- Leigh Wiki
Two Halls Of Tyldesley
Leigh Local History Society (1972 - 2004) used to meet on the last Wednesday of the month in the Derby Room at the Turnpike Centre, Leigh, at 7:30pm.
TWO HALLS OF TYLDESLEY and their histories.
Compiled and written by S. Smith.
'There is a history in all men's lives'
Leigh Local History Society Publication No. 24
C S.Smith. 2003 All rights reserved
The author wishes to place on record his thanks for the assistance given by staff of the following libraries:- Leigh, Eccles, Tyldesley, Walkden and Salford (Local History Library).
The maps of the Cleworth Hall and Morleys Hall Districts are reproduced from the 1908 O.S.Map
The heraldic arms of the Starkie family are from Foster's 'Lancashire County Families' - 1873; other illustrations are included in the bibliography inside the back cover.
ISBN 0 905235 17 7
Typeset by :- Evelyn S. Finch.
Printed by Willow Printing, 75-79, Back Cross Lane Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, WA12 9YE
For a brief two year span in its lifetime, the former hall of Cleworth-in-Tyldesley was the centre of local attention in the days of Queen Elizabeth I, when the Starkie family were the victims of “demoniac possession”. The story, of these events and the catastrophic part played by Edmund Hartley, is told here. The events of Cleworth Hall threatened to embarrass the new warden of the church at Manchester, John Dee, and his murky past is also related, so that the reader may realise John Dee's reluctance to became embroiled in the troubles of the Starkies of Cleworth. The eventual saviour of the Starkies was a pastor from Nottingham, George Darrell, whose kindness became his downfall!
Morleys Hall in Astley once stood out as a prominent feature on the northern fringe of Chat Moss. The home of the 16th century Leyland family, it became part of the Tyldesley family holdings due to a romantic elopement, the memory of which has lingered on in Lancashire folklore. The manner in which Morleys Hall, its priestly inhabitant and his sponsors became involved in the religious persecution and civil wars of the 17th century, is told here, with an account of the decline of the branch of the Tyldesley family headed by Sir Thomas Tyldesley, the cavalier of King Charles I.
S.Smith, Tyldesley, 2003.
Illustration overleaf: Cleworth Hall, Tyldesley. Described as a 'magpie' building with the upper storey overhanging the lower one; many gables; roofed with flag slates; once surrounded by a moat. Demolished circa 1805 .
A retouched copy of an engraving by N. G. Phillips, 1824.
CLEWORTH HALL, TYLDESLEY.
A tale of mystery and magic, from the time of Queen Elizabeth I.
In 1301, Henry de Tyldesley granted the Cleworth estate of about 163 acres to his younger son, Adam. At that time the estate was in the tenancy of John de Waverton, who held other lands, about a quarter of the nearby manor of Bedford. The Cleworth estate descended through the Wavertons to Margery Waverton, who married Henry de Totehill. They settled the Cleworth estate on their daughter, Emotte. In 1408 she married Oliver Parr of Kempnall-in-Worsley. The estate then descended through the Parr family to Ann Parr. Her second husband, from 1578 onwards, was Nicholas Starkie of Huntroyed, near Burnley. Their children were John and Anne. Before the events of 1594-96 at Cleworth Hall are told, it is necessary to introduce John Dee to the reader, for he was faced with a quandary in 1596 regarding the strange happenings of the previous two years at Cleworth Hall.
At first sight, John Dee would seem to be an unlikely person to be involved in Lancashire matters, for he was born at Mortlake in Surrey in 1527 and was also buried there on his death in 1608, aged 81 years. He received his early education at the Grammar School in Chelmsford and went to St. John's College Cambridge at the age of 15 years. After 5 years there, he left England in 1548 to travel to Europe, broadening his knowledge and meeting scholars and mathematicians there. After a few months, he returned to England to study astronomy and to teach Greek at Trinity College Cambridge; but after a while he left under a cloud, accused of 'magical practices'. He went to France to avoid scandal and lived at Louvain University, studying law. He left there in 1550, aged 23 years, being a Master of Arts and a Doctor of Law. He lived in Paris for a time and lectured in mathematics. He returned to England in 1551 after turning down offers from various European courts, anxious to possess his brilliant mind. In England he was presented to King Edward VI, who gave him a pension of 100 crowns per annum and the of two rectories - Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire, and Long Leadenham in Lincolnshire. He was not admitted to Holy Orders, but the rectories and their tithes provided him with further income, whilst he supplied them with curates, engaged for a pittance. The farming-out of religious posts to favourites of the royal court was an accepted feature of the times after the dissolution of the monasteries and other religious orders by King Henry VIII in 1536. This period was also the time of persecution of 'papists' - those who to the former religion. On the death of Edward VI, his successor Queen Mary reversed the persecution and 'protestants' became the victims. John Dee was charged with treason, but acquitted. However he lost his two rectories and the income which they had provided.
After the accession of Queen Elizabeth, John Dee was restored to royal favour. From time to time she consulted him at his house in Mortlake and was impressed by his ability to prepare horoscopes, using his combined talents of astrology and mathematics. The Queen was pleased with the outcome of his advice and was said to place great faith in him; so much so that she sent physicians to attend him when he became ill during a visit to Lorraine in 1571.
Between the years 1570-1581 John Dee was a favourite at the court of Queen Elizabeth in her palace of Hampton on the River Thames, but her other courtiers distrusted him and eventually turned her away from him. By 1581 he was in poor financial circumstances and it was then that he met Edward Kelly, a Lancastrian who practised alchemy and necromancy, conversing with the spirits of the dead by strange incantations and the use of a magic mirror and a black crystal - which turned out to be a piece of canal coal from Wigan! Edward Kelly had earlier had his ears cut off for counterfeiting coinage and deeds of black magic. John Dee had been about to set off for Poland when he met up with Edward Kelly and invited him to join him in the expedition there. This unlikely duo spent some time in Poland and Bohemia, ending up at the court of Rudolph of Prague who was, at first, appreciative of their talents. Rudolph was the Holy Roman Emperor of the time and subject to the authority of the Pope in Rome in religious matters. When the Pope heard news of John Dee's arrival in Prague and his dabblings in alchemy, he sent his strong disapproval of John Dee's presence there, ordering Rudolph to send him away. The Pope was suspicious of Rudolph's obtaining large stocks of gold from John Dee's success in alchemy experiments. Rudolph contrived to appease the Pope by sending John Dee from his court in Prague to a quieter part of Bohemia to continue the experiments, which still proved unsuccessful. Eventually he found some dissatisfaction with the sorcery and magic around him. Edward Kelly was thrown into prison in Prague; John Dee returned to his house at Mortlake in 1588. Here he found a scene of confusion; his house dilapidated, his collection of books and silver plate having disappeared, as well as most of the furniture.
John Dee turned to his former patroness, Queen Elizabeth, for succour in his hour of need. She gave him £50 and tried to find him some official post; but all her ideas for John Dee's future security were adroitly rebuffed by her courtiers. Nobody wanted John Dee! He persisted in his pleadings for several years and the Queen and her court became weary of his entreaties. In 1595 a solution to the quandary presented itself when the Queen was informed that the post of Warden of the Collegiate Church in Manchester had become vacant. At last! Manchester!! A place so remote, not only from Hampton Court, but even from Chester, whose Bishop Downham confessed that the situation of Manchester was so hampered by the many swamps and marshes on its southern and western approaches that he had never been able to get there. When John Dee was offered the post of Warden of the Manchester church he must have quailed at the prospect of ending his days in Manchester; for in addition to its geographical limitations, its people had a reputation for bad manners, riotous and lewd behaviour. Also, religious extremism - papist and puritanical - was there for the new warden to contend with. However John Dee had no choice but to accept his sovereign's wishes and he journeyed north to Manchester in the early part of 1596, to be officially installed in his new post in February that year. His fame had gone before him and rough citizens of Manchester gazed with awe upon their wizard warden!
At the close of the 16th century the clergy in Lancashire were divided into three main groups. There were those like John Dee, who sought religious appointments in the new Church of England, while many priests still supported the old Papal creed; a third force was that of the Puritans. Faced with this three-fold clash of ideology, many ordinary Lancastrians had ceased to practice any religious devotions. There was a widespread belief in witchcraft and superstition and, in such a society, the happenings at Cleworth Hall from 1594 to 1596 were bound to raise considerable interest. There was, of course, little understanding of the nature of disease in the human body, either physical or mental origin, and the existence of good and evil spirits - angels and demons - was accepted by the uneducated population at large.
In February 1594/5 Nicholas Starkie, the eldest son of Edmund Starkie of Huntroyde, was living at Cleworth Hall with his wife Anne, a son John aged about 10 years and a daughter Anne, aged about 9 years. The little girl Anne was the first victim of what was to be called 'demoniac possession'. According to contemporary records, “she was taken with a dumpish and heavy countenance and a certain fearful starting and pulling together of her body”. A week later, her brother John was also afflicted with a similar malady - “falling into often and extreme fits”. Nicholas, their father, was obviously concerned for the health of his children but was unable to find a remedy. The troubles of the Starkie family soon came to the ears of one Edmund Hartley, whose profession was that of a 'conjuror'. The word nowadays has an innocent meaning - an entertainer of sorts - but Edmund Hartley was no entertainer for he considered himself able to cast out 'demons' from the human body. He was from the same mould as Edward Kelly and John Dee. He used holy charms, incantations and herbal potions in his remedies. The records of his time at Cleworth Hall suggest that Edmund Hartley was able to effect a cure, by degrees, over a period of eighteen months, all the time enjoying the hospitality of bed and board at the hall.
Edmund Hartley made ready to leave Cleworth Hall, but hinted strongly that he had nowhere to go to in particular once he had left and that it might be difficult or impossible to find him again. It is not clear whether or not he left the Starkies, but the boy John was taken ill again at this time and Hartley was prevailed upon to stay at Cleworth. Within a few months Hartley was prevailed upon to stay at Cleworth. Within a few months, Hartley had persuaded Nicholas Starkie to provide him with a pension of £2 a year, from Michaelmas 1596. A short time later Hartley demanded -“a house and ground to go with it”- from the hapless Nicholas, who refused to comply; whereupon Edmund Hartley flew into a rage and stormed off. The same afternoon seven persons at Cleworth Hall were afflicted with some temporary derangement, which created “such a strange, supernatural and fearful noise and loud whooping as the like was never before heard at Cleworth, nor in England”. On a later occasion, Nicholas Starkie visited his father's house near Burnley, taking Edmund Hartley with him. During the night Nicholas Starkie was taken ill and “was tormented sore, all night”. On the following morning, at Hartley's suggestion, the two men went into a wood near the house. At a place of Hartley's choosing he drew the outline of a circle on the ground, divided it into four parts with a symbol drawn in each quarter, then asked Nicholas Starkie to “go and tread out the circle, as I may not tread it out myself”. Nicholas Starkie refused to comply and later expressed his disgust of Hartley to a friend, admitting that “he knew not how to rid his hands of him”. Acting on advice, Nicholas Starkie applied to a physician in Manchester, who suggested that the best man to resolve the situation was John Dee, the Warden of the Collegiate Church. John Dee was approached but, mindful of his shameful past and his present security, the worthy John Dee declined to become involved in the case, confining his actions to suggesting that Nicholas Starkie should consult some 'godly preachers' and rebuking Edmund Hartley for his conjuring. Some weeks later, after a second telling-off by the wizard warden in Manchester, Edmund Hartley retreated to Cleworth Hall, chastising Nicholas Starkie for not having faith in him and for referring the matter to John Dee.
Again the sickness returned to Cleworth Hall. First, the boy John was stricken down again, complaining that, as he was quietly reading - “something gave him such a blow on the neck, that he was suddenly stricken down”. For two weeks he lay tormented in bed, then gave a terrible cry that amazed all the family. He was -“very fierce, like a mad man or a mad dog, snatched at, and bit at everyone, not sparing his mother, hurling bedstaves and pillows into the fire”. His sister Anne also became troubled and also three children who were staying at Cleworth Hall, as wards of Nicholas Starkie. They are named in the records as - Margaret Hardman aged 14, Elinor Hardman aged 10 and Ellen Holland aged 12. Also afflicted at this time was Edmund Hartley himself! Anne Starkie, wife of Nicholas, had with her a lady visitor from Salford, Margaret Byrom, aged 33. She was asked to take hold of Hartley, to steady him; the malady must have been infectious, for it recorded that “she too became senseless and unruly”. There is a hint of some lasciviousness on the part of Edmund Hartley, for after her fit was over ” he pretended to bear a loving affection towards her and it was thought that he had kissed her”. The affliction continued to manifest itself on the inhabitants of Cleworth Hall. At times all five children were capable of a combined “howling and barking, like a ring of five bells”. The boy John took to washing his hands after every attack and always wanted “new water - if it were the same wherewith he washed before, he refused it”. A strange note of elementary hygiene for the 16th century! Nicholas Starkie brought in a local magistrate, Mr Hopwood, to take depositions (evidence) from the sick children, so that Hartley could be brought before the Courts of Assize; but the children were so ill, that Mr Hopwood could not get any evidence from them.
At this time also, the illness appeared in Jane Ashton, aged 30, a servant of the Starkie family. Margaret Byrom also had a return of the sickness; one of her visions was that of a large black dog which threw her down and caught her by the tongue; this was followed by a little black cat which took away her eyes and hands; a large mouse completed the trio, which deprived her of all sense, so that she would not eat for days. Then she would become extremely hungry, “flossing up her meat like a greedy dog or pig, so that her friends were ashamed of her”.
Somehow Edmund Hartley, the conjuror, was extracted from the melee at Cleworth Hall and taken for trial at Lancaster Assizes, where he was condemned to death by hanging for the crime of witchcraft. For the turning point in the evidence, the judges took the occasion when Hartley had drawn his magic circle in the woods near Burnley. Hartley pleaded his innocence on the scaffold. When he was hung up, the rope broke and a second rope had to be obtained. In the interval Edmund Hartley confessed to the crime of witchcraft and he was hung up again. This time the rope did not break.
Now it was time for John Darrell to become involved in the affairs of Cleworth Hall. He was the rector of St. Mary's Church in Nottingham and was called in to exorcise the demon spirits, which continued to possess the bodies of the innocents of Cleworth. At the request of Nicholas Starkie, and with the support of John Dee, who wrote to the clergyman, John Darrell came to Cleworth Hall accompanied by George More, the pastor of Calke in Derbyshire. Their arrival date is given as 16th March 1696/7. They found the seven victims still “grievously tormented”, although there was some joyful merriment about the execution of Edmund Hartley. After some preliminary prayers, the seven victims were taken “into a fairly large parlour and laid on couches”. Mr More and Mr Darrell were assisted by a Mr Dickens, said to be a local pastor, and about thirty other persons called in to give extra support to the proceedings by their spiritual strength. Almost a full day of prayers and exhortations produced some beneficial results in that six of the seven victims were rid of the evil spirits that had possessed them. Some of the people concerned spoke about their feelings as the exorcism produced its results. Margaret Byrom felt the demon coming up her throat; she saw it move into a corner of the parlour, where it took on the appearance of a crow's head. John Starkie's demon took on the form of a hunchback, while Ellen Hardman's was an 'urchin' which came back to her and promised her gold, to come back into her body. The forces of exorcism took a day longer to expel the demon from Jane Ashton, the servant. Her demon came out of her “ugly, like a toad, and round, like a ball”. The seven, now dispossessed, had further evil visitors on the following night, in the guises of a bear, a dove, an ape, also other forms. Resisting the offers of gold and silver and finally, threats, the seven people survived the night and were not bothered again. Thus ended the strange events, which had disturbed the daily rhythms of life for two years at Cleworth Hall in Tyldesley.
John Darrell and George More returned to their respective parishes, presumably flushed with success. John Darrell was just in time to attend to another case of demoniac possession in his native Nottingham, this time with the company of the Mayor of Nottingham and several Aldermen of the town. However something must have gone wrong, for John Darrell was denounced by his worthy attendants as a charlatan and a 'cogger' - a trickster. Eventually he appeared before the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, on 16th May 1599. He had with him a letter from the grateful Nicholas Starkie of Cleworth Hall, which proved his ability as an exorcist. This failed to impress the Archbishop and John Darrell was thrown into prison, where he passed his time in writing out the details of his remarkable experiences, the transcription of which has served as the basis for this present account.
Whatever was the source of the troubles at Cleworth Hall, it did not seem to have any lasting effects, for Anne Starkie, the first victim, grew up and married Thomas Dyke of Westwick, Ripon in Yorkshire; while her brother John grew into adulthood to marry Margaret Leigh, daughter of Thomas Leigh of Adlington, near Chorley. John Starkie succeeded to the estates of Cleworth, Kempnough and Huntroyed in 1618. In 1633 he became High Sheriff of Lancashire, having settled at Huntroyed. In October 1641 he was appointed by the House of Commons as one of a number of persons, in substitution of some of the county magistrates, who were suspected of 'loyalty to the King'. On the outbreak of the civil war in 1642 he was one of two colonels appointed by the Parliament to defend the Hundred of Blackburn and expel Royalist supporters. Of the other victims of the demoniac possession at Cleworth Hall nothing is known after their recovery under John Darrell's powers of exorcism.
The period from 1570 to 1640 is known as an age of rebuilding, when old crack-frame houses were replaced by more spacious edifices of timber-frame construction, and Cleworth Hall must have been quite new at the time when Nicholas and Anne Starkie lived there with their two children. The south-eastern part of Lancashire then contained a number of fast-flowing streams or brooks. They still exist but have lost their former use as a source of water supply for cattle and humans. In the vicinity of Cleworth Hall a brook rose in the fields to the north of the house; but this may have been a secondary source of water for the house, the primary source being most likely a well, dug down through the clay sub-soil. In the 16th century - and indeed in the early years of our own century - the close proximity of waste middens and water wells in country districts was a major factor in the spread of disease. Our ancestors in those times often had large families, knowing that the ever-present ailments of childhood might see-off some of their brood. The principle of survival of the fittest had a greater truth in those times and those children who survived into adulthood were indeed fit. That the sufferers of Cleworth Hall were mainly children, who succumbed at intervals, one by one, is an important factor in concluding that the 'demoniac possession' at Cleworth Hall may have been nothing more than 'something in the water supply'. Hmm, well, perhaps?
The subsequent history of Cleworth Hall is of little importance. The Starkie family continued to hold the estate, but it was let to tenant farmers over the years. In 1685, Francis Sherington of Booths Hall, Worsley had a list of chief rents made; the Cleworth estate is listed therein, under the Starkie surname and at an annual rent of one half-pence. As the Sherington family then owned the Booths estate in Worsley and piecemeal parts of east Tyldesley township, the small sum of one half-pence probably accounted for a small patch of ground which had been added to the original estate lands at a later date and not part of the original holding. The old hall of Cleworth-in-Tyldesley was pulled down about 1805 and a nondescript farmhouse erected on the site. The township of Tyldesley became an important coalmining place in the 19th century and the Tyldesley Coal Company operated a number of coal mines from 1845 onwards, including one on the Cleworth Hall estate land, from 1874.
“Argent, a bend sable, between six storks proper” (A silver shield, with a black diagonal stripe between six storks in natural colours)
MORLEYS HALL, ASTLEY.
A romantic legend; Ambrose Barlow - the priest martyr; the Civil Wars and the Tyldesleys of Morleys and Myerscough.
MORE-LEGHE first appears in history about the year 1200 when it was a parcel of pasture ground held 'in socage and fealty' from the manor lord of Astley manor in which it lay. Its name appears in documents of Cockersand Abbey at Morecambe Bay, with reference to the custom of frankalmoign. This was a means of providing for prayers to be said regularly for the soul of a deceased person, by transferring land and the income from it to a religious order, such as Cockersand Abbey was then. In 1344, the Morley estate was held by Hugh de Morley from the Trafford family. Adam de Trafford sold Morleys to the Radcliffes of Ordsall Hall in Salford at this time. The mediaeval custom of 'fealty' meant that Hugh de Morley was required to swear loyalty to his new landlord, Robert de Radcliffe. In time these obligations, which were common to all levels of feudal society, were commuted into money payments -'in lieu of boons and services'. About the year 1381 the Morleys Hall estate passed to the Leyland family. In 1431 Robert Leyland was the holder of Morleys from Sir Richard Radcliffe for an annual rent (socage) of 13s 4d. (two thirds of £1). The use of one-third fractions in documents of the time is due to the existence of a gold 'noble' coin in those days; one noble = 6s 8d. or one third of £1.
William Leyland succeeded to the estate in 1501. He was knighted in 1513. In the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547) he was active in the suppression of the monasteries and religious orders of the 'old' religion. Someone who may have been related to him was John Leyland, a pious scholar who persuaded Henry VIII to allow him to travel the length and breadth of the country on a mission to piece together the ancient history of the kingdom from the collections of documents in the hands of the gentry and the religious houses being disbanded. Two of John Leyland's journeys took him to Morleys Hall in Astley and a description of his journey from Manchester to Leigh includes the following “coming from Manchester towards Morleys, Sir William's house, I passed by enclosed ground (fields with fences around) partly pasturable, partly fruitful of corn, leaving on the left hand, a mile and more (distant from the road) a fair place of Mr. Langford's, called Agecroft (Hall); and there is a bridge, very high and great of timber on (river) Irwell, and thereby is Pilkington Park; and therein is a stone house of the Pilkingtons, attained by King Henry VII (as Duke of Lancaster) and given to the lord of Derby (West Derby Hundred). And within a couple of miles of Morleys, on the same hand (left) not far off (the road is) a place of Master Worsley of the Bouthe (this was Booths old Hall). And so within a mile and somewhat more of Mr. Leyland's place, I came over Heding brook (now the Ellen brook) that there separates Salford shire (Salford Hundred) from Derby shire (West Derby Hundred). Morleys, Mr Leyland's place, is built, except for the foundations of squared stone that riseth within a great moat, six feet above water, all of timber, after the common sort of building houses of all the gentlemen for most of Lancashire. There, is as much pleasure of orchards of great variety of fruit, and fair made walks and gardens as there is in any place of Lancashire. He (Mr.Leyland) burneth all turves and peat from the many mosses and moors at hand—Morleys stands in Leigh parish, a mile and more from the church”—
Author's note: the version of John Leyland's transcribed notes given above, has been clarified by the items in brackets. The notes in themselves are largely without proper meaning to present-day readers.
Sir William Leyland was succeeded by his son, Thomas, who married Ann Atherton of Atherton Hall, nearby. Their only daughter was Anne, who was to play a major part in one of the more romantic episodes of Lancashire history when, in 1560 or thereabouts, she eloped from Morleys Hall with her lover, Edward Tyldesley of Wardley Hall in Worsley. The Tyldesleys had reigned over the manor of Wardley-in-Worsley since 1331, when an infant, Margaret de Worsley, only child of Jordan de Worsley, had been abducted from Wardley Hall by the Tyldesley family and forcibly married to Thurstan de Tyldesley. In this way, the manor of Wardley passed to Thurstan de Tyldesley on the death of his father-in-law, Jordon de Worsley. Through later generations, the manor of Wardley was handed down by the Tyldesleys until 1556, when it came into the hands of another Thurstan Tyldesley. He had a younger brother, Edward, unmarried then and with an insecure future, following Thurstan's inheritance of the Wardley Hall estate. The fortunes of the Tyldesley family were on the wane at this time in history, one problem being the inflation of prices in Tudor times, which made the income from rents fixed for long periods of time a poor base for Lancashire country squires to live out their lives. In such circumstances, the presence of yet unmarried Anne Leyland at Morleys Hall was a dire temptation for Edward Tyldesley, as a woman's property became that of her husband on marriage; whatever her other charms may have been, her situation as the future owner of Morleys Hall was not to be decried.
Anne Leyland and Edward Tyldesley are said to have been clandestine lovers. Anne's father found them out and forbade Anne to see Edward again. In some way, Anne was pre-advised of Edward's intention to elope with her from Morleys. On the arranged evening, Anne Leyland slid down from her bedroom window by a 'rope' made from her bedclothes. At the moatside, which then surrounded the house, she threw a ball of silken thread across the waters of the moat to Edward the swain. He tied a rope to his end of the thread, which Anne hauled back across the moat. She tied the rope around her waist and Edward then dragged her through the moat, then about 12 yards wide, and rode away with her on his horse through Astley and Mosley Common, then across the moor of Walkden to Wardley Hall. A prior generation of Tyldesleys had built a private chapel at the Hall and now a priest was waiting, to conduct the marriage ceremony. Naturally, when Thomas Leyland discovered that his daughter had married against his will, he was furious.
But the marriage bond could not be undone. In due course Thomas Leyland died in 1564 and Edward Tyldesley took possession of Morleys Hall, with his wife Anne.
Legend is a peculiar blend of truth and fiction, but the elopement at Morleys Hall was remembered as a romantic moment; it lingered on as a ballad, which was recited or sung in various halls of the Lancashire gentry, over the following centuries….
All are at rest in Morley tower
Her heart beats high; it is her lover
The casement's high, the water broad,
For lo! the maiden, from her hand
And she too, firmly around her waist
But lo! the lovely frame is borne
From neighbouring tree, his courser's rein
The noble steed hath borne them well
The maid dismounts, Ned's sister there
When Hark! The sound of horn is heard
The bride hath to her chamber gone,
“Dismount and enter”, said the youth,
He entered, and the bridal feast
The old man looked, bewildered, round,
Wherefore he cast his sword aside
Loud were his followers' shouts and cries.
Edward Tyldesley had been left some income from property and land around the hunting lodge of Myerscough, in Garstang parish. His father had been Keeper of the Royal Forest of Amounderness. In addition there were land interests in Widnes Marsh, Mersey and Entwistle near Bolton-le-moors. The family remained Catholic by religion, not uncommon in Lancashire society, which tended to adhere to the old religion, something which did not go down with Queen Elizabeth I in later times.
Edward and Anne Tyldesley of Morleys had six children-Thomas, Thurstan, William, John, Ann and Margaret. Thomas died in 1586, by which time his mother had also died. Thurstan married Mary Charnock, a daughter of Robert Charnock of Booths Hall, nearby. Thurstan took the family estate of Stansacre, in north Lancashire, and lived out his life there. William entered the calling of a lawyer at the legal court of Gray's Inn London in 1592 and stayed in the south of England. It was a son of Thomas Tyldesley who succeeded to the Morleys Hall and Myerscough estates in due course, when Edward Tyldesley died in 1587. This successor was another Edward, born in 1582 and only 4 years old when his grandfather died a few months after the boy's father had succumbed.
The boy Edward grew up and married Elizabeth Preston of Holker Hall, who bore him two sons; one was Edward, who died young, the other was Thomas, born in 1622 and fated to play his part in the Civil War as the brash cavalier of King Charles I. This Thomas Tyldesley was himself a minor heir, for his father died in 1621, having promised Thomas to be a marriage partner of Anne Breres, on payment of a dowry of £600. However, Thomas Tyldesley's mother ignored this contract when he achieved adulthood and under her influence he married Frances Standish about 1634. The Morley's Hall estate was a compact part of their property but there was other land in various parts of Lancashire - Astley, Pennington, Bedford, Lowton and Kenyon, Tyldesley, Lancaster, Goosnargh, Broughton, Hambleton, Thornley, Kirkham, Hindley and Entwistle - as well as small parts of Yorkshire.
The life of the Tyldesleys was a somewhat nomadic existence as they moved about their Lancashire estates, sometimes in residence at Morley's Hall but also living at Myerscough Lodge. Education of the younger generation of Tyldesleys became difficult, as the normal schools and colleges of the country were closed to them, because of their parents' resolve to retain their Catholic faith. The usual course of education for the Tyldesley children was private tuition in the early years followed by courses at Oxford or Cambridge, leading to a legal training for males at the Inns of Court in London, usually Gray's Inn. The Tyldesley family, in all its branches, produced a number of lawyers over several generations of Tudor times. As they became increasingly subjected to religious persecution, the Tyldesleys were better known to those in authority as 'recusants' and paid dearly, in financial terms, over the years when their recusancy was publicly denounced by someone in authority. Under these circumstances, education became more entwined with religious faith and some Tyldesley children were sent abroad to Douai in northern France, which was then a centre for religious teaching.
Head of the leading Catholic families of Lancashire was the Norris family of Speke Hall, near Liverpool. Their hall was on the northern shore of the Mersey estuary and some historians believe that this was the point of entry for a number of Jesuit priests, who came from France by sea, to support the embattled Lancashire Catholics. These men led a stealthy existence, being moved about in secret, from one hall to another, being maintained by Catholic families and giving both educational and religious services to the families, which befriended them and supported them with food and shelter. In case of surprise, the priest-hole came into existence in many Lancashire halls, where priests could be quickly hidden away should their presence be suspected by the forces of authority, who had paid spies to search out 'papist' priests. One such priest was Ambrose Barlow of the Benedictine Order. He was born Edward Barlow of the family of Barlow Hall in Didsbury, Manchester in 1585. His education was undertaken at the English College of Douai in France and later at Valladolid in Spain. He took the name of Ambrose and spent some time at the Benedictine Monastery of St. Gregory at Douai. About the year 1620 he returned to England as a missionary priest and was eventually allowed to use the Morleys Hall as his base, from about 1634, by Thomas Tyldesley. By this time he had apparently spent four periods in prison for the crime of 'papist preaching'. Not long after he settled at Morleys Hall it came to his notice that the under-tenants of the estate were being grossly overcharged by the Tyldesley agents in charge of letting. His reporting of this abuse to Thomas Tyldesley, and the subsequent enquiry, did not enhance his popularity with certain people in the district.
Ambrose Barlow generally spent three weeks out of four at Morleys Hall, spending the fourth week travelling on foot to various Catholic family halls in Lancashire. It is known that he preached for the Molineux family of Sefton and for Sir John Southworth's family, near Burnley. His services held at Morleys Hall were attended by the Catholic laity of Leigh parish,
who could be seen on Sundays wandering through the fields and lanes in the vicinity of the hall. One story, which was told then, was of an ex-member of the Catholic faith who became a Protestant. One day, he was standing under the clock mechanism of the church at Leigh when the ropes holding the clock weights broke and the weights crashed down on him, killing him outright. The story was told as warning of retribution that might befall other who thought of defecting from their faith.
A royal proclamation in 1641 ordered all Catholic priests to leave the country, a month's grace expiring on the 7th April 1641. Easter Sunday was on the 25th of that month and it was on this day that a mob of up to 400 people, armed with swords and wooden clubs, marched on Morleys Hall. One version of the story names James Gatley, the vicar of Leigh parish, as leader; another version names John Jones, the vicar of Eccles parish, as the leader of the mob. In either case Ambrose Barlow was taken before a local magistrate and accused of papist preaching at Morleys Hall that day. He was removed to Lancaster castle - the county gaol - to await trial. In the uncertain times before the Civil Wars the capture of a poor Catholic priest in a wild part of south Lancashire was enough to catch the attention of the Parliament in London, to whom the event was reported……..
House of Commons Journal 20th May 1641 “Whereas this House was informed that a Romish priest was apprehended on Easter Day last at the Hall of Morleys in the County of Lancaster, called by the name of Edward Barlow, who, upon examination, confessed himself (to be) a Romish priest and had received orders from Arras; he being now committed to the Common Gaol at Lancaster; it is ordered that the said Edward Barlow shall be proceeded against to the next Assizes for the said County”. Eventually, after some months languishing in Lancaster castle, Ambrose Barlow was tried for his crime on 7th September 1641, found guilty and hanged three days later. The vengeance of high authority, not content with his death, required that his body be butchered into pieces-drawn and quartered-was the phrase used then.
His head was sent to Manchester, where it was impaled on the steeple of the Collegiate Church there (now Manchester Cathedral) as a warning to all and sundry who passed that way. Eventually, the skull was acquired by Francis Downes of Wardley Hall and enshrined there in a niche on the staircase. It remains there to this day.
These events seem incredulous to our senses but Lancashire then had an importance to London and the Midlands, in that the county acted as a buffer against inroads by the plundering Scots. Also, in the coming Civil War, the county's support for Parliament was needed. Therefore any event which threatened to change the balance and swing Lancashire loyalties away from London was to be considered as a threat to the stability of the realm.
Little is known of Thomas Tyldesley's early life, though it is known that he was intended to pursue a career in the legal profession. The death of his father in 1621 left the young Thomas, then aged 9 years, as a minor heir. A new monarch, King Charles I, was crowned in 1626. The usual practice at a coronation ceremony was to declare knighthoods to those supporters of the new monarch who were deemed suitable. Normally, only a handful of loyalists received the accolade from the grateful monarch; but Charles I declared knighthoods for all and sundry in the land, on persons whose estates were of £40 annual value or more, knowing full well that most of the knighthoods would be refused because of the sheer impracticality of serving the monarch at some distance. Charles' answer to this was to impose a payment of £20 from those who refused the honour, as the fee for 'compounding' i.e. to settle the issue without further ado. Five years later, in 1631, there were long lists of Lancashire gentry who would not, or could not, pay the sum demanded of them by their prodigal sovereign, whose taste for fine living was to prove his undoing.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the most powerful man in Lancashire was Henry Stanley, 4th Earl of Derby (West Derby), Lord Lieutenant of the County Palatine and also Lord of Man (Isle of Man). The earls of Derby ruled the County's affairs from their palatial residence at Lathom, near Ormskirk. Here, the fourth earl had a household of 120 people, including seven young waiters drawn from the chief families in the county, by custom. By serving the earls of Derby in this way, some sons of the gentry were inducted into the ways of Lancashire high society. It was amongst this strata of society that the Tyldesley family of Morleys and Myerscough moved about, leaving other branches of the family in lesser known social rounds. At this time the Morleys Hall estate was more a source of additional income than a residence, the Myerscough Lodge being thought more suitable for the young Thomas Tyldesley and his wife, the former Frances Standish. Indeed, it seems more likely that Morleys Hall itself was given up to the priest, Ambrose Barlow, from 1634, after Thomas Tyldesley's marriage.
Whilst the gentry ruled firmly in western and northern Lancashire, the south-eastern part of the county was becoming the region where clothiers (cloth merchants) of Manchester and Bolton were of more importance to the ordinary people, providing the farming communities of the region with a supplementary income from their labours at the spinning wheel and the loom. When the civil war of 1642 broke out, Lancashire society was divided; the Catholic gentry of the north and west supported their king; the merchants and artisans of the industrial south-eastern part of the county supported Cromwell and Parliamentary forces. Prior to the conflict, James Stanley, then Lord Strange and not yet succeeded to the title of Earl of Derby, decided to establish and control powder magazines and arms caches at Preston, Warrington, Liverpool and Manchester. The Civil War broke out in August 1642 with the first battle at Nottingham. In October 1642 Thomas Tyldesley served as a lieutenant-colonel for his king at the battle of Edgehill, in the Midlands. In the same month also, the Mancunians refused to hand over control of their magazine to James Stanley (now the seventh Earl of Derby) and he raised the siege of Manchester. The siege failed and was abandoned, James Stanley journeying south to join up with King Charles at Shrewsbury.
During the earl's absence from the county, bands of Royalist troops were raised to oppose the Mancunians: - 300 troops at Warrington; 300 footsoldiers, 100 dragoons and a troop of horsemen at Wigan. An outpost at Leigh was manned by 20 men, to keep an eye on Bolton-le-Moors. On the 2nd December 1642 a threatened attack by Royalist troops from the Leigh outpost was repulsed by a peasant army of 3,000 men, raised by the Parliamentary commander of Manchester, Colonel Rosworm. The opposing forces met at Chowbent (Atherton) and the Royalist troops were driven back through Leigh and Lowton, where there was a pitched battle among remaining forces. A few days later, a Royalist attack on Preston involved Thomas Tyldesley, who was instrumental in looting the stock of a cloth merchant there. The proceeds of the robbery were taken to the house of Adam Mort, a relative of the Tyldesleys and the mayor-elect of Preston. On 22nd December 1642, Thomas Tyldesley was in Leigh, raising his own regiment on the orders of the king. It may have been this audacious activity which prompted Colonel Rosworm to lead a punitive attack on Royalist troops at Leigh and Chowbent, two days later. This action is thought to have been planned to test the Royalist defences in the area and to prevent surprise attacks on Bolton, from Leigh and Wigan.
During the early months of 1643 the Royalist trio of James Stanley, Lord Molineux of Sefton and Thomas Tyldesley roamed Lancashire and Yorkshire on a series of missions but eventually they were forced to leave Lancashire for a time. In October that year Sir Thomas Tyldesley's estates were seized by Parliament for his misdoings. While he was absent from Lancashire, much of his time was spent in Chester and the Wirral, where he eventually joined up with Prince Rupert, the king's nephew.
On the 28th May 1644, a royalist body of troops, led by Prince Rupert and including the Earl of Derby and Thomas Tyldesley came up from Stockport, skirted the Manchester area and fell upon the town of Bolton-le-Moors, as Bolton was then called. The Parliamentary Garrison there was overwhelmed; over 1200 men - soldiers and citizens- were killed that day and the town left plundered and desolate. Prince Rupert continued on to Wigan and attacked Liverpool successfully, killing 360 soldiers and citizens. Nine years later, Bolton's citizens were petitioning for aid still, for the widows and their children, also maimed soldiers from both sides, still suffering from the effects of that terrible day. The Royalist campaign of 1644 continued northwards, past Preston and on into Yorkshire, where defeat came at the hands of Cromwell and Fairfax at the battle of Marston Moor. The successful Parliamentary forces followed the retreating Royalists into north Lancashire and laid siege to Lathom House, whose garrison surrendered on the 3rd December 1645. James Stanley fled to the Isle of Man and Sir Thomas Tyldesley retired to Litchfield where, as governor of the town, he surrendered in July 1646.
Further chapters of civil war occupied the years 1648 to 1651, with a Scottish army plundering Lancashire, following an agreement with King Charles. Sir Thomas Tyldesley laid siege to Lancaster castle at the same time but had to retreat when the Scots were beaten in the battle at Preston. He and the Scottish army went north to the safety of Scotland. The desperate attempt by King Charles to align with the Scots cost him his life and he was executed on the 30th January 1649. The Royalist cause was picked up again by the Earl of Derby and his cavalier, Sir Thomas Tyldesley, in 1651 when the earl returned to Lancashire from a six year exile in the Isle of Man. His campaign recruited 1,500 supporters in the Fylde coast area, but he had no success in raising support in Preston or Warrington. The Royalist troops marched from Preston towards Wigan on the night of 24th August 1651. On the next day, between Standish and Wigan, they met with a Roundhead army sent to Lancashire to defeat them. It was during a one-hour battle that Sir Thomas Tyldesley was killed. He was buried in Leigh parish church a few days later in the private family chapel, which had been inherited from the Leyland family generations before. The Earl of Derby had escaped but was later captured and tried at Chester on 29th September 1651. He was found guilty of the charges laid against him and was ordered to be executed at Bolton, to appease the citizens of that town. He left Chester on the 14th October 1651 and was quartered overnight at the King's Arms Inn at Leigh, near the parish church. On the following morning he asked to visit Sir Thomas Tyldesley's tomb in the church. His request was refused and he was taken to Bolton, where he was beheaded with the axe in a public ceremony.
The time of the civil wars in Lancashire was a harrowing one for the inhabitants, generally. At the start of the conflict in 1642 numbers of tenant farmers and weavers -some from the Eccles area - were conscripted into the Royalist armies. As the wars progressed, money to pay these conscripts ran out and they were left to fend for themselves when they were not in combat. A crescent of towns in south Lancashire - Warrington, Wigan, Bolton and Manchester - became battle zones on a number of occasions and the area between Manchester and Lathom (Ormskirk) has been decribed by one historical authority as 'a no-man's land'. To farmers, who lost livestock in raids by armed bands of hungry soldiers, it mattered little that they were Royalists or Parliamentary forces. To the textile weavers, who found their livelihoods imperilled by the failure of communications with the 'masters' in Bolton and Manchester, the civil wars brought poverty and hunger. After the collapse of the Catholic Lancashire gentry and their role in Lancashire society, a period of bitter recriminations followed, fuelled by a desire for revenge and reparation, led by the Parliament victorious.
The sequestration of the Tyldesley family estates in 1643 left them without income and dependent on the generosity of friends. Payments by their tenants were made to Parliamentary Commissioners, who gleefully re-directed the cash to the Roundhead army and its supporters. In 1647 a Parliamentary proposal to come to some form of understanding with the chiefs of the Lancashire Royalists was blocked by protests from many of the people of the south-eastern parts of Lancashire. Later, Parliamentary Commissioners ruled over courts of 'compounding', when seized estates were returned to their former owners, who paid a fee for the return of their property. Neither Sir Thomas Tyldesley nor his widow, the Lady Frances Tyldesley, appeared before these courts to ask for their property back.
The main family home, Myerscough Lodge, had been looted during the wars; for a time it served as a prison camp for defeated Royalist forces. Until the lodge was restored, Lady Frances Tyldesley seems to have lived at Morleys Hall, vacant since the death of Ambrose Barlow in 1641. Later, the widow of Sir Thomas Tyldesley lived at other places in Lancashire during her long widowhood of 40 years or so, and Morleys Hall was let to tenant farmers. After the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660 she petitioned for a pension from the king, Charles II, and was granted a handsome sum of £200 per annum in 1663, in recognition of the debt owed by the Stuarts to the Tyldesleys.
Edward Tyldesley succeeded to the Morleys and Myerscough estates in 1651, at the young age of 16 years. He was born in 1635 and was the eldest of three sons and seven daughters. Edward's guardians petitioned the Commissioners for Sequestration for the return of the family estates; this was done in 1653. His mother, meanwhile, had been allowed one-fifth of the estate income whilst in sequestration; this was a common allowance to Royalist wives at the time. A valuation of Edward Tyldesley's inheritance in 1654 shows that, of the total expected yearly income of £1505, the Morleys Hall estate only produced £120. While the Garstang property of Myerscough Lodge provided £446 yearly. However, the Tyldesleys were a spent force and in 1663, parts of Morleys Hall estate were sold off for £200; other parts were sold off 1665 for £240. Of the seven daughters of Sir Thomas Tyldesley, three of them -Elizabeth, Anne and Dorothy - became members of the religious order of St. Augustine in Paris, France. Bridget Tyldesley married Henry Blundell of Ince Blundell (near Wigan) and Frances Tyldesley married Thomas Stanley of Great Eccleston, Garstang. Edward, the eldest son, died in 1685, aged 50 years, before his mother; she died at the house of a relative, Richard Blundell of Ince, and was buried at Leigh parish church, by her husband's side in the Tyldesley chapel on 11th September 1691.
The subsequent history of Morleys Hall is one of declining fortunes for the Tyldesley family, who maintained their hold on the estates in north Lancashire for a long time, into the 18th century. By 1720, like other Lancashire families of their kind, the Tyldesleys were being overtaken, in financial terms, by the rising tide of textile manufacturers; in this case, the Legh family of Chorley. They had surplus cash, from their profits, to lend out. Further parts of Morleys Hall estate were mortgaged to Robert Legh by the Tyldesley heiresses - the widow of Thomas Tyldesley (son of Edward, above) and his sister, Elizabeth. By the year 1755 another generation of the Tylesleys had sold one half of the estate to a Josiah Wilkinson. The other half was purchased by Matthew Lyon of Warrington. These two persons were active in the Astley area at this time, purchasing land for agricultural use. The increasing activities of industrial and commercial enterprise in these parts of the county were leading to a steady increase in population, which in turn was expected to require a corresponding increase in food production and rising rents for farmholdings in south-east Lancashire.
The old hall of Morleys was pulled down about 1820 and replaced by the present farmhouse, keeping the moat and the stone bridge over it. An earlier transaction of 1679 between Edward and Thomas Tyldesley (his son) on the one hand, and Thomas Stockton of Chowbent in Atherton, on the other hand, details the sale of the gatehouse of Morleys Hall, for the grand sum of £20. Thomas Stockton was given permission, at the time, to dismantle and carry away “the said gatehouse and the stone, timber, bricks, tiles slates, and two pieces of timber lying near the Gatehouse”. Mr. Stockton did not apparently carry out the demolition, for the gatehouse is shown in the engraving done by the artist N.G.Phillips about 1820, just before the entire hall was destroyed. The division of the estate lasted into our present century; one half devolving to the Manchester Collieries Ltd. and through them to the National Coal Board. The other half of the estate was purchased by Tyldesley U.D.C. in 1894 and used by them as a sewage farm.
It is perhaps suitable to include here a note of one of the other properties of the Tyldesleys of Morleys and Myerscough; this was Fox Hall on the Fylde coast, a wild and windy place, visited by few. Fox Hall was near a part of the coast called 'the black pool' by locals; here, peaty waters from the mosses of the Fylde came together, before draining into the sea. Fox Hall, a farm, was yet another of the Tyldesley family properties which had to go in the 18th century. If the Tyldesleys had been able to hang on to it then, later generations of the family would have been rich, for the site of Fox Hall farm is now on the 'Golden Mile' in the holiday resort of Blackpool!
Victoria County History of Lancashire………………………1906/1910
Hist. Soc. Of Lancashire & Cheshire Vol. 35…………………1883
Old Halls of Lancashire & Cheshire, N.G.Philips……………..1824/1893
Transcriptions of John Leyland's Journeys, L. Tiornkin……….1910
Nooks 8c Corners of Lancashire & Cheshire, J. Croston………..1881
Wardley Hall, Capt. H. Hart-Davies…………………………1908
The Tyldesleys of Lancashire, J. Lunn………………………1966
Chetham Society Publications (various dates) ……Herald's Visitations of Lancashire in 1613 & 1663 ……Discourse of the War in Lancashire ……The Lancashire Gentry & the Great Rebellion.
Lancashire: its History, Legends & Manufacturers, G. N. Wright..1842