Halton

HALTON, a chapelry, and formerly a market-town, in the parish and union of Runcorn, hundred of Bucklow, N. division of the county of Chester; comprising the townships of Halton, Norton, and Stockham; and containing 1734 inhabitants, of whom 1397 are in the township of Halton, 3½ miles (N. N. E.) from Frodsham. This place was anciently the head of a barony, or fee, which, with the constableship of Chester, was conferred by Hugh Lupus, Earl of Chester, upon his cousin, Nigel, whom he also appointed his earl marshal. These offices were held for a long period by Nigel's successors, barons of Halton, who, among other privileges granted by the earls of Chester, had the power of holding courts for the trial of all offenders within the barony, and for the determination of all pleas, except such as belonged to the earl's sword; they had also a prison, and a master-serjeant and eight under-serjeants, within their fee. The barony became annexed to the crown in the reign of Henry IV., through the descent of that monarch from Thomas Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster and eleventh baron of Halton: it is now held under lease from the crown by the Marquess of Cholmondeley. Halton is traditionally said to have been a favourite hunting-seat of the great John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. The castle, occupying a commanding situation on the brow of a hill overlooking a great part of Cheshire, with an extensive view across the river Mersey into Lancashire, was built soon after the Conquest; and the town which arose under its protection, obtained the grant of a weekly market and two annual fairs, which have been long discontinued. During the civil war, the castle was garrisoned for the king, in the early part of 1643; but in the following year it was taken by the parliamentarians. There are few remains of the building; the only habitable part, apparently rebuilt since the Restoration, has been converted into an inn, in which an apartment has been fitted up for holding the courts for the honour. A distinct coroner is appointed. The township comprises 1614 acres, the soil of which is clay and loam. The Mersey and Irwell and the Duke of Bridgewater's canals pass through. In 1837 an act was passed for lighting the place with gas. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Rev. John Collins; net income, £157. The chapel is dedicated to St. Mary. A chapel is mentioned by Sir Peter Leycester, as having existed previous to 1625; it was rebuilt about the close of the seventeenth century. In 1733 a library was founded by Sir John Chesshyre, an eminent lawyer in the reign of Queen Anne, the representative of an ancient family seated at Hallwood, in the township: this library now contains several hundred volumes. A school is endowed with £36 per annum, and an almshouse for six "decayed and honest old servants," founded in the year 1767 by Pusey Brooke, Esq., with £54. 12. per annum.

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

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