The historic society was founded at public gathering in Liverpool on 20th June 1848. The three founder members of the society were the reverend Abraham Hume (1814-1884) Henry C Pidgeon (1807-1880) and Joseph Mayer (1803-1886) the public meeting, held at the collegiate institution in Shaw Street, was called "for the purpose of establishing a society for collecting, preserving, arranging and publishing such historical documents, antiques specimens of ancient and medieval art, etc. as are connected with counties Paletine of Lancaster and Chester".
By October 1848 the society had nearly 200 members of various ranks, occupations and acquirements early members of the society were issued with a diploma designed by Joseph Mayer, a co-founder of the society. On his earliest trade card Mater styles himself designer and heraldic engraver as well as goldsmith and jeweller occupations which he practised at 65 Lord Street, Liverpool from around 1844.
The first volume of the annual transactions including some of that sessions lecture, was published in 1849. The society is thus one of the oldest of the regions historical societies. The society's history can be followed through the centenary supplement t volume 100 of transactions, and through the 150th anniversary lecture series printed in volume 147 of Transactions.
There have been developments in the membership and activities of the society. Early members were drawn from the clergy, professional and commercial ranks of Merseyside society, plus country landowners and country dwellers from over the two counties. Men from outside the region who were prominent in similar societies also joined including Thomas Heywood of Herefordshire and Edward Hawkins of the British museum. The society of the membership has widened. Before the twentieth century there were local correspondents scattered through the two counties. Latterly such contacts have been maintained by local bodies taking membership as affiliated societies. The first public library joined in 1870. The Boston (Massachusetts) Athenaeum became the first international member in the late 1880s. Now, nearly 100 individuals and libraries from eight countries beyond the U.K. are members. Membership now also includes a large number of women who, in contrast to the nineteenth century, take an active part in Council and Society activities.
In 1958, the Society left the Royal Institution in Colquitt Street, Liverpool, where it had met for over a century. Council located the Society's library in the Liverpool Record Office, where it makes a significant contribution to local studies and to Liverpool City Libraries. The Central Library also became the principal venue for Society lectures. That relocation broadened our contribution to the community's perception of history through the welcome, and increasing, public use of the Society's library. It fitted well with the change in the Society's legal status when it became a registered charity under the 1961 Charities Act.
The hard work of generations of Council, with members' support, has ensured the continuing success of the Society. The Society has published in excess of one thousand contributions to historical scholarship - a record of which all members of the Society can be proud.