Newchurch in Pendle, Lancashire Genealogy

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Village History

Newchurch in Pendle is a village in Lancashire adjacent to Barley, at the foot of Pendle Hill. Famous for the Demdike family of Pendle witches who lived there in the 17th century. Newchurch used to be called Goldshaw Booth and later Newchurch in Pendle Forest, however this was shortened to "Newchurch in Pendle". The civil parish is still named Goldshaw Booth.

Chapelry History

Newchurch in Pendle is an Ecclesiastical Parish in the county of Lancashire, created in 1723 from chapelry in  Whalley,_Lancashire Ancient Parish.

Other places in the parish include: Old Laund Booth, Roughlee Booth, and Barley with Wheatley Booth.

There was a chapel of ease on this site in 1250 and a later chapel was dedicated in 1544. The tower, although restored, is the only remaining part of that building. The current church was probably built in the 17th century, however it was only completed in 1740. The "eye of God" is built into the west side of the tower. To the east of the porch, up against the south wall, is the grave of a member of the Nutter family (carved with a skull & crossbones). Local legend has it that it's the last resting place of Alice Nutter, one of the famous Pendle witches. However, executed witches were not normally buried in consecrated ground, and the skull and crossbones is a common 'memento mori' device used to remind the onlooker of their own mortality. So it can be fairly confidently asserted that the legend is in fact a myth.

NEWCHURCH-in-Pendle-Forest, a parochial chapelry, in the parish of Whalley, union of Burnley, Higher division of the hundred of Blackburn, N. division of Lancashire, 6 miles (N. N. W.) from Burnley; comprising the four townships of Barley with Whitley, Goldshaw, Old Laund Booth, and Roughlee, and containing 2697 inhabitants. This division of the parish of Whalley is of an oblong shape, measuring six miles in length, from Admergill on the north, to Old Laund Booth on the south; and three miles in breadth, from Pendle Hill on the west, to the Colne river on the east. Pendle water, which is formed of the two branches of Ogden and Barley, both springing from Pendle Hill, flows eastward, and falls into the Wicoller and Colne waters below Barrowford; the conjoint streams form the river Colne, the eastern boundary of the chapelry, and at Filly-Close the Colne unites with the river Calder. The forest of Pendle, in and surrounding the chapelry, took its name from the hill so called, and was one of the four divisions of the great forest of Blackburnshire: it covers an extent of not less than 25 miles, or 15,000 acres. As early as 1311 it was divided into eleven places of pasture for cows, of which the principal names, as they appear in a commission of Henry VII., are still preserved. The whole forest, formerly named Penhill vaccary, and sometimes the Chase of Penhill, was perambulated in person by the first Henry de Lacy; and about 1824, this ancient ceremony was repeated. In the 11th of Edward II., when Richard de Merclesden was master-forester of Blackburnshire, William de Tatham was warden or keeper of Pendle: this officer is now called the "Greave of the Forest," holding his appointment from the landowners; he is also the head constable of the district. The substratum of the chapelry abounds with coal, of which a mine is in operation; and there are quarries of sandstone used for building. The population is chiefly employed in the hand-loom weaving of calico and mousselines-de-laine, and three cotton-mills and a worsted-mill together afford employment to about 300 persons. The Leeds and Liverpool canal passes, at the nearest point, within a mile. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £135; patrons, the Trustees of Hulme's charity; impropriators, the landowners. The chapel, dedicated to St. Mary, was erected by the inhabitants of the four townships already named, and was consecrated on the 1st of October, 1544: the body of the edifice was rebuilt about fifty years ago; but the original tower, inscribed with the date 1712, indicating that it was then heightened, still remains. At Fence, in Old Laund Booth, is a church erected in 1837, forming a separate incumbency. There are places of worship for Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists; an unendowed parochial school united with the National Society; and a second national school. In the chapelyard anciently stood a low plain cross; and near the chapel was found, a few years since, a stone mallet of British construction, having a perforation for the hand, the only relic of British art, in stone, ever discovered in the chapelry.

From: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis (1848), pp. 389-393. URL: Date accessed: 20 July 2010.


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.

Online index of Lancashire Births, Marriages and Deaths Lancashire_BMD

Lancashire Online Parish Clerks

An extremely useful resource for research in Lancashire Parishes

Church records

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Census records

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Probate records

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.

Maps and Gazetteers

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Web sites

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