Dunkenhalgh Manor House

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Line Art Drawing Of The Dunkenhalgh
Image 1 - Line art drawing of the Dunkenhalgh as used on Early Postcards
Image 2 - The front of the building with its original turrets

The Walmsley Family can be found by following this link.

The Petre family can be found by following this link.

Although not officially located in Rishton, the Dunkenhalgh Hall, and Manor house, has played a major part in the history of Rishton, its people, its buildings, and its character, and still does into the 21st Century.

It is believed that a Scottish raider settled here in 1332? named Duncan. It is believed that this is were the name of the Hall comes from. The area was first known as Dunkensale in the early 1200's.

In 1332 Henry de Rishton of Sidebeet bought the Dunkenhalgh manor from William de Dunkensale. At this time the Dunkenhalgh was nothing more that a small freehold estate, similar to the one held by the family in Rishton, but its importance lay in the fact that it adjoined the Powthalgh estate, which was still in the hands of the elder line of the same family.1

Black Head Lane, near to the Dunkenhalgh, before its disappearance.
The lime trees on the drive to the Dunkenhalgh.

In 1452 Henry de Rishton tells us that the manor now consists of four parts; 3 belonging to Edmund Talbot, and the other "is the inheritance and ryght of the said beseker". The four parts are "oxgange (1 oxgange = 15 acres)lande and line mene (lies common) dalte in lande doles and medew doles, saving the Townhey that lieth undisservered". The Townhey is the only common block, or field, mentioned at any time. This field was the heyfield until the 1st of August each year, when it became the common land for all the cattle on the estate.1

1245 Gilbert de Rishton settled in Rishton about this time, in the manor of Holt, rather than the Dunkenhalgh. The Rishtons acquired the Dunkenhalgh estate through marriage, of Henry De Rishton in 1366. It was sold to Judge Walmsley in 1582. He was a judge of the common pleas, was knighted and was granted a priest by Queen Elizabeth for his private chapel at Dunkenhalgh. His son Thomas, was knighted by James 1 on the occasion of his visit to Houghton Tower. Dunkenhalgh became a garrison house and played a conspicuous part in the civil war.

Rishton acquisition of property at Studley in Warwickshire in the 15c.

The 1st Rishton family was outlawed and estate forfeited. He invited a friend to dinner, William de Mellor, were the stoup passed to freely. A game of dice was proposed after the meal and ended in a quarrel, in the course of which Gilbert drew “kniphum suum” and stabbed William beneath the breast, so that he died immediately. Gilbert escaped and His Majesty's Justices wanted to know why, and why an innocent man was trying to be framed.

The Rishton's were disposed in favour of the more powerful Yorkshire family of Talbot of Bashall in Craven. This created bitter feuding and lawsuits, accentuated in the 15th c by political partisanship. On the outlawry of  a Lollard Talbot under Henry v they recovered Rishton, only to have the cup snatched away from their lips. By the end of the century they had given up, accepting a small compensation in land, and started quarrelling amongst themselves. The only Rishton who entered the service of a Talbot received marks of esteem but proved to be a heartless villain.

Gardens and Building
The Gardens at the Dunkenhalgh, as they used to look.
The Dunkenhalgh in the 1920's.

At the beginning of the 13th c Rishton was held by Roger de Rishton, and after him by his son Adam. Their tenure ended, it is not known how, before 1242, when Gilbert, son of Henry, the progenitor of all the later Rishton's, paid scutage for the manor. From other sources it appears his father was Henry de Blackburn.

Somewhat earlier there was a married rector of one of the medieties of the rectory of Blackburn, just before church legislation put an end to hereditary rectories, who bore that name, with his sons Gilbert and Adam attested by the deed before 1208. There was however another and more important family of the same name in the district, whose head in 1212 was Henry de Blackburn. They held the mesne manors of Wiswell (with Hapton etc) and Lower Darwen, and as Gilbert de Rishton is recorded to have released all claim in those manors to John de Blackburn he may perhaps have belonged to this lay family. (this identification would remove the difficulty of reconciling the details of Gilberts murder of his friend c1255 with his age, which must have been upwards of 60. the close relations of later Rishton's and Talbots with Blackburn are explained by its being the head of the hundred and containing their parish church.

Their burial place was in the chapel of Saint John the Baptist on the south side of the chancel, more often referred to as the Rishton, or Talbot, or Walmsley, or Holt chapel. Here in accordance with his will, Henry de Rishton was buried in 1428. when sir Thomas Walmsley bought the manor of Rishton and proposed to use most of the chapel as a family mausoleum, John Talbot of Salesbury claimed the rights of his kinsmen, the Talbots of Bashall and Rishton (who 50 years earlier had refused his branch any share in it!!) in this part of the church. The consistory court at Chester decided (2nd November 1612) that the chapel should be divided equally between the two. The judges splendid monument was erected there.

Pond and Manor
The "Pond" near the Hyndburn Brook at the back of the Dunkenhalgh, seen here in 1910.
The Dunkenhalgh Manor in March 1907.

Rishton came to Gilbert, we are told in the pleadings of much later dates, as the marriage portion of his wife Margery, sister of Robert de Praers. Of this Robert and his tenure of Rishton under the Lacies of Clitheroe nothing is known, except that he appears as witness in deeds, and a charter of Maud de Praers granting Tottleworth early in the c13 is on record.

Gilberts de Rishton's outlawry in 1256 for the murder of William de Mellor forfeited the manor to his lord Edmund de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln. His descendants asserted when claiming its restoration, that the outlawry had never been promulgated, but the inquest taken after Edmunds death 2 years later shows Gilberts son Henry as only having less than a 4th part of Rishton. Moreover it was only a quarter of the residuary manor, excluding the freeholds of Cowhill, Tottleworth Sidebight, and Cunliffe which were held directly from Lacy by rent paying tenants. Presumably the chief lord had taken pity upon the felons son to this limited extent.

Henry de Lacy, his successor , was more complaisant, for in 1278 Gilbert, son of Henry de Rishton, is found settling the whole manor on his (illegitimate) son Adam, who demised it (save Cunliffe and Sidebight) to his father for his life.

At some date unknown, Richard de Rishton apparently another son of Gilbert (II) was enfeoffed by his father in a fourth part of the manor, which was to be held for nearly 3 centurys by his descendants. Richard was the progenitor of the Rishton's of dunk which was bought by his son.

Staircase and Driveway
The staircase in the Dunkenhalgh.
The driveway to the hall in 1910.

Adam de Rishton died before 1300 without surviving issue, where upon Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, re-entered upon the manor, and between 1305 and 1310 regranted it to Edmund Talbot of Bashall in Craven and Joan his wife. 1/3 of the manor was retained in dower by Mabel, widow of Adam. This was the starting point of a feud that was to last 2c between the Talbots and Gilbert de Rishton and their descendants.

Save for one brief period the Talbots succeeded in retaining the manor and its manor house of the Holt against all attempts of the Rishton's, legal and illegal, to recover possession. Tottleworth which was held by a family of that ilk, paid rent to them as did the 4th part of the manor retained by the younger line of the Rishton's.

Before there dispossession from Rishton, Gilbert and his eldest son Robert de Rishton had secured a new home. Between 1290 and 1295 they had bought the adjacent manor of Church from Adam, son of Uchtred de Church, whose ancestors had been lords of the vill under the Lacies from the beginning of the century at least. The house was purchased with money and not thru marriage. The illegitimate Adam de Rishton had also acquired an interest in the township, mainly from Robert, son of Henry de Church, which later passed to his brothers and heirs. The manor came to be known as Powthalgh, or Pouthalgh pronounced powtuff, which a modern mis-spelling has transformed into Ponthalgh.

Bridge and Manor
The bridge over the river
An early picture of the Dunkenhalgh.

1200 1208

Rodger De Rishton grants to Adam his son and heir all that quarter of his land in Rishton, viz half a carute, except the land of his free tenants, beginning at the rivulet of Tottleworth dene, where it falls into Hyndburn, up to the meeting of Salterford and Northdene and up as far as Smalsaghsyke, then up by Redecar to Risshelache, through the mid-lake to Endemosse, through the mid-moss to and down the Holghclogh to Redbroke, along this to Hallhaede, up this to the old dyke, along this to the greystone next Ediholes, which is the land of god and Saint John Baptist, following the dyke which devides Little Harwood and the waste of Rishton as far as the Thyrsclough, and so down to Elvynkar, along the car to Knuzdenbroke, up this to the clogh, near the Outlone, up the clogh to the dyke, following this on the south side of the moss of Kuhill, then down as far as Aspedene Clogh, up this to Hayleybroke, down this to Hyndburn and down Hyndburn to the dead water (mortuam aquam) and down to were Tottleworth dene joins Hyndburn, where we began.

Also he grants the service and escheats etc of his free men doing foreign service for half a caruate of land “unde xx caruate faciunt feodum uniius militis”


Henry, parson of Blackburn

John Phitun

Richard De Eluetham

Henry de Plesinton

Rodger de Samlesbury

Henry de meluer

John, son of Richard de blakeburn

Richard, son of canaan

Helias, son of Alexander

Richard de eccleshall

Alan de samlesbury

Henry de praers

Richard, son of utred de chirche

Adam, son of henry de blakeburn

Gilbert, his brother

John, the clerk, who made this deed with many others.

 In the Whalley Coucher book we find Rissheham and Risshedene connected with Rishton. 

Coat of Arms for the Rishtons of Ponthalgh.

1255 Gilbert de Rishton killed William de Mellor in a quarrel.

1290 - 5 Gilbert De Rishton bought the manor of Church (Ponthalgh) from Adam De Church.

Originally part of the Clayton-le-Moors estate until two sisters Alice and Cecily became joint heirs in the 13th century, at which time the estate was divided between them. The Grimshaw family (Cecily) settling into Clayton Hall taking the northern part of the estate, with the Rishton (Alice) family settling into the southern part of the estate and building the original 13th century house which later became the Dunkenhalgh. 5

The Clayton's owned Clayton Hall until Adam de Grimshaw married Cicely and made Clayton his home. The rest of the Grimshaw's remained in Darwen.5

Henry de Clayton (occurs 1333), had two children, Cicely de Clayton, {sole heiress and widow in 1368} And Margaret, {living 1368}. Cicely de Clayton married Adam de Grimshaw and had four children. Some confusion here, as the two sisters were supposedly called Alice and Cecily, not Margaret.5

An inquiry was held in the nave of Church Kirk by Henry de Rishton in 1311. It reveals Henry de Rishton as holding half a carucate of land in Church, while Robert de Rishton held one carucate of freehold land in Church, subject to the rendering of six shillings and doing service for three weeks at Clitheroe Castle. This same Henry de Rishton of 1311 A.D., had a grandson name Robert de Rishton, who was already established on the estate of Pontalgh in Church before 1329 A.D. The de Rishton family, as has been disclosed in the annals of Church, had become prominent in local affairs during the previous century. They acquired the Manor of Rishton in 1242 A.D. by the marriage of Margery de Praers to Gilbert de Blackburn, who then assumed the name of Rishton, and held a tenth part of a knight’s fee in Rishton, of the Earl of Lincoln.11

Dunkhenalgh, Again From The Canal, May 2002

Henry de Grimshaw, One of Alice's sons, divided the manor of Clayton with the Rishton's and lived to 1409, he bore the family crest. He had two children, Robert Grimshaw, {living 1454} and Katherine Grimshaw, {living 1429}.5

Robert Grimshaw married (?) And had two children, Hugh Grimshaw, {living 1441}, and Henry Grimshaw, born about 1442, who married Isabel, {daughter of Henry Rishton of Rishton, married by dispensation 1446} and who also had two children, Henry Grimshaw, and Nicholas Grimshaw.5

This Henry Grimshaw, born 1467, died 1507, and married Alice, who was the daughter of Richard Tempest of Bracewell. They had three children.5

Yet Another Drawing, From The Walmsley's Family History

1361 saw the de Rishtons of Dunkenhalgh receive a moiety of Clayton Manor, on the death of Henry de Clayton. De Clayton had two daughters, Alice and Cecily, and on his death Henry de Grimshaw (Cecily's son) took Clayton Hall and the greater part of the demense, while the remainder became the property of Henry de Rishton and his wife Margaret, who was the daughter of de Claytons daughter, Alice.1

The acquisition of this part of the manor of Clayton was particular valuable, because, for the first time it carried manorial rights which had not belonged to the Dunkenhalgh previously. These rights later enabled Judge Walmsley to place a byre cross (bye-law cross), a cucking or ducking stool, archery butts, and a pound for stray cattle.1

In the 1st half of the 16th century the manors of Dunkenhalgh (dunk was only a quasi-manor), a moiety of Clayton and Church were, and had been for 2 C and more in the possession of of 2 branches of the Rishton family, which took its name from an adjacent township in the parish of Blackburn.

The elder branch was seated at Powthalgh (wrongly Ponthalgh), the younger at dunk until the latter was sold to the elder in 1556.

Descended from possibly one of the last married rectors of Blackburn, the Rishtons had early lost their name manor (though retaining a large holding there), but more than compensated themselves thru marriage and purchase in its near neighbourhood.

Their estate passed to Sir Thomas Walmesley (1537- 1612) and descendants.

In 1662 John Grimshaw, of Clayton Hall, {died 8th March 1662, aged 48} married Anne, {daughter and co-heiress of Abraham Colthurst, of Burnley, 6 of Charles I. Ob 24 July 1661} and had five children, Richard Grimshaw, {lived 1664}, Nicholas Grimshaw, {lived 1642}, John Grimshaw, Mary Grimshaw, and Helen Grimshaw, who married John Clarkson of Cowhill. Helen was the daughter of John Grimshaw who died on the 8th of March, 1662, aged 48 years old. Helen was the 5th child of this line of the Grimshaw's.5

In 1394 it is recorded that John of Gaunt gave the estates of Rishton to Henry de Rishton of the Dunkenhalgh. 1

On the 12th August 1395, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, entrusted the custody of 3/4 of the manor, which had formally been in the possession of Sir Thomas Talbot, who was outlawed and sent to execution in the tower of London, but escaped a few days before, to Henry de Rishton of the Dunkenhalgh.1

On the 3rd June 1414, Henry de Rishton had obtained a sentence of excommunication from the Dean of Blackburn against some persons unknown who had injured him. These persons were to make amends to him within a fortnight. Bells were to be rung, candles lighted and extinguished, and the cross held erect, as often as Henry required it.1

The South aisle of the chancel in Blackburn Chapel was originally given to the De Rishton family, but rather than being given to the Lords it was given to the manor. Thus in Henry De Rishtons will, he requested that his body was buried in the Chapel, and 12d was left to the vicar and chaplains to prey for his soul. He also requested candles to be placed before the image of the virgin Mary in Altham Church, and before the high cross at Blackburn.

The De Rishtons continued to be buried in this vault, but later we find that the Talbots were also buried there. (See earlier Statements)

Richard, Henry de Rishtons oldest son, married Margaret Holt (the name was purely coincidental!), who was the daughter of William, the son of Peter Holt of Stodlegh, or Studley in Warwickshire, some time during or before 1414. This was how the de Rishtons of Dunkenhalgh acquired their estates in Warwickshire. In that year, Richard and Margaret received the de Rishton estate of Tottleworth from Henry, presumably as a dowry, at the same time receiving more lands in Tottleworth from one Richard Catlowe, who was a chaplain.

In 1423 Henry de Rishton retired. He accepted an allowance from those appointed to supervise his affairs. He asked for an allowance in order to buy bread when it was not baking week at the Dunkenhalgh. His dress allowance was 20 shillings a year. 1

Henry de Rishton passed away in 1428, and left a sum of money for the repair of a bridge over the Hyndburn between Rishton and Clayton Le Moors, but if the local authorities were slow in raising sufficient funds from the villagers, then his request would be turned to pious use.1

The Talbot and de Rishton families appeared to be the major landowners around Rishton at that time, and it is known that they were in continuous dispute (over Waddington Hall, Holt Hall, and Cowhill). In 1581 Sir Thomas, the last of the Talbot's, sold the manor of Rishton to Thomas Walmsley, who was a Catholic. He subsequently left his mark by rebuilding Dunkenhalgh Hall and creating a Catholic chapel in the grounds. The hall also boasted a resident priest and Mass House. This was used by most local Catholics until the Chapel of St Mary’s was opened in Altham in 1819.1

Another One Of Them Drawing Things!!!

1379 Calf Hey in Oswaldtwistle was the property of the Rishtons of Dunkenhalgh. It was at one time associated with Fern Gore which was claimed by the abbots of Whalley. Fern Gore was in later years a woollen centre an industry locally established by the Rishtons. Towards the close of the 17th Century the making of fustians and so called cotton goods began to take up rapidly. To foster the woollen industry which had begun to suffer from the linen and other industries, an act was passed in the reign of Charles the 2nd prohibiting burials in linen.

1417 Antley was leased to the Rishtons

1428 Henry de Rishton left money for repair for the bridge over the Hyndburn.

1460 Henry de Rishton was pardoned by King Henry VI for treason and repealed of his outlawry which was confirmed 2 years later by Edward IV.

The Original gateway to the Dunkenhalgh Manor House.

1516 Ralph Rishton son of Rodger, of Dunkenhalgh age 9, and Helen daughter of Richard Townley of Royle, age 10, married at Altham Church. A child - wife a few years later lost her reason, and Ralph Rishton pretended to get a divorce, and to marry in Helens lifetime Eliz Parker, of Horrocksford, by whom he had 6 children. Ralph put away his 2nd so called wife, and then married Anne Stanley, daughter of Lady Anne Stanley of Holt. But in 1554 she was taken by force to Harwood Church, and made to marry another man, Mr. John Rishton Ponthalgh, to her sore distress.

Around 1536 Isabel the daughter of Nicholas de Rishton of Dunkenhalgh married Robertus de Hethersall taking up residence at Hothersall Hall, Nr Preston.

Black Head Lane and Dunkenhalgh Gate House 1909

Edward Rishton

Edward Rishton was born in Lancashire, 1550, and died at Sainte-Ménehould, Lorraine, on the 29th June, 1585.

He was probably a younger son of John Rishton of Dunkenhalgh and Dorothy Southworth. He studied at Oxford from 1568 to 1572, when he proceeded B.A. probably from Brasenose College. During the next year he was converted and went to Douai to study for the priesthood.

He was the first Englishman to matriculate at Douai, and is said to have taken his M.A. degree there.

While a student he drew up and published a chart of ecclesiastical history, and was one of the two sent to Reims in November, 1576, to see if the college could be removed there. After his ordination at Cambrai (6th April, 1576) he was sent to Rome.

In 1580 he returned to England, visiting Reims on the way, but was soon arrested. He was tried and condemned to death with Blessed Edmund Campion and others on 20th November, 1581, but was not executed, being left in prison, first in King's Bench, then in the Tower. On 21st January he was exiled with several others, being sent under escort as far as Abbeville, whence he made his way to Reims, arriving on 3rd March.

Shortly afterwards, at the suggestion of Father Persons, he completed Sander's imperfect "Origin and Growth of the Anglican Schism". With the intention of taking his doctorate in divinity he proceeded to the University of Pont-à-Mousson in Lorraine, but the plague broke out, and though he went to Saint-Ménehould to escape the infection, he died of it and was buried there.

Walmsley Crest


Civil War broke out on the 22nd August, 1642, and Richard, grandson of Thomas Walmsley, had just become master of Dunkenhalgh and its estates at the age of eleven years. Cromwell’s troops took over the Hall, and Richard, with his mother, crossed over to France, and a steward, Adam Boulton, was left in charge.

Adam Boulton struggled to keep the estate together when the tenants in Rishton refused to pay their rents and threatened Adam with his life.

The Dunkenhalgh was occupied by Parliamentary troops under Colonel Shuttleworth, of Gawthorpe, who was a relative of the Walmsleys, and by April 1643, there were two troops of parliamentary soldiers occupying the Hall under the command of Captain Assheton.

Lord Derby was busy gathering Royalist forces in the County, in a vain effort to drive them out. A letter marked E. F. described how the troops had left to face Lord Derby's men near Whalley, making them retreat towards Padiham.

In June 1644, Prince Rupert set out to York to relieve the garrison being besieged there, on reaching Blackburn he spilt his troops in two, one half passing through Rishton, Enfield, and Burnley, being led by Charles Lucas. The Dunkenhalgh was left untouched, Prince Rupert being a friend of the Walmsleys, and doubtless paid little attention to it.

With the Restoration of Charles II in 1661, Richard returned. He found that after the occupation by troops, it was necessary to restore Dunkenhalgh, and this he did at the enormous cost of £10,000. He refurnished the mansion, laid out a magnificent deer park, and employed expert landscape gardeners to lay out the grounds and gardens in French and Italian styles.

In 1662 a tax was imposed on hearths, two shillings per annum being paid to the King for every fireplace in any dwelling house. In 1666 the returns for Dunkenhalgh declared 31 hearths, and this was also the total number of hearths in the whole township of Church. This tax was abolished in 1688, but was replaced by a tax on windows.

About 1644, at the time of Prince Rupert marching through the town, James Livesey of Sidebeet, and others, broke into the Hall, stealing goods to the value of £40, claiming it was Papish property. The tenants refused to pay rent to Adam Boulton, fences were ripped down, trees cut, and cattle roamed far and wide. He was powerless to do anything about these crimes.

In 1646 Thomas Whalley of Eachill was established as presbytery priest in an experiment by the religious people of the district.

After 1651 when the Royalist party were last suppressed after a rising, Parliament began its plundering. Edward Rishton of Mickle Heyes was one of these like other local royalist.

Adam Boulton died in 1654, and after the restoration of the hall in 1661, Richard returned. He had married Mary before his return, daughter of Bartholomew Fromund, of Cheame in Surrey, and had had four sons - Thomas, Richard, Charles and Bartholomew. Thomas died unmarried in 1677, Richard died in Rome in 1680, Charles also died childless, leaving just Bartholomew to become heir.

Richard, their father, died on the 26th April 1679, aged just 49.

Bartholomew married Dorothy Smith of Crabtree in Essex, having one son and three daughters.

There is no link between Judge Walmsley & the Duchess of Somerset, But her tomb that is in Westminster abbey is said to be identical to that of the tomb of judge Walmsley of Dunkenhalgh that was in the old Blackburn parish church that was destroyed in the civil war. The plaque in the photo is all that remains of judge Walmsley tomb and this plaque is on the rear wall of Blackburn cathedral.

The low stone castellated house, dating back to about 1580, has been substantially rebuilt since those troubled days when Walmsleys were Pope’s men and loyal to the Stuarts. They would smuggle priests into Dunkenhalgh and that perhaps accounts for the White Lady which folk claim to have seen in the grounds (see later).

The hall, now an hotel at Clayton-le-Moors, incorporates panelling and a splendid oak staircase brought from Hacking Hall, a fine five-gabled three-storied stone house stoutly rebuilt in 1607 by Judge Walmsley.


In 1680, Bartholomew Walmsley, then a youth, became lord of Dunkenhalgh. He was a Roman Catholic and he adapted for Roman Catholic worship the old Langho chapel which at that time was in a state of neglect, no curate being in state of possession, and had the seats etc removed while coming into possession of the keys, Mass was celebrated there until the Vicar of Blackburn came to know of it in 1688. Vicar Price partitioned the Crown, and A lawsuit followed which was heard by the notorious Judge Jeffreys, (portrayed in Lorna Doone), at that time Lord Chancellor, who restored possession of the chapel immediately by decree to the said Vicar of Blackburn, Francis Price. Thus Langho chapel reverted to the Church of England, and the Vicar of Blackburn was bidden to be more considerate in the provision of adequate ministration. This was said to be the last chapel where Roman Catholic services were held.

Bartholomew at this time became implicated in a scheme known as the Lancashire Plot for the restoration of James 11(1685-8.9). Because of his loyalty to the Jacobite cause he was compelled to live abroad for several years, but on his return, together with a number of other Lancashire gentlemen, he was arrested and tried in Manchester on the 20th October, 1694.

The accusation was that they were "traitors to our Sovereign Lord and Lady William III and Mary, and specifically of having accepted some commissions for the raising of an army from James II, late King of England". They were all found not guilty, and Bartholomew Walmsley took up residence at Dunkenhalgh where he died on the 29th December, 1701.

Bartholomew had only had one son, Francis, born on the 13th August 1696, but also had three daughters, Julian died young, Catherine was born on the 6th January 1698, and Mary also died young.

Francis took the estate on his fathers death in in January 1702, but died himself in April 1711, aged just 14. His sister Catherine was now sole surviving heir, and the last of the Walmsley family.


At the east end of the rebuilt nave and above the altar there was inserted a stained-glass window, the gift of George Petre from the private chapel of Dunkenhalgh, which displayed the arms of the Walmsleys and Petres of Dunkenhalgh and Whalleys of Clerk Hill, with a figure of the Virgin somewhat mutilated. Some of this glass was fourteenth century. In 1879, when the chancel was built, this glass was removed, and in 1881 it was placed in one of the south windows of the nave and was destroyed in 1917, when there was an explosion at an adjoining chemical works.

The window in the days of its original splendour must have enhanced the interior of the church in its blaze of heraldic glory, for prominent was the lion demi-rampant, or erect, the crest of the Rishton’s of Ponthalgh. Also there were depicted the arms of the Rishton’s, a black lion passant or recumbent. The arms of the Fyttons of Martholme, formerly lords of the manor of Gt. Harwood and of Tottleworth in Rishton, were represented by three wheat sheaves. The arms of the Heskeths, successors of the Fyttons, comprised a majestic golden eagle with wings outspread. Above this was a beautifully coloured representation of the Blessed Virgin, and below were two suns and near to these was the lion rampant, the arms of the De Lacys, ancient lords of Clitheroe. One coat of arms containing two mullets may have been originally the arms of the de Althams, which should have contained three mullets. Especially is this likely as the adjoining coat of arms was a black flewry sable of the Banastre arms of Altham, together with the arms and crest of the Walmsleys of Dunkenhalgh, with other decorative ornamentations. The window would probably date from the late sixteenth century.

Dunkenhalgh, As Seen From The Canal, August 2001

The castellated house now the Dunkenhalgh Hotel is approached through an avenue of Lime Trees, with its many acres of parkland once being home to many deer. Being the main residence of the Walmsley family between 1571 and 1712 the house was stocked by many fine artefacts brought here from other houses in the neighbourhood.

Thomas Walmsley M. P was knighted in 1603 by James I, his grandson also named Thomas was M. P. for Clitheroe in 1621 and was also knighted by James I.

April 12th 1900, Henry Petre owner of the Dunkenhalgh, leaves as volunteer to the South Africa war.

On April the 12th 1900, Henry Petre died aged 78. He was the then owner of the Dunkenhalgh.

On the 22nd January 1945, A letter of condolence was addressed to the relatives of the late Mr. G. E. Petre from the Rishton Urban District Council.

2nd April 1947, the Dunkenhalgh Manor sold to Neville Burton of Manchester to possibly be made into a hotel.

September 13th 1947, the manor was officially opened as a hotel.

9th May 1950. The Dunkenhalgh (Petre Arms Hotel) is auctioned but withdrawn when bids only reached £27,500.

29th July 1950, Dunkenhalgh hotels Ltd. took over the Petre Arms Hotel (formerly Dunkenhalgh) from B & B Hotels Ltd.

Very Old Picture Of The Dunkenhalgh

20th October 1956, The Dunkenhalgh gatehouse was demolished because large American cars couldn't get to the hotel.

Gremlins at the Hall

"I am informed by some persons, who had it by tradition from ancient people, that formerly there was in this country a monstrous serpent of four or five yards long, and thicker than a common axle-tree [wooden] of a cart, and very mischievous, preying upon lambs etc. Its chief residence was in a wood, near pickup bank, a few miles from Blackburn in Lancashire, called Ouse Castle, wherein there is yet a little spot of ground, called Griom's Ark, which is a deep cavern, situated among rocks in a wood, from whence it was seen to come out and bask itself on a sunny bank.

The picture of this serpent is drawn with wings, two legs, and talons like an eagle, which is seen in some ancient houses (and particularly at Clayton Hall, near Dunkinhall), by which it appears to be very large and furious. It is said one Grimshaw, esq., proprietor of that hall, shot the monster with arrows, and had an estate offered him for that good service done to his Country, which he generously refused, and only desired that he might have passage through that wood to a township he had on t'other side of it, which was granted, the title of which is found in ancient writings.

Former entrance to the Dunkenhalgh, seen here in the 1930's.

It is observable that in the front of Clayton hall are two figures drawn in plaster in the form of a serpent. The like figure is drawn in plaster in several ancient houses in that neighbourhood, which go under the name of the griffin's picture, and the sign is used at public-houses. There is a place in that wood called the Griffin's Ark."

The first Grimshaw with a reference to the griffon is Henry de Grimshaw of Clayton living in 1372-6 who divided the manor of Clayton with the Rishtons.

In the St George Visitation Records we find a reference to Henry Grimshaw as follows: - "The carrying of weapons in medieval days led to serious disputes. For in 1465 Henry Grimshaw was implicated in the manslaughter of Robert Bynnes of Altham. The sheriff sent a warrant to the constable of Altham for the arrest of Robert Bynnes. Henry was assisting at the arrest and killed Robert with his lance, from which charge he was cleared. Being done in the execution of his duty.

The Lime Tree Driveway and Gatehouse.

More about de Rishton's

RISHTON Family, First Generation

1. Gefferye Rishton, birth date unknown. Gefferye died 6 March 1639/40 in Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England.

He married Maria Pemmerton in Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England, 14th October 1601. from Harston Lee (Harthstonelea) Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England

Gefferye Rishton and Maria Pemmerton had the following children:

2 i. Ranulphus2 Rishton. He was baptized in Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England, 22 June 1602. Religion: religion unknown.

3 ii. Anna Rishton. She was baptized in Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England, 6 November 1603. Religion: religion unknown.

4 iii. Martha Rishton. She was baptized in Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England, 24 March 1603/4. Religion: religion unknown.

5 iv. Jana Rishton. She was baptized in Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England, 1 May 1606. Religion: religion unknown.

6 v. Richard Rishton. He was baptized in Black Hawk Co., I. A., 8 May 1609. Religion: religion unknown.

7 vi. Thomas Rishton. He was baptized in Black Hawk Co., I. A., 23 February 1613/4. Religion: religion unknown.

8 vii. Gefferye Rishton Junior. He was baptized in Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England, 26 July 1618. Religion: religion unknown.

9 viii. William Rishton. He was baptized in Blackburn Parish, Lancaster, England, 3 September 1620. Religion: religion unknown.


The White Lady, Part I

In Part I of this story into the legends surrounding the Samlesbury Ghost, it is cited the earliest known sources for this story and recounted numerous reported encounters prior to 1940. In Part II, it relates those reported from 1940 to the present. In Part III we investigate who the White Lady might have been.

Like many other ancient houses Samlesbury Hall is said to be haunted. It is impossible to say when this belief originated but it was probably first written down by T. T. Wilkinson in 1875 in his "Legends and Traditions of Lancashire" -

"Tradition states that during his [Sir John, died 1595] later years one of his daughters had formed an intimate acquaintance with the heir of a neighbouring knightly house. The attachment was mutual, and nothing was wanting to complete their happiness except the consent of the lady's father.

Sir John was thereupon consulted, but the tale of their devoted attachment only served to increase his rage, and he dismissed the supplicants with the most bitter denunciations. "No daughter of his should ever be united to the son of a family which had deserted its ancestral faith," and he forebode the youth his presence for ever.

Difficulty, however, only served to increase the ardour of the devoted lovers, and after many secret interviews along the wooded slopes of the Ribble, an elopement was agreed upon, in hope that time would bring her father's pardon. The day and place were unfortunately overheard by one of the lady's brothers, who was hiding in a thicket close by, and he determined to prevent what he considered his sister's disgrace.

On the evening agreed upon, both parties met at the place appointed, and as the young knight moved away with his betrothed, her brother rushed from his hiding place and slew both him and his two friends by whom he was accompanied.

The bodies were secretly buried within the precincts of the domestic chapel at the Hall, and Lady Dorothy was sent abroad to a convent, where she was kept under strict surveillance. Her mind at last gave way. The name of her murdered lover was ever on her lips, and she died a raving maniac.

Some years ago three human skeletons were found near the walls of the Hall, and popular opinion has connected them with the tradition.

The legend also states that on certain clear still evenings a lady in white can be seen passing along the grounds; that she meets there a handsome knight who receives her on his bended knee, and he then accompanies her along the walks. On arriving at a certain spot, most probably the lover's grave, both phantoms stand still and as they seem to utter soft wailings of despair they embrace each other, and then the forms rise slowly from the east and melt away into the clear blue of the surrounding sky."

The Samlesbury historian Robert Eaton, in his booklets "Stories of Samlesbury" published some years ago gives several instances of reports of the apparition - "The Northern Daily Telegraph of February 4th, 1926, quoting a recent issue of the London Morning Post in which was printed a letter by an elderly Colonel, formerly a subaltern in the 15th York's East Riding Regiment, states:

"He [the colonel] was sent with a company of soldiers to garrison Samlesbury Hall in 1878, during the Lancashire cotton riots, and was given a bedroom in a long corridor overlooking the front garden (courtyard).

In the early morning (the writer states) he was awakened by someone crying most bitterly, and having made a vain search to discover the cause returned to bed concluding that someone in a room above his own was in pain.

At breakfast he related his experience to his host and hostess, who exchanged significant glances and then related the story of the ghost of Samlesbury Hall as follows:

'In the reign of Henry VIII the Hall belonged to the Catholic family of Southworth and the daughter of the house arranged to elope with young de Hoghton of the nearby Tower, who had rejected the family faith by becoming a Protestant.

The plan of elopement became known, old Southworth and his men ambushed de Hoghton and killed him and his attendant, beneath Miss Southworth's window. She saw it happen, threw herself out and was killed also.

Ever since she has been said to haunt the corridor in a white dress, weeping and wailing. "In recent times when alterations were being made the skeletons of two men were found buried beneath the corridor windows."' [This last sentence is in quotation marks in the original. Presumably Eaton is indicating a quote from the original work of Wilkinson].

In a later story Eaton cites a Mr. Abram Sharples of Samlesbury, who died aged 73 in 1926. Eaton writes -

"Mr. Sharples on the night of February 7th that year related the following:

He was employed as a youth by Mr. Wm. Harrison, who with his sister Miss Harrision resided at Samlesbury Hall up to May, 1879.

During an excavation for a land drain, probably about 1870 for the South West or Preston side, he and a workman named Jacob Baron unexpectedly broke into an enclosed brick chamber lying just outside the garden wall. The interior being inspected, the remains of two human bodies were found, which soon fell away to little more than bones and hair.

Mr. Harrison caused the vault to be repaired, cleaned and lime washed, the remains replaced and the vault sealed up.

Mr. Sharples was also asked if he could remember the cotton riots of 1878.

He said that during these disturbances Samlesbury Hall was occupied by 50 soldiers and an officer, together with 20 police and an inspector.

The soldiers and police found shelter under the spacious carriage shed in the yard, whilst the officer and inspector of police were lodged in the house, their hosts being Mr. William Harrison and his sister Miss Harrison.

The officer mentioned by Mr. Sharples is without question the elderly colonel who writes such an interesting letter to the Morning Post, February, 1926."

Such then seems to be the basic legend and its earliest recordings.

Other experiences, since then, only seem to go back as far as 1925. Eaton, in the same 'Stories of Samlesbury' booklet writes, in a story called "A Hot-Pot Supper.", the following -

"In November of 1925, a hot pot supper was held in the armorial room, to celebrate the recent purchase of this fine old manor house. When the tables had been cleared the party formed themselves into a cosy cordon around the aromatic wood fire.

Feeble lights struggled bravely to pierce the gloom of the distant recesses, and white wood ashes falling on the hearth formed or hinted curious shapes, whilst various members of the party in turn entertained the others in song, recital or story. Dr. S. Davies, Master of the Blackburn Society of Antiquaries, read from "Pickwick Papers" that fine ghost story 'Tale told by a bagman' and another told of 'Syke's Lumb and the pots of money'.

A lady then related her experiences of some years previously when staying in Balderstone. She was recuperating after a rather prolonged illness, staying at a house in Balderstone, where only the width of the turnpike road separated Samlesbury from the former township.

One evening at the edge of dark, she, with her hostess, went to fetch milk from a farmhouse over the road in Samlesbury.

They seated themselves on the spindle backed rush bottomed chairs, in the gloom of the living room, where, second by second, the grandfather clock ticked ominously and unseen in its dark corner.

The bread flake with its festoons of brittle oat cakes drooped from the gnarled ceiling beams, and the flameless glow of a sinking fire showed the andirons in black relief as the old farmer, who lived in solitary seclusion, went into the dairy to fill the jug with milk.

Whilst they waited in motionless silence she noticed near a long cushioned squab in another room - its door being ajar - a moving shadowy figure, which on more intent observation resolved itself into the form of a somewhat tall and slightly built lady with long, flowing hair, dressed all in white and in the fashion of bygone days.

At first the observer thought it might be the reflection of herself, as she wore a white gown, but no, this lady was standing, whereas she was seated, and again the old-world air was there, the quaint old-fashioned gown, and the air of mystery. Her wondering meditations were disturbed by the return of the old farmer with a brimming jug of milk, and the two ladies with a 'good-night' left for home.

As soon as they were well outside, the one said to her hostess, "I thought old Mr. (calling him by name) lived by himself". "Well, so he does and has for many years," was the reply. "But is there no one staying with him at all?" "No," was the answer, "Of that I am sure."

Then the first lady remembered the unusual dress, the unbraided hair, the apparent youth and faintness of the figure, and she began to wonder! wonder!! what she had seen.

There was a hushed silence as the lady finished her story, and several of those present began to think it just possible that Samlesbury's White Lady after 300 years had come once again to the lonely farmhouse to meet her lover, where the jealous vindictive eyes of her father and brothers might be avoided.

The above extremely old farm house, formerly named "Cobblers" and by the Harrison's re-named "Collin's Bridge", along with its twenty acres or thereabouts was acquired for inclusion in the Samlesbury aerodrome site. The old farm buildings are now razed to the earth."

The White Lady, Part II

In his booklet Stories of Samlesbury, Robert Eaton, the Samlesbury historian, tells of another encounter in 1940. This is called "The Janitor's Story".

"On the night of January 10th 1940, it then being the period of dark moon, the present resident caretaker, Mr. Edward Smith, together with a male friend, sat in vigil near the rails of the staircase landing on the upper floor in Samlesbury Hall.

They sat with their backs towards the gallery of the Southworth chapel in the rear centre of the room. From this position, all the length of the apartment with the sole exception of the width taken up by the staircase, and landing just behind them, would be easily observed.

For several nights prior to the above date, these two men had made it their business to take up the positions described, for the express purpose of determining for themselves whether any hauntings took place, and if there were any substratum of truth in the legends attached to this old manor house.

As they sat in the silent and eerie gloom of this magnificent barrel-ceiled room with its many traditions of long past days, stories of these old times rose in their minds.

Here once dwelt men who fought in the English army at Harfleur and Agincourt. From Samlesbury went pike men and archers to fight under their own lord at Flodden in 1513, and in the year 1581 the unflinching Sir John Southworth was incarcerated at the New Fleet prison,

Manchester for a period of three years, because of his religious pertinacity. The watchers sat in chairs in the position already indicated, but with diminishing hopes of determining for themselves whether there was any basis of truth in the old stories.

It was now half past eleven, and so far nothing exceptional had happened; only thirty minutes before midnight. The clock ticked on for another interminable fifteen minutes, when Mr. Smith was startled by a fierce clutch on his left arm, and he turned sharply round to his companion.

It was now apparent to him why his arm had been seized with such force, for just to the left, and coming from the direction of the chapel gallery was a slight grey wraith-like form, passing noiselessly along the side of the walls towards the great fireplace in the centre of the western wall.

Here the figure seemed to halt for a moment and finally disappear - dissolve before their eyes. Waiting for a few moments to regain control of their emotions a close examination was made of the fireplace and chimney, but nothing exceptional was found, neither were the voluntary late sittings prolonged to any succeeding night."

Still in the same booklet Eaton recounts another story, "Pioneer Corps at Samlesbury Hall", which reads -

"A short time before the incidence of the present [1939-45] war, a large area of ground in Samlesbury, and sometime later, a smaller portion of land in the adjoining township of Balderston were purchased, conjointly, by the Corporations of Blackburn and Preston.

Transport by air was getting more and still more to be the probable and general means of individual and commercial conveyance, especially over long distances, and advantage was seized so as to ensure air travel facilities near these two towns. After war was declared by this country on Germany, the third of September, 1939, the advantages of the above named site for aeroplane manufacture and flight testing were instantly seen, and so the site initially intended as a commercial air-ways station was taken over by H. M. Government for war purposes.

There is some timber cover on the north east side of the Hall, and in this leafy arbour several large Army hutments have been erected. In this situation the huts are just off the air ways ground and almost hidden by the trees.

For some time after completion the huts remained untenanted, but near the middle of September 1942, a Manchester Company of Pioneers was drafted to these quarters.

Completely encircling the Hall and its adjoining buildings, there was in earlier days, a deep and wide, water filled moat, and a portion of the old moat, but now drained and road surfaced, serves as a depressed drive or road to the rear of the main buildings.

On the night of September 16th, 1942, two of the recently arrived soldiers sauntered out of their quarters about 9.45 [pm]. They passed down the moat steps opposite the central hut building and so entered the depression which once formed part of the ancient moat. Turning towards the lodge gates they were enjoying a final smoke before turning in for the night. They had not proceeded many yards when they were joined by another figure.

Its appearance was quite unexpected and gave them both a severe shock as it moved noiselessly beside them step by step, and appeared to be merely a white shadowy phantom, which they tried to, but couldn't shake off. Both men simultaneously felt that there was something sinister and altogether uncanny about their unwelcome companion which, without a word or sound moved along with them as if determined to bear them company.

One of the men couldn't stand the strain and collapsed in the drive, whilst his companion turned round and at top speed bolted for the lighted shelter of the hut he had just left. Immediately on getting safely inside, a rescue party was formed to bring back their comrade.

He was still unconscious, and so serious was his condition that it was deemed necessary to telephone for an ambulance which carried him to the hospital in a nearby town. He was detained for several days.

His companion, though not quite so seriously affected was some time before he quite recovered from the effects of his night's experience.

On the following morning - that is Thursday, September 17th, the company's sergeant related the above details to Mr. Smith the resident caretaker of Samlesbury Hall, and said he at least was satisfied that his men had passed through an unusual and trying experience for which he could offer or suggest no explanation."

Two more stories date from 1948.

The first of these concerns members of the cast who were in the play "The Tragedy of the House of Southworth", which was performed at the Hall in October, 1948.

One evening between the 18th and 23rd of October, when the play was being performed, several of the cast claimed to see a lady, dressed in white, pass by the window of their dressing room. Initially they though it must be one of their number, but a check showed that all were present.

They were then convinced that something strange had happened. Subsequent publicity attracted the attention of the B. B. C. who made enquiries in December of that year.

The second story is narrated by Robert Eaton in the second series booklet 'Stories of Samlesbury'. It is called the 'Nab Lane Apparition.'

"There is a well used road close to the old Hall of Samlesbury which leads to the Blackburn Corporation sewage disposal works and a little further on arrives at the Nabs Head Inn, which too, is the property of this Corporation. About half way to the Nabs Head is the home of Mr. Hubbersty, which bears the name of Sorbrose House.

It lies on the lower side of the road and is somewhat secluded. A little further on, we arrive at a few isolated cottages, in one of which the business of a general store is carried on, here one may purchase newspapers or provisions. The people who keep this shop of general stores have been here a few years only and are not old inhabitants and in consequence had, I believe, no knowledge of local traditions.

It was the usual practice of these shopkeepers, man and wife, to have a stroll after business hours, and this often led to the main Blackburn and Preston road which ends Nab Lane.

These people as already noted are not old residents in Samlesbury, I stress this, neither had they any knowledge, as far as can be ascertained, of local traditions. As before mentioned, it was their usual practice to have a short walk after business hours, and at the same time opportunity was taken of giving the dog some exercise, but on a rather long lead.

After passing Sorbrose House and turning the bend in the road, it appears that the couple went along, well away from the shallow gutter, but the dog as far as the leash permitted was prowling there.

The couple noticed a lady, who appeared to be wearing a light mackintosh, coming towards them. After she had passed the man remarked how quietly she had passed them and later commented how close she had been to him and had seemed to brush past him.

Thinking of this later, they wondered how she could have passed the man without tripping over the dog's lead. The figure, in fact, passed between the man and his dog over or through a tightly held lead. Further, it was too dark for any person to notice the lead and so avoid being tripped by it.

The next evening the same couple read in a local newspaper of an argument which took place between a Ribble bus driver and his conductor.

It appears that the bus driver stopped near Samlesbury Old Hall to pick up a woman dressed in a light coloured coat or mackintosh, and who appeared to be awaiting the bus, which often makes a stop at this point, for the convenience of people living near Nab's Head.

At the stop, the conductor looked out, but there was no one there. He asked the driver what he had stopped for, particularly as they were already behind schedule and it was the last bus - then argument ensued.

It was suggested that the apparition in question might have been the 'Lady Dorothy, a daughter of the Southworths of Samlesbury, some 350 years ago."

In December 1962, an article appeared in the Northern Daily Telegraph concerning a book of Samlesbury Hall, which the author, Mr. G. F. Eastwood was endeavouring to get published. In that article Mr. Eastwood was asked about the ghost, 'Does she really exist?' Mr. Eastwood replied, "I have an open mind because quite a number of reliable people claim to have seen her."

As I was working on the Southworth family history at this time I made enquiry regarding the book. During the course of that enquiry I was informed, by his wife, that Mr. Eastwood himself claimed to have seen the white lady spectre on the archery field by the Hall. I must state that I did not speak to Mr. Eastwood himself.

The White Lady, Part III

Such is the background to the 'White Lady' stories, but who is the lady? The legend identifies the ghost as Lady Dorothy, 'daughter of Sir John'.

BUT Sir John did not have a daughter Dorothy, or if he did she is not recorded anywhere, and, if she did exist, her non-recording is highly unlikely. There is, however, a record of a Lady Dorothy, a sister of Sir John, and daughter of Sir Thomas Southworth and Margaret [nee Butler] his second wife.

Now, there is one circumstance that would point to Dorothy as the ghost. Indications are that she died between 1575 and 1592, just at the time when Sir John was in trouble with the authorities for his continued adherence to the Catholic faith. Secret Masses were still being said at this time, probably in the Hall and in nearby Bessa Woods, and other locations round about.

The Hall contained many items of papistry, which were eventually discovered by the authorities in 1592. So it was about the time Dorothy died that there was, perhaps, a 'need' for a ghost in the Hall and its grounds, to deter prying eyes. It may be then that the ghost story first emerged. Whilst there is a case to be made, as above, the detail of the legend seems to be largely invented. The known facts concerning Dorothy are these.

She was born about 1525/30, the daughter of Sir Thomas Southworth. She had one brother, Sir John, and four sisters; Elizabeth, Anne, Katherine, and Cecily. Dorothy is first recorded in the Herald's Visitation of Lancashire in 1533, when the Herald enters -"Sir Thomas Southworth Knight maryed Margery, dawghter to Thomas Butler of Bewse, father to Thomas Butler that now ys and they have ishew Elisabeth, Anne, Katryn, and Dorothe. I spake not wt hym."

The next record of Dorothy is her marriage. Abram records in his "History of Blackburn" that "John Rishton, Gent., son and heir of Henry occurs in a return of recusant gentry in Lancashire in 1575. He married in 1542, Dorothy, daughter [sic] of Sir John Southworth of Samlesbury, Knight, and had issue sons Nicholas and Geffrey, and a daughter Anne."

John Rishton's father, Henry Rishton, had married Eleanor Butler about 1527, and had issue, sons John and Geoffrey, and daughters Ann, Dorothy, Jane, Grace, Elizabeth, Alice, and Jenet.

This means that John Rishton, who married Dorothy Southworth, could only have been 15 years old at the most at the time of the marriage. His bride, Dorothy, would probably have been about the same age.

At some time, probably before 1556, and perhaps earlier than that, it seems that John and Dorothy divorced. Part of the divorce settlement may have involved the lifetime tenure of the manor of Holte, for an indenture reads -

'Indenture 26th October 3-4 Philip and Mary [1556].

1) Right Worshipful Sir John Sowthworthe of Samlesbury Knt.

2) Rauf son and heir appt. of Roger Risshton of Pulkaughe.

3) Gives, grants, bargains, sells all reversion of manor of Holte (Warwick) all which should revert to Roger after death of Dorothe Sowthworthe sister of Sir John Sowthworthe who is seised of it for life. Dorothe Sowthworthe is to be clear of any dower to Ellen late wife of Henry Risshton. Sir John Sowthworthe pay 200 marks at the chapel on the north side of Blagheburne parish church.

Signed. J. Sowthworthe.

Signed, sealed, and delivered. Robert Ffaryngton,
Rauf Barton,
Wm. Preston,
Henry Sowthworthe,
Mastrys Dorothe Sowthworthe,
Gregory Butler,
and divers other persons worthy of credence.
Endorsed manor of Holte.

Note that Dorothy has reverted to her maiden name. Whilst the divorces of her father and two sisters are recorded, there is no trace of the possible divorce of Dorothy. Yet it seems beyond doubt.

Some light may be shed by the historical notes of Mr. William Langton to the 1533 Visitation. He relates that this 'John Rishton had been mixed up with a scandalous transaction in his early manhood.

His kinsman, Ralph Rishton of Ponthalgh, having formed an improper connection with Ann Stanley, daughter of Dame Ann Stanley of the Holt in Rishton, widow of Sir James Stanley of Cross Hall, knt., the mother carried her daughter by night to Great Harwood Church (she being three months gone with child) and forced her to go through the ceremony of marriage with John Rishton of Dunkenhalgh. A divorce eventually terminated this involuntary alliance.'

Quite why John was forced into the marriage when Ralph seems to have been the 'cad' is not clear.

But it does show that John was free to marry at that time, whenever it was. Dorothy is recorded again in 1575/6 when the Bishop of Chester reports to the Privy Council as "obstinate recusants in the Blagburne Parish....John Sothworth, knight, John Sothworth, gent, sonne to John Sothworth, knight, Ann Southworth, his daughter, Dorothie Sothworth, his sister."

Again this record confirms that Dorothy was Sir John's sister, and she was using the family surname in 1575 despite her earlier marriage to John Rishton.

Dorothy is not mentioned in a list of recusants in 1592, and this may indicate that she had died before then.

Little of the foregoing links up with the legend. There is nothing here to suggest Dorothy wished to marry 'the son of a family which had deserted its ancestral faith'. Nor is there anything to suggest that she was 'sent abroad to a convent where she died a raving maniac'.

Indeed she was still living in Samlesbury when she was 45/50 years old, and almost certainly died there shortly after. Nor is there any record to show that any son of a neighbouring Protestant family was slain at Samlesbury.

Such is the stuff of legends.

It seems that ghosts have always appeared, most fortuitously, when a deterrent was needed, for some reason or other, to discourage visitors or enquirers.

In the case of the Samlesbury ghost it served to deter close inspection at a time when priests were harboured there, and Masses performed, in the days of Catholic persecution.

But there is a footnote:-

If ever there was a case to be made out for a Samlesbury Hall ghost then a prime candidate would have to be Mary Southworth, daughter of John and Jane [nee Sherburne], and great grand- daughter of Sir John [died 1595].

Mary was born about 1602/3 to the heir of the Samlesbury estates. Her father, however, never succeeded as he predeceased his father. Mary's eldest brother, Thomas, then became heir and succeeded his grandfather in 1617.

Mary was born in good circumstances, therefore, but her father died when she was 9 years old.

On the 30th May 1616, when she was 13 or 14 years old she married James Martin, M.A., a Protestant cleric, at St. John's church, Preston.

The entry in the marriage register there reads - 'Jacobus Martin Utrinsque Academise Magister in Artibus, Maria Southworth gen.'

Seven years after the marriage James lost his living, because he had churched mothers of illegitimate children without the required public confession having been made by them.

He seems to have become destitute, for he sent two appeals to the Archbishop of York in 1633, in one of them stating that his wife and son had died of starvation in the streets. In her darkest hours Mary's thoughts must have turned to happier childhood days and to Samlesbury Hall, her father's birthright. Perhaps she herself was born there.

Could it be that the pale wraith which is said to haunt the Hall is poor Mary?


1 Rishton Parish Church Jubilee 1927 by Carlton Noble.

Lancashire Ghosts by Kathleen Eyre, Published by Dalesman Books 1974

A Chronology of Accrington and Men of Mark, by R. S. Crossley, Published 1924.

A Hyndburn Chronology by Paul Ladham

5 Clayton Hall (Website no longer exists - http://www.k-telfer.freeserve.co.uk/clayton.htm)

Clayton Le Moors web site (now defunct- www.clayton-le-moors.org)

Hothersall Hall (http://www.hothersallhall.fsnet.co.uk/history.htm) Website no longer exists.

Lancashire Halls & Houses Website (now defunct - http://www.lancshalls.co.uk/Hyndburn/dunkenhalghhall.htm)

11 A History of the Parish of Saint James, Church Kirk, by The Reverend R. J. W. Bevan and Victor G. Palmer, 2nd Edition 1989.

Edward Rishton piece wrote by Edwin Burton, and Transcribed by Joseph E. O'Connor. PITTS, De illustribus Angliae scriptoribus (Paris, 1619); DODD, Church History (Brussels vere Wolverhampton, 1737-42), II, 74, a very inaccurate account; A WOOD, Athenae Oxonienses, ed. BLISS (London, 1813 - 20); KINSELLA AND DEANE, The Rise and Progress of the English Reformation (Dublin, 1827), a translation of Sander; LEWIS, Rise and Growth of the Anglican Schism (London, 1877, the best translation of Sander, the editor accepts the diary in the Tower as being by Rishton; KNOX, First and Second Douay Diaries (London, 1878); FOLEY, Records Eng. Prov. S.J., VI (London 1880); FOSTER, Alumni Oxonienses (Oxford, 1891); GILLOW, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Cathleen. SIMPSON, Edmund Campion, revised ed. (London, 1896-1907); COOPER in Dict. Nat. Biog.; PERSONS, Memoirs in Catholic Record Society, II, IV (London, 1906); Tower Bills, ed. POLLEN in Catholic Record Society, III (London, 1906).

Gremlins in the Hall - (Charles Owen, D. D., A Nat. History Of Serpents, 1742. 4 to. P.144.)

White Lady - by John Southworth of Boston, England.

Judge Walmsley picture and Westminster picture supplied by Gordon Hartley.