The family name Hesmondhalgh originated in Lancashire. For many centuries the name was principally connected with the parish of Ribchester, on the right bank of the River Ribble, some ten miles upstream from the town of Preston.


Notes on the Parish

The parish of Ribchester is pleasantly situated on the south eastern slopes of Longridge Fell. It is bounded on the northern side by the parish of Chipping, on the eastern side by the parish of Mitton, on the southern side by the River Ribble, and on the western side by the parish of Grimsargh and Goosnargh. The parish has a total acreage of 8,150 acres...

In 1844 the chief employment is weaving, which is carried on in connection with farming operations. But we heard heavy complaints of rack rents and miserably low wages, with uncertain work; and in truth, the place had every appearance of poverty, and offers a painful contrast with the historical recollections which it bears1 2, and the beautiful scenery which invites the eye and gratifies the taste on every side around it. 3

There are no markets held in the parish. The fairs are all held in Longridge. Three fairs used to be held annually in Ribchester; they are now discontinued.

Agriculture was the staple trade for a long time; but in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries cotton and woollen weaving seems to have been much in vogue. In 1821, of the 707 families in this parish, 100 of them are employed chiefly in agriculture; and 577 in trades, manufactures or handicraft; the remaining 30 are either engaged in professional pursuits or unemployed. 4 Wood-turning, quarrying, and cotton weaving have for the last hundred years been the chief industries of the district. 5


The Churches

The Parish Church

The parish church of St Wilfred can trace its origins back to 1193, although records only begin in 1598. The parish was divided, in the customary Lancashire style, into townships: they were Ribchester itself, Hothersall, Dutton, Stydd with Alston and Dilworth. 0n 8 February 1861, as part of a boundary change, the parishes of Alston and Dilworth came together: they were then known as Longridge, although there was properly no place! 6 Adjacent parishes are Chipping, Mitton, Blackburn and Preston.


Other denominations

Mannings History and Directory of Mid Lancashire [date?] lists the following other places of worship:

In Alston with Hothersall

  • Episcopal Chapel: built 1683, rebuilt in 1784 and 1823.
  • Dissenters chapel: built 1836
  • Catholic chapel

In Dutton

Ancient chapel

Kelly's Directory 1887 also mentions the Congregational chapel at Knowl Green, and its minister Rev Giles Scott.


The Roman Catholic chapel in Stydd was built in 1789 by one William Foster, at the time the Jesuit chaplain to the Walmesleys of Showley. One family of Hesmondhalghs belonged to that chapel at the turn of the 18th/19th centuries: that of John and his wife Elizabeth Charnley. They had five children baptised between Jun 1801 and October 1816, although one, Elizabeth born in 1807, may have died young, since a second Elizabeth was baptised nine years later.

The families of Charnley and Hesmondhalgh, together with Stanley, Cavis and Eastham, are noted in the baptismal register until 1824.

1 Ie that Ribchester was the site of an important Roman settlement: see the extract from The Lancashire Gazetteer Joseph Ashton 1808 at Appendix

2 Notes taken from the Tithe Reports for Hothersall and Dilworth bear this out: see Appendix A

3 Pictorial History of the County of Lancaster, 1844

4 Baine's Directory (1825) ii, 634

5 History of Ribchester, Smith & Shortt 1890

6 Kelly's Directory 1887