If you go far enough back in any twig of your family tree, you are almost certainly going to find a peasant. For most of the twigs in my family tree, the Tudor period has represented a barrier beyond which it has not been possible to penetrate. However, in one small and very remote valley in East Lancashire, I have recently been able to make some surprising detailed discoveries thanks to the indefatigable efforts of a number of 19th & early 20th century antiquarians, William Farrar, Thomas Dunham Whitaker, and Christopher Townley in the early 17th Century.
His daughter Mary, later married John Baber, [1564-1628] Rector of Tormarton, and Vicar of Chew Magna, who is my 10 x great grandfather. It is known that John Wolton was helped during his early career as a clergyman by being the nephew of Alexander Nowell, who became Dean of St. Paul’s but who originally came from Read, near Whalley in Lancashire.
With sixteen of the villagers presented in court for pasturing their cattle in the two fields, Town-field and Brokeholme, and at most probably twenty or less properties, this list must represent the heads of the household for nearly every cottage in the village at that time.
Were these fines a regular event?
Why had somebody decided to crack down on the villagers at this time?
The fact that almost the entire village got fined, suggests that this was not a isolated incident, or a case of stays going through a broken fence.
Halmotes were Manorial Courts held in the Lord of the Manor’s hall, in this case in Clitheroe Castle, in which cases were tried over minor cases involving the villagers, and before a jury of twelve villagers. Most cases centred on land disputes, and were settled by fines. These courts also formalised property transfers between old and new tenants, and these generally were also settled with the payment of a fine of a year’s rent to the Lord of the Manor.
A extract from the 1847 Ordnance Survey Map showing Pendle Brook and the cattle route from Pendle Hill to the right of the map, leading down the main street in Pendleton towards Clitheroe and its cattle markets towards the left of the plan.
Google Earth Image marked with the possible locations of Town-field and Brokeholme.
Town-field was probably where cattle that had spent the summer up on Pendle were brought down through the "funnel" shaped hedges that formed Brokeholme.
I am aware that a local field name survey was underway in Pendleton a couple of years ago. I would love to know how that has progressed, and if it is possible to narrow down the field names or the early ownership of any of the cottages, farms and properties in the village?
I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
 From http://www.oldclitheroe.co.uk/page213.htm
 From the following website by a descendent of the Mitton family, which has a great deal of fascinating information about the Mitton family who were frequently in the same locations and events that my Nowell and Wolton ancestors were also present https://thefamilydemitton.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/mitton-46.jpg
 Court Rolls of the Honor of Clitheroe in the county of Lancaster. Farrar. Page 13. Available at https://archive.org/stream/cu31924088014174#page/n39/mode/2up