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Cheshire

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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.]

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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.

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Archives & Libraries

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

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Bibliography

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).

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Census

Census returns for 1841-1911 are available on Ancestry (subscription required) and FindMyPast (subscription required).

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Church Records

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).

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Civil Registration

(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.

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Gazetteers

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"CHESHIRE, one of the sea-side counties in the N.W of England, lying between 52° 56' and 53° 34' N. lat., and between 1° 47' and 3° 11' W. long. It is bounded on the N. by Lancashire and Yorkshire; on the E. by Derbyshire and Staffordshire; on the S. by Shropshire and Flintshire; and on the W. by Denbighshire, Flintshire, and the Irish Sea. Its form has been compared to that of an eagle's right wing extended, as it were, from the Wirrall to Yorkshire. Its extreme length from N.E. to S.W. is about 58 miles; its extreme width from N. to S. about 32 miles. It is about 200 miles in circuit. Its area is 1,104 square miles, or 707,078 acres, and it includes within its limits 103,294 houses, of which 5,420 are unoccupied. Its population is 505,428, according to the census of 1861. There has been an increase of 49,703 persons, or 11 per cent. since 1851, and of 313,123 persons, or 163 per cent. in the last 60 years. The old Celtic inhabitants of Cheshire had, in common with those of Staffordshire, Flintshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, and Leicestershire, the name of Cornavii, or Cornabii. This, at least, was the Latinised form of it, and it may, perhaps, still be traced in the name of Kinderton, the ancient Condate. Cheshire was included in the Roman district Flavia Cæsariensis. When the Romans abandoned the island, the Britons again became masters; but were compelled to yield this portion of their territory Ethelfrith, the Saxon King of Bernicia, in 607. 28, Egbert, King of Mercia, conquered and annexed it to his own dominions, giving it the name of Ceastrescyre. About 200 years afterwards it was overrun by the Danes, but recovered from them by Alfred in 877. Chester first became an earldom under Canute, who bestowed it upon Leofric.

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

 

[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013

"BOUGHTON SPITTLE, (or Spital), an extra-parochial liberty in the city of Chester, locally in the parish of Chester St. John, and hundred of Broxton, in the county palatine of Chester.

"CHESTER CASTLE, an extra-parochial place, in the city and county of Chester."

"CLAVERTON, an extra-parochial hamlet in the city of Chester, in the county of Chester."

"GREAT STANNEY, an extra parochial place in the hundred of Higher Wirrall, county Chester, 5 miles N. of Chester. It is situated on the Mersey and Chester canal, and formerly belonged to Stanlow Priory.

"KINGSMARSH, an extra parochial place in the higher division of the hundred of Broxton, county Chester, 6 miles N. W. of Malpas. It is situated on the river Dee."

"MIDDLETON-GRANGE, an extra parochial place adjoining the chapelry of Aston-by-Sutton, county Chester, 3 miles E. of Frodsham. It is situated on the river Weaver."

"NO-MANS-LAND, an extra parochial place in the hundred of Macclesfield, county Chester."

"PRIORS-HAY, an extra parochial place in the 2nd division of Eddisbury hundred, county Chester, 4 miles E. of Chester."

"SHOT WICK-PARK, an extra parochial place in the higher division of the hundred of Wirrall, county Chester, 3 miles N. of Sutton railway station, and 4 N.W. of Chester. There are slight traces of a castle mentioned by Leland, and formerly belonging to the crown, in which Henry II. lodged on his way to Ireland in 1156, and Edward I. in the years 1260 (when prince) and 1278."

"SPITTLE-BOUGHTON, an extra parochial place, in the city and county of Chester."

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"HOLY AND UNDIVIDED TRINITY, a parish in the city and county of Chester.

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"BROXTON HUNDRED, one of the 7 hundreds or subdivisions of the county palatine of Chester, situated in the south parliamentary division of the county, and bounded on the N. by the hundred of Wirrall, on the E. by the hundreds of Eddisbury and Nantwich, on the S. by the county of Flint, and on the W. by the county of Denbigh. It is separated into the Higher and Lower divisions The Higher contains the parishes of Coddington, Farndon, Harthill, Shocklach, and Tilston, with parts of Aldford, Bunbury, Handley, Malpas, and Threapwood. The Lower contains the parishes of Christleton, Eccleston, Guilden-Sutton, Pulford, Tattenhall, and Waverton, with parts of Aldford, Backford, Doddleston, Handley, St. Mary-on-the-Hill, St. Oswald, Plemonstall, and Tarvin. In the Norman survey, this hundred is called Dudesten. The entire hundred comprises an area of 77,470 acres."

"BUCKLOW HUNDRED, one of the 7 hundreds or subdivisions of the county palatine of Chester, situated in the northern parliamentary division of the county, and bounded on the N. and W. by the river Mersey, separating it from Lancashire, on the E. by the hundred of Macclesfield, on the S. by the hundreds of Northwich and Eddisbury. It contains the parishes of Ashton-upon-Mersey, Bowdon, Grappenhall, Knutsford, Lymm, Mobberley, Runcorn, and Warburton, with parts of Great Budworth, and Rostherne. The hundred extends over an area of about 107,700 acres."

"DANE RIVER, rises, and is situated on the borders of Derby and Cheshire, and runs 30 miles W. to the river Weaver at Northwich."

"EDDISBURY, a hundred in county palatine of Chester; one of the seven hundreds into which the county is divided. It is bounded on the N. by the river Mersey and hundred of Wirral, on the E. by the hundreds of Bucklow and Northwich, S. by the hundred of Nantwich, and W. by the hundred of Broxton.

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"OVERCHURCH, a parish in the lower division of Wirrall hundred, county Chester. See Upton."

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"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."

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"ST. OSWALD, a parish in the city of Chester, county Cheshire, which see.

"BACHE, a township in the parish of St. Oswald, Chester, lower division of the hundred of Broxton, in the county palatine of Chester, 1 mile to the N. of Chester. The principal residence is Bache Hall, which occupies the site of a more ancient mansion."

"CHURTON HEATH, (or Bruera Chapelry), a chapelry in the parish of St. Oswald, in the lower division of the hundred of Broxton, in the county of Chester, 5 miles S.E. of Chester. The living is a curacy annexed to the vicarage of St. Oswald, in the diocese of Chester, value £245, in the patronage of the dean and chapter. The church, dedicated to St. Mary, is a small ancient building, called the Church on the Heath. The chapelry includes the adjoining townships of Huntington, Leacum, Newbold, and Saighton. Here is a small school supported by subscription.

"CRABWALL, a hamlet in the parishes of Chester Holy Trinity, and St. Oswald, hundred of Wirrall, in the county of Chester, 1½ mile N. of Chester. Lord Crewe is lord of the manor. It is situated near the Ellesmere canal, and together with Blacon forms a township."

"CROGTON, a township in the parish of St. Oswald, higher division of the hundred of Wirrall, in the county of Chester, 4¼ miles N. of Chester. It is situated on the Mersey canal."

"CROUGHTON, a township in the parish of St. Oswald, higher division of the hundred of Wirrall, in the county of Chester, 4 miles N.E. of Chester, its post town. It is situated near the Mersey canal, and contains four houses."

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"WHALLEY, a parish lying within the counties of Lancaster, Cheshire, and the West Riding{ of Yorkshire}. It is an extensive parish about 30 miles in length, by 15 in breadth, with a population in 1861 of 167,456. The parish includes the municipal and parliamentary borough of Clitheroe, the market towns of Burnley, Colne, and Haslingden, besides the villages, hamlets, or townships of Altham, Barlby, Barrowford, Briercliffe, Chatburn, Church-kirk, Clayton-le-Dale, Cliviger, Coldcoates, Downham, Dunnockshaw, Extwistle, Foulridge, Goldshaw Booth, Habergham-Eaves, now a district parish, Hapton, Henheads, Henthorn, Heyhouses, Higham, Holme, Huncoat, Little Rowland, Little Ireland, Marsden, Great and Little; Meazley, Nelson Station, Old Lund Booth, Padiham, Pendleton, Portsmouth, Read, Reedley Hallows, Rough Lee Booth, Sareden, Simondstone, Sykeside, Trawden, Twiston, Wheatly-Car-Booth, Wiswell, Worsthome, Worston, West Close Booth, Whitewell, and Wheatley. It anciently included also the present parishes of Blackburn, Chipping, Mitton, Ribchester, Rochdale, and Slaidburn, which have been separated from it at different times. The rivers Calder and Ribble form a junction at the western extremity of the parish, and there are stations of the Bolton, Blackburn, and Clitheroe railway. The village of Whalley, which gives name to this parish, is situated on the river Calder, and contains the ruins of the abbey, founded in 1296 by Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, and now the property of John Taylor, Esq., of Morton Hall. Its revenue at the Dissolution was £551 4s. 6d. The living is a vicarage* in the diocese of Manchester, value £315, in the patronage of the Hulme trustees. The parish church, dedicated to All Saints, was repaired in 1855, when alterations were made in the interior, which contains several old brasses and monuments, screen work brought from the old abbey, and 18 ancient stalls.

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"WHITCHURCH, a parish and market town, partly in the hundred of Nantwich, county Chester, but chiefly in the Whitchurch division of North Bradford hundred, county Salop, 11 miles N.W. of Market-Drayton, 19 N.E. of Shrewsbury, and 20 S.W. of Chester. It has stations on the Cambrian and on the Crewe and Shrewsbury branch of the London and North-Western railways, and has water communication by means of a branch of the Ellesmere canal. In ancient times it was called Album Monasterium, or Blancminster, probably from an hospital founded in the reign of Henry II., and bad an ancient castle near the mill. The parish includes, besides the town of its own name, the parochial districts of Ash and Tilstock, the village of Wirswall, and 14 townships It is situated on the borders of Wales, from which it is separated by a stream called the Red Brook, and has three small lakes, called Osmere, Blackmere, and Brown Moss-water. The site of the town is on the old road from London to Chester. It contains the townhall, in the High-street, where a county court is held monthly; a savings-bank, two commercial banks, the National Provincial, and Whitchurch and Ellesmere; a police station, inland revenue office, news-room, union workhouse, enlarged in 1855; working men's club, young men's institution, several insurance agencies and gasworks. The town has recently been much improved by the completion of the sewerage works. There are several breweries and maltings, an iron foundry and machine factory. The boot and shoe trade, formerly the staple, has much declined, but considerable business is done in malt, hops, and agricultural produce. The population of the parish in 1861 was 6,093, and of the town 3,704. The local government is administered by a high steward, appointed by the Earl of Brownlow, who is lord of the manor and principal landowner. The living is a rectory* in the diocese of Lichfield, value £1,000. The church, dedicated to St.

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Genealogy

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Maps

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.

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Poor Houses, Poor Law

For an index to Cheshire poor law cases heard at the county's quarter sessions between 1732 and 1746, see here.

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Probate Records

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.