Preston St John, Lancashire Genealogy

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See a "Comprehensive List of Preston Parish's Chapelries"

Preston Minster St John the Evangelist

Parish History

Preston St John the Evangelist is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Lancashire. Other places in the parish include: Elston, Fishwick, Ribbleton Moor, Preston St Andrew, Ribbleton, and Haighton.

The Minster church of St John the Evangelist was initially a Catholic church dedicated to St Wilfrid in the sixth century. The de Hoghtons added chantries to the church and it prospered. In October every year a statue of Saint Wilfrid was paraded round the town on horseback during the autumn festival. In 1502 the building was improved, and during Queen Mary's reign a great altarpiece was sent from the monarch. During the Reformation the chantries were done away with and the church was rededicated, to St. John the Evangelist; one reason for this was that St. Wilfrid had been close to the Pope of his day and the Anglican Church was in dispute with Rome during the Reformation; the other reason was that St. John the Divine the evangelist was closer, symbolically at any rate, to Our Lord.

In 1853 the church was demolished due to structural problems including rot, except for part of the tower, and the present building was completed in 1855 at a cost of £9,500. The present building was designed by the Manchester architect Edwin Shellard. It has a well proportioned spire, pinnacled roofs and decorated window tracery. Inside, the tradition is continued with division into nave and aisles by columns with floreated capitals. At the same time as the exterior was cleaned and the churchyard was lawned over for the 1972 Guild, the side galleries were taken down.

The church was the first in England to be lit by gas. 

The Diocese of Blackburn is a Church of England diocese, covering much of Lancashire, created in 1926 from part of the Diocese of Manchester. The Diocese includes the towns of Blackburn, Blackpool, Burnley, and the cities of Lancaster, and Preston, as well as a large part of the Ribble Valley.
Here is an important 1848 perspective on Preston that reveals all extant churches and chapelries lying within the boundary of the ancient parish of Preston St John (by topographer, Samuel A. Lewis):

"PRESTON St John, a parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Amounderness, N. division of the county of Lancaster; comprising the borough of Preston, which has a separate jurisdiction; the six townships of Barton, Elston, Fishwick, Haighton, Ribbleton, and Lea with Ashton, Ingol, and Cottam; and the chapelries of Broughton, and Grimsargh with Brockholes, 21 miles south by east of Lancaster.  Preston rose into consequence, and became the principal port of Lancashire; and it is supposed that, having been the abode of ecclesiastics as capital of the district of Amounderness, it obtained the appellation of Priest's town, of which the present name may be a contraction.
The original church was built in the first century after the general establishment of the Christian religion in this country. At Ashton upon Ribble, Barton, Broughton, and Grimsargh, are other additional churches.

St. George's district church, was built in 1723. The church of the Holy Trinity was erected in 1814. St. Paul's was erected in 1825, by the Parliamentary Commissioners. St. Peter's was built in 1826. Christ Church was consecrated October 11th, 1836. St. James's was also built in 1836. The church of St. Mary was built in 1837. St Thomas', consecrated 27th June, 1839. To view for research purposes, a complete list of Preston's churches and chapels of the Church of England, see a Comprehensive List of Preston Parish's Chapelries.

There are places of worship in the town for Independents, Baptists, the Society of Friends, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, Swedenborgians, and Unitarians; and also five Roman Catholic chapels. Of these chapels, St. Mary's, in Friargate, was erected about 1760; closed in 1793, on St. Wilfrid's being built (in 1794); St Mary's reopened in 1807, St. Wilfrid's being then too small for the congregation, was enlarged in 1839; and in 1847 a small but highly-decorated chapel in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary was completed, opening into it. The chapel of St Ignatius, opened in 1836St. Augustine's was opened in 1839. There are likewise several Roman Catholic chapels in the vicinity; and an hospital, dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene." The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well, formed significant roots here soon after the arrival of some missionaries in July, 1837. Preston was its first foothold in England, in which very nearly two thousand inhabitants  were converted between July 1837 and the following April, 1838, most of whom later emigrated. Still more conversions followed in the 1840's for this region, and likewise departed for America. By the 1870's, The Great Salt Lake Valley, the seat of the church in the mountain-west USA (Utah), by this point, was filled with tens of thousands of English immigrant converts, comprising a slight majority of the local English-speaking population--many of whom were of Preston, England origin.


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

Include here information for parish registers, Bishop’s Transcripts and other types of church records, such as parish chest records. Add the contact information for the office holding the original records. Add links to the Family History Library Catalog showing the film numbers in their collection

Census records for details of public houses in the 1881 census

Poor Law Unions

Preston Poor Law Union, Lancashire

Occupation records

Preston Guild

The right to hold a Guild Merchant was conferred upon the Burgesses of Preston by a charter of 1179; the associated Preston Guild is a civic celebration held every 20 years, with the next one due in 2012.

Before 1328 a celebration had been held on an irregular basis, but at the Guild of that year it was decreed that subsequent Guilds should be held every twenty years. After this there were breaks in the pattern for various reasons, but an unbroken series were held from 1542 to 1922. A full 400 year sequence was frustrated by the cancellation of the 1942 Guild due to World War II, but the cycle resumed in 1952. The expression '(Once) every Preston Guild', meaning 'very infrequently', has passed into fairly common use, especially in Lancashire.

Guild week is always started by the opening of the Guild Court, which since the Sixteenth century has traditionally been on the first Monday after the feast of the decollation (the beheading) of St John the Baptist celebrated on 29 August. As well as concerts and other exhibitions, the main events are a series of processions through the city. Numerous street parties are typically also held in the locality.

In 1952, the emphasis was on the bright new world emerging after World War II. The major event held in the city's Avenham Park had every school participating, and hundreds of children, from toddlers to teenagers, demonstrated different aspects of physical education in the natural amphitheatre of the park.

In 1972, participants at the Avenham Park celebrations were treated to a low level, low speed, flyby by Concorde.

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

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

Web sites

Add any relevant sites that aren’t mentioned above.