Historic Families of Lancashire (4)
Alphabetical Listing - continued...
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.
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
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 (18411911) 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 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'.
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
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 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
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
are indebted to Alan Glassbrook for providing the information on
the Glassbrook family.
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.
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
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.
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 .
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 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
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.
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.
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
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.