History of the Village
St. James, Westhead, was fomerly known as Lathom St. James. Westhead and neighbouring Lathom having a long and illustrious history.
The Imperial Gazetteer of England And Wales, by John Marius Wilson, London, 1872 includes the following information:
The Parish of Lathom in the County of -- Lancashire --
"A township, two chapelries, and a sub-district, in Ormskirk district, Lancashire. The township is in Ormskirk parish; lies on the river Douglas, the Leeds and Liverpool canal, and the Southport and Manchester railway, 4 miles ENE of Ormskirk; contains a considerable village of its own name, which was once a market-town; and contains also the hamlets of Westhead and Newburgh, the latter of which has a station on the railway.
Post-town, Ormskirk. Acres, 8,651. Real property, £20,545; of which, £274 are in mines, and £20 in quarries. Pop., 3,385. Houses, 631.
The chief landowners are the Earl of Derby and Lord Skelmersdale. The manor belonged formerly to the Lathoms and the Stanleys, ancestors of the Earl of Derby; passed in 1714, by marriage, to the third Earl of Ashburnham; went afterwards, by sale, to Sir Thomas Bootle; and passed again, by marriage, to Richard Wilbraham, Esq., ancestor of Lord Skelmersdale.
Lathom Castle, the ancient baronial mansion, had eighteen towers, and was surrounded by a fosse 24 feet wide; gave entertainment to Henry VIII.; was defended for three months, in 1644, by Charlotte, Countess of Derby, with 300 men, against Sir Thomas Fairfax, with 3,000 parliamentary troops; was besieged again, next year, by General Egerton, with 4,000 troops; made such resistance as to destroy about one-half of the besiegers; surrendered finally from failure of ammunition; and was dismantled by order of parliament.
Lathom House, the seat of Lord Skelmersdale, was built on the site of the castle, in the middle of last century, after designs by Leoni; is a stately edifice in the Grecian style, 156 feet by 75; was recently improved; and stands in an extensive park.
Blythe Hall is the residence of the Hon. Mrs. Wilbraham. There is a mineral spring.
The chapelries are Lathom St. John and Lathom St. James; and they and the chapelry of Newburgh are aggregately onterminate with the township.
Lathom St. James was constituted in 1860. Pop., 914. Houses, 162.
The living of L-St. John is a donative, and that of L-St James is a vicarage, in the diocese of Chester. Value of the former, £150, of the latter, £90. Patron of the former, Lord Skelmersdale; of the latter, the Rev. J.A. Kershaw.
The church of L-St. John and ten alms-houses stand in Lathom Park, and were founded in 1500.
The church of L-St. James is a handsome edifice, in the early English style, with tower and spire. There are a mixed school supported by Lord Skelmersdale, and two endowed national schools with £50 and £40 a year."
(with thanks to the web site "Lancashire On Line Parish Clerks"