1830s Heywood by Edwin Butterworth

E. Butterworth. (Edward Parr, Gallery Oldham)
Some of the best historical descriptions of Heywood were written in the 1840s-‘50s, after the town was visited by such writers and chroniclers as Edwin Waugh, Samuel Bamford and Edwin Butterworth.

Butterworth (1812–1848) was the earliest of these men. A Lancashire topographer from near Oldham, he travelled on foot through nearly every town and village in the county over six years during the 1830s while researching for Edward Baines’ History of Lancashire, and his account of Heywood, published in 1840, was based on these notes. In 1833 he wrote of his difficulties doing this research:
‘At last, after considerable trouble, pain, and perambulation, I have completed my inquiries in Bury parish, and a most tedious and perplexing matter it has been. To go over a parish ten miles in length and five in breadth, to call on persons sometimes denominated (but too often erroneously) intelligent men, and to procure the steam power requires great care and patience.’
So extensive was Butterworth’s research that he planned to publish a 50-volume history of the county in partnership with Samuel Bamford, and although a start was made on this project it was never completed as Butterworth died of typhoid in 1848.

His works included histories of Manchester, Oldham, Stalybridge and Ashton-under-Lyne, among others. He also published one edition of a newspaper, the Oldham Miscellany, and Middleton and Heywood Mirror, in January 1845. A monument to his memory was erected in Greenacres Cemetery, Oldham, in 1859, but his books are now quite difficult to obtain.

Butterworth's history of Heywood is reproduced below and although he tends to overuse statistics and family histories here and there, the descriptive passages make for interesting reading and are an excellent description of the town as it was circa 1839. (Some italicized explanations of obsolete words have been added here.)

An historical description of the town of Heywood and vicinity
Heywood is a town in the township of Heap, the parish and manor of Bury, the magisterial division of Bolton-le-moors, the hundred of Salford, and the county of Lancaster, or Lancashire.

The district of Heap is of oblong form, principally stretching on the southern bank of the river Roch; the portion on the northern side of that river seems to belong naturally to the adjoining township of Birtle-cum:-Bamford in the parish of Middleton, but it is probable that this section was attached to Heap by the ancient lords of the manor of Bury; the third part of this parochial division is entirely isolated from the rest by the intervention of Pilsworth and Hopwood in Middleton parish; it is, however, invariably styled Whittle-in-Heap.

The body of the township is about two miles in length, and nearly one mile and a half in breadth; comprising 2,240 statute acres, the aggregate of acres Lancashire measure in Heap has been stated at 1,478, and in Whittle at 552¼; a third author gives the total acreage in customary measure or Cheshire acre as nearly 1800.

On the north Heap is bounded by Birtle-cum-Bamford, on the south by Pilsworth and Hopwood, and partly by Unsworth, on the west by Bury, and on the east by Bamford, Castleton, and Hopwood. Heywood, the principal place in Heap, is situated on gently rising ground, not half a mile from the southern bank of the Roch, in about north latitude 53. 35, and west longitude from Greenwich in degrees 2-15, 8-miles N.N.W. of Manchester, by the turnpike road, and 92 1 by the Heywood branch canal, and Manchester and Leeds railway; 192 N.N.W. of London, 51 S.S.E. of Lancaster, 3 E.S.E. of Bury, 3 W.S.W. of Rochdale, and 3 N.W. of Middleton.

The origin of the designation Heap is not at all obvious; in the earliest known mention of the place it is termed Hep, which may imply a tract overgrown with hawthornberries. The name might arise from the unevenness of the surface, heep (Saxon) indicating a mass of irregularities. The denomination Heywood manifestly denotes the site of a wood in a field, or a wood surrounded by fields.

The manor of Bury, and other valuable estates, were granted under the great seal to Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby, the first of his family who bore that title. The manor is still enjoyed by the noble family of Stanley, the Right Hon. Edward Smith Stanley, the present and thirteenth Earl of Derby, being the present lord of the manor of Bury, of which Heap is a part.

A court leet is held at Bury annually, at Whitsuntide, at which the constables of Bury, Heap, Elton, and Walmersley are appointed; and a court baron for the recovery of debts under £2 within the manor may be held. Heap is also in the jurisdiction of the Bury court of requests for the recovery of debts under £15.

During the several centuries which passed away without any important events occurring to the ancient possessors of Heap, the district was slowly progressing in the amount of its population and the extent of its cultivated land, yet there was not even a group of houses, for the homesteads were far apart from each other; generally seated in sheltered spots, by the sides of the woods, and on the banks of rivulets; then it was that a large portion of this part of the country abounded in scenes of rural beauty, from the intermixture of groves and lawns, in a state of almost native wildness.
How filled with quiet were these fields!
Far off was heard, the peasants tread!
How clothed with peace was human life!
How tranquil seemed the dead!
In the fifteenth century there were in the township several closes or heys of land around a wood, not far from the centre, hence originated the name of Heywood. A few houses were shortly afterwards erected, and they received the designation of Heywood. A family bearing this name flourished here for many generations; but they were never of much note in county genealogy, though more than one were active in public affairs. In the visitation of 1664 are traced two lines of the Heywoods, those of Heywood and Walton, from the latter was descended Samuel Heywood, Esq., a Welch judge, uncle of Sir Benjamin Heywood, Baronet, of Claremont, near Manchester. The armorial bearing of the Heywoods, of Heywood, was argent, three torteauxes, between two bendlets gules.

The property of this ancient family principally consisting of Heywood hall and adjoining lands... purchased by Mr John Starky, of the Orchard, in Rochdale, in the latter part of the seventeenth, or the beginning of the eighteenth, century. Mr Starky was living in 1719; his descendant John Starky, Esq., married Mary, daughter of Joseph Gregge, Esq., of Chamber Hall, Oldham, John Starky, Esq., who died March 13th, 1780, was father of James Starky, Esq., of Fell Foot, near Cartmel, Lancashire, the present possessor of Heywood Hall, born September 8th, 1762, married September 2nd, 1785, Elizabeth, second daughter of Edward Gregg Hopwood, Esq. In 1791, Mr Starky served the office of high sheriff of the county; from this family branched the Starkies of Redivals, near Bury. Heywood Hall is a plain but ancient house, partly shrouded in ivy, and seated on an agreeable well-wooded eminence, overlooking the river Roch; this was once a sweet retired spot, cool with the green shade of masted foliage, and cheered by the pleasing aspect of tastefully disposed grounds:
Found a holy calm diffusing,
Love of peace, and lonely musing.
The present occupant of Heywood Hall is John Hilton Kay, Esq. Bamford gave name to a family at a remote period. Thomas de Bamford occurs, about 1193. Adam de Bamford granted land in vill de Bury to William de Chadwyke in 1413; and Sir John Bamford was a Fellow of the Collegiate Church of Manchester, in 1506. For upwards of a century there is no mention of this family; but I find that in 1719, Mr William Bamford gave a bequest to the curacy of Heywood; and that his descendant, William Bamford, Esq., died in 1761, according to a monument in Bury Church. A William Bamford, of Bamford, Esq., served the office of high sheriff of Lancashire, in 1787, he married Ann, daughter of Thomas Blackburne, Esq., of Orford and Hale, and was father of Anne, lady of John Ireland Blackburne, Esq., M.P. He was succeeded by Robert Bamford, Esq., who from his connection with the Heskeths of Cheshire took the name of Robert Bamford Hesketh, Esq., and married alias Frances Lloyd, of Gwrych Castle, their son, Lloyd Hesketh Bamford Hesketh, Esq., who is now of Gwrych Castle, Denbighshire, married Emily Esther Anne, youngest daughter of Earl Beauchamp. The Bamford Hall property was sold several years ago to Joseph Fenton, Esq., woollen manufacturer. The present mansion is situated an high ground, skirted by a wood on the north-west, and is a venerable house of three gables, apparently of the Elizabethian period-in the valley to the west flows Nadin water. A handsome and spacious residence has been lately erected by James Fenton, Esq., a short distance to the south, with the view of superseding the old hall.

One of the principal abodes of the memorable family of Holt, formerly existed at Gristlehurst, which Dr Whitaker incorrectly describes as in the parish of Middleton. Ralph Holt, the first of his race at Grizzlehurst, is said to have been a second son of a Holt of Stubley Thomas Holt, Esq; his great grandson, of Grizlehurst, was knighted by Edward, Earl of Hertford, in Scotland. Sir Thomas Holt received a grant of the manor of Spotland, from Henry the Eighth in 1542 for £641 16s. 18 d. His grandson, Thomas Holt, Esq., was great-grandfather of Thomas Posthumous Holt, Esq., one of the intended knights of the order of the Royal Oak, who, according to a MS. memorandum, died 26th March, 1669, after sownsett a hower (sunset), as they report it. He devised Grislehurst to his cousin Alexander Holt, of London, goldsmith; his great-grandson, William Hoit, Esq., was of Little Mitton. Elizabeth, eventually sole heiress of William, married Richard Beaumont, of Whitley-Beaumont, Esq., Yorkshire, in 1747, and died 1791; he sold Grislehurst about the middle of the last century, and was father of Richard Henry Beaumont, Esq., F.S.A., an accomplished antiquary. Of the habitation of the Holts, there are few remains; it is now inhabited by a farmer.

Bridge Hall or Bridge House, on the banks of the Roch, in the westerly part of the township, near Heap Bridge, was the residence of Roger Holt, gent., living in the reign of Charles the First, his son, Peter Holt, gent., was brother-in-law of Robert Gregge, Esq., father of Joseph Gregge, Esq., of Chamber Hall, Oldham. The family of Nuttall have possessed the estate some time; and Robert Nuttall, Esq., of Kernpsey, Worcestershire, is the present owner. This early abode is decorated by mullion windows.

Within a mile of Heywood in an easterly direction, in the township of Castleton, in the parish of Rochdale, stands Chamber House, some years ago the habitance of another branch of the prolific family of Holt, of whom was Robert Holt, gent., who died March 23rd, 1825, aged 89; his daughter, Elizabeth, married Mr John Orford, of Manchester, and Robert Orford Holt, Esq., is the present representative of the family. In the vicinity is Marland, an ancient but small village, the seat of the Marlands, as far back as the twelfth century. Andrew, son of Alan de Marland, bequeathed his body to be buried at the priory of Stanlaw; the place received its name from the adjacent meer or small lake; which covers about seven Lancashire acres; the morasses around afforded the last retreat in this country to the black game.

The yeomanry family of Hill were residents of Heady Hill, an elevated situation not far from the centre of Heap, for a considerable time. A dwelling at Heady Hill is pointed out as having been a place of meeting of the rebels in 1745, though it would certainly be out of the line of their march from the northward. In a copy of a terrier of the rectory of Bury (in the possession of the author) dated November 5th, 1696, it is stated that parcels of moss upon Heap Moor and Bullow Moor are in the occupation of the rector himself for getting Turves.

During the sixteenth century Heywood became a village of agricultural labourer’s cottages; and as intercourse gradually increased betwixt the towns of Bury and Rochdale, the local importance of the spot was seen, and accordingly rendered available to the convenience and advantage of an augmenting population. In the course of a few years an episcopal chapel was requisite for the spiritual welfare of the villagers, and such an edifice was therefore built; chiefly by the munificence of the owners of Heywood Hall.

The place formed a group of rural dwellings, at the period when the cotton manufacture began to prevail; and the apparatus then in use to carry on this now extraordinary business was about as rude and simple as the cotter’s habitations of the olden time were compared to those of the present day (cotter = peasant farmer).

For the first fifty years of the fast century, the cotton trade was slowly extending here; but in the succeeding fifty, such was the demand for goods and the large amount of wages received, that the prudent handloom weavers and the thrifty spinning housewives accumulated money, extended their manufacturing transactions by employing additional hands: thus population and trade rapidly increased.

The great sheet anchor of all cottages and small farms was the labour attached to the hand wheel; and when it is considered that it required six or eight hands to prepare and spin yarn sufficient for the consumption of one weaver, it will be evident that there was an inexhaustible source of employment for every person from seven to eighty years of age who retained their sight and could move their hands. From 1770 to 1788 the use of wool and linen - in the spinning of yarns bad almost disappeared, and cotton was become the almost universal material for employment, the hand wheels were superseded by common jennies, hand carding by carding engines, and hand picking by fly shuttle. From 1788 to 1803 was the golden age of this great trade, the introduction of mule yarns assimilated with other yarns producing every description of goods, gave a preponderating wealth through the loom. The mule twist being rapidly produced, and the demand for goods very large put all hands in request, and weavers workshops became yearly more numerous; the remuneration for labour was high, and the population were in a most comfortable condition. (Radcliffe’s Origin of Powerloom Weaving, p. 59-66.)

The dissolution of Arkwright's patent in 1785, and the general adoption of mule spinning in 1790 concurred to give the most extraordinary impetus to the cotton manufacture; numerous mills were erected and filled with water frames; and jennies and mules were made and set to work with almost incredible rapidity. The first cotton factory erected in Heap was Makin Mill, on the banks of the Roch, north of Heywood, built about 1780, by the opulent firm of Peel, Yates and Company of Bury, the head of which was Robert Peel, Esq., afterwards created a Baronet, November 29th, 1800, father of the present Right Hon. Sir Robert Peel, Bart., and of Edmund Peel, Esq., the present owner of the works at Makin Mill. The first spinning mill commenced in the village of Heywood was at Wrigley Brook; and is the one now belonging to Robert Kershaw, Esq.; it was in existence in the latter part of the last century. At that period Heywood was a village of about two thousand inhabitants. The cotton spinning and weaving trades materially augmented during the first fifteen years of the present century, and consequently mills and dwellings increased every year. In 1817 there were in Heap ten cotton mills, in 1824 seventeen, in 1828 twenty, and in 1833 twenty-seven. The number of steam engines engaged in the cotton trade in 1833 was thirty-four, the aggregate of the horse power of which amounted to 905, exclusive of one engine used in machine making, one in papermaking, and four in collieries, and of three woollen mills, where the machinery was moved by water.

In 1834-5 a return of Robert Rickards, Esq., factory inspector, states the number of cotton mills in Heap at 31, the steam engines as equal to 801, and water wheels to 160 horses power, and the total number of persons employed 4,467. The number of mills newly built or enlarged during 1835-6 was three, the power of whose engines was equal to that of 94 horses. [Returns of the Factory Inspectors, 1835-6.] The number of cotton manufacturing concerns, or firms, in 1838 was about 37, and the number of cotton mills in Heap in 1839 was about 34, and of steam engines 42; of the latter there are 38 in the village of Heywood and vicinity, whose power is equal to that of 1,038 horses. The number of carding engines is 377, power looms 4,167, spindle, 236,121, and the amount of hands directly employed 5,190 [Communication of Mr Richard Burch, Heywood. There is a woollen manufactory at Heap Bridge, which is 85 yards in length, by 75 in width, supported by 253 pillars, and containing 2,688 feet of shafting and 450 gas jets. In the vicinity is a large paper manufactory.] The descriptions of cotton goods manufactured here are chiefly velveteens, velvets, beaverteens, swandowns, pillows, moleskins, etc. The spinners, cardroom hands, powerloom weavers, and other cotton mill operatives are tolerably remunerated for their labour; the hours of work are limited by law to twelve per day, and nine on Saturday. Upwards of one-third of the millworkers are under eighteen years of age, but none are below nine. The conduct and manners of a considerable manufacturing community are diversified. The social condition and moral feelings of the factory class of Heywood do not differ in any material features from the character of the vast population similarly employed in other places. Notwithstanding the marked improvement effected within the present century in provisional behaviour by extensive means of education religious instruction, there is yet a large proportion of the operatives, adults as well as youths, lamentably indifferent to any efforts affecting their moral culture. This debased portion of the population suffer more from their improvident habits and intemperate conduct than from lowness of wages or deficiency of work. Amongst all degrees of the working people even with many inconsiderate of their domestic welfare, an extended taste for general reading is manifest. This cheering change is of recent growth, and is to be attributed to the late diffusion of religious and scientific knowledge; yet decided indications of mental improvement are few.

The districts abounding in cotton manufactories present some singular features of external aspect. The stranger in approaching such tracts is struck by the increase of dwellings at every step; by the tall lofty chimneys of glaring brick, which are sometimes seen when in elevated situations at the distance of miles, and by the huge extensive buildings to which they are annexed. Such is the appearance Heywood of
‘Thy crowded streets and manufactories,
Where smoky volumes the gay prospect dim,
While song and labour echo to the hum
Of vast revolving wheels!’
A poetising factory operative thus metrically describes the interior of a cotton mill:
‘Here belts and rollers, spindles, shafts and geer,
And strange machinery to the sight appear;
Wheel within wheel in curious order rise,
Of various metal and of various size;
Bands crossed and open, numerous here abound,
While pleasing discords in the ear resound,
Like the low murmurs, when the rising breeze
Disturbs the surface of the ample seas.’
[The Cotton Mill, a poem, by John Jones.]
The grosser operations of art are felt to injure the beauties of nature. Cotton mills, pleasant valleys, ranges of uniform but neat cottages, groves of trees overshadowing fertile pastures, foul unsightly looking coal shafts, and productive corn fields but ill accord with each other, yet they are all met with in manufacturing districts intermixed together.

The condition and disposition of the population employed in the cotton trade vary with their situation as to amount of earnings, or their desire for mental culture. The higher section such as managers, etc., are generally well-behaved, well-situated, and prudent men, of considerable tact in their business, but destitute of extensive intelligence. Their neat dwellings, and the comfortable, even elegant condition of their families, manifest that expensive habits are perhaps required by improved circumstances. The spinners and weavers, with the vast number of youths and young females employed in conjunction with them are, taken in a mass, of pale and sickly countenances; still many have most healthy and pleasing features, the difference may be owing to temper and constitution of body as well as to the state of the mills and dwellings.

In one respect there is little variation amongst the young, this is in their assurance and the wantonness of their behaviour. The older operatives are addicted to habits of intemperance, and the young ones imitate their example at an early age. It is lamentable to perceive the ignorance prevalent amongst many females employed in factories as to the management of a household; this is owing to all the early years of female life amongst this class of people being entirely devoted to the factory, where vicious courses are much more largely pursued than virtuous. The light and delicate fabrics of the loom, enriched by the tasteful impressions of the calico printer and rendered cheap by their abundance, serve to impart to the humblest factory girl neatness of dress.

This manufacture furnishes nearly one-half of the exports of British produce and manufactures; it supports more than one-eleventh of the population of Great Britain; and it supplies almost every nation of the world with some portion of its clothing. [Baines’s History of the Cotton Manufacture, p. 432.]

The extraordinary growth of the cotton trade at Heywood is of recent date, but it ultimately produced a rapid increase of population I have not met with any information respecting the number of inhabitants in Heap, prior to the commencement of the present century.

In the Parliamentary return of population compiled 1801, the total of persons in Heap is stated at 4,283-males 2,007, females 2,276. In 1811 the number of inhabited houses was 831, families 866, houses building 1, unoccupied 22, families employed in agriculture 42, in trade, etc., 817, other families 7, males 2,400, females 2,748, total of persons 5,148. In 1821 there were inhabited houses 1,060, families 1,134, houses building 5, unoccupied 14, families engaged in agriculture 50. In trade, etc., 1,018, other families 66, males 3,220, females 3,332, total persons 6,552. In 1831 the decennial return of population presented the subjoined results: Inhabited houses 1,693, families 1,981, houses building 37, unoccupied 39, families employed in agriculture 97, in trade 722, other families 1,162, males 5,048, females 5,381, total of persons 10,429, males twenty years of age and upwards 2,275, occupiers of land employing labourers 24, occupiers not employing labourers 42, labourers employed in agriculture 83, in manufacture or malting manufacturing machinery 499, in retail trade and handicraft 340 - capitalists, professional men, etc., 28, labourers engaged in labour not agricultural 1,188, other males upwards of twenty years of age, except servants, 56, male servants twenty years of age 15, under twenty 5, female servants 58. There is an obvious defect in the returns for 1831, arising from the number of families unconnected with trade being stated at 1,162; this is evidently too high an estimate of the amount of that section of the population.

In an analytical table of the births and deaths registered in each district of the Bury Union, according to the provisions of the Registration Acts, from July 1st to September 30th, 1837 it is stated that in Heywood district, consisting of Heap, Hopwood, and Pilsworth, and containing 15,234 persons, the registered births were 107, -deaths 71; from October 1st to December 31st, 1837, births 121, deaths 74; the results of the general registration for one year, from July 1st, 1837, to June 30th, 1838, in this district were, births 535, males 287, females 248; deaths 421, males 217, females 204. The present number of inhabitants in Heap is about 14,000. The estimated annual value of the lands, messuages, and other property in 1815 way £8,861, in 1829 £27,820.

For upwards of two hundred and twenty years there was only one episcopal chapel within Heap, that of St. Luke's, or Heywood Old Chapel, but recently an additional episcopal place of worship, St. James's, or Heywood New Chapel has been erected. St. Luke's Chapel appears from an inscription on wood near the south side of the altar, to have been founded early in the seventeenth century; this inscription is as follows: F.H. 1611, - the initials are those of Francis Holt, Esq., of the family of Holt of Gristlehurst. In an inquisition taken at Manchester, June 19th, 1650, by the Parliamentary Commissioners for enquiry into ecclesiastical livings, it is recommended that Heywood Chapel be made a parish church. The Rev. George Thomason was minister here during the Civil Wars, and the period of the Commonwealth, when Presbyterianism was the ascendant faith; on the restoration of episcopacy in 1662, Mr Thomason was incumbent, but as he declined to conform to that change he was ejected from the curacy on St. Bartholomew's Day, August 24th, 1662. The edifice seems to have been improved in the reign of James the Second. A dial on the east side of the exterior bears the date 1686, and the initials of Robert Heywood, Esq., of Heywood, who was governor of the Isle of Man, 1678. About the middle of the last century the building was altered, and in 1805 it was enlarged to its present extent. The living, a perpetual curacy, was augmented by the governors of Queen Anne s bounty, by a grant of £200 from George the First, and £200 given by Mr William Bamford and Mr John Starkey in 1719. Bacon states the certified value, of the curacy to be £8 per annum. The Commissioners for inquiry into the revenues of the Established Church reported in 1835 that the annual value of the living was £196. The presentation is vested in the Rector of Bury. The incumbents recorded in the registers are as follows:
Rev. James Barton, presented 1747
Rev. Richard Longford, 1773
Rev. Richard Hood, 1803
Rev. Joseph Bland Jameson, 1823
The Rev Robert Minnitt, the present incumbent, was instituted June, 1834. His assistant curate is the Rev. P. A. Galindo. The registers of baptisms commence in 1747, and of burials in 1765. The chapel is licensed for the solemnisation of marriages under the Act 6 and 7, William IV., c. 85. The edifice is a plain and rather irregularly built pile, surmounted by a cupola. In the interior is a tablet commemorative of John Starky of Heywood, Esq., who died March 11th, 1780, aged 64, also, of Esther, his wife, died November fifth, 1784, aged 64. On the south side of the, altar is an elegant monument, thus inscribed:
Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth the beloved wife for fifty years of James Starky, of Heywood, Esquire, She died at their residence Fell foot, Windermere, August 28, 1835, universally regretted, aged 67.
A third mural slab is in memory of Alexander Hill of Heap, Gent., who died August 9th, 1776, aged 62; Martha, his wife, who died November 5th, 1796, aged 92; Alexander Hill, Jun., Esq who died July 17th, 1826, aged 76; and Mary, his wife, who died October 14th, 1794, aged 38. In the chapel yard is a memorial of Robert Holt, sen., of Chamber House, Gent., died March 23rd, 1825, aged 89; and a plain stone within the chapel, recording John Kershaw, Esq., of Peel-street, Heywood, a highly esteemed inhabitant, who died December 19th, 1836, aged 53 - his merits surely entitled him to a striking monument from the public.
Shall the man of worth and virtue die
Without the passing tribute of a sigh?
Shall he retire from this dark vale of tears,
Without come memento to future years;-
Some friendly voice to whisper down the tide,
How usefully he lived-how calm he died.?
St. James’s Chancel was erected 1836-7, the first stone was laid July 2nd, 1836, by R. Oxford, Esq., and the edifice was first opened for divine warship on New Year’s Day (January 1st), 1838. The costs of erection, amounting to about £3,000, were principally defrayed by subscriptions, and partly by a grant from the Diocesan Society for the building and endowing of churches. The living is a perpetual curacy, partly endowed by £1,000 contributed by the Diocesan Society; the patronage is vested in five trustees, according to Act 2, William IV., consisting of the Bishop of Chester, the Chancellor of Chester, James Fenton, Robert Kershaw, and Robert Kay, Esquires. The present incumbent is the Rev. Hewitt O’Brien, his assistant minister is the Rev. George Nash. This sacred edifice is a plain stone structure, with a tower, and will accommodate a congregation of 1,200 persons; the galleries are entirely free to the use of the poor.

St James' Church, Heywood.

The Dissenters have eight places of worship in this populous village or town; and there is another in a rural part of the township. In the town there are the Wesleyan Methodists Chapel, erected 1805, enlarged 1828, a neatly arranged and spacious building; Independents Chapel, founded on Good Friday, 1835, opened April 1st, 1836 [the first meeting room of this sect was opened in April, 1821, they subsequently removed to another room which was opened 10th of October, 1823; Baptists Chapel, opened April 17th, 1834, a large striking fabric; Methodist New Connexion Chapel, opened 1838 (this society opened their first meeting room, July 2nd, 1837]; Primitive Methodists Chapel, opened December 25th, 1835 [their first meetings here commenced in 1828]; Wesleyan Association Chapel, opened April 10th, 1836, a well-built and large pile [the Associationists commenced here in October, 1835]; Swedenborgians Chapel, or New Jerusalem Temple, originally near the old episcopal chapel, from 1814 to 1828, present edifice built 1828, enlarged 1838; and Particular Baptists Chapel, opened in December, 1838. The chapel commonly called Bamford Chapel belongs to the Independents, and was built about 1800. The places of worship within Heap will accommodate in the aggregate about 6,700 persons.

Great attention is paid here to the religious education of the young. There is a small slenderly endowed school, the income of which is derived from a bequest of £59 from Mr James Lancashire in 1737 and another of £30 from James Starky, Esq., in 1749, in 1833 twenty children were educated, partly by means of £5 per annum, forming the interest of the bequests, and by payments from the scholars, ten of whom receive linen shirts. Ann Bamford devised in 1778 £30 a year, with certain premises for a free school, in Heywood, and also £1,000 for the use of such school, to be laid out in land; but dying within twelve months from the date of her will the statute of mortmain (9 Geo. H., c. 36) took effect, and the bequest became void.

St Luke’s Sunday school, designated the National school, a commodious edifice, was erected 1815 by subscription, and enlarged 1835. It was intended for the daily education of 500 boys on the National plan, but has become a Sabbath day school for the instruction of children in the principles of the Established Church.

St. James's National and Sunday school is a large and substantial structure, erected in 1838, principally by means of the proceeds derived from a bazaar or sale of articles of fancy work, held for the purpose in St. Luke's National school in 1837; this exhibition and mart of ornamental productions was highly creditable to the ladies and gentlemen of Heywood and the vicinity, and gave a favourable indication of their public spirit and taste when duly tested in projects of general usefulness.
Pious knowledge said, - Let's hold a mart,
That shall together bring in bright array
Fancy s rich treasures, with the gems of Art;
Trophies of Science, and the textures gay
Of Manufacture skill, And the kind heart,
(That human engine of a mere day!)
Prompted gentle maids and labour's sons from far,
To cast their gifts into the gay bazaar.
The receipts of this praiseworthy undertaking amounted to £1,500 which, with £400 granted by the Lords of the Treasury and National Society for building and enlarging schools, and other contributions, formed the school building fund. This excellent institution, opened January 1st, 1839, affords instruction at present to 300 boys and girls, under the direction of four teachers, whose salaries are defrayed by subscriptions, and by payments from the scholars; the system of education pursued is based on the principles of the Established Church; and amusement is united with tuition, the school having a spacious playground and apparatus for recreation. The Sunday schools of Heywood are numerous, flourishing, and well conducted; the annexed summary will show the names of the schools, and the number of the scholars in 1833 and 1839:

St Luke’s Sunday National
       St James’s Sunday National
Wesleyan Methodists 
Wesleyan Association
Primitive Methodists
Particular Baptists
New Connexion Methodists


A Sunday school in Bury Road in connection with St. James’s Chapel was built by James Kershaw, Esq., and is entirely supported by Robert Kershaw, Esq.

Two of those humble but useful seminaries, infant schools, exist, one at St. Luke’s school, opened December 3rd, 1838, scholars about 100; and the other at St. James’s school, conducted on a system of model training, scholars 120. The Sunday schools are supported by annual collections, and most of the teachers give their services gratuitously. In 1833 Heap contained thirteen ordinary day schools, educating 660 children. There are Bible and Missionary Societies connected with the places of worship.

The local government of the place has been hitherto entrusted to the constables nominated by the ratepayers; and appointed at the court of the manor of Bury, an efficient deputy constable was employed for some time at a salary of £90 per annum, but by the operation of the County Constabulary Act the police officers will be appointed by the authority of the magistrates. Such was the extent of crime that the holding of a petit sessions was considered requisite in 1835, and accordingly the magistrates of the neighbourhood commenced holding sessions at the Queen Ann Inn, July 22nd, 1835, they are held every alternate Friday at the above house, and the magistrates usually attending are John Fenton, Esq., M.P., R. Walker, Esq., M.P., William Chadwick, George Ashworth, and H. Kelsall, Esqs. The town is become sufficiently large and important to merit a better system of street regulation and improvement than at present prevails; in 1835 a number of the principal inhabitants endeavoured to procure a general lighting of the streets, but owing to factious opposition the proposal failed; yet it is evident that the provisions of the general lighting and watching Act 3 and 4 William IV, cap. 90, might be adopted with considerable advantage to the place.

The number of county division electors in Heap is large, in 1835-6 they amounted to 208, in 1839 to 218, the place of polling for this district is Bury.

A kind of customary market such as is necessarily created by the trading transactions incidental to so great a population is held on Saturdays; and three fairs are now annually held for cattle and general merchandise, namely, on the first Friday in April, the Friday before the first Sunday in August, and the first Friday after October 1st. The first fair held here took place on the 7th of April, 1837.

Heywood enjoys the benefits of inland navigation by means of a canal from Gooden Lane adjacent to the town, to the Rochdale canal, near Trub Smithy, Hopwood; this useful public work was effected by the Rochdale Canal Company, sanctioned by an Act of Parliament procured 1833, and was opened September 10th, 1834. The length of this branch is one mile and a half, and seventy-five yards; the principal articles of transit are cotton, coal, lime, timber, flags, etc., for which there is a commodious warehouse at the wharf.
Rushbearing festival near Bury.

The Manchester and Leeds Railway, passing within a mile and a half of Heywood, over the Heywood Branch Canal, near the termination of that water a railway station has been formed for the accommodation of passengers to and from Heywood, to Manchester, Rochdale, etc., the railway trains commenced stopping at Blue Pits for Heywood passengers on the 15th September, 1839, but there was no conveyance thence to Heywood until the 3rd of October following, when a packet boat was established, and continues to ply on the canal to and from the railway station and Heywood several times per day - thus providing a rapid and cheap method of communication with other towns.

The inhabitants are not characterised by any peculiar sports or remarkable customs, one of those annual holiday times named wakes, or rushbearings, is held on the first Saturday in August, in olden time this was a period of rustic pleasure and artless amusement, so doubtless thought the poet who thus sung
Happy the age, and harmlesse were the dayes,
(For then true love and amity was found.)
When every village did a May Pole raise,
And Whitsun Ales and May Games did abound.
This yearly country festival is now little else than an occasion on the part of same operatives for indulging in an extra degree of intemperance, and in practising brutal sports. The dialect of the natives has undergone a material improvement of late years, the inevitable result of extended intercourse with the world, the settlement of families from other places, and additional means of education.

The parochial affairs of the township are managed by one head overseer, two assistant overseers, and a select vestry; Heap is within the Poor Law Union of Bury, the proportion of Guardians elective for Heap is two. According to an abstract of the receipts and payments of the township from March 28th, 1838, to March 27th, 1839, the cost of the workhouse poor was £275 0s. 8d., out-poor of Heap £518 12s. 8d., county and hundred rates £559 0s. 11d. - officers salaries, £222 10s.; the total expenditure being £2,734 6s. 2d., and the balance in favour of the township was £881 13s. 4d. Bedding and articles of clothing to the value of £61 14s. was distributed to the poor.

The town is supplied with gas by the Heywood Gas Light Company, who were incorporated by an Act of Parliament which received the Royal assent April 11th, 1826; the company’s works are at Hooley Bridge, and were established in 1827, they are empowered to supply gas in all parts of Heap that may be within two miles of Wrigley Brook bridge, and the aggregate length of the mains is four miles. The estimated cost of this highly beneficial public concern was £10,000 - the number of shares is 400, and their present value about £22 each. In consequence of a large increase of the consumption of the gaseous fluid, new apparatus was erected last year; the works now comprise four gasometers, containing 90,000 cubic feet of gas. Mr Richard Burch is the superintendent of this important undertaking.

The Heywood Coal Company, though of recent date, is possessed of two collieries, and consists of 105 shares of the original value of £5 each; present value £100 each. At a public meeting of the inhabitants, held at the Queen Ann Inn, on the 7th of February, 1840, Mr Thomas Grundy. solicitor, in the chair, it was resolved to establish an institution for the mental and moral improvement of the working class, and to constitute it on strictly popular principles in order to create in the operatives a due regard for its welfare. The success of this attempt to render the mass of the people more useful, intelligent, and morally minded is extremely desirable; and if conducted on judicious principles will probably be duly supported.

A number of small places in the township hitherto unnoticed, may with propriety be adverted to.

Heap Fold is one of the most ancient places of abode in the district, and was the residence of the local family De Heap. Heap Bridge is a small village, on the old road betwixt Rochdale and Bury, there is a bridge here over the Roch. Lomax is rather a singular designation; this place is west of Heywood. Bridge Fold is on the banks of the stream, which is termed by an old chronicler of Britain (Harrison) the ‘fayre Rache’. Franke Fold, Duckworth Fold, and Toppin, properly Toping Fold, are groups of houses on the north-west side of Heap, the latter name, Top-ing, implies the uppermost meadow. Hooley Bridge is a neatly built village, owing its erection to the large cotton mill of Messrs. Fenton and Company adjacent, the river Roch forms a bend and receives Nadin Water; the scenery of the valley through which this rivulet flows is pleasingly romantic, from the agreeable diversity of cliffs, pastures, woods, and streams:
Ay, thou shouldst wander with the summer breeze,
By crag, and glen, and mist-encircled hill,
And let the dim depth of the forest trees,
The music speaking in the gushing rill,
All the sweet peace such scenes are breathing, fill
Thine heart with feelings,-neither care, nor fret,
Nor heartless men, can teach thee to forget.
A place named Gigg was the residence of the late Mr, James Wrigley, who was a distinguished benefactor of the Wesleyan Society. He died August 16th, 1831, aged 72 years. Top of Heap and Heady Hill are villages adjoining Heywood on the west; Dawson Fold is possessed by the family of Dawson, who are of long existence in this part of the country. Meadowcroft is supposed to have given name to the Meadowcrofts, of Smethurst Hall, in Birtle, two centuries ago.

Crimble is an agreeable situation, overlooking the vale of the Roch, here are the mansions of John Fenton, Esq., M.P., representative of the borough of Rochdale, and of James Fenton, Esq. Whittle-in-Heap, a retired hamlet a mile and a half south of Heywood, contains several farms, on rising ground, sheltered by an aged grove of trees.
Here time and nature are at strife.-
The only strife that here is seen:
Whate’er decay has tinged with gray,
Has nature touch’d with green.
According to the history of the house of Stanley, edition 1767, p. 171, Henry Earl of Derby, devised this place, Whittle, to his natural son Francis Ferdinand, who resided here; but this is not consistent with Baines’s pedigree of the Stanley’s, vol. iv., page 10, according to which Ferdinand, who was living 1664, was son of Henry, son of Henry, Earl of Derby.

The present state of agriculture in Heap is not entirely satisfactory, some land has been much improved by hollow draining, but generally speaking there is a deficiency of public spirit in matters of husbandry, the descriptions of soil are various, but little of it is fertile, the farms vary in size, they are principally from fifteen to fifty acres, the number of occupiers of land in 1831 was 66 – more than two-thirds of the land is in pasture, the remainder arable, etc.-the prevailing rents are from £2 to £6 and upwards per customary acre. The surface of Heap is chiefly undulating, the northerly part partakes of the hilly nature of the tract on which it borders. The river Roch flowing from east to west southwest: Nadin Water from the north, Wrigley Brook from the south, and Hopwood Brook from the south-east (all three ailments of the Roch) are the principal streams.

There is a large quantity of coal dug, and some stone is quarried. There is scarcely any peat moss unreclaimed, so largely has the spirit of cultivation prevailed.

  • William Edward Armytage Axon, Butterworth, Edwin, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 08
  • Edwin Butterworth, An historical description of the town of Heywood and vicinity, Heywood, V. Cook, Market Place, 1840. 
  • Giles Shaw, ‘Edwin Butterworth: His Life and Labours’, Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, vol. xxii, 1904.


Unknown said…
It is very cool to read about this area in the time frame my great great grandfather Henry Duckworth lived in this very area, his fayher was Lawrence Duckworth and his wife Mary Butterworth whom he married at the Bury Church in about 1847. The came to America early 1850
Chris Dawson said…
Thanks Robin - there's been a lot of Butterworths around Heywood for a very long time.
Unknown said…
Can any one give me information on the ashbrooks of whittle fold farm
Carol said…
How interesting. My great great great grandfather was Abraham Butterworth , a farmer of 17 acres in Pilsworth, Lancashire. I would love to find out more about his family and farm
Harry E said…
“...heep (Saxon) indicating a mass of irregularities” – the most eloquent description of Heywood that applies just as well today : )