Flookersbrook field

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The article Lost Streets of Hoole describes the building of the the first streets of urban Hoole and explains how they were built on the "Flookersbrook Field", also known as Bishops Field; on the Hoole Township Tithe Map c.1839 (in the County Record Office but also available online) it is shown as Plot No.13 owned by Charles Hamilton; through marriage and early heir-less deaths, the land passed to Thomas Faulkner who in the 1850s sold the Field in building lots. The older history of the field is also interesting as it features in a series of charitable scandals uncovered in the 1820's.

John Brereton (c1571 - 1631)

John Brereton, Alderman, Mayor of Chester, was born after 1571 (est: under 16 when his father died in 1587). John Brereton was the son of Thomas Brereton of Barrow, gent, and his wife Jane, the daughter of Baggott of Brethill in co Stafford. His paternal grandparents were William Brereton, Chamberlain to King Henry VIII, who was beheaded in 1536, and Elizabeth, the daughter of Charles Somerset, Earl of Worc, and previously married to Sir John Savage. Like many mayoral families such as the Gamulls, William Glazier, John Cowper, and others, John Brereton had rural property, mostly near by.

John Brereton, by his will bearing date the eighth day of August, 1631, gave and devised his Close by Flookersbrook, called "Flookersbrook Field" to his loving wife for her natural life; she paying yearly, out of the rents, issues, and profits thereof, the sum of £5, which he willed and devised to be paid, and distributed, in manner and form following, that is to say, to

  • 20 poorpersons of St Johns Parish ..................... 20s.
  • 20 poorpersons of the Parish of Barrow .................... 20s.
  • 10 poorpersons of St Werburgh’s Parish .................... 10s.
  • 10 poorpersons of Trinity Parish .......................... 10s.
  • 10 poorpersons of St Peter’s Parish ................... 10s.
  • 10 poorpersons of St. Mary’s Parish ....................... 10s.
  • 5 poorpersons of St Michael’s Parish ..................... 5s.
  • 5 poorpersons of St Bridget’ s Parish ..................... 5s
  • 10 poor persons of the Parish of Tarvin ................... 10s

which said sums were to be paid:

  • "... yearly to the several Churchwardens of the said Parishes, who at such times and days as they with the advice of the several Parsons or Curates of the said parishes should yearly and every year for ever, distribute and pay upon every Friday next after St. George’ s Day, the said several sums to the said poor people, according to his intent and meaning therein. And, after the decease of his said wife, he further gave and devised his Close aforesaid, called the "Flookersbrook Field" unto the Mayor and Citizens of Chester and their successors for ever; upon trust and confidence that they should yearly well and truly pay and satisfy the said sum of £ 5, in such manner and form as he devised the same to be paid by his wife. He also further willed and devised that all the rest and residue of the rents and profits of the said Close, over and besides the sum of £5 formerly devised, should yearly and every year be duly paid and satisfied by the said Mayor and Citizens, for and toward the Maintenance and Exhibition of the "Friday Lecture" at St. Peter’s Church within the same City; the same to be yearly paid to the Lecturer there for the time being, at and upon every Friday next following St. George’s Day."

The Friday Lecture

The "Friday Lecture" had been established in 1583 at St Peter's, which became a centre of Puritan preaching possibly due in part to the influence of Puritans such as John Bruen. In the winter of 1613 seventeen of Bruen's students and servants were arrested for destroying roadside crosses in Cheshire. Seven of the vandals appeared before the Star Chamber in London. The outcome of the trial resulted in a 500 pound fine, an expense that Bruen covered for his followers. While those charged with the crime denied Bruen’s involvement, it was clear to all that the event was planned at one of his conventicles at Stapleford Hall.

As noted by Isaac England Ewen (1821-1890) writing in JCAS (see link below):

  • "The plain speaking and denunciation of all immorality stirred up strife, and many began openly to deride and oppose, and formed parties to act in opposition. The enemies of the movement at last prevailed, and upon the 5th September, 1701, the Dean preached the concluding sermon."

Unfortunately for the Lecturer of St Peters Church, "the trust and confidence" were "misplaced" and the Corporation found themselves in a position to dispose of the land which had been given "and devised his Close aforesaid, called the "Flookersbrook Field" unto the Mayor and Citizens of Chester and their successors for ever" - subject to the payment of a rent, with the money being spent on a new market.

The Investigation

The matter was investigated by the Charity Commissoners for Chester in their "Report of the Commissioners sent to Chester to enquire into the Charities of the City" (published by John Monk in 1829), but there was "no Evidence to shew the quantity of the Close", nor could the Commissioners in their endeavours to trace it, find any document which "set forth the field and its abuttals". They concluded that the field had been alienated by the Corporation; and it is presumed that the fee farm rent, reserved by the following instrument, was the value of the Close at that period.

  • "By Indenture dated March 26th, 1712, the Mayor and Citizens of Chester, — in consideration of the surrender of a former lease of the Field or Parcel of Land thereinafter mentioned, for three lives and 21 years after, as of the sum of £8 fine; and in consideration of the yearly rent hereafter mentioned, — granted, bargained, sold, refeoffed and to perpetual fee-farm betook unto John Clayton of Hoole, in the County of Chester, Gardener, — all that field, pasture, or parcel of land with its appurtenances, situate lying and being near Hoole Rake, in the County of Chester, commonly called and known by the name of "Flookersbrook Field," late in the tenure or holding of Catherine Oulton, widow, and then in the possession or occupation of the said John Clayton; together with all ways, &c., to hold unto the said John Clayton, his heirs and assigns, to the use and behoof of the said John Clayton, his heirs and assigns for ever, under the clear yearly rent of £ 6 13s. 4d. payable at Midsummer, or quarterly by equal portions. At an Assembly holden on the 20th day of June, in the 6th year of William and Mary, it was ordered that Peter Newton, Rector of St Peter parish within this city, should have and receive yearly during the pleasure of the House, the sum of 5 nobles (which sum was formerly given by this House to Mr. William Thompson, late Parson of the said Parish) yearly out of Mr. Brereton’s Legacy, the first payment whereof to begin and be made upon St. George’s Day then next."

The following is an extract from what is stated to be the evidence of the Town Clerk to the Charity Commissioners:—

  • "John Brereton’s legacy was a sum of £6 13s. 4d., made payable annually to charitable objects, out of a Close at Flookersbrook, wnich was devised in 1681 to the Mayor and Citizens of Chester for that purpose. The only trace of the Corporate property in this Close during living memory has been (what is here termed) a chief rent issuing out of it, of the precise amount of £ 6 13s. 4d. This was sold a few years since by the Corporation, with several other chief rents, upon the usual terms of 20 years’ purchase, in order to raise money to build the new markets (the present Shambles, about 1828). This sum of £6 13s. 4d. is distributed yearly by the person appointed for this purposeby the Corporation from their funds. £1 13s. 4d. is given to the rector of St. Peter’s, instead of what ought to have now been a much larger residue from the increased value of the lands near this city — that is to say, if the Lecturer of former times and the Hector of the present day are identical. The remaining £ o is given according to the directions contained in the Will, viz., to the several churchwardens, about St. George’s Day. This is why the money is received in some of the parishes by the name of "St. George’s Money". This "Flookersbrook Field" is now called "Bishop’s Fields" and was recently owned by the late Mr. Faulkner; and when any portion of it is sold it is described in the title deeds as "Flookersbrook Field."

Sources and Links

Related Pages

  • Brereton: a family divided by religion and politics;
  • Dutton: more of Chester politics in Tudor times;
  • Owen Jones: more corruption on the part of the Corporation;