Shireburne Family's History

(Churches) "are unique guardians of art and culture whilst at the same time being repositories of the stories of the communities in which they stand........ .....They represent, in  short, a priceless treasure of immeasurable worth 

to our nation"

So wrote Rt Revd. Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester in the Foreword to "Churches of the Church of England" by Janet Gough (Scala Press).

Nowhere is this statement better illustrated than in All Hallows’ and its Shireburne Chapel. The Church has been profoundly significant to its community for over 750 years and the Chapel is of unquestionable national historical and cultural importance. It was created to demonstrate the wealth, power and Catholicism of the Shireburnes when their faith was equated with treason. Its fabric and memorials superbly illustrate the compromises Catholics had to negotiate through this most perilous period.  The outstanding quality of the family tombs and tablets, with their coded messages, make them unique. They perfectly illustrate the relationship between a locality and its people and the forces shaping national developments. 

We are indebted to Peter J Hills, who prior to his death in Feb 2018, had dedicated his life to historical research and lecturing. His particular passion, which continued into his retirement, was English Jacobitism and research into the Jacobite families of Northern England, which included the Shireburne family. Following Peter's death, his former student and friend, Iain Hulland, took on the task of curating his research and legacy. Much of this is now held by Stonyhurst College as the Peter Hills Research Collection. 

Our thanks to Iain who provided the Church with a summary of the research and this is contained in the following pages. These can be accessed by using the links to the left of this page: 

    • The Shireburne Family
    • The Historical Context of the Shireburne Chapel at All Hallows, Mitton
    • The Shireburne Chapel Memorials 
    • The Jacobites and the 1715 Rising and its connection to the Shireburne Family
    • Peter J Hills and links to further information about his research 
Iain also delivered the Inaugural Peter Hills Memorial lecture in 2022 at an event organised at All Hallows Church. We intend to hold a second lecture event in 2024. A pictorial booklet has been produced by Iain which provides details of what he covered in the Inaugural lecture. Copies can be purchased from the Church at the cost of £4. Please click here  if you wish to order a copy, and email your name and contact details. 


The information contained in this website is largely based on the displays which Peter Hills complied and arranged each summer in the Shireburne Chapel. This was edited by Iain Hulland and the text is copyright. However, the information provided barely grazes the surface of the material upon which Peter worked. If you with to find out more about the Shireburne Family and the English Jacobites, much of the primary and secondary source material, together with some surviving notes, additional photographs and other items, has been sorted and catalogued as the Peter Hills Research Collection  which is lodged in the Shireburne Archive in Stonyhurst College.


Accompanying this material is a detailed Introduction and analysis which draws together the central strands of Peter’s research and lays the basis of further work, perhaps for a Ph.D. thesis and/or a book - as Peter had intended. 


Should you be interested in exploring the archive and the historical issues to which it relates for its own sake, wishing to assess its potential as a thesis or dissertation subject, or indeed are interested in writing a book please contact Dr. Jan Graffius, the archivist at Stonyhurst College.


Mr Hills was grateful to Vicki Barlow and Margaret Pannikar for information they supplied, but took full responsibility for any opinions or any inaccuracies. 

Photography by David Fielding, with additional inout from Catherine Garghan and David Knight.

Thanks to the Trustees of Stonyhurst College for permission to reproduce the portraits in their possession and also owners of any in private collections.

Jan Graffius, Curator at Stonyhurst College, and David Knight, Liberian and Archivist, were most helpful in arranging access to portraits and archives, as was Matthew Watson, Liberian at Ushaw College, Durham.