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With regard to the etymology of the word Liverpool, which is involved in so much uncertainty and obscurity, and respecting which so great a variety of hypothesis has been started, it appears almost useless to enter upon any lengthened disquisition on this occasion, as the labour would not be crowned with
In former times there appears to have been no fixed and regular mode of spelling this word ; for not only one author differs from another, but oftentimes it is found differently written in the works of the same author; several instances in confirmation of this assertion will be found in the following pages.
Leland, who made his Itinerary in the reign of Henry VIII., speaking of Liverpool, has the following remarks :-“ Lyrpole alias Lyrpoole, a pavid towne, hath but a chapel, Walton, a iiii miles of not far from the se is paroche chirch. The King hath a castelet there, and the erle of Darbe hath a stone house there.
Irisch marchaunts cum much thither, as to a good haven. After that Mersey water cumming toward Runcorne, in Cheshire liseth among the commune people the name, and is Lyrpole. At Lyrpole is smaule custume payid that causith marchaunts to resorte. Good marchaundis at Lyrpole, and moch Irisch yarn that Manchester men do by ther.” The following manner of spelling the name is
found in No. 2129 of the Harleian manuscripts, deposited in the British Museum, entitled, “Notes taken in the church of Leverpoole :"
Enfield, speaking of the orthography of this word, has the following observations :- In the pedigree of the family of Moore, of Bank Hall, in the manuscripts now in the said Harleian miscellany, the name is written Leverpoole, and afterwards twice repeated Lerpoole. This manuscript, then, which was written by a person who at that time travelled through Lancashire, seems to fix the true orthography of the name so early as the
1567." The same writer, in treating of the etymology of this word, says,—"Some suppose that it might be taken for a sea weed, now known by the name of liver in the west of England, or from a species of hepatica, vulgarly called liverwort, often found on the sea coast; and others suppose that it might be derived from the Lever family, which is of ancient date in this country, and whose pedigree and arms are to be found in the Harleian manuscript referred to above."
The succeeding observations respecting Liverpool in the year 1607 are copied from Camden, in which he assigns the conjecture of that day as to the etymology of the proper name Liverpool.
“ The Mersey, spreading and presently contracting its stream from Warrington, falls into the ocean with a wide channel, very convenient
for trade, where opens to view Litherpole, commonly called Lirpoole, from a water extending like a pool, according to the common opinion, where is the most convenient and most frequented passage to Ireland; a town more famous for its beauty and populousness than for its antiquity. Its name occurs in no ancient writer, except that Roger of Poictou, who was lord, as then stated, of Lancaster, built a castle here, the custody of which has now for a long time belonged to the noble and knightly family of Molyneux. This Roger held, as appears from Domesday Book, all the lands between the rivers Ribble and Mersey.”—Gough's Camden's Britania, vol. vii. p. 137.
The castle mentioned by Leland, and which Camden says was built by Roger of Poictou, is supposed to have been erected about the year 1076, it stood on the site now occupied by St. George's church and a part of the Crescent, and was entirely taken down in the year 1721, part of the stones being used in the building of several houses situate in the south end of Castlestreet.
Seacombe, in his description of this edifice, says,—"There was a strong castle on the south, surrounded by a ditch twelve yards wide and ten yards deep, from which to the river was a covered way, through which, when the tide was out, men, provisions, and military stores, were brought as occasion required.” From this passage it seems probable, that the present site on which St. George's church stands is considerably higher than the moat was that formerly surrounded the castle.
The foregoing quotation from Camden shews that the family of Molyneux was highly distinguished in this neighbourhood immediately after the conquest, as the family seat at Sefton was conferred on Vivian de Molineux by Roger de Poictou soon after the Normans took possesion of the kingdom; the government of the castle was likewise invested in this family. A part of the ancient family mansion, which was situate near to Sefton church, was standing until a few years past, having been used as a farm-house from the time the family removed to the new hall at Croxteth. In Sefton church, which was built in the year 1111, there are several very antique monuments belonging to the Molyneux family.
In the year 1826, on digging the foundation of the external wall of St. George's church, a portion of the remains of the castle was met with, which by some was supposed to have been the base of the tower, at the southwestern angle; likewise in the year 1828, as the foundation of the northern part of the Crescent, situate at the top of Harrington-street, was being prepared, a large portion of the basement of the northeastern part of the castle was discovered.
Gregson's Fragments contain an account of a survey of this building made in the reign of queen Elizabeth, which states that the east wall is thirty-eight yards, the north wall thirty-six yards, the west wall thirty-five yards, and the south wall thirty-seven yards; the ditch surrounding the whole of the east side, at its outer . extremity, averaged about seventy-eight yards; its boundary was Preeson’s-row on the west, the top of Pool-lane and Castle-ditch on the east, and Castle-hey, at present called Harringtonstreet, on the north.
The building next to this in importance and antiquity was the old Tower, which stood at the bottom of Water-street, but of its original erection nothing certain is at this day known. In the year 1252, William de Ferrers, earl of Derby, obtained a charter for a free warren over the land situate between the Mersey and the Ribble, and in this year some have supposed the Tower was first erected. It seems to have become the property of the Stanley family so early as the year 1406, being at that time bestowed on Sir John Stanley by king Henry IV., doubtless as a reward for his eminent services. In the preceding passage from Leland it is said, that " the erle of Darbe hath a stone house here," which clearly means the Tower, for the Stanleys resided in it, at intervals, until the year 1734, when James, earl of Derby, was mayor of this town, and during the