ORMSKIRK, a town, a township, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Lancashire. The town stands on the East Lancashire railway, at the junction of the branch from St. Helens, 2½ miles S E of the Leeds and Liverpool canal, and 12 N by E of Liverpool. It does not figure in Domesday book; yet it is known to have taken its name from a "kirk" or church, founded by Orm, a Saxon magnate who acquired large estates, in the vicinity, by marriage with the daughter of a Norman nobleman; and it appears on record in the time of Richard I., when a priory was founded at Burscough by Robert Fitz-Henry, who is supposed to have been a descendantof Orm. The manor belonged, till the Reformation, to Burscough priory; and belongs now to the Earl of Derby. The town is well-built; contains four chief streets, going rectangularly from a central market-place; is governedby a local board of health, and well supplied with gas and water; is a seat of petty sessions and county-courts, and a polling-place; publishes two weekly newspapers; and has a head post-office, a railway station with telegraph, a banking office, two chief inns, a town hall and corn-market, a sessions-house and magistrates' rooms, a news-room and library, a church, three dis-senting chapels, a free grammar-school, a national school, a dispensary, a workhouse, and charities £354. The town hall is a very plain building, in Church-street; and contains an upper room, used for concerts, balls, and public meetings. The sessions-house and magistrates' rooms are a handsome stone building, in Derby street; include police-offices; and adjoin a neat savings' bank. The church is large and of various dates; comprises nave, three aisles, chancel, and three mortuary chapels; has a fine detached embattled tower, with an unconnected sidespire, and supposed to have been erected at the suppression of Burscough priory; and contains, in one of the mortuary chapels, an effigies of a knight, in the other, monuments of the Stanley family The dissenting chapels are Independent, Wesleyan, and Unitarian. The free grammar-school was founded in 1614, under the will of Henry Ascroft; is a Tudor structure, in Ruff-lane; and has an endowed income of £139. The national school was erected by voluntary contributions; is a stone building in the Tudor style, in Derby-street; possesses capacity forupwards of 800 scholars; and the Sunday school has an endowed income of £28. The dispensary is a small but ornamental building, in the Doric style, in Burscough-street. The workhouse stands in Wigan-road; was built at a cost of about £4,000; and, at the census of 1861, had 76 inmates. A weekly market is held on Thursday; cattle fairs are held on Whit-Monday, Whit-Tuesday, and 10 Sept.; rope-making and hand-loom silk-weavingare carried on; and there are several breweries, and an iron-foundry. Acres of the town, 572. Real property, £13, 597; of which £323 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 6,183; in 1861, 6,426. Houses, 1,193.
The township is conterminate with the town. The parish contains also the townships of Burscough, Scarisbrick, Bickerstaffe, Skelmersdale, and Lathom. Acres, 30,832. Real property, £75,995, of which £2,594 are in mines, and £62 in quarries. Pop. in 1851, 16,490; in 1861, 17,049. Houses, 3,150. Facts and objects of interest in other parts than the town, are noticed in the articles on the other several townships. The living is a vicarage, united with the p. curacy of Scarisbrick, in the diocese of Chester. Value, £290.* Patron, the Earl of Derby. The sub-district is conterminate with the town or township. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Scarisbrick, containing the townships of Scarisbrick and Burscough; the sub-district of Lathom, containing the townships of Lathom and Skelmersdale, and the Croston township of Bispham; the sub-district of Bickerstaffe, containing the township of Bickerstaffe, the Halsall township of Melling, and the Walton-on-the-Hill township of Simonswood; the sub-district of Aughton, containing the parish of Aughton, and the Halsall chapelries of Maghull and Lydiate; the sub-district of Halsall, containing the Halsall townships of Halsall and Down-Holland, the sub-district of Formby, containing the parish of Altcar, the Walton-on-the-Hill township of Formby, and the North Meols township of Birkdale; the sub-district of North Meols, conterminate with the township of North Meols; and the sub-district of Tarleton, containing the parishes of Tarleton, Rufford, and Hesketh-with-Becconsall. Acres, 111,968. Poor-rates in 1863, £10,806. Pop. in 1851, 38,307; in 1861, 46,252. Houses, 8,330. Marriages in 1863, 368; births, 1,676, of which 140 were illegitimate; deaths, 994, of which 384 were at ages under 5 years, and 28 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years, 1851-60, 2,735; births, 14,349; deaths, 8,141. The places of worship, in 1851, were 23 of the Church of England, with 10,545 sittings; 3 of Independents, with 1,550 s.; 1 of Quakers, with 86 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 80 s.; 11 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 1,955 s.; 4 of Primitive Methodists, with 790 s.; 2 of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, with 500 s.; and 7 of Roman Catholics, with 2,006 s. The schools were 37 public day-schools, with 3,960 scholars; 54 private day-schools, with 1,421 s.; and 46 Sunday schools, with 5,320 s.
John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)