ASHTON-IN-MAKERFIELD, or Ashton-le-Willows, a township, in the union of Wigan, hundred of West Derby, S. division of the county of Lancaster, 5 miles (S.) from Wigan, and 7 miles (N. N. W.) from Warrington. The township was until lately, with Haydock, a chapelry in the parish of Winwick; and consists of three parts, viz.: the Town-End, the Brynn-End, and the Garswood-End, comprising together 6057 acres, and containing 5915 inhabitants. By an act of parliament for the division of Winwick, passed in 1845, the Brynn-End and the Garswood-End were made a separate parish, called the rectory of Ashton; the Town-End was annexed to the adjoining township of Haydock, and the two places formed into another and distinct parish, called the vicarage of St. Thomas (the Apostle) in Ashton. The district forms part of the great coal-field of Lancashire; it is dry and healthy, the surface level, and the soil a heavy clay. One of the great lines of road from London to Edinburgh runs through the town of Ashton, and other facilities of communication are furnished by the Sankey canal, the Leeds and Liverpool canal, and the Liverpool and Manchester railway; the last being two miles distant, at Newton. The place has long been famous for the manufacture of locks and hinges; and employment is also afforded to the inhabitants in several cotton and other manufactories, and in the working of the contiguous extensive and valuable coal-mines. The lord of the manor, Sir John Gerard, Bart., holds a court leet every September. A fair is held on the 21st and 22nd of the same month.
The rectory of Ashton is endowed with the tithes of the whole township, which have been commuted for £600; patron, the Earl of Derby: the next presentation, however, will be exercised by the present rector of Winwick, should a vacancy occur during his incumbency. The church, dedicated to the Trinity, is situated near Downall-Green, in Garswood-End; it was built in 1838, principally at the expense of the rector of Winwick, and is a cruciform edifice in the early English style: the cost was £2600. The rectory-house adjoins the church, as also does a handsome and commodious school-house: twelve acres of land surrounding the rectory have been purchased for glebe. The vicarage of St. Thomas is in the patronage of the Rector of Ashton; net income, £300, arising partly from 24 acres of glebe and the tithes of the township of Haydock: there is a glebe-house. The church stands in almost the centre of the town: it was rebuilt in 1715, was enlarged in 1784, and again in 1815, and has a campanile turret with a clock. A free grammar school, at Seneley Green, was founded in 1588 by Robert Byrchall, and is endowed with £50 per annum. The Independents, Quakers, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics have places of worship. Many curious fossils are found in the coal-mines.