Lathom

LATHOM, a township, in the parish and union of Ormskirk, hundred of West Derby, S. division of the county of Lancaster, 3¾ miles (N. E. by E.) from Ormskirk; containing 3262 inhabitants. This place was the seat of the Lathom family, of whom Robert de Lathom, in the reign of Edward I., received the grant of a weekly market and an annual fair, and whose baronial mansion of Lathom House, remarkable for its extent and magnificence, and formidable for its strength, afterwards became so conspicuous in history. The manor, in the reign of Henry IV., was conveyed by marriage with the daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Lathom, to Sir John Stanley, ancestor of the earls of Derby, of whom Thomas, the first earl, entertained Henry VII. in his baronial castle here, at that time in its full splendour. This noble castle, which had eighteen towers, and was surrounded by a fosse eight yards in breadth, with a drawbridge defended by a lofty gateway tower, was twice besieged by the parliamentary forces during the reign of Charles I., of whose cause its owner was a resolute supporter. On the 28th of February, 1646, during the absence of the earl, it was besieged by General Fairfax with a force of 3000 men, but was heroically defended by the Countess of Derby, who, with her retinue of 300, in several destructive sallies killed 500 of the assailants, and maintained possession till, on the arrival of the royalist army under Prince Rupert, the enemy thought proper to retire. In the following year the castle was again besieged by General Egerton, at the head of 4000 parliamentarians, to whom, after a protracted and obstinate resistance, it was finally surrendered for want of ammunition; having been first plundered it was dismantled, and the fortifications were demolished.

Upon the Restoration, Lathom House again became the residence of the Stanley family, and in 1730 was conveyed by marriage with Henrietta, daughter and heiress of William, Earl of Derby, to John, the third earl of Ashburnham, by whom it was sold. It was subsequently purchased by Sir Thomas Bootle, Knt., who restored and nearly rebuilt the ancient mansion, in a style commensurate to its former splendour, and by whose niece it was conveyed by marriage to Richard Wilbraham, Esq., father of Lord Skelmersdale, the present proprietor. The mansion is spacious, and contains numerous stately apartments; the north front extends 156 feet, and the offices are joined to it by colonnades, supported by Ionic pillars: the surrounding park is between three and four miles in circumference. A considerable part of the township is the property of Edward Stanley, Esq., the representative of a branch of the Derby family, for many generations seated at Cross Hall, a mansion taken down about the commencement of the present century; a small portion of it now forms a neat farmhouse with a modern stone front. In the vale towards Lathom House is New Park, in which, it is said, formerly stood a castle, called Horton Castle; its site is now marked by a rude building of stone. Blythe Hall, another seat of the Wilbraham family, is also in this township. The township comprises 7577a. 3r. 36p., of which 4383 acres are arable, 1286 meadow, 1894 pasture, and 229 woodland. A domestic chapel, in Lathom Park, was restored in 1810, at a cost of £1200: the living is a donative, in the gift of Lord Skelmersdale. The great tithes have been commuted for £1002. The free school at Newburgh, a hamlet in the township, was erected in 1714 by the Rev. Thomas Crane, who endowed it with an estate at Dalton, which, with subsequent benefactions, produces £52 per annum; it is conducted on the national plan. Here is a saline chalybeate spring.

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

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