Clowes Deeds

Scope and Content

The archive comprises correspondence, papers and deeds relating to the Clowes and Chetham families, and to the Clowes estates, mainly in south-east Lancashire and particularly Manchester.

There are numerous deeds and papers relating to Butterworth, Castleton, Cheetham, Claughton, Crompton, Crumpsall, Dutton, Failsworth, Hindley, Manchester, Newton, Nuthurst in Moston township, Salford, Turton and Wigan in Lancashire; to Etwall in Derbyshire; to Halifax in Yorkshire; to Lichfield in Staffordshire; and to London. The collection includes several fine medieval documents relating to the manors of Butterworth and Crompton, east of Rochdale, and Moston and Nuthurst, north-east of Manchester; arbitration awards; marriage settlements; and many letters and papers of the Chetham family, including papers relating to Humphrey Chetham (1580-1653).

Administrative / Biographical History

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.


In 1947 Frank Taylor, Keeper of Manuscripts at the John Rylands Library, recorded that the archive was originally arranged in twelve boxes, "but since then many items have been separated from their fellows and are now scattered throughout the collection. The order of the documents when received has, however, not been interfered with, but, for convenience of reference, they have been re-arranged here on paper on the system adopted by the Library in its Hand-Lists; that is, chronologically within an alphabetical order of places."

Thus a double numbering system now applies to the archive: the numbers shown in the handlist form a single running sequence, based upon alphabetical order of place-names, CLD/1, CLD/2, etc., while the original numbers applied to the documents themselves are recorded below as alternative identifiers. Thus CLD/1 has the alternative reference 562, which is the number inscribed on the document. For the avoidance of doubt, it is advisable to cite both numbers. A concordance table may be consulted in the Library.

The first 274 documents were numbered in ink, probably in the 19th century; from no. 275 onwards items are numbered in pencil.

In the descriptions below the original spellings of place-names and surnames have been retained.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The collection was deposited in the John Rylands Library on behalf of Legh Algernon Clowes of Norbury Hall, Ashbourne, Derbyshire, in June 1933. Further accessions followed in 1960, 1962 and 1972.

Other Finding Aids

Original typescript handlist by Frank Taylor, 1947.

Conditions Governing Use

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

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 University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Custodial History

The archive remained in the possession of the Clowes family until its deposit in the John Rylands Library in the twentieth century.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

The Ducie Muniments held at the John Rylands Library also have a large amount of material relating to Manchester in the medieval and early modern period.

Humphrey Chetham's papers are held at Chetham's Library, Manchester, ref. MUN.E.1.6-2.5.