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Man has lived on the moors around Bolton for many thousands of years evidenced by a stone circle on Cheetham Close above Egerton and Bronze Age burial mounds on Winter Hill.


 A Bronze Age mound was excavated in Victorian times outside Haulgh Hall.


2500 BC A Stone Age axe dating from this period was found on Winter Hill in the River Douglas on Tigers Clough


1600-1400BC There is a Bronze Age round cairn on Winter Hill which dates from this period


The Romans built roads from Manchester to Ribchester to the east and a road along what is now the A6 to the west.

 It is claimed that Agricola built a fort at Blackrod by clearing land above the forest.


Evidence of a Saxon settlement exists in the form of religious objects found when the Victorian parish church was built.


Rivington Hall Barn dates back to the Saxon era and still retains its impressive original beams.


1067 Great Bolton was the property of Roger de Poitou


1086-1100 Horwich was held by Albert Gresley between 1086 and 1100.


After 1100 Great Bolton was the property of Roger de Meresheys


1185 The first record of the town dates from 1185 as Boelton


 Horwich made yarn was mentioned in records from the reign of Henry III who reigned 1216-1272


1227 Adam de Radcliffe was called upon by Robert Grelley, the Baron of Manchester to perform suit every two weeks at his court of Manchester regarding the village of Little Lever.


1240 Westhoughton was originally called Westhalcton


1249 Horwich is recorded in a grant of 1249 by Henry II to Thomas Gresley for free warren over the King's lands in "Mamecestre and Horewich"


1251 (14 Dec) The town was given a charter to hold a market in Churchgate  by King Henry III of England


1251 The Old Man and Scythe is the oldest inn in Bolton dating back to 1251 although a rebuild took place 400 years ago.

The cellar dates from medieval times.


1251 The town received its first Charter to hold a market in Churchgate, and annual fair, granted by King Henry III in 1251, after the Manor of Bolton was devolved by marriage. The charter reads: The King to his Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Earls, Barons, Knights, and to all whom it may concern greeting. Know ye that we have granted, and by this Charter confirmed, to our trusty and beloved William de Ferrars, Earl of Derby, that he and all his heirs shall have the lands and free warren in the Manors of Lyverpull, West Derby, Everton, Crosseby, Wavertree, Salford, Bowelton, Penelton, etc., in the County of Lancaster . . . . We grant to the said Earl also and to his heirs for ever, permission to hold a market at his aforesaid Manor of Bowelton, in the Country of Lancaster, every seventh day; and also at the same place a fair once a year, extending over three days, that is to say on the eve and on the day and on the morrow of the feast of St. Margaret the Virgin.

1253 (14 Jan) The town of Bolton was granted a Charter by the Earl of Derby, William de Ferrers, as a market town and borough


1277 Robert Grelley prosecuted Martin de Rumworth for carrying off deer in Horwich Chase


c.1283 Robert de Holland, 1st Baron Holand (c. 1283 – 1328), English nobleman, born in Lancashire, a son of Sir Robert de Holland of Upholland, Lancashire and Elizabeth, daughter of William de Samlesbury.


1315 In 1315 a group of men led by Sir William Bradshaigh of Haigh Hall, Sir Henry Lea of Charnock Richard and Sir Adam Banastre met at Wingates to plan a campaign of violence against Sir Robert de Holland of Upholland, chief retainer of the powerful Earl of Lancaster. The campaign came to be known as the Banastre Rebellion and ended with the deaths of most the main protagonists.


1322 (4 Mar) On 4 March 1322 Robert de Holland, 1st Baron Holand (c. 1283 – 1328), was ordered to join the king with horses and men to defend against Lancaster's rebellion.


1322 (16 Mar) Robert de Holland, 1st Baron Holand (c. 1283 – 1328), betrayed the king and fought alongside Lancaster at the Battle of Boroughbridge.


1327 Westhoughton was originally called Westhalghton


1328 (Oct) Robert de Holland, 1st Baron Holand (c. 1283 – 1328), killed in October in a wood near Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire. Thomas Wither is named by some as the murderer and is claimed to have been a supporter of the new Earl of Lancaster, Henry but in light of Holland's outlawry in June may have been a supporter of Banastre as well. Holland was beheaded, his head sent to the Earl of Lancaster at Waltham Cross and his body to Preston, Lancashire where it was buried in the church of Grey Friars. The inaccuracies of some accounts of Holland suggest his rivals may have smeared him deliberately


1332 The Haulgh, Bolton – this name was spelt Halgh in 1332, and is derived from the Old English “halh”, meaning a plot of flat alluvial land by a river


1335 Smithills Hall passed to William Radcliffe

It was occupied by the Radcliffe family until 1498


1335 Flemish weavers arrived in Bolton and probably played a part in the rise of the cotton and weaving trade in Bolton


1374 Digging sea coal around Bolton was recorded


1485 Cecily Radclyffe married her second cousin John Barton, and thereby came into ownership of Smithills Hall.


1498 The tenure of the Manor of Smithills passed to the Barton family


1518 James Pilkington, son of Richard Pilkington and Alice Asshawe, the first Protestant Bishop of Durham, was born in the old hall at Rivington.


1518?/1520? James Pilkington born at Rivington Hall

The first Protestant Bishop of Durham from 1561 until his death in 1576, founder of Rivington Grammar School and was a highly influential Elizabethan author and public orator


1554 George Marsh was brought before Sir Roger Barton at Smithills Hall


1555 (24 Apr) George Marsh burnt at the stake


1557 James Anderton, English Catholic aristocrat, born          He belonged to the well-known Catholic Anderton family who lived at Lostock Hall, Lostock, Bolton, in Lancashire, and inherited a large estate from his parents, Christopher and Dorothy Anderton.                                                            Died 1613? /1618?

1563 The Elizabethan manor house Lostock Hall was built for the Anderton family.  The hall was demolished in 1824, but the gatehouse still remains, which is now a Grade II* listed building.


1571 The first coal mine in Hulton Park opened in 1571


1580 (10 Jul) Sir Humphrey Chetham, English merchant, born in Crumpsall, the son of a successful merchant who lived at Crumpsall Hall, Harpurhey.

He was responsible for the creation of Chetham’s Hospital and Chetham’s Library

Died 1653


1582 James Anderton (1557- 1613? /1618?) married Margaret Tyldesley, daughter of Edward Tyldesley of Tyldesley and Morleys


1592 James Anderton (1557-1613?/1618?) succeeded his father as Prohonotary of the Duchy Court at Lancaster.


1594 Alexander Rigby (1594 – 1650), English lawyer and politician, born the son of Alexander Rigby and his wife Ann Asshaw of Wigan.                                                       He was baptised on 9 July 1594 in Flixton, a village that was historically within the boundaries of Lancashire and was a member of the puritan branch of the Rigby family seated at Middleton in Goosnargh near Preston.                              He sat in the House of Commons between 1640 and 1650. He was a colonel in the Parliamentary army in the English Civil War.                                                                 Died 18 August 1650


1598 A number of Horwich men were presented at the Court Leet for tithing


1599 The old Manor of Horwich became the property of the Andertons of Lostock Hall, Lostock, who purchased the manor in 1599 from Nicholas and Elizabeth Mosley.


16th Century The first coal pits were sunk in Farnworth by George Hudson.


16th century: The family of William Hulton of Hulton Park owned many small collieries from the 16th century.


1603  James Anderton (1557-1613? /1618?)  signed a loyal address from all the gentry of Lancaster welcoming James I on his progress to London.


1611 The industrial history of Farnworth starts in 1611 when George Hulton dug the first coal pits.


1613 (7 Nov) James Bradshaw, clergyman and ejected minister, was baptized at Bolton, Lancashire.

He was the son of John Bradshaw (d. 1662) of Darcy Lever Hall in that parish and his first wife, Alice, daughter of Robert Lever.                                                                      Died 1685.


c.1613 Richard Goodwin (c.1613-1685), minister of religion, born in Sussex.                                                 He instigated nonconformist worship in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1672, creating a congregation that later became known as Bank Street Unitarian Chapel.                                      Died 12 Dec 1685.


C 1613-1621 James Anderton was responsible for setting up a Catholic press at his brother's home of Birchley Hall, approximately 13 miles from Lostock.                               Around 20 works were published from this clandestine press between 1615 and 1621, although it is thought that the press was established as early as 1613.


1613? /1618? (7 Sep) James Anderton died, having being fully reconciled to the Catholic faith.

 He left £1500 to the maintenance of the Catholic priesthood in England.


1615 (20 Oct) Henry Bridgeman, bishop of Sodor and Man, was born at Peterborough,  the third of the five sons of John Bridgeman (bap. 1577, d. 1652), then first prebendary of the cathedral there (where Henry was baptized three days later at the consecration of the new font), and his wife, Elizabeth Helyar (d. 1636), daughter of William Helyar, archdeacon of Barnstaple and canon of Exeter Cathedral.

He apparently served as a chaplain to James, seventh earl of Derby, reportedly being present at the earl's execution at Bolton on 16 October 1651

Died 1682


1621 The Court Leet recorded “ paid for hue and crye that came from Horwich after the man who made an escape forth of ye stocks for stealing certain lynen cloth 8d.”


1623 There was an outbreak of the plague in the town


1623 The Bubonic Plague killed a third of the village population of Little Lever


1628 The Orrell family sold Turton Tower to Humphrey Chetham, a Manchester merchant who was responsible for the creation of Chetham’s Library and Chetham’s School of Music.


1628 Humphrey Chetham (baptised 1580) bought the lordship of Turton, near Bolton, including Turton Tower, a medieval fortified house, for £4000.


1630 Great Lever Old Hall built


1631 Humphrey Chetham (1580-1653) was asked to be knighted when after his huge wealth became known to the crown, but he refused it, and so was fined    


1635 (16 Mar) James Bradshaw, clergyman and ejected minister, baptized n 16 March 1635 in Bolton parish church. He was born at Hacken, Bolton parish, Lancashire, the son of Laurence Bradshaw of Darcy Lever, Bolton parish, and Margaret Holmes.                                                          He attended Bolton grammar school.                                   Died 1702


1635 Sir Humphrey Chetham became High Sheriff of Lancashire, a job he was not able to refuse.


1640 Richard Goodwin (c.1613-1685) became a curate at Cockey Moor, near Ainsworth in Lancashire, in 1640.


1641 In 1641 Richard Goodwin (c.1613-1685) married Sarah, a daughter of Richard Crompton from Breightmet; she died in 1651.                                                                                           


1642 (15 Dec) On 15 December 1642, during the English Civil War, the Battle of Warcock Hill was fought on Westhoughton Common between Lord Derby's Cavalier forces and Parliamentarians. The site of the battle was off the Manchester Road where Wayfaring is today. The Parliamentarians under Captains Bradshaw, Venables and Browne ran into a force of some thousand Royalists from the Wigan garrison under Lord Derby and were forced to surrender. The three captains and 160 men were taken prisoner.


1642 During the English Civil War a battle was fought on Westhoughton Common between Lord Derby’s forces on the one side and Parliamentarians on the other.


1642 Men taken during the battle of Hart Common by the Royalists

They are commemorated by a mural painted above Westhoughton Market Hall

“Our forces will not flie through eighty musqueteers they conflict with the enemie to our great losse. God fires our magazine upon the common at Houghton chapel 1642”


1643 Ringley Chapel was consecrated by John Bridgeman the Bishop of Chester


1643 Captain Anderton of Lostock, under the orders of Lord Derby, led the unsuccessful attack on Bolton.


1644 (28 May) Prince Rupert attacked Bolton


1644 28 May, Prince Rupert’s army overcome the Bolton defences resulting in the “Bolton Massacre” of the civil war.


1644 (28 May) The Bolton massacre, sometimes recorded as the Storming of Bolton, was an event in the English Civil War which happened on 28 May 1644. The strongly Parliamentarian town was stormed and captured by Royalist forces under Prince Rupert. It was alleged that up to 1,600 of Bolton's defenders and inhabitants were slaughtered during and after the fighting. The "massacre at Bolton" became a staple of Parliamentarian propaganda.


1644 (2 Jul) Alexander Rigby (1594-1650) led a regiment at the Battle of Marston Moor on 2 July 1644.


1644 It is believed that Prince Rupert of the Rhine gathered his troops in Westhoughton before the attack and ensuing massacre at Bolton in 1644.


1644 Prince Rupert’s forces attacked Bolton and indulged in an indiscriminate massacre. The actual numbers killed are not known and contemporary accounts may be greatly exaggerated. However, this was the only massacre recorded during the Civil War and the actions left many bitter memories for the people of Bolton. 


1644 The Bolton Massacre – when during the Civil War Prince Rupert and the Royalist Army laid siege to and eventually slew many Boltonians who had Parliamentarian leanings

The Registers at the Parish Church contain the names of local men killed in the attack


1644 Bolton Grammar School was endowed by Robert Lever


1647 Rev Richard Goodwin came from Cockey Moor to assist at Bolton Parish Church.


1648 The Norris family added the stone extension to Hall i th Wood that houses the dining room, withdrawing room and the porch with study above.


1648 Samuel Bourn, Presbyterian minister, born at Derby, the son and grandson of clothiers.    

Bank Street Chapel                                                       Died 1720


 Civil War activity is also known to have occurred around the site of Hunger Hill and a sword claimed to be from the time of the Civil War was discovered in the garden of one of the cottages at Pocket Nook in Chew Moor during the 1950s.


1651 (15 Oct) James Stanley, 7th Earl of Derby (1607-1651), connected with the Bolton Massacre, beheaded for treason at the market cross in Churchgate, Bolton.

He spent his last few hours at the Old Man and Scythe Inn, in Churchgate, which was owned at the time by the Earl of Derby's family.

He had spent his last night at the King's Arms in Leigh.

He is buried in the Derby Chapel in the Church of St Peter and St Paul, Ormskirk.


1653 Sir Humphrey Chetham died

He left around £14,000 (£1,846,000 today) in his will


1653 Chetham’s Hospital, an orphanage, was established under the will of Humphrey Chetham (1580-1653), for the education of “the sons of honest, industrious and painful parents” and a library for the use of scholars.

The library has been in continuous use since 1653- the oldest free public reference library in the United Kingdom.


1660s Smithills Hall was inherited by the Belasyse family


1660? Rev Richard Goodwin became Vicar at Bolton Parish Church


1662 Under provisions of the Poor Relief Act 1662, townships replaced civil parishes as the main units of local administration in Lancashire. Little Bolton became one of the eighteen autonomous townships of the civil parish of Bolton le Moors. The township appointed overseers of the poor who administered poor relief to those in need and Highway surveyors who maintained the roads, all of which was funded by levying a rate from the inhabitants of the township.


1662 Little Bolton became a Parish in 1662.


By 1664 Calico and chintz, types of cotton fabrics, became popular in Europe, and by 1664 the East India Company was importing a quarter of a million pieces into Britain.  


1664 Conventicle Act


1665 The Five Mile Act.


1665 The Five Mile Act, or Oxford Act, or Nonconformists Act 1665, is an Act of the Parliament of England (17 Charles II c. 2), passed in 1665 with the long title "An Act for restraining Non-Conformists from inhabiting in Corporations". It was one of the English penal laws that sought to enforce conformity to the established Church of England, and to expel any who did not conform. It forbade clergymen from living within five miles (8 km) of a parish from which they had been expelled, unless they swore an oath never to resist the king, or attempt to alter the government of Church or State. The latter involved swearing to obey the 1662 prayer book. Thousands of ministers were deprived of a living under this act.


By 1666, the village of Little Lever had sixty hearths liable to tax


1666 In 1666 William Yate had to pay the tax for twenty hearths in Lostock Hall; there were only thirty other hearths in the township liable, and no house had more than three hearths.


1669 (May) James Bradshaw (bap 1635) arrested and sent to Lancaster gaol for preaching at Blackrod, Bolton parish.


1672 Bolton’s first non-conformist chapel – Bank Street Chapel was founded.

 There has been a chapel on the present site for three hundred years.

Bank Street Unitarian Chapel was the spiritual home of several of Bolton’s early civic pioneers, particularly the first two Mayors of Bolton, Charles James Darbishire (1838-1839) and Robert Heywood (1839-1840), to whose long friendship a plaque is dedicated inside


1672 Richard Goodwin (c.1613-1685) instigated nonconformist worship in Bolton, Lancashire, in 1672, creating a congregation that later became known as Bank Street Unitarian Chapel.  


1672 Rev Richard Goodwin was forced to take out a licence under the Declaration of Indulgence, to preach in a house which then stood at the corner of Deansgate and Mealhouse Lane

Twenty-four years later the congregation moved to Bank Street.


1672 Bank Street Chapel has its origins in a congregation established by the ejected Presbyterian minister Richard Goodwin at Great Bolton, Lancashire, in 1672. He began preaching there after taking advantage of the Royal Declaration of Indulgence which relaxed the stipulations of the Five Mile Act of 1665. Bolton had gained a reputation as a bastion of Puritanism during the English Civil War, when the attacking Cavalier forces called it the Geneva of the North, supposedly because of its similarities to the Calvinist stronghold of Geneva, although historian Malcolm Hardman notes that the sobriquet was "more out of irritation than accuracy". On his death in 1685, Goodwin was succeeded as minister by John Lever, who had also suffered ejection. Throughout this time, the congregation was based at a meeting house on the corner of Deansgate and Mealhouse Lane, which later became the Woolpack Inn.


1672 The cheese press is the only item on display at Hall i th Wood which actually belongs to the house. It is mentioned in the 1672 will of Alexander Norris who listed the cheese press and valued it at 3 shillings.


1672 Rev. Richard Goodwin, M.A became Minister of Mealhouse Lane Chapel (opened in 1672) from 1672-1685.


1672-1685 Rev. Richard Goodwin, M.A became Minister of Mealhouse Lane Chapel (opened in 1672) from 1672-1685.



1677 (8 Oct) Sir Francis Anderton (born circa1628) was created 1st Baronet Anderton, of Lostock, co. Lancaster


1677 Creams Mill, a paper mill in Little Lever, founded by James Crompton .

The name Creams was given by Adam Crompton II who said it described the paper being made.


1684 John Okey, a puritan and prominent Boltonian, died in 1684.                                                                       He is best remembered for his gravestone on south wall of Parish Church.


1685 (12 Dec) Richard Goodwin (c.1613- 1685), minister of religion, died                                                        


1685 James Bradshaw, (baptised 1613) clergyman and ejected minister, died in 1685 and was buried at Bolton on 26 February.


1685 Rev Richard Goodwin, M.A., at one time Vicar of Bolton, died

Interred in the parish church.


1690s Wool continued to dominate the European markets, but cotton prints were introduced to Britain by the East India Company in the 1690s.


1696 Mr Seddon died.

A few weeks before he died, he had generously presented a piece of land adjoining Windy Bank, for the purpose of erecting a Protestant Dissenting Chapel.

It is on this site that the present Bank Street chapel stands


1696 The congregation moved from Deansgate to Bank Street in 1696.


1696? A chapel built on Bank Street


1697 Originally owned by wealthy businessmen and traders, Hall i th Wood was rented out to various tenants from 1697.


End 17th century Robert Crompton (1667-1737) was making paper at the Farnworth Mill


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