A polished stone axe of the neolithic period was found in the grounds of Westridge, Ingestre Road
in 1951 while in 1930 a stone pounder or hammer-head was dug up in the garden of Elmhurst,
Glenmore Road, presumably destroyed with this house when bombed in 1941. No.2 now stands
on the site. A bronze age metal axe was recovered from the sports field of Townfield Primary
School, Noctorum Way.
A hoard of Roman coins was found in 1834 by workmen in the Arno quarry. Most disintegrated on
touch, but a few were identified as of Antoninus (AD138-161), Marius (AD 268), and Victorianus
(268-270 ). It has been suggested that the third century dates are a likely time for the burial,
since this was a period of political turmoil in the Empire and that the identification of a further coin
to the time of Honorius (AD395-423) was probably incorrect, being more than a century removed.
Hugo de Mara, known also as Hugo Fitz Norman, was the Norman grantee of the Cheshire
possessions of the barons of Montalt. These, together with the office of Dapifer or Seneschal of
the Earldom, were united in the next generation in the person of Robert de Montalt, who is
believed to be the son of Ralf, brother of Hugh Fitz Norman, and who assumed the name of his
castle of Montalt, or Mold.
The manor of Oxton does not appear in the Domesday Survey and is believed to have been
included in that of Eastham, originally held by de Mara. By the thirteenth century it appears
vested in what was probably a younger line of the barons of Montalt, under whom they held their
lands and whose arms and crest they adopted, with slight variation - the Domville family, who also
held the manor of Brimstage, their original settlement, described as “this bleak and moorish
tract”. It subsequently passed through the marriage of female heirs to the Holes (or Hulses) of
Raby, then to the Troutbecks of Dunham and so to Sir John Talbot of Albrighton, who in 1521
conveyed it with several other Cheshire manors to his first cousin, George Talbot, the 4th. Earl of
Shrewsbury. John Talbot had a further role to play, that of ancestor to future earls. His great-
grandson through his elder son, John, entered the line in 1619 as the 9th Earl, while the ninth
generation descendant through his younger son, by a second wife, also named John, provided the
18th Earl on the death of his predecessor without issue in 1856. There is a curious feudal flavour
about an incident which occurred in 1832, when the 16th Earl summoned his Oxton tenants to
Court Leet at Raby (both Brimstage and Oxton were within its jurisdiction) to enumerate their
commitments in the plashing of hedgerows, the scouring of ditches, the disposal of such scourings
and the cutting of hedges, under a penalty of 2s.6d. per rod for every hedge or ditch unplashed
or unscoured. The inadequate ringing of pigs found wandering on public roads and anyone
trespassing for the purpose of getting mushrooms incurred a forfeit of 1/- per offence.
In rural areas, the civil parish, in general, coincided with the ecclesiastical parish and generally had
the same boundaries as the manor. This was certainly so in Oxton, where the boundaries, except
for a small area on the Claughton border, enclosed the area depicted by Bainbridge in 1795 as the
extent of the Shrewsbury Oxton Estate. The boundaries of Oxton Township were coterminous
with those of the manor and the snippet of land described as ‘so much of the Township of Oxton
not belonging to the Earl of Shrewsbury or his lessees’ bounded by Palm Grove, Grosvenor Road
and the Oxton-Claughton boundary.
The Earls of Shrewsbury remained manorial proprietors until 1990, when in the time of the 22nd.
Earl the title was up for sale by auction. The Shrewsbury connection is commemorated in a
sequence of road names derived from subsidiary titles, viz. Alton, Chetwynd, Ingestre,
Shrewsbury, Talbot, Waterford and Wexford.
In a charter made in the twelfth century, Hugh Domville granted Birkenhead Priory a dwelling
house and land (unam mensoram et unam cultram) called Knavenebrec (The Young Man’s Hill) in
Oxton “for the safety of his soul and the souls of his ancestors”. This is known through an
inspeximus (a confirmatory document) of his descendant, Roger.
There appears to have been some litigation in 1282 between the Prior and Isabel, the lady of
Oxton, and her son, Roger, over their respective boundaries, lying between “Portstreet” and
“Oxtoneway”, extending between the town fields of Oxton and Claughton. The issue was settled
by a charter between the Prior and Roger Domville, determining the bounds between Oxton and
Claughton to be from “Bottislowe” (Bott’s Hill) to “Swalewelowe “ (Swallow Hill) and thence by
stones placed there in “Lyngedale” (Heather Vale) to “Raggedestoan”. Lingdale is the sole
survivor of these topographical features.
Since the 1847 Tithe Map shows the Oxton-Claughton boundary following roughly the plan of Palm
Hill, Claughton Hill to the junction of Ashburton and Shrewsbury Roads, it is widely believed that
this must have been quite near to the original. Although there is a Lingdale Road in Claughton
Village, it is certain that the “Lyngedale” mentioned in the boundaries was an area within the
rectangle now formed by Kingsmead Road South, Shrewsbury Road, Ashburton Road and Bidston
Road. The OS map of 1872 includes within this rectangle a Lingdale, together with a villa, a lodge,
a house and a lane with the same name. Eight boundary stones are also shown as being within
the area, although, sadly, none appear to have survived.
A document dating from the reign of Edward III, dealing with an enquiry into the question of
encroachments into the Forest of Wirral, treats with the occasion when Richard de Oxton was
called to account for having in his possession a quarter of a rood of land in Oxton, near
Arnehowe. At the period of this document, the use of the words erne, earn or arne, for eagle was
quite common. How is well-known as a word for hill, so could it have been that the name for the
Arno in medieval years was Eagle Hill?
By the sixteenth century Oxton had passed, often by marriage, through various parts of the
Domville family, such as the Hulses and the Troutbrecks, but was " recovered" by knight John
Talbot and dame Margaret "in favour of George, Earl of Shrewsbury and Francis Talbot, son and
heir apparent". Public houses and roads still exist in Oxton named Shrewsbury and Talbot,
although the origional Talbot Road is now Barnard Road. The Talbot family, had by the early
seventeenth century, collected twenty seven manors, all in Cheshire. In 1620 Oxton was rated as
eleventh richest, being worth £5. In a settlement on the marriage of George Talbot to Marie
Herbert of Powis Castle in 1638, the manor of Ogston (sic) is recorded as containing 570 acres of
enclosure and 300 acres of common – the first tangible mention of the area later surveyed by
Thomas Bainbridge in 1795. Dr. Sherlock (1611-89) bequeathed £50 to purchase 15 cows for the
use of the poor of this township, to be placed under similar management to those of Woodchurch.
Sherlock, a native of Oxton, was a voluminous polemic writer, and persecuted royalist of the time
of Charles I and II.
The Rural Hamlet of Oxton
The hamlet was established on the sandstone ridge leading from Bidston and running towards
Storeton, where the disintegration of the underlying sandstone has produced only a thin, light,
friable, gravelly and sandy soil. Heathlands of furze, gorse and ling quickly developed, which were
then left as common. In many places wet and bog-like, rushes abounded. The ridge, with its
occasional rocky outcrops, was generously supplied with springs and wells.
By 1795 Bainbridge records a reduction in common and heath-land to about 192 acres, the larger
part, 138 acres to the north-west of the area and 54 acres to the south of the track leading down
from the village nucleus on the ridge to Woodside. (The Cheshire acre equalled two acres sixteen
poles Statute measure). The original village stood at the junction of the present Bidston Road,
Gerald Road, Village Road and Townfield Lane. These, together with Holm (then Home) Lane,
appear on the 1795 Shrewsbury Estate plan and would have been little better than tracks.
The 1801 census returns record a population for Oxton of 137, against Birkenhead’s 110. Out of
the 27 households, 22 were in agriculture and only 5 in trade. The juxtaposition of this highly rural
region within a rapidly expanding and industrialising area in nineteenth-century Britain gave the
Cheshire farmer great advantages in the disposal of his produce, insuring him to a large extent
against failure at times of agricultural depression elsewhere.
The Antoninus Coin
The Victorianus Coin
The Marius Coin
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