Brown Street in Manchester runs between Booth Street and Market Street. Joshua Brown was a rich Manchester Dyer and he bought Pool Fold Hall (aka Radcliffe Hall) which stood on the present day site of Boots on Market Street. He acquired further properties in the area but by his death there was but one heir to his estate, one Thomas Brown a sea captain whose whereabouts were unknown. Advertisements were placed in various newspapers and Thomas was found and came quickly and happily to Manchester to claim his inheritance.
He saw St Ann’s Square and grasped the opportunity to further enlarge his new found fortune, seeking a Private Act of Parliament to grant building leases on the land he owned, being that which lay between Market Street, Cross Street, King Street and Moseley Street.
The Marriotts¹ were a wealthy Manchester family who had made their fortune in the threadmaking trade. Joshua (born 1719) built a house on Brown Street in the area now called Marriott’s Court sometime around 1740. In 1743 he had married Mary Edge and the couple had eight children.
The 1707 Act of Succession barred Catholics from claiming the throne of England. In 1745, George II, a Protestant, was on the throne. However, Charles Edward Stuart had other ideas, and a Jacobite² force lead by Bonnie Prince Charlie marched from Scotland, arriving in Manchester on 28 December 1745.
They paraded outside St Ann’s (Protestant) church and local men loyal to King George were mustered to defend against the Catholic forces. However, the locals were promised £5 and a cockade to wear in their hats if they supported the Jacobites, who promptly started a victory celebration. The advancing army were billetted in the Bull’s Head and other pubs around the Market Square, the officers were afforded more comfortable accommodation. The Young Pretender was allotted Mr Dickenson’s House on Market Street Lane, whilst Joshua Marriott hosted the Earl of Kelly and Lord Ogilvy at his house on Brown Street.
It is doubtful that Joshua was best pleased with this, the Marriott family were Protestant, being regular worshippers at St Ann’s church, and good friends of Lady Ann Bland. Joseph had walked out of the church when a Mr Clayton preached, as Clayton had prayed openly for Charles Edward Stuart, and spoken in the Collegiate Church on behalf of the Pretender. Marriott was delighted when Clayton’s successor, the reverend Abel Ward gave fiery sermons against Popery.
Whilst the Prince obtained great support in Manchester and set off further south, he made the disastrous tactical blunder of turning back in Derby, even though the inhabitants of the cowardly Capital were frit of the oncoming forces. The Georgians eventually defeated the insurgents at Culloden in 1746.
Joshua had interests in various business ventures, lending money to with Samuel Finney of Wilmslow on a copper mining venture in Macclesfield, and later lent Thomas Birtles funds for another Macclesfield mine. Both schemes were not successful and Joshua took possession of assets to satisfy the debts.
He also partnered in 1723 with Samuel Taylor of Moston to have sole use of a thread making machine which Moston had patented. However, he was not as successful here as the Manchester threadmakers successfully petitioned against it as it was not deemed an invention, but merely an improvement on an existing process.
Joshua’s son, also Joshua (1747-1827) inherited his father’s fortune and business, and moved to Chorlton Hall. He married Ann Wall (1749-1809) of Preston. Along with John Blackburne he founded the Theatre Royal in Spring Gardens in 1775. This was the town’s first proper theatre, prior to that only melodrama and pantomime were performed in Manchester. The Theatre Royal was a patent theatre which meant it was allowed to perform spoken drama.
The theatre opened with a performance of Othello, the building burnt down in 1789, and whilst it was rebuilt on the same site, it was soon felt that the building was inadequate. James Winston said that it was a plain brick edifice, scarcely worthy of a town of so much eminence, 102 feet long, by 48, which is extremely incommodious.
On the lease expiry in 1807 the company relocated to a larger property on Fountain Street, this building had the exact opposite problem, Mrs Banks³ said the lobby was so long and wide that carriages might have driven through.
This theatre burned down in 1844 and moved to its present site next to the Free Trade Hall, where it is wilfully being allowed to rot by Manchester City Council. Don’t get me started on the Factory.
Joshua sold the Brown Street residence to Yates & Williams a firm of Manchester merchants who used it as a warehouse. He died in Temple Sowerby on 13 January 1827.
It is unclear when the building was demolished. During the 1980s Marriott’s Court was the site of the now lost, and sadly lamented excellent Indian Restaurant, The Gaylord. The entire area suffered severe damage in the 1996 bomb attack and has since been extensively redeveloped.
It is hard to think that this area once boasted a beautiful building such as Mr Marriott’s House:
¹ The surname Marriott is a metronym, deriving from Mary. It was not uncommon for children born after their father’s death to be given the mother’s name.
² Deriving from Jacobus, Latin for James
³ In The Manchester Man
Discovering Manchester, Barry Worthington : Sigma, 2002.
A Georgian Gent & Co: The Life and Times of Charles Roe, Dorithy Bentley Smith : Landmark, 2005.
The Cotton Trade and Industrial Lancashire 1600-1780, Wadsworth : Manchester University Press, 1931.
Memorials Of St Ann’s Church, Manchester, Bardsley: Thomas Rowarth, 1877
© Allan Russell 2020
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