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Extracts from the Preston Guilds
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Extracts from the Preston Guilds
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Robert Mort, 1692
This grandson of the great Adam was baptised at Bolton, November 5, 1627. During the commonwealth rule he married before a magistrate Mary Walworth of Ringley, where he settled for a time. In 1658 he was made elder of Ringley chapel congregation. Then he lived at Wharton Hall, where several ejected ministers resorted for hospitality, James Wood the second of Chowbent and Henry Newcome of Manchester among them. He died in 1692 and was buried at Deane. Two cups at Chowbent chapel bear the initials R.M. He left two sons, Nathan and John. By his will of September, 1688, he left his lands in Parr Fold and Boothsbank Worsley to Nathan and Margaret Mort, his executors and the Rev. Wood overseer. A daughter of his, Anna, had married John Andrew of Little Lever, who had borrowed from Mort £347, which at his death was left to the children of the marriage.

Widow Stockton, 1692
She died in that year; her husband had predeceased her in 1689 and her will was witnessed by the local lawyer, Thomas Naylor. There was a son Samuel and daughters, Anne, Mary and one not named, who was wedded to John Green of Atherton. Mary’s worth was only four pence, which price was identical with that of his mousetrap. To tell the time of day he looked at his hourglass, valued at three pence. All his goods came to a value of £10 Is. 3d. Richard Starkey, master at Mort’s school was his trusty and well beloved executor.

Alice Sale in Astley, 1714
When she left Hopcar and came to live at Bradshaw’s in Astley, Alice Sale began an account book. She noted all her receipts month by month and her main income came from thick cheese and the regular sale of fat cattle. Sometimes in her book there is itemised a chief rent of 9s. 6d. due from Richard Speakman and paid June 24. And during the years following on her coming into Astley there was a member of the Billinge family tabled in her home. On other pages she notes her expenses, window taxes, rent paid for Bowland fields in Bedford, purchase of besoms, and salt bought by the bushel and brought from Northwich, seven bushels for 21s. 6d. One entry more fraught with historic import was a small payment to poor Mercy for acorns. She was a servant girl, who issued forth in autumn to gather acorns from the moss oaks, to feed to the pigs. It was an echo of the age-old right of pannage, so strictly defined by the ancient parchment deeds of grant. On another page she enters what she lent to her son William, and on January 29, 1719 agreed with him to divide the profits of Hopcar for that year. She writes how she lent him one shilling to give to the ringers, how she settled for him with the shoemaker, what she paid for his riding coat, and the interest she met for his loan of £10 from William Crouchley. At other times she buys potato sets, peas and beans for sowing. One of her interest payments was to Robert Sherlock and this debt was still owed in 1768, when their inheritance of Hopcar disintegrated and their pastures slipped away from them for ever.

Curate Roger Seddon, 1716
Seddon, the chapel curate died in this year. He had been elected in 1702. He died without any will and his affairs were taken over by his father Thomas Seddon of Famworth and an Astley townsman, Thomas Famworth. The security they were asked to provide was £100, which gives some idea of the size of the estate of this dead clerk. He left no issue. His widow Alice was buried March 16, 1717. A fine scholar-signature of this curate flourishes on a will he witnessed of one of his chapel flock, bricklayer John Buckley in 1713.

Hopes Tenement, 1718
This was the ancient name of the farm which stands at the entrance to Sandy Lane. Formerly it had belonged to the Radcliffes of Pennington, but in 1718 Alexander Radcliffe, son of Helena Radcliffe, sold to Oliver Hope the buildings and fields named as Goody Croft, Cross Croft, Little Meadow, Square Meadow, Rushey Hey, with the lane on the south end of Goody and Cross Croft. The Hopes lived in Cheshire; they were by trade brick setters and let the Astley farm to Edward Ward.

John Hope was burdened by a daughter Mary who was blind, and Ellen her mother joined with others in 1758 to raise a Mortgage of £100 for her separate benefit. But the whole security was heavily encumbered, so much so, that in 1760 on an enforced sale, only ten shillings in the pound of the debts of John Hope was realised. The one who bought was Chapman Samuel Arrowsmith.About this date Ralph Peters had lent money. He died in 1765 and very much later in 1813, when Peter Arrowsmith had inherited the lands; he sought to clear off the debt of Peters, but could find no legal representative. He was put to the extra expense of letters of administration at Chester in order to settle the matter safely. Later the farm came into the possession of the Stocktons. They developed part of the road frontage near Lark Hill and in 1906 built a row of houses whose name Hope Terrace and Hope Street commemorate this fading tenuous association of a vanished family with the topography of Astley. The Stocktons sold the farm in 1950.

Edmund Farnworth, 1719
This family of near mosssiders was long prominent in Astley history. Edmund lived opposite to Woodbums, on the very edge of the moss. The farmhouse where he died was in 1719 dignified by a large room called the hall besides the usual parlour. His wife was Ellen and to her he gave by special mention a bedstead with all the bedding on it. In his low level pasture fields at this date could be counted twenty-five cattle, four horses, and a weaning colt. He made cheese for which this area of Leigh was once famed and on that far distant October day of 1719 there was in his buttery £12 of cheeses ready for the market. His son was Thomas, who had £25 made payable to him on May 1, 1720. Arm his sister and wife of blacksmith William Hindley had £22 on the same day, but son-in-law Jeremiah Horsefield only a shilling. Famworth's total estate was £125.

Nathan Mort, 1721
Nathan was the great grandson of Adam Mort. He came to live in Atherton from Wharton Hall and purchased the house known as Alder Fold in 1712. Here he became one of the staunch supporters of the famous ' General ' James Wood the third, minister at Chowbent. When the mad Richard Atherton turned the congregation out of the old Bent meeting house Nathan Mort gave the land on which they could build the new Chowbent Chapel. He died in 1738, and was buried, like so many of his forebears, at Deane. Both his sons, Adam and John, became fustian manufacturers at Atherton.

John Hindley and his grandson, 1723
Hindley was tenant of two houses, one on moss side belonging to Thomas Gillibrand of the Peel and the other at Town Lane held under Thomas Mort. His daughter Esther was wife of James Heyward and mother of John Markland, who had been born September 4, 1702. Hindley left this Town Lane house to his grandson, but obliged him out of the profits to pay £4 a year until £70 had been paid to the sisters of Hindley, named as Elizabeth, Esther, and Alice.

Mary Mort, March 19th 1732
Adam Mort, who died in 1658, was her grandfather and Alexander her father. With him and her uncle they lived at Damhouse. In the accounts book of Thomas Mort there is an entry of July 19th 1721 that she was given sixpence by him and went to Leigh to see the setting up of the maypole. Her uncle made her heiress of all his great wealth by will of June 7, 1730th but she died two years later and was buried March 19th 1732. Mort had then to make a new will, but he never brought himself to destroy the old one: it still exists among the Damhouse papers. Thomas Wright in 1726 had been appointed guardian of Mary, then aged twenty. He was bound to educate her virtuously and bring her up in learning and faithfully administer the estate left to her by her mother, Elizabeth. In 1736 Thomas Sutton as next of kin and her cousin took out a bond to wind up her estate.

Two Elijah’s on Astley Moss 1736
There was deep and intense piety on Astley Moss; whether the religion of the scattered homesteads was fervent Puritanism or prescribed Catholicism. John Green was of this devout circle, who at his funeral gave black hoods and gloves to his women mourners and black hat bands for the men. He was a dyer by trade and gave these gifts to Sarah, wife of his brother Jeremiah, to Elizabeth his brother Joseph's wife, to Alice daughter of Samuel Stockton and to Margaret, wife of Ralph Mather.

Green had two sons and two daughters. Susan Green and Arabella Taylor had sums of £10 left to them. The father had such an admiration for the prophet Elijah that he called both sons after him. The differentiation was that one was born of his second wife and lived at the sign of the Bell in London over against the Water house. These named with such biblical flavour to confuse family descents each received £15. When this Elijah's uncle Joseph died in 1743 it was disclosed that this legacy had never been paid. The money still lay in Astley.

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