Cumbria Archive Service - catalogues and guides - independent and congregational churches

The Congregational church had its origins in Separatism, an extreme Protestant religious grouping of the 16th century. After fierce persecution, and after the passing of the Act of Uniformity, Separatism in England was left devastated. The movement was re-established in 1616 by Henry Jacob. Societies known as Independents, sprang up in different parts of the country. Each church, as an autonomous entity, supported its own ministers and might belong to a voluntary district association.

In the late 17th and early 18th centuries the demarcation between the Independent or Congregational movement as it came to be known and the Presbyterian movement became very blurred. The result was that the same chapel might at various times be described somewhat confusingly as Presbyterian, Independent or Congregational. In 1831 the Congregational associations joined together to form the Congregational Union of England and Wales. In October 1972 the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England joined together to form the United Reformed Church in England and Wales. However, as if to emphasise their original separatist nature, some churches did not enter the union in 1972 and remain totally independent.

Registers of Congregational churches seldom begin before the 18th century and more usually do not commence until the 19th century.

The following independent church records can be seen at Carlisle Archives on microfilm:
Alston (Red Wing/Low Chapel); Aspatria; Brampton (Zion); Carlisle (Annetwell); Cockermouth; Kirkoswald (Parkhead Hudlesceugh/Parkhead Meeting House); Penrith (Ebenezer); Whitehaven; Wigton (Water Street); Workington

The following independent church records can be seen at Kendal Library on microfilm:
Kirkby Lonsdale (Congregational Independent/Back Lane)

The following independent church records can be seen at Whitehaven Archives on microfilm:
Workington (priestgate Low Meeting House)

Use the links below to browse the catalogue for records for a particular church.  You will also be able to see at which Archive Centre the original records are preserved. If detailed online catalogues are not yet available online you are then asked to contact the Archive Centre directly. 

Microform copies of many church registers are available and, for conservation reasons, must be consulted in place of the originals. Please note these links do NOT provide images of original records and registers.