THE MOSLEY FAMILY OF MANCHESTER

 

While the Mosley family were not resident in Cheshire, like the Traffords they were a significant family in the region just outside North East Cheshire and I include them here for their general interest.  Sir John Parker Mosley in generation 9 below owned Bolesworth Castle.   Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the Blackshirts in Britain in the 1930s was from the Staffordshire and Lancashire Mosley family.   This family tree is taken from two sources.  Croston giving a more traditional family tree while Baines and Harland focus on the tortuous descent of the manor of Manchester until its sale to the City in 1845.

The family has its origins in Staffordshire.  Near Wolverhampton lies the village of Mosley where there was a half timbered hall. Charles II is reputed to have taken temporary shelter there after the battle of Worcester.  Ernold de Moseley lived in the reign of King John and from his second son, Oswald, the Lancashire branch descended. This branch is first mentioned in the reign of Edward IV with Jenkin Moseley in 1465. In 1473 a Robert Moseley is mentioned with a tenement believed to be near Deansgate and Victoria Street. He had a coat of arms quartered with that of his wife, which was eventually allowed by the Visitation of the Heralds in 1613 (Richard St. George).

The family tree is very complicated because of the failure of male lines and the transfer of property to cousins. In generation 4 below, Nicholas and Anthony became wealthy cloth merchants with Nicholas handling trade in London. Anthony was the eventual ancestor of the Moseley families of Ancoats and Hulme; the latter became extinct in the early 18th century.

In 1579, Nicholas Moseley, with a friend John Layce, advanced £3,000 on the security of the manor, lordship and seignoury of Manchester to Sir William West. When Sir William failed to comply with the conditions for redemption he lost these assets. Lacye was Lord of the Manor from 1582 to 1596 but then Nicholas Moseley bought him out for a further £3,500. The Moseleys then held the manor until they sold it to the Manchester Corporation in 1845 for £200,000. Nicholas was Lord of the Manor from 1596. Nicholas became Lord Mayor of London in 1599. He was knighted by Elizabeth I for his efforts in raising money and men for a campaign in Ireland. He built a new house at Hough End and in this generation the spelling became Mosley which suited the motto mos legem regit. In his final years, Nicholas lived at Withington. He was sheriff of the county in 1604 and died at Hough End aged 85 in 1612. He was buried at Didsbury on 8 December where there is a monument in the Mosley Chapel.

Nicholas married twice. With his first wife he had six sons, some of whom died in infancy. Nicholas enclosed part of the common land, leading to a dispute with the local people which was not settled until his son Edward succeeded him. However, the line from Nicholas died out three generations later, with the death of his great grandson, Edward in 1665. Thus it was the line of his brother Anthony that provided the next heirs.

Sir Edward Mosley* in generation 6 below was involved with a minor skirmish of the Civil War at Middlewich in 1643. Colonel Sir Thomas Aston and Royalist forces took refuge in the church tower but the town was later captured by Sir William Brereton of Handforth, the Parliamentary commander. His relative, Sir William Brereton of Brereton was a Royalist. The church was damaged by cannon fire. At the time of the action, Sir Edward Mosley was captured. He had estates at Rolleston in Staffordshire and in Manchester. He had been made a baronet in 1640. He was released on condition that he took no further part in the war. His estates were sequestered and recovered on payment of £4,874. In other payments and loans he provided the Royalists with about £20,000. He died aged 41 in 1657 and is buried at Didsbury in the Mosley Chapel.

Sir Edward Mosley, in generation 7 below, died in 1665. He had made a will in 1660 which he revoked a few days before his death, leading to a prolonged dispute. Eventually an agreement was reached under which the Rolleston estates in Staffordshire went to Oswald, eldest son of Nicholas Mosley of Ancoats, who also inherited from his uncle Sir Edward Mosley of Hulme, the manor and lordship of Manchester.

Sources:

County Families of Lancashire and Cheshire, by James Croston, M.A., published by John Heywood, Manchester and London, 1887.

History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster by Edward Baines, Esq., M.P. Vol. II, first published by Fisher and Sons, London, 1836, a new revised and improved edition edited by John Harland published by George Routledge of London and Manchester, 1870, Vol 1. page 277.

I have had an interesting comment from John Lacey, Chair of the Mowsley Heritage Society which suggests that the conclusions from the sources above need further investigation.

"Whilst the adoption of the Mosely place name as a personal name would appear to be the obvious origin I have found virtual proof that the name is in fact derived from another source. I reside in the village of Mowsley in Leicestershire which has variously been spelt as Mouseley (which is how it is pronounced), Musele etc., but is pronounced by the uninformed as Mosely. One of the ancient families of this village was the de Mousleys who had a coat of arms which is identical to that of the Mosely family. I would have thought it unlikely in the extreme that two families of different origin would claim the same coat of arms."

 

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