Edward Baines

History of the County Palatine of Lancaster
4 volumes, 1836



Edward Baines imageEdwin Butterworth imageEdward Baines was born in Preston and became proprietor and editor of the Leeds Mercury and MP for Leeds. He wrote several history books as well as financing the compilation of two early trade directories. This major work was revised and reissued until it was replaced by the even bigger Victoria County History (8 volumes) in the 1900s. As well as a general history of the county and its cotton manufacture, there are detailed accounts of every parish.

Edwin Butterworth, a young (early 20s) journalist and amateur historian from Oldham, was hired by Baines to visit all these parishes and his original research notes have survived.

Hornby was described by Butterworth as a ‘declining and desolate town, neglected by its lords, possessing no trade and scarce any passing traffic- there are no motives or means for improvement.’

In the valley of the Wenning were ‘sweet pastures overhung by wood either stretching in the bottoms or along the sides of the swelling hills’.

For Tatham Butterworth commented that ‘The condition of the agriculturists, either in their means or methods of farming, has varied little for a great number of years.’

Baines included similar accounts of the area.

‘The face of the country along this line [ie upper end of Tatham parish] … is extremely rugged, but scenery is frequently grand, and, in some parts of the parish, extremely beautiful’. Hornby Castle, the admiration of the neighbourhood, is seen in many situations to advantage; and in clear weather, Ingleborough, presenting its immense mass and well-defined summit in the distance, imparts a degree of sublimity to the scene. ‘

Baines ended his account: ‘All the farming operations of this parish and district are conducted upon the principles of the old school, unmixed with the alloy of modern improvements.’

MW 2009
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