Eng. (Lancashire). Parish Bury.

The registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) online

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The scenery viewed from the high ridge on the moor is both beau-
tiful and romantic, — the towering hills in the distance, — the Calder
winding along the dale beneath, overhung in some places by deep
and solemn woods, interspersed at varying distances with verdant
meadows, is a delightful prospect : the mansion and the villa on
the more elevated lands, environed in their park-like enclosures,
add to the variety and beauty of the scene ; while the thriving vil-
lage of Sowerby-Bridge, immediately beneath, gives it a degree of
animation — the whole constituting one perfect landscape.



TOWNSHIP OF SOWERBY.



SoREBi is mentioned in Domesday book as one of the nine bere-
wics within the manor of Wakefield, in this parish. The river
Calder forms its boundary on the Nortli and East, dividing it from
the tow^nships of Midgley, and Warley : it has the Riburn on the
South, and the township of Erringden on the West : and contains
an area of 3670 statute acres.

"I know not" says Watson, "how to give a better etymology
of this name, than by supposing it to have meant the Seur-bye,
poph-by, (securus vicus) in modern English, the safe habitation,
or settlement ; for such it might well be esteemed to be, when
it was defended by a fort or castle, the foundation of which may
yet be seen in a field near the top of the town, adjoining to
which is a piece of ground called the Hell-croft, where, no doubt,
the dead were buried." In Domesday book there is no mention of
the castle, but this is no proof that a castle was not there, for
there are many instances of the like sort to be met with in that
survey. "Its name, and that of the Hell-croft (adds Mr. Watson)
seem to prove that it was in being in the Saxon times, for that
people called the grave by the name of Hell ;* thus, when Jacob,
Gen. xxxvii. 35. says, " I will go down into the grave unto my son,
mourning;" they expressed it thus, bepenSe ic pape to namum

♦ Mr. Watson ought to have proved, in support of his argument, that the word "Hell"*
was never used in the sense of the grave later than the Saxon times, the contrary of which
however is certain. It was even doubted by Thouksby (see Due. Lcod.) whether the
word Hell had any other signification in the creed — "a doubt, ^says Dr. Wuitaker,)
which was somewhat inconsistent with the orthodoxy of his principles, and which he
would not have proposed had he recollected that the burial of our Lord is nentioned in the
preceding article. This interpretation, however, is countenanced by the use of the word
in the old translations of the bible, so as do all they who live and confess him." So that
Mr. W. need not have gone back to the Saxon version.
D D



402 TOWNSHIP OF SOVVERBY.

f une TO hell. Our accounts of the Anti-Normannic times are very
imperfect, and therefore it cannot be expected that any thing should
be said with precision about such a place as this, antecedent to that
memorable sera. It is clear, however, that during the possession of
the earls of "Warren there was a castle here, and that the said earls
frequently resorted thither for the diversions of hunting, hawking,
&c. This was conveyed by John, the last earl, to king Edward II.
but when the fort was suffered to decline does not appear ; the most
probable supposition is, that it became neglected when the lords of
the manor left off to visit it. The stones which composed it have
been made use of in the adjacent buildings."

Sowerby, as one of the nine berewics belonging to the manor
of Wakefield, was conveyed from the crown with that manor to the
earls of Warren, who made it an occasional place for their residence,
on which account perhaps it was, that it was made a distinct manor
or lordship of itself, and the copyholders there held, "secundum
consuetudinem manerii de Sowerby ;" and thus it was reputed
whilst it belonged to the earls of Warren, for the last earl made a
grant of it to king Edward II. in these words : "Maneria mea de
Wakefeild — Sowerby — et Hallifax" (inter alia.) There are no court
rolls of the manor of Sowerby in the reigns of Edw. I, II, or III, for
they all perished by fire, as is said, when Pilkington, steward of that
manor, had his house burned, in the reign of Hen. VI. After this
event, the courts were held at Walvcfield, but the style was "Cur.
de Sowerby tent, apud Wakefeild ;" this did not continue long, for
Sowerby and Warley began to be considered as one greaveship, and
parcel of the manor of Wakefield, and have continued so ever
since. This township (which was entirely forest ground) was not
granted to Jordan de Thornhill by earl Warren, but kept in the
hands of the earls of Warren, till the last earl conveyed it to the
crown.* "By an inquisition at York, 21 Edw. Ill, John de Warren,
late earl of Surry, deceased, who held the manor of Sowerby for
term of his life, remainder to the king, granted the said manor to
John de Breose, for life of said earl. King Edw. III. granted said



• The fact is stated differently by Mr. Watson, in his Memoirs of the Earls Warren
and Surry. Vol. 1. p. 166, "He" (Hameline Plantagenet, the 5th Earl,) "confirmed to
Jordan de Thornhill, about 11C9, his inheritance is Sowerbyshire, &c. as we read m Col-
lins' Baronetage."



TOWNSHIP OF SOWERBY. 403

manor to said John Breose and his heirs, after death of said earl.
John de Breose died seized of the premises, and said carl entered
said manor." From this it appears that the grant to Breose was
for his own life. The subsequent history of the manor of Sowerby
is the same as that of the lordship of Wakefield ; the present noble
proprietor being His Grace the Duke of Leeds, for whose title
see "The Manor."

One Rustin de villa nova (Nevile) had a grant of the manor
of Sowerby for his life from Edward, Duke of York, who was
slain at Agincourt. This appears from the copy of a record dated
at Wakefield, 12 March, 9 Hen. IV. and directed to " Sir Rustin
de villa nova habenti manerium de Sowerby, ad vitam suam ex
concessione Edwardi ducis Ebor," &c. The deed is in old French,
and purporting, that the said Duke of York had granted to his
tenant^Roger Banister, two parcels of pasture in Sowerbyshire,
called Mareshae and Baitings in Soyland, to hold to him and his
heirs, in base tenure, according to the custom of the manor of
Sowerby ; charging the said Rustin to accept the said Roger to
make fine in the court of Sowerby, for the said parcels, and to cause
the same to be enrolled there, witnessing the grant in the said court.
This deed was dated 7th Feb. 9, Hen. IV. This record seems to
prove that a court was held at Sowerby, and yet it is added, that
by virtue of this writ, at the court of Sowerby, holden at Waliefield,
the above parcels were granted to Roger accordingly.

Mr. Watson has some very interesting information respecting
what was once termed the forest of Sowerbyshire.

In a MS. entitled Notes and Observations, gathered from sundry
records touching the estate of the manor of Sowerby, &c. are the
following words: " It appeareth, by sundry records, that Sowerby
was a manor, forest, or free chace, severed from the manor of
Wakefield, and parcel of the possessions of the earls of Warren, and
had a castle therein, and contained many great wastes, woods,
mountains and hills, stored with wild and savage beasts, as stags,
bucks, does, wild boars, and other beasts of vencrie." The reason,
in all probability, why this had the name both of forest and free
chace, was because it had beasts common to both ; the hart, hind,
hare, boar and M'olf, being esteemed beasts of venery ; the buck,
doe, fox, marten and roe, beasts of chace. Strictly speaking, the

D D 2



404 TOWNSHIP OF SOWERBY.

forest was confined to what are now called Sowerby, Erringden, and
jierhaps Warley ; for in the reign of Edward I, John the seventh
earl of Warren and Siirry, (as will be seen by a reference to " the
manor") was summoned to answer by what warrant he appropriated
to himself, as a forest, certain divisions of the parish, not including
the above townships.

There is a distinction here observed between a forest and free
chace : all forest laws depended wholly on the will and pleasure of
kings, and it was not fit for any subject to make such laws, and
create such officers as kings did usually in their forests ; and there-
fore where forests have devolved into the hands of subjects, as Sir
Henry Spelman observes, they pass most commonly under the more
humble title of chaces, though sometimes the name of forest is still
retained, but without the jurisdiction. And yet, as Lord Coke
has observed, if the king doth grant a forest to a subject, and also,
on request made in chancery, that he and his heirs shall have justice
of the forest, then the subject hath a forest in law : this seems to
have been the case with regard to the forest of Sowerby. The
crown, temp. Edward I. laid no claim to Sowerby, Erringden and
Warley, knowing the earls of Warren had a legal right to a forest
there, the same no doubt being on record ; but by the earl's own
confession, this power extended no farther, only that he had a
right by charter to have and hunt his game in the neighbouring-
townships, as .above related.

It appears from Kirby's Inquest in this king's reign, that the
earl was possessed, (as chief lord) inter alia, of Fixby, Sowerby,
and Warley.

In the above MS. (a copy whereof was in Watson's possession) it
is also said, that " there were proper foresters, or keepers, for the
preservation of their game, and wild beasts within the manor,
forest, or free chace, appointed by the lords thereof; and there
are many presentments in the rolls belonging to the manor of Wake-
field, for hunting, killing of deer, beating and wounding the forest-
ers and keepers, and other misdemeanors committed against the
game, and officers in that forest, in the reign of King Edward II."
In another MS. (referred to by Watson) intitled. Notes and Remem-
brances collected out of the manor of Wakefield touching Soyland
and Warley mills, it is likewise said, that " it is manifest, by antient



TOWNSHIP OF SOWERBY. 405

record, that Sowerby was a forest, or free chace, and stored with
venison, and that there were foresters elected, and that the Earls
Warren went often thither for pleasure in hunting, and there were
many amerciaments for killing of deer." From the same MS. it
also appears, that 1 6 Edw. I. Geppe de Dene was elected forester
in Sowerbyshire, and found sureties for his fidelity, Henry Prepositus,
(the Greave) of Hipperholme, W. of the same, Tliomas de Shelfe,
and Richard of the same. The same year divers men were taken,
and imprisoned for beating and wounding Ralph, one of the foresters
in Sowerbyshire, and were fined ten shillings and sixpence, and
found sureties, body for body, if the said forester died before the
the arrival of the Earl. Several men in Sowerbyshire were present
when the above forester was wounded, but they pretended not to
know who wounded him, therefore they were all attached. In the
same roll two men were amerced, because they refused to be forest-
ers in Sowerbyshire. Also Alan, son of Richard Talvas, was
taken and imprisoned for taking from William del Hirst six sheaves
of oats, against his will, alledging that the said William owed him
the same, for preserving his corn in the night from the beasts of the
woods. 35 Edw. I. Roger, vicar of Rochdale, was amerced in
twenty shillings, for hunting and killing deer in Sowerbyshire, of
which he paid one half, and laid in sureties for the other. 4 Edw. I\'.
the king granted to John Pilkington, Esquire of his body, the office
of his chief forester of his chace of Sowerby. In a dispute, 6 Eliz.
between the crown and Edward Savile, Esq. a deed was produced,
without date, under the seal of arms of William, Earl Warren,
owner of the lordship of Wakefield, whereby it appeared, that John
Thornhill did grant that the said earl and his heirs for ever, should
keep all his wild beasts, deer, and fowls, in the ground of the said
John Thornhill, in Sowerbyshire, by the proper forester of the said
earl ; and the said earl, in consideration of the said liberty, did
grant, by the same deed, that it should be lawful to the siud John
Thornhill, and his heirs, to make their whole commodity of all their
lands and woods in Sowerbyshire, at their pleasure, without con-
tradiction of the earl, or his heirs, and that the said John Thornhill
and his heir should have and take yearly, within his fee in Sowerby-
shii'e, five stags of grease, and five hinds in winter. These are
sufficient proofs of a forest here : and it is worth observing, that it



406 TOWNSHIP OF SOWERBY.

has sometimes been called the forest of Sowerbyshire, and some-
times the forest of Hardwic. The first, Watson conjectures to
allude to the towns within the compass of it, and the second to
mean the chief place of residence within it, but of this hereafter.
The liberties of the forest of Sowerbyshire, as we are told by
Bentley, in his account of Halifax, " have their beginning on
the west, from the bounds dividing the counties of Yorkshire and
Lancashire ; on the east, Salterhebble brook, as the same runneth
from Illingworth to the river Calder ; on the north it borders on
the vicarage of Bradford ; and on the south, on the rivers of Ryburn
and Calder ; and contains, within its circuit, the following towns
and hamlets : Halifax, Ovenden, Illingworth, Mixenden, Bradshaw,
Skircoat, Warley, Sowerby, Rishworth, Luddenden, Midgley,
Eringden, Heptonstall, Rottenstall, Stansfield, Cross-stone, and
Langfleld ;" to which Wright, in his History of Halifax, p. 82,
adds (very properly) Wadsworth.

That Barkisland and Norland were not within the limits of the
forest is plain, from the "Domisday Booke, being an extent of the
rents and services of the free men of the Soke of Wakefield, made
in 1314," wherein the escape of beasts at Ryburne, into the forest,
is valued at five shillings yearly ; the same at Northeland, (Norland)
two shillings and sixpence. Midgley also seems not to have been
part of the forest, for the escape of beasts belonging to Midgley and
Luddenden is valued at ten shillings yearly. The true bounds of
the forest appear to have been as above described, viz. Sowerby,
Errlngden, and perhaps Warley. What was called Sowerbyshire
was more extensive, having its denomination from the manor, and
comprehended the townships and vills of Sowerby, Soyland, Erring-
den, Rishworth, Skircoat, Halifax, Midgley, Ovenden, Holds-
worth, Stansfield, Heptonstall, Wadsworth, Routonstall, Langfield,
Warley, and Saltonstall, all which were within the view or circuit
of the court leet, or sheriiFs turn, holden at Halifax, and the in-
habitants of these towns were called men of Sowerbyshire.

"As to the name of Hardwic, (says Watson,) I have not met
with it in any ancient record, and as no place in this neighbourhood
goes by that appellation now, or is known by tradition to have been
called so, we must be guided by circumstances in finding it out. What
then, is the etymology of it .■* Heord-wic, or the village where herds-



TOWNSHIP OF SOWEIIBY. 407

men lived, differs little from it in sound, but it may be supposed that
the forest would take its denomination from the most considerable
place within it, and not from the huts of a few herdsmen. The most
considerable place was the castle at Sowerby, where the lords of
the manor had their residence when they came here to hunt, and
use other diversions. But between the words Sowerby and
Hardwick, there is a remarkable similarity ; the former from
the security which its castle gave to it, might get the name of
Sureby, securus vicus , and the latter may be derived from Hart,
or Hard, strong, and Wik, a village, or fort. The forest of
Hardwick, therefore, is but another name for the forest of So-
werby. In this conjecture we are not a little confirmed, when
it is considered that what is now called the forest of Hardwick,
occurs very often in old writings, by the name of the forest of
Sowerbyshire. Was this not so, there must have been two forests
here adjoining to each other, and belonging to the same person,
which it would be ridiculous to suppose. Besides, as above related.
Earl Warren, in answer to the writ de quo warranto, in the time of
king Edward H. laid no claim to a forest in the township of Halifax,
and in Sowerby it was never disputed with him. When therefore
it is said, that Halifax was in the forest of Hardwick, nothing more
could originally be meant by it, than that Halifax was within the
purlieus, or liberties of it, which it seems to have been ; but the
true forest of Hardwick was that of Sowerby. If any should think
that the first sjdlable in Hardwick, or Ardwick, comes from Ard,
an hill, or mountain, or from Ard, an adjective, which signified
high, or lofty, the situation of the place will well agree with these
opinions, and yet not overthrow the above conjecture."

Mr. Watson has certainly taken a great deal of pains to prove
that Hardwick is but another name for Sowerby ; now with all de-
ference to his judgment, I would submit to the consideration of
those better acquainted with the subject than myself, whether the
word may not have some connection with the German Hardt-weg,
or hard road in the forest.

The park of Erringdcn. formerly within Sowerby, I shall here-
after have occasion to notice.

The earliest account of the gravcship of Sowerby, is in the



408 TOWNSHIP OF SOWERBY.

" Domisday Book" of the manor, made in 1314, from whence the
following : —

" Graveship of Sowerby. Here the lord has a manor in his
chase. Will. de. Townend for his lands bound to grind at the mill
of Soland at the twentieth vessel, to assist in making the eldest
son of the lord a knight, in marrying his eldest daughter, and shall
go a hawking with the lord as often as he shall come thither, for
the first day at his own charges, and if not, shall pay Id. Several
others were bound to the same service. There is in the forest an
iron forge, which may continue for ever, worth 91. 12s. yearly, viz.
4s. in each week, except fifteen days at Christmas, and fifteen days at
Easter and Whitsontide. The lord may have in the forest five score
cows and bulls in three vaccaries, and eight score fat beasts
may be in Baytinge in Soyland, where may be agisted, besides
the aforesaid beasts, an hundered great beasts between the
feasts of St. Helen and St. Giles, worth yearly 40s. The pannage
of the whole graveship worth yearly about lOOs. The herbage in
Hadreschelfe 24s. Herbage in Mankanhulls, 16s. Escape of the
cattle of Midgley and Luddingden 10s. Escape at Ryburne 5s.
The mill at Soland 46s. 8d. The mill of Warlulley 26s. 8d. Per-
quisites of court 101. Escape of beasts out of Northland 2s. 6d.
Agistments in the common pasture 36s. 8d.

" In Soland. All the rents arising from seventeen tenants here
amounted to 69s. lid. ob. These paid to the lord for foreign ser-
vice 2s. Rish worth paid foreign service to the same 12d. Out
of which were paid to sir John Eland for his life 2d. yearly.

" Warley. The tenants are said to hold their respective lands
in this township, " per servicium de Sowerbye." In the margin is
written " Skircotes & Northeland."

At the foot of this survey was written, " The sum total of the
whole extent £375 16s. lid. ob. qa." The whole of earl War-
ren's rents in the north parts is also there made to amount to £668
3s. 6d. ob. qa. out of which there was paid yearly about £100 to
constables, watchmen, and gate keeiDcrs at castles.

At a court held at Wakefield, Nov. 19, 1 624, it was found, that
there were sixty head graves within the graveship of Sowerby ;
of which there were forty in Sowerby, and twenty in Warley ; also
that every helper was to pay the head grave four pence for every



TOWNSHIP OF SOVVERBY. 409

penny rent, and so after that rate towards his service and charges,
as had been accustomed. These graves always begin their office at
Michaelmas. At the above court all the head graves, with their
helpers, were formed into a list both for Sowerby, Soyland, and
Warley, the sums being particularly mentioned which each were
to pay, and the estate for which they were to serve. The last ver-
dict by twelve jurymen, which Watson had heard of, summoned by
the lord's steward to enquire into the rents and evidences concern-
ing the graveship of Sowerby, was given at Sowerby-bridge, at the
great court baron held there for the Duke of Leeds, May 20th,
1710.

SOWERBY CHAPEL.

Although there is no positive proof of the precise date when a
chapel was first erected in Sowerby, Mr. Watson has produced
proof that there was one in existence before 35 Eliz. (Dec. 30, 1592)
for one Robert Wade of Sowerby, whose will bears that date, sur-
rendered four pounds yearly out of his lands, to feoffees in trust,
that the same should be distributed to the poor of Sowerby, by the
minister for the time being ; and it is more than probable that it
was not a new erection then, for at Whitewindows in Sowerby, is
an original agreement, dated May 25th, 1622, to tax Blackwood,
Sowerby, and Westfield Quarters, forty pounds each, towards en-
larging, re-edifying, and beautifying the Chapel at Sowerby town.
One Adam Morris is also said to have been curate there in 1572.

At the same place is another agreement, dated May 25th, 1622
between some of the chief persons in Sowerby, and one Shepherd,
a carpenter, concerning the wood work in Sowerby Chapel ; and
there is also a third original paper there, dated Jan. 1626, wherein
is recited, that the chapel of Sowerby was lately re-edified and en-
larged ; but situated in a mountainous country, above three miles
distant from its parish-church at Htdifax, by reason whereof some
of the inhabitants of the same chapelry, dwelling five or six miles
off (through foul and craggy ways) from the said church, were,
upon occasions of christenings, weddings, and burials, put to great
and extraordinary pains in travelling to and from the said church ;
which labor they thought might well be eased, and much expence
saved, if the said chapel could be procured to be a distinct parish-
church of itself, and endowed with parochial rights, viz. with all



410 TOWNSHIP OF SOWERBY.

fees due for christenings, churching of women, marrying, burials,
mortuaries, oblations, obventions, and such other monies and rights,
as by the inhabitants of and within the said chapelry, and their
predecessors, have been due and payable to the vicars of Halifax
for the time being ; all which divers of the said inhabitants were in
great hope to obtain either in possession, by composition, or else
after the death, cession, resignation, or deprivation of Robert Clay,
D. D. then vicar of Halifax, if a competent sum of money could be
raised for effecting thereof. Nothing however was effected till the
year 1678, when another attempt was made, upon a different plan,
as appears from the copy of a letter at Chaderton, written by Dr.
Hooke, the then vicar, to clear himself from being a traditor of the
church's rights ; wherein he says, that the inhabitants of Sowerby
should hiave liberty to bury their dead in the chapel or chapel-yard
there, reserving for every burial the accustomed due of one penny
to the vicar of Halifax, and to the clerk of Halifax two-pence ; and
also to baptise their infants, reserving to the said vicar for each
infant, five pennies, and to the clerk of Halifax one penny ; — that
no publication of marriage be but in Halifax church, nor any mar-
riage of any inhabitant of Sowerby but in the said church ; — that
the dues arising from Sowerby should be paid to the vicar quarterly ;
and that the churchwarden of Sowerby should attend, as formerly,
the monthly meetings at Halifax, and contribute as before to all
church dues. The original consent of Dr. Hooke, relating to the
above, dated Oct. 8, 1678, is set forth in Watson. In consideration
whereof, the people of Sowerby gave towards the purchasing of a
close, annexed to the vicarage, the sum of seven pounds ten shillings,
which close had been purchased of one Nicholas Elberke of Halifax,
in 1688, for thirty-one pounds. It lies behind the vicarage house.

After the above consent was obtained, the archbishop granted
a similar licence to Sowerby as he had done before to Lightcliffe.
It is dated at Bishopthorpe, Nov. 1, 1678. See the Halifax regis-
ter for that year. This grant was also registered in the archbishop's
own book, and in the registry of the court at York.

June 4th, 1761, says Mr. Watson, "I had the honor to sign a
certificate along with Sir George Armytage, bart. and others, that



Online LibraryEng. (Lancashire). Parish BuryThe registers of the parish church of Bury in the County of Lancasrter. Christenings, burials, & weddings (Volume 2) → online text (page 37 of 52)