Bolton was originally part of the Parish of Eccles but became a parish in its own right in the 14th century. The parish was given the name Bolton-le-Moors and in 1662, as with many of the large parishes in the North of England, it was divided into townships to make administration easier.

Thereafter Bolton-le-Moors comprised the chapelries and the townships of: Anglezarke, Blackrod, Bradshaw, Breightmet, Darcy Lever, Edgworth, Entwistle, Great Bolton, Harwood, Little Bolton, Little Lever, Longworth, Lostock, Quarlton, Rivington, Sharples, Turton and Tonge with Haulgh. Bolton-le-Moors Parish Church is St Peter's, on Churchgate, first built in 1573 and rebuilt between 1866 and 1871.

The adjacent parish of Deane has the oldest church in the district in St Mary the Virgin, commonly called Deane Church, which can trace its roots back to the 12th Century. From 1662 the Parish of Deane comprised Deane together with the chapelries and townships of: Farnworth & Kearsley, Halliwell, Heaton, Horwich, Little Hulton, Middle & Over Hulton, Rumworth and Westhoughton.

This organisation of the parishes of Bolton-le-Moors and Deane left the Great Lever area as part of the parish of Middleton, near Rochdale and the Prestolee area as part of the Parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham.

Bolton used to be known as "The Geneva of the North" so strong was the Non-Conformist tradition in the area. Bank Street Unitarian Chapel was founded about 1606 whilst Walmsley Unitarian Chapel was founded before 1672 and Rivington Unitarian Chapel in 1703. Both Charles and John Wesley preached several times in Bolton in the 18th Century.

Roman Catholic Churches.

The local R.C. adherents were served by the now closed Church Of Ss Peter and Paul which was established in Pilkington Street in 1794. St Mary of The Assumption Church [aka St Maria's] was founded in 1847 and these two churches were followed by many others.

The Religious Society of Friends

The Society, commonly called "The Quakers", is organised into "Circuits" and the Bolton Society of Friends is part of the Marsden Circuit. Marsden is apparently an abbreviation for Great and Little Marsden, which we now know as Nelson. The Friends were exempt from the requirement to marry in the Church of England and thus had their own Marriage Registers which the Authorised Person would carry around the Circuit as he performed the marriages. The registers for the Marsden Circuit are held by the Bolton Registrar Service. Interesting features of the registers are that everybody seems to be able to sign their name; witnesses often added their employment and the participants came from all over the country. The Marsden Circuit registers contain marriages performed in Great Marsden, Little Marsden, Marsden, Bolton, Burnley, Crawshawbooth, Grindleton, Haslingden, Holcombe Brook, Holderness, Little Bolton, Oldham, Radcliffe, Rawtenstall, Ribble Valley, Rochdale, Sawley, Todmorden, Turf Lane End and Whalley. The first Meeting House in Bolton was in Acres-Field and opened in 1721 but was replaced by a Meeting House in Tipping Street in 1820. In the late 20th century Tipping Street was demolished in a road improvement scheme and replaced by the current Meeting House in Institute Street. The Tipping Street site had a small graveyard for which Bolton History Centre have some details including a small map.


Bolton had a Synagogue on Spa Road which was replaced by one on Wentworth Street, Brownlow Fold, which closed in the early 1950's. Like the Friends, people of the Jewish faith were exempt from the need to marry in the Church of England so there are separate registers for their marriages.

For more information see

Bolton History Centre

Click here

The History Centre has a large collection of microfilmed local parish registers. An A4 print from the films can be had for less than £1.

Lancashire OPC

Click here

This website has an ever expanding collection of data from parish registers. Some of the pages include a lot more than simply registers and are worth checking just for that.

Family Search

For the conventional search facilities Click here

Apart from the conventional Search facilities Family Search has a collection of photographs of parish registers which includes some Bolton parishes.

The listing of the parishes is slightly odd so look through them all using the slide bar on the right.

Churches now within the area of Blackburn with Darwen Council but for which Bolton Registrars hold the historical Marriage Registers:

Bolton Road Wesleyan Church, Edgworth

Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Entwistle Hall Lane, Entwistle

Churches now within the area of Chorley Council but for which Bolton Registrars hold the historical Marriage Registers:

Rivington Parish Church, Horrobin Lane

Rivington Unitarian Chapel/Presbyterian Chapel, The Village Green/Sheep House Lane