WIGAN, a town, a township, a parish, and a district, in Lancashire. The town stands on the river Douglas, at a convergence of railways, and on the Leeds and Liverpool canal, 15½ miles S by E of Preston; is described to have been, in the time of Henry VIII., "as big as Warrington, but better built;" was the scene, in 1651, of the Earl of Derby's defeat by Lilburne; was visited, in 1745, in his march southward, by Prince Charles Stuart; numbers among its natives Bishop Woolton, who died in 1573, and Dr. Leland, the author of "Deistical Writers;" was chartered by Henry III.; sent members to parliament twice in the time of Edward I., and has sent two since the time of Edward VI.; is governed, under the new act, by a mayor, 10 aldermen, and 30 councillors; is a seat of sessions and county courts, and a polling place; publishes two weekly newspapers; is famous for a great and rich coalfield around it; exports vast quantities of coal and other minerals and merchandise, both by railway and by canal; carries on cotton-spinning in numerous factories, some of them among the largest in England; carries on also the manufacture of calicoes, checks, stripes, ginghams, table-cloths, and other cotton fabrics; has likewise some extensive linen-works, several iron-forges, iron and brass foundries, and manufactories of spades, picks, and edge-tools; occupies several acclivities; consists partly of old, irregular, narrow, crooked streets, and partly of new and well-aligned streets, with many good houses; comprises a main-street nearly 1½ mile long, with streets diverging from it to the right and to the left; and has a head post-office,? two r. stations with telegraph; three banking offices, five chief inns, several bridges, a town hall of 1720, a moot-hall, a public-hall, handsome public offices of 1864, a corn exchange, a theatre, a monumental pillar to Sir T. Tyldesley, a fine ancient parochial church restored in 1856, a handsome church of 1841 with tower and lofty spire, a beautiful church of 1864 with pinnacled tower, two other churches, three Independent chapels, three Baptist chapels, four Methodist chapels, two other dissenting chapels, three Roman Catholic chapels, a mechanics' institution and reading rooms, an endowed grammar-school with 229 a year, a national and blue-coat school, five other national schools, seven other public schools, an infirmary founded in 1869 and estimated to cost about 30,000, a dispensary, a workhouse of 1857 with capacity for 800 inmates, charities 1,199, markets on Mondays and Fridays, and fairs on Holy Thursday, 27 June, and 28 Oct. Acres, 2,161. Real property, in 1860, 107,134; of which 23,538 were in mines, 80 in quarries, and 1,200 in gasworks. Amount of property and income tax charged in 1863, 10,183. Corporation income, about 3,380. Electors in 1833, 423: in 1863, 845. Pop. in 1851, 31,941; in 1861, 37,658. Houses, 6,696.

The township is conterminate with the town or borough. The parish includes twelve other townships; and is ecclesiastically divided into W.-All Saints, W.-St. George, W.-St. Catherine, W.-St. James, W.-St. Thomas, Abram, Billinge, Haigh, Hindley-All Saints, Hindley-St. Peter, Ince-in-Mackerfield, Upholland, and Pemberton. Acres, 28,433. Pop. in 1851, 63,287; in 1861, 78,190. Houses, 14,387. The living of W.-All Saints is a rectory, and the four other W. livings are vicarages, in the diocese of Chester. Value of W.-All Saints, 1,500; of W.-St. G. and W.-St. T., each 300; of W.-St. C., 300; of W.-St. J., 150. Patron of W.-All Saints, the Earl of Bradford; of St. G., St. C., and St-T., the Rector of Wigan; of St. J., N. Eckersley, Esq. The other livings are noticed in their own several places. The district includes seven townships of other parishes: and is divided into the sub-districts of Wigan, Hindley, Pemberton, Upholland, Aspull, Standish, and Ashton-in-Mackerfield. Acres, 47,018. Poor rates in 1863, 35,522. Pop. in 1851, 77,539; in 1861, 94,561. Houses, 17,368. Marriages in 1863, 771; births, 4,246, of which 462 were illegitimate; deaths, 2,625, of which 1,429 were at ages under 5 years, and 27 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 7,695: births, 36,296; deaths, 23,067. The places of worship, in 1851, were 15 of the Church of England, with 12,049 sittings; 1 of United Presbyterians, with 155 s.; 10 of Independents, with 3,412 s.; 5 of Baptists, with 780 s.; 2 of Quakers, with 204 s.; 2 of Unitarians, with 446 s.; 11 of Wesleyans, with 2,447 s.; 6 of Primitive Methodists, with 425 s.; 1 of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, with 100 s.; 1 undefined, with 164 s.; 2 of Latter Day Saints, with 160 s.; and 9 of Roman Catholics, with 3,844 s. The schools were 45 public day-schools, with 5,710 scholars; 66 private day-schools, with 2,201 s.; 54 Sunday schools, with 13,095 s.; and 23 evening schools for adults, with 563 s.

John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)