Joseph Livesey — landed gentleman?

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Fishwick tithe schedule
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The Lancashire Place Name Survey recruited volunteers to transcribe and put on line the tithe schedules for the county’s townships. The result is some 98,200 records, with more to come (Lancashire Archives DRB/1). This project must surely be one of the most important contributions to Lancashire local history studies in recent years. There are plans to put the accompanying tithe plans on Mario, Lancashire County Council’s interactive mapping website.

I had prepared a vector map of Preston and its surrounding townships based on the first Ordnance Survey six-inch maps for another project and realised that it would be possible to marry up the tithe schedule plot numbers with my prepared maps. This would allow me to construct separate maps of owners, occupiers and field names for each township.

When I came to work on the Fishwick schedule and map I discovered that a Joseph Livesey esquire owned 75 of the township’s 617 acres. When I searched the other tithe records that the Survey volunteers have transcribed I discovered that a Joseph Livesey owned a further 360 acres in Walton-le-Dale, including such valuable sites as the Bannister Hall print works of the Preston cotton lord Charles Swainson (Lancashire Archives DRB/1/193). It seemed Joseph Livesey owned some 435 acres in Fishwick and Walton-le-Dale, putting him among the lower ranks of the landed gentry.

Could this Joseph Livesey be the Preston social reformer and temperance campaigner? I have never come across an alternative candidate and yet could find no reference to these land holdings in the usual sources. There is no mention of them in Livesey’s autobiography [1], nor in the very useful collection of essays on Livesey edited by Ian Levitt [2]. I could find no other record of Livesey’s land dealings in the Lancashire Archives catalogue, nor in the on line edition of the Preston Chronicle, the rival publication to Livesey’s own publication, the Preston Guardian. And Dr Annemarie McAllister at the Livesey Collection at UCLan was doubtful anything could be found in their archives.

If the broad acres listed in the Walton-le-Dale and Fishwick tithe schedules belonged to the famous Joseph Livesey and not to some other Joseph Livesey, when did he acquire them? The Walton-le-Dale tithe schedule was produced in 1839, the Fishwick schedule in 1843. Where would Livesey have found the money to buy so much land at this time? According to his account in his autobiography it would seem that at this period his main source of income was his cheese business, and just a few years before he had lost £2,000 in an ill-advised investment in the cotton trade. If he still owned the estate when he later moved to his home in Bank Parade in the Avenham district of Preston he would have been able to survey his estate spreading out before him across Fishwick and Walton-le-Dale as he stepped out of his front door.

There is a mention of land dealings in his autobiography:

I once bought a farm which I had never seen. Entering the auction room, it was hanging under the hammer at £1,700, and I immediately bid another £100. I knew the distance it was from the town, and the measurement of the land, but nothing more. Some other person offered another £100, and I followed, when it was knocked down to me at £2,000. I could ill spare the money, but, before the day of payment arrived, a friend of mine, fancying the place, took it off my hands, giving me a couple of sovereigns for my trouble. [3]

To commit £2,000 on a whim seems so unlike the usual picture we have of Livesey: it’s a sum that that would represent way more than the lifetime earnings of a handloom weaver, as Livesey himself records on page 21 of his autobiography. There he quotes from an 1831 edition of his Moral Reformer journal where he calculated that the average wage of a handloom weaver was 5s. 11¾d. [30p in new money] per week: ‘Such is the miserable pittance of the weaver, and with provisions at the present exorbitant price, if any man in the country can behold this state of things without raising his determined voice against it, he must be destitute of the common feelings of humanity.’ Such impulsive behaviour simply does not square with the portrait we have of Livesey, the master of moderation.

Yet the bidding does show that Livesey was indulging in land speculation, and so would have been able to build up a substantial property portfolio. As he writes on page 24 of his autobiography, ‘I am fond of fields and flowers’. Well, he certainly seems to have had plenty of the former.

On page 52 of his autobiography he writes,

Always a friend of religious equality, I disapproved of Church rates and Easter dues. I cannot recollect that I ever paid either. On these points I adhered to the opinion of the Quakers, that it was better to suffer as a protest against what I considered quite as injurious to the Church itself as unjust to those who never required its services.

And yet, as the the tithe records show and his autobiography doesn’t, he was paying his tithes to the church on his hundreds of acres, when it was the refusal of just such payments that cost early Quakers so dearly.

Eagle-eyed Trevor Godkin of Walton-le-Dale spotted the following entry in the schedule which I had not noticed: plot number 1561 below is named Ass Hole Meadow. I have no idea how it got that name.

The Livesey landholdings


Map of Fishwick Preston showing Joseph Livesey's land holdings in the 19th century
Land belonging to Joseph Livesey recorded in the tithe schedule for Fishwick. First edition six-inch map of Preston from the National Library of Scotland collection.
Plot numberOwnerOccupierPlot descriptionUsageAcres
8Joseph Livesey EsqThomas Cooperpasture Fieldpasture5.46
9Joseph Livesey EsqThomas CooperOld Roadpasture0.56
10Joseph Livesey EsqThomas CooperField adjoining Roadpasture2.64
21Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingWest Fieldpasture6.45
22Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingHospitaltillage2.27
24Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingLower meadowtillage3.83
30Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingWheat Heymeadow4.22
38Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingFitch Fieldpasture3.27
39Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingBrowpasture1.74
40Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingGardengarden0.14
42Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingMoiety of Gardengarden0.06
44Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingOrchardgarden0.29
45Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingGardengarden0.07
52Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingHouse and Gardengarden0.43
53Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingBarn and Green 0.17
79Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingCarrstillage1.29
81Joseph Livesey EsqPeter MellingCarrstillage1.63
93Joseph Livesey EsqJames BriggsJacks meadowpasture2.99
95Joseph Livesey EsqJames BriggsJacks meadowtillage2.66
97Joseph Livesey EsqJames BriggsDock Acremeadow3.00
99Joseph Livesey EsqJames BriggsAnsell meadowmeadow2.47
123Joseph Livesey EsqJane MellingGardengarden0.09
124Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingCurtis meadowmeadow2.45
125Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingWoodwood0.58
142Joseph Livesey EsqGeorge BerryPart of Cabin Fieldpasture4.69
148Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingTean Barn Fieldtillage2.24
154Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingLittle Fieldtillage2.08
155Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingLong Fieldmeadow2.23
157Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingHard Head Fieldmeadow2.22
186Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingLittle Barker meadowmeadow2.18
187Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingStack Fieldtillage3.73
190Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingCrofttillage0.93
196Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingGardengarden0.86
230Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingLiveseys Croftmeadow1.49
243Joseph Livesey EsqJames MellingLiveseys Fieldmeadow2.99
262Joseph Livesey EsqThomas CooperGardentillage0.61
Total Acreage74.99

Walton-le-Dale tithe plans in preparation

Plot numberOwnerOccupierPlot descriptionUsageAcres
1601Joseph LiveseyWilliam Blackwell and AnotherWheelwrights Shop etc 0.06
557Joseph LiveseySarah WalkerMeadow behind HouseMeadow2.11
558Joseph LiveseySarah WalkerGarden half Darwen & land adjoining 0.80
559Joseph LiveseySarah Walker5 Cottages 0.16
560Joseph LiveseySarah WalkerBrowy FieldPasture2.30
1295Joseph LiveseyThomas BrierleyCottage and Garden 0.06
1607Joseph LiveseyGeorge  BurnCottage and Garden 0.09
1296aJoseph LiveseyWilliam ParkinsonCottage 0.03
1207Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownHomestead Meadow and CottageMeadow1.49
1602Joseph LiveseyRobert Brown )Wood and Gardens 1.85
1605Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownStubbleMeadow2.23
1606Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownHigher MeadowMeadow2.13
1608Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownGale FieldPasture7.14
1611Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownField below DoorPasture3.02
1609Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownMiddle FieldPasture1.89
1613Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownOld MeadowPasture2.45
1612Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownHigher dittoPasture2.42
1610Joseph LiveseyRobert BrownLane 0.18
1641Joseph LiveseyWilliam CarrHomestead and Garden 0.87
1642Joseph LiveseyWilliam CarrCroftMeadow1.06
1644Joseph LiveseyWilliam CarrBarn FieldPasture1.06
1645Joseph LiveseyWilliam CarrFurther MeadowMeadow2.11
1646Joseph LiveseyWilliam CarrPasturePasture1.80
1658Joseph LiveseyWilliam CarrSchool MeadowArable1.50
1644aJoseph LiveseyWilliam CarrLane 0.28
1533Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingHomestead and Garden 0.31
1539Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingHomestead etc 2.65
1538Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingPasture Road and WastePasture2.54
1535Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingNearer BrowPasture3.27
1528Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingFurther BrowPasture5.28
1534Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingHearse House MeadowMeadow4.40
1531Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingDarwen Horse CopyPasture3.00
1530Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingDarwen Horse CopyPasture4.44
1529Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingOld Darwen 3.12
1525Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingLittle TwigshawPasture1.64
1526Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingGreat TwigshawPasture3.21
1566Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingWill CroftGarden0.66
1537Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingDoves CroftMeadow2.93
1536Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingGreat Eyes FieldArable12.24
1543Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingCarr MeadowMeadow11.28
1542Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingBull MeadowMeadow2.93
1541Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingBrowy FieldPasture4.80
1544Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingLittle Horse CopyArable3.89
1545Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingHorse CopyPasture9.93
1547Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingGorton FieldArable6.99
1546Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingGorton BrowArable6.49
1522Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingHigh FieldPasture3.36
1540Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingLower FieldPasture1.79
1562Joseph LiveseyThomas HackingLittle Cave MeadowArable7.69
1541aJoseph LiveseyHimselfWood 0.80
1593Joseph LiveseyHimselfWood 12.74
1557Joseph LiveseyJohn Sharpe )Homestead garden and Croft 4.14
1558Joseph LiveseyJohn Sharpe )  0.00
1556Joseph LiveseyJohn SharpeGarstang FieldPasture2.77
1559Joseph LiveseyJohn SharpeHoney CombMeadow1.64
1561Joseph LiveseyJohn SharpeAss Hole MeadowMeadow2.06
1554Joseph LiveseyJohn SharpeHigher FieldPasture2.36
1555Joseph LiveseyJohn SharpeTwo AcresPasture4.38
1560Joseph LiveseyJohn SharpeLower MeadowMeadow2.33
1669Joseph LiveseyRoger Holden )Homestead Garden and CroftArable1.64
1667Joseph LiveseyRoger Holden )  0.00
1668Joseph LiveseyRoger HoldenBack FieldMeadow1.79
1666Joseph LiveseyRoger HoldenCloseMeadow5.73
1671Joseph LiveseyRoger HoldenPathgate FieldPasture2.53
1672Joseph LiveseyRoger HoldenLittle FieldArable2.56
1673Joseph LiveseyRoger HoldenTrout FieldArable4.18
1674Joseph LiveseyRoger HoldenCharnley FieldPasture4.23
1594Joseph LiveseyJames Livesey )Reservoir Crofts etc. 7.13
1595Joseph LiveseyJames Livesey )  0.00
1596Joseph LiveseyJames Livesey )  0.00
561Joseph LiveseyJames LiveseyWarehouse 0.02
564Joseph LiveseyJames LiveseyTwo cottages and Gardens 0.19
575Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherHomestead Garden etc 0.69
576Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherBarkhouse MeadowMeadow2.34
577Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherDog BankPasture2.73
578Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherRound BankPasture2.22
579Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherYarn CroftPasture2.87
580Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherBarn FieldPasture2.78
581Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherLong MeadowMeadow2.38
582Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherFurther FieldPasture2.24
583Joseph LiveseyThomas MatherClover FieldPasture2.19
1617Joseph LiveseyJohn  MatherHomestead Garden Cottage etc 0.43
1618Joseph LiveseyJohn  MatherMeadowMeadow2.03
1615Joseph LiveseyJohn  MatherGreat MeadowMeadow4.00
1614Joseph LiveseyJohn  MatherGreat FieldPasture4.58
1616Joseph LiveseyJohn  MatherLittle FieldPasture2.46
1619Joseph LiveseyJohn  MatherFarmost FieldPasture3.11
1600Joseph LiveseyThomas SharpBowling Green 0.34
1296Joseph LiveseyThomas SharpGarden 2.07
1599Joseph LiveseyThomas SharpGarden 0.07
1598Joseph LiveseyThomas SharpGarden 0.11
1589Joseph LiveseyHenry WalkerAcre and HalfPasture3.53
1584Joseph LiveseyHenry WalkerTwo AcresPasture4.00
1585Joseph LiveseyHenry WalkerPasturePasture3.11
1588Joseph LiveseyHenry WalkerOld MeadowMeadow5.01
1587Joseph LiveseyHenry WalkerLower Field and BrowMeadow4.99
1586Joseph LiveseyHenry WalkerBrowPasture4.26
1568Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and Co )Cottages and Garden 0.45
1569Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and Co )  0.00
1636Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoBuildingsteads and Garden 0.57
1590Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoThree Acre MeadowPasture5.49
1635Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoCroftArable0.77
1591Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoAcrePasture2.03
1592Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoTwo AcresPasture4.11
1575Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and Co )Buildingsteads and Garden 1.38
1575aJoseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and Co )  0.00
1563Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoGreat Barn MeadowMeadow6.58
1573Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoLittle Barn MeadowMeadow4.30
1574Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoMeadowMeadow2.27
1577Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoMeadow before Darwen CottageMeadow5.53
1578Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoLower LeePasture5.09
1583Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoCoal FieldPasture3.06
1582Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoStoney FieldPasture4.52
1579Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoHigher LeePasture5.53
1565Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoDry House CroftPasture2.87
1564Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoDry CroftPasture2.42
1571Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoPrinting Works reservoirs etc 8.06
1570Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoReservoir 2.64
1567Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoBleaching Ground 12.52
1572Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoHouse etc 2.85
1576Joseph LiveseyMessrs. Charles Swainson and CoHouse Pleasure Grounds etc 1.84

[1] Joseph Livesey and John Pearce, The Life and Teachings of Joseph Livesey, Comprising His Autobiography (National Temperance League’s Depot, 1885).

[2] Ian Levitt, ed., Joseph Livesey of Preston: Business, Temperance and Moral Reform (University of Central Lancashire, 1996).

[3] Livesey and Pearce, The Life and Teachings of Joseph Livesey, Comprising His Autobiography, 60.

3 thoughts on “Joseph Livesey — landed gentleman?

  1. Is it possible Livesey held land as a trustee on behalf of a friendly society or similar? It might have been informally, as building societies, for example, weren’t allowed to own land after 1836, so sometimes wealthy members bought land on behalf of a society. He was a founding trustee and honorary secretary of the Preston Freehold Land Society, which set up the Fulwood estate south of Watling Street Road – that may have been a political action, though the way the estate developed suggests it became more about investment and building large houses.

    The story about the auction suggests he was familiar with buying land – so unless there’s another Joseph Livesey waiting to be uncovered, you certainly seem to be on to something.


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