Mr Nicholas Grimshaw

Another characteristic shared by the early residents of Winckley Square was that they all played a major part in the life of Preston. Nicholas Grimshaw certainly did that. He was born in 1757 and educated for the law. Before coming to Winckley Square he lived in Church Street, almost opposite Grimshaw Street, which was so named to honour his family. There is an old story about an incident that took place during his residence there.

"He was fond of the violin and one market day, while playing the instrument, there chanced to come along the street a countryman. The door of the house, or the window of the room in which Mr. Grimshaw was playing, was open and the countryman, knowing that fiddle-playing was no uncommon thing on a market day in a public place, fancied this was such a place; so in he went - walked right into the room where Mr. Grimshaw was playing, took a seat and knocked on the table with his fist for a waiter to come and take his order. Mr. Grimshaw quietly walked towards him and asked what he wanted. "A glass of ale", was the reply. Mr. Grirnshaw good-humouredly rang the bell, and forthwith appeared a servant, who was requested to bring in a glass of ale. It was drawn and brought. "What's to pay?" inquired the man. "Nothing", answered Mr. Grimshaw, whereupon thanks were freely rendered, followed by "Good health" and the speedy supping of the ale. The man then got up and quietly walked out, having no idea that he had been in the private residence of one of the principal gentlemen of the town, but simply that he had encountered a generous 'publican' in his own 'hotel'."

Nicholas Grimshaw had a very lucrative legal practice and held most of the public appointments in the town. When the regiment of Preston Royal Volunteers was raised in 1797 he was appointed Colonel, and in 1802, the year of his first Guild Mayoralty, the Officers of the Regiment presented his Lady with a full-length portrait of their Colonel, as a mark of their respect. This now hangs in the Regimental Museum in Stanley Street. He made such a success of the Guild of 1802 that a grateful Corporation presented him with a magnificent set of silver plate. An account of that Guild records that after the Gentlemen's Procession on the Monday, "Mr. Grimshaw, the Mayor, entertained the gentlemen with a sumptuous dinner at his house in Winckley Place. The Mayoress likewise entertained the ladies on the following day."

Although he lived such a busy professional life, Nicholas Grimshaw found time to indulge in many cultural pursuits. He was President of the Preston Musical Society and of the Preston Assembly, and held the office of Speaker in the Oyster and Parched Pea Club.

But great tragedy befell during his second Guild Mayoralty in 1822, when his two sons, Nicholas Charles, aged twenty and George Henry, aged seventeen, were drowned in a boating accident in the River Ribble. They and two friends, who also drowned, had been celebrating the birthday of King George IV. In the records of that Guild it is recorded that "Mr. Grimshaw bore the loss with Christian fortitude; but the Mayoress was so much overcome by the sudden stroke that she felt unequal to the exacting duties of the position of Lady Mayoress; but she found an admirable substitute in her daughter, Mrs. Atkinson, wife of Robert Atkinson, Esqr., of Studdy Lodge near Lancaster. The Mayoress, Mrs. Grimshaw, was a lady of the finest character, much beloved by all classes for her gentleness and generous charity, and her absence from the Guild ceremonies gave rise to universal regret for the unfortunate cause of it."

We can still see the name of Nicholas Grimshaw on the inscription over the entrance to the old Corn Exchange. The building was converted into a public hall in 1882. Most of the building was demolished in 1991 to make way for road improvements and only the restored front block survives which is now a public house. Nicholas Grimshaw died in January 1838, aged eighty. His gravestone is preserved in the grass verge of Preston Parish Church in Church Street.


Here are deposited the Remains
(the 3rd & 6th Sons of NICHOLAS GRIMSHAW
Esqr. of this Town & ESTHER MARY his Wife)
Who were Drowned in the River Ribble on
the 24th Day of April, A.D. 1822
Also the Remains of the above
Who departed this life on the 17th Day
of January 1838 Aged 80 Years.
Also the Remains of the above
Relict of the above named
Who departed this life on the
26th day of December 1855
Aged 86 Years.

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© Marian Roberts 1996