Moorhey is located at the end of a long, straight track off the old packhorse trail that linked Bottoms in Walsden with Littleborough and beyond, and before 1764 was the only route out of Walsden in that direction. Now it is a narrow lane, twisting, turning and climbing upwards passing Allescholes and on to Moorhey, with Reddishore Scout beyond that.

It is an ancient farm and was in the hands of the Howard family for over 150 years, probably much longer. There are four date stones, 1712 being the oldest. Then there is RAH 1734, possibly Richard Howard, followed by 1748, and then by EHE 1789. Could this be Edmund Howard?

The first mention in the parish registers is 1701 when John Howard, son of Edmund of Moorhey, was buried. Edmund Howard was a yeoman farmer, owning his own lands at Moorhey, a smaller farm nearer the valley bottom known as Rough Stones, and a small farm, barn and cottage in Blackley near Manchester. He chose to live at Moorhey, and died there in 1723 aged 87.

His son Richard followed him. He also lived to a great age, dying in 1759 aged 74. Could he be the main man in 1715 and 1734 as shown on the date stones? His son, also Edmund, followed him. He died at Moorhey in 1806. His son, John Howard, born in Blackley in 1755, was already installed as the farmer by this time, and he came to inherit all the lands at Moorhey, Rough Stones and Blackley.

Apparently, John lived to be an eccentric old man. When the railway was being constructed and the tunnels cut under the land near his home, he was almost 80 years old. Although he was still a hail and hearty man, he refused to walk through his own fields to the edge of the hill to look at the building then in progress. He said he did not believe in such strange new innovations and would rather things were as before.

He lived long enough to see the opening of the railway through from Walsden to Littleborough on 1st March 1841 when he was over 80 years of age.

John outlived his wife by many years, and also outlived his three children. His only heirs were two grandsons, both of them illegitimate.


His son Edmund had a son by Mary Walton, but never married her and died at Moorhey aged 29 in 1820. The son, John Walton, was brought up by his maternal grandparents, William and Jane Walton of South Hollingworth Farm.


His eldest son, John junior, had a son by Betty Law, daughter of Enoch and Nancy Law of Square. When John junior died suddenly in 1813, his father took Betty Law and her son Samuel Law in to his home at Moorhey, where Betty worked as his housekeeper. Betty and Samuel lived with old John for many years, and in 1841 they are together at Moorhey.

When he died, John left his lands at Blackey to John Walton, and his farms at Rough Stones and Moorhey to Samuel Law. Betty wasn't forgotten. She received enough money for her own maintenance.

Samuel and his mother continued to live at Moorhey until she died there in 1859. Samuel continued a little while on his own, but very soon moved to a small cottage along the lane at Lower Allescholes Farm. He is there in 1861, whilst the 20-acre farm at Moorhey was left unoccupied. Samuel Law was the last of the Howard family at Moorhey.

He sold his properties to Robert Fielden of Inchfield Fold Farm. Robert Fielden was a very successful businessman who farmed at Inchfield Fold. He was also a master picker maker and cotton manufacturer. He never lived at Moorhey, presumably preferring the position of his farm at Inchfield.

Samuel never married and died intestate. His possessions were sold at auction, and included many antiquities that had been carefully preserved in the Howard family for generations. There was old carved oak furniture that had graced Moorhey for generations, about 60 almanacs in consecutive years, books and old township records and papers.


A contemporary of old John Howard was John Jackson. He also lived at Moorhey, in one of the two cottages. His son Thomas, a stonecutter in a local quarry, remained at the cottage where he and his wife brought up 8 children. Thomas died there in 1826 aged 51. His son Thomas junior was still there with his family in 1841. He was the last of the Moorhey Jacksons.