Townships: Harpurhey

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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'Townships: Harpurhey', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 270. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

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Harpouresheie, 1327.

This small township, at one time called Harpurhey with Gotherswick, (fn. 1) lies on both sides of the road from Manchester to Middleton, extending westward to the Irk. In 1830 it was described as abounding in pleasant views. (fn. 2) It has long been a suburb of Manchester, and almost covered with buildings. The area is 193 acres. In 1901 the population was reckoned with that of Blackley.

The spinning, manufacture, and printing of cotton were carried on in 1833; (fn. 3) in 1854 there were two print works and a spinning shed. Cotton mills and print and dye works continue to exist.

An ancient stone hammer was found near Turkey Lane. (fn. 4)

Harpurhey was included in the Parliamentary borough of Manchester from the first but was not taken into the municipal borough until 1885. It ceased to be a township in 1896, becoming part of the new township of North Manchester.


HARPURHEY may derive its name from the 80 acres demised for life to one William Harpour by Sir John La Warre, lord of Manchester, early in the 14th century, loco beneficii. (fn. 5) In 1327 the same John La Warre granted 24 acres of land and wood called Harpurshey, lying next to the pale of his park of Blackley, to Adam son of Robert de Radcliffe and Alice his daughter, wife of John son of Henry de Hulton, and the heirs of Alice, at a rent of 26s. 8d. (fn. 6) This estate continued to be held by the Hultons of Farnworth until the 16th century, (fn. 7) when it passed to the Hultons of Over Hulton. (fn. 8) It was sold in 1808–10 by William Hulton to Thomas Andrew and Robert Andrew, the former purchasing Boardman's Tenement and the latter Green Mount and other lands. Thomas Andrew's estate, as Harpurhey Hall, descended to his son Edward, after whose death it was in 1847 sold to John Barratt. Robert Andrew died in 1831, having bequeathed the estate to trustees for his daughter and heir Robina, wife of Captain Conran. (fn. 9)


GOTHERSWICK, called a hamlet of Manchester in 1320, (fn. 10) was also held by the Hultons of Farnworth (fn. 11) and became merged in Harpurhey, the name having long been lost. (fn. 12)

The land tax returns of 1797 show that Joseph Barlow, Robert and Thomas Andrew, and Samuel Ogden were the proprietors. (fn. 13)

For the Established worship Christ Church, Harpurhey, was built in 1837–8. (fn. 14) The patronage is vested in five trustees. St. Stephen's was built in 1901; the Crown and the Bishop of Manchester present in turns. There are mission churches.

The Wesleyan Methodists have a church. The Salvation Army has a barracks. There is also a Presbyterian Church. (fn. 15)


  • 1. So in 1615; Manch. Constables' Accts. i, 19.
  • 2. Clarke, Lancs. Gazetteer. The hearth tax return of 1666 shows that the dwellings were small, and the total number of hearths was only twelve; Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9.
  • 3. Cotton printing was begun here by Thomas Andrew in 1788.
  • 4. Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. v, 330.
  • 5. Mamecestre (Chet. Soc.), ii, 363; the land was valued at 3d. an acre rent.
  • 6. Hulton D. There was another grant of the same in 1332; ibid.
  • 7. See the account of Farnworth. John Hulton of Farnworth in 1473 held a messuage near Manchester called Harpurhey in socage, by the rent of 26s. 8d.; Mamecestre, iii, 483. He died in 1487, holding six messuages, 200 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture and 30 acres of wood called Harpurhey in Manchester, by services unknown; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, 26. The estate descended to William Hulton, who died in 1556; ibid. x, 32.
  • 8. Harpurhey passed to Adam Hulton of the Park in Over Hulton by an agreement with the last-named William Hulton. Adam died in 1572 holding Harpurhey of William West Lord La Warre in socage, by the rent of 26s. 8d.; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xiii, 4; see also ibid. xvii, 80. In 1613 the tenure was described as 'of the king, by the two-hundredth part of a knight's fee'; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 267.
  • 9. The details are given in Booker's Blackley (Chet. Soc.), 124–8. The Green Mount estate in 1784 consisted of several farms held on lease from the Hultons. Among the field names occur Gutter Twigg, Great Clough, Tough Hey, Bawhouse Field and Pingle; there was a stream called Moss Brook.
  • 10. Mamecestre, ii, 281; the tenants were bound to grind at the lord's mill.
  • 11. Adam de Radcliffe held Gotherswick in 1320 by a rent of 12d.; Mamecestre, ii, 279. It descended like Harpurhey, and in 1473 John Hulton of Farnworth held it by the old rent of 12d.; ibid. iii, 483. It is mentioned in the above-cited inquisition of William Hulton (1556).
  • 12. It is the Gutter Twigg of a preceding note (1784–93).
  • 13. Returns at Preston. The landowners of 1847 are named by Booker, op. cit. 128.
  • 14. The district was formed in 1837 and re-formed in 1854; Lond. Gaz. 16 June.
  • 15. It was founded in 1882; the mission hall, known as Moston St. George's, was built in 1902.