to the top of the parapets of which is 66 ft. The evidence of the approximate date of the rebuilding of the gatehouse, apart from that of the architecture itself, lies in two shields over the gateway bearing the arms of France (modern) quartering England, that on the north side having also a label of three points, and being presumably the shield of King Henry V when Prince of Wales (fn. 40); but portions of the structure, as already stated, are of early 13th-century date. These are the inner pointed archway and part of the vaulted passage, where the junction of the earlier and later work is very noticeable. The cross ribs of the vault are carried on corbels, the undersides of which are rounded and ornamented with foliage in low relief. The corbels are continued up the wall as short round shafts, but the original capitals have disappeared, and their place is occupied by large octagonal ones of early 15thcentury date wrought in stone, corresponding to the vaulting ribs. The outer archway is of two moulded orders with hood mould, and above it, between the shields, is a niche occupied by a modern statue of John of Gaunt placed there in 1822. The groove for the portcullis may still be seen, but the old oak doors were replaced by new ones about 1813, an inner iron gate having been previously erected. On the south side facing the courtyard a vice in the thickness of the wall leads to the upper rooms. The iron vane on the north turret is dated 1688; it was restored in 1830.
The Well Tower, which is about 75 ft. to the north of the gatehouse, measures externally 40 ft. by 30 ft., the greater dimensions being from north to south. It derives its name from the existence within, at the north-west corner, of a deep well. The tower is two stories in height, the ground floor consisting of a vault below which, reached by a long flight of rough steps, is a lower vault, without light or ventilation, rudely arched with unwrought stone set with wide joints of hard mortar. (fn. 41) The lower part of the tower appears to be Norman work, but the upper part is probably of the same date as the gatehouse. The lower vault, which is popularly ascribed to Constantius Chlorus (a.d. 309), is slightly pointed, but it is without architectural features, the fashion of the masonry being the only evidence of its age. (fn. 42) This basement room, originally probably meant for storing purposes, was used in the 17th century as a prison, the rings and staples in the walls being still in place.
The Crown Hall and County Hall and the other buildings erected at the end of the 18th century are architecturally interesting only as early examples of the Gothic revival, being somewhat ornate in character and following rather the fashion of Strawberry Hill than the more restrained local 18th-century Gothic of the parish church tower (1754). The detail is generally poor and thin, but has been and is still greatly admired by popular taste.
The castle, as the residence, real or supposed, of the lord of the honour, was outside the parish, township and borough, belonging to the county to the present day. It was no doubt intended to be a safeguard against the Scots, and was a strong prison also. (fn. 43) It is noteworthy that for a short time, 1139 to 1153, David King of Scots was lord of Lancaster by grant of King Stephen, and in company with Henry of Anjou, afterwards Henry II, he visited the place in 1149. (fn. 44) King John stayed there for a few days in 1206, (fn. 45) while at a later time John of Gaunt is known to have been at Lancaster from 21 to 23 September 1385 and on a few days in the summer of 1393. (fn. 46) Apart from these incidents there is very little to connect the castle and town with the lords and kings who had a title from the place. Queen Victoria once paid it a visit. On 8 October 1851 she made a pause of two hours on her way from Balmoral southwards; she saw the castle and received addresses from the county magistrates and the corporation.
The office of constable of the castle (fn. 47) has in recent times become an honorary one, held for life by one of the more distinguished gentlemen of the county, as the following list of the constables of the last hundred and twenty years will show (fn. 48) :—
|1787||Thomas Butterworth Bayley|
|1811||Sir Richard Clayton|
|1860||Edmund George Hornby|
|1872||Thomas Batty Addison|
|1874||Robert Townley Parker|
|1892||Sir William Wilbraham Blethyn Hulton|
|1907||Sir John Tomlinson Hibbert|
|1908||Edward Bousfield Dawson (fn. 49)|
As the chief town of the county the assizes were in the mediaeval period regularly held at Lancaster, (fn. 50) though at times, particularly when there was danger or plague, the courts were held at Preston. (fn. 51) Charters were granted, renewed and extended from time to time, giving privileges of markets and fairs, gild merchant and statute merchant. (fn. 52) The surnames used in the town show the usual trades; there was a goldsmith in 1330. (fn. 53) On the religious side, in addition to the priory of monks at the parish church at the west side of the town, there were at the east side a house of Black Friars and a leper hospital; later a charitable gild, that of the Holy Trinity, was founded.
The ancient topography is open to discussion. The Roman settlement has left traces on the castle hill and its inner slope, but the later English town, the Old Lancaster of various charters, seems to have occupied a site to the east and south-east, where also Roman remains are stated to have been found. Domesday Book distinguishes between Lancaster and Kirk-Lancaster—the latter no doubt lying around the church—and Leland, repeating a local tradition, states that Old Lancaster was near the Dominican Priory (fn. 54) and was deserted only after its destruction by the Scots. Camden repeats this tradition, and gives the date as 1322. The Cockersand Chartulary (fn. 55) associates Old Lancaster with Bolron or Bowerham; and it was Ralph de Bolron who granted the monks of the priory land in the town fields of Old Lancaster on the north side of the well of Old Lancaster and following its brook northward to the common pasture of Lancaster and then going up to Swartmoor. (fn. 56)
The available evidence shows that the mediaeval town had much the same formation as that recorded in plans of the 18th century. Then as later the principal thoroughfares were St. Mary-gate, (fn. 57) now Church Street, Market-gate or street, (fn. 58) St. Leonardgate, which still retains its old name unaltered, (fn. 59) and Penny Street, (fn. 60) this last being the only one uniformly entitled a 'street.' (fn. 61) Penny Stone, which may have been in or near the street, is named in one of the priory deeds, William son of Roger de Croft granting the monks a piece of land extending in one direction as far as the road to Penny Stone and in the other towards Deep Carr. (fn. 62) The Fishstones were in St. Mary-gate, (fn. 63) near which also was Caldkeld, (fn. 64) a name preserved by Calkeld Lane, a steep passage leading down from Church Street, at the bottom of which, to the east, there used to be a well. These 'gates' or streets were in the 'borough,' for burgages existed in them; there were also burgages by the castle. (fn. 65) At a somewhat later time there are named St. Patrick's Lane, Pudding Lane and St. Nicholas Street, these occurring in the Cockersand rental of 1451; Chene (later China) Lane is named in that of 1501. (fn. 66) As there was a bridge over the Lune, a road to it, the present Bridge Lane probably, must have existed, though it is not named. The first mention of the bridge is in 1215 when the king allowed the Abbot of Furness to have timber from the forest to repair the bridge so far as he was liable, (fn. 67) while from 1291 onwards there were various grants of pontage for the repair and maintenance of this bridge. (fn. 68) Moor Lane (fn. 69) no doubt led up to the moors where the burgesses had various rights. The Townfields seem to have bordered the place on the southern side; in some cases, as Haverbrecks and Edenfield, the positions are known, but in others all traces of the names have vanished. (fn. 70)
The earlier history of the town has but little connexion with the general history of the country, though it sent burgesses to the Parliaments from 1295 to 1331. (fn. 71) The Black Friars of Lancaster, who had settled there about 1260, were in 1291 ordered to preach the crusade in the town itself, and at the chief meeting-places in Kendal and Lonsdale. (fn. 72) The port of Lancaster is mentioned in 1297 and later. (fn. 73) In 1322 at a Saturday's market Sir Edmund de Nevill caused proclamation to be made of Earl Thomas's fatal intention to march against the king; those willing to take part in the strife were to go for their wages to the Friars' house, where Sir Edmund showed the earl's commission. (fn. 74) In the same year was the devastating raid by the Scots already alluded to, during which the town was burnt and the surrounding country laid waste. (fn. 75) There were internal troubles also; thus to the summer fair in 1347 came a band of evil-doers who maimed and stole and in various ways ill-treated the townsmen and traders. (fn. 76) The Black Death visited the district in 1349, and in a claim for probate fees the Archdeacon of Richmond alleged that the church of Lancaster had been vacant between 3 September 1349 and 11 January following, and that in the parish 3,000 persons had died. The number in the town itself is not defined. The figures were no doubt greatly exaggerated, for the jury allowed less than a fourth of the amount claimed. (fn. 77) A minor incident may be recorded—an examination of witnesses in the Scrope-Grosvenor trial as to the right to bear the bend or; it took place at Lancaster 19 September 1386, and one of those who supported the Grosvenor claim was a local man, William de Slene, who said he had seen Sir Robert bearing the disputed coat in Gascony and at Roche-sur-Yon, about 1369. (fn. 78)
The priory, as alien, was suppressed in 1415 and its possessions, like much of the lands of the other alien priories in this country, were afterwards granted to the distant abbey of Syon at Isleworth. (fn. 79) The 15th century was probably a period of decay at Lancaster as elsewhere, but the latter part of it was distinguished by John Gardiner's endowments for chantry, almshouses and school.
The fisheries of the Lune led to disputes between the Abbots of Furness and the Priors of Lancaster and their tenants. By the foundation charter the priory had a third of the fishery, and the fishing rights of the lord of the honour were afterwards given to the abbey. The rule then was that the abbot was to have two draws with his net and the prior the third. The limits extended from Holgill or Howgill, at the boundary of Halton and Skerton, to Priestwath or Priesta, now Scale Ford, (fn. 80) and from St. Mary's Well to Priestwath. There was also a special fishery in St. Mary's Pot or Pool. (fn. 81) The Abbess of Syon, who had entered upon possession of the lands of the late alien prior, in 1460 granted a lease of her fishery rights to the Abbot of Furness. (fn. 82) A number of Skerton men were prosecuted by the abbot in 1476 for trespassing on his fishery, (fn. 83) and in 1482 a summons was issued against certain men who had captured twelve salmon called 'kepers' in the Lune at Lancaster. (fn. 84)
There were at least two 'Lune mills,' one at Skerton belonging to the Duchy of Lancaster, and the other in Bulk belonging to the Priory of Lancaster, and then, after the dissolution of that house, to Syon Abbey. (fn. 85)
Leland the antiquary, who visited the district about 1535–40, gives a comparatively full account of it, as follows:—
From Cockersand Abbey I rode over the sands, marking the saltcotes, and a mile off over Conder riveret trilling by the sands to the sea. So to a mean place called Ashton, of the king's land, where Master Leyburne knight useth to lie, and from thence a two or three miles to Lancaster. Lancaster Castle, on a hill, [is] strongly builded and well repaired. Ruins of an old place (as I remember, of the Catfields) by the Castle Hill. The New Town, as they there say, [is] builded hard by in the descent from the castle, having one parish church, where sometime the priory of monks aliens was put down by king Henry V and given to Syon Abbey. The old wall of the circuit of the priory cometh almost to Lune bridge. Some have thereby supposed that it was a piece of a wall of the town, but indeed I espied in no place that the town was ever walled. The Old Town, as they say there, was almost all burned, and stood partly beyond the Black Friars'; in those parts in the fields and foundations hath been found much Roman coin. The soil about Lancaster is very fair, plentiful of wood, pasture, meadow and corn. (fn. 86)
Lancaster was a place of sanctuary. (fn. 87)
The religious changes of the 16th century found the townsmen at first on the side of the Pilgrimage of Grace. The malcontents came from Kendal to Lancaster at the end of 1536, after mustering on Kellet Moor, and induced the mayor and others to make common cause with them. (fn. 88) The general pardon was proclaimed on 31 December by Clarenceux, Sir Marmaduke Tunstall being present, (fn. 89) and about two months later the Earls of Sussex and Derby arrived at Lancaster on their punitive expedition. Doubtless as a warning the Abbot of Whalley, John Paslew, and one of the monks of Sawley were executed at Lancaster with all the penalties of high treason on 10 March 1536–7, (fn. 90) and the Abbot of Sawley, William Trafford, followed in 1537 or 1538; his crime was that he had retaken possession of his monastery. (fn. 91) The successive confiscations of the estates of Syon Abbey, the house of the Black Friars and the endowments of gild, chantries and hospital seem to have aroused no opposition, but the townsmen were able to keep alive the school and Gardiner's almshouses.
One of the mayors at that time is said to have been a 'favourer of the gospel,' in the Protestant sense of the phrase, and to have befriended George Marsh of Deane while he was for six months or more confined in the castle in 1554 on a charge of heresy. (fn. 92) Another Protestant, named Warburton, was imprisoned with him. Marsh was confined in 'the highest prison.' Many came to see him, some to encourage, some to argue, as well gentry and priests as others. The justices threatened him for 'preaching to the people out of the prison,' and for 'praying and reading so loud that the people in the streets might hear.' He and Warburton said Morning and Evening Prayer, with the English Litany, and certain chapters of the Bible every day, and many of the townspeople in the evenings assembled outside the castle to hear them. The Bishop of Chester afterwards censured the gaoler for his favourable treatment of them, and the schoolmaster and others for speaking to Marsh. (fn. 93)
The latter part of Elizabeth's reign often found the castle occupied by prisoners for religion, their stories providing almost the only heroic episodes in the history of the little town. Some probably conformed and were released; others died in confinement, like Richard Hatton, a Marian priest, about 1586, (fn. 94) and Richard Blundell of Little Crosby in 1592 (fn. 95); while others were put to death nominally as traitors, but really, as the whole proceedings demonstrated, for religion. Those who persevered met their penalty at the place of execution on the hill overlooking the town on the east. (fn. 96) The first to suffer the extreme penalty, and the only one against whom the charge of treason had any plausibility, was James Leyburne of Cunswick in 1583; he not only rejected the queen's ecclesiastical supremacy and the established religion, but denied her right to the throne both for her illegitimacy and her excommunication by Pius V. He suffered 'with marvellous cheerfulness and gentleness, declaring on the scaffold that he died for the profession of the Catholic faith.' His quarters were displayed at Lancaster, Preston and other towns. (fn. 97) The next victims were two Lancashire men, James Bell and John Finch, both in 1584. The former was a Marian priest, who, after conforming for many years to the Elizabethan changes, was reconciled to the Roman Church and restored to his priestly office; he was sentenced for acknowledging the pope's ecclesiastical supremacy and rejecting the queen's, and, hearing his sentence with 'great content,' desired the judge to add to it that his lips and finger tips might be cut off for 'having sworn and subscribed to the articles of heretics, contrary both to my conscience and to God's truth.' He was sixty years old and suffered 'with great joy' on 20 April. (fn. 98) Finch was a layman and was condemned for the same cause—the acknowledgement of the pope's supremacy in England. (fn. 99) On 26 July 1600 two seminary priests were executed for their priesthood only, viz. Robert Nutter of Burnley and Edward Thwing, a Yorkshireman; of the former it is recorded that he 'rather despised than conquered death,' going to the gallows 'with as much cheerfulness and joy as if he had been going to a feast, to the astonishment of the spectators.' For the same cause two others—one of Douay and the other of Seville—were executed in March 1601; they were Thurstan Hunt and Robert Middleton, both Yorkshiremen. (fn. 100) In 1598 the Bishop of Chester seems to have been much disturbed as to the lightness of the punishment inflicted upon his religious opponents, and complained that the recusants in Lancaster prison had 'liberty to go when and whither they list to hunt, hawk, and go to horse races at their pleasure; which notorious abuse of law and justice should speedily be reformed.' (fn. 101)
In 1597 there was a late instance of an execution for witchcraft. In this case a man named Edward Hartley was hanged for bewitching, as it was said, some members of the Starkie family. (fn. 102)
The shield with the arms of the town appears to be suggested by the device on the earlier seal.
Apart from its prominence as the assize town, Lancaster seems to have been then of little moment in the county, notwithstanding that its charters were from time to time renewed.
Camden, writing c. 1600, says: 'The town at this day is not very well peopled nor much frequented, and all the inhabitants thereof are given to husbandry, for the territory all round about is well manured, lying open, fresh and fair, and not void of woods.' (fn. 103) The earliest plan is that of Speed, published in 1610. It shows no perceptible addition to the streets above recorded. Entering the town from the south the visitor would see Penny Street before him, with Aldcliffe Lane leading away west; at this corner stood the pinfold, while in the centre of the road was the White Cross. From this point Chennell Lane, afterwards Back Lane, (fn. 104) led north-west to the castle and church; it and Penny Street had houses on both sides for most of their length. (fn. 105) Crossing Penny Street at right angles, Market Street, on the left, led up the hill to the castle, with continuations towards the marsh beyond it. (fn. 106) In the centre of Market Street stood the cross, on the north side of which the houses stood back to form the quadrangular marketplace; at the west side of this was the toll booth or town hall. (fn. 107) Further west Kiln Lane (fn. 108) went across to Church Street and was continued down to the river side (fn. 109) to communicate with the bridge over the Lune.
From its junction with Market Street Penny Street was continued as Butchers' Street (fn. 110) to meet Church Street, which led up the hill to the church or down towards Stone Well, (fn. 111) round which there was an open space. The lower continuation of Market Street, called St. Nicholas Street, also led to Stone Well. From this point two roads went east— Moor Lane, past the site of the Black Friars' House, (fn. 112) and St. Leonard-gate; while a little brook carried the overflow of the well down to the mill stream. Between the mill stream and the Lune was an open meadow called Green Ayre; the mill itself (fn. 113) stood opposite the end of Calkeld Lane, which is shown but not named on the plan. On the south side of Church Street, near the top, was a house called the New Hall (fn. 114); higher up was a cross in the centre of the street and behind it the Old Hall. (fn. 115) The fish market was at the lower end of Church Street on the north side. (fn. 116) Some of the old streets were called wints. Bars were fixed at all the entrances of the town to facilitate the collection of the tolls or town dues on traffic. The stocks and whipping post were placed in the market-place by the toll booth, and the pillory was near the castle. (fn. 117) The school stood on the castle hill slope just below the west end of the church.
The county lay, fixed in 1624 on the basis of the ancient 'fifteenth,' affords some evidence of the relative position of the parish, which had to pay about £23 when £100 was demanded from Lonsdale Hundred. The separate townships contributed thus: Lancaster, £6 1s. 8¾d.; Bulk and Aldcliffe together, £1 12s. 3½d.; Scotforth, £2 4s.; Ashton with Stodday, £1 10s. 3½d.; Skerton, 6s. 10¾d.; Overton, £1 4s. 11¼d.; Poulton, Bare and Torrisholme, £2 9s. 10¾d.; Heaton and Oxcliffe, 15s. 4¾d.; Middleton, 13s. 2½d.; Gressingham, £1 0s. 9¼d. The forest districts of Quernmore and Wyresdale were assessed at £1 13s. 4½d. and £2 10s. 2¾d. respectively; and Caton was then joined with Claughton for this tax. (fn. 118)
Nothing is known of the trade of the town at that time, but there was a Society of Skinners and Whittawers and Glovers which in 1633 and 1635 complained of breaches of its monopoly by outsiders. (fn. 119) In 1637 the borough was called upon to pay £30 for ship-money. (fn. 120)
Returning to the general history of the district, the reign of James I is noteworthy for a royal progress through the parish, though the town of Lancaster does not seem to have been visited. The king on his way from Scotland to London by Carlisle in 1617 arrived at Hornby, and thence went to Ashton Hall, where he knighted two gentlemen on 11 August; the next day or the day after he left for Myerscough. (fn. 121) During his reign and that of Charles I the executions for religion and for witchcraft still went on. Lawrence Baily, a Lancashire yeoman, was in 1604 hanged as a felon for aiding a priest who had escaped from the pursuivants. John Thewlis of Upholland, a seminary priest, suffered as a traitor in 1616, and his head was fixed up on the castle walls. (fn. 122) Roger Wrennall of Kirkham, who had assisted him in an attempt to escape, was hanged therefor at the same time.
The great trial of the Lancashire Witches took place on 17–19 August 1612. Five men and fifteen women from Pendle Forest were accused; some of them professed to have had dealings with the devil, but others asserted their innocence. One of them died in prison, eight were acquitted, and the rest found guilty. Of these one was sentenced to the pillory at Clitheroe and other towns, and the other ten were hanged on the Moor gallows on 20 August. Their names were Anne Whittle or Chattox, Elizabeth Device and her children James (deaf and dumb) and Alizon, Anne Redfern, Alice Nutter, Katherine Hewitt or 'Mouldheels,' Jane Bulcock and her son John, and Isabel Roby. (fn. 123) There were later trials and executions for the same cause. (fn. 124)
Edmund Arrowsmith, a Jesuit missionary, was executed for treason on 28 August 1628, after being, as usual, offered his life if he would conform to the established religion. 'He was suffered to hang till he was dead. The last words which were heard out of his mouth were, Bone Jesu! Being dead he was cut down, bowelled and quartered. His head was set upon a stake or pole amongst the pinnacles of the castle, and his quarters were hanged on four several places thereof.' (fn. 125) On the following day was hanged Richard Hurst, a Preston yeoman, nominally for murder but really for his recusancy. (fn. 126) One of the most famous victims of the persecution, the saintly Ambrose Barlow, (fn. 127) suffered at Lancaster on 10 September 1641. He was as usual drawn from the castle to the place of execution on a hurdle, 'carrying all the way in his hand a cross of wood which he had made. When he was come to the place, being taken off the hurdle he went three times round the gallows, carrying the cross before his breast and reciting the penitent psalm Miserere. . . . He suffered with great constancy according to sentence.' So did three other Lancashire missionaries on 7 August 1646, under the Commonwealth, viz. John Woodcock, a Franciscan, Thomas Whittaker and Edward Bamber, seculars. (fn. 128) Of them it is related that the sentence was executed on Woodcock and Bamber in all its ferocity before the eyes of Whittaker, who was a man naturally timid and would, it was hoped, renounce his religion on the offer of his life. These were the last to suffer expressly for their priesthood, (fn. 129) but others were imprisoned, (fn. 130) sometimes dying in confinement, (fn. 131) and one at least was executed indirectly for his office. (fn. 132) The Puritan Henry Burton was confined here in 1637. (fn. 133)
The Civil War brought various troubles to the town and district. By that time the place seems to have become distinctly Puritan, and so took the Parliament's side. At the outbreak of the war the castle was in the king's hands, and was used as a prison for some of his opponents. (fn. 134) The Royalists, however, perhaps relying too much on the support of the local gentry, did not garrison either castle or town, and the other side, no doubt on information from friends in the town, suddenly fell upon it from Preston, liberating the prisoners and placing Captain William Shuttleworth in charge. (fn. 135) Some defence works were raised, and when on Saturday 18 March 1642–3 the Earl of Derby in the king's name summoned the place to surrender he was courageously refused. After two hours' hot fighting, by attacking from several sides, the town was captured, Shuttleworth being slain. The castle, however, held out, and a siege was begun. On the Monday the earl, hearing that the Parliamentary troops had left Preston in order to attack him, slipped away to that town, ordering Lancaster to be burnt. (fn. 136) All Penny Street was destroyed, some ninety houses being burnt, and there was a good deal of plundering. The town's charters and records suffered from fire. The castle was attacked by the Royalists again in April and June, but without result. (fn. 137) On the advance of Prince Rupert into South Lancashire in 1644 Colonel Rigby retreated to Lancaster, carrying with him the prisoners kept at Preston, and Colonel Dodding raised works for the town's defence. (fn. 138) Rupert, however, did not come to this part of the county. In 1645 Parliament made an order for the payment of compensation to the town to the amount of £8,000, to be taken from the estates of 'Papists and delinquents' when the war should be ended. (fn. 139)
The townsmen were next to suffer from their friends, for at the end of 1645 the whole country round was troubled by a 'rude company of Yorkshire troopers' appointed to guard the castle for the Parliament. 'They were the cruellest persons that ever this county was pestered with ... an unmeasurable torment to the hundreds of Lonsdale and Amounderness,' says the Parliamentarian chronicler. (fn. 140) Hence it was proposed to destroy the castle, reserving no more than would suffice for a prison, and the walls of the quadrangle were actually demolished. (fn. 141) The order for its destruction was renewed in 1649, (fn. 142) as related already.
In August 1648 the Duke of Hamilton at the head of the Scottish Covenanters, now on the king's side, reached Hornby, and finding that all the ministers of the district had fled to Lancaster for safety, sent thither to ask them to return to their charges, (fn. 143) but without result. The duke marched through the town and stayed a night at Ashton Hall, (fn. 144) which was in later years to become the inheritance of his family. Sir Thomas Tyldesley laid siege to the castle, though he had to retire north on hearing of the duke's defeat on 17–19 August. (fn. 145) Yet another experience of the war came in 1651. Charles II, as 'King of Scots,' on his march from Scotland to Worcester reached Lancaster on 12 August and was proclaimed King of England at the market cross. He lodged that night at Ashton Hall. (fn. 146) Some of the inhabitants who had taken sides with the king, at least in the earlier stages, had to compound for their estates with the Parliament. (fn. 147)
The Restoration does not seem to have affected the town in any marked degree, though a purging of the corporation was probably made in October 1661, when the commission for regulating corporations met in the town. (fn. 148) The appearance of Nonconformity may be noticed, but with the exception of the Quakers Lancashire Dissenters seem to have been left with little molestation, and the castle was seldom occupied by them. (fn. 149) George Fox had preached in the town in 1652 and later, and though roughly opposed, as usual, had secured a number of adherents. (fn. 150) He was imprisoned in the castle in 1660 and again in 1663–5, (fn. 151) and others of the Friends were confined there, the cause being, in part at least, their refusal to take any oath of allegiance. (fn. 152) One room is still known as the Quakers' Room. The heralds in their visitation of the county came to Lancaster in September 1664. (fn. 153) A number of tradesmen's tokens, ¼d., ½d. and 1d. in value, were issued about that time. One of them bears the name of John Lawson, Fox's friend. (fn. 154) The busy seasons for the town were the assizes and county elections. (fn. 155) From the church registers it appears that Isabel Rigby was executed for witchcraft in 1666 and Peter Lathom for treason in 1683.
The approach of the Revolution was marked by several incidents showing the Whig temper of the townsmen. An election for a borough member in the time of James II proved this in the case of the 'common freemen,' though the mayor and council and neighbouring gentry contrived to override them by bringing in as freemen 'the country gentlemen's servants and attendants—six for one shilling—who were thereafter called "Twopenny freemen."' (fn. 156) In 1687 the king desired the opinions of the corporation as to the repeal of the penal laws against the Roman Catholic religion and of the Test Act. Of the thirty-six members thirty-one appeared, of whom eighteen were opposed to any alteration, six or seven were doubtful, and only the small minority left were in favour of repeal. (fn. 157) A bonfire to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Wales in June 1688 was obviously unwelcome to the inhabitants. The chief officer of the customs caused it to be lighted, but few of the people came. The use of some gunpowder brought out the mayor's opposition; he 'cut one of the drums and broke the drummer's head, and so it ended.' (fn. 158) About the same time 'John Greenwood was elected mayor of Lancaster, and the mace was carried before him, with inferior officers attending him, to the Presbyterian place of worship.' (fn. 159) Lancaster was thus prepared for the Revolution. In December 1688 a muster of the county force was made on Green Ayre, 4,600 assembling. (fn. 160) There was a disturbance at the castle, the prisoners for debt claiming freedom and locking the officers out. (fn. 161)
Dr. Kuerden, writing about 1690, says: 'Going [north] through Scotforth town a mile short of Lancaster, half a mile further you come to the moor, leaving on the right above the gallows an ancient seat called the Highfield. Here is a fair prospect of the town and castle.' (fn. 162) It was from this fact that the high ground at the south entrance to the town gained its title of Weeping Hill, (fn. 163) for there prisoners had their first near view of the place of confinement and trial, and perhaps of execution also. Celia Fiennes a few years later gives a more ample account. Going north from Garstang she reached it in less than three hours, passing through 'abundance of villages, almost at the end of every mile, [and going] mostly all along lanes, being an inclosed country.' She continues:—
They have one good thing in most parts of this principality (or county palatine it's rather called), that at all crossways there are posts with hands pointing to each road with the names of the great town or market towns that it leads to, which does make up for the length of the miles that strangers may not lose their road and have it to go back again. You have a great diversion in this road, having a pleasing prospect of the countries a great distance round, and see it full of inclosures and some woods. Three miles off the town you see it very plain, and the sea—even the main ocean; in one place an arm of it comes up within two miles of the town. The river Lune runs by the town and so into the sea.
The situation of Lancaster town is very good. The church neatly built of stone; the castle, which is just by; both on a very great ascent from the rest of the town, and so is in open view, the town and river lying round it beneath. On the castle tower walking quite round by the battlements I saw the whole town and river at a view, which runs almost quite round and returns again by the town, and saw the sea beyond, and the great high hills beyond that part of the sea, which are in Wales; and also in Westmorland, to the great hills there called Furness Fells or hills, being a string of vast high hills together; also into Cumberland, to the great hill called Black Combe, whence they dig their black lead and nowhere else; I saw also into Yorkshire. There is lead, copper, gold and silver in some of those hills, and marble and crystal also.
Lancaster town is old and much decayed. There has been a monastery; the walls of part of it remain and some of the carved stones and figures. There is in it a good garden and a pond in it with a little island on which an appletree grows—a Jenitin; and strawberries all round its roots and the banks of the little isle. There are two pretty wells and a vault that leads a great way underground up as far as the castle, which is a good distance. In the river there are great weirs or falls of water made for salmon fishing, where they hang their nets and catch great quantities of fish, which is near the bridge. The town seems not to be much in trade as some others, but the great store of fish makes them live plentifully as also the great plenty of all provisions. The streets are some of them well pitched and of a good size. When I came into the town the stones were so slippery, crossing some channels, that my horse was quite down on his nose, but did at length recover himself and so I was not thrown off or injured; which I desire to bless God for, as for the many preservations I met with. I cannot say the town seems a lazy town, and there are trades of all sorts. There is a large meeting-house, but their minister was but a mean preacher. (fn. 164)
There was a destructive fire in the town in 1698. (fn. 165)
The Scottish Jacobites in 1715 on reaching Kirkby Lonsdale were informed that Lancaster was quite unprepared for an attack, and they thereupon determined to march upon it. (fn. 166) The advance was made on Monday, 7 November. Colonel Charteris of Hornby and another advised the blowing up of the bridge to check their progress, but the townsmen pointed out that its destruction would be of no avail, because the river at low water was passable (fn. 167) by horse or foot; so the officers had to be content with seeing that a shopkeeper's stock of gunpowder (fn. 168) was thrown into a well in the market-place. A ship at Sunderland had six cannon, (fn. 169) which it was proposed to bring up to the town and use in resisting the Jacobites, but Sir Henry Hoghton, in command of some 600 militiamen, judged it best to withdraw to Preston on being disappointed in his expectation of support from the dragoons stationed at Preston, and the town was therefore left open. The Jacobite forces marched into the town in good order, with swords drawn, drums beating, colours flying and bagpipes sounding, and going straight to the market-place proclaimed James III king. They were joined by five of the neighbouring gentry, all Roman Catholics, (fn. 170) and by two of the townsmen of the same religion. The Crown prisoners in the castle were set free, including the Manchester Jacobite Siddall, who joined the invaders. The troops were billeted in the town. Their chronicler (fn. 171) describes Lancaster as ' of very good trade, very pleasantly situated,' and regrets that they made no stand there, as the castle and seaport would have been of great assistance. On the Tuesday morning the six guns were brought up from Sunderland, and at a service held in the parish church, to which 'abundance of persons went,' King James was prayed for instead of King George. The afternoon was devoted to recreation; 'the gentlemen soldiers dressed and trimmed themselves up in their best clothes, for to drink a dish of tea with the ladies of this town. The ladies also here appeared in their best rigging and had their tea tables richly furnished for to entertain their new suitors.' In the evening 'a discourse about religion happened between the minister of this town and two Romish priests.' It is acknowledged that the invaders paid for what they took, and that none of the townspeople were injured. Next morning, Wednesday the 9th, they left for Preston. After their defeat and surrender at this place the following Monday about 400 were brought back as prisoners to Lancaster Castle, and the church registers record a number of deaths among them. (fn. 172) Five were executed 18 February 1715–16 and five more 2 October 1716. (fn. 173) For some years after this soldiers were stationed in Lancaster.
Defoe, visiting the town about fifteen years later, was not favourably impressed; it had 'little to recommend it but a decayed castle and a more decayed port, not capable of receiving ships of any considerable burden.' The bridge he thought 'handsome and strong,' but there was 'little or no trade and few people.' (fn. 174) The Bucks' views of the town from the Skerton side and of the castle are dated 1728. The Autobiography of a local tradesman, William Stout, has been preserved and printed (fn. 175); it affords information of the town and its trade during more than fifty years, 1690–1740. John Hodgson, whom he calls 'the greatest and most respectable merchant of my time,' established a sugar refinery at Lancaster. (fn. 176) Stout himself was grocer, ironmonger and tobacconist, and gives accounts of his various shipping ventures, some prosperous, others adverse. Ships in 1692 and later brought tobacco and other goods from Virginia and the West Indies (fn. 177); other vessels traded to the Baltic. (fn. 178) A watchmaker was buried in 1684.
In the advance of the Young Pretender into England in 1745 his cavalry reached Lancaster from the north on 24 November and left for Preston next day, making way for the infantry, who arrived that day and left on the 26th. Prince Charles Edward came with the latter part of his forces, and lodged for the night at a house in Church Street, now the Conservative Club. No recruits seem to have been attracted in the town. On its retreat north the army was here on 13–14 December; General Oglethorpe was a day behind them, and the Duke of Cumberland arrived on the 16th. (fn. 179) James Ray, the Whig historian of the event, stayed at the 'Sun,' and thus describes the town: 'It is at present a populous thriving corporation, trading to the West Indies with hardware and woollen manufactures, and in return import sugars, rum, cotton, &c. (fn. 180) Later travellers, Dr. Pococke (fn. 181) and Thomas Pennant, (fn. 182) were also favourably impressed.
From that time its story is mainly that of its trade. Acts were obtained for improving the navigation of the river from 1749 onward. (fn. 183) A pleasing idea of Lancaster is afforded by a description penned about 1775:—
The new houses are peculiarly neat and handsome; the streets are well paved, and thronged with inhabitants, busied in a prosperous trade to the West Indies and other places. Along a fine quay noble warehouses are built. And when it shall please those concerned to deepen the shoals in the river, ships of great burthen may lie before them; for at present we only see in that part of the river such as do not exceed 250 tons. The air of Lancaster is salubrious, the environs pleasant, the inhabitants wealthy, courteous, hospitable and polite. (fn. 184)
The West India trade here, as at Liverpool, embraced the African slave trade. (fn. 185)
This time of prosperity had various accompaniments. A race meeting was held as far back as 1758 (fn. 186); after declining the races were for a time revived in 1809 on a course at the north-east border of the town, partly in Quernmore. The printing press appeared about 1768. (fn. 187) The public buildings which sprang up include the Custom House, built in 1764 from a design by Richard Gillow, founder of the great cabinet-making house (fn. 188); the Town Hall, 1781–3 (fn. 189); the Skerton Bridge, 1788, from the plan of Thomas Harrison, afterwards of Chester (fn. 190); and the poor-house, about the same time. (fn. 191) Churches were built also and various charities founded. An agricultural society, offering prizes to farmers, was established about 1798. (fn. 192) The first newspaper, the Lancaster Gazetteer, was founded in 1801, and appeared weekly till 1894. (fn. 193)
There was a considerable over-sea trade by local vessels, (fn. 194) some of them privateers, able to meet force by force. The Thetis of Lancaster, Captain John Charnley, 16 guns, sailed from Cork for Barbadoes in September 1804 in company with the Ceres and Penelope, and when near their destination they were (8 November) attacked by the Bonaparte, a French privateer of 20 guns, which first gave the Ceres a broadside, and then after an exchange of broadsides with the Thetis ran alongside the latter vessel and lashed herself to her. The boarders attacked four times and were repulsed as often; then the vessels broke loose, and after again exchanging broadsides the Frenchman stood away. (fn. 195) The West India traffic, with its imports of mahogany, probably led to the development of the furniture manufacture, which has long been noteworthy. A century ago there were two shipbuilding yards, sail-cloth was made to a considerable extent, and the cotton manufacture had been introduced. (fn. 196) There were a number of minor trades. (fn. 197) Stone was quarried on the moor. The Lune afforded salmon, trout and other fish; a further supply was obtained from the sea fisheries off the mouth of the river and in Morecambe Bay. (fn. 198) There were daily coaches north and south, (fn. 199) and a packet boat conveyed passengers as well as goods by the canal, which was formed 1793–7. (fn. 200) A number of penny, halfpenny and farthing tokens were issued in 1791 and 1794. (fn. 201) A volunteer corps was formed in 1795 (fn. 202) and disbanded in 1802, but another was embodied in 1803. (fn. 203) The Duke of Gloucester, the king's brother, accompanied by his son Prince William, visited the town on 25–6 September 1804, and inspected the corps in the Friarage.
Among the extinct institutions are the Savings Bank, established in 1823 (fn. 204) and taken over by the Post Office in 1889; the Amicable Society, a book club, established in 1769 and dissolved in 1906, when its library was sold; and the Fine Arts Institution, 1820. The Philippi Club, a social club, was founded in 1797 and continued to meet until 1852. (fn. 205) A society called the Athenæum, for the maintenance of lectures, &c., was founded in 1849 and lasted till 1880. The Literary, Scientific and Natural History Society, established in 1835, had a museum.
Trade began to decline in the early part of last century, and, though an Act for the improvement of the port was obtained in 1807, (fn. 206) the Lune became more and more obstructed. Lancaster could not afford the facilities and advantages of Liverpool, and its foreign trade was gradually drawn from it. There were serious bank failures in 1822 and 1826, both the old banks stopping payment. (fn. 207)
The more recent transformation of the town has been due to the establishment and prosperity of an entirely new trade, the manufacture of oilcloth and linoleum, which began about 1845, and has given Lancaster a distinctive place among the industrial centres of the county and the kingdom. Its founders were the late James Williamson and Sir Thomas Storey. The former, born in Cumberland in 1816, became a tradesman in Lancaster, and gradually built up the great business which has been further developed by his son, Lord Ashton; he was a liberal benefactor of the town, and served as alderman and mayor. He died in 1879. Thomas Storey was a native of Bardsea who founded a similar business. He also was a benefactor of the town and served as mayor; he was made a knight in 1887. He died in 1898, being seventy-three years of age. A change of another kind has taken place at Morecambe, which has by degrees become a popular seaside resort. Two smaller industries were represented by the Iron Shipbuilding Co., founded about 1860 and dissolved in 1870, and the Wagon Works, founded in 1863 and afterwards amalgamated with Manchester and Birmingham Works, the local factory being closed in 1908.
In the rural districts of the parish the greater part of the agricultural land is in grass, though there is a certain amount of arable, as the following figures (fn. 208) will show:—
The original railway, that from Preston, planned in 1836, was opened in 1840; the station and end of the line were at the Greaves, where the sidings are still used for goods traffic. Soon afterwards (1846) the line was continued north by a deviation through the west side of the town, the station being fixed below the castle; the present enlarged station was completed in 1902. The river was crossed by the Carlisle Bridge—of wood, on stone piers—replaced by the present iron structure in 1866; it has a footbridge for passengers at one side. The railway in 1864 became amalgamated with the London and North-Western system, and is part of the western route to Scotland. The second railway, once known as the old or little North-Western, comes west from Yorkshire through Caton and Lancaster (Green Ayre) to Morecambe; it was opened in 1848, (fn. 209) and is now part of the Midland Company's system. A branch line was made to connect the two railways. The London and North-Western Company afterwards formed a line to Morecambe, opened in 1861; a new loop line to Lancaster was made in 1888. The same company constructed a single-line railway from Lancaster to Glasson Dock, opened in 1883.
Among the worthies of the town a leading place may fitly be granted to some of its benefactors— John Gardiner, who endowed the grammar school and founded almshouses towards the end of the 15th century; William Penny (d. 1716), also a founder of almshouses still at work (fn. 210); Robert and William Heysham, the former (d. 1723) M.P. for Lancaster 1698–1715, and the latter also M.P. from 1716 till his death in 1727 (fn. 211); Thomas Ripley, commemorated by the orphanages; and James Brunton, through whose gift in 1864 the Albert Institution arose. Notices of most of the following natives of the town will be found in the Dictionary of National Biography:—Henry Bracken, M.D., 1697– 1764, wrote on farriery (fn. 212); Elizabeth Daye, a minor poet, 1733–1829 (fn. 213); Henry Cort, 1740–1800, invented the method of refining iron by puddling; John Heysham, 1753–1834, settled as a physician in Carlisle, where he founded a dispensary and did useful work in compiling mortality statistics (fn. 214); Thomas Hill, 1760–1840, a book collector, is stated to have been the original of 'Paul Pry' (fn. 215); James Lonsdale, 1777–1839, had a high reputation as a portrait painter; Thomas Edmondson, 1792–1851, a Quaker, invented the method of printing railway tickets; William Higgin, D.D., 1793–1867, son of John Higgin of Greenfield, became Bishop of Limerick in 1849 and of Derry in 1853 (fn. 216); William Whewell, D.D., 1794–1866, the famous master of Trinity College, Cambridge, was a voluminous writer on scientific and philosophical subjects and took a leading part in the University reforms of his time; he founded the professorship of International Law which bears his name (fn. 217); George Edmondson, brother of Thomas, 1798–1863, gained honour as an educationist; George Danson, 1799–1881, landscape and scene painter; William Sanderson, 1803–48, wrote poems published after his death; Sir Richard Owen, K.C.B., 1804–92, attained world-wide renown as a naturalist (fn. 218); William Swainson, 1809–83, took a leading part in New Zealand affairs; John Chippindall Montesquieu Bellew, originally Higgin, 1823–74, was an author and elocutionist (fn. 219); James Mansergh, F.R.S., 1834–1905, attained eminence as a civil engineer, carrying out the Birmingham Waterworks and other great schemes; Richard Preston, D.D., 1856–1905, became coadjutor Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, with the title of Bishop of Phocaea; William Oliver Roper, 1856–1908, a solicitor who was town clerk 1892–6, was a diligent student of the history of his native town, issuing many occasional essays and editing the chartulary of Lancaster Priory for the Chetham Society.
Others who were not natives of the town have rendered useful service in various ways. Matthew Talbot Baines, son of Edward Baines and a politician of note, was sometime Chancellor of the Duchy; he long resided in Lancaster, where he died in 1860. (fn. 220) Edward Denis de Vitre, M.D., 1806–78, settled in Lancaster in 1832 and was twice mayor; he was the physician to the county asylum, and took a large part in founding the Royal Albert Institution. (fn. 221) John Shadrach Slinger, 1828–1901, born at Clapham, was a useful local antiquary. Joseph Rowley, incumbent of Stalmine, was chaplain of the castle for fifty-four years, 1804–58.