Toxteth Park, Lancashire Genealogy
TOXTETH-PARK, an extra-parochial district, in the union and hundred of West Derby, S. division of Lancashire; forming the south or south-eastern suburb of the town of Liverpool; and containing in 1841, 41,295 inhabitants, and in 1846, an estimated population of 59,185. Toxteth is called in Domesday book Stochestede, which orthography preserves the obvious etymology Tochtath, "the woody place." It was successively occupied by Saxon proprietors named Bernulf and Stainulf, and was among the territories granted by Roger de Poictou to his castellan at Liverpool, the ancestor of the Molyneux family. In the reign of Edward I. Toxteth was held by the crown, and soon afterwards by the earls of Lancaster. In the 22nd of Edward III., Sir Thomas Stanley, who became chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, was appointed keeper of the Park; and in the 20th of Henry VIII., Sir Thomas Butler was invested with the office of chief forester, for life. The Park, as parcel of the duchy, was granted in 1593 to Henry, Earl of Derby, on whose death it reverted to the crown, which had not yet parted with the full possession. In the 2nd of James I.'s reign, Toxteth, then well wooded, was disforested, and about the same time was granted to Ralph Willey and Thomas Dodd, citizens of London, who immediately afterwards conveyed it to Richard Molyneux. This personage was created a baronet in 1611, and his family was subsequently raised to the peerage, obtaining the title of Viscount Molyneux in the year 1628, and that of Earl of Sefton in 1771. No place in the suburbs of Liverpool has advanced so rapidly within the last few years, as this township. So recently as 1770 it was entirely composed of farms: about one-third is now covered with buildings and formed into streets, while another third is occupied with ornamental grounds, and studded with the villas and mansions of Liverpool merchants; the remaining third is chiefly pasture land, and the whole is remarkable for the purity of its air. The township comprises 2400 acres, and includes that part of Liverpool called Harrington: this portion of the estate was sold for building by the Molyueux family, by whom other portions also have been disposed of. The extreme southern part of the Dock accommodation of Liverpool; some large sawmills; and other works, are included in Toxteth, but will be found described under the head of Liverpool. The Prince's Park, in Toxteth (the public park of Liverpool), is a great ornament to the district, for which the inhabitants are indebted to the philanthropy of Richard Vaughan Yates, Esq. That gentleman, desirous of forming a park that should be adapted both as a site for mansions for the wealthier inhabitants, and as a place of recreation for the public, purchased a tract of land for the purpose from the Earl of Sefton. About one-half of the hundred acres so obtained was set apart for ornament, and the remainder, around it, was laid out in building lots for villas and terraces, in such a way as that one house should not intercept the view of another; the sites commanding beautiful prospects of the Mersey, with the Cheshire shore and the hills beyond, and having the park with its rising plantations as a foreground. The terraces and villas, also, according to the plan, are to have gardens, adding to the beauty of the whole. A large piece of water has been formed in the centre, with two ornamental islands in it. On one side of this is a spacious garden, reserved, for the most part, for the inhabitants of the houses in the park, who have thus the advantage of retired walks. It is elegantly arranged, containing a choice collection of shrubs, pines, and scarce plants, each labelled with its name, so as to assist visiters in the study of botany; and the garden is on a sufficiently large scale to allow of considerable beds being occupied with the same flower. Privileged persons may also sail upon the lake, boats being provided on the spot. The ground on the other side of the water, which, with the drives, is open to the public, commands a view of the garden, and is disposed with equal taste. The Park was laid out under the directions of Mr. Paxton, of Chatsworth; Mr. Pennethorne, surveyor of Her Majesty's Woods and Forests; and Mr. John Stewart and Messrs. A. and G. Williams, architects, of Liverpool. It was completed in about three years, and the total cost was about £73,000, the price of the land being about two-thirds of the amount: the Earl of Sefton, when he sold the land, contributed £1000 towards the formation of the park. As one means of diminishing the expense to the proprietor, many of his friends and of the Liverpool public formed a tontine club, who bought from him land to the amount of five thousand guineas, on which they have erected a terrace of excellent houses. This terrace commands a remarkably fine view, and enjoys the advantages of both town and country, in a manner similar to the terraces in the Regent's Park, in London. Other individuals have taken lots of land; and when the additional buildings are completed, all appearance of the town will be shut out. The remaining ground, it is likely, will ere long attract purchasers. Toxteth is supposed to have formerly been included in the parish of Walton-on-the-Hill. The following churches are in the extra-parochial district. St. James's church, in Parliament-street, and nearly adjoining St. James' cemetery in Liverpool, was erected in 1774, and has a neat painted window, inserted in 1847. Attached to it is a district containing a population of 20,000: the living is in the patronage of the Rector of Walton; net income, about £200. St. Michael's church, built in 1816, at a cost of £8000, is a handsome structure in the early English style, with a tower and pinnacles; the pinnacles, together with the pillars, the tracery, and the arch ribs of the roof, are of cast iron: the interior is very chaste. In this church was erected in 1826, by Holden, the astronomer, a marble tablet to the memory of the illustrious Jeremiah Horrox, who was the first to predict and observe the transit of Venus over the sun's disc, Nov. 24th, 1639. Horrox was born in Toxteth-Park, and died in 1641, aged only 22 years. The living is in the patronage of Trustees; net income, £200. St. John the Baptist's church, Park Place, was built in 1832, at a cost of £6000, and is a cruciform structure with a square tower surmounted by a spire. A defined district is assigned to it, having a population of 10,000: the living is in the gift of John Shaw Leigh, Esq. St. Clement's, Windsor, was built in 1841, at a cost of £3400, and is in the early English style; with a population of 5000 in its district: the living is in the patronage of Trustees. St. Thomas'-in-the-Fields, erected in 1840 by Sir John Gladstone, Bart., the present patron, at a cost of £7000, is also in the early English style, with a square tower surmounted by a tower of octangular shape, with pinnacles: net income of the living, £250. St. Paul's, Prince's Park, was built in 1847-8, at a cost of £8000, and is a noble structure, from the designs of Arthur Hill Holme, Esq.; it is in the later English style, with a tower surmounted by a spire rising 150 feet: the living is in the gift of Trustees. St. Matthew's, in Hill-street, of which the first stone was laid by the Earl of Sefton March 21st, 1848, was erected from designs by John Hay, Esq.; it is in the middle-pointed style, with a tower and spire 147 feet high, and is intended to accommodate 1300 persons. The livings of these churches are all perpetual curacies. Dingle Chapel, originally episcopal, was rebuilt in 1774 as a Presbyterian place of worship, and was enlarged in 1842: there is a small endowment for the minister. The Independents, Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, Methodists of the New Connexion, Welsh Methodists and Baptists, and other dissenters, have also places of worship, chiefly at Harrington. St. Patrick's Roman Catholic chapel, a handsome building, was erected in 1797, at a cost of £10,000: over the altar is a painting of the Crucifixion, by De Keyser, valued at five hundred guineas. To all the churches are attached excellent schools: the schools at the end of Grafton-street, which are in the early English style, cost more than £2300, and were completed in 1846.
From: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis (1848), pp. 380-386. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=51351 Date accessed: 31 July 2010.
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