Townships: Heaton Norris

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

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, 'Townships: Heaton Norris', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, (London, 1911) pp. 323-326. British History Online [accessed 25 May 2024].

. "Townships: Heaton Norris", in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, (London, 1911) 323-326. British History Online, accessed May 25, 2024,

. "Townships: Heaton Norris", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 4, (London, 1911). 323-326. British History Online. Web. 25 May 2024,

In this section


Hetton, 1196; Heton, 1212; Heaton Norreys, 1364; Heyton and Heaton Norres, xvi cent.

This township stretches from Cringle Brook on the north to the Mersey on the south, a distance of 2 miles; it measures about a mile and a half from east to west, and has an area of 2,115½ acres. The highest ground is in the south, with a steep slope to the Mersey and a gentler decline to the north. The south-eastern portion has long been a suburb of Stockport, and was included in the Parliamentary borough in 1832 and in the municipal borough in 1835, forming a distinct ward. The central portion of the township, known as Heaton Chapel and Heaton Moor, has also become urban; the hamlet of Heaton Mersey lies in the southwest corner. The population numbered 26,250 in 1901.

The principal roads are two from Stockport to Manchester, which join within the township; one of them is on the track of the Roman road between those places. A third road leads west through Hope Hill and Heaton Mersey to Didsbury, while another runs north-east from Heaton Mersey to Heaton Chapel. There are several bridges over the Mersey. (fn. 1) The London and North Western Company's railway from London to Manchester by way of Stockport runs (fn. 2) north-north-west through the township, with stations called Heaton Norris and Heaton Chapel. From this a branch turns off north-east to Ashton. From east to west near the Mersey runs the line of the Great Central Company from Stockport to Warrington, with a station called Stockport; it is joined and crossed by the Midland Company's line from Derbyshire through Cheshire, with a station at Heaton Mersey, opened in 1875. The Manchester and Stockport Canal has its terminus in the township, near the Mersey.

The industries of the township comprise cotton mills, bleaching works, thread-making, hat manufacture, corn-milling, brick, tile, and earthenware making, saw mills and rope walks.

At Heaton Norris is the Sir Ralph Pendlebury orphan charity, founded in 1880; (fn. 3) at Heaton Mersey is the Barnes Industrial Home, (fn. 4) and a hospital for incurables was opened in 1882 in the residence known as Mauldeth Hall. (fn. 5)

In 1666 there were eighty-seven hearths liable to the tax, but no house in the township had more than four. (fn. 6)

At Peel there are remains of a moat. (fn. 7)

The part of the township outside Stockport obtained a local board in 1872; (fn. 8) this has now become an urban district council, with twelve members. A small portion, 16 acres, was added to Stockport in 1901.

Bennet Woodcroft, F.R.S., inventor and clerk to the Commissioners of Patents, was born at Heaton Norris in 1803; he retired from the public service in 1876 and died at South Kensington in 1879. (fn. 9) Edward Higginson, born in 1807, was a Unitarian divine of some distinction; he died in 1880. (fn. 10)


From the survey of 1212 it appears that HEATON NORRIS was a member of the fee or barony of Manchester, and was assessed as two plough-lands. By Albert Grelley the younger it was granted, at a rent of 10s., to William le Norreys, whose heirs held the land in 1212. (fn. 11) These heirs were probably the brothers Richard and Jordan le Norreys, who in 1196 made an agreement as to a division of their lands in Heaton, Chorlton, and Bradford, Jordan receiving Heaton. (fn. 12) Though the family gave a distinguishing name to the township and though Norris occurs as a surname in it, the manor was, about 1280, surrendered to the lords of Manchester. (fn. 13) In 1282 Robert Grelley was found to have held part of it in demesne, and to have farmed 8 oxgangs of land, i.e., half the manor, in bondage. The only free tenant recorded at that time was Adam de Lever, who owed two pairs of gloves yearly. The manor was held of the Earl of Lancaster for the fourth part of a knight's fee. (fn. 14)

The manor continued in the Grelley and La Warre families until the 15th century, (fn. 15) when it appears to have been granted to Sir James Strangeways, (fn. 16) in this way acquiring the alternative name of Heaton Strangeways. (fn. 17) In 1569 the manor was in the possession of Leonard and Edward Dacre, (fn. 18) and was afterwards ac quired by the Mosleys. (fn. 19) It descended in the same manner as Hulme until about 1750, (fn. 20) when it was sold to William Egerton, (fn. 21) who is represented by Earl Egerton of Tatton, the present lord.

The Mosleys also acquired the estate in Heaton of Jane widow of Sir Robert Lovell, whose father, Geoffrey Lovell of Merton, had made purchases from Sir Edmund Trafford. (fn. 22)

The Grelleys made grants of land in Heaton to the Byrons and others; (fn. 23) and the Worsleys of Booths, (fn. 24) the Hulmes of Reddish, (fn. 25) and others are found to have had estates in it, (fn. 26) but no clear account can be given of them. The old landowners were non-resident. (fn. 27) In 1789 the principal owner was William Egerton, who paid about a third of the land tax; the remainder was paid in small sums. (fn. 28) The list of landowners in 1844 shows that Wilbraham Egerton of Tatton owned more than half the soil. (fn. 29)

An order concerning the bounds of the manor was made about 1596. (fn. 30)

The first place of worship in the township was St Thomas's Church, built in 1765 for the Established religion; (fn. 31) it has twice been enlarged. It gives the distinguishing name to Heaton Chapel. The Dean and Canons of Manchester present to the rectory. The more recent churches, the incumbents being styled rectors, are Christ Church, Heaton Norris, 1846, (fn. 32) with a mission church, St. Luke's; St. John the Baptist's, Heaton Mersey, 1850, (fn. 33) partly rebuilt in 1891; St. Mary's, Heaton Reddish, 1865; (fn. 34) St. Paul's, Heaton Moor, 1877; (fn. 35) All Saints' Heaton Norris, 1888; and St. Martin's, Norris Bank, 1901. To the last-named the Crown and the Bishop of Manchester present alternately; the bishop alone collates to Christ Church, St. John the Baptist's, and All Saints'; bodies of trustees present to the others.

The Wesleyans have churches at Heaton Norris, Heaton Moor, and Heaton Mersey. (fn. 36) The Primitive Methodists also have one. The Congregationalists have churches in each of the three portions of the township named. (fn. 37) In 1857 the Particular Baptists had a chapel in Heaton Lane. (fn. 38)

The Unitarians began services at Heaton Moor in 1893 and moved to their present building in 1900.

The Presbyterian Church of England began services at Heaton Chapel in 1899.

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church was opened in 1897, replacing one used for thirty years.


  • 1. The bridge at Stockport is ancient, and is mentioned in 1292; Assize R. 408, m. 39 d; Ormerod, Ches. (ed. Helsby), iii, 797. See 'Wobry the Bridge' in a later note. In 1745 it was broken down by the Liverpool Blues to prevent the Young Pretender crossing. In 1826 a new turnpike road was opened, it goes from Manchester to Buxton and is carried on eleven arches over the town of Stockport; Booker, Didsbury (Chet. Soc.), 185.
  • 2. There is a great viaduct over the Mersey, on twenty-two arches.
  • 3. a See p. 203, above.
  • 4. Certified in 1871; Lond. Gaz. 16 June.
  • 5. a The name is supposed to be a corruption of Marled Earth. It was built by Joseph Chessborough Dyer, inventor and financier (Dict. Nat. Biog.), and was afterwards owned by Edward Wright. It was purchased in 1854 as a residence for the then Bishop of Manchester; Booker, op. cit. 183–4.
  • 6. a Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9.
  • 7. a Lancs, and Ches. Antiq. Soc. iii, 192; xvii, 224–9. It is not certain that there was any dwelling there.
  • 8. Lond. Gaz. 23 Apr. 1872.
  • 9. Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Lancs. Inq. and Extents (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 57.
  • 12. Final Conc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 6. Jordan granted to Richard that the pigs belonging to his demesne in Chorlton (upon Medlock) should run in Heaton Wood, quit of pannage for ever. Jordan and William le Norreys appear as witnesses to local charters; Crofton, Newton (Chet. Soc.), ii, 119, 300.
  • 13. All the lands in the fine referred to reverted to the lords of Manchester. A few further particulars of the family may be seen in the accounts of Denton and Chorlton-upon-Medlock. From a pleading of 1281 it appears that three years earlier William le Norreys had enfeoffed John de Byron of two-thirds of the manor of Heaton, and that John was put in seisin, but was ousted by Robert Grelley after three days; then John went to Robert's bailiff, claiming nothing except for a term of six years, and on the bailiff's refusal of entry, he went to Manchester to talk with Robert Grelley. He offered to surrender all his claim for 17 marks, and brought William le Norreys, who made a complete surrender of the manor to Robert Grelley, as to the chief lord of the fee. In 1281–2 an agreement was made between Grelley and Byron, the latter surrendered all his claim to twothirds of the manor, and acknowledged that he owed Robert £200 of silver; Assize R. 1244, m. 40. The other third was the dower of Cecily de Shoresworth (see Denton), and in 1283 Robert de Shoresworth and Cecily his wife appeared against Amadeus de Savoy and other guardians of the lands and heir of Robert Grelley, respecting her dower in 3½ oxgangs of land, water-mill, &c., in Heaton Norris; De Banco R. 51, m. 74. Hawise, widow of Robert Grelley, claimed dower in this part of the manor; De Banco R. 46, m. 77; 112, m. 64 (where it is called Heaton next Wobrythe Bridge).
  • 14. Lancs. Inq. and Extents, i, 246–9. There were 40 acres in demesne, with a chief messuage and garden worth 20s. a year; a plat called the Mill Ridding and the Sporth was also worth 20s.; twothirds of the mill rendered 13s. 4d.; free tenants paid 3s. 10½d. The 8 oxgangs of land in bondage paid 20s.; the bondmen also gave twenty-four hens at Christmas worth 2s., and eight score eggs at Easter, worth 6d. The pannage of the wood was valued at 6s. 8d. A claim concerning the 'manor of Heaton' made in 1305 by Richard son of David de Hulton, the elder, against Thomas Grelley and Thomas de Hulme may refer to Heaton Norris; De Banco R. 153, m. 79. The Hultons and Hulmes had an interest in the adjoining manor of Reddish. The surveys of 1320–2 give some further particulars. The bounds of Heaton at that time were the Mersey, Mereclough, Cringle Brook, and Saltergate, on the Cheshire, Reddish, Levenshulme, and Withington sides respectively, and 'that road called the Saltergate,' it is stated, 'is moved from its old place and is now used upon land of Sir John La Warre in Heaton'; Mamecestre (Chet. Soc.), ii, 275. There were six messuages and 6½ oxgangs of land with appurtenances worth 32s. 7d. a year; also seventeen messuages and 225 acres of arable land, worth £7 11s. 3¼d. The meadow and pastureland could not be separated from the arable. There were also 70 acres of common pasture in the lord's wood for the tenants of Heaton Norris and of Withington for six weeks from Michaelmas. Heaton Wood and Heaton Moss were being rapidly consumed, so that they were not valued; ibid. ii, 283, 284. The free tenants were: Sir Richard de Byron for a messuage and Ashcroft; rent 8d. Geoffrey son of Hugh de Holt, a messuage and 5 acres in the Shaw Head; rent 8d. Ellis de Lever (and) Sir Geoffrey del Rakes, a messuage and 30 acres in the Rakes; rent, a pair of gloves worth 1d. Hugh del Holt, a messuage and 18 acres; rent, a pair of gloves; also ¼ oxgang of land formerly Richard del Yate's; rent 4d. Adam Page, a messuage and 10 acres; rent 12d. Robert le Norreys, a messuage and 1 oxgang of land; rent 16d.; also 2½ acres by Rys'm Bridge (? Rusholme); rent 6d. John son of Henry de Byron, a messuage and ¾ oxgang of land formerly Richard del Yate's; rent 12d.; also a messuage and 4 acres in the Shaw; rent, a pair of gloves worth 1d. Adam son of Swain, a messuage and ½ oxgang of land; rent 8d.; ibid. ii, 285, 286. At this time, therefore, 2½ oxgangs of land were held by free tenants. The annual value of the halmote was reckoned as 3s. 4d., arising from the fines paid by tenants at entry, &c.; ibid. ii, 286. The total value of the manor was computed at £10 10s. 6¼d. Another account, ibid. ii, 364, &c., may be compared. The mill of Heaton Norris is mentioned again in 1360; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxii, App. 342.
  • 15. In 1427 it was found that Thomas La Warre had held of the king (as duke) 28 messuages, 1,500 acres of land, 80 acres of meadow, 200 acres of pasture, 100 acres of wood, 100 acres of moor, and 12s. 6½d. rent in Heaton Norris, with remainder to James Strangeways, James Holt, John Walsh, William Strangeways, William Garnet, and Peter Massey (deceased); the clear annual value was 10 marks; Chan. Inq. p.m. 5 Hen. VI, no. 54; see Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxiii, App. 28.
  • 16. He was a royal official and a judge; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), ii, 47; Foss, Judges, and pedigree in Foster, Yorks. Visit. 71, and Ord, Cleveland, 447. He was of Harlsey in Allertondale. His son Sir James Strangeways, Speaker of the House of Commons, is noticed in Dict. Nat. Biog.
  • 17. There was a recovery of the manor of Heaton Norris, with sixty messuages, &c., in 1517, Sir James Strangeways being in possession: Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 124, m. 2. Sir James Strangeways the younger died 26 April 1540. He was the son and heir of Sir Thomas Strangeways, and in 1530 had made a settlement of his tenements in Heaton Norris with remainders to Leonard, George and Edward, sons of William, Lord Dacre. His heirs were Joan wife of Sir William Mauleverer, daughter of Sir James Strangeways and Alice his wife, grandparents of the deceased; and Robert Roos son of Mary, another daughter; both were twenty-six years of age and more. The said Alice was daughter and heir of Thomas, Lord Scrope, son and heir of John, Lord Scrope, brother and heir of Henry, Lord Scrope, son and heir of Stephen son of Henry son of Geoffrey, Lord Scrope. Sir James Strangeways, grandfather of the deceased, was son and heir of Sir Richard son and heir of Elizabeth daughter and heir of Philip, Lord Darcy, of Snaith, son and heir of Philip son and heir of John, Lord Darcy, and Elizabeth his wife; Chan. Inq. p.m. 34 Hen. VIII, ii, 67–81.
  • 18. Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 31, m. 197. The estate was described as 'the manor of Heaton, otherwise Heaton Norris, otherwise Heaton Strangeways, with the appurtenances,' and comprised also forty messuages, a water-mill, a dovecote, gardens, orchards, lands, &c., and 40s. rent. The title of the Dacres, founded upon the grant by Sir James Strangeways already recorded, does not seem to have been satisfactory. In 1568 Robert Roos of Ingmanthorpe claimed the manor and lands as next of kin and heir—viz. son of Mary, sister of Thomas, father of Sir James Strangeways—against Leonard Dacre. The defendant pleaded the grant by Sir James, who, he stated, had delivered all his evidences into the hands of William, Lord Dacre; Duchy of Lanc. Pleadings, Eliz. lxxvii, R 2. Robert Roos's plea must have been successful, for in 1570 he sold the manor, &c., to Gilbert Gerard, attorney-general; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 32, m. 16.
  • 19. Sir Thomas Gerard sold or mortgaged the manor in 1598 to George Coppin; ibid. bdle. 60, m. 72; the latter, in 1601, in conjunction with Anne his wife, resold to Sir Thomas (ibid. bdle. 63, no. 294), who in the following year transferred it to Sir Arthur Savage; ibid. bdle. 64, no. 145. This was probably another mortgage, for in 1614 the deforciants in a fine were Sir Thomas Lord Gerard of Gerard's Bromley, Sir Arthur Savage and Joan his wife; ibid. bdle. 85, m. 1. The manor had already been sold to Sir Nicholas Mosley, who says in his will (1612): 'I do hereby give … unto my eldest son Rowland Mosley and to the heirs male of his body, &c., the manor or lordship of Heaton Norris … which I lately purchased of the Lord Gerard that now is'; Booker, Didsbury, 135. The manor is not named in Sir Nicholas' inquisition, but his son Rowland died in possession of it in 1617; it was said to be held of the king as of his duchy of Lancaster by the twentieth part of a knight's fee; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 66, 69.
  • 20. Pal of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 151, m. 152; 204, m. 66. There was a recovery of the manors of Hulme and Heaton Norris in 1746, Sir John Bland being a vouchee; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 562, m. 3.
  • 21. Mosley Fam. Mem. 29. Wilbraham Egerton was vouchee in a recovery of the manor in 1806; Pal. of Lanc. Aug. Assizes, 46 Geo. III, R. 8.
  • 22. See Ducatus Lanc. iii, 306, 465, 508, for suits in which the family were engaged; also Booker's Didsbury (Chet. Soc.), 6. The estate, described as twelve messuages, 100 acres of land, &c., in Heaton Norris, Streethouse Lane, and High Street was purchased by Sir Nicholas Mosley, who died in 1612; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 4, 66.
  • 23. See the list of free tenants already given. The Byrons' holding has been mentioned above. In 1277 and 1278 William de Heaton (probably Norreys), Robert de Shoresworth and Cecily his wife complained of a ditch made by John de Byron in Heaton; Assize R. 1235, m. 13; 1238, m. 34d; 1239, m. 40. Again in 1292 Mabel daughter of Gilbert de Barton complained that she had been disseised of five messuages and 60 acres of land in Heaton by Stockport, by John de Byron and Robert de Shoresworth. John said that he had nothing, and Robert said that he and Cecily his wife held a third part of the tenement as Cecily's dower, and that Thomas son of Robert Grelley held the other two-thirds. The plaintiff's claim against Thomas Grelley was barred because he was a minor in ward to the king, whom she might sue if she would; Assize R. 408, m. 8 d. 39 d. Mabel de Barton's claim was again put forward in 1302; De Banco R. 143, m. 115; 147, m. 93 d. William le Norreys, who surrendered the manor to his lord, had a son and heir Robert (see Denton), no doubt the Robert who held an oxgang of land in 1320, and appears in the Subsidy Roll of 1332; Exch. Lay Subs. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 40. The Norrises of Speke in the 16th century acquired an interest in the township, including a free fishery; Roger Downes appears to have sold to Edward Norris in 1551, and William Norris sold to Henry Partington in 1596; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 14, m. 151; 21, m. 114; 53, m. 48; 59, m. 122.
  • 24. The holding can be traced back to that of Ellis de Lever in 1320, and Adam de Lever in 1282, above recorded. Agnes widow of Robert de Worsley claimed dower in Heaton as well as in Worsley in 1350, so that the estate must have been in the hands of the Worsleys before that time; De Banco R. 363, m. 78 d. Robert de Worsley of the Booths died in 1403 holding lands called the Rakes in Heaton Norris, worth 40s. yearly, of Thomas La Warre, by a service unknown. There were forty saplings, worth 2s. each, on the Rakes; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. i, 24a. In the case of Robert Worsley, who died in 1497, he was said to hold of the king as Duke of Lancaster; ibid. iii, 50; but Robert Worsley of Booths died in 1533 holding lands in Heaton Norris of Lord La Warre in socage, by a rent of 9d. yearly; ibid. vii, 5. There was a recovery of three messuages, lands, &c., by Sir Robert Worsley in 1558; the descent from Arthur Worsley is set out; Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 203, m. 7. The Worsley estate was alienated in the second half of the 16th century. Parts were sold to William Nicholson by Sir Robert Worsley in 1549, and by Robert Worsley in 1554; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 13, m. 114; 15, m. 107. Ralph Nicholson had lands in Heaton in 1587; ibid. bdle. 49, m. 61.
  • 25. John del Holt claimed two messuages and lands in Heaton against Margaret widow of Robert de Hulme in 1364; there was a remainder to Geoffrey son of Cecily de Birches; De Banco R. 418, m. 342; 422, m. 286. Later he continued his claim against William son of Robert de Hulme; ibid. R. 425, m. 504 d. The Holts occur among the free tenants of 1320. The above John is perhaps the John son of Hugh del Holt of Stockport, who in 1364 complained that Roger son of Roger de Barlow had seized his goods at Heaton Norris; Coram Reg. R. East. 38 Edw. III, m. 59. Robert Hulme of Reddish died in 1600 seised of four messuages, 20 acres of land, &c., in Heaton, held of Sir Thomas Gerard in socage by a rent of 20d.; William Hulme held the same in 1637 of Edward Mosley by the same rent; Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xviii, no. 10; xxix, no. 70. Two of the older free tenants' estates seem to have been acquired by this family. The Hulme Trustees are the present owners.
  • 26. The Reddishes of Reddish held lands in Heaton Norris, but they are not particularly described in the inquisitions. Otes Reddish, who died in 1521, held of Sir James Strangeways in socage; John Reddish, who died in 1558, held of Leonard Dacres in socage by a rent of 8d. for all services; and his son John in 1569 held of Gilbert Gerard in the same manner; ibid. v, 48; xi, 60; xiii, 32. A messuage, &c., formerly belonging to George Newton of Stockport, was the subject of a suit in 1664 and later; Exch. Dep. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), 38, &c.
  • 27. None is named in the Subsidy Rolls of 1541 and 1622; Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 140, 152.
  • 28. Returns at Preston.
  • 29. Booker, Didsbury, 182.
  • 30. Lancs. and Ches. Rec. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 274.
  • 31. Booker, Didsbury, 189–91; a list of incumbents is given. A district was assigned to it in 1839; Lond. Gaz. 29 Mar. 1839; 16 June 1854.
  • 32. Booker, op. cit. 192. A district was first assigned for it in 1838; Lond. Gaz. 16 June 1854.
  • 33. Booker, op. cit. 193. For the district assigned to it see Lond. Gaz. 27 Feb. 1852.
  • 34. Lond. Gaz. 30 June 1865.
  • 35. For district, ibid. 7 May and 9 Aug. 1878.
  • 36. Teviot Dale Chapel was built in 1824; Booker, op. cit. 194.
  • 37. Hanover Chapel was built in 1821; Wycliffe Chapel in 1850; ibid. 194.
  • 38. Ibid. loc. cit.