Family History Pages from David Murray - 1881 surname distribution  

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7 Aug. 2000

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17 Apr. 2001 (minor mods. 22/May/2001)

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"Famous Fishwicks" - 1


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A Famous Lancashire Fishwick

Lieut.-Colonel Henry Fishwick (1835-1914)

This eminent carrier of the Fishwick surname was a leading family and local historian in nineteenth century Lancashire. How he found the time to fulfil the vast range of his responsibilities in an age without so many of our modern "efficiency aids" is quite remarkable. He was a leading citizen of Rochdale for decades, and a national figure in the development of municipal education, as well as playing major roles in the antiquarian and historical associations of the County. He was the author of many comprehensive volumes of local history, especially of towns and villages where Fishwicks had lived - including Goosnargh, Rochdale and Preston. These are still available for consultation in many local history libraries in the North West, and occasionally are seen for sale at book fairs - although often at substantial prices.

Henry Fishwick was descended from a branch of the Fishwick family which migrated over the course of a century from Preston and Goosnargh, via Padiham and Burnley, to Rochdale ... and subsequently to Canada. Both of his grandfathers (for his parents were cousins) were members of the early 19th-century cotton-manufacturing Fishwicks of Burnley, who in turn were grandsons of the late 18th century curate of Padiham, the Rev. James Fishwick, who is alleged to have encouraged the violent demonstrations against John Wesley and his Methodist colleagues during their preaching visits to the area.

Of several known obituaries, two are included here. Below is the short obituary published by the Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society (1). The lengthy and detailed obituary published by the Rochdale Observer (2) can be downloaded as a PDF file. If you do not have the reader for pdf files this can be downloaded free of charge from the Adobe web site by clicking here. I am indebted to the Local Studies Unit of the Rochdale Public Library for their help in finding the photographic portraits and the Observer press cutting, and to the Rochdale Town Hall staff for co-operation in allowing me to photograph the coat of arms. [I trust that I have not breached anyone's copyright by showing these photographs here; if so, please let me know and I will put things right].

Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society,
Vol. XXXII, 1914, pp305-6

"Lieut.-Colonel Henry Fishwick, J.P., of The Heights, Rochdale, died 23rd September, 1914, aged seventy-nine. He joined the Society at its formation in 1883, and was President in 1897.

"He contributed the following papers to our Transactions:

“Herald’s Visitations of Lancashire,” vol. ii;
“On Rochdale Church,” vol. iv.;
“Quaker Lancashire Literature of the Seventeenth Century,” vol. v.;
“On a Find of Roman Coins at Heywood,” vol. ix.;
“Notes from an Unpublished MS.,” vol. x.;
“Tonge Hall,” vol. x.;
“On an Ancient Font at Rochdale,” vol. xi.;
“On Old Castles in Lancashire,” vol. xix.;
“On Tim Bobbin versus John Whitaker,” vol. xiii.;
“On a Disputed Boundary in Ashworth,” vol. xv.;
“On Ashworth Chapel,” vol. xx.;
“On Tim Bobbin’s Ancestors,” vol. xxiii.;
“On Lancashire Possessions of Knights of St. John of Jerusalem,” vol. xxviii.

"Mr. Fishwick was born at Rochdale on 9th March, 1835, the son of Henry Halliwell Fishwick, of Brownhill. When eighteen years of age he was secretary of the Rochdale Young Men’s Christian Association, and when twenty-five (in 1860) joined the volunteer force and became lieut.-colonel in 1871.

"He entered the Rochdale Town Council in 1871, and soon proved himself a valuable member of that body. He was chairman of the Library and Art Gallery Committee from 1881 till his death. He was a member of the School Board from its formation in 1870 and chairman from 1897 to 1903, when the duties of the board were transferred to the town council, and Mr. Fishwick continued to be chairman. He was Mayor of Rochdale from 1903 to 1905, and received the honorary freedom of the borough in 1906.

"Mr. Fishwick was the author of many volumes of the history of various parts of Lancashire and a member of the councils of the Chetham Society, the Record Society, the Parish Register Society, the Rochdale Literary and Scientific Society, the Manchester Arts Club, and other similar bodies. He was also a county and borough magistrate.

"The funeral took place at the Rochdale Cemetery. His wife, a daughter of Dr. W. H. Bullmore, of Truro, predeceased him many years. He left a son, who resides in Canada, and three daughters."

I recently was in Rochdale for a few hours and took the opportunity to visit the Local Studies Library, the Art Gallery and the Town Hall. The people there were extremely helpful in tracking down information about one of their leading citizens from the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The site of his house is now covered by a development of modern housing, and that of his father by a school. Among the treasures found were an extensive (more than 4000 words) obituary from the Rochdale Observer of 26th September 1914, a portrait in oils presented to him by the town in 1906, and his mayoral shield painted, along with those of other mayors, on the wall of a beautiful wood panelled room in the Town Hall. I'll be asking for permission to put some of the text and photos on the web site. [DJM - August 2000].