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The Parish of Milnrow
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Early Ministers of Milnrow


Year uncertain but was one of the Trustees of the new site for the chapel in 1496.
He is generally known as the first Priest of Milnrow.

Sir Henry FERRER

Years uncertain but was present at the Visitations for the years 1547, 1552, 1557, and 1563.

He was also witness to the Will of Arthur Scholfield on 23 August 1557.


Years uncertain but believed to be about 1565.


Years uncertain but his name appears on the baptismal register in 1584 but only as Mr Syckes in a will around the same time.

Lawrence HEY

Curate in 1589. He married in 30th April1593 Judith, the daughter of Robert Butterworth of Birchenley. Their son Abel was Christened in August 1893.

By 1608 he was Vicar of Walesby in Nottinghamshire.

Abel later became a Curate at Milnrow.


Years uncertain but he was first a Curate in Rochdale in 1602, from there he spent some time in Littleborough. On the resignation of the previous Curate he went to Milnrow but had resigned by 1611.He married his second wife Grace Chadwick in Milnrow by License on 27th September 1607. Two of his children where christened in Rochdale, Jane in 1605 and Mary in 1610. He spent a short time as Master of the Grammar School.

Grace his wife died in July 1616 and he the following year July 1617 and both are buried in Rochdale.


Years uncertain, but known to be Curate of Milnrow, in October 1611.

Cited, by the Bishop of Chester, on the above date, for not observing Saints’ days but following his ordinary occupation.

Abel HEY

Years uncertain. He was Ordained 18th December 1614 after graduating from Magdalen College, Oxford with a B.A. being just 21 years of age. He had a short ministry in Milnrow. He was on Church records within the year of his ordination in 1614 and died in 1617-18. He is buried in Rochdale.

Alexander SPENCER

Licensed to Milnrow 21st December 1619.
According to writings of the time, he did not get on well with his parishioners.


Known to be Curate in 1621.
He was married and according to writing of the times not a wealthy man.

He died and was buried in Rochdale on 12th October 1621 and his son Edward was baptised there on 24th Feb 1621-2.

Ferelye TONGUE

Exact years uncertain but according to Documents he was there in 1622.

Theophilus CHADWICK

Exact years unknown but was Curate from about January 1623-4.
He died unmarried and was buried at Rochdale 21st November 1640.
The date of his resignation from the parish is unknown.

Robert HILL

Little is known of him other than he was suspended for not appearing at a citation in September 1627 and never resumed his duties.


Exact years unknown but was Curate in 1627 and stayed for a very short time.


Licensed to Milnrow 20th August 1628 by 1629 he was in Littleborough.


First mention of him as Curate on parish documents was in 1628. He was also referred to as School Master. He had left by about 1634.

Richard WILD B.A.

Curate in January 1634. His son Richard was Christened at the Parish Church 21st June 1635. Known in documentation to still be in Milnrow in 1641-2.


Minister to Milnrow in 1650. A Church survey described him as “godly, orthodox and well qualified.”


Very little is known other than he was in Milnrow, according to Manor records, in 1658.


Became Curate at Milnrow 1668, remaining there until moving to Yorkshire in 1682.


Curate in Milnrow in 1671 and remained there for about two years.

Richard KIPPAX

Curate of Rochdale from 1668 to about 1679 the appointed to Milnrow.
He was instituted incumbent of Burnley in 1690.
His son John Kippax was Master of the Grammar School.


Believed to be the son of Rev Robert Smethurst Curate of Whitworth.

He graduated with a B.A. from the Emmanuel College, Cambridge in 1675 and was appointed to Milnrow. He died in Balderstone Hall and was buried at Rochdale in April 1691 age 36 years.


Appointed to Milnrow in 1693.
Possibly originated from Saddleworth.

He married Jennet Butterworth, daughter of John Butterworth of Low House, and his wife Jane Schofield, daughter of James Schofield of Goose Lane Rochdale.


Graduated with a B.A. from Brasenose Collage, Oxford in 1691 and M.A. in 1694.
He spent about two years in Milnrow before resigning.

Thomas MILNE

Appointed to Milnrow 14th September 1699 and remained for a short time only.
He was the only son of Charles Milne of Coldwall, Rochdale.

He was educated at the Grammar School and graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford with a B.A. 1697 and M.A. in 1700.


Exact years unknown but believed to be prior to 1703.
He remained until his death in 1718 aged about 32 years.
Known to have a day school in the area of Sparth, Rochdale.
Thought to be son of the Rev. Peter Asheton, Curate of Eland in the parish of Halifax.
Graduated from Peterhouse, Cambridge with a B.A. degree in 1696.

Married with at least one child.


Appointed to Milnrow in 1718.
Died in 1726, 60 years of age.
He was not married.

Educated at Kellet in Bolton Le Sands and graduated from St Johns College, Cambridge with a B.A. degree in 1710.

Curate in Liverpool in 1714, spent a short time at Leigh before coming to Milnrow.
Master of the Milnrow School in 1726.


Appointed to Milnrow in 1739.
Resigned in 1745 after receiving the sub-mastership of St Paul's School, London.
He died in London in 1763.
Graduated from Emmanuel College Cambridge with a B.A in 1735 and M.A. in 1745.
Was also Master of Rochdale Grammar School.


Exact year unknown but he came to Milnrow from Littleborough.
Born about 1704 and died in May 1759.

Son of Joseph Sutcliffe, clothier, of Stansfield, near Halifax, Yorkshire.
Matriculated at St Johns, Cambridge in 1722 age 18 years.
Graduated with a B.A. degree in 1725.
Married Margaret Travers in 1745, daughter of John Travers of Inchfield, gentleman.
He had an illness in the later years of his life and was paralysed.
He was taken to Church in his wheelchair and preached from his chair.

Joseph HAIGH

Appointed to Milnrow in 1759.
Born1710, Son of Henry Haigh of Overden in Halifax.
Died August 1759 aged 85 years and buried at Rochdale.
Graduated from Magdalen College, Cambridge with a B.A. in 1741.

Known to be Curate of Rochdale in 1745. The Vicar of Rochdale Dr. Dunster, on his death left Joseph in his will, his MS, sermons, black gown, beaver and bands, neck cloths. Married to Matilda at Rochdale on 13th September 1762, daughter, of Laurence Ashworth, Wildhouse.

She is recorded as some thirty years his junior.
They had a large family,
Lawrence, Martha and Joseph died in infancy, Elizabeth died in 1785,
Richard died in 1786 aged 28 years

He is recorded as saying, when asked to pray for rain, “Go away, I say go away; We shall have rain when the wind changes and not before.”

His widow Matilda died in 1813.


Nominated to Milnrow in 1795 but he does not appear to have been licensed to the incumbency. The duties of the Curate where performed by Mr Hodgson who eventually succeeded him.

He was Curate at Rochdale for a year between his graduation from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 1793 and his moving to Milnrow in 1795.

He died in Water Millock, Westmoreland in 1846.


Appointed the Curacy of Milnrow in October 1800.
Died 26th June 1832, at Church Cottage, Rochdale and buried at Milnrow.
Born in Melling, his father a yeoman and was baptised 19th March 1796.
Educated at Sedbergh Grammar School, Yorkshire.

On completing his education he came to Rochdale as assistant master to Rev. John Shaw of the Grammar School. By 1793 he was Curate of Rochdale. He married on 25th December 1797 Mary the daughter of Mr Hey of Whitworth.

They had children, William Hey Hodgeson, M.D. who was drowned.
Emma married Thomas Fferrand Dearden of the Elms, Coroner for South Lancashire and died in 1870.
Margaret who died unmarried.
Ellen married Rev. Edward John Raines B.D. Rector of Trinity Church Goodrangle.
Elizabeth married Rev. William Wilson M.A Vicar of Desborough,Northamptonshire.

Mary his wife died in 1822.

William had been performing his ministerial duties to within days of his death.

Francis Robert RAINES M.A., F.S.A.

In 1832 the incumbency of Milnrow was conferred upon him.
Died 17th October 1878 aged 73 years and was buried at Milnrow.

Francis was the third son of Isaac Raines M.D. of Burton, Pudsea in Holderness, County York. His mother was Ann, oldest daughter of the Rev. Joseph Robertson M.A. Vicar of Aislaby near Whitby.

Francis was born at Whitby 22 February 1805.
His early education was in Burton Pudsea.

He went to Clitheroe in 1817 to replace his brother who became ill while articled to William Coultate, Surgeon. When Mr Coultate moved to Burnley Francis was sent to Grammar School. On completing his education there, having decided that he disliked the Medical Profession, he went to St Bees College.

In 1828 he was ordained and had an M.A. degree conferred on him by the Archbishop of Canterbury. His first appointment was to Saddleworth, remaining there a short time before accepting a Curacy at Rochdale Parish Church. from Rev. W.R. Hey M.A., the Vicar of Rochdale. From here he was offered the incumbency of Milnrow where he remained until his death.

1841 he became domestic Chaplain to the Earl of Dunmore.
1843 elected to the Society of Antiquaries.
1845 made Justice of the Peace for the County.
1849 appointed Honorary Canon of Manchester and was Rural Dean for many years.
As one of the founders of the Chetham Society he was elected Vice President in 1858.

He affected great reforms and changes during his long incumbency in Milnrow. These changes had far reaching positive effects not only during the 1800s but far beyond affecting many future generations. As an antiquary, genealogist and local historian Canon Raines held the highest rank.

He edited 23 volumes of the Chetham Societies series and 44 folio volumes of manuscripts, which he bequeathed to the Chetham Society Library. He transcribed all the early documents of Milnrow Church, which had been left to ruin and deteriorate for many years. His handwriting was impeccable and a monument to his ability to strive for perfection and attain the highest degree of excellence. Church records and documents shows a man who disciplined himself to an exacting degree but was very fair and understanding towards his parishioners. A well respected man in his own community of Milnrow.

He married 21 November 1836, Honora Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Major John Beswicke of Pike House Littleborough.

They had children, Susan Ann Robertson who died in infancy,
Honora Bella married George Twycross of Horstead House, near Brighton, Sussex.
Florence Addison.

He is buried in Milnrow and a monument to his memory reads
“by his sorrowing Parishioners and friends.”
I would say,
“this is a man who made a difference and shared what he had of himself with others”

Howard Augustus CROSBIE

Exact dates unknown but he succeeded Cannon Raines, resigning in 1885 on his appointment to the Vicarage of Trumpington in Cambridgeshire.


The dates are unknown other than he followed the Rev. Wright on his resignation.

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