BARLOW, Alexander (by 1525-84), of Barlow in Chorlton cum Hardy, Lancs.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Mar. 1533
Oct. 1553
Apr. 1554
Nov. 1554

Family and Education

b. by 1525, o.s. of Ellis Barlow of Barlow by Anne, da. of Otis Reddish of Reddish. m. by 1558, Elizabeth, da. and coh. of George Legh of Manchester, 1s. 5da.1

Offices Held

Member, 3rd Earl of Derby’s council in 1546; commr. for local disputes 1553, 1555; trustee, Manchester g.s. 1556-81.2


Although the Barlows had been settled in Lancashire since about 1200, they had not been very prominent in the county. However, Alexander Barlow’s sister Margaret married Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby, and this alliance presumably explains his Membership for Wigan in six Parliaments. He was a member of Derby’s council in 1546 and as ‘my right well beloved servant’ an executor of his will in 1572.3

Barlow farmed the tithe-corns of Chorlton and Barlow as early as 1546, paying an annual rent of 10s. to Manchester College. He obtained an increased interest in the tithes in 1551 and later entered into partnership over them with his kinsman and neighbour Edmund Trafford. This association with Trafford is of interest, since Trafford was a Protestant and a notorious persecutor of recusants, whereas Barlow was an equally determined Catholic. Both were overseers of the will of Barlow’s uncle John Reddish in 1569 and Barlow was involved in the arrangements for the marriage of Trafford’s son, also Edmund, in 1573. Not long before his death, however, Barlow brought a suit concerning Barlow Moor against Trafford in the duchy court. Besides being able to live on largely amicable terms with his Protestant neighbour, Barlow no doubt enjoyed the protection of his brother-in-law until the earl’s. death.4

On 5 Feb. 1558 Barlow wrote to Cuthbert Scott, bishop of Chester, offering the bishop obedience, reverence and honour. Living as he did only five miles from Manchester, Barlow was a friend of Lawrence Vaux, the last Catholic warden of Manchester College, who entrusted the leases and charters of the college to Barlow before his flight to Ireland. Barlow brought a case against Warden Thomas Herle in 1566, and in 1567 Herle in his turn petitioned Sir Ralph Sadler against Barlow, complaining that he could get no justice in Lancashire.5

Despite the efforts of Herle and the proximity of Trafford, Barlow seems to have escaped molestation until 1583 when he was imprisoned shortly after his wife’s death. On 7 Aug. 1584 he was required as a recusant either to equip a light horseman or to pay £24; ten years earlier his contribution to the general levy of arms in Lancashire had been one light horseman, one caliver and one morice. He died either in prison or in a nearby house on parole and was buried at Didsbury on 26 Aug. 1584. He had conveyed his estates in trust to his son-in-law Edward Scarisbrick and five others in 1576: there had been a previous settlement (or mortgage) in 1555. His son Alexander had apparently conformed but was to die ‘a true and perfect recusant Catholic’. One of Barlow’s daughters, Jane, became a Bridgettine nun abroad, and three of his grandsons Benedictines, one of them, Ambrose, being executed in 1641.6

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: Alan Davidson


  • 1. Barlow was a minor in 1525 under the guardianship of his mother, H. Hornyold-Strickland, Lancs. MPs (Chetham Soc. n.s. xciii), 7. Palatine Note Bk. iv. 205-14; J. B. Watson, ‘Lancs. gentry 1529-58’ (London Univ. M.A. thesis, 1959), 219-21; J. Gillow, Bibl. Dict. Eng. Catholics, i. 130-1; Vis. Lancs. (Chetham Soc. lxxxi), 5; J. Booker, Didsbury (Chetham Soc. xlii), 254.
  • 2. Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. xl. 148; lxxxix. 228-9; Chetham Soc. n.s. xv. 130; Palatine Note Bk. iv. 210.
  • 3. Watson, 128-9, 161, 220; PCC 38 Daper.
  • 4. Chetham Soc. lix. 17; n.s. iii. 35; li. 270; Palatine Note Bk. iv. 210; Ducatus Lanc. iii. 249; iv. 86.
  • 5. Harl. 2112, f. 172; Palatine Note Bk. iv. 211; Ducatus Lanc. iii. 338, 364.
  • 6. Palatine Note Bk. iv. 212, 229; Ducatus Lanc. i. 51; Cath. Rec. Soc. v. 71; Harl. 7042, f. 165; Watson, 474; Lancs. and Cheshire Rec. Soc. lx. 114; B. Camm, Forgotten Shrines 212.