“a pleasant country seat near Rochdale”

George Gordon Byron and Rochdale

As blue-blooded as they come, Lord Byron was a Romantic poet famed for living life large. Most students bring a hangover to a lecture, not GGB; he brought a bear to live with him while at Cambridge. His ebullient “mad, bad and dangerous to know” lifestyle, plus his famed good looks, are forever embodied in the term “Byronic hero”.

Byron's Bear.  Original artwork from here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/77226115/little-lord-byron-had-a-bear-pack-of-5
Byron’s Bear. Original artwork from here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/77226115/little-lord-byron-had-a-bear-pack-of-5

In 1808, when he was ten years old, Byron inherited some of the mineral rights in Rochdale becoming the sixth Baron Byron. There is evidence that later in his life he visited the borough once, staying at Hopwood Hall in Middleton. He had come to tie up legal affairs left by the fifth Baron Byron with his lawyer, John Hanson, writing in a letter that:

“unluckily receiving an invitation to a pleasant country seat near Rochdale full of the fair and fashionable sex, I left my affairs to an agent (who however managed better without me) never went within ken of a coalpit. and am returned with six new acquaintances but with little topographical knowledge” (1)

Although he stayed in Middleton for a week, Byron never explored the area and both he and Hanson failed to tie up the legal case while there.

Due to his extravagant lifestyle, Lord Byron often found himself in debt; he sold the title to Rochdale in 1823, a year before his death in Greece.

Citations
(1) John Beckett, ‘Byron and Rochdale’, Byron Journal, 33/1 (2005), 18 – 19

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