The Big Houses Of The Heatons: West Bank – Part Five: John Smith Buckley

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.

Werneth Hall

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.

Ryecroft Hall

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.

Copyright 2019 Allan Russell

Author: allanprussell

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

3 thoughts on “The Big Houses Of The Heatons: West Bank – Part Five: John Smith Buckley”

  1. Hi Allan!
    Curious but do you know where the photo of the young Sarah Lees is from? Only I’m trying to write a book about her and her daughter, Marjory. But I am unable to trace its origins.
    Any aid would he fabulous!


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