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 Jenkyn Mosely was living in Hough End.
Jenkyn’s marriage to an unnamed lady would result in the addition of the fess sable to the family coat of arms and it was their union which would in time create the wealth of the family.
He was succeeded by his son James and he by his son Edward., He was not, as some have suggested of poor stock, although he was a tenant of the Longford’s at Hough End, he was wealthy in comparison to other burgesses, his wealth valued at £40 a year in 1541. He married Margaret, either daughter or sister of the Mayor of Stockport and they had a large family. One daughter married a prosperous businessman William Priestley but it is the sons to which we are concerned.
At least four are known, Oswald, Nicholas, Antony and Francis and there may have been two others identified, Edmund and Alexander. Edward died in 1568, was probably buried at the Collegiate Church and Oswald, his eldest son inherited his estate.
Of Francis, we know little except of his will being lodged at Somerset House in 1568 where he decreed that 4d should be given from his estate to every poor householder who attended his funeral.
Oswald, whom we known from the records served on the Court Leet in 1571, prospered in business and acquired enough money to purchase the country estate of Garrett Hall in 1595.
He held office in Manchester, was its constable in 1590 and its boroughreeve in 1596 and married into the Tipping family a leading family of Manchester merchants. Oswald died in 1622 but his line would continue to play its part in history.
His two eldest sons died before him, his daughter married against his wishes and consequently his younger son Samuel inherited the estate.
Samuel sold up in 1631 moving to Ireland, his son Benjamin fought for parliament during the civil war and was killed at the battle of Worcester. Another descendant, also Benjamin would make his mark as a doctor who was a fierce opponent of Edward Jenner’s new vaccination experiments while branches of the family emanating from Garrett Hall would leave their mark on America.
Two generations later the great grandsons of Oswald would make their fortune in York, rising to the positions of Mayor and Sheriff. It was though the other two sons of Edward that would leave their influence on Manchester.
Nicholas and Antony had entered the woollen trade, now a staple and thriving industry in the town. They were termed clothworkers, Nicholas settling in London, then the main port for the export of goods to the continent and beyond while Antony stayed in Manchester supervising the running of the manufacturies.
How the Mosley’s became the Lords of Manchester is the subject of conjecture. We have to go back to 1580 and William West was Lord of Manchester and borrowed £3,000 from John Lacy of London. His security was the Manor of Lancaster and when West was unable to pay it back, Lacy became the new Lord.
Lacy could well have been acting as an agent for Nicholas Mosley, by now fifty years of age and a successful businessman in the capital, exporting cloth and importing silks.He became Mayor of the City and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth, buying estates across the country of which one was Manchester. He returned to Hough, building the hall on the ground where his family had once been tenants of the Longfords, retiring to the estate on his return from London.
Nicholas remained a favourite of the new monarch James, was dispatched to hunt for the gunpowder plotters and served as High Sheriff of his native county, probably the first merchant to be elevated to such a position. On his death in 1612 at the age of eighty five and having dropped the middle ‘e’ from his surname and that of his descendants, his estate was substantial. Besides the Manor of Manchester, he had the manor of Hough, Withington and Didsbury and various parcels of land dotted across Manchester and beyond.
A monument was erected to him in Didsbury church with Nicholas in his civic robes and watching over his three sons and two wives. He left £5 a year for twenty years to support the master of the school at Chorlton Chapel with a similar sum for the poor of Withington and Heaton Norris.
The title would pass to Nicholas’ eldest son Rowland who certainly was at one time a joint partner with his father in managing the Manchester estates. He was though only to live three years after his father’s death, his time as Lord tainted by an argument with the burgesses over land in Collyhurst.
The dispute had begun while his father was still alive, Collyhurst then a pastural wood of around fifty acres where the townsfolk of Manchester sent their pigs in the autumn to feed on the acorns. For this they paid a sixpence per pig with a third going to the swineherd and the rest to the Lord of the Manor.
Nicholas had decided to enclose the land for cultivation and the dispute was ongoing at the time of his death. The dispute was finally solved with Rowland being allowed to continue to enclose the land but the Manchester people were given six acres on which they built cabins which were to be used for the reception of plague victims. Rowland had to pay them a fixed annual sum of £10 for the privilege. On his death the title went to his baby son Edward from his second marriage to Ann, a marriage that connected the Mosley name to that of the other great Northern families of the time the Trafford’s.
Beside the Manchester lands, Edward would also inherit the Rolleston estates of his uncle. Made a baronet in 1640 and becoming the high sheriff of Staffordshire two years later, he would choose the wrong side in the civil war. Edward was put in charge of the defence of Tutbury but as the civil war began found many of his recruits deserting to help the Puritan cause in Lancashire.His home at Alport Lodge was used by Lord Strange during the siege of Manchester, and would be later burnt to the ground.
He gave over £20,000 to the Royalist cause, but the following year, joining forces with Sir Thomas Aston, was captured at the battle of Middlewich, the price for his release being never to take up arms again in the Royalist cause and having all lands sequestered.
He regained them four years later on payment of a fine of £4,874 and would remain in debt to a certain Humphrey Chetham, while his character would be stained with a court appearance after being being involved with an extortion case and a certain lady. He was acquitted but warned as to his future conduct and the sort of company that he kept .
Edward died in 1657, another Edward would inherit the title, becoming Sheriff of Lancashire in 1660 on the restoration of Charles II and a member of Parliament in 1662. He died in 1665 without an heir and the line moved back three generations to the brothers of Sir Nicholas Mosley, Oswald.
Owner of the Garrett Estate, then a country manor outside of Manchester had four sons.The eldest, also called Oswald died in 1619 predeceasing his father by three years, Rowland, Francis, who would succeed his father on the Garrett Estate but also died young and Samuel, who inherited from Francis but who quickly sold the estate.
By now this branch of the family had fallen down the social scale and the story reverts to Anthony who had work in the textile industry with Nicholas and had been boroughreeve and constable of Manchester at the end of the sixteenth century. Remembered as a generous man his will left £500 for an alms house in Manchester, conditional upon the raising of three times that amount within a year of his death. If the town failed to raise the money, it was decreed that it be spent on repairs to the parish church, free schools or other schemes for the poor.
Antony died in 1606 leaving eight children and five sons, the eldest Oswald inherited another property that the Mosley family had bought, Ancoats Hall from the Byrons. He served as Steward of the Court Leet in Manchester from 1613 until his death in 1630.
Once again we now enter the realms of the civil war. Oswald’s eldest son Nicholas was also a strong supporter of the King’s cause, forced to journey around the country during the height of the conflict in 1644 and making his peace with Parliament by agreeing to pay a fine and an annual rental.
Nicholas took to writing during the Commonwealth Years, “The passions and faculties of the soul of man” was amongst his works.
On the restoration he celebrated by mustering two hundred and twenty men, all bearing arms and wearing rich scarves followed by forty boys all clothed in white with plumes of feathers and carrying swords hung in black belts and Pikes. Behind them an array of older boys also carrying Pikes but also muskets as the troops marched into Manchester.
After a service at the church, they formed part of a bigger procession through the town complete with musicians and the conduits were said to be flowing with claret. It all ended with a toast to the new King and the squire of Ancoats Hall was rewarded for his loyalty by being made a commission of the peace.
His younger brother Edward, termed of Hulme, had made his peace with Cromwell and in 1652 and became a commissioner of justice in Scotland and later in Ireland. The restoration ended his career in public service and he returned to Manchester living quietly in the town choosing among his friends Henry Newcome and the dissenting element of the town.
He would though benefit from the death of Sir Edward Mosley second baronet of the Hough who left the bulk of his estate to the distant cousin, the son of Edward, rather than to his sisters in 1665. Litigation followed, the result being that Nicholas of Ancoats was given ‘something to be going on with,’ while Edward of Hulme’s son, also called Edward inherited the bulk of the estates.
The younger Edward died at the age of twenty, two of the other sons of Edward also died young and their father remained at Hulme and had the satisfaction in later life of seeing the Stuart Kings deposed in the glorious revolution of 1688. The new King William would knight him.
Edward died in 1695, his daughter and heiress Ann had married Sir John Bland, who would play such a huge role in Manchester’s political, social and religious life at the turn of the eighteenth century.
On the death of Ann, the title reverted to her eldest son who promptly sold it and thus by custom the barony moved to a cousin Sir Oswald, a member of the Ancoats branch of the Mosley line. He had already succeeded his father in Ancoats and inherited the Rolleston estates and had been effectively managing the others so on Ann’s death, the rest of the Mosley estates were now reunited.
Unlike Ann, Oswald was firmly in the high church camp in Manchester. While running the estates his autocratic ways had upset the people of the town and there had been disputes over the building of the workhouse, the rights to grind corn and the attempt to impose new taxes. He was also a Jacobite and would connect Ancoats Hall to the failed attempt of 1745, there were rumours that some of the Young Pretenders followers had stayed at the Hall.
Yet Oswald was absent from Manchester much of the time preferring his Staffordshire estates. He died at Rolleston in 1751 and was succeeded by his son, also Oswald, who in the short time that he held the title may never have travelled north. On his death in 1757, the title moved to the Rev Sir John Mosley who had a strange habit of not being able to clear the fire grate of ashes until such at a time that they had accumulated to such a degree that he picked them up with his hands and threw them out of the window.
Sir John also disliked women and it was no surprise then that on his death, he left no heir, so in 1779, the estate passed to John Parker Mosley of Ancoats branch. John had suffered with smallpox as a boy, only just surviving into manhood.