As you’ll see from the following news release from findmypast, England’s county of Cheshire is famous for more than the delicious cheese:


  • Lewis Carroll’s baptism found in Daresbury,11 July 1832
  • Earthquake hit Cheshire on 18 March 1612
  • Ancestors of James Bond actor Daniel Craig sold coal and were iron moulders
  • Over 10 million Cheshire records covering 1538 to 1910 – allowing researchers to delve back further than ever before

Fascinating workhouse records, parish registers, bishop’s transcripts and electoral registers from Cheshire go online for the first time ever as leading UK family history website launches the ‘The Cheshire Collection’. The collection is a series of over 10 million extraordinary records provided by Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, covering over 350 years of history. 

Lewis Carroll

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, otherwise known as the author Lewis Carroll, is recorded as being baptised on 11 July 1832, seven months after his birth on 27 January 1832 in Daresbury, Cheshire. Although Lewis’ father, also named Charles, was the Perpetual Curate of Daresbury, he didn’t baptise his own son but on the same parish register page you can see that he baptised four other children. When Lewis was 11 years old, his father moved the family to a rectory in Croft-on-Tees in North Yorkshire, leaving Cheshire behind.

Earthquakes and unusual marriages

A number of remarkable happenings in Cheshire can be found in the records, which make the fantastical world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland seem not so far removed from reality…  On 18 March 1612, Mother Nature struck the northern county and one family braved the earthquake to get their child baptised, which unusually was recorded in the register of baptisms – ‘this daye there was an Earthquake about 7 of ye clock in ye morning’.

Another unusual occurrence was the ‘peculiar marriage’ between Daniel Broadbent and Martha Cheetham in Mottram-in-Longdendale on 9 March 1780 – Daniel was 23 and Martha was 83 years old. Unfortunately fate soon intervened to part this unlikely couple with the Mottram registers for the following year showing that Daniel Broadbent of Hattersley was buried on 30 May 1781. Furthermore, on 6 May 1776, 105 year old George Harding married Jane Darlington, 75, at St Oswald, Chester – showing that in the 18th century one could find love at any age.

Daniel Craig

James Bond actor Daniel Craig’s maternal family came from the City of Chester and can be found in these absorbing records. The parish register of St Mary shows the marriage of his maternal great-great-grandparents on 27 November 1870 – William Walker and Mary Astbury (née Ellis). William was 37 and working as an Iron Moulder, while Mary was only 21, and already listed as a widow from her first marriage.

Another maternal great-great-great-grandfather, William Hargrave, was a Coal Agent from the City of Chester, which was a highly regarded job, requiring business acumen, effective people skills and the gift of the gab as he traded between the coal manufacturers and everyday people. William married Mary Fleet in 1859 and both of their signatures appear in the parish register. 

Tales of death from the plague

In 1625 the UK was hit by an outbreak of the plague which killed 35,000 people. Malpas in Cheshire was badly affected and the records made available online today reveal harrowing accounts of those who were killed by the disease. One such example is that of Richard Dawson of Bradley:

being sick of the plague and perceiving that he must die at that time arose out of his bed and made his grave and caused his nephew to cast straw into the grave… and went and lay him down in the said grave, and caused clothes to be laid upon and so departed out of this world… he died about 28th august, this much I was credibly told.”

Debra Chatfield, marketing manager at commented: “These records make it possible for family historians and local history researchers to delve as far back as 1538, unearthing all sorts of unusual finds quickly and easily at their finger tips. Who would have known that Cheshire was hit by an earthquake in 1612 or that James Bond’s ancestors sold lumps of coal? Covering over 350 years of history, the Cheshire Collection is essential for anyone with Cheshire roots or connections and wanting to trace their family history, offering a fascinating glimpse into life at this time.”

The Cheshire Collection covers not just the Church of England but also Roman Catholic and Non-Conformist registers. Furthermore, they extend well beyond the core records of baptism, marriage and burial to a variety of other records giving biographical details for the residents of the county. The Collection consists of over 10 million records and includes Church of England Parish Registers, Bishop’s transcripts of the Parish Registers, Electoral Registers, Marriage Licence Bonds and Allegations, Non-Conformist and Roman Catholic records and Workhouse Registers. Wills and Probate records from Chester and Land Tax records will be added to the collection in the coming months.

The records have been published online for the very first time by following a six month project after the website was awarded a contract by Cheshire Archives and Local Studies.

Jonathan Pepler, County Archivist for Cheshire Archives and Local Studies, said: “This is a very exciting development for everyone interested in Cheshire and its rich history. For the very first time it gives people online access to original records – the raw materials of family history – over a period spanning 350 years. Researchers, amateur historians and people tracing their family tree will be able to find the records they are looking for at the click of a button. This project firmly puts Cheshire Archives and Local Studies in the vanguard of local authority services.”

Councillor David Brown, Cheshire East Cabinet member with responsibility for performance and capacity, said: “This is a fantastic development that puts 350 years of Cheshire’s rich heritage and fascinating personal histories more easily within the reach of everyone. Giving online access to millions of original documents and records is another example of the Council’s commitment to excellence and working with others to deliver for the people of Cheshire East.”

To find out more and search the records, visit



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