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Bostock House & Bostock Hall, Cheshire, England

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Bostock House & Bostock Hall, Cheshire, England

The manor of Bostock became the seat of a family who were tenants of the Vernon family, although there are no accurate
records from the 11th and 12th centuries. This family then took the name of their home styling themselves as ‘de Bostock’. The exact location of the early settlement is not known, but the original Bostock Hall is situated about a mile and a half south of today’s village. The only surviving detail of the old hall is on the 1796 map which accompanied the auction documents of the farms and cottages when sold by the Tomkinson family.

The present Bostock Hall was originally known as Bostock House and only changed its name after the old hall was pulled down in 1803. Philip Pritchard’s large ‘new house’ of 1664 is most likely to be the forerunner of the present hall. A century later it was occupied by William Tomkinson and then by Edward Tomkinson who had it rebuilt to designs made by Samuel Wyatt, a famous architect from Staffordshire, elder brother of the more famous James Wyatt, but a distinguished designer and engineer in his own right. The fields surrounding the house were taken out of agricultural use to create a landscaped park with clumps of trees and the ‘canal’ – the long curved, narrow lake we see today. The Tomkinsons were friends of the Wyatt brothers, who were both architects, and it is the work they did for the Tomkinson family that was Samuel’s introduction to wealthy Cheshire families and the beginning of a series of house designs which included Tatton, Doddington, Hooton, Mere and Delamere Lodge. Wyatt was well-known as a specialist in the design of subsidiary buildings and was responsible for villages in Lancashire, Wales, Surrey and Staffordshire and may have had a hand in developing Bostock Green. The park, recorded much later, in Kelly’s Directory of Cheshire, as being ‘extensive and well-wooded’ may well have been landscaped by William Eames, an associate of Wyatt’s, who worked on Oulton Park and was regarded as the ‘Capability Brown’ of the North. The existing plan of the grounds is certainly drawn in his style. The building we see today was built about 1775 for Edward Tomkinson


This pedigree of the family who were lords of the manor of Bostock during the Middle Ages was drafted by the Heralds of the College of Arms in 1580. It shows a claimed descent from Osmer, called here ‘Sir Oliver’, the Saxon lord of Bostock in 1066, which is highly unlikely, but probably reflects a general Tudor interest in the Saxon period and spurious attempts by many gentry families to claim descent from a Saxon lord. It also shows the original coat of arms and the seal, depicting a spread eagle, used by Sir Gilbert de Bostock.

The Bostock family continued as lords of the manor through nine generations. A significant number of members of the family occur in contemporary documents: they are specifically found to have been involved in the administration of the salt towns of Middlewich and Northwich.. Some were involved in military adventures • Sir Adam I (c. 1280 – 1350) – Fought at the Battle of Falkirk, 1298 • Sir Adam II (c.1330 - 1374) – Fought at the battles of Poitiers, 1356, & Najera, 1367 • Sir Adam III (1365 – 1414) – Captain of the bodyguard to King Richard II Fought at the Battle of Shrewsbury, 1403 • Sir Ralph I (1392 - 1421) – Knighted during the Agincourt campaign, 1415 • Sir Adam IV (1412 - 1475) – Fought at battle of Bloreheath, 1459 • Sir Adam V (c.1438 – 1459) – Slain at Bloreheath • Sir Ralph II (c1440 – 1482) – Fought at Battle of Hedgeley Moor, 1464.

Of these perhaps the most interesting is Sir Adam III. When the king Richard II began to recruit an army in Cheshire, Adam answered the call and became one of the captains of the sovereign’s elite bodyguard of archers. The king would go nowhere without his guard that was split into seven watches in order to give him constant protection. The archers wore party-coloured green and white uniform jackets that were divided vertically, with green to the wearer’s right. The guard came in for much criticism from those who opposed Richard’s reign. Chroniclers record them as ‘arrogant and insolent ruffians’; as ‘men who were naturally bestial and ready for any iniquity’; as ‘men who treated the people with contempt and were guilty of theft, violence and adultery’; and as men who considered themselves as ‘the equals of nobles’. In the early 1400s a Hugh Bostock moved away from Cheshire and married into a relatively wealthy family in Hertfordshire. He had a son John, who in later life entered the church and became the powerful Abbot of St. Alban’s at the time of the Wars of the Roses. Anne, the last female member of the family inherited the estate from her father Ralph II, and then her brother William who had died childless in 1489. She married Sir John Savage (1470-1527) and from this time the manor of Bostock was in the hands of the powerful Savage family



1489 - 1650

The Savage family were a powerful an influential family in Cheshire. Since 1368 they had been lords of Clifton, near Runcorn, and held half of the Manor of Cheadle, (later known as Cheadle Moseley) among other places in the county. The family’s acquisition of the manor of Bostock with its associated lands in Norcroft, Occleston, Tetton, Wettenhall and elsewhere in the county, was due to the marriage between Sir John Savage VI (c.1470-1527) and Ann Bostock about 1490. Ann was daughter of Sir Ralph Bostock, lord of the manor of Bostock, and sister and heir of her brother William whose untimely death in 1489 at the age of 21 or 22 years, brought an end to the Bostock dynasty – the family who had been lords of the manor throughout the Middle Ages. Ralph Bostock’s widow Elizabeth died in 1516 and her dower property also passed to Sir John: her daughter Ann presumably being dead by then. When Sir John died in 1527 the Bostock estate that he had inherited was described as consisting of twelve messuages, 300 acres of land, 300 acres of pasture, forty acres of meadow, sixty acres of wood, and thirty acres of turbary (land for gathering turf for domestic fuel) located in the township of Bostock, Huxley and Alsager and worth about £20 a year: much of this will have in fact been in Bostock itself. Both Sir John VI and his son Sir John VII acted in a rather turbulent fashion so as to bring about debts to the crown for their crimes and the temporary forfeiture of their estates. In 1520 the son was indicted for the murder of a man named John Pauncefoot and his father as an accessory to the murder, and both men appeared before the King’s Bench. Upon the mediation of Cardinal Wolsey and Charles earl of Worcester they were pardoned by the King and ordered to pay four thousand marks (about £2700) and agreed not to enter the counties of Worcester and Chester during their lifetimes without the King’s licence: this was eventually rescinded for the son. For some reason both father and son died within a year of each other leaving a three-year-old boy as heir. Sir John VII’s widow Elizabeth remarried to Sir William Brereton of Malpas who had already succeeded in securing from the crown the lease of the Savage estates in Cheshire and the wardship of the young heir. This Lady Savage was a person of high status in her own right being the daughter of Charles earl of Worcester a cousin to King Henry VIII and lord chamberlain. It is this same William Brereton who was eventually executed on Tower Hill in 1536 on a charge of treason in having had an affair with the queen – Anne Boleyn. During Brereton’s stewardship of the manor of Bostock, through his bailiff Richard Leftwich, accounts were kept detailing rents collected and payments made which still survive and have been printed by the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. Payments in the form of life-time annuities to members of the Bostock family, that had been granted by Sir John Savage, occur regularly though their relationship to Ann Bostock is unclear. These payments were called ‘livery payments’ and are presumably meant to be wages or pensions for service to Sir John. First he had granted Ellen, widow of William Bostock, 26s 8d a year for life to pay her rent on a messuage in Bostock; next he allowed George, Rauff, and Arthur Bostock, who may have been brothers, each an annuity arising from property in Occleston and worth forty shillings in total.

The next lord of Bostock was Sir John Savage VIII (1525-1597) who married twice. First he married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Manners, earl of Rutland, about 1547 by whom he had several children. Following her death in 1570 he then married Eleanor, widow of Sir John Pexhull of Southampton, in July two years later. A short while after this marriage we find Sir John granting a lease to John Bostock, ‘late of London’, upon payment of £40, of two messuages and tenements in Bostock occupied by Robert Bostock (the elder) and previously occupied by Robert’s father George Bostock and Humphrey Oakes. The terms of the lease were to continue for twenty-one years after the death of Robert and Emme Bostock, John’s parents: the rent was fifty-three shillings a year. Sir John was sheriff of Cheshire seven times between 1560 and 1591 and mayor of the city three times. He died on 5 December 1597. It was this Sir John who built, in 1569, the great red sandstone house known as Rocksavage House at Clifton which became their main county seat. During the English Civil Wars Rock Savage was lost to Parliamentarians who looted and demolished much of the building but after the Restoration of Charles II it was restored to the family and completely renovated. The next Sir John (1548- 1615) was both mayor and sheriff of Chester in 1607 and was created a baronet in 1611, and died on 14 July 1615. Sir John was followed at Rock Savage by Sir Thomas Savage (c.1576-1635) who was created Viscount Savage by King Charles I in 1626 and died in 1635. He married Elizabeth daughter of Thomas Lord Darcy who in 1626 was created Earl Rivers a title then inherited by the next generation of Savages. Thomas and Elizabeth Savage were members of the royal court: Thomas being Chancellor to Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I, and his wife Elizabeth was one of her ladies of the bedchamber. Unfortunately, they fell dramatically from grace when they were imprisoned for debt. On 14 September 1616 Sir Thomas Savage and others as trustees, granted the capytall messuage, known as the hall of Bostocke, and the associated lands, except for Bostock Wood, to Richard Wilbraham, John Done and Edward Glegge, to be held immediately after the death of his mother Dame Mary Savage for a period of eighty-seven years and for the lifetimes of Elizabeth Mainwaring, Sir Thomas’ daughter, Thomas Mainwaring her son and Mary Mainwaring, her daughter. Dame Mary is the only known member of the Savage family to have lived at Bostock Hall; it seems she did so in her widowhood and died there in 1635, aged about eighty, having left a will dated 9 October that year. Part of her will as regards money and jewellery was contested and the details which emerge show that her daughter was Elizabeth wife of Thomas Mainwaring of Marton, Whitegate, and that her grandchildren were Thomas, John and Mary Mainwaring. After Thomas’s death she married Sir Ralph Done and became known as ‘Lady Done’. Dame Mary’s grandchild Mary Mainwaring lived with her and acted as her ‘gentlewoman’ servant. This Mary married Philip Pritchard of Bostock Green. John Lord Savage, later Earl Rivers, sold the manor, along with lands in Shurlach and Occleston, in 1650 to Sir William Aston of London for £6209.


William Acton was a son of Richard Acton and Margaret Daniel. He married, firstly, Anne Bill, and secondly, Jane Johnson sometime after 1624.On 7 September 1593 he was apprenticed in the Merchant Tailors Company and having learned his trade, on 18 January 1601, he was made free of his apprenticeship. He held the office of Alderman of Aldersgate on 12 February 1627/28 and held the office of Sheriff of London in 1628-29. He was created a baronet of the City of London on 30 May 1629 and invested as a knight the following day. He held the office of Lord Mayor of London between 1640 and 6 October 1640, although he was discharged by the House of Commons on account of favouring the King. He died on 22 January 1650/51 and having no sons the baronetcy became extinct on his death. In 1650 Sir William’s possession of the manor was certainly short-lived. He bought the manor in April 1650 and was dead the following January.

Following Acton’s death his estates passed to his daughter Elizabeth and her husband Sir Thomas Whitmore of Apley, Shropshire, knight and baronet. As Lady Whitmore, Elizabeth occurs in a grant of a lease of Old Bostock Hall, ‘sometime in the occupation of Thomas Mainwaring’, with lands in Bostock and Wharton to Sir Francis Lawley, baronet of Spoonhill, Much Wenlock, Shropshire, her son-in-law, at an annual rent of £6. She had also leased to Lawley lands in Norcroft, then occupied by Thomas Carter and Robert Irish, for a rent of £12 five years earlier. Five years later, March 1667, Lawley assigned the leases back to Sir William Whitmore. Thomas Whitmore’s records in respect of the manor and lands in Shurlach and Leftwich are deposited at the Shropshire Record Office. Sir William Whitmore is mentioned in Quarter Sessions records on 24 April 1688 as having licensed a house or cottage to be built on the waste or common of the manor for the relief of John Higginson and his poor family. Sir Thomas Whitmore’s rental for the year 1733 describes the manor as follows: Bostock is a Manor with 9 cottages with Inclosures on the Waste & about 20 Acres of Common Land Statute Measure & very good land.’ His tenants are listed as: Mr Tomkinson, Ralph Evans,John Chatterton, Mr Barrow, Mr Percival, Martha Darlington and Ralph Darlington. The Whitmore family remained in possession of the manor for just over a century after which, in October 1765, Sir Thomas sold the manor, including lands leased to Thomas Higginson, to William Tomkinson for the sum of £6000.


William Tomkinson was the second son of Thomas Tomkinson of Knightley, Staffordshire, and was born about 1652: he died in 1718 and is buried at Davenham. By his first wife William had two sons: Thomas and William (born in 1703), and by a second wife, Mary, a son named James (born 1710) and two daughters. His will and its inventory, proved in February 1718 survive. He left all his inherited lands, whether in Cheshire, Staffordshire or elsewhere to his eldest son Thomas Whitmore.

It seems that William’s sons, the brothers Thomas and William, both resided at Bostock House. Each of them had sons who died without children, however James, the younger brother, became a successful lawyer based in Nantwich and became wealthy enough to purchase Dorfold Hall in 1754 from the Wilbraham family where he settled and employed Samuel Wyatt to make alterations to the seventeenth century manor house. James’ eldest son James (born in 1739) became rector of Davenham church, his second son, Henry, inherited Dorfold, whilst the third son Edward succeeded to Bostock House as heir to his cousin William son of Thomas.

In 1798 Edward assumed his mother’s maiden name of Wettenhall on inheriting property at Hankelow from her family and moved there.


After protracted discussions and agreements, in May 1798 the trustees of Edward Tomkinson finally sold the manor and other lands to the executors of James France, esquire, of Everton, Liverpool for £44,600 for the benefit of his nephew Thomas Hayhurst. The household contents were sold separately for £1400. The house is said to have been ‘lately’ built by Tomkinson and had with it 320 acres of land. At that time the old moated hall with 184 acres of land in Bostock and Wharton was occupied by John Bennett, senior.

France was a Liverpool merchant who imported sugar, rum and other commodities from the West Indies and known as a ‘Jamaica Merchant’. He had warehouses and offices near the docks – an area known as the ‘Goree Causway’ near George’s dock, on the corner of Brunswick Street and in Drury Lane.From about 1730 the merchants of Liverpool made huge profits from the slave trade. The trade formed a triangle. Goods from Manchester were given to the Africans in return for slaves. The slaves were transported across the Atlantic to the West Indies and sugar was brought back from there to Liverpool. In the 18th century sugar refining became an important industry in Liverpool. On 1 January 1783 France took into partnership his nephew Thomas Hayhurst and the firm of ‘France and Nephew’ was created.

James France by his will directed that his money be invested in land and so after his death his executors purchased ‘the estate of Bostock in Cheshire with a capital mansion upon it’ for the benefit of Thomas Hayhurst. The will was written in July 1791 and with its four codicils (dated November 1792, August 1793, November 1793 and February 1795) it was proved on 3 November 1795. He was certainly a wealthy man for he left legacies of £10,000 for the benefit of the children of each of his nieces and nephew: Elizabeth Poole, Alice Crompton and Thomas Hayhurst, with a further £8000 for Thomas Hayhurst’s family. He also left eight sums of £100 to various Liverpool charities and £1000 for the support of the school in Paradise Street and the education of poor children belonging to the chapel there. It was specifically stipulated in France’s will was that Thomas Hayhurst and his children were to assume the name and coat of arms of his own family and not to use the surname Hayhurst, or else forfeit their inheritance. Thomas Hayhurst, now surnamed France in accordance with his uncle’s wishes, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cropper, esquire, or Liverpool, settled at Bostock House in the late 1790s.

Thomas France (previously Hayhurst) died on 8 January 1815. Thomas France’s will was written just a month before he died. According to its provisions he left everything to his son and heir James France France then at Trinity College, Cambridge.* He refers to a plantation he owned in Jamaica called ‘Ludlow’ and an estate known as ‘Unity’ both of which. His other sons were Thomas France and Henry. His sisters were also mentioned in his will: Elizabeth, wife of Samuel Poole of Wavertree, Liverpool, and Alice, wife of Abraham Crompton of Chorley, Lancashire. His estate was worth between ninety and one hundred thousand pounds. Each of his servants were be given a ‘suit of mourning’ and each received £10 with his butler, housekeeper and gardener receiving a further £10 each. James France France was born in 1793. He became Sheriff of Cheshire in 1821 and died unmarried in 1869. On his death his brother the Reverend Thomas FranceHayhurst (1803-1889) succeeded to the manor, its lands and Bostock House. He was a clerk in Holy Orders, rector of Davenham (1839-1884) and an honorary canon of Chester Cathedral. Reverend Thomas married twice: firstly to Helen, daughter of John Formby of Formby, esquire, but had no children by her, and secondly to Helen, daughter of John Hosken Harper of Davenham Hall, esquire, by whom he had a son Charles.

*At this time it was common practice to give children a middle name which was the surname of their maternal grandmother – hence ‘James France France’.

The next lord of the manor was Charles Hosken France-Hayhurst (1832-1914). He was born in 1832 and served in the 17th Regiment in the Crimea, rising through the ranks he became Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Royal Cheshire Militia: he was Sheriff of Cheshire in 1879. He married twice: firstly to Annie Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Shaw of Arrowe Park on the Wirral, by whom he had no children, and secondly to Mary, daughter of Captain William Halstead Poole of the Royal Horse Artillery who resided at Terrick Hall in Shropshire Mary died in 1877 aged 34.. By making various purchases of land and through inheritance from his wives families he amassed a large domain stretching across Cheshire. It was perhaps he, or his father, who changed the name of the house to Bostock Hall. Frederick Charles France-Hayhurst, born on 22 April 1872, served in the First World War as a Liutenant Colonel of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and was killed in action on 9 May 1915 at the battle of Aubers, near Ypres: he is buried at Cabaret-Rouge, Souchez, France. His brother, Cecil Halstead France-Hayhurst, a commander in the Royal Navy, died on active service on 24 February 1915: he was married to Gertrude Isabel Champernourne Douglas and had children.‘The Colonel’ died on April 7, 1914.

The next lord of the manor and resident of Bostock Hall was William Hosken France-Hayhurst was born in 1873 the eldest son of Charles and Mary Halsted. He was educated at Eton and on joining the army became a captain in the Cheshire Yeomanry. He was appointed High Sheriff of Cheshire in 1929 and a Deputy Lord Lieutenant for the county in 1930. He married in 1918, Renée Elizabeth a daughter of Gordon Cloëte, from Rosebank, Cape Town and they had an only daughter named Renee.

When Captain William died in 1847 the hall passed to his only daughter Renee who was the wife of George Carnegies, an ICI director: their daughter Dinah Mary, born in 1945 was the last of the France-Hayhurst line. She resided at Bostock House on Spital Hill, Stanthorne, which stands facing down the main road to Bostock. Bostock Hall was then sold and the contents were subject of a separate auction sale held over three days in April 1948.

From Tony Bostock's & Jane McLellan's A History of a Village and its People where you'll find much more detail about Bostock and its surrounds.