On this day … 27 January 1690

On 27 January 1690, Thomas Bellingham included the following in his diary: ‘Ye 27th. A very warm day. I rode out in ye calash wth J. B. to ye marsh to take ye air …’

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a calash as ‘a kind of light carriage with low wheels, having a removable folding hood or top’, and says that the first records of a calash in Britain came in the 1660s, meaning that Bellingham’s calash was probably one of the first in the town. They can still be found in service as tourist transporters in many foreign holiday resorts.

A calash carriage
A later model of a calash

J.B. was probably James Bland, a young man who had recently been appointed curate at the parish church. Bellingham had befriended him, appreciating the tone of his sermons as when he wrote that ‘Mr. Bland preach’d a sharp sermon against ye Papists’ a few weeks later. Preston’s High Church Tories preferred such views to those of the vicar, Thomas Birch, who they attacked as a Low Church Whig.

Bellingham and his companion were enjoying a visit to Preston Marsh, then and for many years after a favourite place of resort for Preston residents. Bellingham frequently visited an inn there, named Swansey’s. The Swansey family had been keeping the inn at the Ashton end of the marsh for many years.

The stretch of the Moor Brook that flowed into the Ribble and marked the boundary between Preston and Ashton was named Swansey Gutter and appears in Preston court leet records from the middle of the seventeenth century, as in an order of the court in April 1656 that ‘ye Boate landinge on our side, to bee as pte [part] of a Key [quay]; and that Swansey bridge, on our side, may bee staked’. Swansey Gutter is now culverted. Source: David Berry’s transcription of the court leet records: http://c5110394.myzen.co.uk/mw/index.php?title=Main_Page

The family have left their mark on the district with a Swansea Terrace on Watery Lane and a Swansea Street nearby. The Swansea spelling is a corruption, there is no connection to the Welsh city.

Members of the family had other inns in Preston: Alex Swansey kept the White Horse in Friargate at this period, and his brother William had an inn known as Swansey’s in Main Sprit Weind.

1840s map of Preston showing Swansey Gutter
The stream can be seen on this 1840s map from the National Library of Scotland collection (https://maps.nls.uk/)

One thought on “On this day … 27 January 1690

  1. I love these daily updates Peter, they really give a sense of the town’s past, especially ones like this of the ordinary everyday.
    Thank you.


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