Monday, 23 January 2017

The Haigh Family of Chorlton-cum-Hardy .... another story from Tony Goulding

The ‘Haighs’ were very prominent in Chorlton-cum-Hardy and its surrounding areas during the late Victorian/Edwardian era. 

496 Wilbraham Road, 1959
The chief family residence was this large property on Wilbraham Road, which is now numbered, 496 and is occupied by the “Everest Pharmacy” but at this period was no.72 and the premises of “The Oaks Music College”

Research into this family’s story has revealed a somewhat convoluted tale of multiple short term business ventures and family separations which appear to indicate a very volatile domestic background.
The patriarch was William Haigh, born in Disley, Cheshire in 1818, who made his fortune operating a paper mill in Reddish, Stockport.

The 1871 census records show him as employing 14 men, 10 women, 3 boys, and 1 girl.

The 1881 census return shows him to have retired from paper manufacturing and instead in business, with two of his sons and a nephew, making fire-lighters (1) from their residence in Ellesmere Place, Hulme.

At this time William’s wife Anne Eliza, a Londoner, born in 1835, was a schoolmistress running a school Nr. Ormskirk, Lancashire In 1891, the family had reunited and William with his wife ( by then described as a “professor of music”) and nine children had moved  to a large house, “The Oaks” on Greenheys Lane (no. 82) William Snr. died, aged 78 on 3rd March, 1895 and it was around this time that the family’s first presence in Chorlton-cum-Hardy is to be found.

The eldest child of the family, William Chancellor, an automatic machine manufacturer, had settled in the area first: initially at 2, Cranbourne Road, later at 36, Brundretts Road and finally at 5, Cross Road.

Sometime around the turn of the 19th/20th centuries William Chancellor’s widowed mother opened The Oaks Music College. In this venture she was assisted by two of her daughters - Annie Florence, and Marion Alice.

This household also included her three youngest sons; Henry Septimus and John Sidney were continuing the family connection with paper: making paper bags. The youngest Thomas Canning had a sign writing business.

A fifth son also resided nearby Robert Wallace, a “manufacturer of tin fasteners for brasses”, lived at 16, Napier Road. Alfred Assheton, who had continued with the fire-lighter business, was living in Stretford, at 10, Almond Street.

There is no shortage of data on the subsequent lives of this family the difficulty lies in weaving, from a plethora of diverse threads, a coherent tapestry of their story.

By the time of the 1911 census the family had experienced some significant changes. Most of the sons had set up in business as “Herbalists,” with only Robert W. remaining in Manchester, on Stockport Road, Levenshulme.

William C. and John S. set up in Porth, South Wales their brother, Frank Garman, nearby in Barry. To complete the picture Henry S. had opened an herbalist shop in Penygraig, Rhonnda, Glamorgan whilst Thomas C. became a garage proprietor in Porthcawl.
The Oaks College, 1959
The family’s connection with Chorlton-cum-Hardy was maintained by the female line.

The Oaks Music College remained a feature of the area for over six decades.  first under the direction of the widow Anne Eliza and her two daughters, Annie Florence and Marian Alice , later to be joined by Florence M. and Gertrude Mary the daughters of Thomas Canning  and William Chancellor respectively At some point, during the 1930’s, the school moved its premises further along  Wilbraham Road to no. 643 (2)

(The Oaks College 1959

As this picture indicates this building still has an educational use

  In contrast to the distaff side, the males of the family never again feature in the history of Chorlton-cum-Hardy post the 1911 census.

The last to leave the area was Alfred Assheton, who, in 1911, was working as an insurance agent back living with his mother on Wilbraham Road.

His wife, Lillian Frances, and only son, Edward Assheton,(3) were living in Birkdale, Nr. Southport with his mother-in-law Emily Ann Amiel.(4) Also at this house, 72, Wilbraham Road, were William Chancellor’s two children Gertrude Mary and Chancellor William Urquhart, (5) their father having, by then, already decamped to South Wales.

The only one of the seven brothers to remain within the Manchester area was Robert Wallace.

He married Florence Knowles, (6) an artist, at St. Mary’s, Hulme on 16th October, 1894. Florence’s father, George was a Fine Arts Dealer of 117, Moss Lane West. Robert and Florence’s first children Robert Sheridan and Leonard Wallace were baptised at St. Clement’s Chorlton-cum-Hardy while the family were living at 16, Napier Road. (7)

After a brief period residing on Whitefield Road, Stockport during which a third son Charles Leslie was born (on 8th June,1901) the family finally settled at 180, Stockport Road, Levenshulme where two more sons were born George S. (on 19th October,1912) and Stephen A. (on 3rd June,1914)

The 1939 register (8)   records provide an intriguing peek into the later lives of these individuals. The mother, Florence her sons Charles L, Stephen A, and George S, together with her elderly sister Juliet (an artist born 15th February, 1860) were till residing at their address on Stockport Road. Robert Wallace was, unfortunately, a patient at Prestwich Mental Asylum. Charles L is recorded as an engineer’s fitter/boilermaker – Stephen A, a painter, decorator and sign writer whilst George S sort of followed in the family tradition by becoming a Pharmacist.

The history detailed above shows a family seemingly often under stress with parents living apart and short lived fraternal business ventures, A final piece of evidence to support this was the case of Frank Garnan Haigh. In 1911 he, too, was in a mental hospital but in his case he had been committed following a court appearance in August, 1909.

The Western Gazette of Friday 13th August gives a detailed account of the case. Frank was arrested on the previous Monday night, after an incident in the Star Inn, and charged with indecently assaulting a Miss Julia Genge. During the proceedings evidence was given by Frank’s brother Thomas Canning (9) that he (Frank) had a history of unprovoked arguments with and attacks on his brothers. (one of which may have led to the dissolution of his liquid-soap manufacturing business partnership with his brother William Chancellor on 7th July, 1892 at 27, Exchange Buildings, St. Mary’s Gate, Manchester)

© Tony Goulding 2017

Pictures; 496, Wilbraham Road 08/05/1959 – A.E.Landers M 18267, The Oaks College 1959, A.E.Landers M.18438, courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives, Manchester City Council,  and the Oaks today from the collection of Tony Goulding

1) As late as 1954 a street directory still records a Miss M. A. Haigh as the school’s Principal.
2) The firelighter business was run by William C. and Alfred A. On 5th July, 1886  they were granted a patent for “improvements in artificial fuel”
3) Edward Assheton Haigh trained as a dentist and married Muriel A. Stephens, a medical practitioner, in Wrexham, North Wales in the September quarter of 1930. The couple set up home at 1, Mesmes Park Terrace, Wigan.
4) Alfred Assheton Haigh married Lilian Frances Amiel on 15th November, 1900 at The English Martyrs Roman Catholic Church on Alexandra Road, Whalley Range. Lilian’s father Francis was a jeweller/general dealer.
5) Chancellor William Urquhart Haigh served in the Coldstream Guards during World War 1 but arrived at his battalion in France the very day after the Armistice was signed. He married a certified schoolteacher, Grace Simcock in the June quarter of 1931. The 1939 register shows the couple living in Cheadle, Cheshire with Chancellor’s profession recorded as “Process engineer (Aircraft)”
6) In an example of a historical quirk Florence was born in the house on High Lane, Chorlton which was shortly to become one of Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s first schools, Mr. Robert Davies’s Commercial School.
7) Leonard Wallace sadly died ,aged just 2years old  and was buried in grave I 1609, Southern Cemetery on 31st December 1898
8) The 1939 Register also reveals some details some of the other remaining issue of William and Anne Eliza Haigh. Frank G. was living in Smethwick, Staffordshire still an Herbalist and married to Mary Jane (née. Jones) to whom he left £969-9s-8d when he died on 21st March, 1952. Thomas C, had retired to Colwyn Bay with his wife and two of his children, son, Henry, a motor lorry driver and daughter, Dorothy M., a sweet confectionary dealer. Henry Septimus was still an Herbalist and residing in Barry, Glamorganshire.  The still single John Sidney had returned to Chorlton-cum-Hardy and was working as a refrigeration salesman whilst living at the school run by his sister. Alfred A. is back living with his wife close to his son in Wigan. He died there in the December quarter of 1953. William C doesn’t appear, his death being recorded in South Manchester during the March quarter of 1935.
9) Thomas C. by this time was a successful motor mechanic who had already, in October1905 been granted a patent for an “ improved method of timing explosions in engine” He married Sarah Millicent (née, Bevan) in South Wales before moving back North during World War 1 and raising his family in Bolton.


  1. Hi, this is my family. I did a fair bit of research over the past few years on and I learned some new stuff here.

    Henry Septimus Haigh is my great grandfather. As a child, I was told by my mother that her great grandmother (Anne Eliza Haigh) had started a music school with her daughters. Also interesting from the census of 1891 is their neighbour, Sir Charles Halle.

    Adding to the dislocation of this family, my grandfather ran away from home as a late teen and emigrated to Canada (where I was born). He returned to Britain to fight in WW2 with The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).

    How is it you chose to write of this family?

  2. Gosh what coincidences I have family in Canada, including a great uncle migrated as a British Home Child in 1914 and a great aunt who came over in 1925, And I have written about BHC and both the CEF in the Great War and the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment. The post was written by Tony who had an interest in the building.
    British Home Children,

    The Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment,

  3. I took a trip to Manchester about a year ago, attempting to hunt down the folks in this blog-entry. I'd been hoping to find the graves of William & Anne Eliza Haigh. I wasn't aware of name of the name of the school Anne Eliza Haigh had started (I'd assumed she was involved with the Manchester School of Music). I wish I would've had this info a year ago; I would've been thrilled to visit that building.

    Is there any chance I could fund some more research about these Haighs? Hunting down grave-sites for William & Anne Eliza Haigh would be terrific.

  4. I can't at the moment but I could approach Tony who did the original story. I f you send an email address as a comment I can pass it onto him. Rest assured your email won't be published I have to approve all comments for publication

  5. I don't know if there is a relegation here but I am William Henry Haigh and I lived in chorlton Cum Hardy until the age of 9, my Haigh Family were from the Manchester area, Eccles and Salford as far as I can see through Ancestry, probability of some relations here?