Did the Burgess Family live in the Tarporley Manor House in Cheshire for hundreds of years?
I found an article headed “Our Dairies by Ephorus” on Page 6 of the Brighton Southern Cross dated Sat 3rd November 1917. It tells the story of my Great Grandfather, Joseph Burgess, and the dairies he owned in St Kilda in Melbourne at the time.
Joseph was born in Tarporley, Cheshire on 2 Jul 1864 to Joseph Burgess and Lydia Burgess, formerly Brooke as per his birth certificate. If you’ve read the article above, however, you will have noticed that he said he was born on that day in the Manor House Tarporley which was built for Ralph Done Esquire in 1545 and bequeathed to the Dean of the Chester Cathedral. He also states that the Burgess family had lived in the house for the greater part of all these hundreds of years. This is a question for debate amongst my cousins who are also actively researching the family.
My research project for the year was to follow the Burgess family back in time to Tarporley to find out if they did have this long-standing relationship with Tarporley Manor House.
The 1841 census shows a James Brooke and his wife Mary & family living in Tarporley, next door to the Tarporley Manor House where a Henry Brookes lives. I know that James and Mary Brookes were the parents of Lydia Margaret Brookes who had married the father of Joseph Burgess of our dairies. But who was Henry? Well, I still can’t track down his relationship to the family but I’m sure there is one. He was born in Tarporley but James was born in Kirkburton in West Yorkshire to Daniel and Sarah Brooks (née Heyworth).
James Brook and Mary Vernon married on 28 Sep 1824 in Tarporley. Mary Vernon was from Willington in Cheshire. The Vernon name has been linked to the Tarporley Manor House over the years and, in the future, I will find that history as she is my 3rd Great Grandmother.
James and Mary had a daughter, Lydia Margaret on 16 Mar 1831. She married Joseph Burgess in Tarporley on 16 Aug 1858. Joseph had been born on 10 October 1822 in Tarporley. Lydia and this Joseph are my Great Great Grandparents. I will refer to him as Joseph Snr since their son, Joseph, is my Great Grandfather and the one with the dairies in St Kilda.
So where does Joseph Snr come from? The Burgess family had land in Utkinton, a village 3.5km north of Tarporley and within the parish of Tarporley. His parents were John Burgess born in 1787 in Utkinton and Mary Dilworth, born in Cholmond, Cheshire about 1798. The Cheshire Tithe Maps of 18 Jan 1838 show that the Burgess family of John, George, Joseph, Richard and Thomas owned 13 lots in Utkinton. John occupied and farmed Lots 7,8,9,10 and 11 and rented out the other eight lots which would seem to indicate that they were quite well-off.
The 1851 census shows James Brook 52 and wife Mary 49 lived in Tarporley with their children: Lydia 20, Mary 17, Sarah 12 and James Vernon Brook 5. James Snr was a woollen draper and farmer of 51 acres employing three labourers. Henry Brookes is 47 and a retired farmer, and he and his wife Mary 28 lived elsewhere in Tarporley. William Brookes 21 and his wife Sarah lived in the Manor House next to James and his family. William was farming 82 acres and employed two labourers. William was the son of James and Mary and Lydia’s sister.
The 1861 census shows that Joseph and Lydia lived in Grove Cottage, Over and he was a Miller. They had two sons, John who was one and Brooke who was 1 month old. In 1864, not long after Joseph was born, Joseph Snr won a prize in the local show for his cheeses so they were obviously good dairy farmers even then.
In the 1871 census, William had moved to a small farm of ten acres with his family and Joseph Burgess and his wife, Lydia Margaret Brookes, William’s sister lived in the Manor House. James Brooke had died and his widow, Mary 69 lived in the house next door with her son, James Vernon Brookes 25 who farms 50 acres and employs two labourers. Her daughter Sarah Brookes and grandson James Brookes Herbert also lived there. Perhaps Mary gave the young ones the bigger house as their family was larger.
We know his parents didn’t live in the Manor House in 1861 but they were there in 1871 but I can’t find when they moved at this stage so all we know for sure is that he was living in the Manor House by the time he was seven.
However, this family notice in the Cheshire Observer on 22 Feb 1868 shows that Joseph’s brother died in the Manor House in 1868: ‘On the 13th instant at the Manor House Tarporley, Harry Lee Burgess, son of Joseph and Lydia Burgess aged one year and six months’. His sister, Mary Elizabeth, also died in the Manor House on 1 Jul 1870, she was seven years and eight months old. Sadly, another sister, Mabel Francis, died in 1872.
These were dreadful years for the family for other reasons too. A cattle plague hit the district in 1866 and many of their cattle had to be slaughtered. It seems that they never recovered from this and Joseph Snr was declared bankrupt on 8 Jan 1874.
The 1881 census showed that the family had moved to Upper End, Hepworth in Yorkshire where Joseph Snr and his eldest son, John, were farm bailiffs, his son Brooke was a grocer’s apprentice and Joseph was a piecer in a woollen mill. On 7 Feb 1887, Joseph and his brother Brooke arrived in Melbourne on the Gilreux to start a new life. They were followed by Joseph Snr, Lydia and their daughter Lydia, arriving in Melbourne on the Austral on 16 Feb 1888.
I’ve concluded that Joseph lived in the manor house from at least 1868 until sometime after 1874 but he was living in Yorkshire by 1881. I know that the Burgess family has not lived in the Manor House for hundreds of years but whether Joseph’s maternal line of the Brookes and Vernon families did so, will have to be the next research I undertake. A cousin of mine is going to Tarporley next year and will see what she can discover about the family. Meanwhile I will keep researching.
 1917 ‘Our Dairies.’, Brighton Southern Cross (Vic. : 1896 – 1918), 3 November, p. 6. , viewed 07 Aug 2023, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article75018858
 The name changes from Brookes to Brooke to Brook to Brooks in the records.
 Cheshire Observer, Saturday 22 February 1868 found British Newspaper Archives at gsq.org.au on 24 Aug 2019
 Chester Chronicle Thursday 8 July 1870 British Newspaper Archives found at GSQ 24 Aug 2019
 ‘© Crown Copyright Images reproduced by courtesy of The National Archives, London, England. www.NationalArchives.gov.uk & www.TheGenealogist.co.uk