To 1768: the Strangeways, Hartley and Ducie families.
South West Prospect of Manchester,c.1734
"The dweller by the waterside looked cross the stream on green and undulating upland intersected by luxurious hedgerows, a bleachery at Walker's Croft and a short terrace of houses near Scotland Bridge, denominated Scotland, being the sole breaks in the verdure." (1)
Mrs Linnaeus Banks was writing of the Strangeways of 1799 in hernovel set in the new Manchester of the Industrial Revolution, arevolution so recent that Manchester still retained many of theattributes of the Georgian country town: the coaching inns,reflecting its position on the main road which passed northwards overScotland Bridge, the elegant town houses, for the bourgeoisie had notyet begun its migration to the suburban villas, and above all therewas the close proximity of the countryside. The old nucleus of thetown lay in the vicinity of the collegiate church, and facing itacross the mingling point of the Irk and the Irwell lay that area ofland denominated Strangeways.
The Strangeways family of Strangeways persisted through themedieval period and after, making occasional appearances in documentsand deeds, until the elder line of the family died out and the estatewas purchased by John Hartley, a successful merchant of Manchester,in 1624. The founder of the family fortunes appears to have been hisfather Nicholas Hartley a Manchester linen draper who died in 1609.John was born in 1609, and rose as successful merr¢hant to takeon various offices, being at various times Constable and Boroughreeveof Manchester, and High Sheriff for the county of Lancaster. Hissuccess had been marked in material form by the purchase ofStrangeways Hall, and it is to him that the fine map drawn by RichardMartincroft in 1641 of the Strangeways estate is due.
John's only daughter Ellen married in 1662 her cousin, anotherJohn Hartley of London. He died in 1681, survived by three sons,John, Richard and Ralph; the last survivor, Richard, died in 1710.The property then passed to their cousin, to be inherited in 1711 byher widowed daughter Catherine Richards. It is the subsequent historyof the ownership of the estate that is so important for the way inwhich Strangeways was rapidly to exchange its rural landscape for awaste of bricks and barren brickfields. Upon her death ln 1713, therebeing at the time no known or discovered heirs to the Hartleys,Catherine Richards settled the estate in trust upon one ThomasReynolds who had been managing her business affairs until her deathas he had done for her mother, together with his interests as adirector of the South Sea Company. Thomas's son Francis was anequally astute businessman, regulating in considerable detail themanagement of his estate, in addit1on to representing Lancaster inParliament from 1745 until his death in l742. Francis made afortuitously successful marriage with the daughter of Lord Ducie ofMorton, for her brother, the second Lord Ducie, was created BaronDucie of Tortworth in 1763 with a special remainder to his sister'ssons, Thomas and Francis Reynolds. Francis senior recorded withimmense pride the letter from his steward in Manchester telling himthat the bells of the collegiate church had rung to celebrate thesuccesion of his son to the peerage in 1770, taking the name and armsof his uncle.
Francis succeeded his brother as the third baron in 1785, after acareer at sea. His son Thomas was created Earl of Ducie and BaronMoreton of Tortworth in the coronation year, 1837.
Mentlon has already been made that the Strangeways estate was leftto Thomas Reynolds in trust only, and indeed running as a parallelthread through the history of the Strangways estate during theeighteenth and nineteenth centuries is the remarkable picaresque taleof the attempt to regain possession by various members of the Hartleyfamily, or by people claiming to be such. The tale contains most ofthe traditional elements, including the prolongued lawsuits theperiod was so partial to, but unfortunately lacks an ending: likemany an old warrior it just faded away.
In 1721, only eight years after the estate had been left in trustto Reynolds, a Wllllam Hartley brought an action against him forejectment and pursued his claim until it came to a head in 1736. Healleged that Richard, the th1rd son of John and Ellen Hartley who wassupposed to have died at sea in 1681, had in fact lived long after,having concealed himself and married a chimney-sweep's daughter inBungay, Suffolk, who bore him several children, one of whom was theplaintiff. The attempt failed, and the issue died down till 1750 whenReynolde précised a letter from his steward:
"He acquainted me that since I left the country three or moredifferent persons, at various times, have come to Manchester tosearch the church register about Mr Hartley's family interred there,under pretence of having a right to the estate. Some calledthemselves Hartley from near Halifax in Yorkshire, and one of themsays his name is Kitchen. They have wanted a list of the tenants'names, and Farrington, an attorney from Rochdale, had got a list ofthe greatest part of them, and said they would be served withejectments about the middle of next month. Mr Byrom says it is theson of that Kitchen who made an attempt about twelve years since.Parson Shreigly, one of the chaplains in the old churoh atManchester, says that when Kitohen was searching the register, uponbeing asked why they had not proceeded before this, answered thatthey were poor, but had a prospect when Lady Betty Hastings promisedto stand their friend, but that her death put a stop to it, but thatnow they have got anothor great person. This, Shreigly is informed,is Lawyer Stanhope of Yorkshire. Attorney Farrington says he isemployed by a Yorkshire gentleman." (2)
Presumably their hopes were once again dashed, for there is norecord of their continuing with their plans.
Martincroft's fine map of 1641 is the earliest map that survivesof Strangeways. (3) All fields are shown, together with their namesand acreages, both statutory and customary. Strangeways Hall issketched, together with the mill and the one or two other buildingsthat then existed. Strangeways Lane, later Great Ducie Street, is buta private bridle track running over the property. In the words of oneof Strangeway's inhabitanta who could remember the days beforeWaterloo: "...the high road was through Strangeways, along BroughtonLane and the Lower Broughton Road, on to Broom Lane, past Clowes Parkand through tetlow Fold to the old Bury Road." (4) The Lane wasconnected to Manchester by Hunt's Bank Bridge, a simple narrowstructure "so insignificant that two vehicles could not pass. It gaveentrance to what was called Strangeways Walk, with fields on theleft, whilst upon the right were the pleasant grounds of Hunts BankHall, the residence of one of the Clowes family." (5), (6)
Some time during the eighteenth century a copy was made of thismap, the only changes it recorded being some minor alteration infield names, and the subdivision of fields. 7