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Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis - 1831

KIRKHAM, a parish in the hundred of AMOUNDERNESS, county palatine of LANCASTER, comprising the market-town of Kirkham, the chapelries of Goosnargh, Hambleton, Ribby with Wrea, Singleton, and Warton, and the townships of Bryning with Kellamergh, Clifton with Salwick, Little Eccleston with Larbreck, Freckleton, Greenhalgh with Thistleton, Medlar with Wesham, Newsham, Newton with Scales Treales, with Roseacre and Wharles, Weeton, Westby with Plumptons, and Whittingham, and containing 11,925 inhabitants, of which number, 2735 are in the town of Kirkham, 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 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 handlooms 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 three hundred tons, several of the principal manufacturers have warehouses for supplying the town with the produce of the countries bordering on the Baltic. The Lancaster canal passes at the distance of about three miles from the town, which suffers from the want of a more varied and extensive course of inland navigation. 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: the fairs are, February 4th and the following day, April 29th, and October 18th. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, who hold a petty session for the hundred of Amounderness every alternate Thursday 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, under an act passed in the 10th year of the reign of George III., for the recovery of debts under 40s,, the jurisdiction of which extends over the parishes of Kirkham, Bispham, Lytham, and Poulton, and the townships of Preesall and Stalmine, in the parish of Lancaster. The living is a vicarage, in the archdeaconry of Richmond, and diocese of Chester, rated in the king's books at £21. 1. 0., and in the patronage of the Dean and Canons of Christ Church, Oxford. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, was, with the exception of the tower, which is in the Norman style of architecture, rebuilt in 1822, at an expense of £ 5000, defrayed by a rate on the parishioners: 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 now being about £ 550 per annum: it is conducted by a head master and two under masters, appointed by the Drapers Company, and is under the management of trustees appointed pursuant to the will of the Rev. James Barker; it is open to all boys of the parish, and has an exhibition of about £100 per annum to either of the Universities, founded by Mr. Barker, who also left £80 per annum for apprenticing boys, to which purpose the endowment of the exhibition is also applied when there is no exhibitioner from the school. There are similar schools at Newton with Scales, and at Treales, townships in this parish; and in the chapelry of Goosnargh is an hospital for decayed gentlemen and gentlewomen, with a considerable endowment. A parochial school for girls, established in 1760, has an endowment in houses and land producing about £80 per annum, which is appropriated to the clothing and instruction of forty girls. A National school is supported by subscription; and there are Sunday schools connected with the established church and the dissenting congregations.