Finney of Fulshaw Deeds

  • Reference
      GB 133 FFD
  • Dates of Creation
      1416-1914 (bulk 17th-19th centuries)
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
      English, unless otherwise stated.
  • Physical Description
      9 series; 367 items.
  • Location
      Collection available at The John Rylands Library, Deansgate.

Scope and Content

The archive comprises mainly deeds of title relating to the Finney family and their estate at Fulshaw Hall at Wilmslow in Cheshire, purchased in 1682 along with a smaller neighbouring estate known as Alcock’s Green. It includes deeds of conveyance, leases, agreements, mortgages and bonds, concerning property at Fulshaw and other townships within the parish of Wilmslow, and making reference not only to the Finneys, but also to their tenants and other families in the area. The collection also incorporates deeds and documents relating to the Finneys’ predecessors at Fulshaw, in particular, the Newtons, who acquired a large part of Fulshaw in the 16th century, and also the families of Verdon and Davenport, who held land in Fulshaw and the surrounding areas from the later medieval period.

With the exception of a copy of a charter of 1277, the bulk of the collection of deeds spans the years 1416 to 1859, and the period of stewardship of various members of the Finney family: Samuel Finney I (1642-1711/12), John Finney (c.1671-1728), Samuel Finney II (1696-c.1764), Samuel Finney III (1719-1798), Peter Davenport Finney I (1733-1800), Peter Davenport Finney II (1795-1824), Peter Davenport Finney III (1824-1840) and John Jenkins (1818-1883), who inherited Fulshaw Hall on the death of the last Peter Davenport Finney. The archive also includes a small collection of letters, mainly regarding tithe commutation, plus copies of baptism, marriage and burial certificates, land tax certificates, c.1799-1855, and two documents relating to the parish of Wilmslow after the death of John Jenkins, 1904-1914.

This collection is greatly indebted to the researches of Samuel Finney III (1719-1798), who studied and amassed various old deeds, ultimately compiling two volumes of evidences regarding the tenure, franchises etc., relating to the Fulshaw estate, Collections from Charters and other Muniments, Statutes, Law Books, Historys and Manuscripts relating to Fulshaw, serving not only to explain the Tenure, but the Liberties Rights and Franchises belonging to that Estate in 1768 and Copies and Extracts of Charters, Deeds &c. in the possession of Samuel Finney serving to authenticate his historical survey of the Parish of Wilmslow and Memoirs of the Family of Finney of Fulshaw. An Historical Survey of the Parish of Wilmslow was compiled in 1785 and Memoirs of the family of Finney of Fulshaw (near Wilmslow) Cheshire two years later. Samuel Finney III was responsible for the recovery of Fulshaw Hall after the debts incurred by his father, Samuel Finney II.

The collection is a useful source of information for local, social and family historians, many deeds giving topographical details, such as named fields, also details of tenants, family relationships and in a few instances, husbandry practices.

Administrative / Biographical History

Fulshaw was originally one of four townships within the parish of Wilmslow, Cheshire, the others being Bollin Fee (including Bollin cum Norcliffe, Dean Row and Styal), Pownall Fee (including Hough and Morley), and Chorley. Around the year 1200, the lordship of Fulshaw was granted by Robert, son of Matthew de Fulshaw, to Richard Fitton, whose son, Richard, lord of Bolyn [Bollin], granted the manor of Fulshaw to the Order of St John of Jerusalem during the reign of Henry III ‘for the souls of himself and his ancestors’. The manor thus became an appendage of the manor of Yeaveley in Derbyshire, where a preceptory of the Order had already been established. In 1277 the Order granted out the manor of Fulshaw to Richard del Shert [or Scherd] and Robert Crosse of Fulshaw (J.P. Earwaker gives the names as above, although, in the copy of this grant in the archive, the names are not clear). After a few generations, the del Sherds’ moiety was further divided, some lands passing to the Verdons as a result of a marriage between a del Sherd heiress [Margaret del Sherd] and one Geoffrey de Verdon (d.1421), and another portion eventually passing to the Leghs of Adlington. A family of Davenports also held land in Fulshaw in the 15th century.

In 1561 Humphrey Newton bought the manor of Fulshaw from Thomas Verdon for £112, having previously leased the premises for 21 years in 1537. Around the same time Newton also acquired some alienated Davenport lands in Fulshaw, thereby putting him in possession of the greater part of Fulshaw. Some generations later, Newton’s share of Fulshaw was mortgaged to the Leghs, and was eventually sold in 1676 to Roger Wilbraham of Nantwich. It was from the latter that Samuel Finney I (1642-1711/12) purchased the estate in 1682, re-building the old, dilapidated timber hall (1684) on what is thought to have been the site of the old Verdon residence at Sherd. The estate remained in the possession of the Finneys until the 19th century; following the death of Peter Davenport Finney III in 1840, the estate passed to a kinsman, John Jenkins (1818-1883), a descendant of Alice, daughter of Samuel Finney II.

The Finney family originally came to the Wilmslow area from Finney in Staffordshire; in the early 17th century one John Finney married the Wittonstall heiress, Alice Johnson, thereafter settling at Dean Row. His new residence was later renamed Finney Green. It was his second grandson, Samuel (1642-1711/12), who purchased the Fulshaw estate.

Samuel Finney I (1642-1711/12) was a successful merchant, making his fortune in the sugar and cotton plantations of Barbados, where he was in partnership with his cousin, Joseph Higginbotham. Whilst residing there, he married Mary, the daughter of a merchant and planter, Mr Evans. He acquired the Fulshaw estate on his return to England, living in the rebuilt hall until the marriage of his son, John, in 1693, whereafter he briefly removed to Cheetham Hill, near Manchester. Around the same time he bought the neighbouring smaller Alcock’s Green estate from Edward Alcock (1682), and the Parson Barrets estate in Mobberley. He supported William of Orange in 1688 by raising a troop of horse, along with his neighbour, Thomas Latham of Hawthorne Hall. In 1701 he and his family went with William Penn to America, where he became a member of Penn’s Council in Pennsylvania, settling near Philadelphia at a place he named Finney, remaining there until his death.

Samuel’s eldest son, John Finney (c.1671-1728), likewise supported William of Orange in 1688, and remained in military service for a while thereafter, attaining the rank of Captain. He married Jane Latham, daughter of Thomas Latham of Hawthorne in 1693. He travelled to Pennsylvania in 1701 with his father, where he held various posts, but returned permanently to England in 1711. He acted as Captain of the Militia for the Hundred of Macclesfield in the Jacobite rebellion of 1715.

Samuel Finney II (1696-c.1764) was the eldest son of John Finney. He married Esther, daughter of Ralph Davenport of Chorley (Wilmslow, Cheshire), a Manchester merchant. His father settled him in business in Warrington in 1721, but the following year he was taken into partnership by his father-in-law, and operated as a cloth merchant in Manchester. In 1733 he went to live at Fulshaw Hall, but his extensive repairs and additions to the house, along with his lifestyle, resulted in serious financial difficulties. He mortgaged the demesne lands of the estate to his brother-in-law, Ralph Davenport, and departed for Philadephia in 1738, leaving his family, never to return to England. His last known whereabouts were in Philadelphia in 1764.

It was left to his eldest son, Samuel Finney III (1719-1798), to pay off his debts and deal with the problems surrounding his father's unknown demise. Originally trained in law, he abandoned that profession and took up a career as a miniature painter in London, working in watercolour on ivory and enamel. In 1763 he was appointed miniature portrait painter to Queen Charlotte. His new profession improved both his finances and his social status; he was eventually able to recover his family estate at Fulshaw Hall, residing there from his retirement in the late 1760s. He married twice, Martha Foster in 1747, and after the latter's death, Ann Barlow, but left no issue. He amassed various deeds relating to Fulshaw and Wilmslow and compiled An Historical Survey of the Parish of Wilmslow, plus a history of the Finney family, in addition to two volumes of evidences regarding the tenure, franchises etc., relating to the Fulshaw estate.

Samuel Finney III was helped in the recovery of Fulshaw by his brother, Peter Davenport Finney I (1733-1800). Originally commencing as a confectioner in Manchester in 1755, the latter built up a successful retail and wholesale grocery business, later venturing into mercantile trading overseas, making a fortune from sugar and treacle. He built a house at Oversley Ford in Wilmslow, where he resided from around 1785/1786, but went to live at Fulshaw Hall on his brother’s death in 1798.

Peter Davenport Finney I was succeeded by his great nephew, Peter Davenport Finney II (1795-1824), the grandson of the former's sister, Jane, and her husband, James Tate. The Tates' son and Peter Davenport Finney II's father, Samuel, had changed his name by licence to Finney in 1788, but pre-deceased both his uncles, Samuel Finney III and Peter Davenport Finney I. Peter Davenport Finney II married Mary Williams, the daughter of a Chester stone merchant at Greenock in 1821, but his premature death in 1824 left not only an infant son, but also a legal challenge for his widow to establish the validity of the marriage before their son, Peter Davenport III (1824-1840), could become heir to Fulshaw. Shortly afterwards, Peter Davenport III followed his parents to the grave, his mother having died in 1827, before he attained his majority.

The next successor to Fulshaw was John Jenkins (1818-1883), who was descended from Alice Finney, a daughter of Samuel Finney II. He resided at Fulshaw Hall.

Arrangement

The archive was previously housed in seven boxes, and although some deeds appear to have been grouped together, there was generally no defined order to the collection. The archive has been arranged, therefore, in nine series, in chronological order by owner of the Fulshaw estate, which approximately follows the calendar/box list begun by Montague S. Morgan in 1969 and completed by R.B. Delderfield in 1994. 

  • FFD/1: Deeds, pre-Finney, 1416-1679;
  • FFD/2: Deeds, Samuel Finney I, 1682-1694;
  • FFD/3: Deeds, John Finney, 1697-1725;
  • FFD/4: Deeds, Samuel Finney II, 1725-1764;
  • FFD/5: Deeds, Samuel Finney III, 1764-1796;
  • FFD/6: Land tax exemption certificates, Peter Davenport Finney I, 1799;
  • FFD/7: Peter Davenport II and Peter Davenport III, 1804-1841;
  • FFD/8: Deeds and letters, John Jenkins, 1840-1860;
  • FFD/9: Declaration and certificate, 1904-1914.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The archive was presented to the John Rylands Library on 18 September 1957 by Mr Robert Walmsley of Shaw’s bookshop, Manchester.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

This archive owes much to the efforts of Samuel Finney III (1719-1798) in researching and amassing old title deeds. Samuel was not only responsible for recovering Fulshaw Hall, but also for compiling two volumes of evidences regarding the tenure, franchises, etc., relating to the Fulshaw estate, and writing a history of the parish of Wilmslow, An Historical Survey of the Parish of Wilmslow, and a history of his family, Memoirs of the family of Finney of Fulshaw (near Wilmslow) Cheshire. After the death of John Jenkins, a descendant of Samuel Finney II in 1883, the history of the collection is not known.

Accruals

No accruals are expected.

Related Material

Cheshire Archives and Local Studies holds a collection of over 1200 family, business and estate documents dating from 1681 to 1908. Chester City Record Office holds a copy of Samuel Finney III’s An Historical Survey of the Parish of Wilmslow, ‘transcribed from the original’ for J.P. Earwaker in 1880.

Bibliography

Samuel Finney, An Historical Survey of the Parish of Wilmslow (1785), serialised in T.W. Barlow (ed.), The Cheshire and Lancashire Historical Collector, vol. 1 (Manchester, 1855).

J.P. Earwaker, East Cheshire: Past and Present, vol. 1 (London, 1877).

George Ormerod, The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester, vol. 3 (London, 1882).