The Earls and Dukes of Bridgewater, Earls of Ellesmere and latterly Bridgewater Estates Ltd acquired the lands and properties making up the Lancashire and Cheshire estates from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Until the late 14th century, the original Manor of Worsley was in the possession of the Worsley family, when it passed by inheritance and marriage to the Brereton family and subsequently to the Egerton family in the 16th century. Other manors making up the estates were acquired in the following years: the Manor of Bedford, bought by Sir Richard Brereton in 1578; the Manor of Pemberton and lands in Worsley (including Wardley Hall) from Lady Cholmondeley in 1758; the Manor of Hindley in 1765; the Manor of Cadishead in 1776; the Manor of Tyldesley (including the reputed manor of Booths) in 1836, these lands having been originally brought from the Clowes family in 1810 by Robert Haldene Bradshaw, superintendent of the Bridgewater Trust.
The Egerton Family
Thomas Egerton was born in 1540, the illegitimate child of Sir Richard Egerton of Ridley, Cheshire. In 1578 he became Solicitor General, and then Attorney General from 1592 to1594. In 1596 he was knighted and granted the Mastership of the Rolls and in 1596 the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal. In 1602 he was granted a peerage and became Baron Ellesmere. In 1603, on the accession of James I, he was appointed Lord Chancellor. In 1616 he was created Viscount Brackley, after the place of that name in Northamptonshire. Sir Thomas Egerton died in 1617 and was succeeded by his son John Egerton (b. 1579). On the death of his father, John Egerton was granted the Earldom of Bridgewater, after Bridgwater in Somerset, near where he owned estates.
In 1649, the 1st Earl of Bridgewater died and was succeeded by his son, John (1622-1686). On the death of the 2nd Earl, the title passed to his son, also John (1646-1700). The 4th Earl of Bridgewater, named Scroop after his maternal grandfather, the Earl of Sutherland, was created Duke of Bridgewater and Marquess of Brackley in 1720. The 1st Duke of Bridgewater died in 1745 and was succeeded by his son John. On the death of the 2nd Duke in 1748, the title passed to his brother Francis Egerton (1736-1803), then aged twelve. Although he did not become legally entitled to the management of his estates until 1757, when aged 21, he continued to develop the land and coal mining interests of his predecessors and facilitate the growth of these interests with the construction of the Bridgewater Canal.
The first Bridgewater Canal Act was passed in 1758. This act enabled the Duke to construct a navigable canal from the Delph at Worsley to Salford. Work began in 1759 and the Duke's Agent at that time, John Gilbert, employed the canal engineer James Brindley (1716-1772) to work on its construction. A further two Parliamentary Acts were passed; in 1759 enabling the extension of the canal from Worsley Mill over the River Irwell at Barton to Manchester and Stretford; and 1761 enabling extension of the canal from Stretford to the River Mersey at Halton. The stretch of the canal into Manchester, ending at Castlefield, was completed in 1764. Following the Trent and Mersey Canal Act in 1766, the route of the Bridgewater Canal was altered, linking with the Trent and Mersey Canal at Preston Brook on route to Runcorn. This branch of the canal was completed in 1776. A further Act was passed in 1795 allowing the extension of the canal from Worsley to Pennington, near Leigh, to join the Leeds Liverpool Canal. This branch of the canal opened in 1799.
On the death of the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater in 1803, the title Earl of Bridgewater passed to his cousin, Lt. Gen. John William Egerton (1753-1823), and then to his brother, the Rev. Francis Henry Egerton (b. 1756). The title of Earl of Bridgewater eventually became extinct with the death of the 8th Earl in 1829.
By the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater's will, the Lancashire and Cheshire estates and coalmines, the Bridgewater Canal and his estate in Brackley, Northamptonshire passed in trust to his nephew, George Granville Leveson Gower (1758-1833), Marquess of Stafford (later to become the 1st Duke of Sutherland) and on his death to his second son, Francis Leveson-Gower (1800-1857). Under terms of the will, they were to receive revenue from the estates, which were to be managed by the Bridgewater Trust. The trust comprised three trustees. Of these, one was a resident Superintendent with wide ranging powers and the right to appoint a successor (see below for list of serving trustees). In 1833, Lord Francis Leveson-Gower succeeded to ownership of the properties managed by the Bridgewater Trustees and, as specified by the 3rd Dukes will, adopted the surname Egerton. In 1837, Lord Francis Egerton moved to Worsley and between 1840 and 1846 built Worsley New Hall. In 1846 he, was created 1st Earl of Ellesmere and Viscount Brackley.
The 2nd Earl of Ellesmere, George Granville Egerton (d. 1862), was succeeded by his son Francis Charles Egerton (1847-1914). In 1865, the Bridgewater Estates Act was passed and, in 1887, the Bridgewater Canal and the Mersey and Irwell Navigation were bought by the Manchester Ship Canal Company.
In 1903, the Bridgewater Trust, set up under the will of the Duke of Bridgewater expired, and the 3rd Earl of Ellesmere set up the Ellesmere Trust in order to facilitate the management of his estates. He was succeeded by his son, John Francis Egerton (1872-1944).
During the period 1914-1921, a valuation of the 4th Earl's properties was undertaken for the purpose of establishing death duties. During this period, lands in Worsley, Manchester, Westhoughton, Hindley, Wigan, Runcorn and the Brackley Estate in Northamptonshire were sold. In 1921, the 4th Earl set up Bridgewater Wharves Ltd and Bridgewater Collieries Ltd to manage his coalmining interests. In 1923, the 4th Earl sold his Lancashire and Cheshire estates, manorial rights and shareholdings in Bridgewater Collieries Ltd and Bridgewater Wharves Ltd, to a syndicate of Lancashire businessmen in return for a shareholding in the new Bridgewater Estates Ltd.
Robert Haldane Bradshaw, 1803-1834 (in the employ of the Duke from 1800); James Sothern, 1834-1837; James Loch, 1837-1855; Algernon Fulke Egerton, 1855-1891; Walter Longley Bourke, 1891-1903. When the Bridgewater Trust ended in 1903, the chief agents of the Earls of Ellesmere, who took over the work of the Superintendents, were firstly Henry Hart Davies (to 1914) and latterly Charles Hardy.
Captain James Bradshaw, R. N, c 1818-1833; James Sothern, 1833-1834; George Samuel Fereday Smith, 1837-1844; George Loch, c 1844-1855.
Principal Agents and General Managers:
Benjamin Sothern, Principal Agent and the Inspector of the Navigation, 1803-1826; James Sothern, Principal Agent, 1832-1833; George Samuel Fereday Smith, Principal Agent and General Manager, 1845-1887; Clifford Smith, General Manager, from 1888.
The other two trustees were the husbands of the daughters of Louisa and Granville Leveson Gower (nieces of the 3rd Duke). The eldest, Louisa, married the Right Honourable Archibald Macdonald Bart, Ann married the Hon and Most Rev. Edward Venables Vernon Harcourt, Archbishop of York. These trustees took little active part, but were consulted by R.H. Bradshaw in matters concerning the Leveson Gower Family, as was James Loch.
Bridgewater Estates Ltd
On 10th February 1923, Bridgewater Estates Ltd was registered as a public limited company. The company held shares in both Bridgewater Collieries Ltd and Bridgewater Wharves Ltd but initially was run as a subsidiary to the colliery company. In order to cost the repayment of debenture stock, the company made several sales - including the Cock Hotel, Worsley in 1923 and, in 1924, Wardley Hall and the Bridgewater Hotel, Worsley.
In 1929, Bridgewater Estates Ltd surrendered its shareholdings in Bridgewater Collieries Ltd and Bridgewater Wharves Ltd to Manchester Collieries Ltd, who took over the Bridgewater Estates' Walkden Offices, in return for shares in the new company. Bridgewater Estates Ltd moved its offices to Worsley. Manchester Collieries Ltd was liquidated in 1954. Bridgewater Estates Ltd formed Walkden Land Company in 1958, as a wholly owned subsidiary company that acted as developer of its lands.
In 1933 and 1934 respectively, the Pall Mall Trust and the Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society made major purchases of land from Bridgewater Estates Ltd. In 1942, following the nationalisation of mines under the Coal Act of 1938, the company surrendered its mine leases to the Coal Commission. In the 1960's, the area of land belonging to Bridgewater Estates Ltd was estimated to be 7,000 acres. The company made further land purchases during the 1970's, including the Thornley Estate, at Longridge near Preston, Lancashire. In 1974 Bridgewater Estates Offices at Walkden closed.
In the early 1980's, Walkden Land Company became Bridgewater Homes Ltd. Peel Holdings Ltd bought Bridgewater Estates Ltd and, in 1987, changed its name to Peel Estates Ltd. In 1990, the name of Peel Estates Ltd was changed to Peel Investments (North) Limited on amalgamation with other companies in the Peel Group.
The papers described form part of the estate records and muniments of title of the Lancashire and Cheshire Estates of the Duke of Bridgewater, Earls of Ellesmere and Bridgewater Estates Ltd. The material in this collection is primarily that of the estate rather than the personal papers of the Dukes of Bridgewater and Earls of Ellesmere. The earliest records date from the 15th century and were produced by the Egerton family, the Earls, and later Dukes of Bridgewater, and in the 19th century, by the Earls of Ellesmere. As a result of the complexity of the acquisition of the estates and their changing ownership over the centuries, there is much variation in the form and content of many of the records.
Despite the complexity of the estates, it appears that the records were managed as part of a single administrative system. The system continued after the creation of Bridgewater Estates Ltd in 1923 and its integrity has been maintained where this is evident. Consequently no attempt has been made to organise the material by creator. However, for material created before the formation of Bridgewater Estates Ltd, creator is indicated at series or file level in order to retain a direct link between the record and its creator. Where records were created by a subsidiary company, such as Bridgewater Collieries Ltd, Bridgewater Wharves Ltd or Walkden Land Company this is also indicated.
At the time of writing the cataloguing process is incomplete. Extant catalogued material in the collection makes up 25 series of manuscript material. The collection has been divided into the following sub-fonds:
BW/A Estate Administration and Management
BW/F Estate Finance
BW/M Manorial Records
BW/T Deeds of Title
Estate Administration and Management
This sub-fonds comprises the records of the day to day management of the estates and its land, property and coalmining interests and includes: Bridgewater Estates Ltd minute books, 1923-1975; reports and policy papers, 1923-1983; memoranda regarding various aspects of estate management, 1865-1922; registers of correspondence, 1909-1951; employee lists, 1900-1920; wage rates. 1923-1946; Bridgewater Staff Pension Fund records, 1925-1985; apprenticeship indentures, 1769-1902; a series of volumes prepared for use in connection with the winding up of the Bridgewater Trust in 1903, detailing the history of particular manors; abstracts of conveyances, 1737-1983; valuations of estate lands and properties, 1846-1980; tithe administration records, 1844-1978; boundary records, 16th and 18th centuries; legal case papers, 1431-1900; household inventories, 1796-1832; coalmining notebooks, 1783-1864.
This sub-fonds comprises primarily the financial records of Bridgewater Estates Ltd and its subsidiary companies, although it does include some 19th century material. It includes: cash books and general accounts, 1869-1986; journals, 1923-1979; ledgers (some detailing repairs to cottages), 1922-1982; balance books, 1923-1985; rate and tax account books, 1895-1972; comparison of general accounts, 1906-1980; analysis of income and expenditure, 1921-1982; financial records of Walkden Land Company, 1958-1982; records relating to shareholders and investments, 1923-1978. This sub-fonds also includes some private accounts for the Earl of Ellesmere in 1903 and two volumes detailing repairs to estate properties and farms from 1965 to 1971. For Steward's accounts dating from 1724 to 1843, see BW/M/3.
This sub-fonds comprises manorial records relating to the estates, including court records, estate rentals and stewards accounts. Court records, includes court rolls, presentments and lists of jurors and relate to the following manor courts: Worsley, 1581-1888; Hulton, 1599-1888; Bedford, 1802-1888; Cadishead, 1859-1888. Rentals were organised by Bridgewater Estates according to divisions and districts, and are not easily separated into distinct manors. They have been arranged according to type and then district: chief and estate rentals for Worsley and Wigan, Eccles and Little Hulton, and Manchester, Warrington and Runcorn, 1862-1982; farm rentals for Eccles and Worsley and Wigan, and Little Hulton and Farnworth, 1869-1982; cottage rentals for Worsley, Bedford, Little Hulton, Middle Hulton and Tyldesley, 1852-1985; mine rentals 1815-1942. A series of early rentals, dating from 1725, are arranged separately, they include cottage and farm rents and cover Worsley, Hulton and Bedford manors. An incomplete series of pew rentals for Ellenbrook chapel, Ellenbrook dates from 1772 to 1874.
Deeds of Title
Bridgewater Estates arranged property acquisition and disposal according to its location and this arrangement has been retained where possible. Covering dates, land referred to and the names of prominent parties involved have been given. Original bundles have been preserved, although their content is not limited to records of title, but also include rentals and other financial papers, maps and surveys, correspondence, wills and other documents associated with the subject of the bundles. In some cases, the bundles relate to more than one estate. Miscellaneous 20th century deeds, primarily concerning dealings with local authorities, private companies and organisations, have been gathered into artificial bundles.
In the management of its title deeds, Bridgewater Estates allocated a reference number to each manor or estate. This arrangement has been retained and reconstructed where possible, in order to reflect the original management of the records. The estates were referenced as follows: Estate A, The Pemberton Estate, comprising Pemberton manor and properties in Orrell, Pemberton and Wigan Borough, 1669-1935; Estate B, The Hindley Estate, Hindley manor, comprising properties in Hindley and Abram, 1653-1922; Estate C, The Westhoughton Estate, 1858-1871; Estate D, The Bedford Estate, comprising Bedford manor, properties in Bedford, Pennington, Tyldesley and Astley, 1666-1922; Estate E, The Boothstown Estate, comprising Worsley and Booths manors, properties in Astley, Worsley and Tyldesley, 1659-1922; Estate F, The Tyldesley Estate, comprising parts of the manors or reputed manor of Worsley and Booths Tyldesley Garrett within Tyldesley, properties within Astley, Tyldesley and Little Hulton, 1605-1922; Estate G, The Middle Hulton Estate, Hulton manor, comprising properties in Middle Hulton, Over Hulton, Farnworth, Little Hulton and Tyldesley, 1578-1923; Estate H, The Farnworth Estate, comprising properties in Farnworth, Great Lever and Little Hulton, 1649-1922; Estate J, The Walkden Estate, comprising part of Worsely manor, the right of presentation to St Paul's Church, Walkden, properties in Little Hulton, Farnworth, Worsley and Tyldesley, 1663-1980; Estate K, The Lower Worsley and Barton Estate, comprising parts of Worsley and Barton upon Irwell manors, properties in Barton upon Irwell township, 1678-1921; Estate L, The Wardley and Worsley Estate, comprising part of Worsley manor the right of presentation to St Marks Church, Worsley, properties in Worsley, 1652-1897; Estate M, The Monton Estate, comprising parts of the manors, or reputed manors, of Worsley and Barton, 1805-1907; Estate N, The Swinton Estate, comprising part of Worsley manor and properties in Worsley township, 1599-1923; Estate O, The Manchester Estate, comprising properties in the City of Manchester, Salford Borough and Rochdale Borough, 1628-1963; Estate P, The Cadishead Estate, comprising Cadishead manor, properties in Barton upon Irwell township, 1688-1961; Estate Q, The Stretford Estate, comprising properties in Stretford and Didsbury townships, Lancashire County, and in Sale, Altringham and Dunham Massey townships, Cheshire County, 1766-1914; Estate S, The Warrington Estate, comprising properties in Appleton, Latchford, Grappenhall and Walkden, Inferior townships and in Warrington Borough, Cheshire County 1619-1915; Estate T, The Runcorn Estate, comprising properties in Runcorn, Halton and Weston townships, Cheshire County, 1614-1923.