Withington history
Withington Manor

From post-conquest times through to the 19th century, Withington was a manor under the governance of a lord of the manor. The manor had a considerable extent including Didsbury, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Burnage, Levenshulme, Rusholme, and Moss Side and some other parts of what is now Greater Manchester. During part of this period, the manor of Withington formed a sub-manor of the manor of Manchester.

The descent and ownership of the lordships of the manors of Withington and Manchester are quite tortuous, depending on their inheritance within families and sometimes on complicated contracts of purchase when passing between families. We describe the main features of Withington's manorial history below. More detail can be found in the references, especially [2] and [3].

Early manorial history

Early records of a lord of the manor of Withington refer to a William de Withington, son of Wulfrith de Withington, in the early 13th century. The lordship then passed to the Hathersage family, who were descendants of William de Withington and held their main estates in Derbyshire. Later it passed into the hands of the Longford family who were descendants of the Hathersage (or Haversage) family and were also a Debyshire family (of Longford in Derbyshire).

After several transactions involving the lordship of Manchester between 1579 and 1596, the lordship was acquired by Sir Nicholas Mosley (the family name is also spelled "Moseley") in 1596 [1]. There is some confusion over whether the lordship of Withington at this time belonged to Sir Nicholas or his son, Rowland Mosley [2]. Sir Nicholas was a textile merchant of London, who became Sheriff of London and eventually Lord Mayor of London in 1599. He was High Sheriff of Lancashire from 1609 to 1610. He died in 1612 and was buried in the church of St James, Didsbury, where a monument shows him kneeling, "dressed in the robes of the Lord Mayor of London" [6]. See below for more details of the memorial monuments. Rowland Mosley succeeded in 1612 but died in 1616/7. He himself also served as the High Sheriff of Lancashire [1].

Hough End Hall, empty and
for sale: June 2014.
Hough End House/Hall served as home of the Lord of the Manor from, at least, the 16th century. [2] records that:
"The purchaser of the manor in 1597 was Rowland Mosley. He was the son of Nicholas Mosley, 'cotton man' of Manchester, to whom, in 1568, Hough End House had been leased by Nicholas Longford,  the freehold being purchased by Rowland and Francis Mosley in 1588. Rowland was about fifty-three years of age at his father's death; he served as high sheriff in 161516, and died in 1617, leaving a son and heir, Edward, born a few months before the father's death."
The Hall was rebuilt by Sir Nicolas Mosley and his family on the site of an older house which is known to have existed in the middle of the 15th century. There is a detailed description of the history and architecture of Hough End Hall in [2]. Another large house, a moated house (demolished 1750) near to Old Moat, may also have served as a manor house in medieval times.

The lordships of Manchester and Withington then descended in the Mosley family. However, in the 18th century, the Mosley male line failed and the estates passed to the Bland family: Sir John Bland, who "married Ann the daughter and sole heir of Edward Mosley of Hulme" (see the words on the Bland monument below) and then to his son (also Sir John).

Recent history

The lordships were eventually sold, with Withington being bought by the Egertons of Tatton (for details of the Egerton family of Tatton, see [8]). The rights of the lord of the manor of Withington were lost during the 19th century, but the Egertons continued to own large areas in and around Withington in the late 19th century [7] and into the 20th century.
The Manor of Manchester was still the property of the Mosley family at the time Manchester was incorporated as a borough in 1838. By an agreement dated 24th June 1845, Sir Oswald Mosley (of Rolleston Hall) sold the manorial and market rights to the corporation for the 200,000. The transfer of rights took place in 1846, 250 years after their purchase by Sir Nicolas Mosley for 3,500. [1]

For additional information about manorial history and land ownership in the area in medieval times, see the references below, especially [2] and [3].

The Mosley and Bland memorials

Sir Nicolas Mosley and his family are believed to be buried under the present church of St. James, Didsbury, near the wall-mounted monument to him and his family. At the time of the burial, this area was part of the graveyard of the then chapel.

Pictures (2014) of the Mosley and Bland family memorial monuments (click on the pictures to enlarge them, a further click magnifies further):

St James Church, Didsbury

St James' Church, Didsbury.
St James' Church, Didsbury

The interior of the church. The Mosley
memorial monuments are in a chapel
on the right.

Moseley monument, St James' Church Didsbury

The memorial monument to Sir Nicolas
Mosley and family.

Sir Nicolas Moseley, St Jasmes' Church, Didsbury

Sir Nicolas, kneeling and "in the robes
of the Lord Mayor of London" [8].

LHS inscription from the monument.


Middle inscription from the monument.

RHS inscription from the monument.
Monument to Sir John Bland, St James' Church, Didsbury.

Memorial monument to Sir John Bland
(died Oct 25th, 1715) in St James'
Church, Didsbury.

[1] The Mosley Family of Manchester, A Scrapbook of Cheshire. Craig Thornber.
[2] Victoria County History: 'Townships: Withington', A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4 (1911), pp. 288-293 (William Farrer & J. Brownbill (editors)).
[3] History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster by Edward Baines, Esq., M.P. Vol. II, first published by Fisher and Sons, London, 1836.  New edition edited by John Harland published by George Routledge of London and Manchester, 1870, Vol 1. 
[4] Extract from an historical archive of a wider area (1282) [Remains, historical & literary, connected with the palatine counties of Lancaster and Chester (1844-86)].
[5] A history of  Withington, Kenneth Whittaker. 1957, EJ Morten Publishers;  Rev Ed edition, October 1969.
[6] Lancashire: Manchester and the South East (The Buildings of England), Clare Hartwell, Matthew Hyde, Nikolaus Pevsner. New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-300-10583-5.
[7] The Egerton Family Archive, Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives (Greater Manchester County Record Office, Manchester Archives). Withington O.S. map, 1862, annotated with plots for sale.
[8] The Egerton Family of Tatton, A Scrapbook of Cheshire. Craig Thornber.