In October last year (2022) my heart must have skipped a beat when I finally held in my hands the original register of Risley Chapel and Croft Unitarian Chapel. (I will be eternally grateful to David Shallcross at Chowbent Chapel for all of his help.)
I had been told repeatedly that it was lost, but I just couldn’t accept that. I already knew most of what was written inside it, as the person to last handle it was John Bulmer in 1979, who had transcribed most of the listings. It is something different though, to see the handwriting of all these people that I have researched for so long.
There are an extra 26 baptisms, 18 burials and 1 marriage to add to the previous transcription, which I am in the process of doing. I have also digitally scanned every page with any writing on, to make a permanent record for the future.
The register has now been returned to safekeeping and I thought I would share with you all a couple of details from the book.
The register was bought for Risley Chapel and has entries from 1787 onwards. When the Unitarians were ejected in 1838, they took the register with them, and it was in use until the last entry in 1958.
The cover is missing and what remains is in very poor shape. Not all of the events over time have been recorded in the register, mainly I think because of the many different ministers – there are nearly 70.
Some of the handwriting is beautiful, for example the titles for different parts of the book.
Only one marriage is recorded, though I know there were many more, from marriage certificates and newspaper entries. The chapel was registered for weddings in 1846. The one marriage entry is from 1947.
One of the earliest baptisms is from February 1787 and was Betty, the daughter of John and Betty Monks.
There are also some extra miscellaneous notes inside, such as this one written by Thomas Blackburne in 1810.