Page:The History of the Church & Manor of Wigan part 1.djvu/8

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iv
Introduction.

him to be tried in his own court. The parsons, moreover, were empowered to enquire into all felonies perpetrated within their town or liberty, and to keep the felons in their own prison until the next gaol delivery. These, with other privileges, were conferred upon the parsons of Wigan for ever by a charter of Edward III., and were exercised by them for a long time.

In compiling these records I have endeavoured to search out the individual history of these parson-lords from as early a period as I could meet with them. The succession is nearly complete from the time of Richard I. to the present day; and I trust the result of my researches may not be altogether devoid of interest, at all events to the local antiquary.

During this period of many centuries the benefice has been held by several men of mark, who have played no unimportant part in the occurrences of their times. Their characters, accomplishments and lines of thought have been as varied as the events of the days in which they lived. Among these, the most conspicuous, perhaps, were, (1) parson Maunsell, the military churchman of the time of Henry III., who personally engaged in the King's wars in France, and in one engagement with his own hands took prisoner a person of some distinction; who acted for many years as the King's chief councillor, at one time presided over his finances as the first English Chancellor of the Exchequer, and afterwards became Keeper of the Great Seal; and who was a person of considerable importance to Wigan, inasmuch as it