The parish of Prestwich with Oldham: Tonge

A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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, 'The parish of Prestwich with Oldham: Tonge', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911) pp. 85-87. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

. "The parish of Prestwich with Oldham: Tonge", in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911) 85-87. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

. "The parish of Prestwich with Oldham: Tonge", A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 5, (London, 1911). 85-87. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

In this section


Tonge, 1392, usual; Tong, 1482.

This township occupies, as its name implies, a tongue of land between the Irk on the north and its affluent, the Wince Brook, on the south. The area is 392 acres. The surface is mostly above the 300 ft. level—360 ft. is reached at Mills Hill (fn. 1) —sloping down to the streams named. The population in 1901 was included with Middleton. (fn. 2)

The principal roads are those branching out from Middleton, to the east to Oldham and to the southeast to Hollinwood and Failsworth. Dwelling-houses have spread out along these roads, so that the township has long been a suburb of Middleton, to which borough it was added for local government purposes in 1861. (fn. 3) In 1894 Tonge lost its status as a township or civil parish, and became completely merged in Middleton. (fn. 4)

The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company's line from Manchester to Rochdale passes through the eastern side, with a branch to Middleton, opened in 1857. From this the part of Tonge called Middleton Junction takes its name, though the junction itself is in Chadderton. Middleton station is in Tonge. A light railway is laid along the road from Middleton to Oldham. The Manchester and Rochdale canal touches the eastern border.

In this township there were only fifteen hearths liable to the tax in 1666; no house had more than two. (fn. 5)


Originally TONGE seems to have been a part of Alkrington, and is not called a manor. It was, therefore, part of the Prestwich lands, and does not come into notice for some time after these lands had descended to the Langleys of Agecroft. In 1390 a Henry de Alkrington died, holding of the king by knight's service two messuages and certain lands in Alkrington called Tonge. (fn. 6) From the inquisition and subsequent pleadings it appears that Henry was descended from Thomas the son of Adam de Prestwich, whose daughters and heirs left no legitimate offspring. (fn. 7) It would appear that Thomas had a natural son named Henry for whom he made provision by granting this outlying part of his manor of Alkrington. Henry's son Henry died, as stated, in 1390, leaving a son Henry, only eighteen months old. (fn. 8) He proved his age in 1412, and had livery of his lands; (fn. 9) afterwards he took Tonge as his surname, and his descendants continued in possession until the 18th century.

Henry de Tonge in 1437–8 laid claim to the Prestwich inheritance, but illegitimacy was asserted as a defence. (fn. 10) He died before 1470, when his son Richard had to claim his inheritance against Thomas Langley of Agecroft, who had expelled him. (fn. 11) The suit was still proceeding in 1482, when John Langley and Richard Tonge stated their claims. (fn. 12) In 1498 Richard assigned a portion of his lands in Tonge to feoffees in view of the marriage of his son Thomas with Margaret daughter of Thomas Newton; he died two years afterwards, holding various lands of the king as Duke of Lancaster, by knight's service. His son and heir Thomas was then eighteen years of age. (fn. 13)

Thomas duly proved his age in 1504. (fn. 14) Three years later it was awarded that Robert Langley and his tenants in Alkrington should enjoy common of pasture in Tonge Moor, but turbary was denied except to certain tenants named. (fn. 15) In 1527 Thomas Tonge granted to Robert Langley a part of the moor, with common of pasture, turbary and marl. (fn. 16) The next of the family known is John Tonge, the son of Thomas, who died in 1551, holding various lands in Tonge of the king by the hundredth part of a knight's fee; Richard his son and heir was only two years of age. (fn. 17) Richard died at the end of 1568, being still in wardship; he left a son Christopher, two years of age, about whose legitimacy there was some doubt, and apart from whom the heirs were Richard's sisters Ellen, Jane, and Dorothy, aged twenty-one, nineteen, and nineteen years. (fn. 18)

Tonge. Azure a bend between two cotises argent and six martlets or.

Christopher's right must have been established, for he held possession of the estates in Prestwich, Middleton, Tonge, and Alkrington. (fn. 19) In 1590 he made provision for the jointure of Jane daughter of William Bamford, whom he married. He died 10 February 1600–1, and was buried at Middleton. Richard the son and heir was not quite three years old. (fn. 20) In 1631 he paid £10 after refusing knighthood. (fn. 21) From this time little can be said of the family, except the details in the pedigree; (fn. 22) its members do not appear to have taken any conspicuous part in the Civil War or the Revolution. Richard Tonge, who died in 1713, bequeathed his newly-purchased lands in Hopwood to his elder son Jonathan, subject to an annuity of £20 a year to his wife Alice, and a sum of £500 to his younger son Thomas, then a minor. (fn. 23) In spite of this bequest he appears to have died insolvent, and the executors refusing to act, administration of his estate was granted to creditors. By his second wife he left two sons, Jonathan and Thomas, of whom the latter had issue. The son Jonathan in 1725 demised his estate to his brother Thomas, with instructions to sell it. (fn. 24) In the following year it was purchased by John Starky of Heywood, (fn. 25) whose grandson James Starky in 1846 left it to his relatives, Mrs. Hornby of St. Michael's, and Joseph Langton of Liverpool. (fn. 26) The trustees of the late Charles Langton are stated to be the present lords of the manor and chief landowners.

Tonge Hall passed through several hands. About 1890 it was purchased by Mr. Asheton Tonge of Alderley, stated to be a descendant of the old family. (fn. 27) The hall, a picturesque fragment of a black and white timber and plaster house standing on a low stone base, is now completely dismantled, and in a sad state of decay and dilapidation. The house was originally of much greater extent, and a drawing of the building as it was about 1845 (fn. 28) shows that the whole of the west end, including a projecting porch and gable in front of the present brick-faced portion of the principal elevation, has been destroyed.

The house is situated on high ground above the valley of the Irk, facing north, and overlooking the town of Middleton. It was probably erected in the latter part of the 16th century, and is an interesting specimen of the timber architecture of the county. What remains consists of the central and eastern wings, two stories in height, which preserve their original timber and plaster construction on the north and east sides. The south and west sides have been rebuilt in brick. The exterior timber-work consists of roughly-shaped beams and posts with a filling-in of square quatrefoil panels. The continuous repetition of the quatrefoils, broken only by the shallow plaster coves which mark the lines of the first floor and eaves, gives a somewhat rich and ornamental appearance to the building, though the detail is poor. The oak pegs are left projecting about an inch all round the panels, and form a characteristic feature of the building, which, however, has a very dilapidated appearance, the gables being without barge boards, the windows without glass, and portions of the front of the house boarded up. In other parts the walls are broken through, and open for anyone to enter. The west end of the principal or north elevation has been refaced in brick in front where the porch originally stood, and there is some brick patching in other parts of the front of the house. The roofs are covered with grey stone slates, and the chimney shafts are of brick set diagonally on a square base.

Plan of Tonge Hall

The interior is in an even worse state than the outside, and very little of interest remains. The principal apartment, or great hall, which is paved with stone flags, occupies the whole of the west (or what was the centre) wing, but has been divided in later times unequally across its length by a partition. It measures about 27 ft. in length and 21 ft. in width, and had a large bay window 9 ft. square at the north-east end. The position of the screens seems to be indicated by the present passage at the west end of the room, which is now separated from it by a brick wall. The usual arrangement of the great hall was, however, probably not strictly adhered to. The fireplace is at the west end, in the position of the screen, and blocking up any way to the passage, except on the north side. The ceiling is crossed by four massive beams. When the building was occupied as a farmhouse the part of the hall on the south side of the partition was used as a kitchen, and modern windows and a door were inserted in the south wall. The bay window with the portion of the great hall on the north side of the partition is now a separate apartment. The east wing contains a square staircase, with solid oak steps, and seems to have had originally two rooms, one on each side of a central chimney. One of these rooms, however, has again been divided, and a small apartment, measuring about 12 ft. by 11 ft., formed. This parlour, which has a window on the east side, is panelled all round with 18th-century wainscot, and has had a picture over the fireplace, half of which still remains. In the room at the back there is still a good 17th-century oak table. There are five rooms on the first floor, but they offer no points of interest, and there is a cellar under the front portion of the east wing. There was apparently a restoration or alteration of the house in 1703, that date, with the initials R T A (Richard Tonge and Alice his wife) being on three lead spout-heads in different parts of the building. The initials r. t. were also on a latch-plate in one of the barns, and in yellow stain on one of the leaded quarries of the windows. The house was tenanted by a farmer for some years previous to 1890; since then it has been unoccupied, and allowed to decay. During its occupancy as a farm modern windows were inserted on the south and east sides, and a new brick porch built at the south-east corner. The owner recently offered it as a gift to the town of Middleton for use as a museum, but the offer was not accepted. (fn. 29)

The inquisitions show that the Radcliffes of Smithills held land in Tonge of the king, but no details are given. (fn. 30) About 1400 William del Dam and Margery his wife had lands in Tonge. (fn. 31) Richard Assheton of Middleton died in 1618, holding land in Tonge of the king by knight's service, as part of the manor of Middleton. (fn. 32)

Several places of worship have during the last century been erected in Tonge. In connexion with the Established religion St. Michael's, in the west, was built in 1839, and rebuilt in 1902; the rector of Prestwich is patron; and St. Gabriel's, Middleton Junction, was built in 1885, the Bishop of Manchester collating. In connexion with the former is the iron mission church of the Holy Innocents.


  • 1. O.S.
  • 2. Pop. Ret. 1901.
  • 3. By the Middleton and Tonge Improvement Act.
  • 4. a By Local Govt. Bd. Order 31625 of 1894.
  • 5. Subs. R. bdle. 250, no. 9, Lancs.
  • 6. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc), i, 57, 58, where several illustrative documents are printed. In Feb. 1356–7, Henry son of Henry son of Thomas demanded against John de Radcliffe the elder and Joan his wife, 24 acres in Prestwich; and against Alice, widow of Thomas de Prestwich, 12 acres in the same town; Duchy of Lanc. Assize R. 5, m. 4.
  • 7. See the account of Prestwich.
  • 8. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Chet. Soc.), i, 57. Henry the son was baptized in Middleton Church, 5 Oct. 1388.
  • 9. Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxvii, App. 174.
  • 10. Lancs. Inq. p.m. i, 58.
  • 11. Pal. of Lanc. Plea R. 37, m. 12 d; Henry Tonge, father of Richard, was seised of two messuages, 50 acres of land, 6 acres of meadow, and 4 acres of wood called Tonge, in the vill of Prestwich, and of 100 acres of moor called Tonge Moor. After the death of Henry, Richard entered, until Thomas Langley, John Langley, and others expelled him. The Langleys, in reply, quoted the fine of 1313 respecting the descent of the Prestwich lands. In 1450–1 Richard Tonge, 'yeoman,' had been charged with felony by Thomas Langley; ibid. R. 17, m. 16. Later, Richard had to complain that Edmund Ashton and various others of Chadderton had taken turf in his several turbary; ibid. R. 51, m. 7 d. Abstracts of the Tonge title deeds are contained in Raines MSS. (Chet. Lib.), xiii, 172–81.
  • 12. Agecroft D. 85; the fine of 1313 was again referred to, and Richard Tonge asserted the legitimacy of his descent from Thomas son of Alice de Wolveley. See also Pal. of Lanc. Writs Proton, file 22 Edw. IV, a.
  • 13. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, 81; the estate is described as three messuages, 50 acres of land, &c., and 100 acres of moss and moor called Tonge Moor alias Tonge in Prestwich. The bounds of the portion given to the daughter-in-law's trustees mentioned the 'little oak marked,' the 'water of Irk,' and the Fyne meadow in Middleton. Richard died 19 Apr. 1500; his son reached eighteen years of age on the following Michaelmas, and was already married.
  • 14. Dip. Keeper's Rep. xl, App. 544.
  • 15. Agecroft D. 95.
  • 16. Ibid. 102. In 1556 Sir Robert Langley granted an acre of Tonge Moor, at a rent of 12d. to Mary, widow of Ralph Standish, and Edward, brother of Ralph; ibid. 122. The date of Thomas's death is given as 16 Feb. 1542; the estate remained unchanged; the son and heir was John Tonge, aged thirty; H. Fishwick in Lancs, and Ches. Antiq. Soc. x, 28, quoting the Inq. p.m.
  • 17. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. ix, 7; the will of John Tonge is recited, as well as the provision for his wife, Dorothy daughter of Roger Downes. His wife, son, and three daughters are mentioned in the will; his half-brother Richard was to have sufficient turf from the moss in Tonge to burn in his house, and thirty loads of thorns. In 1547 there had been a dispute between Edmund Chadderton and John Tonge (and others), as to turbary on the moor; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), i, 223. John Tonge died 31 July 1551, and was buried at Middleton on 6 Aug. The wardship and marriage of Richard, the heir, were granted to Thurstan Rawstorne; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xxxix, App. 561.
  • 18. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xii, 9. No reason is given for the qualification 'if not admitted by law,' respecting Christopher. Richard died 10 Nov. 1568, and immediately afterwards Margaret his widow, the daughter of James Heywood, made a claim under a marriage settlement against Elizabeth Heywood, widow; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), ii, 371.
  • 19. During his minority the wardship was granted to Gilbert Sherington, and by him transferred to Thomas Legh of Alkrington. The latter gave Christopher to understand that his uncle Peter Heywood would do nothing for him, whereby his lands would be lost, and prevailed on the youth of fifteen to marry 'a notorious harlot,' Katherine Jackson, by whom Thomas Legh had had several children. A divorce was granted in 1583; H. Fishwick as above (p. 29), quoting a deed in Raines MSS. xiii, 174.
  • 20. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. xviii, 14, in which the marriage settlements are set forth. The estate is described as twelve messuages, a cottage, twelve gardens, two orchards, 80 acres of lands, &c., in Tonge, &c. The remainders after Christopher's issue were to Jane, his aunt, Gervase Utterus son of Ellen, another aunt, and Margaret sister of Gervase. Some field names are given, as Bent Meadow, Cross Field, and Rye Hill. Besides his sons Richard and Ashton he had daughters Mary, Jane, and Winifred. Immediately after his death disputes arose as to lands leased to the Hiltons; Ducatus Lanc. (Rec. Com.), iii, 461. Richard son of Christopher Tonge was baptized at Middleton 7 May 1598.
  • 21. Misc. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 215. Richard Tonge was buried at Middleton 3 Apr. 1678.
  • 22. A pedigree was recorded in 1664; Dugdale, Visit. (Chet. Soc.), 303. It begins with Christopher Tonge, and shows the descent through Richard to his son Jonathan, aged 28, who had a son Richard, aged six. Jonathan son of Mr. Richard Tonge was baptized at Middleton, 12 Aug. 1636. He was married to Sarah Whitehead, at Prestwich, on 27 June 1655, and was buried at Middleton 25 May 1680. His son Richard is named in the text.
  • 23. Booker, Prestwich, 209, 210. The author remarks: 'Though a family of note it does not appear that arms were ever granted to them. . . . From an impression of the seal of Richard Tonge in the latter part of the 17th century he appears to have borne a bend cotised between six martlets.' These arms were recorded in 1664 according to the printed Visitation, which is not quite trustworthy from the letter S onward.
  • 24. Col. Fishwick's article, as above (p. 31).
  • 25. The deed is enrolled at Preston, R. 12 of Geo. I; see Piccope MSS. (Chet. Lib.), iii, 230. The price named is £4,350. The pedigree is thus given: John Starky, d. 1749— s. John, d. 1780— s. James, high sheriff, 1791, d. 1846; Heywood N. and Q. (ed. Green), iii, 35. James Starky in 1795 paid more than half the land tax for Tonge; there was no other considerable holder; Returns at Preston.
  • 26. Canon Raines in Gastrell, Notitia Cestr., ii, 110. From the pedigree of the Langton family in Foster, Lancs. Pedigrees, it appears that Joseph Starky, M.D., of Redvales, Bury, younger son of John Starky, the purchaser of Royton, had two daughters—Mary, who married William Langton, and was succeeded by her son Joseph and grandson Charles; and Anne, who married the Rev. Hugh Hornby of St. Michael's.
  • 27. Fishwick, loc. cit. For the pedigree see Booker, op. cit. 212, and Gen. Mag. iii, 349, 406, where it is shown that the last Richard Tonge was thrice married—(i) in 1681 to Esther daughter of William Richardson of Crompton; (ii) in 1691 to Jane daughter of Thomas Percival of Royton and widow of John Gilliam; (iii) in 1699 to Alice daughter of Benjamin Wrigley of Chamber Hall. The Tonge family had several branches. Henry Tonge of Farnworth died in 1614, holding lands in Farnworth, Kearsley, and Worsley, leaving his brother John as heir; Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), i, 283. In 1722 administration of the goods of Richard Tonge of Middleton was granted to his brother Ashton Tonge. In the following year administration of the goods of Ashton Tonge of Tonge, weaver, were granted to his widow Dorothy. In 1772 administration of the goods of Ashton Tonge of Worsley, carpenter, were granted to his widow Jane. The will of Richard Tonge of Worsley, yeoman, was proved in 1798; it mentions his shares in ships, a blacklead pencil factory at Worsley, and various lands, including a house in Deansgate, Manchester; Mary his wife, and Thomas Fletcher his brother-in-law, were two of the executors. Jane Tonge of Worsley, widow, by her will of 1808 left her estate to her four daughters.
  • 28. Lancs. and Ches. Antiq. Soc. x.; in Booker, Prestwich, is another view, dated 1852.
  • 29. Manch. Guard. 1 Dec. 1906.
  • 30. Duchy of Lanc. Inq. p.m. iii, 12.
  • 31. In 1392 William son of John del Dam granted to Sir Ralph de Radcliffe all his messuages and lands in Tonge in the vill of Prestwich, at a rent of one peppercorn for eight years, and 40s. afterwards; Agecroft D. 41. The custody of two messuages called Tonge in Alkrington was in 1401 granted to William del Dam and Margery his wife; Dep. Keeper's Rep. xl, App. 530. In 1481 at Prestwich Church sworn declarations were made before a notary, concerning the lands of John Langley and Robert his son. Robert Stork, aged 80, said that formerly at the Barkhouses in Tonge dwelt William Dam, at another place John Barlow—both houses levelled with the ground—at Gunthorp Hugh Hobson, and later Ralph Hilton, and at another place Joan Bradshaw. The rent of Barlow's and Hobson's houses had been paid to Richard Barton of Middleton and not to Henry Tonge. Other witnesses corroborated. Richard Withington had lived at Gunthorp for thirty-seven years, and never paid rent except to Richard Barton; Agecroft D. 84.
  • 32. Lancs. Inq. p.m. (Rec. Soc. Lancs. and Ches.), ii, 107.