Tue 12 Jan 2010
John Virgoe on Basil
Thomas Eccleston (c1712 - 1789) of Eccleston, Eighteenth Century
Squire, Farmer and Diarist.
heavy snowfalls meant the cancellation of Januaryís
scheduled talk. At short notice though John Harrison
arranged for a friend, John Virgoe, to step in and talk
about Basil Thomas Eccleston.
He is of particular interest not so much as a diarist
but because of the memoranda books he kept from 1757 to
1789. Over 1037 entries were made that chronicled topics
such as farming, weather, national and international
He was actually born Basil Thomas Scarisbrick in
Eccleston, near Prescot. The Scarisbricks were a
prominent southwest Lancashire Roman Catholic family. He
was the 8th boy in a family, which included 4 girls.
Educated at English speaking Roman Catholic schools on
the continent he returned to England with little chance
of gaining an inheritance.
Old Eccleston Hall. From a
pencil drawing made in 1824
However, he did inherit the Eccleston estate. This was
by way of a series of family deaths where there were no
heirs. His first dated memoranda book is 15 years after
he inherited the estate. There is no evidence of any
He married and had 3 children. One died as a baby and
his wife died too. He was left with a son and daughter.
Johnís slides showed memoranda book extracts that gave
an insight 18th century rural life. For example,
detailed accounts of a cowmanís wage, £6 a year for a
skilled man in 1767, also of sales of wheat and cheese.
Coal, too, was found on his estate. He didnít work it
but accounts detailed income gained from leasing it.
Additionally, evidence exists in the books of pensions
£10 a year paid to former servants and of his taking
into account of poor market prices in reduced rents to
His books are a record of social commentary providing an
important source of economic fortunes of lesser gentry.
It is full of quantitive data, especially on farming and
is a significant contribution to Lancashire history.
An unscheduled but a very interesting talk to start
No picture of Basil Thomas Eccleston has been found.
This is his son.