Page:The History of the Church & Manor of Wigan part 1.djvu/14

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History of the Church and Manor of Wigan.

difference, probably, rather lay in the nature of the soil than in any various system of superficial measurement. The carucate held by the church of Wigan may, perhaps, have contained about 100 or 120 acres; that is to say, this was all the land then under cultivation in the manor of Wigan, which is co-extensive with the present parliamentary borough.

From a very early period, probably before the Conquest, the Parsons of Wigan held the manor of Wigan as an appanage to their church. It was subsequently held by them under the Lords of Newton or Barons of Makerfield, as they were indiscriminately called, who presented to the church as patrons, and to whom the Parsons owed suit. But except as patrons of the church the interest of these mesne lords was little more than nominal,[1] and the Parsons were the real lords of the manor, though in some of the inquisitions post mortem Wigan is mentioned among the manors of the Lords of Newton.

The first Norman Lord of Newton was Robert Banastre, who came over to England with William the Conqueror, and had the barony of Makerfield assigned to him by Roger de Poitou, to whom the King had given the land between the Ribble and the Mersey. His heirs, the Langtons, continued to hold the advowson of the church with but slight interruption till the early part of the seventeenth century, when it passed, on the death of Sir Thomas, son of Leonard, son of Sir Thomas Langton, Knight, without issue, in 1604, with the other Langton estates, under a special settlement, to his cousin Richard Fleetwood of Calwich, in the county of Stafford, Esq., who was created a Baronet by James I. in 1611. It was subsequently sold by his son, Sir Thomas Fleetwood of Calwich, Baronet, soon after the restoration of Charles II., to Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Knight and Baronet, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, with whose descendant and representative, Orlando G. C. Bridgeman, Earl of Bradford, it still remains.

  1. ' Mesne Tenures were created sometimes by sub-infeudation, sometimes by insertion of the middle-man (as was probably the case at Wigan). They were extinguished at length by change of law and custom and the seigneury becoming obsolete.