Manchester During the Civil War




Old Historic Families of North-West England (6)

Alphabetical Listing - continued....

Kirkbys of Kirkby-Ireleth, Ulverston

The Kirkby family have long been associated with the village of Kirkby-Ireleth, a township and a parish in Ulverston in Cumbria, (formerly in Lancashire).
The pedigree of the Kirkby family can be traced to Orm son of Ailward or Eiward, whom Albert Grelley, (then Lord of Manchester), granted a knighthood. Several generations saw Roger, his son William, and subsequently his son (also called Roger) coming into ownership of lands at Kirby-Ireleth. By the end of the 12th century one Roger de Kirkby was in residence at Kirkby Hall (once known as Cross House or Kirkby Cross). This was to be the seat of the Kirkby family for at least ten generations - it contains some curious ancient decorations; and what remains of it is now a farm house.
The name Kirkby is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 and the Parish Church, dedicated to St Cuthbert, which stands in the hamlet of Beckside, six miles NW of Ulverston may have been founded by Alexander de Kirkby, who lived during the reign of King Henry III. Later additions to the nave and chancel were made by successive Kirkbys up to the time of Henry VIII. Later generations of the family bequeathed monies or set up trusts to support the poor and they were notable as local benefactors, as well as acquiring large areas of land in the Dalton and Furness region. The arms of the Kirkby family are to be found in this church as well as other oak carvings of the arms, which formerly adorned the banqueting hall of Kirkby Hall, that were subsequently removed to Holker Hall.
In the early 18th century the Kirby estate fell on bad times when in 1719 Colonel Roger Kirkby mortgaged the estate to a banker, representing the Duchess of Buckingham. When Roger later became insolvent, and the manor fell into the possession of the Duchess in part payment of her claim and was later sold on to the Cavendish family, the present owner being the Duke of Devonshire.

The De Lacy Family of Clitheroe & Blackburn

The ancient Lancashire town of Clitheroe was originally given to Roger de Poitou by William the Conqueror following his support at the Invasion of 1066. Poitou in turn passed it on to the de Lacy Family in 1121; they held it for almost 200 years and around 1186 they built Clitheroe Castle, possibly the oldest surviving building in Lancashire. They also held Burnley and 'Blackburnshire' in mediaeval times - part of the Burnley Borough Council Coat of Arms still bears the so-called Lacy Knot in recognition of this.
Alternative spellings include Laci, Lacy, and Lascy. The name almost certainly derives from Gautier (or Walter) de Lacy, a hero of the Battle of Hastings, and his brother Ilbert, who were from the town of Lassy in the Calvados region of Normandy.
Ilbert was rewarded for his part in the Invasion with a gift of the whole district of Blackburnshire, with 170 lordships, of which 150 were in Yorkshire. He also held the Manor of Rochdale, the town and castle of Pontefract, and extensive lands in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. Large areas around Pendle and Rossendale were for many centuries the private hunting grounds of the de Lacy Family.
The Yorkshire branch of the family took the name 'de Pontefract', while others were Earls of Lincoln.
Walter de Lacy seems also to have acquired lands in Shropshire, from where he is linked with the earliest developments around Ludlow Castle - the hamlet of Stanton Lacy (originally the Saxon hamlet of 'Stantun') in Ludlow was renamed after him. From around 1086 Walter's sons, Roger and Hugh, built the earliest surviving parts of the Castle and the de Lacy family retained the Lordship of Ludlow until the end of the 13th century.
Many succeeding generations married into aristocracy, particularly female members of the family. Roger de Lacy was constable of Chester between 1193 and 1211 .

The Langleys of Agecroft

Agecroft (also known as 'Achecroft' or 'Edgecroft') was the manor house of Pendleburg (Pendlebury - now part of Salford) being the residence of the Prestwich family until Johanna de Prestwich married Roger de Langley - subsequently the Langley's, formerly of Middleton, are recorded as residing at Agecroft Hall in 1389. In that year they also acquired Drinkwater Park, which was farmed as part of the medieval estate of Robert de Prestwich. The Langleys married well and propitiously, having sons and daughters wed into the de Trafford family, the Hollands, and the Asshetons. These connections and their considerable land holdings in the region made them a powerful local family for several centuries. Sometime around 1340 Richard de Langley married Joanna, sole heiress of the Prestwich family, and subsequently the Prestwich and Heaton estates came into the possession of the Langleys.
By the 14th century the family seat was in Middleton. In 1385 Sir Robert Langley was appointed as Rector of Radcliffe and the following year saw him appointed Dean of York. This appointment was blocked by Pope Boniface IX, because of Langley's part in the deposition and murder of King Richard. On his death the larger portion of Sir Robert's manor and estates went to his elder daughter Anne which subsequently became part of the Reddish estates through marriage, and his extensive land holdings in Polefield (in Unsworth, now part of Bury Metropolitan Borough) passed to his other daughter Dorothy. Thus by the estates passing to the female descendants of the line, the Langleys were subsumed into other great families through marriage.
The Langley family history had already achieved notoriety by the early 15th century, when in October 1404, Charles Langley was elected Bishop of London and Archbishop of York, despite opposition from Rome - the Pope went on to excommunicate Langley as well as the King, who had promoted him.
The family name is still honoured locally by having several street named after them as well as the large housing estate of Langley in Middleton (now part of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale).

The Lathoms of Knowsley

The Lathoms (also sometimes Latham) are an old Lancashire family dating back to the Norman Invasion. An early account tells of Robert, son of Henry de Lathom, who died in 1198, holding the manor of Woolfall, near Huyton, (now in Merseyside). Records show the construction of the original house on the site of Lathom Hall in the 12th century as principal residence of the Lathom family. The Hall eventually passed, sometime during the 14th century, into the Stanley family by the marriage of Isabel de Lathom with Sir John Stanley, who became Earl of Derby following the battle of Bosworth in 1485.
In 1496 the house was substantially remodelled and fortified in preparation for a visit by the Earl's father-in-law, King Henry VII. Sir John Stanley, who was apparently in great favour with the King, and one of the most powerful of the feudal lords, received a Charter of Free Warren in 1386 in the manors of Lathom, Knowsley, Childwall, Roby and Anlasargh. The Lathoms were responsible for establishing several churches and villages in the area, including at Burscough and Roby.
Burcough Priory, a small abbey near Ormskirk, was built in 1190 by Henry de Lathom and in 1189 Robert de Lathom became the first Lord of the Manor. Later, in the 16th century, it was demolished under Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. The Stanleys being staunch Catholics, like so many other Lancashire families, in 1644, during the English Civil Wars, Parliamentarian troops besieged Lathom House.
Part of the Lathom land holdings included Roby, where, in 1304 another Robert de Lathom was granted a Royal Charter to hold a market and fair. These only survived for a short time and by the mid-1320s the market had moved to nearby Prescot. In 1372 there was an unsuccessful attempt to establish Roby as a borough. There being no surviving male heirs, all Lathom holdings eventually all passed by marriage into the Stanley and Harrington families.

Lawton Family of Church Lawton

The history of the Lawton family began when lands were given to Hugh de Mara, Lord of the Manor of Chester (sometimes known as Hugh Lupus or "Hugh the Wolf") by his brother-in-law, William the Conqueror in gratitude for his support in the 1066 Invasion of England. Here he built a Norman Church to replace the Saxon one - hence the Church Lawton connection. The first record of the Lawton name, however, occurs with Adam de Lauton, who lived during the reigns of King John and King Henry III. Legend has it that he rescued the Earl of Chester from an attack by a wounded wolf and in gratitude was granted a thousand acres of land stretching from Congleton to Sandbach. The bleeding wolf can still be seen in the arms of the Lawton family, and is also commemorated in the nearby pub, "The Bleeding Wolf" at Scholar Green. The thousand acre estate became the Parish of Lauton, (later Church Lawton), and is recorded in the Domesday Survey of 1086.
During the Reformation period Squire William Lawton bought the church patronage from Henry VIII.
Ownership of the estate has considerably diminished over the subsequent centuries, but is still in the possession of the Lawton family, though members now live as far afield as Kent, America and Spain. Lawton Hall, the country seat, built in the 17th century, still stands despite part being destroyed by a fire in 1997.
The last squire to live there left during the First World War when for a time it was used as a hospital, and during the Second World War it was used by the local fire service. Between the wars it also served as a hotel and a school for the disabled. In 1952 it was leased by Mr Harrison and became a private school which ran until it closed in 1986. For several years thereafter, the property was uninhabited and became derelict and several disputes over ownership placed the property in limbo. By the mid-1990s the Hall had fallen victim to vandalism and theft, with most of its valuable fittings being torn out or wrecked. In more recent times extensive efforts have been (and are being made) to restore and refurbish Lawton Hall. For an update on the building, see the Lawton Family Website at

Lees Family of Lees, Delph & Werneth

Evidently an old established Lancashire family, though there is very little information forthcoming about Lees family early history. It is known that sometime before 1547, the Lees family acquired a farmstead built in a 'slack' , (local dialect for a 'swampy' close), and this eventually became known as Slack Hall. In 1660, James Lees and his son Edmund, a blacksmith, rebuilt Slack Hall Farm. James and his wife initials are carved on the door lintel.
More recent Lees family history is much fuller, as they emerged during the second half of the 18th century as major industrialists in mining, cotton, and steel manufacturing in the region. Consequently they acquired great wealth and land - partly through endeavour and part through wise marriages.
James Lees of Clarksfield was a particularly successful businessman and industrialist and gradually took over ownership of most local pits, founded the Greenbank Cotton Mills at Glodwick and acquired lands over a wide region. Other family members developed similar industrial concerns: Asa Lees founded the Soho Iron Works at Bottom of Moor and Eli Lees founded the Bedford & Hope Cotton Mills. By 1790 there were 14 Lees collieries operating in Oldham.
In their role as local philanthropists, the family also gave its name to the village of Lees, which still bears their name today. Papers dating back to the 18th century, also relate to H Lees & Sons, Steel Manufacturers of Ashton-under-Lyne; these are now kept as public records at the Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre.
In 1865, Chadderton Hall was sold to the Lees family, and after the death of Colonel Edward Brown Lees was held by his trustees; Werneth Park, (many family members lived at Werneth Grange), was presented to Oldham Town Council by the Lees family in 1836. In 1910, Dame Sarah Lees became Lady Mayor of Oldham, the first woman in England to acquire the title.

See also: The Lees & Coal Mining in Oldham

The Leghs of Adlington

Hamo de Leigh, of Norman descent, was made Lord of the Manor of High Legh, in Knutsford, Cheshire around 1215. Later the Legh (or Leigh) family resided at Adlington Hall near Macclesfield - a beautiful manor house which became home to the Legh family from 1315 when Robert de Legh and his new bride Ellen de Corona moved to live there. In 1442 Sir Piers Legh, the first occupant of Lyme Hall, fought at Agincourt and died later in the same campaign. Piers had inherited Lyme Hall and Park in Cheshire, though extensive Renaissance development and rebuilding was to be undertaken later by the family.
Lyme Hall, one of their former homes, was given to Stockport Corporation in 1947. They owned the Manor of Newton (part of the Goldborne district of Wigan) and lands in Winwick, where Legh family tombs may still be found. They also held extensive lands throughout Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire and thereby exerted powerful influences upon the local demography and economy - the origin of the title "Lyme" may indeed be as a result of their vast estate stretching as far south as Newcastle-under-Lyme near Stoke.

The Leycesters of Tabley

When Sir Nicholas Leycester married Margaret de Dutton in 1276 he acquired the township of Tabley near Knutsford in Cheshire. They had two sons; Roger and John. The fourth descendant from Sir Nicholas was John de Leycester. He erected Tabley Old Hall during the reign of Richard II. Later, Sir Peter Leycester, who was born in 1613, is said to have been the first historian in the county, having created a virtual database of the families of Cheshire. His grandson, Sir Peter Byrne, assumed the name of "Leicester" by Act of Parliament. His son, again called Peter, had the present Tabley New Hall built in 1760 to replace the old Tudor building.
Sometime in the late 18th century, Viscountess Bulkeley, Anna Dorothea Warren, (heiress to the Warren family of Poynton), left part of her estate to the 2nd Lord de Tabley, on condition that her family name was incorporated, (ie. Leicester Warren). By 1811, the Sixth Baronet, Sir George Leicester had assumed the name and arms of the Warrens, and thereafter the Tabley branch were known by the name of Leicester Warren.

The Listers of Gisburn

The first record of the Listers in the Parish of Gisburn occurs in 1312 when a member of the Listers of West Derby married Isabel de Bolton. She had been described as having descended from Leofric, King of Mercia, who had married Lady Godiva. In the Domesday Survey of 1086, the manor of Gisburn (or "Ghisebum") was held by the Abbot of Salley (Sawley) and in 1224 was repossessed by the crown. In 1613 the Manor of Gisburn came into the possession of the Lister family. Later, as a result of his having raised troops and cavalry to fight in the Napoleonic Wars in 1797, Thomas Lister was made Baron Ribblesdale of Gisburne Park, and thereafter the family name effectively changed to Ribblesdale. The first Lord Ribblesdale planted more than a million oak trees in the Ribble Valley. The fourth Lord Ribblesdale's two sons were both were killed in action, one during the Boer War in South Africa and the other in the First World War. In 1927 part of the estates were sold to pay death duties of the last Lord Ribblesdale. On the death of his two sisters in 1944 the rest of the estates were sold.

The Malbanks of Cheshire

An old family dating from the Norman Invasion, which married into the influential Vernon Family (of Haddon Hall) and who number among their descendants the de Stokeports (of Stockport) as well as the Wilbrahams and the Breretons. William Malbank was made Baron of Nantwich following the Norman conquest.
This family line then continues through to Thomas Malbon, Mayor of Congleton in the late 1600s from this date a branch of the family then moved out into Staffordshire.
An influential family in Nantwich for many years, the opening page of the very first commissioned parish register of Nantwich, begun in 1539, describes the book as representing ". ..the pairyshe of Wychemalbank " (named after the original Norman baron William Malbank).
It seems probable that the surviving Malbon family later moved into the parish of Barthomley, situated on the border of Staffordshire, though still lying within the old hundred and deanery of " Namptwich " (modern day Nantwich) at that time: the parish contained five townships, Barthomley, Alsager, Barterley, Crewe, and Haslington. There are memorials also in the local church, for the family of Malbon. Other family members moved to Cheadle and Mobberley in Staffordshire. Other variants on the original name exist, such as Malbanc, Mallbone, Milbanks, and Milbanke, and many Malbon families still exist in Cheshire around Nantwich and Malpas.
More information on the family website:

The Marsdens of Bolton

In the years following the English Civil Wars, Thomas Marsden made his personal fortune from cotton. He had raw materials brought directly from London to Bolton, where he produced yarn and woven cloth using local around Bolton. The finished materials were then resold on London markets. His keen business sense enabled Marsden, over a three-year period, to conduct more than £50,000 worth of business - at that time a small fortune. In 1670 Marsden bought Little Bolton Hall from Gilbert Ireland. The Marsden family made personal fortunes in spinning and weaving and became major employers and a powerful influence within the townships of Bolton.

The Mainwarings of Peover

The Mainwarings (pronounced "Mannering") held the manor at Peover Hall from the time of the Norman Conquest. Ranulphus, believed to be the family's ancestor came to live in Over Peover (pronounced "pee-ver"). The present Hall was built by Sir Randle Mainwaring in 1585 and had a Georgian extension built by Sir Henry Mainwaring, the last male heir of the family. In 1797 the house was purchased by Thomas Wettenhall, who took the name of Mainwaring guaranteeing that the house would continue in the family name until 1919 after which it was owned by several other unrelated families.
During its long history, the Mainwarings numbered lords and knights amongst their relatives as well as several Sheriffs of Chester and Lords of the Manor. Documents and deeds held at the John Rylands Library in Manchester show their possession of several Cheshire townships, including Allostock, Astle, Baddiley, Goostrey cum Barnshaw, Chelford, Knutsford, Nantwich, Over Peover, Great Warford, Little Warford, Waverton, Wharton, Withington and Worleston.

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This page last updated 17 Nov 11.