Family History: The Mellor Family, Rainow, Cheshire

From our research we have found that most of the Mellor family pre-1900 came from the Rainow area of Cheshire. Rainow is situated on the B5470 road approximately 6 miles from Macclesfield. Rainow currently has a population of around 1,300 (2001 census).

The Mellor family in this area were devout Methodists who supported the church in spirit and in generous financial contributions.

In 1846 John Mellor (1813-1860) of Kerridge End funded the constructions of the Holy Trinity Church to the tune of £1,800. During our research we found only two Mellor graves in this churchyard.

In loving memory of James Gaskell of Henbury who died April 20th 1832.
Also Martha wife of the above who died January 7th 1871 aged 72 years.
Mary Mellor daughter of the above who died Oct 30th 1908 aged 78 years

Sacred to the memory of James Mellor (of Brown House, Rainow) who departed this life November 28th 1896 aged 69 years. “Thy will be done.”
Also John Mellor who died May 1st 1892 aged 86 years.
Also Ellen Thornley sister of the above who died November 1893 aged 78 years.

Most of the graves we found were in the small graveyard of the Rainow Wesleyan Chapel which was built in 1781 as a venue for travelling preachers. This was later demolished leaving the Chapel House and the small graveyard where the graves remain today. The current chapel was erected across the road in 1878 and is now used as business premises.

John Mellor (Born December 6th 1876) also contributed £50 to the building of the Wesleyan School in 1896, here is an extract from his diary describing the stone laying ceremony. He was aged 19 at the time of writing.

April 22nd 1896
Soon after 3pm the stonelaying ceremony of the new Wesleyan Day & Sunday school commenced: there was a large and interested concourse of spectators, including a few Macclesfield friends: the proceedings opened with hymns & prayer. Revs JH Cleminson & WP Hutton BA directed the events.

There were nine stones to be laid, all situated along the front of the building: mine was by the presence round it of a numerous cotège of relations & friends, including my three aunts ; Johnson, George Mellor, & Meek; Laura Johnson, Annie & Laura Mellor, – my cousins – & others & Milly & Dora occupying the seats in closest proximity to the stone.

The stones came in alphabetical order, except that William Clarke came last, as representing the scholars. The stonelayers were as follows ; (as on the Circulars & Bills);

Joseph Hollinshead Esq.
John Mellor Esq. Jnr BA
James Nixon Esq. Jnr
Albert Nixon Esq.
James Needham Esq. C.C.
Thomas Oliver Esq.
John Latham Rushiton Esq. M.D.
Joseph Welton Esq.
William Clarke Esq.

Most of the above tried to make a speech, but the attempts were for the most part failures, so that the wisdom of my decision not to favour the audience with an oration was confirmed by actual events; tho’ I disappointed many therein, – probably the others wasn’t of success made them rejoice that there were no more orators.

I spoke the usual formula “I have much pleasure in declaring this stone well & truly laid, – in the name of the Father, the Son & the Holy Ghost” – & performed the other parts of the function more satisfactorily than most of the others, in the mortor-plastering with the trowel, & mallet-tapping.

The trowels were made of steel, & the miniature mallets had been made & given by Thomas Ramsbottom.

The school was later converted into private homes.

Mellor Legends

“The Mystery of John Turner”
James Mellor Junior erected the original stone in Erwin Lane, Nab End, below Buxter Stoops (about 200 metres uphill from Hooleyhey Lane junction) marking the death during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve of John Turner.

Here John Turner
Was cast away
In a heavy snow
Storm in the night
In or about the year
The print of a woman’s shoe
Was found by his side
Where he lay dead

The date on the present stone of 1755 is incorrect. This may be due to the inscription being incorrectly copied when the original stone was replaced.
It is thought that this memorial is to John Turner who died returning from nearby Bollington on Christmas Eve in a snowstorm in 1735.

Incidentally, decedents of James’ brother, William were the first people in the village to have a car. In fact a well known engineering firm in Rainow built the first car in Cheshire.

Mellor Industry

Key to the early industrial development in Rainow and nearby Bollington was the enterprise of three significant local families. The Gaskells who built Ingersley Hall and local landmark, White Nancy which is said to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. The Swindells who were leading cotton maufacturers and the Mellors for engineering, mining and their contribution to the local cotton spinning industry.

A major industry in Rainow was engineering incuding the production of steam rollers, steam hammers etc. One local story tells of a John Mellor who manufactured steam rollers. One of his early models became stuck in a muddy field in Rainow, much to the delight of the local farmers who suggested that they move it with their “more reliable” horses. Mellor refused, insisting that he could drive his roller from the mud – he succeeded.

Mellor’s Garden

If you are visiting Rainow in search of Mellor history you may be interested to visit Mellor’s Garden. It is an unusual allegorical garden built in the nineteenth century illustrating the Pilgrim’s Progress. It was built by James Mellor and has recently been restored.

One of the most interesting characters in Rainow history was James Mellor. He was a local preacher in the 19th century. His home Hough Hole House which is situated at the bottom of Sugar Lane is the location of his famous garden.

The garden itself is testimony to his energy, inventiveness and practical skills. The house was built in the 16th century and was altered by both James and his father, a water wheel was added to provide power and to run the organ in the chapel.

The garden has several interesting features including a small chapel in which he used to hold his own services. There are a great many stone slabs incorporated in the garden bearing Biblical inscriptions which it is said he craved with his own hands. There is also an unusual “howling house” which looks not dissimilar to a garden shed, when the doors are thrown open and the wind is allowed through it makes strange eerie howling noises. This is due to a space in the rear of the structure in which a stringed instrument known as an “Aeolian harp” is placed, as the wind hits the strings, they vibrate thus giving the building its distinctive name.

If you have any further information about the Mellor Family of Rainow, Cheshire, please do get in touch.