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In sundry letters from the Lords of the Council to the Earl of Derby and the Bishop of Chester of his day, Nowell figures as interceding on behalf of his "brother Towneley." On one occasion the object of his intercession is that John Towneley, then imprisoned at Manchester for recusancy, should be allowed to proceed to London, “he having fallen into certain diseases, whereof he is desired to be cured here, where it is supposed that best advice and help may be had. We have been contented to yield some favour unto him in that behalf, and therefore pray your lordships to give order that he may be sent up hither in the company of some trusty person whom you shall appoint, to the intent, on the understanding he be not suffered to go out of the way to any other house besides the ordinary inns but come directly hitherto in such sort as the state of his body may conveniently bear. And at his coming we mind to take further order what shall be done with him." Which letter the Bishop of Chester (Chadderton), smelling a rat, docketed thus: "For Mr. Towneley to be sent by reason of a feigned information given by the Dean of St. Paul's of his sickness."
On another occasion, my Lords direct the Earl of Derby and the Bishop to allow John Towneley to leave prison for a time "upon his own bond in a good sum of money" on his plea that he has in hand "great causes and suits for land, a marriage to be made in Lincolnshire for his daughter." They are more inclined to grant him this favour because they are "informed that the said Towneley (his religion excepted) doth carry himself dutifully and quietly." Finally (5th July, 1584), they order his release because he has paid the money appointed and limited by statute, "and as justice ought to be done even to recusants, it is not fair to inflict a double punishment."
Charles and Christopher Towneley, two of the grandsons of this much-suffering John, became more or less distinguished, though in very different ways. ways. The younger, Christopher, was the first of the family to achieve a certain reputation out of the sphere of mere Lancashire squirearchy, and irrespectively of loyalty to unsuccessful causes, religious and political. Christopher Towneley was the friend of Jeremiah Shackerley, of Sir Jonas Moore, whose family resided near, also a friend and correspondent of Crabtree, who was the friend of Jeremiah Horrocks, and he thus belonged to the remarkable little group of astronomical and scientific observers and students in the northern counties, the members of which were busy with their tranquil pursuits when the great civil war of the seventeenth century began. Christopher, too, devoted himself to antiquarianism even more than to science. He was the friend and coadjutor of Dr. Kuerden, whose MSS. collections are so well known and so often referred to, and in conjunction with whom he planned a history of Lancashire.
Christopher Towneley resided at Hapton Tower, one of the possessions of the family obtained through marriage with the Leghs. Nothing now remains of this building except the foundation and portions of the carved masonry in neighbouring farmhouses.
After his marriage, in 1640, he removed to Carr Hill, which he left on the death of his wife, and again removed to Moorhiles, which he either rebuilt or repaired, placing his initials and the date on the Stonehead there. He died in 1674.
ITUATE in the midst of the Cheshire plain, at
about two hundred feet above the sea (in which respect it compares favourably with the neighbouring parishes), Mobberley enjoys a climate, which, for Cheshire at all events, may be regarded as rather bracing than otherwise. The annually increasing number of visitors who take lodgings at the farmhouses, in order to benefit by the purity and freshness of the air may be regarded as a fair guage of the opinion entertained as to its healthiness.
Though not hilly the country is undulating, and there are many well-wooded vales through which the roads pass dipping down to cross over one or other of the three streams which traverse the parish at various parts. There is no lack of springs of excellent water throughout the whole district-the depth of the wells varying considerably-those, for example, near the station, being about twelve to fifteen feet, while those by the church reach as much as forty feet. The soil is for the most part rich and loamy with sandy subsoil-but in parts there are clay banks.
On the east side lies the well known bog called Lindow Common, from which turf is cut and used for fuel. In certain parts of this common the Osmunda fern is found. Here also is a large boulder-stone-supposed never to have been disturbed since the time it was deposited there thousands of years ago-formed of Eskdale granite. It measures four and three quarters feet by three and a quarter by one and a half. There are two other boulders
of the same description near the church measuring four feet by three and a half by three, and two and a half by one and a half by half, respectively, also two others opposite the iron gates below the church, and one at the corner of the road by Sunny Bank Farm.
The trees in Mobberley are not of a very first-class order, being mostly hedgerow timber. The finest are a row of elms from the guide post to the Manor House, and the lime trees around the churchyard. The yew tree in the churchyard is of great size and age, and of a beautiful shape, it measures fifty-four feet in diameter and nine feet round the bole. There is one venerable oak about a mile and a half from the church, whence the farm near which it grows takes its name of the "Broad Oak Farm."
Mobberley is rich in wild flowers-and some rare ones amongst them.
There are three kinds of heath, cranberry, and once a single plant of crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) was found on Lindow Common. Also on Lindow Common, Andromeda polifolia and a rare kind of rush called Rhyncospora alba, the round-leafed and the long-leafed sundew, Bog-asphodel, and Viola palustris, and a pretty little creeping plant called Corydalis claviculata.
Near the old farm of Orrell House the sawwort is to be found. Along the brook below the church the Geum
rivale is found, and on the clayland, Chlora perfoliata and Erythrea centaurea.
Ferns, Polypodium dryopteris and Lastrea oreopteris (the scented fern). Wall Rue grows on the Old Hall and at Antrobus Hall. In the Bollin Wood is plenty of Paris quadrifolia, and in many of the pits the Bladder wort is to be found; also in the Bollin Wood is found in large quantities the sylvan forget-me-not and Campanula latifolia.
There is also an unusual variety of wild birds, amongst others of the less common, the king-fisher, the yellow wagtail, the green woodpecker; a pair of gros beaks were seen one year in the garden of the Manor House, but have not since appeared.
The old corn mill, mentioned in Ormerod's History of Cheshire, as belonging in 1615 to George Talbot, of Grafton, and sold by him to Carrington, was for many years unused. About thirty years ago it was turned into à silk mill, and afterwards used for making the Albert crape. Three years ago it was vacated, and in 1891 was pulled down. In the seventeenth century there were several rope-walks, mostly attached to farmhouses. Mobberley wakes are held in October, on the Sunday nearest to the twelfth; but as holidays have become more frequent, and travelling easier, these anniversaries have become less important.
Mobberley is rich in old farmhouses of about the Tudor period, with stone corners and stone copings. Some of these have most beautiful oak panelling-as for example Saltersley, on the edge of Lindow Common; the Old Hall, now the residence of Mr. Ernest Leycester; Town Lane Hall; Antrobus Hall; and Duckinfield Hall. There are still a few black-and-white houses and cottages. remaining, with stone or thatched roofs. At the east