Place:Chorley, Lancashire, England

TypeAncient parish, Borough (municipal)
Coordinates53.65°N 2.617°W
Located inLancashire, England
See alsoLeyland Hundred, Lancashire, Englandhundred in which it was located
Chorley (borough), Lancashire, Englanddistrict municipality into which it was absorbed in 1974
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Chorley is a market town in Lancashire, in northwest England. It is the largest settlement in the the Borough of Chorley (established 1974). Chorley is located 8.1 miles (13 km) north of Wigan, 10.8 miles (17 km) southwest of Blackburn, 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Bolton, 12 miles (19 km) south of Preston and 19.5 miles (31 km) northwest of Manchester.

As in much of Lancashire, the town's wealth came principally from the cotton industry. However it was also a major market town due to its location central to the five Lancashire towns listed above. As recently as the 1970s the skyline was dominated by numerous factory chimneys, but most are now demolished: remnants of the industrial past include Morrison's chimney and a few other mill buildings, and the streets of terraced houses for mill workers. Chorley is known as the home of the Chorley cake.

Image:Chorley Rural 1917.png


In 1837, Chorley joined with other local townships (or civil parishes) to become the principal part of the Chorley Poor Law Union which took responsibility for the administration and funding of the Poor Law in the area. Chorley became incorporated as a municipal borough in 1881 under the direction of its first mayor William Augustus Smethurst. The town's population remained roughly static in the 20th century, with the 1911 census showing 30,315 people and the 1971 census showing 31,665. Under the Local Government Act 1972, Chorley became the core of the non-metropolitan district of the Borough of Chorley on 1 April 1974.


The Church of England parish church of St. Laurence, located on Union Street, has been a place of Christian worship for over 800 years. As an ancient parish, it did not come into being until 1793, and it was a chapelry of the ancient parish of Croston until that date. Chorley was a single township ancient parish. Other Church of England churches were built within Chorley during the 19th century. There is also a large United Reformed (formerly Congregational) Church in the town which was founded in 1792. St Mary's Roman Catholic Church was founded in 1847.

Research Tips

  • See the Wikipedia articles on parishes and civil parishes for descriptions of this lowest rung of local administration. The original parishes were ecclesiastical (described as ancient parishes), under the jurisdiction of the local priest. 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, have been redirected into the parish in which they are located. The names of these smaller places are italicized within the text.
  • An urban district was a type of municipality in existence between 1894 and 1974. They were formed as a middle layer of administration between the county and the civil parish and were used for urban areas usually with populations of under 30,000. Inspecting the archives of a urban district will not be of much help to the genealogist or family historian, unless there is need to study land records in depth.
  • Civil registration or vital statistics and census records will be found within registration districts. To ascertain the registration district to which a parish belongs, see Registration Districts in Lancashire, part of the UK_BMD website.
  • The terms municipal borough and county borough were adopted in 1835 replacing the historic "boroughs". Municipal boroughs generally had populations between 30,000 and 50,000; while county boroughs usually had populations of over 50,000. County boroughs had local governments independent of the county in which they were located, but municipal boroughs worked in tandem with the county administration. Wikipedia explains these terms in much greater detail.
  • Lancashire Online Parish Clerks provide free online information from the various parishes, along with other data of value to family and local historians conducting research in the County of Lancashire.
  • FamilySearch Lancashire 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).
  • Ancestry (international subscription necessary) has a number of county-wide collections of Church of England baptisms, marriages and burials, some from the 1500s, and some providing microfilm copies of the manuscript entries. There are specific collections for Liverpool (including Catholic baptisms and marriages) and for Manchester. Their databases now include electoral registers 1832-1935. Another pay site is FindMyPast.
  • A map of Lancashire circa 1888 supplied by A Vision of Britain through Time includes the boundaries between the parishes and shows the hamlets within them.
  • A map of Lancashire circa 1954 supplied by A Vision of Britain through Time is a similar map for a later timeframe.
  • GENUKI provides a website covering many sources of genealogical information for Lancashire. The organization is gradually updating the website and the volunteer organizers may not have yet picked up all the changes that have come with improving technology.
  • The Victoria County History for Lancashire, provided by British History Online, covers the whole of the county in six volumes (the seventh available volume [numbered Vol 2] covers religious institutions). The county is separated into its original hundreds and the volumes were first published between 1907 and 1914. Most parishes within each hundred are covered in detail. Maps within the text can contain historical information not available elsewhere.
  • A description of the parish of Chorley from British History Online (Victoria County Histories), published 1911
  • The page for Leyland Hundred reproduces a map of the Hundred from British History Online (Victoria County Histories)
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Chorley. 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.