A county of England, lying on the Irish Sea, and bounded by Cumberland, Westmoreland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire. It is 75 miles in length, and 30 in breadth. It is divided into 6 hundreds, which contain 27 market towns, 62 parishes, and 894 villages. This county comprises a variety of soil and face of country; there being mountains of more than 2000 feet high, in the north and eastern parts, with wide moorlands or heaths amongst them; extensive bogs or mosses, which yield only turf for fuel, and are very dangerous; and some most fertile land for agricultural purposes. it yields iron, coal, slate, and other building-stones; salt, &c. &c. Grazing is more attended to than agriculture. The fisheries, both in the rivers and the sea, are valuable. As a commercial and manufacturing county, Lancashire is distinguished beyond most others in the kingdom. Its principal manufactures are linen, silk, and cotton goods; fustians, counterpanes, shalloons, baize, serges, tapes, small wares, hats, sail-cloth, sacking, pins, iron goods, cast plate-glass, &c. Of the commerce of this county, it may suffice to observe, that Liverpool is now the second port in the United Kingdom. The principal rivers are the Mersey, Irwell, Ribble, Lune, Leven, Wyre, Hodder, Roche, Duddon, Winster, Kent, and Calder, and it has two considerable lakes, Windermere and Coniston Water. Lancaster is the county town. Population, 1,667,054. It returns 26 members to parliament.

(From Barclay's Complete and Universal Dictionary of 1842.)


Archives & Libraries



The following books contain useful information about the history of Lancashire.

  • "Family structure in nineteenth century Lancashire" by Michael Anderson. Cambridge University Press 1971. The book is based on a study of the 19th century census enumerators' books, both across several decades, and also on an in depth study of the 2% sample for 1851.
  • Lancashire: a genealogical bibliography. 3 vols. F.F.H.S., in association with S. A.& M.J.Raymond, 1996.

    Topics covered include the history of Lancashire, bibliographies and archival gu ides, journals and newspapers, pedigrees, biographical sources,occupational sour ces, family histories, parish registers, monumental inscriptions, probate record s, official lists of names, directories, estate and family papers, religious rec ords, records of national, county and local administration, educational sources, and migration. Published in three volumes:
    v.1. Sources.
    v.2. Registers Inscriptions & Wills.
    v.3. Family Histories & Pedigrees.

    Published by the Federation of Family History Societies in association with SA & MJ Raymond.

  • Lancashire History Quarterly.
  • "The Place-Names of Lancashire" by Eilert Eckwall.

An index to place names mentioned in the titles of topographical articles in the published volumes of the Victoria County History of Lancashire.



The list of Lancashire crematoria opening dates may be useful.



  • Lancashire - Census - links and information.

Church History


Church Records

You may also find it worthwhile searching for churches in the GENUKI church database.


Civil Registration



The CRO has a very good selection of Trade Commercial and Street Directories in Lancashire, e.g. Slaters or Kellys for every 3-4 years from 1850-1924. Prior to 1850 various years, after 1924 and up to date, many various. Microfilm of the Universal British Directory of Trade and Commerce 1791-1798, Baines History, Directory and Gazetteer of the County Palatine of Lancaster 1824-1825.



John Turner has made available a copy of Joseph Aston's Lancashire Gazetteer, first published in 1808.

You may also find it worthwhile searching in the GENUKI gazetteer.

The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"LANCASHIRE, a county palatine and maritime shire, in the north-western part of England, extending between the rivers Mersey and Duddon. It is bounded on the N. by Cumberland and Westmoreland, N.E. and E. by Yorkshire, S. by Cheshire, and W. by the Irish Sea. It is divided into two parts by Morecambe Bay, of which the northern contains the district of Furness. Its total length is 87 miles, and breadth nearly 46. It comprises an area of 1,219,221 acres, or 1,905 square miles; of which 80,000 acres are shore. Lancashire is in size the sixth county in England, and is now the most populous shire in the empire, its population being only exceeded by London. According to the census of 1861 it contains a population of 2,429,440, being a considerable increase to the population of 2,031,236 in 1851. Since the commencement of the present century it has more than trebled. This county was, at the dawn of English history, inhabited by a people called the Brigantes, the most powerful of all the tribes possessing the island. These people were subsequently subdued by Agricola, and Lancashire included in the province of Maxima Cæsariensis. For some time after the invasion of the Saxons this county retained its independence as a portion of the British state of Cumbria. In the 7th century part was reduced by the Angles under Egfrid, the son of Oswis, and added to the kingdom of Northumbria, but the whole county was not permanently brought into subjection before the reign of Edward the Elder, in 921. It was invaded by the Scots under Robert Bruce in 1323, who proceeded as far as Preston. It was here that the Earl of Lincoln landed with numerous German and Irish adherents to support the cause of Lambert Simnel, in the reign of Henry VII. When the "Pilgrimage of Graa" occurred in the reign of Henry VIII. the people of Lancashire revolted, but were subdued by the earls of Shrewsbury and Derby. In the Civil War it played a prominent part.

"CALDER, a river of Yorkshire, rising near Burnley, in Lancashire, and running in an easterly direction through Todmorden Valley, by Dewsbury and Wakefield, to Castleford, where it falls into the Aire. It receives several small tributaries in its course. This river is one of considerable importance, as forming part of a great system of inland water communication, having numerous canals connected with it. Among these are the Rochdale, Barnsley, and Ramsden canals, and the Calder and Hebble navigation. Near Leeds, the Leeds and Liverpool canal joins the Aire."

"CRAKE, a small river in the N. of Lancashire, flowing from Coniston Water to the river Leven."

"DUDDON, (or Dudden, River), rises near the County Stones, on the borders of Cumberland and Lancashire, and runs through some fine scenery, past Duddon bridge, to the sea, by a broad mouth near Dalton."

"IRK, a tributary of the river Irwell, rises near Crompton in Lancashire."

"IRWELL, a tributary of the river Mersey, rises near Holme, in Rossendale Forest, county Lancaster."

"JORDAN BANK, at the mouth of the Mersey, county Lancaster, 2 miles W.S.W. of Formby Point. It lies between the Old and Victoria channels."

"KEER, a small stream rising in North Lancashire, and falling into Morecambe Bay."

"MEDLOCK, a feeder of the Irwell, rising at Scholver, county Lancaster."

"ROCH, a small river of the county of Lancaster, rises in the moors near Upper Knowsley, and running through Rochdale, joins the Irwell near Bury."

"TAME, (or Thame), a river of counties York and Lancaster, rises near Saddleworth in the West Riding, and joins the Mersey at Stockport, in Lancashire."

"TAUD, a stream of county Lancaster, rises near Lathom Park, and joins the Douglas at Rufford."

"THE MERSEY, a river in the N.W. of England, forming the boundary between the counties of Cheshire and Lancashire, and second only to the Thames in commercial importance, being the channel by which vessels approach Liverpool, the second port in England. It is formed by the junction of the rivers Goyt and Thame, which unite their streams at Stockport; and, after receiving the waters of the Irwell, Bollin, and Weaver, falls into the sea a little below Liverpool, by way of the Victoria Channel, which has from four to twelve fathoms water between the Burbo and Formby Flats. At its entrance, which is marked by the Black Rock Light, its channel is deep and narrow, but expanding, a little higher up, into a wide sandy estuary, the shores of which have been converted into spacious docks. [See Liverpool.] Several artificial cuts have been made to facilitate the navigation, so that small craft can ascend as far as Runcorn."

"THE RIBBLE, a river of Yorkshire and Lancashire, supposed to be the Belisama mentioned by Ptolemy. It rises under Whernside, in the West Riding of Yorkshire and receiving in its course of nearly 70 miles the tributary streams of the Hodder, Calder, Darwent, and Douglas, falls into the Irish Sea below Lytham, where there is a tide-light; but the entrance to the port is much obstructed by sands."

"VICTORIA CHANNEL, one of the passages into the Mersey, county Lancashire, with from 12 to 20 feet water, marked by the Formby and Crosby lights."

"WYER, (or Wyre), a river of county Lancaster, rises in moors under Wolf Fell Crag, and after being joined by the Calder falls into the Irish Sea at Fleetwood."



The WorldgenWeb project also has pages for Lancashire genealogy.

Surname lists:

E-mail lists:

  • LANCSGEN, a mailing list for anyone with a genealogical or historical interest in the county of Lancashire.
  • ENG-LIVERPOOL is a list for anyone with a genealogical interest in the City of Liverpool and surrounding areas.
  • ENG-MANCHESTER is a list for anyone with a genealogical interest in the Cities of Manchester and Salford.
  • ENG-LAN-WARRINGTON is a list for anyone with a genealogical interest in Warrington.

People volunteering to lookup Lancashire information can be found at the Lookup Exchange.


Historical Geography

Lancashire was reduced in area as a result of the Local Government Act 1972. From 1 April 1974 the Furness area (the area of Lancashire north of Morecambe Bay) became part of Cumbria, the south east became part of Greater Manchester county, and the south west became part of Merseyside county. Warrington town and surrounding districts including the villages of Winwick and Croft and Risley and Culcheth were moved into Cheshire. A part of what was the West Riding of Yorkshire near Clitheroe, was transferred into Lancashire. Bear this in mind when deciding which current record office holds the information you require.

Hundreds: Lancashire used the term Hundred to define an ancient area of administration which probably derives from the area having to supply 100 armed knights to serve the monarch or similar. For Taxation purposes, the Hundred was used for division until into the 19c.

County Hundreds are:



The starting point here is to establish the name of the manor or manors within the Parish you are researching. The Victoria County Histories for Lancashire come in eight volumes. within this set, divided into Hundreds, are to be found historical and geographical detail on every village, township and manor in the County.

Each Manor may have surviving court rolls from a Court Baron or Court Leet, adjacent Rolls should be checked when looking for tenants on a Manor.

Surviving Manorial records, in various forms, should be with the County Record Office and are usually deposited from Private Collections. The Guide to the Lancashire Record Office will point to any deposited records via the index section, look up the name of the area you need. Failing that, the manorial Documents Register, Quality House, Quality Court, Chancery Lane, London, holds a list of all deposited Manorial Documents in CROs.



  • Lancashire - Maps - links and information.

Military Records

The Local Studies HQ(Preston) has a fairly good selection of Army Regimental and Battalion Histories. They also have general publications on the history of the army.

The South Lancashire Regimental Museum, which was previously at Warrington, has now been moved to Fulwood Barracks at Preston.

The number of the barracks itself is 01772 716543, but if you want to get straight through to the museum you can ring 01772 260362.

The Address is:

Major Maher
Queen's Lancashire Regiment
Fulwood Barracks

They have got a room with the South Lancashire Regimental Museum items from Warrington, and they are open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9.30-4-30.

The Fusiliers' Museum, Lancashire.



Most District libraries will hold a collection of newspapers on film covering their own area. Harris Library Preston holds 14 different regional newspapers. Manchester Local Studies hold the Manchester Mercury from 1752-1830 amongst others.



Many years of enquiries have resulted in a lot of material being accumulated relating to different aspects of the textile industry in Lancashire and there would be useful information found on the various mills, textile giants of industry and the lives of ordinary mill workers [Local Studies HQ, Preston].

North West Gas Historical Society
c/o The Howard Greenfield Archive
British Gas plc
Common Lane
Manchester M31 4BR


Poor Houses, Poor Law

You can find out about the workhouse and the development of the Poor Laws with pictures of some of them. A good starting point at this site is the map of north west poor law unions.


Probate Records

When a person dies, probate is the act of proving a will, or if none has been made, deciding who will adminster the deceased's estate. The Lancashire Probate records, require a little knowledge of geography to find the ones that may help you in your research.





Land Tax 1780-1832. Good survival for both Lonsdale Hundreds. Some years missing from other Hundreds or Parishes missing from some years but reasonably good overall survival, found at County Record Office. Look up the name of the town or village in the back of the guide.

Window Tax: Very little at all See Gibson Guide Land & Window Tax assessments (ISBN 1 872094 65 1)Pub FFHS 1993 £2.50


Town Records

Details of markets in Lancashire.


Voting Registers

Local Studies libraries tend to have a small collection of borough or district poll books. The Harris Library, Preston, hold Poll lists for Preston 1807-1868, Burgess Rolls 1844-1864, Electoral registers for much of the 19c.