(1527-1612) Sir Nicholas Mosley was a prosperous merchant, the first of the Mosley 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. His reputation for shrewd business sense and skilful negotiation grew very quickly, and after being 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 for men and supplies to be transported to Ireland in support of the campaign by Lord Essex. For his work in this field he was knighted, aged 72 years, by the Queen. In the meantime, the Manor of Manchester, hitherto belonging to the La Warre family, was purchased by Mosley for the sum of �3,500. Mosley built himself a fine house, Hough End Hall, at Withington in south Manchester, which he furnished largely with gifts from the Queen, including most of the oak furniture. He retired in 1602, though as Lord of the Manor, he presided over local courts. During this time he changed his name from Moseley to Mosley, dropping the ‘e’, so that his name could be embedded into his family motto : “mos legem regit” (custom regulates law). He died in 1612 at the ripe old age of 85 years, and is buried in Didsbury churchyard. His tomb still exists there, showing effigies of himself kneeling in civic robes, as well as figures of his first and second wives. The Mosley family retained Lordship of the Manor of Manchester until 1846 when all the rights were sold for �200,000 by Sir Oswald Mosley to the Corporation of Manchester, which had been newly created in 1838.
7th Earl of Derby
(1607-1651) James Stanley, born on the 31st of January 1607 at Knowsley, was known as Lord Strange until he inherited the family title to become the 7th Earl of Derby. His family was powerful and influential in Lancashire, though not well liked for their tough autocratic ways. In 1625 Lord Strange was Member of Parliament for Liverpool, and later was made Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire and Cheshire. A solid Royalist throughout the Civil War, his troops seized many northern towns for the Royalist cause, though Manchester was one of the few to resist capture. An attempt was made to seize an arms storehouse in the city by Strange’s forces in 1642, but the local population rose up and fended off the attack. At that time Manchester was staunchly Puritan and supported the Parliamentarian forces of Cromwell. During this raid, the first death of the Civil War occurred – one Richard Percival, a local weaver. Later, in September that year, a second massive attack was made by Strange and 4,000 troops on Manchester, but by this time being more organised and prepared, the Manchester defenders, led by Colonel John Rosworm, beat off the assault and within the month the Cavalier forces lifted the siege and withdrew in disarray. Manchester remained one of England’s fiercest Parliamentary enclaves, and was never taken by Royalist forces. Further northern skirmishes ensued, while in the meantime Strange had become Earl of Derby, and defeat followed upon defeat for his forces, until in 1644 he and his family were forced to flee to the Isle of Man. His wife Charlotte stayed behind to hold the family home at Lathom, and did so through 2 sieges in 1644 and 1645, it being one of the few remaining Royalist strongholds at this late stage in the war. Lathom finally fell to the Parliamentarians in December 1645, by which time Charlotte had secretly fled to the Isle of Man to join her husband. Stanley returned to the English mainland in 1651 to help King Charles II, fighting at Wigan and at Worcester. During this time he was captured and court-marshalled on the grounds of High Treason. He was sentenced to death at Bolton and was executed on 15th October 1651, outside the “Man & Scythe” pub, where a plaque still marks the spot. His body was buried at Ormskirk, where he later became known as “the martyr Earl of Derby” . See also Borough of Wigan.
(1622-1656) Charles Worsley was born the eldest son of Ralph Worsley in 1622 at Platt Hall in Rusholme, Manchester (now the Gallery of Costume). In keeping with prevailing Manchester politics, he was a keen Parliamentarian in the Civil War era, joining the army on that side when quite a young man. In 1644, aged just 22 years, he was promoted to captain, and in 1650 he became Lieutenant-Colonel of the Lancashire Regiment, when he immediately set off with troops to support Cromwell in Scotland, though he arrived too late for the battle. Worsley was a favourite of Cromwell, who appointed him to his own Regiment of Foot, to be stationed in London in 1652. Worsley came to national attention when, on the 20th April 1653, acting under direct orders from Cromwell, he led 300 armed men to dissolve the Long Parliament, cleared the chamber and ejected the Speaker of the House, William Lenthall. Worsley confiscated the mace, which he kept safe until the formation of the new “Barebones” parliament on 8th July of that year, when he was requested to return it to the House. Cromwell nominated Worsley as prospective Member of Parliament for Manchester, its first parliamentary representation, in September 1654, and further extended Worsley’s powers within the year to create him Major General, with jurisdiction over most of Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire, where his powers were second only to Cromwell himself. His task was to root out dissenters, to levy taxes on Royalists and to maintain the peace. This enormous and responsible task, which he carried out conscientiously took a severe toll on his health, and is regarded as having hastened a premature death. He was precise and diligent in the execution of his duties as he saw them, kicking corrupt officials out of office, sacking incompetent constables, schoolmasters and ministers of religion – as well as evicting unscrupulous brewers and publicans who watered down their ales! Worsley died shortly after a meeting of his Major Generals summoned by Cromwell in London, after being ill for some time. He was given full military honours and buried in King Henry VII’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey. A statue of Worsley can be found on the facade of Manchester Town Hall.
<< Robert Owen Statue at the corner of Balloon Street and Corporation Street
(1771-1858) Robert Owen was born in 1771 in Newtown, Montgomeryshire in Wales, the son of a saddler and ironmonger. He has been called the “Father of British Socialism”, though his early life was occupied with being a successful emerging industrialist. He stood out as an intelligent boy, and by the age of 7 was made an “usher” at school, being given responsibility in teaching some of his fellow pupils. He left school and home aged 10 to work in Stamford and London, and in Manchester he worked as an apprentice shopboy in a drapery shop in St Ann’s Square. In the 12 years that he lived in Manchester, Owen went on to amass a personal fortune through the manufacture of spinning machines for the booming local cotton and textiles industry. At the age of 20 he was given the job of manager to one of Manchester’s largest factories, in Piccadilly, and in less than 3 years had formed his own partnership. His last business enterprise in Manchester was the Chorlton Twist Company. Owen lived in Chorlton Hall, and in “Greenheys”, the former home of Thomas De Quincey, the author. He was a member of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, and it was during various meetings and discussions here, that he met Thomas Percival, a major influence on Owen’s thinking, who was instrumental in the formulation of his ideas on social reform. He tried to implement a more humane social order and to improve the working conditions of his own employees, though he was always constrained by business partners who were more interested in profits than working conditions. Later, after he moved to Glasgow in Scotland he opened new mills, and had the opportunity to bring some of his theories into play. He formed a worker’s community based on humane principles, which included a free school for worker’s children. They were taught such revolutionary subjects as dancing and singing! In 1815 Owen published plans for setting up what he called “Villages of Co-operation”, to support the poor with government funds, where they could establish work and crafts to be eventually self-supporting. His ideas were very much ahead of their time, and inevitably his ideas were rarely supported or implemented as he had planned. Nevertheless, he continued to write and publish books and articles expounding his new “socialist” policies, which bore fruit much later when they were to form the basis of Socialism and the Co-operative Movement in Britain.