Historic Families of Lancashire & Cheshire
Alphabetical Listing - continued...
family had many holdings in Lancashire, and Sir George Middleton (died
1673), was the owner of Leighton Hall in the 17th century, at which
time he was Sheriff of Lancaster - his arms hang at Lancaster Castle.
As a mark of the family status, the Chantry Chapel of St Mary's in
St Oswald Parish Church in Warton is dedicated to the Middleton family.
They acquired the chapel along with Leighton Hall, by the marriage
of Alyson Croft with Geoffrey Middleton in 1438 and the Middleton
coat-of-arms is carved on a seat near the lectern.
After the end of the Civil Wars, heavy punitive fines were levied
on the Middleton estates, as, in line with many Roman Catholic Lancastrian
landowners, Sir George was a staunch royalist supporter. Sadly, while
away fighting battles, his tenants stole many of his possessions and
along with post-war seizures, confiscation and fines, typical of Cromwellian
vengeance, very little of their once extensive and wealthy estates
remained intact. Consequently, at Leighton Hall only a small portion
of the kitchens survive from the time of the Middleton family tenancy.
It was not surprising then, that Edward Middleton from another branch
of the family, emigrated to the United States in the 1600's, and his
grandson, Henry Middleton, was elected on 22nd October 1774 as the
President of the First Continental Congress, (the precursor of the
There is a plaque dedicated to Sir George Middleton in the church
at Warton, where George Washington's family is buried. The district
of Middleton In Lancaster is almost certainly named after the family.
are indebted to Judith Middleton-DeFord for suggesting and supplying
much of the information on the Middleton Family
The Molyneux family were one of the oldest families
in the original county of Lancashire. Normans by descent, they were
initially to be granted the Manor of Little Crosby, which had been
held by one Uctred until 1066. By 1212 it was owned by Richard de
Molyneux of Sefton. The family later also owned most of the districts
of Speke and Rainhill. Some time around 1250 Little Crosby left the
family ownership by marriage through the female line, passing on to
the Blundell family.
However, the Molyneux family gradually grew in power, wealth and influence,
and in 1446 King Henry IV granted Croxteth Park, an area measuring
over 900 acres, to Richard Molyneux.
In 1483 Thomas Molyneux was appointed Constable of Liverpool Castle
and Steward of West Derby and Salford, and Master Forester of Simonswood,
Toxteth and Croxteth. The Molyneux family were made Earls of Sefton
In 1575 they had begun building Croxteth Hall as their new country
seat but the last of the buildings was only completed in 1902. Surrounding
the hall was farmland as well as extensive lands for hunting and shooting.
The Hall is located just two miles from Aintree Racecourse, which
the Molyneux family had owned and developed, and until relatively
modern times Croxteth Hall was busy with numerous house guests during
Grand National week. At other times throughout the year the Park was
a venue for pheasant shoots and riding. It was not uncommon for important
society figures and even royalty to stay for country house parties
at Croxteth, particularly during the Edwardian era.
Excessive gambling debts forced the Seftons to sell off land and since
the last Sefton Lord of the Manor died without heirs in 1972, the
estate and Hall has been maintained and administered by Liverpool
City Council. Nowadays the rooms are open to the public, showing life
both above and below stairs. The Hall is also a popular venue for
concerts and art exhibitions.
Ancoats Hall in Manchester was the principal seat
of the Mosleys (sometimes Moseleys). It was here that the family sheltered
the young Pretender on his way to the invasion of Scotland in 1745.
The Mosleys were prosperous merchants, and Sir
Nicholas Mosley was the first member of the family to be Lord
of the Manor of Manchester, and also one-time Lord Mayor of London.
He and his brother had set up a business in woollen manufacture at
a time when Manchester had a virtual monopoly on that industry. His
business expanded to such a degree that Nicholas moved to London to
handle that end of the trade and to negotiate many profitable export
agreements for his company. He was also appointed as Alderman to several
London wards, he was made Lord Mayor of the city in 1599. He was a
great success in this role, carrying it out with enthusiasm and dedication,
being instrumental in raising soldiers and money to finance the building
of warships for the navy of Queen Elizabeth I to defend England against
the Spanish Armada. He also arranged to supply troops, ordnance and
provisions to Ireland in support of the campaign by Lord Essex. For
this he was eventually knighted, aged 72 years, by the Queen. Sir
Nicholas also built Hough End Hall in Manchester.
The Norris Family of Speke are thought to have
Saxon origins dating well before the Norman Invasion of 1066. There
are many variations in the spelling of the Norris family name, including
Norrys, Norries, Noris, Norreys, Noreis, Noriss, Norrish, Norie, Norrie,
Norse and Norice. The name is probably derived from the Old English/Scandinavian
words "nord" (north) and "hus" (house), indicating
that the original family probably lived in a house at the north end
of the settlement. Historically speaking, the Norris family is first
known at Speke, near Liverpool in 1314, when the region still lay
within the county of Lancashire.
It was William Norris II who began building the present day Speke
Hall over 450 years ago, with funds accrued as the spoils of war.
William also began the long family tradition of standing as Member
of Parliament for Liverpool.
Isobel Norris was the first wife of Robert Charnock who rebuilt Astley
Hall, and promoted the building of the first school in Chorley in
Like many old Lancashire families, the Norrises were staunch Roman
Catholics - until in 1651, that is, when Thomas Norris became the
first head of the family to convert to Protestantism. Nevertheless
he was regarded as a Royalist during the Civil Wars which resulted
in the punitive confiscation of the Norris Estates by Parliament -
these were not regained until 1662.
The Norrises held the Speke estates, on and off, until the mid-18th
century, by which time it amounted to around 2,400 acres. In or around
1795 the family vacated the house and moved to live in a fashionable
district of London, and the house gradually fell into disuse and ruin.
The 20th century saw the virtual obliteration of all traces of the
Norris estate, though several restorations to Speke Hall itself were
undertaken by later owners and residents during the 19th century.
Standing as it does today at the edge of a modern industrial estate,
bordering on the runway of Liverpool Airport, it is an unlikely setting
for a fine restored Tudor house, now in the (hopefully) safekeeping
of the National Trust.
The Ormerod family name seems to have been derived
from an old Norse name of "Ormr" meaning possibly a serpent,
snake or dragon, and originated in or around Cliviger, a medieval
East Lancashire hamlet in the parish of Whalley originally known as
'Ormes Royd' or Ormes Rod. A 'royd' or 'rod' had several meanings
in early medieval times, including a small valley, a clearing, wood
or cultivated area, so the surname could translate variously as "dragon
wood", "snake valley", "serpent field" or
any other possible combination. Alternatively, however, and more probably,
it may simply mean "Orme's Clearing" as Orme is known to
have had extensive land holdings in the region, and clearing woodland
to create arable farmland was a widespread and common practice.
The Domesday Book of 1086, for example, witnesses that significant
areas of land in Northern England were owned by a Gamel and Orm his
son; they were probably Christian Vikings who had settled in the Lancashire-Yorkshire
borders area, and by the middle of the 11th century Orm was already
a man of considerable wealth and importance.
According to 'Baines' History of Lancashire' the Ormerods of Ormerod
went on to hold the Manor of Ormerod from 1311 until 1793, when Charlotte
Ann Ormerod, conveyed the estate to her husband, Colonel Hargreaves
and the lands passed out of the family name.
The earliest recorded Ormerod is one Matthew de Homerodes, whose name
appears on documents sometime around 1270. Matthew had, possibly,
three sons: Gilbert, Adam and Tille (though some sources have Gilbert
and Tille as the same person). It is through them that all Ormerods
are believed to be descended. Though the first recorded spelling of
the present family name is probably that of Peter Ormerod, dated 30th
January 1563, who was married to Agnes Pearson at Burnley.
Another branch of the Ormerods lived in Rossendale, at the now abandoned
settlement of Gambleside. Spelling variations of this family name
include Ormerod, Omerod, Omrod and Ormrod amongst others. It is still
a widespread surname throughout Lancashire and West Yorkshire with
significant family descendants in Australia and the Americas.
The Osbaldeston family of Lancashire traces its
roots back to 1063 AD, during the reign of Edward the Confessor, but
it is believed to be even older. Several alternative forms of the
name have appeared over the years, including 'Osbaldtun', 'Osbaldstun',
'Osberston', 'Osbaldton' and 'Osbaston' although American branches
have also been shortened to simply 'Deston' . All are derived from
old Saxon, which means 'the settlement or homestead possessed by Osbald
The family lands centred around the fertile River Ribble which included
Osbaldeston, (the village which still bears the family name), Balderstone,
Salesbury, Walton-le-Dale, Clayton-le-Dale, Samlesbury and Billington.
The Domesday Survey of 1086 shows Osbaldeston and Balderstone as one
of the twenty eight manors held in 1066 by a freeman who was probably
the ancestor of Ailsi, son of Hugo de Osbaldeston. The family has
a long and distinguished history in the county with extensive land
holdings, status and power base in the region. For example, in 1387
Thomas Osbaldeston inherited the manor and estate of Cuerdale, near
Walton-le-Dale. Then, prior to the Battle of Agincourt, in the 15th
century, Sir John Osbaldeston was knighted by King Henry V, and became
the lord of Chadlington Manor in Oxfordshire.
Further, in keeping with many noble families, intermarriage with other
county families of rank was common, and extended their fortunes even
further, with the Molyneux, Radcliffes, Duttons and Darwyns, among
others, married into the family.
Osbaldeston Hall, built by Sir Edward Osbaldeston towards the end
of the reign of James I, was the ancient family seat, until the last
family resident left it sometime around 1750. Extensive renovation
of the Hall had been carried out in 1593 by John Osbaldeston. By the
early 20th century, Osbaldeston estates, together with those of the
Oxendale family, totalling about 935 acres in all, were in the possession
of the Dugdale family, and thereafter sold on further by auction.
The Lavery Family owned the Hall from 1942 until it passed into the
possession of the Inghams who carried out renovation and modernisation
to the buildings.
In 1991 the Hall was purchased by the Walmsleys, so that Osbaldeston
Hall is still a significant and recognised beautiful country house
in the region. It reputedly has two ghosts, the so-called 'Red Monk'
and a 'Blue Lady'. Alongside is Osbaldeston Hall Farm, now used as
a local riding school.
There are several branches of the family name including the main families
of Osbaldeston of Osbaldeston; Oxendale in Osbaldeston; Sunderland
in Balderstone; Walton-le-Dale as well as other branches at Hunmanby
and Hutton Buscel, East and North Yorkshire; Chadlington and Burford,
Oxfordshire and many minor branches, such those in Blackburn, Preston
and Disley in the High Peak District of Derbyshire.
We are indebted to Peter Osbaldeston
for providing all the details of his family history, of which this
is a very short version.
The Parkers of Browsholme are descended from Peter
de Alcancotes, who held the Manor of Alkincoats in Colne, Lancashire,
in the mid-13th Century when they gained the title of 'park-keepers'
(or 'parkers') to John of Gaunt in the Hodder Valley. They kept Radholme
Laund in the Forest of Bowland
Browsholme Hall, (pronounced 'Brewsom'), the historic house dating
back to an earlier house before 1507, is the ancestral home of the
Parker Family, Bowbearers of the Forest of Bowland, Lancashire, who
have lived there since the present house was built in the early 16th
century. Browsholme is located in the Forest of Bowland about 4 miles
northwest of Clitheroe in Lancashire, though before 1975 it was in
the West Riding of Yorkshire. The original house was built by Edmund
Parker who obtained a new lease from the crown in 1507. Thomas Parker,
Bowbearer of the Forest of Bowland, purchased the freehold of Browsholme
from the Crown in 1603 and proceeded to embellish the house. Through
intermarriage, the Parkers joined other powerful families in Cheshire,
Lancashire and Westmorland. John Parker (1755-1797) was one of the
two MPs for Clitheroe. Thomas Lister Parker (1779-1858), became a
patron to the great English landscape painter, William Turner in 1798.
In 1957 Colonel Robert Parker opened Browsholme Hall to the public.
The branch of the Parkers now living at Browsholme is most remarkable
for having produced distinguished judges in three successive generations.
The present day owners, Robert and Amanda Parker still live at Browsholme.
Branches of the Parkers are scattered throughout England, in America
There are several known spellings of this family
name including Panketh, Penketh, Pankethman, Panketman, Pankettman,
Penkethman, and others. An old regional surname derived from the village
and former ancient manor of Penketh in Lancashire. The family lived
in Penketh Hall from around 1216 to 1624 and one of the first mentions
of the family name was William de Penketh who was witness to a charter
in 1240. In 1280 Gilbert and Robert Penketh became joint lords of
the Manor of Penketh. Gilbert had two sons, Henry and Richard and
through them the inheritance went to seven daughters, or grand-daughters,
in 1325. The eldest, Margery, married Richard de Ashton and their
descendants retained the lordship of the manor, under the surname
Ashton, down to the seventeenth century.
In 1643 during the Civil Wars, Royalist John Ashton was killed at
Bolton, and Thomas succeeded to the manor.
Another Thomas Penketh was to become a famous Scottish doctor and
a monk of the Warrington Monastery - he is mentioned by Shakespeare
in his "Richard III" historical tragedy.
In 1656, one John Penketh was ordained a Catholic priest and in 1663
became a Jesuit, and was sent on a mission to England. In 1678 being
implicated in a political plot, he was betrayed, tried at the Lancaster
assizes, and condemned to death. However, he was reprieved, but spent
many years in prison before his release on the accession of King James
II. The manor of Penketh came into the possession of the Atherton
family, and has descended as Great Sankey to Lord Lilford. (See also
The Pilkington Family
have their roots were in the Manor of Pilkington, near Whitefield in
Bury, and their ancestry goes back to Alexander (sometimes known as
Leonard) de Pilkington who fought at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
It was upon his marriage that Whitefield and Underworth (later called
Unsworth) became part of the Pilkington Estate. The districts of Stand
and Outwood, old parts of Whitefield, remained solely in the hands of
the Pilkington family until the fifteenth century when the entire Manor
passed to the Derby family - probably forfeited because of the Pilkington
family allegiance to the defeated and deposed King Richard III.
Robert Pilkington fought and died at the Battle of Agincourt and Sir
Thomas Pilkington fought at the Battle of Bosworth and was killed at
the Battle of Stoke in 1487.
In the early 16th century, James Pilkington, the third son of Richard
Pilkington of Rivington Hall, became the first Protestant Bishop of
Durham and thereafter the family gained lands all over England. His
brother Leonard Pilkington founded a Grammar School in the 1500s at
Rivington, near Horwich, with the permission of Queen Elizabeth II.
Nearer to the present day William Windle Pilkington, who was born at
Windle Hall, St Helens in Lancashire on 26th September 1839, the eldest
son of Richard Pilkington, was to become one of the founders of the
famous Pilkington Glass works in St Helens. He was married to Ann Evans,
who was the daughter of Richard Evans, proprietor of the Haydock Collieries.
The Pollitt family traces its ancestry back to Norman
times, through various different spellings of the name, (including Pollit,
Paulet and Pawlet). The earliest known existence of the name in England
is Henricus filius Ypoliti, in Yorkshire in 1171.
Early records show that in the early 13th century Herriard House in
Hampshire had passed by marriage into the Paulet family, and that by
1493 large tracts of land around Basingstoke had come into the possession
of John Paulet and his family - in 1551 he was created Marquess of Winchester.
Basing House, near Basingstoke in Hampshire, was the palace of William
Paulet, Marquess of Winchester, a powerful and wealthy Tudor courtier.
It was built on the site of a Norman castle and is reckoned to have
been the largest private residence in England according to some authorities.
Henry VIII and Philip of Spain are said to have dined there. In the
early 18th century Harry Paulet (1691-1759) was created 4th Duke of
Branches of the family are found scattered around the country, as far
apart as Devon, Somerset, Jersey, Staffordshire and Cheshire, with a
branch certainly moving to the North West Region, notably around Huddersfield
(Yorkshire) and Wigan, and in the 1830s a contingent of the Pollitt
(sometimes Pollett) family was living in the Cheadle and Heaton Norris
areas of Stockport. Slater's Directory of Salford & Manchester of
1848 shows the company of Pollett & Taylor, (Dressmakers and Patchworkers)
existed in Oak Street in Manchester, and a Joseph Pollitt is listed
in the Nobility, Gentry, Clergy section of the same publication.
Sarah and James Pollitt ran the 'Black Boy' Public House on Bridge Street
in Stockport from 1795 to 1824, on the site of the town's first Sunday
School, (which started in an upstairs room above the pub). John Pollitt
and family ran 'The Grapes' in Stockport in the 1800's.
More recently, Pollitts owned and ran a large local vegetable concern
on the main A6, and George Pollitt was a council member for a time on
Stockport Council. He also owned and ran cinemas in Manchester and Stockport,
and another section of the family had a sweet factory in Denton, Tameside.
Female members of the family have married sons of Robinsons (the local
brewery family) and into the Stokeport family.