Farnworth (St. John)

FARNWORTH (St. John), a parish, in the union of Bolton, hundred of Salford, S. division of Lancashire, 2¼ miles (S. S. E.) from Bolton; comprising the townships of Farnworth and Kearsley, and containing 8265 inhabitants, of whom 4829 are in Farnworth. This place probably derives its name from the AngloSaxon word Fearn; the fern plant formerly overran the land, and still grows abundantly in the neighbourhood. In the reign of Queen Mary, Farnworth township, lately a part of the parish of Deane, was a portion of the township of Barton-upon-Irwell, in Eccles parish, though distant from it about five miles. In 1663 it was still called "the hamlet of Farnworth within the township of Barton;" and so late as 1725 a determination was made, that the inhabitants of Barton should convey their felons to the gaol of Lancaster without the assistance of Farnworth and Kearsley, which previously had contributed to that cost. The Hultons of Farnworth Hall, a branch from the parent stock of Hulton, were settled here in the 4th of Edward II., and the last of the family at Farnworth died in the reign of Elizabeth. There are extensive coal-mines belonging to the Earl of Ellesmere, and William Hulton, Esq.; large spinning and powerloom mills; and one of the best paper-mills in the kingdom, belonging to Messrs. John and Thomas B. Crompton, whose premises, called the "Farnworth mills," are of great extent, and who are patentees of a process for cutting, drying, and finishing paper.

The township of Farnworth and the adjoining township of Kearsley were separated by an order in council dated 23rd July 1828, from the parish of Deane, and constituted a distinct parish, under the act 58th George III. cap. 45. The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of Hulme's Trustees; income, about £260, arising partly from endowment, and partly from pew-rents, with a very good vicarage-house, built by the parishioners at a cost of £2000. The church is a handsome stone structure with a tower, erected in 1825, by the Commissioners for Building Churches, at an expense of £8000. The Independents and Wesleyans have places of worship. A school, erected on land given by James Roscow in 1715, was endowed in 1728 with £300 by Nathan Dorning; the Commissioners of Inclosures, in 1798, allotted certain land to the trustees, and in 1825 the school-house was rebuilt: there is a house and garden for the master, who teaches nine boys free. A handsome national school accommodates 500 children, and adjoining it is an infants' school capable of receiving about 150. A very neat daily and infant school has been built by the mill-owners; and there is also a Sunday school occupied by the Wesleyan Methodists, supported by an endowment from the late Mrs. Holland, of Bradford House, near Bolton.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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