Leigh, Lancashire Family History Guide

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

Other places in the parish include: Pennington and Penington.

Alternative names:

Parish church: St. Mary

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1558
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1602

Nonconformists include: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Independent/Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, Unitarian, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

LEIGH, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Lancashire. The town stands on the Leigh and Wigan canal, on a loop-line of railway, from Tyldesley to Bradshaw-Leach, and near the Bolton and Kenyon branch of the Northwestern railway, 7¼ miles SW by S of Bolton; comprises portions of West Leigh, Pennington, Bedford, and Atherton townships; has undergone much improvement, under the Local Government act of 1858, and under the Public Works Manufacturing Districts act of 1863; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a polling place; publishes a weekly newspaper; and has a post office under Manchester, two railway stations with telegraph, a bankingoffice, a market-place, a town hall, gas-works, three churches, four dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a grammar school, two national schools, a British school, a public cemetery, and charities £339. The town hall was built in 1840; contains a large room for public meetings and for the courts; and has adjoining it offices and lock-ups for the Warrington division of the county constabulary. The parish church, or St. Mary’s, belonged to Eardisbury; is debased perpendicular or early Tudor; comprises nave, aisles, and chancel; and has two mortuary chapels. The church of West Leigh is a stone edifice of 1855. The Roman Catholic chapel stands in Bedford township; is large and handsome; and was built in 1855, at a cost of about £4,000. The grammar school has an endowed income of £25. The cemetery was formed at the expense of West Leigh, Pennington, Bedford, and Astley townships; and was opened in 1856. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and fairs are held on 24 and 25 April, and on 7 and 8 December. The silk manufacture was formerly extensive, but became very depressed during the five years ending in 1866. There are large cotton factories, foundries, malting establishments, two breweries, and three corn mills. Pop. of the town in 1851,5,206; in 1861,10,621. Houses, 2,098. Pop. in 1851, of the West Leigh portion, 838; of the Pennington portion, 4,496; of the Bedford portion, 4,885. Highs, the inventor of the spinning-jenny and waterframe, was a native.

The township of West Leigh comprises 1,894 acres. Real property, £15,387; of which £5,020 are in mines. Pop. in 1851,3,750; in 1861,4,434. Houses, 863. The increase of pop. arose from the erection of cotton mills, the opening of collieries, and the establishing of glass-works. The parish contains also the townships of Pennington, Bedford, Astley, Atherton, and Tyldesley-with-Shackerley. Acres, 13,194. Real property, £104,472; of which £27,840 are in mines, £229 in iron-works, and £181 in gas-works. Pop. in 1851,25,996; in 1861, 30,052. Houses, 6,099. The manors of West Leigh and Atherton belong to Lord Lilford. The living is a vicarage, united with the chapelry of West Leigh, in the diocese of Manchester. Value, £270. Patron, Lord Lilford. The p. curacies of Pennington, Astley, Atherton, Bedford, and Tyldesley-with-Shackerley, are separate benefices.

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

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

LEIGH (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the hundred of West Derby, S. division of Lancashire, 46 miles (S. S. E.) from Lancaster, and 197 (N. W.) from London; containing 22,229 inhabitants, and comprising the parochial district of Tyldesley cum Shakerley, the chapelries of Astley, Atherton, and Bedford, and the townships of Pennington and Westleigh. The name is derived from the Saxon Ley, synonymous with the English word Lea, a field or pasture: the parish appears to have been under the feudal control of the barons of Warrington, and several of its townships, at an early date, communicated their names to local families. The manufacturers of Lancashire are eminently indebted to the ingenuity of Thomas Highs, a reed-maker of Leigh, who in 1764 constructed the first spinning-jenny, which he named after his daughter Jenny or Jane; and in 1767 invented the water-frame, subsequently improved and extensively introduced by Sir Richard Arkwright. The manufacture of silk, cambrics, muslins, and fustians is carried on here, but that of the first, introduced in 1824, is the most considerable. The general trade of the place has been greatly improved by the Bolton, Leigh, and Kenyon railway, and a branch of the Duke of Bridgewater’s canal, which here forms a junction with a branch of the Leeds and Liverpool canal. Coal is found in great abundance in the parish, and also a peculiar kind of limestone, which forms an excellent cement, impervious to water. The town is principally in the township of Pennington, and partly in that of Westleigh: courts baron are held here for the manors of Pennington and Westleigh, by their respective lords, and petty-sessions for the Warrington division of the hundred of West Derby are held on every alternate Thursday. The powers of the county debt-court of Leigh, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Leigh. The market is on Saturday; and fairs are held on the 24th and 25th of April, and the 7th and 8th of December, for cattle, pigs, pedlery, &c.

The parish comprises 11,969 acres, of which 2767 are arable, 8304 pasture, and 150 woodland; it is bounded on the north by the parish of Deane, on the east by that of Eccles, on the south by the parishes of Newchurch and Lowton, and on the west by Wigan parish. A rivulet from the parish of Deane enters the township of Atherton, and passes by Shakerley, near which it is joined by three small rivulets in the township of Bedford: it is increased by a stream that flows out of West Houghton, and by another from Little Hulton; and the whole of these rills make their final confluence on the margin of Chat Moss, where they give rise to the little river Glazebrook. The features of the country in all the townships of the parish are interesting, though little varied by hill and dale; the meadows are luxuriant, the hedge-rows numerous, and tolerably well stocked with trees in the more sheltered parts. The soil of the parish is chiefly a stiff rich loam, except on the border of the moss land, where it is peaty. Light-Oaks Moss and Bedford Moss, as also the heath called BlackMoor Moss, in Astley, are all portions of Chat Moss; and Tyldesley Moss, though now separated from it by cultivation, once formed a part of that extensive tract. Potatoes are grown to a considerable extent; and the dairies, which are remarkable for the quality rather than the quantity of milk they produce, yield excellent cheese. Few parishes in the kingdom combine so extensively the elements of manufacturing and of rural prosperity.

The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king’s books at £9, and in the patronage of Lord Lilford; net income, £270, chiefly derived from land and houses, for the most part bequeathed subsequently to the Reformation: there is a good glebe-house. The church is a large stone structure in the Tudor style, consisting of a nave, aisles, and a chancel, with two sepulchral chapels; that on the north side formerly belonged to the family of Tyldesley, of Tyldesley, and that on the south to the Athertons, of Atherton, of whom Lord Lilford is the present representative. At the west end is a handsome embattled tower, containing an excellent peal of eight bells. At Astley, Atherton, Bedford, Tyldesley, and Westleigh are other churches. There are places of worship for Independents, Wesleyans, Roman Catholics, and others. The free grammar school was endowed in 1655, by Piers Ranicar, with a rent-charge of £5; and subsequent bequests have raised the endowment to £28. Among the other schools are spacious national and infant schools, built in 1841, and endowed with two cottages worth about £12 per annum. The poor-law union of Leigh consists, in addition to this parish, of the adjoining parishes of Newchurch and Lowton, and comprises a population of 28,568.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

FamilySearch Catalog - Free

Cemeteries

The Burial register of Bethesda Independent Chapel, Leigh Author: Bethesda Chapel (Leigh : Independent)

Monumental inscriptions of Leigh, Lancashire, Cemetery

Monumental inscriptions of St. Stephen’s Church, Astley, Lancs. Author: Lewis, G. R.; Church of England. Chapelry of Astley (Lancashire)

Record of tombstones, monuments and/or memorials removed from St. Mary’s disused graveyard, Leigh Author: Leigh (Lancashire : Borough)

Removal of graves and monuments from Manchester Road cemetery Author: Leigh (Lancashire : Borough)

A transcription of the memorial inscriptions on the gravestones and burial plot stones in the churchyard of … St. Mary, Leigh, Lancs. Author: Webb, G. A.

Census

1851 census surname index of Lancashire–Leigh district : Public Records Office ref. HO 107/2204 & 2205 Author: Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society

Census returns for Pennington, 1841-1891

Church history

The history of the parish church of S. Mary, at Leigh Author: Worsley, James Edwardson

Church Records

Baptismal register, 1825-1837 Author: Society of Unitarian Christians (Leigh, Lancashire)

Baptisms for St. James’ Free Church, Atherton, 1871-1889 Author: St. James’ Church (Atherton, Lancashire : Free Church of England)

Bishop’s transcripts for Bedford, 1840-1855 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of Bedford (Lancashire)

Bishop’s transcripts for Leigh, 1602-1853 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Leigh (Lancashire)

Bishop’s transcripts for Pennington, 1854 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of Pennington (Lancashire)

Bishop’s transcripts for Tyldesley, 1829-1847 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of Tyldesley (Lancashire)

Church records, 1189-1916 Author: Church of England. St. Mary-the-Virgin Church (Leigh, Lancashire)

Church records, 1777 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of Astley (Lancashire)

Church records, 1809-1836 Author: Bethesda Chapel (Leigh : Independent)

Church records, 1816-1837 Author: Wesleyan Methodist Church (Leigh, Lancashire)

Computer printout of Astley, Lancs., Eng

Leigh, Lancashire, marriages, 1754-1800 Author: Beckett, James D. (James Deuchar), 1923-

Parish register transcripts, 1700-1812 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Leigh (Lancashire)

Parish register transcripts, 1744-1812 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of Astley (Lancashire)

Parish register transcripts, 1744-1812 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Atherton (Lancashire)

Parish registers for St. John the Baptist’s Church, Atherton, 1778-1959 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Atherton (Lancashire); Wigan Record Office; Manchester Archives Central Library

Parish registers for St. Mary-the-Virgin Church, Leigh, 1560-1901 Author: Church of England. St. Mary-the-Virgin Church (Leigh, Lancashire); Wigan Record Office

Parish registers for St. Mary-the-Virgin Church, Leigh, 1701-1839 Author: Church of England. St. Mary-the-Virgin Church (Leigh, Lancashire); Church of England. Chapelry of Astley (Lancashire); Church of England. Parish Church of Atherton (Lancashire); Church of England. Chapelry of Ellenbrook (Lancashire); Church of England. Chapelry of Little Hulton (Lancashire)

Parish registers for St. Paul’s Church, Leigh, 1847-1900 Author: Church of England. St. Paul’s Church (Leigh, Lancashire)

Parish registers for Tyldesley, 1825-1901 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of Tyldesley (Lancashire)

The parish registers of Leigh, 1625-1700 Author: Sparke, Archibald; Church of England. Parish Church of Leigh (Lancashire)

Record of members, 1840-1901 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Tyldesley Branch (Lancashire); Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Leigh Branch (Lancashire); Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Westleigh Branch (Lancashire)

Record of members, 1852-1887 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Leigh Branch (Lancashire); Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Tyldesley Branch (Lancashire); Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Westleigh Branch (Lancashire)

Record of members, 1876-1931 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Manchester District (Lancashire)

The registers of Leigh parish church, 1701-1753 : incorporating the registers of Astley Chapel and Atherton Chapel, 1724-1753 Author: Taylor, Ken T.; Church of England. Parish Church of Leigh (Lancashire); Church of England. Chapelry of Astley (Lancashire); Church of England. Chapelry of Atherton (Lancashire)

The registers of St. Mary the Virgin, Leigh : 1754-1790 Author: Taylor, Ken T.; Lancashire Parish Register Society

The registers of the parish of Leigh, Lancashire, from February 1558 to March 1625 Author: Stanning, Joseph Heaton; Church of England. Parish Church of Leigh (Lancashire)

The registers of the parish of Leigh, Lancashire, from February 1558 to March 1625 Author: Stanning, Joseph Heaton; Church of England. Parish Church of Leigh (Lancashire)

Computer printout of Atherton, Lancs., Eng

Computer printout of Leigh, Bethesda Independent, Lancs., Eng

Computer printout of Leigh, Lancs., Eng

Computer printout of Leigh, Wesleyan Methodist, Lancs., Eng

Computer printout of Tyldesley cum Shakerley, Lady Huntingdon’s, Lancs., Eng

Parish register printouts of Bedford, Lancashire, England (Wesleyan) ; christenings, 1793-1836 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

Parish register printouts of Leigh, Lancashire, England (Independent, Bethesda Chapel) ; christenings, 1811-1837 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

Parish register printouts of Leigh, Lancashire, England (Wesleyan) ; christenings, 1818-1837 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

Parish register printouts of Tyldesley with Shakerley, Lancashire, England (Lady Huntingdon’s Church) ; christenings, 1789-1837 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

Parish register printouts of Tyldesley, Lancashire, England (Wesleyan) ; christenings, 1822-1837 Author: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Genealogical Department

Leigh register guide : registers of churches, copies and their whereabouts in Leigh, Lancashire and the surrounding district Author: Watts, Michael J. (Michael John), 1936-; Leigh and District Family History Society

Bishop’s transcripts for Pennington, 1854 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of Pennington (Lancashire)

Directories

The Bolton directory : containing the names, trades, and residence of the principal inhabitants in the town and neighborhood, and in Chowbent and Leigh … Author: Bolton and District Family History Society

History

Leigh in the 18th century, 1689-1813 : a series of papers reprinted from The Leigh Journal and Times Author: Rose, Josiah

Leythe: photographs of Leigh past : chosen and commentary supplied by Norma Ackers Author: Ackers, Norma

An outline history of Leigh Author: Ackers, Norma

Public records

Leigh municipal record, 1863-1907 Author: Pink, William Duncombe

Taxation

England, Lancashire, Leigh General District Rate books and valuation lists, 1882-1902 Author: Leigh (Borough : Lancashire); Greater Manchester County Record Office

England, Lancashire, Pennington rate books and valuation lists Author: Leigh Poor Law Union (Lancashire, England); Greater Manchester County Record Office

Voting registers

England, Lancashire, Leigh electoral registers, 1890-1937 Author: Leigh (Borough : Lancashire); Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council. Wigan Heritage Service

Lancashire Archives & Family History Groups

Lancashire Archives

Lancashire FH & Heraldry Society

Manchester Archives and Local History

Lancashire

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

CemSearch

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

Census

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

Occupations

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

Administration

  • County: Lancashire
  • Civil Registration District: Leigh
  • Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of Chester (Episcopal Consistory)
  • Diocese: Manchester
  • Rural Deanery: Eccles
  • Poor Law Union: Leigh
  • Hundred: West Derby
  • Province: York