History of Lancashire

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Main article: Lancashire
The Red Rose of Lancaster is the county flower of Lancashire, and a common symbol for the county.

The History of Lancashire begins with its establishment as a county of England in 1182,[citation needed] making it one of the youngest of the historic counties of England.


John Speed's map of the County Palatine of Lancaster, 1610
Lancashire in 1832 (click to enlarge)

Lancashire takes its name from the city of Lancaster, whose name means 'Roman fort on the River Lune',[1] combining the name of the river with the Old English cæster, which derived from the Roman word for a fort or camp.[2] Though the Pipe Rolls of 1168 refer to a county of Lancaster, that indicated merely the north of present Lancashire. The southern part had broken away from Cheshire and also become a separate territorial division described as "'twixt Ribble and Mersey." When the fusion between these northern and southern parts took place, "Lancastershire" and not "Lancashire" was the first title and, in the time of Henry VIII, Leland, the antiquarian, was still using it.[3] Lancashire became the preferred designation, as a syncope of Lancastershire.


The remains of Roman forts exist at Manchester,[4] Lancaster,[5] Over Burrow,[6] Ribchester,[7] Kirkham[8] and Castleshaw.[9] A number of Roman roads are known to have existed including one between Manchester and Carlisle, via Ribchester and Burrow.[10] It is thought that a cluster of Romano-British farmsteads existed to the east of Burnley[11][12][13]

The land that would become the ancient county of Lancashire had been part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, the River Mersey being considered the border with Mercia. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that in 923, Edward the Elder brought an army to Mercia and ordered the repair of the defenses at Manchester in Northumbria.[14] It seems that from this time the area south of the Ribble became associated with Mercia.[15]

After the Norman conquest, William the Conqueror gave to Roger de Poitou, lands spanning eight ancient counties, which included the area between the River Ribble and the Mersey and Amounderness.[16] However by the time of the Domesday survey, most of his lands are recorded to be under the king's control.[17] In the Domesday Book, some of its lands had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The area in between the Rivers Mersey and Ribble (referred to in the Domesday Book as "Inter Ripam et Mersam") formed part of the returns for Cheshire.[18][19][17] Although some have taken this to mean that, at this time, south Lancashire was part of Cheshire,[19] it is not clear that this was the case, and more recent research indicates that the boundary between Cheshire and what was to become Lancashire remained the river Mersey.[20][21][22] South of the Ribble was surveyed as six hundreds: Blackburn, Derby, Leyland, Newton, Salford and Warrington. The entries are brief, and unusually intermix the Anglo-Saxon hide with the Danelaw carucate as units of measurement. The entries for the north, consist of little more than lists of manors. Amounderness appears as a district, apparently stretching inland to the River Hodder, the hundred is thought to have been created shortly afterwards.[23] Lonsdale was also not recorded as a hundred, the name only appears apparently as a manor attached to Cockerham.[24]

Early history[edit]

After Domesday, Roger's lands where returned to him and in the early 1090s Lonsdale, Cartmel and Furness were added to Roger's estates to facilitate the defence of the area south of Morecambe Bay from Scottish raiding parties, which travelled round the Cumberland coast and across the bay at low water, rather than through the mountainous regions of the Lake District. However in 1102 he supported Robert Curthose in a failed rebellion against Henry I and his English holdings where forfeit. The Lonsdale Hundred was created sometime during the late 11th or early 12th centuries, certainly by 1168. Place-name evidence suggests that previous district included areas within the River Lune's watershead, not included in the new hundred.[24]

From 1194 the honour of Lancaster was held by the crown, but in 1267 Edmund Crouchback (father of the House of Lancaster) the son of King Henry III was created the 1st Earl of Lancaster. Henry de Lacy the Earl of Lincoln at this time held the baronies of Clitheroe, Penwortham and Halton and the lordships of Rochdale and Bury in this area. With his death in 1311, ownership passed to Crouchback's son Thomas who had been married to Lacy heiress Alice.[25] In 1351 Henry of Grosmont was made Duke of Lancaster with palatine jurisdiction within the county.[26]

Once its initial boundaries were established, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire. The county was divided into the six hundreds of Amounderness, Blackburn, Leyland, Lonsdale, Salford and West Derby. Lonsdale was further partitioned into Lonsdale North, which was the detached part north of Morecambe Bay (also known as Furness), and Lonsdale South. Each hundred was sub-divided into parishes. As the parishes covered relatively large areas, they were further divided into townships(not shown on map) that were more similar in size to parishes in counties in the south of England. Outside of the administration of the hundreds were the boroughs.

Industrial Revolution[edit]

Around 1700, a blast furnace thought to be the first built in Lancashire, was constructed in the Cliviger gorge.[27] Prior to the Municipal Corporations Act there were relatively few boroughs in the county. But following the act, 22 towns were incorporated up to 1862 as the county became more populous due to the continuing industrial revolution.

Administrative boundary changes[edit]

Districts and county boroughs of Lancashire in 1961
Lancashire in 1961 with districts shown and county boroughs marked
County boroughs
  1. Burnley
  2. Preston
  3. Rochdale
  4. Barrow-in-Furness
  5. Blackpool
  6. Blackburn
  7. Southport
  8. Bury
  9. Bolton
  10. Oldham
  11. Wigan
  12. Manchester
  13. Salford
  14. Bootle
  15. St Helens
  16. Liverpool
  17. Warrington

The modern administrative county is now rather smaller than that of the historic county due to significant local government reform. On 1 April 1974 the Furness exclave was transferred to the new county of Cumbria,[28] the south east went to Greater Manchester and the south west became part of Merseyside.[29] Warrington and surrounding districts including the villages of Winwick and Croft and Risley and Culcheth were annexed to Cheshire. A part of the West Riding of Yorkshire near Clitheroe, was transferred to Lancashire also.

In 1998 Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen became independent of the county as unitary authorities, but remained in Lancashire for ceremonial purposes, including the provision of fire, rescue and policing.

Although the county town of Lancashire is considered to be Lancaster, the county council is seated in the city of Preston.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Copley, Gordon K. (1963). Names and places: With a Short Dictionary of Common or Well-known Place-names. Phoenix House. p. 19. 
  2. ^ Matthews, C.M. (1977). Place Names of the English-Speaking World. Encore Editions. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-684-15424-4. 
  3. ^ http://www.british-towns.net/en/level_2_display_ByL1.asp?GetL1=133
  4. ^ Historic England. "Mamucium Roman fort (76731)". PastScape. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Historic England. "Lancaster Roman fort (41221)". PastScape. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Historic England. "Galacum Roman fort (43953)". PastScape. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Historic England. "Bremetennacum Veteranorum (43639)". PastScape. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Historic England. "Kirkham Roman fort (45891)". PastScape. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Historic England. "Castleshaw Roman forts (45891)". PastScape. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Historic England. "Monument No. 44005 (44005)". PastScape. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Historic England. "Two Romano-British farmsteads known as Ring Stones (1009488)". National Heritage List for England. 
  12. ^ Historic England. "Twist Castle Romano-British farmstead (1009497)". National Heritage List for England. 
  13. ^ Historic England. "Beadle Hill Romano-British farmstead (1009487)". National Heritage List for England. 
  14. ^ "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle". Project Gutenburg. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  15. ^ Farrer & Brownbill 1906, pp. 270
  16. ^ Farrer & Brownbill 1906, pp. 291
  17. ^ a b Farrer & Brownbill 1906, pp. 269
  18. ^ Morgan (1978). pp.269c–301c,d.
  19. ^ a b Sylvester (1980). p. 14.
  20. ^ Harris and Thacker (1987). write on page 252:
    Certainly there were links between Cheshire and south Lancashire before 1000, when Wulfric Spot held lands in both territories. Wulfric's estates remained grouped together after his death, when they were left to his brother Aelfhelm, and indeed there still seems to have been some kind of connexion in 1086, when south Lancashire was surveyed together with Cheshire by the Domesday commissioners. Nevertheless, the two territories do seem to have been distinguished from one another in some way and it is not certain that the shire-moot and the reeves referred to in the south Lancashire section of Domesday were the Cheshire ones.
  21. ^ Phillips and Phillips (2002). pp. 26–31.
  22. ^ Crosby, A. (1996) writes on page 31:
    The Domesday Survey (1086) included south Lancashire with Cheshire for convenience, but the Mersey, the name of which means 'boundary river' is known to have divided the kingdoms of Northumbria and Mercia and there is no doubt that this was the real boundary.
  23. ^ Farrer & Brownbill 1906, pp. 269-283
  24. ^ a b Farrer & Brownbill 1914, p. 1
  25. ^ Farrer & Brownbill 1906, pp. 310-11
  26. ^ Farrer & Brownbill 1906, pp. 296
  27. ^ Historic England. "Cliviger Furnace (45210)". PastScape. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  28. ^ George, D., Lancashire, (1991)
  29. ^ Jones, B. et al., Politics UK, (2004)


External links[edit]