THE LANGFORD BROOKE FAMILY OF MERE
This family and its estate are being studied
as part of an adult education class run by the Department of Continuing Education
at Keele University called Fine Arts and Society in the Late Georgian Country
House. The family muniments are deposited at the John
Rylands Library in Manchester.
The Brooke, later Langford Brooke family lived
at Mere from the middle of the 17th century until the early 1990s. The
last male heir, Colonel Ronald Langford-Brooke, died in 1980 and his wife
in 1993. There was a sale of the Old Hall and contents in May 1994.
Peter de Figueiredo and Julian Treuhertz in Cheshire Country Houses,
describe Mere Old Hall as a late 17th century house remodelled in 1809-1815
and subsequently truncated in 1836. When Mere New Hall was built the old house
was let to Manchester merchants and manufacturers during the 19th century.
The New Hall was built about 1834 to the design of Thomas Johnson of Lichfield
in a red brick Elizabethan style. The main block was destroyed in a fire in
1975 and the building is now the Mere Golf and Country Club (Grid Ref. SJ
By comparison with the research on the Leicesters
at Tabley House and the Egertons at Tatton, relatively little has been undertaken
on the Brooke family and there are very few published articles. The
two most recent accounts do not reveal their sources of information.
They are an item in Country Life, (Vol. CLXXXIV, No. 20, 17 May 1990
on p. 204) and the sale catalogue produced by Christie’s in 1994.
A short article in the series Cheshire Families and their Seats (Advertiser
Notes and Queries, 1 1882, p. 168-9) is based on Burke's History of the
Commoners. There is an article on the family in Burke's Landed
Gentry of 1879. Ormerod (The History of the County Palatine and
City of Chester, three volumes, London, 1819) quotes family trees
drawn up by Sir Francis Leicester (1674-1742). The following three paragraphs, with small additions, are taken from the Sale Catalogue of 1994, the author of which is denoted as R.C.R.
The ancient seat of the Royalist de Mere family, Mere Hall estate, was acquired for Peter Brooke, younger son of the Parliamentarian Thomas Brooke of Norton, in 1652. He was MP for Cheshire in 1657 and knighted in 1660, anad one of the last to be so honoured under the Commonwealth regime. Sir Peter was appointed High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1668 and of Lancashire in 1674 . Sir Peter proceeded to rebuild the old Hall in the Carolean style with a balustraded low pitch root and stone quoins. Dissatisfied, however, he turned his attentions to his other estate at Astley, Lancashire, leaving his heir, Thomas, to reside at Mere where the Brooke family continued to flourish. They were model landlords, and each of four succeeding generations of the family in the 18th Century married well culminating with the marriage in 1756 of Peter Brooke, to Elizabeth Langford, daughter and heiress of Jonas Langford of Theobalds, Hertfordshire, the owner of substantial estates in Antigua in the West Indies.
Following his eldest son Jonas’s tragically early death in Milan in 1784 (whilst on the Grand Tour), Peter Brooke was succeeded by his youngest son Thomas, who added his mother's maiden name of Langford to his surname, thus starting the family name of Langford-Brooke. Thomas Langford-Brooke immediately commissioned Samuel Wyatt to rebuild the house. The plans and elevations survive but they were never executed and it was not until circa 1813 that Mere was again remodelled, almost certainly to designs of Samuel’s reworked by his nephew Lewis Wyatt. It was conceived as a classical villa and the long facade was dominated by a Pantheonic domed entrance front. Like many of their neighbours, most obviously the Egertons of Tatton, the Brooke family combined the patronage of the Wyatt family of architects with that ot the Gillows family of London and Lancaster for their furniture.
The Wyatt villa was short-lived however, the majority being destroyed by a disastrous fire shortly after the succession of Peter Langford-Brooke. He turned to the Lichfield architect Thomas Johnson to build a New Hall on another part of the estate in the romantic Old English or Elizabethan style at a cost of £15,000, into which he moved in 1837. (Peter Langford Brooke was drowned when he fell through a hole in the ice while skating on the mere on 9 January 1840 and his widow moved back to the old hall. Mere Old Hall, after repairs and modifications, was let until 1914, when William Prinsep Langford-Brooke, finding the New Hall unmanageable, returned and he proceeded to remodel the principal suite of rooms in the Adam revival style. He lived there until his death in 1927, when he was succeeded by his son Ronald.
The family tree shown below is drawn from
several sources. I am grateful to Mrs. Griffiths, the daughter of the late
Colonel Ronald Langford-Brooke for allowing me to consult The Genealogy
of the Brooke Family of Norton Priory, Mere Hall and Astley Hall, by James
Finlayson, of which only 25 copies were privately published for the family
in 1869. The information has been compared with that in the second edition
of Ormerod's work and Burke's Landed Gentry, 1879. The tree below shows
seven generations from Sir Peter Brooke who purchased Mere, to the last heir,
Thomas William Langford Brooke, who died in 1872. In addition, some
dates have been added or confirmed from the Parish Registers of Rostherne,
which have been examined in detail from the middle of the 17th century. These
records revealed details of children who died in infancy and who had been
omitted from published genealogies. The information on the branch of
the family at Astley Hall near Chorley in Lancashire has been taken from the
booklet, Astley Hall Museum and Art Gallery, available at the hall.
The numbers refer to the generation and children
are listed in order of birth where this is known. The name was not hyphenated
until the end of the 19th century. In Burke, the sons are usually listed
in order first, followed by the daughters. The article in Landed
Gentry 1879 has the following preamble:
"The late Thomas William
Langford Brooke Esq. of Mere Hall in Cheshire, born 8 May 1843, succeeded
his father in 1865 and died unmarried in 1872. The Mere Estates are
now enjoyed by his mother, Catherine Mary, Mrs. Langford-Brooke and will eventually
descend to her nephew Capt. Henry White Langford-Brooke, son of the late Henry
William White Esq. of Monar in Ross-shire, by Alexandra Eliza his wife, the
daughter of Col. Alexander MacLeod. He assumed the additional surname
of Langford-Brooke by royal licence in 1874."
From the family tree we see
that Catherine Mary Langford Brooke and Alexandra Eliza White were sisters.
Thus in 1879 it was envisaged that the estates would pass via Mrs. Langford-Brooke
to her sister’s son and therefore out of the Brooke family. It is assumed,
but not proven by my research, that no male heirs remained from younger sons
of earlier generations.
1. Sir Peter Brooke was the second son of Thomas Brooke of Norton
Priory, Esq. by Eleanor Gerard his third wife. Sir Peter purchased
the Mere estate from John Mere Esq. in 1652. He was knighted in 1660,
MP County of Chester 8 Car. II, & high sheriff of Cheshire in 1669;
living on 10 July 1684. He 2nd wife was Frances, daughter of Nicholas
Trot of Quickshot, Hertfordshire, the widow of William Merbury Esq. of Merbury;
his 3rd wife was Mabell, daughter of William Farrington of Werden, widow
of Richard Clayton, Esq., of Crooke. No issue. By his first wife he
had two sons, Thomas and Richard. A picture of Sir Peter Brooke is on display
at Astley Hall near Chorley in Lancashire, which his second son acquired
through marriage to the Charnock heiress. Sir Peter died in 1685 and is
buried at Chorley.
- + 1st
wife, Alice, the daughter and heiress of Richard Hulse of Kenilworth, Co.
- 2.Thomas Brooke of Mere, eldest son and
heir, His 2nd wife was a daughter of ** Grimsdich of Grimsdich
County of Cheshire, but there was no issue.
- + 1st
wife Margaret, daughter and heiress of Henry Brereton, Esq. of Eccleston,
marriage covenant dated 23 Sept. 1662.
- 3. Mary,
- 3. Margaret
married a Mr. Allen in 1704.
- 3. Peter
Brooke of Mere Esq., eldest son and heir, born about 1663, married
Elizabeth daughter and co-heiress of Peter Venables, Esq. of Over-Street.
Peter was buried at Rostherne on 15 March 1694/5 and his wife, Elizabeth,
on 21 June 1712.
- 4. Henry
Brooke baptised 6 August and buried 21 December 1691.
- 4. Peter
Brooke, Esq. of Mere, baptised 28 June 1695. High sheriff
of Cheshire in 1728, died 31 Dec. 1764, aged 69, buried
at Rostherne on 4 Jan. 1765. He married Frances Mottershead
Hollinshead, sole daughter and heiress of Francis Hollinshead,
Esq. of Wheelock, Co. Cheshire, by Felicia dau. of William Lawton
of Lawton Esq. Frances died 23 May, 1777, aged 79.
- 5. Peter
Brooke, Esq. of Mere, baptised 5 February 1722. High
sheriff of Cheshire 1766. He died 4 Jan 1783
aged 60 buried at Rostherne on 9 January 1783. He
married 1st Anne Meriel, dau. of Fleetwood Legh of Lyme,
by Meriel sole dau. and heiress of Sir Francis Leicester
of Tabley, Bart. Ann Meriel died without issue on
1 April 1740 aged 21. He married 2nd Elizabeth, dau.
and heiress of Jonas Langford, Esq. of Antigua. Elizabeth
died 15 Dec. 1809 aged 75, buried at Rostherne.
- 6. Peter
Langford Brooke, baptised 24 Jan 1757, buried
6 June 1766.
- 6. Jonas
Langford Brooke, baptised 14 Sept. 1758; died in Milan
on 19 July 1784, aged 26 and buried at Rostherne on
23 November 1784.
- 6. Thomas
Langford Brooke of Mere, baptised 20 December 1769.
He was Lieu. Col. 1st Cheshire Yeomanry and D.L. of
Cheshire. He married Maria, daughter of the Rev.
Sir Thomas Broughton of Broughton and Doddington, Bart.
Thomas died 21 Dec. 1815
- 7. Peter
Langford Brooke of Mere, born 23 April 1793,
High Sheriff of Cheshire 1824. Peter drowned
at Mere, 9 January 1840, and left no issue.
- + 1st,
in 1818, Elizabeth Sophia, eldest daughter of Vice
Admiral Sir Charles Rowley, KCB.
2nd, in 1836, Julia Seymour Buccleuch, daughter
of Col. John Campbell of Shawfield.
- 7. Thomas
Langford Brooke, born 3 Sept. 1794, married 3 Jun
1817 to his cousin. Thomas succeeded his brother.
He died 24 Jan 1848.
Eliza, daughter of John Clough, Esq. of Oxton Hall,
Norton Conyers, Yorkshire by his wife Eliza, the
dau. of the Rev. Sir Thomas Delves Broughton.
- 8. Thomas
Langford Brooke, born 16 Mar 1820, m. 21 April
1841. He died 2 April 1865.
Catherine Mary, dau. of Col. Alexander MacLeod.
- 9. Thomas
William Langford Brooke born 8 May 1843,
was the last of the Brooke line and died unmarried 1872. The estate subsequently
went to a cousin on his mother's side of
- 8. Frederick
Langford Brooke (heir general)
- 8. Charles
Langford Brooke married and had issue.
- 8. Eliza
- 8. H?
married William Smallcombe, Esq.
- 8. Charlotte
- 8. Julia
- 7. John
Langford Brooke, buried 28 January 1801.
- 7. William
Henry Langford Brooke, Capt. 31st Regiment, died
unmarried in 1839.
- 7. Charles
Spencer Langford Brooke, born 5 April 1805, died
- 7. Jonas
Langford Brooke born 8 July 1809.
- 7. Maria
Elizabeth born 6 October 1790, married Meyrick
Banks, Esq. of Winstanley Hall, Lancs. She
died 1 March 1828.
- 7. Jemima,
born 6 November 1791, married Col. Sir Jeremiah
Dickson , KCB. (Burke's Landed Gentry has him as
Sir Jeremiah Dickson, KCM but Finlayson, the Brookes'
own historian, has him as KCB.)
Elizabeth married on 13 December 1785 Randle Ford, Esq.,
barrister of Wexham, Bucks. She died in 1806.
- 6. Frances m. Thomas Oliver, jun. Esq. of Laytonstone.
- 6. Jane, married 1st William Hulton of Hulton Park Lancs.,
married 2nd William Tyrrell Boyce, Esq.
Isabella, baptised 20 Jan 1771.
John Brooke baptised 26 October 1731, died unmarried,
29 Mar 1780, aged 49, buried 1 April 1780.
- 5. Felicia
baptised 5 June 1723, died 15 October 1805.
- + George
Heron, Esq. purchaser of the manor of Daresbury
who died 8 February 1780. See footnotes.
George Heron, MA, eldest son, baptised 6 Dec 1748, became
Rector of Lymm, died 1832, aged 83
- 6. Peter
Kyffin Heron, of Daresbury Hall and Moor, 2nd son, baptised
8 November 1751, Sheriff of Cheshire in 1777, married
at Daresbury 20 Oct 1768. Peter died 21 April 1801
+ Rebecca Rutter the daughter and heiress of Richard
Rutter of Moor.
(General) Peter Heron of Moore, esq. only son, born
19 May 1770, died 1849.
- + Catherine daughter
of Edward Gregg Hopwood of Hopwood, Lancashire, buried
at All Saints, Daresbury, Cheshire.
George Heron, MA of Moore Hall, born 12 March
1805, clerk in holy orders, Rural Dean and Hon.
Canon of Chester Cathedral, died 27 August 1894,
buried at Daresbury.
Harry Heron of Frodsham and Manley Hall (1809-1874)
captain in the 29th Regiment of Foot, died in
London on 30 July 1874. There is a brass plaque
memorial to him at Daresbury, erected by his widow,
Elizabeth, daughter of S. Freeman of Chester,
Emma, died in infancy.
Catherine Heron (1800-1868)
Mary Felicia Heron, born 6 May 1801, died 22 July
John Smith Barry, Esq., of Marbury Hall on 24
Elizabeth Heron born 21 December 1771, died Knutsford
23 October 1837
Catherine Heron, erected a monument to her parents
at All Saints, Daresbury in 1804.
- 6. William
Henry Heron, MA, vicar of Middlewich, born 21 April 1768.
- 6. John
Brooke Heron, baptised 1 August 1755, Rostherne
Felicia, baptised 21 May 1757, Rostherne.
- 6. Ann
- 6. Catherine
- 6. Frances
Elizabeth Heron, baptised 23 June 1759.
Elizabeth baptised 9 September 1727, married 25 April
1765, to Rev. Thomas Patten DD, rector of Childrey, Berkshire.
- 5. Frances, baptised 18 July 1734, died unmarried.
- 4. Margaret, baptised 13 May 1688, buried 25 October 1705.
- 4. Elizabeth baptised 22 June 1690, married Thomas Ravenscroft, Esq. of Pickhill, Co. Flint
- 2. Richard
Brooke, 2nd son, (1640-1715)
Margaret, daughter and heiress of Robert Charnock, Esq. of Charnock, Lancashire,
leading to the Brookes of Astley Hall near Chorley in Lancashire.
Peter Brooke (1673-1721) died without issue.
Thomas Brooke (1684-1734)
Margaret Wharton (1645-1744)
Richard Brooke (1717-1748)
Peter Brooke, died in 1786
Susanna Crookhall of Clifton, died 1789
Peter Brooke (1764-1787), died without issue.
Susannah Brooke (1762-1852). Susannah married twice her second
husband was Sir Henry Philip Hoghton of Hoghton Towers in Lancashire.
1st husband, Thomas Townley Parker of Cuerden (1760-1794). As
a result of this match, Astley Hall descended to the Townley
Parkers and eventually to the Tattons of Wythenshawe.
Robert Townley Parker (1793-1879)
Harriet Brook of Minshall in Cheshire, born 1798
Thomas Townley Parker (1822-1906) married Katherine
Blackburn of Preston
Harriet Susan Townley Parker
Thomas William Tatton of Wythenshawe (1816-1885)
Reginald Arthur Tatton (1857-1926) conveyed Astley
Hall to Chorley Corporation in 1922 as a war memorial
and museum. It is open to the public.
Astley Hall in evening light, 11 June 2002
Footnote 1. According to Ormerod, Vol. III,
page 741, the daughters, who all died young, were Sophia, Felicia, Francesand
Elizabeth. He does not mention John, baptised in 1755. However, George Heron and
two of his brothers, William and Peter Kiffin, and two sisters, Ann Meriel and
Catherine, are mentioned in the will of their uncle, Peter Brooke. Felicia and
Frances Elizabeth are not mentioned in published accounts of the family and probably
died in infancy.The following monuments of the Brooke
family are at St. Mary's, Rostherne. They are on
the north side of the church in an area curtained off for the preparation of services
and choir practice.
Elizabeth Brooke wife of the late Peter Brooke, died 15 Dec. 1809
|Jonas Langford Brooke died at Milan,on 19 July 1784, aged 26.
||Thomas Langford Brooke, died 21 Dec. 1815
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