A not so rough guide to the history of


Before 1066 / 1066 - 1600 and who lived here in 1379 / 1600 - 1800 / 1800 - 1900 / 1900 -

The Poll Tax 1379

The loss of dominions in France during the 1360s and 1370s (The Hundred Years War 1336 - 14531) meant more and more of the costs of continued hostilities fell upon the English. To extract even more money from England a Poll Tax was levied three times, 1377, 1379 and 1381, each time the basis being slightly different. Although there are questions over the extent of evasion almost 60% of the population was liable to pay these taxes, far more than had been liable for taxes until then. In 1377 everyone over the age of 14 and not exempt had to pay a groat (4d) to the Crown, married couples were charged the single rate. By 1379 it was graded by social class and the lower limit rose to 16.2 The levy in 1381 included all over 15 and was particularly unpopular as each person had to pay one shilling, which was a large amount then,3 and helped provoke the Peasants' Revolt.4
Only the 1379 list of taxpayers for Great Harwood survives but provides a snapshot of the population at that time.

Population Trends.

The Domesday Book commissioners, 1086, stressed that much of Lancashire and Cheshire was wholly waste or depopulated. William the Conqueror's "Harrying of the North" could account for some of this but the previous hundred years had seen much conflict in the region: 980 a Norse raid on Chester and the beginning of the second Viking Age; 1016 the north west Midlands ravaged by Edmund Ironside and Earl Uhtred of Northumbria in their struggle with Canute; 1050s north Lancashire severely affected by Scottish incursions; Earl Leofric of Mercia recruits the help of King Griffith of Wales and Norsemen against Harold Godwinson culminating with the burning of Hereford in 1055; 1061 raids by Scots in Lancashire; 1062 - 3 Harold and his brother Tostig attack and lay waste north east Wales; 1070 the Scots return with devastating raids in north and central Lancashire. Even if Great Harwood (if it existed at this time) wasn't an active participant in any of these events the disruption caused would surely have reached even this isolated spot. The population on England in 1086 has been estimated as low as 1.1 million and as high as 2.25 million but, unsurprisingly, that of Lancashire was only 2 - 4000 and even though this is thought to be well understated (they were probably very good at hiding by now) there is no doubt that compared to southern and central England the population density was very low.5
The next 200 years saw a steady and fairly rapid rise in the population of England to between 4 and 6 million by 1300.6 Although urban populations grew the vast majority of people still lived on the land so more land was needed. Some of this could be achieved by clearing uncultivated land (waste) and draining marshes around existing settlements but in already populous areas this seems not to have been sufficient and new land was made from sea marshes and by emigration to less populous areas Lancashire and Cheshire becoming "the nearest thing to a "Wild West" available to the medieval community in England". While the demand for land strengthened the lords' feudal position elsewhere in England these new lands were nearly all farmed by freemen owing little to the landowner other than rent, this was perhaps an inducement to attract the "better sort" of tenant as clearing heavily wooded land, assarting, was arduous, time consuming work and maybe they were expected to have the means to support themselves until the first harvest.7
Famine and plague, however, were a constant check on the population even in these times of growth and it's thought that after 1300 England's population stagnated or even began to fall. There was widespread famine 1316 - 22 that is thought to have killed 10% - 15% of the national population, widespread cattle murrain (disease) 1319 - 20 which must have affected the economy of the East Lancashire uplands disproportionately and more raids by the Scots in 1323. Just how badly affected Great Harwood might have been is difficult to assess. There appears to have been no reduction in assarting in the North West as a whole suggesting the population was already high but some contemporary records of other East Lancashire manors show land falling out of use. Then in 1348 the Black Death struck southern England spreading throughout the country. Estimates of its effects vary from killing 20% to 50% of the population but it wasn't just the effects of the terrible 'first wave' that afflicted the country but further outbreaks which “initiated a period of declining population which lasted until about 1430”. By the time of the 1379 Poll Tax the population of Lancashire is estimated at 35,000 but in 1300 it's thought to have been 60,000 or even higher. For the survivors, however, the hundred years to 1450 were times of great opportunity.8

Map of 1603

South and "the water of hinburne" are at the top
area of open fields in Great Harwood
North and the parish church are at the bottom


Unlike vast swathes of the Midlands and south which were farmed in large open, arable fields9 the open or common fields in Lancashire were relatively small. Whereas the open fields of a Midland village could cover thousands of acres Lancashire villages tended to have a few hundred acres and often less. These open fields, like their counterparts elsewhere, would have been held as adjacent long, narrow strips, especially if under the plough to ease the work of the ox-teams, but there would usually be only a few tenants in each field rather than the jig-saw ownership of the Midland open field. The early consolidation of any scattered holdings by tenants exchanging land and then enclosing these strips further emphasised the differences between the Midland and Lancashire common fields.10 Field boundaries indicative of this type of farming can be seen in the narrow fields around Pendleton (Pendle Hill not Manchester)11 and there is some evidence that they existed in Great Harwood.
A map of 160312 shows that most of the farmed land in Great Harwood was held in severalty, that is enclosed fields worked by individuals or one family. This enclosure would have taken place much earlier as it was the usual form of land holding where assarting was taking place13 but the map also shows an area (edged in red and bounded by Blackburn Road-Church Street, Park Lane-Harwood Lane, Whalley Road and the Hyndburn-Norden Brook-Lidgett Brook) apparently not held in severalty. This area is where Churchfield, Townfield and Bean Flatt (names indicative of open field farming14) are known to have been. Parts of the earlier (deer) Park15 and possibly the Great Heie are thought to have been in the east of this area too (left on the map).

1848 Ordnance Survey Map

Great Harwood open fields Area of long, narrow fields.
The longest is about 350m the narrowest 30m.
Part of this area was called Churchfield in the Clayton Estate Farm Rent Ledger (1897)
Field names suggest this area was once part of The Deer Park.
Its extent is uncertain but this was possibly part of the Great Heie. (below)
From 18th century documents this is the approximate position of Bean Flatt.
The eastern part is only known from a 13th century land exchange but its full extent and exact position isn't known.16
The western part is mentioned in a sale of land for the building of St John's Church.17
Whether these two parts were ever part of one whole or farmed as open fields at the same time is a matter for conjecture.


Townfield, Churchfield, Bean Flatt and the long, narrow fields, however, do suggest some form of co-operative farming in Great Harwood

narrow fields at Pendleton
Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey
and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.

The long narrow fields south of St Bartholomew's Church are similar in size to those still existing around Pendleton, 400m x 40m, shown on the map opposite.

Open field farming in Lancashire may not have been on the scale seen in other areas but presumably there was some cooperation of effort in the early days of the manor of Great Harwood or, possibly, it was a left over from even earlier Saxon times.

A distinctive type of farming in the uplands of western England including the Pennine fringes of eastern Lancashire was the vaccary: cattle farm.18 Much of the area was covered by hunting forests (not necessarily wooded); Bowland was a royal forest but the Forests of Pendle, Trawden, Accrington and Rossendale (strictly chases) and Ramsgreave Chase19 were all in the Hundred of Blackburnshire, which was held of the crown by the de Lacys, Earls of Lincoln. Although deer were kept for "the chase" these forests were carefully managed and the grazing of cattle was just as important, if not more so, for the cash income they provided; Accrington had a breeding herd of up to 250 cows which was exceptional. Horses might also be grazed in these areas20but the primary product of the vaccaries was oxen for use as draught animals in the much more intensively cultivated areas to the east and south, animals sold for beef were mainly older, fattened cows.21

When the Manor of Martholme and Great Harwood was granted by Henry de Lacey (1146 - 1177) to Richard de Fitton (confirmed by Robert de Lacy about 118022) the trend to pastoral farming may already have been set. Certainly by c1289 when the manor was partitioned between the three daughters of William de Fitton, and their husbands, assarts, meadows and gardens are mentioned. Also mentioned are the Park and Great Heie; the three couples were to share the profits of the latter.23 The Park suggests deer and, by association in this part of Lancashire, cattle while hays (Great Heie) were woodland enclosures for livestock or deer24 and the profits possibly included payments for the grazing of cattle. Although there's no suggestion of large-scale cattle rearing in Great Harwood pastoral farming was being encouraged in the region as the soil and climate were not so suited to arable.25 Later, in 1338, Adam Nowell, owner of the Lower Town, was granted the right to hold a weekly market and annual fair. The market may have been an outlet for whatever small surpluses the locals had but the fair grew over the centuries to attract dealers and animals from as far away as Scotland perhaps starting, again, with just the locals' stock, maybe a few oxen and any animals that they couldn't over winter. It may also have become an outlet for the nearby de Lacy vaccaries that had mainly used the markets at Bolton and Pontefract.26 Perhaps of greater significance the market appears to have attracted tradesmen to the town.

Poll Tax List.

Family names, or surnames as we know them, weren't commonplace at this time, except among the gentry, so as people often had the same Christian name other ways were found to differentiate between them. These are the people of Great Harwood who paid the 1379 tax from Carolyn Fenwick's "The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379, and 1381" (1998-2005). Suggestions for the origins of the names are found in "A Dictionary of British Surnames." P. H. Reaney and / or " The Oxford Names Companion." Oxford University Press.

Thoma de Hesketch esquier 6s 8d Lord of the Manors of Rufford and Great Harwood but seemingly living at Martholme27
Johanne del Hesketch   4d John doesn't seem to be a close family member, not in the Hesketh Roll at this time,27 so could be from a cadet branch of the family, worked for them or simply from Hesketh.
Johanne le Bold   4d John may have been a fearless individual or he could have worked at Martholme.
Johanne de Stansfeld   4d He may well have come to Great Harwood from Stansfield near Todmorden or there could have been a stony field and John lived close by.28
Henrico le Lorimer   4d A lorimer was the maker of bits, spurs, stirrup-irons and other horse furniture.
Ada le Lorimer
Willelmo Foukeson
  4d the son of Fouke29
Rogero Brightson   4d Roger's father was a good looking man ?
Ricardo de Huncote   4d From nearby Huncoat.
Johanne de Rathedale   4d Perhaps this is Rochdale. See below.
Roberto del Wyndebonk   4d If, as seems likely, this is Windy Bank overlooking the bridges at Tottleworth then it could be the earliest named dwelling after Martholme which can be placed with certainty.
Roberto de Rachedale   4d

This certainly looks like an immigrant from Rochdale.30

Thoma Daweson   4d Daw was a pet name for David so this is David's son.
Johanne le Lepar   4d Lepper is a German word for a shoemaker using textiles rather than leather. There is the possibility he was suffering from leprosy or he had a disability, a disfigurement from disease or maybe he was, for some other reason, shunned by everyone else.
Alicia le Colvile vidua   4d Derived from a town name Coleville near Caen and Bayeux in Normandy. A noble family and Scottish clan name but the Widow Colevile may have had only tenuous links if any.31
Roberto de Stereland   4d East Lancashire was cattle rearing country so this is probably steer-land, bullock pasture.
de Ricardo le Souter   4d A souter was a shoemaker.
Willelmo Waterward   4d Water bailiff, water + ward. All the early examples occur on the banks of Martin Mere.32
Hugone Hanson   4d A well known name around Great Harwood but there are several possibilities for Hugo's father's name, John or Jehan, Johanne or Han.
Margareta del Moreton   4d Margaret of the settlement on the moor. Possibly Moreton (later site of the Hall) just across the Calder.
Roberto de Croke   4d Perhaps lived near a bend in a road or river / stream.
Willelmo del Wode   4d William of the Wood. There would have been plenty from which to choose .
Johanne de Stereland   4d As in Robert above.
Johanne de Walbouk   4d Possibly Walbank - bank of a stream so dwelling by a stream. Dunkenhalgh documents from as early as C13 suggest a local origin at nearby Church.33
Willelmo de Walbouk   4d
Willelmo Kynning   4d The son of someone with Cyne - Cene as part of their Christian name, Ken's son.
Willelmo Dobson   4d Son of Robert, Dob being the equivalent of modern Bob.
Roberto de Nonewyk   4d Robert might be another immigrant possibly from the modern day Nunwick in the Ripon area of Yorkshire or, further afield, one just over Adrian's Wall near Hexham, Northumberland.34
Thoma le Pynnar   4d A pinner made pins or combs or, though less likely, it could be pinder the local official responsible for confining stray animals.
total 16s 4d  

If, as is thought, the Poll Tax included around 60% of the population then there would have been about 50 people living in Great Harwood in 1379 but national trends suggest that the population in 1300 may have been twice that of 1379.35 However if, as suggested, Great Harwood was a pastoral community requiring little labour then it is possible that the national trends may not have applied and the number of inhabitants was similar to or even lower than 50 in 1300 the attraction of the market and fair after 1338 perhaps accounting for any rise. Unfortunately the partition of 1289 gives no clues to the numbers resident at that time as it only mentions 5 tenants by name but whether these were the only tenants is impossible to say as they were mentioned only in so far as their lands were additional to or excluded from any one partition.

Table 1        
  List Total Male Female son of daughter of
Billington 21 12 9 3 2
Bowland Chase 6 6      
Chipping 25 24 1 6  
Church 4 2 2 2  
Great Harwood 29 27 2 5  
Little Harwood 10 8 2 1  
Oswaldtwistle 35 22 13 6  
Pendleton Chase 36 32 4 9 4
Rossendale Chase 22 21 1    
Rishton 34 22 12 3 6
Trawden Chase 6 6   1  
Whalley 14 14   2  
Wilpshire 21 17 4 2  

Apart from the number of people over the age of 16 in 1379 there is little the list can tell us for certain about Great Harwood. A man and wife were counted as one for the tax but the collectors for Blackburnshire don't appear to have shown any wives as some others did but it is striking that there are only two females in the list, Alicia le Colvile, widow, and Margareta del Moreton. This could mean any available girls married young or this was a community of young males, some married but their families were too young to register for the tax, or it is evidence of later plague outbreaks affecting the young in particular.36This phenomenon wasn't peculiar to Great Harwood though; lists for surrounding areas mostly show the same imbalance (Table 1). Why Billington, Oswaldtwistle and Rishton have a higher proportion of females listed is not within the scope of this study but the similarities between Great Harwood and Chipping, a decidedly pastoral community, and the chases, especially neighbouring Pendleton Chase, seem significant.

A sign of continuity of a family in one place can be a patronymic name or occasionally a metronymic name, if someone moved to another place the inhabitants there would be more likely to name them by their place of origin than by the name of their parents. There are six patronyms in the list for Great Harwood: Willelmo Foukeson, Rogero Brightson, Thoma Daweson, Hugone Hanson, Willelmo Kynning and Willelmo Dobson. This isn't a great proportion of the male population and its significance for continuity, without other evidence, may have been even less if a surname had been inherited but some if not all could have been born and raised in Great Harwood.

Table 2   Distance from
Great Harwood
Thoma de Hesketch Lord of the Manor and Hesketh was his family
name so doesn't really count
Johanne del Hesketch Could have been of the same family but he's
come from outside maybe actually from Hesketh
30 miles
Ricardo de Huncote From neighbouring Huncoat 5 miles
Johanne and Roberto
de Rathedale
From Rochdale 25 miles
Margareta del Moreton Maybe only from across the river  
Roberto de Nonewyk There was also a Johanne de Nunwyk at Whalley Ripon 60 miles,
Hexham 140 miles


There is clear evidence of immigration though with seven names denoting origins outside Great Harwood. (Table 2)



It's possible, again, that some of these names were inherited even so they still point to people moving to the area in the not too distant past.

Table 3    
Johanne de Stansfeld Maybe from Stansfield 18 miles
Willelmo Waterward It might have been a local job but Martin Mere is near another Hesketh manor at Rufford so possibly an inherited and imported name 30 miles
Johanne and Willelmo
de Walbouk
There are plenty of streams for them to dwell by but the earliest occurrence of the name is at Church so, again, possibly inherited and imported 3 miles


There are other possible incomers.
(Table 3)

Supposing that all the people in Tables 2 and 3 were new comers to Great Harwood then a third of the adult males had found something so attractive about the place that some travelled many miles to be here when one would imagine in this time of high mortality there would have been more fertile land available elsewhere. Of course, if the surnames in Table 3 were of a local nature the proportion of new comers falls to around a sixth, still quite high, but with the tradesmen still to be considered and the others whose origin can only be surmised as being local then immigration could actually have been greater.

Table 4  
Henrico le Lorimer A lorimer was the maker of bits, spurs, stirrup-irons and other horse
furniture and possibly did other metal work.
Ada le Lorimer
Johanne le Lepar Lepper is a German word for a shoemaker using textile rather than leather.
Ricardo le Souter A souter was a shoemaker.
Thoma le Pynnar A pinner made pins or combs.

As we do not know whether William Foukeson, or others, was a weaver, miller or farmer Table 4 may not list all craftsmen in Great Harwood. Likewise the fact that no one is known by name as following these crafts in surrounding districts does not mean that they were not practised there. However these are not the sorts of trade that would be well supported by a small peasant community and is perhaps the reason they don't seem to occur outside Great Harwood. It then seems reasonable to suggest that these men are plying their trades in Great Harwood because they had access to a much wider, more prosperous clientele through the markets and fair and may well have been attracted from elsewhere because of this.

Any conclusions to be taken from the 1379 Poll Tax list must be qualified through lack of other evidence but it does appear that the population of the Manor of Martholme and Great Harwood had been growing through immigration, this is apparent in the surrounding districts too. Whether this migration was to replace lost population or because there was previously underutilised land, though, isn't clear. Where Great Harwood does appear to differ from neighbouring manors is in its ability to attract or retain a variety of "luxury" trades through its markets and fair which must also have been a lure to farmers by providing a local outlet for their produce and may too have stimulated other services such as carriage and hospitality.


Before 1066 / 1066 - 1600 and who lived here in 1379 / 1600 - 1800 / 1800 - 1900 / 1900 -





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1 Hundred Years War
2 Subsidy Rolls - Malhamdale
3 Public records: Subsidies and other taxes Middle Ages Poll Tax
4The History of the Peasants' Revolt by Jeff Hobbs
5 An Economic & Social History of Britain 1066 – 1939. M. W. Flynn 1970 (1 st Edition 1961). Page 3: A Frontier Landscape. The North West in the Middle Ages. N. J. Higham. Pages 1 - 45, 72: A History of the English Public House. H A Monkton 1969. Page 18: An Historical Geography of England and Wales. 2nd Edition Edited by R A Dodgshon & R A Butlin 1995. Page 70, 75.
6 An Economic & Social History of Britain 1066 – 1939. M. W. Flynn. Page 5: An Historical Geography of England and Wales. R A Dodgshon & R A Butlin 1995. Page 70 - 71.
7 A Frontier Landscape. Page 77: An Economic & Social History of Britain 1066 – 1939. Page 17: An Historical Geography of England and Wales. Page 73, 93.
8 A Frontier Landscape. Pages 71 - 75 and 88 De Lacy Estate (Accrington) c1300 Page 1 An Economic & Social History of Britain 1066 – 1939. Page 20.
9 Laxton, Nottinghamshire.
10Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire for 1961. The Common Fields of Lancashire. G. Youd M.A. Pages 34 - 39
11A Frontier Landscape. Pages 55, 61.
12LRO: DDKE/2/15/2
13A Frontier Landscape. Pages 56, 62 and 68.
14LRO: DDLX 8/3. LRO: DDLX 8/7. LRO: DDLX 8/28. Clayton Estate Farm Rent Ledger. See also Churchfield House
15Field names
16British History Online
17LRO: DDLX 8/28 -- part of Town Field (2,003 sq. yds) -- site for St. John's Church.
18De Lacy Estate (Accrington) c1300 Page 2
19The Royal Forestry Society Ramsgreave
20A Frontier Landscape. Page 113 De Lacy Estate c1300 Page 15
21De Lacy Estate c1300 Page 9
22British History Online
23LRO: DDHE 18/5
24A Frontier Landscape. Page 105
25A Frontier Landscape. Pages 78, 114 - 118.
26De Lacy Estate (Accrington) c1300 Page 4
27Hesketh genealogy from Baines
29Fouke Bourchier (Lord Fitzwarin)
30Rochdale Church Page 129
31Colevilles at the Battle of Hastings
32Hesketh is near Martin Mere
33Chetham Miscellanies New Series Vol. IV Dunkenhalgh Deeds
34Yorks: Subsidy Rolls Kirkby's Inquest
35An Historical Geography of England and Wales. Pages 70-71
36A Frontier Landscape Page 88


Last updated 17th April 2020 by ifinwig
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