Images of workhouse records, parish registers, bishop’s transcripts and electoral registers from Cheshire have just gone online at the subscription/pay-per-view website Find My Past.
Find My Past‘s Cheshire Collection is a series of over ten million records provided by Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, covering over 350 years of history. The collection includes Church of England Parish Registers, bishop’s transcripts, Electoral Registers, Marriage Licence Bonds and Allegations, Non-Conformist and Roman Catholic records and Workhouse Registers. Wills and Probate records from Chester and Land Tax records will be added to the collection in the coming months. (Free indexes of these records are already available at the FamilySearch site.)
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, otherwise known as the author Lewis Carroll, is recorded as being baptised on 11 July 1832, seven months after his birth on 27 January 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire. Although Lewis’s father, also named Charles, was the Perpetual Curate of Daresbury, he didn’t baptise his own son but on the same parish register page you can see that he baptised four other children. When Lewis was 11 years old, his father moved the family to a rectory in Croft-on-Tees in North Yorkshire, leaving Cheshire behind.
Earthquakes and unusual marriages
A number of remarkable happenings in Cheshire can be found in the records, which make the fantastical world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland seem not so far removed from reality… On 18 March 1612, Mother Nature struck the northern county and one family braved the earthquake to get their child baptised, which unusually was recorded in the register of baptisms – ‘this daye there was an Earthquake about 7 of ye clock in ye morning’.
Another unusual occurrence was the ‘peculiar marriage’ between Daniel Broadbent and Martha Cheetham in Mottram-in-Longdendale on 9 March 1780 – Daniel was 23 and Martha was 83 years old. Unfortunately fate soon intervened to part this unlikely couple with the Mottram registers for the following year showing that Daniel Broadbent of Hattersley was buried on 30 May 1781. Furthermore, on 6 May 1776, 105 year old George Harding married Jane Darlington, 75, at St Oswald, Chester – showing that in the 18th century one could find love at any age.
James Bond actor Daniel Craig’s maternal family came from the City of Chester and can be found in these absorbing records. The parish register of St Mary shows the marriage of his maternal great-great-grandparents on 27 November 1870 – William Walker and Mary Astbury (née Ellis). William was 37 and working as an Iron Moulder, while Mary was only 21, and already listed as a widow from her first marriage.
Another maternal great-great-great-grandfather, William Hargrave, was a Coal Agent from the City of Chester, which was a highly regarded job, requiring business acumen, effective people skills and the gift of the gab as he traded between the coal manufacturers and everyday people. William married Mary Fleet in 1859 and both of their signatures appear in the parish register.
Tales of death from the plague
In 1625, the UK was hit by an outbreak of the plague which killed 35,000 people. Malpas in Cheshire was badly affected and the records made available online today reveal harrowing accounts of those who were killed by the disease. One such example is that of Richard Dawson of Bradley: “being sick of the plague and perceiving that he must die at that time arose out of his bed and made his grave and caused his nephew to cast straw into the grave… and went and lay him down in the said grave, and caused clothes to be laid upon and so departed out of this world… he died about 28th august, this much I was credibly told.”