What is the origin of the name "Balshaw"?

A collection of information from a variety of sources (all attributed).

From Gateshead library

Thank you for your request for information about Balshaw. We have consulted with colleagues in Lancashire who believe that the name is of a lost village, the location of which is unknown. The name is mentioned in Eilert Eckwall's Place names of Lancashire and also his Dictionary of English Place names, which gives the variations Blaghschae and Balschagh. The meaning seems to be rounded from Balgh and thicket or wood from scaga.

The Victoria County History of Lancashire does mention a Balshaw as a field name in the Salford Hundred. It may be worth contacting either Lancashire Record Office or Greater Manchester County Record Office, who may be able to help you further.

Regards, Stuart Phipps, Gateshead Libraries and Arts

Eilert Eckwall's Dictionary of English Place names

Balshaw La[ncs] (Balghschae 1296 Lacy, Balschagh 1311 Ipm). See scaga. The first el. is ME [Middle English] balgh, 'rounded, smooth', OE *b (e) alg. See Balham [Sr], Ballingdon [Sf]


Lacy - Two 'Compoti' of the . . . Manors of Henry de Lacy. Chetham Society CS 112. (See below for details of these compoti). [A compotus was similar to the accounts of the above manors.]
Ipm - Inquisitiones post mortem [an inquest held by the King's escheator or his deputy after the death of a tenant in chief of the crown to establish the extent of the estate and confirm the rightful heir].

Two Compoti of the Manors of Henry de Lacy

The page numbers in the following text refer to the publication of the Chetham Society listed above.

1295  Compotus of the Lands of Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln

Rachedale (page 6)

De xxvjs. viijd de herede Ade de Balghschae pro bedelria ibidem.

Translated as "Adam de Balghschaes, heir for bedelry £1 16s 8d (from p 120 of the same book).  This compotus covered the period from 12th December 1294 to 30th September 1296. [There seems to be an error in the book, either in the transcription of the latin or in the translation.  The latin number xxvjs means 26 shillings (i.e. £1 6s), not 36 shillings. c.f. the equivalent entry ten years later.]

Compotus Terrarum Henrici de Lacy Comtis Lincolnie de anno regni Edward 1 XXXIII

Rachedale (p 102)

De xxvjs.viijd de firma heredis Ade de Balschaghe pro Beadelria.

Translated as Compotus of the lands of Henry de Lacy Earl of Lincoln, 33 Edw.1. (i.e. 33rd year of the reign of Edward I, (1304 or 1305). Rent of the heir of Adam de Balschaghe for the Beadelry, £1 6s 8d. (from p 170 of the same book).  This compotus covered the period from 30th September 1304 to 30th September 1305.

In both these cases this seems to be a payment to Adam and his heir for their duties as Beadle.  After the Norman Conquest the beadle seems to have been merely the crier in the manor and forest courts and sometimes executing processes.  He was also employed as the messenger of the parish and thus became to a certain extent, an ecclesiastical officer, but in reality acted more as a constable by keeping order in the church and churchyard during service.

The Place Names Of The North Riding Of Yorkshire by A.H. Smith

Published by the English Place-Name Society, Volume V, First published 1928, Re-issued 1969.

In the Bulmer Wapentake, under the township of Raskelf,  in the old North Riding of Yorkshire  there is a place called Boscar with the following references (see below for abbreviations):
Balschaw(e) 1142 Dugd v.352, 13 BylE 8
Bal(e)schagh 1247 Ch, c. 1300 BylE 35 d
Balska 1301 LS
Baskaa 1541 Dugd v. 355

[The book goes on to say] This must be the same name as the lost Balshaw (PN La7), earlier Balghschae (1296) which Eckwall connects with ME balgh, 'rounded', used in Sir Gawayne in the phrase a balz berz (l. 2172), 'a rounded hill.'  The second element is OE sceaga, 'wood'.  In the later forms this has been Scandinavianised.

Names  in this book are arranged topographically according to wapentakes, and parishes within are similarly arranged. Within the parishes, townships are arranged in alphabetical order & place names in townships are similarly arranged.  Every township preceded by a figure (its number in the parish) & after every township name will be found the reference to the sheet of the 1" O.S. map (Popular edition).  e.g. 2 Raskelf 22 J3  (but remember the date of book and that it therefore refers to the old OS series).  Modern 1:50,000 ref of 3 properties called Boscar SE 506723, sheet 100, NE of Easingwold, E of A19.

Dugd - Dugdales Monasticon, 6 vols. in 8, 1817 - 1830
BylE (in italics) - Byland Cartulary, Egerton 2823 (MS t. Hy 4) *
Ch - Cheshire
PN - Place name (e.g. PN La 7). La - Lancashire
LS - Yorkshire Lay Subsidy 1301 (YAS 21).
DB - Doomsday Book

* Ref in italics to unprinted authorities e.g. 1280 Ass(in italics) derived from a manuscript authority in contrast to printed text.

Information from the Lancashire County Archivist

The parish of Euxton, some seven miles south of Preston, contains a Balshaw Lane, Balshaw House and a stream once known as Balshaw Brook, but I have been unable to discover any reference in printed works available at this Office to the origin of the name there.

H C Wylde, The Place Names of Lancashire (1911), notes several recorded spellings of Balshaw, the last being in 1332. He places the name as belonging to Roeburn. Roeburndale is in the parish of Melling, east of Lancaster, and is described in W Farrer and J Brownbill (eds.), The Victoria History of the County of Lancaster, vol. VIII (1914), as "a wide tract of hill country, most of it quite solitary"... There is apparently no trace of the village in Roeburndale, even in the naming of features, on the 6" Ordnance Survey map, the first and subsequent editions of which are available here for the whole of Lancashire. [Note that this turns out to be a red herring, as Balshaw is actually not in Roeburndale.  See below.  NHB]

Bruce Jackson, County Archivist, 24th January 1997.

Remains of a farm called "Balshaw".

(on Balshaw Road and near Balshaw Bridge!)

See pictures and detailed map or see a page of thumbnail size photos.

Lower Balshaw or Tunstall House.

This property seems to have carried the Balshaw name earlier than the above farm and is visible on a map drawn in 1786.

(Both of these farms can be seen on the 1913, 1" to 1 mile OS map, sheet 24.)

There is also a place called "Balshaws" just west of Blackburn on the 1829 map by Hennet.

In the "Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames" by Bardsley, the reference to the surname Balshaw says Local "of Balshaw", some spot in the vicinity of Lathom, co. Lancaster.

No other evidence of such a place has yet come to my attention.

Other notes

In the Preston post code book there is: Balshaw Avenue, Euxton, Chorley, PR7 6HY. There is also a Balshaw Lane in Chorley, PR7 6HX, PR7 6HU, PR7 6HS, including Balshaw Villa, PR7 6HX.

The London and North Western Railway had a station at Balshaw Lane and Euxton. It closed to goods 8/3/1965 and to passengers 6/10/1969. It reopened to passengers during 1998. Euxton is about 2 km west of Chorley, 10 km south of Preston. There are other 'shaws' in the area but Balshaw does not occur in the index of names on the OS 1:50,000 sheets.

There is a Balshaw Square in Manchester (M2 5PD)  but it isn't on Streetmap or Multimap.

See also miscellaneous early references to the name Balshaw.

Another possible interpretation of the origin of the name - draw your own conclusions.