Manchester During the Civil War




Old Historic Families of Lancashire (4)

Alphabetical Listing - continued...

The Feilden Family of Blackburn

The Feildens are believed to have originated in Great Harwood, probably descended from Rudolf of Hapsburg and came over to England in the fifteenth century. They may well have been descended from Flemish weaver emigrés that were settling in the north of England at that time. The Feildens were great landowners in Blackburn, having bought the lordship of the manor in 1721 and their family tree includes the Asshetons, Claytons and Whittakers. Witton Park in Blackburn, some 485 acres (195 hectares) of wood and farmland, was the site of their country seat, Witton House, built in 1800 by the Fielden family, who held it until 1947. At this time Major-General Feilden sold the estate and park to Blackburn Corporation in the sum of £64,000, with some of the purchase cost provided by local benefactor Mr R E Hart, after which 400 acres of land were made available for public use. Unfortunately, having suffered the ravages of time, Witton House was demolished in 1952. However, the stables and outbuildings survived and these former stables and coach-houses were renovated in the late 1970s. They were officially opened in 1980 as the visitor centre for the country park.

The Fells of Swarthmoor

In 1586, George Fell, a lawyer and member at the landed gentry, built Swarthmoor Hall on land acquired around the time of the Percy Rebellion in 1569. Fell's son Thomas inherited the house around 1634 and brought his new wife Margaret Askew to live there. Thus he became the owner, by marriage, of Marsh Grange, his wife's family home and estate in the Furness Peninsula (now in Cumbria).
Thomas was a supporter of Oliver Cromwell and the Parliamentarian cause during the Civil War, though he disagreed with the execution of Charles I.
He managed nevertheless to hold on to his influential position and was eventually made Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. Thomas Fell served as a magistrate in Lancaster and was an MP in Cromwell's Long Parliament.

The Fodens of Cheshire

The Foden family name first appeared in Cheshire during Anglo-Saxon times, possibly originally derived from Odin (the pagan god of the Saxons) and has several alternate spellings including Fodin, Fowden, Fodon, Vodden and Voden. Later, as surnames tended to indicate place of birth, it possibly simply meant someone who came from the village of Foden, (now Foden Bank in Prestbury). By the 18th century they held significant farming lands around Astbury and Prestbury in the County of Cheshire. There were emigrations of family members to both America and Australia in the 18th and 19th centuries. The earliest record of the name appears to be one Philip Fowden, who married Katherine Broke at Prestbury Church in 1563. Shortly after, in 1568, Hugh Fowden and Mary Stubbs were also married at the same church. Foden and ERF lorries were founded by Edwin Foden (1841–1911) and other members of the Foden family in Sandbach. Neither company now remains, having been taken over and production moved elsewhere. and the former mansion home of the Foden family at Westfields was demolished to make way for a new council building, but the celebrated Foden's Brass Band, originally created for employees, is still based in Sandbach and was British Open Brass band Champions in 2008.

The Gee Family of Gee Cross

The name 'Gee' probably originated with the arrival of the Normans in England and is perhaps a corruption of the Norman surname 'Gui' or 'Guy'. According to some sources, the Gee surname cannot be traced further back than the 17th century, however, the Gee name seems to have existed in Leicestershire from 1400, Nottinghamshire from 1460, and Lincolnshire from about 1340.
It is disputed whether the village of Gee Cross, in Hyde, Greater Manchester, is named after the well-to-do Gee family, or is perhaps a corruption or abbreviation of 'Gerrard's Cross', a local stone cross which has long stood there. But it is clear, however, that the Gees held important positions in the neighbourhood from very early times and were known to be local philanthropists from the 16th century up to recent times. Later, American immigrants may have changed the name to 'Jay'.

The Gerrards of Brynne & Wigan

An ancient and powerful land-owning family in Lancashire, particularly around the districts of present-day Wigan. The name Gerrard (sometimes spelt Gerard, Garret, Garrett or Gerart) is an old Anglo-Saxon name meaning "spear carrier" and is recorded in the Doomsday book of 1086. The Fitz-Gerrards of Brynne boasted an ancient ancestry going back to the times of Alfred the Great.
DeBretts identifies the Gerrard family as deriving its origin from the same ancestor as the Duke of Leinster, the Marquess of Lansdowne, the Lords Windsor, and many others. The descendants of Gerald or Gerard, third son of Walter Fitz-Other, continued the surname of Gerard, and eventually settled at the Brynne in Lancashire. Sometime around 1250 William Gerrard inherited Brynne Hall by marriage to the daughter and sole heiress of Peter de Brynne. The family seat Brynne (Bryn) Hall dates from the fourteenth century.
Documentation shows that the family owned lands around the Winwick, Standish, Hindley and Ashton-in-Makerfield districts of Lancashire in the mid-16th century.
In 1544 Thomas Gerratt had been made Earl of Hertford at Leith in Scotland and by 1555 William Garrett had become Lord Mayor of London. Subsequent family members became Attorney General and Chancellor of Ireland.
The family name is still recorded by Gerrard's Bridge on the nearby Leeds & Liverpool Canal as well as the Gerrard Arms pub in Aspull. The Gerrard family tomb is at All Saints Church in Wigan.

The Glassbrooks of Glazebrook

The lands of Glazebrook, just under 3000 acres of historic lands once held by the Glassbrook family, lies within the County of Lancashire, six miles to the north east of Warrington. It is the most easterly township in the West Derby hundred, bordering the Salford hundred, with its southern boundary the River Mersey. This was the Earldom of the de Glasebrook family, and old Norman French family who owned it in the eleventh century - originally given by William the Conqueror to his illegitimate son Galfe. Ownership is recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086. Its existence predates the County Palatine of Lancashire, which was not created until 1297, and there are many deeds in existence related to the history and ownership of the lands.
The lands contain a railway station and the village of Glazebury, as well as the River Glazebrook, which itself runs into the Mersey. The source of the river is a lake called 'The Flash' or the 'The Glaze'.
The Glassbrook family once successfully defended the lands against the advancing Scots, whilst the Grosvenors held the west against the Welsh, and the de Trafford's the east as well as 10 other families who held the line, including the de Botteliers (Bootle).
In the 1800 survey the district was known as Glassbrook. Nowadays, the township comes under the administrative authority of the County of Cheshire. Other family name derivations include Glazebrook, Glassbrook and Glasebrook.

We are indebted to Alan Glassbrook for providing the information on the Glassbrook family.

The Grelley Family of Manchester

Appearing in the Roll of Battle Abbey (Hastings, 1066) the family name first appears as 'Greile', in Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Greslet', and in various later documents as Grelle, Gressy, Greslé, Grille, Grylle, Grelly, Grelley, Greslai, Gredle, Gredley, Gradley, Gredlai, Greidley, Gresley, and Greddle. Modern versions also include Gradwell, Gradell and Gresley.
After the Norman Invasion of 1066, the Salford Hundred, along with extensive other lands in Lancashire, (all the lands between the Rivers Ribble and Mersey), were given by William the Conqueror to one of his favourite barons, Rogier de Poitevin (also known as Roger de Pitou). These lands included several fiefdoms, the Manor of Manchester amongst them. Later, de Poitevin granted this manor, in turn, to one of his own supporters, Albert de Greslé (also known as Albert Greslet or Grelley). Grelley was a Norman knight who had taken part in the Battle of Hastings and was to become the first Baron of Manchester, and his family held the manor thereafter for the next 200 years. Peter de Gresley was patron of the rectory of Manchester in 1276. The family lived in Grelley Manor, which is now Chethams Library, located adjacent to Manchester Cathedral.
The last of the family to bear the title was Thomas Greddle, (or Grelly), the eighth Baron of Manchester, and when he died in 1347, unmarried, the vast estates of the family passed, through the marriage of his sister Johanna with John de la Warre, in to the de la Warre Family.
Later branches, notably the Gradells of Ulneswalton, in Croston were known to have settled in Clifton near Kirkham in the 18th century, and they have continued under the name Gradwell to the present day. There is also a Gresley family in Derbyshire and a Greasley family in Nottinghamshire (occasionally appears as
Gresley), but whether or not these are related is open to question and a matter for others to conclude.

We are indebted to Geoff Gradwell for providing most of the information on the Grelley family.

The Grimshaw Family of Crowtree & Sabden

For the greater part of the 19th century the Grimshaws of Crowtree were one of the most influential families in Barrowford. Records show the Grimshaw family history dating back certainly as early as 1276 when one Richard De Grymishagh held the tenement of Crowtree, near Blackburn, which he had inherited from his father Walter. One Nicholas Grimshaw of Heyhouses lived in Sabden during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The main branch of the family continued to live there latter years of the 17th century. The family had probably taken its name from the local district, originally spelt Grymishagh or Grymishaw , (meaning 'an open wood'). In the 14th century, Adam De Grimshaw had married Cicely De Clayton, and thereafter this branch of the family resided at Clayton Hall, Clayton Le Moors. The rest of the Grimshaw family lived at Sabden, which was to be their family home from around 1594 to 1800 when (another) Nicholas Grimshaw sold it.
The tragic Moorfield Pit disaster of 7th November 1883 saw 68 men and boys killed and injured, many of the Grimshaw men among them - a plaque on the A678 bridge over the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near the Moorfield Colliery site commemorates the event.

The Grosvenors of Eaton Hall

Eaton Hall in Cheshire has been the family home of the Grosvenor Family since the 15th century. Sometime during the 1440s, Raufe, second son of Sir Thomas Grosvenor of Hulme (near Northwich), married Joan of Eton (or de Eaton), the heiress to the Eton (later Eaton) Estate. By 1601 Richard Grosvenor, (who was made 1st Baronet in 1622), had already acquired lead and coal mines as well as stone quarrying interests in Denbighshire, Coleshill and Rhuddlan, Flintshire, Wales. Richard's son Roger having been killed in a duel in 1661, upon the death of Sir Richard the baronetcy went directly to his grandson Thomas (then aged 8).
The first Marquess of Westminster built Halkyn Castle in 1825. The family acquired the manor of Holywell, Fulbrook and Greenfield in 1809. A later Richard Grosvenor was created Baron Grosvenor of Eaton in 1761, and Earl Grosvenor and Viscount Belgrave in 1784. The 1st Earl's only son, Robert, succeeded to the title in 1802. In 1831 he was created Marquis of Westminster.
A later descendant, one Hugh Lupus (named after the 1st Norman Earl of Chester) succeeded as the 3rd Marquis in 1869 and was elevated to the Dukedom in 1874. Successive dukes held the estate until the present day and Eaton is still the country seat of the 6th Duke of Westminster and his family. The family still has great wealth and many holdings throughout the UK including large areas of central London and the 5 star Grosvenor Hotel & Spa in the City of Chester .

The Halsall Family of Halsall

In 1066 the township of Halsall was held by a man named Chettel. Soon after Conquest the Barony of Warrington included the northern portion of the parish of Halsall, as well as Barton and Lydiate. By 1212 Robert de Vilers was the Lord of the Manor of Halsall and the family name of 'de Halsall' seems to have been adopted sometime before 1280, when Gilbert de Halsall is a prominent figure in the region. He is recorded as having inherited a local meadow and a mill. The name survives throughout several subsequent centuries. In 1395, one Henry de Halsall, who had embraced an ecclesiastical career, was presented by his father to the rectory of Halsall, which in 1413 he exchanged for the archdeaconry of Chester. A great deal of county intermarriage followed, amongst them the Heskeths, the Molyneux of Sefton and the Stanleys of Weaver.
A prominent Halsall of the early 15th century was Sir Gilbert Halsall, who fought in the French wars and was bailiff of Evreux.
In the late 16th century, Edward Halsall was a powerful local figure in the region and held various public offices - he had founded the school at Halsall. A Henry Halsall was made a knight in Dublin on 22 July 1599 and was probably sent to prison for debt in 1631 whereupon the estates passed into ownership of Sir Charles Gerard who had married Penelope, daughter of Sir Edward Fitton of Gawsworth (near Macclesfield).

The Harrisons of Warrington

The Harrison family name has existed in Lancashire possibly from Anglo-Saxon times, well before the Norman Conquest of 1066. It occurs in many manuscripts, from time to time with various spellings, including Harryson and Harieson.
Towards the mid 1850s the family purchased Samlesbury Hall, which had been in danger of falling into dereliction, until the Harrisons saved it for the nation by investing large amounts of money into its restoration.

The Hattons of Tabley

Descended from William Fitz-Nigel, who died without male heirs, the family passed through marriage of the female side to the Duttons, Warburtons and Hattons, and possibly the Leghs and the Daniels families. All these were major ruling families of Cheshire throughout several centuries right up to modern times. The township of Tabley was held by William Fitz-Nigel in the time of William the Conqueror and is recorded as thus in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The Heatons of Deane

Sometimes spelled Heton, the first appearance of the family name is one Randle de Heaton, around 1135, of Heaton-under-the-Forest. In 1199 King John granted land to Roger de Heton around the River Lune in North Lancashire in the Manor of Heton-in-Lonsdale. Many sub-branches are followed along the way including Heatons of Heaton-under-the Forest, Heatons of London, Heatons of Billinge, Heatons - Clouch Branch and Ravenhurst Branch. The family came south to live in the parish of Deane in Bolton. The Heatons gradually enlarged its possessions over the following two centuries and their family name appears as far south as Heaton Moor, Heaton Mersey and Heaton Chapel and grew in power and influence, holding various public appointments. In the 13th century two heads of the family received knighthoods. Later, the lands was divided amongst several sons and when finally, on the death of William de Heton in 1387, most of the lands in Lancashire were inherited by his two daughters they subsequently passed out of the hands of the Heton family on their marriage, inheritance then only passing down through the male line.

Henshaw Family of Siddington

The Henshaw family are particularly numerous in North East Cheshire. Based on the hamlet of Henshaw in Siddington, the landed family have existed here since Saxon times and saw later migrations to Ireland and America. Henshaw is noted in the Domesday book as "Hofinchel". Other variant spellings found in English records are Henshawe, Henshall, Hanshaw and Hinshaw. Henshaw Hall Farm in the village of Siddington occupies a place formerly known as Henneschae ('hens' copse'). This family existed in the area from about 1250 according to some books on Cheshire history. One member was slain at the Battle of Blackwater, during the O'Neil rebellion around 1596.

The Heskeths of Rufford

The Heskeths originally acquired the Manor of Rufford through intermarriage with the Fitton Family, when in 1275 Maud Fitton married Sir Thomas Hesketh of Holmeswood, and half of Rufford came by way of a dowry Their grandson, Sir John de Hesketh, later married Alice Fitton, and thereby secured the rest of the estate and became Lord of the Manor. Heskeths had for some time lived at Martholme but eventually Rufford became the family's main home.
The Heskeths were great benefactors of the Church of St Lawrence at Great Harwood. Thomas Hesketh founded a Chantry at the Church in 1521 and bequeathed it an endowment of land. His son, (also Thomas), was knighted at the coronation of Mary Tudor in 1553. Despite being a fervent supporter of Queen Mary and himself a Roman Catholic he managed to retain some status when the Protestant Queen Elizabeth came to power in 1558 and went on to serve with distinction becoming High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1563. Subsequent generations married well into other powerful Lancastrian families, notably the Stanleys, as well being elected as Members of Parliament for Lancashire and High Sheriffs of the County. In 1593, Richard Hesketh was involved in the plot to place the 5th Earl of Derby on the throne, in succession to Elizabeth, but was betrayed and sentenced to death. Family lands in Great Harwood, Tottleworth and the house at Martholme eventually passed by marriage to the de Hoghtons.
During the early 19th century the family fortunes fared badly as new mechanisation and better transport systems hit the farming and weaving industries hard, markets fell and tenant's rents went unpaid so that in 1819 Sir Thomas Dalrymple Hesketh sold the estate to Richard Grimshaw Lomax of Clayton-le-Moors for the sum of £75,000. This sale ended all Hesketh power in Rufford, their Lordship of the Manor having lasted over 500 years. Henceforth it was Richard Lomax who would own almost the entire district having already purchased most of the reminder of the Lower Town earlier in 1772.

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This page last updated 12 Jan 12.