Manchester in Elizabethan Times

As Defoe would write of Manchester in the late 17th century, says T.S Wilham in his publication on Elizabethan Manchester, it was one the greatest if not the greatest meer village in England. He used the term village because it was in all terms a village ruled by a manor house through its Court Leet, its charter of 1301 falling far short of incorporation. We get some idea of the manor for during Elizabeth’s reign, there was a survey and…

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The Mosley Family

We know the name Mosley today from one of Manchester’s main streets, (once a Metrolink stop) yet the family associated with the name ran the town of Manchester for over two hundred years. The Mosley family claims to trace its descendants back to the reign of King John and Ernald de Moseley and their first connection with Manchester came in the reign of Edward IV when John Moseley had a burgage in the town somewhere near Salford Bridge while in 1465…

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The First Description of Manchester


John Leland was probably the first to write about Manchester. He became Librarian to Henry VIII and as the King’s Antiquary was given the power to search for records, manuscripts and relics of antiquity of all cathedrals, abbey’s colleges and priories of the country. He set out on his grand tour in 1536 which took him six years and during that time he visited Lancashire which it entered by means of Cheshire. “Coming from Northwich towards Manchester at Northwich town,…

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Manchester Grammar School

Manchester’s Grammar School spent four centuries alongside the Collegiate in Long Millgate; the road that led to the mill on the Irk, owned by the lords of Manchester a flat windowed building founded by Hugh Oldham in 1515, it was decided in the 1920’s to move it to Fallowfield.  School inspectors deciding that its gloom, its noise and its size were unable to handle twelve hundred pupils.  Hugh Oldham, a native of Crumpsall like Chetham whose library shares the site,…

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Salford Bridge

“Upon Salford Bridge, I turned my horse again My son George by the hand I hent I held so hard forsooth certain That his forefinger out of joint went I hurt him sore I did complain” The stone bridge linking the towns is first mentioned in 1368 when Thomas De Bothe built his first chapel, leaving the sum of thirty pounds for masses to be sang daily for his soul. He was forced to place it on the boundary bridge as…

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The Angel Stone


Hidden within the present day Cathedral is the angel stone recovered during the Victorian renovation, embedded in the wall of the original South Porch.  Made from Collyhurst stone it has been dated to around 700 AD and has given rise to much speculation about its meaning.  You can still see it today, around thirteen inches high by eight wide, it represents an angel with extended wings holding a scroll on which there is an incised inscription.  The scroll being too small…

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Manchester Cathedral


Whilst Manchester had become a busy market town by the fifteenth century, in ecclesiastical terms it had been usurped by Ashton Under Lyne, once a sub manor of the town but now having seen its chapel gain independence with its own rector for nearly one hundred years.   Christianity had come to the area during the time of the Romans, the Sator Rotas being discovered during excavations at Castlefield, dated from around 175 AD. After the Roman’s left, one can…

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The De la Warre family

The family of De La Warre would play a considerable part in Manchester during the 1300-1400’s none more so than Thomas who succeeded to the Barony in 1399 on the death of John without issue, his brother the eleventh Baron. In 1204, King John had granted to John de la Warre the Lordship of Bristol and in 1206 he was Lord of the Manor of Wickwar in Gloucestershire. On the death of Thomas Greddle, or Grelly, the eighth Baron of…

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Manchester is given its first charter

Around 1282 one hundred and fifty tenants are created free of servitude. Known as Burgesses they had their own Portmoot or borough court which was distinct from the Lords feudal court and was able to pronounce on local disputes and trade agreements. There is also mention of a profitable fulling mill, giving the first reference to weaving in the region suggesting that the weaving of cloth was already a staple industry. Manchester is granted its first charter in 1301, almost…

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The First Manchester Barons

The De Gresle family held the Barony of Manchester for two centuries. Albert De Gresley received the land as William Peveral, a natural son of William the Conqueror took over the lands of the out of favour Roger De Poitiou in 1102. His son Robert set up the abbey at Swineshead in Lincolnshire and gave the mill at Mancestre to them.  He died around 1135 and his son Albert acquired further lands around Manchester.  He married a daughter of William…

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