Hyde Hall in Hyde may date back to Lord Matthew De Hyde who is said to have built a castle there in the 12th century. The family had other Hyde Halls, the nearest being in Denton. In time there was also one in Jamaica and one in New York owned by the family.
In Hyde an Elizabethan Hall was rebuilt during the Restoration, and it continued to be in the ownership of the Hydes as Lords of the Manor, until it was sold then demolished in 1857.
We have a description of the Hall from Britton & Bayley in 1818:
Hyde Hall, the seat of Geo. Hyde Clark, Esq., a branch of
the Clarendon family, is situated in a romantic spot on the banks
of a small river, and surrounded with bold swelling eminences
gradually sloping to the water’s edge. The house is an ancient
brick edifice, repaired, with a plain front. It contains several good
paintings and among others an original whole length of the great
Earl of Clarendon. At a little distance from the house is a neat
bridge of one arch, built a few years since for the accommodation
of those who frequent the valuable coal mines that are worked on
this estate, which includes both sides of the Tame. A weir on
the Lancashire side, formed to supply a water engine, causes the
river above it to assume the appearance of a large lake, which
with the cascade produced by the falling of the waters in a broad
sheet to a considerable depth, adds great interest to the surrounding
scenery. The grounds are tolerably well wooded and the
general character of the seat is picturesque and elegant
Between the bridge and the house there was a mill and a weir. The water was well stocked with trout and eels. The Hall stood on the banks of the Tame, near Clarke’s Bridge. The drive was off Mill Lane, just above the bridge.
After Domesday the manor belonged to the Baggeleghs, Lords of Baguley and Hyde. In the 14th Century however, Sir William De Baggelegh’s son, John, died without issue, leaving William’s two daughters as co-heiresses. One of the daughters, Isabella, married John De Hyde of Hyde and Norbury.
The Hall descended through the Hyde family to Edward Hyde who fought with the Parliamentarians alongside Colonel Robert Duckinfield of Portwood Hall during the Civil War. He married Anne Brooke and restored the Hall and placed the arms of Brooke and Hyde in the chimney piece of the Great Hall.
Edward died in April 1669 and was buried in Stockport. He was succeeded by his son Robert, who died the following year, Edward’s second son was living at Norbury, but sold up his estates and went to North Carolina where he became governor.
Edward married and had two sons and two daughters. The sons died bachelors and the direct male line was over. but his daughters Anne and Penelope wed. Anne, the elder married George Clarke of Swanwick in 1714 and went to America with her husband where he was made Lieutentant Governor of New York. She died in the American Colonies and was described as a lady well beloved on her death. George returned to England and died at Chester in 1760, and was buried at the Cathedral, where there is a tablet erected in his memory.
The estates were now in the hands of George Clarke, who had obtained them in order to avoid a dispute, and loss of the lands. George and Anne’s eldest son, George was born in New York in 1715, rising to the post of Secretary. He returned to England in 1737 and was presented to George II. He returned to Cheshire and took up residence at Hyde Hall, but died without issue and was buried at St Mary in Stockport.
He was in turn succeeded by his brother, Major Edward Clarke (ca 1716-1766) who had married Elizabeth (ca 1711-1764), the heiress of Sugar Baron, Colonel James Guthrie, and widow of Richard Haughton, also a rich plantation owner. He therefore came by a substantial plantations and slaveholdings in Jamaica.
Edward lived a large part of his life with his wife in Jamaica at Hyde Hall in Trelawny. He served under Lord Abermarle when the English took Havana in 1762, and was made a major as reward for his bravery. After Jamaica he returned to New York in 1772, then died in 1776 at Buxton in Derbyshire.
They had one son, George Hyde Clarke (1742-1824). However, Edward’s will acknowledges several natural and reputed offspring, amongst them being Mary Clarke, born around 1758 who was mixed race, and she inherited £1,500 (approx £160,000 in 2020). Mary inherited the same amount as Anne (1746-1763) and Penelope¹.
Mary came to England to live with her uncle George Clarke at Hyde Hall in Hyde. He was very fond of her and left her a further £2,000 in his will, as well as the contents of the Hall.
She married William Sanford of Nynehead Court in Somerset and amongst their children was Frances (1777-1823), who married James Tilson (1773-1838) an Oxfordshire Officer turned Merchant Banker whom Jane Austen described as remarkably handsome. The couple had eleven children and were good friends of Miss Austen, who said about her Mrs. Tilson’s remembrance gratifies me, and I will use her patterns if I can; but poor Woman! how can she be honestly breeding again.
Returning to George Hyde Clarke, he inherited his father’s estate and some 220 slaves, as well as the Cheshire house. He was not a popular man. As a young man he ran up large debts and fled to the continent to avoid his creditors. He married first Katherine Hussey Nesbit (1748-1830) and two sons and absconded to Jamaica with Sophia Astley, the daughter of artist, John. He sired three illegitimate sons by her but tired of her in 1792, and paid a Frenchman, Louis Foncier, £1,000 to marry her. He died in 1824 in Grafton Street, Berkeley Square in 1824, and was buried in Denton, after being carried back in a hearse attended by six persons and a mourning coach.
His grave however, overlooks these transgressions in his life:
During his lifetime a constant attender at this chapel, and a liberal
contributor to its repairs, died in London, July 5th, 1824 ; and agreeably
to his own special direction was here interred on the 16th day of July
George did spend some time in Hyde. He started coal mining around the Hall and was a prominent investor in the Peak Forest Canal company. This eventually contributed to the Hall’s demise as the mines caused the house to subside, forcing its demolition.
Around 1793, George Hyde Clarke built Clarke’s Bridge to improve the supply of coal into town and also in anticipation of the opening of the Peak Forest Canal, in which he was a major shareholder. However, this bridge was seriously damaged by the great flood of 17 August 1799². The present bridge dates from 1895.
George’s son George (1768-1835) built Hyde Hall in New York, and lived there. This Hyde Hall is considered the finest surviving neoclassical country mansion in the USA. He also inherited the Hyde property. He married Ann Cary, the daughter of Richard Cary who was one of George Washington’s staff. She had first married Richard Cooper (1775-1813), who the brother of the novelist James Fennimore Cooper and George Clarke’s land agent.
After that the Hall was inherited by Captain Hyde John Clarke (1777-1857) who was the son of George (1742-1824) and Sophie Astley. He was appointed the General Agent for the High Peak and Ashton Canals. He entered the Royal Navy aged 14, one of his first duties being to provide ropes to hang three sailors found guilty of mutiny.
During his service he helped in the capture of two French ships in the Napoleonic Wars, and eventually was promoted to Commander. He then settled in Hyde where he became a magistrate. He was actively involved in controlling the Luddite Disturbances of the 1830s rising to Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire.
Hyde John Clarke’s son, Edward Hyde Clarke (1815-1874), was the last family member to live at the Hall. He died in Runcorn on 19 December 1874. He was recorded in Hyde in 1845 as a director of numerous railway companies³.
The house had been put up for let the previous year, and here we have perhaps the last description before demolition, conveniently it was five minutes walk from the canal, whence you could hail a packet to Dukinfield Station.
The land was still farmed after that. In 1851 we see John and Elizabeth Warburton as tenants, followed by Thomas Ferns Handford who had been a grocer and corn dealer on the market place in Hyde. He built some housing on the land, where in 1872 poor William Burgess, aged two was drowned in one of the ponds.
At the funeral, held on Christmas Day that year the party were returning home on a brougham, and reached the notorious accident spot at Brabyn’s Brow near Brabyn’s Hall when the horse was startled by a piece of paper and galloped into Marple, colliding on the bend with an iron railing which ripped off the wheels, and horse tumbled over the steps, capsizing the carriage. Fortunately there was no serious harm, a broken arm for the driver, and one of the party dislocating his shoulder. The passengers were taken by train to the Manchester Infirmary, and the horse was able to walk away uninjured
The original Tudor Hall, was rebuilt in the mid eighteenth century creating the Georgian country house of 1794. This was demolished in 1857, but the farm building, to the left survived into the twentieth century. The site of the Hall was purchased by Hyde Corporation in 1924.
Here is Hyde Hall, as it appeared in 1794.
¹ The parentage of these children is not clear, I have seen some information that suggests Anne was legitimate, but Hydehall.org claims that they were the result of his liaison with the mixed race Mary Bonny. There were also other illegitimate children sired by him.
² There is an account of that flood of 17 August in the article below
³ Heginbotham says that the house was sold by the Clarkes to the Fulton family of Fulton in Lancashire.
The Annals Of Hyde & District, Thomas Middleton: Catrwright & Rattray, 1899.
Stockport Ancient & Modern, Henry Heginbotham: Sampson Low Marsden 1892.
A Description of the Country from thirty to forty miles around Manchester, John Akin : Stockdale 1795.
A Topographical and Historical Description of Chester, John Britton & Edward Bayley, 1818
Letters, Jane Austen:OUP 2011
© Allan Russell 2020.