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GARSTANG (St. Helen), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Amounderness, N. division of the county of Lancaster; comprising the townships of Barnacre with Bonds, Billisborrow, Cabus, Catterall, Claughton, Cleveley, Forton, Garstang, Holleth, Kirkland, Nateby, Pilling, Winmarleigh, and Nether Wyersdale; and containing 7659 inhabitants, of whom 909 are in the town, 11 miles (S. by E.) from Lancaster, 11 (N. by W.) from Preston, and 229 (N. W. by N.) from London. During the parliamentary war, this parish was the scene of some slight military operations; the castle of Greenhalgh, the ruins of which are in the adjoining hamlet of Bonds, was held for the king, by the Earl of Derby, in 1643. When the Scottish adherents to the Pretender made their incursion into England, in 1715, they halted at Garstang, before taking possession of Preston; and in the following year, some of the rebels were executed at this place. The town is situated on the river Wyre, upon the road between Preston and Lancaster. The more ancient part consists of houses indifferently built, and streets irregularly formed; but great improvements have lately been introduced, and the streets are now well paved, the town is lighted, and a few houses of respectability have been added. The scenery in the vicinity is beautiful. There are several cotton-mills and a worsted-mill. The market is on Thursday; a market for cattle is held every alternate Thursday between the first Thursday in Lent and HolyThursday; and fairs take place on Holy-Thursday, July 10th, and November 22nd. The Lancaster canal crosses the river by a handsome aqueduct, near the end of the principal street; and the Lancaster and Preston railway has a station at Barnacre, two miles distant from the town. The inhabitants were incorporated by a charter bestowed in 1314, but this was superseded by a new one granted by Charles II., in 1680, with additional privileges, by which the government was vested in a bailiff and seven capital burgesses, elected on the 29th of September; the freedom is obtained by birth, or by apprenticeship to a freeman: the borough is coextensive with the township. The powers of the county debt-court of Garstang, established in 1847, extend over the greater part of the registration-district of Garstang. The town-hall, situated in the market-place, was built principally at the expense of the corporation, in 1755, on the site of the former edifice: the petty-sessions for the hundred of Amounderness are held at the Royal Oak inn, every alternate Thursday.
The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £14. 3. 4.; patron and incumbent, the Rev. James Pedder; impropriators, the families of Pedder and Standish: the vicarial tithes have been commuted for £480. The church is a stately structure, about two miles from the town, in that part of the parish called Garstang Church-Town, in the township of Kirkland: having been injured by the overflowing of the Wyre, near which it stands, it was repaired in 1746, and again in 1811 at an expense of £1200, defrayed jointly by the parishioners and T. Strickland Standish, Esq. There is a chapel within the town, the living of which is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Vicar; net income, £150, with a parsonage-house. At Pilling is a third incumbency. The Independents, Wesleyans, and Roman Catholics have each a place of worship. A grammar school was built about the year 1757; and a Church of England school for boys and girls was erected in 1845, by subscription, aided by the National Society and the Privy Council: there is a school for Roman Catholics, endowed with £40 per annum. The poor law union of Garstang comprises 23 parishes or places, containing about 13,000 inhabitants.
From: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis (1848), pp. 279-282. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50977 Date accessed: 30 June 2010.
Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.
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Lancashire Online Parish Clerks
An extremely useful resource for research in Lancashire Parishes http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/
Include an overview if there is any unique information, such as the census for X year was destroyed. Add a link to online sites for indexes and/or images. Also add a link to the Family History Library Catalog showing the film numbers in their collection.
http://www.1881pubs.com/ for details of public houses in the 1881 census
Poor Law Unions
Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Lancashire Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.
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http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=53240&strquery=garstang British History online