Wigan and Leigh Archives Online

1879-1880, Richard Atherton Ffarington, Mayor of Wigan


Mayor Wigan Nov 1879 – Nov 1880


Richard was born in Manchester 27th August, 1837; his father Henry Ffarington was from a family who were able to trace their heritage through the Lords of Leyland for six centuries. His mother Elizabeth was the daughter of Thomas Woodcock a wealthy banker and one of the founders of Wigan Bank. The couple married at All Saints Church, Wigan on 24th September, 1824. Henry’s given profession was “Manufacturer (although the type of goods manufactured, were not identified).


Henry, Elizabeth and their developing family lived for some years in Cavendish Place in the Ardwick area of Manchester, they occupied property which formed part of a family trust, this having been established by one of Henry’s predecessors. In 1848 however they relocated to live in Wigan and by the time of the 1851 census, the couple had four children, they were living at a property in Standishgate, Henry’s profession apparently having changed, for he was now recorded as being a Coal Proprietor.


Richard attended Wigan Grammar School and later Rossall College until 1854 when he was articled as a mining engineer to Mr John Lancaster in Hanley, he went on from here to work at Shire Oaks, a new colliery opened-up and owned by the Duke of Newcastle, he eventually returned to Wigan to work nearby at the Top Place, this being when his previous employer, Mr. Lancaster was managing director of the Wigan Coal & Iron Co.


During the period of Richard’s education and training as a mining engineer, his father Henry’s role was developing also for at some time during this period he had become a partner in Thomas Woodcock and Sons, the bank founded by his late father in law (Richard’s maternal grandfather the wealthy banker, Thomas Woodcock who had died in 1850).


Richard’s father Henry died 30th October, 1859. Subsequent to which Richard was offered and took up a position at the bank.


In 1859 the Wigan Volunteer Force was established, this being in response to what was perceived at the time to be the threat of invasion by the French. Richard enrolled and although the threatened invasion never materialised, the force remained in place for many years and over which time Richard had moved through the ranks rising from a Private to the rank of Honorary Colonel, something in which he must have taken some pride, for he was referred to and used the title Colonel Ffarington publicly, for some time.


Richard’s relations, the Woodcock family, had traditionally been involved in borough affairs for many years, his grandfather Thomas (founder of the bank where he was now employed, had served five terms as Mayor during the period 1802 to 1817.

His uncle John Woodcock (the eldest son of Thomas) had been Mayor in 1832 and his uncle Henry Woodcock had fulfilled the role in 1858. His eldest sister Elizabeth in 1852 married Nathaniel Eckersley (who was at that time current Mayor). It is not surprising therefore, given these close family and business links that he should adopt a similar interest in borough affairs.





Richard became associated with and entered Wigan Council in 1863. At which time the borough was divided into five wards – Scholes, St. George’s, Queen Street, Swinley and All Saints’. The population of the town was 37,658 and the number of people eligible to vote just 861. Richard was nominated by the Conservative Party and elected for the St. George’s Ward. Amongst his fellow councillors where the afore mentioned family members, Uncle Henry Woodcock and brother in law Nathanial Eckersley,


By 1866 Richard followed his father to became a partner in Thomas Woodcock & Sons. His already close family connections with the bank due to his mother being a daughter of its founder were strengthened further when on 27th August 1867 he married his first cousin Everilda Mary Woodcock, the daughter of his uncle Henry – fellow partner at the bank and colleague on Wigan Council.


At the time of the 1871 census Richard, & Everilda were living in Marylebone House, they had one son, Henry Nowell Ffarington, age 3, Richard’s mother Elizabeth was also living with them.


It was on 9th January 1874 that Messrs Woodcock, Sons and Eckersley’s Bank, was amalgamated with Parr’s Banking Company Ltd. Richard was appointed Manager, a position he would retain until he retired in 1907.


Richard was appointed a Borough Magistrate in 1875 and became an Alderman in 1878. He was elected to serve as Mayor for the Borough in November, 1879. After fulfilling his role as Mayor, he continued to serve the Council and was made an Honorary Freeman of the Borough in January 1903


In May of 1909 Richard wrote to the Council to say that due to failing health he no longer felt able to continue with his municipal work and consequently he tendered his resignation, this prompted a strong feeling amongst members of the Council and prompted a suggestion that his name should remain on the list of members for the rest of his life. A deputation from the council attended him with this proposal to which he consented.


Outside of Richard’s involvement with borough affairs a situation was developing which would prove to be of great significance to him, this was an issue associated with his lineage within the Ffarington family.


On 28th February, 1909 a young cousin of Richard’s who was the current Lord of the manor of Leyland and Squire of Worden Hall died at the age of 22 he had been married just six months and his widow was pregnant at the time of his death, she later gave birth to a daughter, this resulting in a situation where due to various circumstances, succession through the male line of the Titles and Estate, passed to Richard in August 1909.


Richard thus inherited the Titles and Estate and took up residence at Worden Hall in Leyland, and it is here where he passed away on 15th October, 1910.


The Titles and Estate were then passed on to Richard’s son, Henry Nowell Ffarington who died in 1947 without any heirs. The estate was purchased by Leyland District Council in 1950.






Background / Parents

Ancestry – Baptisms, Wigan All Saints, 21 Nov 1801

Ancestry – Marriages, Wigan All Saints, 22 Sept 1824

Ancestry – UK Poll Books and Electoral Registers, 1836 Salford, Ardwick, Lancs.

Ancestry – Church of England Deaths and Burials, Standish 3 Nov 1859

Ancestry – National Probate Calendar,6 Dec 1859


Ancestry – Baptisms, Ardwick St. Thomas, 7 Nov 1837

Ancestry – 1841 Census, Chorlton upon Medlock, Manchester

Ancestry – 1851 Census, Wigan, Lancashire

Ancestry – 1861 Census, Chorley, Lancashire

Ancestry – Marriages, Wigan All Saints, 24 Apr 1867

Ancestry – Baptisms, Wigan All Saints, 26 April 1868

Ancestry – 1871 Census, Wigan, Lancashire

Wigan Almanac 1864, page 26

Wigan Almanac 1875, page 63

Wigan Almanac, 1875, page 84

Wigan Almanac 1879, page 60

Wigan Almanac 1880, page 70

Wigan Observer 7th Nov. 1879 page 4 column c.

Wigan Observer 18th October 1910 page 3 columns e,f,g,h.

Ancestry – National Probate Calendar 30 Dec 1910


Wigan Observer 28th Aug 1909 page 9 e,f.

Wigan Observer 25th Feb 1950 page 5 a.


Vic Rawlinson Volunteer