Thanks to everyone who has provided me with information after my request. In particular Mike Matthews at priestnall.com who provided me with information on the original title, and Neil Buckley who pointed me towards the Johnson map of 1819.
I haven’t got all the answers, and we may never find out who the Priestners /Priestnalls were but it is clear that the original name for the house was Priestnall or Priestner Hey.
Let’s look at the history of Heaton Norris, for it shows some clues. The first mention dates from 1196 when it was called Hetton. In 1212 it is part of the barony of Manchester. Albert Grelley the Younger granted the land to William Le Norreys. The manor was surrendered to the Lords of Manchester in 1280, but remained in the Grelley and Warre families until the fifteenth century when it passed to Sir James Strangeways and temporarily acquired the name Heaton Strangeways, in 1569 the manor was owned by Edward and Leonard Dacre until it was purchased by the Mosley family. In 1612 Sir Nicholas Mosley passes the manor in his will
… unto my eldest son Rowland Mosley and to the heirs male of his body, &c., the manor or lordship of Heaton Norris … which I lately purchased of the Lord Gerard
In 1750 it was sold to William Egerton of Tatton. The Tattons retained ownership through Victorian times. In 1844 Wilbraham Egerton owned more than half of the land. (1).
Of the land, the part which made the border between Didsbury and Burnage to Green End was a forested area known as Heaton Wood. Felling over the years diminished the scale of the wood, and it is only remembered to day by the trees on Heaton Mersey Common, and in the name of Parr’s Wood, which formed its southernmost extremity. (2)
Heaton Villa and Parrs Wood on the 1849 OS Map – Heaton Wood encompassed the between them and onwards to Green End
On 2 August 1696 Richard Robinson and Richard Jepson of Heaton Norris were sold:
cloese in Heaton Wood Green – Highest Preistnall Heyes (sic), Rough Priestnall Heyes and Lowest Priestnall Heyes. (3)
for a consideration of £90, with 6 /- rent to the heirs of Sir Edward Mosley. Heys as a place name suffix means hedged enclosure, which in a wood makes sense.
1848 Heaton Mersey Tithe Map
Looking at the tithe map, we can assume that Priestnall Heys is Heaton Villa, and we can see Nearer Rough and Rough Field to the top left of Priestnall Heys, and it is fair to assume that was Rough Priestnall Heys. The Priestnall Heys estate being on a hill, it is reasonable to assume one to be High and one Low.
Johnsons Map of 1819, showing Priestner Heys at the end of Dark Lane
Johnson’s 1819 Map, shows a Heaton Norris we can recognise, Green Lane is the same, School Lane is Balmoral Road, and in the 1970s the part which meets Mauldeth Road was still a dirt track, so those old enough can claim to have walked the same soil as the Jepsons.
The Land is still in possession of a Jepson in 1823, Thomas Jepson is listed as a bankrupt.
Thomas Jepson was also tenant of a house on Green Lane, along with a James Robinson which was up for sale on 26 April 1811, as reported in the Manchester Mercury three days earlier. Green Lane appears to be same as the current road in Heaton Moor.
The London Gazette of January 1824 lists Jepson as a bankrupt Common Brewer, Dealer and Chapman, (a general dealer and brewing small quanties of ale under licence).
Therefore the original name of the house was Priestner Heys, it changed with Captain John Howard to Heaton Villa, but that was only for a short while, and by 1865 it had reverted back to Priestnall Hey, as William Nelson was reported in the Manchester Courier of 19 September 1865 has having died at his residence of Priestnall Hey. Local names tend to stick, and Priestnall Heys would have been known to locals, Heaton Villa may have been considered a modern affectation. How long it had been there we don’t know, but it predates Captain Howard, and would have been in the possession of the Jepsons and Robinsons.
In 1642 a John Prisnall was one of many gentlemen of Stockport who signed the Protestation Return for Stockport. This was an oath of allegiance to live and die for the true Protestant religion, the liberties and rights of subjects and the privilege of Parliaments in effect all males over 18 years old were required to sign it, if you did not sign, it was assumed you were Catholic. Also on the list of signatories was a Thomas Priestnall, a surgeon who was mentioned by the Committee of Sequestrators (set up to confiscate the property of Royalists who had fought against Parliament.) as being a particularly skilled surgeon in curing wounded soldiers, and is noted as being paid £3 6/8d for this in their accounts. However, I can find no connections with Priestnall Heys.
There are Jepsons in Heaton Norris at the time. We find a Richard Jepson in there in 1696. Richard Jepson, 1660-1744 , married Mary Alcock, he was the great great grand grandfather of Richard Jepson, a Gentleman, living in Heaton Norris in 1831. He advertises his Country House for sale in The Manchester Guardian of May 14 1831.
Richard Jepson was born in 1787 in Heaton Norris. He was articled to Mr Hewitt of Manchester as an Attorney and was soon practising on his own account in Heaton Norris and Manchester. He was a trustee of the Tithe Barn School in 1818 and married Sophia Hall (1790-1830) on 27 January 1812 at Manchester Cathedral. Together they had four children. After Sophia’s death he married again, to Driscilla, but he died in 1834 at Heaton Norris.
Their first son was Richard Jepson, who described himself as a Gentleman, and lived at Broomfield House, on School Lane ( now Balmoral Road, see the Johnson map of 1819 above). He lived there with his sister Susan (born 1816) and brother Thomas (1820-1912). Susan also was a lady of leisure, describing herself as a Gentlewoman on the 1841 census and living on her own means. Susan married Thomas Middlete in 1855. Thomas Jepson (1820-1912) was an Attorney, like his father and married Mary Partington in 1853, they moved to Bury Old Road, where he practised. He died in Kersal.
In conclusion, we have found Jepsons in Heaton Norris in the 1820s who appear to have inherited the land of Priestnall Hey from 1696. There are two families of Jepson who are likely related, a well to do one that see themselves as Gentlemen and Gentlewomen -they prosper- and a bankrupt half, who own fields which have been handed down to them. The house was called Priestnall Hey, before it changed temporarily to Heaton Villa.
Priestnalls can be found at the same time in Stockport, and they may have owned land in Heaton Norris at some prior point, this would be possibly even before the time that the Mosleys owned the land.
Incidentally Priestnall Road followed the name of the big house at the end of it. The 1873 electoral roll shows a Henry Faulder living on Heaton Villa Road, he will be one of the first inhabitants of those houses.
Finally, even though I doubt this is one of our Priestners, I like to hope he might have been distantly related. In those days you had have someone proceed infront of those new fangled traction engines with a red flag, to warn oncoming horses. However, even then we had boy racers, imagine 13 years old and being arrested for underage flag waving.. or even speeding at the reckless speed of six mph….
Liverpool Echo 27 September 1897
(1) A History of the ancient chapels of Didsbury and Chorlton, In Manchester Parish – John Booker, 1862
(2) Remains Historical and Literary connnected with the Palatine Counties of Lancaster & Cheshire – Cheetham Society 1856
(3) Priestnall Hey title deed 1696, Manchester Central Library Archives, Renold Collection.
Copyright Allan Russell 2019