We have briefly met John Buckley before when we were looking at Sir James Watts of Priestnall Hey. The Buckleys were certainly more liberal in their outlook than the Eskrigges, and worthy of their connections with the Watts family.
John Buckley was the son of Nathaniel Buckley and Betty Collier of Saddleworth. Nathaniel was born in 1764 in Mottram in Longendale, he married Betty (1773-1843) in Mottram on 14 October 1790. They moved to Saddleworth where he established a partnership with Andrew and Joshua Binns at Carr Hill near Mossley as cotton spinners.
In 1811 they were operating from Carr Mill as well as Dukinfield Old Mill. Andrew Binns died in 1805 and Joshua went on to operate on his own account in 1819. In 1820 Nathaniel built Carr Hill and Roughtown Mills and to facilitate trade he promoted the building of a road from Stalybridge to Mossley. Until around 1830 he was the largest employer in the area until the Mayall Brothers (of whom John Mayall, the bluesman is a direct descendant, singing the music of the cotton pickers who supplied the mills) took over.
Outside mill ownership he was a member of the Congregational Church (like Watts) and one of the first members of Albion Chapel in Ashton Under Lyne, he was a major contributor to its constructon, and is remembered on a memorial on the inside of the Chapel. He died on 16 January 1845.
Nathaniel and Betty had around eleven children. Their eldest daughter Mary lived from 1791 to 1863.
Abel Buckley (1794-1865) was born at Carr Hill and like his father became a cotton spinner, building Ryecroft Mill and founding Abel Buckley and Company. He married Mary Keehan.
Between 1847 and 1849 he was the first mayor of Ashton Under Lyne. His son, Abel became the Liberal MP for Prestwich in 1885.
Susan Collier Buckley (1797-1858) married the Reverend Jonathan Sutcliffe, the first minister at Albion Chapel.
Jonathan Smith Buckley was born on 9 January 1798 in Staley Wood. His first wife died young and his second marriage was to Sarah Ann Seel on 22 October 1825. They lived at Carr Hill after Nathaniel’s death, and continued in the firm of Nathaniel Buckley and Company.
He had a reputation as a man who was prepared to tolerate and listen to opposing opinions, and was quick to give his workers a pay rise when the conditions allowed it (although this is also a canny nod to market forces, avoiding the losses of a strike). He was also a patron of Sunday Schools and Chapels in the Saddleworth area, as well as a benefactor of the Mechanics Institute there. He was also unlike his predecessor at West Bank ready to shorten working hours when it was decreed, being the first in the area to reduce the working day to 10 hours.
In 1858 John and Sarah moved to West Bank in Heaton Mersey. This presumably was to be near his friend and business colleague, James Watts and as we will learn to be near his sister. However, John did not live long in retirement, and he died suddenly on 24 April 1860 at West Bank, aged 62. He was buried on the 28th at the Congregational Chapel in Heaton Mersey, where he worshipped alongside James Watts.
John left £30,000 in his will (£3.6m in 2019). Sarah lived on at West Bank until her death in 1876, and she was buried alongside her husband at the Congregational Church.
John and Sarah had ten children. The eldest David Hyde Buckley (1827-1872) ran Nathaniel Buckley and Sons at Carr Hill with his brother Nathaniel.
David lived there with his first wife Sarah Andrew (1828-1858). In 1870 he married once again to Elizabeth Ann Doe in St Asaph, Denbighshire, and lived in retirement there with her until his death in 1872.
Harriet Seel Buckley died aged 22 in 1851, and John Charles Buckley barely made it to age one, dying in 1831. Robert Buckley died also as a child, aged 3.
In 1835. Frederick Buckley, born 1833 worked at Carr Hill and at least made his 21st birthday, as he celebrated that, at his father’s expense at the Fleece Inn in Mossley, in the company of his brothers and sisters.
Maria Buckley (born 1836) moved to West Bank with her parents, and was still living there in 1871.
Nathaniel Buckley was born in 1837, and like his brother, celebrated his 21st at the Fleece Inn. He married Susan Buckley Watts , the daughter of James Watts on 25 July 1861 in a location appropriate for such a power wedding, the Cathedral in Manchester. He worked with his brother at Carr Hill Mill, and lived at Carr Hill with Susan.
After that he inherited Ryecroft Hall in Audenshaw from his uncle James Smith Buckley (who had died in 1851, but there were issues with the will), but did not live there long. In 1881 he and Sarah went to Buxton to take the waters, but this was to no avail and he died on 10 June 1881 at West Bank.
Eliza Ann Buckley was born in 1840, and Jane Buckley in 1842, and the final child was Sarah Ann Buckley. Sarah Ann Buckley proved herself an equal of Sir James Watts in her political achievements. Sarah was born on 13 November 1842 at Carr Hill and moved to West Bank with her parents in 1858 where she lived until 1874 when she married Charles Edward Lees on the 30 July at the Heaton Mersey Congregational Church.
In 1907, following the Qualification of Women Act she was the first woman councillor in England, representing Hollinwood on Oldham Town Council, to surpass that in 1909 when she was named the first woman Freeman of Oldham, and the following year became Mayor of Oldham, only the second woman to reach that office in England.
She lived at Werneth Hall in Oldham with her husband, who was an Oldham cotton manufacturer.
Their daughter Marjory Lees (1878-1970) helped form the Oldham Women’s Suffrage society. Sarah Lees was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1917 in recognition of her work during the War. She was also President of the Oldham Infirmary and Chairman of the Oldham branch of the League of Nations. She died on 14 April 1955
Returning to Nathaniel Buckley and Betty Collier, after John Smith Buckley Hannah was born. She lived from 1801 to 1837 and married Charles Hindley who was MP for Ashton Under Lyne from 1835 to 1857, and the first member of the Moravian Church to sit as an MP.
Robert Buckley died in infancy, whilst James Smith Buckley (1805-1851) ran Ryecroft Mills, and bought the land to build Ryecroft Hall from the Earl Of Stamford. After James died the house was occupied by his wife and sons until it passed to his nephew Abel Buckley.
David Hyde Buckley only lived from 1808-1811 whilst Jane Buckley died aged 30 in 1840 in Glossop. Robert Hyde Buckley (1812-1867) build and operated Woodend Mills in Mossley.
Finally, we once more return to the Watts family as Margaret Ann Buckley (1817-1892) married Sir James Watts in 1832, you can read about their life together in the link.
We have met Thomas Eskrigge before, his daughter Julia married his neighbour William Roby Barr of Heaton Lodge.
Thomas Eskrigge was the son of Thomas Eskrigge and Sarah Brockbank. Sarah had previously been married to Captain William Linton, who we shall meet later.
The Eskrigges were a prominent Lancaster family who lived at Eskrigge Hall, Eskrigge near Lancaster. Thomas Eskrigge Senior (1767-1844) was a merchant in the town, owning land and several properties in Lancaster and the surrounding area.
Thomas and Sarah had five children. The eldest John (1797-1819) passed away on returning from a journey. On arriving home he was indisposed and a fever was diagnosed. Unfortunately he died. His obituary ends by counselling that the public (should) be careful to examine the beds on which they sleep when from home. Advice I think that we should heed to this day.
Thomas Eskrigge Junior was born on 10 March 1800 in Lancaster. He married Ann Tatham in 1821. Ann was the daughter of a Sea Captain turned Liquor Merchant, Thomas, who died a few years later in 1805. Thomas Tatham had captained HMS Penelope which saw service in the Carribbean and sailed between 1783 and 1797.
Thomas and Ann moved in the mid 1830s to Warrington , where they lived in Hope House and established a cotton factory at Hope Mill. This is next to the railway line, which will enter the story soon.
On 7 August 1841 the factory suffered a fire, the top two floors of the throstle mill, which on the map is the smaller of the two buildings, were completely aflame. Fortunately the firemen were able to extinguish it, and although the upper floor was completely damaged, along with the roof, as well as the throstles on the second floor and a large quantity of cotton, the mill was saved, and Eskrigge was insured with the York and London Fire Insurance Company (else of course the fire engines would not have come out)
However, either by bad luck or design, this fire bankrupts him and a few years later we find him living at 17 Tiviot Dale in Heaton Norris, followed by a few years living in Didsbury where he becomes managing partner in Kershaw Leese and Company managing the Mersey Mill.
He is returned as a councillor in 1847 and builds many connections in the local political and business community.
He is not above dirty tricks when trying to prevent people for voting for his political rivals, in a practice referrred to as bottling, his son Thomas was instrumental in kidnapping local men in order to prevent them from voting.
Samuel Southman testified in the Manchester Courier of 22 December 1847:
I Samuel Southman, cab driver of Stockport, declare that on Thursday evening of the 8th instant I was engaged to drive to Manchester by young Thomas Eskrigge, and I took up at the Woodman Inn, in Heaton Lane, William Ramscar and Thomas Hanson inside, and Thomas Eskrigge outside. Ramscar had a bottle of whisky with him. Hanson appeared tipsy and to some extent stupified. I drove them to the Ducie Arms, near the Victoria Station, Manchester. Then Eskrigge engaged a one horse dragg, for which he paid a pound, to Warrington. They had great difficulty in getting Hanson into it, he was so anxious to come home. He got some cheese and bread and a glass of ale to it. They mixed him a glass of whisky, gin, rum and brandy, “for all nations” as it is usually called, but he would not drink it. He said he would be made a fool of by them. At last he got into the dragg at the front and I saw no more of them. Eskrigge gave me 3s 6d (17.5p) 2s 9d for myself and 9d for the bars and he desired me not to say a damn’d word about it. I was conscious that they were bottling Hanson.
Thomas Hanson goes on to say that he is a registered voter in Stockport and was intending to vote for Major Marsland. He was drinking at the Pack Horse on Middle Hillgate, Stockport playing dominoes when
Miles Slater treated me with two glasses of ale. I had not had much to drink and I am sure the liquor I took had been drugged with plum or some other sedative, for I went completely senseless and remember nothing more until I was somewhere near Warrington in a Spring Cart with Thomas Eskrigge who was driving. Ramscar and Eskrigge had a wine bottle filled with some kind of strong liquor on the way and they kept frequently putting it to their mouths and pretending to drink and then handing it over to me and pressing me to drink freely. We arrived at a private house in Warrington at 3 O’Clock on Friday morning and I did not know what town we were in until Sunday morning. I was so stupified with drink … Ramscar and four other persons kept watching over me and would supply me with any kind of meat or drink I had a mind to ask for, but no money. and I only had 6d (2.5p) in my pocket and wanted to go home again on the Saturday morning but the folks in the house would not let me have my shoes….. on Sunday morning I was determined to go home… Ramscar and two of the men came about two miles on the road with me and kept pressing me to call in at every public house on the way to have a gill or two before we parted, as they said. I left them all at that house and walked to Manchester, and then got upon the Railway at Manchester and so expended my last penny ( having spent 2d in apples and 4d on my railway fare on my last journey).
He was probably taken to Hope House in Warrington, as the Eskrigges still lived there. He was relatively lucky. On the same night another potential voter for Marsland, one Eli Waller, was literally carted off by Eskrigge’s men to Preston where he was stuck until the 16th December, although he did receive 3s 1d to pay his rail fare back to Stockport.
The Eskrigges were nobbling voters in support of a Liberal MP against the incumbent Tory, Sir Thomas Marsland. And they succeeded, Aldeman James Kershaw (his partner in Kershaw, Leese & Co) was elected MP for Stockport in 1847 and sat for the constiuency until his death in 1864.
His political connections serve him well when the factory acts attempt to outlaw the use of child labour for more than 10 hours a day, a child being nine to thirteen years old.
The normal factory day was considered to be 15 hours from 05:30 to 20:30. At maturity, 18, they therefore would work 72 hours a week – by contrast the Emancipation Acts enforced a 45 hour work for freed adult slaves).
The mill owners soon found a way around this law by creating relay systems whereby children could determine their own meal breaks individually. This meant that hours worked became impossible to track. The relay system was allowed as long as it was approved by a local court, and so Thomas Eskrigge proposed a relay system for his mill. The factory inspectors refused, a few months later, another mill owner appeared before the local magistrates to face charges of operating a similar system.
As Eskrigge was sitting as a magistrate (along with two other cotton spinners) he saw no issue in the system being managed by the accused and acquitted him. He then used that acquittal as a precedent for introducing the same system at his own mill, therefore getting the longer hours he wanted his child labourers to work.
For posterity Karl Marx who was in Manchester at the time used this example of millowners exploting child labour, and cited Eskrigge as an example of wicked capitalists in Das Kapital.
The Morning Post of 9 June 1849 records how a number of millowners from around the country, with Thomas and James Marshall representing the Stockport interests, met Sir George Grey, the Home Secretary to protest the Factories Act reducing women’s weekly working hours from 63 to 58. That is five days at eleven hours and a generous eight hour half day on Saturday. The petition also demonstrated the extent of cotton manufacture in the Lancashire area:
The combined salary for these was £100,000 per week. In 2019 money that represents an annual wage bill for Manchester Cotton mills of £655 million, which demonstrates why Manchester became so rich with cotton.
In 1851 he is living with Ann and his family at West Bank. His standing in the community (but perhaps not with Marxist dialectics) continues to rise, and he is appointed to the board of the National Provincial Mutual Life Assurance Society, and in 1856 elected president of the Reform Society in Stockport.
Thomas died at West Bank in early 1858, and was buried at Heaton Mersey Congregational Church, Ann died two years later in 1860.
Thomas and Ann had twelve children. Their first son, George Brockbank Eskrigge was born in 1821 in Warrington and died shortly afterwards.
Thomas Eskrigge Junior (1823-1881) married Amelia Slater at the Manchester Collegiate Church in 1848, and in 1856 he appears on the electoral roll at 17 Tiviot Dale.
In the mid 1850s he travelled to Nagasaki in Japan for the firm of Tatham & Company. He traded from Yokohama between 1861 and 1863
It is claimed that the first foreign trade in raw silk from Japan took place when Thomas Eskrigge purchased silk from a Japanese merchant Shibaya Seigoro on July 1, 1859 in Yokohama. A Chinese man called Achiu mediated negotiations between the two.
However, Thomas also attempted of one of the most audacious gold trades ever.
Japan had closed itself off from the world for centuries, and therefore did not have an established system for currency exchange. The Japanese offered visiting ships an exchange rate of one Spanish silver dollar (aka Mexican dollar, or in pirate speak, a piece of eight- the de facto international currency) to one Japanese ichibu. Four ichibus made a gold koban. In terms of metal exchanged this gave nobody an advantage as the trader could exchange his silver ichibu for gold koban at the prevailing bullion rates, and be no better or no worse off, in either dollar or bullion terms.
For whatever reason the Americans did not like this arrangement and wanted the Japanese to accept a weight for weight exchange based on the silver contained in the ichibu coin (which was a lot less in the Japanese) The Japanese considered the ichibu to be a token, not valued according to its silver content. They did not trade on the value of the silver, but instead on the promise to pay an amount from their central bank.
The Americans forced this weight for weight exchange rate between the ichibu and the dollar, under the ironically named Treaty of Amity & Commerce of 1859. The new rate was three ichibus to one dollar This gave a opportunity for foreigners purchase gold three times the value than they could before. For every Mexican Dollar they exchanged for an ichibu, by subsequently buying gold koran they tripled the value of their funds.
Not surprisingly canny traders exploited this gap in the market, however, Thomas Eskrigge is singled out as applying to exchange an extreme amount, the Illustrated Times quotes $1,200,666,778,244,601,066,953 but I suspect that is more a sub editors imagination. A request to change $250,000,000 was not unusual during this frenzy. The motivation was that even if they received a percentage of the amount requested they would enrich themselves substantially.
Thomas did this using a variety of hardly convincing aliases, such as Snooks, Jack Ketch, Stickitup, Sweedlepipes, Moses, Bank, Nelly, Smell Bad, No Nose and Bosche. The Japanese were naturally not familiar with these nonsense names and therefore for a while they paid up, but eventually they were overwhelmed with the sheer volume of trades being requested and they closed the Exchanges, thus closing down newly and delicately negotiated trade.
Eventually the problem was solved when the Japanese issued a new koban gold coin containing one third of the value, thus closing the possibility of further arbitrage. A Stockport man had caused Japan to alter the size of their coin dramatically.
There were further repercussions in Japan. The debasement of the currency resulted in a huge fall in the purchasing power of the koban. The Samauri lived off fixed incomes and were rendered poorer, thus Samauri revolts became much more frequent over the next years. The Tokugawa dynasty itself had profited by the sale of token coinage, and was now poorer, and the last Tokugawa prince resigned in 1867.
Thomas returned to Stockport and lived in Drynie House in Heaton Chapel where he died on 21 September 1881. Amelia lived on there after his death and died on 21 August 1898.
Thomas and Ann’s third child was the second George Brockbank Eskrigge. He was born in 1824 in Warrington and attended the grammar school there. In 1843 he attested for the Scots Guards in Liverpool, and was in the army for three years, but only never attained more than the rank of Private. He is living at West Bank in 1851 and died in St Columb, Cornwall in 1863.
The next child, John Eskrigge was born on 26 October 1825 at Hope House, and by 1841 he was working alongside his father at Hope Mill as a cotton manufacturer.
He moved along with his father to Stockport and in 1848 he married Ann Ellen Brownhill in Didsbury. and they lived at 81 Wellington Road North in Heaton Chapel. He was also a cotton spinner and employed 2,341 men at Springmount, Park and Newbridge Mills in partnership with his brother in law , William Roby Barr.
By 1861 he is living in Hollywood House, which was on the site of Hollywood Park in Stockport.
The Eskrigges and the Barrs then commence a three year mayorality, John’s turn is first in 1863, followed by his brother William in 1864 and then William Barr in 1865.
In 1882 he retired, possibly through illness or infirmity to a home in Farnworth near Bolton, whilst Ann moved to Nap Top, Marsland Fold in Marple. John died in April 1889 in Marple, and was buried at All Saints Church there. Ann lived on until September 1906 living in Marple with her daughter, Ellen, before herself going into a home at Rusholme Lodge in Rusholme, Manchester. She too is buried at All Saints.
William Linton Eskrigge (1827-1901) again followed in the family trade. He was named for the artist William Linton (1791-1876). The artist was the son of Sarah Brockbank’s first marriage and Thomas Eskrigge was one of his patrons. He has been compared favourably with JMW Turner and painted scenes of the North of England and Italy. He married Julia Adeline Swettenham, for whom another Eskrigge child was named.
Our William Linton was a partner in Eskrigge and Barr, and mayor of Stockport in 1864. He married Ann Crossley Tatham in 1858 at St Stephen The Martyr in London, before settling down first at Lark Hill Road then at Spring Mount House in Cheadle.
We have heard so many negative points about the Eskrigges that at times I am hard pressed to paint them in a good light. Whilst the mill owning side may not have been positive, WL Eskrigge did serve as a Trustee to Stockport Grammar, and the boys had happy memories of him wangling half holidays for them and arrange treats involving pop and Eccles Cakes. Not a lot I know, but looking for good I am on fallow ground with the Eskrigges.
The couple finally settled at 7 Woodbine Crescent in Stockport. William died in early 1901 and Annie in late 1915.
Frances Eskrigge, known as Fanny had a short life, she was born in 1828 at Hope House, but on Thursday 26 July 1838 she was sent on an errand to fetch a servant from the fields, which involved crossing the railway line parallel to Hope House. On the way back she tripped on the line and was panic struck as an engine hit her shattering her leg, which had to be amputated. Unfortunately she died the same day, and was buried two days later at St James’, Latchford.
Julia Adelina Eskrigge (1803-1905) we briefly met above. She married her next door neigbour William Roby Barr, and lived first at Heaton Lodge, then Priestnall Road in Heaton Mersey.
Robert Atkinson Eskrigge (1839-1898) was also involved in the family firm. He married Eliza B Robson in 1858 on the Wirral, and they lived in Liscard where he became a cotton broker and JP. He died in November 1898 at Fir Cottage in Liscard.
One of his daughters, Edith Eskrigge (1872-1948) did much to revive the Eskrigge good name. She became involved in the Settlement for Women Workers, also known as the Canning Town Settlement. This was a movement set up to to encourage educated people to settle amongst workers and strive to improve the quality of their lives. She then became a member of the South Wales Women’s Suffrage Federation. During the first world war she became involved with the Liverpool War Pensions Committee and Soldiers and Sailors Family Association, becoming Chief Officer of the latter.
In Liverpool she established a school for invalid children, which evolved into the Child Welfare Association, and also participated actively in the Child Adoption Society.
The next child Edward Eskrigge died aged five in 1843.
Ann Eskrigge was born in 1840 and like her sister Julia Adeline, she married into the Barr family. Joseph Henry Barr. Joseph was a GP and a member of the Royal College of Surgeons. They lived first on Ardwick Green, before moving to Brighouse.
Elizabeth Eskrigge (1844-1923) married her cousin Thomas Tatham in 1865. He was was the head of Tatham & Co, Iron Merchants of Whitworth Street in Manchester. They lived first in Meols and then at Wilmslow Park, Wilmslow.
Finally Henry Bridgeman Eskrigge (1846-1891) married Annie Bewley and worked as a cotton broker in Liverpool. They lived on Carter Street in Liverpool.
Alfred Orrell left West Bank around 1846. Our next inhabitant did not live in the house for long, as on 20 May 1848 the contents are placed up for auction in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser. The auction taking place on 25 and 26 May. The house is to be let at the same time, being in the possession of one Mortimer Lavater Tait. A full description of the contents and order of sale is given in the article below.
West Bank at that date had a drawing room with large chimney, dining room containing Spanish mahagony chairs and table, a breakfast room, entrance hall staircase and landing, again with mahagony chiffonier and tables, kitchen and scullery, butler’s pantry a dressing room and six upstairs bedrooms. In the gardens there was everything the hi tech gardener would need including a Budd’s Patent Mowing Machine (invented by Edwin Beard Budding in October 1830 who wrote in his patent Country gentlemen may find in using my machine themselves an amusing, useful and healthy exercise).
Mortimer Lavater Tait was not staying, possession of the house was immediate after the sale of contents. He had been bankrupted and needed the funds to pay off his creditors.
Mortimer Lavater Tait was the son of William Watson Tait and Jane Danson. William was a Liverpool Merchant who had been born in 1771 at the then innovative British Lying In Hospital in Holborn, London – one of the first maternity hospitals. As befits such a birth, Mortimer came from a well to do family who lived at Livesey Hall in Wavertree. This house was in what is now Newsham Park.
William married Jane Danson (1781-1848) in 1802 in Bolton Le Sands.
William was a ship owner and broker. He had many branch offices and warehouses carrying out his trade between the West Indies and the European ports of the North Sea. During the Napoleonic wars he mistakenly captured a Dutch Vessel, believing we were at war with the Netherlands. William’s mistaken belief and a subsequent case at the Prize Court in Liverpool lost him a lot of money in compensation payments. Following that there was the failure of his correspondant in Hamburg, Herr Sonntag, due to levies enforced by General Marshal Davout of Napoleon’s army during the French occupation of Hamburg. This was unfortunate also for his daughter Susan, who had been christened Susan Sonntag Tait in his honour. All of this forced the sale of Livesey Hall.
The family moved to Manchester. He was discharged from Bankruptcy in 1811 and recovered as a businessman as in 1825 was appointed secretary of the Manchester Ship Canal Company.
This was the first attempt at a Manchester Ship Canal, not the second successful one.
There had long been a desire of Manchester merchants to have an easy route to the sea. The Mersey and Irwell navigation had partially solved these problems, but in the early 19th century Liverpool was not the major port it became, and most traffic went via the Dee. Parkgate on the Dee was the major embarkation point to Dublin and Ireland, and therefore proposals were made for the first Manchester Ship Canal from Parkgate, passing along the Cheshire side of the Mersey, crossing the Wirral Canal, through Lymm and Altrincham to Didsbury and onwards to Manchester where it was to end in Hulme by the barracks. The company was to raise £1m in 100,000 shares of £10. At a meeting held in the Old Exchange in Manchester it was resolved to build a navigable ship canal capable of bearing vessels of 400 tons .. and upwards to communicate with the Irish Sea direct from Manchester.
Needless to say, Liverpool was not impressed and the Liverpool Kaleidoscope expressed their scepticism on 19 April 1825, by invoking the Monarch of the seas – Neptune – to speak on their behalf.
The Monarch, indignant at what he called treason
And contrary too, to the dictates of reason
Advis’d them in future to stick to their Jennies
And in aping their betters not make themself ninnies
“And as for your ditch there, why take it for granted
My protection in this case will never be wanted”
Clearly Liverpool’s sense (or is it realisation) of inferiority to Cottonopolis goes back a long way. The bill went to Parliament, coincidentally, in the same session as the railway bill for the Liverpool Manchester route on 21 March 1825. It eventually was passed by a Commons majority of one, but failed in the Lords.
His endeavours failed him once again, and in 1828 he was once again made bankrupt in another Liverpool venture. William died in 1851 at Robert Street in Ardwick. We would have to wait nearly 70 years for another Heaton Mersey connection to put egg on firmly on the faces of our Liverpool cousins.
William and Jane had at least twelve children. They were both extravagantly named and many well travelled, befitting their merchant father.
The first, Augustus Danson Tait died in infancy in 1803. Jane Sonntag Tait (1804-1882), named for the Hamburg merchant, was his second child. She first set up as a milliner in Liverpool but that did not succeed and in 1834 she married William Cawkwell (1807-1897) who went on to become the General Manager of the London and North West Railway.
Augustus Henry Tait (1806-1883) married Ann Hogg and they emigrated to the USA, he died in Hastings New York on 19 December 1883. His brother Ferdinand Adolphus was born in 1808 and went to Brazil where he married Clara Da Silva Barbosa and had two children by her, before parting from her and marrying Elizabeth Trevilla Richard back in England, having five more children and emigrating to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he died in New Orleans in 1860.
The next child Dover Ashurst Tait was born in 1809 at Livesey Hall and died in 1834 in Mehattan, Mexico.
Mortimer Lavater Tait was born on 28 October 1810 in Bolton Le Sands. He married first Ann Hood (born 1808 in Lougborough) at St Nicholas in Liverpool on 28 September 1834, and they moved to Manchester where they lived on Broome House Lane in Eccles in 1841, before moving to George Street, Manchester (now in China Town) in 1844, where he has an interest in a cotton mill on Mosley Street as well as something intriguingly called the Mortimer Tait Railway Company.
In 1846 we find him at West Bank with Ann, and he is running Heaton Mersey Bleachworks with Samuel Stocks (who had been in business at the same factory with John Stanway Jackson).
In 1847 this business failed and a fiat in bankruptcy was ordered, this forced the sale of the possessions at West Bank and the letting of the house, and he moved to a property he called The Cottage in Heaton Mersey. Whether this is a small cottage or a nod at a house the size of Alfred Orrell’s residence in Grasmere I can’t say.
However, by 1854 whatever the size of his residence, he has overcome his troubles and is once again at Heaton Mersey Bleachworks, and he is living on St James’ Street in Manchester. Ann died around 1851 and on 24 July 1860 he married Mary Danson in Regent’s Park, London, and they settled on New Road in Heaton Moor. Obviously once more a succesful man, by 1857 he is respected enough to serve on the Grand Jury for the January Quarter sessions at Salford.
Mortimer continued his association with the Heaton Mersey Bleachworks into the late 1860s before retiring to Barrow Mount in Ramsbottom and then Bold Street in Heysham near Morecambe after Mary’s death in 1872, where he died on 2 March 1893.
Mortimer is buried at St John in Heaton Mersey together with both of his wives.
The next child born to William Watson Tait and Jane Danson was Constantia Elizabeth Tait (1812-1891) she married Dr Joshua Rowbottom, FRCS, at the Collegiate Church in Manchester on leap year day 1848. They lived together on Union Street in Ardwick. They subsequently moved to New Zealand, where Joshua died in March 1881 and Constantina moved back to her family roots in Lancashire.
Alfred John Tait was born in 1814 and married Susannah Williams in Liverpool in 1836, but he died young in Manchester in 1845 aged 31. He was buried at Ardwick Cemetery.
William Arthur Tait (1817-1865) married Dorothy Maria Chester and they moved to Oporto where he became partner in a Port Wine Lodge, Rawes & Tait, before running it under his own name. Dorothy died in 1863, and he married Margaret Page in the British Consulate in Oporto.
Through the years the Tait label has undergone a few mergers, but is now sold under the marque Velloso & Tait, previously it was Stormonth and Tait, and supplied the necessary port to Ernest Shackleton on his expedition to the Antarctic.
Williams oldest son, William, carried on the family trade and purchased Casa Tait in Oporto, which today houses a museum of numismatics. William Jr was a keen student of flora and fauna, and introduced many plants to Portugal.
Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819-1905) entered the Agnew and Zanetti Art store in Manchester aged 12. Agnew and Zanetti were famous for framing paintings by well known Victorian Artists.
He soon developed an interest in art and between 1845 and 1848 he specialised in lithographs of railway subjects. There are a lot out there. It is worth searching, I especially recommend Views On The Manchester & Leeds Railway.
Attending an exhibition in Paris he became aware of the Americas and emigrated to New York and established himself as a professional artist, where he attracted the attention of the lithographers Currier and Ives (who are namechecked in the popular 1948 song Sleigh Ride) In 1858 he was elected a full member of the United States National Academy of Design.
He specialised in animal pictures and illustrations of the American West.
Being an artist he married many times, firstly to Marian Cardwell in Liverpool, then to Mary Jane Polly Bortoft in 1873 and finally to Emma Hough in 1882 and He died in Yonkers in 2006 and remains popular, one of his paintings sold for $167,300 in 2006.
Maria Louisa Tait (1821-1870) died in St Pancras London, and finally Sarah Tait (1827-1827) died in infancy.
Returning to Mortimer Lavater Tait, he and Ann Hood had eleven children.
His first son, Mortimer Dover Tait (1836-1918) emigrated to Australia and maintained the family railway connections by becoming a Station Master in Jondarayan near Toowoomba. He married Elizabeth Anderton shortly before emigrating He died suddenly, collapsing and expiring near Goggs Street in Toowoomba on 4 September 1918.
Maria Jane Tait, and Harry N Tait died in infancy. William Henry Tait served in the Indian Army, gaining a medal during the Indian Mutiny of 1857-1861 (just four years before my great grandfather served in Agra in India). He returned to the UK to become a farmer in Heaton Mersey, marrying Margaret Hull, and dying aged 40 in 1879 on the Isle of Man.
The next two child Ferdinand Morley Tait died in infancy in 1840.
Louisa Ann Danson Tait (1846-1917) married Thomas Newton Pearson a Heaton Mersey merchant.
The Reverend Herbert George Danson Tait (1846-1900) studied at Lincoln College in Oxford obtaining his MA in 1881 and becoming headmaster of Rossall Preparatory School in Fleetwood. He died of a heart attack whilst returning home along the sands on 14 January 1900 after performing divine service.
There were two Emily Jane Taits. The first was born in 1842 and died in January 1844, the second Emily Jane Tait lived from 1844 to 1914, and married her cousin Edward Paget Tait in Auckland New Zealand. They had three children and he died in 1903, Emily returned to England and married Charles Knight, and died in Blackburn.
Charles Lavater Cawkwell Tait (1848-1891) was another to be associated with the Railway Industry. After marrying Hannah Walker Moore in Whitehaven in 1871, he became manager of the East Midlands Railway Company and settled at the Cow and Hare in Fakenham before becoming a railway traffic manager in Liverpool and dying in 1891 in Birkenhead.
Finally the youngest Tait, Arthur Christopher (1850-1892) emigrated to Buenos Aires where he married Rudecinda Fonda and became a merchant. He had six children, two of which returned to England and were to die in their great great grandmother, Jane Danson’s home of Bolton Le Sands.
Mortimer Tait and his second wife, Mary Danson, did not have any children.
We remember Mortimer Tait these days in Heaton Mersey in Tait Mews, where Tait’s Buildings once were, where he once housed his apprentices for the bleachworks.
Alfred Orrell was a whirlwind of a man. By 23 he was an Alderman of Stockport, and three years later, mayor. He owned the largest mill in Stockport in 1842 at 27 and was the third largest manufacturer in the town in 1847, at 28 he was living at West Bank, but was dead at a very young 33.
Alfred was born to Ralph Orrell and Mary Roebuck. The Orrells were a long established family who inherited Turton Tower in Bolton via the marriage of William Orrell to Elizabeth de Torboc. The Torbocs had held the property since 1212 by virtue of the Lord of the Manor of Manchester.
On inheriting the property the Orrells built the pele like structure, not as protection from border raids, but apparently more to protect them from the Torboc family. The Orrells sold the tower to Humphrey Cheetham in 1628 because of mounting debt. However, they lived there until 1647. This was during the English civil war. The Orrells were Royalists, the Cheethams Cromwellians. The Orrells shared the residence with Cromwell’s troops during that time.
Ralph Orrell (1790-1837) built Travis Brook Mill, Heaton Norris in 1834, itself a mammoth undertaking – 6 storeys high, 280 feet (85m) high, designed to house over 150,000 spindles. It employed 1,264 hands.
Ralph married Mary Roebuck at the Collegiate Church in Manchester in 1814 and they had three children together, Alfred, Mary Sophia (1818-1838) and Jane Elizabeth (1820-1865). Mary Roebuck died in 1823 and he married Mary Pickin in 1825 in Bowdon. They had one more child, Mary (1826-1860)
Ralph Orrell died in April 1837 in Stockport, aged 46. Mary Pickin survived him and lived comfortably as an Annnuitant at Heath House, Cheadle Bulkeley then Bowdon, dying in December 1878.
Alfred Orrell was born on 10 February 1815 in London, he was christened on 19 March 1815 at the High Street Presbyterian Chapel in Stockport. By the age of 16 he was working in his father’s mill.
As well as business, he became active in local politics, joining the Stockport Anti Corn Law league in 1838, the same year as he became an Alderman. He became mayor in 1842 when Cephas Howard was unable to stand because he did not accept the nomination in time. He stood down as mayor , succeeded by Cephas Howard in 1843, and held a grand banquet at West Bank to celebrate his year in office.
The family were living at Heath House in Cheadle Bulkeley but when John Stanway Jackson put West Bank up for sale in 1842 he moved in. Around the same time he commissioned the building of a property on the site of the Cheadle Grove Printing works, which he called the Grove.
Alfred was inducted as a freemason in 1843, at the first ever meeting of the Stockport Lodge.
In business he suffered a minor setback in 1843 when he lost some bales of cotton in a major fire at Nightingales Warehouse, Zara Street in Manchester. However, contrary to some reports he was a relatively liberal mill owner. He organised and paid for his 1,264 employees by chartered train to Alderley Edge.
The millworkers set out on 21st June 1844 from Travis Mill at 1:30pm in procession to Heaton Norris Station, accompanied by two brass bands, where 25 carriages awaited them for their journey. The party took 30lbs (14 kg) of tea with them and each hand was given a bun weighing 1 lb (500g). At Alderley there was dancing and fiddle playing. At the end of the day, at Alderley station, the oldest employee, one Joseph Potts addressed his employer thanking him on behalf of all present for his kindness and liberality, and wishing him a long and happy life. The following year his workforce presented him with a silver salver to express their gratitude to him, and in 1846 he treated 300 inmates of the Stockport Workhouse to a Christmas dinner of Roast Beef, Plum Pudding and Ale.
In 1844 he was listed as a director of The Chester, Stockport and Manchester Railway. The size of his business empire can be seen from this article from the Manchester Courier of 25 March 1847, apart from James Marshall and sons, his consumption dwarfs nearly everyone else.
By 1847 he is being mooted as the MP for Stockport. On the 6 October that year he married Mary Louisa Broadhurst, the daughter of Daniel Broadhurst and Sarah Tootal.
One of Daniel and Sarah’s other children, Henry Tootal Broadhurst (1822-1896), founded Tootal, Broadhurst and Lee which became the Tootal textile dynasty. Another child, Charles Edward Broadhurst (1826-1905) was recognised in 2009 as one of Western Australia’s 100 most influential citizens – this despite him retiring to Bournemouth in Dorset… Perhaps Western Australia is still sparsely populated.
Mary and Alfred went to honeymoon at Royal Leamington Spa, and their attendance was reported in the Court Circular of the Morning Post.
Alfred bought a property in Grasmere around 1845, which he called The Cottage. Perhaps that is a rather modest name for it, it is offered for sale in May 1849 as a picturesque lake villa, occupying 12 acres at the foot of Silver Howe. The bijou property boasted 2 drawing rooms, a dining room and ten bedrooms, as well as accommodation for servants, stabling for horses, and a lodge house at the entrance. Befitting a modern man, it was only eight miles distant from the railway, which was easily accessible by mail coach and other conveyance from Grasmere. Manchester was a mere four hours ride away.
Having looked at the OS map for 1859, and making note of the description of the property in the advertisement, I believe The Cottage still exists, and we can gain some idea of the scale of the house. It isn’t small.
Alfred and Mary moved into The Grove in 1846, and he continued his good deeds, hosting Sunday School parties in the grounds,
They had a child, Mary who was born in late 1848 but his happiness was not to last, and he died on 8 January 1849, having only briefly known his daughter.
The Grove was put up for auction to be bought and substantially altered by James Watts who made his own stamp on the design and renamed the property Abney Hall.
Mary moved to Ardwick Place in Manchester, and then the Oaks in Rusholme, before remarrying to Sir Joseph Whitworth , the engineer, philanthropist and inventor of the Whitworth screw. She died aged 68 at Standcliffe Hall, in Darley Dale, Derbyshire.
Alfred and Mary’s daughter, Mary married James Samuel Higginbottam (1839-1897) a Glasgow cotton spinner, albeit with Stockport roots, his grandfather hailing from there. Mary died in 1889 and was buried alongside her mother in Darley Dale. Again she was only young, 41.
Before we go, we will briefly look at what happened to Ralph Orrell’s other children. Mary Sophia Orrell was born in London in 1818, and died young as did her brother, aged 20 in Stockport.
Jane Elizabeth Orrell was born on 25 September 1820 on Lancashire Hill in Stockport, she married Sir William Cunliffe Brooks, a Northern Circuit Barrister on 27 July 1842.
Sir William became sole partner in Cunliffe Brooks & Co, Bankers of Manchester. You may not know the bank, it was established in 1792 in Blackburn, but you will know the building which was commissioned as the Manchester Branch, it became one of the ten provincial banks who worked with the Bank of England and merged with Lloyds in 1900
Jane too died young, aged 45 in Manchester.
Mary Orrell, born 1826, married John Marshall Brooks, the cousin of Sir William Brooks. John Marshall Brooks was a cotton spinner and lived at Cranshaw Hall in Lancashire.
She too had a short life, dying aged 34 on 8 May 1860.
All the Orrell line died young. Alfred achieved so much in his life, and perhaps would have done much more had he lived. He may have collaborated in Tootals and made it even bigger than it became, he would likely have been an MP, and perhaps climbed further in politics. Sir James Watts was 51 when he was in a position to own Abney Hall, Alfred Orrell barely 30. Stockport lost a lot of potential when Alfred Orrell passed away.
Of the houses we have looked at so far, West Bank, I knew. Well at least as a child my house stood on Lodge Court, and my bedroom window looked out on West Bank. Little remains of it now, only the wall which divided it from Heaton Lodge, and the entrance gates.
It’s also a request I received from a reader to cover the house. As we progress through the inhabitants we shall see what a close knit community Heaton Mersey was as we meet people who were related to the residents of Priestnall Hey and Heaton Lodge.
The house was probably built in the 1830s it does not appear on the 1819 map of Manchester, and John Stanway Jackson is living there in 1841, but is still at Canal Street in Stockport in 1829. Its name probably derives from the fact that it was west of the forgotten hamlet of Bank, which was where Bank Hall was built (it is on the north bank of the Mersey).
Confusingly, there is not only a West Bank, but a West Bank House next door. This makes research a little difficult as the names seem to be used interchangeably on census returns. West Bank House appears around 1851, it is not there for the 1841 census, nor is it on the 1848 OS map.
With those caveats in place, let’s meet John Stanway Jackson. The Jackson family hailed from Middlewich in Cheshire. James Jackson (1730-1783) was married to Martha Pickmore. James was part owner of local salt mines, a publican who ran the Queens Head, a butcher and the owner of several properties. His son, John Jackson (1770-1840) married Mary Stanway in 1796 and they settled in Gatley, having eight children.
The eldest of those was John Stanway Jackson, born on 1 September 1797 in Lancashire. He married Rebecca Maurice in 1821, but she died shortly after that, and on 27 May 1824 he married Harriet Sing in Bridgenorth, and they went to live on Canal Street in Stockport.
The family appear on the 1841 census as living at West Bank.
John was an accountant by profession, and in that role by 1834 he was the registered officer of the Stockport Banking Company, and the General Manager of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking company. In 1839 there is a whiff of scandal around his resignation from that bank after it suffered heavy losses. Whatever happened, the directors of the Manchester and Liverpool felt that the welfare of the bank might possibly be promoted by his retirement. He strenously denied any responsiblity for these losses in a letter to the Atlas on 7 December 1839.
It is somewhat fortunate for him then that whilst on a summer visit to the Isle of Man he bought a ticket in the lottery for the disposal of the Earl of Athol’s estate at Falcon Cliff near Conchan. If we are to be believed, he bought the ticket,numbered lot 1, placed it in his wallet, and thought no more about it until his father was reading the newspaper and remarked he wished he had bought the winning ticket. At which John remembered he had bought the ticket, and sent his father to Conchan to take possession of the property.
Somewhat incredibly, by coincidence or not, the second and third prizes were difficult to dispose of, until a number of wealthy gentlemen happened upon buying a bulk of tickets, making a 50% profit on their investment.
Whether John was extremely lucky (with lotteries) unlucky (with banking) comes again into play when in 1840, he is called to give evidence in the trial of John Kenyon Winterbottom (twice mayor of Stockport solicitor and banker) who presented a forged bill of Exchange to The Bank Of Stockport, managed by one John Stanway Jackson, to the value of £5,000 (2019 £500,000) and promptly absconded to France. He was appreheded and tried in 1844, where he was sentenced to transportation for life.
A scandal erupted over this sentence – Winterbottom had many pleas for clemency submitted on his behalf (including the one from the widow he swindled) but despite this he ended up in Tasmania, where diligent work and good conduct allowed him to obtain the rarity of a ticket to leave. He took employment in Hobart as a town clerk, but once more questions were raised about his conduct in 1867 when it transpired he had sold council debentures for £400 and retained the proceeds. Two further years in jail ensued.
It probably was a good time for John to start afresh somewhere, and as luck would have it he had just won an estate in the Isle of Man, and The City of Glasgow Banking Company were in the process of establishing the Bank of Mona, therefore he moved to the Isle and commissioned John Robinson, a local architect to design and build Falcon Cliff.
Consequently in July 1842 the Stockport Advertiser carries this sale notice
We will return to Auburn Street later. In 1842 John Stanway Jackson severed his last link with Stockport, by dissolving the business partnership he had with Samuel Stocks, Bleachers and Dyers of Heaton Mersey and moved to the Isle of Man. He departed for the Isle of Man to run the Bank Of Mona.
John and Harriet lived at Falcon Cliff until 1855 when they moved into the newly constructed Bank of Mona building on Prospect Hill nearby. By 1871 he is retired and is living on Windsor Terrace in Lezayre on the Isle of Man. John died on 13 October 1881 at his son’s house in Glasgow and was buried at Kirk Malew on the Isle of Man, Harriet had died a few years earlier on 29 December 1878.
Falcon Cliff passed into private hands, then became a hotel, and is now an office complex. John Stanway Jackson’s affairs were complex even in death, and it was not until 1895 that parts were sold, and up to 1899 there were claims in court to settle debts owed on legacies.
Returning to John Jackson and Mary Stanway, their second child was James Pickmore Jackson (1798-1852), who was a wool dealer and furrier on Auburn Street, Manchester, and became bankrupt in 1840, the same place John Stanway Jackson gave as a business address when selling West Bank.
Samuel Somerville Jackson was born in 1802 and married Mary Ann Girling in 1822 and emigrated to the Australian colonies where he became a farmer and innkeeper in Macclesfield, South Australia. He died there at his farm, Woodside in October 1854. For the curious, Macclesfield was named for the Earl of Macclesfield (whose estate was in Oxfordshire) by the Davenport brothers of London, so has few if any connections to the Macclesfield and Davenports we would expect.
Peter Jackson (1804-1848) was a furrier in business with his brother James, and died in Gloucestershire, like James he had moved there to carry on in the wool business after bankruptcy.
William (1805-1806) and Joseph Jackson (1807-1808) both died in infancy.
Mary Elizabeth Jackson (1800-1871) married Arthur Levett, a solicitor, and they moved to Kingston Upon Hull and Martha Evans Jackson (1812-1901) married John Wilton Shelly, a Russia Merchant, and went to live in Great Yarmouth, before moving to Plymouth, where they both died.
The children of John Stanway Jackson and Harriet Sing had varied futures. Stewart Levett Jackson (1838-1881) became a manager in the Bank Of Mona like his father, and died in Knutsford in 1881.
Louisa Sing Jackson (1825-1917) married James MacLehose, a Glasgow publisher. They begat a family of academics and book publishers, Sophia Harriet MacLehose wrote The Last Days Of The French Monarchy, and Tales from Spenser , chosen from the Faerie Queen. Louisa Sing MacLehose published an academic translation of Vasari, the painter and architect of Arezzo. Norman MacMillan MacLehose became a surgeon ,and James John Maclehose married Mary MacMillan, the daughter of Alexander MacMillan, and niece of Daniel Macmillan, the founders of MacMillan publishing, and the first cousin, once removed of Harold MacMillan (1894-1986), Prime Minister from 1957 to 1963 and Earl of Stockton.
Harriett Millington Jackson (1826-1871) married an artist Jasper John Capper, who had exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibition, although his marriage may have shaken him to his responsibilities as he takes a job as an engineer shortly after that. Their first son, John Brainerd Capper became assistant editor for The Times as well as an author – 25 Trifles in Verse and Stories of Naples and the Comorra, (Professor) Stuart Henbest Capper became Professor of Architecture at McGill University and subsequently Manchester University and (Professor) David Sing Capper, Professor of Engineering at King’s College, London.
Charles Edwin Jackson (born 1829) married Phebe Baker, and became a farmer, and possibly around 1861 he sold up and retired to Canada, where he died in 1906 in British Columbia.
Frederick Stanway Jackson (1832-1886) was born in Chesham Buckinghamshire (quite why Harriet was there I have not discovered). He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a banker, but also like John Stanway Jackson an accountant, and practiced as a public accountant, auditor and insurance agent, as well as owning some ships. He married Mary Bradley in Edinburgh in 1855 and they settled on Marian Terrace in Conchan (now Onchan).
Frederick died of typhoid on 25 November 1886, whilst in England recovering from another ailment in England. If scandal had overshadowed his father’s life, Frederick appears to have made amends for it. The obituary published for him is over effusive in its praise, calling him the most estimable and upright of our citizens and a sterling man, his word was as good as his bond. They conjured Solomon and Wordsworth to highlight his qualities, concluding that whilst we all must at one point die, few such removals have come home with such unavailing regret as that of the deceased. The one hope for humanity they could pinpoint was that his son had stepped in to carry on the family business (Isle of Man Times 4 December 1886).
Sophia Hopkins Jackson, born 1835, died aged 9 in 1845, and John Hall Jackson (1839-1917) married Maria Macnamara and emigrated to the USA and settled in California.
Next time at West Bank we will meet the man who commissioned Abney Hall in Cheadle.
Whilst the inhabitants of Bank Hall after the Philips family appear to be tenants, the property is up for sale in 1889 and our next resident owns the property. He also gives it away, but let’s begin at the beginning.
A property for sale advertisement in the Manchester Courier on 25 May describes Bank Hall as having 20 acres of land… standing on high ground having a southerly aspect and commanding extensive views, it contains entrance hall, three entertaining rooms, billiard room, schoolroom, with numerous bedrooms and good offices. The gardens including large tennis ground, greenhouses, wineries and productive kitchen garden, are well laid out and contain some fine timber. There are commodious stables , also shippon [cattle shed] and piggeries.
A buyer is found, and that is William Briggs of Blackley and his wife, Alice. William was the son of James Briggs and Betty Howarth. James was born in 1804 in Prestwich and married Betty on 31 December 1826.
In 1830 he founded James Briggs and Sons in Blackley, a Chemical manufacturing concern. In 1841 he is living in Briggs’ Buildings in Blackley and describes himself as a Designer, by 1851 this has become an Engraver to a Calico Printer, in 1869 a Manufacturer and in 1890 Graces Guide says that James Briggs and Sons are refiners and manufactures of lubricants and heavy chemicals, at Lion Oil Works, Blackley, Manchester 9.
James Briggs, The Lion Works, and an Advertisement for James Briggs & Sons
James retired from the business in 1871 and died around a year later. He and Betty had six children.
Details are sketchy for John and Robert Briggs, born around 1826 and 1827 respectively, but they appear to have followed their father’s business interests, Robert marrying Ellen Coupe in 1851.
The third son, Thomas, was born in 1830. He was educated at Middleton Grammar School and married Alice Mills, he set up as a smallware manufacturer in Blackley, along with his brother James Henry Briggs (born 1840) and progressed to the manufacture of canvases and tarpaulins for Railway Carriages in his Salford mills.
Thomas became Lord Mayor of Manchester serving two terms between 1899 and 1901. He died in Bowden in 1911 and was buried at St Peter in Blackley.
Sarah Jane Briggs (1837 – 1899) married William Dean Barlow Antrobus, who was at the time Governor of the Manchester Reformatory, but later diversified into the management of a paper mill in Derbyshire.
Finally we come to William Briggs, who was born on 23 April 1845 in Blackley. In 1861 he is a Mercantile Clerk, working for his father, marrying Alice Yates in 1869 at St Peter, Blackley.
Alice was the daughter of William a Cabinet Maker, who lived at the Woodlands in Timperley.
He soon sets up on his own, and by 1871 he is working as a Woolen Salesman and buyer, and he rapidly becomes more successful, styling himself a Fancy Goods Manufacturer in 1891, and living, like his predecessor at Bank Hall, Sir Joseph Leigh, at Brinnington Hall before he follows Sir Joseph’s example and moves next to Bank Hall.
William specialised in the sale of haberdashery and wools, he traded under the Penelope brand which he registered in 1886.
William Briggs patented the process for transferring embroidery designs from paper to fabric. Whilst he did not sell directly to the public, he set up a shop Mrs Bidder – Art Needlework Specialist in St Anne’s Passage, Manchester, near to his Cannon Street offices. Here you could buy all Briggs merchandise, or obtain free advice. A mail order service also operated from here.
In 1896 William published a book for schoolchildren, to teach them basic needlework, from the rather grandly titled, Manchester School of Needlework, Cannon Street (ie his registered office).
William was an active supporter of our troops, and he organised tobacco and magazines to be sent to troops in the Boer War. This carried over after his death in associations with HM forces where during the second world war Penelope kits were sold to soldiers in hospital, and marketed as an occupational therapy, and means of relaxation for those at sea, or on isolated stations.
His wife Alice also worked hard for charitable causes and organised appeals for the Mauldeth Hospital. Both William and Alice also attended social functions, including of course the first At Home of the Lord and Lady Mayoress (his brother Thomas and sister in law Alice) in 1899. Alice, William’s wife, wore striped purple and a black and lace vest for that occasion.
William and Alice lived at Bank Hall until 1912, celebrating their silver wedding there in 1894.
In 1912 he presented Bank Hall to the Corporation of Manchester. He wrote to the Lord Mayor of Manchester from his new residence, Lowther House in Hale on 15 May:
My Lord Mayor…. it was brough to my notice that the education authorities in my native city of Manchester are badly in want of a home to which they can ask the magistrates to send children under the powers of the Children’s Act, who are found begging, wandering or have no means of subsistence; children whose parents have entirely neglected their welfare.
In such homes I understand young girls of from 10 to 16.. are taught the various occupations of domestic service, and are trained to fulfil their duties effectively in after life. To meet this want I have pleasure in offering … to the city as a gift, my house, Bank Hall, Heaton Mersey … and the estate comprising about 15 1/2 acres of freehold land…..
I should be pleased if the house could be named the “Alice Briggs Home for Girls”.
We now have the Barnes Industrial School , Alice Briggs Home and for a while West Bank in Heaton Mersey which were used for children’s homes.
William died on 19 January 1922 at Friars Croft in Hale. Alice died sometime after this. In his will he left a fortune of £120,122, equivalent to £6.9m in 2019, no mean feat given that he had already given away Bank Hall.
William and Alice had four children. Frank Reginald Briggs worked in his father’s business and married Mary Horridge in 1913. He died in 1927 in Chapel En Le Frith.
Their second child, William James Harold Briggs (1870-1945) married Jessie May Veevers at St John , Heaton Mersey on 2 August 1893. Between 1918 and 1923 he was MP for Blackley, and then became MD of William Briggs & Co. He died on 6 May 1945 at Broadford, on Knapp Hill Road in Bagshot.
Charles Arthur Briggs married Irene Cronshaw in 1899, and also worked in his father’s business. He died in 1922 in hospital in Ober, Engadin, Sanmadan.
Finally , Alice Lilian Briggs (1879-1967) married Sir Jocelyn Field Thorpe CBE KB in 1902. Sir Jocelyn was a research chemist and became Emeritus Professor of Organic Chemistry. They lived at The White House, on Cooden Beach in Bexhill. Thorpe was famous for his discovery of the Thorpe reaction, which is apparently self-condensation of aliphatic nitriles catalysed by base to form enamines. So that’s cleared that mystery up. Dame Alice died in Lewes in 1967.
James Briggs & Sons is still trading, it moved from Blackley to Oldham and specialised in paints, lubricants and polishes for the automotive, industrial and hygiene sectors. It is still cutting edge and developing graphene based products.
The Penelope brand is still associated with quality needlework transfers and Needlewoman and Needlecraft journals were published by William Briggs and Co.
In our next instalment we will look at the Alice Briggs Home, and its fate.
Joseph Leigh lived at Bank Hall between 1886 and 1889. He was born in Ashton Under Lyne in 1841, the son of Thomas Baines Leigh and Mary Ann Linney. Thomas Leigh founded a cotton spinners in Stockport in 1851 at Bee Hive and Portwood Mills.
Joseph was educated at Stockport Grammar and at a young age he entered the family firm to help out because of his father’s failing health. Thomas Leigh died in 1857 and soon after Joseph was in overall charge of the firm.
On 30 December 1868 he married Alice Ann Adamson, the daughter of Daniel Adamson and Mary Pickard. Daniel was to become a close business associate of Joseph.
Daniel Adamson was born to Daniel Adamson and Nanny Gibson, the keepers of the Grey Horse Inn in Shildon, on 30 April 1820 near Durham. He was educated at the Edward Walton Quaker school and in May 1833 he started an apprenticeship at the Stockton and Darlington Railway. He and Mary Pickard married in 1845 at Aysgarth, at which time he describes himself as a farmer. However, a few years later he is working at the Hackworth Engineering works. The works were sold on the death of Timothy Hackworth in 1850, so Daniel moved to Stockport, where he became manager of the Heaton Foundry on Gordon Street in Heaton Norris. At this time Daniel and Mary are living on New Road in Heaton Norris.
Daniel was both successful and precocious, he left the Heaton Foundry to set up the Newton Moor Iron works and they move to Back Lane in Newton, near Ashton Under Lyne.
By 1871 he has a workforce of 250 men, and describes himself as a civil and mechanical engineer, and in 1872 he relocated to Johnsonrook Road. He had patents on 19 improvements to boiler design and used steel when other manufacturers would not.
His wealth at this point allowed him to move to the Towers in Didsbury. Pevsner calls The Towers the finest of all the Manchester Mansions, and it has a detailed history of its own, but that is for another time. It is still standing, and well worth the trip across the border into Didsbury.
On 27 June 1882 a number of people, including Joseph Leigh and Daniel Adamson (a director of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce by then) met at the Towers and agreed in principle to proceed with the building of a Manchester Ship Canal.
Daniel was elected chairman of the committee to promote the Ship Canal, and in the face of intense opposition from both the railway companies and the Port Of Liverpool – who would lose out on their monopolies, the Ship Canal Act was finally passed on 6 August 1885
The Shipping and Mercantile Gazette of 4 November 1882 sets out the economic case for the canal
While all (are) anxious to support the great railway interests which had done so much for them, yet they could not hide the fact that if they were to keep abreast of the times, they must possess means for carrying produce in bulk at the very lowest rates…. an Atlantic steamer carried 1,000 tons 1,000 miles at less cost than the railway for 100 miles, they had no fear the canal paying, if only it were made
On 8 August 1885 Daniel returned from Parliament to Didsbury to an enthusiastic reception at the Towers. It was arranged by the people of the village, bunting was festooned across the streets, an arch had been set up above the station holding a portrait of Daniel, with the inscription, A Well Deserved Success on one side, and Lancashire’s Future Greatness on the other. The Newton factory band played him in with See The Conquering Hero Comes the procession proceeded to the Didsbury Hotel, where a lorry was standing carrying a boat, The Daniel Adamson crewed by a boy and a girl in nautical clothing.
Daniel then proceeded to a rousing speech which drove the crowd wild. The Manchester Courier reported on 10 August 1885
I am rejoiced at this reception, because it will tell our Liverpool friends that it is an untruth to say that Lancashire is weary of the fight. If I may judge by what I see this day, Lancashire is only just beginning to fight. We have fought one of the greatest battles ever contested (Cheers) and won that battle in spite of the opposition of strong and powerful corporations. – a struggle prolonged for a period beyond all precedent (Cheers) Our opponents said that we could not find the money, but if they might judge from the demonstration the money could be found three times over (Cheers) Our Liverpool friends might at once take notice that the sixteen millions sterling which they have invested is in some danger. (Laughter). When we have got the money we want to construct the canal with, we should invite our Liverpool friends to sell to the Ship Canal Company their docks and warehouses. The property in which sixteen millions has been invested at Liverpool is not after the passing of the Canal Bill worth more than eight millions, and I shall not be prepared to offer more for it.
I think that day it was Manchester 4 Liverpool 0. In the Towers a celebration meal was held.
A prospectus was issued for 725,000 £10 shares at par in 1886 with Daniel as Chair of the Ship Canal Company and Joseph Leigh as a director.
Unfortunately failing health meant that by 1887 Daniel had to retire and was unable to cut the first sod, nor did he see the canal completed. Daniel Adamson died on 13 January 1890 at the Towers, and is buried at Southern Cemetery.
A blue plaque can be seen on the Towers, commemorating him
However, Joseph Leigh did see the canal completed. Let’s return to him. Joseph continued as a director and promoter of the Ship Canal Company, and was present at Eastham Ferry on 11 November 1887 when the first sod was cut for the Canal.
After his marriage to Alice, they first lived at Beech Villa on Glossop Road in Marple, before moving to Brinnington Hall around 1881 and living at Bank Hall approximately 1886-1889
Between 1884 and 1889 he served as Mayor of Stockport for a record four times. He was an enthusiastic promoter of education and founded Stockport Technical School in 1889, which later became Stockport College. He was also a staunch supporter of Stockport Sunday School, attending first for lessons then rising to teacher and eventually Trustee.
In 1889 Joseph showed his textiles at the Paris Exhibition and so impressed were the French that they made him a Chevalier of the Legion Of Honour. The French did like him, as he visited Paris again in 1903 and was awarded this silver plaque by Monsieur Lansessan, the editor of Le Siecle.
Alice also had shipping connections, and in June 1889 she launched the ship Alice A Leigh at Whitehaven, which was capable of reaching Australia in 100 days, at the astonishing speed of 330 miles per day.
By 1891 he and Alice have moved from Bank Hall to Tabley House, in Tabley Park near Knutsford.
In 1892 he was elected Liberal MP for Stockport, and represented the seat between 1892 and 1895 during which time he was knighted for Services to the Ship Canal, and was present in May 1894 when Queen Victoria opened the Canal. He continued with local causes, becoming Chairman of Stockport Technical School in 1897.
He successfully contested the 1900 election to stand once more as Liberal MP for Stockport until 1906, and with his wealth moves into the Towers in 1908, as well as having a seaside residence at 26, North Promenade, St Anne’s On Sea.
In 1908 he is Deputy Chairman of Williams Deacon’s Bank, and President of the Manchester Board of Trade, he continued his association with the Ship Canal, entertaining journalists in September of that year, who were amazed to see the large steamships.. and smaller craft which seemed to cling like tentacles to every nook of the roomy docks. (the most) interesting item of the three hours voyage was the inspection of the large shed at number 8 dock, where were stored countless bunches of bananas. Elders and Fyffe Limited now have a fleet of steamers constantly bringing this nutritious food from various parts of the tropics to the United Kingdom, and it is interesting to note that Manchester… supplies all the territory North of Birmingham … a cargo is the equivalent of about five hundred railway truck loads.. The party on its return to Trafford Wharf was conveyed by special electric cars ….to the Midland Hotel where Luncheon was served.
Sadly, nineteen days after that outing Joseph died at The Towers on 22 September 1908. T & J Leigh continued trading until 1960, however cotton was still spun at the mill until 1969.
Dame Alice moved to Yorkshire after Joseph’s death but continued visiting St Anne’s dying at Duneside, on the South Promenade in 1927. She was buried at All Saint’s in Marple.
Alice and Joseph had seven children between them.
Frederick Adamson Leigh was born in 1872 at Tabley Hall, and died young at Lancaster in 1898.
Thomas Herbert Leigh was born in Marple in October 1873, in 1894 he became a lieutenant in the 7th Lancashire, Manchester Artillery, and commanded an Artillery brigade during the First World War. He served in the Home Guard in World War II , dying on 19 January 1942, at Holly Rough in Chelwood Gate, Essex.
Alice Mary Leigh was born in 1875 in Marple, she lived with her mother after Joseph’s death, taking the waters with her in Harrogate in 1911. During the First War she earned Distinguished Conduct Medals as a member of the Canteen Worker Corps and the French Red Cross. She died in 1958 in Cheshire.
Joseph Egerton Leigh (1876-1959) followed his father into the cotton industry, becoming a cotton spinner in Whitby. He served in the First War as Captain and Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He married Kathleen Doris Padfield in 1920 in Jesmond, ending his days in Torquay.
Oswald Bowes Leigh was born in 1877 and was still living with his mother in 1911 aged 34. He married Beatrice Garvey in 1937 in Kirton Lindsay, she was a Vicar’s daughter and aged 37 , 23 years his junior. He died soon after in Brigg, Lincolnshire in October 1941, aged 64.
Adamson Lennox Leigh (1878-1968) married Enid Kathleen Elwis in Balby near Doncaster in 1924, In 1928 he founded Healy Mouldings, a Bakelite moulder in the East Midlands, retiring in 1963. and dying in Sutton Coldfield aged 90 on 20 July 1968.
Finally Kathleen Marguerite Leigh (1880-1920) married Percy Augustus Moore in 1902 in Manchester.
Joseph Leigh has one monument still in Stockport, Joseph Leigh House on Wellington Street, built in 1881, now used for affordable housing. It was built as the Reform club, with funds supplied by Joseph Leigh and was once Peaches Nightclub. At least he is remembered, though few will know why.