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Morts in the history of Leigh

Mort connected stories - A HISTORY FROM ORIGINAL RECORDS OF THE TOWNSHIPS OF PENNINGTON, WESTLEIGH AND BEDFORD TO THE YEAR 1875 AND OF LEIGH FROM THAT YEAR TO THE PRESENT.

By Mr John Lunn

Local bridges, 1632

Thomas Mort, of Astley and William Crompton, of Bedford reported to the justices that Pennington bridge, Hough bridge in Tyldesley, High bridge in Bedford and Size bridge in Astley were decayed; the two viewers thought £75 a small enough sum to be levied to repair them.

Blackfields, 1635

These rich coveted pastures, situate near Pennington bridge, became famous. They once belonged to Richard Urmston and were tenanted by Richard Ranicars. Adam Mort of Astley bought a part of them, the Stockley and Great Blackfield with two yearly rents of £5. 6s. 8d. to endow his school and chapel at Astley. His son,Thomas, leased them for one year in 1635. Twenty years later, when John Ranicars made his will, he gave a rent of £5 issuing annually out of the Blackfields to the grammar school at Leigh for ever.

Richard Bradshaw, 1681

Richard's wife was Katharine and his eldest son, Byrom. In 1681 two grandchildren were living with him, Richard and Katharine, children of Byrom and the wife was to continue to keep them. Bradshaw had settled the manor of Pennington in tail male on his eldest son Byrom; the trustees were Sir James Bradshaw of Risby co. York, Roger and George Manwaring and Thomas Mort of Damhouse. Bradshaw was a great benefactor; he gave to his servants each of them £20 above their wages: £10 to the poor of Leigh parish: an annual sum of £5 to 20 of the necessitous poor of Pennington and and £6 rent-charge on his lands towards maintaining a good schoolmaster at Leigh. Before his death he had mortgaged the Old Hall of Carden in Tilston, Cheshire to a London grocer to raise portions for his grandchild Elizabeth and son George. Out of these lands he gave £5 annually to the poor of Tilston and £5 towards building a schoolhouse there "but where 1 am informed there is a schoolhouse already erected", the whole to the poor or the school at the trustees' discretion. At his death he was 67; he had succeeded to the Pennington estates and his wife was heiress of John Fitton, of Bollington. He emancipated Pennington Hall from its feudal burdens in 1652. It is possible by his marriage he had already some share.

Grammar School Speech Day, 1708

One of the high events of the school year was the speech day just before the Christmas holidays. The boys prepared their Latin speeches and delivered them from the master's rostrum before the assembled gentry of the neighbourhood, but sometimes they were sent out to the houses of the squires there to declaim. On 7 December 1708 Pilling's scholars went to Damhouse at Astley and said their pieces before Thomas Mort, who gave to one boy, Rothwell, Is. On 23 December 1719 two boys came again to invite him to school—they were William Davison and Ralph Halliwell: he gave them a similar sum, with advice to keep the money, if the other boys sent elsewhere did not pool what had been distributed to them. Bolton school followed the same practice of custom.

The grammar school rebuilt 1719

Ralph Pilling, master, used money in hand and money he had slowly collected to rebuild the churchyard school in 1719. The cost was £80. A cabinet of fine workmanship was later made to hang in the school, recording the names for ungrateful posterity of those who had subscribed; through all the vicissitudes of changing time this has been preserved and is now in the school hall. Pilling promised Thomas Mort of Astley that he would return a donation of £2, given on 29 May 1706, if the school was not built before 29 September 1707. The promise was not kept and Mort's name in the cabinet is graced by a contribution for £3. This is proof of the tedious time it took to raise enough funds for the rebuilding. Mort gave his other £1 on 27 July 1719, when the building was in progress: he gave it to James Starkey, the friend of the master.

The Maypole, 1721

On 19 July 1721 Mary Mort, from Astley, joined the great concourse of people congregated in Leigh to view the setting up of the maypole. It was to be located near the smithy stone. On 3 July 1734 William Slater was paid for wheeling stones to the Maypole. Outside dancing thus took place in Leigh in hot July and not in merry May.

The Master and Ushers of the Hospital and Free School of Etwell and Repton, 1746

Charitable donors gave real estate in various parts of Leigh parish towards the support of grammar school foundations and two assignments of this year reveal that a house and land in Brockhurst was held by the master and ushers of Repton school. They leased it for 21 years to a linen-weaver, Robert Moors. The Attorney-General prepares his case, 1750 Bootle, the attorney-general of the duchy carefully examined the facts of the dispute over the right to name a master. He made a preliminary trial of fact and sent his findings to the Palatine Chancellor, Lord Edgecombe on 2 November 1750. His case was that Hilton, Arrowsmith and Margaret Farrington were guilty of confederacy in trying to defeat the charity of Richard Bradshaw. He denied the claim of the heiress to nominate a master, because the bequest of Ranicars in 1655 shows there were feoffees of the school then, and later in 1681, when Bradshaw made his benefaction. Alexander Radcliff was a feoffee, long before any right could accrue to the Bradshaws: and he contended the Court of Chancery by its jurisdiction should supply the defect by appointing a proper number of trustees. The attorney-general then dealt with the legal estate of the school and avoiding any attempt to decide where this errant quality was embodied, he argued it ought to be conveyed to the trustees of the school and anyhow, whichever defendant had the legal estate, it could give rise to no claim to nominate a schoolmaster. Mary Mort, the owner of Blackfields was wrong in paying the £5 to any but the feoffees of the school. Samuel Hilton, in his citation against vicar Farrington alleged himself, without any right to be patron of the school. At the end of the case the attorney-general prayed the court to appoint proper trustees and vest the legal estate of the school in them, with writs of injunction and subpoena against the defendants. This was in 1750; the Chancery Court did not award its decree till twenty years later - 23 May 1770.

New Barn, 1847

This small farm was purchased in the seventeenth century by Adam Mort to endow the Astley Grammar School. In 1894 the school was suppressed and the income from the endowment used to support scholars at the grammar school in Leigh. Mineral leases to Ackers, Whitley and Co. led to capital appreciation and the construction of the railway from Leigh Station to join the Bolton — Kenyon line took part of its land. Dog Kennel Lane provided access for the tenant to St. Helens Road. The 1847 survey gives the name as New Barn, though in charity returns it was known as School Farm. Its acreage in 1939 was six acres, the rent £9 per annum and the farmer F. W. Bain. In 1749 a rate of 3s. was levied on Astley School land, which was never paid because of a dispute and John Wright, the constable for higher side, was allowed it out of his balance.

Pennington church schools, 1869

These schools in Bridgewater Street opened 9 March 1869 with 45 scholars under a temporary teacher, George A. Mort. By 5 April of the same year James Steeple had accepted the new post. A separate infants department was begun in 1874 and continued to the year 1924, when a merger took place. Doctor Pemberton, first began to teach at this school as an assistant in 1877. In 1894 Herbert Hinchliffe was appointed. He was a great advocate of the virtues of punctuality and for 25 years to 1919 he had never once been late, sick or absent from duty. The school like others had adverse fortunes; when Steeple was ill in 1881 part of the grant was stopped, for there was bad discipline, excessive talking and rampant copying. Under HinchlifTe the average numbers rose from 138 in 1894 to 251 in 1897, when his staff totalled ten, including pupil teachers. Charles Bradley, an Astley man had the headship from 1925-43. A mission school was built in Wilkinson Street in 1903 to serve the dual purpose of a mission and infants school. It was discontinued 4 April 1937.

Bradley Hayhursfs counter petition, 1655

The puritan vicar opposed this arrangement and in January 1655 he petitioned against it. His objection was that by the order secured to the Urmston sisters, his settled maintenance would disappear and the whole parish left destitute of preaching ministers. He asked for the order to be delayed, until such time as he had opportunity to prepare a defence. Those who supported him were many and powerful; John Atherton, Adam Mort, Giles Green, Nicholas Astley, Alexander Radcliff, George Withington, Richard Glasbrook and Hugh Hindley.

Arthur Leech, 1665

Leech died in September 1665 and his long inventory tells how carefully his valuers weighed the feather beds to assess their worth at 8d. to the Ib. In a field of his called the Yarn Croft he had put a shed and inside was a bedstead, chaff bed and a bill. Probably this weapon was for some protection. Among his other implements were some threshing wheels, priced 2s. He was succeeded by his son John and his wife, Elizabeth; his two daughters were Annan and Bethiah.

The Atherton Chapel, 1665

The chapel of our Lady became appropriated to the Atherton family and the area of the chantry oratory extended from the east wall to the first column in the nave. When the Athertons grew in importance, especially under the High Sheriff, John, this private chapel was extended as far as the third column in the nave. There was no faculty granted for this appropriation and the burial of dead, the hanging of flags, the display of heraldic achievements and the fixing of monuments of antiquity was all done without lawful authority. Some parishioners objected, notwithstanding the great awe universally felt for John Atherton. For there was great pressure upon the limited space of the old church. On 26 January 1639 George Starkey, husbandman, of Pennington, confessed and acknowledged that he had no title to his pew and that he sat in it only by leave of John Atherton; then on 12 July 1640 Mrs. Agnes Traves and Sir Henry Slater of Lightoaks renounced their rights to sit and bury and on 18 January 1642 widow Ellen Bradshaw and Richard Bradshaw of Pennington, merchant, signed a similar disavoweL John Atherton died in 1656 and was succeeded by a minor, Richard. His mother remarried and her second husband, Lawrence Rawsthorne acted as guardian of the heir in 1664, when these encroachments were challenged. Richard Ranicars, churchwarden, laid his plaint in the Consistory Court at Chester against Rawsthorne. He was supported by other powerful objectors—Henry Slater, Richard Bradshaw and Frances Urmston. One witness was challenged; it was said that he was a criminal and so incapable of deposing or giving evidence. He was Ralph Smith. Another objection to the Atherton encroachments came from Thomas Mort of Astley, who occupied the capital house of Thomas Serjeant in Bedford. After engrossing lengthy membranes of evidence, Wainwright, the chancellor of the court delivered his judgement, 22 July 1665. He ruled that the chapel of the Athertons extended only as far as the first column; the encroachment was illegal and to put an end to all further disagreement, he imposed by the virtue of his ecclesiastical office a perpetual silence in this controversy upon Lawrence Rawsthorne.

Westleigh thieves, 1692

On Friday before Christmas 1692 Ralph Seddon, Philip Rigby and Richard Lee stole in Westleigh. They took from Mr. John Ditchfield two geese, four hens, one harrow pin; from John Battersby one goose, two hens, a cock, two sacks, a poke and a woonty; from Charles Higginson three geese and nine harrow pins and from Mr. Jeremy Aldred a buckling chain. Seddon received Is. from Rigby for helping and only 9d. from Lee, as he owed him 3d. There had to be honour among thieves and debts were debts. The chain was pawned with Alice Silcock of Aspull. Seddon next robbed his own father of two pairs of shirts and an odd one with seaming lace down the middle; these he sold to James Whittle of Aspull. He then joined the army and became a soldier of Lt.-Col. James Standley's regiment. These thefts prove John Ditchfield was in Westleigh at this time, while Aldred had been master of Morts School at Astley.

Parsonage Mill Bridge, 1700

The water mill belonging to Parsonage was located near Jacob's Well and over the brook was a bridge, ruinous in 1700, when Thomas Naylor viewed it. The justices at Wigan allowed a sum of £50, and Alexander Mort, George Ward, the vicar, Thomas Naylor, Peter and Joseph Parr were to supervise the spending of the money. Ten years later the condition of the bridge was very remiss and a further sum of £25 was spent to repair it under the supervision of John Walmesley and John Hamond. William Hart was town's surveyor at this time.

John Sale's Penny Loaves, 1701

John Sale was a cooper, who died in 1701, a tenant of the Mossocks. He had some close association with Thomas Mort, the tanner of Tyldesley, to whom he gave the interest on £100 for his life and then the sum for division between his children, John, Ralph, James, Joseph, Katharine and Ann. Sale in his day had lent another £100 upon three closes in Croft called the Edges, part of the land of Henry Booth and he directed that the interest derived therefrom should buy one penny white bread loaf for poor people going to the church to be distributed after divine service, but some later hand interlined on his will "and sermon." When all things were considered the church desired the fullest value in attendance for this penny loaf. Sale's inventory shows that he had bonds, bills and specialties amounting to £501 14s. 8d. He was able to sign his will and chose Henry Mort, the tanner in Tyldesley and Thomas Sale of Westhoughton to watch over his estate of £599 7s. lOd. Executor Thomas later borrowed this £100 himself and charged it on his own lands in Westleigh. There was some trouble over this Sale gift in 1705, when Pennington churchwarden spent Is. 7d. with other parishioners inquiring about it. A smaller sum of 5d. appears in the township accounts for 1706 under the same head. In 1900 the price of the loaf had risen to 3d. and only eight poor people could be given bread each Sunday morning. The money to provide for it issued out of a charge on the Sun Inn.

Abigail Hilton of Kecko Lane, 1705

Abigail, the daughter of Richard Hilton, married Thomas Crooke, of Abram. She had two sons, Caleb and Richard and five daughters, Lydia, Ann, Abigail, Margaret and Isabel. She gave her father's silver tankard to her son Richard and a signet ring and certain furniture in Abram Hall. She was wealthy at her death, possessed of real estate in many parts of the county. The daughter Abigail took Kecko Lane house and its lands in Westleigh, land in Mawdesley and £400. The silver plate was for the daughters and her rings only for the three youngest and widow Jane Johnson received 40s. Abigail was presbyterian in all her sympathies. She remembered Mrs. Wood, the widow of minister James Wood, of Chowbent Chapel and Jeremy Aldred, a former master of Mort's school at Astley and now minister of Monton chapel. She appointed him her executor with a legacy of £4.

The Sun Inn, 1798

This very old inn was in Westleigh, but its neighbour the Swan was in Pennington. Thomas Strange lived here in 1792; after, there followed a number of occupants, who occur as follows, with the date fixing the approximate tenancy, in brackets; Thomas Sale (1825), Peter Ormrod (1834), Daniel Makinson (1840), Peter Ratcliffe (1848), James Hurst (1853), Samuel Mort (1864) and Henry Cross (1885). The Sun Inn was demolished in 1958.

Thomas Sergeant and Adam Mort, 1592

Peter Sergeant, who held part of the rights of the intermedial manor of Bedford died in 1592; his son and heir, Thomas, was then aged nine. Later Adam Mort of Astley bought his rights in Bedford, for when the inquiry into the possessions of this puritan took place in 1631, it was stated that he held 2 messuages and 40 acres of land in Bedford of Thomas, Lord Gerard of Bromley and 1 messuage and 12 acres in the same town, late the inheritance of Lawrence Asshaw. These were parcels of rights of the lower divided manor, distinct from those issues detailed in the Shuttleworth deed of 1598 and quite distinct from the rights of the superior manor, which passed to the Breretons and Egertons.

The cost of a university education, 1625

Thomas Crompton was the son of William Crompton of the Grange in Bedford, He and his elder brother William went to Oxford and the father in his will, when disposing of his property, took into account the advancement of Thomas in order to balance the division of shares more equally between the younger children. The father wrote that he "caused his son Thomas to be educated at Oxford, learning about five years, which hath cost me £100 and I trust that the lord will from henceforth provide means for his maintenance." The son was a scholar of Brasenose; later he Changed to Exeter college and left there 16 November 1630. He became the first minister of Adam Mort's chapel at Astley and continued there to his resignation, because of advanced years. He preached in Leigh church, Sunday, 26 March 1665, when Roger Lowe was glad to hear him.

A Puritan, 1647

There were sharp extremes of religious conscience in Bedford township, and as divergent as the political ideas of royalist and parliamentarian. Both existed in stark juxtaposition along the very same lane. For William Crompton, of the Grange, was a puritan and his long will reads like a valedictory charge to his many sons. He stood high in the esteem of the neighbourhood and had been church warden with puritanical Adam Mort of Astley in 1616.

Thomas Croft, 1649

Thomas Croft was the husbandman tenant of Mr. Mort of Astley, who had obtained a share of the intermedial manor rights of that old estate, Brick House. He left by will to Mort's daughter Margaret, wife of John Erlam £20 towards the granting of a new lease, when the old one should expire. Land was becoming hard to lease and there was great pressure on the commons: to support growing households the head had often to rent outside fields many miles away and Croft had taken some land held of the Shakerleys. He left his son Thomas the choice of an acre of oats growing there and asked the antiquarian, William Vernon, to see that his final wishes were fully carried out. Croft made his will, 25 March 1649. He had given a dowry portion of £40 to his daughter Anne, but he thought she had had enough and a cow he once gave her should be valued and its price deducted from the dowry. Other daughters, Elizabeth and Jane were to receive similar portions. The colt was for sale and its market price divided between these two and the mother Joan. At his funeral friends and neighbours were to be regaled with meat and drink before the corpse left for the churchyard and after as well and all his old neighbours were to go to John Pennington's in Leigh and spend 20s. Neither did he at the last forget the poor; he gave 20s. for distribution in Bedford.

Matthew Lythgoe, 1680

This Matthew, for Lythgoes were commoner than mushrooms in Bedford, was cut off in the prime of life. He was son of Ellen Lythgoe, who died in 1671. Ellen directed £5 to be spent on her burying and gave 20s. to John Leaver, curate of the church to preach her "funeral solemnity." Besides Matthew, the eldest, she had other sons, Christopher, Richard, daughters Margaret and Jane. Ellen was widow when she made her will. She gave 20s, to Ralph Lythgoe for allowing her to be buried in his breadth by the side of her late husband; she repented that she had given a legacy of £10 to her son Richard and gave him the usual Is. instead; she left the Salterscroft field to Christopher and Matthew and when the latter came to die, he bequeathed the same field, of the inheritance of Geoffrey Holcroft, to the youngest of his sons, Joseph. The eldest son of Matthew was to have the house in Bedford lately purchased from Edward Merrick, but he had to pay the mortgage of £150 due to Robert Mort of Little Hulton, on it. Matthew's sister married the rich chapman of Tyldesley, Samuel Parr and much of that merchant's property came to the children of Matthew. He left £50 to the poor of Bedford, the income to be divided on each 5 November. The father exhorted his rich brother-in-law of Tyldesley to see his children religiously and virtuously educated and brought up in the knowledge and fear of God and of good literature and honest vocation. This with the bequest of 20s. to Henry Newcomb, the famous barn preacher in Manchester sharply differentiates the religious persuasion of these Bedford Lythgoes from the others who were papist. Matthew died in April 1680. The parish clerk got his dates mixed up; he entered the burial 31 April.

Edward Crompton crosses over Jordan to celestial Canaan, 1684

Edward was successor to his father, puritan William at the Grange. He died in 1684 and was buried 29 August. His four children were Edward, William, Hester and Elizabeth. The eldest son Edward, because of the sins of his father (so it was believed) was afflicted by the heavy hand of God with imbecility and notwithstanding that he had been a dutiful and obedient child. As he could not ever manage his own affairs, the brother William was to provide him with meat, drink and shelter and Thomas Naylor, a neighbour of Hawkhurst was asked to see he was fairly treated. Portions of £120 were charged on the lands for the daughters, to be paid within two years of his death. Two-thirds of the personal estate went to these daughters, but William engaged himself to buy out their interests at £260 and the matter was left at that. At the west end of the Grange was his brother's study, still the minister of Astley chapel; this part of the house with a little garden was for the use of the daughters as long as they were single. The son Edward, though weak of mind, was able to weave and looms were given to him, with a place to set them. Edward gave 10s. to his cousin Alexander Crompton and 12d. to each of his children: 10s. to William Crompton of Hambleton and Anne his sister between them and 12d. to their children. Then he left Jeremy Crompton, master of Morts school at Astley, his brother 10s. and "desire him to be a better husband in future than he hath been in former time." His servant, Jane Speakman was illiterate; she received 10s. and Crompton asked his children to teach English to this orphan girl and so bring her soul to eternal and everlasting rest by the knowledge unkeyed to her. Crompton's will reads like a rambling prayer of a ranter preacher at some conventicle session and was written by his own hand. The new clock went as special heirloom to William the son; the daughters were allotted six great pewter dishes, eighteen set cushions and to Hester, the bason and ewer given to her by Ellen Fearnside, his cousin. Today it is strangely moving to feel the deep fervour of this long-since-turned-to-dust Puritan, his steadfast faith in a fixed way of thought and to measure this vibrant power against the strained constancy of catholics in Bedford at this age. The two burn like the intensity of different heats. Crompton exhorts his children to live Godly lives and be translated into everlasting bliss and enjoy the beautiful visions of the saints. His very turn of phrase shows that he had often been prayer leader and vouchsafer of gospel revelations to homely groups of Bedford men and women. Like other well-to-do in his day he was in linen weaving. The Grange held over £10 of yarn and linen yarn and £20 of cheeses. He left, all told, £284 3s. 4d. And he crossed over the high and lofty, the rough and sturdy waves of Jordan to celestial Canaan in the high summer of 1684.

Lythgoes in decline

These Lythgoes were a virile yeomanry. They were not so old in records as Crofts or Leeches, but in the seventeenth century they were both numerous and flourishing. In the next century decline assails both name and stock. There was a Richard, who died in 1701. His wife was Anne, the eldest son, John, with daughters, Elizabeth, Anne and Margaret. The last named was dead by 1693. She married Henry Hampson, of Bedford and Elizabeth became the wife of John Harrison, chapman of the same town. Another Richard Lythgoe died in 1713, a tenant of Alexander Mort of Damhouse in Astley. His issue were sons, Thomas, Matthew, Jeremiah and Richard, daughters, Sarah and Susan. Matthew the son died in 1714, leaving Thomas, Richard, Ann and Alice. His estate was £76 14s. 2d., and that of his father £83 3s. Matthew was a tenant of Sir Robert Duckinfield. Thomas followed his father and was dead before 1736. The dairy herd of Richard Lythgoe, who died in 1713 answered to the affectionate calls of Cherry, Lovely, Blackoe, Blackhorn, Pye, Brandock, Whitelegs, Lightfoot, Broad, Pepper and Crumphead.

Johnsons, 1713

Johnsons exhibit the same family extremes as others in Bedford. Thomas Johnson, the oathtaker of 1641 died during the commonwealth, leaving a widow Ellen and two sons, John and William. He was only yeoman with £25 10s. to dispose of. John Johnson was constable in 1696 and another John, whose mother was Mary died in 1718; the widow was Ellen, John the heir and Ellen and Elizabeth, daughters. He was richer at £102 14s., with a bond of £40 owing by Henry Guest, butcher and John Mort, tanner. One of the Johnsons was able to marry into the Hilton family; this was Thomas, whose wife was Isabel, sister of Samuel. Her dowry alone was £200. Such great sum enabled him to enter the class of gentlemen, to live on the income of bonds and mortgages and to die worth £359 lls. Id. His son was Richard Johnson.

Claydeleigh, 1713

This medieval house was for long the home of the Speakmans; its ancient name ceded to the family name. In 1332 Richard Clayde-Leigh paid his tax under Astley township. The farm was in copyhold held of Hopcarr. Gilbert Sale relet it on 1 January 1713 to the Speakmans and fixed it on the lives of Richard, John and Thomas. The new lease brought a fine of £50, the rent was 19s. the year, four boon hens, two days carting and four days shearing at Hopcarr, whenever called upon. Richard, the surrenderer, died in 1724 and divided the estate. The heir John took the parlour, buttery, cellar, the Red chamber above, two rooms in the highest storey, the dark room over the firehouse, one half of the orchard and gardens, the Kilncroft, Great Croft, Ryecroft, Great Lately Hurst and the watering hole at the corner near Hurst mill. For her separate quiet, the widow had the firehouse in the old building, a chamber upstairs in the east end of the brick building, buttery in the old house, room over the kitchen, one half of the old building, two outiles there and the other half of the outbuildings was for the heir. The kitchen stayed in joint use and both paid half the outgoings. Speakman had increased his acreage by taking leases of the two Briery fields, the two Meadow fields, Merrills and Jackcroft from Mr. Mort, of Astley. If the support lives lived so long, Thomas the son and Rachael the daughter were to have Morts fields for four years; if over, then to John. The history of Speakman house illustrates the gradual replacement of timbered wattle and moat with more durable brick buildings. Speakman signed his will and was a neat quillman. He left £51 2s. 6d. Edward Speakman who died in 1684 speaks of the old timber house as still standing and its appointments were valued separately at £8 10s. John, the heir, died in 1774. His son Richard had borrowed by bill £43 6s. from his father and the debt was declared void in 1770. Richard had the farm, paying to a brother, Thomas £12 a year, with agreement that if Richard died, then that annuity be paid to his widow. Neither son had power to mortgage and if neither wished to live at the house, the profits were divisible in equal shares. Thomas later succeeded and on 16 December 1780 joined with his wife Ellen in selling Speakmans, of ancient time called Claydeleigh Hurst, to Paul Peters of Bedford for £800.

The carpenter, 1729

The village carpenter for Bedford was John Wood; he named his sons, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Adam, for much lore from the old testament was poured into his ears. Later this religious fervour declined and the other two were baptised plain Ralph and Ann. And at his father's death in 1729 Ralph was still a boy. Wood left £37 19s. 9d.; he possessed 42s. worth of broken and log timber and he distinguished his cows not by name, but by colour. In his house ticked the clock, best guests or household head sat on the throne and children were ranged on the "coach chear." His inventory of goods is made more historic because it was verified on 12 December 1729 by James Pendlebury, master of Mort's school at Astley. The same signature appears on the churchwardens accounts in 1749 and on his own will, 15 March 1768. It is the flourishing hand of a practised writing master, with its preference for greek e's.

At the Grange, 1801

Entries in the old visits book of surgeon John Yates show that at the Grange in 1801 lived Richard Leigh. But there were others, whose identity of address was given as at the same place. These were Richard Green, Thomas Peters and Arnold Mort.

Unitarian Chapel, Twist Lane, 1897

The connexion at Leigh began as early as 1859. Richard Carling, minister at Astley Unitarian Chapel took the Leigh brotherhood under his care in 1872 and from 1888 definite regular worship is traced. An early resident minister, as opposed to supplies, was William Mason, who with his two sisters taught at the Baptist day school. Peter Holt took on the charge 1888-9, while still Astley minister and Morts Grammar School master. One of the early pastors, J. E. Benson died at the great age of 93 at Culcheth. J. Boughey was the minister 1895-7 and he acquired the site in Twist Lane, where in May 1897 Charles Eckersley laid the foundation stone. The chapel was opened for worship on 2 October of the same year. Walter Darlington was organist for 27 years. One of the outstanding ministers was F. A, Bullock, who came as lay pastor in 1915 and left in 1926. He was a keen discerning student of literary masterpieces. In 1919 the Eckersleys of Tyldesley gave £1,900 to strengthen the stipend fund of the minister. Arnold Grundy, a stalwart of the chapel at Astley became treasurer at Twist Lane and filled the office for a lengthy period.

 
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