Birstall, Yorkshire Genealogy

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England Gotoarrow.png YorkshireGotoarrow.png Yorkshire Parishes Gotoarrow.png West Riding Gotoarrow.png Birstall

Parish History

BIRSTAL (St. Peter), a parish, partly in the union of Bradford, and partly in that of Dewsbury, wapentake of Morley, W. riding of York, 7 miles (S. W.) from Leeds, on the road to Huddersfield; containing 29,723 inhabitants. This parish comprises by computation about 13,000 acres, and includes the chapelries of Cleckheaton, Drighlington, Liversedge, and Tong, and the townships of Gomersal, Heckmondwike, Hunsworth, and Wyke; the soil is various, but generally fertile, and the lands in the agricultural districts are in a good state of cultivation, producing fine crops of grain. The surface is beautifully diversified with hills and valleys, watered by numerous rivulets, and the scenery is in many parts picturesque; the substratum abounds with excellent coal and freestone, and at Hunsworth with iron-ore. The village of Birstal is situated in the township of Gomersal, at the base and on the acclivity of an eminence commanding a fine view of the adjacent district. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in the woollen and worsted manufactures, which are carried on extensively in the various townships, and in the making of cards for machinery; the chief articles are woollencloths, blankets, and worsted stuffs. A savings' bank has been for some years in active operation. The living is a discharged vicarage, valued in the king's books at £23. 19. 2.; net income, £289, with a good house; patron, the Bishop of Ripon; impropriators, the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge. The church is a handsome structure in the later English style, with a lofty square embattled tower, and contains numerous monuments. There are ten other churches and incumbencies, which are described under their respective townships; and also places of worship for Wesleyans, Independents, Moravians, and Methodists of the New Connexion. A free school, now merged in a national school, was endowed by the Rev. William Armitstead, in 1556, with a rent-charge of £5, for which, with a bequest of £100 from Mrs. Murgatroyd, the master instructs several children gratuitously. The school is a spacious building, erected in 1819, at an expense of £1200, principally defrayed by William Charlesworth, Esq., of Brier Hall, a native. Dr. Priestley, equally distinguished for his discoveries in chemistry and his controversial writings, was born at Fieldhead, in the parish, in 1733.

From:Lewis, Samuel A., A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848), pp. 263-267. URL: Date accessed: 31 August 2011.


Civil Registration

Birth, marriages and deaths were kept by the government, from July 1837 to the present day. The civil registration article tells more about these records. There are several Internet sites with name lists or indexes. A popular site is FreeBMD.

Church records

AC = (£)
FMP = (£)
FS =
JMI = (£)
BIRSTALL PARISH (1558) Online Records


Indexes Images Indexes Images Indexes Images
AC 1558-1910 1558-1910 1558-1935 1558-1935 1558-1945 1558-1945
FMP 1738-1817 None None None None None
FS 1724-1847 None 1724-1837 None Add None
JMI None None 1558-1724,
None None None

To find the names of the neighbouring parishes, use England Jurisdictions 1851. In this site, search for the name of the parish, click on the location "pin", click Options and click List contiguous parishes.

Birstall is an ancient parish (created before 1813).  The Church of England records for Birstall St. Peter's survive from 1558.  The following is a list of other pre-1837 Church of England churches within the parish of Birstall, with the dates of their earliest records:

  • St. James Tong (1550)
  • Whitechapel Cleckheaton (1761)
  • St. Paul's Drighlington (1816)
  • Christ Church Liversedge (1816)
  • St. James Heckmondwike (1831)
  • St. Paul's Birkenshaw (1832)
  • St. John's Cleckheaton (1832)

The original registers are deposited at the West Yorkshire Archives in Wakefield.  Microfilm/fiche copies are available at archive branches such as Leeds at Sheepscar and Kirklees in Huddersfield.

The copies made by the minister (ordered by an Act of 1598) and sent each year to the Bishop of the diocese (known as parish register transcripts or Bishop's transcripts) survive from 1600 and are deposited at the West Yorkshire Archives branch in Sheepscar, Leeds. 

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City has both parish registers and bishop's transcripts on microfilm for Birstall and its chapelries, which are listed in the Family History Library Catalog.  Many of these records are indexed in the International Genealogical Index available online through the 'Advanced Search' at

Census records

Probate records

Records of wills, administrations, inventories, indexes, etc. were filed by the court with jurisdiction over this parish. Go to Yorkshire Probate Records to find the name of the court having primary jurisdiction. Scroll down in the article to the section Court Jurisdictions by Parish.

Maps and Gazetteers

Maps are a visual look at the locations in England. Gazetteers contain brief summaries about a place.

Web sites