Lancashire Legends, Traditions, Pageants, Sports, &c./Part 3/Cockfighting for Eccles Tithes


A singular tradition prevails in Eccles, to the effect that in the reign of Henry VIII., or in that of Edward VI., the tithes of Eccles became the subject of a bet on a cockfight, and were won from Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, by Sir John Anderton, of Lydiate, in this county. According to this tradition, the tithes were granted to the Duke by his royal master, Henry VIII. Subsequent to this grant a cockfight took place in Westminster, when Sir John Anderton is said to have produced the first duck-wing cock that was ever fought at a main, with the vaunting challenge—

"There's the jewel of England!
For a hundred in hand,
And a hundred in land,
I'll fight him 'gainst any cock in England!"

The Duke of Suffolk, on finding that Anderton was able to make good his bet, produced another cock, and bet the tithes of Eccles parish as his share of the wager. Anderton won the battle, and became possessed of the tithes; and he afterwards, according to the story, sold them to Sir John Heathcote, of Longton, county of Stafford. So much currency has this story obtained, that duck-winged cocks are called "Anderton jewels" in Lancashire to this day. The whole story (adds Baines) appears to be a fabrication.