Jordan Bridge of Springhill, Rossendale, Lancashire

March 16, 2015

Sometimes a person just gets under your skin somehow for no apparent reason. I have just such a soft spot for Jordan Bridge.

  • I don’t know when he was born.
  • I don’t know who his parents were.
  • I do know he had brothers Adam and Christopher.
  • He may have been a bit of a dodgy character.
  • I do know he died in 1546.
  • I don’t know where he is buried.

Jordan was one of the first residents of the Springhill area after deforestation in 1507. He delivered a piece of land 90 feet x 40 feet unto Henry Durden in, or before, 1515. I would love to know where it was.

He, together with the other tenants of Deadwenclough, was elected Greave of Rossyndale in 1516. Why the office of Greave was allocated to a group rather than an individual and how this worked in practice is sadly not recorded.

In 1527 there was an entry in the Halmote records of the manor describing how Jordan, by ‘Synister labor, Craft and subtilite’ ... ‘fined and connveyed’ to deprive Adam his brother of his share of the lands on deforestation ‘value of xxs’ in Deadwenclough. The ‘false and untrue delying’ was ‘openly Kawne’. As a consequence of mediation by their friends the matter went to court which found for Adam. Jordan was ordered to compensate Adam which Jordan refused to do ‘contrariety to all gud Right and conciens and his faith and fidelity and contrary to his seyd agreement thereof’ and the Halmote ‘pray … for … Reformacien’. (Farrer vol III pp 58-9).

Then, the following year (1528) he was sued together with his brother Adam and other tenants of Deadwenchough for trespass with beasts, a common offence in the area. The common pasture was largely in the west of Rossendale and the modern rights of way numerous and complex, reflecting the various routes taken by farmers in moving their animals.

In 1534 he was fined 4d (together with seven others) for making a ‘marle pyt’. Marl Pits field later became part of Springhill Farm and is now a sports complex. It has notoriously bad drainage, not surprising given its name.

In January 1536/7 Jordan, together with three others, sued four neighbours over partition of land in Deadwenclough called ‘The Edge’, just above Springhill. Four others were ordered to divide the land equally amongst all the parties.

The year 1541 finds Jordan together with Adam, and John Bridge, being sued for obstructing a right of way and was bound over for 6s 8d to repair it before the feast of St John the Baptist. The vicar was charged with deciding which man had to clear which bit.

Jordan Bridge died in 1546. His son, John, was admitted tenant (fine 16s 3d, probably one year’s rent). Christopher and Frauncis Bridge forbade fine by right of inheritance. This was to granted, but John Bridge surrendered the land to Christopher shortly afterwards.

It appears that Jordan may not have been above a bit of dubious dealing. It also gives a flavour of how hard life was in the early part of C16, with people trying to exist in pretty unpromising terrain and the squabbles which emerged as the land was deforested (in 1507) and began to be inhabited.

And today? The old highways are still impassable. Rights of way are still being blocked. Marl Pits is still boggy. The vicar doesn’t usually deal with highway obstructions now, though.

Janet Barrie

Member 1132

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