The Clowes family originated at Rudyard, near Leek in Staffordshire. By the seventeenth century the family held estates in south-east Lancashire, particularly in the Manchester area. They acquired the extensive Broughton estate through the marriage of Samuel Clowes (1691-1773) to Mary Chetham, sister and co-heiress of Edward Chetham, and great-grand-daughter of Humphrey Chetham (1580-1653). Samuel's father, also Samuel Clowes, had already built up estates in Manchester, Gorton, Worsley and Tyldesley, and was Lord of the Manor of Booths, Manchester. Thereafter the Clowes family had their seat at Broughton Old Hall, two miles north of Manchester, although they were later to move to their estate at Norbury, Derbyshire, which had been acquired in 1881.
The Chetham family were associated with Manchester since medieval times. They were recorded as holding land in the township of Cheetham, three miles north of Manchester, in the reign of King John, although this land later passed from the family. In the thirteenth century a branch of the Chethams was associated with lands at Nuthurst in the township of Moston, north-east of Manchester. By the sixteenth century properties were also acquired at Crumpsall, north of Manchester, where they lived in a small manor house, Crumpsall Hall. By this time the Chethams appear to have been successful merchants in Manchester.
Humphrey Chetham (1580-1653) is probably the best-known member of the Chetham family. He was a wool merchant and manufacturer, as well as a money-lender, who amassed a considerable fortune, much of which was used to purchase property in the Manchester area. In 1630 he purchased Clayton Hall, with his brother George, and in 1628 Humphrey also acquired Turton Tower and its manor, north of Bolton. Chetham supported a number of local charities, establishing at Manchester the famous Chetham's Hospital, which undertook the education of poor boys and provided a public library which was formally dedicated in 1656.