We have met William Leigh’s nephew, Sir Joseph Leigh before. William entered the family cotton business, lived just down the road from his Sir Joseph, and also like him rose to become Mayor of Stockport and a JP.
The Leigh family, as we have seen with a lot of succesful Heaton Mersey clans have their roots in Chapel En Le Frith. His father Thomas was born there around 1784. As a young man he came to Stockport, marrying Ann Bowes in 1807 and founding a cotton mill.
Ann passed away around 1850 and he married once more to Ann Ashmore in Mottram in Longendale. At this time they were living in Brinnington, Stockport, and he can describe himeelf as a gentleman on the marriage papers. He died in 1858 in Brinnington.
He had five children with his first wife. Thomas Baines Leigh (1811-1857) was Sir Joseph’s father, and together with his brother James Leigh (1822-1894) he founded T&J Leigh Cotton Spinners, who operated from the Beehive and Alligator Mills in Stockport, before commissioning under Sir Joseph, the Meadow Mills.
The Beehive and Alligator Mills were a group of seven mills which occupied the space on which Tesco now stands Stockport.
There is a lot of fascinating information about this branch of the family on Charlie Hulme’s informative site.
Thomas and Ann Leigh alseo had two daughters, Ann (b 1809) and Catherine (b 1815) who do not appear to have married.
Their youngest son was William Leigh, who was born in 1824. He entered T&J Leigh as a cotton agent, and married Sarah Bailey on 4 August 1853. They went to live in Heaton Moor at Stoneleigh Cottage, on Parsonage Road.
He rose to a high position at T&J Leigh and by 1881 he was describing himself as a master Cotton Spinner. In 1885 he was Mayor of Stockport and a Justice of the Peace.
The family moved to Mersey Bank around 1885, where he died on 15 October 1892, leaving £40, 871 (2020 £5.2m) in his will. Sarah lived on at Mersey Bank until her death on 28 March 1903.
William and Sarah had five children, the first three were daughters, Catherine Pendlebury (1856-1935) Mary Howard (1858-1937)and Alice (1861-1948). The girls lived on at Mersey Bank until Mary’s death in 1937. None of them married.
William Bailey Leigh (1864-1935) attended Manchester Grammar School and Owens College, and joined the family firm of T&J Leigh. He lived next door to Mersey Bank at Poolstock House¹ in Heaton Mersey. He was somewhat bookish, owning the collected works of Heinrik Ibsen, and being a member of the Cumberland and Westmoreland Antiquarian Society.
He married Frances Mary Eastwood (1869-1949) the daughter of a Yorkshire Attorney, practising on Greek Street in Stockport.
Although he was a honorary director of the Stockport Sunday School, he was perhaps not a tolerant man. The mentions I can find of him in the classified adverts for servants stipulate no catholics. Which given the eventual fate of Mersey Bank and Poolstock is a tite ironic. William died on 20 July 1935 at Poolstock,
Thomas Bowes Leigh (1867-1947) was the youngest son. He married Martha Minna Louise Marie Podeus (c 1876-1957) in Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany in 1897, the couple lived at Eastholme in Heaton Chapel. Thomas was called to the Bar in in 1901 and practised as a barrister in Manchester, rising to county court judge and moving to Riversdale in Wilmslow. He also became president of the Stockport Cricket Club.
Thomas and Martha had four children, the youngest of which , Rupert Henry Archibald Lee rose to Air Commodore in the RAF. In 1939 he was Flight Commander at the central flying school at Upavon and on the 18th October that year he tested Douglas Bader to assess his capability for flying duties, the test was carried out in a plane equipped with toe brakes, which Leigh operated for him, knowing that in a Spitfire, which Bader would be flying, there were hand operated brakes, which would cause no issue for Bader’s artificial limbs. Leigh received five mentions in despatches during the war.
After the Leigh family moved away the properties at West Bank, Mersey Bank and Poolstock were taken over by the Catholic Church who founded Mersey Bank School and Convent there, which over time became St Winifred’s Primary School and Convent and has been responsible both for Brian and Michael’s record Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs, as well as There’s no one quite like Grandma. Quite a cruel revenge for a man who would not employ catholic servants.
Mersey Bank appears not to have left a trace on the photographic record, I can find no images in the archives, so apart from maps, we can only picture this grand house from a for sale advert in 1843, and recipe books from that time. Perhaps the first residence in Heaton Mersey to have central heating is lost to us.
¹ Poolstock House is alas also no longer with us. It stood in the grounds of what is now St Winifreds Primary School. Before William Bailey Leigh lived there it was the residence of William Alfred Royle, a Manchester Architect, including the City of Manchester School Board, Ardwick Congregational Church, several police stations, Smedley’s Hydropathic Establishment and Turkish Baths at Birkdale and the Turkish Baths at Harrogate.
James Sidebottom was born into humble stock around 1805 in Manchester. He was an example of the Victorian self made man. His first job was as an errand boy in the Kershaw Leese and Callender warehouse at India Mills on Heaton Lane in Heaton Norris.
He was a hard worker and worked long hours rapidly climbing up the corporate ladder, by his own admission his working day was from 6am until 8pm. His ambition coupled with his autodidacticism gave him the skills to become an office clerk then a sales representative and he rose to become the best cotton buyer at the Manchester Exchange. On 21 December 1842, on the retirement of Nathaniel Barr (the father of James Roby Barr – see below), he entered into the partnership of Leese, Kershaw and Sidebottom and in 1852 they were able to commission new premises on Portland Street in Manchester.
At the same time, in keeping with his status he moved into Mersey Bank after Sir Ralph Pendlebury with his wife Mary Ann. She may have been one of James Kershaw’s sisters¹, however sources are confused on this, and her name may have been Slater or Bennett, alternatively she may have been widowed.
James Kershaw (1796-1864) was certainly a good business partner and contact. A Saddleworth man and being the principal in the cotton firm, he became Mayor of Manchester in 1842, and was sat as the liberal MP for Stockport between 1847 and 1864. He died in the Manor House, Streatham, Surrey and is buried at West Norwood Cemetery in Lambeth, in a tomb designed by Alfred Waterhouse.
After James Kershaw’s death James Sidebottom was seriously considered as his replacement at Westminster. However, this did not come to pass.
James Sidebottam was an enthusiastic Congregationalist, and close friends with the Watts family in Heaton Mersey, he opened many such churches across the country, including on 28 October 1869, laying the foundation stone for St Peter’s Hill Congregational Church in Grantham, where later a young Margaret Roberts was to worshop, before she married Denis Thatcher. He was so prolific at laying such stones that he kept an unrivalled collection of presentation trowels on display in his house which he enjoyed showing to visitors.
By 1861 he was firmly established at Mersey Bank along with his wife and children and he lived there until his death on 17 November 1873, he was buried at Harpurhey Cemetery in Manchester. He left £12,000 in his will (£1.4m in 2020).
James and Mary Ann had seven children, the eldest, Mary Ann Sidebottom (1832-1878) married John Job Howell, a Liverpool cotton broker, and they lived on Lance Lane in Wavertree.
James Sidebottom Jr (1840 -c 1870) married Samuel Watts’ daughter Elizabeth (1836-1873) and he ran Spring Bank Mill in Stockport. Elizabeth and James lived at Southcliffe in Reddish , Stockport (which is now the home of Reddish Vale Golf Club). They had two children, Eliza Watts Sidebottom and James Alfred Watts Sidebottom. Of this family, all but Eliza Watts Sidebottom were dead by 1873. Eliza Watts Sidebottom lived to a ripe old age, dying on 12 November 1955 at Oakleigh in Burnage. Because of her family connections she became something of an authority on the history of Burnage and delivered lectures on the subject.
Their third child, William Roby Sidebottom (1842-1908) married Jane Buckley, another Saddleworth girl, and the daughter of John Smith Buckley of West Bank, and he was clearly named for William Roby Barr, of Heaton Lodge. William was also a cotton spinner and they lived on Wilmslow Park in Cheshire.
George Isaac Sidebottom was born in 1844 and further cemented the ties with the Buckley family by marrying Eliza Ann Buckley (1840-1915). He continued in the family firm of Kershaw Leese and Company, they initially went to live at 67 Albert Road in Meols, but in the mid 1880s his mental health appears to have declined and he is found on the 1891 census at Bilton Garth in Knaresborough under the care of a doctor, and in 1901 at the Retreat in York, which specialised in the treatment of mental health patients. He died there in 1912.
In 1920 the case of Sidebottom V Kershaw Leese and Co was heard. Obstensibly this was to remove the threat of competition from GI Sidebottom & Co which had broken ties to it in 1900 but still held a minority shareholding interest. The case is an important precedent that a company may change its articles of association in order to defend itself against competition, but given the health of George, I wonder if there were more to it.
Elizabeth died in 1915 at the Willows, Poulton Le Fylde, she left £6,955, three years after George’s death an inheritance of £16,347 had been severely depleted.
Robert Sidebottom, born 1847 appears to have died around 1878 and Alfred Sidebottom only lived between 1850 and 1862.
Henry Sidebottom (1851-1932) was the only family member to have a long and healthy life. He apprenticed with his father and in 1876 married Fanny Elizabeth Booth (1853-1943) the daughter of a Rochdale cotton spinner. The couple moved to Davenport and then Syddal Park in Bramhall, Stockport. He initially enjoyed the fruits of his father’s labour and in 1881 was describing himself as retired, he was still indolent in 1911 and living on his own means in Southport.
However, by 1911, he appears to have taken up the reins again, after the death and incapacity of his brothers he is described as the chairman of a cotton spinning company. Both Henry and Fanny died at Sherwood, Sydall Park, in Bramhall.
You would think with Pendlebury Hall standing proud on Lancashire Hill, that Sir Ralph would be widely documented, and that Pendelbury Hall on Lancashire Hill is a fitting monument to his legacy as a Victorian Philanthropist.
The story is not quite like that. Ralph Pendelbury was born on 14 February 1790 in Bolton Le Moors, Lancashire to Thomas Pendlebury (1757-1840) and Ann Lord (died 1801), he was the second son, but the first to survive, his brother Gerrard having died aged six months in December 1788.
Thomas, his father was a bleacher who moved to Heaton Mersey around 1800 to work as manager of the Heaton Mersey Bleachworks for Robert Parker. The young Ralph was nearly killed at the same works, he was arguing with a friend about the number of wheels on one of the works machines, and resolved to count them whilst in motion, his clothes were caught in the machinery and he was so severely injured and he narrowly avoided his shoulder being amputated.
At 15 years old he was apprenticed to a hand loom weaver in Bolton where he stayed a few years without making any mark on the business, after which he moved to Mr Jones’ warehouse at Acres Field where he learned the cotton trade. Thomas meanwhile had transferred to Peter Marsland’s (of Woodbank Hall) bleachworks in Stockport, and Ralph joined him there.
Ralph was now starting to rise in his profession and became partner in a threadmakers, and in January 1818 married Susan Wynne¹ of Stafford, whose father owned a shoe factory. Ralph and Susan set up a shoe shop for the sale of Stafford boots on Meal House Brow in Stockport, but sadly in 1825 she died in childbirth, along with their infant.
Ralph transferred the business of the shop to one of his wife’s relatives, whence it traded for the next half century.
Meanwhile in 1824 Ralph had entered a partnership with James Wilkinson as a cotton spinner at Palmer Mill in Portwood, Stockport, this was extremely lucrative for both parties, and they amicably dissolved their partnership in 1833, Ralph continuing his business at Wharf Street Mill in Heaton Norris (at the terminus of the Stockport Canal), and building Kingston Mill on Chestergate in Stockport.
The following year he married Ellen Brownhill (nee Stringer) who was the widow of Henry Brownhill, a corn merchant on the market place. Ellen and Henry had at least two children, one of whom Ann Ellen Brownhill married John Eskirgge, the brother of Thomas, and brother in law of William Roby Barr.
In 1838 Ralph became mayor of Stockport, and was living with Ellen on Dillow Grove in Heaton Norris. By this time he was a man of means, because he could afford to lend the council £6,000 (2020 £670,000) so they could purchase land to establish the new Gas works. He also advanced Lancashire Council £25,000 (£3m in 2020) in 1848 at 5% in order that they could build a lunatic asylum.
His tenure as mayor coincided with the height of Chartist riots and for his role in quelling them he was knighted on July 1st 1840.
In 1844 after John Hall’s death Ralph and Ellen were residing at Mersey Bank and they lived there for most of the rest of their lives.
Ellen died on March 20 1858, and Ralph moved then to Hope Bank in Heaton Norris, the Manchester Courier of 2 November 1861 reported that he had been confined to his bed and he died on 9 November at Hope Bank.
Sir Ralph Pendlebury had no immediate issue, both his marriages had failed to produce living heirs, therefore in his will he made small legacies to surviving relations and left the balance of his fortune – £100,000 (£12m in 2020) for the support of a charitable institution, but I am prevented by a legal difficulty from doing so.
As he may have suspected, his troubles started here. Sir Ralph’s reputation can not have been good, the Liverpool Mail reported on 22 February 1862:
The late Sir Ralph Pendlebury…(who) rather resembled old Ralph Nickleby, and had the character in life of being a hardflated money grubbing mean stingy old bachelor….. reversed the natural order of things and left by will only one third , or some £50,000 to his next of kin ….. and he ostensibly left all the rest, about £100,000 to nine public spirited or philanthropic gentlemen².. we believe the next of kin will contest it to the uttermost, and thus the £100,000 instead of even tardily going to any Charitable or Benevolent Institution , bids fair…. to be long squandered amongst lawyers.
Not content with one battering, they followed this report up on the 1st March with
…what a satire on human inconsitency that the parsimonious ex cobbler and thrifty millocrat, the late Sir Ralph Pendlebury, of Stockport, who, we are reliably informed would almost as soon as parted with his heart’s blood as with a ten pound note for any charitable purpose whilst living, should have bequeathed really for some so called charity £100,000, of which at one fell swoop a round ten thousand pounds must go for the Ten Percent Legacy Duty, whilst most of the remaining ninety thousand may go in endless Chancery litigation!
The newspaper was not off the mark and the lawsuits contesting the will continued for twenty years. In 1873 the courts awarded a further £28,000 to the next of kin, but now the problem was that in order to avoid the will falling foul of mortmain, Sir Ralph had given verbal instructions to each of the worthies of how he wanted the legacy to be distributed, and unsurprisingly they could not agree on our thrifty millocrat’s instructions. They therefore had to spend a further £11,000 in seeking advice from the Court of Chancery on how to proceed.
It was not until 1880 agreement was reached and a competition to design an orphanage on Lancashire Hill was announced in which JW Beaumont, of Manchester was the winning architect. The building cost was estimated at £6,000 and the building was to comprise a hall to accommodate about 400 people, day rooms for the children, apartments for the master and matrons. It was to be built in Tudor style with deep red bricks and an 80 foot tower over the main entrance giving (on a clear day) capitalviews over the surrounding neighbourhood.
By the time of its opening, the cost of build had almost doubled to £10,000, and a footnote in the Manchester Courier of 17 April 1882 states, after a long and detailed description of the fine and expensive architecture, The orphanage provides accommodation for only a few resident children…...
The hall was opened officially by Lord Vernon on 20 April 1882, and this was celebrated with a sumptuous banquet attended by Lord Vernon, the Governors, Frederick Pennington and Charles Henry Hopwood, MPs for Stockport, town councillors and the local gentry.
Whilst the charity did manage to pay out bequests to orphans (nearly 1500 orphans received a total of £18,000 in the first 8 years of its existence) there remains confusion and mystery what happened to the original legacy. The Stockport Express reported that the £76,641 6s 2d balance after the cost of building has never seen the light of day. It is doubtful whether an orphan has ever slept under its roof.
In the first world war it served as a military hospital, becoming Stockport Junior Technical School in the 1950s, becoming part of youth services for Stockport council in the 1970s and since has become a care home for the elderly.
The charity suffered further misfortunes in 2010 when the Manchester Evening News reported that a rogue accountant had embezzled £180,000 from it. It continues today, but in a much reduced state.
They are even trying to change the name, however, I do not see that succeeding, Pendlebury Hall is too strong a landmark for Stockport to allow that, and Hilltop Hall, I ask you…
Sir Ralph’s legacy has been sadly misused by generations of his successors. Remember that next time you pass the Grade II listed building on Lancashire Hill.
¹ Susan’s nephew, William Palmer Wynne (1861-1950) went on to become Emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the University of Sheffield and was a pioneer in the study of napthalene. His goal was separating sulphonic acid isomers. This would lead to the determination of the orientation of napthalene derivatives. With hindsight, this is actually a form of determination of aromaticity and the activation and de-activation of rings. Someone will tell me what that means.
² Our nine public spirited gentlemen were:
James Kershaw Esq (MP for Stockport 1847-1864 and the father in law and business partner of our next Mersey Bank resident, James Sidebottom) William Rayner Esq JP MD (Surgeon and Mayor of Stockport 1883-1884) John Stock Esq William Williamson Esq (Councillor 1843-1877, Mayor of Stockport) Sir Thomas Bazeley Bart, MP (MP for Manchester, Cotton Manufacturer, recipient of the Legion D’Honneur) Ernest Reuss Esq (Merchant and Trustee of the Manchester Deaf and Dumb Institute) Edward Carrington Howard Esq ( Cotton Merchant, and inhabitant of Brinnington Hall) Edward Walmsley Esq JP (Mayor of Stockport and Chairman of the River Committee for the Manchester Ship Canal) Christopher Travis Esq JP (Councillor, Trustee of Stockport Grammar School)
The next person to live at Mersey Bank is John Hall, or more precisely John Halls IV and V. JH IV descended from a long line of John Halls, for convenience this starts with John Hall I, the son of another John Hall, JH I lived between 1712 and 1761 in Scarborough, and like his son, JH II was a mariner. JH II married Mary Atkinson at Scarborough Parish Church, and they had around ten children, the youngest of which John Hall III (1773-1834) came to Manchester and settled in Rusholme and married Mary Dobson on 4 June 1800. In 1812 John Hall III founded an iron merchants.
This firm continues to the present day as Hall and Pickles, steel stockholders and processors with a HQ in Poynton. It is the only UK steel company never to have been nationalised.
John Hall III died in July 1834 on Cavendish Street, Manchester and was buried at the Rusholme Road Cemetery, Mary survived him by 21 years and passed away in July 1853.
John III and Mary had eleven children John Hall IV was a resident of Mersey Bank but let’s first look at some of their other children. There were five daughters: Anne (b 1805), Mary (1809-1873), Jane (1811-1862), Sarah (b 1812) and Elizabeth (b 1816). None of these married, and they lived with their mother in and around Rusholme eventually buying a property on Park Crescent a prime location in Victoria Park, Rusholme, living amongst such luminaries as Richard Cobden, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Halle, and Emmeline & Richard Pankhurst.
Anne perhaps came the closest to marrying, she had been courted for some time by Mr Swanwick of the Bank of Manchester, but on listening to the advice of their uncle Andrew, in July 1836 John Hall IV pointed out to Anne the impropriety of such a connection, and the relationship was abruptly terminated, why such a relationship was unsuitable we do not know, but it may have something to do with Mr Swanwick writing to JH IV the previous June and raising the heaviness of the balance against me, upwards of £5000. John went to see him the following day and noted after clearing the matter: this is the first such complaint made to me of this kind, and very much annoyed me. John Hall III also suffered losses from a bank failure, and perhaps the family generally became wary of bankers in general.
William Hall (1803-1864) lived in Whalley Range and married Mary Elizabeth Bancks, the daughter of a Manchester Surgeon. His brother, Robert Atkinson Hall (1807-1840) lived on Greenwood Street in Manchester and traded as a Corn Dealer, John Hall IV reported in his diary of 1835 that his business did not do well. Andrew Hall (1817-1818) died in infancy. George Dobson Hall (1820-1894) married Frances James.
The two sons of JH III that did well were Sir Charles Hall (1814-1883) who trained in Manchester as a solicitor. His brother John Hall IV arranged for him to have an allowance of £280 pa (£36,000 in 2020) to support him in his studies, and he went to London in 1835 to read for the bar, entering Middle Temple where he worked under Lewis Duval, marrying his niece Sarah, and inheriting both his practice and fortune in good time, living at Duval’s House, 8 Bayswater Hill.
He became an authority on real property law and in 1873 rose to Vice Chancellor and was knighted. On walking home in June 1882 he had a stroke and resigned his Judgeship, dying on 12 December 1883. His son, Charles, also called to the bar, became a QC in 1871 and Attorney General to the Prince of Wales between 1877 and 1892. He was MP for Chesterton, Cambridgeshire between 1885 and 1892, and Finsbury from 1895 to his death in 1900. He never married, and spoke little in parliament.
Finally we come to John Hall IV. He was born on 8 April 1801 at the family residence of King Street, Salford. and baptised at Cross Street Chapel the same year.
He took a keen interest in his father’s iron trade, touring the country taking in sites and enjoying the scenery. In June 1824 he travelled to Dublin, Newry, Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway, returning via Holyhead and watching the Chain Bridge being built on the Menai straits.
The next year he travelled he attended an Iron Master’s metting in Wolverhampton.
On 17 November 1825 he married Elizabeth Byfield at the Collegiate Church in Manchester. Not only was he a keen businessman, he was an avid reader, his diaries are full of notes about the books he has read. He established a reading circle with fellow residents of his street, Bloomsbury Terrace in Rusholme, Manchester.
He entered a partnership with Joseph Yates as Iron Merchants. Joseph was his brother in law having married Elizabeth Byfield’s sister, Mary, and he and his brother William were to cause him a great deal of grief over the next few years.
This partnership was dissolved in 1830 and he carried on trading from a property at 46 Port Street Manchester, but in 1833 became interested in the purchase of a warehouse at number 64 Port Street¹ from his old partner Joseph Yates and offered him £1,100 to buy it. The offer was accepted a few days later, on the 6 December with £275 payable immediately and the balance in installments over the next year and a half. The next day Yates came round to his house asking for the money due.
John paid him the amount owing the following week and asked him to sign for the sale of the warehouse. Four months later in April 1834 the sale had still not been completed and his solicitor Mr Aston, of Kay, Barlow & Aston of King Street, Manchester, urged him not to pay any more money until he had a signed contract.
Later in June, the issue was still troubling him, and he had long conversations with his solicitors and other parties. He was still determined to get the property and bought a lease for a wharf and buildings to the canal at Port Street for £100.
Perhaps the delays had made people suspect he was short of money to complete the purchase, and Mr Owen in June 1834 offered to lend him £800 at 5%, which he refused, only to have Owen’s brother James offer Whether his reputation had suffered because as he had an unsolicited offer for a further £200 from his brother James, he discussed the matter with his father, noting in his diary
Mr Owens offer of a loan had not been my seeking but merely to accomodate himself I felt very indignant at this way of putting the matter…. I showed the letter to my father and took several days to consider my answer as I felt aftaid of being much too intemperate.
He replied, restraining his language a few days later, and declined the offer.
Nevertheless he was doing well, and on 30 June 1834 he drew up his books and showed a £3,000 (£385,000 in 2020) profit for the year.
On a personal basis he had other worries at the time, as his father was ailing and on 4 July he noted that he was increasingly indisposed with little chance of recovery, by 14 July his father had been fastened to his bed, and was in a violent state of delerium, the whole family began to return to Manchester to make their farewells, and he breathed his last at 6:35 PM on 17 July 1834.
As head of the family, he now had to arrange his father’s affairs and interpret his will. He was advised to keep the money in trust until the youngest child (George) came of age.
In August the second payment on the warehouse fell due, and James resolved not to make it until the deeds were ready. Yates needed the money – he was considering buying another property on Great Bridgewater Street – however had to give up the idea because no further funds were forthcoming.
Still Yates came to him with more schemes, offering him for sale, 200 tons of pig iron in October, discovering five days later that the iron did not belong to him, but Mr Higgins, Yates’ brother William’s partner in Liverpool, and furthermore the furnace was out of order until after Christmas.
Yates’ cheek knew little bounds, he asked John if he could help him gain employment via John’s brother in law, perhaps as a confidential clerk.
Joseph Yates had some other properties on Princess Street and Union Street in Manchester that John wanted, and John offered £500 (subject to other monies already advanced, and mortgages for them) at the end of October. Yates agreed to this, and even promised to paint the premises for him. John had big plans for these buildings, including demolition of one of these buildings to improve access. Even this hit problems, as the tenant was given notice to quit, and refused as his lease had not expired.
He spent most of January in discussions with Kay, Barlow and Aston, over the Port Street Purchase, the solicitors informed him much was John’s fault as he had released funds, making Yates indifferent to progress, most of March is taken up with John in constant contact with Yates, trying in vain to get him to sign the deeds, at one point Yates suggests he lend him £500 to pay back his clerk, from whom he borrowed the same, so he could fire him and employ someone else. John notes I did not take the hint.
Yet in April, John paid over net balance of funds due, providing Yates use it to redeem the mortgages he had on the Princess Street properties. Again a few days later he found that the sums had not been paid over, and he called on Mr Yates, who had the funds in his pocket, and had spent the day endeavouring in vain to find Mr Robinson to whom the money was owed.
This finally worked and on 16 April 1835 the interest was paid and the conveyance signed. John’s diary has a telling note. Remember never again to pay for any purchase, before the deeds are signed.
Now the purchase of the Port Street property was settled, John confided his dream of one day being rich enough to build himself a house (which he nearly did in buying Mersey Bank) He looked at properties on Nelson Street, Upper Brook Street, and even as far out as Platt, near Withington in Manchester, where he was offered the land for a peppercorn of one penny, provided that the chief rents were kept by the owner and good houses were built. This offer he took up. He leased the land the following February at £5 per acre, a significant profit.
That 30 June he once more drew up his accounts, and found himself good to the value of £4,786 16s 11d (£612,000 in 2020) a substantial increase on his wealth of a year earlier.
By October, he has managed to seal the purchase of the Princess Street properties and celebrates by buying a silver service for £160 (£20,000 today) a dozen of champagne and some sherry, and throwing a 10th wedding anniversary celebration with his relations.
On February 3rd 1836, William Yates called upon John, and gave an explanation for his treatment at the hands of his brother.
Mr Yates’ haughtiness (to use the mildest term for it) to those around him during his prosperity cannot be fairly attributed to any one but himself and he is now sufffering for it in the “culls direct” and scoffs of those over whom he used to tryranize. His every word shows that he now very severely feels it. He certainly spoke to and of every one of the neigbouring iron masters as very much beneath him. They are now generally returning the compliment. This was the first time in his life that he had ever treated me with civility, and in consequence of his repeated enquiries concerning my family I invited him to my house , where he slept. In the evening, he again entered into long explanations in the presence of my wife and said that his conduct to me had been entirely owing to the statements of his brother who had always accounted for his losses in the iron trade to my incapacity. He had repeatedly said I was only fit to stand behind a counter, and had notions which totally prevented the profitability of our doing anything beyond a paltry retail trade. He had, however, found immediately on the dissolution between Joseph Yates and I that I increased the business twofold and he asked Joe for an explanation of his oft repeated accusations of me. He and his brother Joe are not on terms, but he appeared to wish to make me the mediator and requested I would , if opportunity offer explain matters to Joe. He denies that Joe lost much money by his loan….. and would not have lost any had he not been grossly stupid…… Very many other things came out, which strongly corroborated any previous conviction that I had been very shamelessly misrepresented.
The works on the warehouse were completed in March and April 1836 and on 28 April 1836 he hoisted his flag upon the warehouse. Yates however has not gone away, and on 2 July he discovers he has been trying to borrow money from John’s uncle, with whom he has a quiet word not to lend the money.
As well as being successful in business, John was a cultured and travelled man with a fine sense of humour. He notes of a visit to Southport on 6 June 1833:
Southport appears to me to answer the following description of a watering place sundry barren shingly sandy spots upon the coast, disfigured with frail lash and plaster bay windowed tenements, which being supplied with scanty white dainty curtains, a few rickety chairs and tables and some knotty featherly featherbeds are considered to be furnished. Hither numbers resort during the six weeks of an English summer, to ride in an improved species of wheelbarrow, drawn by jaded donkies or ponies, to sit on the pebbles and pelt them into the sea, to catch cold by walking on wet sands, to lose money in raffles – to enjoy at least one pleasant morning – that on which they return home
That September he travelled wildly in the Peak District, visiting Chapel, Buxton and Bakewell taking particular notice of Arkwright’s home and his spinning machinery, which he considered insignificant compared to what was now in use in Manchester. He then crossed the moors over pretty scenery to visit a steel works and cutlery showrooms, and proceeding to Doncaster where he watched the St Leger, travelling on to Fountains Abbey.
In January 1834 he took the Rover to London, arriving three hours late as the wheels had caught fire at Stafford (an excuse current TOCs have not yet used).
He visited the docks tunnel and remarked on Brunel’s curious arches
That evening he attended the theatre in Covent Garden. The next day he was however disappointed with Henry VII’s chapel in Westminster, and sailed from there to London Bridge, dining at Dolly’s Chop House and visiting the theatre at Drury Lane, returning the following evening at 8pm after a 24 hour journey home.
He notes in his diary of 23 February 1834 that he saw Mr Gaskell preach at Rusholme. In June he visited his family in Scarborough, seeing his sister there. He was there for five days, perhaps it was not a good visit, as he notes on the ride back:
Left at 3pm, arrived home 6am the following day. Never so exhausted as this, rode box all way. My wife observed she never was at any town where there appeared to be so many attorneys and there were so many bad smells. Are either of these the cause of effect of the other?
Nevertheless he returned to Scarborough on 4 July, walking as far as he could on the rocks at Filey with Elizabeth, who fell whilst trying to keep up with him, returning on the 10th as his father was ailing.
He was back in Scarborough again in August, to shoot sea birds off Flamborough Head, who he notes were very plentiful and very easily shot.* Returning on the 16th with his daughter Elizabeth, spending a day in York, visiting the Minster.
A minor family crisis arose in October when his sister Jane visited and informed him that she had converted to the Church of England, and intended attending service soon. John managed to keep this revelation secret from their mother, a staunch Presbyterian as were all the rest of the family.
On 18 November 1834 at 9pm his son John (V) was born, with Mr Cooper the surgeon, Elizabeth Lea, nurse Mrs Mayfield and Ann Brotherton in attendance, John was baptised at home by Mr Gaskell on the 23rd.
In January 1835 he read with disgust the takings at Westminster Abbey from amounts charged to visitors – upwards of £1,600 pa, which he notes is a disgrace to the nation. I dread to think what he would think of today’s charges. That May he also commented on the boy racers of the day:
I saw one of those foolhardy feats which men sometimes perform from bravado in the success of which there must necessarily be much of what is called luck, although they are by the public generally, set down as marks of first rate abilities, : this was ; a stage coach drawn by eight horses, driven from the box from Rochdale through the principal streets of the town , laden with passengers, and turned into Lacy’s gateway, at the rate of at least, nine miles an hour.
His opinion on the medical profession was not much higher, writing a week later:
Consulted Dr Richardson, who as far as I could see was in much to great a hurry to pocket his fee, even to know what was the complaint of his patient
In June 1835 he and Elizabeth once more set out to London, this time on the Bee Hive they once more visited Drury Lane and saw La Gazza Ladra, by Rossini. The performers were Ivanhoff, Tamburini, Lablache, Grisi, Caselli and Brambilla.
They visited Covent Garden for the Opera the next evening as well as spending the day at London Zoo and on the 9th went to see Don Feliz in the Wonder, a comedy by Susannah Centilivre at the Haymarket, with Charles Kemble in the title role.
The next day there was another visit to Drury Lane to see the same company perform Puritani. More sightseeing followed with visits to Windsor Castle and a full day in the British Museum, travelling home via Oxford and Blenheim, which he considered to be in a sad state of delapidation.
In 1836 he bought a Grand Piano Forte, which possibly went to Mersey Bank, to rival the existing instrument owned by Samuel Oldknow at Heaton House next to the Bleachworks.
His sights now started turning towards Heaton Norris and Stockport, in 1841 he became a magistrate for the town, and spoke the same hear at the opening of Stockport Unitarian Church, for which he had supplied the land. It is around now that he may have moved to Mersey Bank.
Unfortunately the only mention we have of him at the house, is his will, and a death notice on 1 October 1843, he was at the time once more on his travels, and died at Great Malvern in Worcestershire, aged 42.
He left all his possessions to his wife, Elizabeth, and his estate was valued at £25,000 (£3.2m in 2020).
After John’s death Elizabeth moved back to Brighton Place in Rusholme where she died on 21 July 1853. We have her handwritten recipe book which will have been used at Mersey Bank for cooking.
It is full of Mrs Beeton type recipes for curing a haunch of mutton, stewing beefsteak, fishcakes, mackerel au gratin, ginger pudding, toffy, soda cake and Prince Albert pudding. Her recipe for horseradish sauce is below:
2 tablespoons of grated horseradish, two teaspoonfuls of mustard, one of sugar. Mix together. Two tablespoonfuls of vinegar with a little cream to make it like salad sauce.
Both John and Elizabeth were buried at Rusholme Road Cemetery.
They had four children who survived, at least one other was stillborn. Elizabeth Byfield Hall, 1826-1912, lived out her days with her sister Mary Byfield Hall (1829-1921) who married William Thomas Marriott, a colliery owner from Wakefield. They lived at Sandal Grange, Sandal Magna, Wakefield.
William Byfield Hall (1836-1855) died at the tender age of 18 and was buried at Rusholme Road.
John Hall V (1834-1895) carried on the iron merchant business at Port Street. He married Katherine Heald. We have met the Healds via Robert Parker, Thomas Coates and even seen them in their home town of Chapel with Henry Kirk. For that reason we will leave them till we visit them proper in a future instalment, save for a view of their house, The Grange in Hale, and a suggestion that John V’s son, John Hall VI was a little more succesful with banks than John Hall IV.
Whilst his father aspired to building his own house and only owned Mersey Bank, John Hall V had the Grange built to his specifications.
Would we have as much luck as the Halls did with money. John Hall VI (1870-1930) was so trusted by the directors of the Midland Bank that this tale is recorded in the Heald Hall history as written by Charles Brehmer Heald. He relates how John Hall VI was asked about the balance against him by the directors, however, unlike with the unfortunate Mr Swanwick, the Halls came out firmly on top.
Gentlemen, I owe you £50,000 today, I am quite prepared to pay but would infinitely prefer to borrow an extra £50,000 from you for another twelve months.
Surprisingly , perhaps, the directors agreed at once. Thus began some 30 years of the special relationship between John Hall and the Midland Bank. Until his death, he was a unique client in that they would lend him any money he asked for with no security other than his own word that he would repay. The bank, it is said, still has a copy of his last loan of £50,000, and in the column headed “security” there is only his signature.
A very canny and interesting family.
¹ Another accountancy related fact, is that number 64 Port Street is attended cramming courses for my exams between 1981 and 1984, that property a 1960s construct is also now demolished, being now a car park.
Moving from Parr’s House we wander back up the hill to what was quite a posh cluster of houses. Let’s have a look at the 1848 tithe map of Heaton Mersey.
Mersey Bank House can be seen off Didsbury Road next to West Bank and Heaton Lodge, and thanks to the rather unfortunate quick deaths of the first two inhabitants we have an early description of the building and a date of build – 1840.
The house was offered for auction at the Clarence Inn in Rusholme (our next inhabitants the Halls had roots there). The Clarence has followed the fate of many pubs and Little Chefs and now serves curries but it was an Inn into the last century. Here’s a postcard from 1905:
In the Manchester Courier of 11 April 1843, Mersey Bank is described as a mansion with pleasure grounds, lying 5 miles from Manchester (I suspect the auctioneers were being a little liberal with the definition of Manchester centre) and 1½ miles from Stockport centre and Heaton Norris¹ station – which had trains departing every hour.
On the ground floor there was an entrance hall with a stone starircase and dome light dining room, a drawing room, breakfast room and study, as well as kitchens and a butler’s pantry. The principal kitchen was 19 feet square (that does seem a little cramped at 1.76m² ) We will return to the kitchen next time and find out some of the dishes that were cooked there. From the kitchen there was a back staircase for servants’ access.
Upstairs there were five bedrooms, three of which had attached dressing rooms, the two largest bedrooms each a comfortable 23 feet by 18 feet (38m²). The house was well equipped as there was not only a store room and water closet but also a bath with hot and cold running water, quite well provided for 1840.
There were also cellars and wash houses but also a large conservatory heated by hot water, this was truly cutting edge as this technology had only begun in the 1830s, and radiators did not reach mass market (that is a comfortably off mass market) until Franz San Galli invented his radiator in St Petersburg around 1855. The heating was probably fired by a wood or coal boiler, although the Stockport Gas works was around the Heaton Norris gasworks on Heaton Lane was not yet operational.
Outside there was a coach house, with stabling for five horses, and the gardens were southern facing, with good soil, choice fruit trees and the house itself was situated in one of the most salubrious neighbourhoods in Manchester with views over the Mersey and Alderley Edge. The grounds covered 15,198 square yards (12700m² or 3.1 acres) and was surrounded by a ring fence, the whole property being offered freehold without chief rent.
Having seen a description of the house, let us meet the first inhabitants. George Bowring and his wife, Sarah Milnes. George was born on 22 November 1777 in Edensor, and baptised in the Parish Church there six days later.
The Bowrings were a Derbyshire family who can be traced back to the 1600s . In the 1700s they were living in Edensor (pr Ensor) near Chatsworth in Derbyshire. George was the son of William Bowring and Ann Marple. WIlliam and Anne had nine children and he was one of perhaps two children from the family who left the area. In 1810 we find him in Stockport where he married Sarah Milnes (1781-1849) and became an Innkeeper at the Robin Hood Tavern on Higher Hillgate. His brother, William (b 1775) , followed him to Stockport and in late 1813 William fell foul of John Lloyd, the Stockport Solicitor when he was heard to utter Damnation to the House of Brunswick and a speedy downfall to it whilst making a toast in a local public house.
Charles Prescott, the magistrate committed him to Chester Castle to stand trial, as his brother refused to bail him. The matter was reported by the snickety Mr Lloyd to the Home Office in a letter to the Home Office highlighting the seditious language. New Mills is obviously not one of Mr Lloyd’s chosen destinations.
I have the honor to transmit to you copies of Informations taken against a man of the name of .. Bowring some little time ago respecting some seditious Expressions uttered by him at a public house in this Town, and which, owing to the presence of military characters, it cou’d not and ought not to be overlooked. He was consequently taken up under a Warrant obtained from the revd. C. Prescot, our resident magistrate, who directed him to find Bail – and not being able to do so, he was committed to Chester Castle where he now remains; and, if you direct it, may be indicted at the next Assizes, or required by the may consent in court to enter into Recognizance for his future good behaviour, but certainly some notice must be taken and the reasons I have stated. I was aware it wou’d be required of me to state further circumstances for you to form your Judgement upon, and I have therefore made such enquiries, as struck me to be necessary. Bowring followed the Trade of a master Butcher in a small way, at a populous village in Derbyshire called New Mills 8 miles from this Town — a place notorious for profligacy of manners and formerly for disaffection to the Government. (but which latter I shod hope cannot generally now prevail even there.)—I have been informed he has been in the habit of drinking the Toast charged agt him altho’ he has been cautioned & warned of the impropriety & the consequences—It seems he had hitherto been encouraged by the impunity—He has a Brother, keeping a public house here who refused to bail him He (the Prisr) is not a very drunken man—but was somewhat in liquor at the time he uttered the words—however he was at that time cautioned by those present that anticipated the words of the intended Toast to be seditious; and upon the whole I have found that he is an object for chastisement — and shod the great Government Law Officers not recommend the prosecution at the public expence I will take some steps to keep him under alarm, till with a view to his being placed under a Recognizance at least. I have the honor²
Apart from this setback George appears to have done well from his trade as a landlord and in 1841 he is to be found retired, living at the newly built Mersey Bank House, on Independent means. Sarah died on 16 November 1849, and in 1851 George was living on Chestergate. He died on 2 January 1858 and was buried at St Peter, along with Sarah and their children.
His brother William possibly moved to Pendleton after this, although the details are hazy.
George and Sarah had four boys, William (1813-1839), Robert (1814-1815), John (1810-1816) and George (1818-1902).
William seemed destined for high things, obtaining an MA at Queen’s College, Oxford in 1831 then in 1835 he was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn. However he died in 1839 and is buried along with his parents.
George is the one who made his mark on history. He was born on 17 February 1818 in Stockport, and attended grammar school in Bradford. He studied medicine and became around 1842 the surgeon at the Salford and Pendleton Royal Hospital, followed by some time at King’s College Hospital in London. He moved back to Manchester where he was the Dispensary Surgeon at the Royal Infirmary in Piccadilly (MRI) , and around 1850 he is said to have been the first surgeon to adminster chloroform as an anaesthetic during an operation in the North West.
He lived first at 7 Clifford Street off Oxford Road in Manchester, and on 30 July 1864 he married Frances Walmsley (1836-1864) – the daughter of a Stockport Corn dealer, William Walmsley, at St Mary in Stockport and they moved to 324 Oxford Road where they spent the next years. During this time he became an FCRS, and consulting surgeon to the MRI.
In 1871 he visited his roots in Edensor and took Frances to stay at the Peacock Hotel, Baslow along with Frances’ sister, Emma Walmsley. The hotel still stands and even in those days it was a prestigious place to stay. Their five children remained at the family house on 324 Oxford Street looked after by the family nanny.
George also served as a churchwarden for Manchester Cathedral, and in 1870 in recognisance of his service his head was carved at the base of one of the arches of the east nave.
By his death he was the medical officer to the Workhouse, and also the Surgeon to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. He passed away in Manchester on 3 March 1902 and was buried at St Peter in Stockport with his wife in the family tomb.
Next time we shall meet another family of Iron merchants, the Halls, who have connections with other local Wesleyan families we have met on our travels.
¹ Newly renamed from Stockport Station, on account of Stockport New Station on the other side of the viaduct, and starting its long decline as express through trains were no longer to stop there. It became a suburban stop served only by a Manchester service. The fare at the time to Manchester was 1s 3d first class, 1s second class, and 8d third. (approx 6p,5p and 4p) – Manchester Courier, 8 April 1843. The Manchester Times reported on 27 May that year that the turntable at Heaton Norris was being removed (being redundant as it was no longer a terminus) , and first class carriages would no longer serve the station.
I did know that there was a Victorian watercolour of Heaton Lodge, drawn by William Alexander Ansted, I even put a track on it at auction houses, so I could at least see it before it flew to a high bidder. I did not expect to see the painting pop up on Ebay whilst I was idly perusing it in February. It did though, and on a reasonably priced Buy It Now auction.
Well what could I do?
There’s not a lot about Ansted to be found. He was born in Guernsey on 1 March 1859, he trained as a draughtsman for an engineering company, and in 1882 exhibited two paintings at the Ipswich Fine Art Club, moving to St John’s Wood¹ London the following year when he exhibited five oils at the same club.
In 1887 he married Constance Greville Walsh (1856-1937) with whom he had two children (Constance 1888-1971) and David Alexander (1890-1945).
He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1888 and 1893 moving to Dover by 1911, where he worked as an artist, instructor and poster writer. He died at 291 Folkestone Road in Dover on 26 April 1948 at the age of 88.
However, what about the provenance of the painting?
Firstly on the back it confirms it is a painting of Heaton Lodge in Heaton Norris, the home of Roger Rowson Lingard in the 18th and 19th centuries, the note goes on to say that the picture depicts the house in which my grandfather lived.
Who that was will remain a mystery for now, Ansted also published series of ecclesiastical engravings, so he may have been commissioned by the Reverend Roger Rowson Lingard (1825-1908) Roger’s son, who was chaplain to the Bishop of Brechin, alternatively it may have been his son Randle Lingard (1827-1904) who became an accountant in Liverpool, but returned to Heaton Norris to die, or possible Richard Boughey Monk Lingard (1824-1907), who is mentioned in Debrett’s, became a Solicitor, and took on the arms of Monk-Lingard. He may have wished to create a backstory about his past.
It is all conjecture. Whilst Ansted may have seen the house, and sketched it in the late 19th / early 20th century, he has depicted it in Regency times (incorrectly as the house was at best late Regency built around 1830.) Roger Rowson Lingard only lived there 14 years, first being seen in the house in 1831 and dying in 1844, his widow Mary moved out soon after his death, surviving until 1875.
I was doubtful at first about the pond, but reflecting on the two pictures side by side the watercolour is drawn from the West Bank side, whilst in the photograph we are looking at the house from the Highfield side, and there was a pond at that side (which survived until the mid 1970s). Albeit drained, and a mudpool. We called it the swamp, and regularly sunk in 6 inches of mud, sometimes luckily avoiding sharp objects at the bottom.
Whatever the history, it is a nice touch that Roger was remembered enough at the beginning of the 20th century for an ancestral home story to be created. I did try and contact Kevin Rowson Lingard, an ex senator in Australia who I believe is a living descendant, but as is so often the case, I received no reply.
For the next piece I have Tony Marsh of Stockport Heritage to thank. He wrote a piece about Juan Illingworth in Stockport Heritage Magazine in the early noughties.
I learned some new facts about the family, his brother Abraham Roger Illingworth (1785-1868) was a Ship’s Surgeon and Medical who followed Juan to Ecuador, and settled in Guayquil.
His descendants have made a pilgrimage in recent times to Stockport to visit his birth town, now that we have identified his birthplace as Parr’s House, it would be nice if they had known that, and the visits have been reciprocated, in 1989 Princess Anne, the Princess Royal toured South America to pay homage to Admiral Illingworth and other mercenaries from England who fought in the battle for independence. Tony says Juan Illingworth is as famous in South America as Admiral Lord Nelson is in England.
In 1986, Ecuador celebrated the bicentenary of his birth by striking some commemorative medals, which I saw at the Heritage Centre. Tony was kind enough to give me one of the medals from his collection, and I thank him for his kind gesture.
I really do think we need a blue plaque to Mr Illingworth.
¹ Random fact about St John’s Wood, it is the only station on the London Underground that does not contain one of the letters in the word mackerel.
Parr’s House is shrouded in mystery, few photographs exist, and those that do, do not show the whole house. We have a glimpse of it taken at the Mafeking celebrations around 1900. I took the washing down for you to afford a better view.
We also have one taken just before demolition, looking from the terrace towards the Crown Inn.
And that’s it, just a few glimpses of a house that had so many influential people pass through its doors.
After Henry Pearson’s death, the house was put up for sale for one more time, and our next resident was Robert Matthews.
Robert was born on 23 December 1854 in Wigton, Cumberland to Humphrey Matthews and Ann Grey. Humphrey was was an engineer who built agricultural implements. Robert followed in his footsteps and in the 1870s he moved to work R&W Hawthorne in Newcastle Upon Tyne and then worked at J Wigham Richardson and Company in the same city. By 1878 he was chief draughtsman at Bell, Lightfoot & Company.
Around this time Bell Lightfoot & Co built a large beam pumping engine for the Hull Waterworks, the engine was in operation between 1876 and 1952 and is preserved at the site. On the dissolution of the Bell’s partnership (administered by William Barclay Peat ¹) Robert went to Dartford as managing draughtsman in J & E Hall whose chief product was refrigeration machinery for shipping meat from Australia.
In 1880 Robert moved to Manchester where he joined Goodfellow’s of Hyde, eventually becoming a partner, the firm working under the style of Goodfellow & Matthews, who manufactured rope gearing and refrigeration machinery
Finally in 1891 he became a director of Sir Joseph Whitworth & Company and remained in that position until the company amalgamated with Messrs Armstrong Mitchell and Company into Armstrong Whitworth, at which point he was appointed head of the engineering branch in Manchester.
We have briefly met Sir Joseph before, as he married Mary Orrell.
During his time at Armstrong Whitworth, Robert was President of the Engineering Employers federation, and a Council member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers for ten years, as well as being a member of the Institution of Civil and Electrical Engineers, and of the Naval Architects.
In September 1877 he married Jane Corbett in Newcastle, and on moving to Manchester they lived at Parr’s House until his death on 13 June 1923. Jane’s father and mother Thomas Corbett and Ann Taylor came to live with them at Parr’s House in the 1890s. Thomas was also an Engineer from Newcastle and the relationship presumably derived from his time there.
Robert and Jane had five children, Thomas (1879-1880) , Robert (b 1884), Arthur (b 1886) Lillie (b 1890) and Jennie (b 1895)
After Robert’s death Parr’s House had no further inhabitants, and it was demolished for housing, leaving no evidence of the grand house that once stood there. Parr’s House has disappeared from history. We do not have any pictures showing it clearly, nor do we have pictures of any of its inhabitants since John Illingworth, whose fame still resonates in Central America.
Except, perhaps… does this gatepost in the Crown Inn Beer Garden originate in Parr’s?
¹ In our continuing spotlight on famous accountants, William Peat, is the “P” in KPMG
After Henry Kirk’s death both Parr’s House and Parr’s Mount were put up for sale.
The house was certainly big, with six bedrooms, and considered convenient for Heaton Norris station – with the viaduct newly built journeys to Birmingham and beyond were now viable, and as we learnt last time, Henry Kirk’s ex coachman had set up a carriage service from the station. We can also see that Heaton Mersey was becoming a desirable place to live, and the seller had no compunction in selling the land for housebuilding.
The 1854 electoral register shows Henry Pearson living in Heaton Mersey and in his obituary in 1887 the Manchester Evening News says he lived for there 40 years, in 1865 another auction notice posted by John Thorniley has Parr’s House once more up for sale, this time mentioning it is in the occupancy of Henry Pearson. Henry probably lived there from the late 1840s until his death in 1887. He most likely bought the property in 1865 as he is the owner at his death.
Henry Pearson was born in January 1817 in Stockport to John Pearson and Sarah. By 1838 he was working in partnership with his brother James and Thomas Rhodes running a cotton mill, the brothers continued on their own account from 1838, and in 1840 they are in charge of the Heaton Mersey Cotton works. This went bankrupt in 1840, paying a dividend of 8s (40p) in the pound to creditors. Henry was however an honourable man. In 1852, he summoned all the original creditors to his offices at 45 Brown Street in Manchester and voluntarily paid out the remaining debt, making a full dividend of 20s in the pound. His creditors were so pleased with him that the presented him with a silver tea service, worth £80 (£11,000 in 2020).
Around the mid 1830s he married Elizabeth Winterbottom the daughter of , John Winterbottom a cotton spinner from Hayfield in Derbyshire. The couple lived on Brinksway and had three children. Sarah Elizabeth married Frederick Simpson, the son of John Atkinson Simpson, a Manchester cotton merchant and the couple lived at Avenham Tower in Preston. (which subsequently became the residence of Edwin Booth of Booth’s Grocers).
George Edward Pearson (b 1839) married Sarah Jane Bennett and was a cotton spinner as his father. They lived at the Manor House on Torkington Road in Stockport and finally James Marriott Pearson (b 1842) appears to have died in infancy.
In 1843 Henry bought the old Stockport Grammar premises on Adlington Square in Stockport and built Square Mills in its place. Some would say the demise of the centre of Stockport dates from this, as a leafy pleasant Georgian square was transformed an industrial landscape which was run down by the mid 20th century.
The mill was a medium sized mill for Stockport, and had 21,000 spindles. Henry had his warehouse on Portland Street in Manchester, by 1871 he was employing 400 people.
At the same time Henry busied himself in the Heaton Mersey community. In 1857 he headed the project to build the Day and Sunday school at St John’s church there.
Elizabeth Pearson passed away some time around then, and in 1867 Henry married Mary Ellen Duckett, the daughter of Richard Duckett a partner in Duckett and Stead, Railway Contractors, who had made his fortune building the Great India Peninsular Railway.
Henry kept involved in local life, being elected as councillor for Middle Ward in Stockport in 1868, and becoming a patron of St John’s school in 1869 and a JP for Lancashire in 1869. He also owned a not insubstantial property in Didsbury, the Limes which he sold in 1885. Subsequent residents in The Limes include Rik Mayall and Ade Edmundson as students inspiring The Young Ones, fittingly I’m told it’s now an anarchist squat.
At around 9 o’clock on Friday 21 July 1887, Henry went to take a bath, after which he had an attack of paralysis after which he sadly died at the age of 71. The house and contents were sold after his death, and he left a fortune of £18,276 9s, approximately £2.1m in 2020. Mary had died the previous August, and was buried in Heaton Mersey.
Henry and Mary had three children between them. Ellen Duckett Pearson (born 1869) moved to live with her half sister, Sarah in Bispham after her parent’s death. Henry Duckett Pearson (b 1870) went to live with George at the Manor House on Torkington Road, as did Sarah Simpson after her husband Frederic died in 1878. Finally, Ethel Mary Pearson (born 1873) married Cyril Rayner Luzmore of Hayfield.
The Reddish family hailed from Mottram In Longendale. Edward Reddish, the father was a corn dealer¹.
Edward was born in 1755 in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, and by 1782 he had moved to Mottram where he took up as a baker. That year he married Esther Chadwick, a Mottram girl. He was successful in his trade and moved to Stockport to become a corn dealer at number 40, The Market Place. He died on 3 December 1823, at his home there, and was buried 3 days later at St Mary, Stockport. Esther moved to Heaton Norris where she died on 15 August 1828.
Edward and Esther’s first four children only survived until the age of 2 years. Joseph Reddish (1793-1835) took over his father’s business on the Market Place. He had a child, Elizabeth Davies, to whom he left all his possessions (£1500 in 1835 – a substantial amount – over £190,000 in 2020), as his natural daughter, which suggests she was born out of wedlock, or via a clandestine relationship.
There was an Frances (Fanny) Hargreaves who married Linch Davies, a millwright in 1824. They subsequently moved to Newbridge Lane in Stockport, and baptised a daughter, Elizabeth in 1826. Whether these are the same people is lost in history, but the closeness of the professions may be an indicator.
Initially Linch and Frances stayed in Stockport, living on Reddish Lane in 1841, with Elizabeth, but then after a spell as millwright and iron founder in Heaton Norris moved to Liverpool around 1844, and in 1851 he was a millwright manager, having fathered at least eleven other children, which appear to be his. Elizabeth is nowhere to be seen. He moved back to Stockport, living in Coronation Street, Reddish, where he died on 24 August 1874 at the age of 85, and was buried at Tiviot Dale Methodist Church.
During the mill strikes of 1829 Joseph Reddish signed a public declaration to support the striking workers, asking the shopkeepers of Liverpool to help fund them in their time of need, a wise move, as those same shopkeepers’ income was under threat if nobody could afford to buy their wares. Joseph moved to Sale Moor where he died in 1835.
James Reddish was born on 17 December 1796 and also took up his father’s trade in the Marketplace. In April 1829 he married Jane Heaword at St Mary in Stockport. Jane’s father was a cotton manufacturer and this marriage raised his status, as by 1830 he is describing himself as a Gentleman, although still resident on the marketplace. In 1830 he became mayor of Stockport and a couple of years later he is living at Parr’s House, where he died on 25 October 1832.
James and Jane had one son, Edward, who was born on 10 April 1830. We shall meet Edward and Jane again in our next story, so leave them for now.
Edward and Esther’s last child was a daughter, Ann, born on 7 October 1799 on the marketplace. She married Thomas Cooper, a grocer, and they lived at Mile End Cottage near Mile End Hall in Bramhall, as it was then. She died in January 1879, at the advanced age of 79.
¹ Interestingly there is another family of Reddishes in Mottram at the same time, some in the corn trade. John Reddish married Arminal Middleton, and they were depicted in a stained glass window in St Michael & All Angels gifted by one of their sons, Joshua.
I can’t find a direct connection between the families, except for name, location and trade, and also a migration to Stockport. But I do like the story below, it is Heatons related, and it bears repeating.
A son of this other Reddish clan son, Edward (1784-1850) became a leading attorney at law, practising from chambers on Lower Hillgate and Little Underbank in Stockport. In 1844 he along with William Vaughan of Lingard and Vaughan defended John Kenyon Winterbottom a solicitor and town clerk who in 1839 cashed a fraudulent bill of exchange via John Stanway Jackson to the value of £5,000 and absconded, after which other “acts of plunder” were discovered. It transpires he had been using client monies to fund his failed investment schemes.
He was eventually found destitute in September 1844 in Liverpool and was transported to Tasmania via Millbank prison in Woolwich, where reasonably good behaviour obtained him a ticket to leave (he once got drunk and stole a hat, but only received a minor punishment).
Now a free man once more, he worked for the nascent Hobart town council and promptly defrauded them in 1867 by amongst other crimes, pocketing the proceeds of the sale of council debentures. Two years further imprisonment followed. Being released once more, he spent his last days a free man, dying in Hobart in 1872
And you don’t trust solicitors or council officials these days?
This Edward Reddish ( c 1784 – 1850) lived on Heaton Lane. He trained in London, and in 1818 practised from Hare Court in Temple Bar. He married Elizabeth La Coste, the daughter of Thomas Barrett La Coste, a Banker living in Chertsey in 1824 before moving back up to Stockport and setting up his practice there. Elizabeth moved then to Birch House on Sandy Lane, before dying aged 50 in 1853.
That Parrs House saw wealthy people pass through is without doubt, yet many of them remain obscure, and it is hard to pluck a great deal of information about why they were in the Heatons.
Thomas Gore is one such person. He died at Parrs House in 1829 and his will gained probate the following year, describing him as Thomas Gore, Gentleman, Heaton Norris and Rochdale. However, why he ended his days in Heaton Mersey is a mystery.
Thomas was born to Richard Gore (1721-1795) and Esther Grindsell (1721-1789). on 4 February 1759 at Toad Lane in Rochdale.
Those with connections to the Cooperative Movement will immediately recognise that name, it is the site of the first shop established by the Rochdale Pioneers in 1844. These were not working class men as legend has it, but skilled tradesmen who had been forced into poverty at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.
Toad Lane leads north from the original bridge over the Roch on the boundary between Wardleworth and Spotland, near the long established market place. John Wesley visited Rochdale in 1749 to a not too rapturous welcome, nevertheless a Chapel was built on Toad Lane in 1770, which the pious of the town sold in 1793 to be used as a theatre.
Whereas once it appears to have been a prosperous middle class merchants residence, the street deteriorated over time, as can be seen from the 1936 picture. However, in the 18th century we can assume it was a wealthy part of town.
Richard Gore was born in Manchester and baptised at the Collegiate Church on 9 July 1721. He married Esther on 3 February 1745 at Market Drayton in Shropshire. her father Thomas was a merchant of the town and also appears to have owned a number of properties in Market Drayton.
Richard was a tin merchant, he also appears to have accumulated a number of properties on the way from bankrupts. By his death he owned houses and shops along the waterside in Rochdale, 1,581 square yards (1321m²) of building land in Anchor Meadow (in an early grab at the green belt this was in use as gardens), cottages and houses on Packer Street including the Higher Anchor Inn, two properties on Church Lane, Cleggs Meadow at Mill Stone, which covered 2½ acres. All these properties where sublet from the church, for an annual rent of £41-6s and yielded £154-0s-6d , giving him a yield of £112.73 pa (about £14,000 today). He also had other properties scattered around giving him a further net annual rental income of £20-5s.
These were just the properties that he had not sold on by the time of his death, the newspapers of the time show a regular trade in property undertaken by him over the years.
His standing in the community is further enhanced when he becomes an active trustee in the Rochdale Free English School and on 7 October 1783 advertises for a master. The school has clearly been set up for the local merchants as the skills required by the master include teaching English, Writing, Accounts and Bookkeeping, for a salary of £25 pa. Applications were not required from those who could not bring good testimonials of…. ability and moral character, and interviews were to be held at the Roebuck on 16 October 1783, with a start date of 1 January 1784.
In 1791 Richard is involved with the initial meetings at the Roebuck Inn for the construction of the Rochdale canal from Manchester to Sowerby Bridge.
Richard died in November 1795 at Toad Lane, and was buried on 8 November at St Chad in Rochdale, Esther predeceased him in February 1789. They had at least three children, Thomas, Elizabeth and Richard.
Richard Gore junior was born in 1752 in Rochdale and married Hannah Lord on 3 August 1774. He died on 28 January 1799, his son Richard emigrated to the USA where he married Violetta Seabury Nicholl in 1821 in Stratford, Connecticut, the daughter of General Matthias Nicholl, who was the great grandson of Matthias Nicholl, the first English Secretary of the Colony of New York in 1672.
Richard and Esther’s second child was Elizabeth, born in 1755 on Toad Lane. She married Charles Frederick Brandt, an Accountant, on 10 July 1777 at St Chad in Rochdale, after which they moved to a country seat in Withington, Manchester.
Charles, like all accountants was on the right side of history and was a vocal supporter of William Wilberforce during his long campaign for the abolition of the slave trade up to the passing of the Slave Trade Act of 1807. His death, age 59, was much mourned in the Manchester Mercury of 22 March 1814.
The awful hand of death has lately spread his devastations in a most lamentable degree amongst our fellow townsmen….Charles Frederick Brandt who expired on Sunday afternoon, about 4 o’clock. We most sincerely lament the loss of such a worthy character – as a husband and father his relatives will experience an irreparable loss. Many can bear ample testimony of his being a trusted friend and valuable advisor… his attachment and support to our country have been manifested upon every occasion; his patronage to all charitable institutions ever exerted with zeal and his tender heart have been witnessed upon various occasions. His commercial character was highly esteemed and admired both at home and abroad. The writer of this paragraph laments his inablity to do ample justice to the character he wishes to portray.
His grieving widow ended her days in Aldford, with her son, the Rector, the Reverend Francis Brandt, who had previously been Rector of Gawsworth near Macclesfield. Amongst Francis Brandt’s children were Francis Frederick Brandt who was called to the Bar in 1847, and worked the Chester Sessions alongside working for the Times and writing books, and John Brandt who was engineer on the construction of the Seacombe, Hoylake and Deeside Railway as well as resident engineer on the Wirral Railway. He also built the Kingsland Bridge across the Severn in Shrewsbury.
Finally we come to Thomas Gore, born on 4 February 1759 at Toad Lane. He married Nancy and they had a son, Thomas. In 1805 he describes himself as a gentleman, living at Toad Lane. Nancy died sometime later, and on 13 October 1805 he married Mary Kershaw. Between 1822 and 1828 he inherited his fathers duties as trustee of the Free English School and then for unknown reasons moves to Parr’s House. We do not know when this was. However on 18 November 1829 he died at Parr’s House, and was buried that month at St Chad, Rochdale, where his roots were.
It is a mystery why he moved to Heaton Norris, there is no evidence of his father owning property in the area, and his metals background may have seen him move there to set up and service the growing industrial sector in the area. Mary was a Rochdale girl and his son Thomas set up as a machine maker in Manchester at Shorrocks & Gore, after marrying Elizabeth Allen in 1834. Parr’s House was still owned by the Gooldens, and his death notice and will refer to him as a gentleman of Heaton Norris and Toad Lane, suggesting he had only recently moved there.