John Higson.

Historical and descriptive notices of Droylsden, past and present online

. (page 13 of 15)
Online LibraryJohn HigsonHistorical and descriptive notices of Droylsden, past and present → online text (page 13 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

United Free Gardeners, Female Gardeners, Shepherds, and
Druids. Tho Droylsden Charitable Burial Society, hold at
the King's Head, was established in 1841, and numbers now
more than 3,000 members. There are burial clubs also con-
nected with the Wesleyan and Church Sunday Schools ; and
in the village is a self-supporting Board of Health.


In addition to inviting relatives and friends from a dis-
tance, at funerals it was once customary to " lathe owth'
foak ut KVt op th' loane." By that means a large con-
course was collected, and, probably on the plea that "sorrow
will have drink," they were copiously regaled with malt
liquor. The average cost of several adult interments, as
returned to a burial society eighty years ago, was
1 13s. 9Jd., disposed of in the following manner:
Washing corpse, Is.; coffin, lls.; dues, 2s. 2d. ; bread,
5s. 3d.; ale, lls. 9d. ; rum, Is.; sugar, Is.; nutmeg, 2d. ;
tobacco, 3Jd. ; and rosemary, 2d. About a dozen years
afterwards, at another interment, the expense of which was
defrayed by the township, the coffin, dues, suit, asking to
the funeral, bread and cheese, only 'amounted to 1 la. O^d ;
whilst nearly as much, 1 Os. 4d., was lavished in rum, ale,
sugar, and tobacco.

Many of the operatives support strikes, trade unions, and
other societies, for the benefit or upholding of their respective
branches of employment. A co-operative store, for the sale
of groceries and provisions unadulterated and at a cheap
scale of prices was wound up, after an existence of several
years. A branch of the Manchester and Salford Savings
Bank, in May, 1852, was begun at Openshaw, just without
the boundaries of Droylsden, which furnishes a number of
depositors and several inspectors of accounts. A penny
preliminary savings bank was established, October, 1854, in
connection with Fairfield National School, and has now
seventy-four male and forty-six female depositors.

Clothing clubs, for the benefit of the scholars, are attached
to the Church and Wesleyan Sabbath Schools. The Fair-
field and Droylsden Bible Society was formed more than a
quarter of a century ago; and auxiliary missionary and
other similar societies are associated with most of the Sun-
day schools and places of worship.

Amongst the semi-provident societies existing are money
clubs, furniture clubs, drapers' clothing clubs, and the like.
A singular club, for procuring women's stays, was estab-
lished so long ago as May, 1782, at the house of John
Ilulme. Although there are no building societies, yet a


singular and somewhat notorious scheme, called the Droyls-
den Property Division Lottery, was vigorously progressing
in May, 1859, when the Attorney-General took the matter
in hand, and caused it to be relinquished.

Questionable benefits have been derived also from im-
provident institutions, such as a loan society, raffles, trust
shops, travelling Scotchmen, and a couple of pawnshops.


In this niche, up to the present time, a few brief bio-
graphies may suffice, not so, it is hoped, in the " good
time coming."

Humphrey Chotham, whose name stands out in fore-
most relief, is briefly noticed in a previous chapter.

Charles Hindley, Esq., was born at Fail-field, June 25,
1 796, and died at Dartmouth House, Westminster, Decem-
ber 1, 1857, after representing Ashton-under-Lyne in
Parliament for more than twenty-three years. He was the
third son of Ignatius and Mary Hindley, and received the
rudiments of his education at the Moravian Academy, at
Fairfield, and afterwards at a similar establishment at Ful-
neck, near Leeds, and finally completed his studies with
the Rev. C. A. Pohlman, of Haverfordwest, South Wales.
After occupying, for several years, the position of classical
and mathematical tutor at the Moravian establishment,
Gracehill, Ireland, in February, 1819, on the death of his
brother, he undertook the management of a cotton mill, in
Dukinfield, in which he had previously been a sleeping
partner. Mr. Hindley was a steady friend and promoter of
the Short Time Bill, the Peace Society, mechanics' institu-
tions, Sunday schools, and other benevolent institutions.

John Frederic Foster, Esq., was born at Wyke, near
Halifax, in 1795. His early education was partly acquired
at Fairfield, under the Rev. John Rogers. Subsequently he
was placed in the Moravian Academy at Fulneck, and after-
wards completed his scholastic studies at Cambridge. Mr.
Foster was called to the bar in June, 1821, and subsequently
commenced practice as a barrister in Manchester, and for
some years resided in Fairfield. At that time, Mr. Foster


took an active interest in the parochial affairs of Droylsden,
and, in December, 1825, was nominated a trustee of the
Public Day School, an office which he retained till death.
In August, 1825, Mr. Foster was appointed stipendiary
magistrate for Manchester and Salford, and, in April, 1838,
to the chairmanship of the quarter sessions for the hundred
of Salford, in both of which spheres, successively, his con-
duct was exemplary, until suddenly cut off by death, on
the 9th April, 1858, at his residence at Alderley, Cheshire.

The Rev. Benjamin La Trobe, an eminent Moravian
minister, and a most excellent religious writer, esteemed by
all evangelical persuasions, took a warm interest in Fairfield.
The settlement was founded under his direction, and with
his active co-operation, as provincial or superintendent of
the congregations of the United Brethren in England. From
Fulneck he was called to London, where he died, 29th
November, 1786, aged fifty-eight years. An engraved
portrait and brief memoir are inserted in Aikin's " Man-
chester and Forty Miles Round."

The Rev. Christian Ignatius La Trobe, son of the above,
held the offices of secretary to the church and to the
missions of the brethren. In musical attainments, he was
second to none of his age in Great Britain, and, though an
amateur, maybe said to have done more than any other man
to promote the cause of sacred music in this country. His
own compositions, many of which were published, are of no
ordinary excellence. After a residence of several years, he
died at Fairfield, 6th May, 1836, aged seventy-eight, and
was buried in the graveyard adjoining. He left four sons.
Peter, the eldest, for three years had the superintendence of
the Single Brethren's House in Fairfield. He was afterwards
assistant to his father, and then succeede'd him in his offices.
John Antes is canon of Carlisle, and incumbent of St.
Thomas's, Kendal. He is the author of several excellent
works, including two volumes of poems, chiefly on sacred
subjects. Charles Joseph was educated at Fulneck, and
became a teacher in Fairfield School. Subsequently, he
travelled much on foot, and became known to the reading
public by his "Alpenstock Pedestrian and Rambler in North


America and Mexico." When Government made a grant
for educational purposes, on the emancipation of slaves in
the West "indies, he was nominated a commissioner, and
afterwards was appointed superintendent and then lieu-
tenant-governor of the colony of Victoria. Last year, for
energetic and meritorious conduct in that capacity, he was
created a Companion of the Bath. Frederick Benjamin,
the fourth son, was brought up to medicine, and practised
in the West Indies until 1841, when he died in Jamaica.

The Rev. William Wisdom Essex, bishop of the Church
of the United Brethren, was born January 6, 1795, in tho
town of Devizes. It appears from an excellent biographical
sketch (p. 33) that, in 1820, he became labourer of tho
Single Brethren at Fairneld, where, two years afterwards,
he was ordained deacon by tho late Bishop Moore, and in
1823 was called to be minister and director of the boys' and
girls' schools at Gracehill. In 1842, Mr. Essex accepted tho
office of congregational helper and director of the girls'
boarding school at Fairfleld, which position he retained
seven years. After various locations, hia death took place
May 31, 1850.

The Rev. John Rogers succeeded Mr. Essex at Fairneld.
He was subsequently advanced to the episcopate of tho
Brethren, preached his farewell address at Fairneld, Sep-
tember 19, 1858, retired from the ministry, and settled at

James Bowker was born at Fairneld, June 30, 1787, and
died on the estate October 14, 1854, after residing there tho
greater portion of his life. He was partly of Gorman
extraction, his mother, Benigna Ockershausen, being tho
daughter of a Lutheran minister. Mr. Bowker was long
employed in hand loom weaving, but during his latter years
followed chiefly twisting -in at Edge-lane Mill. He possessed
a sound judgment and powerful memory, and as a vocalist
had paid professional visits to York and other places. He
wrote an account of the early state of the cotton trade in tho
township, which appeared in tho Droyladen Literary and
Advertising Journal ; and, after considerable addition and
emendation, has been made use of in these pages.


Richard Oastler, Esq., the able advocate of " short time,"
resided for awhile in seclusion in Fairneld.


Not a single charitable bequest is to be found in exclusive
connection with Droylsden, and, even in joint participation
with other places, Humphrey Chetham's benefactions have
hitherto stood alone, the admiration of all. By his last will,
dated at Clayton, December 16, 1651, Chetham bequeathed
7,000, to be expended in purchasing estates of the clear
annual value of 420, to be employed in the founding and
endowing of a hospital for maintaining, clothing, educating,
bringing up, and apprenticing poor boys. Droylsden origin-
ally furnished three recipients, which, about 1700, were
increased to four, eighty years later to six, and some time
ago the number was further augmented to eight. After the
founder's death, two long centuries were suffered to elapse
without any monumental inscription being placed over his
remains, when a gentleman, once, as a lad, an inmate of the
hospital, who had been successful in business, erected a
chaste stone statue to his memory in the Cathedral. The
only memento of this truly local worthy to be found in
Droylsden is in the sign of a roadside public house at

The Byrons had previously been benefactors to Man-
chester Parish Church, and doubtless materially assisted in
founding the chapels at Gorton and Newton, all of which,
to some extent, proved beneficial to Droylsden. Humphrey
Chetham, also, in one of his early wills, bequeathed 500
for the maintenance of " university men" at the chapels
above named, and that will was only revoked in order to
make way for the foundation of his imperishable hospital
and library, which have rendered his name a venerated
"household word" throughout South Lancashire. The
mantle of benevolence and care for the moral and spiritual
welfare of the people appears to have descended through
successive owners of the Clayton estate ; and the present
proprietor, in addition to the erection of a pretty village
school, seems likely to realise the anticipation of the oratory's


simple bell, which, at least by its inscription, has long fore-
shadowed the time when that little house of prayer should
be followed by a substantial village church.

The late Samuel Oldham, Esq., of Oak View, Audenshaw,
left funds towards the endowment of an infirmary, when
erected in Ashton-under-Lyne, destined hereafter to benefit
the inhabitants of Droylsdeu, the whole of the township
being included within the sphere of its contemplated opera-
tions. The offertory money collected on sacramental Sun-
days in the Church, and also in the Licensed School Room
at Clayton, is dispensed in charity by the clergy. Mrs.
Benson, when resident in the neighbourhood, supported a
charity purposely for lending linen to poor married women
during their confinement. This is continued by the wife of
the rector. Robert Cuthbertson, in 1683, devised 100 to the
poor inhabitants of Salford, for which a reserved rent of 5
per annum was secured out of premises in Droylsden, to bo
distributed by the constables and churchwardens in blankets.


The Byrons probably led some of their Droylsden tenantry
and retainers to the early French wars, where they won last-
ing renown. Later on, a portion of the inhabitants seem to
have embraced the doctrines and policy of the Puritans, tho
township being slightly involved in the civil dissensions of
tho time of Charles I. At least, James Hulton and James
Jollie, two Commonwealth officers, resided within it. There
occurs also in tho Manchester constable's accounts of 1643,
a payment of " 8d. for fetching four horses from Fealsworth
and Drylsden, to carry a pack for Sir Thomas Ffarfax."

During the rebellion of 1745, the foraging parties of tho
Scotch rebels on their route towards Ashton, passed through
Little Droylsden, but did not penetrate into Droylsden
Major. Nevertheless, tho alarmed inhabitants expected
them, and Thomas Birtenshaw, of Round Oak farm, now
Fairfield, as a means of precaution, despatched his children
for safety to a friend's house in Green-lane ! He also con-
cealed a favourite pony in a sand pit, at a short distance
from his residence. The favourite, to hia horror, but happily


without any ill effect, neighed to the horses of the invaders
as they passed along the highway, at a distance of a field
or two.

Concerning the militia many incidental notices occur in
the ratebooks the first in 1768, when John Barlow, and
John Brazier, acting as substitute for Abraham Beswick,
were the militia men, on whose behalf the constable expended
two shillings, one for a cockade, and the other for drink.
Aaron Blackshaw, the following year, received three guineas
from the rates whilst serving in a similar capacity. Again,
in " three sevens" (1777), sundry militia expenses are
recorded ; and two years later the town gave a shilling and
an old gun barrel in exchange for a new truncheon.

About the close of the century, when Bonaparte threatened
the island with invasion, the inhabitants of Droylsden,
simultaneously with their neighbours, fired with patriotism,
proclaimed in their songs, that

" England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror."

Then it was that the township possessed four militia guns,
which are described as heavy, clumsy implements, with
barrels a quarter of an inch thick, and stocks apparently
sawn out of solid wood and guiltless of polish. These
muskets were stationed at frontier farms for the purpose of
protecting the village, and intended to do battle with the
French in case of invasion.

The militia system was revived, and clubs for providing
substitutes for those ballotted were instituted both at the
White Hart and the King's Head. The expenses of volun-
teering, recruiting, and the army of reserve fell heavily on
the ratepayers. The militia account in 1802-3 amounted
to over sixteen guineas ; and in the following year volun-
teering expenses were above fifteen pounds, whilst in addi-
tion the payments on behalf of the militia and army of
reserve were more than eighty-five pounds. In the year
ensuing, recruiting expenses amounted to above eleven

But military enthusiasm had spread through the country,
and volunteering became the rage of the day. Considerable


emulation in raising men sprang up between Nehemiah
Heap, of Droylsden, and "William Shawcross, of Gorton.
The latter determined " to beard the lion in his den," and
accordingly with fife and drum entered Droylsden, and beat
up for recruits in opposition to his rival. Nehemiah Heap's,
or "Th" Whitewood Soldiers," as they were dignified, met
for exercise and drill in the village school, and, in lieu of
muskets, were armed with wooden staves and brush stails !
The Misses Robinson, of the Clockhouse, made rosettes of
orange and mazarine blue, as large as butter prints, which,
with their own fair hands they conspicuously placed on the
volunteers' hats.

A few villagers, thirsting for distinction, joined the Med-
lock Vale Rifle Corps, and others sought renown by enrol-
ling in the ranks of the Newton and Failsworth Volunteer

For a series of years the ratebooks are heavily burdened
with extraneous disbursements. In 1807-8, over thirty- three
pounds was paid for militia bounties ; three years later more
than twenty-five pounds to the old and ten pounds to the
local militia, which also caused an expenditure in the next
year, and again so late as 1814. On the 8th of April in the
latter year, peace was proclaimed, and the auspicious event
was celebrated with feasting and other joyous demonstra-
tions, particularly in Fairfield, where an imposing proces-
sion, headed by a splendid new banner, passed round the
settlement. But war was soon renewed, and in the year
following the ratebooks record eight shillings paid to the
account of the local militia at Failsworth, and a like amount
expended in the purchase of four truncheons for the use of
the constables.

Descending to modern times, the liberal subscriptions to
the Patriotic Fund, in January, 1855, evince the warm
sympathy of the people for the army when its efforts are
directed in a righteous cause. The contributions in Droyls-
den alone realised 111 17s. 4d., of which sum the public
raised 43 13s. 6d.; Edge-lane Mill, 16 12s. 7d.; Fairfield
Mills, 15 16s.; Angola, 14 Os. 4d.; Victoria, 11 2s.;
and Droylsden Mills, 10 12s. lid. The announcement of



the re-establishment of peace with Russia was received with
lively emotions of joy, and the event was celebrated, on the
last day of May, 1856, with a tea party, speeches, and other
rejoicings, under the presidency of the rector, in the Queen-
street School Room.


An intelligent loyalty seems long to have pervaded the
district. The Moravians, on the 21st of March, 1789, com-
memorated by an illumination the recovery of the King
(Geo. III.) from a mental aberration.

During the French war, work was scarce and provisions
dear, flour being sixpence a pound, and potatoes a guinea per
load. Though sedition stalked through the manufacturing
districts, yet within the bosoms of many of the starving
multitude the utmost loyalty and patriotism prevailed. For
instance, " Old Jammy Grimshaw," who had woven an
entire cut whilst subsisting on three roasted potatoes and
the prospect of another, which his wife had placed on the
end of the breast beam whilst he took off his work, could
still lighten his labour with singing " Britons never, never
shall be slaves !"

Nevertheless, Droylsden evinced its desire for parlia-
mentary and political reform by furnishing its quota of
representatives in April, 1794, to the celebrated Royton
meeting, which was ruthlessly dispersed by a loyalist mob.
Samuel Shawcross, of Droylsden, contrived to escape ; but
William, his elder and less fortunate brother, was taken
prisoner to Lancaster, and did not recover his liberty until
his father had expended a large sum of money.

Passing onward to 1812, the period of the Luddite riots,
the town's authorities are discovered taking ample precau-
tions to protect life and property. On the 4th of May, thirty-
eight special constables were sworn in, and the system of
watch and ward was also introduced, the township being
patrolled during the night.

During the Chartist agitation for political reform in 1848,
considerable excitement was manifested in the village, and
its advocates met in Edward-street, in a cottage taken for


the purpose. Branches of Feargus O'Connor's Land Society
and Land and Labour Bank were also established. A year
or two ago, formidable looking pike heads were, at intervals,
disinterred in the vacant land near Halcrow-street.

Several meetings in favour of the repeal of the corn laws
were held some in the open air and others in the Queen-
street School Boom. The revocation of that impost was
celebrated in Droylsden, on August 3, 1846, with a feast and
public procession of the workpeople employed at Fairfield

Early in February of the present year, a political society
was instituted, under the appellation of "The Droylsden
and Audenshaw Auxiliary to the Lancashire Reformers'

For the purposes of county elections, Droylsden is com-
prised within the polling district of Manchester, qualifying,
in 1835, seventy-six, and at present one hundred and twenty-
six voters. On the 3rd of last May, Messrs. Cheetham and
Heywood (the hitter by his representative, J. Heywood,
Esq.), and on the following evening Messrs. Egerton and
Legh, addressed the electors and non-electors of this district
in the Droylsden Educational Institution, There is, never-
theless, an absence of virulent party feeling, and men, sepa-
rated by various diversities of political opinion, otherwise
freely mingle on the same platform and earnestly combine
for the benefit of the public at large.


The process of moss, bog, or peat formation, is thus ex-
plained. Extensive forests, covering valleys and hill sides,
are inundated, and the uprooted trees form a barrier which
prevents the entire egress of the water ; or trees, decayed with
age, or snapped asunder by the wind, fall across a sluggish
stream, and choke up the outlet. The excessive moisture kills
the surrounding timber, and either the roots loosen and the
trees sink and fall, or branch after branch drops down, the
bole ultimately yielding to the same fate. Gradually there
is formed a swamp, marsh, or morass neither land nor
water engendering, and particularly adapted for the


growth of, aquatic and semi-amphibious plants, which
flourish, decay, and, in turn, are succeeded "by others, until
a light spongy soil is produced. The flowers, T>erries, and
seeds of the plants, which include mosses, sedges, cotton,
and other grasses, are occasionally disinterred almost as
fresh as when newly fallen. Being of rapid growth, in a
generation or two, as the result has proved in old marl pits,
owing to the decay and subsidence of successive vegetation,
and the constantly increasing pressure from above, the
lower strata assumes the consistency of peat, or turf, fit for
fuel. As the vegetation accumulates and becomes more
compressed, the lower mass gradually becomes more dense
and black, constantly approximating nearer and nearer to
coal. The upper portion also gains firmness and solidity,
until it attains the characteristics of a heath, moor, or com-
mon, and affords sustenance to rushes, ferns, and heather.

Ashton Moss, recently consisting of upwards of 200 acres,
and once extending over probably three or four times that
surface, lies chiefly in Audenshaw, but partly in Droylsden.
Droylsden Moor is mentioned in 1505, and various title deeds
and evidences distinctly specify that, early in the seven-
teenth century, moss rooms, doals, or allotments on Droyls-
den Moss appertained to the several farm holdings, peat
being at that period the principal fuel in use. In fact, in-
disputable evidence remains of this boggy deposit having
once overspread a very considerable portion of the east and
south east sides of the township, doubtless joining the Open-
shaw Moss, which, though supplying fuel to the tenantry of
three or four hamlets, retained, so late as the fourteenth
century, a superficial area of one hundred Lancashire acres
in extent. This supposition is borne out by the present
appellations of fields and districts, such as Moorside, Moss-
side, Moorcroft, Madgefield (i.e. moor edge), &c. On the
premises at Fairfield Mills, whilst digging the foundations
for gas works, the workmen came upon several layers of
peat, enclosed in adventitious soil, in appearance not unlike
a dish of sandwiches.

The site of Fairfield, at the time of its purchase by the
Brethren} is said to have been wet and marshy. Lower


down, near the Copperas "Works, and also behind Annet-lane
Fold, traces of turf cutting have been distinctly found.
Bog meadows, a little further on, adjoined the Openshaw
Moss, whose confines are determined by the appellations
Moor-lane, Moorfields, &c. The ditch waters of that locality
deposit a yellowish red sediment, termed " car," a contrac-
tion of ochre. This deposit denotes the presence of carbonate
of iron, a mineral with which peat, from its vegetable
nature, is always largely imbued. The deeds of the Edge-
lane estate, in 1616, mention fields named Nearer and Fur-

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 13 15

Online LibraryJohn HigsonHistorical and descriptive notices of Droylsden, past and present → online text (page 13 of 15)