The parish of Prestwich with Oldham


Victoria County History



William Farrer & J. Brownbill (editors)

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'The parish of Prestwich with Oldham: Alkrington', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5 (1911), pp. 82-85. URL: Date accessed: 16 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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Alkinton, 1212; Alkeryngton, 1313; Alcrinton, 1324; Alkryngton, 1443.

This township is bounded on the south-west by a brook running into the Irk, and by the Irk itself and its affluent the Wince Brook for the most part on the north. The surface is mostly above the 300 ft. level, but slopes downwards to the bounding brooks. (fn. 1) The highest ground, 350 ft., is in the south-east and north east. The area is 797½ acres. The population in 1901 was returned with Middleton. (fn. 2)

The principal road is that leading north from Manchester to Middleton; the hall is in the triangle to the west of this road. Part of the White Moss occupied the south-east corner. There is a colliery. (fn. 3)

For local government the township was in 1894 added to the borough of Middleton. (fn. 4)

In 1839 a house in the 'Spaw' at Alkrington was said to be haunted. (fn. 5) Some extracts from the diary of a local farmer, 1774 to 1778, have been printed. (fn. 6)

No house had as many as six hearths in 1666; the total number of taxable hearths in the township was twenty-seven. (fn. 7)


The survey of 1212 gives the earliest account of the manor of ALKRINGTON. At that time it was a member of the Montbegon fee of eight knights, and was held by Adam de Prestwich as 4 oxgangs of land 'of ancient tenure' by 4s.; while placed among the manors held by knight's service, it thus appears as a thegnage estate. (fn. 8) The Montbegon fee was some twenty years later alienated to the Lacys, and thus passed to the Crown; but the manor of Alkrington continued to descend with Prestwich, (fn. 9) the tenure being changed to the twenty-fourth part of a knight's fee, with a rent of 10d. The inquisitions, however, do not state the tenure quite uniformly. (fn. 10)

On the death of Sir Robert Langley, in 1561, this manor was given to his daughter Katherine, who married Thomas Legh of Lyme, but died in 1591 without issue. (fn. 11) The Leghs, however, appear to have retained the manor, for it was sold in 1627 by Thomas Legh, Alice his wife, and John Legh, to Robert and John Lever. (fn. 12) The purchasers were probably younger sons of Robert Lever of Darcy Lever, who died in 1620. (fn. 13) Robert Lever, his son, was a clothier in London, and died unmarried about 1642; John Lever, another son, was 'of Alkrington,' and died in 1645, being buried at Middleton. (fn. 14) His eldest son Robert married Anne the daughter and heir of Nicholas Mosley of Collyhurst, and died in 1710, a very aged man. (fn. 15) His son John died in 1718, and was succeeded by his son Sir Darcy Lever, who served as high sheriff in 1736, and was knighted. (fn. 16) He married Dorothy, a daughter and coheir of the Rev. William Ashton, rector of Prestwich. (fn. 17)

Lever. Argent two bendlets sable, the undermost engrailed.

Their eldest son, Sir Ashton Lever, was high sheriff in 1771, (fn. 18) and made a knight in 1778, and died ten years later without issue. He collected a large museum of curiosities, which was exhibited at his residence at Alkrington. Wishing at length to dispose of it, he obtained an Act of Parliament authorizing him to do so by a lottery, and in 1785 the drawing took place. The winner afterwards exhibited the collection in London, and it was not dispersed until 1806. (fn. 19) Sir Ashton was succeeded by his brother the Rev. John Lever, who left several children. (fn. 20) The younger son, John, settled at Alkrington, and died in 1834, aged sixty-two. The estate then passed to his nephew Dorning Rasbotham, who in 1844 sold it to John Lees and his brothers of Clark's Field near Oldham. (fn. 21) Their representatives continue to hold the manor and most of the land, but the hall has been sold. It is a plain but well-designed brick house erected in 1736 on the site of an older building by Sir Darcy Lever. The situation was formerly one of much picturesqueness, being on elevated ground in the midst of woods and overlooking Heaton Park, and despite many changes in the surroundings it still retains some of its former characteristics. The general effect of the principal front is now somewhat spoiled by the removal of the old window bars and the substitution of plate glass, but it is still one of much dignity. The hipped roof is partly concealed by a high brick parapet.

Alkrington Hall

Bradshaw Hall lies in the north-east part of the township, in a plot cut off from the main area by Wince Brook. It was anciently part of the lands of the Hospitallers, and was afterwards granted to the Earls of Derby, of whom it was held in the early part of the 17 th century by a branch of the Chadderton family. (fn. 22)


1 Ordnance Survey.
2 Pop. Rep. 1901.
3 For an accident in 1774 see Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. vii, 68.
4 Local Govt. Bd. Order 31625; the population was given as 565.
5 Mancb. Guardian Local N. and Q. no. 739.
6 Ibid. no. 1244.
7 Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9, Lancs.
8 Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 61.
9 It was included in the settlement of the Prestwich estate in 1313; Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), ii, 16.
In 1276 and later years Adam son of Thomas de Prestwich had to defend his right to certain land in Alkrington, to which Robert Grelley laid claim; De Banco R. 15, m. 36 d.; 18, m. 29; 24, m. 20.
10 In the De Lacy Inq. of 1311 (Chet. Soc.) Adam de Prestwich was returned as holding of the Earl of Lincoln the manor of Alkrington by the service of the fourth part of a knight's fee, and suit to the court; p. 19. From later notices it appears that 'fourth' is an error for 'twenty-fourth.'
Alice de Prestwich was in 1324 said to hold half a plough-land in Alkrington by the service of 12d. a year; Duchy of Lanc. Rentals and Surv. 379, no. 13. In 1346 the heirs of John de Radcliffe and Alice de Prestwich were said to hold it in socage by a rent of 12d.; Dods. MSS. lxxxvii, fol. 60b. A similar return was made a century later, Margaret wife of Roger (Thomas) Langley then holding it in socage, rendering 12d. a year; she said she held it by joint feoffment and showed a charter; Duchy of Lanc. Knights' Fees, 2/20. In explanation of this the inquisition taken in 1447 after the death of Robert Langley of Agecroft states that he had held a moiety of the manor of Alkrington of the king as Duke of Lancaster in socage by a rent of 20d., and that he had enfeoffed Thomas his son and Margery his wife of two parts of the said moiety; Lancs. Rec. Inq. p.m. no. 34, 35. After the death of Thomas Langley, twenty-five years later, he was said to have held nine messuages and tenements, 'parcel of the manor of Alkrington,' by the twentieth part of a knight's fee, the manor being held by knight's service and a rent of 20d.; Agecroft D. Thus both the tenure and the rent are variously stated at different times; but the latest —by knight's service and 20d.—was repeated after the death of Sir Robert Langley in 1561; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, 16. The clear value at this time was £7.
11 Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xv, 12. This recites that Katherine married Thomas Legh (who survived her) at Alkrington on 1 Aug. 1564. She had twenty-two messuages, &c., in Alkrington and Prestwich, held of the queen as of the Duchy of Lancaster by knight's service, those in the former place also rendering 6s. and those in the latter 9s. a year. The heirs were her sisters Anne Dauntesey and Margaret Holland, aged fifty-four and fifty-two years. A settlement was made in 1571; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 33, m. 184.
In 1581 Thomas Legh and Katherine his wife, setting forth that they were seised in fee tail of the manor of Alkrington, &c., complained that Robert Langley of Prestwich was detaining some of the deeds of the estate. Langley replied that the deeds were in the keeping of Alexander Reddish, son of Margery, then wife of Richard Holland, and that Katherine had agreed to this; Duchy of Lanc. Plead. cxxii, L. 4; cxvii, L. 4.
12 Thomas Legh seems to have married a second time, for in the pedigree recorded in 1613 four sons are given him—Robert, John, Roger, and Thomas; Visit. (Chet. Soc), 51. Robert Legh of Alkrington appears among the freeholders of 1600; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 246. He was buried at Middleton 19 Aug. 1623. The vendors in 1627 were, perhaps, his brothers; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 111, no. 38. Further particulars of the family are given in the will of Thomas Legh of Alkrington, dated 22 Oct. 1597. It recites an indenture of 25 March 1596–7 between himself and Edmund Trafford of Trafford, that the latter was to pay him £700. Of this sum £300 was left to Thomas Legh, 'my reputed son,'while John and Roger Legh, two other reputed sons, had £400 between them. He also names his daughters Creature and Margaret Legh and Elizabeth reputed daughter of his son Robert Legh. Brother James Legh was to have a dapple dunn nagge and son Robert Legh his gold chain. The executrix was his wife Katherine, who was guardian of the children, with his loving brother-in-law, Sir Ric. Shuttleworth. Probate was dated at Chester 7 Feb. 1597–8; Huntroyde D., v, 20 (by Mr. H. Ince Anderton).
13 Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 186; a full pedigree of the Lever family is contained in Piccope's MS. Pedigrees (Chet. Lib.), i, 348, and has been followed here. There is also an account of the family, with extracts from the registers, in Booker, Prestwich, 204–8.
14 Ibid. 206. John Lever paid £12 10s. in 1631 on declining knighthood; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs, and Ches.), i, 215.
15 Booker, loc. cit. He was dispensed from attendance at Prestwich Church and allowed to go to Middleton; Gastrell, Notitia, ii, 109.
A feoffment made in 1681 shows that Robert Lever held the manor of Alkrington, with the hall, the Old Hall of Heaton in Prestwich, Gorton Hall, Collyhurst Hall, and lands in a number of the surrounding townships. In 1699 he made a settlement of his estates with remainders to his children Robert, John, Catherine, and Jane. The deeds are among the Raines collection in the Chetham Library.
A Captain Lever of 'Olerington' is mentioned in 1689; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 222.
Robert and John sons of Robert Lever of Alkrington entered Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1691, aged eighteen and fifteen respectively; they were afterwards of Gray's Inn; Foster, Alumni. Robert died in his father's lifetime, unmarried.
16 Darcy Lever entered Brasenose College in 1722, being seventeen years of age; he was created D.C.L. in 1733; Foster, Alumni. He made a settlement of the manor of Alkrington in Mar. 1725, previous to his marriage; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 293; ibid. Plea R. 520, m. 5, 7. He was appointed sheriff 31 Dec. 1735, and his successor on 20 Jan. 1737; P.R.O. List, 74.
The pedigree of the family is set out in the case of Lever v. Hunt, which was carried up to the House of Lords in 1736–7. It appeared that John Hunt of Manchester had in 1612 leased premises in Market Street Lane, Manchester, for 120 years to Robert Lever of Darcy Lever, clothier, who left it to his son John. In 1642 and 1644 John Lever obtained the reversion of the premises, and died intestate in 1645; his widow Catherine afterwards entered into possession and left them to a younger son John, who had them for life, and was followed by his son, who died without issue. Robert the eldest son was followed by his only son John, who gave the premises to a younger son John Revel; on his death, without issue, Sir Darcy Lever claimed as brother and heir. John Andrews claimed as the heir of the Robert Lever of 1612.
17 The marriage took place at Prestwich 3 May 1725; and Sir Darcy Lever was buried there on 15 Aug. 1742; Booker, 207.
18 P.R.O. List, 74.
Ashton Lever was vouchee in a recovery of the manor in 1753; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 579, m. 2.
19 There is an engraving of him in Baines, Lancs. (ed. 1836), ii, 565, a verbal portrait in Booker, op. cit. 205, and a biography in Dict. Nat. Biog.
He was educated at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, matriculating in 1748, at nineteen years of age; Foster, Alumni. He died at Manchester, not without suspicion of having poisoned himself.
His collection began with live birds, and went on to shells, fossils, &c., and to the weapons, &c., of savage tribes. In 1773, 'being tired out with the insolence of the common people,' he restricted admission to his acquaintance and those who came provided with a ticket from some one known to him; Booker, op. cit. 204. On 29 Aug. 1774 the visitors to the museum numbered 3,320; Manch. Guardian Local N. and Q. no. 1244. The collection was removed to London in October and shown at Leicester House; in 1782 the sum of £2,253 was received for entrance fees. Sir Ashton wished it to be kept together, and having failed to induce the Government to purchase it for the British Museum he fell back on the lottery; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiv, App. iv, 516. See also Pal. Note Bk. ii, 55, 85; Walford, Old and New Lond. iii, 165. For an account of the sale in 1806 see Baines, ut sup.
A poem on the collection, dated 1774, is reprinted in Oldham Notes and Glean. ii, 99.
20 The eldest son Darcy Lever, who died at Edinburgh in 1839, wrote on navigation; see Dict. Nat. Biog.
21 Canon Raines in Gastrell, Notitia (Chet. Soc.), ii, 110.
22 Children of Edmund Chadderton alias Bradshaw appear in the Middleton registers from 1615.
Robert Chadderton, yeoman, died 8 Mar. 1638–9, holding a messuage and land called Bradshaw in Alkrington, of William, Earl of Derby, as of the dissolved priory of St. John of Jerusalem; he also held lands in Audenshaw and in Manchester. By a fine levied two years earlier the lands were settled on Robert for his life, after his decease a third part to Elizabeth his wife, then to Edmund and Robert his sons. Edmund the son and heir was thirty-one years of age in 1639; Inq. p.m. in Towneley MS. C. 8, 13 (Chet. Lib.), p. 248.
Robert Chadderton alias Bradshaw was buried at Middleton on 8 Mar. 1638–9; an abstract of his will is given in Manch. Ct. Leet Rec. iv, 114.
Thomas Chadderton of Alkrington paid to the land tax in 1787.
The Hospitallers had lands in Acrington (? Alkrington) in 1292; Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 375.