Nicholas Grimshaw – Mayor of Preston, Lancashire, Seven Times

Nicholas Grimshaw, From Baines’ “History of Lancashire”

One of the most noted and successful of the Grimshaws in their native Lancashire was Nicholas, a member of the Pendle Forest line who served as mayor of Preston seven times. His noteworthy political career spanned more than 40 years, from 1790 to 1832, and included two Guild mayoralties. An excellent biographical summary for Nicholas was published in the September 22, 1877 edition of The Preston Guardian1 and is used as the basis for most of this webpage.


Website Credits

Portrait of Nicholas

Nicholas’ Location in the Pendle Forest Line of Grimshaws

Biography of Nicholas Grimshaw in The Preston Guardian

Origins and Early Years

Early Career

Political Beginnings: First Term as Guild Mayor

Subsequent Terms and Second Guild Mayoralty

Terms Six and Seven; Review of Political Accomplishments

Law Practice

Military Contributions: “Royal Preston Volunteers”

Family Life and Descendants

Death and Interment

Nicholas’ Residence on Prestigious Winckley Square

Significance of Nicholas’ Guild Mayoralty

Nicholas’ Support of Richard Arkright, Inventor of the Mechanical Spinning Machine

Information from Mavis Long on Cadley Cottage and St Michaels Church, Cockerham 

Nicholas and Esther Mary Grimshaw’s Burial Place


Website Credits

Thanks go to Hilary Tulloch for bringing the articles in The Preston Guardian to the attention of the website author. Copies of the articles were obtained from the public library in Preston in May 2000. Hilary also provided the image of Nicholas, which she obtained from Mavis Long – thanks also to Mavis. And thanks to Anne Grimshaw for bringing the Winckley Square website to the attention of the author.

Portrait of Nicholas

Nicholas Grimshaw’s portrait (in engraved form) is shown below.Nicholas Grimshaw, from a painting by Lonsdale, rendered into an engraving by Scriven. Source: Baines’ History of Lancaster2, v. iv, p. 352.

Nicholas’ Location in the Pendle Forest Line of Grimshaws

Nicholas’ position in the descendant chart for the Pendle Forest Grimshaws is shown in the companion webpage for the Pendle Forest line. He was the son of Thomas and Mary (Nocks) Grimshaw and the grandson of John and Eleanor (Stephenson) Grimshaw. He was thus a 6th generation descendant of the Nicholas Grimshaw who was the progenitor of the Pendle Forest line. The descendant chart does not include any of Nicholas
and Esther Mary (Haigh) Grimshaw’s grandchildren or subsequent descendants.

Biography of Nicholas Grimshaw in The Preston Guardian

The article in The Preston Guardian1 that contains the biography of Nicholas was the last in a series of four articles on the Pendle Forest line of Grimshaws published on consecutive Sundays from September 1 to 22, 1877 (see companionwebpage.) The biography is presented below as published, except that headings have been added to improve readability and to provide a “road map” for the webpage. Paragraph breaks have also been introduced at selected locations in the text to further improve readability.

Origins and Early Years

We have now to complete our account of this important local Family by a notice of its most conspicuous member, Nicholas Grimshaw, Esq., who sustained the office of Mayor of Preston no fewer than seven times, including two Guild years. Nicholas Grimshaw was the youngest son of Thomas Grimshaw, gent., attorney-at-law, of this town, and was born at Preston the 4th October 1757. Young Nicholas Grimshaw doubtless received the elements of his education at the Preston Grammar School, which was a Corporate dependant. But the records of that School have never yet been made accessible for publication, and we cannot state the time of the assumed admission of this scholar. The Preston School, however, was not one of much repute for the quality of the learning it imparted in the middle of the last century, and the father of Nicholas Grimshaw appears to have concluded that a better education would be obtained at the Manchester Grammar School, whither his younger son was sent in the beginning of the year 1779. The entry of his admission in the Register of the Manchester Grammar School runs:- “Nicholas, son of Thomas Grimshaw, attorney, Preston, Lancashire,” admitted Jan 12th, 1773. Nicholas was then in his 16th year, so that he must have had some prior years of schooling elsewhere. Several years after his departure from the Manchester School as a scholar, Nicholas Grimshaw kept up a connection with the school, and the editor of the School Register notes that his signature appears to resolutions passed at the meeting in 1781, for the establishment of the anniversary festivals.

Early Career

Like his elder brother John, Nicholas Grimshaw was taken by his father into his own profession as a lawyer, and after remaining with his father a few years, opened up a legal practice of his own, which was continued over half a century. About 1780 he received appointment to the office of Acting Cursitor to the County. The father, Mr. Thomas Grimshaw, being actively associated with municipal affairs in the town, it was to be expected that the son would interest himself therein. In 1782, he was in corporate office as one of the bailiffs, and as that was the year of the Guild, the subordinate function of bailiff was of more consequence than in ordinary years. The Rev. Thomas Wilson, of Clitheroe, in a poetical letter humorously describing the Guild of 1782, refers to the Bailiffs, Robinson Shuttleworth and Nicholas Grimshaw, Esqrs., in the following couplet:-

What dignity shone in the steps of each Bailiff,With the look of command the pomp of a Caliph!

Political Beginnings: First Term as Guild Mayor

In 1790, at the age of 33, Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw was elected a common councillor of Preston. Between 1795 and 1805, Mr. Grimshaw took a leading part in the local organisation of Volunteer Corps to defend the country against apprehended invasion by Napoleon. His service as a volunteer officer will be further noticed hereafter. He was elected an Alderman of Preston, in the place of Mr. John Horrocks, in the year 1801. In October of that year he was elected Mayor of Preston for the first time. His year of mayoralty covered the Guild Celebration of 1802. The position of Guild Mayor has always been esteemed in Preston one of honour and responsibility, to which the most accomplished member of the Municipality should be appointed. Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw had all the needful qualifications for the office – energy, address, dignity, sanvity, and a thorough knowledge of all local civic forms and usages.  Mr. Grimshaw, as Mayor in 1802, spared no trouble to make the celebration brilliant and successful. Among other matters, he negotiated with Mrs. Billington, the most celebrated English singer of that time, and offered to pay her whatever terms she pleased; but Mrs. Billington, for some reason of her own, did not come to the Guild. The Earl and Countess of Derby led the fashionable county coterie who supported the Mayor at this Guild. The Town Council were so well pleased with the conduct of Mr. Grimshaw as Guild Mayor, that after the Guild was past they voted a sum of fifty guineas for a service of plate for presentation to the Mayor and Mayoress, which bore, besides the borough arms and the arms of Grimshaw, the inscription:- “The Corporation of the Borough of Preston, in Common Council assembled, impressed with a deep sense of the services rendered by Nicholas Grimshaw, Esq. and his Lady, as Mayor and Mayoress, during the Guild Merchant, 1802, offers this testimony of approbation and esteem.”

Subsequent Terms and Second Guild Mayoralty

Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw’s next turn in the Mayoralty was in 1808-9; and his third term was for the year 1812-13. His fourth year of Mayoralty was in 1817-18, and when the Guild of 1822 approached, it was resolved, at the election of Mayor in October, 1821, to set aside the ordinary rota of succession of the civic chair in order to secure to the town the advantage of Mr. Grimshaw’s experienced services as Guild Mayor for the second occasion. The Guild of 1822 has been considered a memorable one for the perfection of its arrangements and grandeur of its pageantry. The Guild Mayor, Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw, was now 65 years of age; and his municipal experience and social repute enabled him to command the resources of the town in any proposal he made that was designed to give eclat to the Guild. His son, Mr. Edmund Grimshaw, fulfilled the office of Mayor’s Bailiff at this Guild. The Mayor’s own enjoyment at the great event was sadly dashed by the fatality which, early in the year 1822, deprives Mr. Grimshaw of his two younger sons (as mentioned below.) In consequence of this bereavement, the Mayoress could not participate in the public proceedings of the Guild, and the place of Mrs. Grimshaw was taken in the ceremonies by her daughter, Mrs. Atkinson. At the Fancy Ball of the Guild, on September 6th, 1822, we read that – “the Lady Mayoress’s representative, Mrs. Atkinson, was elegantly dressed in white, adorned with silver and pearls, and a Spanish hat. The Mayor was present in his usual full dress.” The Mayor’s sons, “Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw, was a fine old English gentleman; Mr. Samuel Grimshaw was splendidly attired in the costume of Richard III.” At the grand Masquerade which was presented on another evening (Sept. 13th) during the Guild of 1822, it is chronicled that “the dignified and respected Mayor and the amiable and the beautiful Mayoress [Mrs. Atkinson] appeared without masks; the former in evening full dress, the latter in a white gauze dress, tastefully ornamented with bugles, a Spanish hat with a superb plume of feathers and diamonds, diamond necklace and armlets. They took their station oat the top of the great room, and most of the company paid characteristic respects to them during the evening. Mr. Atkinson, in evening full dress, Mr. Samuel Grimshaw, in the splendid dress-uniform of the 10th Lancers, and Miss Grimshaw, in an elegant fancy dress, were attached to the Mayor’s party and unmasked.” Respecting the Mayoress’s Procession, on Sept. 3rd, we read:- “At ten o’clock, Mrs. Atkinson, the lady of Richard Atkinson, Esq., of Stodday Lodge, and daughter of the Guild Mayor and Lady Mayoress, and who personated her mother on this occasion, proceeded in her carriage to the Guild Hall. Carriages followed in rapid succession, filled with the most charming of the sex, decorated in the full costume of the ball-room, who entered the hall to pay their respects to the Lady Mayoress, to accompany her to Church, and to join in the subsequent procession.” At the Church, “Mrs. Atkinson led the magnificent train up the centre aisle; she was followed by the Countess of Derby, the Countess of Wilton, Lady Hoghton, Miss Hoghton, the Hon. Misses Stanley, and a retinue of at least 160 other ladies of the first distinction, the splendour of whose costume was only equalled by the attractive beauty of their personal charms,’ &c. Various other incidents might be reprinted of the share taken by the Mayor and the Grimshaw family in this brilliant celebration. As a memorial of this Guild a handsome silver medal was struck; upon the obverse is a profile bust in relief of the Guild Mayor, vested in the civic robes, with the words “N. Grimshaw, Esq., Mayor of Preston at the Guilds of 1802 and 1822.” On the reverse are two oval shields, bearing respectively the arms of Preston, and the arms of Grimshaw impaled with those of Haigh (the family of Mrs. Grimshaw). Surrounding the shields are the words “Insignia Ville de Preston.”

Terms Six and Seven; Review of Political Accomplishments

Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw continued to lead the councils of the Municipality, and in the year 1825-6 he served the office of Mayor for the sixth time. Five years subsequently, in October, 1830, he was elected Mayor of Preston for the seventh and last time. Between thirty and forty years consecutively he was an Alderman of the Borough, and for many years before his death he had been senior Alderman and “Father of the Corporation,” as his brother Alderman John Grimshaw had been before his decease in 1821. We have stated that Mr. Grimshaw was in his time the first authority on all questions of municipal law and usage – matters that in old boroughs could only be understood thoroughly by one who was master of the contents of the town’s charters and muniments, and minutely conversant with all the facts of its corporate history, as the manuscript notes Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw left behind him, some of which are in possession of the proprietor of The Guardian prove that gentleman to have been.  Mr. Grimshaw was likewise a diligent searcher into the historical antiquities of the town and district, and we recently printed in these “Sketches” as a note, a letter from Mr. Edward Baines, the author of the “History of Lancashire,” to Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw, written in 1835, in which acknowledgement is made of the county historian’s large indebtedness to Mr. Grimshaw for information in the composition of his chapter on the history of Preston Parish. The collection of valuable papers and documents made by Mr. Grimshaw ought to have been secured entire for our local Shepherd Library, but they have recently been disposed of by auction sale, and have passed into the hands of several private purchasers. Such of them as have been secured for the Editor’s Library at The Guardian office have already been to some extent drawn from for documentary material illustrating local and family history, for the benefit of readers of this journal interested in such matters, and more of the same manuscripts may hereafter be utilised by citation in these columns.

Law Practice

Mr. Grimshaw had a good private practice as a solicitor in this town. He entered into a partnership in the law business with Mr. Richard Palmer, many years Town Clerk of Preston, and the name of Mr. Grimshaw’s younger son, Mr. Samuel Grimshaw, was added to the firm, which in 1823 appears with the style of “Grimshaw, Palmer, and Grimshaw,” practising as attorneys, at 10, Winckley street, Preston. It has before been named that Mr. Niocholas Grimshaw held from 1780 or thereabouts the public appointment of Acting Cursitor of the County of Lancaster; and from 1801 or 1802 until his death he had the appointment of Clerk to the Magistrates. he and his partner, Mr. Palmer, were jointly Clerks to the Commissioners for the Improvement of Preston. Mr. Grimshaw himself was placed in the Commission of the Peace for the County. During the shrievalty of several High Sheriffs he served the county as Under Sheriff. When he died he was the senior legal practitioner in Lancashire. The business of the legal firm was continued after his death by his son, Mr. Samuel Grimshaw; and altogether by three generations of the Grimshaws the practice of the law was maintained in Preston nearly a century and a half.

Military Contributions: “Royal Preston Volunteers”

Next to his able and lengthened service of highest civic office, the zealous efforts of Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw in the patriotic rising for the defence of the country in the last years of the last century, and first years of the present century, was the sphere of his activity in which he won most laurels. He was chiefly instrumental in raising the powerful corps embodied as the “Royal Preston Volunteers” in the year 1797; and he was commissioned successively as captain commandant, major, and lieut.-colonel of this corps. The corps was kept up in an increasing condition of strength and efficiency for more than four years. At the close of the war the corps was disbanded in the year 1802. At a vestry meeting held on the 20th of April, 1802, “Lieut.-Col. Nicholas Grimshaw, of the Royal Preston Volunteers, attended on behalf of himself and corps now about to be disbanded in consequence of the happy termination of the war, and stated that he had already obtained permission from the Vicar and Churchwardens to place his colours (being a present from the Ladies of the town) on the east end of the [Parish] Church, on each side of the arch leading into the chancel, and also to put up along with them either a new painting of the King’s arms or some suitable device in lieu thereof, and requested the sanction of the Vestry for these purposes.” The request was acceded to, and the flags with the royal arms were fixed in the Preston Parish Church accordingly. On the dissolution of the corps, the officers presented the wife of their Lieut. Col. with a full length portrait of Mr. Grimshaw, painted by Allen.  Afterwards a military corps was raised, which was called the “Amounderness Local Militia,” and Mr. Grimshaw was again commissioned as Lieut.-Colonel. This corps was in turn disbanded in 1818, when a piece of silver plate was presented by the officers to Lieut. Colonel Grimshaw, inscribed:- “Presented by his brother officers to Lieut.-Col. Grimshaw, of the Amounderness Local Militia, and formerly of the Royal Preston Volunteers, in testimony of their sincere regard, and of the high sense entertained by them of his patriotic zeal, gentlemanlike conduct, and military ability, so eminently displayed by him in a twenty years’ command of the above corps, and in a season of imminent peril, during which a generous sacrifice was made of private interest and convenience to the cause of his country.”

Family Life and Descendants

Nicholas Grimshaw, Esq., married Miss Esther Mary High (this lady survived him nearly sixteen years, and died the 20th December, 1853). By her he had issue, sons, William; George henry, died in infancy; Edmund; Samuel; Nicholas Charles, and George Henry. The eldest son, William Grimshaw held a commission in the 70th Regiment, with which he was serving in Canada when he was killed in the year 1815, dying in early manhood, unmarried. The third son was Mr. Edmond Grimshaw, barrister-at-law, of Preston and Cadeley Co. Lancaster, afterwards of Pierremont, Co. Kent. The fourth son was Mr. Samuel Ridings Grimshaw, of Preston, barrister-at-law (before named as sometime in partnership with his father) he died on the 26th July, 1866.  The fifth and sixth sons, Nicholas Charles and George Henry Grimshaw, lost their lives in youth by drowning, in the river Ribble, on the 24th of April, 1822, the year in which the father was Guild Mayor for the second time. A notice of this sad event, in which two other youths perished, states that on the day named, four or five youths, two of them sons of Nicholas Grimshaw, Esq., Mayor of Preston, and the other two the sons of Henry Hulton, Esq., Treasurer of the County, and of Mr. James Kay, manufacturer, embarked on the Ribble in a small sail-boat on an excursion of pleasure; after amusing themselves for some time, a sudden gust of wind upset their boat in the middle of the river, a little below Penwortham Bridge, and they were all drowned before any assistance could be afforded to them. The local newspapers of the period give taken of the public lamentation called forth by this fatal accident. The bodies of the drowned youths were recovered. On the north wall of the chancel of Preston parish Church was affixed a chaste marble tablet, bearing the following inscription:-

“In memory of Henry William Hulton, aged 21 years; Nicholas Charles Grimshaw, aged 20 years; George Henry Grimshaw, aged 17 years; and Joseph Kay, aged 20 years; who, in a moment of youthful enjoyment, were drowned in the River Ribble, by the upsetting of a boat, on the 24th day of April, A.D. 1822. Several of their friends and companions have united to erect this monument, in testimony of their deep concern, and with a desire to perpetuate the salutary impression of this truly awful dispensation.”

Some lines of poetry follow this inscription. The daughters of Nicholas Grimshaw, Esq., were – Mary, wife of John Troughton, Esq.; Frances, wife of Richard Atkinson, Esq., of Ellel Grange, Co. Lancaster; and Eleanor, wife of Rev. Francis Brandt.

Death and Interment

Nicholas Grimshaw, Esq., died suddenly, at his residence in Preston, Jan. 17th, 1838, in his 81st year. He had preserved until the last his native intellectual acumen; and had not shown much physical debility. His funeral was an occasion of public mourning. His remains were interred in the family vault in Preston Parish Churchyard, on Thursday, January 25th. In honour of the rank the deceased held as Colonel of the Preston Volunteer, and of the Amounderness Local Militia, the flag was hoisted on the church tower half-mast high; and all the shops were closed in the line of the procession, in which the following gentlemen marched as bearers, on either side of the hearse:- Mr. E. Gorst, Mr. W. Clayton, Mr. German, Mr. Shuttleworth, Mr. W. Shawe, Col Austen, Mr. Addison, Mr. Cross, Mr. Pedder, General Whitehead, Mr. R. Newsham, Mr. Shawe, Mr. Jacson, Mr. Miller, Mr. S. Gorst, Mr. Marshall, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Hulton, Capt. Woodford, and Mr. Barstow. The chief mourners were:_ Mr. S. Grimshaw, Rev. T.S. Grimshaw, Mr. Grimshaw, Rev. F. Brandt, Mr. J. Troughton, junr., Mr. Atkinson, Mr. J. Haigh, Mr. C. Palmer, Mr. George Palmer, Mr. Charles Grimshaw. The Vicar of Preston, Rev. Roger Carus Wilson, read the burial service.The residence of Nicholas Grimshaw, Esq., for many years was No. 8, Winckley-square, the house now occupied by William Pollard, Esq.Two or three portraits of Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw had been painted and engraved;- one, painted by Allen, presented to Mrs. Grimshaw, has been mentioned. Another portrait, painted by Lonsdale, was engraved by Scriven. A copy of the latter engraving is in the original edition of Baines’s “History of Lancashire,” vol. iv., p. 352.

Nicholas’ Residence on Prestigious Winckley Square

As the Industrial Revolution was “developing in full force” in Preston, many of the wealthy and prestigious citizens moved to upscale homes on Winckley Square. A carefully crafted website (; thanks again to Anne Grimshaw for bringing this excellent website to the attention of the author) provides a great deal of information, including a description of the buildings around the square. This information is based on a book by Marion Roberts (A Walk Around Winckley Square) and includes the following:

Preston is one of the oldest Boroughs in England, tracing its history to 670 AD. The town is mentioned in the Doomsday Book. In 1179, the town was granted a charter by Henry II.During the 17th Century, Preston became one of the wealthiest market towns in Lancashire. In the mid-19th Century, rapid industrialisation led to Preston’s development as an important cotton and textile-finishing centre.Circa 1796, William Cross, a wealthy attorney, acquired the land formerly known as Town End Field, from the daughter and heiress of Thomas Winckley. Mr Cross died suddenly in 1827 and his widow Ellen carried out the rest of the project which was largely completed in the 1830’s.The ‘nouveaux riche’ of the Industrial Revolution, Preston’s wealthiest citizens, made their homes in Winckley Square.

The Winckley Square website also provides the following very interesting description (particularly the violin anecodote) of Nicholas Grimshaw as one of Preston’s leading citizens:

Another characteristic shared by the early residents of Winckley Square was that they all played a major part in the life of Preston. Nicholas Grimshaw certainly did that. He was born in 1757 and educated for the law. Before coming to Winckley Square he lived in Church Street, almost opposite Grimshaw Street, which was so named to honour his family. There is an old story about an incident that took place during his residence there.”He was fond of the violin and one market day, while playing the instrument, there chanced to come along the street a countryman. The door of the house, or the window of the room in which Mr. Grimshaw was playing, was open and the countryman, knowing that fiddle-playing was no uncommon thing on a market day in a public place, fancied this was such a place; so in he went – walked right into the room where Mr. Grimshaw was playing, took a seat and knocked on the table with his fist for a waiter to come and take his order. Mr. Grimshaw quietly walked towards him and asked what he wanted. “A glass of ale”, was the reply. Mr. Grirnshaw good-humouredly rang the bell, and forthwith appeared a servant, who was requested to bring in a glass of ale. It was drawn and brought. “What’s to pay?” inquired the man. “Nothing”, answered Mr. Grimshaw, whereupon thanks were freely rendered, followed by “Good health” and the speedy supping of the ale. The man then got up and quietly walked out, having no idea that he had been in the private residence of one of the principal gentlemen of the town, but simply that he had encountered a generous ‘publican’ in his own ‘hotel’.”Nicholas Grimshaw had a very lucrative legal practice and held most of the public appointments in the town. When the regiment of Preston Royal Volunteers was raised in 1797 he was appointed Colonel, and in 1802, the year of his first Guild Mayoralty, the Officers of the Regiment presented his Lady with a full-length portrait of their Colonel, as a mark of their respect. This now hangs in the Regimental Museum in Stanley Street. He made such a success of the Guild of 1802 that a grateful Corporation presented him with a magnificent set of silver plate. An account of that Guild records that after the Gentlemen’s Procession on the Monday, “Mr. Grimshaw, the Mayor, entertained the gentlemen with a sumptuous dinner at his house in Winckley Place. The Mayoress likewise entertained the ladies on the following day.”Although he lived such a busy professional life, Nicholas Grimshaw found time to indulge in many cultural pursuits. He was President of the Preston Musical Society and of the Preston Assembly, and held the office of Speaker in the Oyster and Parched Pea Club.But great tragedy befell during his second Guild Mayoralty in 1822, when his two sons, Nicholas Charles, aged twenty and George Henry, aged seventeen, were drowned in a boating accident in the River Ribble. They and two friends, who also drowned, had been celebrating the birthday of King George IV. In the records of that Guild it is recorded that “Mr. Grimshaw bore the loss with Christian fortitude; but the Mayoress was so much overcome by the sudden stroke that she felt unequal to the exacting duties of the position of Lady Mayoress; but she found an admirable substitute in her daughter, Mrs. Atkinson, wife of Robert Atkinson, Esqr., of Studdy Lodge near Lancaster. The Mayoress, Mrs. Grimshaw, was a lady of the finest character, much beloved by all classes for her gentleness and generous charity, and her absence from the Guild ceremonies gave rise to universal regret for the unfortunate cause of it.”We can still see the name of Nicholas Grimshaw on the inscription over the entrance to the old Corn Exchange. The building was converted into a public hall in 1882. Most of the building was demolished in 1991 to make way for road improvements and only the restored front block survives which is now a public house. Nicholas Grimshaw died in January 1838, aged eighty. His gravestone is preserved in the grass verge of Preston Parish Church in Church Street.

Here are deposited the Remains



(the 3rd & 6th Sons of NICHOLAS GRIMSHAW

Esqr. of this Town & ESTHER MARY his Wife)

Who were Drowned in the River Ribble on

the 24th Day of April, A.D. 1822

Also the Remains of the above


Who departed this life on the 17th Day

of January 1838 Aged 80 Years.

Also the Remains of the above


Relict of the above named


Who departed this life on the

26th day of December 1855

Aged 86 Years.

Nicholas lived at 4 Winckley Square, one of the oldest houses on the square, shown below.

Photo of 4 Winckley Square, as shown on the website* of the Winckley Square Organization. The following caption of the photo is also provided: “Number 4 Winckley Square. Now Ingham, Clegg and Crowther, Solicitors. This was the second house to be built in the Square and was the home of Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw.”


The building is described by Marian Roberts as follows:

The Northern Side of Winckley SquareThe oldest houses of the square are on this northern side.At the corner of Chapel Street and Winckley Square is the Britannia Assurance numbered 1a Chapel Street. This was the home of Mr Edward Gorst and his family. It then became the premises of the Preston High School for Girls before they were transferred to the former Miller Residence at No 5 Winckley Square.No’s 1-3are now St Wilfred’s Presbytery. No 1 was built in 1801, one of its owners being Mr. Richard Newsham who, on his death in 1883, bequeathed his entire art collection to the Borough of Preston. This can still be seen in the Harris Museum and Art Gallery.No 4Now Ingham, Clegg and Crowther, Solicitors. This, the second house to be built in the Square was the home of Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw. He was seven times the Mayor of Preston, including twice the Guild Mayor in 1802 and 1822, a year marred by tragedy, for two of his sons and two of their friends were drowned in a boating accident on the River Ribble. Here, for a period, was the Preston and County Catholic Club.

The former home of Nicholas was occupied for many years (from 1906 to 1973) by the Preston and County Catholic Club; described by the Winckley Square website as follows:

The Preston and County Catholic Club was founded in 1906 at the instigation of Father Canning, S.J., who was on the staff of St. Wilfrid’s Church in Preston. A letter of proposal which was subsequently issued bore the names of prominent Catholic gentlemen who had been present at the inaugural meeting on Wednesday May 30th:

Major Anderton

A. Mooney, Esq.

T. L. Smith, Esq.

C. Eastwood, Esq.

H. C. Pilkington, Esq.

S. Wilkinson, Esq.

R. Hull, Esq.

C. J. Pyke, Esq.

W. Wood, Esq.

The main object of the Club was to provide a Headquarters for the promotion of Catholic interests.

Although there were already two well-established Catholic bodies in the neighbourhood, the First Catholic Charitable Society, and the Broughton Charitable Society, they only met infrequently, and it was felt that in view of the many serious problems which faced the Catholics at this time, not least among them being Education, Catholic interests would benefit from a permanent centre of action.

The Club, essentially non-political in character, aimed to bring together Catholic professional and business gentlemen from all over Lancashire; hence the title, The Preston and County Catholic Club. A Limited Company was formed bearing that name, with its Registered Office at number 4 Winckley Square, the house on the south-western corner of Winckley Street, formerly owned by Nicholas Grimshaw. Here the Club opened, duly fitted up with “all the up-to-date requirements of a Social Club, i.e. Reading Rooms, supplied with leading periodicals, Catholic and Non-Catholic; a Reference Library, especially consisting of standard Catholic works on topics of public interest; Refreshment Rooms, Billiards, etc., etc.”

Additional Photos of Winckley Square by Anne Grimshaw

In May 2002, Anne Grimshaw visited Winckley Square and took additional photos. They are shown below. Thanks go to Anne for providing these pictures.

Two views of 4 Winckley Square, former home of Nicholas Grimshaw. Taken by Anne Grimshaw, May 2002

Photo of Plaque Describing Winckley Square and Its Prominent Residents. Taken by Anne Grimshaw, May 2002

Significance of Nicholas’ Guild Mayoralty

Outside England it may difficult to appreciate the significance of the position of Guild Mayor. Guilds are held only every 20 years. They have their roots in privileges granted to certain merchants by English kings, but they evolved into great fairs or festivals. Some insight is provided by Tulketas follows:

The guilda mercatoria, or merchants’ guild, is a liberty or privilege granted to merchants, whereby they are enabled tohold certain pleas of land, &c. within their own precincts, and its confirmed by charters given in the 37th Edward III. and 15th Richard II. It is of Saxon origin, and is derived from the word gilo, signifying money, by which certain fraternities enter into an association, and stipulate with each other, to punish crimes, make losses good, and acts of restitution, in proportion to offences; for which aforesaid purposes they raised sums of money amongst themselves, and put the same into one common stock; they likewise endowed chantries, for priests to perform oraisons for the defunct. Fraternities and guilds were therefore in use, in this kingdom, long before any licences were granted to them, though at this day they are a company combined together with orders, and laws, made by themselves, by the king’s licence. Guilds were held by the Saxons, as may be seen from their records, which run thus:- “In Quibus Gilhala Burgensium,” &c. The guild of Coventry will shew how all the rest were held, and were used before any regular license or charters were granted. The guild is generally a gay and festive meeting; oratorios, balls, masquerades, and plays continue for many weeks. S. John the Baptist is the special patron of Preston guild. The guild is held in August, (except something extraordinary happens to prevent it.) ….

The 1802 Guild was such a large success that Nicholas Grimshaw was asked to be Guild Mayor for a second time (in 1822), an unprecedented honor that not only required manipulation of the normal political rotation of the position of Mayor, but also has not been repeated before or since. A handbill announcing the amusements for the two weeks of the 1802 Guild is shown below.

Handbill showing the bill of entertainment for the 1802 Guild, from August 30 to September 11. Note that the amusements included three processions, a ball, four plays, four horse races, an oratorio, an assembly, two concerts, a promenade, sacred music, a public breakfast, and a masked ball. Source: Crosby4, 1991, p.128.

The extravagant procession of the 1822 Guild (20 years later) is described by Crosby (p. 112-114) as follows:

The 1822 processions 28 took place in fine weather after a week of heavy rain -a good omen, it was widely felt The bells of the Parish Church were rung early on the Monday morning, with a select band from all over Lancashire ringing a complete peal of grandsire triples of 5,040 changes. The trades companies began to assemble at 7 o’clock, and at 9:30 the Mayor, in a carriage drawn by four bay horses, left his house in Winckley Square and drove to the Town Hall, where the nobility, clergy and gentry paid him their respects before going to the Parish Church for the civic service. The trades companies had assembled in Fishergate and adjacent streets, for by this date there were too many people for a single starting point to be possible, and after the proclamation of the Guild at 10.30 their part in the procession began. They moved down Church Street to Stanley Street, and then came back to the Parish Church where they waited in ranks to form a guard of honour for the Mayor and gentlemen who emerged from the service.The procession re-formed and went up Church Street, along Cheapside and the west side of the market place, down Friargate to Canal Street, up Lune Street and into Fishergate. It went west as far as Pitt Street before turning back along Fishergate to Chapel Street, through Winckley Square and Winckley Street to the Town Hall.The description of the procession shows that, because the town had grown, the route of the parade was lengthened so that it passed through the newly-developed areas. This policy was to present major headaches for the organisers later in the nineteenth century, when Preston had far outgrown its pre-1800 core. By the 1880s not only did the timetable of the processions have to be worked out with immense care, to accommodate a very much longer route and many more displays, companies and organisations, but the organising committee was bombarded with requests and petitions from residents of areas beyond the centre, asking that the route should pass through their districts.After the first day’s procession in 1822 all the companies ‘proceeded to their respective houses of entertainment, and passed the remainder of the day in convivial enjoyments. The event was said to be a beautiful sight, although Wilcockson had reservations about the enthusiasm with which it was received: ‘nothing seemed wanting but a few exhilirating [sic] shouts to make up the character of a gay and most spirited spectacle…if the crowds below were not rapturous in their plaudits, they appeared, by their eagerness to gain front situations, to enjoy, with satisfaction, the passing shew’.The second day started with poor weather, and it rained early in the morning – or, as Wilcockson contrives to phrase it, the clouds about seven o’clock, commenced a discharge of their contents. The sun came out by the time the ladies’ procession began, and Joy and hilarity again swelled every heart’. The Lady Mayoress, Mrs. Grimshaw, felt unable to participate in the 1822 Guild because of the tragic death by drowning of two of her sons in a boating accident on the Ribble, only a few weeks before. Her daughter, Mrs. Atkinson, therefore took her place, and favourable comment was made upon ‘the peculiar dignity with which she led the magnificent train up the centre isle [sic] of our venerable Church. Wilcockson, as always, pens an exhaustingly lyrical description of the scene in the Parish Church during the ladies’ service -he claims to be unable to compose a satisfactory description, but has a good try all the same:

to give an adequate idea of the whole, even the combined powers of the most skilful pen, and the animated application of the purest tints of the pencil, must confess their inability to do justice. The bright gems which shone in the head-dresses, surmounted by plumes of nodding feathers; the spangled beauty of the rich flowing dresses; and, above all, the graceful movements of the fair promenaders, must be seen before an adequate feeling can be impressed upon the mind.

Carried away by his own eloquence, Wilcockson (a journalist) describes the scene when the Mayoress left the church: the sun shone resplendently; the air, cooled by the rain which had fallen in the morning, felt most refreshing; and we will venture to say, that such a galaxy of beautiful females, was never before assembled in the full glare of the day, canopied only by the azure vault of heaven, since the last festival of Preston Guild. Of the assembly of ladies in the Town Hall just before their departure for the Parish Church, another writer, trained in a similar school of journalistic prose, recorded that:

We have not room to expatiate upon the scene, of which, by special favour, we were the only witness; but let our readers imagine everything that is beautiful in female attire, enriched by all the combined efforts of skill and fancy; that attire displayed by persons in whom all the advantages of wealth, rank, education, beauty and fashion were concentrated one hundred and sixty ladies promenading an elegant room; happiness glowing on every countenance; music playing in the adjoining apartments and among the crowds in the streets; the bright sun shining upon crimson and gold curtains, dazzling chandeliers, pictures, beaming eyes, snow-white feathers, and costly gems; then they will have some idea of what we beheld.

The processions of 1822 were described in jaunty verse by the anonymous author of A New Song on Preston Guild:

To see this grand sight, we soon got a good place,It surpass’d all the world for beauty and grace,There were feathers and flounces and bosoms like snow,In beautiful ringlets their hair it did flow,

The ladies procession was walking,

The noblemen laughing and talking,While each jolly farmer was gawping,

To catch all the fun at the Guild.

The costumes of the ladies in the 1822 Guild are described “with a good deal of accuracy and an eye for detail. The Lady Mayoress, Mrs. Atkinson. wore an elegant silver gauze robe, with head-dress of diamonds and feathers. The Countess of Derby had ‘an elegant gold lama [sic] dress; head-dress, plume of feathers and diamonds’. There was lavish use of feathers, diamonds and artificial flowers (this was the end of the Regency period, and these were the height of fashion) and all the ladies wore white or silver except the Countess. Mrs. Townley Parker, for example, had a petticoat magnificently embroidered in silver lama, with apron and fichu to correspond; head-dress, feathers and diamonds, while Mrs. Whitehead wore a figured lace dress, over white satin, festooned with flounces of lace and beads, &c, turban with plume of white feathers and pearl ornaments, Recording the details of dress and costume was crucial, to give the readers a better image of the scene and to explain what those at the height of fashion were wearing, Before television and photography, mass communication and instant access to pictures, descriptions such as these were the only way in which a scene could be conveyed, perhaps the journalists may be forgiven their enthusiastic and extravagant prose!

The Guilds were expensive, but were apparently designed to turn a profit. The Guild of 1802 made a profit of L310, but the 1822 Guild suffered a loss of L1885. For his role in organizing the 1802 guild, Nicholas Grimshaw was provided a special, if expensive honor (Crosby, p. 95-96):

In the 1802 Guild there was another major expense, of a type repeated in future Guilds, and which was a case of the Corporation rewarding its own. On 4 October 1802, at the first meeting after the Guild Merchant, John Horrocks proposed that

some piece of plate should be presented by the Corporation to Nicholas Grimshaw Esquire and his lady the Mayor and Mayoress as a token of their approbation of their management and manner of conducting the late Jubilee the Guild.

The Corporation readily assented to this proposal, and voted a sum of fifty guineas for the purchase of an item of silver for Mr. and Mrs. Grimshaw. This was an extremely large sum in 1802 (perhaps L10,000 in modern values would not be an unreasonable estimate.) The closed, exclusive circle which constituted Preston Corporation was happy to use ‘public’ money on a grand scale for private gain…

Nicholas’ Support of Richard Arkright, Inventor of the Mechanical Spinning Machine

Nicholas apparently provided assistance to Arkwright in the development of his invention, as described by Wright and Allen5 (p. 44):

So completely was the mechanist obstructed by poverty at every step, that when he had completed his great invention, he was unable to apply it either for the purposes of experiment or manufacturing profits; and, not being able to procure any further assistance in Liverpool, he removed to Preston, his native town, in search of friends. The great contested election which ended in the return of General Burgoyne, then agitated the inhabitants, and Arkwright was instantly canvassed, and obliged to select a candidate. So fragile, however, was the nature of his garments, so forlorn and neglected his whole appearance, that his friends felt it necessary to furnish him with a new suit of clothes, the expense of which was defrayed by a subscription on the spot. This was the first act of friendship which this “son of science” experienced in his native town; others, equally generous, soon succeeded. John Smalley, a liquor-merchant, obtained the use of a room in the Free Grammar School, for the erection and exhibition of the engine, and Mr. Nicholas Grimshaw generously supplied Arkwright with means to prosecute his experiments. Warned by the fate of Hargrave in 1767, and of others who had attempted to abridge human labour by the substitution of machinery, he now secretly withdrew from Preston, and, migrating to Nottingham, received some trifling assistance from Messrs. Wright, the bankers. These gentlemen becoming impatient at the delay attending the completion of the work, introduced the mechanist to Messrs. Need and Strutt, who declared the invention an admirable effort of genius, quickly foresaw its boundless capabilities, and, closing a partnership with the proprietor, terminated his painful anxieties and rewarded his meritorious labours.

More detail is given on a companion webpage.

Information from Mavis Long on Cadley Cottage and St Michaels Church, Cockerham 

Mavis Long has found the following description6 of Nicholas Grimshaw at Cadley Cottage as well as associated images.

Near Cadley Bank there stands north-eastward, amid fields, Cadley Cottage. Formerly it was called Cadley House. There are two approaches to it — a road on the west and another on the south side. Trees, avenue-like, flank the latter way, which, though not much used now, was evidently, at one time, the main approach. Here there formerly resided — periodically, or in a summer-resort manner — one of the most notable men ever associated with Preston. This was Nicholas Grimshaw. He was, in 1781, elected the bailiff for Preston; he became a town councillor in 1790; in 1793 he was appointed Town Clerk of Preston; in 1797 he was commander of the Preston Royal Volunteers; in 1801 he was made an alderman of the borough, and he was seven times Mayor of it — twice as Guild Mayor. In addition to the foregoing he was acting curator for the County of Lancaster for upwards of half-a-century, and clerk to the burrough magistrates of Preston for about 40 years. He died in 1838, at the age of 80, and was interred in the north-west corner of Preston Parish Churchyard, where a large, railed-in tomb covers his grave. In this grave there had previously been interred two of his sons — 20 and 17 years of age respectively — who, with two other local young gentleman, were accidentally drowned in the Ribble, in 1822. Mr. Grimshaw’s widow, Esther Mary, who died at Cadley Cottage, in 1853, in the 86th year of her age, was also buried in this same grave. On the death of Mrs. Grimshaw, Cadley Cottage was occupied by two old female servants — “pensioners” — of the Grimshaw family, and they remained at the place till their death, in the sixties, since which time the Cottage has been used as a farmhouse.Above extract from the book “NORTHWOOD” by Anthony Hewison, first published in 1900, facsimile printed 2003 by LANDY Publishing, Blackpool.Website author’s note: the following image is also from Hewison’s NORTHWOOD.

Mavis also provided the following monumental inscriptions from St Michaels Church, Cockerham, with entries on Nicholas and Esther Grimshaw.

Nicholas and Esther Mary Grimshaw’s Burial Place

As noted above in the section on Winckley Square, Nicholas and Esther Mary are buried in Preston Parish Churchyard. Thanks go to Anne Grimshaw for providing the photo of the gravestone shown below.

Photo of gravestone of Nicholas Grimshaw and members of his family.

The inscription (from section on Winckley Square) reads as follows:

Here are deposited the RemainsofNICHOLAS CHARLES GRIMSHAW Aged 20 Years& GEORGE HENRY GRIMSHAW Aged 17 Years(the 3rd & 6th Sons of NICHOLAS GRIMSHAWEsqr. of this Town & ESTHER MARY his Wife)Who were Drowned in the River Ribble onthe 24th Day of April, A.D. 1822Also the Remains of the abovenamed NICHOLAS GRIMSHAW Esqr.Who departed this life on the 17th Dayof January 1838 Aged 80 Years.Also the Remains of the abovenamed ESTHER MARY GRIMSHAWRelict of the above namedNICHOLAS GRIMSHAW Esqr.Who departed this life on the26th day of December 1855Aged 86 Years.

An engraving of Nicholas and Esther Mary Grimshaw’s grave from Hewiston’s “Northward6” is shown below.


1Author Unknown, 1877, Sketches in Local History: Memorials of Old Lancashire Families – the Grimshaws of Pendle Forest and of Preston: Preston, Lancashire, England, The Preston Guardian, September 22, 1877, 2nd Sheet, p. 1.

2Baines, Edward, 1836, History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster, v. iv: London, Fisher, Son & Co., 876 p.

3Tulket, Marmaduke, 1821, A Topographical, Statistical & Historical Account of the Borough of Preston, in the Hundred of Amounderness, County Palatine of Lancaster; Its Antiquities and Modern Improvements, Including a Correct Copy of the Charter Granted in the Reign of Charles II.; Biographical Sketches of Eminent Men; an Extensive Chronology, Brought Down to the Present Time; with a Description of Its Environs; the Origin of the Guild Merchants’ Fete, Held Here Every Twentieth Year; with Much Information Not Generally Known; a List of the Mayors, Bailiffs, Recorders, and Representatives in Parliament, Who Have Served the Borough. A Directory for 1821, with a List of the Streets, Courts, &c. Compiled from the Most Authentic Sources, and Published Purposely for the Use of Those Ladies and Gentlemen Resorting to Preston Guild, Which Will Be Celebrated in the Year, 1822: Preston, Lancashire, P. Whittle, 347 p.

4Crosby, Alan, 1991, The History of Preston Guild – 800 Years of England’s Greatest Carnival: Preston, Lancashire, Lancashire County Books, 264 p.

5Wright, Geoffrey Norman, and Thomas Allen, date unknown, Lancashire, It’s History, Legends & Manufactures: London, Caxton Press, Volume 1 (of 2 volumes), unk. p.

6Atticus (aka Anthony Hewiston), 1969, Northward: Historic, Topographic, Residential, and Scenic Gleanings, &c. between Preston and Lancaster: Wakefield, S.R. Publishers, 160 p.

Webpage History

Webpage posted March 2001, updated May 2002; grave photo (from Anne Grimshaw) added in May 2003. Updated and reorganized June 2006. Updated February 2009 with addition of Cadley Cottage and grave information from Mavis Long.