Grid Ref: SJ 964 823 and SJ 974 813 for Bowstones
Date 14 August 2003, 13 Aug 2009, 16 & 18 July 2013, 10 Sept 2014 and 14 Jul 2016 for house;
1 Jul 2006 for Bowstones; 17 Aug 2009 for Winwick


Lyme Hall
Lyme Hall, July 2013


North Front   West Front
The north front on an August evening   The west side on an August evening
Lyme Park Gate   Courtyard
Gate to the house on the north side   The Courtyard, Sept 2014
Lyme   East Front
The South Front and lake   The East Front
walled garden   The Cage
The Walled Garden   The Cage, 2014
Mr. Darcy   The lantern
Mr. Darcy's first day in the lake, 18 July 2013   The Lantern
North Front   Elizabethan Frontage
North Front at 7 pm in mid-July 2016   Remains of Elizabethan Frontage
Bow Stones   Boundary stone
The Bowstones   One of the stones in West Park Macclesfield
Winwick   Winwick
St. Oswald's, Winwick   St. Oswald's, Winwick
Church   Tower
St. Mary's at Disley   St. Mary's tower with sundial


Lyme Park near Disley is a National Trust Property. It has an excellent brochure and helpful guides. Photographs of the Bow Stones are included above because they are near Lyme. From the top of the hill by the stones one can see parts of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Clwyd, Yorkshire, Shropshire and Lancashire The Bow Stones are similar to stones now in West Park in Macclesfield which were moved there from a farm in Sutton in the late 19th century. It is believed that they were formerly in Wincle or Wildboar Clough and may have had a connection with monastic lands such as boundary stones.

St. Mary's at Disley was founded as a chantry chapel by Sir Piers Legh V, who died in 1527. It was a parochial chapel and did not become the parish church until 1913. Chantry Chapels were abolished by Edward VI (1549-1553) as part of the Reformation. Catholicism returned during the brief reign of Queen Mary (1553-1558) and during the reign of her half-sister Elizabeth (1558-1603) the Anglican Church was fully established. Much of the current church is a rebuilding of 1824-1835 but the early 16th century timber roof with its many bosses was retained. Aisles were added in 1828 and enlarged in 1835. South west of the tower there are a number of tombs of the Legh family of Lyme. Inside the church, but not shown here, are memorials to Thomas Legh who died in 1857 and his nephew, William Legh, 1st Baron Newton who died in 1898. The church is not easy to photograph from the SE because of the number of overhanging trees.


The Buildings of England, Cheshire, by Nikolaus Pevsner and Edward Hubbard, Yale University Press, 2003, ISBN 0 300 09588 0
Further details on St. Mary's Disley are available in an article by Jan Wood in Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, Volume 151, 2002.
The History of the House of Lyme by W. Beamont, published in Warrington in 1976. My PDF version here
My annotated version of the 2nd Lord Newton's autobiography Retrospection, is attached as a PDF.
My annotated version of The House of Lyme from its foundation to the end of the 18th century, by The Lady Newton, is attached as a PDF.


The Leghs of Lyme

Many published sources are confused or incorrect on the early stages of the family history including The House of Lyme from its foundation to the end of the 18th century, by The Lady Newton, published by William Heinemann in London in 1917. Different sources identify some of the members of the family as being either Peter or Piers. Here I have followed the naming as given in the National Trust guide-book for Lyme

The following account of the early generations is taken from Earwaker's East Cheshire, from the section on Lyme Hanley, augmented with information from Lady Newton's The Leghs of Lyme and the National Trust Handbook which is the only one of the three that is correct in placing Margaret Danyers as the granddaughter of Sir Thomas Danyers of Crécy fame. Sir Peter Leicester, in his Historical Antiquities printed in 1673 is the prime source for the history of the Danyers family. I use the numbering system from the National Trust booklet to denote the numerous family members who owned the property who were called Piers or Peter, and sometimes interchangeably both!

Sir Thomas Danyers and the Battle of Crécy

There have been various accounts of the manner in which the Legh family acquired the property at Lyme.  Earwaker is often considered the most reliable source of information in the late 19th century. He related that Sir Thomas Danyers of Bradley and Appleton had fought at the Battle of Crécy on 25 August 1346 where he had distinguished himself by rescuing the Black Prince's Standard when nearly captured by the French and in taking prisoner the Count de Tankerville, chamberlain of the French King. This is essentially the story on the brass plaque in the church at Grappenhall, erected in 1876. However, the capture of the Count de Tankerville took place at the seige of Caen in July 1346. He was the chamberlain of Normandy and Danyers received a ransom of 10,000 Nobles for him. The surname Danyers had various forms including Danvers and ultimately Daniel, Daniell and Daniels.

In recognition of his services, Sir Thomas Danyers was given 40 marks a year out of the royal manor of Frodsham until such time as he should receive land worth £20 a year for himself and his heirs forever. According to Earwaker, Sir Thomas died before this happened and in 1398 his daughter, Margaret and her husband Piers or Peter Legh obtained Lyme Handley from Richard II. It is easy to see how Earwaker would draw this conclusion as he quotes the letters patent to Piers Legh and Margaret his wife in which she is described as daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Danyers, Knight, deceased. The letters patent granting the land reserved to the king and his heirs all the oaks growing there and also required that pasture be made available for the deer. At the time of Crécy, the land that was eventually given to Margaret Danyers and her husband was in the possession of the Black Prince's mother, Queen Philippa and by the time of its eventual grant to Piers and Margaret Legh was in the hands of Joan, the Black Prince's widow.

More thorough scholarship, using Sir Peter Leycester's Historical Antiquities, published in 1673, shows that Sir Thomas Danyers had a son, also called Sir Thomas, and it was his daughter, Margaret, who married Peter de Legh. Hence she was granddaughter of the hero of Crécy. These details are reported in the National Trust's own handbook for Lyme Park. Yet other accounts have Piers Legh himself as the hero, although it is known that he was born about 1361, some 17 years after the battle. This erroneous version was given credence by William Flower, Norroy King of Arms in the reign of Elizabeth I, when he gave an augmentation to the arms to the then Sir Peter Legh, in which the deeds of Sir Thomas Danyers were wrongly attributed to the first Peter Legh.

Sir Thomas Danyers senior, was born in about 1294 and in about 1312 he married Margaret of Tabley. They had a son, also called Thomas, in 1313. Thomas senior was aged 52 at the Battle of Crécy. On his return to England, Sir Thomas became Sheriff of Cheshire for the second time in 1349. However, in 1353 he was accused of bribery and theft and was dismissed from his office. Among the charges was that he broke into the treasure house to steal a bond recording a debt he owed to the Black Prince, who was Earl of Chester. He pleaded guilty and was fined but did not lose his property. However, he died the following year.

Sir Thomas junior died in 1353, the year before his father. He had married Isabel Baggiley, heir of William Baggiley by Clemence his wife, who was the daughter and coheir of Sir Roger Dutton of Cheadle (commonly known as Sir Roger de Chedhill) and his wife Matilda. Sir Roger Dutton and Matilda had no male heirs and the estates were split between their two daughters.  Agnes, the younger of the two, married Richard de Bulkelegh and inherited the northern part, known as Cheadle Bulkeley.  Clemence, the elder daughter, married William de Baggiley, inherited the southern half and it was passed eventually to their daughter Isabel Baggiley.  Sir Thomas and Isabel Danyers had one daughter Margaret who became the sole heiress of her father and grandfather for what they had to dispose of their personal estate.

Margaret Danyers was an heiress in her own right before the grant of the land at Lyme. She inherited all her mother's lands but her father's lands were settled on the male heirs of the Danyers. She was said to be aged 80 when she died in 1428 so she would have been only 6 when her grandfather died and would have been treated as an orphan heiress.   With two men called Thomas Danyers dying so close together, and Margaret succeeding her grandfather, it is easy to see how there could be confusion later about the family relationships.

It was common practice at this time that orphan heiresses were taken into wardship and lodged with neighbouring noble families. They were given in marriage by the king to his supporters as a way of rewarding them with land. Margaret was married first to Sir John Radcliffe, who died without issue, then to Sir John Savage of Clifton with whom she had a son, John, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Blanche. She became a widow for a second time and then married Piers de Legh. The family tree shown in Earwaker's work indicates that a dispensation for the marriage was given on 4 January 1388, by which time Piers was 28 and Margaret would have been 40 if indeed she was 80 in 1428. It is possible that she was a little younger than than but given that her father died in 1353 she would have been at the least 35 by 1388.

According to an article in Cheshire Notes and Queries, Volume 3 page 163, the Manor of Lyme Handley was about 4000 acres and had formerly been let to farm for 20 marks a year. Piers and Margaret were to have the land for the nominal rent of sixpence a year. All the oaks growing at Lyme and sufficient pasturage for the deer were reserved to the crown as was customary at that period.

Piers Legh I (c1360 to 1399) acquired Lyme and was executed at Chester

Piers de Legh was the eldest son of Robert de Legh of Adlington by his second wife, Matilda, daughter of Adam de Norley of Norley in Lancashire. Matilda survived her husband and in 1375 was indicted for making a forged settlement on land near Lymm for the benefit of her younger son, John. From the indictment we learn that Robert de Legh had two sons, Hugh and Thomas, by his first wife, and three sons, Peter or Piers, John and Hamo, by Matilda. Piers de Legh, was born about 1360 or 1361 and in 1388 married Margaret, daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Danyers of Bradley and Appleton. They are known to have had three children, Peter, John and Margaret and although the birth dates are not known, given Margaret's age, they must have been born in fairly quick succession after the marriage.  So, depending on whether Margaret was the eldest child, Peter was born roughly in the period 1389 to 1391.

Piers Legh was a supporter of Richard II and on his usurpation by Henry IV, Piers was executed at Chester on 10 August 1399. Margaret survived until 24 June 1427 and there was an inquisition post mortem the following year, as she was an heiress in her own right. This reveals that she had half the manor of Cheadle, the manors of Clifton and Bradley in Appleton, lands at Thelwall, Hale near Bowdon, Lymm, Over Knutsford & Runcorn. She also had a parcel of land at Rainow in the Forest of Macclesfield called Thorneshede, held of the Lady Katherine, Queen of England in socage, as well as four burgages in Stockport and one and a half in Macclesfield. The inquisition papers state that Sir John Savage was her son and heir to these lands and at the time was aged 50 or more. In addition, Margaret had half the manor of Grappenhall during her life which would go to her son Peter, the son of Peter Legh, now deceased. It went therefore to her grandson, yet another Peter, who was then 13. The inquistion also recounted how Richard II had given Margaret and Peter Legh the land at Lyme Handley for them and their male heirs forever and that it was held in socage from Katherine, the Queen, for a rent of 6 pence per annum. It was said at the time to be worth 20 marks per annum. Socage was a form of land tenure in which the tenant lived on his lord's land and in return rendered to the lord a certain agricultural service or money rent. At the death of a tenant, the land went to his heir after a payment to the lord of a sum of money, known as a relief, which in time became fixed at an amount equal to a year's rent on the land.

Sir Peter Legh II, knight (c.1390 to 1422) fought at Agincourt and married the Haydock heiress

Piers and Margaret de Legh's son Sir Piers Legh, probably born about 1389 or soon thereafter, died before his mother but from a deed dated 26 July 1411, it is known that he had a piece of land called Heghleghfield in the Forest of Macclesfield and had the office of Forester. He fought at Agincourt in 1415, and was knighted for his services. He died in Paris on 16 June 1422 but was buried at Macclesfield. The Legh Chapel in St. Michael's church Macclesfield was built in 1422 for his burial. He and his father are commemorated by a brass plaque on the wall of the chapel. He married Joan, daughter and heiress of Sir Gilbert de Haydock, thus acquiring large estates in South Lancashire. On his death, Joan married Sir Richard Molineux of Sefton in Lancashire and she lived until 1439.

Peter's brother, John de Legh, married Alice the daughter and heiress of John Alcock of Ridge near Macclesfield and they became the ancestors of the Leghs of Ridge and Stoneleigh. Peter's sister, Margaret de Legh, married Sir John Ashton.

Sir Peter Legh III, knight (1415 to 1478) left an account of his lands and founded a chantry chapel at Winwick

Sir Peter's heir was another Peter, who was seven when his father died, and as indicated above, 13 on the death of his grandmother. He came of age in 1436. He was knighted at the Battle of Wakefield during the Wars of the Roses, on 31 December 1460. He was married about 1432, before coming of age, to Margaret, daughter of Sir Richard Molineux of Sefton, i.e. to the daughter of his step-father by his first marriage. In 1461, he became keeper of Rhudlan Castle and in 1463, escheator (chief of finance) of Flint. He prepared a list of his properties in Cheshire and Lancashire in 1465/6 from which we learn that there was a house at Lyme.

...the said Sir Peter holds the aforesaid manor of Lyme in the County of Chester, to him, his heirs and assigns forever; that is to say, one fair hall with a high chamber, a kitchen, bakehouse, and a brewhouse, with a granary, stable and bailiff's house, and a fair Park surrounded by palings and divers fields and hays contained in the same park, with the woods, underwoods, meadows, feedings and pastures thereto belonging, which are worth to the said Peter, £10 a year.

It would appear from this account that almost half a century after the land was granted it was not worth the £20 a year first promised to Sir Thomas Danyers. Earwaker noted that the description of the Legh lands relating to the Warrington area was pubished by the Chetham Society.

Sir Peter's first wife died and he married a second time, to Elizabeth daughter of Sir Edmund Trafford of Trafford and widow of Sir John Pilkington. She died without issue on 4 April 1474 at Bradley near Warrington. In 1478, Sir Peter endowed a chantry chapel at Winwick, the church north of Warrington, which had been founded by Sir Gilbert de Haydock his maternal grandfather. Sir Peter died in November that year and was buried at the church. From the inquisition post mortem we learn that he held half the manor of Grappenhall, 40 acres and a Forester's place at Sutton in the Forest of Macclesfield and the manor of Lyme Handley and that Piers Legh his grandson, was his heir.

Earwaker notes that according to an old pedigree, Peter III had three sisters, Margery married Adam de Clayton, Margaret married Nicholas Blundell and Blanche married John Ireland.

Peter Legh 4th (died in 1468 before his father)

Peter Legh III's only son was another another Peter. He married Mabel, daughter and co-heiress of James Croft of Dalton in Lonsdale in Lancashire. Peter died in 1468, roughly ten years before his father, and left a son, another Peter. Mabel lived until 1474 or 1475. In her will dated 8 July 1474, which has been printed by the Chetham Society, she mentioned her sons Piers, Hamond, James and John but not Robert. The latter is mentioned in the will of his brother, Sir Peter in 1527.

Sir Piers Legh 5th, the knight and priest (1455 to 1527) founded chantry at Disley

The fifth Peter was born about 1455 as he was said to be 23 on succeeding his grandfather. Earwaker reports that he married in 1467, then aged about 12. The practice of forming dynastic alliances through the marriages of teenage brides and grooms was common at this period. Peter's wife was Ellen, daughter of Sir John Savage of Clifton, by his wife, Katherine, the sister of the 1st Earl of Derby (surname Stanley). She was the great great granddaughter of Margaret Danyers, whose second husband had been the John Savage who died in 1386.

Peter was knighed at Hutton Field near Berwick on Tweed on 22 August 1482 while fighting in the Wars of the Roses on the Yorkist side. However, he was part of the entourage of the Stanleys of Lathom, which switched sides from the Yorkists to the Lancastrians at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and for this he was later rewarded by being made seneschal (principal administrator) of Blackburnshire1505 to 1511. Soon afterwards he took holy orders and thereafter described himself as a knight and priest. His wife, Katherine had died in 1499 and his brother-in-law, Thomas Savage, was then Archbishop of York. Sir Peter then founded and endowed the chantry chapel at Disley. He died at Lyme on 11 August 1527, aged 72, and was buried at Winwick, where an elaborate brass was erected to commemorate him and his wife.


The Family of Legh of Lyme


In the early 14th century, John Legh of Booths near Knutsford married Ellen Corona, whose family had held Adlington manor since soon after the Norman Conquest. Their son, Robert de Legh was the ancestor of the Leghs of both Adlington and Lyme. The following tree is simplified from that shown in Earwaker's History of East Cheshire.  As there are so many Peter Leghs, those who were heirs have been given Roman Numerals as in the National Trust Lyme Park booklet. In some cases they did not actually succeed to the estate as they died before their fathers.

We pick up the story again with Thomas Legh from generation 12 above:


Lady Newton in her book The House of Lyme, diplomatically ends her story just as Thomas Peter Legh succeeds to the estate. The later Leghs, are all descended from his second illegitimate son, William.

Catholics and Anglicans

In the early Elizabethan period, in the time of Sir Piers Legh VII, the family was Catholic and the Leghs are mentioned in a document as the County Archive in Chester as hiding priests and holding secret masses. Peter Legh VIII died before his father. Sir Peter Legh IX, sent three sons to Oxford in the early 1600s and must have been an Anglican to do so. At the time, the only two universities in England were Oxford and Cambridge and they were largely for the training of the clergy. It was necessary to agree to the Thirty-Nine Article of Anglican faith to graduate. Peter IX's son, Thomas, became a Doctor of Divinity and a fellow of Brazenose and became vicar of Sefton and Walton in South Lancashire. His son was Richard, shown in generation 12. Richard was educated by a Puritan minister, Charles Hurle, incumbent at Winwick, and went to Cambridge University. At the time of his death, Richard was hoping that his new chapel at Newton would be consecrated by the Bishop of Chester but he died just before the event. (There were no Catholic Bishops until after the Catholic Relief Act of 1829.) By contrast, Catholic gentry families, of whom there were many in Lancashire, sent their sons to be educated in France and some sent daughters to France to become nuns. The Legh's of Haydock and Lyme did neither.

Richard sent his son, Peter XII, to Oxford. Peter XII himself became an M.P. after the Test Act of 1670 which forbade all but Anglicans from public office. So he must have sworn he was an Anglican and been accepted as such. Moreover he was described as a Protestant when he was arrested for possible plotting against William and Mary as described in Beamont's book, The History of the House of Lyme, published in 1876. In his will, Peter declared that he died as he had lived as an Anglican, the only true faith. In 1709, Peter built Holy Trinity as a chapel of ease in Warrington so that his elderly and infirm tenants would not have to walk out to Winwick, the Parish Church.

Both Richard and Peter XII supported James, Duke of York, who became James II in 1685. In 1676 they had entertained him at great expense at Lyme. According to an inventory associated with Richard's will, one eighth of the value of his estate lay in the suite of rooms prepared for James' visit. It would have been very costly too to entertain in terms of food, drink and entertainment. With such an enormous outlay, the Leghs might have expected to remembered favourably when James succeeded to the throne. In the event, James was on the throne for only three years before being usurped by his daughter Mary, and her husband, James' nephew, William of Orange. Mary and her sister Anne had been brought up as Protestants and William of Orange was the champion of the Dutch Protestants. All former supporters of James were viewed with suspicion by the new regime, including Peter XII. It is easy to imagine how Peter XII might have favoured the return of James in order to get some reward for the enormous financial outlay they had made. Peter Legh XII held the estate at the time of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 and his nephew, Peter XIII, held it at the time of the 1745 rebellion, when the army of Prince Charles Edward Stuart came close by on its route from Manchester to Macclesfield and on towards Derby and Swarkestone Bridge. Neither Peter XII nor Peter XIII joined these rebellions, possibly because they had news that few of their Haydock neighbours in the Lancashire gentry had gone over to Charles Stuart.

I think that the reason for Richard's support for James II can be explained as follows. Richard was born in 1636 and his grandfather Peter IX died in 1638. Richard's father, died in 1639 and his uncle Francis in 1642. Richard's eldest uncle, Piers, had died as early as 1624 and the youngest uncle, Peter Legh of Bruch, died in in 1641. As a result, Richard was brought up without close male relatives. From the correspondence surviving, his father-in-law, Sir Thomas Chicheley of Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire, took a very fatherly interest in him, promoting his career in the House of Commons. Sir Thomas Chicheley was close to the Royal family. He was Master-General of the Ordnance for Charles II from 1670 to 1679. It seems likely that Sir Thomas was influential in bringing Richard Legh into the circle of James while he was still Duke of York. Thus, the connection is largely political and not religious as has sometimes been supposed.

Footnote on the Gerards of Bryn

The following notes are taken from Edward Baines' History of the County Plalatine and Duchy of Lancaster, edited by James Croxton and published in 1891 and Ormerod's History of Cheshire, Volume II page 131.

Bryn lies between Ashton-in-Makerfield and Wigan so the Gerards were fairly close neighbours among the landed gentry of the Legh family in their properties at Haydock and Old Bradley Hall. Ashton in Makerfield was formerly in the parish of Winwick and it was at Winwick church that the Leghs of Lyme were buried until into the 19th century.

Bryn Hall was the early residence of the lord of the manor. Originally a William Gerard of Kingsley and Catenhall, born about 1322, married Joan the daughter of Peter de Bryn of Brynhill or Brindle and so came into the manor of Bryn and other estates in the area. He was the GGGGG grandfather of the Sir Thomas Gerard below, born about 1488.

Sir Thomas Gerard of Kingsley and Bryn, who was born about 1488 was killed while fighting in the wars in Scotland in November 1523. He married Margery the 2nd daughter of Sir Edmund Trafford of Trafford. She was the widow of Nicholas Longford of Longford in Derbyshire and of Sir John Port of Etwall in Derbyshire.

Sir Thomas and Margery's eldest son was Sir Thomas Gerard of Kingsley and Bryn, who was sheriff of Lancashire in 1548, MP for Lancashire in 1562-7. He was known to be aged 12 in 1524, putting his birth about 1512. He married Jane, the daughter of Sir Peter Legh of Haydock and Lyme. She was born about 1520 as she was said to be 6 in 1526. They were divorced in November 1556.




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