EDC 5/1566/9 – Ellen [Helen] Smith contra Katherine Moseley, wife of John Moseley
EDC 5/1566/10 – Ellen [Helen] Smith contra John Moseley [Mosteley], Katherine Moseley [Mosteley], Isabelle Croft and Margery Powell
EDC 5/1566/11 – Edward Ogells [Ogle] contra Richard Carter
This large parish of about fifth-eight square miles, comprised the townships of Prescot, Eccleston, Parr, Rainford, Rainhill, Sutton, Whiston, Windle, Bold, Cronton, Cuerdley, Ditton, Penketh, Great Sankey and Widnes. The first eight named formed the ‘Prescot side’ and the remainder, in the southern part of the parish, made up the ‘Farnworth side’. Farnworth, in the township of Widnes, was the site of a popular parochial chapel.
The original parish church was probably built before 1066, and by 1600 the church was in poor condition, so the chancel and nave were demolished and rebuilt in 1610. The fourteenth century tower, which was retained in 1610, was later rebuilt and strengthened. Some few medieval parts of the church walls still survive, and it has been suggested that the vestry was originally a chantry chapel, founded by Sir John Bold. A surviving font is said to be of Saxon origin.
The parish was appropriated to King’s College, Cambridge and the rectorial tithes (the great tithes) were farmed out to the Stanley family, earls of Derby.
The surviving churchwardens accounts are thought to be the oldest in Lancashire, dating back to 1523.
There was a thriving market in the township of Prescot, which was also known for its pottery and later for clock and watch-making. Coal mining in several townships of the parish became increasingly important during the sixteenth century and later the town was famous for watch and clock making.
The township of Prescot boasted a school and a playhouse, said to be the only Elizabethan playhouse outside London, which has inspired the construction of the new theatre of Shakespeare North in the town. This opened in July 2022 and features a wooden auditorium.
Several articles in Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire by F. A. Bailey cover the history of the parish and township of Prescot. They are available online:
The map of the parish from volume 92 is reproduced by kind permission of The Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire.