Hawkshead, Lancashire Family History Guide

Hawkshead is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Lancashire.

Other places in the parish include: Upper Claife, Monk Coniston and Skelwith, Lower Claife, Henakin, Hawkeshead with Monk Coniston and Skelwith, Grizedale, Graythwaite, Gallowbarrow, Field Head, Dale Park, Claife, and Borwick.

Alternative names:

Parish church: St. Michael

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1568
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1689

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Plymouth Brethren, and Society of Friends/Quaker.

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

HAWKSHEAD (St. Michael), a market-town and parish, in the union of Ulverston, hundred of Lonsdale north of the Sands, N. division of the county of Lancaster, 28 miles (N. N. W.) from Lancaster, and 268 (N. N. W.) from London; comprising the townships of Claife, Hawkshead, and Monk-Coniston with Skelwith, and the chapelry of Satterthwaite; the whole containing 2323 inhabitants, of whom 892 are in the township of Hawkshead. This place probably owes its origin to the Saxons, as the language of that people strongly pervades the dialect of its inhabitants at the present day. The earliest mention of it occurs in some transactions of the abbey of Furness, in the 12th century, at which period it was a chapelry under Dalton-in-Furness: it remained dependent on the abbey till the Dissolution. Hawkshead was constituted a parish in the reign of Elizabeth, by Archbishop Sandys, a native of the place, and was then of much greater extent than it is now, including the present parish of Coulton, which was separated in 1680. In respect of importance it is the fourth town in the district of Furness, and during the existence of the abbey it was governed by a bailiff appointed by the abbots, who dispensed justice for the district, in a court-room over the gateway of a house occupied by some of the monks who officiated in the church, and performed other parochial duties: of this house, which was a quadrangular building, there are still some remains in tolerable preservation. In the reign of Elizabeth the tenants of Hawkshead, in conjunction with those of Coulton, petitioned for the suppression of certain ironworks in High Furness, in order to preserve for the protection of their cattle during the winter, those woods and coppices in the neighbourhood that would otherwise be cut down to supply the furnaces with fuel; and charged themselves with the payment to the queen of £20 per annum, for which the works had been let.

The Town is pleasantly situated near the head of Esthwaite-water, a small lake beautifully indented with richly-wooded promontories, and nearly in the centre of a vale of luxuriant meadows and corn-fields, almost surrounded by the fells of Furness. The borders of the lake are enlivened by villas and farmhouses. The parish is bounded on the north by the river Brathey, which separates the counties of Lancaster and Westmorland; on the east by Windermere lake; on the south by Coulton parish; and on the west by part of Coniston water, and by Yewdale and Tilberthwaite becks. On Priest’s Pot, a circular pool at the head of Esthwaite-water, is a floating islet containing trees and shrubs. The hills afford large quantities of excellent slate, and stone for building; and a considerable portion of the former is exported. Many females were employed in spinning yarn; but since the application of machinery to that purpose, the trade has declined, and the wool produced from the numerous flocks which are fed on the neighbouring hills is sold in the fleece, to be used by distant manufacturers. The market is on Monday; the privilege of holding it was obtained in the reign of James I., by A. Sandys and other inhabitants. The fairs are on Easter-Monday, the Monday before Ascension-day, Whit-Monday, and October 2nd, chiefly for cattle and pedlery.

The living is a vicarage, in the patronage of the Crown, in right of the duchy of Lancaster; net income, £164; impropriators, the landowners. The church, a neat structure, advantageously seated on a small knoll rising above the town, was repaired and modernised in the reign of Elizabeth, and contains a monument to the memory of the parents of Archbishop Sandys. The short massy columns, their arches, and some other parts of the original building, yet remain, indicating the Norman style, and countenancing the supposition that the church was founded about the period of the Conquest. The parsonage-house is pleasantly situated at a short distance from the church, on land that retains the name of Walker-ground from its supposed donor, Dr. George Walker, a celebrated Puritan divine of the 17th century, who was born at Hawkshead. A chapel has been erected and endowed at Brathey, and there is another chapel at Satterthwaite; at the hamlet of Hawkshead-Hill is a small place of worship for Baptists. The grammar school was founded in 1585, by Archbishop Sandys, who endowed it with lands now producing about £180 per annum. A sum of about £60, arising from benefactions, is yearly appropriated to boarding and clothing a number of boys, selected by the trustees of the grammar school. The Rev. Thomas Sandys, in 1717, bequeathed a collection of books for the use of the school; and in 1816 the Rev. William Wilson left £100, the interest to be distributed in prizes to the scholars. The late Rev. Dr. Wordsworth, master of Trinity College, Cambridge; his relative, the poet; and other distinguished men, received the rudiments of their education in the school.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

Lancashire Archives

Lancashire FH & Heraldry Society

Manchester Archives and Local History


Lancashire BMD

England, Lancashire, Parish Registers 1538-1910

England, Lancashire Non-Conformist Church Records, 1647-1996

Catholic Parish Registers of Liverpool 1741-1773

St James’ Cemetery Burials Liverpool

Manchester Burial Records

England, Lancashire, Oldham Cemetery Registers, 1797-2004

England, Lancashire, Rusholme Road Cemetery 1821-1933

Oldham Burial Records

Tameside Burial Records

Chorlton Upon Medlock Burials 1821-1933


Lancaster Convict Database 1800s

Lancashire Fusiliers

Lancashire Infantry Museum

Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

Lancashire Roll of Honour

St. Helens Roll of Honour

Lancashire Police Records

Lancashire Lantern - archive of local old photographs, postcards and other images

Manchester Local Images

Records for England

Births and Baptism Records

England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975

Great Britain, Births and Baptisms, 1571-1977

England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

Marriage Records

England Marriages, 1538–1973

Great Britain Marriages, 1797-1988

England and Wales Marriage Registration Index, 1837-2005

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

Death Records

England Death Records, 1998-2015

England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991

Great Britain Deaths and Burials, 1778-1988

England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

England and Wales, National Index of Wills and Administrations, 1858-1957

England and Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1640-1660

Non-Conformist Records

England and Wales Non-Conformist Record Indexes (RG4-8), 1588-1977


England and Wales Census, 1841

England and Wales Census, 1851

England and Wales Census, 1861

England and Wales Census, 1871

England and Wales Census, 1881

England and Wales Census, 1891

England and Wales Census, 1901

England and Wales Census, 1911


United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941

War and Conflict

Great Britain, War Office Registers, 1772-1935

United Kingdom, Chelsea Pensioners’ Service Records, 1760-1913

United Kingdom, Royal Hospital Chelsea: Discharge Documents of Pensioners 1760-1887 (WO 122)

United Kingdom, Maritime Births, Marriages, and Deaths, 1787-1933

United Kingdom, Militia Service Records, 1806-1915

United Kingdom, World War I Service Records, 1914-1920

United Kingdom, World War I Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Records, 1917-1920

Newspaper Archives

British Newspaper Archive, Family Notices

British Newspaper Archives, Obituaries


  • County: Lancashire
  • Civil Registration District: Ulverstone
  • Probate Court: Court of the Bishop (Consistory) of the Commissary of the Archdeaconry of Richmond Western Deaneries - Furness
  • Diocese: Chester
  • Rural Deanery: Furness and Cartmel
  • Poor Law Union: Ulverston
  • Hundred: Lonsdale
  • Province: York