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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 7:34 am 
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June 08, 1901

Literary and Antiquarian

Briercliffe in the 17th Century

In dealing with the entries in the old parish registers concerning Briercliffe one is faced with very much the same difficulties as in the case of Cliviger. Sometimes the name of the district is given; sometimes the name of the special farmhouse is given. Briercliffe was a district, apparently, of scattered farmhouses. There does not seem either to have been those little knots of houses which we have noticed in Cliviger. In most cases the residences named sent only one or two funerals in the course of a decade. Altogether, to Briercliffe was assigned from 1637 to 1647 in the parish registrars 67 funerals out of the total of 633. That would give a total population of about 300. It is just inconceivable, in fact, we may put it as probable, that the whole of the dead from Briercliffe were not buried at St. Peter's. No doubt a few would be interred at Colne. We may, however, assume that a population of 400 or 500 would be the limit for the district of Briercliffe. Of the total of 67 deaths, 29 are stated to be from "Briercliffe," without any further reference to place.

The People Of Briercliffe
In one other respect Briercliffe, judged from various indications, differed from other parts of the district. It did not possess any family of commanding position like the Towneleys, Barcrofts, etc. The chief people, judging from the pews allocated to them in 1633, seems to have been Tattersalls, Halsteads, and Smiths of Hill End, and these were probably yeomen. Care seems to have been taken to distinguish the gentlemen and esquires, and these titles do not seem to be applied to any of the Briercliffe people. Cockden, next to "Briercliffe," gives the greatest number of funerals. In ten years eleven came from thence. This would give a population, roughly, of 50 persons. The principal person would seem to have been John Halstead, and to him was allotted part of the eight seat on the north side of the north alley, while the third pew, except one seat in the cross alley, was given his tenants. A part of the fourteenth pew in the "north side of the middle alley" was given to Robert Tattersall, of Cockden. It was during the period (1644) when the skirmish between Rupert's troopers and the farmers of the district occurred at Cockden, when four or five men were "slain at Hackgate." Thesehave not been included in the list of deaths in Briercliffe, unless they are stated to have belonged to the district. Of the four men there killed one, Nicholas Starkie, is given without address; another, James Gabbott, was a Billington man; a third was Peter Hitchon of Hackgate; and the fourth was Bernard Smithe, of Briercliffe. Among the most populous places in Briercliffe seem to have been High Ridehalgh (4 deaths), Piggole (3), Widdow Hill (4), and, of course, Extwistle (5). At the Piggole the funerals were all Smith. From Ridehalgh several names occur, but the predominant one is Fouldes.

Other Districts
A very considerable number of funerals in these days came from "Pendle." This is a very elastic term, and it is hardly possible to make any deductions of value from these entries. In the ten years five funerals came from Haulghrowe-in-Pendle, wherever that was. On the other side we have Piccup frequently mentioned, and nearly always in connection with the Tattersalls, who seem to have lived there. Then there is Habergham Hall. Here Mr. John Habergham lived, and there are several entries of a "servant at Habergham." Mr. Habergham does not seem to have taken any active part in the twon's affairs. The first pew on the south side of the middle aisle was set apart for him, and he also shared the fourth with Nicholas Towneley. In 1637 and 1638 he seems to have been engaged in disputes with the churchwardens concerning the condition of that part of the church where his family was buried. The end was rapidly approaching, and the evil days had already fallen on the family of the Haberghams. Within forty years their estates had passed into other hands by the foreclosure of the mortgage, and the family had practically become extinct.


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