1861 Census

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

Fox and Goose Pub

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

Digmoor Hall Farm

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

Click here to find out more


Skelmersdale Hall

Skelmersdale Hall

Skelmersdale Hall

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.


Sephton's Hall

Sephton's Hall



Sephton's Hall site today

Sephton's Hall site today

Sefton’s Hall

Location: Was near the bottom of Elmstead, Tanhouse, where it backs onto Tawd Road

To see what it looks like today point your mouse at the image

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.


Railway Hotel

Railway Hotel

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


Old Fox

Old Fox

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.


Hare & Hounds

Hare & Hounds

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


Stocks Farm site today

Stocks Farm site today

Stocks Farm

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


Slack House

Slack House

Slack House

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


Plough & Harrow

Plough & Harrow

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


Fox Inn

Fox Inn

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

One thought on “1861 Census

  1. Does anyone know where the refuse site was around this period,any reply would be gratefulnregards johb

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