The origins of Wythenshawe


Translation from the Domesday entry (left):

'... IN Bucklow Hundred Ranulf and Bigot held Northenden which was previously the manor of Wulfgeat, a freeman [lib. ho.], that there were about two hundred cultivated acres [1 hida] liable to tax geld, land for two ploughs, a church [eccla] and woodlands [siluae]. Its value was three shillings. In the time of King Edward the Confessor [T.R.E.] it had been worth ten shillings. Baguley and nearby Sunderland were now held by Gilbert, Ranulf and Hamon - four manors, now also worth three shillings.'

In the Domesday Book of 1086 we have the first record of Northenden and Baguley. It was made for William the Conqueror after the redistribution of land from the English to the Normans following his invasion in 1066. The 'total waste' (wasta e tola) reflects the devastation in the north following a rebellion in 1069-70 and William's savage 'harrying of the North' afterwards.

The story of Wythenshawe is the story of the three ancient townships of Northenden, Baguley and Northen Etchells. Northenden in the north of Wythenshawe and Baguley in the west appeared in the Domesday entry above. The trinity was completed with Northern Etchells , the eastern part of Wythenshawe. Down the centuries the fortunes of the three rural townships, Northenden, Baguley and Northern Etchells were interwoven: the forces that bound them together were partly the waters of the River Mersey and the Fairywell, Baguley and Gatley Brooks and partly the matrimonial webs spun by the Tattons, the archetypal country squires of Wythenshawe Hall.

The trio of townships, by the 20th century called civil parishes, were formally welded together as the suburban Garden City of Wythenshawe when they became part of Manchester in 1931. The Tattons have now gone but, in spite of the bricks and mortar and the glass and aluminium, the rural atmosphere and clean air are still present.

The name Northenden ('Northen' to many locals) tells us that the place existed as a northern-den in the Saxon kingdom, of Mercia  (whose northern boundary was the Mersey ). At this point in its course the Mersey is likely to have been forded and used by Man from the earliest times, and axe-hammers of the Bronze Age have been found in and around Northenden. Early farmers would have found the sandy soil of the Mersey terrace, which formed a shelf about a mile wide south of the river, easier to cultivate than the boulder clay just a little further south. The nearest Roman roads were at Sale (Watling Street) and Stockport , but again the Mersey and its banks would have been used as a link

Topping the small hill that rises from the Mersey at Northenden is the church dedicated to St Wilfrid, the seventh-century Bishop of Ripon who established the Roman form of Christianity in Britain . During the rebuilding of the church in the 1870s, rubble walls, possibly of Saxon origin, were found. The dedication to Wilfrid may be a pointer to the date of the founding of the church but it would be wishful speculation to assert that the saint visited Northenden.

Connection between Sir WIlliam de Baguley and the original Hamon Massey that served under Hugh Lupus:
There is an old saying in Cheshire that there are “As many Masseys as asses”. The founder of the family in England was Hamon deMascey, a Norman, who accompanied William the Conqueror and acquired Dunham in Cheshire which has from that circumstance ever since borne the suffix of Massey.

In the Middle Ages the gentry of Cheshire were proud of their practice of not marrying outside the county, which led to a restricted number of surnames in the county. As they said: “There be as many Masseys as asses, Lees as fleas, Fittons as kittens, Eatons as peasens [peas], Duttons as muttons, Dones as bones and Davenports as dogs’ tails.”

Sir William Baguley's parents were Ralph De Baguley and Joesia Massey (her father was Hamon deMascey, Baron of Dunham Massey).

In the parish of Bowden, in the county of Chester, the township of Baguley was the seat of a family who took their name from the place. Early in the reign of Henry the Third, Richard de Baguley, whose wife was Alice daughter and heir of Ralph de Vernon, was lord of Baguley, and his son Ralph de Baguley succeeded him, who by his wife, a daughter of Hamon Massey, Lord of Dunham, Massey, had three sons viz: 1. Sir John Baguley of Baguley, Knt, whose granddaughter Ellen was heir to her brothers and carried the estates by marriage to Sir John Legh (Leigh?).

When the Normans came in William the Conqueror’s time (1066-1087) the area known as Baggiley in Cheshire was held by Hamon de Mascy, Baron of Durham Massy, who was given it as a reward for his Knights service.  It was to be handed down to his heirs and successors. Around the time of King John, (1129-1216), the heir of Hamon Massy, another Hamon Massy, gave Mathew Massy of Bromhale: Bromhale, Duckenfield, and two parts of Biggiley.  At this time the “Hamon Massy” heirs adopted the name Biggiley, as well.  Later it became known as Baguley. It is certain that this town gave the name to the family Biggiley (Baguley.)  There were certain Biggileys known to be resident as early as the reign of Henry III, (1216-1272).  Baguley is about twelve miles from Manchester.

Sir William de Baggiley (aka: de Baguley) born c1260 was knighted by King Edward I, and later married one of the King's daughters, Lucy Corona who was born out of wedlock. It was quite common in those days for the King to have children by someone other than the Queen. Lucy's mother (a Lady in Waiting) worked in the King's court. Sir William and Lucy had five children who all married into well-to-do families. During this time the Baguley family were quite well up in the aristocracy of England. They owned the Salt Mines in Cheshire and a mill for processing from which they made their fortune.

In the reign of Edward II, Sir William de Baguley was made Lord of Baguley.  Sir William built Baguley Hall around 1320 and was Lord of the Manor until his death. 

The International Genealogical Index indicates births as early as 1170 in the area.  If that is true then, the original name is therefore Massy.  As to whether Hamon Massy, Baron of Durham was a direct ancestor of Sire William de Baggiley (aka: de Baguley) still has to be established.

2nd. William de Baguley, whose estates and those he acquired by marriage with Clementia, daughter and heir of Roger de Chedale, passed with his daughter Isabella, who died in 1364, to her husband Sir Thomas Daniers.

In 1092 King William Rufus was a guest at the Court of Hugh Lupus in Chester, at least two of his Barons attended the King, Hamon de Mascy and William Venables. They along with their entourage of adherents and servants of Hamon's, accompanied the King on a hunting expedition in the Wirrall Peninsula. This probably took place on lands which had been set aside as a hunting preserve of the King and treated as his possession, which had not been the subject of a grant, not even to Earl Hugh Lupus.

No doubt it was a consequence of some occurrence on this hunting expedition that a new estate was given to Hamon l, in fee of Hugh Lupus. Pottington, the area which is called today the village of Puddington, was granted by the King himself, so that there after the de Mascy Cheshire Barons held it in fee of the King rather than in fee of the Earl.

For that reason Pontington was in later years especially prized. One can only speculate why King William Rufus made this generous grant. However, as soon as the Hunting party returned to Hugh Lupus' Castle at Chester, Hamon sought out a scrivener, possibly a Monk whose duties were appropriate to the purpose of recording as follows:

"I, William, King of England do give onto Mascy all my right, interest and title to the hop and hopland (Valley land) from me and mine with bow and arrow, when I shoot upon yerrow (the Place), and in witness to the sooth (action or statement) I seal with my wang tooth." Inscribed as witness was William Venables "fratre suo".

In the consideration given to the first Hamon de Mascy it should be remembered that he was a part of the court and governing body of nobles in Cheshire at a time when it was a county Palatinate under Earl Hugh Lupus.

What this means is, that it's rule was like that under a country under martial law. At least Earl Hugh Lupus was not hampered by either King William the Conqueror or King William Rufus and he reigned in Cheshire as King. The Barons and their Lords were almost constantly put to defend against the Welsh on Cheshire's western border and to maintain control over the Saxons who made up the bulk of the population.

Hamon Massey, the first Baron of Dunham-Massey, held the towns of Dunham, Bowden, Hale, Ashley and half of Owlerton in Bucklow Hundred, under Hugh Lupus, Earl of Cheshire in the reign of William the Conqueror. All of which one Edward held formerly, as appears by Domesday Book. So it appears this Edward was dispossessed of his right herein and these lands given to Hamon by Hugh Lupus. Hamon also had land in Maxfield, Hundred, Bromal and Pudding ton, in Virally Hundred and other places, at the same time.

Source. ‘The History of Cheshire’, by Sir Peter Leycester.