King’s Arms

The King’s Arms was an inn in Preston that first appears in documentary records in the late 17th century. It was located in Church Street if it is the same establishment as the King’s Arms and Woolpack that is recorded as item 433 in Preston’s Poor Law Book of 1732. The record shows the owner to have been a Mrs Sudell, a widow, and the property had two occupiers: Mrs Mary Whalley, a shopkeeper whose part of the property was assessed at £5 annual rental, and James Hamilton, whose portion of the property was described as a house assessed at £14 annual rental. Mr Hamilton was probably the landlord of the inn. Steve Halliwell’s excellent and encyclopaedic guide to Preston’s drinking establishments traces the later history of the inn and suggests its location was on the site now occupied by the Miller Arcade. [1]

Fig 1. Steve Halliwell’s illustration of the location of four old inns on the site of the present Miller Arcade

Tracing the inn’s history further back leads to the Preston court leet records for February 1717/18 when ‘Jno Sclater at ye Kings Arms, Geo: Rishton, Mr Langton and Mr Garlick for laying their Middings in ye street below Churchgate Barrs and if not removed in a Months time Do amerce ’em severally in iijs. iiijd.’ [2]

Going back further the traces become more ambiguous. There are three references to a ‘Ks armes’ in Lawrence Rawstorne‘s diaries in 1687 and 1688:

30 August 1687 ‘at Preston & at prayers & at Rigbies the Ks armes with Mr Expofer Parker Mr Westby & others.’
8 November 1687 ‘at Preston & at prayers & at Madam Rigbyes the Ks armes wth Mr Johnson Mr Bellingham & others’
22 Feb 1688 ‘at Rigby’s the K’s armes’

The ambiguity arises because there are more than 80 references in the Rawstorne and Bellingham diaries to a hostelry named Rigby’s in Preston and some of these were possibly separate establishments, since there were several Rigbys in the town at this time.

The title ‘Madam’ given to the Rigby owner of 1687 suggests reasonably high status and she could have been the widow of Edward Rigby, who had died the previous year. Edward Rigby certainly seems to have been the owner of an inn in the town as is shown by the following diary entries:

30 November 1684 At Preston & at Henry Wildings, Alise Mitton’s & sup’d with Sr John Mollineux at Serjeant Rigby’s, & Mr. fferrar’s wth us. My wife sent for & came.
18 January 1685 Came to Preston. Dyned at Mr. Serjeant Rigbie’s. Was at Church and heard the Vicar.
24 March 1686 The Judges came in – Nevill & Benningfield; lodged at Mr. Serjeant Rigbie’s.

Edward Rigby, who was commonly referred to as Serjeant Rigby, owned or leased several properties in the town at the time of his death, as is shown on the 1685 plan of the town. One of these was a substantial property that occupied the site where Lancaster Road now meets Church Street.

This property is a contender for an early location for the King’s Arms. It was next door but one to the Preston town house that Rawstorne rented from the Bushell family. The area behind this property, and possibly the property itself, was substantially redeveloped by Thomas Molyneux in the early 18th century. The Molyneuxs, Rigbys and Bushells were related by marriage.

Fig 2. The locations of the town houses of Edward Rigby and Lawrence Rawstorne transposed from the 1685 plan of Preston and shown on the 1849 60 in Ordnance Survey map of the town. Rigby’s house occupied the precise location of where the present Lancaster Road broke through to Church Street shortly after 1850.
[1] Steve Halliwell, ‘Preston’s Inns, Taverns and Beerhouses’, accessed 23 March 2017,
[2] David Berry, trans., ‘Preston Court Leet Records’, accessed 29 January 2017,

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