Reference numberDDKE
TitleKenyon Family of Peel Hall
Background InformationThe papers of the Kenyon Family of Peel Hall, Little Hulton came to Lancashire Record Office in three deposits, the first in 1951 and then two more in 1995. The correspondence and papers relating to the clerkship of the peace and other offices held had been catalogued when the collection came in and in 1894 the Historical Manuscripts Commission had calendared many of the documents then still held by the Kenyon family.

The Kenyon Family

The Kenyons are an old and important Lancashire family. The name comes from the township of Kenyon in the parish of Winwick, and first appeared as a surname in the 13th century. Not much is known about the family until the beginning of the 17th century when Roger Kenyon I (1582-1636) moved from Dinckley near Blackburn to Parkhead in Whalley. The family stayed there until 1657 when Roger Kenyon II moved the family residence to Peel Hall in Little Hulton near Bolton.

A branch of the Kenyon family settled in Wales when Lloyd Kenyon, grandson of Roger Kenyon II married Jane the eldest daughter of Robert Eddowes of Eagle Hall, Cheshire and his wife Anne, daughter and heiress of the Revd Richard Hilton of Gredington, in the parish of Hanmer in Flintshire. On the death of the Revd Hilton Lloyd Kenyon moved to Gredington, which is where the present Lord Kenyon resides today.

The Kenyon family were influential in Lancashire for many generations through their official positions and through their work as attorneys, clergymen, doctors and members of parliament. For example, Roger Kenyon II as well as being Clerk of the Peace for Lancashire and Governor of the Isle of Man, was a Member of Parliament for Clitheroe from 1690-1695. His son George had been the Recorder for Wigan Borough in 1698 and became an MP for Wigan from 1713-1715. He was also Vice Chancellor of the Palatine of Lancaster in 1706.

Edward Kenyon was Rector of Prestwich, a large and important parish between 1660 and 1668. His son, Dr. Roger Kenyon, was a physician to James II between 1690 and 1701, while he was living in exile at St Germain in France. Robert Kenyon was Rector of Salford and Library Keeper at Chetham's Library in Manchester from 1764. George Kenyon, 2nd Baron Kenyon of Gredington was a founding member of the Loyal Orange Order in England from 1810 to 1836.

Roger Kenyon II married Alice Rigby of Peel Hall in 1657, which brought with it, after a long and protracted dispute, both the hall and the clerkship of the peace. His father Roger Kenyon I had married Jane Assheton daughter of Richard Assheton of Chadderton and one of the Asshetons of Downham Hall. His son George married his cousin Anne, daughter of Revd Edward Kenyon of Prestwich and their daughter Mary married Lloyd, 1st Lord Kenyon in 1773 connecting the Lancashire and Welsh branches of the family. Dorothy Kenyon (1664-1729), George Kenyon I's sister, married the Revd Richard Wroe, Warden of the Collegiate Church in Manchester (now the Cathedral). George Kenyon, 2nd Baron Kenyon of Gredington married Margaret Emma Hanmer, daughter of Sir Thomas Hanmer, 2nd Bart of Hanmer in Flintshire.

Roger Rigby had obtained the office of Clerk of the Peace in 1592 by letters patent. He then acquired a further letters patent making the office hereditary. Alexander Rigby of Wigan, who had been legally trained at Gray's Inn, became Deputy Clerk of the Peace. After falling into considerable debt, Roger sold the office to Alexander in 1612. The office then passed on his death to Alexander's youngest son George. George died in 1644 leaving one surviving daughter as his heir, which led to a long dispute with her uncle Joseph Rigby as to who should inherit the clerkship of the peace. Following Alice's marriage to Roger Kenyon II of Parkhead in Whalley in 1657 the dispute was concluded and Roger obtained the office of Clerk of the Peace in 1660. The office then passed to the Kenyon family.

Lloyd, 1st Baron Kenyon of Gredington

Lloyd Kenyon (1732-1802) was raised to the peerage as Baron Kenyon of Gredington, Flintshire in 1788. Born in 1732, the second son of Lloyd Kenyon of Gredington and his wife Jane, daughter of Robert Eddowes of Eagle Hall in Cheshire, the younger Lloyd was first educated at a day school in Hanmer and then at Ruthin Grammar School. At seventeen he was articled to a solicitor called Tomkinson in Nantwich in Cheshire and entered as a student of the Middle Temple in 1750. On Tomkinson's refusal to take him on as a partner he left for London and was called to the Bar in 1756. It was through his influential friendship with John Dunning (later Lord Ashburton) that Lloyd first secured regular work and a small practice of his own at Lincolns Inn. On the death of his father in 1755, Lloyd succeeded to the family estates at Gredington and married his cousin Mary, daughter of George Kenyon of Peel Hall. In 1780 he was appointed as chief justice of Chester and was returned as Member of Parliament for Hindon in Wiltshire. In 1784 he was sworn in as Master of the Rolls, became a member of the Privy Council and was knighted. During this time he spoke in the defence of Warren Hastings during the debates upon the motion for his impeachment. In 1788 Lloyd was appointed as Lord Chief Justice by William Pitt, with the title of Baron Kenyon of Gredington. Following the death of his eldest son in 1800 Lloyd's health failed and he died in 1802 leaving his eldest surviving son George to inherit the barony.

Peel Hall, Little Hulton

Alexander Rigby, Wigan attorney and alderman, first leased Peel Hall, Little Hulton, in 1595. Four years later he extended the lease and obtained the mineral rights with the aim of taking financial advantage of the coal-rich land. When Alexander died in 1621 his youngest son, George, who was training to be an attorney at Gray's Inn, inherited Peel Hall.

Improvements were made to the Hall following George Rigby's marriage to Beatrix Hulton. A new east wing was built, including the oak parlour with an elaborate and fashionable heraldic mantelpiece. In front of the house they created a large courtyard, surrounded by a wall and with a fine gatehouse, from where George ran his legal business. This building work was commemorated by a carved inscription on the gatehouse: G R B Peace be within these walls - 1637.

Peel Hall and its estates - covering land lying south of the ancient highway running from Manchester in the north west direction to Bolton - then passed to the Kenyon family when Alice Rigby married Roger Kenyon II in 1657. To commemorate this, and to reflect their victory in the dispute over the clerkship of the peace, Alice and Roger replaced the centre panel of the oak parlour with the Kenyon coat of arms quartering Rigby.

The very reason that Alexander Rigby had originally leased the Hall caused its eventual demise and demolition in the 1930s. Peel was rich with coal and this was increasingly exploited in the late 19th century by leases to various collieries, as the Kenyon family moved their residence to Gredington in Flintshire. Eventually Kenyon Peel Hall, as it became known, was demolished to make way for the Salford Corporation's Little Hulton overspill housing programme.
Related materialPrinted sources:- Historical Manuscripts Commission 14th Report, Appendix, Part IV."Kenyon v. Rigby: The struggle for the Clerkship of the Peace in Lancashire in the seventeenth century", by J.J. Bagley, M.A., Transactions of Historic Society of Lancashire & Cheshire, volume 106
The Thieveley Lead Mines 1629-1635, edited by R. Sharpe France, M.A., Lancashire & Cheshire Record Society, volume 102
ArrangementThe completion of this catalogue was made possible by the Cataloguing Grants Programme 2006/2007 funded by the Pilgrim Trust and Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Initial cataloguing and sorting of this collection has meant that any evidence of the original order and provenance of many of the papers has been lost. As a result, an artificial arrangement has been imposed in an attempt to restore some context. For example, many of the documents of title and other papers had been sorted by place, however it became apparent that many of these documents related to legal cases or legal work carried out by the Kenyon family.

The wills, bonds and letters of attorney were all put togther in chronological order whether they were family wills or those relating to legal cases. While wills and inventories may be better placed within personal and family papers, they have been given their own series because of the way they were originally sorted and because they do not only relate to the Rigby and Kenyon families.

As a result of the marriage of Roger Kenyon II and Alice Rigby in 1657 many of the Rigby family papers are among those of the Kenyon family.

Items calendared by the Historical Manuscripts Commission in 1894, which were deposited in 1995 have been retained as a separate series and placed at the end of the catalogue.
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