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Lancashire originally and from early times was divided into approximately 70 ancient parishes, making this county unique compared to all of England's other counties, almost without exception. England's other counties, i.e. Cornwall were comprised of hundreds of parishes, including some of the lesser populated ones. By contrast, Lancashire was comprised ecclesiastically of a mere 70 parishes, but nearly 500 chapels of ease (sometimes called chapelries)--all attached to each ancient parish! On average, each Lancashire ancient parish, had at least 8 chapelries attached to it!
By the 19th Century, Lancashire had become one of England's most populated counties, due mostly to the Industrial Revolution. To handle the dramatic population explosion within its county boundaries, the Established Church, that is the Church of England, created hundreds of chapels of ease (or chapelries) in order to handle the county's burdgeoning populations.
Lancashire Online Parish Clerk Project aims to extract and preserve the records from various parish and provide free online access to the transcriptions. To learn more and access their database visit their site.
Note to all Lancashire Researchers: Unlike other England counties (except Cheshire, Greater London and most big cities), identifying, listing and then researching in Lancashire parishes requires you to identify all chapelries attached to each ancient parish. This is difficult but critical in order to conduct a thorough research in Lancashire. Lancashire's parishes average close to 8 chapelries each. Listed below is as thorough and complete a listing of all chapels lying within each ancient parish as can accurately be determined through multiple reference sources. No single reference source is complete or accurate in identifying all chapels of ease within each ancient parish. To help you determine parishes from chapelries, see or view the "Lancashire Ancient Parishes" page or, click on any of the ancient parishes listed below and click the "Comprehensive List of Parishes and Chapelries" link found at the top of each parish's main page. [Note: To help you distinguish between parishes and chapelries in the list below, we have placed a double asterisk--** next to each ancient parish.]
These "Comprehensive Lists", links found in each parish's Main page, are printable and provide as complete a study as may be compiled, of all chapels and chapelries attached to each parish with their beginning dates and links to their records availability--all critical for conducting thorough research within each parish. After completing a search in the original ancient parish registers, be certain to ask yourself if you have also searched in each chapelry attached to the parish as listed in the "Comprehensive Lists" of parishes and chapels. To not follow this strategy in your research will result in less thorough searching, and failure to solve your research problems or objectives. These lists will greatly aid you as you attempt to progress your research into surrounding parishes. Incomplete lists of chapels and chapelries lying within an ancient parish is a major reason many researchers have decades-old 'brickwall' problems in tracing ancestral lines in of Lancashire!
While the list (below) indicates most of Lancashire's churches including the 70 ancient parishes (**), it is in the "Comprehensive Lists" that you find as complete and thorough a list of all chapelries which are attached to that ancient parish: