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The Walmsleys of Clayton Le Dale.

Lime Tree Driveway, Planted By Judge Walmley

The first mention we have of the Walmsley family is of Thomas Walmsley, of Showley in Clayton Le Dale, prior to 1500. He was assessed of the subsidy in 1523-24, and went on to have a son and heir, also named Thomas, who married Margaret Livesey of Sidebeet in Rishton in 1536. Named as A Rishton heiress of Hacking, near the junction of Calder and Ribble.

The Liveseys had land in Cunliffe, Dutton, Ribchester, Clitheroe and many other places. The next year their 1st son was born, and also named Thomas.

During 1537, Sir Thomas Walmsley was born, he was the eldest of many children his "obstinate" father produced, his father dying on the 17th April, 1584. It was he that was the famous Judge of Common Pleas, and he was Knighted in 1603 by James I. His likeness is commemorated on an inn sign at Whalley.

In 1581 Judge Walmsley bought the Manor House and lands in Rishton from Thomas Talbot, so becoming Lord of the Manor. Around 1600 the Lordship of Lower Darwen together with Fearnhurst, Rishton & Holt were sold to Sir Thomas Walmesley of Hacking and Dunkenhalgh. In 1897 Lower Darwen contained 2,666 acres, the lord of the manor being Edward Petre Esq., the population in 1841 was 1,996 in 1851 - 3,521, in 1891 - 5,573.

The Judge, like the rest of his family, were stout Roman Catholics, and during the Reign of Elizabeth there were numerous plots attempted to dethrone her. During one of these short periods the Judge was removed from office on suspicion of complicity, but was soon honourable reinstated.

Duchess of Somersets tomb in Westminister Abbey

We are told that he was fearless in debate, and "never dyd, for favour or of awe of great men's frowns, quit or forsake the law".

He was one of the founder Governors of Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Blackburn, and his portrait has an honourable place there.

He rebuilt part of the Dunkenhalgh Manor, and also built a Roman Catholic Chapel there in the grounds.

He Died on the 26th November, 1612 at the age of 75. There is a Monument stone in Blackburn Parish Church (predecessor to the Cathedral there). This monument was destroyed in the civil war, but was rebuilt in  1613. He planted the Lime tree drive at Dunkenhalgh.

1614 The South chapel of Blackburn parish church was under the ownership of the Dunkenhalgh, owned by the Walmsley family. This was after a bitter dispute.

During the civil war, and in particular during the Protectorate, the family suffered severe hardship and persecution for their religious beliefs. It is said that he turned to be a Protestant in Elizabethan times though most of his family, after a few waverings, drifted back to the old faith, including Bartholomew, his son.

The sole heir to the Judge, also Thomas, born about 1574, and died on the 12th March 1642, married Elinor, who was daughter to Sir John Danvers, of Dantsey, Wilpshire. He had two sons, and two daughters. John, the heir to the estate died young in April 1600. This left Thomas, the youngest son to claim sole rights.

After the death of his 1st wife, he married the daughter of Sir Richard Houghton, Mary, and together they one son, Charles, born in 1608. He was also knighted at Houghton Towers in August 1617, by James 1.

He married again, this time to Juliana, daughter of Sir Richard Moylneux, and they had 4 sons and 3 daughters. He died in 1637, before his father, his estates passing to his eldest son on the death of his father, Richard, who even then was only 12 years of age, and by now was living in France due to the outbreak of the Civil War.


See Dunkenhalgh Manor page.