William Warburton (1847-1919)

Written by Jean Warburton

Occupation: Solicitor

Short biography

William Warburton was born in Broughton, Salford in the first quarter of 1847 and baptised on 13th October 1847. He was the son of William Warburton (1819-1861), a corn dealer, who married Catherine Roylance (1820-1874), the daughter of Charles Roylance (1791-1827), a grocer, and Ann Roylance, nee Woodward (1796-1851), on 6th June 1843 in Manchester Cathedral. William Warburton had an elder brother, John, born in 1845 who followed his father as a corn merchant.

In 1886, William Warburton married Mary Amy Whittingham (1863-1942) who was known as Amy. She was the daughter of Thomas Whittingham a farmer and his wife Eliza of Elsworth and later Sandbach, Cheshire. They did not have any children. William Warburton died on 9th April 1919 at Cragwood on Windermere and was buried on 14th April 1919 at Jesus Church Troutbeck. Amy Warburton died on 16th August at Cragwood. 


William Warburton trained as a solicitor, gaining the prize of the Honourable Society of Clifford’s Inn in 1869. He was originally in practice on his own account at 43 Princess Street, Manchester where he acted on the sale of a cotton mill in Disley. He also acted for the Dunkerley family. Frank Brookhouse Dunkerley’s father was a wealthy iron and steel merchant whose firm was C. C. Dunkerley & Co, Iron and Steel Stockholders.

In 1872, William Warburton entered into partnership with John William Addleshaw to found the firm Addleshaw and Warburton which had premises in Norfolk Street, Manchester. Addleshaw and Warburton was instrumental in setting up several large textile combines in the city and acted for the Trustees of the Debenture Stockholders of The General Electric Company when it was raising funds.

After William Warburton’s death, John William Addleshaw entered into partnership with Henry Edmunds Latham who acted as executor to Amy Warburton when she died in 1942. Addleshaw Sons & Latham was a well-known Manchester firm of solicitors for many years and, eventually, after further amalgamations became the large national and international firm of Addleshaw Goddard.


William Warburton originally lived with his parents in Stanford Road, Bowden, Cheshire. He remained with his parents in Bowdon until at least 1871. In 1861, they lived in Church Place but by 1871 had moved to Park Road. In 1881, William Warburton was living with his brother, John, at Grove House, Bowdon. 

After his marriage, William Warburton had a house in Bowdon but he also bought Belle Grange on the west shore of Windermere at Claife where he and Amy were living by 1891. Belle Grange was the site of an old ferry across Windermere to Low Millerground. William Warburton commissioned Frank Brookhouse Dunkerley (1868-1951), his mother’s cousin, to carry out alterations to Belle Grange. Frank Brookhouse Dunkerley designed few buildings as he came from a wealthy family and did not need to make a living from architecture. The alterations to Belle Grange consisted of an extension to the side of the house. This resulted in a sizeable property and, at the time of the 1891 Census, William Warburton and Amy had two Manchester merchants and their wives staying and the household was supported by three servants.

William Warburton and Amy clearly enjoyed life on Windermere as he commissioned Frank Brookhouse Dunkerley next to design a house on the east shore at Ecclerigg. The site was chosen for its uninterrupted views over Windermere and to the hills beyond. Named Cragwood, the house was designed in the Arts and Crafts style with large bow windows for the principal rooms to take full advantage of the site. It has remarkable internal detail in the plasterwork, including unusual motives such as bats and owls. Built by Arthur Jackson of Ambleside, the house was completed in 1910. The gardens were designed by Thomas Mawson (1861-1933). The house is now a hotel.


Whilst he was living at Belle Grange in 1898, William Warburton commissioned Shepherds of Bowness to build a thirty six foot electric launch named Swallow at a cost of £122 10s 0d. As with all electric boats of that age, it had a short life as the battery acid ate into the hull. As a replacement, in 1911, he acquired the steam launch, Swallow, also built by Shepherds. Swallow was an elegant boat being forty five foot six inches long and eight foot in the beam and powered by a triple expansion engine by W. Sissons of Gloucester. Swallow, now restored, is in the collection of the Windermere Jetty Museum.


William Warburton was a devout member of the Church of England and was a church warden at Bowden Parish Church. He gave land at Ecclerigg, Windermere, for a Mission Church to be built dedicated to St Andrew. In his will, William Warburton gave £2,000 for the payment of the clergy and expenses of St Andrews.

William Warburton, whilst living well, was careful with his funds. Laurence Weaver, reviewing Cragwood for Country Life in 1912, was impressed by the economy of the design and the limited overall cost. William Warburton was obviously very successful in his profession as he left £175,033 when he died in 1919.

Having retired to the shores of Lake Windermere, William Warburton was determined to retain its quiet character. In 1912, he was appointed Chairman of a Committee set up to oppose the use of the Lake by hydroplanes. This followed flights by Edward Wakefield’s Waterhen in November 1911 and Oscar Gnosspelius’ hydroplane in December 1911. He was joined on the Committee by Sir George Pilkington, High Sheriff of Lancashire, Canon H. D. Rawnsley and several local landowners.

Primary sources

  • England and Wales Census 1851-1911
  • England and Wales Civil Registration Births Index 1837-1915
  • England and Wale Select Births and Christenings 1538-1975
  • Manchester Marriages and Banns 1754-1930 (Cathedral)
  • Cheshire Select Bishops’ Transcripts 1576-1933
  • National Probate Calendar Index of Wills and Administrations
  • Westmorland Gazette 12th April 1919
  • Derby Times and Chesterfield Herald 16th November 1871
  • Manchester Evening News 24th July 1919
  • St James Gazette 15th October 1890
  • Hull Daily Mail 25th July 1919.

Secondary sources

  • M Hyde and E Whittaker, Arts and Crafts Houses in the Lake District (2014) 102-105, 199
  • M Hyde and N Pevsner, The Buildings of England Cumbria (2010), 643
  • George H Pattinson, The Great Age of Steam on Windermere (1981), 76
  • https://lakelandarts.org.uk/windermere-jetty-museum
  • https://manchestervictorianarchitects.org.uk/belle-grange-ambleside-windermere
  • https://manchestervictorianarchitects.org.uk/frank-brookhouse-dunkereley
  • www.waterbird.org.uk
  • https://addleshawgoddard.com