Old Hall owners and tenants

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Higher Heysham : Old Hall


Higher Heysham is centred around Middleton Road and is where in the19th century there were several opulent dwellings, Heysham Tower, Heysham Hall, Heysham House and the Old Hall (right).
The historian T D Whitaker writing in the early 19th century in his History of Richmondshire

      Two or three gentlemen's families reside here, to
the great advantage of the poor, for the salubrity of the air.

But he then goes on to write
         The rest of the population is divided between a race
of old yeomanry, tenants at rack rents, and poor
families earning a wretched subsistence by unskilful fishing

The ‘poor’ do not seem to be getting any  ‘great advantage’, but the gentleman’s families would have employed many locals as servants.
Unfortunately Whitaker does not give us the families names.


The Old Hall (Inn) being the oldest of the houses and still in use is much written about, and to some extent it did become a gentleman’s residence tn the 19th century .Six accounts  about the Old Hall are available as downloads:


The Garstang Richard Caton
from  an American family record

1. from the website of the Old Hall Inn : click here
2, from The Heysham Peninsula edited by Eileen Dent (HHA 2000) : click here
3. from The History of Heysham by David Flaxington (HHA| 2001)  : click here
4. The listing document from Historic England :  click here
5. from The Victoria History of the Counties of England  (1908) : click here
6. from the Journal of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire by James Wade,  click here

There is clearly not a consensus on who owned the land (manor) at the time of its construction which appears to have taken a good number of years.  Wade refers to it as a manor house. One matter on which most writers seem to agree is that Edmondsons, and possibly others, were tenants for some 200 years from the time it was built. Our correspondent Margaret Irvine has shown from entries in the Lancaster Gazette that round about 1800 another tenant was Jonas Middleton.
In the early 1800s Samuel Bailey is mentioned as a tenant for two years in the first and third accounts above. but other than that he is difficult to trace. In 1807 Richard Caton bought the property. Richard was an elder brother of Dorothy Caton mentioned in the next section.  Both were children of John Caton of Heysham who later in life moved to Parkhall, Quernmore on  the other side of Lancaster near the village of Caton.   Richard Caton was  married in Warton. In November 1811 the Old Hall was auctioned; this is mentioned by David Flaxington and also notified in the Lancaster Gazette. Graham Berry has very helpfully provided us with a transcript of a  brass plate on the wall of St Peter’s Church which gives a great deal of detail about the Caton family... The plate istates that Richard died in 1826 in Catterick, North Yorkshire, which is confirmed in Yorkshire death records. The 1811 auction was posibly triggered by he and his family moving to Yorkshire..
Curiously Richard is misidentified by an American genealogist as part of a Caton family in USA. This is clearly an error as dates don’t tally at all. There was a Robert Caton born in Garstang, Lancashire in 1763 and maybe is a relative. He is probably the person they should have identified. He obviously made his mark there as Catonsville in Maryland is named after him. 

 Around this period the Old Hall was sometimes called Wren Hall for which no reason has so far been found. A legal case is referred to in the January 1822 edition  (p181) of The London Gazette. The   Court of Chancery for the County Palatine. of Lancaster issued a Decree in a legal case Hutchinson v Hind, that resulted in a sale in February 1822 by auction of the  ‘mansion house called Heysham Hall or Wren Hall’. Also for sale by auction is ‘a most desirable family situate in Heysham late the property of Mr Philip Hind deceased’. 
We do not to which property this refers but we have traced Philip Hind who was a ‘shipbuilder’ in Liverpool who married Dorothy Caton of Heysham in 1799 but she died in 1805.  Dorothy had a previous marriage to and two children by William Woodville which the American geneaologists identify correctly. This link possibly identifies William Woodville who was clearly part of Liverpool s extensive involvement in the slave trade. The Heysham peninsula also had involvement in that trade; see Sambo’s Grave.
Dorothy’s son William Woodville is grandfather of the well known military artist  Richard  Caton-Woodville.

Dorothy’s  father John died in 1791 so she probably inherited property in Heysham. This could possibly have been the building which subsequently became Thomas Rawsthorne’s Heysham Hall. Philip Hind died in 1813 but by then had a son and daughter by a second marriage...

It is possible that
Thomas Rawsthorne acquired both properties for sale at the 1822 auction, since at the time of the Tithe Map (1838) the Tithe Schedule lists the owner of Wren Hall as Thomas Rawsthorne of Heysham Hall, a solicitor in Lancaster, and the occupier as Thomas  Pennington..
After Clement Royds had acquired the Advowson of St Peter’s in 1854 the Old Hall was bought by Rev John Royds in  1857 and extensively renovated and expanded by Rev C T Royds in 1887/88 and thereafter occupied by members of the Royds family until 1955/56.  It was then sold to the brewers William Mtichell’s  and opened as a pub in 1958 . For more details about the tenants of the Old Hall see   separate page.


Going back to the 16th century the first  Lord Monteagle was Edward Stanley whose family owned Hornby Castle. Heysham was then part of Hornby Castle Estates. William Parker was the 4th Lord Monteagle (his wife was Elizabeth Stanley) and was Lord of the Manor of Higher Heysham until 1597 at the time of the building of the Old Hall. William Parker is famed for his part in frustrating the Gunpowder Plot (1605). He was a Catholic like his father but turned Protestant in 1604.

Lords of the Manor  would often be big landholders  and would appoint stewards to hold partiuicular manors on their behalf. David Flaxington names such stewards in Heysham at the time as John Clarkson and his son, also John.. He also elsewhere states that Greese Cottage in the village was built by John Clarkson. He further states that the Clarksons and Mashiters were established families in the area. Stanley Farm was owned by the Mashiters; it was on Smithy Lane just above the junction with Barrows Lane.

Some questions about the Old Hall remain unanswered:
       Why would the Lord of the Manor have such a large house built for tenants?
       Why did it take such a long time to build?
       Why were priest holes built into the structure at the time of building? (The
         time when it was built was the peak period for their construction.)

The .first tenant  Robert Edmondson is mentioned in the second account about the Old Hall above
 ‘In 1607 Robert was described as a poor Popish recusant unable to pay 8d fine‘
A recusant in those days was a person who refused to attend services at his/her local  Anglican church, i.e. St Peter’s. This clearly implies that, like his landlord, Robert was a Catholic and the position of Catholics during  Eilzabeth I reign was not easy.,
It is worth noting that Edward Croft, Rector of St Peter’s from 1568 -1583, resigned and became a recusant. This is not surprising when you find that the Croft family were staunch Catholics. See p.9 of the linked Croft family pdf and note the likeness of Claughton Hall west wing to Heysham Old Hall

There is a  further reference to St Peter’s at the baptism of Hellen Edmondson, daughter of Robert ‘abode The Hall’ in October 1662. By then the position of Catholics has eased due to the Repeal of the ‘Recusancy’ acts during the Cromwell regime. This Robert must have been a son or grand son of the recusant Robert.

William Parker, 4th Lord Monteagle
from Wikipedi


Drawing of Old Hall Inn by Ian Ward in
Heysham Village and Churches published by Lancaster City Council (1984)