My Family History

Trace your ancestors and then immortalise them!

                         THE CHADDOCKS AND THE LOWNDES

Elizabeth Lowndes  1802-1882

Elizabeth Lowndes, mother of Thomas Chaddock-Lowndes, was a remarkable woman by any standards. Born on the 12th of January, 1802 in Manchester, and baptised on February 21 of that year, she was the third of eight children born to William and Elizabeth Lowndes (see their own section). She spent the first twelve years of her life in Manchester, and her teen years at Ramsdell Hall, at a time when its lawns extended across the Cheshire Plain. It’s hard to imagine there being no canal, one of the most striking features of the landscape, but that’s how it was in William of Ramsdell’s days.

 Elizabeth saw most of her siblings married before she met William Chaddock, a wine merchant from Congleton. They were married at Astbury Church on June 21st, 1832 ... the first day of summer! She was now thirty and the kind of daughter that made a father proud. A decade later, he would show the extent of his affection. Sadly, Elizabeth's mother died just before she married William. Meanwhile, she and William had a son named after her husband’s father, Thomas, in 1833, a daughter, Elizabeth, in 1835, and a son,William in 1836. A perfect start to married life. However 1837 brought two tragedies with the loss of  both Thomas and Elizabeth.

 The birth of Isabella, the following year, brought some comfort. The choice of name is poignant because Elizabeth’s youngest sister Isabella had died at the age of only twenty-eight in 1835. It had been quite a decade for her. In 1840, they named their newborn son, Thomas, and it was he who was to play such an important part in the reclaiming of Ramsdell Hall. Daughters Sarah Hope and Lucy Elizabeth followed in 1842 and 1844 respectively. In between, Frances Elizabeth Chaddock was born on My 3rd 1843, but she died six days later. Poor Elizabeth had lost three children in their infancy.

1844 was a momentous year in Elizabeth’s life. It had seen the birth of her last child Lucy and the death of her father, William of Ramsdell. It was expected that the family estates and fortunes would pass on to his eldest son, John Hope Lowndes but the reading of the will was to shake the family to its roots.

"And whereas my son John Hope Lowndes ... has been a very great expense to me, I therefore leave to my said son John Hope Lowndes ... the sum of fifteen shillings a week for his life only” So he had dis-inherited his eldest son and neither Mary,his eldest daughter nor James,his other son were to be the new beneficeries either. Instead Elizabeth inherited “the mansion houses, the messuages, lands, tenements and hereditaments, and the income therefrom”. There were conditions, however which William laid out clearly.

"And further it is my will and mind, and I hereby direct that the person who shall be so entitled to my said estates as last aforesaid, not previously having the Surname and Arms hereinafter required to be used, and also the husband of any female who shall so become entitled, forthwill shall take and use the Surname of 'Lowndes' alone, or in addition to his or her own name, but so nevertheess that the name of 'Lowndes' shall be the last, or principal name, and also to assume, use and wear my Arms, and thence-forth from time to time to assume, use and wear such Surname and Arms accordingly".  See the section on Thomas Chaddock-Lowndes for explanation of how the name, decreed by William, was eventually adhered to. Elizabeth and William Chaddock, as far as I know, did not change their names, or those of their children……which is interesting.      

Whether Elizabeth or the rest of the family were the most shocked is hard to say. Clearly her father had seen in her the qualities that others would also admire in the coming years. When his wife had died in 1831, William had most likely looked to Elizabeth for support, as the eldest of his children still living with him. She was probably a rock for him then and the following year when his brother John died. He would remember that a decade later. Elizabeth’s strength in overcoming her own family losses in 1837 wouldn’t have gone unnoticed either.

She was to be further tested within a few years because her husband William died while still in his 40s. The census of 1851 is one of the most revealing documents that a family historian could ever wish to open and a poignant one. It shows Elizabeth, recently widowed, living with William’s father, Thomas in West Street, Church Hulme, Congleton. Her daughters Hope and Lucy are with her. Her niece, Susannah Bury, twenty-six, is visiting from Manchester.William, Thomas and Isabella are away at boarding school.

Her father-in-law, Thomas, now eighty, had outlived his son by over thirty years. He died in 1855. What prompted Elizabeth to make the move that she did to St Leonards on Sea and when exactly she went, is not certain. The Post Office directory of 1857, lists her as a major landowner in Odd Rode, living at Old House Green. Therefore she had moved on from Congleton. Her eldest son William had married Patience Addison in 1854. So it can be surmised that she eventually vacated the ancestral home in order for William and his wife to take up residence there. What we do know is that by the 1861 census, she and her daughters are established at St Leonards. Thomas has remained  in Congleton, training to be a solicitor while William has died suddenly in 1860, leaving his widow Patience but no children. She herself died seven years later in York but no other details are known of her.

Elizabeth had now lost four of her eight children. Her remaining three daughters remained unmarried, and it was only Thomas who would marry and have children. To have been one of eight children and then to have had eight children herself, must have made this all seem rather strange. At least she had the consolation of living long enough to meet two grandchildren. Rosalind and Tommy, consequently, must have been very special to her. Ironically, both these grandchildren died without issue.

By the time of the 1871 census, Elizabeth had moved back to Old House Green. How long she spent in St Leonard’s I don’t know but she may well have returned to Cheshire in the early 60s soon after her son’s death. She was now approaching seventy but there were still some special moments to come in her eventful life. Thomas had met and married Emilie Horner in 1871. Thomas and his new family did move down to Hastings which meant that she didn’t see her grandchildren as often as she might. Hope and Isabella continued to live with her in an all female household while Lucy had moved away to become a hospital superintendant a few years earlier. At the grand old age of eighty, Elizabeth died and her children honoured her with a memorial plaque under the west window of the south aisle of Astbury Church the following year.

“To the firm memory of their Grandfather and Grandmother, William and Elizabeth Lowndes of Ramsdell Hall and Old House Green in this parish; also to the memory of numerous relatives who are interred in this Churchyard, and to the beloved memory of their Father and Mother, this brass is placed by Thomas Chaddock-Lowndes, Isabella Sarah Hope and Lucy Elizabeth Chaddock, October 1883."

The window itself depicts some beautiful scenes in stained glass and is also in memory of Elizabeth.

She had known most things in her life but had come through them all. The Lowndes family fortunes had been passed on to her by an admiring father, and she in turn passed them on to her son Thomas whose family would eventually lose them in the 1920s. Her daughters Sarah Hope and Lucy Elizabeth would also reach their 80th years.
                                                              William Chaddock 1802-1850

As the husband of Elizabeth and father of Thomas Chaddock-Lowndes, William is an important ancestor in our Family Tree. He was born in Congleton in 1801 and baptised on the 12th August. His father, Thomas, was a wine merchant in Congleton, and his mother was called Sarah. Thomas was born in 1770 and christened on June 5th at Saint Peter's Church, Congleton. He was the son of Thomas and Margaret Chaddock. He had a younger brother, William, born in 1773, and a younger sister, Sarah, born in 1772. He also had an older sister called Elizabeth.

William worked in the family wine business. He married Elizabeth Lowndes on June 21st 1832, and they settled in Congleton. He and Elizabeth had eight children but the first two died in their infancy. William died when he was just forty-eight, and was buried in Congleton on February the 19th 1850. His father, Thomas, outlived him by five years, dying in 1855 and buried on April the 9th in Congleton.


                                                     Thomas Edward Chaddock  1833-37

He was their first-born, on November 29th 1833, and christened on Dec 13th. He was named after William’s father. Thomas was not a name previously used in the Lowndes Family. Curiously, another Thomas was christened on January 23rd 1835 with parents still given as William and Elizabeth. Both christenings were at Astbury. Were there two Thomases, with the first one dying? If so, it makes the death of their second Thomas even more tragic. Despite Thomas’ short life, his parents still named their third son Thomas (see his own section) Third time lucky.

                                                      Elizabeth Hope Chaddock 1835-37

Elizabeth was very much a Lowndes name. She was born on November 18th, 1835 and christened on January 29th, 1836. She died on the 9th of March, 1837, and with Thomas dying the same year, one wonders if it was an accident involving them both.

                                                            William Chaddock 1836-60

Christened on August 1st, 1836, he was another of the family’s mysteries. The civil registration of births, marriages and deaths only started in 1837, the year after William’s birth. Censuses plus church records are our guides to those born before 1837. The only source of information on him, prior to the recent release of The Cheshire Bishops' Transcripts, were the details given on his tombstone at Astbury Church:

"Sacred to the memory of William Chaddock of Old House Green and Ramsdell Hall in this parish who died 24/10/1860 aged 24 years and of Patience his wife who died 28/10/1867 aged 32.They died without issue."

Until I found this tombstone in 2002, I didn't know of William's existence! Now we have two census records to add to the picture. The 1841 Census shows William living in Congleton, and the 1851 Census, shows that he boarded at George Frost's school in Kensington, London. More recent discoveries have resulted in us finally knowing details of his wife Patience and their marriage. They were married at St George Hanover Square Parish Church in Westminster, on 31 Aug 1854. William had only just turned eighteen, and was recorded as a minor. He was living in Duke Street, and Patience in Regent Street. Patience's mother was a witness. William and Patience's fathers had both died recently, and they both had a mother called Elizabeth. 

Patience Addison was born or christened on April 23, 1833 in Davygate, York. She was the daughter of James Addison and Elizabeth Fawdington who had married on January 6, 1824 at York. James was a plumber and glazier, born in 1791 in Catterick, the son of James Addison and Elizabeth Alderson. Elizabeth Fawdington was born in the village of Alne in 1800, daughter of  Thomas Fawdington and Mary Moon. Patience had four brothers: James, Thomas, Daniel, and Albert, and three sisters: Mary, Sarah and Jane. She was the fifth born of the family. The 1841 census at Davygate recorded her name as Patrina, but by the 1851 census at 6, Great Blake Street, York she was known as Patience. Her father died in 1852, and her mother in 1884.

The following document suggests that their marriage lasted less than 5 years. The National Archives: Divorce Court File: C43. Appellant: Patience Chaddock. Respondent: William Chaddock. Type: Wife's petition [wx]. Date: 1859.

William died the following year on October 24th 1860, aged just twenty-four. As the eldest Chaddock, he would have inherited the family fortunes, including the ancestral home at Old House Green. This is probably where he died, and may have been his marital home. Ramsdell Hall, which appears on his gravestone, had been rented out to the Williamsons (see their own section) By this time, his mother, Elizabeth, had taken her family to live at Hastings. Patience died on October 28, 1867 in York, aged thirty-four.  A very poignant chapter in our family history.

                                                               Thomas Chaddock  1840 - 1912

                           See under Thomas Chaddock-Lowndes on the Chaddock-Lowndes page

                                                        Isabella Sarah Chaddock  1838-1894

Isabella Sarah Chaddock was Elizabeth’s 4th child, born in the first quarter of 1838 in Congleton, the year after Victoria’s accession to the throne. With her elder siblings dying young, including 24-year-old William, she was in effect, the eldest surviving child of Elizabeth and William. Like the rest of her siblings, she was sent to boarding school at an early age. In her case, it was Elenor Wilson's school in Bridge Street, Macclesfield. She was just twelve when her father died and spent her early 20s living at St Leonard’s on Sea with her mother and sisters.

Eventually, the family moved back to Cheshire, and she lived with Elizabeth at Old House Green. She lived most of her life in an all-female household and never married. Her movements after 1882 when her mother died are uncertain but at some time she moved to London because her death is recorded in Hampstead in 1894. The 1891 census shows her visiting a Jane Woodward in Hastings. It is likely that she and her sister Sarah Hope lived together in London until her passing.

                                                      Sarah Hope Chaddock  1842 -1923

Sarah Hope Chaddock at first remained somewhat of a mystery too. I have yet to find a record of her birth, and until I gained access to the 19th century censuses, I didn’t know of her existence. Consequently she missed my first family tree in 2002. She was born in 1842, the sixth of Elizabeth’s seven children and lived with her mother until her death in 1882. She was known by her middle name Hope (her grandmother’s maiden name) for the first thirty years of her life and thereafter as Sarah Hope.

She was just eight when her father died and one wonders how his premature death affected his three daughters who remained single and stayed with their mother for most of their lives. Even the details of her schooling are a mystery, but she probably went to boarding school in the 1850s. She wasn't present when her three siblings laid their memorial plaque to Elizabeth in 1883 which is surprising, given that she had lived all her life with Elizabeth. Had there been some sort of a family problem? Thomas wanted to move to Ramsdell Hall after it had been leased for over fifty years to the Williamsons. There had been a court battle in order to achieve this and so one would expect relations between the two families to be strained. Yet the 1891 census shows Sarah Hope staying with the Williamsons at their new abode. This suggests that she is loyal to her friends but at the same time, one wonders how good the relations were between herself and Thomas. Pure speculation of course.

Sarah was now approaching fifty, and like Isabella and Lucy, had remained single. Suddenly in the spring of 1896, she married Capel Wilson Hogg in Paddington, London. Capel was from Buglawton, a mile north of Congleton, and very much a man of means. He was a silk manufacturer, employing over two hundred people, and a JP too. Born on April 29 1841, he was therefore just a year older than Sarah, and they would have known each other for some time before their marriage.

Capel was the fifth of six children born to Henry and Charlotte Hogg. Henry, born in 1787, came from Gloucestershire and married Charlotte Coppinger--born in 1802 in Nantwich--in Liverpool on November 21st 1831. Capel married nineteen-year-old Harriette Robinson of Mow Cop in the summer of 1867, and they had six sons and four daughters. The 1881 census tells us that there are seven servants in the household and that Harriette's brother, William, is a bank manager.

However, Harriette died in the summer of 1894, leaving Capel a widower with ten children. Sarah's sister Isabella had also died that year in London. Sarah was taking on alot when she moved with Capel to his home, Davenshaw House in Buglawton, and Capel had someone to help him bring up his large family. What a change in circumstances and lifestyle it must have been for Sarah with some of Capel's children still in their teens. They had been together thirteen years when on the 9th of September 1909, Capel passed away at the age of sixty-eight. The 1911 census showed her living alone in Congleton, except for a cook and a housemaid. Sarah died in 1923 at 23, Moody Street, Congleton, aged eighty. After being a spinster for most of her life, she had finally experienced what being a mother was, and ten 'adopted' children would have educated her well! A daughter for 50 years, a wife for 13 years and a widow for 14 years. Sarah never had a daughter of her own, but in her 80 years, she experienced more sides of life than most do. I would love to have met my Great Grand Aunt!!

                                               Frances Elizabeth Chaddock  1843 -1843

She was born on May 3rd and named after Elizabeth's youngest sister. Sadly, Frances lived for only six days and was buried at Astbury Church on May 11th. Bless you Frances.

                                                  Lucy Elizabeth Chaddock 1844-1924

Lucy Elizabeth Chaddock was born on May 24th 1844 in Congleton, and christened on December 6th. She was just five years old when her father died and along with the rest of her family, lived with her grandfather, Thomas Chaddock, until he died in 1855. The loss of two father figures in her life, so close together, must have been traumatic to a girl just 10 years old. She followed her elder sister Isabella to Elenor Wilson's boarding school, during which time her eldest brother William died in 1860. It seemed that men in the family didn’t live as long as they might! It is hardly surprising, then, that like her sisters, she never married but continued to live with her mother.

She moved to Andover in the 1870s, working as a hospital superintendant at the cottage hospital. There is no record of her in the 1891 census, by which time her sisters have moved to London, and Thomas to Ramsdell Hall. Perhaps she was away somewhere, taking her orders because by the time of the 1901 census, she was a sister of mercy living at 46,West Street,Congleton. She was still there at the time of the 1911 census. She died in 1924, just before her eightieth birthday, and a year after her sister, Sarah Hope.

                                                                      THE LOWNDES

One source gives Lowndes as being derived from the medieval personal name "Lovin". This derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "Leofhun". "Leof" meaning "dear beloved", and "hun", meaning "bear cub". Another gives it as a habitation name from the city of Louvain in Belgium. Lound,Lounde,Loundes are variants with the ‘s’ signifying ‘son of’. Our Lowndes here are traced back,  unbroken,to 1466. Pretty amazing and way beyond any other family in the tree. It is believed they originally came over with the Normans, and that William Seigneur de Lounde was given land by the king in 1066.

          William Lowndes  1772-1844  and Elizabeth Hope 1774-1831

William Lowndes was born in 1772, and christened on March 22nd, the second son of Edward and Mary Lowndes. It was he who came to be known as William of Ramsdell, although he was 43 years old by the time he bought the Hall and took up residence there. He and Elizabeth then raised their family of eight children in the spaceous surroundings of the Hall with its parkland, woodlands and large ponds. Unlike his grandson Thomas’ Victorian/Edwardian incumbency, there was no canal or station in William’s days. It must have been very different during that Georgian Period and of course,William’s family was twice the size. His wife's family came from Liverpool.

William had married Elizabeth Hope in Liverpool at St Paul's, Liverpool on July 10, 1796. Elizabeth Hope was born on the 6th of February 1774 in Liverpool and baptised at St Paul’s. Her father was John Hope born in 1744, and her mother was Elizabeth Walker. She was their second child following their marriage on June 8, 1772. Her elder brother John having been born in 1773. She had a sister, Sarah, born on October 8, 1775 and a brother, Samuel, born on November 6, 1781.

The name Hope is synonymous with Liverpool with the famous Hope Street named after a William Hope. John Hope was the son of John Hope, born 1707 and Ellen Burgess, born 1706, who had married on February 14th 1732. John had two brothers, Peter and Samuel, and three sisters, Ellen, Hannah and Betty. Samuel's daughter, Mary, married John Hewitt in 1799, and it was their daughter, Mary, who married James Hugh Lowndes in due course. Their son, John, married James Hugh's sister Sarah Hope Lowndes. So cousins Mary Hope/Hewitt and Elizabeth Hope/Lowndes kept it in the family.

Returning to John Hope and Ellen Burgess. John was the son of Peter Hope and Hannah Kirkman who married on September 8th, 1706, and the grandson of John De Hope. Ellen was the daughter of Edmund Burgess and Mary Jackson who married July 21, 1700. John died in 1776. So William Lowndes' wife, Elizabeth Hope, comes from a family well-documented.

Elizabeth and William’s first two children, Mary and John, were born in Manchester, as was their fourth, Elizabeth. There is a known family connection with Everton Hill in Liverpool too. They lived in the Liverpool/Manchester area for a few years before taking up residence at Ramsdell Hall. Their third child, Ellen, was born in Cheshire in 1800, but the next 3 children were all christened in Manchester.  James, though christened in Manchester was born in Astbury in 1807.Frances and Isabella were also born in Cheshire in 1809 and 1812 respectively.

As the owner of substancial property in the area, including several farms, it was natural therefore that William was a much respected figure in the local community. He twice became Mayor of Congleton, in 1828-29 and again in 1830-31. He was very much a member of the privileged landed gentry with his children enjoying the advantages of growing up in such an environment. The daughters could expect sizeable dowries, and John Hope Lowndes, as the eldest son, could expect to inherit the lands in due course.

Mary was the first to leave in 1818 with her marriage to James Bury. Ellen Susannah left three years later, with her marriage to Thomas Bury. William didn’t approve of either marriage. Mary was married in Everton, Liverpool while Ellen was married at St Mary’s, Astbury. Perhaps he disapproved of Mary’s marriage more! John Hope Lowndes married Eliza Flemyng in Liverpool in 1826, and Sarah married John Hewitt during that period. As the 1830s dawned, half of the children had flown the nest and those remaining were ready to make their own way in the world.

1831 was a year William would never forget. His second term as Mayor had come to an end. The rural tranquility he had enjoyed for three decades ended with the opening of the Macclesfield Canal on November the 9th which passed by the sweeping lawns of Ramsdell Hall. One wonders what he made of that, or what he would have made of Mow Cop Station opening in 1848, four years after his death. He and his family would have watched the canal being built in the 1820s, and as Mayor of Congleton he would have been involved in the final stages of the canal’s development. Exciting times !!

Whatever his feelings about suddenly having a canal on his doostep, it all paled into significance with the death of his wife, Elizabeth, on the 22nd of September 1831,aged only fifty-seven. Things didn’t get any better for William,with the passing of his elder brother, John, in the May of the following year, aged sixty-two. He still had some of his children living with him who were no doubt a great comfort to him, particularly Elizabeth who was now thirty. William, himself, had just turned sixty, an age when one reassesses one’s life. He clearly felt that he needed a change and what better than to move to his family’s ancestral home at Old House Green, now vacated by the death of  John Lowndes. His children were either married or about to be. Elizabeth would marry that same year with Frances, Isabella and James following suit by 1835.

Exactly when William made the short move to Old House Green is not certain. It may have been in 1832, or it may have been when the last of his children were married. Either way, he didn’t entrust Ramsdell Hall to any of them. Or none of them were yet ready to take up the option. For whatever reason, he decided to lease the Hall to the Williamsons who owned mines in the area. He could never have imagined that it would be over fifty years before another Lowndes would occupy the Hall, and that none of his children would live there again. Instead, it would be his grandson, Thomas, who would become only the 2nd (and last) Lowndes in 160 years, to bring up a family at the Hall.

The 1830s were to bring further losses for William. He lost his youngest child, Isabella, recently married, at the age of twenty three in 1835. Two years later, his grandson Thomas Chaddock, aged 3 and granddaughter Elizabeth Chaddock, aged one both died. This time it was his turn to comfort Elizabeth, who herself must have thought that fate had been more than a little unkind in recent years. William was to do more than just console his daughter because less than a month after these deaths, he made a will, in her favour, which was to shake the family to its very roots. No-one could have anticipated what he had in mind as he lived out the last few years of his life at Old House Green.

He now had lots of grandchildren in his life, though some from marriages he hadn’t approved of. It was these disapprovals which were to cause his Will of 1837 to disinherit his eldest son John and to overlook his two eldest daughters, Mary and Ellen Susannah. The latter (presumably widowed) and her daughter were with him at the time of the 1841 census but like Mary, she had earned his displeasure over her choice of husband. This left Elizabeth to inherit his estates and fortune. See her section for details of the Will. In the august of 1844, William passed away, leaving his family surprised and shocked by his actions and decisions.

Although he was forever known as William of Ramsdell, the irony was that it was his decision to lease the Hall that meant his descendants had to wait half a century before they could live there again.

                       THE WILLIAMSONS     

Before turning our attention to the children of William Lowndes and his ancestors, a family is included here who are not part of our family tree but are who are very much part of Ramsdell Hall’s history and its family tree. The Williamsons ... who leased the Hall from William Lowndes, and then from his daughter, Elizabeth.

Robert Williamson was born in 1781 in Wolstanton, Staffordshire, the son of Robert Williamson and Ann Henshall. The Williamsons and the Henshalls became synonymous with quarries and coal mines in the area. Robert married twenty-three year old Ann Kinnersley on the 31st  of August 1809 in Newcastle-under-Lyme, her home town. They went on to have six sons and one daughter, Mary.  John, Robert, Thomas and Mary were born in Staffordshire but Hugh, Edward, and William were born a little later in Lancashire. The family would appear to have moved back to the area about 1823.

Robert and his younger brother Hugh Henshall Williamson worked together as the Williamson Brothers and later formed the Stonetrough colliery company which was based in Kent Green. They had mining interests and other enterprises throughout North Staffordshire. In 1823, they acquired the lease for Astbury Limeworks and its interesting that Ann’s name was registered too. She came from a family of mining entrenepeurs herself. Hugh’s wife was also called Anne, thirteen years younger than Hugh.

In 1832 Robert acquired the lease for Stone Trough Colliery and Towerhill Farm, where he built the Towerhill Colliery and Welsh Row, a row of brick terraced houses to accommodate miners from Wales. Since 1809, the Williamsons had been involved with railway projects such as Hugh’s Falls Colliery one. In 1838, the Williamsons reached an agreement with The Macclesfield Canal Company and started work on the Stonetrough colliery Railway which took six years to build. We know that Robert was now resident at Ramsdell Hall because of the Macclesfield Canal Company’s agent Edward Hall and his fascinating diary.

He says in his diary for February 2nd, that he “Dined at Mr Robert Williamson's, Ramsdell Hall, to meet Mr Watts”. A week earlier, he had met “Mr H HWilliamson”. Mr Hall kept a regular watch over the railway, going to Hall Green “to examine Mr Robert Williamson's railway” on June the 4th 1841, then to check his railway tunnel a year later, then “With the Subcommittee to Mr Robert Williamson's” on April 26th 1842. Finally, on Boxing Day 1842, “To Ramsdell Hall. Opening of Mr Williamson's Railway”. He hadn’t quite finished there because on June the 11th 1843 “To the Locks, Hall Green etc. Slept at Mr Williamson's”.

Edward Hall certainly kept his eyes on Robert’s railway or perhaps, like me, he was just partial to Ramsdell Hall. William Lowndes still owned Ramsdell Hall and lived less than a mile away at Old House Green. I read somewhere on the web that Robert “eventually purchased Little Ramsdell Hall, a striking Georgian building overlooking the Macclesfield Canal”. I don’t know if William would have laughed or cried at this! Mow Cop Station itself was opened in 1848, so these were exciting times.

Sadly, one person, wasn’t able to witness the grand opening of the Robert’s railway. His wife, Ann died earlier that year at the age of fifty-five. It must have been a wonderful experience for her to be the mistress of Ramsdell Hall and its beautiful surroundings. Her family were to live there for half a century, but for Ann it was just a few short years, hardly time to fully express herself. The boys had now become men, and by the census of 1851, they are fully involved with their father and uncle’s business.

John Henshall is a colour manufacturer, Edward a coal master, with Hugh and William Shepherd Williamson iron masters. Mary Kinnersley Williamson has returned to the Hall, and they have a housekeeper, cook, kitchen maid, housemaid, and footman, Henry Blagg, all in their early twenties. Robert must have felt very elderly at seventy years old. Robert’s two other sons had moved to Witton Cum Twambrooks where Robert Junior was a coal merchant and Thomas an engineer.

Robert had completely changed his staff by 1861,and raised the average age, with his cook Alice Goodman, thirty-two and the housemaids in their late twenties. Only Hugh and Edward still lived with him, continuing as iron masters. Robert Junior had married Maria Edwards from Burslem, twenty years his junior, and moved to Rose Vale, Newcastle Under Lyme. His brother Thomas was still with him and he now had three children as well as six servants. William had also married, Maria Louise from Sheffield, and moved to Mortlake House, Congleton. He was an iron master, like Hugh and Edward, as distinct from Robert who was a colliery owner.

Either way,they were all landowners and powerful men in the community. The missing brother, John, was staying at a hotel in Covent Garden. He married Mary Williams(who gained a ‘son’ as well as a husband) and they moved with her sister Anne to Golden Hill Oldcott. They had two children and later moved to Color Works House, Oldcott where John ran his business as an Ironstone and Colour Works proprietor.

As the 1870s dawned, both Robert and Hugh Williamson passed away. Hugh,who had been the deputy lieutenant of Staffordshire amongst other offices, died in 1867 in Norton at the age of eighty-three, and two years later Robert also passed on, aged eighty-eight. Two stained glass windows in the south wall of Astbury Church are in memory of the Williamson Family, adjoining Elizabeth Lowndes window. The above picture is of Hugh Henshall Williamson and the gravestone is of his brother Robert.

The end of an era but there were many young Williamsons to continue the family tradition. Robert Junior had lost his young wife Maria, after the birth of their fourth child, and the 1871 census finds him with his children to bring up alone, albeit with the help of six servants still. By the 1881 census the children are all in Lancashire, and Robert has also died in his fifties. Thomas disappeared from records and may also have died. Hugh and Edward continued to live at Ramsdell Hall with three servants. The Hall had never been so quiet.

But at last, in 1877, Hugh got married in Croydon, London. He was now in his mid-50s and Ramsdell Hall had its first mistress for thirty five years. Mary Williamson was sixteen years younger than Hugh, now fifty-six, and they employed a staff of six at the Hall. They didn’t have any children, so Ramsdell would have to wait for the Chaddock-Lowndes for the patter of tiny feet. Edward moved on to Hulme Walfield, and in 1891, he seemed to conjure up a family of four from nowhere, all in their teens and with Edward still single. The Williamsons were a law unto themselves when it came to census returns. Some gave a different birth place each census and in a ten year census period, they might advance twelve years, or just seven. Rarely the correct ten! John died in 1883, leaving Mary a widow.

Hugh and William were working together during the 80s but things were not going well, and in 1886 they filed for bankruptcy.William died a year later, aged sixty-two. Hugh’s time at Ramsdell was also coming to an end. Elizabeth Chaddock had died in 1882, and her son Thomas had decided it was time to reclaim the Hall. Hugh’s financial predicaments didn’t help his cause and after court precedings, the Chaddock-Lowndes finally moved to Ramsdell Hall. Hugh and Mary moved to Lower Heath, Congleton, still maintaing five servants including the faithful Alice Goodwin who had been with them for thirty years. Hugh was still a colliery proprietor.

The era of the Williamsons at Ramsdell was over, but remarkably, their fifty year tenure was far greater than any Lowndes incumbency. The Chaddock-Lowndes would see thirty years at the Hall before it passed out of the family hands forever.