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Old Hall : Owners and tenants


At the time of the start of construction of the Old Hall William Parker, subsequently the 4th Lord Monteagle was Lord of the Manor of Higher Heysham. The account oif the Hall by local historian David Flaxington  indicates that it had other (farm) builidings nearby and significant amounts of land. It further identifies John Clarkson as steward for William Parker. He also refers to his son John Clarkson Jnr. There is a problem with this since no such father and son can be identified in Heysham from church  records.
At the time of its completion in 1598 (the date  high on the right  (east) front gable) it would appear to be in the hands of John Bradley’s daughter Jane.

That the Edmondsons remained as tenants for the next 200 years seems to be generally agreed.  Ownership of the manor and therefore of the Old Hall had changed  as recorded on  another page of this website. The next tenant so far to appear in the records in that of  Jonas Middleton; in 1804  He was brought to our attention by Margaret Irvine of Western Australia who has ancestors in Heysham.  Her account is is based on an extract from the Lancaster Gazette about about the sale by auction of Heysham Old Hall.
Further she is almost sure a Mary Edmundson is her many times great grandmother who is mentioned in the Will of  Richard Edmundson which she has examined  in her research. There is a slight problem as, although there are church records of Mary’s marriage to Christopher Stephenson of Heysham and of all her children, she cannot find a record of her birth.

The Leyburne family forfeited their ownership of the Manor of Higher Heysham by their support for the 1715 Jacobite rebellion (Old Pretender) From 1724-66 the owners were Lancaster Corporation but they then sold it to a number of local landlords in 1766. The 1838 Tithe Schedule sehows multiuple ownership of land in Heysham. ocnsequently it is not clear who owned the Old Hall  when the Edmondsons relinquished their tenancy.

This is a recent photograph of Thurnham Hall, just across the Lune from Heysham, a Grade 1 listed building of similar age to Heysham Old Hall. In the listing there is a mention of a possible priest hole). The Hall belonged to the (Catholic) Dalton family , but like Heysham Old Hall, it was also leased to tenants who used in as a farm. After a  period of neglect/ it became an upmarket hotel in 1970. Below is the same building as it appears in the Victoria History


The next person mentioned as an occupier  of the Old Hall is Samuel Bailey of the 9th Regiment of the Light Dragoons. It is tempting to suppose that he possibly bought it at the auction mentioned above in 1804.  David Flaxington suggests that a lane in Heysham known as Quarry Lane (for obvious reasons) changed to Bailey Lane at this time.
There are very few Heysham church records of Bailey and none relevant. There are  more in Lancaster but none which specifically appear to identify Samuel. Searches of Army records might give further information about him

©  Victoria History

It is also generally agreed that in 1807  Richard Caton bought the Hall. Richard’s father was John Caton, a Heysham yeoman who in later  life moved to Park Hall in Querrmore but was buried in Heysham. Entries in the Lancaster Gazette show Richard Caton introduced  new methods of agriculture such as crop rotation and winter crops to increase production. His tenure was short ;in November 2011 the Hall was auctioned and we think Richard and his family moved to Yorkshire (various records indicate this). In 2012 Richard submits a petition to the House of Lords  concerning the implementation of  the Will of his uncle who died in 1809 in Middleton.
The Caton plate in St Peter’s gives useful information about the family

An officer of 9th Light Dragoons
©  National Army Museu

Several further auctions of the property follow. In one of them as Mr Guest is mentioned as tenant  in the notification of sale and in another the property is mentioned as being in the hands of Richard Caton or one of his under-tenants. Finally in February 1822 an auction is notified in the London Gazette as a result of a law suit. On this occasion he tenant is said to be  Joseph Procter who from church records would appear to have come from Thurnham and subsequently became the owner or tenant of Winter End Farm, Heysham
A quiet period seems to follow and then in 1838 the Tithe Schedule shows the owner as Thomas  Rawsthorne a Lancaster solicitor (did he buy it in 1822?) and the occupier (tenant) as Thomas Pennington. From one of Thomas’ descendants we learn that Thomas moved to Barrow Greaves farm south of Lancaster in 1840 and died in 1841 aged 93.  The record of this specificaly states he was a Roman Catholic.

The Old Hall was eventually bought in 1857 by the first of the Royds (John) . At that time he was the curate and became St Peter’s Rector from 1858-1865. David Flaxington writes in his History of Heysham

In 1846 Heysham Old Hall was mortgaged by Thomas Rawesthorne to John Fearnside and John Brockbank, two directors of the Lancaster Banking Company. John Brockbank died the following year and John Fearnside three years later, and the interests of the Lancaster Banking Company passed to Edmund and Elizabeth Fearnside (John˜s widow). In March 1857, Elizabeth and Edmund Fearnside transferred their rights to Heysham Old Hall estate to William Jackson of Lancaster and Joseph Bushel of Myerscough who, on October 17th the same year, conveyed the property to John Royds, Rector of St Peter’s Church since 1858. On the death of John Royds in 1865 (according to date-stones on the outside wall of the east wing) ownership of Heysham Old Hall passed first to Rev Charles Smith Royds (Rector of Houghton) until his death in 1879, and then to his son Charles Twemlow Royds, who had been Rector of St Peter‘s since the death of John. Charles Twemlow set about restoring Heysham Old Hall which had fallen into disrepair after being used for some time as a farm house. It was during this restoration work that the priest hole was discovered.

At some stage after this the Hall ceased to be a farm but the farm buildings became Old Hall Farm. The first owner/tenant of that farm seems to have been George Crayston whose occupation is shown in the records of the births of three of his children as Farm Bailiff. He had previously been a farm bailiff in Crook, near Kendal