By the early eighteenth century there were several farms centred on Lowerfold, and one of these farms had been in the hands of a branch of the Mercer family since the previous century. The first entries made in the Lay Subsidy of 1660 are those for the Lowerfold area and one of the people listed is a Richard Mercer, single. Richard died later that year and his nuncupative, or verbal, will on his deathbed named his brother Thomas as heir to all his goods. Thomas was not listed on the Lay Subsidy and it is possible that he was living elsewhere when Richard died and that he returned to the town to take up the lease on the Lowerfold tenement.
When Thomas made his will in 1675 he states that he was ‘of Lowerfold’. The will is damaged, particularly the upper portions, but useful sections can be read. From it we know the names of his family:
o Wife Bridget.
o His father-in-law Henry Halsall.
o Son William ‘to have and to hold’ – presumably the tenement at Lowerfold and named as Duckworth’s.
o Elline Coubourne, daughter
o Elizabeth Mercer, daughter
o Henrie Mercer, son
o Grace Mercer, daughter – under 21
o Richard Mercer, son – under 21
William was named as the executor of the will and the total of the inventory was £52 14 shillings. Grace and Richard, not having reached the age of 21, were therefore born sometime after 1654 and the other children before that year. However, the baptisms of the children of Thomas and the marriage of his daughter Elline do not appear in local parish registers, or if they do they cannot be distinguished from the children of other Thomas Mercers baptising children at that time. There is a possibility that they were missed if born during the years of the Civil War, or it could be that they were born outside the area.
Bridget remarried in 1673 to Robert Chew of Billington. Her father Henry Halsall died in 1678, and Robert Chew in 1682. Bridget herself died in 1696:
Burial: 27 Jun 1696 St Bartholomew, Great Harwood, Lancashire, England
Bridget Chew, Widow
Abode: formerly from Lower fold in ye town of Harwood but late from Accrington
The William who inherited the Lowerfold tenancy died in 1728 but he did not leave a will, so the only means of tracing his line is through the parish registers. The probable marriage for William is to Elizabeth Sudell in November 1675. The Lay Subsidy of 1660 shows a William Mercer as the servant of the Sudell family, probably at Heys, the Sudell farm. At that time the status of servant was rather different from later times and was often a form of apprenticeship between families of a similar status, so it is not impossible for a servant to marry the daughter of his master. Perhaps significantly, William married on the 4 November 1675, just over a month after the death of his father in late September that year.
There are several entries for the children of William Mercer in the parish registers but only three are stated to have been born at Lowerfold: Thomas 1677, William 1686 and Grace 1697. However, there are children recorded as being at Peg Nance:
o 1677 baptism of Thomas son of William Mercer of Lowerfold
o 1686 baptism of William son of William Mercer of Lowerfold
o 1692 baptism of Nicolas son of William Mercer of Peg Nants, Upper Town
o 1693 burial of Nickolas son of William Mercer of Pegnants
o 1697 baptism of Grace daughter of William Mercer of Lowerfold
o 1698 burial of Grace daughter of William Mercer of Peg-nants
Nicolas was the name of Elizabeth Sudell’s father, and I have only ever come across one other instance of the use of Peg Nants as a place name and that was in the Blackburn registers for the burial of the widow of Thomas Sudell of Pegnance in 1647, so this was a place associated strongly with the Sudell family. Both facts are evidence to link Elizabeth Sudell as the wife of William of Lowerfold. No burial has been identified for Elizabeth.
A survey of Hesketh estates in 1735 records William Mercer aged 49 as being the tenant of lands at Lowerfold; this was the William in the above list born in 1686. He was probably the William Mercer Junior who married Mary Patefield in 1713 and whose son David was born in 1715. There do not seem to be any other baptisms for children of this William and there do not seem to be any records for David after that of his baptism – it seems likely that he died as a child or young adult. Mary, wife of William of Lowerfold, died in 1752. His will, made 1754, bears out him having no living wife or descendants – he leaves bequests to nephews and nieces and various other people. He names his brother Thomas (deceased), a brother Richard (deceased and whose baptism does not appear to have been recorded) and their families.
Other people mentioned by William in his will were:
o Ellen Tattersal wife of James Tattersal daughter of Richard Mercer his brother
o Mary Mercer wife of William Mercer, innkeeper of Whalley
o Mary Boocock widow of Benjamin Boocock deceased of Downham
o Elizabeth Wigglesworth wife of John Wigglesworth carpenter of Downham
o Jennet Tattersall widow of Lawrence Tattersall of Downham
o Tamer, sister of William Mercer skinner of South Oram, York
o Mary Hindle, housekeeper
o Thomas Mercer son of Alexander Mercer of Harwood
o William Whittaker son of William Whittaker of Rishton
o William Mercer, skinner of South Oram, the eldest son of his brother Thomas Mercer deceased the residue.
The inventory total was £36 8s 9d and listed the rooms and buildings at the farm:
o The House (hall or main chamber)
o Chamber over Buttery
o Lower Parlour
The holding now passed to William Mercer of Southowram, the son of his brother Thomas. Thomas appears to have migrated to Yorkshire and his daughter Tamar’s baptism is recorded at Bingley in 1707, but no record has been found so far for the baptism of his son William. William’s marriage to Martha Bridge in 1731 is recorded though, and the baptisms of his children in Northowram in Yorkshire. That William had relocated his family to Great Harwood is confirmed in the rentals for the farm at Lowerfold and land allotted to them on enclosure:
1 May 1758
12 acres 33 perches
William Mercer 9
Thomas Mercer 40
Clinkham (near) (Harwood Moor)
5 acres 1 rood 34 perches
Rachel daughter 19
Leah daughter 16
William son 14