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The Parish of Kirkham
in the County of
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Fish Stones, Kirkham. Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Fish Stones, Kirkham
Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Poulton St, Kirkham. Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Poulton St, Kirkham
Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young

Kirkham is a market-town and parish, partly in the union of the FYLDE, partly in that of GARSTANG, and partly in PRESTON union, hundred of Amounderness, N. Division of the county of LANCASTER; containing 7661 inhabitants, of which number, 2903 are in the town, 22 miles (S. by W.)from Lancaster, and 226 (N.W. by N.) from London.

This place, which is of Saxon origin, derived its name from its church, which, soon after the Conquest, was given by Roger de Poictou to the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury, from which it was, by Edward I., transferred to the monks of Vale Royal in Cheshire, in whose patronage it remained till the dissolution.

The town, which may be considered as the capital of a surrounding district called the Fylde country, though small, is neatly built, and the houses in general are respectable. The manufacture of sail-cloth, sacking, and cordage, originally formed the principal source of employment, and is still carried on to a limited extent; the manufacture of cotton has been recently introduced, and a considerable number of hand-looms is employed in the town and neighbourhood.

At Wardless, within eight miles of the town, a small port on the north-east bank of the river Wyre, which is accessible to vessels of 300 tons, several of the principal manufacturers have warehouses. The line of the Preston and Wyre railway passes through the parish; and the Lancaster canal passes at the distance of about three miles from the town.

Within three miles is the estuary of the Ribble, near the mouth of which a guide is stationed to conduct travellers across the sands at low water to Hesketh bank, the passage of which is dangerous to persons attempting it without such assistance.

The market is on Thursday and the fairs are on Feb. 4th and the following day, April 29th, and Oct. 18th. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold a petty session for the hundred of Amounderness on alternate Thursdays; and a constable and other officers are appointed annually at the court leet of the lord of the manor; a court of requests is held monthly, for the recovery of debts under 40s.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £21, 1, 0-1/2, net income, £921; patrons and appropriators, Dean and Canons of Christ-Church, Oxford.

The church, with the exception of the tower, which is in the Norman style, was rebuilt in 1822, at an expense of £5000, defrayed by a rate; it contains several ancient portions of its original character, and some interesting monuments.

There are places of worship for Independents, and Swedenborgians, and a Roman Catholic chapel. The free grammar-school, originally founded by Isabel Wildinge, was in 1655, endowed with a portion of the proceeds of the rectory of Kirkham, purchased by the Drapers’ Company with funds bequeathed in trust to them by Henry Colborne, Esq.; the endowment was further augmented by the Rev. James Barker, in 1670, by Dr. Grimbaldson, and other benefactors, the aggregate income being about £500 per annum; it has an exhibition of about £100 per annum to either of the Universities, founded also by Mr. Barker, who likewise left £80 per annum for apprenticing boys.

Grammar School, Kirkham. Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young
Grammar School, Kirkham
Photograph supplied by and © of Brian Young

There are similar schools at Newton with Scales, and at Treales; and, in the chapelry of Goosnargh is an hospital with a considerable endowment. A parochial school established in 1760, has an endowment of about £80 per annum, which is appropriated to the clothing and instruction of girls; and there are two schools, belonging to Roman Catholics, endowed with £62.8. per annum. A National School is supported by subscription.

Dr. Shuttleworth, Bishop of Chichester, was born here.

From: A Topological Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis. 5th Ed. Vol. II, pages 223-224. London, 1842.

Entered here 11 December 2005 by Lynn Ransom Burton.

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