Samuel I is a dominant figure in the Heath family history. A little is known about the five generations before him, and a good deal more about the five generations of Heaths who succeeded him. This puts him in a central place in a time frame spanning three centuries. He is also a pivotal figure in the sense that he enjoyed a remarkable change in the family fortunes; he inherited a parcel of land in the village of Monks Coppenhall, which became the great railway centre of Crewe. His lifestyle changed very quickly from that of a labourer to that of a landowner and local politician.
We have seen in Chapter 1 that Samuel’s parents, John and Catherine Heath of Haslington, were married at Nantwich in 1790. Settling in Haslington, they became devout Primitive Methodists, John probably being converted from the Anglican religion by his wife. Beddow writes:
John, whose father and forbears were ‘pillars of the Establishment’, became Nonconformist, and I suspect the influence of Catherine.
A great religious revival started with the ‘camp meetings’ in the early years of the 19th century at nearby Mow Cop in north-west Staffordshire, leading to the founding of the Primitive Methodist sect in 1810. Catherine must have been caught up in the religious fervour which was engendered at that time; she may even have been at Mow Cop.
Their first child Mary was born on 30 September 1791, and their first son William on 3 September 1793. William died at the age of 30, and was buried at Warmingham parish church on Christmas Eve 1823. The second son John (b 1796) also died young, being buried at Warmingham in 1827. 1.
Then came a succession of five daughters 2: Martha (b 1798), Sara (b 1803), Jane (b 1805), Hannah (b 1807) and Kate (b 1810). It was not until 1816 3 that Samuel was born, and the family had a son who survived to carry on the name. No records of his birth or baptism have been discovered, but four pieces of evidence link Samuel to his father: (1) the census returns show his birthplace as Haslington; (2) on the occasion of his second marriage he cited his father’s name as John Heath, deceased, a builder (note that John was a bricklayer 4 as a young man); (3) his grave is placed alongside that of John and Catherine Heath in Coppenhall churchyard; and (4) he inherited the land left to John by John’s uncle Thomas Heath.
Beddow tells us that John’s family moved to Warmingham (as is also suggested by William’s place of burial), but the first documented event in Samuel’s life was his marriage to Martha Boden. This took place in Great Budworth parish church on 10 April 1836 5. Martha was born in Over in 1819 6, so she was only 17; Samuel would be barely 20. The early marriage registers did not give the ages of the bride and groom, nor did they name their parents, but other features make this entry of special interest. Both Samuel and Martha are described as ‘of this parish’, so they must have been resident at least temporarily in Great Budworth, which was some distance from either of their family homes. The space labelled ‘With the consent of . . .’ is left blank, although neighbouring entries bear words such as ‘both parents’. Since both were so young, this omission is surprising, although they were ‘married by Banns’.
The spaces for the signatures of the bride and groom have been filled in by the clerk, leaving a space between the Christian name and surname. Martha and Samuel have then ‘signed’ with a cross in this space, implying that both were illiterate 7. Indeed, the birth certificate of their first daughter Hannah, born on 12 August 1839, is similarly marked by Samuel with a cross. Yet the next three birth certificates Jane (1841), Catherine (1842) and John (1847) bear Samuel’s proper signature. Samuel must therefore have set his mind on learning to read and write early in his married life; had he not done so, he could not have progressed as far as he did in church and civic affairs. Martha made her ‘mark’ on two subsequent birth certificates those of Mary Alice (registered July 1849) and Thomas Henry (January 1852).
The Cheshire Tithe Map of 1839 shows that one John Heath owned property in Over and was also a tenant farmer there. If this John was indeed the father of Samuel, then it is easy to see how Samuel came to meet his future bride, since he was probably employed as a farm labourer in Over by his father.
The extensive Boden family lived in the Winsford area of Cheshire, being mainly engaged in the salt industry. The parish records of Davenham (just north of Winsford) show that one Owen Boden married Hannah Cousin 8 on 5 April 1795. The couple obviously settled in Over (now part of Winsford), for the records show that Owen (‘pansmith’) 9 and Hannah had several children baptised at the parish church, St Chad’s. These children were George (baptised 25 October 1795), Samuel (24 December 1797), Margaret (5 October 1800), William (5 September 1802), Hannah (10 December 1808), Sally (30 June 1811), Jane (21 July 1816) and Martha (23 April 1820). This last child was the future bride of Samuel Heath, baptised in the year following her birth.
George, a pansmith like his father, can be seen in the 1841 census for Over with a wife Frances and a son Owen who was a ‘shoemaker’ aged 20, together with three younger children. William also appears to have followed his father’s trade, for we see him in Over in the 1841 census with his wife and family, and his widowed mother Hannah Boden living next door.
On 19 May 1845, when Owen Boden (‘shoemaker’) married Harriet Hanson at St Chad’s, Samuel Heath was a witness who signed the register in a large but irregular hand, thus providing further evidence of the relationship between the two families. Although Owen was Martha’s nephew, he was only two years younger than his aunt.
Martha and Samuel’s first child Samuel II 10 was born on 26 March 1837 and baptised at St Chad’s on 16 April that year, Samuel I describing himself as a ‘labourer’. Samuel I’s great friend Thomas Bateman, in The Primitive Methodist Magazine for 1886, wrote of him:
He was of humble origin . . . . Stern necessity sent him, when very young, into farmer’s service, where he had to learn a lesson well worth knowing to earn his bread before eating it.
Yet Beddow mistakenly wrote:
Martin [Samuel’s co-heir] says of himself that he ‘had known what it was to be poor’;
I doubt if Samuel had ever known that.
Bateman also said of his friend:
He is of middle size, not corpulent, but inclining that way, firmly built, the various parts of his body being well organised, fitting him for the toils of early life.
At the time of the census of 1841, Samuel I (aged 25) was living in Over Lane, Over 11. Samuel now described himself as a ‘grocer’, and there were two children at home: Samuel II aged 4, and Hannah aged 2. There was also a family servant, a young girl of 15. As we saw earlier, Martha was not mentioned; nor was her baby daughter Jane, who was born on 3 February 1841. Neither of them was to be found with Martha’s brothers or her widowed mother, who also lived in Over Lane. Martha’s whereabouts would remain a mystery were it not for baby Jane.
Although on subsequent occasions the census was taken at the end of March or in early April, the first national census of 1841 was taken on 7 June. Jane would then be just 4 months old. The 1841 census for Warmingham reveals John Heath (Samuel I’s father, aged 75), his wife Catherine (age quoted as 65, but probably 69), and two other women: Catherine Heath (aged 25) and Elizabeth Heath (aged 20). (Note that, in the 1841 census, ages of adults were rounded down to the nearest five years.) There are also two children: Richard Heath (aged 4 years) and Jane Heath (aged 4 months).
This little girl must surely be the daughter of Samuel and Martha. It would be too great a coincidence for her to be anyone else’s child. The younger Catherine is possibly another daughter of John and Catherine, born in the six-year gap between Kate and Samuel I. She could be (say) 27 years old, so that her age would have been rounded down to 25.
A child only 4 months old would not have travelled from Over to Warmingham without her mother, who would still be nursing her daughter. ‘Elizabeth’ is therefore probably Martha. It must be remembered that this was the first national census to be carried out in England, and there were many mistakes and misunderstandings, not to mention some deliberate misinformation. Moreover, the 1841 census did not record relationships or marital status. Martha was born in 1819, so her age would be 22, which would have rounded down to 20. If this was indeed Martha, she was obviously showing off her new baby to her husband’s parents.
A search of the Warmingham parish registers revealed the baptism of Richard on 4 June 1837. His mother was Hannah Heath (presumably Samuel’s sister), no father being mentioned. Although he was spared the indignity of being labelled ‘illegitimate’ like some entries in the register, he nevertheless appears to have been a ‘love child’, left in the care of his grandmother.
Hannah married Joseph Longshaw at Warrington in 1839, giving her father’s name as John Heath, gentleman. Joseph was only 18, and Hannah gave her age as 19, although she was really 32! Living in Rostherne, Hannah had three more children: Alice (b 1843), Joseph (b 1845) and William (b 1848). Hannah died in 1875. The age quoted on her gravestone is 66 much nearer the truth! (She was 68.) Joseph died in 1881, and both were buried at Rostherne. Nothing more is known of Richard or of Hannah’s sisters.
On 17 November 1842, another daughter, Catharine (sic), was born to Samuel and Martha. She died from scarlet fever on 5 July 1844, followed by Jane, who died two days later. On their birth and death certificates, Samuel is described as a ‘grocer’ and ‘shopkeeper’. Catharine and Jane were buried at St Chad’s, Over, on 7 July 1844. Tragedy struck again within a few months, for Hannah, having escaped or survived scarlet fever, was ‘accidentally killed by a cart wheel’ on 25 September that year. She was also buried at St Chad’s 12. On her death certificate, Samuel is called a ‘labourer’ once again. Perhaps his customers deserted the grocer’s shop when they discovered that a dread disease was raging in his household.
Catharine’s death was reported by ‘Fanny’ Boden, who signed the certificate with a cross. It is reasonable to assume that she was Martha’s sister-in-law. Jane’s death was reported by ‘Nan’ Boden, presumably another relative of Martha. (Perhaps Martha’s mother or her older sister? Both were called Hannah.)
The family of four children was thus reduced to one Samuel II, who was then seven years old. However, Martha and Samuel had one more child in Over their second son John, who was born on 14 June 1847 13. On John’s birth certificate, Samuel calls himself a ‘builder’.
Then the great upheaval took place: Samuel came into his inheritance, and became the owner of some land in Crewe. His great-uncle Thomas had been a rich man when he died in 1802. If his son Thomas died without a male heir (or if any daughters of his son died without an heir), the estate in Coppenhall was to pass to Thomas senior’s nephews Samuel and John (not to be confused with the two sons of Samuel I !) (See the family tree in Chapter 1).
In the event, Thomas junior died childless, and the surviving male heirs to the Coppenhall estate were Martin (grandson of Samuel) and John, the father of Samuel I (see the Appendix). Samuel I must have been aware that, when his father died, he would be one of the two heirs to the property in Crewe and, as will be seen later, he may have begun to make preparations for the move to Crewe before his father’s death in 1846.
His son Thomas Henry wrote of Samuel I in Glimpses of Early Crewe:
His ancestry is associated with Church Coppenhall for at least 400 years past, as the parish records show, but he himself only became a resident in Monks Coppenhall, otherwise Crewe, in the early forties. He had in conjunction with his relative, the late Mr Martin Heath, inherited a small freehold farm in this locality from their forbear, the late Major Thos Heath of Scalshaw [sic] Lodge, Knutsford, 14, and they jointly came into possession. . . At this time, Crewe was in its swaddling clothes, and, apart from the survey from the Grand Junction railway, there was completely absent any evidences of the development of railway systems, or the location of railway works 15, in the comparatively out-of-the-way hamlet or township of Crewe, or Monks Coppenhall.
However, the railway spirit was abroad, and speedily the public spirit of Mr S Heath was put to the test as to how far he was prepared to assist in the development of his ‘native heath’, or whether he was to be in the category of the shortsighted landowners of that time.
The 1851 census (early April) shows Samuel I’s family in residence in the Hightown district: Samuel aged 34, described as a ‘farmer of 10 acres, employer of 1 man’; Martha aged 32; Samuel II aged 14; John aged 3; Mary Alice aged 2; Thomas Henry aged 3 months. They had two servants. Mary Alice was born on 16 June 1849, and Thomas Henry on 17 December 1850. Since the birthplace of Samuel and John is given as Over and of the other two children as Crewe, the date of the removal was probably 1848 or early 1849.
Living in the same house (or rather, the adjacent one of a pair of semi-detached houses) in Hightown were Martin Heath (Samuel’s ‘kinsman’ and co-heir), his wife Elizabeth and one servant. Martin styled himself a ‘land and house proprietor’.
One more daughter was born to Samuel and Martha on 7 October 1852: Martha Ann. The family gravestone records her death on 13 May 1854. Her death certificate says that she died of tracheitis inflammation of the trachea.
Less than a year later on 5 January 1855 Martha herself died. Her death certificate gives the cause of death as ‘Bilious seizure producing suppressed milk and lochia’. Modern medical opinion suggests that she was suffering from eclampsia; the implication is that she had given birth to another child, but there is no indication of its fate.
Martha’s death was registered by Mary Heath of Heath’s Row, Monks Coppenhall. The name ‘Heath’s Row’ suggests that it was a terrace of houses built by Samuel. Mary’s death certificate reveals her as the husband of one William Heath. This same William and Mary appear (like Samuel and Martha) in the 1841 census in Over and the 1851 census in Hightown. William was probably closely related to Samuel.
Martha was only 35; she had born eight children 16 in quick succession, and had seen four of her five daughters die. Her lifestyle had changed dramatically from that of a simple country girl to the wife of an important man in Crewe. She had two servants to control, and young children to look after. Yet she never managed to write even her own name, and probably felt out of place in this situation.
Unlike Martha, Samuel seems to have been very much at home in his new station in life. For example, he had barely settled in Crewe when (in 1849) he was appointed assistant overseer and surveyor of highways for one year. The office obviously carried considerable weight, for Chaloner (The Social and Economic Development of Crewe) writes:
An interesting but solitary entry in the Town Book of Monks Coppenhall gives an account of an otherwise unknown ‘Road Committee’ in August 1849, which, with the surveyor, Samuel Heath, in the chair, decided to widen Small Lane by 4 feet, and to levy a rate of fourpence in the pound.
Thomas Henry, in Glimpses of Early Crewe, tells us that
In 1854 Mr Heath was parish surveyor under the Highway Board, an office full of anxiety without any emolument or pay, and under his administration some of the country roads intersecting the district were transformed into streets.
During his year of office Samuel Heath is reputed to have ‘transformed the main thoroughfare of this township from the veriest quagmire into a respectable highway.’
Samuel was very active as a founder-member of the Coppenhall Local Board the successor to the parish council and the precursor of the town council before Crewe became a municipal borough. He was Chairman of the Board for the year 1868 69. Chaloner writes:
The first fifteen members of the Board were John Hill, Richard Pedley, Martin Heath, Samuel Heath, Richard Sherwin, William Walter Higgins, Thomas Beech, John Cope, Nathaniel Worsdell, John Eaton, Joseph Bolshaw, John Yoxall, Henry Hawkins, Benjamin Mulliner and Benjamin Cotton.
The Board held sway in Crewe from 1859 until 1877, and was responsible for tremendous improvements in sanitation, street lighting, roads and bridges, the water supply, refuse disposal and for the provision of a public cemetery. This last-named project owed much to Samuel, who was concerned that the only permissible burial service was that of the established church. Nonconformists wishing not to be buried in accordance with the Anglican tradition were denied any prayers at the graveside and were ‘buried like a dog’, according to Beddow.
Chaloner tells us:
In 1869 [Samuel] Heath referred at a Local Board meeting to ‘the great need there was that a free cemetery’ should be made; his interest in the subject was influenced by a dislike of the ‘hole and corner business’ of vestry government, and by his sturdy Nonconformity: ‘it was not reasonable in a place like Crewe, where there were so many Dissenters, that they should be dragged to the Church.’
The need for a more spacious burial ground became increasingly obvious as the town grew in size, and Chaloner says that a six-acre site was bought and opened for use in 1872.
Although Samuel is described on the birth certificates of Martha’s last two children as a ‘gentleman’ (1850) and as a ‘yeoman’ (1852), he appears in the later census returns as a ‘retired timber merchant’ (1871) and a ‘builder’ (1881) a description which he last used in 1847 on his son John’s birth certificate. Samuel was also a brick manufacturer 17, an activity apparently continued by his son Thomas Henry, for Chaloner tells us that
The heavy clay of Coppenhall has provided the raw material for a long line of brickmakers, from the anonymous Coppenhall farmer whose activities gave a name to the ‘Brick-kiln Fields’ . . . to John Rigg, T H Heath and C H Holmes.
Soon after (or more probably in preparation for) his arrival in Crewe, Samuel built West View, a large pair of semi-detached houses in spacious grounds to the south of what was to become West Street, and moved there with his family. Bagshaw’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cheshire for 1850 (doubtless prepared in 1849) gives the address of both Samuel and Martin Heath as ‘West View’, although the census of 1851 shows the family living in Hightown. In the early days of Samuel’s residence in Crewe, it seems that ‘Hightown’ referred to a whole district, and not just to a particular street as it does today. It is therefore conceivable that West View was the house which Martin and Samuel shared when they first settled in Crewe.
Later, Martin built (or Samuel built for him?) a block of houses called ‘Heathfield’ on his piece of land; the approach road eventually became Heathfield Avenue.
Beddow sums up Samuel’s life as a builder:
Samuel Heath was evidently one to whom Crewe owes its origin, a builder, not only in bricks and mortar, but in civic spirit and service.
From Crewe, railway lines spread out to London, Birmingham, Manchester, Chester and Liverpool. Land was needed, not only for the railway tracks and the station buildings, but for the locomotive and carriage works which the London and North Western Railway 18 centred at Crewe. New industries came to the town as the railway enabled goods to be readily and rapidly transported all over the country and to the principal ports.
Samuel had the land, and his philanthropic nature was such that he sold it at rock-bottom prices. In Glimpses of Early Crewe we read:
Land for the Market Hall, public buildings in Heath Street, Market Street and parts of Victoria Street were sold by him and the late Mr Martin Heath at prices low for those early times and out of all proportion to the value of those sites.
[In June 1863] Samuel Heath made a similar offer of a free site of land for new industries by advertisement in the Manchester and Lancashire daily papers. This scheme was considered for a time by Messrs John Rylands and Sons of Manchester, but the chief of the firm, Reuben Spencer, turned it down on account of the distance of the land from the railway station. Next, a firm of fustian cutters accepted 1500 square yards at the end of Richard Moon Street, but, owing to the death of its principal, no development followed.
But the deed contained no reference to the building of the factory, and the heirs of this ‘principal’ sold this plot of land for a considerable sum of money, much to the chagrin of Samuel, who had no redress.
Perhaps Samuel’s ‘fearful lack of suitable training’ resulted in his failing to see the loopholes in the deed.
Like his parents, Samuel was a devout Primitive Methodist, and did much to further the cause in the Crewe area. The census of 1861 lists him as both a ‘gentleman’ and a ‘preacher’ 19. He was well-known for his philanthropy when new churches were to be built; Ollerhead 20 tells us that the Primitive Methodists originally met in a cottage in Crewe, but later, a chapel in Market Street was opened:
Built as part of a terrace and capable of being enlarged by removing the partition walls of the adjoining house, it served for the next nine years, and much of the credit for its erection must go to Samuel Heath, its first society steward.
After explaining that most of the church members worked for ‘the Company’ (the LNWR), Ollerhead writes:
Much of the brunt of [Primitive Methodist] Connexional affairs was borne by a few men of means, who were, to a degree, independent of the Company. Amongst them were Samuel Heath, a minor landowner and brickmaker. . . The Market Street Chapel, which had been enlarged, was not now sufficient for the needs of a denomination that prosecuted a militant campaign for members. . . . Land was eventually purchased from Samuel Heath and his cousin [sic] Martin, in Russell Street (later Heath Street) about 50 yards from the previous site. . . In the summer of 1854 the foundation stone was laid by R Dutton, a Congregationalist of Stanthorpe Hall, assisted by Samuel Heath.
Bateman wrote in his Journal in 1854 (published in The Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1885):
After looking round for a suitable place [for the bigger chapel], a site was fixed on only about forty or fifty yards from the present chapel. The land on this part belonged to Messrs S and M Heath, through which it was intended to form a new street 21 to be called Heath Street.
The street was thus named (or, more accurately, re-named) in honour of the Heath family, but not specifically after either Martin or Samuel, since the land was apparently jointly owned. The church was opened in 1855, but before ten years had passed, Ollerhead says:
As a sequel to the expansion of the town, the society of Heath Street . . . rebuilt the chapel.
The laying of a foundation stone for this enlarged chapel (known as ’Wedgwood’) was obviously the occasion in 1865 on which Samuel received the commemorative silver salver 22 which became a family heirloom. The church was dismantled when the town centre was reorganised, and at the time of writing the site is a public car park.
Samuel’s obituary in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle, 2 September 1882, says of him:
In religion Mr Heath was a Nonconformist, and for a period of 45 years had been associated in church membership with the Primitive Methodists, to whose funds he contributed handsomely, receiving some years ago the thanks of the Conference of that body for a gift of land and a school chapel, valued at over £300. He laid the memorial stones of upwards of twenty places of worship, one of these [Ramsbottom St] being dedicated especially to his memory, and known as ‘The Heath Memorial Church’.
He had a main hand in the erection of the first chapel in Market Street, with its various alterations, and also the second and third in Heath Street, both by his knowledge of building, and his liberal aid in money matters. He erected the school-chapel in Ramsbottom Street, entirely at his own cost. In consequence of the respectable position which he and several others held in Crewe, when money was wanted for chapel purposes, it could be found without the extra cost and trouble of mortgages.
. . . land in the west end of Crewe was offered by Samuel Heath for Connexional building. This man, along with William McNeill, was probably the main agent of Primitive Methodism in Crewe. Fined because of objections to Vestry government, he was a staunch dissenter, being in the vanguard of many battles in local politics for nonconformity and the Liberals. Owning much of the land on the south side of West Street, he was able to name the newly developed side streets after his heroes: Richard Cobden (Richard Street); John Ramsbottom 23 [Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LNWR]; Abraham Lincoln; Robert Peel and John Bright.
Samuel’s second marriage, which took place at Nantwich Primitive Methodist Church on 23 January 1857, was to Betsey Steele, who had already been widowed twice. The census of 1861 shows Samuel and Betsey at West View; they have a son Nathan Richard, born in 1858. Three other children are still at home: John 24, Thomas Henry and Mary Alice. The eldest child, Samuel II, is already married.
In the 1871 census, Samuel and Betsey, now both 54, have removed to Audlem 25. They are entertaining their son John described as a ‘confectioner’ and their daughter-in-law Sarah Jane. John is obviously on vacation from America, for he emigrated to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, some years earlier. He is the ‘Uncle John’ who sent the souvenir spoons to his nephew William Henry. Samuel I appears to have visited America in 1873, for when making a presentation to a fellow local preacher in 1878, he is reported (in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle for 9 March 1878) to have said that he
. . . had the honour some five years ago of shaking hands with the President of the United States [Ulysses S Grant].
Research has revealed that not only Samuel, but also Betsey and Nathan Richard went across the Atlantic to visit John. In a sycophantic letter to the Fond du Lac Commonwealth (published on 16 August 1873), Samuel recounts his meeting with the President:
On Thursday, August the 7th, 1873, myself, wife and son took steamer from New York to Long Branch to see the President of the United States, and, after looking over the beautiful buildings, and etc, we went to the private residence of the President. I sent in my card and was at once introduced to the President and Mrs Grant on the terrace. We shook hands and were invited to be seated and entered into a long conversation about England and America, the great flood of immigration hitherward and the business of both countries. We were just leaving when the name of Cheshire on my card arrested Mrs Grant’s attention. She followed us into a large drawing room and showed us a picture of Marbury Hall, where her grandmother was born, and her ancestors had lived. She (Mrs Grant) was very much pleased to see us, ‘being, as we were, come from where her ancestors had lived’, and to hear something of the old hall at Marbury. I told Mrs Grant I now felt prouder of my country than ever, being as I had seen the wife of the President, who claimed her ancestry from the county in which I live, and that I should consider our visit to this country, now, one of the greatest pleasures of our lives. Mrs Heath told Mrs Grant that our son, Thomas Henry, who is in England, had written and told us some of the sights he wished us to see, and, if we saw nothing else, we must see the President, if possible. Mrs Grant smiled and said she would send the President’s picture to her son. She got the picture and presented it to Mrs Heath for her son. The picture will, God willing, be taken to England, and prized as much as a nugget of gold, because of the man as a General and one in every way worthy of the high position he holds as President of a great and noble country, and the kind way in which Mrs Grant gave it. May they live long to enjoy the high position they hold here in this life and in the life to come, life everlasting, is the prayer of a sincere friend. SAMUEL HEATH.
Thomas Henry is not mentioned in the 1871 Audlem census, but he appears in the Crewe census as a ‘boarder’ with a large family in Forge Street, Crewe. His occupation is given as ‘coal merchant’. In the 1874 edition of Morris’s Directory of Cheshire, Thomas Henry is again described as a ‘coal merchant’, his home address being 9 Cemetery Road, Crewe. Thomas Henry did not marry until 1875, and he may have agreed to remain in Crewe in order to run this branch of the family business when his father left. Mary Alice was married in 1868, and in 1871 Nathan Richard was the only child still living with his parents. The life stories of Samuel II, John, Mary Alice, Thomas Henry and Nathan Richard are told in later chapters.
The electoral registers for the years 1872 and 1873 reveal that Samuel was entitled to vote as the occupier (tenant) of house and land with a rateable value exceeding £12 per annum. However, the registers do not give any address other than ‘Audlem’. The sequence of the households in the 1871 census shows that Samuel was probably living in a house called ‘Green Bank’ at the upper end of Green Lane.
In the years 1874, 1875 and 1876, the electoral registers show Samuel to be living to the east of Audlem, his address being ‘Kynsal Lodge’, again a rented property of rateable value exceeding £12. In 1877, however, he became a ‘voter in respect of property: freehold house and land in Copthorn(e), Audlem, own occupation’. This house was Springfield Lodge 26, which still stands and bears the date ‘1876’ on its front gable. Like West View, this house was presumably built under Samuel’s direction.
It is surprising that Samuel left Crewe when he did. As we have seen, he was Chairman of the Coppenhall Local Board for the year 1868-69, and in 1869 he put in hand the cemetery project which was so dear to his heart. Yet in 1870 with the cemetery still not started he left the town for which he had done so much. However, one of his first actions on taking up residence in Audlem was, his obituary tells us, to ‘secure for Dissenters the rite of burial according to their forms and ceremonies, and after a desperate struggle [he] succeeded in bringing into existence a Cemetery.’
The same source tells us that Samuel ‘closely enquired into the numerous charities connected with the parish’, and succeeded in recovering a considerable sum of money for the poor of Audlem. He became a member of the Assessment Committee of the Nantwich Union and a Commissioner of Inland Revenue.
Betsey died at Springfield Lodge, Audlem, on 29 July 1877 at the age of 61. She was buried in the same grave as Samuel’s first wife Martha and their infant daughter Martha Ann. On the gravestone, Martha is described as ‘Wife of Samuel Heath’, but Betsey is ‘the Beloved Wife’. Perhaps one can read too much into this!
The census for 1881 reveals Samuel at Copthorne with his third wife 27 Mary (formerly Davies), who he married towards the end of 1878. She is 50, whereas Samuel is now 64. They live alone, apart from a servant. Mary obviously outlived Samuel, since the report of his funeral in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle speaks of ‘the sorrowing widow’, but there is no known record of her life after Samuel’s death. She was no longer at Springfield Lodge when the 1891 census was taken.
Samuel I died on 23 August 1882 at the age of 66. His funeral procession from Audlem to the Heath Street Chapel, Crewe, included the great and the good of the district, and along the route a distance of eleven miles ‘there were evident tributes of respect paid to the memory of the deceased’.
Notwithstanding his strong nonconformist beliefs and his success in creating cemeteries for others of his persuasion, he was interred in the graveyard of St Michael’s parish church, Crewe. This may well have been because his two previous wives and infant daughter were already buried there, as were his father and mother, no other local cemetery being available when they (with the exception of Betsey) died.
In his will, Samuel left his silver salver ‘unto my son Samuel on condition that he shall on or immediately before taking possession of the same, and within twelve months after my decease, pay to his brothers and sisters then living the sum of twenty shillings each’.
His three sons John, Thomas Henry and Nathan Richard each received one of his silver trowels, ‘which trowels have been presented to me on laying foundation stones of Chapels’. John had first choice, then Thomas Henry, and Nathan Richard had to take the one remaining. Mary Alice was given ‘my plated tea urn’.
The rest of his personal estate was left on trust to allow his wife Mary ‘to have the use and enjoyment during her natural life of such of my household furniture and effects as she . . . may select for the purpose of furnishing herself a house with.’ The residue of the furnishings was to be sold and the proceeds divided amongst the children. His real estate was placed on trust for his wife ‘to occupy free from rent, or if she prefers to reside elsewhere for her to receive the rent of such of my dwelling houses as she . . . may select’. The rent from his coal wharf at Crewe was to be used to pay Mary £60 per annum. Any remaining rents were to be shared by the children.
The residue of the real estate was to be sold whenever the executors thought fit, and the proceeds shared equally 28 between the children. However, Mary Alice’s share was to be invested ‘in some good and sufficient security’ and the dividends paid to her during her life, and ’while she shall be under coverture (ie married) the same shall be for her sole and separate use’. After her death the same ruling would apply to any children of the marriage.
Samuel Heath left £50,000 in spite of benefactions, in spite of refusing to profit by the opportunity of the moment, in spite of selling land below its proper value in order to increase the amenities and welfare social, religious and industrial of the town.
Thomas Henry, in Glimpses of Early Crewe, wrote of his father:
To his unswerving integrity and independence many public officials owe their positions, whilst the public of Crewe are reaping the advantages of the unselfish service which he and his contemporaries gave ungrudgingly, in some cases to their own disadvantage and with manifest unconcern as to the effect upon their families and successors.
Bateman ended his pen-portrait of Samuel as follows:
None could listen long to his words, or look on his smiling countenance, or the twinkle in his eye, without perceiving that he had much of the milk of human kindness in his breast, and that he was disposed to help as well as pity the needy.
His obituary concluded:
His life, whether viewed from a political, religious, or social standpoint, is replete with interest, and in many circles his kindly voice and smile will linger as a memory of the past.
Beddow summed up his life in these words:
He was a wise man; he could read the signs of the times; he could have made a fortune for his large family by his [first] two wives. But he used his inheritance to build up the town in which he came to live. Property has its responsibilities, but not all men are so quick as Samuel Heath to realise it, nor so public spirited as to put it to the acid test of practice.
Other men did make fortunes, but Samuel thought first of Crewe and its people; he did his utmost to encourage industries to come to the town. He would do anything and pay anything which would bring prosperity to the people of whom he regarded himself as the father.
The epitaph on his gravestone reads:
Having served his generation, he fell on sleep.
What splendid tributes to this self-made man!
2 Beddow cites the baptismal register of Haslington parish church for the birth dates of these girls. The church records for this period are contained in two books. The later book is the one referred to by Beddow; the earlier one reveals the births of Mary and William. Beddow must not have discovered the earlier book, and was thus unaware of these two children. He probably (wrongly!) guessed the year of their parents’ marriage from the date of John’s birth. Back
3 The brass plate on Samuel’s coffin read: ‘Samuel Heath, born 1816; died August 23rd, 1882, aged 66 years’ (The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle, 2 September 1882). Since only the year of his birth was quoted, it is possible that even Samuel’s close family were unaware of the exact date. His gravestone gives the year of his death as 1883; this is clearly an error, since the newspaper account of his death appeared in 1882! The gravestone quotes his age as 66 years, from which Beddow (in his family tree) deduced the date of his birth as 1817. Beddow has the correct dates in the text of his book. Back
10 Winsford Methodism Its Origins, Growth and Influence on a Developing Mid-Cheshire Industrial Community (G J C Griffiths, MA Thesis, University of Keele, 1990) reveals that Hannah Boden, the maternal grandmother of Samuel II, was a member of a Wesleyan Methodist Class in Winsford in 1822. It therefore seems likely that her daughter Martha was also brought up in the Methodist tradition, thus confirming the statement in Lest We Forget that Samuel II was ‘born of Godly parents’. Back
13 John’s date of birth is given as 13 June 1847 in Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Past and Present Vol II, p 475. (S J Clarke Publishing Co, Chicago, 1912.) Beddow estimated John’s year of birth as 1849. The birth certificate sets it at 14 June 1847. If further confirmation is needed of the parentage of Samuel I, the above book also says: ‘[Samuel] was a son of John Heath, an English farmer [he was probably a farmer as well as a builder Author], who spent his entire life in his native land. He and his wife had a large family and both lived to old age.’ Back
14 Major Thomas Heath lived at Sculshaw Lodge, Allostock, near Knutsford. It was his father, Thomas Heath of Warrington, who willed the farm to the father of Samuel and the grandfather of Martin. (See the Appendix for details of Thomas Heath’s will.) Back
15 Thomas Henry was wrong in stating that no railway systems existed when Samuel settled in Crewe. The Grand Junction Railway was opened through Crewe to Birmingham in 1837, and Thomas Bateman (The Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1885) describes an horrendous journey by rail from Crewe to London as early as 1841, when Samuel was still in Over. W H Chaloner (The Social and Economic Development of Crewe 1780 1923. Manchester University Press, 1950) says ‘Crewe was . . . by 1842 the focus of four lines of railway.’ What really put Crewe ‘on the map’ was the decision of the railway company to move its locomotive and carriage works from Liverpool to Crewe in 1843. Crewe then became a ‘railway town’. Back
16 The five-year gap between the births of Catharine (1842) and John (1847) suggests that at least one more child may have been born and died prematurely. As we have just seen, Martha’s death certificate implies the birth and death (or miscarriage) of yet another. Back
19 Bateman (The Primitive Methodist Magazine, 1886, p 227) says: ‘As a preacher it may, perhaps, without offence be said, he does not excel. Providence has not endowed him with all the requisites of eloquence. Still he is a workman not needing to be ashamed . . . not aiming at things above his reach, or trying to shine in borrowed plumes.’ This could be a case of the kettle calling the pan, for Thomas Henry Heath (Glimpses of Early Crewe) recalls an incident when Bateman was suggested as the preacher for the chapel anniversary, which was always regarded as a money-making effort. One of the church members argued against the proposal, calling Bateman a ’Ranter’ and adding: “If he comes, there will be more ‘Amens’ than pennies.” Back
21 Bateman was wrong in calling Heath Street ‘new’; Russell Street already existed when the census was taken in 1851. Glimpses of Early Crewe says: “Heath Street seems to have figured in the lives of the early settlers in Crewe, but in those days it bore the name of ‘Russell Street’.” Back
22 The inscription on the salver reads: ‘Presented to Mr Samuel Heath by the Trustees of the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Heath Street, Crewe, on the occasion of his laying a corner stone. October 2nd 1865.’ Back
23 It is said that Samuel built Ramsbottom Street wider than some of his other streets so that the viewer could obtain a better perspective of the impressive frontage of the chapel he erected there. Back
24 Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Past and Present tells us that ‘John was reared in England, largely spending his boyhood and youth in Crewe, to which place his parents removed during his early childhood. His education, however, was obtained in Over, where he was born, and attended a private school.’ Thomas Henry's obituary in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle for 7 July, 1900, says: ‘He had a liberal education, having attended Elmfield College, York.’ Samuel was clearly determined that at least two of his sons should have a better schooling than he had received.
With regard to Elmfield College, Dr Kenneth Lysons, in his book A Little Primitive [Church in the Market Place Publications, Buxton, 2001], quoting the Primitive Methodist World for 17 May 1883 says: ‘The College was the outcome of the strong conviction that if the [Primitive Methodist] Connexion did not provide thorough and liberal education for the sons of our ministers and prosperous laymen, we should not retain them in communion with us. The blessing of God upon the industry and economy of our people has raised many of them into comfortable circumstamces, and enabled them to provide somewhat liberally for the education of their sons.’ Samuel obviously fitted into this category. Back
26 The family gravestone and the account of Samuel’s funeral are the main pieces of evidence that Samuel and Betsey lived at Springfield Lodge. Even Samuel’s will (1878) gives his address simply as ‘Audlem’. Back
28 Beddow says of Thomas Henry: ‘he . . . only inherited a younger son’s share of Samuel’s material endowment.’ Beddow had obviously never seen Samuel’s will, and his patron William Powell Heath (Thomas Henry’s son) may have been under the impression that Thomas Henry had received only a minor share of Samuel’s wealth. Back