Monday 3 January 2022

The Division of Hardy Mill and Heatons

 Extract from Hardy Mill by Fred Horridge, pages 23-26, Chapter 8.

The Estate Divided

The year 1745 was important to this history in that it was then that Hardy Mill and the Heaton's Farm became divided into two separate holdings. Figure 10 shows the layout of the estate at that time with the names and acreages of the fields. Some conflicting acreages are stipulated in the Abstract of Title but the total area of the original estate was a little over 29 Statute Acres (R15.)

Plan of Hardy Mill and Heatons c1745
Fig. 10 - Plan of Hardy Mill and Heatons c1745
Showing layout, names and statute acreages of fields.

Apart from some encroachment for house building immediately adjacent to Hardy Mill Road, this layout has not altered in the last 250 years and is now the edge of the Green Belt between Bolton and Bury. Figure 12 shows the fields of Great Hey, Croft Acre, Barn Croft, Great Meadow and Little Hey (RI7) as they are today and the field pattern can also be identified in the aerial view of Hardy Mill area (Figure 13).

After the death of James Heaton Jnr in 1741 the estate was left to his eldest son Meadowcroft in trusteeship, which at that time was the normal procedure in family settlements to ensure that the descendants retained their inheritance. In 1743, the widow Margaret must have relinquished her life interest in the estate and a settlement was agreed by the seven children on August 13th of that year with Meadowcroft in trust on a surety of £1,000.

Due no doubt to the extended legal and mortgaging transactions involving the executors of Thomas Morrell (late Vicar of Bolton) it took until May, 1745 for Meadowcroft as trustee to dispose of the estate. This was conveyed to Mr John Kirkman and his sisters Hannah and Alice, and included Heaton's residence (Figure 11), the bowkhouse, barn, stable, mill, kiln, three cottages and 29 statute acres of land.

As stated in the previous chapter, William Heaton's third son David had taken up the role of miller and two days after their purchase of the estate the Kirkmans conveyed the mill buildings and adjacent land back to David. They retained Heaton's residence, the bowkhouse, the barn and the upper seven fields of 22 statute acres (named on the plan). The future of Heaton's Farm and the Kirkmans will be continued in Chapter XIV. 

David Heaton's portion of the estate consisted of the mill, kiln, mill dam, stables, house and four closes of land containing 7 statute acres. These were the fields adjacent to Hardy Mill named Ralph Meadow, Clover Hillock, Lowmost Hardier Carr and Longshut (unnamed on the plan - locations unknown).

The Abstract of Title for the estate shows that during the transactions, the purchase price to the Kirkmans was reduced from £290 in 1744 to £200 in 1745. It seems that by a prior agreement, David Heaton had no further outlay for his acquired portion of the estate except ‘to pay on Whitsunday seven pounds to the trustees of Bolton Church yearly and every year with all other taxes, lays or other expenses to which the ground is or maybe subject to'.

The eldest son, Meadowcroft (1695-1760?) was described in the Abstract of Title as a Schoolmaster of Pilkington and he was twice married; first to Elizabeth Fletcher of Ringley in 1722 and later to Ann Isherwood at Bolton in 1755. There were four children from the marriages, John, Charles, Thomas and Margaret. He obviously acquired some land and property by marriage and in his Will of June 1760 (A3), he left to his children the estates of Nabfold, Isherwoods, Harwood Meadows and Old Pit, plus three houses.

David Heaton (1710-1784) had married Margaret (surname omitted in registers) at Bolton Parish Church in 1733 and they had four children in the following eight years, Elizabeth, Thomas, Alice and Ann.

David built another house adjoining the kiln fronting on to what is now Hardy Mill Road which later came to be known as Heaton's Cottage (Figure 14). The datestone reads 'Heaton: David and Margaret: 1757'. The two cottages 89 and 91 Hardy Mill Road (Figure 15) were built about the same time and Rose Cottage (Figure 16) was built some twenty- five years later.

The mill, as well as grinding the corn for the local farmers, would now be trading in meal, flour and other cereals from local suppliers. The population of Harwood had increased about five times from the estimated 200 inhabitants in 1600, and the output of one cornmill would not be sufficient for this number of people.

Thomas, only son of David and Margaret, would appear to have died at an early age, but the three daughters married and raised 13 grand-children over the next 20 years or so. The youngest Ann, married Dennis Kirkman from the Parish of Middleton in March, 1761 at the age of 20 and they had five children, John, William, James, Thomas and Ann. Alice married James Ormrod in October, 1755 when she was 19 and also had five children, Alice, Mary, George, Ann and Peggy. James was the grandson of Oliver Ormrod of Birches Farm, Bradshaw and a 'second' cousin to Peter (Ready Money) Ormrod who in 1871 donated £4000 to the cost of rebuilding Bolton Parish Church. The eldest daughter, Elizabeth (Betty) married John Walch from Cockey Moor in December, 1760 when they were both 25 years of age and had three children, Margaret, David and Samuel; more of the Walch family in the next chapter.

Figure 15 - Cottages 88 & 91 Hardy Mill Road c1910