MIRFIELD, a parish-town, in Agbrigg-division of Agbrigg and Morley, liberty of Pontefract; 3 miles SW. of Dewsbury, 4½ from Huddersfield, 8 from Wakefield, 35 from York. Pop. 5,041. The Church is a vicarage, dedicated to St. Mary, in the deanry of Pontefract, value, ~£6. 1s. 0½d. p.r. £150. Patron, Sir George Armitage, Bart. The rectory of Mirfield, nearly fifty years ago, was let for £210. per annum, though estimated in 1540, at no more than £6. 6s. 8d.
Mirfield appears to have formed part of the great Saxon parish of Dewsbury, till the year 1261, when the following curious and well authenticated account caused its separation: it happened, says this ancient document, that as the Lady, of Sir John Heton, of Mirfield, was going to mass, very early in the morning of Christmas day, to the parish church of Dewsbury, that she was robbed, and her principal attendants murdered, at a place called Ravensbrook Lane. On the same day, while she was at dinner, at nine o'clock in the morning, (at that time, the usual hour) two Mendicant Ecclesiastics came to solicit charity, at the same time informing her that they were going to Rome, where her husband, Sir John, then resided. On this intelligence, she wrote a letter to her husband, and told him of the horrid scene she had just witnessed, and requested of him to make interest with the Pope to erect the Chapel of Mirfield into a parochial Church, that the inhabitants might no longer be exposed to the dangers she had experienced, on the way to their parish church. This letter the priests delivered to Sir John, who prevailed on his holiness to elevate Mirfield into a rectory, and bestowed the patronage on Sir John and his posterity, who immediately conferred the living on his younger brother, who built the rectory House about the year 1300. The original is given in Latin by Hopkinson, amongst his MSS. a copy of which is inserted in Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete.
The Church of Mirfield was appropriated to the Nunnery of Kirklees, and constituted the best part of the endowment of that house, on the dissolution of which, it was granted to Thomas Savile of Clifton. Sir George Armitage, Bart. is now impropriator and patron. At the west end of the Church is a conical mount, intended as a place of defence to the manor House of its Saxon Lords. Immediately adjoining to this, was the Mansion successively of the Mirfields, Hetons and Beaumonts, still called Castle Hall; an antique, and very picturesque Timber House, built by Thomas Beaumont, in the reign of Henry VIII. though, a mistake in the reading of some obscure numerals, has carried it up to a much higher antiquity. They have now wholly disappeared; but enough remained forty years ago, to enable Mr. Beaumont to read them 1522; but not long before that time, some smatterer having read them 1022, the circumstance was seized with avidity by the neighbourhood, and the house was exhibited to strangers as an entire and genuine relic of Canute's time. --Whitaker's Loidis and Elmete.
The parish and township are co-extensive, and stretch about two miles on both sides of the Calder.
Here is a School, founded in 1667, by Richard Thorpe, of Hepton, gentleman, for the education of fifteen poor children, present endowment, upwards of £60. per annum.