Toxteth is an inner city area of Liverpool, England. Historically part of Lancashire, Toxteth is located to the south of the city, Toxteth is bordered by Liverpool City Centre, Dingle, Edge Hill, Wavertree and Aigburth.
There is some ambiguity as to the origin of the name. One theory is that the etymology is "Toki's landing-place". However, Toxteth is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, and at this time, it appears as "Stochestede", i.e. "the stockaded or enclosed place", from the Anglo-Saxon stocc "stake" and Anglo-Saxon stede "place" (found in many English placenames, usually spelled stead).
Before the time of the Norman Conquest, Toxteth was divided into two manors of equal size. One was owned by Bernulf and the other by Stainulf. After the conquest, part was granted by Count Roger of Poitou to the ancestor of the Earl of Sefton. From this time to about 1604, the land formed part of West Derby forest. The boundaries of the manor are described in the perambulation of 1228 as follows, "'Where Oskell's brook falls into the Mersey; up this brook to Haghou meadow, from this to Brummesho, following the syke to Brumlausie, and across by the old turbaries upon two meres as far as Lombethorn; from this point going down to the "waterfall" of the head of Otter pool, and down this pool into the Mersey. " In 1327, Toxteth was granted to Henry, Earl of Lancaster.
Over the years, various leases and grants were made and the park was owned by Adam, son of William de Liverpool, in 1338. In 1385, William de Liverpool had licence "to take two cartloads of gorse weekly from the park for 12d. a year rent." In 1383 a grant was made to William Bolton and Robert Baxter, in 1394 the lease was resigned and handed over to Richard de Molyneux. The park finally came into the hands of Sir Thomas Stanley in 1447. The parkland descended within the Stanley family until 1596, when it was sold by William Stanley, Earl of Derby, to Edmund Smolte and Edward Aspinwall. In 1604, the Earl sold it to Richard Molyneux of Sefton at a cost of £1,100. The estate descended from this time until 1972 with the death of the 7th Earl.
The ancient township of Toxteth contains the village of Smeedon or Smithdown. It stretches over an area of three miles along the River Mersey and two miles inland, the highest point being on the corner of Smithdown Lane and Lodge Lane. A brook ran from the northern end of the area, near the boundary of Parliament Street, where it was used to power a water wheel before it ran into the river. Along the river are two creeks; the one near the middle is known as Knot's Hole, and another further south, called Dickinson's Dingle, received a brook which ran past the east end of St Michael's Church, Aigburth.
At some time in history the creeks were filled in. The Dingle is now in the area where the old northern creek was situated, and St Michael's Hamlet is situated around the southern creek. Outside the southern boundary of the area lies the creek known as Otterspool, which formed the boundary between Wavertree and West Derby. The major road through the area was Park Lane, now Park Place and Park Road. The road ran from the Coffee House, which stood near Fairview Place, down towards the Dingle, and the "Ancient Chapel of Toxteth".
Toward the end of the 16th century, the royal park ceased to be and Puritan farmers from Bolton settled in the area. Setting up 25 farms on land outside Church of England control, which became Toxteth Village, these Dissenters worshipped at the "Ancient Chapel" on Park Road, now known as the Toxteth Unitarian Chapel (not to be confused with Ullet Road Unitarian Church, in Toxteth, south Liverpool). In 1611, they built a school at the Dingle, appointing Richard Mather as schoolmaster. Some years later, he began preaching to the local farmers in the chapel.
Smithdown, referred to as Esmedune in the Domesday Book, and variously as Smededon, Smeddon, Smethesdune, Smethedon, Smethdon, Smethden, has been merged into Toxteth Park since the granting of the Liverpool Charter in 1207. The definite boundaries of Smithdown have never been fully recorded, but the name continued in use from 1207 until the 16th century, although it is thought to have reached from Lodge Lane to the eastern boundary of Toxteth Park. In 1066, Smithdown was held as a separate manor, by Ethelmund. During the reign of King John the Manor of Smithdown was taken from its owner, and the king gave him Thingwall instead.
Second World War
During the Second World War, the Free French 13th Demi Brigade of the French Foreign Legion were stationed in Toxteth. On 30 August 1940, the Demi Brigade departed Liverpool for operations against Vichy forces that would include the abortive Battle of Dakar and the storming of Libreville.