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Elizabeth (1570), when he was only just of age, leaving a son, Christopher, aged two years,* during whose minority the estate was granted to Gilbert Sherrington, gentleman, who released the same to Thomas Leigh, of Alcrington, gentleman. In the life of the young heir to the Tonge estate there was a somewhat romantic episode, the particulars of which are recited in a deed dated in the 32 Elizabeth (1589-90), which sets forth that Thomas Leigh, having the wardship of Christopher Tonge, and "not having the fear of God before his eyes," "by threats and otherways," gave "Christopher Tonge to understand that Peter Heywood, of Heywood, his Uncle, would do nothing for him, whereby his lands would be lost," and thus prevailed upon him, when only fifteen years of age, to marry a "notorious harlot," one Katherine Jackson, by whom he himself had had several children. Whereupon Peter Heywood, on behalf of Christopher Tonge, exhibited a bill of complaint in the Court of Wards, and called witnesses to prove the incontinency of Katherine Jackson, alias Tonge, and, the Bishop of Chester's attention being drawn to the case, a divorce was granted in 1583.† Some few years afterwards Christopher Tonge married Jane, the daughter of William Bamford, of Bamford, gentleman, and in 1590, to secure his wife's jointure and prevent the children of Katherine, his former wife, inheriting his lands, he settled his estates on his father-in-law, William Bamford, and his brother-in-law, William Bamford, to certain uses.‡
Christopher Tonge died 10th February, 43 Elizabeth (1601). No will has been discovered, but shortly before his death he made a bill of sale of his goods and chattels
Duchy Records. Inq. Post-Mort., Elizabeth, xii. 9.
+ Title Deeds. Raines MSS., xiii. 174. Mention is made of his two aunts, Jane Tonge and Ellen? Title Deeds.
to Emer Bamford, in trust for the uses of his will. His son and heir was Richard Tonge, who was then three years old.* The Tonges at this time were evidently not long lived. Jane, the widow of Christopher Tonge, married in 1612 Geoffrey Holcroft, of Hurst, esquire. The wardship of Richard was granted by the queen in 1601 to Samuel Bamford.t
In 1601 there was a dispute in the Duchy Court, between Robert Holt and Emer Bamford and Ralph Hilton and others. The plaintiff claimed to hold a messuage and twelve acres of land in Tonge by lease for twenty-one years, which the late Christopher Tonge had granted to him, dated 4th February, 1601 (a few days before his death), but they alleged that the defendants, having by "sinister means" got hold of the parchments, had entered on the premises and dispossessed them. The defendants claimed that Rauf Hilton and Jane Hilton, his mother, who was eighty years old, had long occupied the house and twelve acres of land in question, but that as to the land it was "very barren, coarse more land," and was hardly worth the rent paid for it, viz., 18s. 8d. a year.
Richard Tonge lived to attain a greater age than his predecessors; he was buried at Middleton, 3rd April, 1678, and the estate passed to his son Jonathan Tonge, of Tonge Hall, who, in 1664, recorded a pedigree of four generations at the Visitation of Sir William Dugdale; he was buried at Middleton, 12th November, 1683, leaving issue a son, Richard, who also lived at Tonge, and early in the eighteenth century rebuilt or altered certain parts of the hall, as his initials with the date 1703 appear on some of the ornamental lead downspouts; he died in May, 1713, was buried at Middleton, and his will was
*Inq. Post-Mort., Elizabeth.
proved at Chester. Although in this will he mentions his newly purchased lands in Hopwood, he appears to have died insolvent as all the executors refused to act, and on 7th August, 1713, administration was granted to Henry Dickanson, a principal creditor, and in 1720 administration was granted to Thomas Kenion,* of Manchester, gentleman, of the goods left unadministered to by Henry Dickanson, then deceased.† Richard Tonge was twice married, by the first wife he had issue one daughter, who married Henry Townley, an attorney; by the second marriage he had two sons, Jonathan and Thomas, the former in 1725 demised his estate by will (which does not appear to have been proved) to his brother Thomas, with instructions that the already heavily mortgaged estates were to be sold, and accordingly in 1726 they were purchased by John Starkey, and thus passed away from the family the acres which for so many generations they had held. Thomas Tonge was buried at Middleton 14th January, 1744, and left issue.
The Hall of Tonge, after passing through several hands, is now again in the possession of a descendant of the old stock, Mr. Ashton Tonge, of Alderley, having recently purchased it. The Christian name of Ashton was a favourite one with the Tonges in the seventeenth century, and probably arose from an intermarriage with the Ashton family.
Tonge Hall, as late as 1865, was a very fair specimen of the black-and-white three-gabled style of domestic architecture, so common in the time of Elizabeth; it presented a somewhat peculiar feature in the continuous repetition of the quatrefoils in the walls, without a break
* Record Office, Duchy Pleadings, Elizabeth, clxiii., H 4 and H 4a. + Title Deeds.
in the form of "strutts " or "stanards," which has led some critics to say that its uniformity was too pronounced.* A large portion of this building has been pulled down, and what remains is used as a farm-house. The lead work of some of the ancient, beautifully designed windows is still intact; and there is still left one room with its oak panelling, dating back perhaps to the early part of the seventeenth century.
Although Tonge Hall was probably never the scene of any striking historical event, and its owners were not leaders of men, yet it is well that of them and their ancestral home the Antiquarian Society of Lancashire and Cheshire should preserve some record, so that when, perhaps, every vestige of the old building is swept away something of its history shall be found embalmed in the leaves of our Transactions.
TOOK careful notes of this most interesting Cheshire.
church in 1878, and during their revision in February, 1891, was informed that no description in detail of its peculiarities was on record. I therefore recast them as a paper for our Society, which I laid aside until I could get suitable illustrations. Having at length obtained these, through the kindness and skill of my friend Mr. J. Herbert Heywood, I have now the honour to submit my paper on this ancient structure, in the hope that some of its yet unsolved problems may receive further elucidation.
As you enter Astbury from Congleton, what appears to be the base and portion of the shaft of an ancient roadside cross is observable on the left, standing in a garden at the end of an old road. A little farther on, you come to the village green with its specimens of half-timbered houses so