The France & France-Hayhurst Families 1798-1814

James France was a Liverpool merchant who imported sugar, rum and other commodities from the West Indies and known as a ‘Jamaica Merchant’.

From about 1730 the merchants of Liverpool made huge profits from the slave trade. The trade formed a triangle. Goods from Manchester were given to the Africans in return for slaves. On 1 January 1783 France took into partnership his nephew Thomas Hayhurst and the firm of ‘France and Nephew’ was created.

After his death, James France directed that his money be invested in land and so his executors purchased ‘the estate of Bostock in Cheshire with a capital mansion upon it’ for the benefit of Thomas Hayhurst. He was a wealthy man leaving legacies of £10,000 for the benefit of the children of each of his nieces and nephew: Elizabeth Poole, Alice Crompton and Thomas Hayhurst, with a further £8000 for Thomas Hayhurst’s family.

It was specifically stipulated in France’s will was that Thomas Hayhurst and his children were to assume the name and coat of arms of his own family and not to use the surname Hayhurst, or else forfeit their inheritance. Thomas Hayhurst, now surnamed France in accordance with his uncle’s wishes, and his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Cropper, esquire, or Liverpool, settled at Bostock House in the late 1790s.

Thomas France died on 8 January 1815 and left everything to his son and heir James France France (born 1793) then at Trinity College, Cambridge. At this time it was common practice to give children the surname of their maternal grandmother as a middle name – hence ‘James France France’.

He owned plantations in Jamaica but died unmarried in 1869. On his death his brother the Reverend Thomas France-Hayhurst (1803-1889) succeeded to the manor its lands and Bostock House. His estate was worth between ninety and one hundred thousand pounds.