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Historical Lancashire (incl. Manchester & Merseyside)

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Historical Lancashire

(Incl. Manchester & Merseyside)

The purpose of this project is to give a historical background to Lancashire, to provide information about those individuals of Historic importance linked to the county and to add links to any profiles of significant people linked to Lancashire who have profiles on GENi.

Please visit for a more comprehensive History of the County.

See also Lancashire Main Page

Lancashire is today much smaller than its historical extent, following a major reform of local government. An administrative county of Lancashire was created in 1869, covering the historical county except for county boroughs such as Blackburn, Burnley, Barrow-in-Furness, Preston, Wigan, Liverpool, Manchester. The area covered by the Lord-Lieutenant (termed now a ceremonial county) continued to cover the entirety of the administrative county along with the county boroughs. Examples of this include Wythenshawe (an area of Manchester south of the River Mersey and historically in Cheshire), and southern Warrington. This area also did not cover the western part of Todmorden, where the ancient border between Lancashire and Yorkshire runs through the middle of the town.

The history of Manchester encompasses its change from a minor Lancastrian township into the pre-eminent industrial metropolis of the United Kingdom. Manchester began expanding "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century as part of a process of unplanned urbanisation brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.

Evolving from a Roman castrum in Celtic Britain, Manchester was the site of the world's first passenger railway station and many scientific achievements of great importance. Manchester also led the political and economic reform of 19th-century Britain as the vanguard of free trade. The mid-20th century saw a decline in Manchester's industrial importance, prompting a depression in social and economic conditions. Subsequent investment, gentrification, and rebranding from the 1990s onwards changed its fortunes, and reinvigorated Manchester as a post-industrial city with multiple sporting, broadcasting, and educational institutions.


According to Oxford University Press, Manchester derived its name from Mamucium, the Roman name for the 1st century-settlement and fort. Mamucium itself is a Latinised form of the Celtic meaning "breast-shaped hill"

The Latin name for Manchester is often given as Mancuniun. This is most likely a retronym coined in Victorian times, similar to the widespread Latin name Cantabrigia for Cambridge (whose actual name in Roman times was Duroliponte).



  • There was a castle in Manchester overlooking the rivers Irk and Irwell, where Chetham's School of Music stands today. This castle was probably a ringwork and has been described as "of no political or military importance".
  • Ullerwood Castle, a motte-and-bailey, probably dates from the 12th century and was owned by Hamon de Massey who owned several manors in the north east of Cheshire.

Historic Houses

History - over view

The history of Lancashire is thought to have begun with its founding in the 12th century. In the Domesday Book (1086), some of its lands had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The land that lay Inter Ripam et Mersam, "between the Ribble and Mersey", formed part of the returns for Cheshire. Once its initial boundaries were established, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire and Cheshire.

Lancashire emerged during the Industrial Revolution as a major commercial and industrial region. The county encompassed several hundred mill towns and collieries. By the 1830s, approximately 85% of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed in Lancashire. Preston, Accrington, Blackburn, Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham, Chorley, Darwen, Nelson, Colne, Burnley and Wigan were major cotton mill towns during this time. Blackpool was a major centre for tourism for the inhabitants of Lancashire's mill towns, particularly during wakes week.

The county was subject to a significant boundary reform in 1974, which removed Liverpool and Manchester with most of their surrounding conurbations to form part of the metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester respectively. At this time, the detached northern part of Lancashire in the Lake District, including the Furness Peninsula and Cartmel, was made part of Cumbria. Today the county borders Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and North and West Yorkshire. The Duchy of Lancaster exercises the right of the Crown in the area known as the County Palatine of Lancaster, which includes the counties of Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside.



Runway 2 of Manchester Airport lies on top of Oversley Farm, a Neolithic farming community.Prehistoric evidence of human activity in the area of Manchester is limited, although scattered stone tools have been found.

There is evidence of Bronze Age activity around Manchester in the form of burial sites. Although some prehistoric artefacts have been discovered in the city centre, these have come from redeposited layers, meaning they do not necessarily originate from where they were found; wider evidence has been found for activity in other parts of the borough.

Before the Roman invasion of Britain, the location lay within the territory dominated by the Brigantes and prior to the Roman conquest of the area in the 70s AD, it was part of the territory of the Brigantes, a Celtic tribe, although it may have been under the control of the Setantii, a sub-tribe of the Brigantes.

Roman Times

  • During Roman times the area was considered part of the Brigantes tribal area and was in the military zone of Roman Britain. The towns of Manchester, Lancaster, Ribchester, Burrow, Elslack and Castleshaw were all originally Roman forts.
  • c. AD 79 - A reconstructed gateway of Mamucium fort The Roman fort of Mamucium was established near a crossing point on the River Medlock. It was erected as a series of fortifications established by Gnaeus Julius Agricola during his campaign against the Brigantes. It guarded the Deva Victrix (Chester) to Eboracum (York) Roman road running east to west, and a road heading north to Bremetennacum (Ribchester). Neighbouring forts were Castleshaw and Northwich.

410 AD

  • In the centuries immediately following the Roman withdrawal in 410AD the northern parts, at least, of the county probably formed part of the Brythonic kingdom of Rheged, a successor entity of the Brigantes tribe of northern Britain.

Once the Romans abandoned Britain, the focus of settlement in Manchester shifted to the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Irk. The settlement of Manchester was in the territory of several different kingdoms.

7th centuries

  • In 620, Edwin of Northumbria may have sacked Manchester,

8th Century

  • During the mid 8th Century, Lancashire was incorporated into the Anglo-Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria

9th Century

  • 870 The area may have been sacked again in 870 by the Danes. According to legend, Nico Ditch was a defence against Viking invaders and was dug in 869–870. Whether this is true is uncertain, but the ditch does date from between the 7th and 9th centuries.

10th century

The Anglo Saxon Chronicles detail that in 919 Edward the Elder sent men "to Mameceaster, in Northumbria, to repair and man it"; this probably refers to a burh at Manchester as an advanced post of Mercia.

11th Century

  • In the Domesday Book, its lands between the Ribble and the Mersey were known as "Inter Ripam et Mersam"and were included in the returns for Cheshire. It is claimed that the territory to the north formed, at that time, part of the West Riding of Yorkshire, bordering on 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 "the sands" of Morecambe Bay (including both Furness and Cartmel), and Lonsdale South.
  • In 1086 the hundred was given to Roger de Poitou; Roger divided the hundred into fiefdoms and made the Gresle family barons of Manchester. Albert de Gresle was the first baron of Manchester.

12th Century

  • 1182 The county was established in 1182 - later than many other counties.
  • The county was divided into the six hundreds of Amounderness, Blackburn, Leyland, Lonsdale, Salford and West Derby.[13] Lonsdale was further partitioned into Lonsdale North, which was the detached part north of "the sands" of Morecambe Bay (including both Furness and Cartmel), and Lonsdale South.
  • The first lord of the manor to live in Manchester was Robert Grelley (1174–1230); h

13th Century

  • In the early 13th century, Manchester for a period was not under the control of the Grelleys. Robert Grelley was one of the barons who made King John sign the Magna Carta. Grelley was excommunicated for his role in the rebellion and when King John later ignored the terms of the Magna Carta, Grelley forfeited his lands. King John died in 1216 and Hubert de Burgh, 1st Earl of Kent, returned Grelley's land to him on behalf of King Henry III. In the medieval period Manchester grew into a market town and had a market every Saturday.
  • In 1223, Manchester gained the right to hold an annual fair; the market was held in Acresfield – where St Ann's Square is today – on what was then arable land. It was the first fair to be established in the Salford Hundred and the fourth in south Lancashire.[34] Manchester became a market town in 1301 when it received its Charter.
  • By the late 13th century the Grelleys or Gresles had replaced the castle with a fortified manor house. They used the house as the administrative centre of the manor.[30] While the town was owned by the lords of the manor, they directly leased land to tenants and created burgage tenements for indirect rent; as well as containing a house, these plots of land could also contain workshops and gardens.[30] The family also owned the only corn mill in the manor which was used by all the tenants of the manor to grind their corn. Medieval Manchester was centred around the manor house and the Church of St Mary mentioned in the Domesday Book.[30] As well as a castle at Manchester, there was also one in Ringway.
  • 14th Century
  • 1 November 1315, Manchester was the starting place of a rebellion by Adam Banastre.[27] Banastre, Henry de Lea, and William de Bradshagh rebelled against Thomas, 2nd Earl of Lancaster.

In the 14th century Manchester became home to a community of Flemish weavers, who settled in the town to produce wool and linen, thus beginning the tradition of cloth manufacture. This sparked the growth of the city to become Lancashire's major industrial centre.

15th Century

  • 1620 fustian weaving gave impetus to Mancheter's growth.

16th Century

  • The collegiate church, which is now the Cathedral, was finally completed in 1500–1510.

17th Century

  • On the English Restoration in 1660, as a reprisal for its defence of the Parliamentarian cause, Manchester was deprived of its recently granted Members of Parliament.

18th Century

  • In 1745, Charles Edward Stuart and his army entered Manchester en route to London. Despite its previous radicalism, the town offered no resistance and the Jacobites obtained enough recruits to form a 'Manchester Regiment'.
  • The Manchester and Salford Police Act of 1792 created Police Commissioners, whose job was to provide a night-watch. The commissioners were also given responsibility for road-building, street cleaning, street lighting, and the maintenance of fire engines.

19th Century

  • Manchester acquired the nickname Cottonopolis during the early 19th century owing to its sprawl of textile factories.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, Manchester was still governed by a court leet on the medieval model, and a Borough reeve was responsible for law and order during the daylight hours.
  • 1889 - an administrative county of Lancashire was created, covering the historical county except for county boroughs such as Blackburn, Burnley, Barrow-in-Furness, Preston, Wigan, Liverpool, Manchester.

20th Century

  • During the 20th century the county became increasingly urbanised, particularly the southern part. To the existing county boroughs of Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Bolton, Bootle, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, St Helens and Wigan were added Blackpool (1904), Southport (1905), and Warrington (1900). The county boroughs also had many boundary extensions. The borders around the Manchester area were particularly complicated, with narrow protrusions of the administrative county between the county boroughs – Lees urban district formed a detached part of the administrative county, between Oldham county borough and the West Riding of Yorkshire.
  • 1971 - By the census of 1971 the population of Lancashire (including all its associated county boroughs) had reached 5,129,416, making it then the most populous geographic county in the UK.
  • 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the administrative county of Lancashire was abolished, as were the county boroughs. The urbanised southern part largely became part of two new metropolitan counties. The south-western part became part of Merseyside, the south-eastern part was incorporated into Greater Manchester. The new county of Cumbria took the Furness exclave. The boroughs of Liverpool, Knowsley, St Helens and Sefton were removed entirely from Lancashire. In Greater Manchester the successor boroughs were Bury, Bolton, Manchester, Oldham (part), Rochdale, Salford, Tameside (part), Trafford (part) and Wigan. Warrington and Widnes, south of the new Merseyside/Greater Manchester border, rather than become part of Greater Manchester or Merseyside were instead made part of the new non-metropolitan county of Cheshire. The urban districts of Barnoldswick and Earby, the Bowland Rural District and the parishes of Bracewell and Brogden and Salterforth from the Skipton Rural District from the West Riding of Yorkshire became part of the new Lancashire.
  • 1994 - Simonswood, was transferred from the borough of Knowsley in Merseyside to the district of West Lancashire in 1994.
  • 1998 Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen became independent unitary authority areas.

References, Sources and further reading

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Members of Parliament

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Lord Lieutenants of Lancashire.

High Sheriffs of Lancashire

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Getting Involved

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Geni Wikitext, Unicode and images which gives a great deal of assistance.
See the discussion Project Help: How to add Text to a Project - Starter Kit to get you going!

How to Participate

  • If you have any queries please start a discussion linked to this project. (See the menu top right).
  • Please add related projects to the menu on the right.
  • If you have links to related web pages that would be of interest to others please add them in the relevant section at the bottom of the page. In order to do this use the drop down menu at the top left of the screen and Join the Project. If this option is not available to you then contact a collaborator and ask to be added to the project. As a collaborator you will be able to edit this page.
  • Add any documents of interest using the menu at the top right of the page, and then add a link to the document in the text under the heading below. If you do not know how to do this please contact one of the other collaborators to assist you.

Please add the profiles off your Lancashire born ancestors to the Lancashire - Family Heads or [ Lancashire - Famous People projects, not here.

The following will be incorporated into the main project

Historic Liverpool (Merseyside)

For a period popularly known as the Bronze Age, there is very little evidence on Merseyside for metal production at this time. There have been discoveries of metal hoards, however (Portfield Camp, Whalley and Winmarleigh

Of course the most intriguing remains of the Bronze Age in Britain are the numerous ritual monuments left scattered across the landscape. While south west England is internationally famous for its Bronze Age monuments, henge-like features have been found in Halsall in west Lancashire, and the Calder Stones, before they were dismantled and moved to their current location, formed a burial chamber – possibly a passage grave – like those seen across Wales (and Anglesey), Ireland, Scotland and Cornwall. Those links with their Irish Seaboard cousins clearly continued into the late stages of prehistory. The tomb of which the Calder Stones were a part was certainly open in the Bronze Age, as they were carved with footprints and spirals, cups and concentric circles – typical Bronze Age features. In Liverpool itself have been found the remains of ritual activity. In Wavertree eight urns were found in the 19th Century, along with cremated bones, but no structure (such as a burial mound) was recorded.

The Iron Age

The woodland clearance that we saw begin as a patchwork in the Mesolithic was probably widespread across north west England by the Iron Age, and use of the land had intensified by this point. Marshy areas were still common, and temperatures were falling while rainfall increased. This reduced the space available for grazing animals and cultivating cereals, although the coast would have been relatively warmer.

Evidence for growing crops is not as extensive as that for farming animals, at least until the end of the Iron Age. The first permanent farmsteads in the region come from this period, as well as the transformation of the landscape with the first large scale field systems.

Construction efforts were often much more grandiose at this time, with huge multiple-ditched enclosures being constructed on hilltops (such as near Frodsham, Eddisbury, Kelsbarrow, and at Beeston in Cheshire), and similar features in the lowlands, such as at Mill Hill Road, Irby, Woolton, and Brook House Farm, Halewood. These enclosures may have formed part of a developing settlement hierarchy, with the hilltop settlements at the top, and the smaller, scattered villages and isolated enclosures beneath, such as the lowland promontory settlement at Peckforton Mere, Oakmere in Cheshire.

The houses people lived in were usually circular in plan, from 4m across (eg. at Tatton Park) up to 11m or more, such as the five roundhouses whose foundations overlap each other at Lathom.

Only Brook House Farm, in Halewood, has provided any plant remains or animal bones north of the Mersey (though grain storage structures were found at Lathom), so archaeologists clearly have a lot to learn about this stage in Liverpool’s history.

It has been suggested that Iron Age wealth was shown off not through belongings, precious metals or weapons, but rather through the breeding and large-scale consumption of cattle. The arrangement of ditches and entrances at Brook House Farm would support this idea, as they would have been suitable for corralling these animals. Also, despite not being set on a hilltop like Beeston, the farm could have been a site of high status not just for its cattle herds but because of the physical size of the place. The farm was most likely situated in a clearing, as pollen evidence suggests that heavy woodland surrounded the farm in the Iron Age.

Towards the end of the Iron Age, however, this situation was changing, and cattle enclosures become smaller, and it is possible that cereal cultivation was becoming more important. However, it could also mean that cattle corralling was no longer a communal activity, and each of the later enclosures was only designed for one family’s livestock.

Trade What were do know about this period is that Cheshire salt was already becoming a valuable commodity, traded over the north west of England, Wales and the Midlands. As the Iron Age progressed, and we come to the end of the prehistoric period, Carthaginian coins and Roman amphorae (from the south coast of France) found their way to Meols at the north end of the Wirral. This shows the very widespread trade which was going on, with links between Merseyside and mainland Europe, as well as more local links. Merseyside was in contact with the Romans, and almost all Iron Age sites produce some Roman artefacts, but much of the wider region was only slowly Romanised compared to some parts of the country.

The Romano-British Period

The term “Romano-British” is particularly well-suited to the period around 2000 years ago. Although the Roman armies built a road between Chester, Warrington and Carlisle, contact to the west of this route is hard to see in the archaeological record. As has been mentioned, some Roman artefacts did make their way up the Wirral and to where Liverpool itself now stands, but more Romanisation than this is doubtful. There was a settlement at Ochre Brook, Tarbock, from the prehistoric period, but even once the Romans had made inroads into the rest of the country, only selected parts of their culture made it into Ochre Brook. The farm here cultivated barley, and there was certainly hay and grassland, while the buildings were oval or rectangular. It is also possible that the inhabitants exploited the small amount of coal which was exposed in the banks of the Brook itself.

The clearance of woodland, and the increase in crop farming and field-creation continued into the period. Settlements, which were becoming more permanent, would have been separated by belts of woodland, scrub wasteland and the ever-present marshes. Most enclosures were still being created along stream channels (Bollin, Weaver, Glaze Brook). The extent of the field systems was still a lot smaller than similar features known from Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, however.

Industry In addition to the use of coal where available, in the Romano-British period sand was being exploited at Whitefield Sandhole, and sandstone was quarried at Bank Hey Delf (to the south east of Ochre Brook).

One of the intriguing aspects of industry at this time was the production of Roman tiles at Ochre Brook. Although no Roman coins have as yet been found in the immediate area, there is more evidence of Romanisation than in any of the surrounding region. Stamps on the tiles themselves show that there were certainly links between the tile manufacturer and the 20th Roman Legion based in Chester.

Pottery found on the site has been found to be locally made, with nothing quite the same being found anywhere else. There is some evidence that building style was influenced by Roman ideas, and it may be the case that whoever lived at Ochre Brook 2000 years ago was a retired Roman legionary who had taken to producing tiles for the Roman army based in Chester while living in his modest farmstead in the countryside!

Medieval Merseyside

By the beginning of the fifth century AD the Roman Empire was in disarray. The final garrisons left these shores during Constantine’s reign, around AD407. Left behind were the British, the indigenous population (albeit with some inevitable mixing with the Roman incomers). The Germanic tribes migrating around mainland Europe at this time (and contributing the Rome’s fall), reached these shores in the following centuries. Later on in the middle ages the Danes and the Norse also made their way across the North Sea, settling in vast areas of eastern England. This period lasted until the Norman Conquest of 1066, but what trace, if any, has it left on the landscape of Liverpool?

There is very little archaeological evidence on Merseyside for the so-called Anglo-Saxon and Viking periods. Our best source of evidence, given what we know about the British Isles as a whole during this time, are the place names of the towns and villages around the region. Looking at the map, we can see a whole load of clues as to where the European invaders landed and set their homes. [see figure] The origins of names in Merseyside are mixed. There are the old indigenous names of places such as Bootle (‘botl’ – a dwelling place) and Walton (‘wala tun’ – British farm). There are also the names which derive from the new settlers languages: Toxteth (Tocca’s staith, or landing place), the Mersey (‘maeres ea’ – boundary river) and Kirkby (‘Cherchebi’ – village with a church). Despite being able to pinpoint many settlements from the time, we can’t quite draw a line between the Norse communities and the indigenous Britons. Doubtless there was frequent contact, and we can’t be sure of the extent to which the newcomers mingle with the communities they found here. You’ll have to come to your own conclusions about the people who occupied your own part of the city!

West Derby Hundred While we can’t look in detail at the divisions between the Brits and the Scandinavians and Germans, we do know the structure of the society; a situation that still affects many of the institutions in existence today. A ‘Hundred’ was one of the most important divisions in the country. There are many theories as to what the exact definition of a hundred was, but suffice to say that it was a large land division, but varying in size, and that the West Derby hundred was the most important in this area. West Derby in this sense, occupied the vast majority of what was until recently South Lancashire, from the Mersey to the Ribble. [figure]. At the time, communities were largely self-governing, but swore allegiance at a ‘wapentake’, a meeting of co-operative tribes, families or villages for purposes of defence.

However, this situation came under threat in the chaotic circumstances of 1st millennium Europe. Warfare became commonplace, and individual families and communities were no longer strong enough to deter marauding bands crossing the continent, or even particularly violent peasant revolts. The solution that was adopted, first in Europe and then imported by William the Conqueror, was one whereby a large number of landowners, on many scales, swore allegiance to a powerful overlord who, due to his large following, could assure mutual support. In exchange, unfortunately, the followers had to give up all ownership rights. They became the classic feudal serfs of the medieval period.

This form of social structure was gradually emerging in the British Isles at the time of Edward the Confessor, who had located his hunting lodge in West Derby Hundred, and built a castle here some time in the 11th Century. After Hastings in 1066, however, King William imposed the scheme wholesale on the whole country. For the first time, all land in England belonged ultimately to the Crown. This was then given as rewards to those who had been loyal in conquest. With this, Roger of Poitou received West Derby Hundred for his part in the invasion. He brought the areas of Croxteth, Toxteth and Smithdown into the great royal hunting forest, and by now West Derby rivalled Lancaster in administrative importance in Lancashire.

This importance began to wane while Roger was drawn into several failed rebellions against the monarch, and West Derby lost some of its importance as a result.

In 1199 John succeeded his brother Richard as King of England. He had a poor reputation as leader of men, and only became king as the Lionheart was killed in France. Having been trusted with ruling Ireland years earlier (and failing appallingly), John again looked to the west for his conquests. Merseyside’s position was of course the crucial factor in this turning point in its history. The land which once belonged to Poitier (‘between Ribble and Mersey’) had been given as a reward to Warine of Lancaster by Henry II (John and Richard’s father). John, remaining at home while Richard went Crusading, passed it in turn to Warine’s son, Henry Fitzwarine. In 1207 John bought back Liverpool itself, exchanging it for English Lea, an area near Preston. He clearly knew the location’s potential in relation to Irish campaigns. With this in mind, on the 28th August, 1207, King John signed a charter creating a borough, and giving anyone holding a burgage “all liberties and free customs… which any free borough on the sea has in our land”.

From Liverpool’s Founding to the Civil Warby Martin Greaney on May 3, 2011

John had chosen this position for his new borough for two reasons: on a large scale it was in an excellent position from which the King could start Irish campaigns. On a smaller scale, it was a defensible landscape, with the raised promontory on which the castle would later stand, and the views to all points of the compass, including out to Liverpool Bay. To encourage the growth of the town – any kick-off point for a navy needed a thriving settlement behind it – burgages were laid out, to be taken up by what were known as burgesses. The burgages were plots of land, enough for a house with room to set up shop. Unusually for the time, anyone inhabiting the town became a free person, and although the quality of life would not have been much better for those living here than in rural areas, the freedoms which were held here were enough to attract a regular stream of new settlers.

Before the influx of new people, buildings, farms and stalls, there was very little in the way of settlement on the north bank of the Mersey. Walton parish served the spiritual needs of the area. West Derby was only recently a very important centre, possessing its own castle which was constantly manned, if a little decrepid in its old age. As was described earlier, Saxon and Norse settlements had been established in the area during the years leadig up to the Norman conquest. The rural area now occupied by the city of Liverpool would have been the setting for scattered dwellings, farms, but no more.

What kind of people were attracted to the burgages then? As has been mentioned, those wishing to escape the traditional feudal hierarchy could come to a free borough without fear of being pursued. Traders of course were attracted as the newly established town was placed here for that very reason. Builders, carpernters, masons and farmers were drawn to the new source of work which the town created, along with labourers of other kinds. Local peasants who had occupied the area before Liverpool was created moved themselves into the settlement, although we don’t get to hear how willing they were to uproot their traditional lives. They had no choice if they were to stay in the area.

Daily life in early Liverpool was typical of that of any settlement in the early Medieval period. There were many more holidays then than are enjoyed by todays hard working urbanites! While these were of course predominantly religious celebrations, the populace lost no opportunity to enjoy themselves in the course of their duties. Dancing was a popular pastime on any occassion. More unpleasant (to modern eyes) were the cock fights and bull baiting which were widespread spectator sports (and a chance to gamble) throughout the country. In 1567 the town books record that “for further and greater repair of gentlemen and others to this own we find it needful that there be a handsome cockpit made”. It was even seen as a way to attract the tourists, i.e. the travelling traders and those of the upper classes touring the country. Lord Strange was one of the fortunate gentlemen who, waiting for a good wind to take him to the Isle of Man was entertained by dancers and displays. Another visitor, John Leland, made special note of the fact that the streets of Liverpool were paved, apparently a rare situation during these times. He contrasts this with the fact that it “hath but a chapel” rather than its own church. By the middle of the 15th Century, the population of the town was around 1000.

As well as the ‘ordinary’ people of Liverpool New Town, this place played host two rich and powerful families from its founding onwards. The castle, built by William de Ferres, the sherriff of Lancaster, was inhabited by the Molyneux family. This family were well established in the city, and Richard Molyneux had fourt at Agincourt in 1415. In 1406 Sir John Stanley had been granted the Isle of Man by Henry IV for his part in putting down the Percy Rebellion. The family built their impressive residence in Liverpool at the bottom of Water Street, facing out onto the river. This became an embattled fortress, an imposing structure in the waterfront, known as the Tower. As may be expected, these two families could not stay at peace with each other for long. There were confrontations from time to time, such as that in 1424 when three thousand men, a third on the side of Richard Molyneux, the others in support of Thomas Stanley, gathered outside the town on West Derby Fen. The Sherriff, however, prevented actual battle, and arrested Richard. Apart from these skirmishes, the families vented their frustrations in the various wars against the French, and their notoriety spread far beyond Lancashire. As well as these powerful men, there were other, less influential families, some of the names of whom might be familiar to anyone who has lived in the city for any length of time: Ferres, Moore, Cross, Norris.
// this project is in History Link