Cheshire, a palatine and maritime county of England, bounded on the NW. by the Irish Sea, and bordering on the counties of Lancaster, York, Derby, Stafford, Salop, Denbigh, and Flint; extreme length, NE. and SW., 58 miles; extreme breadth, 40 miles; average breadth 18 miles; area, 657,123 acres; population 644,037. Cheshire forms, towards the Irish Sea, a flat peninsula, the Wirrall [sic] (12 miles by 7 miles), between the estuaries of the Mersey and the Dee, and inland a vast plain separating the mountains of Wales from those of Derbyshire. This plain is diversified with fine woods of oak, and &c., and is studded with numerous small lakes or meres. A low ridge of sandstone hills runs North from Congleton, near the East border, and another extends from the neighbourhood of Malpas to Frodsham, near the estuary of the Mersey. The chief rivers are the Mersey with its affluent the Bollin, the Weaver, and the Dee. The soil consists of marl, mixed with clay and sand, and is generally fertile. There are numerous excellent dairy farms, on which the celebrated Cheshire cheese is made; also extensive market gardens, the produce of which is sent to Liverpool, Manchester, and the neighbouring towns. Salt has been long worked; it is obtained from rock salt and saline springs; the principal works are at Nantwich, Northwich, and Winsford. Coal and ironstone are worked in the districts of Macclesfield and Stockport. There are manufacturers of cotton, silk, and ribbons, carried on chiefly in the towns of the East division; and shipbuilding, on the Mersey. Cheshire contains 7 hundreds and 503 parishes, and is entirely within the Diocese of Chester. [From Bartholemew's Gazetteer of the British Isles, 1887. - C.H.]
The county boundary has changed several times since the late nineteenth century, most significantly in 1974, when sizeable areas were transferred to the counties of Greater Manchester and Merseyside.
The principal collection of records relating to the county is held in the Cheshire Archives, Duke Street, Chester, CH1 1RL - Tel: 01244 972574. E-mail: recordoffice[at]cheshiresharedservices.gov[dot]uk.
The following record offices and libraries also have significant collections relating to their localities:
- Altrincham Library, 20 Stamford New Road, Altrincham, WA14 1EJ - Tel: 0161 928 0317.
- Bebington Central Library, Civic Way, Bebington, CH63 7PN - Tel: 0151 606 2665. Email: bebingtoncentral[at]wirral.gov[dot]uk
- Birkenhead Central Library, Borough Road, Birkenhead, CH41 2XB. Tel: 0151 606 2665. Email: birkenheadreference[at]wirral.gov[dot]uk
- Chester History and Heritage Centre, St Michael's Church, Bridge Street Row, Chester, CH1 1NW - Tel: 01244 402110.
- Chester Library, Northgate Street, Chester, CH1 2EF - Tel: 01244 312935.
- Congleton Library, Market Street, Congleton, CW12 1BU - Tel: 01260 271141.
- Crewe Library, Prince Albert Street, Crewe, CW1 2DH - Tel: 01270 211123.
- Ellesmere Port Library, Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BG - Tel: 0151 357 4684.
- Knutsford Library, Toft Road, Knutsford, WA16 0PG - Tel: 01625 3744878
- Macclesfield Heritage Centre, Silk Museum, Roe Street, Macclesfield, SK11 6UT - Tel: 01625 613210.
- Macclesfield Library, Jordan Gate, Macclesfield, SK10 1EE - Tel: 01625 422512.
- Nantwich Library, Beam Street, Nantwich, CW5 5LY - Tel: 01270 624867.
- Neston Library, Parkgate Road, Neston, CH64 6QE - Tel: 0151 336 5486.
- Northwich Library, Witton Street, Northwich, CW9 5DR - Tel: 01606 44221.
- Runcorn (Halton Lea) Library, Halton Lea, Runcorn, WA7 2PF - Tel: 01928 715351.
- Sandbach Library, The Common, Sandbach, CW11 1FH - Tel: 01270 762309.
- Stockport Heritage Library, Wellington Road South, Stockport, SK1 3RS - Tel: 0161 474 4530.
- Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Central Library, Old Street, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 7SG - Tel: 0161 324 4242.
- Trafford Local Studies Centre, Tatton Road, Sale, M33 1YH.. Tel: 0161 912 3013.
- Wallasey Central Library, Earlston Road, Wallasey, CH45 5DX - Tel: 0151 639 2334. Email: wallaseycentral[at]wirral.gov[dot]uk
- Warrington Central Library, Museum Street, Warrington, WA1 1JB - Tel: 01925 571232.
- Widnes Library, Victoria Square, Widnes, WA8 7QY - Tel: 0151 423 4818.
- Wilmslow Library, South Drive, Wilmslow, SK9 1NW - Tel: 01625 415037.
- Winsford Library, High Street, Winsford, CW7 2AS - Tel: 01606 552065.
- Wirral Archives, Lower Ground Floor, Cheshire Lines Building, Canning Street, Birkenhead, CH41 1ND - Tel: 0151 606 2929 or 0151 607 2928. E-mail: archives[at]wirral.gov[dot]uk
Miscellaneous records relating to Cheshire can also be found at:
- Greater Manchester County Record Office, 56 Marshall Street, Manchester, M4 5FU - Tel: 0161 832 5284.
- John Rylands University Library of Manchester, Deansgate Building, Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH - Tel: 0161 834 5343.
- Manchester Central Library, Local Studies Unit, St. Peter's Square, Manchester, M2 5PD - Tel: 0161 234 1979.
- Merseyside Record Office, 4th Floor, Cunard Building, Pier Head, Liverpool, L3 1EG - Tel: 0151 236 8038.
- Virtual Waterways Archive Catalogue. The Boat Museum, Ellesmere Port. Public searches by appointment - tel: 0151 373 4378 .
The Family History Society of Cheshire also have a Library and Research Centre at the Rajar Building, Town Lane, Mobberley, WA16 7ER
Cheshire : A Genealogical Bibliography by Stuart Raymond. Published in 2 volumes by the Federation of Family History Societies, 1995. ISBN 1-86006-011-0 (vol. 1), 1-86006-012-9 (vol. 2).
Search the Genuki Church Database for information concerning places of worship in Cheshire and their registers.
Most pre-1910 Cheshire parish and non-conformist registers have been digitised, and can be searched on the Find My Past website (subscription required). The indexes to these collections can also be freely searched on the Famly Search website
The Cheshire Parish Register Transcription Project has begun to index the county's records of christenings, marriages and burials up to 1870.
The North and East Cheshire Marriage Index (1754-1837) and the Bertram Merrell Marriage Index of Cheshire (1700-1837) are incomplete but have good coverage for most of the county, and both can be purchased from The Family History Society of Cheshire.
Boyd's Marriage Index has very limited coverage of Cheshire, but can also be searched on the Find My Past website (subscription required).
(See also under the names of individual parishes)
Click here for a list showing the composition of the registration districts in Cheshire from 1837, which includes current addresses for Cheshire register offices..
Cheshire BMD is an on-going project to index all births, marriages and deaths in Cheshire from 1837.
The pages reached from Cheshire Towns and Parishes show the registration districts for each parish from 1837.
"HOLY AND UNDIVIDED TRINITY, a parish in the city and county of Chester.
"OVERCHURCH, a parish in the lower division of Wirrall hundred, county Chester. See Upton."
"ST. CHAD, three parishes of this name, one in the borough of Shrewsbury, in the county of Salop; another united with the parish of St. Mary, county Stafford; and a third a district parish in the parish of Malpas, higher division of Broxton hundred, county Chester."
The Cheshire Record Office have a site containing all the surviving Cheshire Tithe Maps from the 1830s and 1840s, which can be compared with modern and 1st/3rd edition Ordnance Survey plans, and aerial photography.
For an index to Cheshire poor law cases heard at the county's quarter sessions between 1732 and 1746, see here.
A searchable database of Cheshire Wills and other probate documents held at the Cheshire Record Office (Cheshire Archives & Local Studies) for the years 1492-1940.