The Demise of Lowe Hall: Part 2 – The missing link?

by Mike Green


In a previous article for the Lost Langtons website – What's in a name? – I described how the majority of Langtons in Lancashire and Cheshire descended from six brothers Ralph, James, John, Peter, Aaron and Moses (in particular Aaron) who were the sons of Robert and Sarah LEIGHTON of Marple, Cheshire, born around 1690 – 1710.


The fact that the descendents of these brothers flourished in the South Lancashire area around the Wigan – Ormskirk – Winwick area seems to point to a connection with the Langtons of Lowe Hall, Hindley. The final days of Lowe Hall in the hands of the Langtons, then the Pughs, are decribed in Part 1 of this article (Langtons and Pughs), with Edward Langton (died 1733) being the last of the male line to hold the estate. The fact that Edward had a brother Robert, born 1657 (mentioned in Dugdale’s Visitation 1664), suggests that this may have been the same Robert who, for whatever reason, was the one in Marple. However no positive connection between “the brothers” in Marple and Lowe Hall has been established.


However, a solicitor handling the estate of a deceased client had found an unwanted box of Langton material. Thanks to a contact via Joel Langton (of Lost Langtons), this was duly purchased, and amongst the items in the box was the following letter:-


To: Mr Wm Langton

Heywood’s Bank

Manchester

Sept 17 1835

Hindley Sept 14 1835


Sir

According to my promise I have been endeavouring since I saw you to find out some traces of your family and I think I have been in some measure successful: I shall be glad to hear in some future time that the discovery if it be one has answered any valuable purpose. As Mr Thos Gaskell our managing trustee was a few weeks since riding on towards Southport, in passing through Skelmersdale in the neighbourhood of Upholland he accidentally saw the name of Langton over a door. He alighted from his shandrie(1), went in and of the master of the house made many family enquiries. The man’s name is Thos Langton. He is a considerable Farmer; he has a son in Liverpool who according to his account is a large wholesale grocer for it cannot be a amall concern that frequently turns over £1000 a week. Of this son they get their grocery and keep a shop as well as farm.


Mr Thos Langton says that his own father’s name was Edward Langton and his grandfather’s name was Aron Langton. Thos Langton says that he has often heard his own father say that his father Aron Langton was formerly the owner of Low, that sometime after they came to Low or Lowe Aron Langton and his son Thomas(2) were one day winnowing some grain in the barn and making their calculation over it when Aron in a sudden fit of irritation occasioned by disappointment threw down his sieve and said I tell thee what lad I brought some money to Lowe and I will never stay here to spend it all and be ruined. The son persuaded his father to try a while longer, to alter his plan, to plough less and graze more, when the father said well lad I’ll heed thee now; so he began to keep a number of cows and from that time prospered. He must then afterwards have bought the property. In process of time this Thos Langton says his grandfather left Lowe and went to Priorswood Estate in Dalton near Newborough(3), near Ashers Beacon.


Ashers Beacon I believe is somewhere in the neighbourhood of Billinge (4) a few miles beyond Wigan: and in and about that neighbourhood the family has been sojourning ever since. The son’s name of this Thos Langton is Herbert Langton: he is a wholesale grocer in Dale St Liverpool(5). This Thos Langton has been over to my house in his own shandrie and the above account I have had from himself. He thought I could give him some account of your motives for enquiry. I told him I was an utter stranger to them, but that I would soon give you the information of which he had put me in possession. He appears to me to be a man just turning the down hill of life and a pretty free liver. He hinted that his circumstances were good: he also seems to have some reason for thinking that the Langton family if matters were well investigated have still some legal hold on the Lowe property and hinted that his son in Liverpool had lately said something to him about looking after it.


This Sir is all I can furnish you with at present and I think it my ……(3 words illegible)….I remarked in course of conversation with him he said his family were of the old Presbyterians. This may in some degree account for Mr Gaskell’s impression that the Chapel property was purchased from Aron Langton Esq.


Yrs most respectfully


Jno. Ragland



Notes:-


(1) A shadry is a light two-wheeled carriage.

(2) There is no known son of Aaron called Thomas (only John, Edward and Ralph). This could be a mistake in telling the story.

(3) Priors Wood Hall is near Newburgh.

(4) Ashurst’s Beacon is near Dalton, not Billinge.

(5) Herbert Clayton Langton was at the time a grocer of Dale St, Liverpool, later a stockbroker. Thomas Langton his father married Ellen Clayton in 1808.


Although the letter contains some inaccuracies as noted above, there is no reason to doubt that the overall drift of the story is correct. The recipient of the letter, William Langton, was a prominent banker and local historian in Manchester. The writer, Rev. John Ragland, was the minister at Hindley Presbyterian Chapel for 40 years from 1822, Hindley Chapel was where Aaron and his wife Betty had two of their sons baptised (John 1732 and Edward 1734). Although today this church is called Hindley All Saints, that title was not acquired until 1878 when it became a parish church in its own right. Previously it seemed to accommodate both Anglican and non-conformist worship.


The account of Aaron owning the Lowe must treated with caution. As is described in Part 1 of this article, after the death of Edward in 1733 the Lowe passed first to Edward’s wife, Catherine, until her death in 1741. After that it passes to the Pugh family of Penrhyn, Llandudno, into whom Edward’s sister Elizabeth had married, but there is no reference to Aaron or any other of the other Langton brothers. Note that the letter only refers to “the Lowe property”, and not actually Lowe Hall itself. As the Lowe estate contained “70 messuages” he could well have bought one of the farms as they were sold off to settle debts. Maybe Aaron was at the Lowe as a yeoman tenant farmer, but not actually the landowner. The letter also refers to Aaron “coming to the Lowe” and “bringing money to the Lowe”, implying he had come from somewhere else. This could be an oblique reference to Marple.


Aaron, in fact, was not without money. The will of his brother Ralph LAUGHTON in Disley (will made and died 1753) refers to a sum of £200, which, after the death of his wife Sarah, is to be shared among the remaining five brothers (£40 each), Ralph and Sarah having no children. This correlates with Aaron’s will (will made 1770, died 1772) which also refers to this money. However the will also states that in 1756 the brothers formally agreed that they could each trade their share of the inheritance if they so wished. In fact, Aaron was to buy the shares of three of his brothers, apart from James who had died in 1759. With his own share, this gave him £160. In addition he had ninety pounds of his own money, making a total of £250. His will makes no reference to any property.


The move to Priorswood Estate in Dalton, is of significant interest. According to “The Returns of the Papists 1767” there was at that time only one such called Langton in the whole of Lancashire and Cheshire. And this was Betty Langton of Dalton. Surely this was Aaron’s wife, although Aaron, still alive at that time, is not mentioned and must thus be presumed not to be Catholic. Betty was given as age 63 (i.e. born 1704, four years older than Aaron) and had been resident at Dalton for 15 years, implying leaving the Lowe in 1752. At the marriages of their sons Ralph (Wigan 1765) and Edward (Ormskirk 1767) they are both described as “of Dalton”.


This brings us back to possible religious conflicts in the Langton family. Edward Langton of the Lowe (d.1733) was a staunch Catholic, as was his father Philip before him (and the Pugh family as well, for that matter). However there is no evidence that any of the descendents of Robert Leighton and Sarah (of Marple) were Catholics at all, indeed Aaron apparently having connections to Hindley Presbyterian Chapel. So was this the reason Robert took himself off to Marple as he had split with “The Old Religion”, whereas Edward, Philip’s youngest son, stood by his father and was the one to inherit the estate?


The conclusive evidence that proves that Robert of Marple was indeed the son of Philip Langton of Lowe is still lacking, but the letter does show that his son Aaron had strong links to Lowe, even suggesting some legal right to the property.


Copyright M J Green. All Rights reserved November 2014