The name is thought to be pre 1066 Anglo-Saxon, possibly from north Germany (the Holstein region).
Pilk - a proper name in use in Holstein
ing - the offspring of
ton - a dwelling place, village or town
Put together - the dwelling place of the family of Pilk
The descent of the Pilkington family can be traced from Leonard de Pilkington, Lord of the Manor of Pilkington, who fought under Harold at the Battle of Hastings. After his victory, Norman William divided large tracts of Britain amongst his many followers and the ownership of a vast estate in south-east Lancashire (including the area now occupied by Whitefield) was conferred upon Sir Leonard de Pilkington. How he persuaded William I to allow him to keep his manor is unknown.
His descendant, Sir John Pilkington, with his son John and their retainers went to France with Henry V and fought at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. At Agincourt the retinue of Sir John was John Kay, Roger Kay and William Lee. His men consisted of ten lances and forty-five archers. In order to pay his troops Henry pledged some of his jewels and plate to the younger John Pilkington. They were not redeemed until 1431.
Some time later the Pilkington family came into possession of the Manor of Bury, after which Bury became the principal residence of the family. Bury Castle was fortified and castellated in the reign or Edward IV. It has been stated that Edward also gave a licence to Sir Thoman Pilkington to kernel and castellate his manor house at Stand, but it is doubtful if the work was carried out.
Sir Thomas Pilkington fought for Richarcd III at the Battle of Bosworth Field where Richard was killed and his opponent, Henry Tudor became king. As a result, Henry VII confiscated all Sir Thomas's lands and gave them to Sir Thomas Stanley, whom he created Earl of Derby. The property included land at Nether Kellet, Haleworth, Salmesbury, Pilklngton, Bury, Cheetham, Cheetwood, Haliwell, Undesworth (Unsworth), Salford, Shuttleworth, Middleton, Shippelbotham, Smethills, Tottington, Bolton in Furness, Broughton-in-Furness, Urswick and elsewhere. Sir Thomas's lands were therefore extensive and well-spread.
Harland says that Sir Thome Pilkington was killed whilst fighting for Lambert Simnel at the Battle of Stoke. On the other hand, the Victoria County History of Lancashire states that he was not killed there and that he was pardoned in 1506; but this seems unlikely as it is stated that his son Roger died in 1501 and that Roger had no son so what was left of his estate was divided between Roger's six daughters. It seems probable that Sir Thomas was at Urswick when he joined Simnel, for Simnel landed at Piel Castle in Furness and rallied his forces on Swarthmoor, which is not far from Urswick.
back to Whitefield index page