On this day … 18 February 1668

On 18 February 1668 at a Preston Court Leet inquisition held before the mayor Seth Blackhurst, his bailiffs John Shawe and Thomas Whalley, and the steward (town clerk) Edward Rigby, one of their main concerns was the amount of dung polluting the well in Mainsprit Weind:

These psons following that they have not according to the twenty first prsentmt of the last Leet removed theire dung that lyeth in the weend leading to Minspitt well wch stopeth up the right watercourse soe that the Dung is forced to runn into the well to ye great Annoyance of all the psons that useth ye same well and therefore hath forfeited the sume of vjs. viijd. apiece and if them due not remove the said dung and clense theire watercourse in the said channell that ye water _______ its usuall Corse at or before the 25th of March next upon paine of xiijs. iiijd apiece.
Edward Rigby Esqr, Widdow Worthington, Widd Tomlinson, James Cowper, John Greenwood, Mr James Hodgkinson, Lawr Mitton …’

Notice that one of the offenders was the court steward himself, Edward Rigby.

This nuisance is reported constantly in the court records with the same offenders being cited again and again. Traversing Preston streets until well into the nineteenth century was frequently a trudge through filth of all descriptions. Hence the employment of street sweepers and the introduction of sedan chairs to ferry the wealthier inhabitants from place to place without soiling their footwear.

sedan chair

Sedan chairs first appeared in town in the 1662, according to Anthony Hewitson in his History of Preston published in 1883:

It is said that these chairs were introduced into Preston at the Guild of 1662, by R. Langton, one of the bailiffs. People used to ride in them to church on Sundays; they went in them to church to get married; they were carried in them to balls and private parties; and little children, when they died, were taken in them to churchyards, to be buried—the coffin being put through the windows and resting horizontally on the lower parts thereof, while the parents sat within and on each side of the sedan.

Riding in sedan chairs ceased at Preston about six and thirty years ago. Replying to a question put in the Manchester City News Notes and Queries … a person giving the initials “E.S.N.” says, “I remember going in a sedan chair one snowy night in the winter of 1846-7 to a ball given in Winckley square, Preston.

There used to be two sedan chairs in Preston, one Whig and the other Tory, and no Tory lady would have been seen in the Whig sedan for anything. One used to wait in an archway in Winckley-square, and the other was often standing by Huffman’s, the clogger, in Fishergate, opposite the top of Cannon -street.” The Misses Bairstow – two sisters of the late John Bairstow, Esqr. were about the last, if not the last, who rode in a sedan chair at Preston. This would be about 36 years since.

David Berry’s on-line edition of the Preston Court Leet records: https://www.wyrearchaeology.org.uk/index.php/areas-of-interest/preston?view=article&id=162
Image: https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2019/10/03/the-sedan-chair-of-the-georgian-era/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s