The Ainscoughs and the Nelsons
The 1767 Return of Papists reveals another item of importance. Out of 167 Catholics in Mawdesley, there were 16 Ainscoughs. The Ainscough family originally came from Stallingborough in Lincolnshire, a family of ancient and noble stock, but through the Reformation and taking part in the Pilgrimage of Grace, they suffered sequestration of their lands and migrated into Yorkshire and subsequently into Lancashire, where among the swamps of Mawdesley and Rufford, they were reduced to very humble circumstances.
In 1717, Hugh Ainscough of Mawdesley, yeoman farmer, paid recusancy fines, his wife, Elizabeth, was also convicted. Thomas, their son, was great-grandfather of the Parbold benefactors.
In 1814, Richard Ainscough (the elder) 1770-1849, came to Parbold, and with the help of his father (Hugh Ainscough of Mawdesley), started as a grocer and took over the village windmill. This was the foundation of the family firm of H. & R. Ainscough.
In 1814, Richard Ainscough (the elder) married Elizabeth Livesey of Newburgh in the private chapel at Fairhurst Hall (home of the Nelsons).
Their eldest son, Hugh Ainscough (1816-94), studied for the priesthood at Valladolid in Spain – after four years returned home and then contemplated a medical career, spending some time with Dr. Hawlett of Wigan finally joined in the family business along with his brother Richard.
The family business prospered.
The new steam Flour Mills were built at Parbold and Burscough. Farming activities extended to Fairhurst Hall Farm, Parbold and the Briars Hall Farm, Lathom; it was here that the Burscough Shire Stud originated.
H. & R. Ainscough had now become well-established flour and corn millers, large farmers, and landowners.
Hugh Ainscough finally extended the family interests to Southport, where he built the Palace Hotel, Birkdale and directed several other companies including the Victoria Hotel Co. and the Bank of Southport. At this time he was Liberal member of the Lancashire County Council.
In 1852, Hugh Ainscough married Susanna Fairclough and they had a large family of seven sons and five daughters. Desirous of a larger home worthy of his position, he acquired the Parbold property known as Lancasters, where, adjacent to a Cromwellian cottage he erected the commodius “Lancaster House”. Hugh Ainscough died on December 12th, 1894 and was carried to his grave by five of his sons and three of the oldest employees of the firm. Half the county and almost the entire Ampleforth community attended his funeral, as did the Vicars of Parbold and Newburgh. The windows in the north aisle depicting St. Hugh of Lincoln and St. Richard of Chichester commemorate the two brothers.
Fr. Anthony Ainscough, O.S.B., a son of their fifth son, was a former Prior of Ampleforth.
Richard Ainscough 1818-1877. Born in Parbold and married to Hannah Liptrot and lived at Brooklands in Lathom. They had no family.
In 1865, he greatly assisted in the building of the church of St. Richard, Skelmersdale, but sadly, died before the completion and Consecration of the Parbold church.
Martin Ainscough (1897-1973) who lived the earlier part of his life at Fairhurst Hall, always took a keen interest in the church, and among other things built the church car park and the bridge from the church to Alder Lane.
After years of suppression and persecution, what joy and happiness it must have been for our English Catholics to be able to live and practice their faith once again in complete freedom.
How natural for the Ainscough family, that they should wish to build the church of Our Lady and All Saints, in the grounds of Lancaster House -and at the same time able to fulfil a debt of gratitude to the Ampleforth Benedictines.
One could not leave the age of recusancy and the dawn of the Catholic Revival without mention of Fairhurst Hall and the Nelsons who lived there for many generations. Their Tudor and Stuart history had been the usual one of fighting for the Royalist cause and suffering for the Catholic faith. Their house described as “an old brick pile on the banks of the Douglas” was long a centre of subdued Catholic activity. Four of the Nelson family joined the Benedictine community of St. Edmund’s, Paris. They were: Fr. William Benedict Nelson professed 1640, died in Paris, September 3rd, 1699. Then there were three brothers: Fr. Maurus Nelson professed 1681, died in Paris, May 3rd, 1690, following an accident sustained in athletic pursuits. Fr. Anselm Nelson, professed 1682, died tragically, April 19th, 1717. He was drowned off Dover while on his way to General Chapter, held that year in London. Fr. Richard Placid Nelson, professed 1679, served many Catholic missions mainly in Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, but he died in his native Lancashire, at Cuerdon, January 26th, 1724.
A later generation of Nelsons had close associations with the Dominican Priory at Bomhem, near Antwerp, where three sons were entered as lay boys in the 1780s.
In 1804 the incumbent of Douglas Chapel reported “there are 67 Papists – and 3 places where they assemble for worship, Wrightington Hall, Parbold Hall and Fairhurst Hall – their priests are Mr. Felix Delalond of Wrightington, Mr. Marsh of Parbold and Mr. Orton of Fairhurst Hall”. The latter is a misspelling of the name of Fr. Hyacinth Houghton, Dominican chaplain at Fairhurst Hall where he died after many years service, January 3rd, 1823, aged 87.