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Heathfolk Revisited

Chapter 3
Martin Heath (1810 – 1887)

Although Martin was not a descendant of Samuel, it would be unfair to omit his story from this website, since his life and work in Crewe ran parallel to that of Samuel I.  Martin’s grandfather Samuel Heath was a brother of Samuel I’s father John Heath (see the family tree in Chapter 1) and, due to the entailment of Thomas Heath’s estate and the deaths of various ancestors, Martin and Samuel jointly inherited a parcel of land in Crewe.

Early Life in Manchester

Martin’s parents were John and Harriet Heath 1 (née Lee); they were married in ‘the parish church of Manchester’ 2 on 5 April 1808, John giving his occupation as ‘spinner’.  Both he and Harriet (spelled ‘Harriott’ in the register) made their ‘mark’ – a simple vertical line.  Both hailed from the Manchester area.

According to his gravestone, Martin was born on 18 January 1810.  He was baptised at St Thomas’s church, Ardwick, on 22 April of that year.  There is evidence of further children being born to John and Harriet: Eliza was baptised on 5 April 1812; John on 6 April 1817; William on 11 April 1819; Jabez on 30 September 1821; Abel on 25 December 1824 and Harriet on 4 November 1827.  All these baptisms took place at Manchester parish church.

The census of 1861 shows that Martin’s mother, now called Harriet Blackwell, was living with him and his wife in Crewe.  Since there is no sign of her husband, it would appear that Harriet was married (and widowed) twice.  The records of Manchester Cathedral show that a Harriet Heath married one William Blackwell on 14 March 1836; she was obviously the widow of John Heath.  John was therefore dead before 1836, leaving the path clear for Martin to inherit his father’s share of the Coppenhall estate.

Martin’s first wife Elizabeth Ingham 3 came from Burnley, to the north of Manchester.  They were married in Manchester parish church on 31 May 1832.  It seems likely that Martin met Elizabeth in one of the cotton mills which abounded around Manchester; they appear to have been a thrifty couple, for we read in Martin’s obituary in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle for 29 January 1887 that:

[Martin] was intimately associated with the development of the building society movement, and it has been his proud boast that the first savings of himself and his first wife, who worked in the same mill in Lancashire, were deposited in a building society, these savings forming the nucleus of the wealth which he undoubtedly became possessed of, even apart from the patrimony which was divided between himself and the late Mr Samuel Heath.

Martin comes to Crewe

Thomas Heath of Warrington left his estate to his only son Thomas.  The estate was entailed (see the Appendix), and since Thomas junior died childless, the Coppenhall estate passed to his cousins Samuel and John, the sons of Thomas senior’s brother William.

These two men were the grandfather of Martin and the father of Samuel I respectively.  Martin’s father and grandfather were already dead before Thomas junior died in 1837, leaving Martin as their heir.  Samuel’s father did not die until 1846; Martin thus had a nine-year advantage over Samuel.  This would explain the statement made in Martin’s obituary to the effect that he ‘came to Crewe’ some 47 years prior to his death, ie around 1840 4However, it appears that neither Samuel nor Martin settled permanently in Crewe until 1848 or early 1849.

We know from the census return of 1851 that Martin and Samuel ‘lived together’, as Beddow puts it, in Hightown, but there is no other reference to the exact location.  Although Beddow says ‘later Samuel built West View and Martin built Heathfield’, the evidence suggests that West View, which was in the Hightown area, was in fact the house (or rather, a pair of semi-detached houses) to which they first came.

Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Cheshire for 1857 gives Martin’s address as ‘Heathfield’.  Martin could thus have moved into Heathfield at any time between 1851 (when he was presumably still at West View) and 1857.

Beddow says ‘Heathfield has been converted into two smaller houses’.  He implies that Heathfield was just one house prior to Martin’s death, but the large-scale town map of 1874 shows Heathfield to be a terrace of four houses, judging from the layout of the outhouses, the party walls and the separate drives.  Moreover, Kelly’s Post Office Directory of Cheshire for 1857 lists four separate residents (Rev David Blelloch, Messrs Arthur Adams, James Waller Gill and Martin Heath) all giving ‘Heathfield’ as their address.

The town map of 1910 shows more clearly how Heathfield was divided into four houses, with three accessible from Heathfield Avenue and one from Hightown.  Heathfield still stands at the corner of Hightown and Heathfield Avenue; it now houses a commercial enterprise, but the two imposing doors facing the avenue remain.

Martin’s will throws some light on the layout and furnishings of Heathfield.  He speaks of the ‘house, garden, stable and paddock’ (implying that his house was the furthest from Hightown, since the 1874 map shows this to have had large grounds), and he directs his executors to allow his wife ‘to have the use and enjoyment of my household furniture and household effects including my pictures, books, prints and silver and plated goods, as also my private carriage.’ His wife was to retain her own private carriage.  Two carriages!  Here was opulence indeed!

Martin and Elizabeth may be seen in the 1851 census in Hightown; they lived alone, except for a servant.  Martin styled himself as ‘land and house proprietor’.  Together with Martin’s mother, they are also to be seen in the census of April 1861. Martin now called himself ‘Gentleman, Preacher’, although the trades directories of the time list him with Samuel as a ‘brick and tile maker’.

Martin’s Second and Third Marriages

Elizabeth died on 26 December 1861, and on 19 July 1864 Martin married a widow, Charlotte Holt, who had a son Joshua by her first marriage.  The three of them appear in the census for 1871, together with a servant.  Joshua died on 20 April 1875 aged 18.  Charlotte died two years later on 10 June 1877, aged 52.  They were buried in the same grave 5 in St Michael’s churchyard, Crewe.

Martin very quickly married for a third time; this wife was another widow, Mary Mycock, some 19 years his junior.  Some details of their wedding may be found in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle for 15 December 1877, which says that they were married quietly on 11 December that year in St Mary’s church, Higher Crumpsall, Manchester.  Mary was accompanied by her brother Mr Robertson, so ‘Robertson’ was presumably her maiden name.  As was the case with Samuel’s third wife, Beddow was unaware of this marriage.

The census of 1881 shows Martin and Mary living at Heathfield with one servant.  Martin now described himself as an ‘Alderman.  Income: land and houses’.

Despite his three marriages, Martin had no children of his own, but he had a number of nephews and nieces with whose welfare he was concerned, as may be seen from his will.

Martin and the United Methodist Church

Like Samuel, Martin was a devout Nonconformist, albeit a United Methodist rather than a ‘Prim’.  Again like Samuel, he contributed generously to church finances.  He had been a Wesleyan in his younger days, but his obituary says:

At the time of the secession by the Methodist Free Church he threw in his lot with the latter body, and from that time up to his death he held a position as one of the foremost laymen of that denomination, and was often a delegate from the district meetings to the annual assembly of the United Methodist Free Churches.  The handsome new church in Hightown 6 received great assistance from his purse, and ready service at all times.  He was a local preacher for upwards of 30 years, and has been superintendent of the Sunday School. . . . He was also a class leader, and took an active part in all the religious exercises of the church.

Martin’s Contributions to Civic Affairs

Martin’s obituary tells us that

Mr Heath was a member of the first Local Board, when it was known as the Monks Coppenhall Local Board, and at various times was chairman of important committees, and of the Board itself.  He continued to be a member of the Local Board after its transformation into the Crewe Local Board, and in its ultimate development into the Crewe Town Council was elected a common councillor, and at the first meeting of the council in July 1877 he was chosen an alderman.

Much of the above could have been written of Samuel, but he had left Crewe before the formation of the Crewe Town Council.  He too was a founder-member of the Local Board, and chairman of several important committees.  Had Samuel remained in Crewe, there is little doubt that he would have been the first mayor of the new town 7.

That honour almost went to Martin, for

he was nominated for the position of the first mayor, and only missed the position by the casting vote of the returning officer, who for the time being happened to be Dr Richard Lord 8.

However, Martin became Crewe’s second mayor 9 His obituary tells us that, when proposing him for this position, his friend Alderman Whittle said:

It gave him great pleasure to propose as their Mayor a man who had sprung from the ranks, and had earned his daily bread by the sweat of his brow.  Not but that Mr Heath had not an ancestry, let them be ever so humble, but Mr Heath was descended from the yeomanry of Cheshire.  He was descended from one of those old yeomen or small landed proprietors who had always been the bulwarks of their English liberty; those yeomen who were not afraid to stand up against kings if kings attempted tyranny or despotism.  They must not overlook, either, that the township of Monks Coppenhall had been for ages the residence of Mr Heath’s ancestors. 10

Martin clearly showed the same philanthropic characteristics as his ‘kinsman’ Samuel, for his obituary tells us:

His year of office was characterised by . . . the liberality to which he subscribed to philanthropic objects, and especially those of a religious character.  After the close of his mayoralty he laid aside the handsome sum of £500 towards a public park.

Martin’s Death

Martin died early in the morning of 26 January 1887.  The report of his death in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle (29 January 1887) said:

Alderman Heath has for some few years been suffering from heart disease, and this has been the cause of considerable anxiety to his friends, who found it an extremely difficult matter to persuade him to avoid unnecessary excitement and exposure to the inclemency of the weather.  About two years ago he had an attack of inflammation of the lungs, which left him still more sensitive and less buoyant to battle against the varying character of the climate. About three weeks or four weeks ago he was laid aside with an attack of rheumatism which confined him to the house, and considerably weakened his vitality, and though he recovered from that attack and began to go out, he was less able to battle against the succeeding development of inflammation of the lungs, which seized him about a week ago.  He rallied, however, on Sunday and Monday last, and under the assiduous care of his wife and niece, who nursed him with untiring energy, hopes were entertained of the possibility of his recovery, but though the inflammation yielded somewhat, his weakness increased, and early on Wednesday morning he was seized with a sudden attack of syncope and quietly fell asleep in the presence of his medical attendant, Mrs Heath, and Miss Holland, at 10 minutes to one.

The funeral service in the United Methodist church was attended by many civic dignitaries and church leaders.  The report of the funeral in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle for 5 February 1887 lists the carriages and their occupants; one notable absentee was Samuel II.

Martin was buried with his first wife in St Michael’s churchyard.  Beddow, as was his wont when Methodists were concerned, could not refrain from making a derogatory remark about their gravestone:

This stone is an ‘Altar-stone’.  I wonder if Martin realised that when he set it up?

Beddow obviously considered it would have been hypocritical of Martin – an advocate of simplicity of worship in churches which had no altar, but only a communion table – to deliberately erect such a monument.

He also made comments on the ‘Nonconformist’ nature of the inscription, which quoted the verse of a Psalm from the Authorised Version of the Bible, rather than the Anglican Prayer Book Version which Beddow obviously preferred.

Martin’s Will

Martin’s will is dated 24 January 1887 – just two days before his death.  He was obviously determined to put his affairs in order before he died.  After making a small bequest to each of his executors, he gave each of his nieces and nephews £10 ‘for the purpose of purchasing mourning’.  He thus made sure that they not only attended his funeral, but that they all looked the part!

Then followed bequests to various branches of the United Methodist church: £100 to the Ashville College, Harrogate; £100 to the Home and Foreign Missionary Society; £100 to the ministerial training college in Manchester and £500 to the chapel on Hightown ‘which with £500 previously given by me during my lifetime will make £1000’.  This last comment seems superfluous, not to say immodest!

The five children (Mary Jane, Alfred, Jabez Henry, Elizabeth Ann and Walter) 11 of his deceased brother Jabez were each to receive £300.  The three children (Alice, Thomas and John) of his deceased sister Eliza Royle were each to receive £750.  This is an interesting, but unexplained, difference in the treatment of the two families.

The three children (John, Mary Ann and Charles) of his deceased niece Elizabeth Andrews were also given £750 each.  His brothers John, William and Abel and his sister Harriet Wood were each to have an annuity of £156 a year, payable weekly.

Besides the house and its furnishings and other effects, his wife Mary received an annuity of £200, payable quarterly.  This was to be reduced to £100 if she re-married.  The rest of the real estate was to be sold to create a trust fund from which the annuities would be paid.

There is no known record of Mary’s life after Martin’s death, although Kelly’s Directory of Cheshire for 1902 (fifteen years after her husband’s demise) shows a Mrs Heath at 6 Heathfield Avenue, the house number implying that she still occupied the end house furthest from Hightown, and confirming that this was indeed the house occupied by Martin during most of his time in Crewe.

Tributes to Martin

Speaking in 1878 12 of Martin’s achievements, Alderman Whittle said:

Mr [Martin] Heath 43 years ago 13 was a working man, and inherited but a small patrimony, a very small one, something like £30 per annum, but through the increase and influence of the railway upon the destinies of the town, and by his own industry and determination, he had achieved for himself not only a position in the town but an independent fortune of moderate extent.

In a ‘Sketch of Mr Heath’s Life’, The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle for 29 January 1887 had this to say:

He was a man of sterling character, and although not always in the position of being able to agree with everybody, he nevertheless always had the courage of his convictions, and he respected equally with his own the convictions of his opponents.  He was a valuable member of the Town Council, for he had grown up with the town, knew every detail in connection with its development and progress, and his advice was generally sound and characterised by strong common-sense.  Although holding firmly to Liberal principles, he showed no bitterness, never stooped to take a mean advantage over an opponent, and never triumphed over any personal discomfiture of rivals.  He pursued the tenour [sic] of his way with calm, quiet, unostentatious bearing, and, wherever he could, was always anxious and ready to smooth away difficulties, to remove irritation, and promote peace and concord.

At his funeral, the officiating minister said:

It was no ordinary or common part that he took in the development of this important town.  He identified himself with [its] local welfare most completely, and the impress of his personality will not be effaced.

One gets the impression that this upright, worthy citizen did not have the charisma of Samuel I.  Martin gave much – in both money and service – to the civic and religious institutions of Crewe but, reading between the lines, he does not seem to have endeared himself to his fellows in the way which Samuel did.  Beddow says of Samuel:

Though younger than Martin, he seems to have occupied a more leading place at the beginning.

Perhaps this ‘leading place’ continued throughout Samuel’s life, and Martin walked in his shadow.

Further Sections:



Chapter 1: Early Days (1321 – 1790)

Chapter 2: Samuel Heath I (1816 – 1882)

Chapter 4: Samuel Heath II (1837 – 1922)

Chapter 5: The Heath Family in America

Chapter 6: Mary Alice & Thomas Henry Heath

Chapter 7: William Henry Heath (1862 – 1943)

Chapter 8: Samuel Percy Heath (1893 – 1977)

Chapter 9: William Geoffrey Heath (b 1924)

Appendix: The Will of Thomas Heath



Beddow was unaware of the name of John’s wife, and did not know the date or place of their marriage.  Back

In 1847, this church became Manchester Cathedral.  Back

It is of interest to note that Martin’s younger brother William married one Isabella Ingham at Manchester parish church in 1840.  The census returns for Monks Coppenhall in 1851 and 1861 show William (Labourer – Railway) and Isabella (birthplace given as Burnley) living in the Hightown district with their children.  The IGI reveals that both Isabella and Martin’s wife Elizabeth were born in Padiham, on the outskirts of Burnley.  Elizabeth’s father was John Ingham, while Isabella’s father was George Ingham, so it is highly likely that Elizabeth and Isabella were cousins.  William’s first three children were born in Salford and Manchester, but the fourth and subsequent children were born in Monks Coppenhall, the eldest of these (named Martin) being born in 1849 – the year his uncle Martin came to Crewe.  One wonders if William was persuaded by his brother to move there; there were plenty of jobs for labourers on the new railway.  Back

Entries in the electoral registers for 1840 – 1847 show him as the owner of a house and land in Monks Coppenhall, although his home was in Salford. ‘Came to Crewe’ should therefore be taken as meaning ‘visited his property’, rather than ‘took up residence’.  Back

These dates are taken from their gravestone.  Despite this evidence, to which he refers in the appendix to his book, Beddow says ‘his second wife had a son Joshua who died before her marriage to Martin.’ (Author’s italics.)  Back

This church was situated on the opposite side of Heathfield Avenue to Heathfield, on land belonging to Martin.  According to Change at Crewe (Cheshire Libraries and Museums, 1984), it was built in 1883, partially destroyed by fire and restored in 1889.  Much of it was demolished in 1975 to make way for a more modern and practical place of worship.  Back

Beddow says: ‘He left Crewe before its incorporation, or undoubtedly he would have been its first Mayor.’  Back

The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle, 29 January 1887.  Ten years after the event, Dr Lord’s action still rankled with the newspaper editor!  Back

Beddow calls him ‘the third Mayor’.  (Author’s italics).  The list of Mayors of Crewe reads: Jno Atkinson Esq JP 1877; Jno Atkinson Esq JP 1877-8; Martin Heath Esq JP 1878-9.  Martin was thus the second man to become Mayor, but his name is the third on the list.  Back

10  This last statement bears out Thomas Henry’s contention that the Heaths had lived in and around Crewe for several centuries.  Back

11  The first four of these children were baptised in pairs: the first two at Manchester Cathedral on 29 July 1849 and the second pair on 30 December 1860 at St Thomas’s church, Ardwick.  According to the census for Manchester in 1871, the children living at 6 Cheetham Street were Alfred (21, ‘tanner’); Emily (17, ‘scholar’); Jabez H (14, ‘clerk’) and Walter (7, ‘scholar’).  Their mother was Harriet Heath (43) a widow and ‘annuitant’.  It may be assumed that Elizabeth Ann and Mary Jane had left home.  Emily is not mentioned in the will, but her name could be a misinterpretation of ‘Emma’, the name by which another daughter (presumed dead by 1887) was baptised.  In 1881 (the last census before Martin made his will), only Jabez Henry (25, ‘letter carrier’) and Walter (17, ‘ship steward’) were still living with their mother.  Harriet gave her age as 57, which does not tally with the age she gave ten years previously.  Back

12  The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle, 16 November 1878.  The speech was reproduced in The Chronicle for 29 January 1887.  Back

13  This implies that Martin came into his inheritance as early as 1835 (when Thomas Heath junior was still alive), although in his obituary in The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle for 29 January 1887 it is stated that Martin ‘came to Crewe 47 years ago’, ie in 1839-40.  The speaker at Martin’s memorial service (The Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle, 12 February 1887) said that Martin ‘came to Crewe about 40 years ago (ie around 1847), having passed between Crewe and Manchester for some time before he settled down’.  These last two statements are confirmed by the electoral registers, which show Martin to be the owner of property in Crewe from 1840, but living in Salford until 1848.  Back