SUES FORUM 35: 09/2022


The momentous events of the last few days have affected us all. SUES as an organisation shares in the sense of national mourning and personal loss. At present we have no plans to postpone or cancel any of our meetings, but obviously will respond to events.

In our first article in this edition we have further information on Scarisbrick, but Mary Ormsby this time takes an approach, which has a wider interest, showing how traditional courts worked. Our second piece is a late substitution, a poem by John Sharp inspired by our most remarkable local natural feature, the dunes of Ainsdale and Formby.

Autumn is with us and the ‘’mellow fruitfulness’’ includes the start of SUES’s 2022-23 season. There are reminders below of the two opening events which are soon upon us. The second Scarisbrick Hall visit was the last event of the previous year and it proved as successful as the first, upon which we commented in last month’s FORUM.

Those who have paid their subscriptions and signed up for courses will be fed up of reminders, but in case there are any who are missing out we will do so again. Bear in mind that October’s FORUM will only be sent to current members. At the time of writing we have 45 members, viable numbers for the first two multi-session courses and already some interest in the Spring course.. Obviously some members like to sign up for a course nearer its commencement date. This is perfectly acceptable, but be careful not to forget.

Forthcoming Friday Meeting: Caravaggio

Friday 16th September at 2:30pm, All Saints Church Hall

Our next Friday talk will be devoted to Caravaggio, one of the most remarkable of painters, remarkable both for his dramatic works and his scandalous life. Our lecturer will be Father Leo Daley, a priest of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, who once studied painting at the Academia delle belle Arti at Rome.

Michelangelo Merisi from Caravaggio near Milan has become one of the most popular and easily recognised painters of our times. He died in 1610 and was disregarded in artistic circles for three centuries. What caused him to be rehabilitated? Are we reading him correctly? We take a closer look at just a few of his more famous works.

Reminder – Course on Crusades Starts 26th September

9 Sessions: September 26; Oct 3, 10, 17, 31; November 7, 14, 21, 28
Course fee: £45

Scarisbrick Manor Court

The Scarisbrick Manor court records at PRO (Public Record Office) cover the period 1771 to 1820 and are the records of Scarisbrick’s ‘court leet with view of frankpledge’. The court was held twice a year in July or August and October.

The term ‘view of frankpledge’ (Latin: visus franciplegii) harked back to the Anglo-Saxon system of peace-keeping where groups of ten men undertook to be responsible for each other’s behaviour.  In the context of the court leet, the phrase ‘view of frankpledge’ was short-hand for the additional judicial rights held by the court.  For example courts leet upheld the ‘assize of bread and ale’ by appointing ale-tasters to ensure that standards were maintained, and also had the right to appoint township constables.

The steward was in overall charge of the court, and by the 16th century was generally legally qualified A number of men were sworn in as the jury at the start of each session. Between 1788 and 1806 the number of jury men at the Scarisbrick court ranged from 12 to 21 but was most commonly 13 or 14. In addition the court also swore men into various ‘community roles’ such as pinders, houselookers etc. as shown in Table 1.

The court dealt with a wide range of subjects, making orders and formulating byelaws. People who infringed these were ‘presented’ and were subject to a financial penalty or amercement.

The early court records are estreats which only detail the penalties from the court but the later ones are in three parts:

1. List of Jury members and ‘community roles’

2. Court roll which records admissions to leases as previous tenants died

3. A list of orders, presentments and fines. In the early 19th century orders tended to be made at the October court for completion before the following July, hence the number of presentments is higher in the August court (see Fig. 2).

LeylayersCourt Bailiffs
BarleymenAppraisers of Distrefs
Brook LookersAssessors
Supervisors of the Highways for…Game Lookers for…
…Wike Cop & Biscar Lane…Drummersdale Side
…Blackmoss Lane…Ottersty Moss
…Hawson & Greenings Pool Hey Lane…Wyke Side
…Barrasell Green Side
Lookers to…
…Narrow Moss & Barrasell Green…Pool Hey Side
…Jackson’s Common…Asmall Lane Side
…Lane leading to Charnock Mofs called the Old Cart Leay
…Pool Hey Lane
Table 1: Scarisbrick Manor – Appointed Roles

Figure 1 aims to represent the ‘process’ of the Scarisbrick manor court as discerned from the records. The swearing in of the jury did not take place again at the August court, which was a court ‘holden in adjournment’ but the cycle of activities did occur at each court.

The Scarisbrick orders and presentments can be grouped under the three main headings:

1. Infringement of the lord’s privileges: for example taking sand and dung from the lord’s soil (generally by encroaching or making ‘intakes’ on the manorial waste ground)

2. Offences against the stability of the community: for example allowing houses to fall into decay

3. Offences against good neighbourhood and common rights: for example turning livestock unsupervised into lanes, failure to maintain fences, walls and gates, and to keep water in its right course.

As shown in figures 2 and 3 for Scarisbrick, the majority of presentments were either for failure to maintain brooks and watercourses or failure to repair houses and farm buildings. The level of penalties varied both from court to court and even within one court.

The fines for failure to clean ditches were made ‘per rood’ . In the 1780s the fines were in the region 6d to 1s per rood, but by the early 1800s these had risen to be more typically in the range 2s- 5s per rood. On assessment these were sometimes reduced to a fixed sum such as 10s but sums as high as 1 guinea and £2 14s are recorded.

Figure 1: Scarisbrick Manor Court Process

For houses and farm buildings the penalty stated when the order was made was usually £1 10s 6d but in almost every case this was assessed down often to levels of 5s or 2s 6d, although in 1799 and 1800 the most common fine was 20s.

By way of comparison in 1790 the day rate for an agricultural labourer was 1s 2d rising to 2s 6d in 1813 and for a carpenter 1s 8d rising to 4s. In terms of ‘buying power’ a pair of ‘gentleman’s boots would have cost 22s in 1790 and around 45s in 1813.

Figure 2: Number of Presentments at Scarisbrick Court 1788-1806
Figure 3: Total Number of Presentments by Category 1788-1806

Some typical orders and presentments are given below.


It is ordered that every person having shares in the brook from the Old Mill to Martin Mere shall effectually widen the same as after mentioned that is to say shall make The same from the old mills to the further end of Bescar meadow at least two yards and a half wide and from the end part of Bescar meadow to Martin mere three yards at least wide and shall deepen the same in an effectual manner to the satisfaction of Mr Richard Derbishire Henry Watkinson and John Whalley the whole to be done before the 13th August next under penalty of paying 2/6d per rood to the Lord of this manor.

It is also ordered that the Black Brook and all the other brooks within this manor shall be effectually deepened opened widened scoured and cleansed to the satisfaction of the Brooklookers or any two of them and bank the same on or before the 1st July next under penalty of paying 1s per rood to the said Lord.

That in future Mr Derbishire or such other person or persons who shall be appointed Constable or Church warden in his stead do pay the sum of one half penny for every such old mole and old sparrow as shall be killed within the said manor and shall be brought to the said Richard Derbishire or such other person or persons to be appointed constable or churchwarden as aforesaid and also the sum of two pence for the head of every old mag pye and Jay which shall be killed within this manor. And that the respective sums shall be paid at every monthly meeting to be holden within this manor, and if any person or persons shall neglect to bring the same to such monthly meeting it is ordered that they shall forfeit their respective tithes or rewards to such sum or sums is herein before expressed.


It is ordered that
John Halsall snr late Aspinwalls: Done
Thomas Ball: Not Done
Richard Blundell: Done
William Culshaw: Done
James Bell: Done
Roger Edge: Not Done
Thomas Chappell: Done
and all the other persons within this manor do well and effectually repair their respective Messuages or dwelling houses and other Outbuildings that are now out of repair on or before the 1st day of October next under the penalty of paying 30s for each neglect to the Lord of this manor.

Failure to Attend

Thomas Bushell and Edward Twist being appointed to the Office of Constable by the Jury and not appearing to accept the same are fined by the steward in the sum of 30s each. And Thomas Burrows being appointed in like manner an Ale taster and not attending is fined in the sum of 5/- to be paid to the said Lord of the Manor.

Stray Animals

It is ordered that whenever any cow horse and sheep the property of any person within this manor shall at any time hereafter be legally pounded within this manor the person and persons being the owner and possessors of such sheep… shall and will pay to the pinder for the time being, for the use of the said Lord, the sum of 1/- for each and every sheep and the sum of ??? For each and every such cow and horse as shall be so pounded as aforesaid. And that whenever any cow horse and sheep the property of any person or persons not residing within this manor shall be so pounded as aforesaid such person or persons shall and will pay to the pinder for the time being, for the use of the said Lord, the sum of 4/- for each and every such last mentioned sheep and the sum of 8/- for each and every such last mentioned cow and horse as shall be so pounded as aforesaid. And we hereby appoint Thomas Rotheram and John Sephton to be Lookers to Barrasell Green Narrow Moss and Jackson’s Common.


That all the persons who have neglected to perform the orders of the last court perform the same immediately under the repetition of the penalties therein mentioned.

Removal of Items from Common/Waste Ground

Whereas many persons have of late cut and carried away from the Commons and Wastelands within this Manor divers quantities of sods, dug for sand, and gathered Dung dropped there without any Authority for so doing It is now ordered by this court that any person or persons so found trespassing without consent of the Lord of the Manor or his Steward such person or persons so offending shall forfeit for each offence the sum of £1 11s 6d to be paid to the Lord of the Manor or his agents.

Mary Ormsby


The story of sea and the dunes will tell
Of lovers and foes. A quiet day,
horizon peaceful, the waves kissing
The shoreline, smoothing her incumbent body
Of sand.

Another day is darker, tempest-like,
Waves batter, smash, break.
Dunes crumble, slide, fall, retreat.
The wind’s an ally of the sea, chasing
The sands, blowing insubstantial mounds.

There is always change: sudden collapse
Or slow movements of eons of time.
Sands encroach on the space of water,
Covering tracks of, beast, ancient people.

Water is soft, yielding, but with the power
To crack rocks, to wear a pattern on a stone,
To empty villages and take back the land it lost.
Wind, unseen of itself, known by all,
Shakes, envelops, hurls down, chills.
Sand slips through fingers, is swept
This way and that. It is not destroyed;
The very grains live on interminably.
Dunes recover, re-form, retrench, return;
Shift, re-shape, host grasses, which bind them,
Hold them firm; men secure them further
With forests they have themselves made.

What is the nature of England? A landscape
Changed or unchanging, conserved or conserving,
Spoilt or unspoilt? A land for people
Or all living things ? The sea lives, the wind, the sand,

The dunes too, each with its own mystery.

John Sharp


Chair: Alan Potter
07713 428670

Secretary: Roger Mitchell
01695 423594 (Texts preferred to calls)

Membership Secretary and Forum Editor: Chris Nelson
07960 117719


See our archive for previous editions of the SUES Forum!

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