Family History Notebook


A 'lost' estate in the manor of Bosden in Cheshire, just south-east of Stockport, which Charles Bardsley suggested as a possible origin of the Swindells surname in his dictionary of surnames in 1901.

There is a manorial map of Stockport barony at

In his book 'East Cheshire : Past and Present, Or, A History of the Hundred of Macclesfield' published in two parts in 1877 and  1880, John Parsons Earwaker records, in relation to Bosden,

"A branch of the family of Honford held a small estate here in the 14th century called Swyndelves, which they parted with to the Leghs of Adlington in 1378-795. A family who bore the local name of Bosden or Boseden held land in Hurdsfield near Macclesfield in the 14th and 15th centuries, but the name is now rarely met with. A large part of the straggling village of Hazlegrove, formally called Bullock Smithy, is in Bosden".

(Text transcribed by Leon Knapper on the Cheshire list of Rootsweb in 2001. Bardsley states 'Howford' rather than 'Honford' but that is irrelevant to the discussion).

Due to the urbanisation of Manchester  'Bosden' is hard to define in terms of current place names but it was one of three hamlets - Norbury, Torkington and Bosden - which later became known as Bullock Smithy and now as Hazel Grove. The township of Bosden was to the south-east of Stockport and comprised an area to the north-east of the modern A6 running through Hazel Grove, lying on either side of the Poise Brook. The area is relatively flat and low-lying (80m) at the eastern edge of the Cheshire plain. Bosden House and Swindells Orchard (see below) lie in the extreme north-east of Bosden township.

(Click on map for full resolution image of Bosden township tithe map 1844 - 1.4MB)

The property remained with the Leghs until at least 1602 since in about 1519 it is mentioned in the inquisition post-mortem on Thomas Legh of Adlyngton "one messuage 16½ acres called Swyndelfs" and on the 7th of October 1602  as Swindels in the inquisition post-mortem on Thomas Legh10. It must have been leased to the Dodge family since a George Dodge is reported as dying at Swyndells in 1579 and in 1624, a Robert Dodge of Swyndells, gent., was a member of the jury at the  Inquisition post mortem in Stockport following the death of Henry Arderne, of Harden. Robert Dodge of Swindells died in 1628. (The Dodge family are associated with Offerton, especially Holiday or Halliday Hill Farm which lies just to the east of the Poise Brook).
In 1675 an inventory was taken on the 'Eighteenth day of January Ano dom 1675 by us Robert Dodge of Swindells de Bossen...'Thus the place name - transformed from Swyndelves to Swindells - was still in use at that time, but this is the last traced use of the place-name.

Swindells appears to have been distinct from Bosden since there were two contemporay Robert Dodges - Robert Dodge of Swindells (d1628) and Robert Dodge of Bosden (d1625).

The picture below is taken in north of Bosden township (SJ926 882) looking north. This is at 70 meters above sea level.

Poise Brook, Bosden - Swindelves?
A view of the Poise Brook at Bosden - Swyndelves?

It is interesting that the lane through the centre of Bosden township (Bean Leach Road), from which the above photograph was taken, formed the ancient boundary of Macclesfield Forest.

Modern housing has been built on the slightly higher ground to the north-east and to the south and destroyed any trace of the older buildings:-
    Bosden House (BH) in the extreme north east of the town ship
    Bosden Fold in the centre of the township (just north of the modern Bosden Fold Road
    Bosden Hall on the other side of Bosden Fold Road. (Named on the 1875 OS map)
    The Royal Oak adjacent to Bosden Hall (at the junction of Bosden Fold Road and Commercial Road)
    Old Fold - yet further west.

There are also Poise Mill and Poise House (owned by John Cooper and Company in 1844) which were more recent developments.

Swindells would almost certainly be one of the five older buildings in Bosden township. Very probably it was the property later known as Bosden House since the other properties form a cluster round Bosden Hall. The higher land on which Bosden House stands could well have formed the 'estate' of Swindelves and explain the odd promontery to the north east of Bosden township. The land surrounding Bosden House, including Swindells Orchard, amounts to some 16 acres. (c.f. 16½ acres for Swindelfs in 1519).

Tithe map showing Swindells OrchardA Swindells Orchard (3 acres 1 rood 8 perches) is recorded just south of Bosden House in the Victorian tithe maps (c1850) of Cheshire (map reference SJ 933880) but this could be named after a Swindell rather than marking the location of the Swindells noted above.  (Click on thumbnail - plot 8). There are 17 locations involving the name Swindell in the Cheshire tithe maps.

The entry for SWINDELLS ORCHARD in the 'Place-Names of Cheshire'reads (with abbreviations expanded)

Place name found in the 1844 Tithe Awards;
in the 1286 Eyre Rolls of the Justice of Chester in the Public Record Office,
in the 1386 Eyre Rolls, Edward III G. Ormerod,  History of Cheshire ed. T Helsby, London 1882
1379 reference in  JP. Earwaker East Cheshire (published 1879)
in 1519 in the Calendar of the Chester Recognizance Rolls (Reports of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records (DKR) 36 appendix 2, DKR 37 appendix 2, DKR 39 appendix 1)
in 1563 same reference as above
1602 G. Ormerod,  History of Cheshire ed. T Helsby, London 1882
'swine('s) diggings', v.swin1, (ge)delf.
This place name gives rise to a surname often found in North East Cheshire.

(The derivation 'swine pits' is given by the same source for a field named Swindells in Over Alderley).

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives:-
Delf/Delph:- An excavation; a pit, ditch, quarry etc.; a drainage canal (in the fens) [OE dælf, (ge)delf]
The prefix 'swyn' might come from 'swing'. 4
Considering the current nature of the land at Bosden, Swyndelves might refer to the twisting ditch rather than anything to do with swine. However in the 12th and 13th century the land on which Bosden House was later located was probably wooded and would have provided good foraging for pigs.

There is a high occurrence of the Swyndle(s) / Swindell(s)  (etc) surname in the 16th and 17th centuries just a few miles to the south east of Bosden (in Disley, Titherington and Rainow) so Bardsley's suggestion of Swyndelves as a possible origin of the name is extremely plausible. This contrasts with the absence of Swindle surnames around any place now called Swindale. However there is still no positive connection between Swyndelves and the Swyndle surname - it would require a discovery in manorial documents of the 14th century to confirm the connection.  (Since Cheshire, as a County Palatine, was exempted from taxation, lay subsidy rolls and poll tax lists are not available as a source of information. Tax was raised by means of a land value based levy called the Mize).

The circles on the map below are approximately 5km, 10 km and 15km radius from the presumed location of Swyndelves.

Parishes around Swyndelves


1    "As I am sure you are aware the Honforth Manor of Hanforth cum Bosden in Cheshire went to the Breretons when John Honforth, Lord of Honforth, was killed in battle with only a daughter as heir. She was married to a Stanley and the marriage resulted in divorce, he becoming a monk, and she ultimately marrying Uriah Breteton and the manor and titles passed to Breretons. For generations we have thought we were lineal descendants of Honforth (various spellings Handford, Hanford, Handforth, Hansford) but DNA testing does not support that. I believe you as a Brereton are a descendant of Honforth at there were many Brereton,Mainwaring, Leigh, Daventort, Stanley marriages with descent to Honforth. I am hoping to find a connection through one of these Irish lines to Brereton or Leigh. I am very interested to know the pedigree of these early Breretons in hopes that perhaps Ms. Geo. Barrington might have been related or perhaps the Harpoles, Gilberts, might have been related.

Glad to share any information with you.
Bill Hansford, Birmingham, Alabama, USA "

The titles 'Lord of Honforth' passed (many male generations) to William Hondford, Lord of Hondford, who was slain at Flodden 9-9-1513.With him the name Honforth became extinct and the titles passed to Sir Urian Brereton, who was on the privy cancel of Henry VII, who had intermarried with Lady Margaret Hondford, sole heir of William. It was Margaret who built Hondforth Hall. The titles then passed through the Breretons.

The Brereton Family of Cheshire

The Brereton family tree begins in 1175 with William de Brereton. His family had arrived from France with William the Conqueror, and that William was named after him as a tribute - it was to become a recurring name within the family. Later, another unfortunate William Brereton, along with four companions, was arrested and sent to the Tower of London charged with high treason as lovers of Anne Boleyn . Despite protestations of innocence, they were sentenced to death and beheaded on Tower Hill in 1536. The Brereton family exerted power and influence over Cheshire with holdings in Handforth, Malpas, Cheadle and at their country seat at Brereton Hall. It was a Sir William Brereton who also headed parliamentarian forces at the Battle of Middlewich and the siege of Nantwich in the English Civil Wars. The Brereton's established Handforth Hall when they became lords of the manor of the Bosden area in the early 1500s. One Sir Richard Brereton was the last owner of Tatton Park before the Egerton family took it over.

2    Manorial map of Stockport barony

3    Returns for Swindell etc in the IGI or other sources
Cheadle baptisms                             1677 - 1713    Nil
Marple marriages                              1656 - 1734    14
Disley Baptisms                                1592 - 1731    197
Hyde (Gee Cross Unitarian) Baptisms 1710 - 1844    82
Macclesfield Baptisms                       1572 - 1812  244
Stockport Baptisms                           1586 - 1642    30
Poynton   Marriages                           1723 - 1753     2
Taxal Baptisms                                  1624 - 1800   81
                                                        1800 - 1904   38
Pott Shrigley Marriages                      1685 - 1751     3
Prestbury Baptisms                           1560 - 1636     79
Wilmslow Baptisms 1559 - 1652
                                                        1693 - 1803    10
Gawsworth Baptisms               (1557) 1741 - 1837    33
                 Marriages                         1557 - 1837    23
Chelford Baptisms                              1748 - 1794    Nil

4    In 'The Antiquary ' 1880 it is suggested "When a horse has difficulty drawing its load up a hill, it "swins" it - that is to say it goes obliquely from side to side of the road until it gets to the top. Before being quite certain about the derivation of a place name,  I find it very important to get at the ancient local idioms and nomenclature of the district. May not Swindale in Westmoreland be derived from the ...."

5    MSS. of the Rev. John Watson, deeds penes Dodge of Offerton in 1779. See also Cheshire MSS., vol. iv.

6    East Cheshire : Past and Present, Or, A History of the Hundred of Macclesfield' published in two parts in 1877 and  1880, John Parsons Earwaker p.469

7    Ottiwell Higginbothum Inventory 1675 Transcribed by Dorothy Bates (cached)

8    The Place-Names of Cheshire by J. McN. Dodgson. Part 1 page 256. 1970. ISBN: 0 521077 03 6
(The English Place-Name Society Volume XLIV. Cheshire is published in five parts - 7 volumes)

The sentence linking Swindells Orchard to the Swindell name is presumably based upon Charles Bardsley: "A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames with Special American Instances" (Henry Frowde, London 1901) and Earkaker (Note 6)

9    .... of one messuage, sixteen acres of land, and a moiety of one acre of meadow called "Swyndelfs," in the hundred of Macclesfield, held of the heirs of John de Honford, in socage, yearly value 16 s. ...

The Thirty-Ninth Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper 1878 p171 (Chester Recognizance Rolls) (1519?)

10    G. Ormerod,  History of Cheshire ed. T Helsby, London 1882 Vol 3 pp.658, 659

Discussion of the origins of the Swindale surname.

11    It may be significant that the Leghs were the principal landowners in Disley in the 14th century and that the Honfords also owned land in the township. (See 3rd paragraph from start of page).


    Bosden House 1970s
1970s - Bosden House at centre of photograph

Swindelves today ? Bosden House is in top right corner.
Aerial view of Swindelves