Thomas Heath ‘of Warrington in the County of Lancaster, Gentleman’, spelt out his intentions very clearly in his will 1,which was dated 26 November 1795. He started by directing his executors to pay all his ‘just Debts, Funeral Expences (sic) and the Charge of Probate’, and concluded by insisting that these executors ‘shall have all just and reasonable Allowances for their troubles and Expences in the Execution’ of the will. His executors were named as Jonathan Mercer, George Birchall and William Heath 2.
He then made four minor bequests: £30 to his ‘Kinsman’ (nephew) William Heath; £25 ‘and my old Clock’ to his nephew Joseph Heath; £30 to his nephew Richard Heath; and £30 to his servant Mary Horrocks, provided she was still in his service at the time of his death.
Thomas’s wife Martha 3 died in 1785, so no mention of her is made in the will. All but one of their children 4 were also dead. Thomas was therefore mainly concerned for his only remaining son Thomas and the family of his younger brother William 5. William was to be given an annuity of £20, payable from the Coppenhall estate.
Thomas junior was to receive all his father’s personal estate. When probate was granted on 1 May 1802, this was valued at ‘above one hundred pounds and under three hundred pounds’. Two of his executors were then appointed as trustees for the real estate, ‘To hold . . . To the Use and Behoof of my said Son Thomas’.
After Thomas junior’s death, various ‘defaults’ were to be invoked as necessary. If Thomas junior had any sons, the eldest was to inherit the entire estate; it was entailed, and it was to be held in trust so that he could profit from it, but not dispose of it. Failing a son, any daughters (and their heirs) were to share the estate in trust ‘equally to be divided amongst them as Tenants in Common and not as Jointenants’ 6.
Thomas junior had no sons, but Beddow believed that he had two daughters, Ellen (b 1793) and Mary (b 1795), whose baptisms he discovered in the Lower Peover register. Since the next default was invoked, it must also be assumed that neither daughter had an heir. Thomas junior’s will, dated 1835, does not mention either daughter, so we must further assume that both died at least two years before their father’s death in 1837 7.
Beddow also believed that Thomas senior, disappointed that his son’s second child (baptised 15 November 1795) was another daughter, promptly drafted the will outlined in this appendix, making provision for the possibilities that he would have no grandsons 8, or his grand-daughters would have no heirs.
The Lower Peover baptismal register shows that the parents of Ellen and Mary were called Thomas and Martha Heath, which led Beddow to suppose that Martha was the wife of Thomas junior. However, the registers of the same church show that Thomas junior married Jane Antrobus 9 on 17 December 1812 10 (although this could have been his second marriage, Thomas being acquainted with Jane when he and Hannah lived nearby). The burials of Thomas and Jane are also recorded in the Lower Peover registers, yet Beddow wrote: ‘The registers surprisingly revealed nothing except the birth of two daughters to Thomas Heath.’
No evidence has been found of the marriage of Thomas junior to Martha, the death of Martha, or the deaths of Ellen and Mary. An alternative to Beddow’s hypothesis is that Ellen and Mary were the daughters of a quite different Thomas Heath, and that Thomas junior remained a bachelor until he was over fifty. He then married Jane, a spinster from a wealthy family 11, some eight years his junior. Jane’s parents were Edward Antrobus (1732 1811) and Mary (née Leech) (1730 1809) of Sculshaw Green in Allostock.
Marrying late in life, it is not surprising that Jane and Thomas had no offspring, and no children are mentioned in either of their wills 12.
Moreover, Ellen and Mary were born in Plumley. At the time of the birth of Mary, Thomas junior was living in Warrington 13, as his father’s will makes clear (see below). These last two facts (of which Beddow was aware, but whose significance he failed to appreciate) are in themselves sufficient to throw doubts on his assumption.
In fact, it matters little which theory is correct. What is important is that when Thomas junior died, he had no living children to inherit the estate. In this event, the estate was to be divided into several parcels.
The first of these parcels was the estate in Coppenhall. This was to pass in trust to Thomas senior’s nephews Samuel and John Heath, again as ‘Tenants in Common, not as Jointenants’. They were charged with paying each of their sisters (Mary and Ann) £100. After the death of either Samuel or John, his ‘moiety’ (half share) of the estate was to pass to his male heir. In the absence of an eligible son, any daughters were to inherit jointly.
The estate in Latchford (south-east of Warrington) was granted to Thomas senior’s nephew Thomas; and the house on Pinmakers Brow in Warrington, together with some land, was bequeathed to his nephew William. William had to pay an annuity to his parents of £20, reducing to £10 when one of them died 14.
Thomas senior’s own house and gardens, together with some cottages, was assigned to his nephew Joseph, and nephew Richard was to receive the house and shop in Warrington where Thomas junior was then living.
The estate in Bedford was granted to John Lythgoe (presumably a relative of Thomas senior’s wife), who was to have the income from it during his lifetime, after which it was to be sold and the proceeds shared by his children. A plot of land in Arpley (near Warrington) was to be given to the trustees of the Charity School in Warrington, and the leasehold estate in Grappenhall (near Latchford) was earmarked, like the Latchford estate, for nephew Thomas.
So, due to the absence of a grandson and any great-grandchildren, the estate came to be ‘determined’ after the death of Thomas junior, and divided mainly amongst Thomas’s nephews and their heirs. The electoral register for the Parliamentary Constituency of Cheshire (South) shows that from 1838 John Heath (nephew) was entitled to vote on account of his ‘freehold house and farm’ in Monks Coppenhall (which he had just inherited 15), although his ‘place of abode’ was still given as ‘Warmingham’, and the farm was tenanted by one Joseph Cornes.
Martin Heath, whose father 16 and (it may be assumed) grandfather were already dead when Thomas junior died, became the owner of his share of the estate, and in 1840 17 Martin also appears in the register alongside John Heath, his ‘place of abode’ being given as ‘Salford, Lancashire’. He also has a ‘freehold house and farm’ in Monks Coppenhall, and the tenant is the same Joseph Cornes.
Similar entries appear in the registers each year until 1846-7, when John’s name is replaced by that of his son Samuel 18,whose address is given as ‘Warmingham Lane’. At this time, Samuel and Martin are each listed as having a ‘share of freehold house and land’ (author’s italics), although no tenant is mentioned. It is not until 1849-50 that the register shows the two co-heirs actually living in Monks Coppenhall. Martin appears to have remained an absentee landlord until Samuel was able to join him in Crewe. Then, in the words of Thomas Henry Heath 19, ‘they jointly came into possession’.
The Cheshire Tithe Map of 1839 shows two plots of land in Coppenhall owned by John Heath and a further 22 plots owned jointly by John and Martin. In all, these plots covered over 57 acres. The Grand Junction Railway (opened in 1837) and the Chester and Crewe Railway (opened in 1840, but its line is shown on the 1839 map) cut across several of these plots. The Tithe Map also shows Joseph Cornes’s ‘Homestead and Garden’ to be situated in the area now bounded by Richard Moon Street, Browning Street and Hightown in Crewe, although these streets did not exist at that time.
Thomas senior could not have foreseen that his estate in Coppenhall would one day increase so markedly in value because iron rails were laid across its fields. Samuel and Martin benefitted out of all proportion to Thomas’s intentions; but even they, when they arrived in Crewe, never realised what effect the new-fangled railway would have on their property and on themselves 20.
3 Beddow did not know the name of Thomas’s wife, or the date and place of their marriage. However, a Thomas Heath (‘cheesefactor’) married Martha Lythgoe at Warrington on 15 October 1749. Beddow obviously never examined the Warrington registers himself; the only entry which he quotes (Thomas’s burial in April 1802) was ‘supplied by the Clerk’. This latter entry (and others relating to the burials of his children) also call Thomas a ‘cheesefactor’, providing evidence that they refer to the same Thomas. However, Beddow wrote: “[Thomas] is described in the registers of Warrington Parish Church as ‘chanefactor’, which I suppose means ‘iron master’ or something of that sort . . . . I pressed the Rector of Warrington that the word might be ‘benefactor’, but he says ‘No, the word is quite clear’.” Back
4 According to the memorial inscriptions in St Elphin’s churchyard, Warrington, Thomas and Martha had three daughters Mary, Ann and Sarah and two sons who were successively called John. Their third son Thomas was the only child to survive his parents. The two Johns and Ann died in childhood; Sarah and Mary died when they reached the age of 23. Back
5 Beddow was of the opinion that the elder brother John was already dead, and that part of Thomas’s estate was inherited from him. He wrote: “John, the ‘man of property’, had married [Ann Insor] . . . . but Ann Insor provided no heir. Thomas of Warrington . . . . came into the [Coppenhall] estate and added it to his already large possessions.” Back
6 If one ‘jointenant’ (usually written as ‘joint tenant’) died, the property automatically passed to the remaining jointenant(s). However, if a ‘tenant in common’ died, his heirs succeeded to the property. Back
7 His gravestone in Lower Peover churchyard reads: ‘Sacred to the memory of Major Thomas Heath, who died February 5th 1837 aged 76 years. Also Jane, widow of the above Major Thomas Heath, who died April 14th 1842 aged 74 years.’ Thomas Henry Heath (Glimpses of Early Crewe) thought that Thomas senior held the rank of Major, but the wording on the gravestone makes it clear that the title belonged to Thomas junior. Beddow also calls Thomas senior ‘Major’ on pages 20 23 of Heathfolk, but corrects himself on pages 45 and 46. Moreover, Thomas junior’s will (which Beddow never saw) is clearly marked ‘Will of Major Heath’. (See also note 8 below.) Back
9 Details of the Antrobus family may be found in Antrobus Pedigrees by Sir Reginald L Antrobus. (Mitchell, Hughes & Clarke, 1929). A copy is held in the Cheshire Record Office, Chester. This book labels Thomas Heath as a Major in the Royal Lancashire Militia. Back
10 This marriage is interesting in that Nathaniel Antrobus (Jane’s brother) married Ellen Eddleston on the same day. Jane and Thomas witnessed their wedding. Then their roles were reversed, and Nathaniel and Ellen were witnesses to the marriage of Jane and Thomas. Back
11 Jane’s marital status is not disclosed in the marriage register, but Antrobus Pedigrees (copy in the Cheshire Record Office, Chester) makes it clear that she was a spinster when she married Thomas. Her will also reveals that she owned five houses, only one of which (in Allostock) appears in her husband’s will, thus testifying to her inherited wealth. Back
18 Samuel’s father died in March 1846; the revised register for 1846-7 operated from the following November. Samuel appears to have established his title to the land much quicker than Martin! He probably based himself in Warmingham (with his mother?) while he was building ‘West View’. Martha appears to have remained in Over until John was born in 1847. Back
20 Richard Lindop of Coppenhall (1778 1871), in his Reminiscences (Transactions of the Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society, vol LV, 1940, p 107) says: ‘The railway mania spread far and wide over hill and dale, like the sweeping of a hurricane; nothing could stand before the imagery presented by the railways. . . . The makers of the railways, masters and men, acted as though it was their interest to outwit and oppress all that stood below the standard of power to stand up for themselves. Railway Companies with an Act of Parliament were not to be approached indignantly by a tenant farmer without an Act of Parliament. . . . Then it will be for those that are benefitted by railways must extol them and those that suffer must complain.’ Back