100 Halls Around Manchester Part 95: Thomas Touchet’s House, Deansgate.

Continuing our tour around Casson and Berry’s Manchester of 1751, we come to Thomas Touchet’s residence on Deansgate. The house is not on the 1746 plan, but does appear five years later. However unlike last time, Messrs C&B have not provided a key for us to see exactly where the property was.

Thomas Touchet (c1678-1744) was have been born in Warrington. Whilst he became a wealthy Manchester merchant by marrying well, he also claimed lineage to the Barons Audley of Hedleigh who were Touchets. It was not so. He was described variously as a Pinmaker and Dealer in Fustians and Cottons. He married Mary Sworton and possibly also Mary Ainsworth¹. The family were strict dissenters, worshipping at Cross Street Chapel, and later at the Stand Chapel in Whitefield, where Thomas and his sons served as Trustees.

Sarah died in 1742, Thomas in 1745, leaving a great fortune of £20,000 (£5m in 2022). The Daily Advertiser of 14 March 1745 wrote saying he was : the most considerable merchant and manufacturer of that place (Manchester). He has left a large fortune to his family, who are inconsolable for his loss; as he was remarkable for great abilities and strict integrity in trade and for universal benevolennce and usefulness to mankind. His death is esteemeda great loss to the county of Lancashire and to the publick in general.

Thomas and his spouse(s) had at least five sons, and one daughter. It is on the baptism of his daughter that we find Thomas is a pinmaker. Of the sons, Samuel Touchet (1705-1773) is the most notorious. He went to London to represent his father’s firm there. He married Dorothy Hallows and the couple had several children.

Samuel had interests in the import of raw cotton from the West Indies and Middle East and was not a friend of Manchester, favouring imports over the domestic trade, as depicted in the cartoon below. Here he is shown grasping the golden fleece while ignoring £1,200 pa of English goods in favour of £36,000 of French imports. The devil is dressed as a Frenchman, and refers to his Belle Amy, a pun on William Bellamy, a textile merchant.

© British Museum

Had Touchet succeeded in forming a monopoly with Lewis Paul and John Wyatt, the inventors of the first powered cotton machines in Birmingham, Manchester’s history of Cottonopolis may not have happened.

Nevertheless, this alliance made him wealthy, and to add further ignominy he diversified into the sugar and slave trades, chartering two ships out of Liverpool in 1757 and 1761 carrying over 1,000 slaves.

He was MP for Shaftesbury from 1761-1768 but lost a fortune in the financial crisis of 1761, his business interests being taken over by his creditors, only being protected from total ruin by parliamentary privilege. As a result of this, Parliament removed the right of privilege for MPs in bankruptcy in 1765, the Act was however, not retrospective.

And, in the words of Frank Carson, there’s more. As an MP and advisor to Charles Townsend, he personally drafted the American taxes in 1767 which also ended up rather badly in Boston Harbour in 1773.

Samuel died of apoplexy, from which many of you may now be suffering, on 28 May 1773 at his house in Westminster.

His next son, John Touchet (1704-1767) married Sarah Bayley (d 1742) at the Collegiate Church. They had at least two daughters, Sarah (b1739) and Mary (1737-1804) and one son, James (1742-1827). James married Esther Wilkinson, the dedicatee¹. He was a trustee of a number of charities, and the Manchester Infirmary as well as a Vice President of the Manchester and Salford Savings Bank. He lived at 29 King Street, the site of St Ann’s Arcade today.

Thomas Touchet (1709-1786) continued initally to live at his father’s house on Deansgate. During the Civil War the house was occupied by Lord Elcho, as it was not deemed grand enough, being partly used as a warehouse. Thomas also continued trade of his father along with his brothers as James, Thomas and John Touchet, Check and Fustian Manufacturers of Pall Mall. Thomas was the first resident of King Street in 1770, building a house there.

Thomas married three times, and died on 14 June 1786, aged 77. He was buried in Cross Street Chapel. His three wives lie in the same grave as him.

His son, also Thomas, was educated at Manchester Grammar School, the only family member to attend the school. The King Street property remained in the family for a number of years, passing to John Touchet, his nephew, who traded as John and James Touchet, Merchants of Chancery Lane.

John retired to Broome House in Eccles, but retained his King Street property and died on 6 October 1837 and was buried with his (one) wife at Cross Street Chapel. He had no male issue and only one daughter (Frances) who married the Reverend Nicholas James Ridley of Hollingdon House Newbury and Hyde Park in London. The family business interest was then represented by Samuel Cottam and his father, the male branch of the Manchester Touchet line having died out.

The house on King Street was then occupied by Dr Roberts Watson Robinson who then subsequently moved to Swinton Park and in 1837 it became the Albion Clubhouse, a gentlemans’s establishment. The club had 200 members who were admitted by ballot each paying an annual subscription of 25 guineas (£26.25). It was renamed the Bridgewater Club some twenty years later and in 1869 became the Clarendon Club and moved to 102 Mosley Street.

Let’s see the picture:

Casson & Berry 1751

¹ Harrison Ainsworth, the Manchester Novelist claimed Touchet to be related to him on his mother’s side. He dedicated one book to Mrs James Touchet (Esther Wilkinson (1744-1818)) and mentions the family often in his diaries.


William Harrison Ainsworth and his friends, S M Ellis 2015

The Good Old Times: the Story of the Manchester Rebels of ’45, William Harrison Ainsworth 1873

Samuel Touchet at the Dictionary of National Biography

Cornish’s Guide to Manchester and Salford, J & T Cornish, 1857

© Allan Russell 2022.


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