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Time-honoured Lancaster ... Historic notes on the ancient borough of Lancaster online

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Attorney-General, Receiver-General and the two auditors were en-
titled to deer, summer and winter. The Lancashire forests were
Rowland, Wyersdale, Bleasdale, and Fulwood ; the parks of Log-
ramme, Myerscough, Toxteth and Ouernmore. They had also a like
privilege in a number of forests and parks in Cheshire, Derbyshire,
Staffordshire, Lancashire. Wiltshire, Berkshire, Southamptonshire,
Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Yorkshire, Suf-
folk, Sussex, Essex, and Hertfordshire in all 68 forests and parks.
The Duchy still enjoys a large share oi' Church patronage, widely


extended in about twelve counties. Of late years considerable
changes have taken place, and the livings of Millom in Cum-
berland, Dalton, Pennington, and Hawkshead in Lancashire,
and Bethain, in Westmoreland, have been exchanged for the
living of *Rothbury in Northumberland. L* n til John of Gaunt's
time the Duchy was called the Honour oi' Lancaster. Henry VI 11.
greatly extended the royal inheritance by such Acts as brought about
the dissolution of the monasteries and the erection of courts of aug-
mentation. The Act of Edward VI. for the dissolution of Colleges and
chantries tended to the same end. By a charter oi' Philip and Mary
in pursuance of an Act of Parliament, very large estates in several
oi the counties named were added to the Duchy. So great a regard,
we are told was paid by this Queen to the future preservation of
her patrimonial inheritance that she gol a clause introduced into
the Act, declaring that all such estates as had been in the time of
Edward VI., or should be at any time after, granted from the Duchy
oi Lancaster, or had reverted or should revert, or be forfeited to the
Crown, should return to the survey of the Duchy Court. The con-
sequence was that, when James 1. came to. the throne, he found this
favourite succession so formed and augmented, and in such condition
as to raise, in the beginning ol his reign, a large annual revenue,
and so constituting a considerable portion oi the civil establishment
oi the country. His subsequent wants caused him to raise money
from the Duchy estates by letting 60 years' leases. His son Charles
I., made grants in fee of the Duchy lands in order to supply ways
and means for lighting Parliament, and little was preserved besides
the forests and parks, except thai in all these grants there was re-
served io the crown lee farm rents which were in the aggregate, a
large amount. In the first year of the ( ommonwealth a commission
was appointed for the sale oi the Crown and Duchy lands, but the
restoration cancelled these transactions. Charles II. and James II.
seem to have used the Duchy as a sort of dernier ressort or fall-back for
capital, the latter monarch so diminishing the wealth of the Duchy
that the officers oi' the Duchy, in 1686, agreed to reduce their own

*Letler from the Chancellor ol tin Duchy, 9th April. 1X91. About foriy-
ihree livings were formerly in the Duchy patronage.


salaries in order that they might not appear so disproportionate to
the receipts drawn from the Duchy. The principal officers of the
Duchy Court were the Chancellor, entitled to a seat in the cabinet,
the Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, Examiner, and First Clerk, and
the five Cursitors, and Clerks in Court.





rAKE of Lonsdale — Charters granted to Lancaster — Thomas
Covell— The Town Council of Lancaster — The Aqueduct— Source
of the Lune — Lancaster and Kendal ("anal— Travelling on the
(anal in the old days— custom house of the i'ort of lancaster
-Employers of Labour -The Old Qi vy— Lancaster Wagon Works
-The London and North Western and Midland Railways.

ND now a few remarks on the old Archi-
diaconal Court of Lancaster. In ecclesiastical
arrangements we find that under the old
system probate of wills and letters of adminis-
tration of persons dying within the Arch-
deaconry of Richmond were usually granted
in the Ecclesiastical Court of Richmond,
and the original wills with the registers of
other proceedings were deposited at Lan-
caster, where the court for the Lancashire
portion of that archdeaconry was held.

There is still a probate court in Lancaster, but since the See of
Manchester was established, and an Archdeaconry ot' Lancaster
formed out of the district formerly included in the Archdeaconry of
Richmond, man}- important changes have transpired. In times past
the jurisdiction of the Archdeaconry of Richmond ceased during the
\ear of triennial visitation, and the proceedings throughout the
whole counts- of Lancaster were then registered at Chester. This
was a matter of great inconvenience to many persons obliged to
seek for facts in any legal matter years after the deposition of wiils
and registers, for the first thing to be ascertained would be whether
a will was proved during such triennial visitation in order to know
where to apply to when any' question of law arose. Then ag r ain. in


the old days, widows of intestates dying within the Archdeaconry
of Richmond obtained, by the custom o( the province of York and
sanction of t lie statute of distributions, a greater share oi their
husbands' personal estates than that to which those were entitled
by statute whose husbands died within the Archdeaconry of Chester,
where no such privilege or custom prevailed, Chester being governed
by statute law alone.

Concerning the Chancery of the County Palatine of Lancaster.
the original court for long, indeed from the 50th year of Edward 111..
enjoyed independent functions and rights, and the Chancery of Lan-
cashire had concurrent jurisdiction with the High Court of Chancery
in almost everything except in despatch and expense. Strange to
state, the Diocesan Registry at Chester has within its archives to
I his day most o\ the Lancashire baptismal, marriage, and death
registers, yet those for the hundred of Lonsdale, and as far south
as Garstang (Churchtown) are deposited in (he offices ot the regis
trar of the archdeaconry of Lancaster, and the) do not, in many
instances, y;o back as far as the church registers, from which thev
are supposed to be copied. How this is I cannot tell. but to return,
the Lancashire Chancery Court used to exercise jurisdiction in all
matters ot equity within the county palatine. Though many reforms
have ot late years been introduced I his Lancashire Chancery Court
maintains vestiges of its old rights and privileges. A perusal of a
modern history of the legal elements of the count}-, will give fuller
particulars than it is essential to give in these notes, fov if given,
tew would be interested in them.

I he chief seat ot law, so far as local officers are concerned, is
at Preston. Lancaster, however; possesses its sessional, hundred,
and coroner's courts, and the assizes are still held four times a year
in Lancaster. The old Wapentake oi' Lonsdale, the serjeantry of
which was held at the lime of the Conquest and up to the reign of
Edward I. by the de Chetets oi' Relict, was formerly held within the
precincts ot the church. The hundred comprises the following
parishes : North Lonsdale : Aldingham. Cartmel, Coulton, Dalton,


Hawkshead, Kirkby Ireleth, Pennington, Ulverston, and Urswick,
forty-four townships. South Lonsdale : Bolton-le-Sands, Claughton,
Cockerham, Halton. Heysham, Lancaster, Melling, Tatham, Tun-
stall, Warton, Thornton-in-Lonsdale, and part of Burton-in-
Kendal. The word wapentake is synonymous with hundred, a
Saxon distribution oi' a shire divided into ten boroughs of ten
families each. Wapentake is from " weapon-tac," or take, a court
wherein a hundred men met under their ealdorman (elder or more
experienced man, literally) and touched his or each other's weapons
in token of fidelity and allegiance. The Lonsdale Hundred repre-
sents 22 parishes or parts of parishes, and 49 townships.

And now as regards the charters granted to Lancaster,
we find that the first was issued by John, Earl of Morton,
afterwards the shifty, shallowy king oi' that name. This first
grant was made in the 4th of Richard 1. when Ranulph de
Blundeville was the Lord Paramount. The charter, however,
conferred all the liberties such as were enjoyed by the city of Bristol.
In the 2 yd Edward 1. Lancaster first sent members to Parliament,
A.o. i2c)_j. Prom this time Lancaster made ten distinct and separ-
ate returns. In the 37th Edward III. the king granted his charter
to the mayor and bailiffs to the effect that all pleas and session of
whatsoever justices in the county should be holden there and not
elsewhere. In the reign of Queen Mary two of the original quarter
sessions of the peace, formerly held in Lancaster, had been with-
drawn from the said town to Clitheroe, by an order of the Duchy
Court, but upon the mayor, bailiffs, and commonalty oi' Lancaster
producing the original charter of Edward III. and the various con-
firmations thereof, it was ordered and decreed " that all general
sessions of assizes and gaol deliveries, to be appointed, shall be
yearly from henceforth and for ever holden in and at the said town
oi' Lancaster in the accustomed manner, and not elsewhere in the
said county, and that the four other quarter sessions of the peace
shall be held here and not elsewhere.'' Prom the year 1359, until
the first Edward VI., no return was made, but in 1547 the privilege
oi' the elective franchise was resumed, and it has been continued


ever since until Lancaster was disfranchised for bribery and cor-
ruption some twenty-five years ago. Under the extended franchise
of Mr. Gladstone's Government and redistribution of seats, Lancaster
gives name to a division, and is at present represented by James
Williamson, Esq.

The charters granted to Lancaster by King John, when Karl
of Morton, were confirmed by Richard II., Henry IV., Henry \\,
Henny VII., Elizabeth, and James I., and the second Charles ex-
tended the liberties or privileges of this charter, which were still
further enlarged in 59th George 111. The right of election was
originally vested in the freemen of the borough. The Corporation
anciently consisted of a mayor, recorder and seven aldermen, two
bailiffs, twelve capital burgesses, twelve common council men, and
a town clerk and clerk of the peace, whose officers and attendants
were a' mace-bearer and two sergeants with inferior officers. The
mayor has been elected annually for the time being on the first
Thursday after the feast of St. Luke, the Evangelist ; he was
coroner for the vear. In the Parish Church is a brass recording the
" talents and excellences" of an 'ancient mayor, one Thomas Covell,
" whose principal talent, by the way seems," says a local writer,
" to have consisted in tenacity of place for he was ' 6 tymes mayor
of this towne (mayors were then paid), 48 years ve keeper of ye
Castle, and 46 yeares one of ye coroners of ye County Palatine of
Lancaster. He dyed on August 1st, 1639, aetatis suse 78.'" Former-
ly the inscription was surmounted by a figure of the alderman in his
robes, with his coat of arms ; and beneath it a local versifier or
poetaster, who appears to have had small mercy upon the engraver,
amplifies the virtues of the defunct placeman in these lines : —

" Cease, cea^e to mourn, all tears are vain and voide,
I lee's flecld, not dead ; dissolved, not destroy'd ;
In heaven his soule doth rest ; his body here
Sleepes in this dust, and his fame everie where
Triumphs : the town, the country, farther forth
The land throughout, proclaims his noble worth.
Speak of a man so kinde, so courteous.
So free, and everie way magnanimous
Thai storie told at large, here do ye see
Epitomiz'd in briefe — Covell was lie ! "


The Common Council of Lancaster now consists of a mayor,
six aldermen, and eighteen councillors, a treasurer, town clerk and
registrar of the Borough Court, deputy town clerk, borough surveyor,
and Corporation accountant. It retains its beadle and mace-bearer,
and mavor's and town clerk's sergeants, and town crier also. It
has, likewise, a school attendance officer, market inspector, and
that sine qim nou to all Corporations, viz., a nuisance inspector.
The extension of the borough boundaries, according to the census
taken by order of the Corporation, makes the population o\
Lancaster 29,308. In 1S01 the inhabitants ot the county town
numbered only 9,000, rising in 1821 to 10,144, anc ' U1 '841 to
14,075. To-day the town shows an increase on these last figures
of 10,574. and Skerton and Scotforth, the newly added districts,
representing respectively, 3,248 and 1,411 persons, bring up the
whole to 29,308.

It is singular that Lancaster was never created the seat of an
episcopal see. Indeed, why Manchester was chosen in preference
to Lancaster is only to be accounted for hv the fact that Manchester
is a much more central city.

Thk Old Loyne Bridge.

The ancient bridge which formed the only road in the north except bj river
fords, access from the south being by way of Bridge lane and China lane is mentioned
so far hack as '.he reign of King John in a document of the 17th year of that sovereign's
reign. It is directed therein that the Abbot of Furness should have timber from his
forest of Lancaster for such part of the repairs oi Lancaster Bridge as he was liable
to for bis fisheries in the river there. The bridge would seem to have been at this
time a wooden construction.

Many a stormy scene this old bridge doubtless witnessed, and as a writer
says respecting it. " From the overhanging hill, our townsmen must have witnessed
the approach of the 1'ictish marauders, who on more than one occasion ravaged the
town. Still later it was used by two other Scottish aggressions under the banner o\
the Pretender. "

In the 1 Oth of Edward 111. (1345) letters patent were issued for the frontage
of the bridge of Loyncaster and other patentsfor the same purpose were subsequently


issued. In 1715 when the rebels advanced on Lancaster via Kendal and Kirkby
Lonsdale, Colonel Charteris, the governor, and another officer then in the town,
would have blown jp the bridge which led into Lancaster, to hinder the rebels from
entering ; but the people of the town wen- unwilling, alleging, that it would not pre-
vent an entrance being effected, because the Lune at low water was passable by fool
and horse, and it would be a great expense to rebuild the bridge, without any
advantage having arisen from its destruction. Portions of the battlements at the north
end of the bridge were knocked down and left unrepaired, and caused many accidents
afterwards. In 1 73 1 . William Stout says that ''the Loyne was so low andsosanded
that I went round the pillars (piers) dry at each end oi the bridge ! " The rebels of
1745 do not appear to have injured the structure in any way. < >n the 22nd of Janu-
ary. 17S2 we learn that " On Tuesday last, at the < ieneral Quarter Sessions of the
peace held at Lancaster the old bridge' over the River Lune was indicted by the
grand jury ; and an application is now making to parliament for building a new one
at a more convenient part of the river." Again we read : — -" 29th January: ( >n
Thursday last the River Loyne was suddenly raised by heavy rains and the old
bridge was much undermined by the rapidity of the flood ; a great quantity of stones
were washed from the foundation of the piers and an immense quantity of wood was
forced down the river by the inundation." An entry of February 19th, 17S2 says :
" The petition from the town of Lancaster concerning the taking down of the old
bridge and the building of a new one in a different situation, was presented to the
House of Commons last week and ordered to lie on the table." On the 3rd of June
the bill for building a new bridge from Lancaster to Skerton Cross was passed.

It was high time that the old bridge should be replaced for it had. get into a
very dangerous condition, and numerous accidents resulted. Thus we read that in
the year 1795011 the 31st da}- of .March, a woman who was leading a horse and cart
of coals over this viaduct came to grief owing to the (inch pin of one the wheels coming
out. The horse, cart, and woman fell over the side of the bridge, the battlements
having long before been broken. The horse fel! upon one of the piers and was killed
and the cart was smashed to pieces. The woman was not killed but severely injured.
At the latter end of May during the same year one of the waterside carters with his
cart and two horses, fell off the old bridge owing to the battlements being down, but
falling into the water he escaped without much harm. On the 9th of February, 1798,
one John Gregory, a seaman, was killed by falling from the old bridge, and on Jul}'
13th, 1801, a boy named Chadwick, six years of age, fell off this ruinous ford and only
escaped being killed by alighting upon his back on one of the piers, where il was
sanded, within a few inches of a large stone.

At a special general session of the peace, held at Preston, on the 20th of
February, 1800, Mr. John Brdckbank, shipbuilder, offered to purchase the bridge,
with the rights and interests of the count}' of Lancaster, for a sum of ,£250 to di~-


charge the sum sued for by Jackson Mason, executor of William Mason, for damage
(lime to his property on the Quay near to the old bridge, by building' the new bridge
On the 7th of August, 1S02, the following intimation appeared : — ' Notice
is hereby given that the passage over the old bridge will he stopped on Monday the
9th inst., tor the purpose of taking down one of the arches : any person inclinable to
purchase the remaining part of the said bridge, may apply to Mr. Edward Batty,
Architect, who will treat for the same.' On th iothof August the passage was stopped,
and the workmen began demolishing the arch on the Skerton side. It was soon
cleared away, for we find that a laden vessel passed through in about a month after-
wards. ' September 13th, the Denierara, Captain Inglis, launched from Mr. Brock-
bank's yaid, a ship 409 tons: being the largest vessel built above the old bridge, one
of the arches was obliged to lie taken down, to allow her to pass, and the next day
the Dove, Stephenson, sailed through the aperture and discharged her cargo of timber
at the green area." The next arch on the Skerton side is stated to have fallen in on
the 22nd of September, 1807, owing to the heavy floods, and the remaining arch was
much damaged. The report goes on to stale that one of the arches was previously
taken down, to allow the hull of a large \essel built at Mr. Brockbank's yard, to go
down the river, but we cannot trace the date, although it only occurred i'tw years before.

On the 6th of February, 1814. in consequence of a high spring tide, the ice
on llalton Water broke up with a loud noise and pieces 16 inches thick came Boating
down the river, the southern arch of the old bridge gave way. and fears were enter-
tained that it would carry part of the road with it. In consequence of the above, the
south arch, that is the one next to the quay side, was taken down and a wall built up
to support the remaining arches. <)n the 20th of September, 1S20, it is stated that on
the top of the pier of the old bridge now standing, in a recess, supported by corbels.
our Saxon ancestors met to decide on civil cases, and on commercial disputes, and to
dminister justice. The pier remained twenty five years, and then on Sunday Decem-
ber 29th, 1845, at 5 a.m., fell down. Usually man)' children were to be seen playing
on it, but being early in the morning no one was on it, and only one man saw it fall.
It had stood one hundred and thirty years after Colonel Charteris contemplated its
destruction. In 1846 it was agreed by Mr. John Brockbank with Messrs. |ohn
Fearenside, Samuel Preston, and William Robinson, on behalf of the Port Commis-
sioners, that Mr. J. Brockbank would give them £30 with all the rights, interests and
ruins of the old bridge.

The chronology of the demolition of this old viaduct is as follows : —

The Skerton arch taken down in 1802. the second arch, Skerton side, fell
down in 1807, the first arch, Lancaster side, taken clown in 1S14, and the last or second
arch from the Lancaster side fell down in 1845. Abridged from Gleanings in Local


Thou hast stood old Neptune's billows

In the ages gone,
Lash'd by Time's relentless willows

Till at length undone.

Manx an eye hath watch'd in sorrow

Foemen thou hast led,
Many a warrior e're the morrow

Fallen l>v thee dead.

Native feet and feet of strangers

Thou o'er Loyne hast bona-.
Pictish Clansmen, Danish Rangers,

Heedless of their scorn.

Many a Knight in robe escallop'd,

Arm'd for the affray,
1 m his steed has proudly gallop'd

( )'er thy lofty way.

Storni and sunshine, peace and battle

Thou of old hast known,
While the children's merry prattle

I )id for strife atone.

Oft the Sun in splendour shining',

Hath thy corbels charm'd,
Sylvan warblers thus inclining,

To a song thrice warmd.

Cere's sons around have labour'd,

As those wood nymphs sang ;
And the little ones have tabour'd

While the joy bells rang.

Counting beads in deep contrition
Saints have o'er thee pass'd,

Thinking of the great transition-
Bridge of Death at last.

Thou art vanish'd— of thy glory

Hards alone may tell.
Hut. old bridge, in ancient story
Thou shall ever dwell.

Skkktox Bridge.

A very fine viaduct, consisting of five elliptical arches, con-
nects Lancaster with the newly incorporated village or parish of
Skerton. The hist stone of this bridge was laid in June, 1785, by
the Recorder of Lancaster, in the presence of the mayor, aldermen,
capital burgesses and common council men oi' the borough, who
proceeded to Skerton Cross surrounded by a vast concourse of spec-
tators. The architect was Mr. Harrison, and the builders Messrs.
Mesham. In old journals the bridge, completed in 1 788 bv the


county at a cost of £14,000, is described as consisting; of five ellipti
cal arches, of sixty-eight feet each, and of the width of thirty-three
feet, with piers ornamented with columns and pediments, there
being- also a handsome cornice and battlements with balustrades.
The estimated cost, says an old Newcastle newspaper, was ,£10,400.
Another description taken from the Cumberland Parquet is as
follows : — -October 31st, 1787. "The new bridge at Lancaster is
completed and exhibits a piece of architecture worthy of the obser-
vation of travellers. This bridge is 21b yards in length and 35 feet
4 inches in breadth. The footpath on each side is five feet wide, and
neatly flagged. It consists of five elliptic arches, each of sixty-eight
feet span and the rise nineteen and a half feet; in building it the
centre bore the whole length without any support and only shrunk
\]/z of an inch. The piers up to the spring of the arches are
rusticated, and all above are plain Ashleys. Round the arches are
architraves, above which runs a Doric cornice, the whole length of
the bridge being ornamented with mutles, &c. Above this are
banisters, four hundred and twenty in number, and in each pier is a
relieving arch in the form of a niche and on each side of which is a
column and Doric pediment over them. The difficulties the artists
have met with in the execution of this work have been greater than
could possibly have been foreseen ; but happily not so great as to
prevent their completing in the end a structure which besides its
utility must be considered as the chief ornament of the place, and
which we hope will long remain a monument of their ingenuity and
perseverance. The principals engaged in the work of building are
Mr. Harrison, architect, Mr. Benjamin Mesham, mason, and Mr.
Edward Exley, carpenter."

It ought to be mentioned that prizes of 20 guineas, ten
guineas, and five guineas were offered for the best designs of this
bridge. Mr. Harrison, of Chester, won the first prize, Mr. West,
of Richmond, the second, and Mr. Gott, evidently a local man, the


Railway Bridges.

The railway bridge over the Lune (Lancaster and Carlisle line) was opened
for traffic on Monday, the 21st of September, 1846. The two principal arches are of

Online LibraryCross FleuryTime-honoured Lancaster ... Historic notes on the ancient borough of Lancaster → online text (page 10 of 55)