Eccles (St. Mary de Eccles)

ECCLES (St. Mary de Eccles), a parish, in the hundred of Salford, S. division of the county of Lancaster, 4 miles (W.) from Manchester; containing, with the townships of Barton-upon-Irwell, Clifton, Pendlebury, and Worsley, and the chapelry of Pendleton, 33,792 inhabitants. Mention of a family of the local name occurs temp. William II., but the Traffords were settled here at a period anterior to the Norman Conquest; and ancient documents in the possession of the family show that their property has descended to the present representative, not only by an uninterrupted line of male heirs, but without alienation. The name of Eccles is evidently contracted from the Latin ecclesia. The parish comprises by computation 16,514 acres, whereof a considerable portion forms part of Chat Moss, and the remainder is chiefly meadow and pasture, with a very small quantity of arable land. Coal abounding in various parts, mining operations employ a large number of the population; and cotton weaving and spinning, calico printing and bleaching, and the manufacture of silk, nankeen, gingham, and linen-cloth, are carried on extensively. The parish is intersected by numerous roads; and the river Irwell, which is navigable, and the Duke of Bridgewater's, the Worsley and Leigh, and the Manchester and Bolton canals, also pass through it; as do the Manchester and Liverpool and the Manchester and Bolton railways, the first having two stations within the parish. There are numerous villages; that of Eccles is in Barton township, and in it is held, on the first Sunday in September, an annual festival of great rustic cel brity, and of high antiquity, called the Eccles Wake. A court leet is held for Barton, and a court baron for Worsley. Among the principal old halls are Worsley, Wardley, Agecroft, and Irlam; and throughout the parish are many mansions of modern erection.

The living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £6. 8., and in the patronage of the Crown; net income, £500. The church, which is in the later English style, belonged to Whalley Abbey, but at the Dissolution was made parochial. Seven additional churches have been erected, viz.: at Barton, Ellenbrook, Pendlebury, Pendleton, Swinton, Walkden-Moor, and Worsley; and there are places of worship for Independents, Primitive and Wesleyan Methodists, Methodists of the New Connexion, Swedenborgians, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics. The day, Sunday, and infant schools are also very numerous. Some curious geological strata are to be met with in the parish, as at Worsley, in the line of the great tunnel; there are brine-springs at Barton, a weak salt-spring on the Woolden estate, and at Worsley a mineral spring. Connected with Eccles were, among other distinguished men, William and Lawrence Booth, archbishops of York; and Thomas Langley, cardinal of St. Peter's, Rome, and lord chancellor of England. Robert Ainsworth, author of the Latin and English Dictionary, was born at Woodgate, near Clifton, in September, 1660.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.

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