Skelmersdale, Lancashire Genealogy

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England Gotoarrow.png Lancashire Gotoarrow.png Lancashire Parishes

Chapelry History

Skelmersdale St Paul was created a chapel of ease in 1776 from, and lying within the boundaries of Ormskirk, Lancashire Ancient Parish.

Skelmersdale means "Skjaldmarr's valley", from the Old Norse personal name Skjaldmarr + probably Old Norse dalr (or Old English dæl) "dale, valley". The name was recorded as Skalmeresedel in 1136. One place-name book suggests that it may be of Celtic origin, with the place-names being in Celtic place-name order, i.e. "Element/personal name/word", rather than "Personal name/word/element", as with Old English place-names. Te first recorded use of the name Skelmersdale appears in the Domesday Book of 1086. It was under the rule of Uctred as part of the hundred of West Derby.

The urbanisation and development of Skelmersdale largely coincided with the Industrial Revolution. Industrial scale coal mining began in the early 19th century and continued to expand during that century to give rise to Skelmersdale as an important colliery village.

Skelmersdale was designated as a new town in 1961.It is known locally as "Skem", with a further distinction being made between "Old Skem" (the area which was a small mining town prior to 1961) and the broader swathe of development which has now developed.

The chapelry dedicated to St Paul became a parish in its own right. The chapel was built by subscription in 1776, and enlarged in 1823 and 1850. The St. Paul’s was opened in 1906 in a location close to the old chapel which was subsequently demolished, although the old building had already suffered subsidence due to mining underneath it.

SKELMERSDALE, a chapelry, in the parish and union of Ormskirk, hundred of West Derby, S. division of Lancashire, 4 miles (E. S. E.) from Ormskirk, on the road to Wigan; containing 691 inhabitants. At the time of the Domesday survey, this place was held by Uctred; and William Dacre subsequently held the manor under Thomas, Earl of Lancaster. In the reign of Henry VIII., Skelmersdale had become the property of the Gerards of Brynne. Sir Thomas Bootle, in 1751, purchased the estate and manor of Henry Ashurst, Esq.; and the place now gives the title of Baron to the family of Bootle-Wilbraham. The chapelry comprises 1774 acres, whereof 108 are common. Coal is abundant, and there is a quarry of stone. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Vicar of Ormskirk; net income, £142. The tithes have been commuted for a rent-charge of £220. The chapel, dedicated to St. Paul, was built in 1776, and enlarged in 1822, and is a neat structure with a campanile tower. A parochial school has an income of £45, arising partly from an endowment by Evan Swift, Esq., in 1720.

From: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis (1848), pp. 113-115. URL: Date accessed: 21 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 for details of public houses in the 1881 census

Poor Law Unions

Ormskirk Poor Law Union, Lancashire

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.

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