Witton, Cheshire Genealogy

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England Gotoarrow.png Cheshire Gotoarrow.png Cheshire Parishes Gotoarrow.png Witton

Parish History

Witton, St. Helen was an ancient chapelry in Great Budworth parish, originally serving the townships of Birches, Castle Northwich, Hartford (part), Hulse, Lach Dennis, Lostock Gralam, Northwich, Winnington and Witton cum Twambrooks.

The church was originally a chapel of ease to St Mary and All Saints, Great Budworth and the area was then known as Witton. The present building dates from the 14th century, with additions in the 15th, 16th and 19th centuries.A tradition that Witton had a chapel as early as the 13th century cannot be verified, but by the mid-14th century a church (technically a chapel of ease) stood on the present site. It was roughly the same length as the current building, had transepts but no aisles, side chapels or clerestory, and was covered by a steeply-pitched roof rising from about the height of the present arcade. There would have been a chancel arch with a great beam or loft across it bearing a rood, but no chancel step. The only seats would have been stone benches around the walls.

Gradually this evolved into the church as it is today. North and south aisles, narrower than those currently present, were added in the 15th century. The tower was built or rebuilt in about 1498, and the name ‘Thomas Hunter’ prominently displayed on it indicates it was the work of the mason of that name who was also associated with nearby Norton Priory. A porch in roughly the same position as the current porch was added at this time, or perhaps even earlier. The present porch however is certainly no earlier than 1500 and possibly much later: an inscription on its beam commemorates a substantial repair in 1756.

The aisles were rebuilt and widened between 1536 and 1549, bringing what had been a side chapel (now the Lady Chapel) into the body of the church. The nave was later also widened, at the expense of the north aisle, and a clerestory added by 1550 at the latest. Probably at this time the present roof over the nave was installed, though there is debate as to whether it was commissioned for the church originally.[9] Later the chancel was widened to match the nave. The chancel was embattled soon after 1624, when Thomas Farmer, the master of Witton Grammar School left money for the purpose in his will.

In the 18th century galleries (since removed) were gradually added on three sides of the interior, and in 1767 an organ and organ gallery also installed, possibly over the chancel. Later the organ was placed in the west gallery.

In 1841 a major restoration was undertaken which involved the re-siting of the pulpit, changes to the chancel steps, rebuilding of the south and west galleries, renovation of the roof and the making of a grand west Door. (Previously the only entrances had been that via the porch to the south and a small door giving access from outside to the tower steps).Twenty years later a large crack developed in the chancel which therefore had to be taken down and rebuilt in 1861–62, and at this time the present three large coloured glass windows behind the altar were installed. Apart from the roof therefore the chancel is substantially mid-Victorian. In 1883 the north aisle, then only 8.5 feet (3 m) wide, was widened to make it correspond with the south aisle, and other work done at much the same period included the addition of an altar rail, a new pulpit and the reflooring of the whole church.

Although there have since been further changes to the interior (including the addition of screens at the east end of the aisles and new coloured glass windows), by the 1890s the church looked much as it does today. It formally became a parish church when "the District Chapelry of St Helen Witton, otherwise Northwich", came into being on 7 August 1900.


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. Registration District

  • Northwich

Registration events can be searched online at Cheshire BMD

Church Records

To find the names of the neighboring 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.

Parish registers for Witton-cum-Twambrooks, 1561-1973 Chester Record Office call number: P53/1/1-6, 2/1-10, P53/4690/1-4, P53/3/1-4, 8/1-2, 4/1-11, P53/4690/5-20, P53/5/1-2, 6/1-9, P53/7/1-3. Witton-cum-Twambrooks was a chapelry in Great Budworth parish.  An index for Cheshire Parish Records can be found in FamilySearch Historical Records.

The Family History Library (FHL) has copies of the following records.

  Content   Film
Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1561-1751. 2094290 Items 2-6
Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1752-1767. Baptisms, Jan. 1768-26 May 1856. 2094296
Baptisms, 4 May 1856-25 June 1903. 2094297
Baptisms, 25 June 1903-14 Dec. 1958. 2094416
Baptisms (auxiliary registers), 3 Jan. 1813-5 Jan. 1861. Baptisms (draft auxiliary registers), 2 Jan. 1835-1 Dec. 1846. Marriages, 25 Jan. 1754-2 May 1770. 2094417
Marriages, 3 May 1770-24 Dec. 1877 2094517
Marriages, 25 Dec. 1877-30 May 1915 2094518
Marriages, 24 May 1915-17 Feb. 1942 2094519
Marriage banns, 7 Apr. 1754-31 Jan. 1773, 17 Aug. 1783-30 July 1786, 8 Oct. 1865-13 Dec. 1868.
Marriages, 14 Feb. 1942-12 Aug. 1961.
Burials, 1 Jan. 1768-28 Dec. 1873. 2094521
Burials, 3 Jan. 1874-9 Feb. 1960. 2094522
Burials, 9 Jan. 1960-3 Jan. 1973. Auxiliary burials, Jan. 1813-Jan. 1862. Draft auxiliary burials, Jan. 1835-Dec. 1846. Registers of graves, 1871-1880 (to no. 497). 2103771
Registers of graves, 1880-1927 (from no. 486). 2103772 Items 1-2

Bishop's transcripts for Witton-cum-Twambrooks, 1597-1893 Records are not arranged in strict chronological order. Some intermittent years are missing. Cheshire Record Office number: EDB/225

Theses records may be found in Family Search Historical Records.The Famiy History Library also has film copies.

  Content   Film
Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1597, 1600, 1616-1618, 1621-1624, 1628-1630, 1634-1636, 1640-1641, 1658-1659, 1661-1677, 1679-1686, 1690-1739, 1741-1758. 1850181
Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1758-1768, 1770-1794. 1850182
Baptisms, marriages, burials, 1799-1802, 1813-1829. 1850183
Marriages 1830-1837. Burials, 1827. Baptisms, burials, 1830-1846.  1850240 Item 2
Baptisms, burials, 1846-1861. Burials, 1886-1892, 1897. Baptisms, 1888, 1891-1893, 1897. 1850241

Non-Conformist Churches

Refer to Northwich, Cheshire to see relevant churches and chapels.

Cheshire Record Office Document Reference EMC 13

  • Description SUPERINTENDENT MINISTER Registers of baptisms MISCELLANEA CIRCUIT MEETING SECRETARY Minutes of quarterly and half yearly meetings General Purposes Committee minutes Property Committee minutes Returns of members
  • CIRCUIT STEWARDS Circuit Steward Accounts Preachers Travelling Fund Accounts Minutes Plans Accounts Circuit Schedules Circuit Property Schedules
  • CIRCUIT STEWARDS Accounts Circuit reports and schedules
  • SUPERINTENDENT MINISTER Membership register
  • CIRCUIT MEETING SECRETARY Quarterly meeting and circuit committee minutes

Northwich Wesleyan Methodist Circuit was formed in 1792, and following Methodist Union in 1932 was designated Northwich London Road Circuit. In 1935 London Road Circuit amalgamated with Central (former United Methodist) circuit to form Northwich (London Road and Central) circuit. In 1956 the Winsford section of this circuit was transferred to Winsford Methodist Circuit, and the remainder amalgamated with Northwich Bourne (former Primitive Methodist) circuit to form Northwich Methodist Circuit. URL http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=017-emc13&cid=0

Poor Law Unions

  • Northwich

Census records

Contributor: Include an overview if there is any unique information, such as the census for X year was destroyed. Add a link to online sites for indexes and/or images. Also add a link to the Family History Library Catalog showing the film numbers in their collection.

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

Contributor: Add any relevant sites that aren’t mentioned above.


  • Clifton-Taylor, Alec (1974), English Parish Churches as Work of Art, London: Batsford, ISBN 0 7134 2776 0
  • Harries, M.; Lynch, C. (1981), An illustrated history of the Northwich Parish and Church, Northwich: St Helen Witton Church, ISBN 0950764809
  • Richards, Raymond (1947), Old Cheshire Churches, London: Batsford
  • Salter, Mark (1995), The Old Parish Churches of Cheshire, Malvern: Folly Publications, ISBN 1871731232