WARNING: The correct use of any parish data from this project requires initial reading of the GENERAL NOTES as well as of the specific PARISH NOTES.

WOODCHURCH Holy Cross, 1571 - 1871


The earliest volume is of mixed baptisms, burials, and marriages from 1571 until 1703. It is generally confused. The second volume, to 1751 is also mixed. The third volume, beginning in 1747, overlaps with volume two and contains baptisms and burials until 1812, but marriages only until 1760. Then a separate register for marriages was begun, running to 1812, with subsequent volumes from 1813 to 1837, and from 1837 to 1930. For baptisms there are volumes from 1813 to 1840, from 1841 to 1865, and from 1865 to 1945. The burial registers run from 1813 to 1852, from 1853 to 1870, and from 1870 to 1913.

REGISTER GAPS/MISORDERING: 1576, note that there were no weddings solemnized in the parish

Page torn out in 1603

Quality of register keeping judged by transcriber to deteriorate from 1616, with possible copying from another record in 1618 and apparent gaps

Some entries between 1609 and 1628 out of date order. There are no baptisms in the register between 1619 and 1623, and the thirty-one baptism entries herein come from the BTs; similarly with burials for 1630

1655/05/22 notice of election of the parish register [not transcribed] signed by Richard Hockenhill and Ja Glegg

Register corner torn off for early 1668 entries, damage in 1669 too. Order of register difficult to follow in 1690s, then in 1696 further confusion with an attempt made to divide registration of the three events. Later register reverts to mixed entries.

The register volume for 1703-1751 now has bound in it five sheets of parchment which are smaller in size than the register proper. We know that the volume was rebound in 1895, and this may be when the small sheets were included. Certainly the pattern of vermin damage on these sheets is different from that to the PR. The dates of the entries on these small sheets lie between 18 May 1699 and 8 October 1703. Many of the entries on these small sheets refer to births, and the heading births is used. Amongst the 109 entries are births, baptisms, marriages, and burials. These sheets might be a cleric’s rough notes of his conduct of these services. However, given the date, and the references to births, it seems most likely that the five smaller sheets were a record made for the purposes of the marriage duties act of 1694. These small sheets have not been transcribed and included in this edition, as not part of the parish register, but they have been compared with our transcript, and the following differences noted.

Five entries in the small sheets do not seem to appear in the parish register, namely:
Lidia Bennet daughter of Robert Bennet of Upton, born 18 May 1699
Susanna Benit of Upton, baptised (confrim baptism) 20 July 1699
John Young son of Richard Young of Oxton, born 10 September 1699
Thomas Bennet of Upton born September 12 1700
Mary Benet the wife of Robert of Upton, buried August 11 1701

Furthermore, some entries on the small sheets can be interpreted to add to the data given in the parish register, as follows (by date and name of parish register entry):
1700/04/15 Jane Bank: mother’s name given as Mary
1700/06/30 Sarah Goldson: mother’s name given as Lidia
1700/10/29 Will Daniell, noted as illegitimate
1700/10/20 blnk Pollard, forename of child given as Joseph
1700/11/02 blnk Pownal, forename of child given as Samuel
1701/10/29 Eliz Burches, residence given as Woodchurch
1702/01/10 Joseph Howard: father’s name given as Charles
1702/02/19 Mary Newbot: father’s names given as Thomas

Finally, in some entries on the small sheets which can be interpreted to refer to parish register entries, one has a minor date difference, and others involve different spellings, as follows (by date and name of parish register entry):
1699/12/22 marriage of Richard Jones, small sheet has 24 December
1702/02/19 Mary Newbot: small sheet has surname as Newby
1703 marriage of George Coventry of Wallesy:surname is given on small sheets as Conorly
1703 marriage of Hugh Nichols:surname is given on small sheets as Nickles

Examined at intervals by surveyors, in 1705, H. Lockwood.

Noted that a copy is made and “given into the court”, and dates given in 1750s and 1760s, 1790s

DATING1751 starts on 25 March and ends on 31 December.

No marriages in 1841

LATINUse of Latin declines with new rector after 1673.


1580, 1582-1585, 1587, 1589-1595, 1597-1599, 1601, 1602-1603, 1606, 1608, 1611-1614, 1616, 1620, 1625, 1628-1629, 1631, 1633, 1635, 1637, 1639-1642, 1644- 1658, 1661-1663, 1667-1668, 1672, 1678, 1683, 1685-1689, 1692, 1694, 1698, 1827, 1828, 1838-1872, save for Baptisms 1855-1856


1685/07/26 Peter Ament could be a baptism or a burial

1744/05/19 BU Ann Cook, given as a baptism in PR but burial in BT. PR has earlier entry of baptism.

1763/03/07 Mary the wife of the Revd John Crookhall Rector of this church Only daughter of the Revd Geo Burches eldest son and heir of the Revd Hugh Burches, the true patron of the parish church of Woodchurch Rector from AD1673 to the year 1703; he was succeeded by the Revd Ro. Janny at the presentation of the aforesaid Geo Burches : the Revd Tho. Green was afterwards incumbentfrom AD 1706 to January 1746/7

Died at Woodchurch on Friday 4 March and was buried in this chancel on Monday following 7 March 1763 in the sixty second year of her age. [hand changes] Be it likewise particluarly observed that the above named Mary was a widow when she married the above Revd John Crookhall: her first husband being the Revd Richard Smith by whom she had issue as foloweth viz: George the now Rector and Patron of the said parish of Woodchurch - Mary who married Mr John Peacock of Greazeby - Margaret who married The Revd William Hughes of Tranmere: and Ann who married Mr Thomas Plaice of Liverpool: all of which may be found registered in the book belonging to the parish of Kilmore in the diocese of Neath in [the] Kingdom of Ireland in the incumbency of the Revd Gerrard Macklin.
Dated this 14 day of July 1772 G. Macklin

1818/05/07 BA Affidavit says John Atherton Roughsedge should be entered as Robert Atherton Roughsedge

CLERGY (signing the pages of the register or noted as officiating) TO 1830

1588-1616 Rychard Addams
1615/6, Feb 25 Richard Shurlock inducted
1666, William Anderson, resigned 11 October 1673
11 October 1673, Hugo Burches inducted, to 1705
1705-1707 Ro: Janny
1707-1747 Thomas Green
1747-1766 John Crookhall
1772 George Burches
1792-1821 Bryan King
1821 Joshua King.

1694 William Williams, curate
1695 Robert Harrison,
1696 William Williams curate
1708 John Lateward curate
1710 Peter Studely curate
1713 Richard Smith curate
1737 Richard Smith MA curate
1738 John Smith curate
1739-1747 John Hodson curate
1757-1775 Geo Smith
1775-1791 William Shewell
1821 R Cort.

Other clergy
1768 G. Haddow
1769-1772 William Hughes
1775-1778 Thomas Dawson
1777 Geo Briggs
1778 J. Shewell
1781 - Newton
1785 B. King
1796 J. Newton
1797 J. Eaton
1804, 1817 P. Wilson
J. Gate
1822 - Fish
1825 Thomas Bold
1826,1828 William Elstob
1805-1842 J. King Rector of Bethnall Green
1814-1828 P. Wilson, curate of Thurstaston
1816 R Jacson 1816
1830-1833 P. Wilson.

CHURCHWARDENS (Latin names anglicized. BTs also often give churchwardens names.)
1571 Thomas Mose, Robert Chantrell;
1573- Wareton, Thomas Young;
1575 Robert Rychardson, Thomas Baylife;
1577 William Leene, Robert Bennett;
1579 William Coventry, Henry Smyth;
1582 Rich Coventry, John Ball;
1583 John Hough, Richard Coventrie;
1586 Robert Chantrell, Henry Haye;
1589 and 1590 George Ball, John Pemberton;
1591 John Hill, Robert Leonerd;
1592 Henry Shurlocke, Thomas Tottye;
1593 Thomas Rathbon, John Hough;
1594 Richard Riconson and Thomas Moses;
1595 and 1596 John Belye, John Talier;
1597 and 1598 Rychard Hutton, Frances Burges;
1599 and 1600 Thomas Younge and Gilbert Warton;
1601 Henry Shurlocke, William Coventrie;
1601 and 1602 Henry Hill, John Ball
1603 Henry Smythe, Thomas Sadler;
1604 John Belye, John Birde (or Bride);
1605 William Ball, Thomas Hancoke;
1606 Thomas Leens ofLancanne, John Hodgson of Oxon;
1607 John Pemberton, Roberte Delamere;
1608 Roberte Leonerd, Thomas Bennett;
1609 Robert Leene and Thomas Bennett;
1610 Thomas Coventry, William Belie;
1611 Robert Leene younger, Thomas Godiyer;
1612 John Wise, Arthur Haye;
1613 John Haye, Henry Rowson;
1614 Robert Leene, John Ball;
1615 Raphe Arrion, William Burgess;
1616 Thomas Leene, Thomas Deane;
1617 Thomas Adames, John Hunte;
1618 Robert Hodgson, William Bennett;
1623 Thomas Belie, John Houg;
1624 John Houg, William Ball;
1625 William Ball,Thomas Coventry;
1626 Thomas Coventry, William Belife;
1627 William Belife, John Hunt;
1628 and 1629 Thomas Hicocke, Robert Leene;
1631 John Rathbone, James Hodshin;
1632 James Mosse, William Bennett;
1633 William Bennett, John Ware?;
1634 John Ware?, Richard Watt;
1635 Richard Watt, Thomas Hicock;
1636 Thomas Hicock, Thomas Watmough;
1637 Thomas Watmough, John Heay;
1638 John Heyes, Richard Bennett;
1639 Thomas Bayly, Robert Taylor, William Wyss;
1642 William Wyss, Ricus Coventry;
1643 and 1644 Richard Coventry, George Ball;
1666 Arthur Rowe, John Pemberton;
1667and 1668 Richard Burga, Robert Hodgson;
1670 John Smith, John Chantrell;
1671 Thomas Sherlock, John Watt;
1672 John Rawlin, William Watmough;
1673 and 1674 George Ball, Henry Robinson;
1675 Henry Robinson, John Bayly;
1676 George Urmston, Sam Sharpe;
1678 Richard Watt, Robert Dalamon, John Lea;
1679 Thomas Mosse, John Day;
1680 Gyles Halwood, Richard Jonson;
1681 Gyles Hallwood, Thomas Plummer;
1682 John Lester, Robert Dod;
1684 George Hokenhull, esquire, Roger Gregg, gent;
1685 Roger Gregg, Robert Leens;
1686 Robert Leens, John Harrison;
1687 John Lester, William Burgess;
1688 Robert Dutton, John Leen;
1689,1690, and 1691 Hen Bankes, John Briscoe;
1692 Robert Harrison and illegible;
1694 William Gill, Joseph Urmston;
1695 Joseph Urmston and Robert Goodykar;
1696 William Bennet, John Worrall;
1698 John Delamore, Peter Dod;
1699 John Daleamore, John Wharton;
1700 William George, Thomas Williams;
1702 Samuel [illegible], John Watt;
1703 Robert Duton, John Burges;
1705 John Burgess, John Dean;
1720 Samuel Newport, John Young;
1721 Samuel Leens, John Young;
1722 Samuel Leens, John Tyson;
1723 Richard Dalamore, John Tyson;
1724 Jer. Wilson, Richard Dalamore,
1725 and 1726 John Bankes, Tho Finchet;
1727 and 1728 John Newport, Robert Dodd;
1729 and 1730 Thomas Bennett and William Nichols;
1731 and 1732 James Wade and Thomas Peers;
1733 and 1734 Samuel Dutton and George Urmston;
1735 John Ellis and Nath. Dawson;
1737 John Ellis and Nathaniel Dawson;
1738 and 1739 John Stanley, Thomas Lester;
1753 and 1754 John Whittle and John King;
1759 and 1760 William Williams, William Leen;
1781-1783 Thomas Davies;
1784 John Ellison, Elijah Sarratt;
1791 Ralph Nichols;
1792 Thomas Woodfine, John Cowley;
1793 Thoms Woodfine;
1794 John Ellison, Joseph Meacock


573 upside down at bottom of page: beware of him that solmene is and like a sleeper, for where the water calmest is the river is the deepest. 1651

At end of year 1575 upside down at bottom of page,” John Ball his hand 1600 to the said”; and end of 1580 “John Ball his hand 1657”

1576, note that there were no weddings solemnized in the parish

December 1581, a note that John Coventrie gave ten shillings to the church of Woodchurche.
Before burial 1605/04/3 Here the plauge beganne

After 1663 burial An exhortation to take the Solemn League and Covenant of 1646, with names of those who took it [not here transcribed].

1678/09/24 Entries of burials in woollen begin, certified by Edward Glegge, JP

1715 October 2 memorandum: that Martha Daniel of Barnston was excommunicated. She afterwards did penance.

1721, 1722 two baptisms by a dissenting minister

1727,1728, 1730, counts of numbers of each events

1747-l8l2. At the front of the Register volume occur the following references to various charities.

Page 1.

Know all men by these presents that I William Williams of Oxton in the parish of Woodchurch and County of Chester, yeoman, am held and firmly bounden to the Rector of Woodchurch for the time being to William Johnson of Thornton Hough of the parish of Neston and County of Chester yeoman, to Richard Jackson of Willaston in the parish of Neston and County of Chester, yeoman, and to Richard Sherlock of Lower Bebington and County of Chester yeoman or their successors for the time being, they being feoffes for the town Cows for the township of Oxton in the sum of forty pounds of good and lawful money Great Britain to be paid to the said Rector of Woodchurch to William Johnson to Richard Jackson or to Richard Sherlock their certain attorney executors administrators or assigns for the true payment whereof I bind myself my heirs executors administrators and assigns firmly by these presents sealed with my sea1 dated this twenty fifth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundered and eighty six in the twenty sixth year of the reign of our sovereign Lord George the Third by the Grace of God King of Great Britain France and Ireland King Defender of the faith and so forth in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty six.

The condition of this obligation is such that if the above bounden William Williams his heirs executors administrators or any of them shall and do well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto the above named Rector of Woodchurch to William Johnson Richard Jackson or Richard Sherlock their heirs executors administrators or assigns the full sum of twenty pounds with lawful interest of the same of good and lawful money of Great Britain at or upon the twenty fifth day of October next now or next ensueing without any reduction defalcation or abatement to be made thereat on any account whatsoever without, fraud or further delay then this 0bligation is to be void and of none effect or else to remain in full force and virtue.

Sealed and delivered being first duly stampt in presence of

Page 2.

£20 On Demand I promise to pay unto the Minister and Church wardens of the Parish of Woodchurch in the County of Chester for the time being the sum of Twenty pounds being the poor’s Bread Money bequeathed by the late John Booth senr of Prenton deceased with lawful interest for the same to be paid quarterly for Value Received As witness my hand this twenty fifth day of March one thousand seven hundred and ninety eight.

Witness John Spencer William Shewel1

Written upside down at bottom of page: A bond from William Williams of Oxon.

Page 2

To all Xtian people to whom these presents shall come, be seen, or may any way appertain and especially to the Inhabitants of the Parish of Woodchurch in the Deanary of Worrall within the County and Diocesse of Chester John by Divine Permission Lord Bishop of Chester sendeth greeting
Whereas there has been for several years past great Differences amongst the Parishoners of the said Parish of Woodchurch concerning the Disposing of the Parish Cows and stock from thence arising being the improvement and increase of Twenty Marks given of a pious Intention by one James Goodaker of Barnston in the said Parish of Woodchurch; now in order to the quieting and Composing the said Differences a full hearing of the said Parishioners in all matters relating thereto being lately had before us. It was there unanimously agreed and consented unto that all former Orders obtained concerning the Management of the aforesaid Charity should from thenceforth be void and of none Effect and that the Disposition of the said Parish cows and stock from thence arising for the Benefit of the said Parish shall always for the future be managed according to the particular Directions in this following Order.
Know ye therefore that We the said Bishop Of Chester In pursuance of the said Agreement do hereby order and Decree that from henceforth there shall always be Twelve Governours whereof the owners of the House of Prenton to be one, the parson of the said Parish of Woodchurch for the Time being another, and the Church-Wardens of the said Parish also for the Times being two more. The other Eight to be elected yearly out of the Eight townships of the said Parish also for the time being two more. The other eight to be elected one out of each, by the votes of the Inhabitants of each particular Township; That each man so elected may oversee and take care of the cows of his particular Township, and upon the Abuse or Imbezlement of any of them may give notice to the two Overseers of the whole to take care of them.
Order It is also hereby further ordered that the Twelve Governours shall joyntly have power to nominate and elect two Overseers yearly; And if it shall so happen that upon the Nomination and Choice of the said two Overseers the Governours shall be equally divided in their votes, that then the Owners of the House of Prenton successively shall always have the Casting Vote and the Two Overseers duely elected with the Consent of the Twelve Governours or the Major part of them, shall have power to dispose of the cows, that shal1 be bought for their year and if they see occasion to alter or cause to be exchanged any of those cows for younger
And every person having a Parish Cow or Cows shall pay unto the hands of the Two Overseers for every cow the sum of Two Shillings and eight pence a cow on the Friday before Whitsuntide, and the Overseers shall have power to dispose of the Hire of those cows to keep up and improve the stock and they shall give up their Accounts to the Twelve Governours every year both of the Receipt of the Monies and improvement of the Stock. And the said Twelve Governours or Major part of them shall have power to allow and approve of their Account.
It is also further ordered that every Cow shall be marked on the one Horn with WP signifying Woodchurch Parish and on the other Horn with the two first letters of the Parsons Name for the Time being that they may be known to proceed from the aforesaid Charitable Gift and used accordingly.
And the Parsons of the said Parish successively shall keep a Book wherein shall be written the Yearly Accounts of the two Overseers for the Time to come.
It is also further ordered that every Person, that hath a Parish cow or cows shall bring or cause them to be brought every Friday before Whitsuntide into the Parson’s court and tie them to the Staples that are there provided for the same use that so they may be Viewed by the Governours and Overseers And if they be above twelve years of Age the Overseers shall cause them to be exchanged for younger
And if any person shall fail either paying his Hire at the Day appointed or not bring in his Cow or Cows into the Parson’s Court to be viewed as aforesaid that then he shall not only forfeit his Cow or Cows to be taken from him but shall be rendered incapable of having any other for the space of three years.
Lastly it is hereby Ordered and Decreed that a copy of this Order shall be entered in the Bishop’s Registry at Chester and the Order itself deposited in the Parish Chest of which the Parson of the Parish and the Church Wardens for the Time Being are to keep the Keys.
In Witness thereof we have hereunto caused our Seal Episcopal to be set and have subscribed the same. Given at Wigan this Seventeenth Day of July in the year of our Lord God 1679 and in the Seventh Year of our Consecration. John Cestriens.
A true copy
John Crookhall Rectr

1760/08/05 Inserted after marriage of Joseph Meacock and Elizabeth Millington
In the Exchequer at Westminster Between John Crookhall C1erke Comp1ainant and Ann Smith widow and others Defendants 2nd January 1766 This parchment writing marked with the Letter 2 was exhibited and deposed to by Charles Worrall at the time of his Examination before us
Jos Burgess

Loose document in register states that there is an entry in the register of the Parochial Chapel of St Nicholas in Liverpool of the marriage of Issac Eldridge and Esther Jones on 20 May 1786, examined by John Wright, parish clerk 20 May 1794

After 1808 burials
I Thomas Joinson the father of Elizabeth Johnson voluntarily make oath that the entry of Ann Joinson my daughter in the parish register of baptisms in the parish of Woodchurch is a wrong entry - and that it ought to be Elizabeth, and not Ann
Taken on oath before me this 2nd day of March 1848, J. R. shaw, JP for the City of Chester. Witness Samuel X Wilson, his mark

31/5/1845 Catherine King, inserted here: memo George Smith King son of the above Catherine by George King died on the passage out to Bombay on 5 December 1844


Woodchurch was a landlocked parish in the rural, northern centre of the Wirral peninsula. The ancient parish of Woodchurch comprised the whole of the townships of Arrow, Barnston, Landican, Noctorum, Oxton, Pensby, Prenton, Thingwall, and Woodchurch. In addition, the township of Irby was in the parish, but that township included three small detached parts of the parish of Thurstaston. Finally, a small part of the township of Claughton with Grange was said in the 1871 census to be in the parish of Woodchurch. Contiguous ecclesiatsical parishes were, in a circle southwards and eastwards, that is anti-clockwise, from the north-west, Thurstaston, Heswall, Neston, Bromborough, Bebington, Bidston, Overchurch, and, to the north, West Kirby.

The population of the parish can be estimated by the number of households in ecclesiastical censuses of 1563 (66 households or families), c. 1720 (137), and in 1778 (105), while the sum of the households in the townships of the parish in the hearth tax of 1664 was 127 (excluding Claughton cum Grange). In the 1801 census, including the whole of Irby township but none from Claughton, there were 736 people. In 1871 the total for all the townships excepting the bits in Thurstaston was 4,026. By 1851 the township of Oxton, by far the most populous, was in the ambit of Birkenhead, while in 1871 an influx of Liverpool merchants in Claughton was noted in the census. In 1851 (see Williams, below, pp. 81, 88, and Cheshire RO list), or 1865 (see Youngs, below), the ancient township of Oxton and part of Claughton were made into the new ecclesiastical parish of Oxton, St Saviour. Next, in 1870, the ancient township of Barnston became the new ecclesiastical parish of Barnston, Christ Church.


There is an anonymous and undated typescript of the Woodchurch registers to 1840 in the Cheshire Record Office.
There is also an anonymous and undated typescript of the Woodchurch registers to 1703 in the same place.


These notes were written by Colin Phillips from the information gathered by transcribers and recorded with each transcription pad. Further information about the make-up of the register volumes, though not the comment on the record of births around 1700, came from the list in the Cheshire Record Office. That same list provided details of the evolution of the parish after 1850. The population estimates were gathered as follows 1563: British Library, Harleian MS 594, ff. 97-102, count of households; 1664: Public Record Office, Exchequer, E. 179/86/145 (on microfilm), hearth tax returns; c. 1720 F. Gastrell, Notitia Cestriensis, ed. F.R. Raines, vol. I (Chetham Society, old series, VIII, 1845); and 1778: Cheshire RO, Diocese of Chester, EDV/7/1 (on microfilm). For 1801 and 1871 see VCH Cheshire, vol. II, p. 239.) Details on the evolution of the parish came from the list of parish registers in the Cheshire RO, from C. Williams, Guide to the Cheshire Record Office ([Chester], 1991), and from Guide to the local administartive units of England, Vol. II Northern England, ed. F.A. Youngs, Jr (1991), p. 30.

C.B. Phillips, 21 Jul 2007
BMD, May 2011
BMD, Jan 2012