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(Extract from guide book of 1957)
It was thought probable that further information on the history of "Saynte Mariden" could be gained from an examination of the records at Lichfield Registry Office. It is revealed, however, that there is little to add to what is already known, and we are assured that the compilers of the Victoria County History made very exhaustive research in the archives there.
We have, however, examined the records relating to the church preserved in the Diocesan Registry Office at Chester. They cover only the period during which Deane Parish was in the Chester Diocese, and include letters and other documents relating to:-
Bishop's Transcripts of Deane Registers for the years 1604, 1613, 1614, 1615, 1617, 1619, 1621, 1624, 1626, 1627, 1628 and 1629 were also kept at Chester. All except the one for 1604 have recently been deposited in the Lancashire Record Office at Preston.
The recording of baptisms, marriages and burials were ordered by Henry VIII. The earliest original Deane Parish Register is dated 1637. An earlier register which has been lost began not later than 1598, for it was referred to during a lawsuit in that year. Entries in the registers were made in Latin until the year 1735.
The perusal of old parish registers is interesting. There is the continuity of surnames from the earliest register until the present day. Parsons sometimes, to explain an unusually large number of burials, would make such an entry as the one by James Rothwell under the date September, 1727- "These dyed of a fever. But in some respects ye disorder resembled ye Plague, and continues amongst us above two years- J.R. vic."
A record of baptism reads "October 8th, 1665 -John O'God's Sending." The child was found on the vicarage doorstep one morning; it was taken in and adopted by the Vicar, Rev. John Angier.
Again, outstanding events of local interest were noted such as one by Robert Latham in which he comments on the entry in the burials register of "Wm. son of Wm. Horrocks of Rumworth October 31st, 1796." At the foot of the page he writes -"Wm. son of Wm. Horrocks was robed and murdered by Saml. Longworth in Dean Church Lane as he was returning from Bolton about 8 o'clock at night October 27th, 1796. Longworth was executed at Lancaster in the beginning of April following. Gibited on Dean Moor and hung about 8 weeks."
In 1667 The Law for Burying in Woollens was passed. This was intended to help a declining woollen trade due to an increasing linen industry. Bodies could be buried in linen or other material on payment of a fine. The Act was not repealed until 1814. To indicate that the law had been complied with many registers have the entry "Affidavit received." There are no such entries in the Deane registers but evidently fines were collected when the law was not observed, and record made in the books of the townships as the following entry shows -
"December 26th, 1683. We whose names are subscribed do agree that Symon Haydock (Parish Constable) do pay the 4s. 9d. in his hands unto Robte Ward and we desire that Martin Taylor, churchwarden would also pay 7s. 11d. towards satisfying 3 Hultons and Rumworth for Mr. Harpur's burying in Linen...."
We see from the records how churchwardens had certain civil as well as ecclesiastical responsibilities and how that they themselves -at least the wardens at Deane- were not above public censure and control, for a meeting of parishioners on April 16th, 1734, resolved "That ye churchwardens at ye expiration of their office shall be allowed according to custom eight shillings and no more.... That ye churchwardens for the future shall not allow any workman drink at ye parish expence, nor be allowed themselves any drink...."
Our old registers, churchwardens' accounts, faculties and other documents were deposited in the County Record Office in 1949 for safe keeping.
It has been mentioned previously that amongst the Hulton documents deposited at the County Record Office are some relating to the church and several of these have been quoted, but the most valuable relic amongst them is the original Letters Patent creating the Parish of Deane. The document is in Latin manuscript and is wonderfully well preserved including the gold of the initial letter. The Great Seal of England is affixed by silk cords of green and white, the Tudor colours. A framed copy of the Letters Patent hangs in the Church.