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Clifton Hall


Clifton Manor although over the border in Salford has had an influence on the history of Prestwich for over eight centuries.

Ref: A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4

First reference to the Manor of Clifton was in 1183 when the sheriff collected 8 shillings in rent from a tyrant and outlaw Hugh Putsell a.k.a. Hugh the Hunter. The land fell out of his family line when, through a lack of a male heir in 1276, it became part of estate of the Trafford family after a marriage to Alice de Clifton.

William, the son of Sir Thurstan Holland of Denton, married Marjory de Trafford, daughter and co-heir of Henry de Trafford, and the Hollands then kept the Clifton residence for over 300 years.

In 1353 William had prosecuted William Bridde for cuting down trees in Clifton, and Thurstan and William were plaintiffs in the following year. William had a son by his second wife, Alice Pusshe, and so the manor passed to Otho/Otes and then to his son, Robert.

Robert Holland came into possession of Clifton about 1350 and he played a notable part in the history of the adjoining Manor of Prestwich. Alice de Prestwich (nee de Wolveley) inherited Prestwich when her husband Adam died in 1319. This passed to their son Thomas, who had two daughters, Agnes & Margaret. He died when they were still young and William de Radcliffe was appointed trustee. William put Margaret in a convent, and married his son John to Agnes. This secured that the Prestwich manor passed to the Radcliffe family, or so Robert had hoped. Agnes & John died childless, and Prestwich Manor skipped Maragret (as nun's cannot own land), passing to Alice de Wolveley's grand daughter, Joan de Tetlow. Joan married Richard de Langley and Prestwich Manor passed to their son Roger de Langley, who was aged 14, in 1374.

Margaret de Prestwich had eloped from the convent and married Robert de Holland and he (obviously) held a view on her being overlooked for the inheritance of the Prestwich Manor. Robert de Holland took matters into his own hands in 1374 and seized Prestwich by force from Sir Roger de Langley (aged 14). Sir Roger's protector was the High Sheriff of Lancashire ! Read more about the Lords of the Manor of Prestwich

Suffice it to say the Hollands claim failed, the Langley's seized Prestwich in 1389, but the Holands didn't let go until 1401, and persisted in the meantime to raid Prestwich and take cattle and goods. They basically treated it as if it was theirs, and Robert de Holland even wrote a deed passing Prestwich to his son Peter in 1395.

Robert once raided at night and carried some of Langley's cattle as far as Glossop (in Derbyshire), and being pursued, he entered the house of Master Wagstaffe, who must have been much annoyed, and defied Robert de Langley, wounding one of his servants with an arrow. The brother of the wounded man threw fire into the house, and Holland had to surrender, and was taken into Lancashire. It was also said that he had then already been outlawed for treason as part of the 1400 conspiracy.

Robert de Langley, who had inherited Prestwich from his father Roger, detained Robert de Holland for a time. In 1402, when Robert de Langley was twenty-four, he was pardoned by the King having captured and detained Robert de Holland.

When the Holland family cousins (Earls of Kent and Huntingdon) declined in status as a result of their conspiracy to assassinate King Henry IV in 1400, so did the Holland's claim on Prestwich. But as if to silently record their grievance, the Hollands of Clifton used the Wolveley crest as part of theirs, and carved it onto their Hall at Clifton. Robert's son Peter de Holland finally gave up his claim to Prestwich in 1418.

Holland Crest 1361

The seal of William Holland of Clifton, attached to a deed of 1361, bore the arms of the Hollands of Upholland (above), a ' lion rampant gardant a field seme de fleurs de lys, over all a bend.'

Then in 1444, Ralph, the son of Otes was charged with trespass in the woods of Sir John Pilkington, and taking 3 hawks worth £20.

Upon Otes's death the manor passed to his son Thomas and then to his son, William. He married Alice Warden, from a notably Catholic, Lancashire family, some of whom later served on the Royalist side in the Civil War.

In 1514 the boundary of the land in Clifton held by the Hollands was described:

Beginning at the Fennes stock at the end of Redford hedge and at the end of Cheping clough, and so following up Nordenbrook unto anends the Tynde oak, and so up the Fether snape as the water falls from the head, and so in again unto the [Qwab] head, and from thence unto the Black dyke, following this to the Butted birch, and thence down to the syke and sykeyard to Riddendenford, and down Riddenden Brook to the Irwell, and along the wator to the Parrok gate, and thence to the true mere between Clifton and Pendlebury, and so following up Norden Brook to the Fennes stock, where it began

In about 1517 William's son Thomas, married Ellen de Langley, daughter of Robert Langley of Agecroft Hall and Lord of the neighbouring Manor of Prestwich.

An agreement respecting the marriage between the families was made in 1517 between William Holland and Robert Langley.

From the Herald's Visitation of 1533, the Hollands of Clifton (who were not present) had carved on their house as arms: ' with a second quarter sable, three maidens' heads couped two and one, with the crest of a wolf passant,' no longer a lion rampant gardant.

Holland Crest 1533

It is said that the wolf crest and maidens' heads belonged to a family called de Wolveley. Adam de Prestwich had married Alice de Wolveley about 1300, and her children were made heirs to the Manor of Prestwich. The Hollands had been hurting about not possessing the manor of Prestwich, but the marriage of 1517 had finally ended the quarrel, and the family crest reflected that. But the manor still lay with the male Langley heirs, and all was still not to be quiet between the Holland and Langley families.

In 1523 William Holland of Clifton died and Clifton passed to his son, Thomas.

Thomas Holland died in 1565 leaving Ellen a widow with four children. His youngest and sixth brother, William Holland, who was born about 1517, was executor of his will, and was ancestor of the Hollands of Rhodes, Mobberley,Sandlebridge, and of the Viscounts Knutsford.

Ellen Holland, the widow of Thomas Holland, with her children William, Robert, Thomas, and Ellinor, claimed in the courts against William Langley, Parson of Prestwich. This william was the second in a line of three William Langleys to take the position of Rector at St Mary's...and the most troublesome. He was also Ellen's brother.

The complaint was that the Late Thomas Holland had left Goods to the value of 300 Marks, the defendant was his trustee. William Langley undertook to provide Thomas and his family with board and lodging during his own lifetime at the Parsonage of Prestwich called the Deyne in consideration whereof the defendant enjoyed all the goods of the said Thomas. Ever since Thomas's death, Langley had refused these obligations and had even driven his nephew and niece, Thomas and Ellinor out of the Parsonage when they came to seek assistance.

Map of 1590 Showing William Holland of Clifton

The three sons of Thomas Holland died without surviving issue, and the manor then passed to their sister Eleanor, married to Ralph Slade.

Clifton Hall ~1830

The couple died without child, and on Ellen's death in 1613, the property reverted to a cousin, Thomas Holland, a grandson of John Holland, the second son of the William Holland who died in 1523. This Thomas Holland still owned the estate at the time of the Civil War. He was a Royalist, and the estates were sequestrated by Parliament for his own delinquencies, and more especially those of his son William, who had applied for a commission in the King's army, had fought as a defender of Wigan, when Colonel Richard Holland of Denton captured that town, and had also served in the garrison of Lathom House, and in other places.

After the Civil War Thomas Holland and his son William, suffered for choosing to fight the Royalists cause and fell into financial diifculty having to sell Clifton Hall.

Click here to browse the
Holland Family tree
on Ancestry.co.uk. (Ancestry account required - no subscription required)

The Hall along with some land in Clifton, was bought by Lawrence Gaskell in 1652, and in 1666, Daniel Gaskell his son, was been recorded as living in a house at Clfiton which had 6 hearths. Only the residence of Elizabeth Holland matched this size in the same Hearth Tax returns. This elder Daniel, had children: Rebecca (1652) and Nathaniel (1653/4) by his first wife Grace, who died in 1657. By his second wife he then had a son Daniel (1660).

Gaskell Family Crest

The Registers of St Mary's in Prestwich record the burial of Daniel Gaskell, Gentleman, of Clifton Hall in February 1720. Daniel was the son of Daniel of Clifton Hall mentioned in 1660, who had died in 1680.

In 1687 Holland paid 6s. and Daniel Gaskell 2s. 3d. to the bailiff of the wapentake for Clifton. Then in 1777 Richard Edensor and Richard Ireland paid the Duchy 5s. 11½d. for the manor of Clifton, while James Gaskell paid 2s. 6d. for Clifton Hall.

In the 18th Century it was most likely that Nathaniel Gaskell (Son of Daniel and Ann Seddon) had Clifton hall rebuilt. Nathaniel had married Sarah, daughter of James Wilson of Poppythorn. The Wilson family had long been residents of the Glebelands,Poppythorn and Polefield areas of Prestwich, they had taken the position of churchwarden on five occasions between 1646 and 1725, and were classed as "yeoman". Back in 1666 the hearth tax had recorded that James Wilson had a house of 7 hearths, just 3 less than the Rectory. Read more about the Wilson's at Polefield House.

Rebbecca Gaskell, the daughter of Daniel and Sarah, was the mother of Major General Robert Clive, a.k.a. Lord Robert Clive of India. Rebecca's sister married Daniel Bayley of Hope Hall, Manchester, and deputy lieutenant of Lancashire.The Bayley family, originally from the Blackburn area, were silk weavers and moved into cotton and general trade, acquiring Hope Hall (by 1698) and Daniel's son Thomas Bayley, inherited Booth Hall (1781).The New Bayley Prison, in operation from 1790 to 1868, took its name from the family after Thomas laid the foundation stone in 1787.

Clifton Hall ~1860

Click here to browse the
Gaskell Family tree
on Ancestry.co.uk. (Ancestry account required - no subscription required)

Robert Clive, the man whose achievements laid the foundation for the whole British Raj, and who is implicated in the Bengal Famine of 1770, was one of thirteen children, and had been sent by his father Richard Clive M.P., to live with his aunt & uncle Elizabeth and Daniel Bayley, in 1728 (when he was just aged 3).

During his 7 years that he spent in Manchester, it is said that Robert Clive would have visited his grandfather Nathaniel Gaskell at Clifton Hall, and also further relatives at Brick Farmhouse in Whitefield.

The Grade II listed Brick Farmhouse on Griffe Lane in Whitefield, has a dated inscription showing that it was once owned by Robert Clives 1st Cousin three times removed (the son of his great great grandfather's brother).


Clive is also claimed to have attended Stand Grammar School, his route taking him over the Irwell at Bradley Ford.

See inside Brick farmhouse...it came up for sale in 2018

Bury Times

[Lands in Heaton Fallowfield, formerly owned by the Gaskell familiy was bought from James Lancashire in 1773. Consideration: Surrender of lease to Samuel Gaskell of Roads in Prestwich parish yeoman, dated 17 Oct. 1676.]

Sadly no record exists of the attendees of Stand at that time, and the Lord Clive pub on Hillock estate has long since been demolished, but place names such as Cliveley and Pepper Hill in Clifton keep the claims alive.

Read more about Clive of India...

Lord Clive

Sadly the locations of the Gaskell graves at St Mary's are unrecorded, but the Will of Adam Gaskell of Brick farmhouse in Whitefield/Unsworth, records his wishes to buried inside the Parish Church of Prestwich. So it is presumed that Adaam, his Unsworth relatives and the Clifton Gaskells (18 burials from the 18th century) all reside in a family vault beneath the church floor.

Will of Adam Gaskell, 1655

There is one last story to tell of the Gaskell family...

A lady called Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson married William Gaskell, who was pastor of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel in Manchester. Elizabeth Gaskell was a successful novelist, and also a biographer of Charlotte Brontë. William Gaskell descended from the Gaskell family of Upholland in Lancashire, as did the Gaskells of Clifotn Manor.

UnitariansFirstly, Unitarians believe in the unity of God, as opposed to the doctrine of the Trinity – hence the name Unitarian They believe in Jesus as a human and historical figure, not a god They champion the worth of each individual human being and reject ideas of original sin and inherent guilt They believe in the universal salvation of all souls and reject the doctrine of predestined damnation [Ref https://elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk/]

By 1786 another Daniel Gaskell owned just over one third of the Old Manor, with Sir John Heathcote owning the rest.

Bradley Ford

The crossing point over the Irwell between Clifton and Prestwich (and on to Whitefield) was at Bradley Ford, and would have been used by Clive of India to cross to and from his Uncle's house. The track up from the ford on the Prestwich side met with the lower reaches of Clifton Road which lead down from Whitefield and the north of Prestwich, as well as the lower reaches of Prestwich Clough. The low bank on the Salford side has since been covered with a steep bank of waste material from the factory.

Clifton Aqueduct in the rear, with the 13 arches to the front.

1796 saw the building of an aqueduct (grade 2 listed)that carried the Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal across the river Irwell at Clifton.

The curious history of the house continued as it was used as a private lunatic Asylum, before coming into the possession of Benjamin Arthur Heywood in 1825, he was the son of a Slave Trader. He went on to become founder of the influential Heywoods Bank in Manchester. Benjamin also purchased Claremont, a Georgian residence in Salford, and went onto represent South Lancashire in parliament, and was later created a baronet by the queen. His son, Sir Benjamin Heywood, found himself in sole ownership of the "Heywood Brothers & Co." Bank in 1829, and later renamed it to "Sir Benjamin Heywood Bart. & Co.". In 1848 Sir Benjamin had a new property for the Bank built at St Anne's Square, designed by John Edgar Gregan.

[Nathaniel Heywood had been Vicar of Ormskirk during the English Civil War, and had two son's Richard and Nathaniel. Richard went to Ireland and ended up adopting his nephew, Arthur. Arthur grew up to marry the daughter of General Arthur Graham of Armagh, and went on to have two sons Benjamin & Arthur. These brothers found fortune in the Slave Trade, investing in over 133 slave voyages between 1745 & 1789]

Heywoods Banking House

The sons of Sir Benjamin later renamed the business to "Heywood Brothers & Co.", one of the sons lived at The How, in Prestwich.

If you recall just undre two thirds of Clifton had passed to Sir John Heathcote in 1786. This passed to Captain Justinian John Edwards-Heathcote, born 1843. He had receivied a commission in the 63rd (West Suffolk) Regiment of Foot, then served as captain in the Staffordshire Yeomanry. He aslo stood unsucessfully as a Conservative MP in North West Staffordshire. Justinian was also the father of Katharine Maud Edwards-Heathcote, mother of Oswald Mosley, the founder of the British Union of Fascists.

Justinian Edwards-Heathcote

The Corrie family also owned the house for a period, and the 19th Century saw the spread of the Railway and this saw the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway take possession of the Hall for the purposes of office space and a canteen.

The Grade I listed Gothic style High Anglican St Augustine's Church, in pendlebury wasdesigned by George Frederick Bodley between 1871 and 1874. The church became known as the miners' cathedral because of its lofty appearance and because many local men were colliers. The churchyard contains a memorial to 178 men and boys who died in a disaster at Clifton Hall Colliery on 18 June 1885. 64 victims are buried at St Augustine's.

The Gaskell family were still recorded as the owners of Clfiton Hall, as in 1911 Rt. Hon. Charles G. Milnes Gaskell was stated to be in posession, though he lived in Thornes House, near Wakefield.

In 1936 the Hall was demolished after becoming neglected, and the present day Magnesium Elektron Ltd. Works now occupies the site.

Map of Clifton Hall and the Railway Junction

The Railway branched off over the great viaduct (grade 2 listed) known locally as the 13 arches, that crossed the river Irwell near Philips Park joining the East Lancashire line to Clifton Junction, site of the Battle of Clifton Junction.

Read about The Battle of Clifton Junction

Written by

Malcolm Borrowdale