The Old Church Rectory and Records




       According to a newspaper article published in 1955 the occupants of the old rectory discovered in the rectory garden at a depth of eight feet, the remains of charred beams and stone flooring which it was suggested formed part of the Norbertine Priory or one of its outbuildings. This may not be as improbable as the ghost of the Norbertine Monk who, although unseen, is alleged to haunt the passages of the old rectory. No evidence or supporting testimonies have so far been found, nor could any of those who have intimate knowledge of this old mansion give any evidence of these nightly perambulations.

      It has been affirmed that the rectory building, like the old church, was part of the abbey which at one time covered the grounds and the adjacent field named Abbey Field. It has been said that the abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII at the time of the Pilgrimage of Grace, 1536. If this be true then it could only have been the ruined building which was sacrileged, for the Norbertine Monks who founded the abbey had merged with that of Cockersand in 1271 and had departed from Warburton. The Monastic house would therefore have fallen in ruin before the arrival of Henry and afforded him a very dubious and meagre reward.

      It is possible that the old part of the building was used by the Canons as refectories and dormitories. It was restored at the same time as the church, both bearing the date stone 1645. From then until 1919 it was the rectory until sold by the church authorities. The connecting gate to the churchyard is still in situ.

      Shortly after the preferment of the Rev. J. F. Egerton-Warburton to the living in 1832 the building was damaged by fire caused by sparks falling on to the thatched roof.

      In 1837 a residential wing was built for the Rector and family whilst the old portion remained for domestic purposes.

      The river flowed at the bottom of the large garden and house parties and regattas were very frequent until the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal, when the river was diverted.

      The terraced cottages on the Green to the north of the church were considered locally to have been the tithe barn, but they have now been definitely established as the former Pipe and Punchbowl Inn referred to elsewhere.

      The appointments to Warburton Church were made to "the free chapel of Warburton and a mediety of Lymm with Warburton". The Rector was required to supply Warburton each Sunday and Lymm every alternate Sunday. In 1666 two parsons were presented to Lymm (then spelt Limme) who supplied the ministry in addition to the one at Warburton.

      The Warburton Moiety was granted by charter between 1209 and 1228 to Adam de Dutton, an ancestor of the Warburtons, by Eda, daughter of Adam de Limme. This parochial arrangement between Warburton and Lymm terminated after 600 years in 1869 by Order in Council. The Warburton Moiety became the ecclesiastical parish of Outringham.

      In the Doomsday Book entry for Lime (Lymm) it states there was "half a church and one priest there". The other half of this church was, of course, at Warburton.

      The following list contains the names of the Rectors of Warburton:

11- - William de Boydell 1664 Richard Grimshey
1190 1669 Joseph Bradley
1271 Norbertine Monks 1698 James Thompson A.B.
White Canons 1714 John Yates
1278 Robertus de Dentone 1732 Timothy Featherstonehough
1292 John de Budworth 1766 Robert Massie A.M
1328 William de Warburton 1766 George Heron A.M.
1367 Petrus de Sharoe 1832 J.F. Egerton-Warburton .M.A.
1391 John Byrkin 1850 D.A.Beaufort, M.A.**
1432 Roger Domville 1872 Geoffrey Egerton-Warburton, M.A.
1454 Jacobus Gladelif
1458 Richard Chonal 1919 C. D. Lewis, M.A.
1486 Roger Chapman 1930 A. Hoyle, L.Th.
1509 John Fernehead 1934 S. J. Lloyd-Jones, B.A.
1514 Richard Warburton 1942 E. Jauncey, D.D.
15.. Thomas Warburton 1947 W. J. Gravell, Hon. Canon
(See Will No.8) Chester
1597 Edward Shelmerdine* 1952 L. J. Forster
1627 William Bispham 1956 V. Lester
1661 John Coe 1963 D. S. Moore

* Peter Warburton, of Hefferston Grange, who held the advowson of Warburton at this time died on 7th August 1617. He charged the profits of the advowson with the maintenance and education of his fourth child George (see Will No. 76) reserving the living for him at the next vacancy. Rector Shelmerdine died ten years later in 1627 and in August William Bispham was presented by the King, the right of presentation presumably having reverted to Peter, George's brother, of Arley, but who died the previous year without settling affairs.

** Daniel Beaufort was the son of Sir Francis Beaufort, Admiral. Sir Francis experienced difficulties in getting his son a living until he was accepted at Warburton in 1850, where he remained for 22 years. In 1866 his niece Emily Sophy Palmer married T. Acton Warburton.

The earliest registers of the church are leaves of parchment sewn together without covers and commence with the entry "Rodger Rowlinson, son of Peter Rowlinson, baptised March 11 1611". Unfortunately, the registers do not appear to have been regularly or systematically maintained until as late as 1634. The oldest named is "Ales Rowlinson of the Carr an hundred yiers ould buried March 1668". There is also an alphabetical index to baptisms, marriages and burials contained in volumes, the entries in which are numbered consecutively. This was the work of the Rev. G. Egerton-Warburton. The absence of any transcriptions for Warburton at the Bishops' Registry, Chester, would suggest that Egerton-Warburton transcribed and indexed these transcripts to replace the original registers, which, with the exception of the few surviving leaves of the oldest register, have in all probability been lost. The numerous gaps, some for long periods, bear out this conjecture, inasmuch as the returns formerly made annually, (in the case of other parishes) have not all survived and are invariably very incomplete prior to the Restoration. There were several Warburton families resident in the parish throughout, and as this surname was common in the neighbourhood, the periods during which no entries are indexed may well agree with those for which no transcriptions had survived. On this basis, the extant and missing records would appear to be as follows: EXTANT MISSING Non successive years from 1611, then Prior to 1611 otherwise down to 1644. 1645 and 1646. 1647 to 1651. 1652 to 1655. 1656 to 1657. 1658. 1659 to 1660. 1661 to 1670. 1672 to 1678. 1671. 1679 to 1681. 1682 to 1688. 1697 to 1700. 1689 to 1696. 1698. 1699. 1705 to 1707. 1701 to 1704. 1706, 1708 to 1715. 1716 to 1721. 1723 to 1733. 1722, 1734 to 1737. 1737, 1738. 1758 to 1759. 1740 to 1757, 1760 to 1764. 1765, Complete onwards.

      It will be seen that many entries of Warburtons are no longer available. Failing to trace entries in neighbouring parishes, it may be fairly inferred that they were recorded at Warburton.

      That parishioners were buried in the old churchyard from earliest times is beyond doubt. This is evidenced by the discovery in 1816 of the three stone coffins referred to earlier.

      Parish Registers were first ordered to be kept in 1538 in consequence of an injunction of Thomas Cromwell and there is no reason why Warburton should have been exempt. It can only be conjectured that either the records have been lost or were not kept at all. The latter is quite a possibility, for the returns of the population abstracts of 1801 shows only 812 registers out of a possible 11,000 English parishes commenced in 1538. This neglect was foreseen as early as 1597 when Elizabeth I ordered by injunction that an incumbent should annually send his Bishop a transcript of his year's registers. But despite these orders, the loss or destruction continued - as revealed in the 1834 Answers and Returns.

      Some gaps or incomplete periods, particularly in the early 17th century, may be attributed to the widespread epidemics which disrupted the life of the parishes for a long period and possibly carried off the clerk and the priest. It is known that during the period 1645 to 1658 there were a number of serious local outbreaks of Plague. Although parish clerks were literate, they were not sufficiently educated to realise or understand the importance or value of methodical recording and generally considered it a duty insofar as it was laid down by Statute.

      During the turbulent days of the Cromwellian period, marriages were performed by Justices of the Peace, but these were considered by the Church as clandestine and were not recorded in the Bishop's registry. An Act of Parliament (1660) legalised these unions, dispensing with the necessity for re-solemnisation, but many of these marriages and baptisms remained unrecorded so far as the Church was concerned.

      Among the early entries in the church records and briefs are several that are interesting and curious. Three collections were taken for renovations of churches as far distant as Scarborough, Sandwich, in Kent, and Tynemouth. Another collection taken 1669 was for "Captives taken under the Torke in Allgeries, Sally and other places under Torkey dominion". There are no details to indicate whether the money so collected was in the nature of relief for escaped prisoners from foreign prisons, for ransom moneys for galley slaves or to aid the captives themselves. In 1761 the churchwardens' accounts show that six gallons of Communion wine at seven shillings per gallon were purchased and this charge appears annually for thirteen years when, in 1774, the consumption dramatically dropped to three gallons and still lower in 1780 to one and a half gallons. Whether this reduction is an indication of lessening devotion is hard to say, but considering Communion services were held in that small church only on six occasions throughout the year, six gallons, as in 1761, seems to be a very liberal allowance.

      Affixed to the pages in the church account book is an invoice and a very caustic letter. In the reign of Queen Anne, Sir George Warburton of Arley, gave to the church a service of plate suitably inscribed and engraved with the Warburton crest. The vessels were of solid silver and weighed 133 ounces Troy. In 1870, however, the incumbent (the Rev. D. A. Beaufort) exchanged the set for another which, although expensive and beautiful in design, could not for historical or sentimental reasons compare with Sir George's gift. To worsen matters, the exchange was made without a faculty or even acquainting the church officials of his intention. When the patron of the living was informed every effort to trace the original set was made, but without success. The cost of the new service was 53 less an allowance of 36 for the old one, the balance being paid by the incumbent. In place of an entry in the church accounts are the invoice and letter!

      Two years later (1872) the Rev. Geoffrey Egerton-Warburton was inducted as Rector.

      Cheshire was a musical county as early as the Middle Ages. By Tudor times the Guild of Minstrels in Chester was about the most important in the Kingdom, with a strict licensing system under the jurisdiction of the Dutton family. The head of the family held an annual court to renew or deny licenses. The granting of such, exempted minstrels from the Statute of Rogues, the provisions of which included musicians.

      That the tiny village of Warburton shared this musical interest is borne out by the church records. The importance attached to church music was evident in the latter part of the 18th century when a pew in the gallery was specifically reserved for the singers who were now accompanied by a bass viol and a bassoon.

      In 1803 a new bassoon was purchased for 6, and five years later (1808) 5 was spent for a new pew for singers. There are numerous entries for bassoon reeds and bass viol strings.

      The parish constables' staffs now used in the new church as part of the churchwarden's regalia were repainted in 1811 at a cost of 12s.11d. Black with gilded knobs, they have painted on the shafts in gilt and red the Royal Crown, George III R, and are dated 1811.

      The year 1818 saw the introduction of hymn books at a cost of 5, and in 1835 gamut books were purchased for bassoon and viol. There is, in the church chest, a truly fine handwritten manuscript anthem book. Following the removal of the gallery in 1857, a harmonium was purchased and the singers were seated on either side of the chancel.

      Further references to and extracts from the town and church accounts will be made in future chapters, but it is felt appropriate at this point to mention some items in the 17th century Drinkwater book now deposited in the church chest. This book, like the one now held in the Masonic Library, has been a valuable source of information. Written without regard to continuity and more in the nature of "jottings" it contains much about the daily life of Warburton and the church. On the front of Arnold's diary is written "some further observations about the Church." The following extracts are of interest:

1575 Warburton Bell was cast.
1579 Cover made for Font.
1671 Beir made.
1645 Stone over South door put up.
1680 Peers Rowns Pew, south little Chancel. (Possibly abb. for Peter Rowlinson)
1704 Sirples cost 1-8-0.
1709 Pew ith* church given to R. D.
1711 Steeple built.
1713 Bell wheel made and cost 2-2-6. Bell stop cost 13-6 besides iron 10-2.
1714 Bell clapper made and cost 7-0.
1716 Great Bible bound 6-0. Warburton Mill rebuilt.
1716 2 new gates made cost 2-6-0.
1718 Slatering Church. Slates and lead 1-3-2.
1719 An old church black. 12-0. Church chest made about this time 4-6-8.
1722 Church flagged and beautified and gallery made by A.D. and others.
1724 Pulpit cushion cost about 1-17-3.
1726 John Okell held tyth.
1730 New suplices had ll yards.
1731 New Chantler held.
1732 Bell wheel, most of it made new again. Thos. Chantler held. Inq., 1fl. bound
Mr. F. little new gate and stone stumps. note: churchyard fench'd now.
1734 Mr. Featherstonehaugh against John Haynes.
New common Prayer Book cost 1-1-0.
1745 Stone stumps broke and new ones got.
1746 New Black. Cost 1-8-5.
1748 Mr. Featherstonehaugh case about constable Hay. W. R. Clark and ye wage
ends 6 Aprill.
1751 Two new stumps again for great gate.
1754 Little chancel roped at cost about 7s. and Rchd. Pickering paid short of his
accounts thought about 20s.

      Further reference will be made to this family and the family they so faithfully served in the manor house in the following chapter.

*Indecipherable, but probably means "in the."