W. A. (William Alexander) Abram.

Parish of Blackburn, county of Lancaster. A history of Blackburn, town and parish online

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be enabled to furnish themselves with " a competencie of weapons" for
the security of the King's person, their country and families. To this
application the King returned a favourable answer. By an order of the
Court at Chester, Sept. 27th, 1642, these loyal " Recusants" were bidden
to provide sufficient arms for themselves, their servants, and their tenants,
to be used in defence of their own persons and property, and of the
royal interests.' The permission was not granted too soon, for almost
the first act of the enemy in the Hundred of Blackburn was to make a
raid upon the Townley estate, for the capture of Townley Hall. In the
beginning of October, the Parliament's Committee at Manchester,
" to keep their soldiers in exercise," sent some of their Captains " upon
designs advantagious unto them /' as, for instance, " Captaine Birch was
sent into Blackburne Hundred, to take in Townley Hall ; and others
were sent to fetch prizes from malignant cavaliers."^

At the outset of the Civil War the Royalist party were so much the
stronger in the four westerly Hundreds of West Derby, Leyland,
Amoundemess, and Lonsdale, as to exercise complete sway, and to hold
with their garrisons every strong castle, embattled mansion, and fortified
town within those Hundreds. The Royalist leaders, with Lord Derby at
their head, included Sir John Girlington, Knt.; Sir Gilbert Hoghton,
Bart.; Sir Alexander Radcliffe, Knt; Thos. Tyldesley and Wm. Farring-
ton, Esqrs.; and other powerful gentlemen. The two Hundreds of
Blackburn and Salford remained as the strongholds of the Parliamentarian
interest. Manchester was their most defensible place, and their political
and military head-quarters. Bolton likewise was held for the Parliament,
and partially fortified. In Blackburn Hundred, the only place of arti-
ficial strength in possession of the Roundheads was Clitheroe Castle.
The town of Blackburn, though very much exposed to the enemy, had
no fortifications worthy of the name. Burnley, Colne, and Hasling-
den, the other market towns, were better protected by the badness of
the roads that led into the interior of the Hundred than by any temporary
rampart of mud that may have been hastily thrown up to strengthen
them. Though the friends of the Parliament in the district outnumbered
the partizans of the King, there were several local Royalists of note,

I C. W. Tracts, pp. 33-40. 2 Discourse of Warr, p. 10.



Some families were as good as neutral in the war : such was Richard
Sherburne of Stonyhurst, a poor ally, though he must be classed on the
King's side. The Southworths of Samlesbury make no appearance in
the field. Thomas Southworth, Esq., was just defunct (1641) with-
out heirs, and there was, therefore, no male scion to risk the estate by
committing himself to either of the contending parties.

It was chiefly the Roman Catholic families of the Hundred, —
Towneley of To^vneley, Sherburne of Stonyhurst, Talbot of Salesbury,
and Walmesleys of Dunkenhalgh and of Banister Hall, — that rallied to
King Charles's standard. Roger Nowell of Read was the only Protes-
tant churchman of any influence who sided with the King. The local
feeling being decisively for the Parliament, all that the Royalist gentry
could do was to get together as many as they might of their personal
dependants, and, leaving their properties to the mercy of the enemy,
march to join the Royalists at Preston and elsewhere, in the hope that
the tide of war would soon bear them back to their forsaken estates.
Sir John Talbot tarried a while in his strong house at Salesbury, profes-
sing neutrality, until, his treachery being discovered, he had to decamp.
Richard Walmesley had his house at Dunkenhalgh occupied and ran-
sacked by the Roundheads very early in the first campaign. RadclifFe
Assheton of Cuerdale became an active agent of the Royalist party in the

While the Parliamentarian Committee were collecting their forces
and disposing them for the defence of Blackburn and Salford Hundreds,
the Royalists were straining every nerve to be ready for the onset in
West Lancashire. That the Royalists about Preston were at this time
equally fearful lest the Roundheads of Blackburn and Salford Hundreds
should swoop down upon them unawares and discomfit them, as the
Parliamentarian conclave at Padiham were lest the Royalists from
Preston should attack them while unprepared, is evident from the
Sheriffs letter to Wm. Farrington and others, dated the 23rd November,
in which allusion is made to the source of anticipated mischief to the
Royal cause : — " Fforasmuch as the rebellious Route under the conduct
of Richard Shuttleworth, Esq., and others within this County palatine
of Lancaster, doe daylie swell and increase in a greater rebellious body,
which committ severall outrages and notorious wicked acts and offences,
ffbr speedie redresse and suppression whereof I am required to raise
and have in readiness the power of the County." The Sheriff therefore
ordered all the Royalist gentry of Leyland district and their tenants to
be in readiness to take the field " upon fewer and twenty howres further
notice and warninge, on paine and forfeiture of their lives and estates."^

I Farington Papers, pp. 89-9«.




■ In obedience to these directions, Sir Gilbert Hoghton, Bart., of
Walton Hall, had, in conjunction with Wm. Farrington, Esq., of Worden,
been employed during the months of October and November in getting
their levies in fighting order for the King. Sir Gilbert's position at
Hoghton or Walton was a standing menace to the town of Blackburn.
The inhabitants of that town appear to have been from the beginning
ardent Parliamentarians, as were several of the neighbouring gentry.
But the place was small ; dominated on every hand by the hills sur-
rounding it ; and destitute of any kind of defences. It seemed to offer
an easy prey to an enterprising enemy. When, some time before, the
Roman Catholics in the Hundred had been disarmed by order of Par-
liament, the arms secured had been deposited at Whalley. Sir Gilbert
Hoghton determined to seize those arms, and to carry them to Black-
burn, making the latter town a Royalist advanced post. The first incur-
sion of Sir Gilbert into Blackburn Parish was with this object. It was
made towards the end of November ; the author of the Discourse of
the Warr fixes it about the middle of October, but it could not have
been so soon as that, for Messrs. Shuttleworth and Starkie had no men
in arms at that date, and could not have attacked Sir Gilbert Hoghton
as they did. Other narratives give the 27th of November as the
date of the first collision in the neighbourhood of Blackburn. An
undated letter from the Bailiff of Clitheroe' and others to Richard
Shuttleworth indicates the belief at Clitheroe to have been, on Sir
Gilbert Hoghton's appearance in the Ribble valley, that he meant to
capture Clitheroe Castle, the fact being that he had no such present
design, the deposit of arms at Whalley being the real object of his raid.

The stroke fell upon the Blackburn Roundheads at last, and was
replied to by an effectual counter-stroke. Sir Gilbert advanced at the
head of his troopers to Whalley, and seized the arms there ; then retired
upon Blackburn, which he had simultaneously occupied by a body
of foot. The affair and its ending a Puritan chronicler records as
follows : —

The Armes within Blackburn Hundred being laid up at Whalley, Sir Gilbert
Houghton, one of the Deputy Lieutenants for the Earle of Darbie afforesaid, no
doubt but by and with the counsell and direction of the Earle and to make their Partie
stronge, called up the Trained Band of Amounderness Hundred, and marched to
Whalley to fetch the said Armes from thence, and the 16 or 17 of October, 1642,
carried them to Blackburne and quartered there that night. And that same day ould
Colonell Shuttleworth (having received intelligence of his designe) had a Randavous
of the Clubmen of Blackburne Hundred upon Houley [Healey, near Burnley ?]
More, wher they held a consultation what course to take about those Armes, the
general vote being not to let them goe out of their Hundred, but eyther Reskowe
I Lane, Lieut, v. ii, pp. 3o5-6.



them or adventure themselves to the hazard. Soe that at night, hearing that Sir
Gilbert with his Companie and the Armes had taken up their quarters at Blackburne,
they silently fell down upon Blackburne beating up their quarters, tooke many of Sir
Gilbert's soldiers prisoners, [and] seased upon the Armes. Sir Gilbert himselfe fled
out of the Towne, and the prisoners that were taken being brought before Colonell
Shuttleworth he released them, counselling them to be honest men and keep at home.'-

Other accounts, which may be compared with the above, of this
victory of the East Lancashire Roundheads over Sir Gilbert Hoghton's
array, are found in two curious Puritan records of the period. One,
the quaint, pietistic anonymous tract entitled Lancashire's Valley of Achor
is England' s Doore of Hope, ^\io\\^&A in London in 1643; the other,
a shorter tract, printed in London, Dec. 9th, 1642, purporting to be
A True and full Relation of the Troubles in Lancashire in the form of a
letter from one Thomas Jesland, of Atherton, a Lancashire Puritan, to
a " Reverend Divine in London." An engagement between Colonel
Shuttleworth's force and that of Sir Gilbert Hoghton is stated in one of
these accounts to have been fought on " Hinfield Moor," which I take
to mean Enfield Moor, a low hill to the north of Accrington, about mid-
way between Blackburn and Burnley, — a central eminence commanding
the valleys of the Calder and Hindbum. The other, and probably the
accurate version, agreeing as it does with that above quoted, is that
" Hinfield Moor" was but the place of the Parliamentarian rendezvous
and consultation, and Blackburn, the town occupied by the Royalist
leader, the scene of the conflict and defeat of Sir Gilbert's troops. The
passage from Lancashire' s Valley of Achor is given below : —

Blackburne Hundred. — When God had thus gloriously appeared in Salford
Hundred, the first and fonvardest Hundred, He went and displayed His banner in
Blackburne Hundred, that only other Hundred in this Countie that appeared in the
same cause. About November the seven and twentieth, the [Royalist] Array, with
some three hundred armed men (as is conceived) besides Clubmen, possessed them-
selves of Blackburne, whence they sent a party to disarme Whalley. This alarm
awaked the Militia to awake the people by precept. They being awaked, were soone
up and marched towards Blackburne about two hundred armed men, some companies
of Clubmen, and some Horsemen, but without arms. The want of skill in souldiers,
and skilful! captains to supply that want, caused a consultation on Hinfield-Moore,
which received Determination (not from the Discoverie of hidden skill but from the
resolute will of these stirring .Souldiers) to dispossesse those forcible Tenants. They
speed on with shouting, dividing themselves unto the conduct of two chosen captains,
and come within sight of the Town [of Blackburn] about eight of the clock, when the
Queen of the night, that had shined upon their March, did discover them to their
enemies, who soon let flie from the Steeple [of the Parish Church] ; which ordered
one Captain and his companie to the South side of the Town, and the other Captain
with his companie to the East end of the Town, where they found (though not so high,
yet) as hot entertainment out of the Town for the space of two houres. But God that
I Discourse of Warr, pp. 11-12.


varieth His providence according to His people's occasions, and had maintained the
passages of Manchester (that a rightful people should not be wronged), did now open
a difficult passage to let in his friends, from whom the Array [Royalists] hasted, having
disburdened themselves of their arms, and restored what they took from Whalley.
Now had God added an experience of favourable providence, in a new kinde,
formerly in a way of defence, now in a way of offence, declaring His all-sufficiencie
and compleatnesse for Warre, to those two united Hundreds, giving a Shield to
Manchester and a Sword to Blackbume.i

The narrative of Thomas Jesland, written four or five days after the
event, and from hearsay probably, is less correct in particulars. He
magnifies the Roundhead force to 8,000 men (a highly improbable
number), and places the action between the hostile forces at " Hinfield
Moor" instead of at Blackburn. Having described the simultaneous
defeat of the Earl of Derby at Chowbent, in which he was an actor,
Thomas Jesland writes : —

Now the men of Blackburn, Paduam, Bumeley, Clitheroe, and Colne, with those
sturdy churles in the two forests of Pendle and Rossendale, have raised their spirits,
and have resolved to fight it out rather than their Beefe and fatt Bacon shall be taken
from them. For the last Weeke Sir Gilbert Houghton set his Beacon on fire, which
stood upon the top of Houghton Tower and was the signal to the countrey for the
Papists and Malignants to arise in the Field [Fylde], and in Lealand Hundred ; where-
upon great multitudes accordingly resorted to him to Preston in Andemesse, and ran
to Blackbume, and so through the countrey, disarming jll and pillaging some ; which
Master Shuttleworth, a Parliament man, and Master Starkie hearing off, presently had
gotten together out of the places formerly mentioned about 8,000 men, met with Sir
Gilbert and his Catholique Malignants at Hinfield Moor, put them to flight, tdbke
away many of their armes, and pursued Sir Gilbert so hotly, that he quit his Horse,
leaped into a field, and by the comming on of the night escaped through fur [furzei
bushes and by-wayes to Preston, and there makes great defence by chaining up the
Ribble Bridge and getting what force he can into the Towne for its securitie, out of
which the countrie swears they will have him, by God's help, with all his adherents
either quicke or dead ; so that by the next post I hope I shall certifie of some good
posture that the countrey will be in. O that Parliament had but sent downe their
1,000 Dragoniers into the countrey — wee would not have left a Masse-monger nor
Malignant of note but we would have provided a lodging for him."

The motive-cause of the popular rising in these districts, to repel
the Royalist invasion, as assigned by this narrator, was not perhaps of
the most exalted kind. It was not so much that the peasantry of these
parts hated the absolutist proceedings of the monarch, or fell in with the
puritanic ideas of religion and morals favoured by the King's adver-
saries ; — it was simply to save " their Beefe and fatt Bacon" from the
clutches of an enemy credited, and not without reason, with the inten-
tion to appropriate them to his own use. But unromantic as the fact
may be, the phase the spirit of patriotism assumes in the minds of the

I C. W. Tracts, pp. 123-4. 2 lb. pp. 65-6.


majority of any race, in any age or country, is that of a sense of the
necessity to rise in arms in defence of home and family, crops and
property. The " sturdy churles" of Pendle and Rossendale Forests, in
mustering for the defence of their herds of cattle and swine, obeyed that
instinct of self-preservation which possesses all mankind, and is the most
powerful actuating motive of human conduct. These mountain boors
and forest churls of Blackburnshire were possibly not more selfish in the
impulses that moved them to fight than were the more distinguished
actors in the Civil War, from the King downward.

The chief supporters of the Parliament in Blackburn Hundred, the
families of Shuttleworth, Starkie, Braddyll, and Assheton, manifested
their devotion to the cause, not only by the active services of the heads
of those families, rendered during the course of the conflict both in the
field and in council, but likewise in the acceptance of military duty by
the sons of each of these leading Parliamentarians. Old Colonel
Shuttleworth sent no fewer than four of his sons to fight against kingly
usurpation. The eldest of these was Richard Shuttleworth, Esq., M.P.
for Clitheroe, who was a colonel in the Roundhead army, and, after a
successful service, died before the contest was quite concluded, in 1648.
Two other sons of the Gawthorpe veteran, Nicholas and Ughtred,
entered the army as captains, and became colonels both ; while William
Shuttleworth, the fourth son, was made a captain at the outset of the
war, and was slain at Lancaster early in the first campaign. Sir Ralph
Assheton, Bart., who died in 1644, gave an energetic soldier to the
conflict in the person of his son and successor, Ralph Assheton, Esq.,
M.P. for Clitheroe. John Starkie, Esq., of Huntroyd, also lent his
heir, Nicholas Starkie, to the service of Parliament, and knew a father's
grief on the death of his son, by a disastrous accident, within a few
weeks of his commission to a captaincy. John Braddyll, Esq., of
Portfield, experienced a like bereavement in the loss in battle of his
son, Captain John Braddyll, who was mortally hurt at Thornton in
Craven, in July, 1643. There is a record of the appointment of these
gallant sons of gallant sires to commissions, in the following passage
from the Discourse of the Warr : — " After that the Armes were
recovered from Sir Gilbert Hoghton, Colonel Shuttleworth and Colonel
Starkie were very diligent and industrious to put their Hundred of
Blackburn in a position of warr, and therefore gave commissions to
several Captaines to raise Companies. Four of Colonel Shuttleworth's
sons were made Captaines, viz., Nicholas, William, Edward [?], and Hute
[Ughtred]. Colonell Starkie's sonne and heyre, and Mr. Bradell's sonne
and heyre, they were the first Captaines in the Parliament service in
that Hundred, and they raised companies which proved stout men, and


were of good repute for hardness and manhood everywhere they

This was done about the beginning of December, 1642 ; and on
the loth of the same month another Royahst conclave took place at
Preston. The meeting was convened by James Earl of Derby, " Lord
General of the County," and Sir John Girlington, Knt., High Sheriff.
It was there resolved " that the soome of 8000 and 700 pounds shall
be ratably assessed upon the several Hundreds of the County;" and the
money thus obtained was to be " employed for the pay of 2000 foot and
400 horse, and also for provision of a Magazine and ammunition for the
said County."'^ Collectors of the Subsidy were appointed for the several
Hundreds, in which capacity were nominated for Blackburn Hundred,
Sir John Talbot, Knight, of Salesbury, and Radcliffe Assheton, Esq., of

On Christmas Eve> (December 24th), 1642, the town of Blackburn
was subjected to another hostile demonstration by the Royalists of Sir
Gilbert Hoghton. Since the first encounter there, four weeks before,
the few hundreds of Parliamentarian Militia left as a garrison in Black-
bum had made an effort to strengthen their position by casting up some
fortifications about the town— nothing more, probably, than rough earth-
works to guard the four entrances to the town ; at the top of Northgate,
on the Ribchester road ; beyond Astley-gate, perhaps at the bridge near
Whalley Banks, on the road to Preston ; about Darwen-street bridge, on
the road to Darwen ; and somewhere between Salford Bridge and
Bottomgate, to protect the entrance from Burnley side, which, however,
was in little danger from Royalist partisans. It was from the Revidge
side that Blackburn was threatened on that Christmas Eve. Sir Gilbert
Hoghton and his men got up to the vicinity of the town by the old lane
from Mellor and Samlesbury. Two interesting narrations of this so-
called Siege of Blackburn, which was really a very desultory and abortive
affair, remain. The first is that of the well-informed author of the
Discourse of the Warr in Lancashire, who writes somewhat circumstan-
tially. It is well to record the history of these times, as far as possible,
in the words of the chroniclers of the period, considering that the lan-
guage of these useful contemporary documents conveys a more vivid
picture of events than any modernised version of the facts could do.
The authority mentioned narrates the incidents of this attack on Black-
bum in the following passage : —

The Hundred of Blackbume being put into a Warlike posture, many Companies
of Resolut Souldiers being raised within it. The Colonells Oulde Shuttleworth and
Starkie, having a speciall eye to Blackbume towne, being soe neare unto Preston, as
I Disc, of Warr, p. 15. 2 C. W. Tracts, p. 67.



alsoe fearing inroads into the Hundred by the enimie besydes Plundering, laid some
Companies of Souldiers in it and caused some fortifications to be maid about it, in
some measure to secure it, and so till about Christmas 1642 it continued in a reasonable
quiet condition. But Blackbume lying within three miles of Hoghton Tower, the
principal house of Sir Gilbert Hoghton, a Deputie Lieutenant for the Earle of Darbie
and a Commissioner of Aray, He tooke it into consideration how unsafe it was for him
in respect of his person and estait about Hoghton, but especiallie how dishonourable it
might prove to his reputation with the King, if he suffered a Garrison of the Enimie
soe neare unto his howse and used no means to dissipate it, was moved about the latter
end of December 1642 to thinke upon the reducing that Garrison to the King's part.
And thereuppon resolved to set upon it, having the assistance of most of the Popish
affected Gentlemen in Amoundemess Hundred, with there Tenants in Armes, the
Trained Bands, and the Clubmen of the Field [Fylde] and other parts. He marched
forward from Preston the twenty fourth daye of December, being Christmas time, up
the way to Mellor loan head, soe upon the North syd of Blackbume ; set downe most
of his forces about and neare the house of . . a husbandman by a bye-name called
Duke of the Banke, and having a small piece of Ordnance plaid most of that night
and the day following against the Towne, the greatest execution that it did, as was
hard of, a bullet shot out of it entered into a house upon the South side of the Church
Yard and burst out the bottom of a fryen pan. There was noe nearer assault to the
Towne than a quarter of a Mile. They wear afraid of comming near one another.
The Souldiers within the Towne went out of it and dischardged there muskets towards
them at randome, for any thing was knowne there was not a man sleyne or hurt. Upon
Christmas Day at night Sir Gilbert withdrew his forces being weary of his Siege, and
his Soldiers and Clubmen were glad of it that they might eate their Christmas pyes at
home. But they did the good man about whose house they lay much harme not only
in eating his provision of Meale and Beefe and the like, as also in buminge his barne
doors with his Carts, wheels, and other husbandry stuff. This was all the expedition
of Sir Gilbert Hoghton against Blackbume. ^

According to this account, the point at which the Royalist troops
were posted in this approach to Blackburn was the high bank just above
the junction of the modem Branch Road with Preston New Road. It
was close by the house of a farmer nicknamed "Duke of the Banke."
Bank-house, at Higher Bank, an old gabled house, and the only tene-
ment of any antiquity among the many villas that now cover the Bank,
was probably the place plundered and ransacked by Sir Gilbert
Hoghton's militia. The by-name of " Duke " borne by the occupant
suggests the name Duke's Brow, given to the old road leading up
to Higher Bank, and prolonged on the top of the hill in the disused
lane that in those days was the only road to Mellor. The other account
of this Royalist reconnaissance is in the tract, Lancashire's Valley of
Achor. The extract is subjoined : —

The like Christmas kept our forces at Blackburn ; the Militia having in the Town
four hundred armed men, and some clubmen, the array came against the Towne on
Christmas Eve with five thousand, and three field pieces ; very early in the morning,
I Discourse of Warr, pp. 21-2.


they shot off their pieces, with shouting, saying, "Take heed, you Roundheads."
God took heed for us, for we were not afraid of the noise, nor hurt once by the eight-

Online LibraryW. A. (William Alexander) AbramParish of Blackburn, county of Lancaster. A history of Blackburn, town and parish → online text (page 15 of 101)