St Helens, Lancashire Family History Guide

Union Plate Glass Works St. Helens 1854
Union Plate Glass Works St. Helens 1854

St Helens is an Ecclesiastical Parish and a market town in the county of Lancashire, created in 1716 from Prescot Ancient Parish.

Alternative names:

Parish church: St Helen; St Mary

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1713
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1676

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

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

HELENS (ST.), a town, a parochial chapelry, and a sub-district in Prescot parish and district, Lancashire. The town stands on Sankey brook, the Sankey canal, and the St. Helens railway, 3 miles NE by E of Prescot, and 12 ENE of Liverpool; and comprises parts of the townships of Eccleston, Windle, and Parr. It was, not long ago, a small village; but it has rapidly risen to populousness and importance through manufacturing and mining operations in and around it, through plentiful supply of excellent coal, and through proximity to Liverpool and the facility of canal and railway communication. It covers much ground; was, for a time, very irregularly built; includes an open square market place in its centre; contains a great number of new streets; and has undergone considerable improvements. The town hall, fronting the market place, was built in 1839; is in the Italian style, with a Corinthian portico; and contains a lock-up, a news room, and a large hall for courts, concerts, balls, and public meetings. The market house, near the townhall, is a large new brick edifice. St. Mary’s church is an old and very spacious brick building, with a tower. Holy-Trinity church, at Parr-Mount, was built on a cruciform plan in 1839, and is in the pointed style. St. Thomas’ church, in Westfield-street, was erected at a cost of about £9,000, at the expense of the late Peter Greenall, Esq.; is a handsome edifice in the pointed style; and consists of nave and transepts, with porch and tower. The Roman Catholic chapel was built in 1862; and is a beautiful cruciform edifice, of Rainford stone, with red sandstone dressings. There are chapels for Independents, Wesleyans, and Primitive Methodists; a public library; a mechanics’ institution; three national schools for boys and three for girls; and charities £126. The county lunatic asylum here, is within Sutton township, and, at the census of 1861, had 704 inmates. The town has a head post office, a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and four chief inns; is governed by a mayor, aldermen, and town council; is a seat of petty sessions, and a county court; and publishes three weekly newspapers. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and fairs are held on the Monday and Tuesday after Easter week, and on the Friday and Saturday after 8 Sept. A very celebrated manufacture of crown, sheet, and plate glass, said to be the greatest in the world, is carried on. There are also manufactures of flint glass, glass bottles, and watch movements; several very extensive chemical works; oil and grease works; copper works; iron and brass foundries; a brewery; and coarse earthenware potteries. A considerable trade in coal likewise is carried on from neighbouring collieries. Pop. of the town, in 1851, 14,866; in 1861, 18,396. Houses, 3,146. The chapelry is more extensive than the town, and was constituted in 1852. Pop. in 1861, 20,176. Houses, 3,577. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Chester. Value, £500. Patrons, Trustees. Holy Trinity and St. Thomas also are vicarages. Value of the former, £300; of the latter, £300. Patron of H. T., the Vicar of St. Helens; of St. T., Trustees. The sub-district contains the townships of Windle, Parr, and Sutton, and part of the township of Eccleston. Pop. in 1851, 25,020; in 1861, 37,961. Houses, 6,539.

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

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

HELEN’S, ST., a market-town, in the parish and union of Prescot, hundred of West Derby, S. division of the county of Lancaster, 11 miles (E. N. E.) from Liverpool, 20 (W.) from Manchester, 48 (S.) from Lancaster, and 198 (N. W.) from London; comprising part of the township of Eccleston, and the entire townships of Parr, Sutton, and Windle; and containing 17,849 inhabitants. This town, originally a small village, is now a thriving place, situated on an extensive coal-field, to which it principally owes its prosperity. The buildings are irregular, and cover a large extent of ground; water is supplied under an act passed in 1843, and in 1845 an act was obtained for paving, lighting, and otherwise improving the town, and for establishing a market. There are some very important glass-works, particularly for plate glass. In 1763, an incorporated company, styled the British Plate-Glass Company, erected a manufactory at Ravenhead, in the township of Sutton, and this concern having failed, was succeeded by another company, formed in 1794, whose manufactory covers an area of nearly 30 acres, and is surrounded by a lofty stone wall, on the outśide of which are the habitations of the workmen: the erection of the building cost nearly £160,000. The first artisans were brought from France, and the glass now produced is equal, and in many respects superior, to the French and Venetian plates: the works, having been much increased within the last few years, are now the largest in the world, and are capable of producing 300,000 feet of glass annually. Two other plateglass manufactories have since been erected, on an extensive scale: in the township of Eccleston are three manufactories for crown and flint glass, and bottles; and there are potteries, breweries, and a cotton-mill, in the neighbourhood, many of which are worked by steam. In 1830, works for smelting copper were established by the Bolivar Mining Association; the ore is brought from Columbia, and from 30 to 40 tons of copper are produced weekly. Similar works have been erected by the British and Foreign Copper Company; and Messrs. John Bibby and Sons of Liverpool, and Messrs. Sims, Willyams, Nevill, and Company, of London, have works here in which they employ between 60 and 80 men in smelting copper-ore: the ore used by them is brought from Cornwall, Chili, South Australia, &c., and is sent hence in square cakes and round bolls to their works at Seacombe, near Birkenhead, to be there rolled and manufactured for the market. There are also several chymical-works. St. Helen’s is connected with the Liverpool and Manchester railway by a branch line; and an act was passed in 1846 for a railway to Prescot and Huyton, five miles and a half in length, forming a second branch of the Manchester and Liverpool railway. The St. Helen’s and Runcorn-Gap line, chiefly for the conveyance of coal, is twelve miles in length: the original capital was £120,000; it was afterwards increased to £150,000, and the line was completed at a cost of £220,000. There is also a canal, one of the first cut in England, down which great quantities of coal are conveyed to Liverpool, &c. In the centre of the town is a large market-place, forming a fine square, on one side of which a commodious town-hall has been erected. A market is held on Saturday; and there are fairs on the Monday and Tuesday after Easter-week, and the first Friday and Saturday after September 8th. At the courts leet and baron of the lord of the manor of Windle, held in November, peace officers are appointed for the district. The powers of the county debt-court of St. Helen’s, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Prescot.

The living is a perpetual curacy; net income, £240; patrons, certain Trustees; impropriators, the Provost and Fellows of King’s College, Cambridge. The church, originally dedicated to St. Helen, on being enlarged in 1816, was dedicated anew to St. Mary; it is a plain brick building, but the interior arrangements are exceedingly convenient, and it will accommodate 2500 persons: the organ was primarily constructed for the commemoration of Handel in Westminster Abbey. The parsonage-house, which has been rebuilt, is pleasantly situated one mile and three-quarters out of the town, and is a large and handsome building. At Parr is a church in the gift of the Incumbent of St. Helen’s. St. Thomas’s church was erected at a cost of £3300, and endowed with £150 per annum, by Peter Greenall, Esq., and is a cruciform structure in the early English style, capable of containing nearly 900 persons: the same gentleman built a very convenient parsonage-house and a schoolroom. The living is in the gift of the family of Greenall. There are places of worship for the Society of Friends, Independents, and Wesleyans, and a Roman Catholic chapel. A school, subject to the control of the incumbent, is endowed with property producing £26 per annum. Another was founded in 1714, by a bequest from Sarah Cowley, who gave an estate at Hardshaw; it is situated at Moss Bank, in Windle, and is in connexion with the Established Church: more than 1000 children are educated, and divine service is regularly performed here every Sunday. The Sunday school connected with the old church was erected by subscription, and the proceeds of a bazaar, in 1819, at an expense of nearly £1000. There is also a Roman Catholic free school.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

Lancashire Archives

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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

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Records for England

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England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975

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England and Wales Birth Registration Index, 1837-2008

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England Deaths and Burials, 1538-1991

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England and Wales Death Registration Index 1837-2007

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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

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United Kingdom, Merchant Navy Seamen Records, 1835-1941

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Newspaper Archives

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