Disley in the County of Cheshire
The following information was given to
Emma F. Brooke[**] by her uncle,
George Swindells, at his residence, Pott Hall, [Pott] Shrigley in April 1885.
Francis Swindells [I]of
Disley interred in Disley churchyard May 18th 1743 and Susanna,
his wife who died April 6th 1773. (These were the great grandparents
of Martin Swindells of Pott Hall, Shrigley).
Disley, interred in Disley Churchyard Feb. 18 1792 was a
farmer and resided at Disley Hall. He had property in Macclesfield
and having sold Disley Hall, went to Macclesfield to reside
there, where he died. His wife, Anne Swindells married again
and her new husband destroyed the title deeds of the Macclesfield
property and appropriated it. (It would appear that Anne
was buried at Disley in the grave of her first husband Martin).
Francis Swindells [II],son
of the above mentioned Martin Swindells of Disley, ran away
from home when he was 16 in 1779 owing to the severity with
which his father had treated him. After some exciting adventures
he reached London and took service as a groom to a gentleman.
On one occasion as he was taking his master's family by night
in a coach over Hounslow Heath, he was attacked by a highwayman.
By that time he had risen to be coachman, but he was riding
as a Post-Boy, because at that time the coachman did sit
on the box, nor drive as done now. But regardless of the
threats of the robbers and of the fact that they fired at
him, he rode furious on and brought the family safely within
the gates of his master's grounds. He married one of the
servants of the house, of the name of Litton, and having
saved money, returned to his native country. He and his brother
came into Stockport together to settle there and it was said
of them that they were the two finest looking men who had
ever come to Stockport. There he began life again as a cotton
manufacturer and went on successfully for some time.
Martin Swindells [I] (of
Pott Hall) was the son of Francis. When quite young he was
sent to his grandparents at Macclesfield and remained with
them until he was 13 or 14 years old. Martin was very fond
of music, and one day a regiment of soldiers passed through
the town with a brass band, he followed them all the way
to Stockport and enlisted as a Drummer boy. But he was found
by his parents and was bought off or got off somehow. He
then went to live with them and helped his father in the
But desiring to master every process
of cotton manufacture, he left his father's mill thinking
that he could be spared very well, and he entered another
mill as a "hand" or ordinary worker, so as to learn every
part of the spinning thoroughly. Here he became engaged to
Hannah Shepley who was one of the workers in the mill.
The Shepley family had rather come down in the world. For
Hannah Shepley's father had been the owner of a house and
large stables and many horses at Taxal and had the carrying
trade over the Buxton and Derbyshire Hills in his hands.
There were no roads but his pack horses carried the merchants'
goods over the hills by what were called "bridle paths".
Martin had saved money out of his wages and with this money
he meant to get married. But at this time his father (Francis)
failed through no fault of his own, but because he had put
his name to a "bill" which returned to him and which he was
unable to pay. Martin at that time lived with them, and when
it was found in what straits they were, he took all his own
savings and paid off his father's "hands", because, as he
said "At any rate you work people shall not suffer, you shall
have your wages."
When the wages were paid, they had not a penny left and
they locked themselves up in their house fearing that the
bailiff would come and take the father for debt. The old
man was in hiding and Martin and his mother were together.
There was not a scrap of food in the house, but Martin's
mother would not let him go out to purchase any.
"Are we to starve?" asked Martin.
"Yes" said the mother, "rather than eat what we are not
sure we can pay for".
Then they sat and waited. Presently a knock came on the
door; they asked who was there, and a voice inquired if Martin
was within. Then Martin went out & found a friend – a
merchant named "Waterhouse". This man handed him five one
"I've been thinking you may be in want of money", said he,
"and I have brought you 5 pounds. Take it and I know that,
if ever you are able to pay me, you will do so. If not, it
does not matter".
At first Martin refused to accept the money on the ground
that he could not see his way to repaying it. But being pressed
by his friend he finally took it and went out to buy bread.
After this Martin again went to a mill and took work as
a spinner; but being still determined to master every process,
he gave up working as a spinner and took the position of
a carder, although the wages were lower, being only one guinea
a week. The name of the mill owner was Smith. While working
at this mill Martin married. There is [or was at the time
these notes were taken down] a chair still in existence amongst
some members of the Swindells family, which he bought at
this season of difficulty and of being down in the world.
Gradually he rose to be manager of Mr. Smith's mill and under
his management Mr. Smith became a wealthy man.
Martin left Mr. Smith to go into partnership with Thomas
Fernley of Stockport. The two partners would appear to have
heard something of a cotton mill in a village called Bollington.
They drove into the village by way of "Long
Lane", "Cat-ladder" & "Beeston"
to see the Clough Mill.
They took the mill [rented it] and Martin and his wife Hannah
came and lived at the Clough in a pleasant house, the garden
of which was hedged off from the road by a broad stream of
swiftly flowing water, and a low stone wall.
Afterwards the business of the partners
so much increased that they built a large mill in Manchester.
By this time John Fernley had been taken in as a third partner.
While living at the Clough, Martin's youngest son George
(afterwards George Swindells of Pott Hall) remembered seeing
his grandfather, old Francis Swindells; Martin supported
him and paid his debts as soon as he was able to do so. Old
Francis was still a tall fine looking man and he wore a wig
When the mill in Manchester was built, Martin went to live
there; he had a beautiful house in Oxford Road on the site,
which is now occupied by "Owens
College". Here he had large gardens, conservatories,
a poultry yard and a fishpond.
During this time old Thomas Fernley had withdrawn from the
partnership because Martin & John Fernley had taken into
partnership, James, the third brother. James was much inclined
to speculate and in the end this partnership between Martin
and the Fernley's was entirely dissolved. John Fernley took
money as his share; James took the mill in Manchester and
Martin took the mills in Bollington. George (Martin's youngest
son) remembered his father coming over to Shrigley to look
for a house; he was then a little boy and he drove over to
Shrigley with his father. Shrigley is a village not far from
Bollington, and Pott Hall was the only house to let there
and Martin took it for his residence. But he felt leaving
Manchester and his beautiful house there very much; and it
seemed to him at first like exile.
Gradually however, his business increased; he owned the
Clough Mill, Rainow Mill, Bollington Mills [today known as
Lower Mills] and at last built the Clarence. Every mill in
Bollington belonged to him and he employed over two thousand
Swindells dressed in knee-breeches of drab colours
and gaiters of the same colour, a black coat and waist-coat
and a large black silk tie; a broad brimmed hat and
a watch in fob with seals hanging from it.
Hannah, his wife, was a beautiful old lady with bright
brown eyes; she dressed in a black satin dress with
a large white muslin handkerchief folded over her breast,
and a large white mob-cap. She was exceedingly religious
and always sat in the arm chair on the right hand side
of the Pott Hall dining room with her Bible and Hymn
book resting in a small bracket beside her.
The children of
Martin Swindells [I] of Pott Hall and his wife Hannah (nee Shepley) were as
- Anne the eldest daughter. She married Joseph Brooke
and after living in Manchester for a short time,
during which her husband acted as his father in law's
agent, they came to Limefield, a house which old
Martin Swindells built for them on a hill and near
to the great Clarence Mill, and Joseph became partner
to him. Limefield became the property of Joseph and
- Judith who died young, when her parents lived in
Manchester. She was very beautiful and had many suitors,
amongst them one of the M.P.s for Manchester.
Martin [II] who married a sister of Joseph Brooke,
named Frances. After the death of old Martin Swindells,
this son and J. Brooke carried on the business as
partners together. But they gave up all the mills
except the Clarence.
- Hannah who was very beautiful, married the
Rev. James Sumners [sic] forty years incumbent of Shrigley and
whose house was the parsonage there. The Rev. James
Sumners's [sic] mother was a Miss Cawley.
- George who succeeded to Pott Hall after the death
of his father. He became the owner of Adelphi Mill,
which was built for them some time after the death
of his father. He married Miss Elizabeth Cawley.
- Mary who [missing word? 'married'] the Rev. John
Davies, Rector of Walesoken. [Walkden?]