Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

News and Views

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018  
Jan 2012 Feb 2012 Mar 2012 Apr 2012 May 2012 Jun 2012
Jul 2012 Aug 2012 Sep 2012 Oct 2012 Nov 2012 Dec 2012
Feb 2012

Dr Bill Shannon – Dispute maps in Tudor Lancashire.
Tue 14 Feb 2012

Dispute maps, Bill explained, were drawn up in respect of land disputes in the 16th century that had reached court. Decisions had to be made regarding the dispute and a map was an important factor in the decision making process.

Bill’s research covered 39 maps that are held in the National Archive, Kew. Records show that between the years 1500 to 1650 more dispute maps and plans were produced in Lancashire and Yorkshire than anywhere else in the country. The earliest map, dated 1522, covered Staining Carr, near Blackpool.

Bill explained the differences between the County Palatine of Lancashire and the Duchy of Lancaster. One of which was that the land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, the monarch, covered areas not just in the county palatine but around the country.

The duchy’s chancellor in terms of any dispute would issue instructions to ‘make a perfect plot’ so the court could understand the case. In court, where the chancellor sat, would also include a plaintiff and a defendant and legal representatives. Maps would be drawn up by the adversaries and provide the court with different viewpoints, different perspectives, in short, truth and lies.

A third perspective was required to get a true picture of the area concerned. These evolved from first a sketch map, to a picture map then to a scale map. The duchy appointed commissioners to view the disputed area, meet in church with witnesses and gather statements that could influence the dispute.

Bill showed many examples not only of these third perspective maps but also the adversarial maps.

Examples showed maps with detailed pictorial information that included such things as churches, archery butts, mills, barns and conyclappers (rabbit breeding places).

Disputes occurred where there was a lack of landscape features such as hills and rivers, indeed, natural markers. Consequently, many of the 39 dispute maps Bill analysed were in the west of the county. One such was the area of Leyland Moss, an area used for peat digging and the 10 townships that surrounded it. He compared the map of Wymott Moss c1570 with a modern map of the area to demonstrate who well it was drawn.

Bill concluded an enlightening evening by stating these maps were not quaint artefacts of purely antiquarian interest, not for decoration, not just a footnote in the history of cartography but was a valuable source of history.

Peter Robinson


Chorley Cemetery
Published in the Chorley Standard 31 July 1860 (including footnote)


I paced in thoughtful mood the graceful walks
Which interlace the garden of the dead
And many loving epitaphs I read-
For each inscription to the reader talks,
And shows the reverence which living folks
Feel for the memory of the sleeping dead.
Yet life is apt to look on Death with dread,
For it will wait for none, and often balks
All human plans; And none can ever know
When it will come,- the year, the day, the hour,
In youth, or age; at morning, noon or night,
But it is well for as that all below
I governed by a good and mighty Power,
Without whose leave King Death can never smite.

Grace Roberts. Chorley.


Thanks to John Harrison for digging this out of the archives