The Big Houses Of The Heatons: Highfield House – Part Two Thomas Marsland

There are at two wealthy Marsland families living in Stockport in the mid 1800s. The Marslands of Woodbank, and the Marslands of Highfield.

Whilst sharing a name, they do not appear to be related, even though they clearly knew each other and mixed in civic and business life, as well as networking at Civic functions – the Manchester Courier describes a grand fancy dress Ball in Stockport at the National School in aid of the dispensary in April 1828 – where Peter Marsland of Woodbank is dressed as one of the Knights of Windsor, and John Marsland of Highfield as an Armenian Merchant, they were accompanied by their families in similar extravagant costumes, over two hundred people attended. I have attached below the full report on the evening, so you can see how spectacular it was. The article starts at the top of column three.

Grand Ball

They lived in separate houses, the first family headed at first by Peter, and his son Henry at Woodbank house, were non conformists and worshipped at the Presbyterian Church on High Street, along with the Oldknows. These Marslands were liberals, Henry was even described as an “Ultra” Liberal.

The branch who lived at Highfield with John Marsland at the head. were High Church, they worshipped at St Mary, and were Tories.

Both families made their money out of the cotton and silk industry in Stockport.

John Marsland’s grandfather, John, was born in Cheshire, he married Rebecca Clarkson in 1773 in Kettleshulme, and they lived in Stockport, he served as Mayor in 1803, founding a dyeing business in Stockport.

His son Major Thomas Marsland was born on 13 September 1777 and married Frances Thornhill Thomson in 1795. In 1824 he was Sheriff and Mayor of Stockport and between 1832 and 1841 he served as MP for Stockport.


Major Thomas Marsland JP MP Stockport Library Services

We have met Major Marsland already here when he was attending Chester Assizes in his role of JP.

Thomas entered his father’s business, and expanded it producing red and blue dyes, then moving into Calico printing, Printed Calico cloth was popular because it was cheaper than traditional hand made woolen materials and a mass market product.

Thomas had premises on Daw Bank and Chestergate , and in 1826 when the New Road (now Wellington Road) was built , he acquired the land between his printworks and this new turnpike to build the Wellington Mill (now the Hat Works) . He went into partnership with Alexander Lingard and Richard Hole.

Having made his money he left the partnership in the mid 1830s buying Henbury Hall near Macclesfield in 1841. Unfortunately the current Henbury Hall is a 1960s faux Palladian building built by Sebastian De Ferranti, but this is how it was before it was demolished in 1957:


The Old Henbury Hall, Macclesfield from

Thomas and Frances had six children, John, Frances, Edward, Martha, Thomas and George.

John went on to live in Highfield.

John was born in 1797 in Stockport and baptised at St Mary. In 1824 he was living in Cheadle. He appears to have been something of a womaniser, making free with the women of Stockport on 12 January 1820 there is recorded in the Baptismal register of St Mary, one John Marsland Downs, the illegitimate son of John Marsland and Mary Downs. Whilst that may not be our John Marsland, his reputation was certainly not a good one as this article from the Morning Post of 28 November 1823 shows.


The poor girl was horribly murdered, and suspicion had easily fallen on Marsland, as he clearly was in the habit of meeting local women. There seems to have been a very convenient number of alibis found for him by his servants, committing Horsfield to a grisly end.

Quite soon after this Thomas married Harriet Higinbotham living first on St Petersgate, and by 1841 they are shown on the census as living in Highfield House, along with their children Frances, Catherine, Jane, Harriet and WIlliam. However, in what capacity they are living here is unclear as we saw last time that in March 1843, the contents of the house were sold on behalf of Thomas Cartwright.

Nevertheless, they are still living at Highfield in 1851, and John is still a calico printer. He is however a rich man, as he also has a house in Sidmouth, Dorset – Cotmaton House.


Cotmaton House, Sidmouth

Like his father he grew very rich. He died at Cotmaton House on 2 February 1852, and is buried at St Peter, Stockport, as with his contemporary neighbour, Roger Rowson Lingard, he has a memorial in St Mary, this time a marble stone on the wall.


St Mary Stockport memorial for John Marsland

Hariet lived a few years with her son then moved to Leamington, finally Bushey Heath, and died there on 11 July 1862, leaving £3000 (£360,000 today) in her will.

Of their children, Frances Sarah (1825-c1861) married Ellis Clowes at Manchester Cathedral in 1850 going to live in Bolton, Thomas Edmund (b 1827) and William Edward (b1839) carried on the Calico Printing business of their father, the partnership was dissolved in 1857, with Edmund taking the debts. It was around this point that perhaps Highfield was once more put up for sale as he appears to move south with his mother around then.

Catherine Marsland (1829-1850) married Frederick Michael Selwyn at St John in Heaton Mersey, and went to live in London, dying just two months later in November 1850

Jane (born 1833) married Francis Morgan of Dieppe at the Chapel of the British Ambassador in Paris and Harriet(1837-c1892) married the Reverend Edward Robinson, leading the life of a country parson’s wife on the South Coast, residing in Dover, Battle, Godstone and Brighton before dying in Hammersmith.

Copyright 2019 Allan Russell

Author: allanprussell

Big houses in the Heatons and others that take my interest.

7 thoughts on “The Big Houses Of The Heatons: Highfield House – Part Two Thomas Marsland”

  1. Allan, I have enjoyed reading your articles on the Heatons particularly Highfield as John Marsland is an ancestor of mine and I have gained more insight into their family now as a result of your research. Thank you.


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