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Help and advice for Wigan

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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. more ...

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


Archives and Libraries

The Wigan Heritage Service provides Archives, Museums and Local History Services for the Wigan area.

Wigan Library, Reference Department, Rodney Street, WIGAN WN1 1D Tel: 0942 827619

Wigan Record Office, Town Hall, Leigh, Lancs WN7 2DY - Tel: 01942 672421 ext 266




There are more than 30 churches identified in this place. Please click here for a complete list.

You can also perform a more selective search for churches in the Wigan area or see them printed on a map.


Civil Registration

The Register Office covering the Wigan area is Wigan and Leigh.


Description and Travel

You can see pictures of Wigan which are provided by:



Extracts from directories.



Ask for a calculation of the distance from Wigan to another place.

Click here for a list of nearby places.

1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

  • "WIGAN, a parish, post, and market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, exercising separate jurisdiction, but locally in the hundreds of West Derby and Salford, county Lancaster, 17 miles N.W. of Manchester, 30 S. of Lancaster, and 1951 N.W. of London by railway, or 199 by road. It has stations on the London and North-Western and the Lancashire and Yorkshire railways. The parish contains, besides the borough and township of its own name, the townships of Abram, Aspull, Billinge Chapel End, Billinge Higher End, Dalton, Haigh, Hindley, Ince, Orrell, Pemberton, Up Holland, and Winstanley. It is situated on the banks of the Douglas, which rises under Rivington Pike, and was made navigable in 1719 to its junction with the Ribble, but which is now superseded by the Leeds and Liverpool canal. From the junction of three Roman roads at this point it has been supposed to occupy the site of a Roman station; but seems rather to owe its origin to a castle built during the Saxon period, and said to have been the scene of some sanguinary struggles between the Saxons and Britons. It is a borough by prescription, having been first chartered by Henry III., and sent two members to parliament twice in the reign of Edward I., but not again till that of Edward VI. In Leland's time it was "as big as Warrington, but better builded," In the Civil War it took the side of the Royalists, and was often the head-quarters of the Earl of Derby, who, in 1651, was defeated here by Colonel Lilburne. In 1745 it was visited by Prince Charles Edward the Pretender, who was sheltered in the Bishopgate house for several days, while he was endeavouring to effect his escape from the kingdom. Under the Municipal Reform Act it was divided into five wards, viz:, Scholes, St. George's, Queen-street, Swinley, and All Saints' wards-and is governed by a mayor, 10 aldermen, and 30 town councillors, assisted by a recorder, coroner, town clerk, and other officers, with the style of "mayor, aldermen, and burgesses of the borough of Wigan" The borough, the bounds being those of the township, returns two members to parliament. The mayor is returning officer. The population of the borough in 1851 was 31,948, and in 1861, 37,658, inhabiting 6,696 houses.

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ENG-LAN-WIGAN is an e-mail list for Wigan genealogy.


Historical Geography

In 1835 the parish of Wigan contained the townships of Wigan, Haigh, Aspull, Ince in Makerfield, Hindley, Dalton, Upholland, Orrell, Pemberton, Billinge, Winstanley and Abram.

You can see the administrative areas in which Wigan has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.


Probate Records

For probate purposes prior to 1858, Wigan was in the Archdeaconry of Chester, in the Diocese of Chester. The original Lancashire wills for the Archdeaconry of Chester are held at the Lancashire Record Office.


You can also see Family History Societies covering the nearby area, plotted on a map. This facility is being developed, and is awaiting societies to enter information about the places they cover.