A short history of the Dean House Estate, Oatroyd
By David Sawyer

A short history of the Dean House Estate, Oatroyd with particular reference to the Foulds family.

The Dean family of Luddenden was first mentioned in the Court Rolls from 1274. In the Poll tax returns of 1379 mention is made of Johannes de Dent (Dean) of Midgley, textor (weaver). Later the Dean family was closely involved with Heath Grammar School.

The lack of documentation makes it difficult to determine when the Dean family ceased to be involved with the estate.

The earliest remaining deeds to the Dean House Estate are dated 1755 and record a marriage settlement between Hannah, daughter and only child of Godfrey Laycock, a merchant of Halifax, in view of her marriage to Thomas Hill of Halifax, linen draper. This document also refers to an earlier marriage settlement dated 1726 between Godfrey Laycock and Hannah Rowse daughter of Nathaniel Rowse of London, Merchant.

In the following years, the estate was sold to Robert Parker, a Halifax solicitor and Michael Stocks of Catherine Slack. None of these people lived there, holding the estate purely for investment purposes. The documents do record the fact that the estate extended right into Luddenden Dean.

Thomas Foulds purchased the Dean House Estate January 25th 1820 at a cost of £2000. The sale particulars noted that the Dean House Estate had formerly been two farms but was then occupied as one.

Thomas Foulds was a manufacturer of cotton piece goods. His brother, James, also living at Oats Royd was a manufacturer of fine piece goods and is reputed to have shared a room at Halifax Piece Hall with John Murgatroyd then of Green Edge, Warley who in 1842 came to Oats Royd and founded the company bearing his name [Halifax Antiquarian Soc. Trans. 1920]. Whether Thomas Foulds's enterprise was a precursor to that founded by John Murgatroyd is probable but unclear.

At Thomas's demise in July 1846, aged 90, it had been directed that after his funeral, a dinner should be served for 45 people at the Lord Nelson Inn, Luddenden. The Inn was kept by Ruth Wormald who could well be related to Thomas Foulds by way of his brother James Foulds daughter Betty. This relationship is not proven as there was more than one James Foulds living in Midgley at that time.

The wealth accrued by Thomas Foulds suggests that we was producing textiles on an industrial scale. In 1841, he is denoted as being of independent means.

In the Will of Thomas Foulds probate dated August 1846 the Dean House Estate was bequeathed to his nephew, Thomas Foulds, son of his brother William

the house known as Dean House with the cottages barn and stables and other outbuildings and land in the Township of Midgley currently occupied by William Greenwood and his undertenants and surrounding woodland in his own occupation. And also his copyhold property known as Popplewells with Midgley its cottages, barns etc in the township of Warley in the Parish of Halifax currently occupied by Simon Greenwood and his undertenants

His brother James was also a beneficiary

to his brother James Foulds several cottages or dwelling houses in Luddenden in the Parish of Halifax currently occupied or let to Robert Woodhead, Joseph Greenwood, Samuel Stott, John Jowett, John Akroyd, Mary Mason, William Mason, James Mitchell and another. Also the sum of six hundred and fifty pounds six months after his decease

James only survived his brother by a year and in his will probate dated February 1847 he left his eight cottages to his youngest son, also a James. Those 8 cottages were sold at auction at the Murgatroyd Arms, in Luddenden [23rd May 1855].

Richard Foulds, another nephew of Thomas Foulds is noted as a farmer at Oatroyd, without specific reference to Dean House, in the 1841 Census.

Thomas Foulds (junior) beneficiary of Thomas Foulds probate 1846 is shown in the 1851 Census as a manufacturer of Dean House. He only survived until 1854. His wife Frances or Franny lived on at Dean House until her death in April 1865. Her death would appear to sever the links of the Foulds family with the Dean House Estate

At the end of the 1800s the Dean House Estate passed to Mr John Murgatroyd JP of Bradford and it is understood in the 1960s the family still occupied the property.

Articles by local historian H. W. Harwood, published in the Halifax Daily Courier, in the mid 1900s were most useful in compiling this brief history

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 13:13 / 17th August 2023 / 7432

Page Ref: X598

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