Place:Chester, Cheshire, England

Alt namesAbbey Precinctssource: from redirect
City of Chestersource: from redirect
Caerleonsource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 374
Castra Devanasource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 374
Castra Legioniumsource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 374
Ceastersource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 374
Cestresource: Domesday Book (1985) p 52
Chestersource: Wikipedia
Clavertonsource: Family History Library Catalog
Devasource: Athena, Romano-British Sites [online] (2000); GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998) p 11346; Times Atlas of World History (1993) p 342
Deva Victrixsource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998) p 11346
Devana Castrasource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998) p 11346
Legaceastersource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 374
TypeCity, Borough
Coordinates53.2°N 2.9°W
Located inCheshire, England
See alsoChester City District, Cheshire, Englanddistrict municipality covering the area 1974-2009
Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire, Englandunitary authority of which it has been a part since 2009
the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Chester, is a city in the county of Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 343,000 according to a local estimate of 2019. The city itself recorded a population of 79,645 in the UK census of 2011.

Chester was founded as a "castrum" or Roman fort with the name Deva Victrix in the year 79 by the Roman Legio II Adiutrix during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian. Chester's four main roads, Eastgate, Northgate, Watergate and Bridge, follow routes laid out at this time – almost 2,000 years ago. One of the three main Roman army bases, Deva later became a major settlement in the Roman province of Britannia.

Chester was granted city status in 1541. ...

Chester was one of the last towns in England to fall to the Normans in the Norman conquest of England. William the Conqueror ordered the construction of a castle, to dominate the town and the nearby Welsh border.

Chester has a number of medieval buildings, but some of the black-and-white buildings within the city centre are actually Victorian restorations. Chester is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain. Apart from a 100-metre (330 ft) section, the listed Grade I walls are almost complete.

The Industrial Revolution brought railways, canals, and new roads to the city, which saw substantial expansion and development – Chester Town Hall and the Grosvenor Museum are examples of Victorian architecture from this period.


For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Chester. under the section "History"

History of Governance

Chester became a municipal borough in 1835 and a county borough in 1888. It included the following originally ecclesiastical parishes:

Chester Abbey Precincts
Chester Holy Trinity
Chester St. Bridget
Chester St. John The Baptist
Chester St. Martin
Chester St. Mary On The Hill
Chester St. Michael
Chester St. Olave
Chester St. Oswald
Chester St. Peter
Great Boughton
Spital Boughton

All of these became civil parishes when they were established in 1866 and most were "ancient parishes" or ecclesiastical parishes before that.

In 1936 Chester was expanded to include the outlying parishes of Blacon-cum-Crabwall, Claverton, Great Boughton, Little Saughall, Marlston cum Lache, and Newton by Chester, all of which had formerly been part of Chester Rural District. Another expansion occurred in 1954 with the absorption of Hoole by Chester (or Hoole Urban District). (Source: A Vision of Britain through Time)

The first registration district (1837-1869) for the City of Chester was Great Boughton Registration District. The registration district changed to Chester Registration District in 1870 and lasted until the reorganization of local government in 1974.

In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the existing city and county borough of Chester merged with the Chester Rural District and Tarvin Rural District. The district council used the name Chester City Council. (Source: Wikipedia)

In 2009 a wider unitary authority was formed under the name Cheshire West and Chester which also included the districts of Vale Royal and Ellesmere Port and Neston.

Research Tips

  • GENUKI and "UKBMD" references for Chester provide the boundary changes that have occurred since 1884 (when a number of the originally ecclesiastical parishes within the city were merged into one civil parish) and a list of the ancient churches of Chester, all of which had thier own registers of births, marriages and deaths which may be referred to in other volumes. Links lead to the existence and location of these registers. The boundaries of the church parishes and dates of mergers of parishes are also given.
  • FindMyPast's The Cheshire Collection includes the index for the Bishops Transcripts for Chester 1576-1906. The index is free-to-view, but inspecting the online microfilm entries is chargeable.


  • See the Wikipedia articles on parishes and civil parishes for descriptions of this lowest rung of local administration. The original parishes (known as ancient parishes) were ecclesiastical, under the jurisdiction of the local priest and his bishop. A parish covered a specific geographical area and was sometimes equivalent to that of a manor. Sometimes, in the case of very large rural parishes, there were chapelries where a "chapel of ease" allowed parishioners to worship closer to their homes. In the 19th century the term civil parish was adopted to define parishes with a secular form of local government. In WeRelate both civil and ecclesiastical parishes are included in the type of place called a "parish". Smaller places within parishes, such as chapelries and hamlets that never became independent civil parishes, have been redirected into the parish in which they are located. The names of these smaller places are italicized within the text.
  • Rural districts were groups of geographically close civil parishes in existence between 1894 and 1974. They were formed as a middle layer of administration between the county and the civil parish. Inspecting the archives of a rural district will not be of much help to the genealogist or family historian, unless there is need to study land records in depth.
  • Registration districts were responsible for civil registration or vital statistics and census records. The boundaries of these districts were revised from time to time depending on population density and local government organization. To ascertain the registration district to which a parish belonged in the timeframe in question, see Registration Districts in Cheshire, part of the UK_BMD website.

Helpful Sources

  • Cheshire Archives and Local Studies are the local keepers of historical material for the county. But archives for places that were absorbed into Greater Manchester and Merseyside in 1974 may have been moved to the archive centres for the metropolitan county concerned.
  • FamilySearch Cheshire Research Wiki provides a good overview of the county and also articles on most of the individual parishes (very small or short-lived ones may have been missed).
  • The GENUKI pages on Cheshire and its parishes point to many other sources of information on places within the county. The many small parishes and townships that existed before 1866 are treated individually as well as the larger towns and conurbations. The GENUKI pages for individual parishes now include a map of the parish and its surrounding area.
  • A Vision of Britain through Time also has summaries and lists of statistics for each parish, but its organization is not for the beginning family historian in a hurry.
  • The pay websites Ancestry and FindMyPast have a number of county-wide collections of censuses, Church of England baptisms, marriages and burials (some from the 1500s), and some providing microfilm copies of the manuscript entries. An international subscription is necessary to access Ancestry's UK holdings.
  • A book entitled The history of the county palatine and city of Chester with the subtitle "compiled from original evidences in public offices, the Harleian and Cottonian mss., parochial registers, private muniments, unpublished ms. collections of successive Cheshire antiquaries, and a personal survey of every township in the county, incorporated with a re-publication of King's Vale royal and Leycester's Cheshire antiquities" by George Ormerod and others was published in 1819. It has been quoted by WR users interested in families traced before 1600. It is available online as images of the original pages at the Open Library (Google Books) as Vol I, Vol II and Vol III.
  • Unfortunately, the Institute of Historical Research only includes two volumes of the Victoria County History for Cheshire on their website and these only cover the City of Chester. There may be other volumes to this series in print, but a Google Search does not indicate any further volumes online.


  • Cheshire Archives and Local Studies have organized a facility to compare tithe maps circa 1830 and 19th century Ordnance Survey maps with the modern Ordnance Survey. These are available for every civil parish. A knob in the centre of the screen allows the user to move back and forth between the old and the new view. Use the key on the left to show other possibilities including land ownership.
  • The diagrammatical map of Sanitary Districts in Cheshire showing Civil Parishes 1888 produced by the Ordnance Survey and provided by A Vision of Britain through Time is helpful. "Sanitary Districts" were the predecessors of rural districts and usually followed the same boundaries.
  • The Ordnance Survey map of Cheshire circa 1900 supplied by A Vision of Britain through Time shows invidual settlements as well as parishes. There were significant administrative changes in the decade 1890-1900 that have led to some civil parishes absorbed into adjacent urban districts being omitted from this map.
  • A Vision of Britain through Time provides a series of maps from the Ordnance Survey illustrating the towns and villages of Cheshire and also the borders between parishes. The following group of maps provide views of the county at various dates, illustrating the changes in administrative structure.
  • For a close-up view of an area as it looked in the 19th century, try the National Library of Scotland provision. The maps include the Ordnance Survey (OS) 25-inch to the mile series for England and Wales for the period 1841-1952. Country estates and factory buildings on the edge of towns are labelled; roads, railways, rivers and canals are shown.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Chester. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.