The 1861 Census for England was taken on the night of April 7th 1861 and gives a fascinating insight as to how people lived in Skelmersdale at the time.
Skelmersdale was in the Superintendent Registrar’s District of Ormskirk and in the Sub-District of Lathom. It was Enumeration District 7 and the name of the enumerator was a man called Charles Rigby. His description of the area he was encompassing was “The whole of the Township of Skelmersdale.”Apart from individual farms, homes, pubs and large residential areas such as Sandy Lane and Swifts Fold, no other streets are named on the census, they are merely marked down as “Skelmersdale”. No street numbers exist either. In comparison, Up Holland was a massive area, taking in now fewer than six different census areas under the Superintendent Registrar’s District of Wigan . This was because that most of East Skelmersdale – Digmoor, Holland Moor, Pimbo etc – was classed as Up Holland.What we now know as Tanhouse today was still classed as Skelmersdale.
Enumeration forms were distributed to all households a couple of days before census night and the complete forms were collected the next day. At the time, Skelmersdale was mostly made up of farms, especially in Digmoor, Tanhouse, Birch Green and Ashurst. There are also a great number of pubs which have long since gone. These include The Cross Keys in Digmoor, the Bull’s Head and Robin Hood. Also, there were a number of small farms and grocery shops in the Little Digmoor/Pimbo areas.
Old Skem – Sandy Lane and Swifts Fold particularly – had the largest concentration of households and was showing early signs of the thriving centre it was to become over the next 100 years. Some forgotten farms in Old Skem include Jackson’s Farm, Anderton’s and Johnson’s which were somewhere around the Church Road area.
We have picked out just a few of the more better-known landmarks in Skelmersdale to give a flavour of what life was like in 1861.
Please click over the images to see them full-size.
Fox and Goose pub, Wigan Road
Location: Near Marie Curie Island
Head: Ralph Bolton, aged 35, engine fitter and innkeeper. Born in Wigan.
Wife: Margaret Bolton, aged 29, an engine fitter’s wife. Born in Skelmersdale
Daughter: Martha Bolton, aged 7, a scholar. Born in Skelmersdale
Visitor: Benjamin Fairbrother, aged 25, a ship carpenter. Born in Wigan
Servant: Margaret McNeil, aged 14, a house servant. Born in Ireland.
Digmoor Hall Farm
Location: Was on the Pimbo Industrial Estate road which runs parallel with M58 – just a few hundred yards from the old Snack Factory
Head: James Thompson, aged 28, farmer of 65 acres employing 5 labourers and 1 boy. Born in Halsall, Lancs.
Wife: Margaret Thompson, aged 24, a farmer’s wife. Born in Halsall.
Son: John Thompson, aged 3. Born in Halsall.
Daughter: Ann Thompson, aged 1. Born in Up Holland.
Servant: Esther Winstanley, aged 24, a house servant. Born in Whiston.
Servant: Elizabeth Ashurst, aged 14, a house servant. Born in Up Holland
Servant: Peter Draper, aged 21, a carter. Born in Up Holland
Servant: Richard Fishwick, aged 19, a carter. Born in Billinge
Servant: John Rimmer, aged 9, a servant. Born in Haskayne
Servant: Bimson Tomlinson, aged 42, a labourer. Born in Hindley
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Location: Now Old Toby Inn, Ashurst
Head: Thomas M. Piggot, aged 20, farmer of 633 hectares employing 4 men and three woman. Born in Bortherton, Cheshire.
Servant: Jane Brooks, aged 36, a housekeeper. Born in Standish, Wigan
Servant: Margaret Corless, aged 14, a general servant. Born in Dalton
Servant: Richard Glover, aged 19, a carter. Born in Dalton
Servant: John Morris, aged 21, a carter. Born in Upton, Cheshire
Servant: Richard Thompson, aged 12, a groomer. Born in Dalton.
Location: Was near the bottom of Elmstead, Tanhouse, where it backs onto Tawd Road
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Head: Richard Banks, aged 56, farmer of 195 acres employing 2 men. Born in Kirby, Lancs.
Wife: Ann Banks, aged 57, farmer’s wife. Born in Lathom.
Son: Henry Banks, aged 21, farmer’s son. Born in Lathon.
Daughter: Ann Phillipson, aged 19, farmer’s daughter. Born in Lathom.
Grandson: Richard T. Phillipson, aged three months. Born in Skelmersdale
Servant: James Berry, aged 27, a cow man. Born in Up Holland.
Servant: John Molyneux, aged 14, a plough boy. Born in Lathom.
The Railway Hotel
Location: Now the Railway Tavern, Ormskirk Road
Head: Theophilus Dewsbury, aged 55, an innkeeper. Born in Birmingham
Wife: Mary Dewsbury, aged 40, an innkeeper’s wife. Born in Burscough
Son: John Dewsbury, aged 1. Born in Skelmersdale.
Son: Frederick Dewsbury, aged 28, a groom. Born in Lathom.
Daughter: Ann Dewsbury, aged 16, an innkeeper’s daughter. Born in Lathom.
Daughter: Mary Dewsbury, aged 23, an inkeeper’s daughter. Born in Lathom
The Old Fox
Location: Used to be on corner of Church Road, Wigan Road
Head: Ellen Ashcroft, aged 49, farmer of 1.5 acres. Born in Ormskirk.
Daughter: Ann Ashcroft, aged 11, a scholar. Born in Skelmersdale.
The Hare and Hounds
Location: Ormskirk Road, Holland Moor
Head: William Culshaw, aged 63, a publican. Born in Downholland
Wife: Ellen Culshaw, aged 56. Born in Cheshire
Son: William Culshaw, aged 14, a scholar. Born in Up Holland
Daughter: Elizabeth Culshaw, aged 13, a scholar. Born in Up Holland
Location: Now Willow Hey, New Church Farm
Head: Thomas Jones, aged 60, farmer of 27 acres. Born in Burscough
Wife: Margaret Jones, aged 52, farmer’s wife. Born in Burscough
Daughter: Margaret Jones, aged 27, farmer’s daughter. Born in Burscough
Son: Robert Jones, aged 23, blacksmith journeyman. Born in Burscough
Daughter: Alice Jones, aged 20, farmer’s daughter. Born in Burscough
Son: Charles Jones, aged 15, farmer’s son. Born in Lathom
Son: John Jones, aged 13, farmer’s son. Born in Lathom.
Son: Thomas Jones, aged 10, farmer’s son. Born in Skelmersdale
Son: Henry Jones, aged 7, farmer’s son. Born in Skelmersdale
Location: Wigan Road
Head: Elizabeth Spencer, aged 29, beer seller. Born in Skelmersdale
Daughter: Margaret Spencer, aged 9, scholar. Born in Skelmersdale
Daughter: Mary Spencer, aged 5, scholar. Born in Skelmersdale
Daughter: Cicely Spencer, aged 2. Born in Skelmersdale
The Plough and Harrow
Location: Ormskirk Road, Up Holland
Head: John Pye, aged 45, a wheelwright. Born in Up Holland
Wife: Elizabeth Pye, aged 38, wheelwright’s wife. Born in Newburgh
Niece: Margaret Widdows, aged 6. Born in Pemberton, Wigan
Journeyman: Hugh Richardson, aged 22, a wheelwright. Born in Rainford
Apprentice: Edward Naylor, aged 15, a wheelwright. Born in Liverpool
The Fox Inn
Location: Now The Hungry Fox, Roby Mill
Head: Edward Marsh, aged 51, a licensee. Born in Ashton, Lancs
Wife: Mary Marsh, aged 53. Born in Golborne, Lancs
Daughter: Mary Marsh, aged 23. Born in Ashton, Lancs
Daughter: Sarah Marsh, aged 19. Born in Ashton, Lancs