Fleetwood, Thomas (DNB00)

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FLEETWOOD, THOMAS (1661–1717), drainer of Marton or Martin Meer, eldest son of Sir Richard Fleetwood, bart., of Calwick, Staffordshire, who survived him, was born in 1661, and having married the daughter and heiress of Christopher Bannister, esq., of Bank Hall, Lancashire, he purchased from the Mainwarings, about 1690, the manor of Marton Grange, or Marton Sands, in the same county. His land adjoined a large lake called Marton (or Martin) Meer, occupying an area of 3,132 acres, with a circumference of about eighteen miles, and this he boldly resolved to drain. Having first obtained from the neighbouring proprietors a lease of their rights in the meer for the duration of three lives and thirty-one years, he procured in 1692 an act of parliament allowing him to proceed, and commenced operations in the following year. On these extensive works as many as two thousand labourers were sometimes engaged at the same time. The result was fairly successful for about sixty years, but in 1755, five years after the lease had expired, the sea broke in, almost destroying all that had been done. In 1781 draining operations were resumed by Thomas Eccleston of Scarisbrick, Lancashire; but it was not until after the middle of the nineteenth century that Sir Peter Hesketh succeeded in triumphing over every difficulty, converting this large tract of fertile land, traversed by good roads, to profitable use. Fleetwood died 22 April 1717, and was buried in the church of North Meols, Lancashire, where there is a monument to his memory eulogising his enterprise and spirit. His only daughter and heiress, Henrietta Maria, married Thomas Legh, younger brother of Peter Legh, esq., of Lyme in Cheshire (Earwaker, East Cheshire, ii. 301).

[Burke's Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, 1844; Baines's History of the County Palatine and Duchy of Lancaster, 1836; Leigh's Natural History of Lancashire, Cheshire, and the Peak, 1700.]

C. H. D.