|This feature is a compilation of extracts taken from the websites – “Catholic Churches and Chapels of the Fylde” and “Billingtons of Woodplumpton and Cottam” produced by Barbara Lupton.|
The account fits in well with the Church History and the list of Parish Priests as provided by John Cookson and some of the names recorded in registers could well be ancestors of today’s parishioners.
Until the Reformation, the parish was that of St Anne’s, Woodplumpton, a mile or so to the north of St Andrew’s. At some time during the penal times that followed, the domestic chapel of Cottam Hall was used as the mission centre but there must have been many times when this became impossible because of the dangers and the shortage of priests.
In some of the records the village of Woodplumpton is entered simply as ‘Plumpton’ or as ‘Plumpton Wood’, but should not be confused with Little or Great Plumpton villages near Kirkham.
The mission at Cottam and John Kendal
The move to establish a purpose-built mission in Cottam began at the turn of the 17th to 18th centuries. It was a priest, John Baine or Bayne, alias Peter Blacow or John Kendal, who rented a barn and four acres not far from Cottam Hall but just over the border in the Bartell (Bartle) quarter of Woodplumpton, from a local yeoman, William Bilsborrow. The land was on lease to William Bilsborrow from the Squire at Cottam Hall for 99 years. There is some dispute about the location of this barn as it is maintained in the Haydock Papers that it couldn’t be the site of the present chapel, that being situated over the border in Woodplumpton. Wherever it was it is known that John Baine then made it suitable for use as a chapel and dedicated it to St Andrew. He appears as ‘Jo: Kendall als. Baine, a popish priest’ in a list of recusants prepared by William Willowsy, the constable for Woodplumpton.
It was common practice for priests to take an alias for safety, often their mother’s maiden name. John Bayne was the younger son of Richard Bayne and Jennet of Catforth and was baptised in Cottam on 30 Nov 1653. He began his studies at the mission in Kirkham and was sent to the English College in Rome in 1674 where he took the name Peter Blacow. Though ordained in 1678 he delayed travelling owing to the danger created by activities of the infamous Titus Oates but probably arrived in the Fylde soon after he landed in England in 1681. He had been chaplain at Cottam Hall for some time before 1703 and on the English mission was known as John Kendal..
In July 1718 William Bilsborrow was summoned, along with two others, John Worden of Cottam, labourer, and James Helme of Lea, yeoman, to appear before the magistrates in Preston. They had already been convicted of recusancy the previous January, presumably being heavily fined, and now testified unwillingly that John Baine alias Kendall had ‘fitted it up into a dwelling-house, and hath lived there15 years and hath heard him often say Mass there…’ and that they had ‘heard Bain preach and officiate at the altar’. In the registration of William Bilsborrow’s estate as a ‘non-juror’ (i.e. one who would not take the oath) his properties are given as a cottage and 6 acres of freehold land in Woodplumpton and a barn and 4 acres in Cottam and a lease on another property from William Haydock the elder.
The mission continued under John Baine until he died on 25 Apr 1727 aged 73. He was not alone, being assisted by Gilbert Haydock, younger son of William Haydock senior and Jane Anderton. Gilbert was born at Cottam Hall, was sent as a boy to Douai, then Cambrai, and was ordained in 1708, leaving immediately to begin his mission back at home. In 1715 after the defeat of the Jacobites in Preston he was found hiding up a tree in the old park at Cottam and subsequently spent several months incarcerated in Lancaster Castle. After his release he returned to the continent and became chaplain to nuns at Louvain, Belgium, dying there in 1749 aged 67.
John Kendal of Fulwood, son John, and his wife Catherine Tomlynson, were assisted shortly before John died, by a cousin, Henry Kendal, born 20 Jun 1769. John was taught at a little school in Fernyhalgh , then went to Douai where he taught philosophy and theology for some years after being ordained. He eventually succeeded his cousin John at Cottam in October 1728, being present when some of the congregation were confirmed at Fernyhalgh. He was at Cottam for only a few years, moving principally to Manchester and then retiring in his last illness to Fernyhalgh where he died in 1752 aged 63.
Rev John Cowban or Colborne, alias Butler, probably of Freckleton, went from the school at Fernyhalgh to St Omer’s and then Douai. Known as Butler, he was ordained in 1728, teaching at the college till 1723 then going to take charge of the mission at Cottam till about 1741.
Rev John Harrison, born in 1714, son of John Harrison of Lea, yoman, and Elizabeth Walmsley of Preston, was sent to Douai, ordained in 1741 and went to take charge at Cottam the same year. After the 1745 rebellion ‘No Popery’ mobs roamed the country destroying Catholic chapels and other property. In Preston the mob wrecked St Mary’s in Friargate, then marched out to Cottam where they attacked Mr Harrison’s house and chapel, burning both down. Mass was not then said at Cottam for two years. Mr Harrison went to Towneley Hall where he remained for 33 years, retiring through ill-health to live with his brother Lawrence in Friargate, Preston, where he died in 1780. During this period the Catholics in the area had to travel to the missions at Preston, Fernyhalgh, Salwick Hall, Mowbreck Hall (Kirkham) or Newhouse.
Rev Mr Smith is a shadowy figure, the name possibly being an alias, and little is known of the period from 1745 to 1768. In 1767 an official return by the vicar of Woodplumpton to the Bishop of Chester estimated the number of Catholics in the parish as 276, and that of Preston, (attending St Mary’s, Friargate) at 1043. In 1768 it was apparent that a new chapel had been built at Cottam for it was almost destroyed by a ‘No Popery’ mob again fresh from wrecking St Mary’s in Friargate yet again. Joseph Gillow in his notes to the registers of Cottam thinks the Jesuits from St Mary’s may have served the congregation at Cottam during this period after 1745 but there is no hard evidence. However, Mr Robert Haydock of Leach Hall and two other local Catholics repaired the chapel and house at Cottam and in 1769 another priest was sent to serve the mission there.
Rev John Lund was born in Bartell (Bartle) in Woodplumpton in 1733, grandson of Anthony Lund of Midge Hall, Myerscough. He was ordained at Douai in 1750, served as a chaplain for a few years on estates in Northumberland and York and was sent to Cottam in 1769. It was reported in 1783 that he had 109 communicants there and later that year he began a new register of baptisms. In 1784, sixty members of the congregation were confirmed and Mr Lund numbered his communicants at 206. In 1796 he built the present chapel, still dedicated to St Andrew, and though ill for six years from about 1806 remained in charge until his death in 1812. He was buried in the chapel.
Further information on the Register