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The Machell's circa 1715- 1871

John Walker was buried at Colton on 7th November 1715, still of Hollow Oak, so he and his wife and their unmarried daughter Ellen (Baptised as Emlina in 1690) were evidently still living in the house, when on 29th December 1715, his widow Emma agreed to grant all her right of dower in the "ancient tenement" at Hollow Oak to her son-in-law in return for an annuity of 5.00. It was agreed that she should continue to occupy the "Chamber Closet" in which she and her husband had lived, unless she found another room would be more convenient. She was to have an allowance of peat's for her own fire. John Walker's inventory lists only the sort of possessions which a retired man might own. He had no stock or farming equipment, only his clothes and some furniture, including a spinning wheel and he still kept a horse of his own. Elizabeth and her husband occupied the rest of Hollow Oak and all their children were baptised from there. She seems to have left Haverthwaite to live elsewhere, probably with Ellen who married in 1717.

John Machell was baptised at Cartmel on 19th March 1678; the baptism of his father James, whose grandfather was the earliest member of the family in the area, has not been traced, but he married twice and had at least seven children.
 
John was James's eldest son by his first wife, Elizabeth, but she died when John was five and he would have been brought up by his stepmother, the former Isabella Marre, who married James Machell in 1685.

Hollow Oak Nursing Home

The Main Entrance seen from inside the gate-December 2003

In 1689 James Machell bought the close called "Smiddyes" near Backbarrow Bridge which had been left 79 years before to Robert and Edward Walker. The seller was Miles Walker of Hollow Oak, John Walker's son so the land at some time must have come into his possession. On this occasion it was again said to have been the site of an old ironworks. James Machell established a new bloomery there and in 1692 he extended his territory by the purchase of more land at Backbarrow Bridge, this time from John Walker himself.
 
When James died in 1702 his will reveals him to have been an extremely prosperous man with lands in Grange, Staveley, Cunsey, Cartmel and generally in Furness Fells, also at Sunderland Point in Lancashire as well as that near Backbarrow Bridge where his own house was. He owned the iron forge at Backbarrow, Kierholme forge at Dalton in Westmorland and half a forge at Cartmel. In spite of these important interests in the iron industry he still called himself a ship's carpenter which had evidently been his principal occupation. His eldest son John inherited at the age of twenty four all the property except that at Sunderland Point and Dalton which went to his brother William. Money was left to his sisters and their children and john was to pay his stepmother an annuity of 4.00. She also had the house at Backbarrow, a cow, a gallaway (a riding horse) and household goods all in lieu of the lands in Cartmel and Furness Fells which she had brought to James Machell as her marriage portion. She lived until 1737.

John and Elizabeth Machell had ten children at Hollow Oak, three dying in infancy or early childhood. A great many local houses were rebuilt in the last half of the 17th century and the earliest part of the present Hollow Oak probably dates from this period; one could well suggest that it had been rebuilt by Elizabeth's father. In the early years of their marriage the young Machell's seem to have built a new kitchen, the date and their initials JME 1707 are carved over the fireplace there. Before this date cooking was generally done in the fireplace of the main room of a house, but wealthier people were beginning to feel that it was more seemly to have a separate kitchen. From the house it was easy to ride to Backbarrow for John to superintend the undertakings there.
 
In 1711 he and three partners established the iron forge which was to work until the 1960's and their initials appear on the lintel of the furnace itself. The old bloomery which had belonged to his father was converted to refine the iron cast in the new forge and the whole enterprise was one of the most important industrial developments in the north-west of England. John Machell became a freeman of Lancaster in 1719 and in 1745 he bought the house at Aynsome where he lived until his death in 1750, leaving Hollow Oak for the next generation. Two of his daughters married substantial local men. Elizabeth, baptised in 1706 married Richard Robinson of fell Foot and Emy, baptised in 1713 was married to John Robinson of Newby Bridge. The Machell's of Newby Bridge descended from his second son John, baptised in 1710. Another daughter Katherine, married Joseph Greg of Mirehouse in Cumberland and Agnes married a Richard Atkis from Liverpool but was living at Aynsome when she made her will in 1785. John Machell left Aynsome to his youngest son Thomas who was the progenitor of another line of Machells and Remington's there. The family's connections in Lancaster and Liverpool are indications of the widening horizons opened by a highly successful business.

Hollow Oak passed to James the eldest son of John and Elizabeth Machell. He was born there in 1708 and in 1733 he married Margaret, daughter of Richard Harrison of Coniston Waterhead who lived in the house now known as Monk Coniston. His father settled Hollow Oak on him with other property in Haverthwaite and elsewhere, and a corn mill, half a fulling mill and a quarter of the iron works at Backbarrow. Margaret's youngest sister Catherine married Richard Ford, another famous ironmaster who shared James Machell's business interests.

photo of Hollow Oak from the front garden

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