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Hilton/Hulton Families

Hilton House 1848

The earliest mention of the Hilton family in Prestwich is the naming of a chantry on the North side of the Church of St Mary's.

Hylton Chantry

Hylton's Chantrie, was later known as the Wilton Chapel, and was founded by Ellis Hylton, Esq. The founder's name does not appear in the pedigree of Hultons of Farnworth & Hulton (west of Bolton), and all that has been discovered of him is that his name occurs in a brief list of Lancashire Grand Jurymen "all being justices of the peace," in the reign of Henry VIII (1509-1547).

This chantry had escaped the scrutiny of the Commissioners of Henry VIII, but was discovered by the Commissioners of Edward VI (1547-1553). It was then of recent foundation. The name of the chantry priest was Thomas Dobson, and in 1553 he received a pension of £ 4 10s. 2d. A pre-reformation Aumbry remains to this day set in one of the stone pillars of the chantry, indicating there would once have been an altar nearby.

Local familiy ties The Hulton Family papers record a gift estimated to date from 1215, from Edith de Bartona, with the assent of Gilbert de Nottun her lord and spouse to Richard de Hulton; gift of two bovates of land in the town of Hultona [Hulton] which Hyarwrthus de Hulton, father of Richard held; paying 2s yearly; witnessed by Roger de Mildelton, Alexander de Pilkinton, Geoffrey de Buryn, William de Radeclive, Adam de Prestwic,Robert de Pendelbury.

The earliest surviving church register entry for the Hilton family is the baptism of Johes Hilton, son of Arthuri in 1605.

The records also show that there were several Hilton families using St Mary's for burials or baptisms in the following years (Johis, Francisci, Thomae) , but in 1610 we find the marriage of the curate of Prestwich, Martyn Sydebothom to Joana Hilton.

The earliest record at St Mary's of Hilton Lane as an abode was in 1630 with the recordings of Maria Hulton, born to Francisci, and Sicilia , born to Thomae Hulton.

Hilton Family name Hilton/Hylton/Hulton/Helton/Halton are all different spellings of the same name, and derive from Old English "hielde" meaning slope, or possibly a Norman name Hildun, composed of the Germanic elements "hild" strife, "battle" + "hun" meaning bear cub.

St Mary's also records that Thomas was a churchwarden between 1648-1651, and again in 1670 (possibly his son). The churchwardens' accounts record that in 1655 £00.16.08 was received "of the wife of George Hulton ffor swearing and other misdemeanour"

1650 Swearing Act In 1650 an Act was passed entitled, "An Act for the better preventinge and "suppressinge of the detestable sins of prophane swearing and cursing." The fine imposed to go either wholly or in part to the poor of the Parish. The following are some of the provisions of this Act :-
1. A record of all convictions to be kept by the Justice of the Peace, and the names of the offenders so convicted to be published quarterly.
2. The penalty attached to be a graduated one, so as not to press too heavily upon the poor man, it is presumed, who might be disposed to indulge.
For the first offence, a Lord 30s.; a Baronet or Knight, 20s; an Esquire 10s; a Gentleman, 6s.8d.; all inferior persons 3s.4d. For the second offence double the aforesaid.
For the tenth offence, " he or she shall be adjudged a common swearer or curser, and be bound with sureties to the good behaviour during three years." In default of payment of the fine, the offender to be set in the stocks for three or six hours. according to the frequency or infrequency of previous convictions.

In 1665 Andrew Hilton was paid £00.02.03 "ffor three yards of linnen cloth for two shirts for John Johnson.That same year £00.01.00 was paid "ffor a midwife to Ann Hilton". (Ann baptised a child, outsdide of wedlock, called Marya on the 19th June 1665). This child seems to still have been looked after by the church in 1675 when £0.02.0 was paid for "goeing to Ratchdale six times to get money to meintene Ann Hilton child " A further indication of the Hulton familiy standing is shown in 1676, when "Andrew Hultons man" was paid 2 pence for killing a "hedge-hogge".

In 1677 £0.10.0 was paid to Jo. Woosman "ffor a quarters table of Nan Hilton lad". A quarter was a unit of measure for wine, ale and grain and equalled 8 bushels of 8 gallons, so maybe this "table" was used for measuring as part of the tythe collections. The next year £0.08.01 was paid to Thomas Hulton for "setting up ye horseing stone and ffor poynteing about the church".

Mounting Block

The "horselng stone" may well be the mounting block that still stands inside the church gates. In 1788 twelve shillings was paid for its removal there.

Further entries show the Hulton family as Churchwardens through to the 18th century:

1677 Abraham Hulton
1705 Abraham Hulton
1706 Abraham Hulton

and in 1739 John Diggle, of Hulton Lane was appointed churchwarden.

Then in 1747, Betty Hulton followed the Ann mentioned above receiving £0.11.06 on "Acc' of her Bastard Cd"

In 1763, James Hilton and Henry Cope were paid 2s. for "bringing in their estemation", and £25.17.9 for building the "new house". This is thought to be have been refering to the Workhouse on Rainsough Brow, where land and cottages had been purchased in 1716 for use as a Poorhouse.

Rainsough Workhouse (rebuilt 1819)

Sadly the only three grave stones remaing of Hilton families from this period at St Mary's, all three are from the 18th century, two are located on the path sections, so probably not in their original positions.

The first is to Grace and Robert Hilton of Moston (dated 1743), and the second is of a Hilton family from Park Lane, Whitefield (dated 1760). The third grave, of Hannah Hilton daughter of William of Prestwich, dates from 1797 and is located in it's original section, B1.

Hilton Grave stone

The partly worn inscription on James Hilton’s stone reads as follows:

“Here Refteth the Body of
James Hilton of Whitefield
who was Interred August ye
26 1766 Aged 44 Years.
Ann wife of James Hilton
who was interred here ye lith
of June with her two Daughters Dear
{...] Buried here
Anno Dom 1761 in ye 41st year of
her Age. Alfo William his Son
who departed this life Novr
ye 6th Anno Dom 1766 in ye 13th
year of his Age. Alfo James
his Son who Departed this
Life Nov ye 13t Anno DomI
1760 in ye 2nd year of his Age.”

A further 129 Hilton burials are recorded with no locations.

coming next... the residents of Hilton House....