The Catholic Clergy of Euxton
Rev Thomas Towneley
Rev William (Viscount) Molyneux
Rev Cuthbert Haydock
Rev John White
Rev Robert Swarbrick
Rev John Bell
Rev John Briggs
Rev Joseph Higginson
Rev Richard Gillow
Very Rev John Worthy
Rev Francis Soden
Rev Thomas Keeley
Very Rev Canon Walter Skehan
Rev Thomas Ames
Rev Daniel Cadogan
Rev Christopher Crowley
Rev Michael McCormick
Rev Deacon Gerard Fishwick
Rev Gerry McCusker
c1718 – 1733
1733 – 1740
1740 – 1778
1778 – 1815
1815 – 1817
1815 – 1817
1817 – 1845
1846 – 1851
1851 – 1893
1893 – 1895
1895 – 1939
1939 – 1959
1959 – 1977
1977 – 1997
1997 – 2003
2003 – 2005
The Catholic Clergy of Euxton
Rev Thomas Towneley (b1669 - d1737) St Mary’s c1718 - 1733
Thomas Towneley was born on 22nd January 1669, the seventh son of Richard Towneley and Margaret Paston, of Towneley Hall, Burnley, Thomas was educated at Douai 1689 (taking the College Oath on 4th October 1689), Paris 1690 and St Maglane in 1694. His appointments after his ordination are not known, but he was serving at Euxton Hall by 1725. He died on 4th March 1737.
Rev William (Viscount) Molyneux (b1685 - d1759) St Mary’s c1730
The Rev William was born on 30th January 1685, the third son of William Molyneux (the 4th Viscount Molyneux) and Bridget Lucy. In 1704 he renounced his rights to the family estates and entered the Society of Jesus. Eighteen years later he was enrolled among the Professed Fathers of the Order. On 1st August 1728 he was declared Rector of the College of St Aloysius and held that office until 1734. Around this time the Rev William spent some time, and officiated, at Euxton Hall, where his brother-in-law was the then squire of Euxton. From 1734 until his death he served the mission of Scholes, near Prescot. In 1745, however, he became the 7th Viscount Molyneux following the death of both of his elder brothers - being in charge of the mission at Scholes he resigned all his estates to his younger brother Thomas, the reason put forward being that he was 'old and had no intention to marry.' The Rev William was the last Catholic Viscount Molyneux, and he died on 30th March 1759 at Scholes, his remains being laid to rest in the family vault at Sefton.
Rev Cuthbert Haydock (b1684 - d1763) St Mary’s 1733 - 1740
The son of William and Jane Haydock (who was the daughter of Hugh Anderton of Euxton Hall) and one of 8 brothers and sisters, Cuthbert Haydock took the Oath at Douai College on December 27th 1703. He was ordained priest and sent to England on March 26th 1714 and was at first stationed at Mawdesley, living for a time at Lane Ends House, Mawdesley, at the home of his sister Mary (by then married to Thomas Finche) where he celebrated Mass in the secret Chapel. He was the cousin of William Anderton of Euxton Hall and served the Euxton mission in succession to the Rev Thomas Towneley until 1740 at which time he was appointed Chaplain to the Duke of Norfolk at Worksop Manor, Nottinghamshire. Fr Haydock made his will at Worksop in 1762 and died on January 11th 1763, aged 78.
Rev John White (b1711 - d1778) St Mary’s 1733 - 1740
Fr White served as St Mary's priest in the period 1740 -1778 and was the first of the permanent clergy of the Parish. Civil records (dating from 1762 - 1768) also refer to John White as being William Anderton's Bailiff who looked after Euxton Hall and Fr White's will (dated 1777) nominated "my worthy friend William Anderton of Ince" as his sole Legatee.
Fr White was educated in Rome and died at Pontop Hall, Durham in 1778, his obituary also describing him as Joannes White (alias Leckonby). This might well give a clue as to Fr White's antecedents, as well as an insight to the close-knit nature of the English Catholic world at that time: two of the old-established Catholic families of the Fylde were the Leckonby's and the White's living in/around Great Eccleston - the Leckonby's had family connections at the time with the Anderton family - a Fr Thomas Leckonby served as the priest at Pontop Hall from 1748 to 1778..... it was common practice in those troubled times for priests to take an alias for safety, often their mother's maiden name, and so it could be assumed that Fr White (als Leckonby) had a family connection with Fr Thomas Leckonby, given that Fr White is recorded as dying at Pontop Hall where Fr Leckonby was the serving priest, and that his own ancestry was lodged in the Fylde.
Rev Robert Swarbrick (b1747 - d1815) St Mary’s 1733 - 1740
Fr Swarbrick was the son of John and Mary Swarbrick of Weeton, and was born on 8th January 1747 - John and Mary (nee Roe) were married on 20th August 1738. Robert Swarbrick entered Douai College on 2nd November 1762 and, whilst ill-health caused him to have to leave the College twice, he was ordained priest in 1774, being retained at the College as a professor. On the 30th June 1777 he was sent to St Omer's College to teach, but was appointed to succeed the Rev White at Euxton Hall on 7th February 1778. Hitherto the Chaplains had lived in the Hall, but the Rev Swarbrick erected an independent priest's house where he resided until his death in May 1815.
Rev John Bell (b1767 - d1854) St Mary’s 1815 - 1817
The parish was served by a number of priests in the period 1815 to 1817, among these was Fr John Bell. Certainty of information on Fr Bell is rather difficult to establish, but it is likely that he was born at Snaith in Yorkshire in 1767, the son of Luke and Jane Bell. He trained at Douai but left as a second year student in April 1793 due to impact of the war between England and France - following which he became tutor to the sons of John Silvertop at Minster Acres in Northumberland until Crook Hall (forerunner of Ushaw College) came into being, and there he received his minor orders and subdiaconate on 20 December 1794, his diaconate two days later and his priesthood the day after that.
As a newly-ordained priest he served on the Crook Hall College Staff as Professor of Rhetoric and Poetry besides acting as Prefect General, from his ordination, through the transfer of the establishment to Ushaw in 1808, until 1817. During this period he also served the Catholic Mission at Northop Hall, Durham, from 1803 to 1806. St Mary's parish registers establish that Fr Bell served at Euxton during the period 1815 to 1817, and from Euxton his next appointment was as the first Secular rector of St Mary's, Samlesbury from 1818 to 1828. He left Samlesbury in April 1828, moving to Kippax Park, Yorkshire. He ultimately retired to Selby where he died on 31st May 1854 aged 87.
Rev John Briggs (b1789 - d1861) St Mary’s 1815 - 1817
The parish was served by a number of priests in the period 1815 to 1817, among these was Fr John Briggs. Fr Briggs was born at Barton Moss on 29th May 1789 and was educated at Ushaw 1809 to 1814, being ordained on 19th July 1814. He served at Chester until 1832, before returning to Ushaw as its 4th President. In 1836 he became Vicar Apostolic for the Northern Region, residing in York, and when the Hierarchy was restored he became Bishop of Beverley in 1850. He retired due to ill-health in 1860 and died on 4th January 1861. He is buried at St. Leonard's Chapel, Hazlewood, nr Tadcaster.
Rev Joseph Higginson (b1761 - d1846) St Mary’s 1817 - 1845
Fr Higginson served as St Mary's priest in the period 1817 -1845 and clearly enjoyed the patronage of the Anderton family - civil records show that William Anderton provided a house and land in Ince to Fr Higginson in 1790: this may well have been Fr Higginson's first appointment following his ordination. The Anderton family moved from Ince Hall and made Euxton Hall their primary residence in 1817, with the chapel at Ince Hall closing in 1818, so it seems probable that Fr Higginson moved with the Anderton family at this time. Col Anderton was the primary mourner at Fr Higginson’s funeral at St Gregory’s, Weldbank in March 1846 – Fr Higginson’s remains were laid to rest in the vault beneath the high altar at St Gregory’s.
Rev Richard Gillow (b1794 - d1867) St Mary’s 1846 - 1851
Fr Gillow was born at Newton-cum-Scales on the Fylde on 18th July 1794, the eldest son of George Gillow and Jane Crookall. At the age of 12 he went to the Rev Ralph Platt's school at Puddington in Cheshire, and proceeded to Ushaw in 1812. He and his younger brother Henry went to the English College in Rome in 1819, and both were ordained priests in St John Lateran by Archbishop Frattini on the 16th June 1821. Richard soon found himself as Vice-Rector of the College - a post he held until the autumn of 1825. From there he returned to Ushaw as professor and, for some time, Prefect of Studies.
In 1837 he took charge of the mission in Puddington, 27 years after leaving the Rev Platt's school there. Early in 1846 he was transferred to the mission at Euxton and from here he moved on to St Mary's, Chorley in 1851. He spent 4 years in Chorley, being appointed Canon during this time, before being removed to Newhouse Chapel, Newsham in 1855 where he stayed until his death on 3rd November 1867. He was a Priest of great energy and vision, a very learned man, one of the editors of the Catholic Magazine and was closely engaged in correspondence with, and arising from, the Oxford Movement.
Very Rev John Worthy (b1815 - d1893) St Mary’s 1851 - 1893
John Worthy was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia on November 7th 1815. His father was William H Worthy of Devonshire and Yorkshire. His mother, Elizabeth Blundell, was the eldest daughter of John Blundell of Preston and Carside, and of Catherine Crook of Chorley. Canon Worthy was a cousin of the Right Rev, Dr. O'Reilly, Bishop of Liverpool.
John Worthy left Halifax in June 1822 and proceeded to Navan, Ireland, where he lived until 1825, when he was sent to Sedgeley Park School. From there, he went to St Cuthbert's College, Ushaw, in 1828 where he pursued his theological studies, and for some time filled the post of Prefect of Studies. He was ordained on 25th July 1840 by Bishop Briggs (formerly priest at St Mary's!) and remained a professor at Ushaw for the next three years.
He was appointed as curate to Towneley Chapel in 1845 was started the task of building the new St Mary's church which opened in 1849. His first Mission was at St Chad's, Cheetham Hill, Manchester and he started St Chad's new church, which was consecrated in August 1847. He next moved to St Nicholas church in Liverpool and built a new infant school for that
mission. He then jointly (with Father Nugent) established the Catholic Middle School in Rodney Street, from which sprang the Catholic Institute in Hope Street.
Canon Worthy then moved to St Mary's, Euxton in 1851, where he remained until his death in 1893. At St Mary's, Canon Worthy was the driving force behind the erection of the church and old primary school in 1865 and subsequent improvements and school extensions in 1888. He took a great interest in the education and preparation of young men for the priesthood and he was instrumental in the training and ordination of fourteen such. When the Bishop undertook the erection of St Joseph's College, Upholland, the arrangements relating to the laying out of the grounds and other business were placed in Canon Worthy's hands. The last twelve months before his death saw the Canon's health begin to give way.
Canon Worthy died on 8th May 1893 and he was buried in the churchyard on 10th May 1893. He is commemorated as "1st Rector and Builder" on a stained-glass window in the north transept.
The following biography is taken from "Old Country Churches and Chapels" by A. Hewitson, published in 1872.
"Fr Worthy is a very worthy gentleman. He has a weird, energetic, go-on-and-never-stop sort of look; is quick in head, eye, and foot; is tall, wears hats that go well upon his head; has a determined, serious matter-of-fact look; is vigilant, earnest, methodical, and up to everything almost; understands architecture, theology, stone-getting, logic, plan-making, preaching, and we can't tell what besides; was to a considerable extent the designer of the church he is at; kept a superintending eye upon the men who got the stones for it, and the those who set them; and is a most industrious and practical gentleman."
In the last six years of Canon Worthy’s life failing health caused him to request assistance, and during this time the parish was served by two assistant priests: Fr James Birchall from 1887 to 1890; and Fr Joseph Parker from 1890 to 1893 - Canon Worthy presided at only 22 of the 105 Baptisms during this time! These are the only assistant priests recorded to have served at St. Mary’s.
Rev Francis Soden (b1842 - d1906) St Mary’s 1893 - 1895
Francis Joseph Soden was born in Drumrath, Co Sligo on 2n May 1840, the son of Francis and Mary (nee O’Beiran). He was educated at All Hallows College, Drumcondra and was ordained there on June 24th 1865.
Fr Soden served at a long list of parishes in the Diocese – firstly at St Augustine’s, Preston to 1868, followed by St Patrick’s, Liverpool to 1870; St Patrick’s, Wigan to 1877; All Saints, Golborne to 1878; Sacred Heart, Chorley to 1893; and then at St Mary’s, Euxton to 1895. Following his time at Euxton, he served at Ss Peter and Paul, Mawdesley to 1897; St Patrick’s, Wigan to 1899; again to Ss Peter and Paul, Mawdesley to 1900; then to Holy Family, Southport to 1902; and to Sacred Heart, Ainsdale to 1904. He became priest in charge of St Joseph's Mission, Withnell in September 1904 where he stayed until his death. He had been in a poor state of health for some time prior to his death, aged 64, on June 24th 1906 - the 41st anniversary of his ordination. He was buried at St Chad's, Whittle on June 27th 1906.
Rev Thomas Keeley (b1862 - d1939) St Mary’s 1895 - 1939
Thomas Keeley was born in Warrington on 1st July 1862, the son of Edward and Anastasia (nee Delaney). He began his studies for the priesthood at St Edward's College in 1875, and was one of the first company to proceed from there to the newly-founded Seminary of St Joseph, Upholland in 1883.
He was ordained on June 19th 1886 and appointed to the Church of the Sacred Heart, Liverpool. In 1893 he became Rector of Ss Thomas and Elizabeth, Thurnham, and finally, in 1895, of St Mary's where he spent the remainder of his long and priestly life.
He died on April 3rd 1939 and was buried in the churchyard 2 days later in the same grave as Canon Worthy. He is commemorated as "1st Parish Priest" on a stained-glass window in the north transept.
The following is an extract from Fr Keeley's Obituary in the Chorley Guardian, April 8th 1939:
"The Rev Thomas Keeley came to Euxton 43 years ago in the spacious, more leisurely days of the Squire and Hall when the Anderton Chapel was in regular use and Euxton was remote from the busy world. He lived to see the day when, as he himself said, it was an adventure to cross the road at his gate because of the traffic, and when the greatest munition works in the country was to spring up mushroom-like on the fringe of his Parish. In a changing world he himself did not alter. In character he was reserved - not through lack of friendliness but through shyness. There was nothing petty in his make-up, but rather generosity and kindness in thought, word and act.
For the Church at Euxton he had a sincere love. The stained glass was his special joy. He supervised its design and insertion and in the opinion of experts there was none finer in the kingdom. One of the windows was to be a memorial to himself, but this was not to be known until his death. To his parishioners he was a true spiritual father. He led his flock gently but firmly, by quiet exhortation and steady example. In return he received unstinted affection and respect, which were strongly manifest at the jubilee celebration of his priesthood three years ago."
Photo of Fr Keeley taken outside St Mary's 1910
Note: Canon Worthy and Fr Keeley are commemorated as “First Rector” and “First Parish Priest” respectively. This is because England was considered to be a missionary territory until 1919, and therefore Parishes as such didn’t exist – the pre-cursor of a Parish being a Mission, with the priest in charge being known as the Rector. The Church promulgated a New Code of Canon Law in 1916 and it was only when this took effect that the British Canonical titles came into use. St Mary’s was declared to be a Parish on 18th November 1918.
Very Rev Canon Walter Skehan (b1898 - d1980) St Mary’s 1939 - 1959
Walter Patrick Skehan was born in Liverpool on 4th April 1898, the son of Patrick and Catherine Skehan.
He undertook his ecclesiastical studies at Ushaw College where, in 1915, he was running in a hurdle race in which he shattered his knee cap. This made him unfit for service in the Great War – a blessing, as the majority of his classmates were killed in action with the Durham Light Infantry, at the Somme, and later. Partly due to these losses and to his own talent as a teacher, his ordination was delayed so that he could stay on at Ushaw as a Prefect of Studies for younger students.,
He was subsequently ordained to the priesthood on 2nd August 1925 at St Claire's, Liverpool.
In August 1925 he was assigned to the parish of St Mary's, Chorley.
In April 1939 he was appointed Parish Priest of St Mary's, Euxton, and during the War he was chaplain at Highways Hostel and officiating chaplain at Washington Hall.
From 1945-46 he was also Treasurer of the Clergy Insurance Fund and in January 1956 he was appointed the first Dean of the new Deanery of St John Fisher, Leyland.
In 1959 he moved to St Joseph, Birkdale as Parish Priest.
He was appointed a Canon of the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter in 1965.
He retired in September 1979, and he died on 3rd September 1980, being .buried in Ford Cemetery in Netherton.
Rev Thomas Ames (b1906 - d1986) St Mary’s 1959 - 1977
Thomas Ames was born in Drinane, Co Roscommon on 18th November 1906, the son of Michael and Mary Ames. His early education took place at the College of the Immaculate Conception, Sligo, and his ecclesiastical studies were undertaken at St Joseph's College, Upholland, where he was ordained to the priesthood on 6th June 1936.
In September 1936 he was appointed to the parish of St Charles, Liverpool, where he remained until November 1941 when he moved to Ss Peter and Paul, Crosby. In 1950 he transferred to St Sylvester, Liverpool, and in January 1952 he became Chaplain to Newsham General Hospital. In October 1959 he received his final appointment as Parish Priest of St Mary's. He retired on 15th July 1977, and he died on 11th July 1986.
Rev Daniel Cadogan (b1922 - d2010) St Mary’s 1977 - 1997
Daniel Cadogan was born in Cork City on 10th July 1922, the son of Dan and Catherine Cadogan (nee Leonard). Having been baptised on 12th July 1922 at St Finbarr’s South, Cork, he returned to the family home on Cape Clear Island.
Fr Dan studied at St Colman's College, Fermoy and then at St Kieran's Seminary, Kilkenny and was ordained at St Mary's Cathedral, Kilkenny on 9th June 1946. Following his ordination he spent some time as a curate in Clifton Diocese before returning to the Liverpool Archdiocese.
In the course of his 52-year active ministry Fr Dan served at nine Parishes:
Sacred Heart, Tisbury 1946 - 1948
Holy Rood, Swindon 1948 – 1949
St Sylvester's, Liverpool 1949 - 1954
St Thomas of Canterbury, St Helens 1954 - 1958
St Francis de Sales, Walton 1958 - 1966
St Joseph’s / St Jude's, Wigan 1966 - 1969
St Aidan’s, Winstanley 1969 - 1972
St Stephen’s, Orford, Warrington 1972 - 1977
St Mary's, Euxton 1977 - 1997
Following his retirement from active Parish life, Fr Dan lived at St Joseph's, Upholland and at Ince Blundell Hall, where he was Chaplain to the Religious Community there for a number of years. When he finally retired from "active service" he spent his final years living at Nazareth House, Crosby.
He celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of his Ordination at St Mary's on 16th June 2006.
Fr Dan died on 11th February 2010 - his Funeral Mass was celebrated on 18th February 2010 by Archbishop Patrick Kelly at Holy Family, Ince Blundell prior to his burial at the Franciscan Friary, Pantasaph, Holywell, Flintshire.
A Commemorative Booklet was produced to mark Fr Cadogan's Diamond Jubilee of his Ordination - use this link to read the booklet.
Rev Christopher Crowley (b1933 - d2003) St Mary’s 1997 - 2003
Christopher Donald Crowley was born in Cork City on 22 November 1933, the son of Christopher and Eileen Crowley. He studied at the National School in Ireland and later at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, before studying for the priesthood at St Joseph’s College, Upholland, where he was ordained to the priesthood on 31 May 1958.
Following ordination his first appointment was as Assistant Priest at St Monica’s, Bootle, in September 1958 and three months later in December 1958 he took on additional responsibility as Chaplain to St Monica’s Mixed School. It was during this time that he also worked with the Young Christian Workers in both school and parish. In May 1974 he moved to be Assistant Priest at St Mary’s, Woolton and five years later in 1979 to St Marie on the Sands Parish, Southport. Two years later in September 1981 he was appointed as Parish Priest of St Marie on the Sands where he remained until he took up what was to be his final appointment as Parish Priest of St Mary’s, Euxton, in August 1997. His latter years were marked by serious illness but he continued to minister fully to the Parish until his final days. He died on 27th June 2003 and was buried in the churchyard on 4th July 2003.
Rev Michael McCormick (b1959 - ) St Mary’s 2003 - 2005
Fr Michael, a native of Liverpool, was ordained in 1987. He came to the parish as Parish Administrator in 2003 having previously spent 5 years as a LAMP missionary in Bolivia in addition to his parish appointments. Fr Michael's responsibilities here as Parish Administrator were shared with those of the setting-up and subsequent ministering to the Cenacolo Community at Kendal.
Fr Michael joined the parish team at Holy Trinity and St George, Kendal in 2005 to enable him to commit more time to his Cenacolo work. In 2008 Fr Michael became the parish priest at St Leo's in Whiston and is now also the priest serving Holy Family, Cronton.
Rev Deacon Gerard Fishwick (b1947 - ) St Mary’s 2006 -
Gerard Fishwick (son of the late John and Mary Fishwick) was born in Charnock Richard in 1947, within the Parish of St. Mary’s, Euxton where he received his sacraments of initiation. He was an Altar Server for many years until at the age of 23 when he left the parish following his wedding to live in Eccleston
Gerard was educated at St Mary’s, Euxton Primary School, followed by Leyland Saint Mary’s Secondary School. Further Education took place at the Harris College Preston, Blackburn College, and Riversdale College Liverpool, leading to a Career in Road Transport Engineering. In 1970 he married Pat Worthington (daughter of the late Sam and Catherine Worthington) also a member of this Parish and a member of the church choir until their marriage. They now have three adult children and seven grandchildren. Due to a series of house moves they have lived in the parishes of: St Agnes Eccleston, St Joseph’s Withnell and St Gregory’s Weldbank before returning to live in Euxton in 1999.
Gerard was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate, together with six of his fellow trainees from the Archdiocese of Liverpool, at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool on 11th June 2006.
Rev Gerry McCusker St Mary’s 2006 -
Fr Gerry was born in Ireland and trained for the priesthood at St Joseph’s College, Upholland. His first appointment following his ordination was at Christ the King, Childwall - following this he served at St Patrick’s, Toxteth; Holy Family, Halewood; Holy Name, Fazakerley; and St Cecilia’s, Tuebrook before moving to St Teresa of Avila, St Helens, where he spent 13 years as Parish Priest. Following this he was Parish Priest for 4 years at St Catherine Laboure, Farington, before moving to St Mary’s in 2006.