Marple Local History Society

Marple, Marple Bridge, Mellor, Compstall, Strines, Hawk Green, Rose Hill, High Lane.

It happened 500 years ago in Mellor

Author: Tom Oldham.

Published: Marple Local History Society, 1996.

A5 booklet, 16 pages, 1 illustration.

Price: £2.00

ISBN: 09522716 4 8


  • Extracts from notes by Robert Pilkington in the period 1478 - 1500.
  • Conflicting claims of two families
  • Imprisonment of Robert Pilkington
  • Armed raiders come to Mellor
  • William Rowbotham goes to London
  • Felling of trees in Mellor
  • Postponements and delays


In the early days of our interest in the local history of Mellor, we became aware of the 500 year old story, 'The Narrative of Robert Pilkington', having seen a reference to it in 'Glimpses of Mellor', and Ann Hearle obtained copies of it from the Public Record once.

Glancing through my copy I was somewhat daunted to find so much of it difficult to understand. Although the original writing had been transcribed and printed, much of the ancient phraseology and many old words had been retained, and also, having very little legal knowledge, I found the accounts of the many court cases very confusing. However, among much tedious writing there were many interesting sections which I felt should be retained and added to historical records of Mellor, but the problem was linking these together to form a readable story.

So I put the Narrative away in a drawer where it reposed for several years, and by chance I found it there one winter when I was not much occupied, and had a closer look at it. I extracted the sections which seemed of interest, and worked on them to make them easier to read and understand. Much of the writing concerns the administration of justice in medieval times, and the amount of corruption and roguery associated with it, which could be of interest to medieval historians, but it would be much too heavy going for the general public. It took some time to produce a readable account, but it lacked continuity, and was still too long and boring.

Not satisfied, l again put the Narrative back in the drawer. Then, after another passage of years, Marble Local History Society began the publication of booklets on local history, and I had another look at what I had written. The printed transcription of 1903 is not easy to read as it is interlaced with the original phraseology and old spelling. I made alterations to wording where it seemed necessary to improve comprehensibility, but to provide interest and a. medieval flavour I retained some of the ancient phrases and old words where their meaning seemed clear. Drastic exclusion of more of the tedious court cases and complicated legal discussions was the easiest way to improve it, and after several drafts I settled for the following account.

I must thank Ann Hearle for encouraging me to produce a readable story from this old account after I had browsed over it for so long. She made helpful suggestions, checked my final draft, and organised the production.

Without her involvement the book would not have been produced.

Tom Oldham.

November 1996