The Cathedral Church of St Mary the Virgin, Lancashire Genealogy

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Here is a Comprehensive List of Chapels in Blackburn St Mary Parish. View this updated list of chapelries before researching in this large parish.

Parish History

BLACKBURN St Mary, a parish, fourteen miles in length and ten in breadth, was formerly part of Whalley Parish. Blackburn is the head of a union, in the Lower division of the hundred of Blackburn, N. division of the County of Lancaster; comprising the market-town and newly-enfranchised borough of Blackburn, which includes the chapelries of Balderston, Billington-Langho, Brownhill, Over Darwen, Salesbury, Samlesbury, and Tockholes, and the townships of Clayton-leDale, Cuerdale, Lower Darwen, Dinkley, Eccleshill, Great and Little Harwood, Livesey, Mellor, Osbaldeston, Pleasington, Ramsgrave, Rishton, Walton-le-Dale, Wilpshire, and Witton, 31 miles southeast by south from Lancaster.[1]. Researchers may view a Comprehensive List of Chapels in Blackburn St Mary Parish. A chapel also dedicated to St Clement has been erected; and the Vicar likewise presents to the incumbencies of Balderstone, Bamber-Bridge, Billington-Langho, Lower and Over Darwen, Feniscowles, Great Harwood, Mellor, Mellor-Brook, Salesbury, Samlesbury, Tockholes, Walton, and Witton. In the town are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Warrenites, also a Scottish kirk and a Roman Catholic chapel; and in the rural parts of the parish are various other meeting-houses for different denominations. The union of Blackburn comprises the entire parish, with the exception of the townships of Cuerdale, Samlesbury, and Walton, which are in the union of Preston; together with four townships of the parish of Whalley.

Blackburn Cathedral

With the creation of the Diocese of Blackburn in 1926 (taken from the Diocese of Manchester) the impressive parish church of St Mary the Virgin was raised to cathedral status. The church, which was built in 1826 and designed by architect John Palmer, now forms the cathedral's nave.

In the early 1930s, fundraising began to enlarge the cathedral so that the building complemented its newfound importance. By 1938, enough money had been raised and work began on enlarging the new cathedral. Although work was interrupted by the war, it was resumed afterwards and continued through the 1950s and into the early 1960s. After the death of architect W.A. Forsyth in 1950, architect Laurence King joined the project and designed the distinctive lantern tower. The lantern tower, which consists of 56 different panes of coloured glass and an aluminium spire, was completed in 1967.

The cathedral was finally completed in 1977 and what had been built over the past decades was finally consecrated as Blackburn Cathedral.

The North transept contains eight misericords dating from the 15th century. It is not known at what time they arrived at the Cathedral, but they are believed to have originated at Whalley Abbey. This could mean that they were removed to a builder's yard after the Dissolution, but with the cathedral not being built until the 19th century, this allows for the possibility that they had lain unused for some 300 years.

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.


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.

Church records

Online Records

Blackburn St Mary is an ancient parish with chapelries totalling about 45. The following chart lists those chapelry and parish registers which have thus far been transcribed and posted online in some format. Click the years to view online data for each church for the pertinent years you are trying to search. Original parish registers, Bishop’s transcripts and some transcribed church records exist for this parish, and including additional records such as parish chest records.  These are held at the Lancashire Record Office, in Preston, Lancashire or, be sure to view a Comprehensive List of Chapels in Blackburn St Mary Parish (then click the link for each church which takes you directly to the Family History Library online catalog for available microfilms to original registers).

[Note: the following web sites have online data content for those chapels as indicated below-- 

FS = FamilySearch
LOPC = Lancashire Online Parish Clerk
AC = (Lancashire par. records)
Church Name (Year Registers Began) FS LOPC AC 
Blackburn St Mary* 1568-1705 1600-1900 1600-1660
Blackburn All Saints - 1840 None None
Blackburn Christ Church - 1859 None None
Blackburn St Alban (R. Catholic) None 1783-1824
Blackburn St Barnabas -  1876 None None
Blackburn St Clement - 1847 None None
Blackburn St John - 1839 None 1847-1853
Blackburn St Jude - 1901 None None
Blackburn St Luke Bank Top - 1859 None 1861-1900
Blackburn St Matthew Higher Audley - 1886 None None
Blackburn St Philip St Philip St - 1880 None None
Blackburn St Paul, St Paul Street   None 1792-1900
Blackburn St Peter, St Peter Street  None 1821-1947
Blackburn St Silas None None
Blackburn Holy Trinity None 1848-1854
Bamber-Bridge St Saviour - 1837 None None
Balderston[e]  None 1751-1981
Billington-Langho  None 1725-1920 Var. yrs
Brookhouse St James - 1789 None 1874-1912
Brownhill St Gabriel - 1828 None None
Copy Nook St Thomas None 1865-1900
Daisyfield St Michaels Daisy Lane - 1839 None None
Daisyfield St Michael All Angels None 1848-1854
Feniscliffe St Francis None 1887-1909
Feniscowles None 1836-1900
Great Harward St Bartholomew 1547-1880 None 1547-1812 1813-1900
Higher Walton All Saints - 1864 None None
Knuzden St Oswald (partly in Whalley Par.) None 1874-1900
Lark Hill Holy Trinity None 1848-1854
Little Harwood St Stephen -1892 None 1892-1900
Livesey St Andrew None 1877-1924
Lower Darwen Chapel  None 1751-1884
Mellor St Mary  None 1829-1908
Mellor-Brook St Saviour - 1836 None None
Over Darwen St James  None 1781-1851
Over Darwen St Peter - 1829 None None
Over Darwen St Cuthbert - 1841 None 1872-1900
Over Darwen Holy Trinity  None 1829-1882
Over Darwen St John the Evangelist None 1864-1900
Over Darwen Lower Chapel None 1751-1884
Ramsgrave - 1830 None None
Salesbury 1807-1812 1843-1900
Samlesbury  1623-1845 1685-1900
Tockholes - 1722 None 1775-1900
Walton le Dale St Leonard 1609-1812 1751-1900 1609-1812
Witton St Mark the Evangelist None 1838-1901
Witton St Philip None 1888-1900

Census records

Census records from 1841 to 1911 are available online. For access, see England Census Records and Indexes Online. Census records from 1841 to 1891 are also available on film through a Family History Center or at the Family History Library.

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



  1. A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis (1848), pp. 270-275. URL: Greatly adapted. Date accessed: 25 June 2010.