The earliest recorded spelling of our family name dates to the 11th century. Of the ninety spelling variations identified, three forms have survived - Shacklecross, Shallcross, and Shawcross. The name is derived from an ancient cross. This five-foot long eighth-century Christian stone relic is located at the junction of Elnor Lane and the Roman Road to Buxton near the Hamlet of Fernilee, in the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire.
The Danes, who invaded the area circa 900 A.D; referred to it as a shackle-cross due to the shaft's resemblance to a horse drawn carts shackle pin. This Cross, which commemorated some successful mission of the Archbishop Paulinius of York, in the district of our early home, gave in due course of time, a territorial surname to our clan.
(Source: Shallcross Pedigrees, published 1908, edited by Rev.W.H. Shawcross, assisted by William Gilbert)
Royal Descent: can be traced to Leonard Shallcross of Shallcross who married Margaret Davenport in 1556 her family aligning to
Edward Prince of Wales, the Black Prince, and the Kings of England before.
My family name “Shallcross” may be a derivative of Shawcross or for those named Shawcross visa-versa. My recent family origins are based in Biddulph Staffordshire and the Hamlets / Villages of Mow Cop, Astbury, Audley and Gillow-heath Congleton. My Great-grandfather Herbert moved to Atherton, Lancashire, to work in the fast growing coal mining industry that serviced the Industrial Revolution. The next two generations followed in their fathers footsteps, ending with my own father Fred who worked underground for 47 years most of them at Gibfield Colliery (1829-1963) on Coal Pit Lane, Atherton.
Herbert’s wife Ann Lancaster was a resident of Gillow-heath and she came with him in1887, she worked in cotton spinning and at one of many nail making works, which have been part of Atherton’s historic past, nail making has been craft of the area for almost 600 years .Other Shallcross’s move here also and these distant relatives are still represented in the town. Closer family like my Grandfathers brother Arthur and Sister Margaret moved to Atherton then emigrated to America in1911. Contact was maintained with these relatives until the 1970’s when the emigrating and resident families died out but little is know of their lives now. It would be good to link up again.
Some of the historical information on this site comes from the following publications / web-sites:-
The story of Chowbent Chapel. J.J.Wright, (1921), Reprinted 2001 by Read Publications Ltd., Leigh.
By kind permission of Peter Wood information on Atherton and Chowbent Chapel records, try this link to: Parishes of Lancashire
A history of the family name follows, all this work is due to the labours of Tom Shawcross, America, to whom i send greatful thanks.
Shallcross / Shawcross are sixteenth-century forms of one of the oldest family names in England. The name is derived from an ancient Cross located in the Peak District of England (see Chapter 2, The Shackle-Cross, or Shall-Cross). As such, Shallcross /Shawcross is what genealogists call a locative surname.
Locative surnames, such as Angers or Brody, typically describe someone from a specific place (e.g. Angers, France) or a general area
(such as a lowland marsh, e.g. Brody).
Shallcross /Shawcross family members can trace the origin of our name to a five-foot long eighth-century Christian stone relic located
at the junction of Elnor Lane and the ancient Roman road to Buxton, in Derbyshire, England. The Danes, who invaded this area circa 900 A.D., referred
to it as a Shackle-Cross, due to the shaft's resemblance to a shackle pin. The people who dwelled in the vicinity of this relic came to have the surname
of Shacklecross. The cross stone that once sat atop the square-chamfered end of the cross-shaft may have disappeared at the same time that our Danish ancestors usurped this land from the native Celts, who had made the cross. Only the cross-shaft remains today.
I suspect that more than one family of Danes may have settled here, and thus several non-related families may have come to share the same surname. Although our genetic relationship to each other is unclear, I think that all of us with the Shawcross name had ancestors that once lived in the tiny hamlet of Shallcross, which adjoins the Shackle-Cross (or Shall-Cross).
I have talked with several Shawcross’ in Canada, England, and the United States and all of us have traced our ancestry to England’s Greater Manchester area. The hamlet of Shallcross is near Manchester, which became a major job centre during the Industrial Revolution.
Many Shawcross’ (including my great-great-great-grandfather, James Shawcross) found employment in Manchester’s cotton manufacturing industry. Another significant segment of Shawcross' worked as bricklayers, or masons. Other Shawcross family members worked as architects, clergy,
merchants, photographers, and teachers. Chapter 4 of this book includes some of the Shawcross occupations that were listed in nineteenth century business directories of the Manchester area.
The earliest recorded spelling of our family name dates to the eleventh century. Of the ninety spelling variations identified, three forms have survived Shacklecross, Shallcross, and Shawcross. The Shawcross spelling originated in the sixteenth century. It may seem odd to us today that so many spellings of the same name could exist, but we need to keep in mind that spelling standards in earlier centuries were quite lax, due to high rates of illiteracy and a lack of standardized spellings or dictionaries. The following excerpt from the Shallcross Pedigrees º describes the evolution of our name.
By Tom Shawcross U.S.A.
The following, are extracts from Shallcross Pedigrees and The world Book of Shawcross’s
* Source: The World Book of Shawcross’s, pub. 1993 by Halbert's Family Heritage, p. 6.1.
º Source: Shallcross Pedigrees, pub. 1908, edited by Rev. W. H. Shawcross, page xii.
Origin of the Surname. By the Editor.
Ex bono nomine oritur bona pr‘sumptio. - PANORMITAN.
Our proper name, it has been observed, is our self; the mark or indicium by which we are distinguished from other men. The surname of this Family is the identical name given by its Norse progenitors and others to A Cross, erected between A.D. 627-685, which gave its name to a vill, not mentioned
in Domesday, within the King's liberty and Forest of the High Peak, in the north-west boundary of the county of Derby, and it was used by our Family as
This Cross, which commemorated some successful mission of the Archbishop Paulinius of York, in the district of our early home, within 700 years
after the Incarnation of our Lord, gave, in due course of time, a territorial surname to our clan. How much older our surname may be than the end of the
eleventh century, we cannot at present say. The “de” prefix (French = “von” in Germany) may indicate Anglo-Saxon, Danish, or Norman lineage. It was
Danish probably; the earliest name is two-thirds Danish; Derbyshire became part of a Danish state A.D. 877. The surname may have been used at the end of the tenth century, or the earlier part of the eleventh, by those of that ilk who first began to bear that mark of gentility, the denomination of their own estate. Swain de Scakelcros was not the first “de Scakelcros,” though his is the earliest recorded name; or we might now be Fitz-Swaines, Swaines, Swainsons, or Swinsons (compare Coward, Shepherd, and Hogarth). Our surname is therefore as old as any, excepting perhaps a few old clan patronymics.
These place-names, in medieval documents, as borne by the residents of the hamlets, are good evidence of landed possession by the person named, or
by some progenitor. Shallcrosses who left the vill in these early days would belong to the landed Family. (It should however be also recollected that other emigrants, peasants, and clergy at their ordination had their place-name occasionally bestowed upon them by the people among whom they settled.)
An enumeration of some variations of orthography, of which “Sachalcros” is Norman, and Shacklecross, Shallcross, and Shawcross are the three
standard forms, in order of merit, shows that this ancient place-name, wherein a store of history lies couched, has undergone some remarkable
handling. Developments of spelling, at the hands of the parish priests, scribes, and notaries, often in the same documents, are to be traced in the records
of most ancient houses. We find an interesting instance of this in the Will of Thomas Ouffe, 1628, where both name and place have Shalcrosse and
Shawcrosse spelling (see Note to this article). The annexed spellings have been obtained from documents which undoubtedly relate to the Family.
We omit the “de,” and the figure attached to the name indicates the century of its first ascertained use. Some evolutions are very curious.
They thus run there also are some other variations:
Chalcross (19) Schalcros (14) Shaircross (18) Shallcraft (18) Shawlecrowe (16)
Chorlcross (19) Schalcross (14) Shakelcros (14) Shallcrass (18) Shecross (17)
Holshawecroft(13) Schalcrosse (14) Shakel(s)cross (16) Shallcrofte(17) Shedcrosse (17)
Sachalcros (11) Schalecros (14) Shalcres (17) Shallcrop (18) Shelcross (17)
St. Cruce (14) Schalicros (14) Shalcroft (17) Shallcross (16) Shellcrass
St. Schalcross (14) Schalkiros (13) Shalcrofte Shallcrosse (16) Shellcross (18)
Sakelcros (13) Schalkros (13) Shalcrofts (17) Shallecross Shercross (17)
Sarlcrosse (19) Schallcress Shalcros (17) Shallscross Sherkcros (17)
Scakelcros (13) Schallecrosse (14) Shalcross Sharcrofte (16) Shirscross
Scakelcross Scholecrofte (17) Shalcrosse (14) Sharcross (19) Shocross (17)
Scalecros (14) Shackeris (17) Shalcroste (17) Shaucross (17) Shocrosse (17)
Schakelcros (14) Shackres (17) Shalcrowe (17) Shaughcrosse (17) Sholcroft (17)
Schakelcross (14) Shackcrose (17) Shalcrowfts (17) Shawcroft (17) Sholcross (18)
Schakilcros (13) Shackrosh (17) Shalecros Shawcrofte (16) Sholecros (18)
Schakilcross (13) Shacrofte (17) Shalkeres (17) Shawcrofts (17) Sholecross (17)
Schakilkros (13) Shacrosse (14) Shalkerish (17) Shawcross (16) Shorecroft (13)
Schakilkross Shacrost (16) Shalkros (17) Shawcrosse (16) Showcross (17)
Schalecros (14) Shaghcrosse (17) Shalkrosh (17) Shaw-Crosse (17) Shullcross (19)
Shackel is old English for a shackle, and may be compared with some spellings above. In middle English sch was another spelling of sh.
Sachalcros is valueless, as it is a Norman travesty. Only a Norman scribe was capable of turning Scha into Sa there being no such sound as Sh
in Norman. Hence the first spelling.
Schakel (= Schakl ) became Schalk. Then the Normans turned the sound of Schalk Ù into Schauk Ù, as in every other word of the same sort.
This explains the dropping of the L in the later spellings, as in Shawcross. Hence the order was (1) Schakelcross, (2) Schalkros, and (3) Schaukross.
Whilst themselves using the second development of “Shalcrosse” or “Shallcross” from the fourteenth century, it is noticeable that heralds, historians, and maps, give the old Family from the seventeenth the third evolution of “Shawcross.” In other branches those who began life as “Shalcrosse” ended it as “Shawcross”(e.g. “Flixton” branch).
“But ever since the dawn of civilization, people have not been content to see events as unconnected and inexplicable. They have craved an understanding of the underlying order in the world. Today we still yearn to know why we are here and where we came from.”
A Brief History of Time , pub. 1988, by Stephen W. Hawking, p.13.
On 6 February 1994, I drove to England's Peak District from London and viewed the relic from which our family name has been derived. A sundial now sits atop the stone shaft which was created to bear a Christian cross. The cross that may have capped the shaft over a millennium ago had vanished by the time of the Norman invasion. Only the cross-shaft, with its square-chamfered top, was in place when the Normans displaced the native Celts, who had been converted to Christianity some two hundred years earlier. The cross-shaft resembled a shackle to the Normans, who called the relic “Shackle-Cross”, after the Anglo-Saxon sceacel, or sceacul, a shaft, or shackle. It should be recognized that a cross-shaft, even if it no longer supports a cross, is nonetheless considered to be a cross. Otherwise, the relic might have been called the “Shackle-Cross-Shaft,” and our family name might have become “Shawcrosshaft.”
Erected by the missionary Paulinius in 632, the cross was originally made of wood. It was replaced by a stone replica in the eighth century. Located on an ancient parish boundary line, the cross gave its name to its location. Subsequently, this locative name became the surname of the people that settled there. It times. The hamlet of Shallcross is there also.
After remaining at its original site for one thousand years, the shaft was moved some time during the nineteenth century to the estate of nearby Fernilee Hall, where it was used to support a sundial in the garden. Interestingly, the last heir male of “Shacklecross of Shacklecross” died in 1733; it has been speculated that perhaps this “Shacklecross” could not survive the other's loss. At some time after its movement to Fernilee Hall, the true historical significance of what is now called the Shall-Cross was understood, and the cross was replaced in its original position.
The following is a transcript of an article written by W. J. Andrew, titled “The Shall-Cross: A Pre-Norman Cross, Now at Fernilee Hall,” published in the Journal of the Derbyshire Archeological and Natural History Society, Vol. XXVII, 1905:
The familiar appearance of the shaft of a sun-dial in the gardens of Fernilee Hall, the residence of Mr. H. S. Cox, some five miles north-west of Buxton, attracted my attention. It then appeared to be about eighteen inches in height, resting upon a square base stone, and surmounted by a Victorian capital bearing the dial. That it was the upper portion of a Saxon cross shaft was certain, and it was natural to assume that it had been mutilated to the length desired for its present purpose. A close inspection, however, raised a suspicion that the cross instead of resting upon the base stone might possibly pass through it; in other words, the base stone might have been bored and passed over the head of the cross.
Mr. Cox at once showed his interest in archaeology by ordering an excavation. This resulted in proving the surmise to be correct, and disclosed a cross of the “pillar” type, nearly five feet in length and, near the base, three feet in circumference. The circumstance is curious, for it shows that whoever converted the cross to the purposes of a sun-dial had sufficient regard for its antiquity to preserve it intact. It is not in situ, but it is believed to have been at Fernilee Hall for about a hundred years. The shaft is complete, save that perhaps an inch or so at the top has been removed to level the stone for the capital, which probably dates from about a quarter of a century ago, but as it is a large square cap it is eminently suitable for the preservation of the relic from further weathering.
Mr. Haslam offered to photograph it for these pages, but an unexpected difficulty arose; the cross would not pass through the heavy base stone, and the latter would not pass over the capital. All attempts to remove the capital only disclosed that it was deeply doweled into the head of the cross, and Mr. Cox's men were of opinion that to persist would result in splitting the relic. Mr. Haslam was therefore restricted to photographing that portion, exactly four feet, which could be raised above the base stone. Hence the illustration in the plate is but four-fifths of the full length.
For 4 feet of its length it is cylindrical, with a girth of 35 inches at the foot, tapering to 32 inches at a point 13 inches from the present top. Here it is encircled by a double roll molding 3 inches in breadth, and immediately above that the stone is chamfered to a square, which gradually narrows to 7 inches at the top. Upon each face of the chamfered portion is a compartment formed of a single moulding, following the lines of its face, thus in form resembling a staple. Across one of these compartments, not shown in the illustration, the initials “H.L.” above the date 1720* have been neatly carved.
This cross is of a well-known type, of which Mr. J. Romilly Allen, F.S.A., wrote: “Judging from the relative number of monuments of this class in each county [Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, and Cumberland], it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the type had its origin in Cheshire or Staffordshire, and it is therefore Mercian rather than Northumbrian,”† and he adds a list of the twenty examples known to him, but he only credits Derbyshire with one example.
The following table of twenty-six specimens, including six specimens in this county, without in any way aspiring to be comprehensive, may be sufficient for the object of this paper, which is special rather than general:—
* The last two figures are not quite distinct.
† Chester Archeological Journal, vol. v., p. 145.
CROSS AND PLACE. NUMBER. REMARKS.
The Shall-Cross, Fernilee Hall 1 Not in situ. Roll, double
Wilne Church 1 Ditto. Fragment converted to a font,
Bakewell Church 2 Dittos. Fragments in the porch possibly more than two crosses. Roll, single.
The Picking Rods, Ludworth Moor 2 In situ, standing in a single block of stone.
Macclesfield Park 3 Removed from Ridge Hall Farm. Roll, double.
Pym Chair, Taxal 1 In situ, a cross stump with
Clulow Cross 1 In situ upon a partially artificial mound. Fillet double.
Upton 1 near its site.
Cheadle 1 Found underground with an example of another class.
The Bow Stones, Whaley Moor 2 In situ, standing in a single block of stone. Roll single.
Ilam Churchyard 1
Stapleford 1 In situ, a few yards over the
Eliseg's Pillar, Vale Crucis 1 An inscribed stone.
BeckermetSt. Bridget's 2 In situ, but with separate base-stones. Rolls, single and double, one inscribed.
Gosforth 1 In situ. Long chamfered portion.
Penrith 2 In situ, but 15 feet apart, connected by hog-backed stones.
Although included in the above list, Eliseg's Pillar and the Penrith Stones have distinct characteristics, and were probably erected for different purposes than the rest. Several of these crosses bear typical Saxon ornamentation, such as interlaced knot-work within the upper compartments, as at Bakewell, Macclesfield, and in Cumberland; or elaborated carving round the cylindrical portions, as at Stapleford, Wilne, and Gosforth; or cross-heads, as at Ilam, Leek, and Gosforth. Some have a single circular roll moulding as the Bow Stones, or double as the Shall-cross, and at Macclesfield and Clulow; but where the shaft is perfect the single staple molding is uniform.
It will be noticed that all these crosses are north of the Trent, and therefore as Mr. Allen suggested, they are distinctly Mercian in origin, and located in that portion of Mercia which, until the commencement of the seventh century, had remained under the rule of the Britons. That they are subsequent in date to the introduction of Christianity is also beyond doubt, as a reference to Wilne, Stapleford, and inscribed examples will prove. Therefore they may with confidence be dated between the seventh and the tenth centuries, but most of them indicate art of, probably, the earlier half of that period, and the example before us is of the early type. Probably the plain crosses were earlier than the ornamented, the knot-work pattern in the upper compartments prior to the carved cylinders, and, last of all, the figured designs as at Stapleford and Wilne. But fashions then, as now, would often overlap. I hope, however, presently, to offer further evidence for assuming that these crosses were already old at the date of the Norman Conquest.
Although, to quote Mr. Allen, they are “Mercian rather than Northumbrian,” they are closely allied to the Northumbrian crosses, and in Mercia, south of the Trent, this particular type of cross is entirely absent. Therefore we must look for their origin to a condition of affairs which would bring the inhabitants of Derbyshire and Cheshire under the religion and customs of their neighbours north of the Humber, whilst it left those of the rest, and greater portion of Mercia, under its old regime, a condition which would sever all associations and intercourse between the two peoples.
This can only, I think, be found between the years 627 and 685. In 607, Ethelfrith, King of Northumbria, by his victory over the Britons at Chester, had extended his kingdom to the Dee, and was slain at the battle on the Idle, in Nottinghamshire, in 617. Thus the district comprising the whole of the crosses in question came under the Northumbrian sway, and remained so, with temporary exceptions, until the year 685, when Ecgfrith of Northumbria was defeated and slain at the battle of Nechtansmere, and the Northumbrians lost a considerable portion of their territories. During this period, namely in 627, Christianity was introduced into Northumbria by Paulinius, and we know that in 632 he extended his mission throughout the boundaries of the then province, and as Beda tells us, “preached the Word on the south side of the Humber,” journeying as far as the Trent, in which, in the presence of King Edwin, who accompanied him, he baptized a multitude of the people near a town called Tiovulfingchester, which is usually accepted as Southwell. Thence he journeyed into Cumberland, preaching as he went; so his mission would embrace the very ground now sprinkled with this type of cross, namely, along the banks of the Trent and the Dove, passing Stapleford and Wilne into Staffordshire, by Chebsey, Stoke, Leek, and Ilam, and thence northward through the western borders of Derbyshire and Cheshire, past Bakewell, Shallcross, and Ludworth on the right, and Clulow, Macclesfield, Upton, Pym Chair, Bow Stones, and Cheadle on the left, on his way towards Cumberland. Thus he would pass within a few miles of every one of these monuments.
At this time the whole of the country south of the Trent was under the rule of Penda, of whom Beda writes, “Penda, with the entire nation of the Mercians, was an idolater, and a stranger to the name of Christ,” and in the following year King Edwin was slain by him at the battle of Heathfield. Therefore, if Paulinius introduced the custom of erecting crosses to commemorate the stages of this great religious movement, and this was the particular design of cross set up in Mercia on that occasion, we can well understand that the custom would not be tolerated across the Trent, and the design then popularized would have become old-fashioned and obsolete when, after the death of Penda in 655, Christianity was finally established in Mercia proper. Hence a type which had been introduced by the first great missionary for ages there whilst south of the Trent another form of cross would remain the symbol of another preacher and of another period.
That it was customary where there was no church, to set up a cross upon such occasions, is well authenticated by our early historians. Beda tells us that in the year following the death of Edwin, King Oswald, marching against Penda, and finding there was neither church nor altar at a place called Havenfield, erected the sign of the Holy Cross, and whilst the earth was thrown in, ordering the people to kneel and pray for the safety of the nation. This cross, however, was “made in haste,” and was of wood, but others of the same or the following century are recorded as being of carved stone.
It seems probable that the original crosses, which I have suggested were erected by Paulinius, were also of wood, for they would be set up in haste as occasion required. This is important in view of the peculiar form of this type. The usual and natural Saxon stone cross shafts have a rectangular cross section, but I think that these pillar cross shafts bear a close resemblance to a felled and lopped tree trunk, especially to that of the pine, which would be the most common and most convenient tree of the district. They are rounded at the base where the tree would be felled, and their curious tapering square at the top, with its oval faces, exactly reproduces the effect of lopping off the rest of the trunk with an axe, for saws were not then used by woodsmen. To demonstrate this, a pencil has only to be sharpened with four cuts of the knife. The cross before us and its colleagues are, I believe, reproductions in stone of these early wooden prototypes and if we imagine that the single and double roll mouldings are representations of the ropes which originally bound the cross pieces to the wooden shaft, we have a very close picture of what the shafts of the crosses of Paulinius must have been. This is the more marked when we remember that on some crosses this moulding actually assumes the rope or “cable” pattern, as it is termed. Exactly the same system of imitation was extended to Anglo-Saxon stone architecture, where the tie beams and other details of the wooden buildings were carefully reproduced in the courses and ornamentation of the masonry.
The wooden crosses of Paulinius would soon perish, for apart from their natural disintegration, they would be the prey of the devout relic searcher, as, indeed, a story of Beda implies was the fate of King Oswald's cross. But before fifty years had elapsed another great revival passed over the land, which, I suggest, led to their reproduction in their present durable form. Towards the close of the same century Theodore of Tarsus, Archbishop of Canterbury, originated the parochial system, by which the whole country was intended to be divided into ecclesiastical parishes, and each to be assigned to the ministration of a single priest. As a matter of fact, it took centuries to complete the system, but the work was then commenced and intermittently continued until the reign of Edward III.
In June of last year I had the privilege of accompanying Dr. Cox in a search, extending over several days, for the lost crosses of the Peak. The results are given by him in a paper to the Athenæum for July 9th, 1904, entitled “Early Crosses in the High Peak.” He had obtained tracings of sixteenth and seventeenth century maps of the Forest, which disclosed many crosses now entirely unknown either to the ordnance surveyors or others. The stumps of some of these we found, but — with the exception of the well-known crosses on Ludworth Moor, Robin Hood's Picking Rods, as they are now called, but the “Standing Stones” and the “Maiden Stones,” as the old maps called them — none appeared to have been of the type which is the subject of this paper. But we noticed that almost invariably, and in the one or two instances when this was not the case it is probably accounted for by modern diversions, the cross was upon the line of the parish boundary, and not only upon the line, but the face of the cross, as indicated in the stump, was always true to the direction. Hence there is little doubt that the crosses were originally placed to record the boundary of each parish, and they are usually at its corners. One instance in particular demonstrated this. From the Picking Rods, one of the boundaries runs in a south-easterly direction to the stump of a cross we discovered, and then in a straight line to the Abbot's Chair, which is a Saxon cross stump of the ordinary rectangular section set true to line. Here the boundary turns sharply to the north-east, but only for a length of about fifty yards, where it crosses the road called Monk's Road; yet here, although so close to the other, is also a cross stump, but seemingly of a later date, and thence the boundary once more assumes a south-easterly direction, though not quite in the same line as before. From this I am now inclined to deduce that originally the Abbot's Chair marked the corner of the whole, but that at the date of the later cross a small deviation was made, possibly in consequence of some charter to the Abbot of Basingwark, who held a grange in this neighbourhood. In this relation I would suggest that the word “chair” here, is really the old Anglo-Saxon cérre, which means a turn, corner, or bend, hence it was the abbot's boundary-corner. We note the same word in Pym Chair, the Saxon cross stump at Taxal, which is also on the boundary line of its parishes.
It follows, as Dr. Cox cogently remarked, that if a single cross was necessary to define the direction of the single boundary between the two parishes, double crosses would be required to point where three parishes unite at a corner. This is exactly what occurs where the two pillar crosses — Robin Hood's Picking Rods — stand in one huge block of millstone grit on Ludworth Moor, and their cross heads no doubt originally pointed the meeting of the three ways. It is true that the precisely similar monument, the Bow Stones, does not now stand upon a boundary line, but as the point of the junction of three parishes does occur within a mile of it, on Whaley Moor, we may safely assume that, at some time during the thousand years and more that it has stood, one parish has encroached upon the other and so set back the corner or point of union, for the word Bow itself means “a corner.” This is almost proved by the fact that within a half a mile of the present junction, where one of the boundaries points directly for the Bow Stones but is again deviated, there is another double cross stump on the moor. This, although Saxon, is of the ordinary type and of later date than the Bow Stones, and its finely carved crosses are no doubt those preserved at Lyme Hall. There is, therefore every indication that originally the three ecclesiastical parishes met at the Bow Stones. Later, but prior to the Conquest, the point was deviated eastward to the Whaley Moor crosses, and again in more modern times to the present site. This is the more certain for each of the three lines is pointing directly for the Bow Stones in its original course, one actually approaching them within about half a mile and then, turning backward at an acute angle, runs in a straight line to within fifty yards of the Whaley Moor stump, where it again turns, this time at a right angle, and joins the other two boundaries.
I have endeavored to show some probabilities that the class of crosses which we are considering was derived from a wooden prototype, that the prototype was designed in that portion of Mercia which is north of the Trent, and includes this county, that its date must have been between A.D. 627 and 685, that the mission of Paulinius in 632 was the most natural occasion, that as such the type would be venerated in this particular district and reproduced in stone for a long period afterwards, when other designs were more popular elsewhere, and finally that these crosses, amongst others, marked the original boundaries of the ancient parishes. I will now return to the origin of the parochial system.
When at the close of the seventh century Archbishop Theodore issued his mandate that the country was to be divided into ecclesiastical parishes, the movement would probably be slow in its progress and difficult in its solution. It would not be until the eighth century that it was attempted in Derbyshire. The old crosses of Paulinius, or their sites, would be the best known ecclesiastical landmarks, and therefore it would be almost impossible to imagine that they would not be brought into the scheme of division. The difficulty where they existed, and no doubt they were then very numerous compared to the crosses we now know, would be solved at once by assigning to a priest the township or parish lying between four crosses, or between certain crosses, and some the neighbouring priests. Then it would be that the old wooden crosses would be reproduced in stone, to permanently record their origin and their new use. Where these had not existed, and in other districts, probably the ordinary Christian cross of the fashion of the day would be erected to mark the corners of the boundaries, and of these many also still remain. As time went on and stones perished or boundaries varied, they would be renewed or increased in number, but it is probable that each locality in those early days would reproduce the design which tradition, custom, and veneration had popularized, whether it was the pillar or the ordinary Saxon cross. Nevertheless, I believe that the Picking Rods, the Bow Stones, the Shall-cross and some of the others are the original crosses set up in the eighth century on the first division of the parishes. That Stapleford and Wilne are probably a century or so later is but a natural conclusion; still they are, or were, elaborated reproductions of the original prototype, the wooden cross.
Although now at Fernilee, I have not hesitated to call this specimen the Shall-cross, for that is what I believe its name to have been. It had obviously been removed to its present site in comparatively modern times. From the initials “H. L.,” and the date, 1720, so carefully carved upon it, I think it is almost certain that it was standing in situ in that year. Who H. L. was I do not know, but it seems to have been customary in olden days for Government officials to so mark these crosses as records of their surveys. For example, the Edale cross bears the inscription, very similarly cut, “I.G. 1610,” and Dr. Cox has the credit of having identified this with John Gell, who received a commission in 1610 to survey the Forest of the Peak. On Pym Chair, which is in Cheshire, we and on the Picking Rods, which are in the same district, again we have the N, which is also repeated on the Bow Stones. But it is in these that the interest centres, for they are neighbors of the Shall-cross, and in addition to the N, they also bear the same initials as those on our subject, viz., H. L. Hence we may infer that in 1720 someone bearing these initials was commissioned to survey the boundaries in this district, and then it was perhaps that the present junction of the three parishes near the Bow Stones was selected. This is again evidence of the part these crosses played in the delineation of our ancient parish boundaries, and that in 1720 the Shall-cross stood upon a parish boundary line.
Mr. Cox has made enquiries, and now informs me that the stone is said by tradition to have been brought down from the old road above the hall, namely, what is believed to be the old Roman road to Buxton. If that be so, and it seems highly probable, the site must have been at Elnor Lane Head, Shallcross, where four roads join, at a distance of nine hundred yards from Fernilee Hall. The only parish boundary line available for the purpose approaches within three hundred and fifty yards of that spot where it turns northward, and again westward, and finally northward. In other words, it cuts off a corner, and if its approach and final retreat be continued in a straight course they would exactly meet at Elnor Lane Head, Shallcross. Thus the same indications of a deviation of the boundary exist here as at Bow Stones, and the same initials, H.L., appear upon both monuments. The only difference is that here we have the corner of two parishes only, and therefore but a single cross. We may, therefore, assume that in 1720 H.L. made both these deviations, and that is why he initialed both monuments. But even if this assumption were wrong, the cross would still be the “Shall-cross,” as wherever it was upon the boundary line it must have been in Shallcross.
Lest it should be thought from the last remark that I have named this cross the “Shall-cross” after the hamlet, let me say at once that I trust to prove the very opposite, namely, that the hamlet derived its name from this little cross, which had stood for a thousand years to commemorate the mission of Paulinius, until, even subsequently to the year 1720, it was ruthlessly removed. Again, the deviation I have suggested alone enabled this to be done, for few would venture to remove a parish boundary mark.
We will now turn to the evidence of the Wilne cross. The remains of this are represented by the font in Wilne church, and, as Mr. G. le Blanc Smith, in a most interesting paper to vol. xxv. of this Journal, p. 217, demonstrates, the conversion from cross to font must have occurred as early as in Norman times, for it is mounted upon a base of that period. But he and all others who have written upon it, have been content to leave the question of the original site of the cross itself, as a subject for interesting speculation only. The solution of the problem is, however, not at all
difficult. Following the rule that the cross must have stood upon the parish boundary line, we find that at almost the nearest point to Wilne church, there is a place still called “Shacklecross,” and here, no doubt, it stood; and additional proof of this will be offered later on.
Its conversion in Norman times is presumptive evidence that it was then a very old cross, for no one would thus mutilate anything of so grand a workmanship as this great cross must have been unless it had fallen into decay. This is one of the reasons why I have not hesitated to place even this probably late example of the pillar crosses I am treating, as early as the ninth century. Having now established some probability that the Wilne cross originally stood at Shacklecross, I will return to my subject.
The ancient name of Shallcross was also Shacklecross. For instance, in the Receipt Roll of the Peak Jurisdiction of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield* for the year 1339 John of the Hall and Benedict de Shakelcros return the tithes for Fernilee, and many other documents of the thirteenth ______________________________________________________________________________________
* I am careful to treat only inscriptions which are clearly official, as opposed to the unfortunate custom of defacing our monuments. When the inscription is on the base stone is it not presumptive evidence that the cross was not then standing? and fourteenth centuries similarly record the name. Hence we have now two instances of this particular type of cross, the origin of which I have referred to Paulinius, connected with a place called Shacklecross, and yet separated by nearly the entire length of the county. This could scarcely be a mere coincidence, and therefore there must be some latent reason.
We have seen that both these crosses would be old at the date of the Conquest, that at Wilne was presumably ruinous. The cross heads, assuming that they ever existed, were probably gone, as, indeed, nearly all are now, and the bare shaft of each would remain. The traditions of their origin and the memory of Paulinius would be a closed book of indifference to the Norman race, and to it they would be mere standing pillars. We have seen that Clulow Cross and Vale Crucis were named after two of these crosses, and it is quite common for places to so derive their names in the instances of other types of early crosses, not included here. Hence the Normans found two crosses standing, and in due course of time the people named each of them from its appearance the “Shackle-cross,” for these pillars, when bereft of their cross heads, bear a remarkable resemblance to the Norman shackle.
The shackle, or as it was sometimes called, the fetter lock, was originally the bolt which locked the link or fetter, but in course of time the whole came to be known, especially in heraldry, as a shackle bolt or fetter lock. This shackle or shackle bolt was a cylindrical bar of iron thickened at one end so that it would not pass through the hole in the first side of the fetter, and chamfered to a square at the other, so that the shoulders of the chamfering would fit tight into the square hole in the other side of the fetter and the portion of the square which had passed through was pierced for a rivet or padlock.
The origin of the name Shallcross and its predecessor, Shacklecross, has been the subject of many theories and much speculation. The Rev. W. H. Shawcross, of Bretforton, came nearest to the facts when he suggested that the affix cross might refer to the junction of the four roads near Shallcross Manor, for I think the place, at least, was right. It is curious how time works its changes. The cross has passed through many vicissitudes, yet the old cause preached by Paulinius, of which it was but an emblem, has remained unchanged to this day, namely —
VIA CRUCIS VIA LUCIS
* Communicated to vol. xi., p. 142, of this Journal by Dr. Cox.
The restored cross-shaft of the Shall-cross is at SK 0163 7964. This seemingly cryptic description is an absolutely accurate location that can be found with an Ordnance Survey map by anyone familiar with Great Britain's National Grid reference system.
The National Grid reference system records the length, breadth, and height of England in great detail. Ordnance Survey maps include grid numbers that can be used to find the coordinates of any spot within a 100,000 metre Grid Square. The Shall-cross is in the Grid Square identified as SK, which includes the towns of Whaley Bridge and Buxton. The Shall-cross is located 1,630 metres east of the western boundary of Grid Square SK (between north-south lines 01 and 02, which are called eastings), and 7,964 metres north of the southern boundary of Grid Square SK (between east-west lines 79 and 80, which are called northings).
Grid Square SK lies wholly within the high moorlands of the scenic Peak District, which was designated as Britain's first-ever National Park in 1949. Named for a Celtic tribe that once lived there, the Peak District was once densely forested (Little John, of Sherwood Forest fame, is buried at nearby Hathersage). Today, the Peak District is a highland countryside of rolling hills and pastures criss-crossed by drystone walls and steepsided river dales. The 542 square miles of the Peak District lie mostly in Derbyshire, but parts are in Staffordshire, Cheshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester.
The shaft of the Shall-cross is in its original site, at the junction of Elnor Lane and the old Roman road that ran between Manchester and Buxton, about twelve miles southeast of Manchester. Today, the shaft is capped by the sundial from Fernilee Hall and is surrounded by a protective drystone wall. A patron of the Shady Oak pub on nearby Route A6 referred to the cross as the “sundial on Schuyler's farm,” seemingly unaware of its official recognition from the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England as a “Late Danish cross-shaft, National Monument Reference Number SK 07 NW 1.”
The Shall-Cross Crossroads
The Shall-cross is located at the junction of several old roads, at the hamlet of Shallcross, just outside the ancient parish of Chapel-en-le-Frith. The most prominent of these roads was one built by the Romans before their departure from Britain in about A.D. 400. This road ran from Derby to Manchester via Buxton. Maps of the Fairfield/Fernilee/Chapel-en-le-Frith area of c. 1640 show this road with a series of crosses along the route — Rough Lowe Cross, Woman's Cross, Wainstone Cross, and Shallcross. See link to Map or click here
According to A. F. Roberts, in his book Turnpike Roads around Buxton,
“An Act of Parliament passed in 1555 made each Parish responsible for the maintenance of roads in that Parish. The maintenance was generally carried out by means of Statute labour, for which the inhabitants of the Parish either worked a specified number of days each year on road maintenance (originally four, later increased to six) or paid an equivalent sum in lieu. For a large sparsely populated Parish this requirement could prove very onerous particularly if an important through route traversed the Parish; the route might be of little benefit to the inhabitants but it could be an appreciable drain on their resources. For this reason, it is not surprising that many important roads received only superficial maintenance, such as filling the worst potholes with stone, and were in a very poor state of repair, quite unable to cope with any growth in wheeled traffic. The Roman road along the boundary of the Parish of Hartington is a case in point, as none of the settlements in the parish lay on the road.” Clearly, Derbyshire was a relatively underdeveloped county as far as roads were concerned, and improvements were essential if the trade and industries of the county were to develop. On the 1st of May 1725, an Act came into force creating seven Turnpike Trusts — each empowered to charge tolls on specified lengths of road and to borrow money for the maintenance and improvement of the roads in its charge.
The old Roman road between Buxton and Whaley Bridge experienced major changes of route. According to A. F. Roberts,
“The contractor for the first diversion was John Metcalf (Blind Jack) of Knaresborough. Blinded by smallpox at the age of six, Metcalf nevertheless became an important builder of Turnpike roads. He had an excellent feel for the lie of the land, a good memory, good organisational skills and a flair for innovation that stood him in good stead in his career. Although operating mainly in Yorkshire and Lancashire, Metcalf built several stretches of road in this area including stretches of the Macclesfield to Whaley Bridge road (1770) and the Macclesfield to Congleton road.
Of immediate concern here, contemporary memoirs record that he built a 4 mile stretch of road between Buxton and Whaley Bridge across Peeling Moss, which would be the first version of the Long Hill road. The date of its building is not recorded but it must have been before 1776. The map relating to the Enclosure of the parish of Fernilee and Shallcross, dated 10th October 1776, shows the original Turnpike route as described earlier and the new Turnpike route...
Near Long Hill Farm the diversion left this well established route and headed north towards Whaley Bridge. After an initial sharp descent of 260 feet in mile followed by a sharp climb of 110 feet in mile, this road followed a very direct and quite reasonably graded route to Shallcross (marked A in Fig. 2). Part of this route is followed by the present Long Hill road, the next stretch has been abandoned and the final stretch is the minor road from Fernilee to Shallcross (part of Elnor Lane). The abandoned stretch is now grass covered and did not even retain the status of a footpath; at the Long Hill end its foundations have been removed for a short distance, suggesting that it was deliberately blocked when the later diversion was built, to prevent toll evasion. At the northern end of this diversion, it rejoined the original route at Shallcross, where the remains of the cross now stand.”
Amen: If you have ploughed through that lot you’ve done well. Now have a look at "The Shallcross Pedigrees" Book , Regards David
I have just started to develop the Shallcross Pedigrees page and it will take a while, be patient.
The Book can be ordered through your local Library lending service (England) Shallcross Pedigrees, pub. 1908, edited by Rev. W. H. Shawcross