Our History

The Historic Society was founded at a public meeting in Liverpool on 20th June 1848

The three founder members of the society were 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Street, was called “for the purpose of establishing a Society for collecting, preserving, arranging and publishing such Historical Documents, Antiquities, Objects of National History, Specimens of Ancient and Mediaeval Art, etc. as are connected with the Counties Palatine of Lancaster and Chester”.


By October 1848 the Society had nearly 200 members, although full membership was restricted to men. Early members of the Society were issued with a diploma designed by Joseph Mayer. On his earliest trade card Mayer 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 the first session’s lectures, was published in 1849 and the Society is now one of the oldest  historical or archaeological societies in the country in continuous existence. The Society’s history can be followed through the centenary supplement to volume 100 of Transactions, and through the 150th anniversary lecture series printed in volume 147 of Transactions.

The Royal Institution in Colquitt Street, Liverpool, where the Society held its meetings for almost a century until 1958.

There have been continuing developments in the membership and activities of the Society. Early members were drawn from the clergy, professional and commercial classes and country landowners from all over the two counties. Men from outside the region who were prominent in similar societies also joined, including William Blaauw, founder of the Sussex Archaeological Society, and Edward Hawkins of the British Museum.

Nearly 100 individuals and libraries from eight countries beyond the U.K. are members

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. Today’s membership also includes a large number of women who, in contrast to the nineteenth century, participate fully in the activities of the Society and its Council.

In 1958 the Society left the Royal Institution in Colquitt Street, Liverpool, where it had met for over a century. Our Council relocated the Society’s library to the Liverpool Record Office, where it complements other historical material and makes a significant contribution to local studies. Liverpool Central Library also became the principal venue for Society lectures. That move broadened our contribution to the community’s perception of history and we have seen a welcome, and continuing, increase in 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 members has ensured the continuing success of the Society. We have published in excess of one thousand contributions to historical scholarship – a record of which all members of the Society can be proud.

Join the Society

Membership benefits include:

  • Annual Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. This scholarly, informative and attractive volume is free to members.
  • An interesting programme of lectures and meetings reflecting high quality scholarship on regional and local history.
  • The opportunity to use an extensive library of texts on the history of Lancashire and Cheshire, including many works which are now out of print.
  • Newsletters containing details of forthcoming events in Lancashire and Cheshire, and articles of interest.

Find out More

  • St James & St Paul, Marton
    One of the oldest timber-framed churches in Europe, it was founded in the fourteenth century as a chantry chapel by the Davenport family.
    Find Marton in the Journals