Clergy Profiles since 1835

Henry Sharples (1835-1837)

Henry was the son of a Liverpool timber merchant and brother of Bishop James Sharples. He came from Ushaw College at the age of 23 to find a new church and presbytery waiting for him. Statham's accounts in the parish archives show that for £77, nothing was left wanting. A pair of blankets cost 55pence, 6 dining chairs £1.35, carpet was 22.5 pence per yard and a dining table cost £2.30. Other items such as a the tray, kettle, mops, shoe brushes and even four volumes of Archer's sermons - Mr Statham was adamantly conservative! Fr. Sharples departed in 1837, but lived until 1874. He is buried at Alston Lane near Preston.

John Carter  (1837-1875)

Fr. Carter, a native of Preston, served for 37 years, a record unrivalled! Born in 1801, he was an Ushaw man and assisted at Paddington in Cheshire before moving to Woolston. He lived in great obscurity and died on the 16th March 1875. He is buried at Woolston. After his death, the Vicar General wrote to Bishop O'Reilly expressing his surprise that "Mr Carter had made a will in our favour" and adding "he was as close a man as Bishop Briggs."

John Gardner (1875-1884)

Fr. Gardner was born in Lancaster in 1845 and an alumnus of Lisbon. Ordained in 1875 he was given immediate charge of Woolston. Hi records are a model of discipline and piety. Fasting and abstinence was frequent and rigorously imposed. Christmas midnight Mass or any ceremony on Holy Saturday was unknown. Prayers for the dead and good works on their behalf were constantly exhorted. in 1884 he transferred to Birkdale, despite the Woolston parishioners petition to retain him (really?). He died in 1903 and is buried at Ainsdale.

William Walsh (1884-1886)

Fr. Walsh was a 'delicate' priest who came from the curacy of St. Patricks' in Wigan.  After two uneventful years he retired and died in Liverpool in 1896.

Thomas Dawson (1886-1894)

Fr. Thomas served for two years. Although he lived until 1935, his life was a constant battle with ill health and he spent lots of short spells in remote parishes.

Thomas Myerscough (1888-1907)

Fr. Myerscough belonged to a well known Preston family. Ordained in 1881, he came from a curacy in Ashton in Makerfield. He died as a Canon of the Lancaster diocese and is buried in Preston cemetery.

Joseph Lowe (1894-1907)

Fr. Lowe was born in Liverpool in 1854 and ordained at Ushaw college in 1878. He was known throughout England as a collector and restorer of old pictures and was consulted on this matter by the Corporation of Wolverhampton amongst others. in 1899, the Warrington Examiner reported that he had discovered a picture of Our Lord dressed as a jewish boy, the supposed work of Fra. Philippo Lippi of Florence c. 1431.


Other memories of Fr. Lowe include his cultivation of blue grapes, his portly figure, florid complexion, tall silk hat and his on-the-spot discipline delivered to delinquent boys with his blackthorn stick. He retired to West Kirby and is buried at St. Winifred's, Neston.

Thomas John Butler (1906-1907)

Fr. Butler was born at Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo in 18972. A Maynooth prize man and former Upholland professor of Church history, his early death from tuberculosis eliminated a brilliant future in the Church. He died on the 16th April 1907 and is buried at Woolston.

Thomas Bannerman Allan (1907-1908)

Another invalid whose stay was brief. He died in 1935.

Joseph Walmsley (1908-1914)

Fr. Joseph was born in Preston in 1865 and ordained in Upholland in 1888. An inscription at the base of the mosaic of Our Lady on the wall above the tabernacle reads "Pray for Fr. Joseph Walmsley, who marbled this chapel. Also for his father and mother, parents of three priests". He transferred to Cottam, died in 1943 and is buried in Preston cemetery.

John Miller (1914-1915)

Fr. Miller had the reputation of being a forceful preacher and liturgical advocate. Ordained in 1888, he served at Douglas in the Isle of Man and at St. Mary's, Barrow, before coming to Woolston.  His chalice remains with its base inscribed "Presented to Rev. J Miller by the Manx faithful in 1899".

Henry Ainscough (1915-1938)

Fr. Henry was born in Alston near Preston and served at Woolston for 22 years. An ex Boer War chaplain, he became the first Dean of the then new Warrington Deanery. He retired to Mawdesley where he died in 1946 and is buried there.

Richard A. Durand (1938-1942)

Fr. Durand was born in Waterford, ordained in 1919 and spent four years at Woolston. He spent much of his time making sure the church was structurally safe and repairing the wear and tear of a century of use. In 1939 he insured against war damage and his estimates are very interesting: furniture £250, Organ £150, Bell £25, Church Plate £125, Vestments £100, Brasses £50, Presbytery content £300. He transferred to Wrightington and died there in 1960.

John Barry (1942-1944)

Fr. Barry was 79 years old when he came to Woolston, though the beautiful handwriting and faultless Latin with which he maintained the Registers would never suggest it. His expertise as a flower arranger was well known and, at the age of 80, he still insisted on making the Quadrant Ore decorations himself.

Lawrence Anderson (1944-1946)

Fr. Lawrence had only a short stay on his way to Southport and Little Crosby where he is buried having died in 1975.

Robert W. Meagher (1946-1950)

Canon Meagher was another Preston-born priest. A distinguished theologian and scripture scholar and ex Vice-President of Ushaw. His power of oratory was likened to that of Archbishop Downey. It was he who composed the inscription above our high altar; "Clavier Regni, Ecclesiae Petra, Pastor Ovilis". He died and is buried at St. Oswalds, Ashton-in-Makerfield.

Francis Chaloner (1940-1951)

Fr. Francis was one of a family of twelve  children. Born in Preston and educated at Ushaw, he developed tuberculosis soon after ordination and spent some years in Switzerland. Later he went to Canada and became Rector of the seminary at Ladner, B.C. At Woolston for only one year, he died in retirement and is buried at Allerton cemetery in Liverpool.

Joseph McNulty (1951-1957)

Fr. McNulty was a Preston-born Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and contributor to various journals. At Woolston for 6 years, he retired to Tarleton and died there in 1958.


During the reign of Fr. McNulty at St Peter's, a caller at the presbytery tried to explain some dilemma to him, he also being an historian.  Unable to free himself from what must have been occupying his mind to the consternation of his visitor, he replied, "sixty-six Hankinsons buried in that churchyard!".  


We don't know how the visitor responded. 

Francis Hunan (1957-1958)

Fr. Francis served for one year only and was the author of at least three works on the life and adventures of St. Brendan.

Patrick Neligan (1957-1970)

A native of Dingle, Co. Kerry, Fr. Neligan came to Woolston in 1958 and, during his time, did much refurbishing, including the restoration of Edward Statham's grave. He retired in 1970 and died two years later.

William Reilly (1970-1976)

A native of Liverpool who served our parish for six years. He died in Warrington in 1976, but is buried at Standish in Wigan.

Patrick A. Dooley (1976-1982)

Fr. Dooley was appointed in 1976 and inspire of poor health served the parish for six years. in this time, he made a start on improving the exterior of the property and is fondly remembered by parishioners for some of his do-it-yourself schemes. Ill health forced him eventually to give up the parish in 1982 but he continued his priestly work helping at St. Oswalds Liverpool.

Joseph A Robinson (1982-1992)

Fr. Robinson came to Woolston as his first parish on the 15th December 1982. Prior to this, he was assistant at Sacred Heart St. Helens, St. Hugh of Lincoln Liverpool, St. Sebastian Liverpool, St. George Maghull and St. Aidan Huyton.


From all accounts, he was a mild-mannered man and got involved in all aspects of church and parish life. The youth of the parish liked him and called him 'Red Robbo' as a result of his Anfield affiliations. The oldies of the parish were horrified by what they considered to be a disrespectful nickname but nonetheless he enjoyed being a part of a thriving parish community.


Fr. Robinson is featured in the celebration for the 150 years of the parish in 1985.

John Tickle (1992-1998)

Born in Wigan on 24th November 1919, he attended Upholland seminary and was ordained into the priesthood on 3rd June 1944. his first appointment was as curate to Star of the Sea where he stayed for a year before being moved as curate to the Pro-Cathedral. He stayed in this position until 1956 when he moved as curate to Holy Angel's in Kirkby through until 1963. Staying in the Liverpool area he then moved to Our Lady Immaculate in  Everton until 1969. He then moved, and was appointed parish priest, to St. Austin's in Thatto Heath in St. Helens. It was during his tenure at St. Helens that, in 1977, he was made a Canon. After his long stint in St. Helens, Canon Tickle joined us here at St. Peter and St. Michael in 1992. People's overriding memory of him was that he was just the loveliest of men. He was charming, sympathetic and generous with his time. He ministered at our parish until his death on 22nd April 1998 and was great friends with Deacon Tom Washington and his wife Margaret to the extent that the three of them are all buried in the same plot in Padgate cemetery. True friendship indeed!


From a parish perspective, Canon Tickle was instrumental in getting a printer installed ... very progressive 😁.

John Gildea (1998-2022)

Fr. John joined the parish in Woolston in 1998 after a number of posts in and around Liverpool. He was ordained in Upholland in 1963 and served our parish for 23 years until his death in October 2022. Fr. Gildea was an adventurer, spent many happy hours on his BMW motorcycle and skiing down the mountains across Europe but his greatest love was his faith. He made great inroads with the youth of the parish wherever he ministered and encouraged the links between the parish and St. Peters school where the children loved him. His death in 2022 was quite sudden although her had suffered with ill health after a stroke a few years earlier. He tried not to let his condition ruin his love of biking, skiing, DIY and working with the children and was particularly progressive in his ministry with the installation of a parish council as he foresaw a time when he would not be able to mange the parish alone. There is a full account of Fr. John's life and times on his memorial page here.

Mark Drew (2023-

Fr. Mark succeeded Fr. John six months after Fr. John's death during which time the parish council had ran the parish with the help of priests supplied from around the deanery, one of whom was Fr. Mark.


Fr. Mark has a love of theology, history and the orthodox church and spent a number of years working in the civil service and travelling / researching / working around Europe before returning to, and completing, his ecclesiastical studies which he had started in 1977. He was ordained in 1995 in France and spent 10 years in France as a parish priest and a further 5 years in Greece studying the orthodox church in which he has a doctorate. 


He returned to the UK in 2013 and, after a bout of ill health and a number of parishes in the North East and Yorkshire, joined St Joseph's in Penketh on the west side of Warrington. He was asked to take over St. Peter and Michael in 2023 and he continues adding to his large book collection to this day.