The Trafford Connection
A little known and very unlikely connection can be found between St Edwards church in the town of Leek located in the Staffordshire Moorlands and Manchester United’s football ground known as Old Trafford.
In the corner of the graveyard at St Edwards church and up against the boundary wall which seperates the churchyard from the Vicarage can be found an insignificant gravestone.Upon this gravestone can be found the words “W.m Trafford Esquire of Swythamley Park. Died Dec 10th 1697 aged 93”. He was Lord of the manor of Swythamley and William would have been part of the De Trafford dynasty. His family would have owned land in Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire including Trafford Park and Old Trafford where Manchester United play. As William lived to the ripe old age of 93 which would have been a very rare occurrence back in the late 1600s when life expectancy was very short, it is assumed that this is where the title Old Trafford came from.The De trafford’s were Forester’s who were put in charge of vast tracts of land by the Monarch’s of England who used the forests and moorlands for hunting wild boar, wolves and deer.
Sir Alex Freguson and other Manchester United players at Old Trafford. I wonder whether they are aware of the origin of their stadiums name!
The De trafford’s along with the Davenport’s held the power of life and death over anyone caught poaching and stealing the Monarch’s game, they could seize that person’s home, family and animals as well as taking the poachers life. The Davenports coat of arms was a felon with his head in chains to signify that the family held power over anyone caught poaching, whereas the De Traffords family coat of arms was a man with a flail and their motto was “Now Thus”. If you enter St Edwards church it is possible to find another gravestone hanging on the wall dedicated to William Trafford and displaying a man with a flail and also the family motto.
The other gravestone dedicated to William Trafford displaying the man with a flail and the family motto.
When William Trafford was living at Swythamley Hall it was at the time of the English Civil War and as his reponsibility was looking after the King’s land it is hardly suprising that his loyalties lay with the Royalists. The story regarding the family motto arises from the following tale, it is thought that either Norman or Parlimentarian soldiers came to Swythamley to see the Lord of the Manor and rob him of his wealth. William Trafford was a clever man and was well prepared for this, he hid in the barn and started flailing corn, when the soldiers found him they assumed that he was one of the workers on the estate. The soldiers questioned him as to the whereabouts of his master and all he would say was” Now Thus”, the soldiers unable to gain any sense from him and assuming he was an idiot left empty handed, this is thought to be the reason how the familys motto came about.