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John Parsons Earwaker

John Parsons Earwaker (1847–1895) was an English antiquary. Educated at a private school in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, and then at school in Germany, he went on to study at Owens College, Manchester, where he took prizes in natural science. He moved to Pembroke College, Cambridge, but with a scholarship to Merton College, Oxford, he matriculated there in November 1868, and graduated B.A. in 1872 and M.A. in 1876. He entered the Middle Temple, but was never called to the bar. Earwaker stayed at Oxford until 1874, with a few pupils there. He became interested in history and antiquarian studies, and studied ancient English manuscripts. He was elected honorary secretary of the Oxford Archaeological Society, and acted as deputy-keeper of the Ashmolean Museum in 1873-4, during the residence of the keeper John Henry Parker in Rome. In January 1873 he was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. After his marriage in 1875 Earwaker resided at Withington, near Manchester, and then in 1881 moved to Pensarn, near Abergele, North Wales. He wrote, and took part in local affairs. He was one of the founders and honorary secretary of the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, and a member of the councils of the Chetham Society, the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, the Chester Archaeological Society, and the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society. To the publications of these societies he was an industrious contributor, and he was an occasional writer in the 'Athenæum,' 'Notes and Queries,' and other journals.

Earwaker died on 29 January 1895 at Pensarn, and was buried in the old churchyard of Abergele. Earwaker's extensive library of printed books and manuscripts, including transcripts of original documents, was divided after his death. The Cheshire portion was purchased by Hugh Grosvenor, 1st Duke of Westminster, and presented by him to the Grosvenor Museum. For someone who wrote so much on the memorials at St Mary on the Hill the last words of an article from the Chester Archaeological Society are somewhat ironic:

  • "Earwaker was accorded an impressive funeral at Abergele Church, attended by almost the entire Urban District Council. Nevertheless he seems to have left little permanent mark as a local ‘worthy’. When questioned, aged inhabitants had never heard of him, and a search of the churchyard failed to reveal his grave."


The following (of his copious wriings) are relevant to Chester:

  • 'Index to the Wills and Inventories at Chester from 1545 to 1760,' Record Society, 1879-92, 7 vols.
  • 'Lancashire and Cheshire Wills and Inventories,' Chetham Society, 1884-93, 2 vols.
  • 'The Recent Discoveries of Roman Remains found in repairing the North Wall of the City of Chester,' a series of papers by various writers, edited by Earwaker, 1888.
  • 'The Cheshire Sheaf,' new series, reprinted from the 'Chester Courant,' 1891.
  • 'History of the Church and Parish of St. Mary-on-the-Hill, Chester,' completed by Dr. R. H. Morris, 1898
  • 'The history of the ancient parish of Sandbach: propogated the theory that the Sandbach Crosses were from the time of Peada (see: Saxon), but was critical of it;

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