Bolton le Moors St Peter, Lancashire Family History Guide

Bolton le Moors St Peter is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Lancashire.

Other places in the parish include: Great Bolton, Eastern, Entwisle, Edgeworth, East, Darcy Lever, Breightmet, Bolton, Belmont, Bank Top, Anglezarke, Anglezark, West, Sweet Loves, Sharples Lower End, Sharples Higher End, Sharples, Quarlton, Picadilly, Oldhams, Old Hams, Lostock, Longworth, High Houses, Haulgh, Great Bolton, Western, Great Bolton, Gale Paper Works, Folds, and Entwistle.

Alternative names: Bolton

Parish church: St Peter

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1573
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1573

Nonconformists include: Calvinist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Independent/Congregational, Particular Baptist, Plymouth Brethren, Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church in England, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Methodist Association.

Adjacent Parishes

Historical Descriptions

See also Bolton le Moors, Lancashire Family History Guide

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

BOLTON-LE-MOORS (St. Peter), a parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of Salford, S. division of the county of Lancaster; comprising the borough and market-town of Bolton, the chapelries of Blackrod, Bradshaw, Harwood, Little Lever, and Turton, and the townships of Anglezarke, Breightmet, Edgeworth, Entwistle, DarcyLever, Longworth, Lostock, Quarlton, Rivington, Sharples, and Tonge with Haulgh; and containing 73,905 inhabitants, of whom 33,610 are in Great, and 16,153 in Little, Bolton, 43 miles (S. S. E.) from Lancaster, and 197 (N. W. by N.) from London. This place, which derives the adjunct to its name from its situation on the moors, was of little importance prior to 1337, when the emigrant Flemings, who fixed their residence here, introduced the manufacture of woollen-cloth, and laid the foundation of its future increase as a manufacturing town. After the revocation of the edict of Nantz, also, many of the French refugees, attracted by the means of employment which its trade at that time afforded, took up their abode in the town. At the commencement of the civil war in the reign of Charles I., the inhabitants espoused the cause of the parliament, by whom the town was garrisoned, and in whose possession it remained till 1644, when Prince Rupert, advancing with 10,000 men to the relief of Lathom House, which was besieged by a body of 2000 parliamentary troops, compelled them to raise the siege and retire into this town. Being joined by the Earl of Derby from the Isle of Man, the prince assembled his forces on the moor to the south-west of the town, and there held a council of war, at which it was resolved to carry the place by storm. Pursuant to this, an assault was made with great spirit and bravery, which, however was met by equal intrepidity from the garrison, now consisting of 3000 men; and the assailants, after performing numerous acts of valour, were compelled to retreat, with the loss of 200 of their force. A second council of war was then convened, and a second attack determined upon, which, at his earnest request, was entrusted to the Earl of Derby: this loyal nobleman, placing himself at the head of a gallant band of only 200 Lancashire men, principally his own tenantry and their sons, led on the van, by marching directly to the walls, where the conflict was for some time carried on with desperate valour on both sides; but the earl, bearing down all opposition, entered the town, and put the whole garrison into the utmost consternation. The royalists pursued the enemy in every direction, killing all whom they encountered; and at last plundered the town, which remained for some time in their possession, but was ultimately given up to the parliament. After the disastrous battle of Worcester, the gallant earl, who had come from the Isle of Man to the assistance of Charles II., being taken prisoner, was condemned by a military tribunal at Chester, and sent under an escort to this place, where he was beheaded.

The manor of Bolton, which is of considerable antiquity, was alienated by Roger de Maresey, with his other lands between the rivers Ribble and Mersey, to Ranulph de Blundeville, Earl of Chester, for 240 marks of silver, and a pair of white gloves, to be presented annually at Easter. It afterwards passed through the families of Ferrers and Pilkington, and was confiscated to the crown on the attainder of Sir Thomas Pilkington, in the 1st of Henry VII., for his adherence to the cause of Richard III. at the battle of Bosworth-Field. Henry granted it to his relation, Thomas, Lord Stanley, then created Earl of Derby; but a considerable portion of the property having been confiscated by parliament, during the period of the Commonwealth, the manor of Bolton is at present held, in unequal proportions, by five lords.

The town, comprising the townships of Great and Little Bolton, which are separated by the rivulet Croal, was greatly enlarged under an act of parliament obtained in 1792, for inclosing Bolton Moor, of which more than 250 acres were divided into allotments, now partly occupied with buildings. The powers of the commissioners appointed under that act were extended by an act in 1817, since which time three spacious squares, several ranges of buildings, and a few public edifices, have been erected; 428 houses in Great Bolton, and 196 in Little Bolton, were built during one year, and considerable improvement has been made in the roads leading to the town. It is lighted with gas by a company incorporated in 1820, whose powers were extended by an act passed in 1843; and the inhabitants are supplied with excellent water, brought from the high lands in Sharples, five miles north of Bolton, by pipes, and conveyed by an iron main of eighteen inches diameter to the various parts of the town. This undertaking was first established at an expense of £40,000, subscribed in shares of £50 each, by a company formed in 1824, for whose use a handsome stone building was erected, in front of which is an emblematical tablet representing a Naïad seated by a fountain, pouring water from a ewer to a thirsty child. The company obtained a new act in 1843, extending its powers to the adjacent townships; and in 1847 an act was passed, enabling the municipal corporation to purchase or take a lease of the water-works, and to improve the town generally. The theatre is regularly open during the season; a town-hall was erected a few years since, in which concerts occasionally take place, and there are three public libraries. Splendid baths, with public rooms for assemblies, concerts, and lectures, were erected in 1846, at a cost exceeding £4000. The Exchange Buildings, erected in 1825, form a neat edifice of stone, with two Ionic columns at the entrance: the lower room, which is of ample dimensions, is appropriated to the transaction of general business, and fitted up as a news-room; the upper part contains a library and reading-rooms. A mechanics' institute was established in 1825. Temporary barracks have been provided for the accommodation of two companies of infantry.

The principal branch of manufacture, and to the introduction of which Bolton owes its present extent and importance, is that of cotton, in the improvement of which many ingenious and valuable discoveries originated in this town. Sir Richard Arkwright, a resident here, after he had established his works at Derby and Nottingham, brought the spinning-jenny and the waterframe machines to perfection; and Samuel Crompton, who was also an inhabitant of Bolton, invented a machine called the mule, combining the properties of both, for which, after receiving two several donations of £105 and £400, subscribed as acknowledgments of his merit, he was ultimately remunerated by parliament with a grant of £5000. Previously to the introduction of the cotton-trade, some weavers who arrived in this country from the palatinate of the Rhine, had added to the manufacture of woollen-cloth that of a fabric, partly composed of linen-yarn chiefly imported from Germany, and partly of cotton. The chief articles were fustian, jean, and thickset: velvet, entirely of cotton, was first made here in 1756, and muslin, quilting, and dimity succeeded. After the introduction of the improved machinery, several factories were established, but, being chiefly worked by water, they were on a small scale; the subsequent employment of steam enabled the proprietors to enlarge their works, and the adoption of power-looms contributed greatly to improve and extend the trade.

There are at present in Bolton sixty-one cotton-factories. At fifty-six of these are engines of the aggregate power of 1685 horses, and 793,800 throstle spindles; the number of power-looms is 2131, and the weight of raw cotton annually used 13,705,636 lb.: in fifty-five of the factories are consumed 69,278 tons of common coal and 888 tons of cannel coal. The bleaching-grounds are also very extensive, and more than 10,000,000 pieces of cloth are annually bleached. Among them are three large establishments, in each of which from 130,000 to 150,000 pieces are, on the average, finished every month, in two of them is used engine-power equal to 120 horses, and in one alone are annually consumed 16,000 tons of coal. There are twenty-one ironfounders and machine-makers, of whom thirteen have engines of the aggregate power of 433 horses, and employ 2793 hands; use 18,390 tons of metal, and consume 28,150 tons of coal and 3231 tons of coke: machinery of all kinds, and mills of every description, are made. A paper-mill manufactures annually 470 tons of paper, and consumes 3640 tons of coal. The neighbourhood abounds with coal; and veins of leadore and of calamine have been worked at Rivington, but they have not been found productive. The total amount of horse-power in the various works carried on in the borough, in 1846, was 3816; of this aggregate, steam-engines supplied the power of 3654 horses, and water-wheels of 162. The Bolton and Leigh and the Kenyon and Leigh Junction railways connect the town with the Liverpool and Manchester railway at Kenyon; the whole line is nine miles and three-quarters in length. A direct railway to Manchester, 10 miles long, was opened in May 1838; a railway to Euxton, a few miles south of Preston, in June 1843; and a railway to Darwen and Blackburn, 14½ miles long, in 1847. An act, also, was passed in 1845 for the construction of a railway from Liverpool, by Wigan and Bolton, to Bury, there to join a branch of the Manchester and Leeds line. The canal to Manchester was constructed in 1791; a branch to Bury diverges from it at Little Lever, in this parish. The market-days are Monday and Saturday: there are fairs on July 30th and 31st, and Oct. 13th and 14th, for horned-cattle, horses, pigs, and pedlery; and a fair for lean-cattle every alternate Wednesday, from Jan. 5th to May 12th. The market is held in the area of the new square, in the centre of which is a handsome cast-iron column, 30 feet high, rising from a pedestal in the form of a vase, and supporting a lantern which is lighted with gas.

The town was formerly within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates, and its internal government was under the regulation of officers appointed at the court leet of the lord of the manor; but on the 11th Oct. 1838, a charter of incorporation was granted under the Municipal act, and it is now governed by a mayor, 12 aldermen, and 36 councillors. On May 9th, 1839, the queen decreed that a court of quarter-sessions should be held here. The number of magistrates is 17. It was made a parliamentary borough by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, with the privilege of returning two members to parliament, the right of election being vested in the £10 householders; the limits of the borough comprise 1748 acres. The county debt-court of Bolton, established in 1847, has jurisdiction over the registration-district of Bolton. The town-hall, already mentioned, at Little Bolton, was built at an expense of £2000; and it is in contemplation to erect a similar structure in Great Bolton, more suited to the importance of the town than the present rooms in which the business is transacted.

The parish comprises by computation 31,000 acres. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £10. 3. 1½.; net income, £464; patron and appropriator, the Bishop of Chester. The church is a spacious structure, of the style of architecture termed Perpendicular or later English: it has a splendid east window by Wailes, of Newcastle, one of his best productions, and forming an obituary window, erected by the vicar, the Rev. James Slade, M.A., and his relatives, at the cost of £300; a beautiful font of Caen stone was recently erected by Matthew Dawes, Esq., F.G.S., in memory of his parents, and among some interesting monuments is one by Chantrey in the Chetham chapel to John Taylor, Esq., and his family. A district church dedicated to the Holy Trinity was erected in 1825, at an expense of £13,412, defrayed by a grant from the Parliamentary Commissioners; it is a handsome edifice in the later English style, with a tower. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Vicar of Bolton, on whose voidance the district will become a separate parish in the gift of the Bishop: the net income, previously £120, was augmented in 1842 with £30 per annum by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. The district church dedicated to St. George, in Little Bolton, was erected by subscription in 1796: the living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the Vicar; net income, £168. Emmanuel church, built in 1838, at a cost of £2200, originated in a desire on the part of the parishioners to present a service of plate to the vicar, who requested the fund might be applied rather to the building of a church in the most destitute part of the town; it is a handsome structure in the early English style, with a tower and spire. The living is a perpetual curacy, augmented in 1841 by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to £150, and in the presentation of the Vicar. Christ church, built as a meeting-house in 1818, for Methodists of the New Connexion, was purchased from the trustees in 1841, and licensed for divine worship according to the rites of the Church of England, the minister and greater part of the congregation having conformed thereto: it was consecrated as the church of one of the new parishes under the 6th and 7th Victoria, cap. 37, in 1844; and is of brick, with a handsome Norman porch, and windows of the same style of terra cotta. The living is a perpetual curacy, with an endowment of £150 per annum from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; patrons, the Crown and the Bishop alternately. A church district, called St. John's, was formed in Little Bolton, in May, 1846, under the same act, and the erection of a church was commenced in 1847; the edifice is in the decorated style, will seat 1000 persons, and was built at a cost of £3500. The district became an ecclesiastical parish on the consecration of the church: the living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £150; patrons, the Crown and Bishop alternately. A chapel dedicated to All Saints, also in Little Bolton, has been restored, and made a district church: the living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £128; patron, T. Tipping, Esq. A Scottish church, in the early English style, was erected by subscription, in 1846. There are also places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Unitarians, the Society of Friends, Swedenborgians, Methodists, and Roman Catholics; and, besides these, ten churches in chapelries and rural townships within the parish. Connected with the parish church is a lectureship, endowed by the Rev. James Gosnell in 1622, and considerably augmented by a grant of land from the Earl of Derby.

The free grammar school, containing 60 boys, was founded by Robert Lever, citizen of London, who, in 1641, bequeathed estates now producing about £350 per annum, with which the revenue of a school previously existing has been united, amounting in the whole to £485: there is a small exhibition to either of the Universities. Robert Ainsworth, compiler of the Latin Dictionary, and Dr. Lempriere, compiler of the Classical Dictionary, were masters of the school; and the former had been educated here. A charity school was founded and endowed in 1693, by Nathaniel Hulton, for the instruction of 30 boys and 30 girls; the income is £277. The "Churchgate Charity School" was founded in 1714, by Thomas Marsden, who endowed it with a house, &c., now producing £14. 10. per annum; in addition, £10 per annum are allowed to the master from Brook's charity, accruing from pews in the parish church. Other schools are supported by subscription; and there are various Sunday schools, of which that in connexion with the parish church, is a large and handsome building of freestone, in the later English style, erected in 1819 at an expense of £1800. A dispensary was established in 1814: a clothing society is supported chiefly by ladies; and there is a society for the relief of poor women during child-birth, formed in 1798. In 1829, John Popplewell, Esq., a gentleman of the medical profession, and a native of the parish, bequeathed £4500, the interest to be applied in providing clothing and bread for the poor of Great and Little Bolton, and the township of Turton; the interest of £2000, to found scholarships for the grammar school; of £400, to repair All Saints' chapel; and of £3500, to the township of Blackrod, for various uses. The bequests of this benefactor altogether amounted to £15,099, vested in the three per cent. consols.; to which his sisters, Anne and Rebecca, added in 1831 the interest of £12,600 in the same stock, for similar benevolent purposes. Elizabeth Lum, in 1840, built six almshouses at the Tealds, in Little Bolton, for twelve widows or spinsters above sixty years of age, who each receive a weekly allowance. The union of Bolton comprises the entire parish with the exception of Anglezarke, Blackrod, and Rivington, and, in addition, eleven other chapelries and townships; and contains a population of 97,519. There are several strong chalybeate springs in the parish. John Bradshaw, president of the court which sentenced Charles I. to the scaffold, is said to have been born near the town.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

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County: Lancashire
Civil Registration District: Bolton
Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of Chester (Episcopal Consistory)
Diocese: Manchester
Rural Deanery: Bolton le Moors
Poor Law Union: Bolton
Hundred: Salford
Province: York