West Houghton, Lancashire Genealogy

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St. Bartholomew, Westhoughton.jpg

Chapelry History

West Houghton St Bartholomew [in modern times spelled as Westhoughton] was a chapel from ancient times lying within the boundaries of Deane Ancient Parish. The modern parish is within the Diocese of Manchester but the site has a much more ancient history.

A chapel existed on the site of the present church in 1509, when Henry VIII came to the throne, and that this is the earliest record. However, it is likely that a chapel existed here even earlier when the Abbots of Cockersand were the lords of the manor of “Westhalghton.”

In 1541, Henry VIII, by letters patent, created Deane Parish out of the northern half of the large parish of Eccles.

Westhoughton became the largest of the ten townships making up the new parish, and its chapel, along with that of Horwich, was served by curates of the mother church of Deane.

The first known chapel dedicated to St. Bartholomew, existed in 1577 (believed to have been built in 1509) and a thatched roof, in the midst of the moors, the floor being covered with rushes which the people brought at certain times of the year, and from which custom the ancient rush-bearing festival, and in later years the Wakes, became an annual event.. This humble edifice had to be demolished on account of it being “very ruinous and in decay because of its great antiquity.”

A new chapel was built in 1731 and because it was built as a district chapelry, Westhoughton Parish Registers began in 1732.

Before this: baptisms, marriages and burials of Westhoughton people were recorded in the Deane Church registers. In the 1720’s there occurred what was called “The dreadful Sickness” (which was probably typhoid fever), traditionally said to have killed one-third of the inhabitants of Westhoughton; and although other parts of Deane parish were affected the death toll was higher here. Westhoughton burials at Deane before this time had averaged out about 20 a year, but in 1727 there were 83.

This new chapel, built on an ancient site was consecrated by Bishop Peplo of Chester, had a seating capacity of 530. The accommodation was increased by the addition of galleries on all four sides – the first of them only a year after the chapel had been opened. Seating was increased to 703, and it is significant that only 16 of them were “free” and that they were in the three remote pews in the north-west corner of the gallery.

The Church was the gift of John Seddon of The Mortons, Church Street, in the year 1869. It had several unusual stained glass windows. The East window was erected by parishioners at a cost of £300 to commemorate the generosity of John Seddon; others were memorial windows to the Hargreaves family of Hart Common, the Chadwicks, 19th century silk manufacturers, and the Ditchfield family. This church had accommodation for 830 people and the registers date back to 1732.

By 1860 Westhoughton had taken a step towards parochial autonomy, but it was still to some extent under the jurisdiction of Deane, the last church rate payment to which was made in 1867 so that Westhoughton could become a free parish.

The Church sadly was gutted by fire in December 1990. Only the tower remained intact, and a new church was consecrated on October 28th 1995. The old building stood from 1869 to 1990.

"HOUGHTON, WEST, a chapelry, in the parish of Deane, union of Bolton, hundred of Salford, S. division of Lancashire, 4 miles (W. S. W.) from Bolton, on the road to Wigan; containing 4527 inhabitants. From the period of the Reformation, when the possessions of the abbey of Cockersand were confiscated, the manor of West Houghton has been in the hands of the king; and Lord Skelmersdale now holds it in fee from the crown, receiving the small chief-rents. The chapelry comprises 4460 acres, of which the surface is level but elevated, and the soil a heavy clay: several collieries are in operation. The population is chiefly engaged in the hand-loom weaving of silk, and muslins and jaconets. The cotton-mill of Peter Ditchfield, Esq., employs 250 hands; it stands on the site of one of the first powerloom factories ever established, built by Messrs. Wroe and Duncuft in 1812, and destroyed by the Luddites in the same year. The fate of this early factory presents a feature somewhat remarkable in the history of the cotton manufacture. The outrages of the Luddites in Nottingham and Yorkshire occurring at that period, rendered it an unpropitious time for the introduction of machinery; and when the attacks upon obnoxious property of this description extended to this neighbourhood, Messrs. Wroe and Duncuft's factory was burnt to the ground. Their violence, however, had not the effect that the incendiaries anticipated. On the contrary, the manufacture, by power-loom process, was transferred to the then almost unknown locality of Stalybridge, where new works continually sprang up, and caused the prosperity of that place. An episcopal chapel, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, existed in West Houghton in 1662, when it had a roof of thatch, and stood in the midst of moors; the edifice was rebuilt in 1731, under the patronage of the vicar of Deane, and is now dedicated to St. Mary. The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £150; patron, the Vicar. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, and the Society of Friends. A school was built by subscription in 1742, and enlarged in 1784; the income is about £20 per annum. In this township, at a place called Drake-Lane brook, is a strong sulphureous spring."

From: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis (1848), pp. 562-566. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=51049 Date accessed: 03 August 2010.

HOUGHTON (WEST), a village, a township, a chapelry, and a sub-district in Deane parish, Bolton district, Lancashire. The village stands near the Bolton and Wigan railway, 5 miles SW by W of Bolton; and has a station with telegraph on the railway, a post office under Bolton, a police station, and fairs on 27 Feb. and 12 Oct.-The township comprises 4, 460 acres. Real property, £16, 679; of which £2, 790 are in mines. Pop. in 1851, 4, 547; in 1861, 5, 156. Houses, 1, 064. The land belongs chiefly to five. There are collieries, two silk factories, cotton mills, and a nail manufactory.—The chapelry is less extensive than the township, and was constituted in 1860. Pop., 3, 879. Houses, 806. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Manchester. Value, £170. * Patron, the Vicar of Deane. The church was rebuilt in 1731; and re-rebuilt, at a cost of £5, 500, in 1869-70. There are chapels for Independents, Quakers, and Methodists, and a national school.—The sub-district is conterminate with the township.

John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1872)


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

Church records

Contributor: Include here information for parish registers, Bishop’s Transcripts, non conformist 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

Westhoughton- St Bartholomew
Baptisms-1732-1852- MFPR 148
Baptisms-1853-1905- MFPR 1605
Burials-1732-1839- MFPR 148
Burials-1840-1886- MFPR 2100
Marriages-1733-1754- MFPR 148
Marriages-1860-1900- MFPR 1606

The Manchester Room and Greater Manchester County Record Office
Email: archiveslocalstudies@manchester.gov.uk

The Manchester Room@City Library (Local Studies)

Parish registers for St. Bartholomew's Church, West Houghton, 1732-1929 Microfilm copy of originals at the Manchester Central Library, Manchester, England.
West Houghton is a village, a township, and a chapelry in Deane parish. The chapel is known as St. Bartholomew's.
Manchester Archives Central Library call nos.: L 122/1/3/3-5; L 122/1/4/2; L 122/1/6/1-4.

Baptisms and burials, 1732-1793. Burials, 1739-1748. Marriages, 1733-1754. Baptisms and burials, 1793-1812 (some duplication). Baptisms, 1813-1852. Burials, 1813-1839.
2113219 Items 1 - 21
Baptisms, 1853-1905. Marriages, 1860-July 1898.
Marriages, July 1898-1900. Banns, 1860-1929.
2356302 Items 1 - 5
Burials, 1840-1886.
2357499 Item 3

Bishop's transcripts for West Houghton, 1755-1839 Microreproduction of original manuscripts housed at the Lancashire Record Office, Preston.
West Houghton is a chapelry in the parish of Deane.
Lancashire Record Office: DRM/2/80-81a

Baptisms and burials, 1755-1839

Census records

Contributor: Include an overview if there is any unique information, such as the census for X year was destroyed. Add a link to online sites for indexes and/or images. Also add a link to the Family History Library Catalog showing the film numbers in their collection.

http://www.1881pubs.com/ for details of public houses in the 1881 census

Poor Law Unions

Bolton, Lancashire Poor Law Union

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

Contributor: add any relevant sites that aren’t mentioned above.