Lancashire, England Genealogy

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[Note about this page:  The Chapelry A-Z  list is being updated; please check back again, soon for important data-links added for each Chapelry! Instead, and for now, see the ancient parish--that's The Parishes A-Z list--to which your chapelry was attached.]

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Records from this area are currently being indexed by volunteers. Come join the effort and help us index the Lancashire CofE Parish Records 1541–1910

Key topics to get started:

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Did You Know?
Be sure to visit both "The Parishes A-Z" and "The Chapelries A-Z" links (to the right) and click to find your parish or chapel to 1) determine if it was indeed an ancient parish, or, if a chapel of ease and to which ancient parish it was attached and, 2) find links to rich online (free) data content for each.

Lancashire originally had only 75 parishes, and unlike most other England counties, was comprised by far of mostly (over 400) chapelries. These chapelries (or chapels of ease) subdivided each parish to which they were attached. Key Strategy: Always be certain to search for the events of your ancestor[s] in ALL chapelries of a parish and their registers as well in the registers of its ancient parish.

Lancashire Rose, the flag of Lancashire
Location of in England

Lancashire, is a maritime county located in the North West of England. It is sometimes called the County of Lancaster.

By 1850 Lancashire was comprised of only 75 ancient parishes, each with mostly large boundaries. However, with over 400 smaller chapels  in Lancashire (called chapelries, chapels of ease, district chapels or ecclesiastical churches), most parishes on average had 8 chapels which sub-divided them.  

Each chapel of ease possesses 'parish' registers of baptisms, and (where extant) marriages and burials of their own, and many of them, from ancient times.

You can click The Parishes A-Z link or, The Chapelries A-Z below it, to find your Lancashire church. On most parish pages you will find (click) a link to view a "Comprehensive List" (of Chapels attached to each ancient parish).

You can also check John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales or, Samuel A. Lewis' A Topographical Dictionary of England to determine whether your 'parish' was in fact a "parish" or, if it was instead a chapel of ease (chapelry) within a large parish boundary, etc.

Lancashire's Ancient Parishes And Their Chapels: 

   The Parishes(A-Z)

   The Chapelries(A-Z)

Because Lancashire numerous smaller chapels of ease and district chapels makeup the vast portion of its geographical tapestry, thorough Lancashire research especially requires careful comprehensive, diligent study to determine all  chapels of ease, chapelries, district churches, and parochial chapels lying within the boundary of each ancient parish.

Lancashire contains also "parts of 4 other [border] parishes, and at least 9 extra-parochial places. Prior to 1870, and for historical purposes, it may be helpful to know that the county was divided into the city of Manchester, and the boroughs of Ashton-under-Lyne, Blackburn, Bolton, Burnley, Clitheroe, Lancaster, Liverpool, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, and Wigan, and included parts of the Cheshire boroughs of Stalybridge, Stockport, and Warrington...

Lancashire's assizes (higher courts) were held at Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester. The quarter sessions (smaller courts) were held at Lancaster, Preston, Liverpool, and Manchester.

Here is an excellent 1870, historical view of the county in Wilson'sImperial Gazetteer of England and Wales[1]

Featured Content

Research Tools


Lancashire is one of the most complex of all England's counties. The following interactive map enables researchers to make sense of this county's jurisdictional makeup:  1851 Jurisdictions Map. If you want to know those parishes (or chapelries) immediately surrounding and contiguous to your target parish in which an ancestor possibly lived, was born or married, or to know in which diocesan court in order to search for a probate (will) record, or a marriage licence, allegation or bond, etc., use this map to find each parish, all of its chapelries, and jurisdictions.  

IF the above Maps do not list or mention your place, then see the "Parishes" section under "Lancashire" and click the name of the parish (see double **) in which your ancestor resided. Then click the "Comprehensive List of Chapels and Churches" which more thoroughly list all chapels attached to each parish.

In Lancashire research, 'knowing and then searching all chapel registers within an ancient parish--is a "must" before searching in the next contiguous ancient parish! Why? Because most parishes have multiple chapelries attached to it and the chapelries often sent couples off to the mother (ancient) parish for marrying and for their dead to be buried, as 80 percent of all chapelries were not granted permission to marry, and some of them possessed no burial yard (some did not maintain church burial grounds)Do not search the next parish church's registers  unless or until you've searched all chapels of ease (chapelries) registers, of those chapelries lying within the target parish's boundary! 

Two great resources (free) to help you determine whether a Lancashire place was an ancient parish or a chapelry (a chapel of ease) and the name of the parish in which a chapel resided, are 1) Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of England (published 1848) and 2) Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870).

Also all the key jurisdiction levels to which each ancient (civil) parish and most chapelries (but not yet all) are attached, and of which are viewable may be located in the above Jurisdiction Map tool.

Civil Registration District Jurisdictions 

When civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began in 1837, Lancashire was divided into nearly  40 registration districts, each containing numerous parishes and their attached chapelries. To view and see a list of Lancashire districts and the parishes they contain, will help you quickly identify the correct registration district name when searching for ancestors in the civil registrations of births, marriages and deaths (in the post-1837 era).

Ancient Parishes Jurisdictions

See a list of Lancashire's 75 parishes (see double asterisks) with links to articles and its 500-plus chapelries. 

Probate Court Jurisdictions

Read more about Lancashire Probate Records.

Before 1858, every town and parish in Lancashire was under the probate jurisdiction of a primary court and one or more secondary courts.  To see a list of Lancashire parishes and the pre-1858 courts that had probate jurisdiction over them, go to Lancashire Probate Records.

You will find for any given place name, all of the jurisdiction levels and more, in the above map.

Useful Resources

Raymond, Stuart A. Lancashire: a genealogical bibliography, vol. 1, Lancashire genealogical sources. Birmingham [England]: Federation of Family History Societies, c 1996-1997.

Raymond, Stuart A. Lancashire: a genealogical bibliography, vol. 2. Registers, inscriptions and wills. Birmingham [England]: Federation of Family History Societies, c 1996-1997.

Raymond, Stuart A. Lancashire: a genealogical bibliography, vol. 3. Lancashire family histories and pedigrees. Birmingham [England]: Federation of Family History Societies, c 1996-1997.

Useful Websites

A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:

England, Lancashire, Oldham Cemetery Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)

  1. Wilson, John Marius, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870). Adapted. Date accessed: 30 Apr 2012