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have not noticed it before. On the face of the stone, just above the recess, there is to be seen what was evidently a matrix, in which was formerly fixed a small monumental brass. The lower part is a horizontal oblong, and the upper part seems to have been filled with an upright figure. The bottom part must have contained the inscription, and the upright portion would appear from its outline to have contained the effigy of a hooded female figure. This upright portion is about half of it on one stone, and the other half cuts across the joint on to the stone above, and this fact, when we remember that the wall was rebuilt in 1524, proves that this matrix must have been made and the brass placed in it after the rebuilding of the church. The brass may have been engraved by the orders of Sir Richard Ashton as a record of the lady's name and family; but more probably it would be the original brass made at the time of her death and refixed on the wall after its re-erection.
This lends support to the above-named tradition, and it is further confirmed by the fact that the name given to the Saxon lady who is said to have built the north side of the church is that of Maud, the eldest daughter of the last Roger de Middleton, and she is the only lady of that name on record in the archives of Middleton. She would doubtless be past middle age at the time of her father's death. It also appears that her widowed mother continued to reside at the manor house until she died about the year 1339; and Maud herself, as we shall find in a later paper, became a widow in or before the year 1330, so that for a period of some nineteen years she had dwelt in close companionship, and for the greater part of that period in the still more sympathetic bonds of a common. widowhood, with her aged mother, the last sad remnant of an ancient name and ancestry, of whom no sound of
voice or footfall was ever again to be heard within the precincts of their old home at Middleton.
Is it not natural that Maud, the widow, in this, her latest, bereavement, and in the greater solitude following upon it, should desire to perpetuate the memory of her parents and of her ancestry in the manner before suggested? At all events, this supplies by far the most likely explanation of the origin and purpose of this memorial stone; and it also in some measure accounts for the origin of the error in Baines's history. The writer may have heard only a partial or garbled version of the legend, and have used the Christian name of the lady, whose parents and extinct ancestry were really intended to be commemorated, as the surname of a fictitious family. Be that as it may, an explanation is wanted, and this one fits the case. It is the only complete attempt to explain the meaning and purpose of this niche and cross that I have seen. If it be correct, Bishop Durnford was right in his opinion, and we have here the monument of Roger and Agnes de Middleton, and the brass above mentioned was the effigy of Maud, the heiress of the last of the ancient Saxon house of Middleton.
Dr. Whitaker (Hist. Whalley, footnote, vol. ii., p. 415) mentions a deed in which Hugone de Eland, who appears in another deed placed circa 1180, and Will'mo de Radeclif, who was sheriff of Lancaster in 1194, appear as witnesses to a gift of Anketillus filius Andree capellani de Rach. As the witness And.," of the Ashworth charter, is accompanied by his son, Henry, and the deans of Whalley, who at that period held the church of Rochdale by "a kind of hereditary right," were the only ecclesiastics in these parts who are known to have openly disregarded the marriage laws of the Church, it is most probable that this 'And. p'st'ro" was identical with the Andree capellani de Rach. (Rochdale), and a member or connection of the family of Geoffrey, the grantee. The "Ada c'lico de Midleton' was obviously unmarried, as might have been supposed from his connection with a parish in which the laws of the Church were more strictly observed.
[The remainder of this paper, in which another rector of Middleton will be found, not yet on the list, and which deals with eight descents of the Barton family, ending with the marriage of Sir Rafe Assheton (the celebrated Black Knight), and a description of his life and character, is held over until the next volume.]