Heysham (St. Peter)

HEYSHAM (St. Peter), a parish, in the hundred of Lonsdale south of the Sands, N. division of Lancashire, 6 miles (W.) from Lancaster; containing 698 inhabitants. Under the Normans, the manor of Heysham, anciently Hessam, was held by the service of cornage, the lord being bound by his tenure to meet the king on the borders of the county, with his horn and a white wand, introducing him into the county, and attending him on his departure. From this tenure, it is probable that a branch of the family, de Hessam, assumed the name of Cornet, subsequently changed to Gernet. The Lucys appear to have held the manor under the Gernets: it passed in the 12th century to the Dacres; was afterwards possessed by other families successively; and in the year 1767 was sold to the ancestors of the present owners.

The parish is beautifully situated on Morecambe bay, and comprises by estimation 1575 acres, whereof 774 are arable, 631 meadow and pasture, and 170 moss: the views, which are very fine, embrace the opposite shore of Furness, and the Lake mountains. An act was passed in 1846 for the construction of a harbour and docks in the parish, on Morecambe bay, between the village and Poulton: the great object of the undertaking is the establishment of a harbour of refuge for ships navigating the west coast of England, and a low-water harbour for the town and port of Lancaster. Powers were obtained, under the same act, for a railway from the harbour to Lancaster, with a branch extending by Poulton and Bare to Williamlands, in the township of Slyne with Hest. The harbour and railway company formed under the act has since been amalgamated with the North-Western, or Lancaster and Skipton, Railway Company. Morecambe Cottage, here, is the residence of Thomas Yates Ridley, Esq., son of the late incumbent of the parish, and a considerable landowner. The village of Heysham is divided into High or Upper, and Lower, Heysham; the houses are irregularly constructed of ordinary rough stone: the inhabitants for the most part are farmers or fishermen.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £8. 9. 2., and in the patronage of Clement Royds, Esq., of Rochdale: the tithes have been commuted for £470, and the glebe comprises 90 acres, with a house. The church is an ancient edifice in the low Norman style, with a tower, and stands upon the sea-shore, at Lower Heysham. A national school is partly supported by an endowment consisting of land, and £105 in the funds, producing £8. 9. per annum, given by Robert Thompson in 1817. On the summit of a rock above the church are the remains of an oratory dedicated to St. Patrick: several places for interment have been cut out of this rock. In High Heysham are situated the ruins of a chapel which belonged to the Stanleys, earls of Monteagle of Hornby Castle.

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

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