Chapter 1 - Introduction


In 2014, Wyre Archaeology group were invited to excavate an old water mill at Hollowforth, near Woodplumpton. Whilst researching the background to this area I came across the following reference to Hollowforth in the Haydock Papers (1).

St Marys Church

 In 1768, during the anti-Jacobite and No-Popery fermentation at Preston, Newhouse chapel narrowly escaped destruction. An infatuated mob, after destroying St. Mary's chapel, in Friargate, Preston, and burning that at Cottam, moved in the direction of Newhouse for the purpose of demolishing the chapel there. But a neighbouring Protestant, named Hankinson, a descendant of the family of the man who betrayed George Haydock, the martyr, met the mob near Hollowforth Mill, and persuaded them not to touch the chapel. He entreated them not to molest Mr. Carter, whom he highly praised. He then provided them with food and drink, which appeased them, and thus they marched back to Preston.

The image is a representation of the first St Mary's Chapel, Preston destroyed in the riots of 1768.  Unfortunately no original images remain.

All of this information was new to me even though I had a keen interest in the history of Preston. Riots in Preston! Burning down of churches! A quick on-line search revealed that, even after 250 years, the 1768 election was known as “The Great Election”. Why should this election be famous? I was intrigued.

 More online research provided another reference to the election in "The Gentleman's Magazine" and contains "A letter from Preston, in Lancashire” dated February 21st, 1768, which reports:-

"The contest here is attended with imminent danger. I have just escaped, with many friends. The country is now up in arms. As the town is now abandoned by our [the Tory party's] men, the cry is, 'Leave not a freeman alive !' God knows where this will end. I think to-night, or tomorrow, may be fatal to many. This is shocking work in a civilised country."

Local histories provide a little more background information but lack details. From them, it seems that this election stood out from the hundreds of other elections down the centuries for a number of reasons; the many thousands involved in riots, running battles in the streets, lack of official intervention, churches being burnt down, houses ransacked, corruption in the “buying” of votes, the MP’s initially returned had their election win overturned by a Parliamentary committee, comprehensive records giving the full details of the male population of Preston and, not least, universal male suffrage.

For me, it was the phrase “universal male suffrage” which stood out since this election took place exactly 150 years before the 1918 Representation of the People Act which gave full voting rights to all males across the country - so something out of the ordinary was taking place in Preston.  Anyone gaining these rights in the 1768 election could retain them in principle even into the 19th Century.  Amazingly, and an explanation for this will be revealed later, a large number of documents still exist covering the election and its aftermath. Through these comprehensive records a unique glimpse of lives at the time can be viewed; the paupers, the criminals, the ordinary man in the street trying to make a living as well as the rich and powerful flexing their political muscles. After reading some of these documents in which the ordinary lives of 18th Century Prestonians were revealed, in particular the voter cross-examinations, I became hooked.

This article is intended to provide a slightly different view of this election through these original sources and links to transcriptions of these sources. The most revealing of the documents provide a listing the male population of Preston; sometimes their age, employment, background, relationships, if they like a drink, trustworthiness and voting intentions together with their actual vote. Movement of individuals, power struggles between the local gentry and legal arguments all added to the complex background surrounding the election. And where else could you find out that there were 7 peruke (wig) makers in Preston in 1768?

1.  The Haydock Papers – a glimpse into English Catholic life under the shade of Persecution and in the Dawn of Freedom by Joseph Gillow.
2.  Old Catholic Lancashire Vol 2 - Blundell



Bilsborrow - Roman Road

It's well known that a Roman road linked the Roman military depot at Walton le Dale (now under the Capitol Centre) with the important Roman fort at Lancaster. Another road must have connected Lancaster with the fort at Ribchester. Most experts, including those of the Ordnance Survey have theorised that this route lay over Longridge Fell or Beacon Fell approaching Galgate from the direction of the village of Street.  The latest Wyre Archaeology dig now provides another possibilty; via Garstang. 

A two day excavation, on the 11th and 12th August, 2019, seems to have solved this puzzle that has foxed antiquarians, cartographers and archaeologists alike for around 200 years.  In a farmer's field near Bilsborrow a remarkably well-preserved 8m  wide section of the 2000 year old road was exposed.  This possible Roman road route was revealed by David Ratledge's analysis of the Environment Agency's LIDAR surveys.  He was reasonably certain of the route taken by this missing link road and had previously visited a promising site where test pits had increased his conviction but to verify the discovery would need an archaeological investigation to confirm the existence or survival of the road under the modern ground surface.

David asked his colleagues in Wyre Archaeology to organise a dig and an approach was made to a local farmer who was happy to let Wyre Archaeology go ahead between when his crop was harvested and his winter seed was sown.  This gave the team a very narrow window to carry out the dig.  The findings include:-

  1. Road surface approximately 300mm below surface.
  2. North side of trench, road had been disturbed by field drain – south side undisturbed/pristine.
  3. Road width:  approx 8 metres.
  4. Road cambered.
  5. Ditches not obvious.
  6. Road material: river gravel/stone (almost certainly from the River Brock).
  7. Road built on original clay – no dark humus layer so turfs/topsoil had been removed first.
  8. Surviving road 500mm thick at centre.
  9. Bottom layer: larger stones (c. 200mm size) had been laid on clay surface.
  10. Subsequent layers: gravel sizes 25mm to 150mm mixed.

For the first time drone technology was used to record the site.


The above image shows the site at the end of day 1.

By the end of day 2, the top of the camber has been exposed and its depth investigated.  Potential ditches at the ends of the road revealed very little at the northern (left-hand) end and a field drain at the southern (right-hand) end.

The images (courtesy of Chris Drabble , Wyre Archaeology) can be downloaded into your own software to reveal more detailed features.

Further images will be posted after analysis.  

A more complete report can be found here.


Amounderness Pinfolds

A pinfold (OE. pundfald) is an enclosure for cattle or other animals that have been found roaming the streets or trespassing on land for which the owner of the animals does not have permission.  The animals would then be restrained in the pinfold until the owner redeemed them - normally by paying a small fine. Pinfolds were found in towns and villages from, at least, the middle ages onwards.  The Fylde was no different and it appears that all of the existing pinfolds have had major renovation.  This isn't surprising and, given the nature of the structures, all of them would need regular maintenance.

The first mention I can find that refers to a pinfold occurs in the Clifton Court record for 1677 where John Charnley is fined 12d for laying carrion in the pinfold.  The following year, James Clifton was fined for breaking the pinfold.



The first record of a pinfold in the Kirkham area appears in the "History of Kirkham in Amounderness" by R Cunliffe Shaw.  In it he mentions that, around 1286 at Ribby, strays were received from Amounderness.  In the same book he mentions that the pinfold was on Moor lane and, by 1872, had gone into misuse and was sold.  The image below shows the position of the original fold.

Wrea Green

In 1902 the pinfold land was conveyed to the trustees of Wrea Green Endowed school from Evan Ainsworth.  This would have been across Station road from the Grapes pub.


From Pilling Parish pinfold article

Pilling pinfold appears on a map of 1734 and on the OS map of 1845.  By 1893 it has disappeared. Adjacent to the footpath opposite the Old Shop Inn on School lane.

“Tended by some old person to be hired at the expense of the owners of the goods for that purpose but we strictly order and direct that no child or children shall on any account or under any pretense be permitted to look after such cattle in as much as such practice tend to hurt the morals of youth and bring them up in sloth and idleness”  1807 

1805 fines were as follows:-

Goose 1/4d, Swine 1d, Sheep 2d, Calf 3d, Colt 3d, Cow 4d, Horse 4d

Of the 38 pinfolds in the western part of Lancashire only four survive (as of 1997) - Out Rawcliffe, Ellel, Slyne and Broughton.

In 1997 Pilling Parish Council resolved that part of the village history should be re-built, in the Pinfold, which could form part of the local history projects for local schools.  Funds were secured….re-opening on the 26th September, 1997.

View: 1/9/2019


For a full description of this pinfold go to Broughton pinfold

Great Eccleston

 This pinfold still exists but, probably, in a cut down form.  Found on the western end of the main street.


Although it never appears on any of the OS maps, supposedly there was a pinfold on wasteland in Back lane (now Chapel St) between the Thatched house & St Chads.


 In Porter's "History of the Fylde of Lancashire" he mentions a quadrangular pinfold made of cobbled stones near the entrance to Lytham Hall.  Also there is a similar description of cobbled pinfold, this time circular, close to the centre of Blackpool.

Attached is a section of the Layton with Warbreck Tithe Map of 1838, showing the area once known as Lower Blackpool, but which is now the junction of Chapel Street and the Prom near Central Pier. Plot 254 is “Pinfold and Waste”, then owned by Sir P. H. Fleetwood and occupied by Thomas Warbreck. In 1851, Robert Bickerstaffe built the Wellington Hotel on the site of the Pinfold. The pub was largely rebuilt in the early 1950s.

Out Rawcliffe

Fortunately, photographic records exist for this pinfold.  The earliest one, taken by John Maynard Tomlinson around 100 years ago, shows the fold away from any habitation.  It could well have still been in use at this time.

Scan courtesy of Ted Lightbown.


The next image, from around 50 years ago, shows that "civilization" in the form of telegraph poles encroaching around the fold.

Photo courtesy of Ted Lightbown

This pinfold was restored in 1987.

And now a modern view (1/9/2019)



There had to be a number of other pinfolds in the Amounderness (and its periphery) area, if only from the number of pinfold lanes.

Pinfold lane - north of the Lune in Lancaster

Pinfold lane and farm - between Grimsargh and Longridge

Ellel - this is mentioned by Wyre Borough in the article on the Pilling pinfold but I can find nothing in the written records. 

Pinfold lane - Sowerby/Inskip