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Parish History

A History of the Parish of St Mary's was published in 2015 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the opening of the church.  

Click on the thumbnail below to read this History:

The Earliest Days   

There is a long history of Catholicism in Euxton stretching back to pre-Reformation days, with two of Lancashire's oldest Catholic families - the Andertons and the Molyneuxs - having had significant links with Euxton over the best part of the last 650 years. 


In describing the history of Euxton, Dr Keurden (1622-1700) a noted historian of the time records that "About the year 1360, Sir William Molyneux became Lord of the Manor by marrying....  so the manor of Euxton came to the inheritance of the Molyneux family....". The Molyneux family were historically the Earls of Sefton, and that for a period in the medieval times Euxton was known as "Euxton by Sefton" (with a variety of spellings!). The manorial estate was later sold to William Ince Anderton whose family seat had been at Euxton Hall since the reign of Henry VIII, and the ties between two of Lancashire's foremost Catholic families of the time (the Anderton and Molyneux families) were further strengthened by the marriage of William Anderton to Mary, daughter of Viscount Molyneux in 1738. The Molyneux family maintained its Catholic tradition until 1768, when Charles Molyneux (at that time a minor and the heir to the Molynuex title, and who had received a Protestant education) publicly conformed to the Established Church. 


The first indication of Christianity in Euxton lies in the placename of Armetriding, whose Old English meaning is “Hermit-Riding” or place of the hermit. The first documentary evidence of Christianity is found in a Deed of 1330 in which “Robert, the son of Richard the Priest of Eukeston” makes a grant of land (interestingly enough, the land was previously owned by Avice of Ermetriding!). A later related Deed names “Richard, the son of Robert the Priest of Eukeston” and “Robert, the son of Gilbert the Priest of Eukeston”, so perhaps there was some sort of religious community here. Euxton's Catholic history can be traced back to the 14th century, when it housed a "chapel of ease" to Leyland Parish Church (perhaps with “Richard the Priest” in residence?).


Euxton Parish Church

the former Catholic church)


The then-Catholic chapel at Euxton (now the Church of England parish church) is believed to have been rebuilt by the Molyneux family in the 16th century. The “Historical Notices of the Diocese of Chester” record that “In the 15th (year) of Henry VIII (ie 1524) James Anderton of Euxton founded a Chantry in the Chapel of Euxton for a Priest to pray for the souls of himself and Agnes, his wife” – the first mention of the Anderton family in relation to the Chapel. The chapel remained "in Catholic hands" long after the Reformation, as the ownership was vested in the Molyneux family rather than the Catholic Church, although few services took place there and it gradually fell into disrepair, before the ownership was transferred to the Church of England in 1718. In 1687, however, as the restrictions on the practice of the Faith were temporarily eased under James II, the Vicar Apostolic, Bishop Leyburn, undertook a nationwide Confirmation tour and it is notable that 1,138 Catholics of the Leyland Hundred were Confirmed at the Catholic Chapel in Euxton, although this brief respite from the earlier persecution was followed by a further period of persecution.


Prior to the restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy in 1850, local clergy depended entirely on the support of benefactors to enable them to live and provide religious services. Given that early clergy tended to be from the “gentrified classes” some of this support came from their families (and, indeed some priests were relatively wealthy in their own right) but the main support tended to come from the local gentry – in Euxton the prime (but not sole) benefactors were the Anderton family.


From the earliest days of the persecution in Elizabethan times up until 1865 the Catholics of Euxton practiced their faith at Euxton Hall, the manor house of the Anderton family. Throughout this time Catholics were still buried in the “Parish Church” graveyard - the “Historical Notices of the Diocese of Chester” (1725) record that “The remnant of a stone Cross, of some antiquity, formerly in the Chapel, lies neglected outside the gate of the Chapel-yard, and is used by the Roman Catholics at their funerals as a station”.


The Catholic Chapel at Euxton Hall was originally a single small room in the Hall, to enable concealment of the celebration of the holy mass and sacraments. From the Reformation until 1735 there is no regular record of priests officiating at Euxton, although records suggest that the Rev. Thomas Towneley was the priest around 1725 and that the 7th Viscount Molyneux (William), a Jesuit priest who was the brother-in-law of the then squire, lived and officiated at Euxton Hall around 1730.


Euxton Recusants   

Euxton was a noted centre of Catholicism during the Penal Times and numerous Euxton folk are named as Recusants in the Quarter Session records of the time:


Euxton Recusants, 1630   

Thomas More

Robert Hodgson  


Euxton Recusants, 1632 

Robert Worthington

William Reskow

John Sharrock    (Yeoman)

William Critchlow         

Henry Stones 

     for Agnes Gradwell  


Euxton Recusants, 1678 

William Anderton   (Gentleman)  

Maria Anderton       (wife of William)

John Walmesley      (Gentleman)

Margaret Walmesley     (wife of John)

Henry Vusworth       (Husbandman)

William Cowper      (Labourer)

Margaret Cowper     (Spinster)

George Bankcroft     (Carpenter)

Jenett Bankcroft      (wife of George)

Euxton Recusants, 1682 

Willus Anderton        (Gentleman)

Johes Mawdsley       (Gentleman)         

Robtus Storres          (Yeoman)          

Margrett Anderton    (Widow)         

Margrett Tootell      (Widow)

Robtus Hudson       (Husbandman)              

Maria Hudson           (Wife)             

Edrus Woodcocke     (Yeoman)         

Ricus Moore          (Husbandman)     

Margrett Wadsworth         (Spinster) 

Ellena Cocker           (Widow)           

Margrett Swanie        (Spinster)  

Robtus Stones          (Yeoman)

Thomas Cooper         (Husbandman)

Anna Cooper           (Wife)

Willius Mellnige        (Husbandman)

Ellena Mellnige         (Wife)              

Anna Hodson           (Widow)           

Anna Bowlinge        (Shoemaker)            

          wife of Thome

Willius Woodcocke        (Husbandman)      

Henricus Unsworth        (Husbandman)       

Jana Unsworth              (Wife)  

Margrett Allnison          (Widow)      

Willus Anderton           (Gentleman)     

Johes Winstanley         (Gentleman)       

Robtus Stones           (Gentleman) 

Margareta Roby       (Widow)   

Ellena Woodcocke       (Widow)   

Margaret Ffishwicke       (Widow)         



Euxton Recusants in the Reign of Charles II 

Margaret Rigby         (Spinster)     

Alicia Rigby                (Spinster)            

Thomas Moore          (Husbandman)               

Jenetta Moore             (Wife)             

Ricardus Moore

  fil predicti Thome Moore

Robertus Hodgson        (Husbandman)          

Maria Hodgson                (Wife)          

Margaret Tootell

          wife of Willelmi

Jenetta Houghton           (Widow)         

Ricardus Houghton

Hugo Woodcock              (Yeoman)         

          his Wife

Willelmus Woodcock

Willelmus Melling            (Husbandman)          

Ellena his Wife

Anna Hodgson                   (Widow)       

Willelmus Radsworth        (Husbandman)         

Margareta Radsworth         (Spinster)         

Thomas Roscow                 (Husbandman)       

         Anna his Wife 

Laurencius Breares             (Yeoman)       

  his Wife

Jane Melling               (Spinster)               

Alicia Nixon                   (Widow)              

Anna ffisher                   (Widow)             

Henricus Unsworth        (Labourer)          

          Alicia his Wife         


The above lists are testimony to Euxton’s commitment to the faith over the Centuries.

Additional information re: the Critchlows of Euxton (family named in the 1632 List of Recusants)

The stories of the three brothers Critchlow of Euxton, as told by themselves on entering the English College at Rome in 1627–9, are of much interest.

William Critchlow, aged about twenty seven at his entry in 1627, said he was the 'son of Ralph Critchlow, senior, and Catherine Tootell his wife. Born in the parish of Leyland, Lancashire, he was brought up and lived there for the greater part of his life. His parents belonged to the middle class of society and were in moderate circumstances. He had three brothers and two sisters; all his relations, except one, were Catholic. After beginning his education, until thirteen, he then took to mercantile pursuits for ten years, when he again returned to his studies. He was always a Catholic, and left England 17 June 1626. He had suffered a little for his faith, having been seized and sent to the Tower of London, from which he effected his escape by means of a bribe, which cost him £20. He was at length sent into exile to Belgium, and there applied himself to study under the fathers of the Society. At college he showed himself 'a pious man and an example of all good'; he was ordained priest and sent to England in 1634.

Oliver Critchlow, his brother, aged about twenty-one at his admission in 1628, had been arrested between London and Dover when on his way to Douay about 1624, but had escaped by a bribe. He was 'of remarkable virtue, distinguished for humility'; was ordained and sent on the English mission in 1635. He died at Clayton Hall August 1671.

Richard Critchlow, a third brother, aged nineteen on his admission in 1629, stated that 'he studied at home until he was fourteen years of age; then when on his way in company with others to prosecute his studies in Lower Germany he was captured on the River Thames and taken back to London, and was detained there in gaol for some time by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who examined him. Some months after, having obtained his liberty, he was compelled to return home. In the following year he went again to London, seeking an opportunity of embarking, but the plague raged there, and he was compelled a second time to return home. He made his humanities at St. Omer's College for three years'. He also was ordained and was sent on the English mission in 1636.


Extracted from The Victoria County History of Lancaster, published 1911

Parishioners in 1767        

Between 1680 and 1781, Parliament requested information about known or reputed Roman Catholics on a number of occasions. In 1767 individual names of people were recorded - the following is an extract of the Diocese of Chester Return of Papists living in Euxton recorded in 1767:

Whilst this is a valuable record of Catholics in Euxton at the time, it doesn’t tell the full story. This Return records a total of 95 Catholics as living in Euxton, although there is the possibility that some Catholics may not have wanted to register (where are the Anderton family, for example?) - additionally the boundary of the Mission as it was at the time extended beyond the physical boundary of Euxton Burgh. From the start of the Baptismal Register in 1740 up to 1767 there were 220 baptisms at the Euxton Hall chapel, and very few of the above householders and their children who were born in that timescale were among those baptised…..  so – it seems certain that there would have been more than 95 Catholics in the Euxton Mission in 1767. 

An interesting point to emerge from this record lies in the years of residence of the householders – one tends to think of “old Euxton” to be a place where families lived for generations with few incomers, whereas only 5 of these householders in 1767 had lived in Euxton for their whole lifetime – additionally, virtually none of the surnames recorded in the 17th Century Recusant Rolls are apparent in the 1767 Return – where did these people go?


The Catholic Mission in Euxton     

Some historical records date the foundation of the Catholic Mission in Euxton as 1718 – the “Historical Notes on English Catholic Missions” states that this was the date when “a chapel was constructed at Euxton Hall ‘in a room open to the public” - but the more widely accepted date of the establishment of the permanent mission in Euxton is 1735 - the Rev. Thomas Anderton, uncle to the then squire William Anderton and priest at Towneley for 36 years, made his will in 1735 and bequeathed most of his property "for the support of the Chapel which I have established at Euxton Hall". The Rev Anderton (who had been born in Euxton in 1675) died in 1741 and it is from this time that a permanent clergy was appointed and the Parish Registers commence. It can reasonably be said that Rev Thomas Anderton was the founder of the post-Reformation Catholic Chapel in Euxton.


The Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1791 relieved Catholics of a number of restrictions – among the provisions of the Act, Catholics were permitted the exercise of their religion, and the existence of their schools and their chapels were required to be registered - the Euxton Hall Chapel was registered on the 6th October 1791. But where exactly was the Chapel located historically?


It is clear that the “1718 Chapel” was inside the Hall, but the Hall was rebuilt in 1739 and, it must be presumed, the Chapel would have been affected. “Our Country Churches and Chapels” records: “The Catholic Chapel at Euxton Hall was at first only a small room, up some back steps, at the north-west corner of the old building. It was often altered and enlarged as occasion required until a new chapel was built in 1817, at the south-east corner, by public subscription.”  This narrative seems quite clear that (pre-1817) the Chapel was always inside the Hall – however the history “Landed Families of Britain and Ireland” records:  “For a time the family had masses said in a room in the house, but Fr. Thomas Anderton (1675-1741) created a new Catholic chapel adjoining the hall, which was rebuilt by public subscription in 1817” which clearly implies that a separate, external, Chapel existed before 1817.


The wording of the appeal made by William Ince Anderton in 1816 for subscriptions towards the building of a new Chapel could be interpreted as supporting the thesis that a separate, external, Chapel already existed:

 “The old Chapel at Euxton Hall being considerably too small for the present congregation, William Anderton Esq has agreed to give a Building near to the old chapel, which is intended to be enlarged and make other alterations necessary to be done by subscription of the congregation which being very poor the assistance of the charitably disposed is most humbly requested”.


Additionally, in providing information about the new church to Slater’s Directory in November 1864, Fr Worthy commenced as follows: “The Roman Catholic Chapel which for 130 years has been attached to Euxton Hall has become dilapidated and inadequate……”   again: a fairly clear implication that the Chapel was external to the Hall, with the reference to 130 years implicitly confirming that this was the “Rev Thomas Anderton Chapel”.


Unless new evidence comes to light, we might never have total certainty as to when the first “external Chapel” was established.


Wherever the earlier Chapel was, a new Chapel was built in 1817 by William Ince Anderton, partly funded by public subscription. The list of Subscribers was opened in 1816 and around 100 individual subscribers contributed £345. The expenditure on the Chapel was £535 which left a debt of around £200 – it isn’t known exactly how and when the debt was repaid, but it is known that the Anderton family bought the chapel back from the Church in order to provide the funds to commence the building of a new church, so it is likely that the debt was cleared at that time – in any event, the balance in this “Church Building Fund” was £661 in 1853.


By this time the Catholic congregation was beginning to outgrow the “1817 chapel” and the newly-established Diocese wanted to erect its own Church Buildings. The process of agreeing the site, design and financing of the new Church buildings (including the Church itself, Priest’s house, School, Schoolteacher’s house, and Cemetery) took some years to complete – far longer, indeed, than the actual building activity!

Euxton Hall 1741.jpg

This engraving of Euxton Hall as it was after its 1739 re-build was published in 1846,  showing the Chapel to the right of the main building

Chief Benefactors of the Euxton Mission   

Prior to the restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy in 1850, local clergy depended entirely on the support of benefactors to enable them to live and provide religious services. Given that early clergy tended to be from the “gentrified classes” some of this support came from their families (and, indeed some priests were relatively wealthy in their own right) but the main support tended to come from the local gentry – in Euxton the prime (but not sole) benefactors were the Anderton family. They provided the initial place of worship in Euxton Hall during the penal times, they provided accommodation and a living for the priests of the Euxton Mission for around 150 years prior to the restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy in 1850. As has been described, the family established the post-Reformation Catholic Chapel in Euxton Hall and continued to be generous benefactors to the Parish right up to the extinction of the Anderton line with the death of Sir Francis Anderton in 1950.  

The chief benefactors of the church building were Sir William Ince Anderton and George Garstang who are honoured as such on the church foundation-stone.


The land on which the church buildings stand were gifted by Mr Garstang (a local landowner who died in 1868 aged 95 and was buried in the church graveyard).


Sir William Ince Anderton contributed £1000 towards the cost of the church building and additionally funded the building and outfitting of the Anderton Chapel within the church. Sir William died in 1884 aged 58 and was buried in the family vault beneath the Anderton Chapel alongside his wife Lady Emma.

Rev Thomas Anderton

Thomas Anderton was born in Euxton on 22nd May 1675, the son of William Anderton of Euxton and Mary Ffarington of Worden. 


In April 1697 he became alumnus of Douay College and he was subsequently admitted to the English College at Rome in September 1699. In 1702 he was ordained priest and he left Rome for Paris in 1703 where he probably continued his studies at St Gregorys' Seminary. 


In June 1705 he arrived at Towneley Hall as the new Chaplain, where he remained throughout the rest of his missionary life until his death in 1741. The Catholics of Towneley were of Jacobite sympathies at the time of the 1715 rebellion, as is shown by a register kept by the Rev Anderton, and in January 1716 he was convicted as a recusant at Lancaster sessions, having been reported by John Haydock, the high-constable of Blackburn Hundred, to the Commissioners for Forfeited Estates as "... One Anderton a reputed popish priest at Towneley ...".  For a period in 1717 he did not celebrate Mass, probably being in hiding to avoid discovery by the Commissioners when they visited Towneley. 


In July 1732 he was elected archdeacon of Lancashire and remained such until his death on 13th July 1741, aged 66. 


As indicated above, Rev Anderton made his Will on 9th September 1735 and bequeathed most of his property "for the support of the Chapel which I have established at Euxton Hall" in addition to named family beneficiaries including his nephew William Anderton of Euxton, the then squire of Euxton Hall. It can therefore be reasonably inferred that Rev Thomas Anderton was the founder of the post-Reformation Catholic Chapel in Euxton. 



But what of other benefactors and sources of income for the Mission?

Surviving Parish Records indicate that numerous bequests were made to the Church in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries by local families. These bequests largely seem to have been held by local gentry on behalf of the Church (rather than held directly by the Priest) and interest or a specified bequest was paid annually – occasionally this led to problems in later years, particularly in relation to the ownership of land/rights to revenue from land testated by Rev Thomas Anderton in 1735. Typically these bequests required the Priest to say Masses or Prayers for deceased family members, or paid for Bench Rents.

Monies were bequeathed in a variety of ways to support the Priest and Mission, with the saying of Masses and Prayers being the most common obligation placed on the Priest. The surviving Parish Records contain a number of lists of “Anniversary Masses” resulting from bequests – one of these lists is reproduced here…. there is no explanation of the dates, but it might be assumed that they are the dates of death of the named individuals.

List of Anniversary Masses (1846)

Jan 15        Thomas Hornby  (1818)                   

Jan 20        Mary Blundell

Jan 22        Frances Rothwell

Feb 7          Rev John White

Feb 12        Elizabeth Hornby  (1818)                  

Feb 15        John Martin   (1808)                        

Feb 20        Hon Mary Anderton

April 19       Elizabeth Daniel      (1728)               

April 20       Margaret Jenkinson

May 7          Ellen Holland

May 12        Mary Holland

May 18        Robert Daniel jnr      (1778)             

May 23        Gilbert Lancaster

May 24        Rev Luke White

May 25        John White

May 26        Alice White

July 1          Jenny Daniel         (1780)                 

July 6          Margaret Walker      (1815)              

July 25        Rev William Daniel     (1777)            

Aug 4          Thomas Welsh

Aug 5          William Blundell

Aug 13        Mary Towneley

Aug 25        Rev Thomas Daniel       (1770)            

Sept 1         Frances & Ann Lancaster

Sept 1         The Whole of the Daniel Family

Oct 16         William Anderton of Euxton     (1744) 

                    (grandfather of the present)

Oct 24         Ellen Daniel             (1727)               

Nov 28         Mrs Sefton & friends

Dec 7           Anne Lancaster

Dec 16         Thomas Clifton

Dec 17         Robert Daniel snr     (1731)              

Dec 25         Mrs Welsh

The earliest donation mentioned in the surviving Parish Records dates back to the Penal Times: in a note to Fr Worthy written in 1855 he is asked to “distribute monies to the poor of Euxton and Charnock out of Peter Smith’s Farm…” – Fr Worthy has annotated this note thus: “14 Feb 1733 recites the charge comes originally from Richard Roscoe”, and “Comes originally from Richard Houghton 1666” (nb Richard Houghton is named in the list of "Convicted Recusants in the Reign of Charles II”, one of 27 Euxton folk listed)


The earliest “contemporary” document in the Parish Records is of a letter from Robert Dalton to Rev Swarbreck dated 1779, in which he writes: “My grandfather left a hundred pounds to one Foster of Charnock the interest of which he was obliged to pay to ye Priest who said Prayers etc at Park Hall….”.  Mr Dalton goes on to say that he later “made my own Donation which was the first in the late Mr White’s time”. His letter continues to say that he intends to “order my Steward to pay you four Guineas next Rent Day….. to say twelve Masses in every twelve Months for ye last person of ye Family of ye Daltons who died last.”  


Other bequests from Wills referred to in the Parish Records include those of:

Thomas Hornby’s Will of 1817

     £45 for 3 masses per annum & residue for School & Books

Thomas Welsh’s Will (before 1793)

    “A sum of £50 in Trust, to pay fifty shillings a year to the officiating Priest of

    the Romish Chapel at Euxton Hall for the use of a Bench, or Seat, or Form

    within the same Chapel”.


Codicil of Rev Anderton’s Will of 1735, specific bequests to support “the Chappell”:

    … From Boggards Inn for to furnish the Altar with Wine, Wafers, Wax

       Candles, Vestments or other Necessaries for the Chappell per Annum

       for ever…..                                                                                            £5:0:0

    … From Boggards Inn as a Provision for the Priest’s Board to be paid to the

       Master or Mistress Anderton per Annum……..                                £5:0:0 

    … Interest from ye Remainder of Effects for ever of a £100 to ye Priest at

       Euxton to pray for Mrs Helen & Mary Holland frequently…….     £100:0:0


It can be seen that monies were bequeathed in a variety of ways to support the Priest and Mission, with the saying of Masses and Prayers being the most common obligation placed on the Priest.


Among the most significant early benefactions to the Mission was that of Rev John White who bequeathed the money that enabled Rev Robert Swarbrick to build the first Priest’s house separate from Euxton Hall – this apparently in 1804. 

Church Inventories

At least until Fr Worthy’s time at the Parish, the household furniture and effects of the Priests House were largely the personal property of the individual priest. Inventory lists record the contents of the House at the end of the tenures of Rev Higginson and Rev Gillow, and the surviving Parish Records contain a series of receipts for payments from Fr Worthy to Fr Gillow between 1852 and 1854 for furniture and effects.


The Parish Records also contain a full inventory of “Church Property belonging to Euxton Mission” produced by Fr Worthy in 1860, primarily listing artefacts associated with the Church, rather than the House. The only “Church-owned” items in the Priests House were a silver tea service and an “indefinite quantity and quality of books left by Rev Thomas Anderton (1740) to be kept as heirlooms….” (some of the book titles are listed) - unfortunately none of these artefacts have survived to the present day.


Referring to the “Church Inventory”: of local interest might be the inclusion of 10 boys Surplices,  Cassocks, and Slippers, when linked to a separate document in the surviving Records (of the late 1850’s) containing the following list of Acolytes:

     Richard Winstanley

     Edward Blakeledge

     Richard Rosbottom

     Michael Aspinall

     John Banks

     James Moore

     Thomas Barlow

     Edward Banks

     James Swarbreck

All these boys had been Baptised at St Mary’s during the 1840s, and this list of Altar Boys is the only surviving record of Parish volunteers of any sort.

Lest We Forget        

The War Memorial Cross was erected in the church grounds following the First World War to commemorate the 9 parishioners who gave their lives in that conflict. An extension to the Memorial was added after World War II to further commemorate the 7 parishioners who gave their lives in that conflict.


We remember these fallen Parishioners on our website here>  Lest We Forget


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