MIDDLETON, a town, a township, a sub-district, and a parish, in Lancashire. The town stands in a fertile vale, on the river Irk, at the terminus of a short branch of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway, near the Rochdale canal, 6 miles N by E of Manchester; took its name from being situated in the centre of several circumjacent towns; was only a village of 20 houses in 1770; has risen, since 1780, into a populous seat of manufacture; is now an important place, nearly a mile in length, well supplied with water, thoroughly drained, and under the management of a local improvement board by act of 1861; is so conjoined with Tonge in both proximity and trade as practically to include or absorb that town; carries on industry in extensive silk factories, in numerous large cotton factories, in calico-printing, bleaching, and dyeing establishments, in iron foundries, and in machinemaking establishments; publishes a weekly newspaper; is a seat of petty sessions; and has a post office under Manchester, a railway station with telegraph, several good inns, a police station, a market-house, public baths, two churches, five dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chape1, a grammar school, two national and infant schools, a free library, a church reading-room and library, an agricultural society, and a floral and horticultural society. St. Leonard's church is of the 15th century; comprises nave, three aisles, and chancel, with a low square tower; has a very fine E window, with stained glass brought from Old Middleton Hall; and contains a fine wooden screen, an ancient font, and some brasses. Holy Trinity church is in Parkfield, stands on an eminence, and is a good stone structure. The grammar school was founded in 1572 by Dean Nowell; is an old structure, on a low site beside the Irk; and has thirteen scholarships at Brasenose college, Oxford. The dissenting-chapels are for Independents, Baptists, Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, Wesleyans, and Swedenborgians. A weekly market is held on Friday; fairs are held on the Thursday after 10 March, the Thursday after 15 April, and the second Thursday after 29 Sept.; wakes are held on the last Monday but one in Aug.; and a horticultural show is held on the day after the wakes. Acres of the town, 1,908. Real property, £24,083; of which £1,800 are in mines. Pop. in 1851, 8,717; in 1861, 9,876. Houses, 2,090.
The township is conterminate with the town. The sub-district contains also the Prestwich township of Alkrington, and is in Oldham district. Acres, 2,696. Pop., 10,299. Houses, 2,167. The parish includes also Thornham township in Oldham district, Great Lever township in Bolton district, and the townships of Hopwood, Pilsworth, Ashworth, and Birtle-cum-Bamford in Bury district. Acres, 11,703. Real property, £67,499; of which £10,703 are in mines, and £15 in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 16,796; in 1861, 19,635. Houses, 3,915. The manor belonged anciently to the Bartons; passed, in the 15th century, to the Asshetons; went afterwards to Lord Suffield; and was sold, about 1835, to J. Peto, Esq. Hebers House, Parkfield House, and Irk bank House, are chief residences. Coal is very extensively worked; and, together with the produce of the factories, is readily conveyed to the chief markets of the kingdom, by both railway and canal. The living of St. Leonard is a rectory, and that of Holy Trinity is a vicarage, in the diocese of Manchester. Value of the former, £950; of the latter, £135. Patron, of the former, W. Wagstaff, Esq.; of the latter, the Rector. The chapelries of Ainsworth, Ashworth, Birch, Birtle, Great Lever, and Rhodes, are separate benefices. Three dissenting chapels are in Birtle, and three in Rhodes. The workhouse of Bury district also is in Birtle; and, at the census of 1861, had 266 inmates. Charities, £91.
John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)