Thursday, 10 March 2016

(208) Ashton of Hyde, Little Onn Hall and Broadwell Hill, Barons Ashton of Hyde

Ashton of Hyde
This family of Ashtons were established as yeomen farmers at Hyde in Stockport in the 16th century, and are said to be a branch of the Ashton family of Stoney Middleton (Derbys) [see my next post], who in turn derived from the Ashtons of Ashton-under-Lyne (Lancs) at an even earlier period. Hyde and Aston-under-Lyne are very close, however, and since Ashton remained a common name in the south-east Lancashire area, a more direct origin is also possible. The family farm at Gee Cross was known as Gerrards by the late 17th century, and a substantial house eventually evolved there out of the original farm buildings. This survived until comparatively recently, but was demolished c.1998-2001 and replaced by a row of three-storey town houses. The family's transition to gentry status began in the 18th century when they diversified into the cotton trade, which was beginning to develop in the area. Benjamin Ashton (1718-91) is said to have  engaged in weaving at a period when cotton cloth was woven with linen warps from the North of Ireland and cotton weft spun in 
Gerrards, from an old postcard.
Lancashire. He had the cloth woven with the cotton weft by handloom weavers in the Hyde area and afterwards took it to Manchester for sale. Samuel Ashton (1742-1812) probably continued this business, but six of his seven sons went into partnership in a larger-scale factory-based cotton-spinning business, with mills at Gerrards Wood and Wilson Brook in Godley. Their mills were soon steam powered, and they bought their own coal mines to secure their supplies. They also established a calico printing works at Newton Bank. In 1823 the brothers agreed to separate their businesses, with the two eldest, Samuel and Thomas, taking the major shares. Samuel established himself at Apethorn Mill and soon afterwards built Woodley Mill, while Thomas ran the factory at the Hollow.  John's business interests seem to have shifted to Manchester, while James was at Newton Bank. The brothers all became rich on the proceeds of the cotton trade, and were well able to buy or build gentlemen's houses; indeed, it is sobering to compare the fortunes they left at death with those of contemporary but longer-established gentry families. Benjamin, Robert and Joseph were childless, while John left only an illegitimate daughter. After providing for her, and making generous legacies to his surviving siblings, he left the bulk of his estate to the Government towards paying off the national debt, a quixotic gesture which took some £200,000 out of the family (some £263m today). Samuel, Thomas and James had descendants to inherit their businesses and seats. Samuel Ashton (1773-1849), who as the eldest son inherited Gerrards, built Pole Bank Hall at Hyde in about 1820. His eldest son, Thomas, having been murdered in 1831 by agitators who were trying to intimidate the local millowners, Pole Bank and his businesses were left to his third son, Benjamin Ashton (1813-89), who remained unmarried and bequeathed them to his nephews, Frederick and Godfrey Burchardt, who sold the house.

James Ashton (1777-1841) built Newton Lodge at Hyde, also about 1820, and in 1835, perhaps with thoughts of retirement to the country, purchased Little Onn Hall in Staffordshire. These properties descended to his only son John Ashton (1800-44), who died young, and then to his son, Charles James Ashton (1830-91), who rebuilt Little Onn Hall in the 1850s, when he came of age. With this development there seems to have come a decisive shift of attention away from the family's urban and industrial roots. Charles' widow died in 1893 and Little Onn and Newton Lodge descended to their teenage daughters, Eveline and Amy Ashton.  In the years before they married (in 1902 and 1903) and moved away, the sisters extended Little Onn Hall and laid out a fine garden there to the designs of Thomas Mawson: one would like to know more about them and their motivations in this project, which it was remarkable for them to take on at such a young age. They also donated Newton Lodge to the people of Hyde as a public park.

Ford Bank, Didsbury: as first built in 1854 for Thomas Ashton (1818-98).
Image: Manchester Libraries
Thomas Ashton (1775-1845) seems to have been the most philanthropic of the brothers. He built housing and a library for his workers, and a school for their children. His son and successor, Thomas Ashton (1818-98), who like all his family was a Unitarian in religion, continued this tradition. By the end of his life he owned three factories and employed nearly 3,000 people at Hyde, and it was said that during the depression in the cotton trade in 1861-65 when most mills closed or went onto short time, his were kept working at a loss for the benefit of his workers. He also supported a number of charitable initiatives and educational institutions, and built a new Unitarian chapel at Flowery Fields, close to one of his mills. Unsurprisingly, he was a popular figure in the town, and when Hyde became a borough in 1881, he was the first Mayor. In 1854 he employed Edward Walters to built him a large new house at Didsbury (Lancs), which he named Ford Bank, where he amassed an impressive art collection. He also became a prominent actor in local politics in both Cheshire and Lancashire, and declined both an invitation to stand for Parliament and a baronetcy. When he died in 1898 he left an estate worth over half a million pounds and had lived to see his surviving children well established in society. His only unmarried daughter, Margaret Ashton (1856-1937) blossomed into a political and philanthropic career of her own after his death. After a number of years of conventional activism for the Liberal party she parted company with them over the issue of women's suffrage, and joined the Labour party; her later years were spent campaigning for pacifism and women's rights.

Vinehall, Robertsbridge, Sussex: the house as extended
for the 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde. Image: Vinehall School
Thomas' eldest son, Thomas Gair Ashton (1855-1933) chose to follow in his father's political rather than his business footsteps, and after his father died the family business passed into the hands of managers; it was eventually bought out by Courtaulds in 1968. The first of his family to have the traditional public-school-and-Oxbridge education of an English gentleman (his father had attended a nonconformist academy and a German university), he served briefly as MP for Hyde in 1885-86 and after contesting the seat unsuccessfully in 1886 and 1892 was elected for Luton in 1895, which he represented until 1911. When he retired from Parliament he was created 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde. In 1902 he bought a mid 19th century Italianate house called Vinehall at Robertsbridge in East Sussex and enlarged it. It was sold after the death of his widow in 1938 and subsequently became a preparatory school.

When the 1st Baron died in 1933 he was succeeded by his only surviving son, Thomas Henry Raymond Ashton (1901-83), 2nd Baron Ashton of Hyde, who had been brought up in Sussex and thus did not have the close association with the cotton towns of south-east Lancashire and north-east Cheshire that his father and grandfather had had. His passion was hunting, and in 1929 he bought a fairly modest Victorian house called Broadwell Hill in prime hunting country in Gloucestershire, which he enlarged about ten years' later to the design of Eric Cole of Cirencester. Here he was able to hunt with the Heythrop Hunt on its territory on the Gloucestershire-Oxfordshire border, and for a remarkable eighteen years he was Master of the hunt, seeing it through the difficult years of the Second World War. 

His son, Thomas John Ashton (1926-2008), 3rd Baron Ashton of Hyde was keen on hunting too, but after doing his national service and going to university, he joined Barclays Bank under a scheme which allowed accelerated promotion to director level for young men of appropriate background. According to his obituarist, when working in Oxford in the late 50s, he would go into the office early to dictate letters and then go hunting; returning to the office later in the day to sign his correspondence. When he inherited Broadwell Hill in 1983, however, he put Broadwell Hill on the market, and even though it did not sell, he himself seems not subsequently to have lived there. It was eventually made over to his son, Thomas Henry Ashton (b. 1958), the 4th and present Baron Ashton of Hyde, who had a career in the insurance industry before inheriting the peerage. Although hereditary peers no longer sit in the House of Lords as of right, he was elected in 2011 to fill one of the 90 seats reserved for them, and since 2014 he has been a minister in the coalition and Conservative governments.

Pole Bank Hall, Hyde, Cheshire

Pole Bank Hall: an early 20th century view of the entrance front from an old postcard
An early 19th century red brick house with a three bay, south-east facing entrance front framed by brick pilasters and dominated by a pedimented Ionic porch of stone with wreaths in the frieze. The side elevation to the south-west was originally of five bays with a shallow bow in the centre, but has been extended to the north, and a ghastly flat-roofed windowless block looking like a crematorium has been stuck out to the west. This side once had rather charming views across the park, which was originally dotted with greenhouses, and which still has a lake, but the trees have grown up and obscure the view. The house was given to the people of Hyde in 1943 and is now a care home.

Pole Bank Hall: an early postcard of the park, showing the side elevation of the house.

Descent: Samuel Ashton (1742-1812); to son Benjamin Ashton (1813-89); to nephew, (Arthur) Godfrey Burchardt-Ashton (b. 1854); sold to Thomas Beeley; to son Thomas Carter Beeley (d. 1909); sold c.1910 to George F. Byrom (d. 1942); bequeathed to Hyde Borough Council.

Newton Lodge, Hyde, Cheshire

A three bay square two-storey stone villa built about 1820. The entrance front had a projecting centre with a semicircular Ionic porch and a plat band continuing the line of the porch entablature. The side elevations were severely plain and there was a service wing at the rear.
Newton Lodge, Hyde: entrance front c.1910, from an old postcard. Image: Tameside Archives

Newton Lodge, Hyde, from an old postcard.

The house and grounds were given to the town of Hyde by the daughters of C.J. Ashton and opened as a park in 1904, but the borough authorities demolished the house in 1938 and replaced it with the Bayley Hall.

Descent: built for James Ashton (1777-1841); to son, John Ashton (1800-44); to son, Charles James Ashton (1830-91); to widow, Mary Eliza Ashton (1845-93); to daughters, Eveline Mary (1875-1952), later wife of Rev. Arthur Henry Talbot (1855-1927) and Amy Elizabeth (1877-1960), later wife of Lt-Col. Ellis Holland (1854-1920), who gave it to Hyde Borough Council in 1902.

Little Onn Hall, Church Eaton, Staffordshire

The manor of Little Onn is first recorded in 1498 and a moated site to the north-east of the present house is interpreted as the site of a moated house of 15th/16th century date which was presumably the manor house. Some walling remains above ground at the north-west corner of the island in the moat, which may have been part of the house.
Little Onn Hall: unpublished engraving commissioned by Stebbing Shaw. Image: William Salt Library, Stafford.

The estate was bought by Robert Crockett in the mid 18th century and a seven by three bay, two-and-a-half storey late 18th century house was built here, probably by his son, Henry Crockett (d. 1796), who inherited in 1776. Little is known about this house because it was replaced in the 1850s for Lt-Col. Charles James Ashton by an asymmetrical house in a loosely Jacobean style with crow-stepped gables and a turret with a very pointy roof.

Little Onn Hall: entrance front: the house of the 1850s is to the right; the extensions of the 1890s to the left.

When Col. Ashton died in 1891 he was succeeded by his widow (d. 1893) and then by his two young daughters, who made some rather uninspiring additions to the house in a freer Jacobean style to the design of an unknown architect. These include a new porch and a large, mostly single-storey range to its left that sports a big bay window. They also and more happily commissioned a new garden design from T.H. Mawson, then early in his career but rapidly building a reputation as one of the foremost garden designers. The date of these works is not absolutely clear, but even though the sisters were only 18 and 16 in 1893, it would appear that the changes were made sooner rather than later in their ownership.
Little Onn Hall: garden design by T.H. Mawson, c.1895.

Mawson's garden scheme was not fully executed because the sisters had spent so much on the additions to the house that they were running out of money, but the bones of his plan were carried out, and it remains one of his best-preserved schemes. Mawson created a terrace round the house by excavating the land where it did not fall naturally, and moved the approach drive from the north to the west side. Formal gardens were created close to the house, and a series of square stone summerhouses marked the boundary between the gardens and the pasture land beyond, which was planted with specimen trees. North-east of the house a medieval moated site was incorporated into the garden. The island in the moat was given a rustic summerhouse with tiny Gothic windows, rustic timbering, and a wooden tiled roof, and it was intended to create three bridges across the moat, but it is not clear whether these were ever built.

Descent: Robert Crockett (d. 1776); to son, Henry Crockett (d. 1796); to son, Henry Crockett (d. 1833), who sold c.1830 to James Ashton (1777-1841); to son, John Ashton (d. 1844); to son, Lt-Col. Charles James Ashton (1830-91), who rebuilt the house; to widow, Eliza Mary Ashton (1845-93); to daughters, Eveline Mary and Amy Elizabeth Ashton, who sold c.1907 to Tyrell William Cavendish (d. 1912 in the Titanic disaster); to widow, Julia Florence Cavendish (d. 1963) who sold to William Dickens Hayward (d. by 1939); to widow....sold 1971 to Ian Kidson (d. 1998); to widow (d. 2004); sold 2005 to David George Bradshaw (b. 1968).

Broadwell Hill, Gloucestershire

A small freehold estate known as Broadwell Hill changed hands several times in the 19th century and was bought c.1876 by Capt. Piers Thursby.  Nothing is known of the house which accompanied the property at this period, but it was probably no more than a comfortable gentleman farmer’s house.  In 1879, however, Thursby employed Ewan Christian to replace it with a large, loosely Jacobean, gabled house with tall chimneys and bay windows facing the garden which bears a considerable similarity to his earlier Abbotswood.  

Broadwell Hill: the garden front

After Thursby's widow died in 1912 the house was sold and it then changed hands several times before being bought by Thomas Ashton (later 2nd Baron Ashton of Hyde) in 1929. He employed Eric Cole of Cirencester to extend the original house in 1938. The new wing was built at an angle to the south-west, giving the house a rather  unusual plan.  The principal objective of the extension was presumably to provide some reception rooms and bedrooms with a better aspect, since the main rooms of the original house faced east. The new wing was lower than the main block and masses with it fairly successfully, but is executed in the rather mechanical Cotswold Tudor style associated with Cole.  Lord Ashton of Hyde died in 1983 and the house was offered for sale shortly afterwards, but it remains in the family. 

Descent: Barker family; sold 1802 to Lee Compere; sold 1824 to Robert Beman; sold 1874 to Albert Clifford sold c.1876 to Capt. Piers Thursby (1834-1904), who rebuilt the house; to widow, Mary Thursby (nee Godman) (1839-1912); sold to Charles Slingsby Peirse-Duncombe (1870-1925); sold to Rev. Cecil Graham Moon (1867-1948); sold 1929 to Thomas Ashton (1901-83), 2nd Baron Ashton of Hyde, who extended the house; to son, Thomas John Ashton (1926-2008), 3rd Baron Ashton of Hyde, who transferred it to his son, (Thomas) Henry Ashton (b. 1958), 4th Baron Ashton of Hyde.

Ashton family of Broadwell Hill, Barons Ashton of Hyde

Ashton, Samuel (1742-1812) of Gerrards. Son of Benjamin Ashton (1718-91) of Gerrards and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Edward Lees of Hazlehurst, Ashton-under-Lyne (Lancs), born 16 December 1742. Yeoman farmer at Gerrards, Gee Cross, Hyde. He married, 13 March 1773, Mary (1753-1825), daughter of John Oldham, and had issue including:
(1) Samuel Ashton (1773-1849) (q.v.);
(2) Thomas Ashton (1775-1845) (q.v.);
(3) James Ashton (1777-1841) (q.v.);
(4) John Ashton (1780-1846) of Manchester and Newton Bank, Hyde, baptised at Ashton-under-Lyne (Lancs), 23 January 1780; cotton manufacturer; unmarried but had an illegitimate daughter by Eliza Atkinson alias Partington of Salford (Lancs) (Ann Atkinson alias Ashton, b. 1834); died 18 April 1846; his eccentric will, by which he left most of his estate towards paying off the national debt, was proved 28 August 1846;
(5) Jane Ashton (b. 1782; fl. 1836), baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 12 May 1782; living in 1836 but perhaps dead by 1852;
(6) Joseph Ashton (1786-1856), born 23 May and baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 26 June 1786; married, 27 August 1812 at Stockport, Ann Booth (c.1787-1860) but had no issue; died 5 January 1856; will proved 2 September 1856;
(7) Benjamin Ashton (1789-1835), born 25 November and baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 27 November 1789; died unmarried and was buried at Hyde Chapel, 21 December 1835;
(8) Mary Ashton (1792-1866), born 10 March and baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 6 May 1792; married William Tinker (b. c.1795), surgeon, of North Meols (Lancs), and had issue a son, who took the name Ashton; died 14 February 1866; will proved 12 April 1866 (effects under £1,500);
(9) Betty Ashton (1794-1802), born 8 June and baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 6 July 1794; died young and was buried at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 24 December 1802;
(10) Robert Ashton (1797-1856) of Rusholme Hall, Manchester, born 23 April and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 28 May 1797; JP for Derbyshire and Lancashire; married, 1833, Lucy (1801-49), daughter of Joseph Horsfield but had no issue; died Jul-Sep 1855; will proved 7 November 1856;
(11) Ann Ashton (1801-31), born 17 September and baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 1 November 1801; died unmarried as a result of being seriously burned at Manchester; buried at Hyde Chapel, 11 March 1831.
He inherited Gerrards from his father in 1791.
He was buried at Hyde Chapel, 23 July 1812; his will was proved at Chester, 26 October 1812. His widow died 20 September 1825.

Samuel Ashton (1773-1836)
Ashton, Samuel (1773-1849) of Gerrards and Pole Bank. Eldest son of Samuel Ashton (1742-1812) and his wife Mary, daughter of John Oldham, born 29 October 1773. Cotton manufacturer at Apethorn and Woodley Mills. JP for Cheshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire. He married, 24 July 1806 at Stockport, Mary (c.1780-1836), daughter of Thomas Turner of Godley, and had issue:
(1) Thomas Ashton (1807-31), born 13 October and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 21 October 1807; died unmarried when he was shot dead, in an attempt to intimidate local millowners, by three men who lay in wait for him on his way to act as supervisor at Apethorn Mill, 5 January 1831; his killers were caught in 1834 and two of them were executed (the other was spared for turning king's evidence);
(2) James Ashton (1809-66) of Highfield House, Bredbury (Cheshire) and later of Mimwood House, North Mimms (Herts), born 3 July and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 5 August 1809; married 1st, 1 October 1834, Eliza (1811-43), daughter of Joseph Bailey and had issue a daughter; married 2nd, 1 July 1846, Frances (d. 1878), daughter of David Cheetham of The Priory, Stalybridge (Cheshire) and had issue two sons (including Philip James Ashton (1847-78) of Highfield) and one daughter; in 1860-62 he leased Holmwood, Putney Hill (Surrey); died 6 November 1866; will proved 6 February 1867 (effects under £160,000);
(3) Elizabeth Ashton (1811-96), born 28 August and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 23 October 1811; married 1st, 1 May 1833, Thomas Hardcastle (c.1808-46) of Bolton (Lancs) and 2nd, 22 July 1850 at Twickenham (Middx), Fitz Arundell Mackenzie (c.1822-93), by whom she had issue including Arundell Mackenzie (later Mackenzie-Ashton) of Howden Court, Tiverton (Devon), who inherited the property of his cousin, Philip James Ashton in 1878; died 5 December 1896 at Cosmopolitan Hotel, Nice (France); will proved 2 February 1897 (estate £28,168);
(4) Benjamin Ashton (1813-89) (q.v.);
(5) Jane Ashton (1816-1908), born 20 April and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 16 June 1816; married, 12 June 1852 at Hyde Chapel, Otto Ernest Lebrecht Burchardt (d. 1882), merchant and German consul in Liverpool, and had issue three sons and one daughter, including Arthur Godfrey Burchardt (later Burchardt-Ashton) (b. 1854), who inherited Pole Bank Hall from his uncle, Benjamin Ashton, in 1889; died 24 April 1908; will proved 4 August 1908 (estate £14,716);
(6) Mary Ashton (1818-85), born 17 December 1818 and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 23 February 1819; married, 5 February 1846, Thomas Bayley Potter MP (1817-98), merchant (who m2, 10 March 1887 at Brixton (London), Helena, daughter of John Hicks), and had issue four sons and one daughter; died 6 November 1885 at Hotel Beau Séjour, Cannes (France); administration of goods granted 11 February 1886 to her husband (effects £340);
(7) Samuel Ashton (1821-85) of Telham Grange (Sussex), born 15 May and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 19 July 1821; married, 31 October 1861 at Crowhurst (Sussex), Frances Maria (c.1829-81), daughter of T. Papillon of Crowhurst Park (Sussex) but had no issue; died 19 February 1885 at Colombo (Ceylon); will proved 25 April 1885 (effects £32,249);
(8) Anne Ashton (1823-62), born 23 December 1823 and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 22 February 1824; married, 24 January 1850 at Leamington (Warks), Charles Andrew of Green Hill, Compstall near Romiley (Cheshire), cotton manufacturer (who m2, Jane Margaret (b. 1832), daughter of Thomas Blayney of The Lodge, Evesham (Worcs)), and had issue five daughters; died 9 December 1862.
He inherited Gerrards from his father and built Pole Bank Hall.
He died 13 March 1849; his will was proved 4 May 1849. His wife died 2 July and was buried at Hyde Chapel, 9 July 1836.

Benjamin Ashton (1813-89)
Ashton, Benjamin (1813-89) of Pole Bank. Third son of Samuel Ashton (1773-1849) of Gerrards and Pole Bank, and his wife Mary, daughter of Thomas Turner of Godley, born 15 November 1813 and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 6 January 1814. Cotton manufacturer at Apethorn and Woodley Mills, Hyde. JP for Cheshire. He was unmarried and without issue.
He inherited Pole Bank Hall from his father in 1849. At his death his cotton mills were left to his nephews, Frederick and Godfrey Burchardt and his estate at Pole Bank to the latter.
He died 26 December 1889; his will was proved 7 February and 4 August 1890 (effects £224,860).

Thomas Ashton (1775-1845)
Ashton, Thomas (1775-1845) of Hyde. Second son of Samuel Ashton (1742-1812) and his wife Mary, daughter of John Oldham, born 4 December 1775. Educated by Joel Cheetham, the village schoolmaster at Gee Cross. About 1800, he joined his brothers in establishing cotton mills at Gerrards Mill and Wilson Brook, Hyde. The partnership was dissolved in 1823, with Thomas taking a mill at The Hollow. He was 'an active and zealous philanthropist' who built housing and a school (at Flowery Field) for the workers in his mill. JP for Lancashire and Cheshire. He was a Liberal in politics and was a friend of Richard Cobden and other Manchester radicals. He was a Unitarian in religion, and at the end of his life subscribed £1,000 (matched by two of his brothers) towards the rebuilding of Hyde Unitarian Chapel. He married, 22 January 1804 at Mottram-in-Longdendale (Cheshire), Harriot (1786-1860), daughter of Thomas Booth of Godley and had issue:
(1) Samuel Ashton (1804-60), of Oaklands, Godley, born and baptised 7 November 1804; cotton manufacturer, continuing his father's business in partnership with his younger brother; JP for Cheshire; married, 5 June 1833 at Stockport (Cheshire), Sarah Anne, daughter of Robert Davies of Dukinfield (Cheshire) but had no issue; died 18 May 1860; will proved 6 July 1860 (effects under £160,000);
(2) Mary Ashton (1806-87), born 7 November 1806 and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 23 November 1806; married, 28 January 1835 at Stockport, David Harrison (c.1791-1872) of Thomson Cross, Stalybridge (Cheshire) and had issue; died 5 August 1887 and was buried at Platt Unitarian Chapel, Rusholme (Lancs);
(3) Jane Ashton (1809-84), born 23 February and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 26 March 1809; married, 6 June 1832, John Leech (1802-61) of Gorse Hall, Stalybridge (Cheshire) and had issue three sons and five daughters (including Beatrix Potter's mother, Helen Leech); died 2 January and was buried at the Old Chapel, Dukinfield, 7 January 1884; will proved 12 March 1884 (effects £19,727);
(4) Harriet Ashton (1810-78) of Didsbury, born 26 December 1810 and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 13 January 1811; died unmarried, 2 May 1878; will proved 3 June 1878 (effects under £50,000);
(5) Sarah Ashton (1813-87), born 14 April 1813 and baptised at Hyde Chapel, 22 April 1813; married, Apr-Jun 1839, Charles William Newmann (1806-86) of Wyncote, Allerton, Liverpool, merchant; died 25 April 1887; will proved 1 June 1887 (effects £132,782).
(6) Thomas Ashton (1818-98) (q.v.).
He died 27 August 1845. His widow died 8 February 1860.

Thomas Ashton (1818-98)
Ashton, Thomas (1818-98) of Hyde and Ford Bank, Manchester. Younger son of Thomas Ashton (1775-1845) of Hyde and his wife Harriot, daughter of Thomas Booth of Godley, born 8 February 1818. Educated at a Liverpool academy and the University of Heidelberg (Germany) and undertook a tour of Italy. Cotton manufacturer and merchant operating three factories in Hyde and employing nearly 3,000 workers; the firm had a good reputation looking after its workers, and during the 'cotton panic' of 1861-65 his mills were among the few which kept working and providing employment. In his younger days he was a Director of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. A Liberal in politics, and for long one of the leaders of the party in the Manchester area. JP for Cheshire (from 1846) and Lancashire (from 1852); DL for Lancashire; County Councillor for Cheshire; member of Hyde Local Board of Health and Borough Council (and first Mayor of the borough, 1881); High Sheriff of Lancashire, 1883. Awarded the Freedom of the City of Manchester, 1892. He was founder of the Hyde Sick Kitchen and a long-term supporter of Hyde Mechanics Institution; Chairman of Hulme's Charity in Manchester, a Governor of Manchester Grammar School; and one of promoters of the development of Owens College into the (Victoria) University of Manchester (Hon. DCL 1895). He was a Unitarian in religion, and built the Flowery Field Unitarian Church, Hyde, 1878. In 1882 he was offered, but declined, a baronetcy. He married, 14 April 1852, Elizabeth (1831-1914), daughter of Samuel Stillman Gair of Penketh Hall, Liverpool, and had issue:
(1) Harriot Gertrude Ashton (1853-88), born Jan-Mar 1853; married, 4 May 1882, Arthur Greenhow Lupton (1850-1930), second son of Francis Lupton of Beechwood, Leeds and had issue four sons and four daughters (including two sets of twins); died 4 March and was buried at St John, Roundhay, 7 March 1888;
(2) Elizabeth Marion Ashton (1854-1939), born 26 February 1854; married, 23 July 1889, Rt. Hon. Sir James Bryce OM GCVO PC (1838-1922), 1st Viscount Bryce, jurist, historian and politician, President of the Board of Trade and Ambassador to the United States, but had no issue; died 27 December 1939; will proved 15 May 1940 (estate £92,840);
(3) Thomas Gair Ashton (1855-1933), 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde (q.v.);
(4) Margaret Ashton (1856-1937), born Jan-Mar 1856; began a public career by managing and supporting schools and a nursing institution in Hyde; founded Manchester Women's Guardian Association, 1888; was a founder member of Women's Trade Union League, 1896; and a member of the Women's Liberal Association and the Liberal Party, 1895-1906, resigning when it became clear the Liberal party did not intend to give women the vote and joining the Labour Party in 1913; was a constitutional suffragist, and became chair of the North of England Society for Women's Suffrage, and financially supported its newspaper, the Common Cause; member of Withington UDC, 1900 and Manchester City Council, 1908-21, in which capacity she took an interest in maternity and child welfare issues and founded the Manchester Babies' Hospital; was a co-opted member of Lancashire Education Authority, 1903-; a Governor of Manchester High School for Girls, 1911; and a Governor of Manchester University (Hon. MA); a committed pacifist, in 1915 she was one of the founders of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; her pacifism made her unpopular on the city council (from which she resigned in 1921) and in her own family; in later years she joined the National Council of Women, and helped to found the Manchester Women's Citizens Association; died unmarried 15 October 1937; will proved 3 January 1938 (estate £20,049);
(5) Samuel Edgar Ashton (1857-80), born Jan-Mar 1857; educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1876); drowned during a reading party in a lake at Tortworth (Glos), 10 August 1880; administration of goods granted to his father, 15 February 1881 (effects under £600);
(6) William Mark Ashton (1858-95), born Jul-Sep 1858; educated at Oriel College, Oxford (matriculated 1878); JP and County Councillor for Cheshire; member of Hyde Borough Council; married, 4 February 1886 at Hyde Chapel, Letitia Mary (1863-1943), daughter of William Kessler of Manchester and had issue one son and one daughter; died 24 May 1895; will proved 26 August 1895 (effects £77,629);
(7) Katharine Ashton (1859-1940), born early 1859; married, 25 September 1888, Charles Lupton (1855-1935) of Harehill, Leeds, son of Francis Lupton of Beechwood, Leeds, and had issue two sons and three daughters; died 9 May 1940 and was buried at St. John, Roundhay, Leeds, 11 May 1940;
(8) Grace Mary Ashton (1860-1948), born Jan-Mar 1860; married, 2 April 1884, Philip William Kessler (1853-1932), son of William Kessler of Manchester, and had issue four sons and three daughters; died 7 March 1948; will proved 23 June 1948 (estate £47,562);
(9) Charlotte Jane Ashton (1861-1924), born Jul-Sep 1861; married, 18 June 1887, Sir Edward Tootal Broadhurst (1858-1922), 1st bt., of Prestwich (Lancs), but had no issue; died 1 September 1924; will proved 22 November 1924 (estate £55,941).
He purchased Ford Bank, Didsbury, Manchester in 1858.
He died at Ford Bank, 21 January and was buried at Hyde Chapel, 24 January 1898; his will was proved 14 April 1898 (effects £526,451). His widow moved to London after her husband died, and died 1 January 1914; her will was proved 27 June 1914 (estate £36,673).

1st Baron Ashton of Hyde
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Ashton, Thomas Gair (1855-1933), 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde. Eldest son of Thomas Ashton (1818-98) of Hyde and Ford Bank, Manchester, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Samuel Stillman Gair of Penketh Hall, Liverpool, born 5 February 1855. Educated at Rugby, 1868-74 and University College, Oxford (matriculated 1874; BA 1878; MA 1882; Hon. Fellow, 1923). JP for Lancashire, Cheshire and Sussex. Liberal MP for Hyde, 1885-86 and Luton, 1895-1911. A Governor of Manchester University. He was created Baron Ashton of Hyde, 28 June 1911, on his retirement from Parliament. He married, 2 December 1886, Eva Margaret (1861-1938), daughter of John Henry James JP of Kingswood, Watford (Herts), solicitor, and had issue:
(1) Thomas Henry (k/a Jack) Ashton (1887-97), born 8 October 1887; died young, 20 September 1897;
(2) Hon. Marion Evelyn Ashton (1890-1981), born 5 May 1890; married, 4 April 1913, Maj. Robert Wood (1874-1940), son of Thomas Robert Wood of Toronto (Canada); died 17 March 1981 and was buried in St. James Cemetery, Toronto (Canada);
(3) Hon. Margaret Joan Ashton (1893-1981), born 9 May 1893; married, 2 October 1925 in Bombay (India), Hugh Whistler JP FZA (1889-1943), son of Maj. Fuller Whistler of Battle (Sussex) and had issue one son and one daughter; died 27 September 1981; will proved 1 June 1982 (estate £19,761);
(4) Thomas Henry Raymond Ashton (1901-83), 2nd Baron Ashton of Hyde (q.v.).
He bought Vinehall, Robertsbridge, Sussex in 1902 and extended it; it was sold after the death of his widow in 1938.
He died 1 May and was buried at Hyde Chapel, 4 May 1933; his will was proved 20 June 1933 (estate £208,926). His widow died 4 January 1938; her will was proved 18 February 1938 (estate £24,483).

2nd Baron Ashton of Hyde.
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Ashton, Thomas Henry Raymond (1901-83), 2nd Baron Ashton of Hyde. Only surviving son of Thomas Gair Ashton (1855-1933), 1st Baron Ashton of Hyde and his wife Eva Margaret, daughter of John Henry James of Kingswood, Watford (Herts), born 2 October 1901. Educated at Eton and New College, Oxford (BA 1924; MA 1934). An officer in the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (Major). He succeeded his father as 2nd Baron, 1 May 1933. Landowner. MFH of Heythrop Hunt, 1934-52; JP from 1944 and DL from 1957 for Gloucestershire; County Councillor from 1962. He married, 10 June 1925, Marjorie Nell JP (d. 1993), daughter of Hon. Marshall Jones Brooks of Portal, Tarporley (Cheshire) and had issue:
(1) Thomas John Ashton (1926-2008), 3rd Baron Ashton of Hyde (q.v.);
(2) Susan Ashton (b. & d. 1931), born 11 August and died in infancy, 15 August 1931;
(3) Hon. Judith Marjorie Ashton (1934-43), born 10 January 1934; died young, 10 September 1943.
He purchased Broadwell Hill in 1929 and extended it in 1938.
He died 21 March 1983; his will was proved 22 June 1983 (estate £3,691,385). His widow died 9 August 1993; her will was proved 1 November 1993 (estate £12,793,084).

3rd Baron Ashton of Hyde
Ashton, Thomas John (1926-2008), 3rd Baron Ashton of Hyde. Only son of Thomas Henry Raymond Ashton (1901-83), 2nd Baron Ashton of Hyde, and his wife Marjorie Nell, daughter of Hon. Marshall Jones Brooks of Portal, Tarporley (Cheshire), born 19 November 1926. Educated at Eton, Royal Military College, Sandhurst (Sword of Honour) and New College, Oxford (BA 1950; MA 1955). An officer in the Royal Armoured Corps (2nd Lt., 1946) and 11th Hussars (Capt.), 1944-50 and later in Royal Gloucestershire Hussars (Major). With Barclays Bank plc, 1953-87 (Director 1969-87). JP for Oxfordshire, 1965-68. Treasurer of the Heythrop Hunt. He succeeded his father as 3rd Baron, 21 March 1983. He married, 18 May 1957, Pauline Trewlove (1932-2014), elder daughter of Lt-Col. Robert Henry Langton Brackenbury OBE of Yerdley House, Long Compton (Warks) and had issue:
(1) Thomas Henry Ashton (b. 1958), 4th Baron Ashton of Hyde (q.v.);
(2) Hon. Charlotte Trewlove Ashton (b. 1960), born 22 February 1960; married, 21 March 1987, Andrew D. Bartlett of Seven Springs House, Steeple Aston (Oxon), only son of D.W. Bartlett of Macclesfield (Cheshire) and had issue two sons;
(3) Hon. Katharine Judith Ashton (b. 1962), born 30 January 1962; married, 1987, Douglas James Lawson of Warehams Farm, Guildford (Surrey), son of Harry D. Lawson of Broughty Ferry (Angus) and had issue two sons and one daughter;
(4) Hon. John (k/a Jack) Edward Ashton (b. 1966), born 8 January 1966; educated at Eton and University of Buckingham; served in Artists Rifles; company director and investor; married, 25 May 2013, Catherine Joanna (b. 1978), daughter of Graham Hendy of Loubert-Roumazieres (France).
He inherited Broadwell Hill from his father in 1983 and put it on the market later that year, but it was unsold. He lived at Fir Farm, Upper Slaughter (Glos). He made Broadwell Hill over to his elder son before 1998.
He died 2 August 2008; will proved 26 March 2009. His widow died 4 November 2014.

4th Baron Ashton of Hyde
Ashton, Rt. Hon. Thomas Henry (b. 1958), 4th Baron Ashton of Hyde. Elder son of Thomas John Ashton (1926-2008), 3rd Baron Ashton of Hyde and his wife Pauline Trewlove, daughter of Lt-Col. Robert Henry Langton Brackenbury OBE of Yerdley House, Long Compton (Warks), born 18 July 1958. Educated at Eton and Trinity College, Oxford (BA 1980; MA). An officer in Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales' Own) and Royal Wessex Yeomanry (Lt.). An executive in the insurance industry since 1990; Director of Faraday Underwriting Ltd, 1999-2013 (Chairman, 2005-13) and Faraday Reinsurance Co. Ltd., 2002-13 (Chairman, 2005-13); Member of the Council of Lloyds of London, 2010-13. He succeeded his father as 4th Baron, 2 August 2008. Member of the Royal College of Defence Studies, 2013-14. Elected to House of Lords as a representative hereditary peer, 25 July 2011 and sits on the Conservative benches; a Lord in Waiting (Government Whip) since July 2014; Privy Councillor, 2019. He married, 31 October 1987, Emma Louise (b. 1963), daughter of Colin N.G. Allinson of Bath and had issue:
(1) Harriet Emily Ashton (b. 1990), born 11 July 1990;
(2) Isobel Louise Ashton (b. 1992), born 22 September 1992;
(3) Flora Juliet Ashton (b. 1995), born 17 April 1995;
(4) Matilda Hermione Ashton (b. 2000), born 2 February 2000.
He was living at Broadwell Hill by 1998.
Now living.

Ashton, James (1777-1841) of Newton Lodge, Hyde. Third son of Samuel Ashton (1742-1812) and his wife Mary, daughter of John Oldham, born 4 November 1777.  Cotton spinner. In 1838 he gave the land on which St Mary's church, Newton in Hyde was built. He married Elizabeth, daughter of George Astley, and had issue:
(1) John Ashton (1800-44) (q.v.).
He built Newton Lodge, Hyde c.1820 and bought Little Onn Hall (Staffs) in 1835.
He died in 1841 and is commemorated on a monument in St Mary, Newton, Hyde. His wife's date of death is unknown.

Ashton, John (1800-44) of Newton Lodge and Little Onn Hall. Only son of James Ashton (1777-1841) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of George Astley, born 20 July and baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 18 August 1800. Cotton manufacturer. He married, 11 March 1829 at Stockport (Cheshire), Elizabeth (b. 1806), daughter of John Leech of The Croft, Dukinfield (Cheshire), and had issue:
(1) Charles James Ashton (1830-91) (q.v.);
(2) Elizabeth Mary Ashton (b. 1832; fl. 1874), born 3 June and baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 22 August 1832; baptised into Church of England at St Marylebone (Middx), 27 November 1874; probably died unmarried;
(3) John William Ashton (1833-88) of Newton House, born 16 November 1833 and baptised at Gee Cross Unitarian church, 24 January 1834; cotton spinner; died unmarried at an hotel in Glasgow, 19 November 1888; administration granted to his brother, 23 January 1889 (effects £184,043) and renewed to his brother's executors, 21 September 1891;
(4) Caroline Anne Ashton (1837-91), born 4 November 1837; baptised into Church of England at St Marylebone (Middex), 27 November 1874; married, Oct-Dec 1874, Rev. William Reynard (c.1841-78), rector of Willingham (Lincs); died 9 June 1890; will proved 7 August 1891 (effects £79,228).
He inherited Newton Lodge and Little Onn Hall from his father in 1841. 
He died in 1844 and is commemorated on his father's monument in St Mary, Newton, Hyde. His wife's date of death is unknown, but it is probable she died before 1851.

Ashton, Charles James (1830-91) of Newton Lodge and Little Onn Hall. Elder son of John Ashton of Newton Lodge and Little Onn Hall (Staffs) and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of John Leech of Stalybridge, born 21 March and baptised at Newton Bank, 30 May 1830. Cotton manufacturer. Lt-Col. of 4th Battn, Cheshire Volunteers, 1876-79. JP for Staffordshire. He married 1st, 6 January 1864 at Tyldesley (Lancs), Maria (1831-69), daughter of James Bayley, and 2nd, 30 April 1874 at Birlingham (Worcs), Mary Eliza (1845-93), daughter of Joseph Woodward, and had issue:
(1.1) Charles Arthur Ashton (1865-89), born 7 February 1865; educated at Harrow and Jesus College, Cambridge (matriculated 1883); died at sea, unmarried, in the lifetime of his father, 18 June 1889; will proved 24 April 1891 (estate £31,375);
(2.1) Eveline Mary Ashton (1875-1952), of Little Onn Hall; married, 6 August 1903 at Church Eaton, Rev. Arthur Henry Talbot (1855-1927), provost of Denstone College and rector of Church Eaton, youngest son of Hon. & Rev. Arthur Chetwynd Talbot, and had issue four sons and two daughters; died 28 July 1952; will proved 18 November 1952 (estate £29,966);
(2.2) Amy Elizabeth Ashton (1877-1960), baptised 16 May 1877 at Church Eaton; married, 7 August 1902 at Church Eaton, Lt-Col. Ellis Charles Fletcher Holland (1854-1920) of Chambers Court, Longdon (Worcs), second son of Francis Dermot Holland of Cropthorne Court (Worcs), but had no issue; lived latterly at The Pound House, Cropthorne (Worcs); died 5 April 1960; will proved 19 May 1960 (estate £220,758).
He inherited Newton Lodge and Little Onn Hall from his father. At his death these properties passed to his widow for life and then to his daughters. They donated Newton Lodge and its grounds to the borough of Hyde as a public park in 1902, in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. They remodelled Little Onn Hall and laid out a garden in the 1890s, but after they were married and moved away it was sold c.1907.
He died 12 June 1891; his will was proved 17 August 1891 (effects £141,979). His first wife died 12 December and was buried at Newton, 18 December 1869. His widow died 30 April 1893.


Burke's Landed Gentry, 1898, vol. 1, pp. 34-35; Burke's Peerage and Baronetage, 2003, pp. 159-60; T. Middleton, Annals of Hyde and district, 1899, pp. 146-54; VCH Glos, vi, p. 53; Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Staffordshire, 1974, p.104; D. Verey and A. Brooks, The buildings of England: Gloucestershire - The Cotswolds, 1999, i, p. 202; C. Hartwell, M. Hyde, E. Hubbard and Sir N. Pevsner, The buildings of England: Cheshire, 2011, pp. 409-14.

Location of archives

Ashton family, Barons Ashton of Hyde: family papers, chiefly of Thomas Ashton (1818-98) [Manchester Archives and Local Studies, M107]; Sussex estate deeds and papers, 16th-19th cents [East Sussex Record Office, SAS-AN]

Coat of arms

Sable on a pile between two crescents in base argent, a mullet pierced of the first.

Can you help?

Here are a few notes about information and images which would help to improve the account above. If you can help with any of these or with other additions or corrections, please use the contact form in the sidebar to get in touch.
  • Does anyone know more about the early history of Little Onn Hall? It would be good to establish whether a building on the moated site was the immediate predecessor of the Georgian house, and exactly when the latter was built.
  • Can anyone supply a better photograph of Broadwell Hill?
  • If anyone is able to provide additional career information or missing genealogical details for this family, I should be very pleased to hear from them.

Revision and acknowledgements

This post was first published 10 March 2016 and was updated 24 July 2018 and 12 October 2019.

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