Sheffield Genealogy
Family & Social History

Ecclesall / Ecclesall Bierlow ?

Quite often the question "Where can I find the "village of Ecclesall" is asked.

First of all "there is no village of Ecclesall"

A message to the mailing list asks:

Family members born Ranmoor Upper Hallam 1852, or there abouts. It states on the birth certificate in the "County of Yorkshire and Derbyshire. Ecclesall- Bierlow?" I notice that there are records of Bishops transcripts for The Chaplery of Ecclesall - Bierlow 1819 -28. Finding this very confusing.!

The following is an explanation by Hugh Waterhouse.

These 'Ecclesall-Bierlow's are two different animals.

The administration of civil registration (and also the census) was based on the poor law unions which were set up, in Sheffield, by 1843. They are called Unions because they were combinations of parishes and/or townships.

Sheffield was covered by two unions: 'Sheffield Union' in the east and 'Ecclesall Bierlow Union' in the west. The latter included the townships of Ecclesall Bierlow, Upper Hallam and Nether Hallam, but also some parishes in Derbyshire such as Norton & Beauchief. That is why the certificate says 'County of Yorkshire and Derbyshire'. BUT, as far as I know Ranmoor was always in Upper Hallam and therefore in Sheffield (and Yorkshire).

The Chaplery of Ecclesall - Bierlow

Since at least the 16th century, there were two Chapels-of-Ease within the Sheffield Parish: Ecclesall and Attercliffe. These were provided in large parishes for the convenience of people who lived a long way from the parish church itself, but they were not separate parishes until the mid 19th century. They may have had their own registers but, I think, the entries in these were usually copied into the registers of the parish church.

Everything changed after 1848. That was the date when the Vicar of Sheffield finally agreed to allow the subdivision of the old parish. New parishes were created, and Ecclesall and Attercliffe became parishes in their own right.

If you are looking for a baptism c1852 it is important to check Sheffield Parish Church as well as any local parish. Many people continued to take their children to St Peter's. This is unfortunate for us, as these registers are so big, and wearing to search (as I know from experience!). There are no indexes for baptisms after 1812 although marriages are now indexed into the 1880s.

Recently, some transcriptions of post-1812 baptismal registers for St Peters have appeared. I believe the intention is to complete these up to 1837 (to civil registration), but at they moment they cover the period up to c 1820 (I think, I don't have the dates to hand) plus a volume for c1830/1.

Further Information:

The place name 'Ecclesall Bierlow' can mean different things in different contexts.

Ecclesall Bierlow was one of the six townships that made up the ancient Parish of Sheffield. The others were:
Sheffield (the urban centre), Nether Hallam, Upper Hallam, Attercliffe-cum-Darnall and Brightside Bierlow

David Hey has written:
"...the parishes that straddled the Pennines covered such large areas that it was necessary to subdivide them into chapelries for ecclesiastical purposes and into townships for civil responsibilities."

"....This arrangement, whereby an urban township was surrounded by several rural ones, was typical of the large parishes on the Pennine foothills..."

[The Fiery Blades of Hallamshire: Sheffield and its Neighbourhood 1660-1740]
A township was not a single village or urban centre. It was a rural area, with scattered hamlets and villages. The township of Ecclesall Bierlow included, for example, the hamlets of Broomhill and Broomhall and part of the village of Crookes.

Poor Law Union
The responsibilities of the Townships included the relief of the poor, maintenance of the highways, and the appointment of constables.

The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 completely reorganised the system of relief of the poor. Responsibility was taken away from the individual townships and parishes, and given to new bodies called 'Unions' which covered a larger area.

The Ecclesall Bierlow Poor Law Union, which was formed in 1837, included the Sheffield townships of Upper Hallam, Nether Hallam and Ecclesall Bierlow, and also the Derbyshire parishes of Beauchief, Totley and Norton.

Before these changes, each township had its own Workhouse; the old Ecclesall Workhouse was on Psalter Lane. The Unions set about building their own, larger premises. The Workhouse of the Ecclesall Bierlow Union was built between 1841 and 1844 in Nether Edge (it later became part of Nether Edge Hospital).

Registration District (Civil Registration and Census)

The creation of the new Poor Law system needed a new and extensive bureaucracy. The government took advantage of the existence of this bureaucracy when they came to set up Civil Registration of Births Marriage and Deaths. Registration Districts were based on Poor Law Unions. So BMDs in the Derbyshire parishes of Beauchief, Totley and Norton were registered in
Ecclesall Bierlow.

Censuses had been taken since 1801, but were reorganised from 1851 onwards to follow the same boundaries, and use the same bureaucracy, as Civil Registration. Many of the street indexes produced in recent years for the census records have separate volumes for 'Sheffield' and 'Ecclesall Bierlow'.

The Townships ceased to exist as self-governing communities when Sheffield was incorporated as a City in 1893, but Ecclesall Bierlow as a Registration District continued on into the 20th century.

Submitted by H Waterhouse