Townships: Cockerham

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

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'Townships: Cockerham', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8, (London, 1914) pp. 93-96. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section


Cocreham, Dom. Bk.; Kokerheim, 1206; Kokerham, 1212.

Crimeles, Dom. Bk.; Crimbles, 1206; Crumbles, 1212.

Hillun, Dom. Bk.

The township of Cockerham has for its western boundary the estuary of the Lune, into which runs the Cocker. The village, with the old parish church, lies on the north bank, with Crookhey (or Crookay) to the east in the bend formed by the river as it descends from the north and then turns west towards the sea. Marsh Houses lies on the shore side of the church, Uptown to the north-east, Laund to the north, (fn. 1) Hillam, Norbreck and Thursland to the north-west, Bank Houses to the west near the limits of the Cockersand estate. South of the Cocker lie Little and Great Crimbles, with Laithwaite to the south-east and Wrampool to the south-west near the border of Pilling; the southern portion is moss-land, only partly reclaimed. The area of the whole is 5,562 acres, (fn. 2) and in 1901 it had a population of 677.

The surface in general is low and flat, but on the eastern side between Crookhey and Laund is more elevated, at one or two points rising to 100 ft. above sea level. The principal road is that from Lancaster to Garstang, which passes southward through the township, another road branching off at the village towards Pilling in the south-west.

A fair for pedlary on Easter Monday existed about 1840. (fn. 3)

The soil is sandy and gravelly, with clay subsoil; wheat, oats, beans and potatoes are grown and large quantities of cheese are made.

The township is governed by a parish council.


In 1066 Ulf and Machel held as two manors two plough-lands in LANESDALE and COCKERHAM, which were in 1086 recorded among the lands of Roger of Poitou. (fn. 4) The former of these manors (fn. 5) seems to have been absorbed in Cockerham, for it is not named again, and about 1154 William de Lancaster I gave two plough-lands in Cockerham to the recentlyfounded house of Austin Canons at Leicester, St. Mary's de Pré. (fn. 6) The grant was in 1156 confirmed by Henry II (fn. 7) and by the heirs of the benefactor, (fn. 8) also in later times by Thomas Earl of Lancaster and John of Gaunt as duke, (fn. 9) and the manor was held by the abbey till the Dissolution. (fn. 10) In 1301 free warren was granted. (fn. 11)

The Calvert family had long resided in the township (fn. 12) and held the manor on lease from the canons. (fn. 13) In 1560 it was demised to Thomas Calvert by Queen Elizabeth at a rent of £51 6s. for ninety years. (fn. 14) John Calvert, who was the son and heir of Thomas, had a dispute with the tenants respecting the ancient customs of the manor in 1578. (fn. 15) He received a grant of arms in 1598, (fn. 16) alleging descent from a knightly family in Yorkshire, and purchased the rectory and manor in 1602. (fn. 17) He died in 1618 holding the manor of the king by knight's service and the rectory in socage as of the king's manor of East Greenwich. Richard Calvert, his son and heir, was twenty years of age. (fn. 18) Richard was a recusant, (fn. 19) and for this reason his estate was sequestered under the Commonwealth. (fn. 20) After his death his son John's estate was declared forfeit for delinquency, (fn. 21) and sold to Samuel Foxley. (fn. 22) The manor appears to have been recovered by the Calverts, for in 1718 William Walker, Martha his wife and Thomas Calvert were in possession. (fn. 23) Afterwards it is found in the hands of the Charteris family, (fn. 24) and was in 1791 sold by Lord Wemyss to Thomas Greene, Anthony Atkinson of Lancaster, John Dent and Robert Addison of Lancaster. (fn. 25) The manor, with which the advowson of the vicarage is still connected, has descended to the present lords, the representative of the late Lieut.-Col. Charles Henry Bird of Crookhey, who had a moiety of the manor, Henry Dawson Greene (fn. 26) and Robert James Addison Clarke, each holding a fourth part. (fn. 27) Courts were held annually till recently; now only once in three years. (fn. 28)

Calvert alias Calverley. Sable an inescutcheon argent with drops of the first within an orle of owls of the second.

HILLAM (fn. 29) and CRIMBLES (fn. 30) were separate manors in 1066, assessed as one plough-land each. They were acquired by the canons of Leicester, and became merged in the manor and township of Cockerham. LAITHWAITE is named in an agreement between the abbey and William de Winmarleigh. (fn. 31) NORBRECK was in 1656–8 acquired by John Cawson from John Calvert's feoffees; Cawson held other lands in the district and left a son Charles. (fn. 32) CROOKHEY was long in the possession of a family named Gardiner. (fn. 33) Lieut.-Col. Bird inherited it through his mother. (fn. 34)

The place very seldom occurs in the records, (fn. 35) but in 1446 a number of the people were summoned for keeping hunting dogs. (fn. 36) There are a few notices in the inquisitions, (fn. 37) and during the Commonwealth period several inhabitants in addition to the Calverts suffered for politics. (fn. 38)

The parish church has been described above; there is no other place of worship in the township.

Peter Atkinson registered his house as a Presbyterian meeting-place during the brief Indulgence of 1672. (fn. 39)


  • 1. Laund is found as a surname, Thomas Lound and Katherine his wife occurring in 1552–6; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdles. 14, m. 85; 17, m. 156.
  • 2. 5,809 acres, including 9 of inland water; Census Rep. 1901. There are also 179 acres of tidal water and 2,242 of foreshore.
  • 3. Lewis, Topog. Dict.
  • 4. V.C.H. Lancs, i, 290a. 'In Lanesdale' may be a descriptive heading which has been wrongly inserted in the text. On this point see the introduction to the hundred.
  • 5. It may have been on the site later occupied by Cockersand Abbey on the Lune shore.
  • 6. Farrer, Lancs. Pipe R. 391–3. In his first charter the benefactor, with the assent of Gundreda his wife and William his son and heir, granted his whole manor of Cockerham, with all appurtenances, including saltpits, to the church of St. Mary de Pratis. Afterwards he added the church, Ellel chapel and Crimbles. Somewhat later he granted common of pasture throughout his fee in Lonsdale and Amounderness to the canons and their men of Cockerham, in the same degree as they already had in their demesne wood. This wood extended to the boundary between Cockerham and Thurnham, viz. to the water called Flackesfleet descending into Crokispool and thence into the Lune. The grant of the two plough-lands was recorded in 1212; Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 4.
  • 7. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 462.
  • 8. The chartulary of Leicester Abbey in the Bodleian (MS. Laud. H 72) states that the evidences of Cockerham were burnt in a fire at the manor-house there; fol. 45. It contains notes of the three charters of William de Lancaster; confirmations by John de Rigmaiden and Isolda his wife, Hugh de Morville and Helewise his wife (Hugh adding 12 acres of wood, &c.), Gilbert son of Roger and Helewise his wife, John Count of Mortain; also releases by various tenants— William de Winmarleigh, William le Gentyl, Walter de Paries, Richard son of Adam de Tathebek (? Cathebek), who also gave lands in Cockerham. The agreement with the above-named Gilbert and Hawise was ratified in 1207; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 26.
  • 9. Chartul. fol. 47; an inspeximus by John Duke of Lancaster of Thomas's ratification of the assize of bread and ale and all the articles of the view of frankpledge. A rent of 6s. 8d. was to be paid to the earl's receiver, also 2s. for the moiety of the water of Lune and the fishery therein. The former payment is recorded in the extent of 1346; Survey (Chet. Soc), 80. The 2s. had been paid in 1297, before Earl Thomas's time; Lancs. Inq. and Extents, i, 294. In addition to the 6s. 8d. and 2s. there was 1½d. payable for castle ward; Chartul. fol. 52b. Philippa de Coucy Duchess of Ireland released all the claim she might have in the manor of Cockerham by reason of the failure of the canons of Leicester to find canons to serve the church there; Chartul. fol. 47b. Henry IV gave a like release; ibid. See also Dep. Keeper's Rep. xl, App. 537; Cal. Pat. 1399–1401, p. 197.
  • 10. In 1206 the Abbot of Leicester obtained an acknowledgement from Peter de Stalmine that the 2 oxgangs of land he held were the right of the abbot and that he had no charter concerning them from William de Lancaster. 'Wherefore if he or his heirs should hereafter proffer any charter it shall be held of no effect'; Final Conc. i, 24. In 1281 and later the abbot claimed 80 acres of pasture in Cockersand against Lawrence de Tunstall. The defendant said the land had belonged to Aline de Cansfield, whose son John was in ward to Ingram de Gynes, Christiana his wife and Margaret de Ros; De Banco R. 41, m. 25; 54, m. 46 d. The abbot was in 1335 allowed to inclose a way leading from the vicaragehouse to the house of John the Marshal, making another equivalent way through his ground; Inq. a.q.d. file 231, no. 10 (8 Edw. III). In 1369 the abbot claimed a mill, &c., in Cockerham against Roger Wainman and others; De Banco R. 433, m. 328 d. John de Oxcliffe and John de Caton in 1392 resigned to the abbot and convent a messuage and land which they had held of the abbey by knight's service and 2s. 2d. rent. In addition John de Caton held a messuage and land of the abbey by custom of the manor there. It was shown that the king did not suffer; Inq. p.m. 16 Ric. II, pt. ii, no. 86. Extents of 1400 and 1477 are contained in the chartulary above cited. The former (fol. 49) shows a hall with chambers, &c.; dovecote, orchard, &c.; demesne lands, 63 acres arable and 58 acres meadow, with water-mill and windmill. Rents were due from Bankhouse (including 'muskilling' silver), Thursland (with saltpits), Hillam, Marshes, Little Crimbles, Great Crimbles with Harestones, Wrampool, Hardhead, Laithwaite, Damhead, Crookay, Sinthwaite, Brileshed, Ranstey, Brookshed and Upton. The commodities of the manor included Fold halfpennies, Cawce halfpennies, Gresmole, entries of tenants, heriots and waifs and strays. There were twenty-nine saltpits or saltcotes, paying £8 11s. 8d. Other rents came from Ashton, Kirkland, Thurnham, Ellel, Holleth and Cockersand. The extent of 1477 states: 'We have there view of frankpledge of all our tenants, a court from three weeks to three weeks and whatever pertains to the view of frankpledge. We have also there free warren in all our lands. If any tenant dies, the second animal is given to the abbot'; ibid. fol. 52b. In another place it is stated that in 1346, before the great plague, Cockerham used to pay £50 a year 5 fol. 167b.
  • 11. Charter R. 94 (29 Edw. I), m. 7, no. 27. In 1498 the Abbot of Leicester was summoned to show his right to view of frankpledge in Cockerham, wreck of the sea and free warren, for which he paid 6s. 8d. to the king, also half the water of Lune, for which he paid 2s. yearly, freedom from passage and other tolls for the inhabitants and tenants of Cockerham and licence to buy and sell freely; Pal. of Lanc. Writs Prothon. 13 Hen. VII. The farm of the manor, &c., in 1538 was £83 6s. 8d.; Dugdale, Mon. vi, 469.
  • 12. In 1363 the abbot complained that Adam Calfherd had cut down trees in Cockerham and done other damage; De Banco R. 416, m. 376 d. In the following year Adam and Maud his wife were charged with trespass on the abbot's fishery; Coram Rege R. 413, m. 13.
  • 13. In 1458 the abbot and convent leased to John Calverherd of Cockerham and his sons Thomas and William the whole manor, rectory and profits, reserving only the advowson of the vicarage, from 1460 to 1480 at a rent of £83. The lessees were to pay all charges on the manor and rectory; Dods. MSS. lxx, fol. 161. John, Thomas and William Calverd are named in the rental in MS. Laud. H 72, as also Jane wife of James Calverd at Hillam. The lease was probably renewed from time to time, for the version in H 72 (fol. 51) varies from that in Dodsworth; by it, among other things, John Calvert was to keep the chancel of the church and all the abbey's buildings, &c., in due repair, and was to provide at his own cost for a week's food and lodging of one or two of the canons of Leicester, with their servants and horses, when on a visit to Cockerham. John Calvert was one of the trustees of John Rigmaiden of Wedacre in 1506; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. v, no. 65. He again appears in 1514 and William Calvert the elder and the younger at Crimbles in 1542; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), ii, 15, 71. William Calvert (probably the elder) had at that time a forty years' lease of the tithes of Ellel; Pal. of Lanc. Sess. Papers, 34 Hen. VIII. William Calvert and other tenants in 1515–16 complained that Sir Henry Kighley had seized and carried away their cattle; Duchy of Lanc. Plead. Hen. VIII, xx, C 6.
  • 14. Pat. 2 Eliz. pt. xv; the grant included the advowson of the vicarage.
  • 15. Exch. Dep. 20 & 21 Eliz. Mich. no. 7. The ancient customs were then placed on record.
  • 16. William Dethick, Garter, made the grant to John Calvert alias Calverley, as 'son and heir of Thomas son of William son and heir of John, that first came into Lancashire and dwelt at Cockerham, which John Calverley was the fourth son of Sir William the son and heir of Sir Walter Calverley of Calverley in Yorkshire, kt., as may appear by the pedigree and information made and produced before us'; Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.), iii, 153 (from Dods. MSS. lxxix).
  • 17. The rectory was leased to him for three lives—his own and those of his sons William and Thomas—in 1594 at a rent of £32 0s. 3d., heriot of £5 and 20 marks fine; Pat. 37 Eliz. pt. ix; Cal. S. P. Dom. 1591–4, p. 567. The manor and rectory seem to have been granted in fee by Pat. 44 Eliz. pt. iii. John Calvert had a dispute in 1589 with John Butler of Kirkland regarding an agreement made with his father Thomas Calvert concerning Bowlandswray; Exch. Dep. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 5. In religion John Calvert must have been a conformist, for he was a justice in 1600; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 229. He and Jane his wife were deforciants in a fine concerning the manor and rectory in 1616; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 87, no. 22.
  • 18. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 131–2; Richard was already married to Jane.
  • 19. See the introduction. He was buried at Cockerham 12 Mar. 1649–50; Reg.
  • 20. Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 1–4. John Calvert, younger brother of Richard, himself a 'delinquent,' petitioned for the annuity his father had granted him; he died soon afterwards and his children in 1654 pleaded for an allowance out of the estate. In 1651 Richard and Edmund Calvert, on behalf of themselves and their two younger brothers, sons of Richard Calvert, esq., asked for the annuities settled upon them; the payment had ceased owing to the seizure of the estate of their elder brother John for his 'delinquency'; ibid. 3.
  • 21. Index of Royalists (Index Soc), 42. John Calvert had with other Royalists been present at the burning of Lancaster in 1643; Cal. Com. for Comp. i, 21.
  • 22. Royalist Comp. Papers, ii, 1; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 156, m. 243— Samuel Foxley v. John Calvert and Richard Calvert, 1654. The estate included the manor and rectory, views of frankpledge, &c., messuages, lands, three mills, forty salt houses, &c., in Cockerham, Ellel, Marsh, Crimbles, Hillam, Forton, Cleveley, Bankhouses, Sinthwaite, Crookhey, Uptown, Ashton, Wedacre and Thurnham.
  • 23. Ibid. bdle. 279, m. 94. The estate was probably sold at that time. Bishop Gastrell noted (c. 1717) that 'Lord Haversham claims the presentation' to the vicarage, and added that 'Col. [Francis] Charteris (who has bought an estate here) presented the present vicar, anno 1722'; Notitia Cestr. ii, 405. For Lord Haversham, see Dict. Nat. Biog., under Thompson (John).
  • 24. In 1770 Cockerham was included in a recovery of the manor of Hornby and other estates of the Hon. Francis Charteris and Francis Charteris the younger; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 612, m. 7.
  • 25. Com. Pleas Recov. R. Mich. 32 Geo. III, m. 83; Baines, Lancs, (ed. 1836), iv, 555. The Vicarage Act of 1834 records an agreement of Sept. 1792 between Thomas Greene of Slyne, Anthony Atkinson of Lancaster, Robert Dent of Temple Bar and Robert Addison of Lancaster, seised in fee simple of the manor, &c., for a partition into four equal parts. John Dent in 1800 married Anne Jane Williamson of Roby Hall, Huyton, and there were ten children of the marriage, Robert Dent (born 1804) being the eldest son and succeeding his father in 1826. Robert became a lunatic, but had settled the manor, &c., on his brothers, so that John Villiers Dent succeeded. Robert Addison died in 1819; his daughter Jane married James Clarke of Laund in Cockerham, and they had sons Robert Addison (a lunatic), James and Thomas Clarke. Anthony Atkinson (d. 1796) left his estates to his sister Anne (d. 1806), with remainder to his cousin Richard Atkinson (d. 1821), who left a son Richard (whose wife in 1822 was Frances). Thomas Greene died in 1810, leaving an only child Thomas as heir, who in 1820 married Henrietta Russell and had three sons and two daughters; Private Act, 4 Will. IV, cap. 5. Thus in 1836 the four lords were Thomas Greene, Tory M.P. for Lancaster (1824–57), Richard Atkinson, John Villiers Dent and James Clarke the elder; Baines, loc. cit. Thomas Greene died in 1872. The above-named John Dent, a partner in Child & Co.'s bank, represented Lancaster as a Tory 1790– 1812; Pink and Beaven, Part. Repre. of Lancs. 127. In 1870 the lords were the abovenamed Thomas Greene and John Villiers Dent, also James Addison Clarke and Richard Atkinson, vicar (son of the Richard of 1822); Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1870), ii, 588. Thomas Greene left a son Dawson Cornelius, who was in 1897 succeeded by his son Mr. H. D. Greene of Whittington; Burke, Landed Gent.
  • 26. Col. Bird died in 1909, after the account in the text was written. He was son of William Smith Bird, a Liverpool shipowner, and was educated at Oxford. He had no children.
  • 27. Information of Lieut.-Col. Bird, who in 1869 purchased the fourth part of the manor held by the Rev. R. Atkinson (Grimshaw) and in 1871 that held by Mr. Dent.
  • 28. Information of Mr. J. E. Oglethorpe.
  • 29. V.C.H. Lancs. i, 288b. It had been held by Earl Tostig as part of his Halton lordship, and was in the king's hands in 1086. Afterwards it formed part of the Lancaster family's fee, and had probably merged in Cockerham before the grant of this manor to Leicester Abbey.
  • 30. Ibid. It had been held by Earl Tostig as part of his Preston lordship, and was in the king's hands in 1086. This also was later included in the Lancasters' fee. William de Lancaster granted 2 oxgangs of land in Crimbles to Grimbald de Ellel to be held by knight's service when twenty-four plough-lands made a knight's fee; Lancs. Inq. and Extents, i, 3. Herbert de Ellel in 1206 gave the 2 oxgaugs to Leicester Abbey; Final Conc. i, 26. Walter son of Swain appears to have been tenant of one of the oxgangs; he resigned it to the abbey, receiving 8½ marks from Grimbald son and heir of Herbert de Ellel as compensation; ibid. 29. In Little Crimbles Alan de Hackinsall granted the land he held and all his right to lands, services, &c, to the canons of Leicester; MS. Laud. H 72, fol. 45b.
  • 31. The said William released his right in the manor and vill of Cockerham with Crimbles and Laithwaite on both sides of Cocker, within these bounds: From Langwath down the Cocker to Estkebeck; following this beck to the cross between the abbey land and Winmarleigh Wood, thence across the middle of Laithwaite Lea towards Gruneshend as far as Gretepool; thence to Mosebrook, along the west side of this brook to Otersty, through the Moss to Driebirches; thence to Crawlache, to Pilling, and down to the sea; MS. Laud. H 72, fol. 45b.
  • 32. W. Farrer's deeds.
  • 33. Gardiner is a common surname in the district. Administration of the effects of William Gardiner of Crookhey was granted in 1661.
  • 34. Hewitson, Northward, 93. The present Crookhey Hall was built on land adjoining the old estate in 1878.
  • 35. In 1370–3 William de Stockinbridge obtained a messuage, &c., in Cockerham from William son of Adam de Crookall; Final Conc, ii, 185.
  • 36. Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 9, m. 15; Alan Clapham, Roger and Richard Gardiner, with nineteen others, were charged with keeping greyhounds and other dogs for hunting at Cockerham, Thurnham, Ellel, Ashton and Chipping contrary to the statute of 13 Ric. II, whereby it was ordained that no workman or layman not having lands or tenements of the yearly value of 40s., nor any priest not having a benefice of £10 value, might keep greyhounds or use snares or nets to catch wild hares or rabbits.
  • 37. Parts of the Cockersand Abbey lands within Cockerham are named in the inquisitions of Sir T. Holt, Anne Dalton and Barnaby Kitchen. John Fisher died in 1608 holding a messuage, &c., in Cockerham of the king in chief by knight's service. He left as heirs two daughters Dorothy and Elizabeth, aged four and two respectively; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 96. Thomas Browne of Cockerham in 1631 compounded for refusing knighthood; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 221. See the account of the vicars. Thomas Sclater, M.D., of Cambridge in 1654 sold to Peter and George Bradshaw of Wrampool the tenement called Cross House, with the saltcote or house where salt was made, and a plot of ground where the sea did usually flow called the Sandflore; also the Boon Road, Clerk's Close and Whinney Close; Earwaket MSS.
  • 38. John Brade adhered to the forces raised against the Parliament, and in 1649 compounded for the offence by a fine of £9; Royalist Comp. Papers (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 216. John Denis and John Gardiner, for the like offence, compounded for £12 10s. and £5 10s.; ibid, ii, 119; iii, 1. Grace Cropper's cottage was seized for the 'delinquency' of her husband, and she in 1649 compounded by £3 fine; ibid, ii, 89. John Dalton of Barton-on-Humber forfeited certain lands held in Cockerham. He preferred to confess 'delinquency' rather than wait for the decision of the barons of the Exchequer. His fine was £46; Cal. Com. for Comp. iii, 2135. Robert Townson of Cockerham compounded by a fine of £3 15s. for a 'delinquency' similar to John Brade's; ibid. 2099.
  • 39. Cal. S. P. Dom. 1672, p. 677. See the account of Ellel.