Christopher Nowell was probably the third son of Christopher Nowell of Little Mearley, near Clitheroe. His father, who had several children after Christopher, died in 1628 according to the pedigree in Whitaker, which shows a Preston connection in that the younger Christopher’s granddaughter married the Dr Shepherd of Preston who left his library to the town. 
He appears to have moved to Preston sometime after the 1642 guild as in May 1655 a Christopher Nowell is named as a free burgess who has yet to take his oath.  He was fined the following year for not taking the oath, suggesting he was trading in the town and the burgesses wanted their entry fee.  He and his son, Thomas, are recorded as in-burgesses on the 1662 guild rolls, which also record that Nowell had been admitted by court roll paying an entry fine of £4.10. This form of entry means his father was not a Preston burgess and suggests that Nowell had established himself in the town after the 1642. 
Nowell traded as a grocer as witness a halfpenny grocer’s token issued in his name in 1672 and in that year he was elected a Preston councilman.  The following year he was described as a grocer on a document he witnessed.  Nowell was recorded as an alderman at the 1682 guild, at which his son Thomas was again listed, as was another son, John. One of Nowell’s apprentices was recorded as enrolled by court roll at the same guild. 
Two properties are listed as occupied or owned by Nowell on the 1684 plans of Preston, one on Fishergate, next door to Sir John Molyneux’s imposing four-storey mansion, and one in Main Sprit Weind (see plan).  He himself appears to have lived on Fishergate, judging by court leet records. 
By 1685 his son Thomas would seem to have moved to Leyland for in that year his son, Christopher, was baptized there, dying the following year. Another son was born in 1688 in Leyland and also christened Christopher. Nowell resigned as a Preston councilman on 11 July 1701, as ‘he had for some time been living in Leyland’. His wife Martha was buried at Leyland in 1695, and Nowell himself was buried there in 1704.