Accrington St John, Lancashire Genealogy
St John was built as a sister or outreach church from Accrington St James, Lancashire in the town centre. Construction began in the late 1860’s chiefly at the instigation of Revd. George Garbett.
On Saturday October 17th 1868, the new church of St. John the Evangelist was officially opened. The church was consecrated on Thursday, September 29th 1870 by Bishop Frazer, the Lord Bishop of Manchester.
The modern parish of Accrington St John with Huncoat St Augustine is within the Accrington deanery of the Diocese of Blackburn.
ACCRINGTON, a town, two townships, two chapelries, and a subdistrict, in Whalley parish, Lancashire. The town adjoins the E Lancashire railway, near the Leeds and Liverpool canal, 4 miles by road and 5¼ by railway E of Blackburn. It is large and thriving; has sprung up within the present century; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts; publishes a weekly newspaper; carries on industry in twenty cotton factories, three print works, extensive turkey-red dye-work, several large chemical works, foundries, steel-works, and a brewery; is well supplied with water from reservoirs; and has a head post office, a r. station with telegraph, a banking office, four hotels, a market house of 1868, public rooms of 1857 in the Italian style at a cost of £8,000, a mechanics' institution, a museum and pleasure gardens, a church enlarged in 1826, a church of 1841 in the early English style at a cost of £8,000, a church of 1866, two fine Wesleyan chapels of 1845 and 1866, nine other dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, seven public schools, and two annual fairs. Pop. in 1851, 7,481; in 1861, 13,872. Houses, 2,579. The townships are New A. and Old A. Acres, 2,480 and 740. Real property, £52,634; of which £8,409 are in mines. Pop., 11,853 and 5,835.The chapelries are St. James and Christchurch; and both are p. curacies in the diocese of Manchester. Value of each, £300.* Patrons of St. J., Hulme's Trustees; of C., Trustees. The subdistrict is conterminate with the two townships.
John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)
The Accrington Pals was a British First World War Pals battalion of Kitchener's Army raised in and around the town of Accrington in Lancashire. When the battalion was taken over by the British Army it was officially named the 11th Battalion, The East Lancashire Regiment.
Recruiting was initiated by the mayor of Accrington following Lord Kitchener's call for volunteers and it took only ten days to raise a complete battalion. The battalion's nickname is a little misleading since of the four 250-strong companies that made up the original battalion, only one was actually composed of men from Accrington. The rest volunteered from other East Lancashire towns nearby such as Burnley, Blackburn, and Chorley. The men from Chorley who formed Y Company were known as the Chorley Pals. The men from Burnley who formed Z Company were known as the Burnley Pals.
The Accrington Pals joined the 94th Brigade of the British 31st Division, a "Pals" division par excellence containing many famous North Country Pals battalions. With the 31st Division, the Accrington Pals were initially deployed to Egypt in early 1916 to defend the Suez Canal from the threat of the Ottoman Empire. The troopship carrying the Accrington Pals was narrowly missed by a torpedo; a fortunate miss because the ship also carried sixty tons of lyddite explosive.
The Accrington Pals next moved to France where they first saw action in the Battle of the Somme. On the first day on the Somme, 1 July 1916, the 31st Division was to attack the village of Serre and form a defensive flank for the rest of the British advance. The 31st Division's attack on Serre was a complete failure though some of the Accrington Pals did make it as far as the village before being killed or captured. One of the battalion's signallers, observing from the rear, reported:
"We were able to see our comrades move forward in an attempt to cross No Man's Land, only to be mown down like meadow grass. I felt sick at the sight of the carnage and remember weeping."
Approximately 700 men from the Accrington Pals went in to action on 1 July; 585 men became casualties, 235 killed and 350 wounded in about half an hour. The battalion's commander, Lieutenant Colonel A.W. Rickman was among the wounded. A rumour that spread around Accrington was that only seven men had survived from the battalion and an angry crowd surrounded the mayor's house, demanding information.
The Accrington Pals were effectively wiped out in a matter of minutes on the first day on the Somme. The battalion was brought back up to strength and served for the remainder of the war, moving to the 92nd Brigade of the 31st Division in February 1918.
In February 1915 the farewell service for the Accrington pals was held in the church.
Throughout the Pals' history, the town had good cause to be proud of its own battalion. And yet, with the War over, Accrington Town Council showed little interest in dedicating a memorial to its memory.
It was the continued absence of a single memorial to the Pals more than 70 years later that prompted the Revd. Dennis Crook to set under way the creation of a memorial chapel in his church of St. John's. The chapel was dedicated on 23rd January 1992 .
Parish Registers of Accrington St John the Evangelist Microfilm of original records at the Lancashire Record Office, Preston.
Contains baptisms 1868-1900; marriages and banns 1871-1900; register of services 1866-1900.
Lancashire Record Office no. : PR 3056/1/1-4, 6-9, 12-16
Parish registers FHL BRITISH Film 1470821 Items 7-19
1841 FHL BRITISH Film 306895
1851 Old Accrington p. 301-368 New Accrington p. 369-643 FHL BRITISH Film 87272
1861 FHL BRITISH Film 543072
1871 Old Accrington FHL BRITISH Film 846728
1871 Old Accrington and New Accrington FHL BRITISH Film 846729
1871 New Accrington FHL BRITISH Film 846730
1881 RG 11/4139-4142 FHL BRITISH Film 1341991
1881 RG 11/4143-4145 FHL BRITISH Film 1341992
1891 RG 12/3355 (4 fiches) FHL BRITISH Fiche 6098465
1891 RG 12/3356 (4 fiches) FHL BRITISH Fiche 6098466
1891 RG 12/3357 (4 fiches) FHL BRITISH Fiche 6098467
1891 RG 12/3358 (3 fiches) FHL BRITISH Fiche 6098468
1891 RG 12/3359 (4 fiches) FHL BRITISH Fiche 6098469
Poor Law Unions
- Pals: the 11th (Service) Battalion (Accrington), East Lancashire Regiment, William Turner, ISBN 0-9507892-4-0
- The Accrington Pals (play, 1984), Peter Whelan ISBN 0413773051