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The Wroe Family

Heaton Gate

In an indenture (legal agreement) dated the sixth year of the reign of Edward VI (1552),Robert Wroe was manetioned as one of six churchwardens of Prestwich, and the Parson of Prestwich was mentioned as William Langley.

Six Church wardensChristopher Langley, George Scholles, Robert Wroe, Petur Scholles, James Barlowe, and John Kennon (presumably Kenyon). These are believed to be the earliest recorded churchwardens of Prestwich, as the church records only stretch back to 1603.

William Langley was the 6th in a long line of Rectors from the Langley family, the Lords of the Manor of Prestwich.

The indenture also mentions the following items held at St Mary's Church

Foure Greate Belles, 2 challeses, one Cowpe,
seven vestments with suites for the same,
six other clothes, two hand bells, plus 2 crosses,
one of Copper and Gold, the other of brass belonging
to the said church of Prestwich safely to be kept to
the use of our said sovereign Lord the King.

Robert Wroe, the chuchwarden had been born about 1514 in Heaton, and he had married a woman called Katherine in about 1539 at Prestwich. They had two sons Richard (1548) and Roger (1542). However their two daughters had the more notable marriages. Their first daughter Anne was born in 1539 and in 1560 she married Robert Ravald, a yeoman and son of a highly respectable Manchester family. Robert Ravald was also listed on the muster roll of 1569 for Broughton, Kersal and Tetlow.

The Ravald Estate 1548-1647

The Ravald family owned land in Kersal Dale, rising up from the Irwell to what is now Neville Road. (Robert's 3xgreat granddaughter married Robert Diggle of Diggle Fold, Prestwich in 1659, and their son Robert became Parish Clerk of Prestwich).

In 1563 Robert Wroe was listed in the Lay Subsidy roll for Prestwich and like Robert Ravald, had also been classed as a yeoman. A Yeoman owned land, and could keep any profit they managed to make from it. He could employ servants and staff to look after his family or farm their land. Yeomen could spend their money and free time on education or other interests, but still turn their hand to labour if required. They were what we would call today, a middle class.

Robert Wroe's 2nd daughter was born in 1550. This daughter, Jane Ellen Wroe married Henry Chetham at Manchester in 1564. Henry was a successful Manchester merchant who lived in Crumpsall Hall. Their son Humphrey Chetham, an English textile merchant, and through his families great wealth a financier and philanthropist, was responsible for the creation of Chetham's Hospital and Chetham's Library, the oldest public library in the English-speaking world.

Hardmans Fold (now under Junction 17 of the M60)

Members of the Chetham family also lived at Hardmans Fold in Prestwich, and are also buried inside St Mary's Church.

Robert Wroe, the churchwarden, died in 1565, and his abode was listed as Heaton Fallowfield (later known as Little Heaton). His son-in-law Robert Ravald was appointed as one of four overseers of his will. Robert Ravald died in 1577, two years after his wife Anne, and both are buried in Manchester Cathedral.

In 1621, the burial record of Robert Wroe, son of Jacob records his abode as Heaton Yeat, "yeat" or "yate" is a middle English spelling (1150-1450) for "gate".

This Jacob Wroe is potentially listed in the Hearth Tax record of 1666, which lists the main residences liable for the tax.

The Hearth Tax return of 1666.

Heaton Yeat was a settlement, dating from the late medieval period (1300-1500) and is mentioned in a deed between Sir Robert Langley of Agecroft Hall (Lord of the Manor of Prestwich) and Richard Holland of Denton (and Heaton) in 1520.

In the Agreement (Agecroft Deed 100) "the Hollands and their tenants of Heaton Hall [also the Holland family], the ground called Rooden, and tenements near Heaton Gate lying on the north and south side of Terrebrook, were to enjoy common of pasture on the wastes in Prestwich, and to drive their cattle to the high moor of Prestwich to common there. Robert Langley was to take down the gate he had erected in Rooden Lane end".

1777 Plan of Heaton Park

The above plan shows Heaton Gate as a cluster of buildings south of Heaton House. Middleton Rd carried on along what is now Smithy Entrance to Heaton Park, winding diagonally through Heaton Gate before meeting a junction with Sheepfoot Lane, at what is now the site of the Sheepfoot Lane Car park.

This deed, as an aside, gives us a name for the stream that was dammed to make the boating lake and still runs today...Terrebrook, "terre" or "ter" in Middle English was another word for tar, or in French it means earth or land. The brook follows a course down from it's source near where Toodle Hill and Parrenthorn farms once stood (under the Heaton Park reservoir today) coming down through "the dell" today and into the Lake, before appearing below the lake and flowing behind the Tram museum and out of the park. [This underground exit was used by Flight Lieutenant Tom Webster (and probably others) when he wanted to skive down to Manchester without leave whilst stationed at RAF Heaton Park in 1944 !]


Heaton Gate would have fallen within the township of Great Heaton. The Heaton family name first appears in the 13th century, and the land became known as Heaton upon Faghfield (Fallowfield), the Heatons then sold their lands to the Prestwich and Holland families.

In the 18th century Sir Thomas Egerton, of Heaton served in three parliaments and was later made Baron Grey de Wilton (reuniting the family with their previous Baronetcy) & made 1st Earl of Wilton in 1801. He commissioned the fashionable architect James Wyatt to design a new home for his young family in 1772. This is the Hall that we know today. The 7th Baronet (& 1st Earl) made major changes to his estate, landscaping the farmers fields and woodlands and moving Middleton Rd and Sheepfoot Lane to their present routes, and Heaton Gate became a cluster of buildings within Heaton Park.

Heaton Gate (1848)

Timber Yard Cottages & old joiners shops in 1902.

Watch a video of the area developing over time.

Heaton Gate was later known as the Timber Yard Cottages, after a saw mill was established at the site in the 18th century when the house was being rebuilt by the 1st Earl. The saw mill would have cut timber for joists, beams, rafters and so forth possibly from trees felled on the estate, and was located on the north side of the stream, that comes from the lake.

Heaton Park remained in the Egerton family until 1902 when the 5th Earl of Wilton sold it to the Manchester Corporation for £230,000.

The Timber Yard cottages stood just West of where the Tram Museum is now. The buildings to the left of the above photo were demolished shortly after 1902 and the Timber Yard cottages on the right remained. An outdoor bathing pool was constructed just south of the cottages sometime before 1932.

The nearby Heaton Gate Lodge house was also demolished about 1902 to make way for the new Tram entrance bringing visitors to the Public Park terminus (now the museum).

Heaton Gate Lodge in 1902

Timber Yard Cottages during the construction of the lake in 1911.

Back with the Roe family...Jacob Roe is recorded as being buried at St Mary's in Prestwich in 1674. But the familiy's story doesn't end there.

Rev Richard Wroe was born in 1641 the son of Richard Wroe of Heaton Gate, so represents a probable brother of Jacob. Rev Wroe was actually born in Radcliffe, and was educated at Bury Grammar School, before heading to Jesus College, Cambridge. He achieved M.A. at Cambridge in 1665 (and M.A. at Oxford University in 1669) and D.D. at Cambridge in 1686. He obtained a Royal Mandate to be presented as the next fellowship at the College of Manchester, which he was admitted to in 1674.

[The Wroe family of Radcliffe were still living at Radcliffe Tower into the 18th century]

[The Wroe and Diggle families of 17th century Heaton Yate/Gate were buried at St Mary's in Prestwich]

[By the 18th century families such as Pollit, Barlow (Inn Keeper), Ashton (Inn keeper), Dickinson (yeoman/farmer) and Rogers were living at Heaton Gate.]

James II "Fiery Face" (Reigned 1685-1688)

In 1685 Rev. Wroe preached a sermon on King James II inauguration and then in 1691 presided at the funeral of Mary Countess of Warrington.

In 1694 he presided at the funeral of The Right Honourable Henry, Earl of Warrington & Baron Delamere of Dunham Massey and Lord Lieutenant of County of Chester.

In 1679 Richard was appointed as curate of Wigan, then of Bowden in 1681, then in 1684 he was appointed the warden of Manchester College and vicar of Garstang. During his time as Warden of the College (Later to be made Manchester Cathedral in 1840) he gained the name of "Silver tongued Wroe" due to the happiness and animation of his work at the pulpit.

He had married three times, the last to Dorothy Kenyon, daughter of Roger Kenyon MP of Peel. Three of his four children by Dorothy pre-deceased him. Richard himself died in 1717.[Ref :Wiki]

Richard and Dorthy Roe (1729)

Wroe/Chetham family tree

With Ref to: A CASE STUDY IN EARLY GENEALOGY-Ravalds of Manchester & Kersal by Ian McAlpine