Townships: Ardwick

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

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'Townships: Ardwick', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 279-281. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section


Atheriswyke, (copy of) Inq. of 1282; Ardewyke, 1357.

The bounds of Ardwick extend from the Medlock on the north to somewhat beyond the Cornbrook on the south. The south-west boundary is for the most part the Stockport road, but at one point includes land to the west of the road. From this road Hyde Road runs eastward; and to the north of it Ashton Old Road also crosses the township in an easterly direction. There are numerous cross streets, the greater part of the area being urban; the centre and east are occupied by railway land and various works. The township contains 509 acres. The population of Ardwick, West Gorton, and Rusholme together was 113,843 in 1901.

Proceeding from Manchester by the London road, Ardwick Green is soon reached; the open space on the north side, transferred to the corporation in 1867, is called Ardwick Green Park; the area is about 5 acres. The town hall stands at the north-east corner. Beyond Ardwick Green the road is called Stockport Road. On the north side of Hyde Road is Nicholls' Hospital, behind which is the cemetery, opened in 1838. On the south side a public readingroom was opened in 1888 in a building formerly a Primitive Methodist chapel. Further to the east is the Manchester City Football Ground. To the south of Ashton Old Road is a cricket ground, while some little distance to the north is a public recreation ground. The Mayfield Baths are by the Medlock, and there are other baths on Hyde Road. There are two drill halls in the township.

The London and North Western Company's line from London Road Station to Stockport crosses the township in a south-east direction. From it the Lancashire and Yorkshire Company has a branch going north to Miles Platting. The Great Central Company has a line running parallel with the first-named till Ardwick Station is reached, when its line runs east and has a second station called Ashbury's, just on the township boundary. The Midland Company has lines connecting with the former and with the Ancoats Goods Station.

There are many factories, including india-rubber works and dye works, by the Medlock, and saw mills, boiler works, iron foundry, chemical works, and pottery in the south-east. The corporation has its tramcar sheds and works here.

To the hearth tax of 1666 thirty-four hearths were liable. The largest house was that of Samuel Birch, with seven hearths. (fn. 1) A dispensary was founded in 1829. Ardwick Green was in 1830 described as 'a pleasant approach to Manchester, being well planted and ornamented with elegant houses on the border of a canal.' (fn. 2) It was then a fashionable residential district for Manchester merchants.

James Heywood Markland, an antiquary, was born there in 1788; he died in 1828. (fn. 3) Another native was Martha Darley Mutrie, a flower painter, born in 1824; she died in 1885. (fn. 4) Samuel Reynolds Hole, Dean of Rochester 1887–1904 and famous as a rosegrower, was born at Ardwick in 1820.

In 1825 an Act was obtained for the better government of the township. (fn. 5) On the incorporation of the borough of Manchester in 1838, Ardwick was included; together with Beswick it formed a ward. It was merged in the new township of South Manchester in 1896.

A mock corporation held its meetings from 1764 onwards, a mayor and other officers being elected.


There was, properly speaking, no manor of ARDWICK, which was a hamlet in the demesne of Manchester. In 1282 the farm of 10 oxgangs and 9 acres of land in bondage amounted to 43s., and there was a plat of land there called Twantirford, rendering 6s. 8d. (fn. 6) The tenants had turbary on 100 acres of moor in Openshaw, and were obliged to grind at the Irk Mills to the sixteenth measure. (fn. 7) In 1320–2 Richard Akke, a 'native,' held 2 messuages and 2 oxgangs of land in villeinage at a rent of 8s., performing also certain services; (fn. 8) the other land, 8¾ oxgangs, was valued at 45s. 6d. (fn. 9) The hamlet was, with Bradford and other lands, given by Roger La Warre in 1357 to Thomas de Booth of Barton, (fn. 10) and descended in this family till the partition at the end of the 16th century, when, like Bradford, it became part of the share of Dorothy, youngest daughter of John Booth. The 'manors of Over and Lower Ardwick,' with messuages, lands, and common rights, were in 1636 sold by Thomas Charnock and others to Samuel Birch. (fn. 11)

A Birch pedigree was recorded in 1664 (fn. 12) in which it is stated that Samuel was the son of Ambrose Birch of Openshaw. He was a friend of Henry Newcome's, (fn. 13) and, dying in 1668–9, left all lands to his son John, of Whitbourne in Herefordshire. (fn. 14) John Birch, born in 1616, was a carrier and trader of Bristol; afterwards he entered the army, and was a colonel in 1644, when he was serving for the Parliament against the king, (fn. 15) and greatly distinguished himself in the war. He was a Member of Parliament, (fn. 16) showing himself a moderate Presbyterian, and being in December 1648 excluded by 'Pride's Purge,' was for a time imprisoned. He was thereafter one of Cromwell's opponents, and took part in the negotiations for the restoration of Charles II. (fn. 17) He continued to represent Weobley till his death in 1691. His association with Lancashire is slight; but he acquired Ordsall, which remained in his family for some time. (fn. 18)

Birch of Ardwick. Azure three fleurs-de-lis argent, a canton or.

Ardwick appears to have been acquired by the colonel's younger brother Samuel, who also took part in the wars and was known as Major Birch. (fn. 19) He died in 1693, leaving a son and heir John, who by his will left a messuage and lands in Upper and Lower Ardwick to his wife Elizabeth, with remainder to his son Thomas; a younger son, Samuel, also had lands in Lower Ardwick. (fn. 20) Thomas Birch, on succeeding in 1728, rebuilt the manor-house, but died without issue in 1753; by his will he divided his estates, Ardwick lands going to his brother George, with remainders to his nephews Samuel and George, sons of his brother Samuel. He left money for a school at Ardwick. (fn. 21)

Samuel Birch of Lower Ardwick promoted the building of Ardwick Chapel, giving the site in 1740; he was high sheriff in 1747. (fn. 22) He died in 1757, leaving three sons—Thomas, who died without issue in 1781; Samuel, who served in the American War and died in 1811; and George, of Ardwick, who died in 1794, leaving issue Thomas and Maria. (fn. 23) The manors of Upper and Lower Ardwick were left by the will of Thomas Birch, dated 1780, to his brother, MajorGeneral Samuel Birch, who sold them in 1795 to William Horridge. (fn. 24) They changed hands several times, and in 1869 were purchased by Alderman John Marsland Bennett of Ardwick. (fn. 25)

A considerable portion of Ardwick was sold by Thomas Charnock to the Mosleys. (fn. 26)

Other families formerly had estates in the township —Byrom, (fn. 27) Booth, (fn. 28) Entwisle, (fn. 29) and Strangeways. (fn. 30) The land tax return of 1787 shows that the principal contributors were named Birch, Hyde, Ackers, and Tipping. (fn. 31)

Ardwick was recognized as a township in 1622, when Richard Hudson contributed to the subsidy for goods. (fn. 32)

For the Established Church St. Thomas's, Ardwick Green, (fn. 33) was built in 1741, as above-mentioned, and has been enlarged; St. Silas's, a century later, in 1842; (fn. 34) St. Matthew's, 1868; (fn. 35) and St. Benedict's, 1880. (fn. 36) The patronage of the first of these churches is vested in the Dean and Canons of Manchester, of the others in different bodies of trustees. The incumbents are styled rectors. There are mission rooms in connexion with St. Thomas's and St. Matthew's.

The Wesleyan Methodists, the Primitive Methodists, and United Free Methodists, also the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, have places of worship. The Presbyterians have a preaching station, opened in 1904. The Congregationalists formerly had a chapel in Tipping Street. (fn. 37)

The Roman Catholic church of St. Aloysius was opened in 1885; the mission was begun in 1852.


  • 1. Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9.
  • 2. Clarke, Lancs. Gazetteer.
  • 3. Dict. Nat. Biog. The family occurs in Pemberton and Foxholes near Rochdale.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. 6 Geo. IV, cap. 5.
  • 6. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 245. The total assessment was probably 10¾ oxgangs.
  • 7. Mamecestre (Chet. Soc.), ii, 291, 371, from the survey of 1320–22.
  • 8. Ibid. ii, 280; his services were the same as those of Henry the Reeve of Gorton, except that he had to carry millstones, not to Gorton Mill, but to that at Manchester, at a gross payment of 4d. for loading and 6s. 8d. for carrying, which he shared with others.
  • 9. Ibid. ii, 364; each oxgang was valued at 5s. 6d., except one, worth only 4s. From the total amount it appears that the fraction also was valued at the lower rate. There were eight messuages on the land; ibid. ii, 365. In 1357 Roger La Warre leased to John son of Adam son of Richard 10 acres in Ardwick which Thomas de Beswick had held for fifteen years past, at a rent of 5s. 5d.; Manch. Corp. D.
  • 10. See the account of Bradford. From an earlier charter it seems that 'the hamlet of Ardwick' had been leased to Thomas de Booth and John his son in 1352 at a rent of 57s. 11d.; Dods. MSS. cxlix, fol. 160; see also Close R. 42 Edw. III, m. 20 (19). Ardwick is regularly mentioned in the Booth inquisitions, but is not called a 'manor.' The distinction of Higher and Lower Ardwick appears in 1576; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xii, 8.
  • 11. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 129, no. 12. The vendors were Thomas Charnock, Bridget his wife (the daughter and heir of Dorothy Booth by her first husband John Molyneux), Robert Charnock son and heir of Thomas, John Charnock, Humphrey Chetham, Francis Mosley, and Ralph Pycroft—the last three probably as mortgagees.
  • 12. Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 34; there is a more extended pedigree in Misc. Gen. et Herald, i, 307. The account in the text is mainly from Booker, Birch Chap. (Chet. Soc.), 106–20. A Ralph Birch, perhaps predecessor of Samuel, had disputes in 1600 and 1602 with Thomas Shelmerdine, the queen's constable of Ardwick; Hugh Beswick was also concerned; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 495, 475, 454.
  • 13. Samuel Birch of Openshaw was approved as a ruling elder of Gorton in 1650; Manch. Classis (Chet. Soc.), 138. Henry Newcome preached his wife's funeral sermon; Autobiog. (Chet. Soc.), i, 134; the Diary, 174, speaks of 'old Captain Birch.'
  • 14. The will is printed by Booker, op. cit. 106, 107. A younger son, 'Thomas Birch, clerk,' was father of the John Birch who, by marriage with his cousin Sarah, acquired Ordsall.
  • 15. In 1645 he was in command of the Kentish regiment at Plymouth; later he took part in the siege of Bristol and surprised Hereford, of which city he was appointed governor. Next year he defeated and captured Sir Jacob Astley, received the surrender of Ludlow, and captured Goodrich Castle. In the same year he took the Covenant. See Booker, op. cit. 108–10; Dict. Nat. Biog.; Military Memoirs of Col. John Birch (Camd. Soc.). He is mentioned in Henry Newcome's Diary (p. 203), and Autobiog. ii, 298, &c.
  • 16. He sat for Leominster in 1646, and was returned also in 1654 and 1658; for Penryn in 1661–78, and afterwards for Weobley.
  • 17. Booker, op. cit. 111–13.
  • 18. See the account of Ordsall. He described himself in 1683 as owning the manors of Upper and Lower Ardwick; Manch. Ct. Leet Rec. iv, 94. His lands there appear to have descended to John Peploe Birch, son of his niece Elizabeth Peploe; Land Tax Return of 1787.
  • 19. Booker, op. cit. 114; Manch. Classis, 31.
  • 20. Booker, op. cit. 115. Samuel Birch was vouchee of the manors of Upper and Lower Ardwick, &c., in a recovery in 1712; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 495, m. 5.
  • 21. His will of 1746, with codicils of 1748 and 1753, is printed by Booker, op. cit. 115–20. Considerable changes were made by the codicil, his nephew Thomas Birch becoming the principal legatee.
  • 22. P.R.O. List. 74.
  • 23. Booker, op. cit. 120.
  • 24. The estates had become very much encumbered. 'On 9 March, 1795, pursuant to a decree in chancery in a cause Watson v. Birch, several freehold estates in the township of Ardwick and a moiety of a limestone quarry, late the property of Thomas Birch, esq., deceased, were offered for sale; a purchaser was found, but disputes having arisen as to the validity of the sale, the estates were directed to be resold, and they finally passed into other hands on 1 February, 1796;' ibid. 120.
  • 25. The information as to the descent of the manors is derived from Mr. J. Armitage Bennett (1876), who stated: 'William Horridge sold them on 20 August 1803 to Jacob Wood, who by will dated 2 June 1826 left the aforesaid manors to his daughter Elizabeth Wood; she sold them by indenture of 9 May 1835 to Henry Weech Burgess of Burgess Hill, London,' who sold to Alderman Bennett.
  • 26. Mosley Mem. (Chet. Soc. new ser.), 51; the estate comprised 248 acres, and small chief rents were due from Ralph Kenyon, Adam Byrom, and Thomas Smith.
  • 27. Adam Byrom of Salford (see the account of Kersal) in 1558 held a messuage, &c., in Ardwick of John Booth in socage; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xi, 65. The property is named in later inquisitions of the family, but no further particulars are given.
  • 28. Humphrey Booth of Salford in 1637 held messuages and lands in Ardwick and Chorlton of Edward Mosley as of his manor of Manchester; the annual value was 40s.; ibid. xxvii, 44.
  • 29. Edmund Entwisle in 1544 held some land in Ardwick, together with his Chorlton estate; ibid. vii, 30.
  • 30. Philip Strangeways had lands in Manchester and Lower Ardwick, which appear to have been sold to Thomas Beck in 1544; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 12, m. 265. John Jopson in 1551 purchased a messuage and lands from William the son and heir apparent of Philip Strangeways; George Strangeways was tenant for life; ibid. bdle. 14, m. 250. Thomas Strangeways made a settlement of a messuage and lands in Ardwick and Withington in 1580; ibid. bdle. 42, m. 130; Manch. Collectanea (Chet. Soc.), ii, 141; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 132.
  • 31. Returns at Preston.
  • 32. Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 150.
  • 33. The township was formed into a district chapelry in 1839, and reformed in 1856; Lond. Gaz. 29 Mar. 1839, 1 July 1856. The monumental inscriptions in the church are copied in the Owen MSS.
  • 34. A district was assigned in 1856; ibid. 1 July.
  • 35. For the district see ibid. 14 May 1869.
  • 36. For the district see ibid. 9 July 1880.
  • 37. This originated with John Smith, a Manchester merchant, superintendent of the Sunday school of Rusholme Road Church. In 1835 he began preaching in Lower Temple Street, Chorlton, and soon afterwards built and opened Tipping Street Chapel, preaching there till 1851. Thirty years later the congregation was amalgamated with that of the Octagon in Chorlton, and the building was sold to the City Mission in 1889; Nightingale, Lancs. Nonconf. vi, 170, 171.