Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Joseph LEESE, one of the principal Manchester merchants

["The late Jos'h LEESE, Esq" - photo undated but probably taken quite late in his life.
From the photo album of Helen GILES of London, and undoubtedly our Joseph LEESE (1783-1861).]

[A signature, probably that of Joseph LEESE Sr, on the marriage registration of his eldest daughter Mary LEESE to Samuel GILES, March 1832.
Image courtesy of Manchester City Archive, through ancestry.library edition.]

"Good morning Mister Shop! If you will stick to me today, I will stick to you. And again, remember this, my young friend, that the nimble ninepence will always overtake and go beyond the lazy shilling."
The words were of an unknown and elderly gentleman in Burton-upon-Trent, about 1804, addressed to an impressionable young draper just out of his apprenticeship, and who was to remember them with clarity, 60 years later, after he had risen to be one of the principal cotton merchants in the principal city of cotton Merchants, Manchester in Lancashire.
The young draper was Joseph LEESE, and these recollections were published in a major article on his life and career, published in the Manchester City News of 21 and 28 January 1865.

[A portrait from the family collection of Helen GILES in London, incorrectly identified as Rev William GILES Sr.
Comparisons with the portrait photograph above leave very little doubt in my mind that it is that instead of
a younger version of our Joseph LEESE Senior.]


Joseph was born in Tutbury, Staffordshire, and baptised in the Parish Church there, 6 April 1783. He was named for his father, Joseph LEESE Senior, about whom we know almost nothing, except that, in his son's second marriage registration in 1838, his occupation was recorded as Architect.
We know quite a bit more about the family of his mother, Dorothy HARLOW, who was baptised in Tutbury on 3 May 1752, daughter of John HARLOW of Tutbury, by his wife Hannah BATE of Duffield, Derbyshire.
Dorothy married Joseph LEES Senior at Tutbury on 20 January 1782, after publication of Banns in the same church some ten months earlier, on 25 February and 4 and 11 March 1781.
The image of the marriage entry is viewable on Findmypast.co.uk, and reveals that while Dorothy signed the register page, Joseph LEES made his "X" mark. The minister was Henry BABINGTON, and the witnesses were O. BIDDULPH and John YATES.
This detail suggests that Joseph Senior may have had some difficulty engaging in business as an Architect, especially insofar as the writing of specifications and contracts was concerned - perhaps he was instead a tradesman-turned-builder who acquired writing skills on the run, and went on to bigger and better things.
Joseph was their only child to be baptised in Tutbury.

Joseph's maternal grand-father, John HARLOW, was baptised at Tutbury on 27 March 1715, son of John HARLOW of Tutbury and Martha PLIMMER of Sudbury; his great-grand-father was bapt at Hanbury, 19 March 1680, son of John HARLOW, Mason in Tutbury and Hanbury, by Sarah TURNER of Hanbury. The grave where his grand-parents were buried, in Tutbury churchyard, had a monument, now relocated to the perimeter, which records their burial - John HARLOW, died 4 December 1766, aged 51; and his wife Martha died on 17 May 1800, aged 73.

[A detail of the HARLOW gravestone in Tutbury Churchyard, Staffordshire.]

The movements and whereabouts of Joseph and Dorothy LEESE after young Joseph's birth in 1783 are not known. Dorothy, as was common practice for first births, appears to have returned to her mother's parish for the birth of her first child.
The Stafford Advertiser records the death of a Mrs LEESE on 30 May 1829, perhaps Dorothy; some HARLOW research suggests that they may have spent some time in Turnditch, Derbyshire; and the capability for Joseph Junior to take with him £10,000 in capital to invest in Manchester in 1815 suggests a possibility of inheritance, perhaps after his father's death - but none of these clues has yet furnished any detail sufficient for corroboration, apart from the last, which may instead have arisen due to a death in his first wife's family (see below).
A Joseph LEESE, of Stone Smithy, in the Parish of Caverswall, Staffordshire, was buried in the Churchyard of St Filumena's (another source has this burial in St Peter's), Caverswall, on 23 May 1820, aged 73 - he was of an appropriate age to have been married in 1782.
He was buried in the same tomb as Ralph LEES, late of Leek Road, who died on 6 May 1811, aged 91 - Ralph probably married at Sandon, Staffordshire, on 24 January 1742, Ellen or Helen LEESE, and had issue, inter alia, a son Joseph LEESE, born at Caverswall, 11 November 1747, and baptised there on 27 November 1747, undoubtedly the 1820 burial.
Joseph was sib to Sarah LEESE (born 5 June 1743), Thomas LEESE (born 14 October 1745), and Hellen LEESE (buried 19 March 1750-51), all these events recorded in Registers of St Peter's, Caverswall.
But, apart from the age and regional affinities, there is no other evidence to indicate that he was the "Architect" who married Dorothy HARLOW.

Joseph LEES, Blacksmith, of Stone Smithy, Leek Road, Caverswell, made his will on 16 May 1820, and it was proved at Lichfield on 21 Jun 1820; he identified his Blacksmith Shop as being one in the occupation of William SPOONER; and named his brother-in-law John COOPER, COOPER's two sons-in-law Thomas GAITOR and William MEIGH, and his cousin Lydia ROWLEY, wife of John ROWLEY of Newcastle upon Lyme, Staffs, Barber.
This Joseph's occupation is not that of Architect, as our Joseph recorded for his father in his second marriage registration in 1837 - although I suppose it might be possible that Joseph manufactured cast or wrought architectural hardware?
But, with no indication that Joseph left a wife or any children, this suggests that this is not a likely solution to our Joseph's paternity.

Lichfield Wills and Probates also have the will of an earlier Joseph LEESE, of the new house near the Fox Holes in the parish of Carswell, Com Staffs, Yeoman, dated 23 May 1747, in which he named his wife Mary, his brother Thomas LEESE's son Thomas and daughters Mary BRADSHAW and Alice BURR, his brother Ralph LEESE's son Ralph and daughters Jane and Mary, his sister Lydia's son John HEALTH, his sister Ellen's daughters Patience ROBINSON and Mary STURGESS, and his sister Jane DIXON's four children - Mary, Lydia, Sarah and Jane.


Joseph was apprenticed to a Draper in Burton-upon-Trent named LATHBURY. Joseph LATHBURY, Linen and Woollen Draper in High Street, Burton-on-Trent (1822-23 Directory), may have been the same, or a relation.
Joseph LEESE completed his apprenticeship about 1804, and went into business with Henry HAWKINS, as Drapers and Mercers in Burton.
On 8 March 1810, Joseph dissolved his partnership with Charles LEE, of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire, where they had carried on a business of LEESE and LEE, Mercers and Drapers [Leicester Journal, Friday 16 Mar] - LEE was to continue the business alone, under his own name.
And on 28 December 1814, Joseph dissolved his partnership with Henry HAWKINS, whence he went up to Manchester.


In Manchester, about the beginning of 1815, Joseph, with his £10,000, went into business with Mr WARREN, founding the firm WARREN and LEESE. They were joined by Robert MILLINGTON as a sleeping partner, and by 1821-22, the firm LEESE and MILLINGTON was in business as Calico Manufacturers and Printers, at 16 High Street, and Market Street, Manchester.
By 1824-25, James KERSHAW and W.R. CALLENDAR had both joined the firm and shown great promise, and Joseph took them on as junior partners when Messrs WARREN and MILLINGTON went out. They operated from premises at 56 High Street, Manchester. In 1830-31, at the same address, the firm was styled LEESE, KERSHAW and CALLANDER; by 1833, the firm was at 22 High Street.
About 1834, Joseph, having withdrawn from the firm in favour of his son, opened again in business as a Cotton Manufacturer and Spinner, in works at Ainsworth and Bolton, in a firm named LEESE, CUSSONS and THOMPSON, and as an Iron-Founder and Machine Maker at Bury, named LEESE, CUSSONS and DIGGLE. George CUSSONS left both partnerships in late 1836.
In October 1837, the firm of LEESE, RYLANDS and THOMPSON, Cotton Spinners and Manufacturers, of Ainsworth, was dissolved.
On 16 September 1839, Joseph LEESE, then of Outwood Lodge, Pilkington, notified his lease to John RYLANDS of Manchester, Manufacturer and Linen Merchant, for a term of years, "... the several mills, steam engines, erections and buildings belonging to me, situate at Ainsworth... and at Nobb in the Village of Little Lever, (both) in County Lancaster... known as... Ainsworth Mill and Nobb End Mill," and advised that "... all the machinery, fixtures, effects and articles, and things" therein located were his sole property [Manchester Courier and Lancaster Commercial Advertiser, Saturday 21 September].

[Section of an 1848 map of Manchester.
Cannon and High Streets are identified in the top left, Cannon Street leading away from the Collegiate Church.
The small darkened square on the northern corner of the intersection of York and Falkner Streets,
backing onto a laneway off Falkner just north of York, all just one block south of the Infirmary on
Piccadilly Southside, was the Particular Baptist Chapel, of which Joseph LEESE was a Deacon.]

The particular commercial arrangements throughout his time are not altogether clear, but some clues are evident from the Manchester City News article of 21 January 1865:
"After carrying on his concern in Burton-on-Trent ten years, he [Joseph] had by his marvellous energy, princely manners, tact, talent and industry, saved, we understand, ten thousand pounds, which he brought into the concern of WARREN and LEESE, and removed to Manchester, giving up his concern in Burton.
"Mr Joseph LEESE Sr joined Mr WARREN, when the firm became WARREN and LEESE; subsequently Mr Robert MILLINGTON, who had another concern in Manchester, joined them as a sleeping partner, and the firm became WARREN, LEESE and Coy, and it may not be uninteresting to our readers, or out of place, if we state that the entrance of Mr LEESE into the concern was the turning point in the future prospects of the firm.
"About this time, or shortly after, Mr James KERSHAW became an employee at a small salary. He was a man of humble origin, his father being a handloom weaver. But notwithstanding that, like many other men of eminence in arts, science and commerce, he in early life displayed those qualities, physical and mental, that led to his rapid preferment. Quickly following Mr KERSHAW, we believe, Mr W.R. CALLANDER Sr, who had served his time to a respectable draper in Birmingham, and then acted as an assistant, was induced to remove to Manchester, and was employed by Messrs WARREN and LEESE as salesman.
"Circumstances, however, soon arose to bring about the dissolution of the firm. Messrs WARREN and MILLINGTON went out, and Mr LEESE took in Messrs KERSHAW and CALLANDER as junior partners, and the firm became LEESE, KERSHAW and CALLANDER. If we are not mistaken, the warehouse they then occupied was the corner warehouse of High-street and Cannon-street; but as their business rapidly increased, they removed about the year 1825 to the more commodious warehouse in High-street, close to Bridgewater-place.
"Previous to this, however, Mr KERSHAW commenced in the print trade, which, through his energy, so rapidly increased, that the firm determined in 1829 to take the top storey of the adjoining warehouse, and to make such a printroom as, at the time, became the admiration and envy of all who saw it. It is well known that there is no light so admirable for advantageously displaying printed calicoes and other fancy goods as a north light. Accordingly, Messrs LEESE KERSHAW and CALLANDER's printroom was thus constructed; and as it extended from High-street to Birchin-lane, over two warehouses, it was certainly one of the finest print-rooms that then existed, or even now exists, in Manchester; and was admirably adapted for carrying on a very large print trade.
"Mr LEESE took at this time the management of the fustian department, including ticks, nankeens, etc; Mr KERSHAW, assisted by Mr James SIDEBOTTOM as salesman, who was his brother-in-law (they having married sisters of Mr Isaac SLATER, the publisher of that invaluable work, 'SLATER's Manchester Directory'), entirely managed their very large print department; and Mr CALLANDER, assisted by Mr Joseph BERRY as salesman, took the white and grey cloth, and dyed sarsanet and rolled jaconet departments. At this period, viz., 1830-31, the average weekly sales of prints was fully twenty-five thousand pieces, and the annual returns of the concern about a million sterling. This remarkable result was in a great measure owing to Mr LEESE having several years previously introduced into his concern the admirable principle of small profits and quick returns, and acting on the sound and disinterested advice of his venerable Burton mentor, that 'the nimble ninepence will always overtake and go by the lazy shilling'."

Joseph's particular business acumen resulted in the reduction of terms of credit, and put pressure on the shakier or "rotten" accounts, eventually winnowing them out in favour of the "very cream of the customers" of the Manchester trade. This involved altering existing conditions, of a six months bill of credit on purchases, or a 3 months bill with 1.5% for cash at the end of 3 months from the date of invoicing. The firm's new terms were shortened to the 3 months bill with 1.5% for cash in 10 days, excepting those customers with a daily running account and for whom all goods bought up to the 25th of each month should be paid for in cash, or a 3 months bill the last Friday of the following month.

Joseph and his partners work hours were long - 8 a.m till 8 p.m., with an interval of an hour and a quarter for dinner. They were more often than not the first on the premises. Joseph himself left his home at the Polygon at 7 a.m. sharp, on the three market days of the week, and his phaeton was facetiously called the "Polygon Diligence." Customers, especially the country manufacturers, were required to have their goods ready for purchase by 7.00 a.m, and any that weren't open by then were simply by-passed. Joseph made his intentions clear, and he was therefore able, on a regular basis, to complete the on-selling arrangements with the large London firms before 9 a.m.
Joseph bought principally from Mr (later Sir) Elkanah ARMITAGE, from Mr Thomas BARNES of Farnworth (father of the later M.P. for Bolton), and from Thomas WALKER of Stand. He sold largely to the London firms CALDECOTT and POWELL, COOK and GLADSTONE, and STUART and SHARP.

Joseph's attitude is summed up in a conversation he had with Sir Thomas POTTER, which was quoted by the writer of the Manchester City News article of 21 January 1865:
"I tell thee what, friend Tom, I wouldn't give thee sixpence for all thou knows, and I'll sell thee all I know for sixpence - the fact is, as your own experience has proved, that if a man wants to get on in Manchester, there's nothing for it but downright hard work, and sticking to it."


During this period, Joseph was directory listed at addresses in Rusholme Road, Manchester (1819-20); the Polygon, Ardwick (1824-25, 1828-29, 1830); and Greenmount, Harpurhey (1832-33, 1836, 1838, 1840-41). He was also recorded at 5 Tipping Place, Ardwick (1836).
He later resided at Knibb Place, Victoria Park (1843) and at 1 Richmond Hill, Bowdon, Cheshire (1845, 1847, and until his death in 1861).

Several of his house transactions were advertised in the Manchester Guardian, as follows:
1. House, at Number 10, Bloomsbury, Oxford Road, containing inter alia three bedrooms on each of the first and top floors - advertised on 5 April 1823. Oxford Road and Rusholme Road intersected shortly west of the site of the Dissenters Burial Ground (established 1821), and Joseph may have lived near that intersection.
2. Dwelling House, at Plymouth Street, Longsight, near the turnpike road from Manchester to Stockport, containing inter alia six bedrooms - 18 March 1826. This description puts this house very near, if not in the Polygon, and if so, the directory listings suggest he may have moved between residences within that estate.

The move to Green Mount House took place when Joseph purchased the Mansion after the death of Robert ANDREW, Esq, who had died in June 1831; having purchased it "lock, stock and barrel," he sold all his own furniture and household goods at the Polygon house, by auction, November-December 1831.

[A section of an 1848 map of Manchester, showing Rusholme Road, which arcs over the top of the
General Burial Ground, which had been opened in 1821 as the Dissenters Burial Ground.
Rusholme Road has since disappeared, but Grosvenor Street, just to the north, still remains;
and the cemetery is today the park known as Gartside Gardens.
The Polygon is further south and east of the cemetery, and the cluster of six expansive
dwellings there are named, just to the right of the word "CHORLTON".]

About 1834, Joseph "retired" from the firm, leaving his son Joseph Junior as a junior partner running the print department. I am not sure what transpired, but the condition placed upon him was probably significant, and may suggest something untoward had occurred - he was bound not to go into any of the same branches of business as his firm had been previously carrying on. This condition certainly acknowledged the formidable rival he would have been to his old firm, had he chosen to do so!
Joseph invested the capital he took out of the firm in new enterprises - he purchased an engineering concern at Bury from Sir Thomas WALKER, the Bury M.P. He also purchased a mill near Bolton, called "Nob End," where he wove fustian; and another at Ainsworth, near Bolton, where spinning and manufacturing were carried on.
The concern at Bury was known as LEESE, CUSSONS and DIGGLES, but did not prosper, and Joseph, realising his error, promptly decided to end his connection, and did so at considerable financial loss. George CUSSONS remained involved with Joseph in the "Ainsworth" Mill concern, along with Joseph's nephew Richard THOMPSON, who had brought in a small capital which he had acquired in working many years in his father's cotton mill in Newcastle-under-Lyme. This firm was known as LEESE, CUSSONS and THOMPSON.
Perhaps because of the experience at Bury, George CUSSONS did not survive long in this partnership, and was replaced by John RYLANDS, who injected considerable capital into it. Joseph and his nephew ultimately left it to RYLANDS' sole ownership and management.

On his "retirement," Joseph dabbled in the stock-broking industry, and his firm, HOUGHLAND and LEESE operated at 51 King Street, Manchester - as Stock and Share Brokers; Land, Building and Money Agents; and Agents to the Royal Insurance Fire and Legal Office, and to the Western Life Assurance Office (1847).
Joseph was earnestly requested by his many friends to enter the newly reconstituted Manchester Corporation as Alderman, and to become the first Mayor, which requests he declined.
He was also urged to stand as a candidate for the Liberals for one of the two new seats in Parliament which were re-instated after the Reform Bill of 1837 (they were lost after the Restoration as 'punishment' for supporting the Parliament against Charles I).
Joseph's response here was typical - after hearing them patiently, he replied:
"I feel much honoured, gentlemen, as well as flattered, by your kindness and confidence, but I cannot entertain the proposal for a minute. I am one of the most unsuitable men alive; besides which, there are plenty of simpletons in St Stephen's without going to add to the number."

But one responsibility which Joseph pursued "very actively" for a number of years, and which came to him unannounced and unsought, was his elevation to the Bench as a County Magistrate for Lancashire. This elevation took place on 14 April 1838, many years after that working men's monster meeting of 50,000 people in August 1819, called to demand reform in Parliamentary representation, and that came to be known as the Peterloo Massacre, after the then Magistrates sent in the cavalry, resulting in up to 15 dead and over 500 wounded by saber cuts. We have no evidence as to whether Joseph had an opinion on this earlier event.

Another incident occurred during his time in business. Some serious allegations surfaced concerning the "illegal" copying of printing patterns. Angry law suits were instituted, and injunctions granted by the Court of Chancery. And Joseph's business partner, James KERSHAW, seemed to be at the heart of the issue. KERSHAW was called to give evidence before a Parliamentary committee, which was investigating the claims and drafting legislation for a Copyright Bill - so severe was his cross-examination by the committee members that his health was very seriously affected. His friends later circulated a pamphlet in his defence, arguing that he had been supplied prints by a Thomas DUCKWORTH, of designs which he was unaware had been illegally copied. DUCKWORTH had spent a large amount of money extending his works, and about 1833-34 got into financial difficulties, and was unable to make repayments. Messrs LEESE, KERSHAW and CALLANDER were heavy creditors, and they proceeded to take over DUCKWORTH's works at Ardwick and Reddish, and ran them themselves.
It is probably the aftermath of this activity that led to Joseph's "withdrawal" from the firm.


The first of Joseph LEESE's two marriages took place in Wolstanton, in Staffordshire, where, in the Parish Church, on 31 December 1808, he married, by License, Ann HARRISON, daughter of John HARRISON, Hat Maker of Burton-upon-Trent, by his wife Mary BEALE. The marriage was witnessed by Thomas and Maria THOMPSON.

[The Wolstanton Parish Marriage Register.
Image from Findmypast, courtesy of Sraffordshire City Archives.]

[Part of the 1808 marriage registration in Wolstanton - the signatures of the groom and bride. 
Crown copyright PRO, courtesy of ancestry.library edition.]

Maria was Ann HARRISON's sister, and married Thomas THOMPSON at Burton-on-Trent on 26 August 1794; it was their son Richard THOMPSON, baptised at Cat Street Particular Baptist Church, Burton, on 11 April 1806, who went into business later with his uncle Joseph; it was their daughter Sophia, born at Wolstanton on 28 June 1811, who was Joseph's housekeeper in the 1861 Census, and witness to his will.

[A Portrait, from a collection in the family of Helen GILES of London, identified as Mrs Elizabeth GILES (alias PIKE).
But it is evidently too young for her, and appears very likely to be instead a portrait of Ann HARRISON.]

John HARRISON, Hat Maker, was married by H. JONES, Minister, and by License, at the Parish Church of St Modwen, Burton-upon-Trent, by License, on 22 September 1776, to Mary BEALE, Spinster, both of the Parish, and witnessed by Benjamin FRANKS and Elizabeth COTTON.

 [Part of the 1776 marriage registration at St Modwen's - the signatures of the groom and bride.
Crown copyright P.R.O., courtesy of ancestry.library edition.]

John HARRISON was possibly baptised in St Modwen's Parish Church, on 8 June 1745, the elder son of Samuel HARRISON and Mary FITCHETT (they were married in the same church on 9 August 1744, and she was buried there on 30 September 1751, having had three other children baptised there - Thomas on 2 January 1746-47, Sarah on 4 June 1748, and another Thomas on 3 November 1750, the first Thomas having been buried there on 3 August 1748). However, there was another John HARRISON in Burton-upon-Trent, making marriages in St Modwen's Parish Church on 21 January 1750 to Ann ASSTON, and in 1768 to Grace HODSON - although it is not yet clear whether this was the same John HARRISON with two marriages, or different John HARRISONs, it is clear that neither could have been our John, the Hatter.
John made his will on 26 March 1792, leaving his estate to his "...loving wife Mary" and after her death to his daughters Maria and Ann HARRISON, "... share and share alike." Mary did not prove the will in her lifetime, at least not in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, where Administration with Will was granted, on 26 August 1815, to the two residuary legatees, the daughters Maria THOMPSON, wife of Thomas THOMPSON, and Ann LEESE, wife of Joseph LEESE.
This estate included four newly built "... messuages with appurtenances" on the north side of New Street, Burton, concerning which a Deed of Release dated 1809 was made out to Thomas THOMPSON of Newcastle, Cotton Spinner, and Maria his wife, and Jos. LEESE of Burton, Draper, and Ann his wife, the co-heiresses of Mary HARRISON, deceased. [See Item D877/53, at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/]
The date of this P.C.C. "administration with will", in 1815, certainly corresponds well with Joseph's removal up to Manchester.
And it would appear, from the almost exact proximity of the dates, that John HARRISON was buried at St Modwen's Parish Churchyard, Burton-on-Trent, on 30 March 1792, and his wife Mary HARRISON alias BEALE likewise, on 16 May 1808, although it does appear that their ages were not recorded in the burial register.
Their marriage was recorded in the Register of the Parish Church of St Modwen, Burton-upon-Trent, by License, on 22 September 1776, John recorded as Hat Maker, Mary as Spinster, both of the Parish, by H. JONES, Minister, and witnessed by Benjamin FRANKS and Elizabeth COTTON.
The two girls were also named in the business or "Case" that followed the processing of yet another will - that of their mother's relation, William FRANKS, of Bristol, Gentleman, which was dated 5 March 1776, before they were even born. In this will, FRANKS appointed as his residual legatees "... Middlemore BEALE, Weaver, Charles BEALE, Grocer, and Mary BEALE, Spinster, all of Atherstone... and every the child and children of whom... issuing." The "Case" notes, found in Birmingham Archives, are undated (but clearly some time after 1808), and record that this Mary BEALE "... survived the Testator, married John HARRISON, and died in 1808 leaving two children Maria and Ann both living." Unmistakeably Maria THOMPSON and Ann LEESE!
And it is not impossible that the "belated" proving of their father's will in 1815, and in the superior Prerogative Court, that of Canterbury, may have been connected with this FRANKS legacy.
This may have been another source of money Joseph was able to take with him to Manchester - although the shares would have been small, as there appear to have been numerous BEALE cousins.

Mary BEALE was born in Atherstone, Parish of Mancetter, Warwickshire, in or about 1740, the only surviving daughter of Charles BEALE (1708-1778) of Atherstone, a "Tammy" Weaver, by his wife Ann FRANKS (died 1778); and a grand-daughter of Middlemore BEALE (1671-1729) of Atherstone, Weaver, and Sarah AUSTIN (died 1751); they appear to have been members of an English Presbyterian (or Unitarian Chapel) congregation in Mancetter.
[I am very grateful to Robert O'CONNOR of Christchurch, N.Z., for comprehensive details of the BEALE clan.]

John HARRISON may have had relations who emigrated to Pennsylvania. The will of Thomas HARRISON, Currier, a native of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, was dated in Philadelphia, 15 March 1793, and proved there on 28 August 1794. In it he names, among others, his wife Mary (possibly THORNTON, of Market Harborough, with a daughter Mary born there in 1777); sister Elizabeth (wife of Joseph HOLROYD) of the City of London; cousin Hannah LOAKE (daughter of late uncle Thomas LOAKE), nephew Thomas HARRISON; brother John HARRISON (probably of Charleston), his wife and children - as well as "... the children of John HARRISON, late of Burton-upon-Trent, Staffordshire" but who clearly was not a brother.

Ann LEESE alias HARRISON died at her residence, Green Mount, Harpurhey, near Manchester, on 27 January 1837, aged 55 [notices in WHEELER's Manchester Chronicle, and the Manchester Courier and Lancaster General Advertiser, both on Saturday 28 January 1837]; she was buried by Rev John BIRT in grave #1164, Rusholme Road Cemetery, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, on 1 February 1837, "... aged 55 years, from Harpurhey, cause of death - liver complaint" [Burial Register, Manchester City Library - imaged on Findmypast].

[The LEESE plot in the old Rusholme Road Cemetery lies in this part of present-day Gartside Gardens.
Photographed by Helen GILES of London in December 2012.]

There was no surviving Monumental Inscription for her at Rusholme Road before it was cleared to create a park - but her details were inscribed on the tabular stone covering Joseph's vault in St Mary's Churchyard, Bowdon, still clearly visible (2010), which suggests there may never have been an inscribed monument on the grave at Rusholme Road.


Joseph and Ann had the following issue:

1. Mary LEESE was born Burton-on-Trent, 24 December 1809:

[A portrait of Mrs Mary GILES. From Helen GILES of London.]

Mary died at Stoke Newington, London, on 17 March 1852, and was buried in grave Number 8584, Rusholme Road Cemetery, Chortlon-on-Medlock, aged 42; she was married in the Collegiate Church of Christ, Manchester, on 29 March 1832, to Samuel GILES, Merchant in Manchester, with issue (see the separate posting on this blog-site for his brother John Eustace GILES).

2. Anne LEESE was born at Burton-on-Trent, Staffordhsire, on 16 May 1812.

Her birth details, with that of her siblings, were recorded in the Nonconformist Registers in Dr WILLIAMS's Library in Redcross Street, near Cripplegate, London [image above courtesy of the PRO through ancestry.com].

[A silhouette of Ann LEESE, aged 11, cut "...with common scissors... without drawing or machine" in 1823
by the 13 year old child-prodigy, Master William James HUBARD - the original is in the possession of Jules DRAKE.]

[A portrait in oils identified as Anne LEESE.
It is clearly of the same style and vintage as Mary LEESE's portrait above, but clearly not Mary.
Image  from a photo posted on-line to the Brookmans Park Newsletter in 2002,and re-posted on a U.S. pedigree for
a family related to William Leese GILES, Anne's second son.
The original painting was de-accessioned in 2002 by the Flagler Museum, Florida.]

Ann died at Sheffield, 29 November 1852, and was buried in her father's plot in Rusholme Road Cemetery, Manchester; she was married, at the Collegiate Church, Manchester, 1832, as his second wife, to Rev John Eustace GILES, with issue (see his separate posting).

3. Eliza LEESE was born at Burton-on-Trent, 13 November 1813; she was at Broughton, Lancs, 1841 Census, with husband and son; at Sutton, Hester, Middlesex, 1851 Census, Boarder, with husband visiting, 1851 Census; she died at Sutton, near Hounslow, 12 June 1851.

Eliza was married at the Collegiate Church, Manchester, 3 May 1836, to James Francis WATCHURST, Calico Printer; he also recorded as a Silk Manufacturer, of the firm NUTTAL, GILES and WATCHURST, Moseley Street; with issue:
a. James WATCHURST, born 24 March 1837, and buried Bowdon, 27 March 1837, aged 3 days.
b. James WATCHURST (II), born at Chorlton, June quarter 1838, and with his parents, 1841, aged 3 years.
c. Elizabeth Sophia WATCHURST, born 16 November 1840, and buried Bowdon, 27 May 1841, aged 6 months.

4. Joseph LEESE Junior was born at Chorlton, Manchester, 13 February 1815:

[Joseph LEESE, 1 March 1865 - from the album of Helen GILES of London.]

Part of his education took place at Barton Hall School in Patricroft, under the care of William GILES, who would in time become Joseph's brother-in-law.

[A testimonial in favour of William GILES's school, written by Joseph LEESE Sr, April 1834, 
and published in the Manchester Times and Gazette, Saturday 5 April.]

Joseph was a Cotton Merchant, of Manchester and Dunham Massey; he died at Southport, Lancashire, 28 April 1906, and was buried in the first LEESE plot (#1798), in the burying ground of St Mary's parish Church, Bowdon, on 1 May; he was married at the Parish Church, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, 23 August 1842, to Frances Susan SCURR (second daughter of John SCURR, Merchant of Everton and of Montevideo); she was buried in her husband's plot on 6 August 1890; they had issue:
a. Spencer LEESE, born Chorlton, Lancashire, June quarter 1843 [Volume 20, page 238?]; Cotton Spinner in Preston; Artist; died 5 June 1894; married at Stockport, 1865, Mary Ellen HUDSON, with issue:
     i. Joseph LEESE, born Preston, 4 August 1866, Analytical Chemist and Musician.
     ii. Mabel LEESE, born Manchester, 1867.
     iii. Mary Frances LEESE, born Preston, 1868, and died Ormskirk, 1883.
     iv. Jessie LEESE, born Preston, 1869.
     v. Nora LEESE, born Preston, 1871.
     vi. Gertrude LEESE, born Preston, 1872.
     vii. Hilda LEESE, born Preston, 1874.
     viii. Arnold Spencer LEESE, born Fylde, 1878, Veterinary Surgeon, specialising in Camels, and interned during the war for his Fascist views, died 1956, and married.
     ix. John Scurr LEESE, born Ormskirk, 1889, Private, 6th Manchesters, and "...vanished forever" at Kinthia, Gallipoli.
b. Joseph Francis LEESE, born 28 February 1845; Recorder of Manchester, M.P. for Accrington, and the 1st Baronet of Send Holme; died at Guildford, Surrey, 29 July 1914; married on 20 November 1867, Mary Constance HARGREAVES, with issue:
     i. William Hargreaves LEESE, born Guildford, 1868; 2nd Baronet; married Violet Mary SANDEMAN (born 19 October 1869); she was at Wood Ridder, Cuckfield, Sussex, 1939 Register, a Widow, with her daughter and son-in-law; they had issue, including Sir Oliver LEESE, the W.W. 2 Army General who had served under MONTGOMERY at Alamein, and Betty Violet M. LEESE (born 28 September 1899, the wife of Robert H.M. DRAKE).
     ii. Vernon Francis LEESE, born Kensington, 1870, and married Edith Gwendoline STEVENSON.
     iii. Neville LEESE, born Preston, 1872, and married Matilda SAUNDERS.
     iv. Theodore LEESE, born Fylde, 1874.
     v. Cecil Mellor LEESE, born Fylde, 1876, and married Jessie TOURNAY.
     vi. Constance Alice LEESE, born Kensington, 1878, and married Lt-Col Sidney R.G. KENDALL.
     vii. Dorothy Violet LEESE, born Woking, 26 November 1882, and married Leonard Curlie RAWLENCE, Engineer (born 19 March 1881); they were at Invar Moriston, Walton and Weybridge, Surrey, 1939 Register.
     viii. Clive LEESE, born Woking, 1885, and married Dorothy DICKINSON.
c. Frances LEESE, born 30 November 1846 and Registered Chorlton, March quarter 1847 [Volume 20, page 247]; buried by Rev Francis TUCKER, on 13 May 1847, in Grave 1164 (Joseph LEESE Senior's plot), Rusholme Road Cemetery, Chorlton, aged 5 months, cause of death "...spasm of the glottis" [Cemetery Register - imaged on Findmypast].
d. Sarah Elizabeth LEESE, born Chorlton, 20 April 1848, and Registered June quarter [Volume 20, page 264]; buried in her parents' plot, 13 July 1880, aged 32, unmarried.
e. John Scurr LEESE, born 21 September 1851; buried in his parents' plot, 16 November 1852, aged 14 months.
f. Ernest LEESE, born at Bowdon, 30 November 1854; Cotton Spinner and Manufacturer; Stockbroker.

Ernest died at Southport, 15 November1913; married at Salford, 1887, Ethel AGNEW with issue:
     i. Ernest Henry LEESE, born Eccles, 1888.
     ii. Charles Phillip LEESE, born Eccles, 1889, and died 1947.
g. Walter LEESE, born Altrincham, Cheshire, 18 November 1856, and Registered December quarter [Volume 8A, page 149]; he was buried in his parents' plot, 3 July 1857, aged 7 months.
h. Harriet Katherine LEESE, born Altrincham, March qtr 1863 [Volume 8a, page 149]; she married at London, October 1899, John Davies WILLIAMS, LL.D.

5. Maria LEESE was born at Chorlton, 23 August 1816; she witnessed her father's second marriage in 1838; she died at Bowdon, 31 August 1849, aged 33; she married at Altringham, September quarter 1848, John SANDS, Merchant in London.


Joseph married secondly, at Leeds, on 17 May 1838, Mary OASTLER, the widow of William BRACEWELL, of Leeds (she was born at Thirsk, Yorkshire, 29 December 1785, daughter of Robert OASTLER, of Leeds, by Sarah SCURR, and a sister of Richard OASTLER, the Tory Radical known as the "Factory King").

[A portrait of Mrs Mary LEESE, probably Joseph LEESE's second wife Mary OASTLER. From Helen GILES of London.]

This marriage was not without a little controversy. Joseph and Mary had intended the marriage to be solemnised in the Baptist Church in Leeds by his son-in-law Rev John Eustace GILES. But the law governing Licenses under which Dissenting Ministers could marry had a strict residency requirement, which Joseph could not meet, and so arrangements had to be made at the last minute for the official ceremony to be conducted in the Parish Church. The Tory "Intelligencer" newspaper took great delight in pointing out the irregularity in the Leeds "Mercury" marriage notice, published on Saturday 19 May 1838, which failed to observe that they were married in an established church:
"On Thursday... Joseph LEESE, Esq, of Greenmount House, Harpurhey, Manchester, to Mrs BRACEWELL, Sheepscar Cottage, in this town. The religious service associated with this marriage was performed at the Baptist Chapel, South Parade, by the Rev J.E. GILES."

By her, Joseph had no further issue. She died at the residence of her sister (Mrs Ann CADMAN), at Sheepscar, Leeds, on 29 May 1854, aged 68, and was buried at St Mary's Churchyard, Bowdon.


Joseph was enumerated in three English Census returns, as follows:
     i. 1841 - at Mount Highe, Broughton, Lancs, aged 55+, Calico Printer; with (second wife) Mary LEESE, aged 55+; (son) Joseph LEESE, 25+; (daur) Maria LEESE, 20+; and three female servants.
     ii. 1851 - at 59 Richmond Hill, Bowdon, Cheshire, aged 68, Out of Business, born Tutbury; with (second) wife Mary, 65, born Thirsk; daughter Mary GILES, 41; grand-daughter Maria GILES, aged 15, born Manchester; and Elizabeth WITHNALL, 22, born Manchester, recorded as his "adopted" daughter.
[Curiously, in December 1830, a firm of Manufacturers and Warehousemen in Manchester was wound up - the partners were William DENBY, J. WITHANALL and Joseph LEESE - I would not be surprised if this was our Joseph LEESE (I can think of no other), and the father of Elizabeth WITHNALL; see The Law Advertiser, Gazette, 21 January 1831. Further, John WITHNALL and Elizabeth ENGLISH had two children baptised at the Collegiate Church in Manchester - Elizabeth WITHNALL, baptised 14 February 1833, who would have been aged 18 in the 1851 Census; and Joseph Leese WITHNALL, baptised 2 July 1834, who appears to have emigrated to Christchurch, New Zealand.]
     iii. 1861 - at 1 Rose Hill, Bowdon, Cheshire, aged 78, Retired Business; with niece Sophia THOMPSON, 49, Unmarried, Housekeeper.

[A photo of a portait in oils of a man identified as Sir William LEESE.
Probably instead another mis-identification, and instead that of an older Joseph LEESE, Senior, father of Anne LEESE.
Image taken from a photo posted on-line to the Brookmans Park Newsletter in 2002,
and re-posted on a U.S. pedigree for a family related to William Leese GILES, Anne's second son.
The original painting was de-accessioned in 2002 by the Flagler Museum, Florida.]

Joseph was a Baptist, although when he came to that cause is unknown. His children were all christened by the Baptists; he was a Deacon at the Baptist Church in York Street, Manchester, when he purchased a building at Binkley Bank near Stockport, about 1835, for use of the Particular Baptist congregation there, although it was too far out of town for them to use it; he was noted as a considerable benefactor to the Baptist cause, with a donation, in 1837, of £150 to the Baptist Missionary Society (for sending 10 new Missionaries to India), and another in 1840, of £50 to the Lancashire and Cheshire Association; he was named in the affairs of the Eccles Baptist Church in 1842, as the nominee of the Lancashire and Cheshire Association to whose care was entrusted the cause of Eccles "... with the understanding that he will close our connection with it in 12 months" [see www.mancuniensis.info/Eccles%20Baptist/CentralFP.htm]; he was also on the Building Committee of that Association; and he was "... one of the financial guarantors of William GILES' school" - William, elder brother of his two GILES sons-in-law, had left Eccles in 1838 to open his school in Ardwick.
Joseph was also named in an undated list of 78 Vice-presidents of the Union and Emancipation Society of Manchester, then operating out of an office at 51 Piccadilly, Manchester, under the aegis of Earl RUSSELL [see http://www.memory.loc.gov/ for "From Slavery to Freedom," The African American Pamphlet Collection, 1842-1909].

[Joseph LEESE's last residence at 1 Richmond Hill, Bowdon, Cheshire.]

Joseph LEESE died at 1 Richmond Hill, Bowdon, on 8 December 1861, "... after a long but not painful illness" and in his 79th year [notices in numerous newspapers, including Liverpool Mercury, Leeds Mercury, Chester Chronicle and Chester Observer]. He was buried in his own vault in St Mary's Churchyard, Bowdon, covered by a large inscribed tabular stone.

[Detail on the tabular stone covering the Joseph LEESE vault in St Mary's Churchyard, Bowdon.]

His will was proved 29 March 1862, with effects under £450; all real and personal estate to his son Joseph LEESE the younger of Bowdon, Cotton Spinner, the sole executor; witnessed by his housekeeper Sophia THOMPSON (who was also his first wife's niece) and his grand-daughter Mary Leese GILES.
But there was a hitch - evidently the date inscribed on the will was 9 December 1861, whereas the death had occurred on the Sunday the 8th; which necessitated further oaths to made by the witnesses that the will was the one signed by the testator in their presence, it having been read back to him before he signed it, and that all that had taken place on Sunday 8 December 1861, notwithstanding the incorrect date that was written on the will. These oaths were taken on 24 March 1862, at H.M.'s Court of Probate, Chester, by Sophia THOMPSON and Mary Leese GILES, both Spinsters, and both then residing at Stockport, Cheshire.

The article in the Manchester City News of 28 January 1865 (the second instalment) made some further observations of Joseph's character:
"It is universally admitted that very few men in Manchester have equalled Mr LEESE as a merchant, either in buying or selling. His fine personal appearance, and his intelligent countenance made him a universal favourite with those from whom he bought as well as with those to whom he sold. His prompt judgement and knowledge as to the value of goods, and his decisive off hand manner, led him all but invariably, never to make a second offer in buying, or to take a less price in selling than he had first quoted. Physically very strong, his energies never flagged, nor was his strength apparently ever exhausted, and the writer has often heard him say, he didn't know his own strength, and that the longest day's work was never too long for him.
"His public and private benevolences were almost proverbial, but very unostentatious. Many deserving men have had reason to be thankful for timely pecuniary aid offered at the turning point of their history, in advancing capital to set them up in business, and in solacing them under painful, personal, or family affliction, or bereavement. Out of his own purse he considerably augmented the small salaries of many of the young men in the establishment, unknown to his partners; and if they or their families wanted to go to the sea-side for health, etc, almost invariably a handsome present was made them to help cover expenses.
"The natural consequence of such consideration was a manifestation of the kindliest feeling towards him by all his employees, who would have done anything they could for him.
"...and, as he bore his great prosperity without any undue elevation, so also did he bear his heavy reverses of fortune with manly courage and resignation."

Joseph LEESE was my gt-x-3 grand-father.

[Comparative array of the three images we have of the man believed to have been Joseph LEESE.
I speculate that they were created in about 1815-20 (left), about 1830-35 (centre), and about 1858-61 (right).
I am in no doubt that they are one and the same person.]


Helen Giles said...

As usual I was looking for something completely unrelated on the internet and found this... I did not know Joseph Leese existed but he is my 4x great grandfather. Samuel Giles & Mary Leese were my 3x Great Grandparents. (Incidently my father, grandfather & great grandfather all had the name Leese as 2nd names). I have a Giles family tree by my grandfather with names & dates of a few of the people you've mentioned but it's wonderful to fill in these gaps.

Chris PIGOTT said...


Delighted to learn of the existence of another cousin - I would very much like to know of your particular connection to Samuel GILES.

Please feel free to contact me direct at cgpigott@yahoo.com.au for exchanging useful information.


Chris PIGOTT, Potts Point, N.S.W., currently on tour in Ireland & shortly to visit sacred GILES-LEESE family sites in Lancashire, Stafordshire & Devonshire.

Celia said...

I am descended from Ann Cadman nee Oastler, an elder sister of Mary Bracewell nee Oastler, the second wife of Joseph Leese. I was very pleased to be able to fill the gaps in my Leese data from your work. Thank you.
The two sisters corresponded and seem to have met quite frequently. A member of my family owns a portrait of Mary Leese.
Celia Moss, London UK

Robert O'Connor said...

John Harrison's wife was indeed Mary Beale. They were married at Burton-on-Trent on 22 Sept. 1776. I have evidence that Mary was the daughter of Charles Beale (1708-1778) and his wife Anne Franks of Atherstone, Warwickshire. Mary Beale was the sister of my ancestor Middlemore Beale (1731-1777). I have been able to trace considerable detail on the Beale family, and if you are interested in that family please don't hesitate to contact me.

Robert O'Connor

Anonymous said...

Hi - I'm trying to contact Celia Moss re a Cadman article she helped with some years ago for St John's Church Roundhay - if someone is able to pass on my email of pplb.oldfield@ntlworld.com I would be grateful. Thanks Pete Oldfield