Chester St John the Baptist, Cheshire Genealogy

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England Gotoarrow.png CheshireGotoarrow.png Cheshire Parishes Gotoarrow.png Chester St John the Baptist
St John Church Chester.jpg

Parish History

Chester, St. John the Baptist, Vicars Lane. An ancient parish church, originally serving part of the city centre and a small part of Hoole

St John the Baptist's Church, Chester is in the city of Chester,although it lies outside the city walls on a cliff above the north bank of the River Dee.It is a Grade I listed building. It is an active Anglican parish church in the diocese of Chester, the archdeaconry of Chester and the deanery of Chester. Its benefice is combined with that of St Peter, Chester. Clifton-Taylor includes it in his list of 'best' English parish churches, and it is considered to be the best example of 11th–12th century church architecture in Cheshire.

The church was reputedly founded by King Aethelred in 689. During the 11th century, Earl Leofric was a "great benefactor" of the church. In 1075 Peter, Bishop of Lichfield moved the seat of his see to Chester, making St John's his cathedral until he died in 1085. Peter's successor moved his seat to Coventry and St John's became a co-cathedral. The building of the church continued on a large scale until the end of the 13th century and continued as a collegiate church of secular canons. After the Dissolution, much of the east end of the church was demolished and some of it remains as ruins to the east of the present church. Since the Dissolution, it has been a parish church.

In 1468 the central tower collapsed. In 1572 the northwest tower partially collapsed and in 1574 there was a greater collapse of this tower which destroyed the western bays of the nave. This was rebuilt on a "magnificent scale".There were restorations to the church in 1859–66 and 1886–87 by R. C. Hussey. While the northwest tower was being repaired in 1881 it collapsed again, this time destroying the north porch. The porch was rebuilt in 1881–82 by John Douglas. John Douglas also built the northeast belfry tower in 1886. In 1925 the chapel at the south east corner, then the Warburton chapel, was extended to form a Lady Chapel.

Outside the church to the east are ruined remains including parts of former chapels which are recognised as a scheduled monument.

The exterior of the church contains a few tombstones that remain in their original positions. The vast majority of the gravestones have now been repositioned and laid to the ground forming the footpaths immediately in front of the church. In 2009 a research project recorded the inscriptions on the remaining tombs and gravestones.

St John East Ruins Chester contributor David Dixon.jpg


Civil Registration

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.

Church records

Chester St. John the Baptist parish registers of christenings, marriages and burials have been indexed by the following groups:

FS PR's =FamilySearch Parish Registers
FS BT's = FamilySearch Bishops Transcripts
Chester St. John the Baptist Parish Online Records


Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images





To find the names of the neighbouring parishes, use England Jurisdictions 1851. In this site, search for the name of the parish, click on the location "pin", click Options and click List contiguous parishes.

Registers of Baptisms 1559–1940, Marriages 1559–1956 and Burials 1559–1915 have been deposited at the Cheshire Record Office.

Bishop's Transcripts Microfilm of originals in the Cheshire Record Office, Chester reference: EDB 54

Content Film
Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1599-1601, 1604-1605, 1610-1614, 1617-1618, 1622-1630, 1633-1635, 1637, 1662-1663, 1677-1691, 1693-1722, 1725-1728, 1731, 1733-1736, 1739-1742, 1744-1766, 1769-1796, 1798-1808 BRITISH 1655480
Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1808-1839, baptisms, 1875-1878
BRITISH 1655481 Item 1
Non-Conformist Churches

Census records

Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library. The first film number is 241255.

Probate records

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Cheshire Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Poor Law Unions

Chester Poor Law Union

Maps and Gazetteers

Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.


  • Clifton-Taylor, Alec (1974), English Parish Churches as Work of Art, London: Batsford, ISBN 0 7134 2776 0
  • Morant, Roland W. (1989), Cheshire Churches, Birkenhead: Countyvise, ISBN 0 907768 18 0
  • Pevsner, Nikolaus; Hubbard, Edward (2003) [1971], The Buildings of England: Cheshire, New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 0 300 09588 0
  • Richards, Raymond (1947), Old Cheshire Churches, London: Batsford
  • Salter, Mark (1995), The Old Parish Churches of Cheshire, Malvern: Folly Publications, ISBN 1871731232
  • Ward, Simon (2009), Chester: A History, Chichester: Phillimore, ISBN 978 1 86077 499 7

Web sites