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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William Peverel

Peverel is thought to have been the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror and as a favourite of the first Norman monarch, he fought along side his father at the Battle of Hastings. Rewarded for his loyalty, the Doomsday Book mentions that he was the holder of one hundred and sixty two manors, forming collectively the Honour of Peverel, in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, including Nottingham Castle. He also built Peveril Castle, at Castleton in the Hope Valley and is immortalised still…

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The Domesday Book

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The Domesday Book was commissioned in December 1085 by William the Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066. The first draft was completed in August 1086 and contained records for 13,418 settlements in the English counties south of the rivers Ribble and Tees. Manchester is given but a single line in the Domesday book, prior to the Norman invasion it had formed part of the Royal Manor of Salford along with the other five hundreds  ‘King Edward held Salford.There are three…

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Roger de Poitou- The First Lord of Lancashire

Roger can safely hold the title as the First Lord of Lancashire and was the third son of Roger de Montgomery, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. Soon after the Norman Conquest, King William began to allocate lands to his followers, Lancashire was targeted for having particularly rebellious locals whom the new King wished to subdue. According to Baines, “he left no art untried to root out the ancient nobility, to curb the power of the established clergy and to reduce…

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The ‘Harrying of the North’

There are almost no written sources mentioning Lancashire or Manchester before William the Conqueror’s Domesday survey of 1086. The Norman’s didn’t immediately arrive in Lancashire after their invasion of  1066, only venturing north in 1069, in the rather misnamed ‘Harrying of the North’, they waste Yorkshire and much of the North East and probably some parts of Lancashire and Cheshire too after the rebellion of the Northern Earls. The events cast a dark shadow over William’s early reign, York was…

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The last years of English rule

The first half of the tenth century saw the English Kings continued struggle against the Danes, of which Manchester located just inside the region governed by Danelaw being at the cusp. Only with the coronation of Edward the Peaceful in 973 did England come under the rule of one King. The country was now administered under the system of Hundred’s, the name deriving from the area’s assessment as having 100 hides, made up from villages surrounded by open fields, arable…

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Nico Ditch

The main archeological evidence of the Dark Ages is the Nico Ditch. This is a linear earthwork which stretches around Manchester linking the mosses of Hough and Ashton and possibly extending as far as Moorside in Urmston, forming a barrier to traffic between the Rivers Irwell and Medlock. What its function was, nobody is really sure but suggestions over the years have ranged from simply being a drainage channel, an agricultural boundary, an administrative boundary or a defensive ditch. Romantics…

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The Romans in Manchester

The Roman fort initially founded around 79AD was probably about 2-3 acres in size with around 500 men garrisoned there. It would have consisted of a bank of clay, surmounted by a wooden stockade and surrounded by a ditch. The tight military grip around Manchester may well have lasted only around 40 years as attention fell to the North and the subjugation of the tribes across the border.  As additional garrisons were required north it is certain that the Garrison at Manchester’s…

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Manchester before the Romans

It’s probable that there was a Brigantes settlement at the junction of the Irwell and Irk when the Romans arrived, and it’s likely that the name of the place was a forerunner of the later Welsh name Maen Ceinion. Meaning something like Beautiful Rock but the Romans record dozens of different spellings for their own name of the fortress they built on the Medlock/Irwell – the most common ones being Mamucio and Mamucium. Although the Roman fort in Manchester was…

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The Birth of Roman Manchester

By the AD 60’s there is much evidence of Roman penetration around the Pennines. A site at Templeborough near Rotherham has been dated to that time by the finding of good quality samian ware from the reign of the emperor Nero. This site would have controlled the eastern access to the Pennines and it is unlikely that it would have been built in isolation. Other finds have been made also dating from this time west of the River Derwent at…

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