Rawstorne, Lawrence

Tracing the path of the diarist Lawrence Rawstorne’s life reveals a character both contrary and enigmatic. As he attempts to steer a safe course through the troublesome second half of the 17th century, some sources have him as a Parliamentarian and others, more doubtfully, point to his being a Royalist. Similarly, at times he takes an active part in Nonconformist church government and at others, as witness his diary, he is clearly a High Anglican. Whatever his true beliefs and however much they varied, he managed to reach the end of the century and die with his properties and position intact. Lawrence, who in later life is usually addressed as Colonel, presumably of the Lancashire militia, left two volumes of diaries. [1]

The task of reconciling such diverse accounts appears at first relatively simple in that around 1968 Brian Denny brought together various materials relating to the Rawstornes to produce a document, The Rawstorne Family, containing short biographies of various members of the family. It is based on an earlier history of the family written in 1913 by Thomas Hayhurst. Denny deposited a typescript at Lancashire Record Office. [2]

This typescript together with other sources has the Rawstornes established in Lancashire in the 15th century in the township of Edenfield at the northern edge of the parish of Bury. A member of the family took possession of or built New Hall at Edenfield in 1538, [3] and then acquired an extensive estate to the south of Preston from the Crown in 1546: principally Hutton but including properties in Wrightington, Parbold, Bretherton, Shevington, Clayton-le-Woods, Cuerden, Croston and Longton. [4]

Both Denny and the Dugdale Visitation agree that Lawrence was born in 1619. When it comes to other events in Lawrence’s life, Dugdale records that he married first Elizabeth, the daughter of George Murray, the rector of Bury. They had a daughter Rachel who was born about 1646. Lawrence next married Mary, daughter of Richard Bold, by whom he had a son Peter in about 1662. [5] Denny, who includes children of the first two marriages not found in the Dugdale pedigree, records that Lawrence married his third wife, Margaret, the daughter of John Fleetwood of Penwortham, in 1668. Two children survived childhood: Fleetwood Rawstorne (1672-95) and William (January 1675 – ?). The son Peter is said to have died in childhood by some sources but was clearly alive in 1685 when he is described as Lawrence’s son and heir [6] and was probably still alive in July 1689, when a Lawrence and a Peter Rawstorne are listed as militia officers. [7]

Unfortunately Denny is inconsistent in his approach to evidence, sometimes carefully documenting his sources and at others supplying detailed but uncheckable information. For example, he asserts that Edward Rawstorne and his younger brother Lawrence ‘were commissioned under Lord Derby’s command and were in Bury when Prince Rupert and his troops joined up with them’. He adds that subsequently the two brothers supported Lady Derby in her defence of Lathom House and that when the first siege was raised Edward was promoted colonel and became governor of Lathom House with Lawrence as commandant and held it for two years until ordered by the king to surrender it to the Parliamentarians in December 1645. According to Denny the deed of surrender was signed by both brothers.

The difficulty is that while the information relating to Edward is supported by contemporary accounts of the siege nowhere has any evidence been found to establish that Lawrence was present or was ‘commissioned under Lord Derby’s command’. Denny gives only one source: Primrose Rostron in ‘Lancashire and Cheshire Historians’. An internet search reveals no relevant article by Rostron. If Denny is referring to The Lancashire and Cheshire Historian published in Macclesfield from 1965 then the only copies located are held at the British Library and have not been examined.

Not only do the accounts of the Lathom House siege not mention Lawrence, they do not mention him in any capacity, Royalist or Parliamentarian, at any time during the Civil War. More doubt is cast on Lawrence taking an active part as a Royalist by the fact that as early as 1652 he had been appointed a Lancashire JP when, ‘… the republic, more confident after the defeat of the Royalists at Worcester, did feel able to bring back some moderates, and even Lawrence Rawstorne, whose brother had been governor of Lathom House for the King.’ [8] His responsibilities under the republic continued to expand: in 1656 and 1657 he was marrying couples in St James’ Church, Haslingden, at a time when such ceremonies were conducted by magistrates. [9] He held the office of Greave (governor) of the Forest of Rossendale during the Commonwealth in 1656. [10]

Not only does Lawrence appear to have been able to serve under the Commonwealth in spite of his brother Edward’s active support for the Royalist cause, but he seems to have managed to hold on to the family estates despite Edward’s sequestration. Denny simplifies this process, recording that, before his death in 1646 Edward left his estate to Lawrence rather than his daughters in what Denny describes as an act of generosity.

Nothing is so simple in the confused circumstances that prevail in a civil war, as the editor of the Lancashire Royalist Composition Papers notes, ‘… the rough and ready way in which the sequestrations were carried out in the early days of the Civil War is described without disguise in the papers of Edward Rawstorne.’ [11] The Parliamentary commissioners who in 1651 were charged with determining Lawrence’s claim to his estate clearly struggled to reconcile witness statements and legal documents because of this ‘rough and ready’ sequestration. From the evidence presented to the commissioners it appears that Edward’s Hutton estate, including Hutton Grange and various other properties, was sequestrated in 1644 while Edward was still defending Lathom House, although none of the documents relating to the sequestration could be found when the commissioners came to examine the case. Parliamentary agents collected the rents from the tenants and the demesne profits from Hutton Grange until 1646 when Edward died. Lawrence immediately took possession of the estate, apparently with the sanction of the Parliamentary authorities.

In January 1651 the Hutton estate was again taken into sequestration and Lawrence had to petition for its return. The record society’s transcription of the petition reads as follows,

‘fo. 46. Petition from Lawrence, Rawsterne, which disclosed that petitioner’s grandfather about 30 years then ago settled divers lands in Lancashire to himself for life, then to petitioner’s father Edward Rawsterne for life, remainder to Edward his eldest son in tail, remainder to the heirs of the grandfather; that petitioner’s grandfather and father were both dead, and that Edward his son (for whose delinquency the lands were under sequestration) was also dead without issue of his body, and that therefore the property had come to petitioner; also that petitioner’s father was seised of divers copyhold lands which he long before had surrendered to persons in trust, that the trustees had surrendered the said lands to the use of petitioner and he had been admitted about four years then ago and he had been in possession of the same until the time he petitioned, when the local Commissioners, for what cause he knew not, had ordered the same to be secured. He therefore prayed for a reference of his title to counsel, to be reported for their judgment. 18 May 1650.’ [12]

This is somewhat confusing but one reading would be that the grandfather retained certain properties for himself and his son (the New Hall estate?) and settled others (the Hutton estate?) on his grandson, Lawrence’s brother Edward, but entailing that estate so that if Edward died without male heir it would pass to the next heir of the grandfather, Lawrence. The copyhold lands referred to could be the New Hall estate since that was the tenure they were held in, at least judging by disputes in the reigns of James I and Charles I. [13]

Lawrence’s claim to the Hutton estate had not gone uncontested. A witness to the 1651 inquiry recounted that Marie Rawstorne, the widow of Edward Rawstorne, had claimed Edward’s inheritance for her daughters as the rightful heirs. She and her lawyer met Lawrence at Wigan, where Lawrence showed them documents supporting his right to the estate and Mrs Rawstorne’s lawyer acknowledged that the property in them belonged to Lawrence and his heirs.

This account rather undermines Denny’s claim that Edward Rawstorne ‘generously’ bequeathed his inheritance to his brother. Lawrence’s claim to the estate was also accepted by the Parliamentary commissioners who finally lifted the sequestration in 1653. By 1656 Lawrence had himself been appointed as a Parliamentary Commissioner for Lancashire. [14] The above account also questions Denny’s contention that Lawrence was a Royalist who played a prominent role in the defence of Lathom House. It appears Lawrence was regarded as a moderate by the Parliamentarian authorities during the Civil War and happily accepted various offices during the Commonwealth. What part he really played in the Civil War is uncertain, although Crosby in his history of Hutton describes him as ‘a leading supporter of the parliamentary cause’ but supplies no evidence. [15]

Some confusion arises with regard to the use Lawrence Rawstorne made of the Hutton estate. Alan Crosby states that Lawrence was ‘living for periods at Hutton Hall’, which the family had built in the early 17th century as their principal Hutton residence, whereas previously it had been Hutton Grange. He bases his account on local tradition and a 1634 date stone built into the hall, although he does caution that ‘there is no certainty that the stone was in its original location’. [16]

However, there is no mention of Hutton Hall in either volume of Lawrence’s diaries, but several references to Hutton Grange. [17] An indenture of 1652 records Lawrence’s ‘recovery of the manor of Hutton, Hutton Grange and its demesne lands and a free fishing in the river Rible in Hutton, with all appurtenances’ but does not mention Hutton Hall. [18] As late as 1767 a marriage settlement for a later Lawrence Rawstorne itemizes the manor of Hutton and Hutton Grange but again does not mention Hutton Hall. [19] The earliest record of the hall discovered comes with its appearance on Yates’s 1786 map of Lancashire. [20] This suggests Hutton Hall was built sometime between 1767 and 1786, possibly by the 1767 bridegroom.

Lawrence’s diary shows that when in Preston he usually stayed at his town house in Church Street or with his brother-in-law Edward Fleetwood at Penwortham. Hutton Grange might have been occupied by Edward Rawstorne, the Lathom House defender, for some time before 1644, but was generally let to tenants, often family members. A good example of the latter is Roger Dodsworth, who was married to Holcroft Rosethorne, the widow of an uncle of Lawrence. Dodsworth appears to have lived at Hutton Grange from shortly before 1612 and possibly at his death in 1654. He was living there in 1634 when Sir Gilbert Hoghton wrote to him from Walton Hall ‘To my very much esteemed loveinge friende Mr. Roger Dodsworth at Hutton Grange’ asking him to use his antiquarian skills to help Sir Gilbert establish a claim to land. [21] In the Dugdale pedigree he is labelled ‘the industrious penman and antiquary’, a quite appropriate summary in that at his death he left 122 volumes of his own writing together with other materials amounting altogether to 162 volumes. These were deposited at the Bodleian Library. [22] He is best remembered for his Monasticon Anglicanum, a history of English religious houses, which he produced jointly with Dugdale. Crosby has Peter Rawstorne as occupant of ‘the Hall’ in the reigns of James I and Charles I, but the evidence he supplies does not seem to cover the full period.

Even though he chose not to live there Lawrence was burdened with responsibilities for the township. Denny attributes the following letter addressed to Roger Kenyon, Lancashire’s clerk of the peace, to Lawrence’s concern for the welfare of his poor; a less charitable reading would attribute it to concern for the welfare of his purse:

‘Hutton, one of the townes within the Parish of Penworth[am], is sore burdened with their poore, is not at all eased by the rest [the neighbouring townships], notwithstanding they have no poore, some of them, and the rest not in any equality. The bearer can informe what would be tedious to express in writeing. If you think it feasible, pray you promote that the parish may be chardged mutually to contribute with it (as by law you know it ought) and it will be a great kindness to us, for the greatest share lyes indeed uppon me. I know you will advise them the best, and if it cannot be effected, tell them soe, and they will rest satisfied; better sit still then rise up to fall.’ [23]

After the Restoration, Lawrence continued in office as magistrate, serving as deputy lieutenant and being chosen for the office of High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1681/2. He would probably have been described as a Tory, although it can be difficult to ascertain political allegiances at this time, given that the terms Whig and Tory then represented faction rather than party and there was some shifting of alliances as the century progressed. This was particularly so in Preston, the politics of which at the time have been carefully analysed by Mullett, and judging by his reading it would seem Rawstorne was a consistent Tory, for example resisting the attempts of the Catholic Viscount Molyneux, who replaced Lord Derby as lord lieutenant for the county in 1687, to force approval of James II’s religious and political reforms. [24]

Lawrence was in regular correspondence with Roger Kenyon and his letters provide more insight into his attitude and opinions than his often cursory diary entries, as for example his views on Catholics and Nonconformists in the following two letters:

‘The world has altered its aspect; the subtle papists has (sic) overwitted the presbiters and made them put on their vizard, and act in their stead, but not soe as to acquit them, but to aggravate the guilt of both; and, being so near allyed, ought to participate of the same punnishement. [25]

‘I am a little troubled to hear of the confidence of our red-lettered gentlemen [Catholics]. Shall we not live to see their combs cut, or their tethers made shorter?’ [26]

Despite such clear bias he could prove a cool and objective observer when discussing the charges implicating local Catholic gentry in conspiracies, for example in 1689 dismissing the evidence against Sir Thomas Clifton and others and having strong reservations about the public hysteria that had provoked their arrests. [27]

Such reservations did not prevent him from urging military action when he felt menaced by James’s Irish soldiers who had presumably been disbanded after the king’s flight the previous year and were trying to get back to Ireland. A few months after defending Clifton he is writing to Kenyon:

Preston.–Captain Bellingham desires ‘horse,’ and if he had a regiment with us now, they would be few (sic) enough to scour the countrey of the Irish disbanded souldiers, who are, by 2 at least, in some of our Papists’ houses; may be, 8 or 10 in a house, as they are of ability to receive theim. They alarum the country mightiely; but, in regard we have some foot companies here, our feares are the lesse. I signified so much to Cozen Bancks and wished he would impart it to my Lord, and his Lordship was pleased to write to me; yet nothing of command how to behave our selfes in that case, and so wee are meerly passive, and hope they have not the spirit to attack us. I desired Mr. Patten, who by this time is with you, to put you in mind of our concerns with theim, which would make them a little more mute, and animate us to act more vigourously. You may set it a-work, now you are there. You knowe the way and means how to begin; pray you omit not. It would be good allay to cook their brags. [28]

The previous year Lawrence had written to Kenyon at the Sword and Buckler in London asking him to intercede on Bellingham’s behalf with Lord Derby ‘to procure him a captain’s place in some regiment going to Ireland’. [29] Lawrence was clearly a man of some influence to judge from a letter from Derby to Kenyon on a different matter in which he notes, ‘I showed the King Col: Rawstorne’s letter; his Majesty is very well pleased with it.’ [30]

That Lawrence played an important role in the affairs of Preston at the time of the Revolution is demonstrated by the following letter from Thomas Winckley to Kenyon:

… two strangers, who had been in the town a day or two, were brought before Mr. Mayor and Col. Rawstorne; by their brogue they were discovered to be Irishmen. They pretended they were protestants, designing for Ireland to serve King William and Queen Mary, as volunteers in Duke Schombergh’s camp. One says his name is Dore and the other, Burke. The first pretends he was sent out by the late King James with a detachment from Hounslow Heath to the Island of Bombay, as far as the River Euphrates, and returned to England about a year ago, knowing nothing of the revolution. The other came over from Ireland about Michaelmas 1688, being a corporal of dragoons to one Major Mathews, in Col. Butler’s regiment, was wounded at Reading, and lay a long while in London. Upon being searched, letters were found on them to Sir William Creagh, Sir Rowland Stanley, and Sir James Poole, and the idle Mr. Molyneux; the contents had nothing extraordinary but recommending the bearers, with some hints of their usefulness. They are in the serjeant’s custody, and copies of the letters have been sent to Lord Brandon. [31]

Lawrence had earlier that year sent the Wigan corporation bailiff a detailed set of instructions for dealing with any supporters of James in the town:

These are to require you, in their Majesties names, strictly to comand you, that you upon the twenty-seventh day of January instant, take to your assistance a competent nomber of such Protestant inhabitants as are well affected to their present Majesties’ Government, and that you and they, the said 27th day of January instant, so soon as you can discern day, being well and sufficiently armed, repair to the houses of all Papists Recusants, or other houses, suspected secretly to harbour any absconded Papists which, in the late King’s time bore arms or bore office, or to harbour any Irish, Scotch, or other popish Soldiers, or such as have harboured emissaries to the late King, since the Coronation of their present Majesties, or such as are reasonably suspected to keep to the use of any popish recusant, or for their assistance, any arms, armour, ammunition, horses fit for the warrs, warr saddles with furniture, or any other habiliments of warr whatsoever, and where you find any such absconded Papist, any Irish, Scotch, or other popish Souldiers, so secretly harboured, or any horses, arms, armour, ammunition, or other habiliments of warr, or you find any thievish, roguish, or other felonious or suspected persons to be robbers of houses or the like, that you forthwith seize and secure every such person’s horses, arms, ammunition, or other habiliments of warr, and the master or owner of the said horses, where they shalbe so found, and them bring before some of their Majesties Justices of Peace in the said county; togather with this Warrant, to be examined, disposed of, and dealt with according to Law. And for as much as we are informed that several of the Irish, Scotch, and other popish souldiers, do lurk and hide themselves in the day time in woods, rocks, or other secret places, now, if any of the inhabitants of your town shall informe you of the places where they do so hide themselves and frequent, that then you fail not to search the said houses and places and to apprehend the said persons so lurking and hiding themselves, and bring them before some of their Majesties justices as aforesaid. And hereof faile not att your perill. [32]

In the last decade of the century there is little to record of Lawrence’s life, his diary entries finish and although he appears to have been involved in various legal and administrative matters he seems to have retired from active politics. A final letter to Roger Kenyon in July 1694 reports that ‘his son is going to Whithaven to study their way of trading’. [33] Lawrence died in 1700 aged 81, and was buried at St James, Haslingden on 1 April. [34]

[1] Anthony Hewitson, ‘The Rawstorne Diary: Extracts with Notes’, The Preston Guardian, 2 January 1909; Richard D. Harrison, ‘The Rawstorne Diary, 1687-89’ (typescript, nd), Search Room, Lancashire Archives.
[2] Brian Denny, ‘The Rawstorne Family’ (typescript, Preston, nd), Search Room, Lancashire Archives.
[3] ‘Townships: Tottington | British History Online’, accessed 26 March 2016, http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol5/pp143-150#fnn39.
[4] ‘DDX 43/1 Letters Patent of Henry VIII’, The Lancashire Archives Catalogue, 9 March 1545, http://archivecat.lancashire.gov.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=DDX+43%2f1&pos=1.
[5] William Dugdale and F. R. Raines, ‘The Visitation of the County Palatine of Lancaster: Made in the Year 1664-5 Part 3’, The Chetham Society, OS, 88 (1873): 248.
[6] ‘DDFO 42/3 Surrender’, Lancashire Archives Catalogue, 2 April 1685, http://archivecat.lancashire.gov.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=DDFO%2f42%2f3&pos=1.
[7] Historical Manuscripts Commission (Fourteenth Report, Appendix, Part IV) The Manuscripts of Lord Kenyon (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1894), 288, https://ia800203.us.archive.org/6/items/manlordkenyon00greauoft/manlordkenyon00greauoft.pdf.
[8] A. Craven, ‘The Commonwealth of England and the Governors of Lancashire: New Modelised and Cromwellysed’, Northern History 48, no. 1 (2011): 15.
[9] ‘Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project’, accessed 27 March 2016, http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Rossendale/Haslingden/stjames/marriages_1603-1683.html.
[10] Thomas Newbigging, History of the Forest of Rossendale, 2nd ed. (Rossendale: Rawtenstall Free Press, 1893), 100.
[11] J. Brownbill, ‘Royalist Composition Papers Volume V’, Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire 72 (1917): iv.
[12] Ibid., 123–30.
[13] Newbigging, History of the Forest of Rossendale, 80–86.
[14] J. Thurloe and T. Birch, Thurloe State Papers, v. 4 (Woodward and Davis, 1742), 722–36, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1CRDAAAAcAAJ.
[15] Alan G. Crosby, Hutton: A Millenium History (Lancaster: Carnegie, 2000), 36.
[16] Ibid., 35–36.
[17] Anthony Hewitson, ‘The Rawstorne Diary: Extracts with Notes’, The Preston Guardian, 1909; Harrison, ‘The Rawstorne Diary, 1687-89’.
[18] ‘CLD/459 University of Manchester Library’, National Archives Discovery, February 1651, http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/rd/fb433d97-81c4-4bf1-93dd-bb1cfc42c5d6.
[19] ‘DDR 13/8 Lawrence Rawstorne … Manor of Hutton & Hutton Grange’, Lancashire Archives Catalogue, 8 December 1767, http://archivecat.lancashire.gov.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=DDR%2f13%2f8&pos=1.
[20] William Yates, ‘Map of Lancashire’, 1786, http://www3.lancashire.gov.uk/environment/oldmap/Yates/images/c2.gif.
[21] W. A. Abram, History of Blackburn (Blackburn: J. G. & J. Toulmin, 1877), 719.
[22] Dugdale and Raines, ‘Vis. Lancs.’, 8–9, 248.
[23] Kenyon Papers, 198
[24] Michael Mullett, ‘“To Dwell Together in Unity”: the Search for Unity in Preston Politics 1660-1690’, Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire 125 (1975), https://www.hslc.org.uk/journal/vol-125-1974/attachment/125-4-mullett/
[25] Kenyon Papers, 166
[26] Ibid, 132
[27] Ibid, 227
[28] Ibid, 238
[29] Ibid, 220
[30] Ibid, 219
[31] Ibid, 239
[32] Ibid, 235
[33] ‘DDKE/9/67/45 Letter from L Rawstorne, Preston – His Son Is Going to Whithaven …’, Lancashire Archives Catalogue, 16 July 1694, http://archivecat.lancashire.gov.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=DDKE%2f1%2f1%2f67%2f45&pos=1.
[34] ‘Lancashire OnLine Parish Clerk Project – Township of Rossendale’, accessed 4 April 2016, http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Rossendale/Haslingden/stjames/index.html.


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