Lewis Carroll’s Preston family connections

Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll, .a.k.a. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, in 1866. Wikimedia

Sue Latimer was working her way through the 19th-century tithe schedule records on this site when she came across what looked like a possible link between Preston and the author of Alice in Wonderland. A Charles Lutwidge was listed in the schedule as owning a large estate in the town, and Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Could there be a family connection? Sue tore herself away from her own research to investigate further, establishing that there was indeed a connection: Charles Lutwidge was Lewis Carroll’s grandfather. She discovered that the Lutwidges were settled at Holmrook in Cumberland and that Charles’s father, Henry Lutwidge, married Jane Molyneux of Preston at Walton-le-Dale in 1767.

Tracing the connections brought out networks of families and friends that controlled large tracts of prime development land in Preston from the 18th century through to the early years of the last century and shaped the town as it grew rapidly in the 19th century.

Lewis Carroll’s Preston family connections

Winckley Square and the industrial revolution

Cover of book by Geoffrey Timmins

Geoff Timmins, Emeritus Professor of History at UCLan, has written a book describing the various ways in which the industrial revolution shaped the landscape in the textile districts of Lancashire. What should be of particular interest to Preston historians is Chapter 4 ‘Housing the better-off: Winckley Square, Preston’.

The book is titled The Built Environment Transformed: Textile Lancashire during the Industrial Revolution. Details at https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/books/id/55108/. The book is offered at half price until 31.12.2021. Details at: https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/

Geoff points out that all royalties go to Liverpool University Press’s Open Access Fund that supports early-career historians and social scientists.

Related: The development of Winckley Square is covered extensively In Nigel Morgan’s Desirable Dwellings, and the district has its own website: https://www.winckleysquarepreston.org/.

Preston tithe maps

Map based on Preston tithe map
Map showing the owners of the Preston tithe plots overlaid on the 1840s 6in OS map. The tithe owners map can be inspected at full resolution by following the link below. (OS map courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.)

Maps showing the owners and occupiers of the plots listed in the Preston tithe schedule are now online, along with maps from the Lang survey of Preston in 1774. The schedule was transcribed by volunteers working on the tithe schedules project for the Lancashire Place Name Survey. Set alongside each other, the Lang maps and the tithe maps provide a visually compelling reminder of how dramatically the landscape of Preston transformed between the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th, and plot the transfer of land ownership in that period that paved the way for the rapid spread of housing north of the town from the middle of the 19th century. .

Preston tithe schedule and map


Coming next: the Ashton tithe maps

Farmer Joe — another side to Livesey

Moor House at Holme Slack, Preston, the home of Joseph Livesey.
Moor House at Holme Slack, Preston, the home of Joseph Livesey.
Joseph Livesey

Temperance campaigner Joseph Livesey is variously described as cheese merchant, printer, publisher and newspaper proprietor, but I have not found a single reference in the literature to his time as a farmer. Yet, for some 20 years his home was a farm at Holme Slack. At the 1841 census he was listed as ‘Cheese Factor, Printer & Farmer’ and in the 1851 Mannex Directory for Preston [1] he is listed as a gentleman living at Holme Slack. So, a fuller description of Livesey’s occupations would include gentleman farmer.

See: Joseph Livesey — gentleman farmer

A Livesey family suicide

Margaret Clark’s chapter in UCLan’s Harris Papers volume on Joseph Livesey contains a tantalising reference to one of his sons: ‘Alfred … remains an obscure figure, with a question unanswered as to why he, of all the brothers, left virtually no estate in his will’. Dr Clark did not have access to the riches that the internet is now serving up; if she had she would have discovered that Alfred committed suicide, depressed and facing financial ruin.

Suicide of Alfred Livesey

Joseph Livesey’s Lakeland Retreat

Map showing Joseph Livesey's home in Bowness in 1851
Livesey’s Green Bank Lakeland home; Biskey Lodge, the home of his retired major general neighbour in 1861; and the probable location of the second property that Livesey built on his estate can be seen on the six-inch Ordnance Survey map surveyed in 1858 (map courtesy of the National Library of Scotland)

Joseph Livesey

When there is any reference to Joseph Livesey’s home it is invariably to the property he occupied in Bank Parade in the Avenham district of Preston. It is an attractive property but not nearly so palatial as many of the properties in nearby Ribblesdale Place and Winckley Square. But Livesey had a second home in Bowness, a true gentleman’s residence that to judge from its footprint and setting on the above map would have rivalled the finest houses in Preston. He seems to have settled himself into the village community, building properties for rent, establishing a temperance hall and providing an ornate drinking fountain at Bowness Pier to help keep visitors and residents from the Demon Drink.:


Joseph Livesey’s Lakeland Retreat

Who owned Preston? — 3

Old view of Preston Bridge

I’ve now added a series of maps to accompany the tithe schedule for Fishwick that I had already put on line. The information is based on the greatly appreciated contribution of the volunteers working on the tithe schedules project for the Lancashire Place Name Survey. One interesting discovery was the preservation in field names and field boundaries of the pre-turnpike route into Preston from Walton-le-Dale.

Fishwick tithe schedule and plan

Slavery’s legacy in seven superb episodes

Yrsa Daley-Ward

I was recently listening to Descendants, a BBC Radio 4 documentary that in seven episodes illustrates just how intimately all our lives are entwined in the shame of slavery. The series is presented by the poet and writer Yrsa Daley-Ward who was born in Preston to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father. The programme brought to mind my schooldays in Preston in the Fifties.

When I was at Deepdale Primary School one of my best friends was Willy Herbert. We lived in Burrow Road and Willy lived round the corner in St Paul’s Road. His mum and my mum were friends and for some reason that I can no longer recall Willy and his younger brother Fitz used to come to our house for tea each afternoon after school.

I’m reminded of Willy whenever I pass the bus depot on Deepdale Road. The pair of us were climbing on the roof when Willy fell through a skylight and was left dangling above bus crews gathered below. Police were called and we were marched home by a young police constable. I got off lightly on the understanding that lads will be lads. Willy was not so lucky, for his dad, a former boxer, was much stricter than mine. Willy and I lost contact when he moved away and we went to different secondary schools.

Willy’s young brother Fitz, who I remember as a very gentle youngster, and who went on to become a boxer like his dad, was called Fitz by us but that was not his proper first name (which I can no longer remember). And Mr Herbert was not really Mr Herbert, he was Mr Fitzherbert, his ancestors having been given the name of their owner when they arrived in the West Indies as slaves from Africa.

There’s a double cruelty in the Fitzherbert surname for it harks back past the slave owners of the 18th and 19th centuries to those robber barons, the Norman bully boys of the 11th century. In Anglo-Norman England it meant the son of Herbert. Willy was probably wise to stay with the simpler surname given the unsavoury associations of the full Fitzherbert name.

Another West Indian connection from my childhood was the son of our next door neighbour in Burrow Road who went out to Jamaica to run Leyland Motor’s operations on the island. When the old lady died her house was bought by George, whose surname I’ve now forgotten. George had arrived in Preston from Jamaica to work at the old Courtaulds factory at Red Scar.

It is the way in which the Descendants series builds on such associations and interconnections that makes it such a fascinating listen. It is supported by the extensive scholarship of The Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery at University College London. The UCL website has a marvellous online database of British slave owners in which can be found the details of the slave holdings of the Athertons of Preston, which Aidan Turner-Bishop has turned into an article for the Preston Historical Society.

The series delves back and forth in history linking slaves and slave owners with their descendants now living in Britain. The episodes do not take a simple course through the history of slavery, instead bringing out the complicated enmeshing of family connections resulting from the fathering of so many children on female slaves by their white masters. And the difficulty of separating the promoters of slavery from the abolitionists is revealed, again because of tight connections, both familial and commercial, between merchants on both sides of the slavery debate, especially in Liverpool.

One surprising fact that the series notes is that one of those Liverpool merchants was the father of that grand old Liberal William Ewart Gladstone. He received the highest sum in Britain when slave owners were compensated for their loss when slavery was finally abolished, and Gladstone himself helped steer the compensation Bill through Parliament.

Another interesting comment came from one of the contributors to the series who recalled Enoch Powell touring the West Indies some years before his Rivers of Blood speech urging islanders to take the boat to Britain. Nurses were much needed in the early days of the NHS.

The series is family history at its finest and is deeply moving, find it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p09jgfmr

Who owned Preston? — 2

The contribution of the volunteers working on the tithe schedules project for the Lancashire Place Name Survey (98,200 records and counting) is shaping up to supply one of the most valuable sources for the study of Preston history to have come available in many years, detailing just who owned what land and listing hundreds of field names, many of which can be traced back to the Middle Ages. I’ve now completed work on the tithe records for Ribbleton township and have started work on the other Preston Parish townships and Fulwood. The complete schedules for the following are now on line:

Ashton tithe schedule
Fishwick tithe schedule and maps
Preston tithe schedule
Ribbleton tithe schedule and maps

The map below of fields in Preston Parish and Fulwood with a plan of the Ribbleton land holdings inserted should give some idea of how the completed project will look:

Plan of the fields in Preston Parish in the 19th century