Warrington, Banking and Thomas Firth (1786-1860) - a Northwich Giant.

wantingcaution !! this is an initial draft ... these notes are on my server for safe keeping !!





Once it was clear that the urban concentrations could gorge on the satisfying supplies of nutritious Cheshire cheese, the next suggestion was that the industrial revolution was ignited by Northwich salt ... with a little help from Lancashire coal and the enterprise of the merchants of Liverpool. A double whammy for Cheshire! The Liverpool merchants first harnessed the local plethora of water power and water transport on the Weaver which then quickly led to other innovations ... for sure the Flintshire metal processors played their part ... and the East Cheshire towns were feeding trade into Manchester ... but there was another centre of excellence perched on the Mersey waterway ... Warrington ... folk and paths all seemed to meet in Warrington ...

The crossing point over the Mersey at Latchford was important in Roman times, bang on the intersection of Chester to York and the London to Carlisle routes and later the Anglo Saxons had flourishing markets there. A flow of folk & goods gravitated to a trade centre. In 1526 Sir Thomas Boteler put Warrington on the map and left money in his will to found a grammar school in the town. During the Civil War there was ferocious fighting for the strategic centre, and a strong body of Protestant dissenters and a replacement group of rising families emerged victorious ... the Pattens of Bank Quay, the Blackburnes of Orford Hall, the Ashtons of Woolston Hall, the Parrs of Grappenhall Heys, the Lyons of Appleton Hall ... but Warrington really started to thrive during the 18th century; half way between Liverpool & Manchester and half way between St Helens coal & Northwich salt ... and the Mersey was the waterway of the industrial revolution ...

In 1795 John Aikin suggested -

'Warrington has long been of some note as a trading town. Its markets are frequented by an extensive and populous circumjacent country, though the Bridgewater canal, which passes a mile and a half to the south in its course to Manchester, has drawn off a good deal of the Cheshire business to the latter town. But Warrington may, in some measure, be considered as a port town, the Mersey admitting, by the help of the tide, vessels of seventy or eighty tons burden, to Bank Quay, a little below the town, where warehouses, wharfs, cranes and other conveniences for landing goods are erected. There is no bridge over the Mersey between Warrington and the sea, and none for many miles upwards between it and Manchester. From this circumstance Warrington has always been a post of significance in civil commotions of this kingdom'.

Charles Foster claimed -

'Warrington was a business town, the town depended entirely on business' ...

Warrington was buzzing in 1700, from 1694 some improved navigation of the Mersey paved the way for industry - tanning, copper, sugar, brewing, milling, sailcloth, glass, textiles, files, wire, watch making and chemicals ... a diversity of technological innovation -

1310 tanning was well established as tolls were charged on pelts crossing the river bridge
1694 Thomas Patten improved navigation on the Mersey from Bank Quay to Runcorn
1717 Patten opened a copper smelting works at Bank Quay
1717 sugar refining established off Horsemarket Street
1720 The Society of Friends chapel built in Buttermarket Street
1721 promoted by Patten the Mersey Irwell Navigation Act improved the waterway
1721 promoted by Blackburne and Ashton the Weaver Navigation Act linked salt to the Mersey
1740 The Saracen's Head brewery established at Wilderspool
1747 The Hart family and linen trading businessmen start the Warrington sailcloth industry specified and underpinned by the 1736/46 Sailcloth Acts and the Navy contracts of 1756
1750 Thomas Patten built Bank Hall and Robert Patten built a glass works at Bank Quay from copper profits
1756 William Eyres and Eyres Press publish the Weekly Journal, Warrington's first newspaper, and daring pamphlets and papers from the Academy
1757 The Warrington Academy was founded, a centre for radical dissention
1757 Sankey Canal for flats opened, the first canal cut in England
1757 Warrington Flying Stage Coach established from London to Warrington Red Lion on Bridge Street
1765 Manorial Rights of Warrington purchased by John Blackburne
1769 John Kay an eminent Warrington watch maker helped Richard Arkwright with the construction of his first water frame
1770 Bridgewater Canal for flats opens in competition with the Mersey & Irwell
1777 Peter Stubs (1756-1806) started his files and tool making business as a cottage industry before opening a factory in Scotland Road in 1802
pin making?
1777 Trent & Mersey narrow canal opens
1778 The Parr family purchase the Bewsey sugar refinery
1781 Tanning started by Matthew Knowles
1782 Parr's Bank established by Messrs Parr, Lyon & Kerfoot. The modern day NatWest branch on Winwick Street is housed in the old Parr building
1788 Thomas Greenall from St Helens, William Orrett & Thomas Lyon of Appleton Hall purchased the brewery at The Saracen's Head, Wilderspool from the Hart family
1797 steam was first tried on the canals
1799 Nathaniel Greening established his Wire Works on Bridge Street, later moving to Britannia Works on Bewsey Road in 1843
1805 John Rylands began his wire making business in a former mill on Bridge Street
1807 Greening & Rylands started wire drawing as partners, in 1817 they moved to a new site at the end of Church Street
1814 Joseph Crosfield opened his soap making business at Bank Quay
? James Fairclough operating a flour mill at Bank Quay
? Bridge Foundry, Vulcan Foundry, Bank Quay Foundry ... to the south of Crosfields all were at Bank Quay 
1826 William Cockshott's Wharf Mill burnt down.
1830 Liverpool Manchester Railway opened and started rate cutting wars ... but trade explodes
1846 Bridgewater bought out the Mersey & Irwell

Of note; Warrington had a famous dissenting academy and a coffee house

There were several players of note in Warrington -

Thomas Patten (1690-1772) of Bank Hall, Warrington established his copper smelting works at Bank Quay, Warrington in 1717 and was involved in the Mersey Navigation.

John Blackburne (1693–1786) of Orford Hall, Warrington was in the salt business in Liverpool and the Weaver Navigation.

John Ashton (-1759) of Woolston Hall, Warrington was also in the salt business in Dungeon and the Sankey Canal.

Samuel Fothergill (1715-1772) established his network of Quaker businessmen in Warrington around 1738.

William Eyres (1734-1809), was a noted printer and associated with the non-comformist Warrington Academy and might have been a non-comformist which would explain the absence of records. Printer William reportedly died a rich man who had invested in various properties. See Michael Perkin in - 'William Eyres and the Warrington Press' in 'Aspects of Printing from 1600' by Robin Myers & Michael Harris, Oxford Poly Press, 1987. Also P O'Brien 'Eyres Press 1756-1803, An Embryo University Press', Owl Books Wigan, 1993.

Thomas Greenall (1733-1805) established Warrington's reputation for the excellence of its beers.  In 1754 he started in St Helens managing his mother-in-law's brewery, before establishing his own in Hardshaw, St Helens, in 1762.  However it was The Saracens Head at Wilderspool in 1786 that cemented his position as a renowned purveyor of the local brew. His partners were William Orrett and Thomas Lyon. In 1807, Orrett's son sold his interest to Lyon and Greenall and when Thomas Lyon, nephew of the original partner, died in 1859, Greenall & Company was formed. Eventually in 1880 the concern became Greenall Whitley & Co Ltd.

All has been covered in detail elsewhere - 'The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records' by L M Richmond, Alison Turton, 1990.

Edward (1758-1835), Thomas's eldest purchased the Walton Hall estate in 1812.

Geoff Buchan tells how the Greenall familly not only influenced beer matters but also matters of the spirit in Barnton,

'Richard Greenall (1806-67), the younger of twin sons of Edward Greenall, the wealthy Warrington brewer. He studied at Brasenose College, Oxford and was later ordained Priest. His marriage with Eliza, the daughter of Thomas Lyon, of Appleton Hall, brought him the living of Saint Matthew's, Stretton, the patronage being in the gift of his father-in-law. The Greenall's lived in the Vicarage opposite the church. The initials 'RG' could be seen above the door of the 'Old Vicarage' Hotel. Now Park Royal. The task of preparing a design for the church was placed in the hands of a Lancashire Architect named Edmund Sharpe. He was responsible for the design of Holy Trinity, Castle and the other two Weaver Navigation churches at Winsford and Weston Point. Richard Greenall was himself a Weaver Navigation Trustee, and was therefore familiar with the work of Sharpe. On 25th October 1841, Richard Greenall laid the foundation stone of the new church at Barnton'.

Thomas LyonThomas Lyon (1756–1818) was into almost everything salt, sugar, brewing and banking ... he came from the Lyon family family who were big in Warrington had their seat at Appleton Hall ...

Thomas Parr (1792-1870) was a sugar refiner and banker in Warrington. His father Joseph Parr of Fir Grove, West Derby was a Freeman of Liverpool and married Ellen Lyon of Warrington, he died in 1820. In 1788, with others, he established the first bank in Warrington, The Warrington Old Bank, 10 Winwick Street ... later Parr's Bank Ltd formed by Thomas Parr, Thomas Lyon, an industrialist, & Walter Kerfoot, a solicitor.

The Parr family were important in the economic and cultural development of Warrington and they formed Grappenhall Heys estate in the nineteenth century. The manor of Grappenhall descended with the Lyme and Marbury Estates and were vested in Thomas Legh and John Smith Barry. The Leghs occupied Grappenhall Lodge. Thomas had erected his mansion there in 1830 and called it Grappenhall Heyes, he had accumulated the land by considerable purchasers from Smith-Barry and others. By 1882 the chief landed estate in the township belonged to Thomas' 3rd son Joseph Charlton Parr b1837. In 1882 Ashton Hayes was the seat of Thomas Philip Parr b1834.

Grappenhall HeysThe family also built the Parr Hall in the town centre and gave it to the town in 1895; it remains Warrington's only large public hall. The Parr Arms public house in the ancient village of Grappenhall also bears the family name.

 Thomas also became an eminent magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of Cheshire. The Parrs and their estate became an interesting part of a powerful network of business families in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries which included the Greenalls, Lyons and Rylands, all of whom lived close to one another in south Warrington.

The Parrs may have been the last to be involved in sugar refining in Warrington ... as banking proved far more lucrative ... Parr’s Bank was converted into a joint stock bank in 1865, with Thomas Parr as Chairman, and developed and developed ... the bank eventually became part of NatWest and was submerged within The Royal Bank of Scotland ... but the story starts with sugar ...

Sugar Refining, Warrington.

Sugar Houses in WarringtonThomas Parr made his way in sugar. The Warrington Guardian, Saturday November 7th 1936 told a likely story of romance and sugar in Warrington in the 18th century -

Warrington's lost industries included sugar refining, a sweet and cheerful trade, which has left few traces. One clue emerges from Wallworth and Donhavand's map, of 1772. It depicts weirdly irregular buildings around Horsemarket Street, and includes two inked in buildings labeled 'Sugar Houses'.

The old lanes have long since lost their identity to the ravages of development but the old maps tell a story. Riding Street and Sugar House Lane converged on an open spot where one sugar house stood, the actual works where the sugar was boiled. The other house, the stables and storehouse for the boiling works, stood on the other side of the road. On an 1826 map, that salubrious little alley way known as Golden Grove Street, was also marked as Old Sugar House Lane.
These maps gave wonderful leads for further explorations. A patch work story emerged.
An old lady, well past her 80th birthday, recalled how, as a little girl, she saw the raw sugar (thick treacly molasses which had to be refined into the white product we know) carted into the Sugar House. From her bedroom window in a little street known as Tumber Alley she watched the carters coming in from the port of Liverpool with their loads.
With old fashioned storm lamps or flares, they came in the gloom to the Sugar House yard, sweating horses straining at the girths, whips cracking, oaths, laughter and joking, the banging and rolling of barrels, cries of 'Gee-up', 'Gee-back' and 'Whoa, there, steady', loads taken off, 'empties' taken on, and then, the transport over, by common consent an adjournment to the nearest tavern, where a tired drover might 'wet his whistle' to the tune of five pints for a shilling, with a copper over for a whisp of twist and a clay pipe.

All this, of course, was after the year 1772, but the two earliest records discovered of sugar boiling in Warrington were culled; the first from the 'Annals of Warrington', where the preface relates that 'a traveller who visited Warrington in 1769, tells of a sugar house and a brewery of beer for exportation' ... the second from Chamberlayne's 'The Present State of Great Britain' of 1755, in which he writes, 'Warrington is much noted for a large smelting house for copper, and also a sugar house.'

In 1781, from records at Chester, was the Will of George Robinson, sugar baker, of Warrington, and in 1797 a further mention is made of a George Robinson, of Warrington, who was a sugar boiler.

Around 1780 there appear to have been great changes in the sugar industry in Warrington and changes in ownership of the Horsemarket Street businesses. In 1781 it was recorded that sugar refiners in Warrington were Joseph Parr & Co and Thomas Lyon & Co, good old Warrington names long associated with the town in the persons of Mr Roger C Parr of Grappenhall Heyes and Lt Colonel C Lyon, formerly of Appleton Hall. It is clear that the Sugar Houses of the map were those where the Parrs carried on their business.

In 1778 Joseph Parr gave his joint bond to Thomas Patten of Bank for £1,000 for the use of the Sugar House Company, and the following day gave his joint bond to his mother, Hannah Parr, for £1,250 for his sole use, in which bond he was joined, as security, by Robert Hesketh and Joseph Jackson. In May the following year there is record of a further £1,000 for which he gave his bond to Thomas Patten, in March the same year, for £1,000 from John Leigh, of Oughtrington, and in 1781 a note of hand to Robert Hesketh of Chester, for £509 at five per cent per annum. All these bonds were paid and cancelled, obviously substantial business was conducted.

The dates of these loans, and a record of an inventory of the Sugar House Utensils made in 1768 reveal something of the business arrangements of the company; but a definite working arrangement was clear only from a 'Indenture Triparite', which formed the deed of dissolution between the firm of Joseph Parr &  Co.

In 1781 the three parties to this agreement were Robert Hesketh of Chester; Joseph Parr of Warrington; and Richard Astley of Warrington; all were described as merchants. In 1778, the document reveals, these three entered into partnership, and agreed to lease from Thomas Patten of Bank and John Leigh, sugar houses, warehouse buildings & c, the said Patten and Leigh agreeing to lend certain monies. The property leased included 'these two several sugar houses with warehouse and accompanying house, stable, shippon and others outbuildings, situate near the bottom of Horsemarket Street'. In this dissolution of partnership, Hesketh retired from the business and Joseph Parr took it over. Richard Astley's position was not clear until a record of an indemnity made in I782, in which Richard Astley promised to indemnify Joseph Parr and Co from being called upon for any rent due upon the sugar houses and utensils held by lease from the executors of the late Robert Patten.

Inevitably there were unanswered queries. Were the Pattens ever engaged in the sugar boiling industry in Warrington? Under what circumstances did they have possession of the sugar houses and utensils?

But what was actually done in the sugar works in the late 18th century? The inventory of utensils gives an indication that the business must have been extensive, for Robert Hesketh actually paid to Thomas Marsden and Co no less a sum than £938 18s 11d for utensils alone, and most of these were second hand, and presumably cheap. There were lump, piece and loaf 'drips', and lump and loaf 'molds' by the score. A mill stone for grinding cost £23, and for copper coolers £125 was paid. In those days there were many tons of copper in the premises in the form of pans and moulds, ladles and casks. Apparently the garret was a store room for utensils, as there was a lot of apparatus not in regular use. On the fifth, fourth, third, second and first floors the inventory reveals that there were several thousands of 'drips' and 'molds' for the preparation of sugar, in piece, lump or loaf, while on the ground floor there were records of scum tubs, scum baskets, candy pots, candy mugs, treacle funnels, spaddles, shovels and a host of other appurtenances to the trade.

It was a sweet business and no doubt the gamins of the neighbourhood would not be above dipping a grimy hand into a treacle barrel ... but one can imagine that in that the old sugar house there would be on each floor steaming cauldrons of the liquid sugar, being ladled out into the various moulds and through the varying processes by men innured to working in a sticky damp atmosphere.

The entry '12 iron candlesticks', on the ground floor inventory, suggests that lighting was primitive, and, in keeping with the period somewhat niggardly. Working hours would be long, and on dark winter days one can imagine that the flickering candle light would only be augmented by the occasional gleams from the boiler fires.

It was certainly Joseph Parr who was in occupation of the Sugar Houses, of Horsemarket Street, and it is more than likely that he was the last to make sugar in Warrington. But for whatever purpose the sugar was made, whether for local sale, whether it was sent throughout the country or even abroad, whether or not the many alehouses in the town who had their own brewing cellars obtained supplies from the firm, or whether they preferred to use the coarse untreated juice, there is no clear record. But wherever the principal demand came from it eventually came to an end, the bottom dropped out of the sugar pan, and Warrington lost another industry.

Unfortunately while a full and precise history was impossible there remained a final clue and a startling deduction.

Trail crosses trail, and interwoven threads have to be unravelled, and in pursuing an altogether different investigation, a clue that not only may be the explanation of the disappearance of the sugar business, but the reason for the foundation of a great Bank!

The grandmother of Lt Col C Lyon, formerly of Appleton Hall, lived in a period when a gentlewoman kept a diary, and recorded therein matters of real and lasting interest, and not merely feminine frivolities.

Colonel Lyon produced a note he made some years ago, in which he records the discovery of a memorandum written by his mother about the year 1858 -

'Warrington Old Bank' - In 1782 the late Mr William Turner, of the firm of Turner and Kerfoot, solicitors in the town, in conversation with the late Thomas Lyon, spoke of the want of a bank in Warrington, and said to him; 'You have the money, so has Walter Kerfoot, my partner. Now Joseph Parr (who was a sugar boiler in the town) has a trade which is leaving him, and doing him no good. He has business habits, and may manage the bank'.

Was it a consequence of this conversation that the Parr, Lyon and Kerfoot bank was formed?

Colonel Lyon further recorded that the Thomas Lyon referred to was his grandfather's uncle, and owner of Appleton, and that Joseph Parr lived at Fir Grove, West Derby, and was Thomas Lyon's brother-in-law, having married his sister Ellen. And so, if the sugar trade has gone from Warrington, Warrington may congratulate itself on another historical business, which has left its mark on the country as the forerunner of a great banking system.

Parr's BankParr's Bank, Warrington.

William Howarth described the fortunes of Parr's bank in his book 'Banks in the Clearing House' in 1905.

Thomas Parr knew about business, he had been there, seen it and bought the T-shirt. He had always nurtured his customers, he knew what made them tick, and he was a master at delivering great value for his always competitive prices. And then there was the personal touch, the after sales service which seem to compel customers to come back for more ... repeat purchases always made Thomas smile. The sugar refining business had been great and the family did well but Liverpool was expanding and the modern refineries at the Port secured transport, handling and scale advantages which, together with proximity to large urban markets and suppliers at home and overseas, made them formidable competitors.

For years successful business men were eager to provide additional customer services. The roads were not safe, and when highwaymen and footpads were abroad, it was by no means wise to travel with coins. It was by no means unusual for enterprising businessmen to offer safe deposits for their customer's specie. In this way to a limited extent many began to offer banking services for there customers. Initially, folk who had established themselves as drapers, milliners, smiths, grocers & even sugar refiners began to offer keep customer's money for them. This development seemed propitious for the few with a trustworthy reputation and proved to be far more lucrative. Many could refine sugar, it was old hat, but only an honest few could be trusted as custodians of customer's wealth. Later the dusty piles in the safes were used to fund loans to other trustworthy regulars who were experiencing irregular cash flows. Later this practice become so popular that the holder would often offer a small rate of interest as an inducement to the customer to leave his money a little longer in the safe. Businessmen of repute turned themselves into trusted bankers. John Freame in London, the forerunner of Barclay & Co. was said to have started this way.

Thomas didn't know anything about the changes in sugar production as comparative advantage ebbed away, but he did know that there was far more money to be made out of banking!

Parr's Bank was in Westminster Place, Winwick Street. A plaque on the side dated the current building to 1877, above the door was a sign for Old Bank.

This private bank was established in 1788 as Parr & Co by Joseph Parr, sugar refiner, Thomas Lyon, brewer and sugar refiner, and Walter Kerfoot, attorney; it was also known as Warrington Bank Old Bank. The bank was styled Parr, Lyon & Greenall from 1825 to 1851 and Parr, Lyon & Co from 1855 to 1865.

In 1865, it was reconstructed under the name Parr’s Banking Co Ltd a well known and highly respected joint stock limited liability company. Thomas Parr was appointed chairman and the bank recruited John Dun, from Bank of Scotland, as its first general manager. Richard Asheton Cross (1823-1914) was a partner by 1865. Richard Cross had an illustrious career following a propitious marriage in 1852 to Georgiana, daughter of a former partner, Thomas Lyon! He was appointed Home Secretary in Disraeli's government in 1874.

The new status enabled the use of an increasing the amount of capital  and paper for amalgamations with other banks to secure economies of scale. A ferocious spate of amalgamations followed. In 1878 The Cheshire Observer commented on the history of the bank when Messrs Dixon's & Co of Chester was absorbed ...

So successful was the growth of business that by 1891 Parrs were ready for the big time in London. In some ways the industrial revolution with its focus of mass production in factories had by passed London, but the capital had always retained its pre-eminence in the provision of capital. The biggest banks were all in London and were part of a 'clearing house' payments system which offered customers a safe, speedy, reliable service in the settling of debts. Parrs wanted to be part of this system to offer their customers an even better service.

Coming to London with all the enthusiasm of Lancashire Parrs soon made its advent felt and its influence recognised ... this was mainly due to the indomitable energy and enterprise of its general manager, Mr John Dun.

An extraordinary general meeting of the shareholders was held at Warrington on 25th July, 1891,
when the chairman said -

'The total turnover of the bank amounted to a large sum in the past year, and of this amount rather more than one half passed through London; and it is partly for this reason, and partly also in order to take the place which we believe our large transactions and important banking position fully warrant, to secure the advantages of a share of London business, an opening to the London market for the employment of surplus funds, admission to the London Clearing House, and to obtain greater capability for giving increased facilities to our commercial friends in Warrington, Liverpool, and elsewhere, that your directors have for some time past considered it desirable to seek an opportunity for an union with some good bank in the city of London, whereby the objects they had in view might be attained, and they have now the honour and pleasure of announcing that an arrangement for an amalgamation has been concluded between the partners of the very old established and much respected banking firm of Fuller, Banbury, Nix & Co of 77 Lombard Street, London, and Parr's Banking Company, whereby your bank obtains entrance to London, and, by means of a first class connection in the city, will command all the advantages I have enumerated, besides many others which such a position may be expected to afford. A seat in the House offered a very wide general business which might at any time may wish for loans which would be an admirable output for any surplus funds. The reserve fund of a bank we consider a most important item, and so put to rest the minds of all shareholders'.

From 1892 to 1896 the bank was known as Parr’s Banking Co & Alliance Bank Ltd following a merger with that bank. Parrs was then one of the first six banks in the country. In 1918 Parr’s Bank Ltd amalgamated with London County & Westminster Bank Ltd of London, to form London County Westminster & Parr’s Bank Ltd. Eventually the Parr name was discontinued.

The very first deal in 1865 after incorporation involved the acquisition of Thomas Firth & Sons, bankers of Northwich, in 1865. Who was Thomas Firth?

Thomas Firth (1786-1860) - Notes on a Northwich Giant.

Thomas Firth (1786-1860) was born near Halifax in Yorkshire, he first married Eliza in 1813. The 1841 census found him at Hartford Lodge with his second wife, Ann from Middlewich, and son Fredrick (1826-).

Thomas was a rock salt merchant, alongside his other business activities.

In 1817 Thomas established a bank, Thomas Firth & Sons, Northwich, 1828-65. The partners were Thomas Firth's son, Frederick Hand Firth, and Samuel Buckley.

The firm did well and opened a branch at Winsford, but banking was always risky and bad debts a constant threat. As reported in The Banker's Magazine in 1866 Messrs Thomas Firth & Son was taken over by Parr's Banking Company from Warrington. Parr's also took over The Consolidated Bank Ltd of Manchester & London, in 1896. Robert Neill junior was a director of consolidated and he was also the uncle of Joseph Oswald Neill who was to become Edward Hindley's partner in The Weaver Refining Co Ltd. It was a small world ...

The Parr's banking business flourished and was merged with The Westminster Bank in 1918 and eventually with The National Provincial Bank in 1968 and The Royal Bank of Scotland in 2000.

In addition to extensive interests in salt Thomas Firth was also an investor in Broad Oak and Sankey Brook collieries in St Helens where he helped to finance the deep shafts which were sunk in the mid 1800s. The Weaver Navigation and the Sankey Brook Canal were the economic links between St Helens coal, Northwich salt & the Port of Liverpool. A triangle of trade with significant importance to the industrial revolution in the North West.

Thomas was a considerable land owner in Northwich and also involved in The Marston Salt Co with Thomas Lyon who was Joseph Parr's partner in the Warrington bank. It seems Cheshire business men were an incestuous lot! 

The Firth, Stock & Co was dissolved in 1839 ... profits were hard to come by in the salt industry at this time?

The Morning Post of Friday the 12th of April 1861 recorded the death of Thomas Firth on the 30 of March 1861 at Hartford Lodge aged 75 years?

England & Wales National Probate Calendar 1861 - Firth, Thomas, 5th December. The Will of Thomas Firth late of Hartford Lodge near Northwich in the county of Chester Banker, deceased, who died 30 March 1861 at Hartford Lodge aforesaid was proved at Chester by the oath of Thomas Dyson Firth of Macclesfield in the said county Land Agent and Surveyor, the nephew, and one of the Executors. Effects under £30,000 – resworn May 1881 under £18,000.

Thanks to Elaine Hanson for her research notes on Thomas Firth.

Hartford LodgeThomas Firth, son of Thomas & Elizabeth Beaumont, was born near Halifax in Yorkshire in 1786, he first married Elizabeth Highfield  at Davenham in 1813. He was noted as Thomas Firth junior, a Merchant of Witton parish.

Elizabeth Highfield was baptised on the 8th of February 1791 at St Helen’s, Witton. Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Firth of Witton, Banker’s Clerk, daughter of John Highfield & Catherine Hinsey of Leftwich, died in childbirth, only 23 years old, on the 23rd of January 1814 and was buried on the 27th of January 1814 (yard, south side) at St Helen’s, Witton.

Robert Thomas Firth, the infant son of Thomas & Eliza Firth of Witton, died of '1st year weakness' on the 4th of January 1814 buried at St Helen’s, Witton on 6th of January 1814 (south side).

Thomas Firth of Winnington, Witton parish, remarried to Ann Hand (1796-1885), daughter of Thomas & Hannah of Middlewich, on June 9th 1821 at Middlewich by Licence. Thomas & Ann had the following children -

Henry Thomas (1822-40), son of Thomas Firth of Winnington, Banker and Anne was born December 1822 baptised June 1823 St Helen’s, Witton.

Frederick Hand Firth (1824-1903), son of Thomas Firth of Witton, Banker, and Ann was born August 1824 baptised September 1824 St Helen’s, Witton. Frederick, widower, married Caroline Firth on April 8th 1888 at Chelford Church after Banns. Frederick was 64 from Widecombe, Devon. His previous marriage was probably to Mary Mallaby (1824-1886), Middlesex in 1846?  Frederick & Mary had the following children -

Thomas Henry (1847-1847)
Mallaby (1848-1848)
Frederic William (1849- )
Walter Alfred (1850- )
Henry Mallaby (1851- )
Mary Nina (1853- )
Sydney (1857- )
Septimus George (1859- )

Alfred Thomas (1826-), son of Thomas Firth of Witton, Merchant and Ann was born February 1826, baptised October 1826 St Helen’s, Witton.

 Clifford (1827-70), son of Thomas Firth of Witton, Merchant and Ann was born December 1827 baptised May 1828 at St Helen’s, Witton.

Emily Anne (1833-), daughter of Thomas Firth of Witton, Banker and Anne was born April 1833 baptised April 1833 at St Helen’s, Witton. Emily married George Hatt-Cooke on 24 February 1853 at Hartford Church by Licence.

The 1841 census found Thomas at Hartford Lodge with his second wife, Ann and Emily 5  years & Frederick 15 years ... and the expected servants. 2 boys were away at school.

In the 1851 census they were still at Hartford Lodge. Thomas Firth, 64, Banker, Ann, 54, with a Footman, Lady's Maid, House Maid & Cook ...

Hartford Lodge (Listed Building entry Grade II Whitehall) formerly villa, now council offices. 1835 by John Douglas Sen, some C20 extensions and alterations. Stuccoed brick, hipped Welsh slate roof. L-shaped in plan. 2-storey symmetrical 7-bay entrance front. Plinth, end pilasters, band at 1st floor sill level and projecting eaves. Central bay steps forward slightly under a flat triangular pediment and has an Ionic porch antis approached by 3 steps. Within are a pair of half-glazed doors in a simple architrave and a pair of semi-circular headed niches to the sides. Recessed 12-pane sash above and in remaining bays where there are recessed fielded panels below sill level on the ground floor. Bay at its centre and a good cast-iron verandah around the ground storey with a tented felted roof. Tripartite windows in the end bays. Wing extends to the right in a similar style. Irregular extensions to the north side. Interior: entrance into the hall open to the roof and lit by an octagonal lantern with an acanthus boss. Hall contains an open well staircase with delicate iron balusters and a bracketed open string. Room to right has plaster panelled walls and a frieze and ceiling in early C20 Neo-classical style. Fireplace with giant Corinthian columns. Panelled shutters to deep casements. Room beyond has Jacobean style fireplace with re-used marquetry panels and plaster panelled dado, and a servery with fluted pilasters.

Tithe Maps (map c1846) Hartford
Plot 175 (Hartford Lodge) owner Thomas Frith (sic) occupier Thomas Frith House & Garden.
Plot 156(a) (Hartford Hall) owner Thomas Frith (sic) occupier The Rev Thomas Arrowsmith Hall & Garden.
Plots 155, 156 2 fresh water ponds owned by Thomas Frith (sic) occupied by John Percival.
Plot 154 owner Thomas Frith (sic) occupied by John Percival, Orchard.
Plot 153 owner Thomas Frith (sic) occupied by John Percival House, Yard & Garden.
Plots 150, 151, 152 owner Thomas Frith (sic) occupied by John Percival, Gardens.

De Tabley sale, Witton, property acquired in -
Lot XX Dwelling-houses, held by the Overseers of the township of Witton, as tenants at will at the yearly rent of £14, purchaser, Mrs Firth £310.
Lot LXXIX Dwelling-house, purchaser Mrs Firth £20.
Lot XCVII Dwelling-house, purchaser Mrs Firth £165 Marston.
Lot CLXXII 6 Houses, the greatest part of the rock salt under the premises has been got, purchaser, Firth £260.

Sale of the Thomas Firth Estate - The Northwich Guardian - 1862.

Northwich Guardian Saturday April 12th 1862 By Messrs Churton.

Important Sale of very valuable Freehold and Other Property.

Valuable Mansion, Farms, Villa Sites, Accommodation Lands, Salt Works, Rock Salt Mines, Houses and Premises, Situate in and near Northwich, Middlewich, Winnington and Barnton, in the county of Chester.
Comprising the Capital Mansion, called Hartford Hall, the New House Farm, in Stanthorne, together with Estates, well adapted for sites of genteel residences and ornamental Villas, the Winnington Salt Works, the Dunkirk Rock Salt Mines, also several Messuages, Cottages, and other heriditaments, consisting altogether of upwards of 206 statute acres of Valuable Land for Sale by Auction (by order of the Devisee in trust of the late Thomas Firth Esq by Messrs Churton).

In the following or such other Lots as may be determined upon at the Crown Hotel, Northwich, in the county of Chester, on Wednesday, the Seventh day of May 1862 at one o'clock punctually.

Township of Witton-cum-Twambrooks.

Lot I Freehold 0a 0r 15p - Two Freehold Dwelling-houses, Smithy, Yards & c. fronting Witton Street, Northwich, in the occupation of Samuel Arrowsmith and Joseph Richardson. Two Pews No 6 and 7 on the north side of the aisle of Witton Chapel, are appurtenant to this Lot.

Lot II Freehold 0a 0r 29p - Freehold Land fronting to Leicester Street, Northwich. This Lot will be sold subject to a right of road of 8 feet wide, leading from Leicester Street, to premises belonging to Mr George Starkey.

Lot III Freehold 0a 0r 20p - A Freehold Dwelling-house, Yard and Garden situate in and fronting to Leicester Street, Northwich. This Lot will be sold subject to a lease held by the representatives of the late Mr Worrall, for the term of 97 years (which will expire 25th March 1905), at the yearly reserved rent of £10 0s 0d.

Township of Hartford.

Lot IV Freehold 10a 0r 22p - Walnut Croft, in the occupation of Mr Clifford Firth 2a 1r 14p. Massey's Field, in the same occupation 5a 2r 8p. Town Field, in the same occupation 2a 1r 0p. This Lot adjoins property belonging to F H Firth and Daniel Wrench Esq, and also the Hartford Road, and a new road of 8 yards wide set out on the east side of the said Lot over which the purchaser will have a right of road, and be bound to repair the same conjointly with the purchasers of Lots 5, 6 and 7, according to the conditions of sale.

Lot V Freehold 15a 2r 10p - Little Barnsley, in the occupation of Mr Clifford Firth 6a 3r 4p. A Plantation in the same occupation 1a 2r 4p. Part of Big Barnsley, in the same occupation 1a 3r 38p. A Plantation in the same occupation 0a 2r 9p. Big Barnsley in the same occupation 4a 2r 35p. The purchaser of this Lot will have a right of road over the New Road of 8 yards wide leading from the Hartford Road to this Lot, and be bound to repair the same conjointly with the purchasers of Lots 4, 6 and 7 according to the conditions of sale.

Lot VI Freehold 14a 0r 3p - A Plantation, in the occupation of Mr Clifford Firth 4a 1r 5p. Broom Field and Pickows, in the same occupation 9a 2r 38p. The purchaser of this Lot will have a right of road over the New Road of 8 yards wife (sic) leading from the Hartford Road to Lot 5, and be bound to repair the same in conjointy with the purchasers of Lots 4, 5 and 7 according to the conditions of sale. The fence along the said road adjoining this Lot to be made by the purchasers of this Lot.

Lot VII Freehold 12a 2r 21p - Hodge Riding in the occupation of Mr Clifford Firth 12a 1r 30p. Plantation in the same occupation 0a 0r 31p. The purchaser of this Lot will have a right of road over the New Road of 8 yards wide, leading from the Hartford Road to Lot 5, and be bound to repair the same conjointly with the purchasers of Lots 4, 5 and 6, according to the conditions of sale. The fence along the said road adjoining this Lot to be made by the purchaser of this Lot. There is an excellent spring of water in this Lot.

Lot VIII Freehold 5a 0r 20p - Bottom Part of Barn Field, in the occupation of Mr Clifford Firth 5a 0r 20p. This Lot has a frontage to the Hartford Road and adjoins property belonging to Thomas H Marshall Esq There is a stream of water running through this Lot.

Lot IX Freehold 4a 1r 31p - Bottom Part of Barn Field in the occupation of Mr Clifford Firth 0a 2r 15p. Top Part of Barn Field in the same occupation 3a 3r 16p. This Lot fronts the Hartford Road and adjoins property belonging to Thomas H Marshall Esq. A stream of water runs through this Lot.

 Lot X Freehold - Top Part of Barn Field in the occupation of Mr Clifford Firth 4a 2r 6p. This Lot fronts the Hartford Road and adjoins property belonging to Thomas H Marshall Esq. A Stream of water runs through this Lot.

Lot XI Freehold - Meadow and Orchard, late in the occupation of Thomas Morrison Esq 2a 0r 14p. Garden 0a 1r 36p The Hartford Hall Pleasure Grounds, Outbuildings, Yard & c. 0a 1r 32p. Garden in the occupation of Mr Clifford Firth 0a 2r 6p. The Hartford Hall Farm-house, Outbuildings, Yard & c. in the same occupation 0a 1r 23p. Pool in the same occupation 0a 2r 12p. This Lot has a good Commodious House and Outbuildings, having been put into good repair and additions made thereto within the last few years by the late Thomas Firth Esq. Any gentleman wanting a house for a hunting box, would find this a very desirable situation, being within a mile of the Hartford Station, and having a good range of buildings for stabling & c.

Township of Witton-cum-Twambrooks

Lot XII Freehold - All those Two Freehold Houses, Yards and Gardens & c. occupied by Bell and William Drinkwater 0a 0r 21p. This Lot will be sold subject to a lease held by Messrs Thomas Greenall & Co., at the annual rent of £1. The lease expires 2nd February 1863.
Lot XIII Freehold - Freehold House and Yard, occupied by James Barrow 0a 0r 5p. Buildings and Lane, in the occupation of Thomas Goulding 0a 0r 13p. House, Garden and Field, in the same occupation 0a 1r 17p. Part of Fox Leeches Field, in the occupation of same 0a 3r 37½p. Ditto 2a 0r 19½p. Ditto, Executors of the late James Gibson encroachment for which the pay 3s 9d per annum 0a 0r 2½p. Total 3a 2r 14½p.

Lot XIV Freehold - A good substantial Freehold Dwelling-house, Yard and Garden, occupied by James B Banks 0a 1r 37p.

Lot XV - Freehold Field in the occupation of Philip Wylding 0a 3r 30p. House and Garden & c. ditto 0a 0r 32p. Field ditto 0a 2r 23p. Field ditto 0a 3r 9p. Orchard ditto 0a 0r 33p. Total 2a 3r 7p. Over this Lot are two lines of brine pipes. Mr James Blackwell pays £5 per annum, and compensation for any damage done.
The purchaser of Lot 16 will have a right of pipes over this Lot, paying a yearly rent of £2 and compensation for any damage done.

Lot XVI Freehold - Brine Pit, Engine House, Cistern & c. with Pumping Engine and Gear, in the occupation of F H Firth Esq 0a 0r 26p Cottage and Garden in the occupation of Joseph Bowden 0a 0r 9p. Part of Nearer Yates Field, in the occupation of Thomas Goulding 4a 0r 19p. Waste Land and Road, unoccupied 0a 2r 7½p. Cistern, Brine Pit, and Part of Jeffrey's Field in the occupation of F H Firth Esq 3a 1r 17p. Dwelling-house, Yard and Garden in the occupation of Charles ----- 0a 0r 23p. Salt Works, Stonehouses, Sheds, Pan Houses and Smithy, in the occupation of F H Firth Esq 0a 2r 31p. Panhouses, Warehouse and land in the same occupation 1a 2r 4½p. Water in the same occupation 0a 1r 12½p. Water in the same occupation 0a 3r 32p. Total 11a 3r 24½p. The brine pipes to Mr James Gibson's Works pass along the ditch to the Field No.41, for which he pays an acknowledgement. Mr James Blackwell's brine pipes pass over the road belonging to this Lot. This Lot will have to pay a rent of £2, and compensation for pipes passing over Lot 15.

Lot XVII - New House Farm, Stanthorne (not transcribed).

Lot XVIII - Freehold Shop etc Barnton (not transcribed).

The Dunkirk Salt Works Township of Witton-cum-Twambrooks.

Lot XIX Freehold - Site of Old Salt Works and Land 4a 2r 12p. Road 0a 0r 15p. Cottage and Garden 0a 0r 35p. Two Cottages and Gardens 0a 0r 28p. Field 5a 3r 30p. Field 1a 3r 18p. The Dunkirk Rock Salt Pits, Stone Pits, Engine Houses and Pumping and Winding Gear, in the occupation of Messrs Firth and Worthington 0a 2r 33p. Field 3a 2r 36p. Total 17a 1r 7p. The Mid-Cheshire Railway will pass within a short distance of this property, and may be easily connected therewith by a branch line or tramway.

The Winnington Salt Works Township of Winnington.

Lot XX Leasehold - The Winnington Salt Works, Pan-houses, Warehouses, Steam Engine and Land in the occupation of Messrs Worthington & Firth 4a 0r 33p. Brine Cistern, in the same occupation 0a 2r 0p. Total 4a 2r 33p. These premises are held under Lord Stanley of Alderley, on a lease dated 12th December 1838, for the residue of a term of 35 years, commencing 11th December 1838 at a surface rent of £150 per annum, and a royalty of sixpence per ton for all salt delivered up to 20,000 tons, and over 25,000 tons and subject to the conditions therein contained. Brine Rents, 6d, 9d and 1s according to quality manufactured per ton, on salt made from brine furnished by lessor. Minimum royalty, exclusive of surface rent of £150 per annum.
There is a branch line proposed to be made to these works from the West Cheshire Railway, which will bring these works into communication with the Birkenhead Docks.

Particulars of all the Lots; with plans annexed, may be seen at the principal hotels and public news rooms in Northwich, Liverpool, Manchester, Stockport, Chester, Macclesfield and the neighbourhood, and the same, with every other information, may be obtained on application to Messrs Firth and Booth, Land Surveyors, Macclesfield; Messrs Littledale, Ridley and Bardswell, solicitors, Royal Bank Buildings, Liverpool; Mr Wood Blake, solicitor, Northwich; Messrs Churton, Auctioneers, Chester and Whitchurch; or to Mr Charles Edward Proctor, solicitor, Exchange Street, Macclesfield.

Luncheon will be on the table at Twelve o'clock at noon, and the Sale will commence precisely at one.


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