A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.
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This township, formerly known as Chorlton Row, (fn. 1) lies on the south side of the Medlock, and has an area of 646½ acres. (fn. 2) It has long been urban in character, the plan of 1793 showing that a large number of streets were then being laid out. It was crossed near the centre by Cornbrook, and had Rusholme Brook, a tributary of the former, for its southern boundary. The district called Greenheys lies in the south-west, in the angle between the two brooks. In 1901 there was a population of 57,894.
The principal streets are Oxford Street and Upper Brook Street, going south-east from the centre of Manchester; the latter has an offshoot called Plymouth Grove, in a more easterly direction, reaching the Stockport Road, which runs along the eastern boundary, near Longsight. There are many public buildings in the township, in addition to churches and schools. On the west of Oxford Street is Grosvenor Square, on one side of which stands the town hall, built in 1831, with police station, dispensary, and school of art adjacent; the union offices are situated on another side of the square. Further to the south, in the same street, lie the extensive buildings of Owens College, founded in Quay Street in 1851, and transferred to this site in 1873; it is now the seat of the Victoria University of Manchester. On the border of the township is Whitworth Park, in which is an art gallery. The Royal Manchester College of Music is in Ducie Street. On the east side of Oxford Street is an Eye Hospital, while another hospital lies between Oxford Street and Upper Brook Street. To the east of the latter thoroughfare there is a Free Library, opened in 1866; (fn. 3) also the Rusholme Road Cemetery, formed in 1823 for the use of Protestant Dissenters. In Plymouth Grove is a large Home for the Aged. There are fire stations on the Stockport Road, and a drill shed at Greenheys.
In 1666 the principal residence in Chorlton Row was that of Ellis Hey, with five hearths liable to the tax; in the whole township there were forty-nine. (fn. 4) Chorlton obtained a Police Act in 1822 (fn. 5) and a Lighting Act in 1832. (fn. 6) It was included in Manchester borough on incorporation in 1838, and was then divided into two wards, All Saints' and St. Luke's, on the west and east respectively. The township, as such, has now ceased to exist, and forms part of the new township of South Manchester, created in 1896.
Neolithic implements have been found. (fn. 7)
Thomas De Quincey, born in Manchester, lived in his youth at Greenheys, which was built by his father about 1791, and has recorded his memories of the place. (fn. 8) John Ashton Nicholls, philanthropist, was born in Grosvenor Street in 1823; he died in 1859. (fn. 9) Mrs. Gaskell resided in the township, and in Mary Barton described the district as it was in 1848. Sir Charles Hallé lived in Greenheys for about forty years.
The manor of CHORLTON, which once included Beswick, or part of it, was at the beginning of the 13th century held of the king in thegnage by a local family; it was assessed as two plough-lands, and a rent of 20s. was the annual service. (fn. 10) Gospatrick de Chorlton was tenant in 1202, when his son Richard's widow claimed dower, (fn. 11) and in 1212, when the great survey was made. (fn. 12) He died in or before 1223, when his son Brun received seisin of one plough-land in Chorlton, having paid the king 2 marks as relief. (fn. 13) It probably escheated to the Crown soon afterwards, as it became part of the possessions of the Grelleys and La Warres, lords of Manchester, being held as one ploughland by the old service of 20s. (fn. 14)
Gospatrick had lost four oxgangs of land to Matthew son of William [de Hathersage] by wager of battle. (fn. 15) He had granted a further two oxgangs to his brother Adam, in view of Adam's fighting for him against William son of Wulfric de Withington. (fn. 16) Four oxgangs of land also he gave to Henry de Trafford, who held a fifth in 1212. (fn. 17)
The Grelleys, on acquiring the lordship, appear to have granted it, without exacting any service, to a junior branch of the family, as one Robert Grelley was in possession in 1278 (fn. 18) and was succeeded by a son John, who in 1334 alienated his lands in Chorlton to Henry de Trafford. (fn. 19) The Traffords thus acquired practically the whole manor, but part was afterwards held by the Traffords of Garrett. (fn. 20) The hall and its demesne lands were in 1590 sold by Sir Edmund Trafford to Ralph Sorocold of Golborne, (fn. 21) who sold it to Ellis Hey of Eccles, and in 1644 it was sold by the younger Ellis Hey (fn. 22) to Thomas Minshull, apothecary of Manchester. (fn. 23) The Minshulls also acquired the adjacent Garrett estate, and Hough Hall in Moston. The whole came by marriage into the possession of Roger Aytoun of Inchdarney in Fife, described as captain in the 72nd Regiment of Foot or Manchester Volunteers. (fn. 24) He squandered the estates, which were sold in 1775. Chorlton was purchased by John Dickenson of Manchester, and settled upon his nephew William Churchill Dickenson, who in 1793 obtained an Act of Parliament authorizing him to let the land on building leases. (fn. 25)
The two oxgangs of land held by the Chorlton family (fn. 26) afterwards came into the hands of the Entwisles of Entwisle. (fn. 27) This part was sold in the year 1551 (fn. 28) and probably dispersed soon afterwards (fn. 29)
The Minshulls were thus the first resident owners of importance, and there are but few references to Chorlton before the 17th century. (fn. 30) The land tax returns of 1784 show that the ownership was much divided; Roger Aytoun still had the largest share, paying about a fifth of the tax; then came John Taylor, the Gore-Booths, Mrs. Piggott, Mr. Melland, Mrs. Hyde, and John Dickenson. (fn. 31)
Chorlton was recognized as a separate township before 1618, when its constables are mentioned. (fn. 32)
At one time GREENLOW HEATH appears to have been considered a separate township. (fn. 33) About 1320 it was demised to Sir John Byron and his wife for life at a rent of 100s. a year. (fn. 34) A century later it was in the possession of Thomas la Warre, with remainder to Sir John Byron, Robert de Langley, Robert son of John del Booth, and William del Booth; it was held of the king as of his duchy, and was worth 40s. clear per annum. (fn. 35)
The township having during the last century become a residential suburb of Manchester, a large number of places of worship have been built. For the Established Church St. Luke's was built in 1804; it was consecrated in 1858 and rebuilt in 1865; (fn. 36) All Saints', which has a mission church called St. Matthias', dates from 1820; (fn. 37) St. Saviour's, 1836; (fn. 38) St. Stephen's, 1853; (fn. 39) St. Paul's, 1862; (fn. 40) St. Clement's, Greenheys, 1881; (fn. 41) and St. Ambrose, 1884. The Bishop of Manchester collates to the last of these; the dean and canons present to All Saints'; the Rev. W. F. Birch, now rector, to St. Saviour's, and bodies of trustees to the others. The incumbents are styled rectors. In connexion with St. Ambrose's is St. David's Welsh church.
The Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Name, opened in 1871, is served by the Jesuits; (fn. 46) those of the Holy Family, 1876, and St. Joseph, 1888, by secular clergy. There are houses of the Little Sisters of the Poor and others.