The Dumbills of Crosby
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Local History 2005-2023


Crosby takes it's name from the old Norse word "Kross," and the scandinavian "by" and means the village of the cross or crosses.
It is mentioned in the Doomsday Book as belonging to Uctred and in 1824 was described as a great sea-bathing place, 6 miles NNW of Liverpool! Althought the site of the first settlement is unknown, this is thought to have been at Little Crosby. It was named early in 900AD by Norsemen, who came from the Isle of Man and Ireland and settled in a number of places on Merseyside and Deeside.
Some rock carvings on Bidston Hill, Wirral, are attributed to these wanderers, and a large horde of coins once found in the Crosby area contained some of the Saxon King Alfred and also Danil Gulfrith, King of Northumbria in 883. Their use of the word "kirk" in place-names like Kirkby and Kirkdale, suggest that they were Christians and somewhere in the woods of Little Crosby is the site of the Norse Harkyrke - "the grey church."

Long before the Viking ships ran their prows into the sands of Crosby, a primeval forest stretched across what is now the Mersey mouth, from the Crosby and Hightown areas to New Brighton and Leasowe. You could have walked through this forest to the Wirral. Some of the stumps of these ancient trees have been seen at unusually low tides at Hightown and Leasowe. A piece of oak from the latter shore, tested by the radio-carbon 14 method, gave a date of about 1,740 BC.

Doomsday called the district Crosbie, and it was finally known as Crosby in 1645. After the Conquest, Little Crosby was granted to the Norman Knight, William Fitznigel, and the area of Great Crosby remained a royal manor. Later, another Norman, of the famous Molyneux family, which produced the Earls of Sefton, was given a large area of land around Sefton. By 1212, the manor of Little Crosby was also held by the Molyneuxes and it remained with the family until 1362, when the Blundells took possession. In 1625, Charles I, who always seemed pretty desperate for ready cash, sold his rights in the Manor of Crosby to Lord Mandeville, acting on behalf of the Molyneuxes.

Little Crosby, which has managed to maintain a fairly isolated existance, is still a picturesque village where time seems to have stood still. Chiefly occupied by a Roman Catholic community, it has a history of religious purges. There still exists Ned Howerd's green-gabled cottage, in which, in 1708, a chapel was established and Mass said there in secret untill 1720. Old Crosby hall, seat of the Whitelock-Blundell family, nestles within its walled grounds in Little Crosby. The reformation brought considerable trouble to the Blundell family and for some 200 years they suffered fines, imprisonment and sequestration of lands.

In spite of its being a continuous settlement for so many centuries, Crosby, by the middle of the late 18th Century, was still merely a cluster of cottages, a chapel and a village green. But with the growth of industry and commerce in the last century, and when many of the city's business people began looking to the north coast to build their homes, it began to fill out rapidly. Today, it is solidly connected to the sprawling city of Liverpool.

Acknowledgements: Derek Whale and the Daily Post and Echo

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