Knutsford is an Ecclesiastical Parish and a market town in the county of Cheshire, created in 1741 from chapelry in Rostherne Ancient Parish.

Other places in the parish include: Knutsford Inferior, Knutsford Nether, Knutsford Superior, Nether Knutsford, Over Knutsford, Ollerton, Toft, Bexton, Cross Town, and Knutsford Over.

Parish church: St. John the Baptist

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1582
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1581

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Independent/Congregational, Presbyterian Unitarian, Primitive Methodist, Protestant Dissenters, and Wesleyan Methodist. 

Adjacent Parishes

Historical Descriptions


The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

KNUTSFORD, a town, two townships, a parish, and a sub-district in Altrincham district, Cheshire. The town stands on high ground, adjacent to the Northwich and Altrincham railway, adjacent also to Tatton Park, amid a charming country, near the river Birken, 14¾ miles SW by S of Manchester; dates from a remote period; is said to have been called Canute’s-ford, corruptedly Knutsford, from the passing of King Canute and his army over a neighbouring ford; contains several old quaint houses, of brick and timber; consists chiefly of two main streets, both of them narrow, but with some good houses and shops; is a seat of quarter sessions, and a polling-place; and h-as a head post-office, a railway station, a banking-office, two chief inns, a house of correction, a sessions’ house, two churches, four dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a free grammar school, several other public schools, a literary institute and working men’s library, a horticultural society, a freemasons’ lodge, a workhouse, and charities £170. The house of correction stands on the Toft road; is a very large and well constructed edifice, surrounded by a lofty wall; and has capacity for 308 male and 112 female prisoners. The sessions’ house stands in front of the house of correction, and is a handsome stone structure. The parish church, or church of St. John Baptist, stands above King-street; is a neat brick building of 1744; consists of nave and aisles, with embattled tower; and has a fine stained window of 1861, in honour of the then vicar, the Rev. R. Clowes, and a beautiful octagonal font of 1865, in memory of James and Hannah Roscoe. The church of St. Cross stands at Cross-town; is a neat modern brick edifice, with tower and spire; and contains a font formed out of an ancient stone cross, found in the old churchyard. The Independent chapel was built in 1865, in lieu of an old previous one in Swinton-square. The Wesleyan chapel, in Princess-street, was built in 1864-5; and is in the early English style. The grammar school is in King-street, and dates prior to the Reformation. The workhouse stands in Love-lane, serves for Altrincham district, and has accommodation for about 300 inmates. Markets are held on Saturdays; and fairs on Whit-Tuesday, 23 April, 10 July, and 8 Nov. Races take place in July, on a flat course of about a mile; and a grand stand was erected in 1865. There are gas-works at Heath-side, and water-works at Booths-mill. Pop. of the town, in 1851, 3,127; in 1861, 3,575. Houses, 660.

The townships are K.-Inferior and K.-Superior; they jointly include all the town, and extend beyond it; and they are divided by a streamlet, which runs to the Birken. Acres of K.-I., 756. Real property, £8,448. Pop., 3,485. Houses, 633. Acres of K.-S., 942. Real property, £1,669. Pop., 204. Houses, 49. The parish contains also the townships of Ollerton, Toft, and Bexton, and comprises 4,832 acres. Real property, £15,465. Pop., 4,194. Houses, 785. The parish was disjoined from Rostherne in 1741. The manor of Knutsford belonged once to Nigel of Tatton; passed to the Tableys and the Ellesmeres; and belongs now to Lord Egerton of Tatton. The parochial living is a vicarage in the diocese of Chester. Value, £350. Patron, alternately Lord Egerton, Lord De Tabley, R. O. Leycester, Esq., and John P. Legh, Esq. The p. curacies of Crosstown and Toft are separate benefices. The sub-district contains also six townships of Rostherne, and four of Great Budworth. Acres, 22,174. Pop., 7,377. Houses, 1,403.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

KNUTSFORD (St. John the Baptist), a parish, in the union of Altrincham, E. division of the hundred of Bucklow, N. division of the county of Chester; containing, with the townships of Bexton, Over Knutsford, Ollerton, and Toft, 4006 inhabitants, of whom 3235 are in the town of Nether Knutsford, 24¾ miles (N. E. by E.) from Chester, and 172½ (N. W. by N.) from London. This place, which is of great antiquity, is situated on the banks of a small stream, across which was formerly a ford. Canute, the Dane, is said to have passed over the ford with his army for the conquest of the northern parts of the kingdom, in the reign of Ethelred I., or that of Edmund Ironside; and it may thence have been called Canute’s Ford, from which the town is said to derive its name. This, however, is doubtful: in old deeds and writings, and in Jolly’s Mise Book of the County, the name is spelt Knotsford; according to tradition, several generations of the name of Knott had a mill on the stream, and as the working of the mill mainly regulated the depth of water at the ford, the place was called after them Knot’s ford. At the Conquest, Knutsford formed part of the barony of Halton, but in the reign of Edward I. it came into the possession of Sir William de Tabley, who obtained for it a charter of incorporation and various privileges, all of which are become obsolete. It appears by documents now in the hands of the Bridgewater family, that the royalty of Nether Knutsford was shared afterwards equally between Sir R. Massey, of Tatton, and the said Sir William de Tabley; and that, on the death of the son of the latter, his share being divided among his daughters, was sold in small parcels. The share of Sir R. Massey is now vested in the Egertons, of Tatton; Richard Brereton, of Tatton, the purchaser of it, having, 32nd of Elizabeth, settled all his estates on Sir Thomas Egerton, lord chancellor of England.

The town consists principally of two long streets, and is well paved, and supplied with water. The houses are in general indifferently built and of mean appearance, but in the immediate vicinity are several handsome seats; the environs are pleasant, and near the town is a good race-course, where races are held in October. The manufacture of thread, which formerly flourished to a considerable extent, has, since the introduction of machinery, given place to the weaving of cotton and silk, in which part of the population is employed, working with hand-looms, for the manufacturers at Manchester and the adjacent towns. The Trent and Mersey canal and the Manchester and Birmingham railway pass within five miles of the town, affording a communication with Liverpool and Manchester, and various other parts of the kingdom. The market is on Saturday; and the fairs, to which a small number of cattle are brought from the neighbouring villages, are on April 23rd, July 10th, and November 8th. A cattle-fair is held at Over Knutsford, on the Tuesday in Whitsun-week. Constables and other officers are appointed at the court leet of Wilbraham Egerton, Esq., lord of the manor, who also holds a court baron; and the hundred court, and quarter-sessions for the county, are held in the town. The powers of the county debt-court of Knutsford, established in 1847, extend over the sub-registration-districts of Knutsford and Wilmslow. The sessions-house and house of correction for the county were erected in 1817; the former is an elegant edifice, comprising spacious court-rooms, and the latter is also commodious. The town is the place of election for the northern division of the shire.

The parish was formerly included in that of Rostherne, from which it was severed by act of parliament in 1744. It comprises by measurement 3912 acres, whereof about 150 are wood, nearly 1000 arable, and the remainder good pasture and meadow land: 499 acres are in the township of Nether Knutsford. The living is a vicarage; income, £245; patrons, the Lords of the four Manors of Over Knutsford, Nether Knutsford and Ollerton, Toft, and Bexton, in rotation; impropriators, the Dean and Chapter of Christ-Church, Oxford. The church, erected in 1744, is a neat edifice of brick. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and Presbyterians. The free grammar school was founded, and endowed with sixteen marks per annum, in the reign of Edward VI., by Sir John Legh, and several sums were subsequently added; a new schoolroom has been built, and some waste land inclosed, which now lets for £24 per annum. A girls’ school is supported by Mrs. Egerton, of Tatton, and a parochial school for boys, by subscription; there are various bequests, also, for distribution among the poor, amounting to about £100 per annum. A curious custom prevails in the town; that of strewing the streets with sand in various forms and devices on the occasion of weddings or other festivals: it is peculiar to the place, and to strangers has a very singular appearance.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Over Knutsford

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

KNUTSFORD, OVER, a township, in the parish of Knutsford, union of Altrincham, hundred of Bucklow, N. division of the county of Chester, ½ a mile (S. E. by S.) from Nether Knutsford; containing 225 inhabitants, and comprising by measurement 738 acres. The manor of Over Knutsford, together with Norbury Booths, was purchased of William de Tabley, in 1300, by John Legh, Esq., ancestor of Peter Legh, Esq., the present owner of the estate, whose family have been ever since located in this quarter.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848


A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

OLLERTON, a township, in the parish of Knutsford, union of Altrincham, hundred of Bucklow, N. division of the county of Chester, 2½ miles (S. E.) from Nether Knutsford; containing 283 inhabitants. It comprises 932 acres of land, of which the soil is chiefly sand and clay: the cultivation is for the dairy. There is a school with some small endowments.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848


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  • County: Cheshire
  • Civil Registration District: Altrincham
  • Probate Court: Pre-1541 – Court of the Bishop of Lichfield (Episcopal Consistory), Post-1540 – Court of the Bishop of Chester (Episcopal Consistory)
  • Diocese: Pre-1541 – Lichfield and Coventry, Post-1540 – Chester
  • Rural Deanery: Frodsham
  • Poor Law Union: Altrincham
  • Hundred: Bucklow
  • Province: York

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