WIGAN, a market town, and municipal, county and parliamentary borough of Lancashire, England; 194 m. N.W. by N. from London by the London & North-Western railway, served also by the Lancashire & Yorkshire and the Great Central railways. Pop. (1891) 55,013, (1001) 60,764. It lies on the small river Douglas, which flows into the estuary of the Kibble. There is connexion by canal with Liverpool, Manchester, etc. The older portions of the town occupy the north bank of the river, the modern additions being chiefly on the south bank. The church of All Saints, late Perpendicular, consisting of chancel with aisles and two chapels, was restored in 1630 and in modern times. There are numerous modern churches and chapels. The principal public buildings are the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary and Dispensary, the public hall, the borough courts and offices, the arcade, the market hall, the free public library and the county courts and offices (1888). The educational institutions include the free grammar school (founded by James Leigh in 1619 and rebuilt in 1876), the Wigan and District Mining and Technical College (built by public subscription and opened in 1903) and the mechanics' institution, also the convent of Notre Dame (1854), with a college for pupil teachers and a high school for girls, and several Roman Catholic schools. A public park of 27 acres was opened in 1878. The town owes much of its prosperity to its coal mines, which employ a large proportion of the inhabitants and supply the factory furnaces. The chief manufacture is that of cotton fabrics; the town also possesses iron forges, iron and brass foundries, oil and grease works, railway waggon factories, and bolt, screw and nail works. The parliamentary borough, returning one member since 1885, is coextensive with the municipal borough, and falls mainly within the Ince division of the county. The county borough was created in 1888. The corporation consists of a mayor, 10 aldermen and 30 councillors. Area 5082 acres, including the former urban district of Pemberton (pop. 21,664 in 1901), which was included with Wigan in 1904.
acted almost all his young characters, as Hamlet, Horatio, Pierre, etc. in a full-dress suit and large peruke. But Mr Garrick's genius . . . first attacked the mode of dress, and no part more than that of the head of hair. The consequence of this was, that a capital player's wardrobe " [came to include] " what they call natural heads of hair; there is the comedy head of hair, and the tragedy ditto; the silver locks, and the common gray; the carotty poll, and the yellow caxon; the savage black, and the Italian brown, and Shylock's and Falstaff's very different heads of hair; . . . with the Spanish fly, the foxes tail, etc. etc." He adds that the tendency is to replace those by " the hair, without powder, simply curled."
Roman remains have been found, and it is probable that the town covers the site of a Roman post or fort, Coccium. Wigan, otherwise Wygan and Wigham, is not mentioned in Domesday Book, but three of the townships, Upholland, Dalton and Orrel are named. After the Conquest Wigan was part of the barony of Newton, and the church was endowed with a carucate of land, the origin of the manor. Some time before Henry III.'s reign the baron of Newton granted to the rector of Wigan the manorial privileges. In 1246 Henry III. granted a charter to the famous John Mansel, parson of the church, by which Wigan was constituted a free borough and the burgesses permitted to have a Giid Merchant. In 1249 John Mansel granted by charter to the burgesses that each should have five roods of land to his burgage as freehold on payment of I2d. each. Confirmations and extensions of Henry III.'s charter were granted by Edward II. (1314), Edward III. (1349), Richard II. (1378), Henry IV. (1400), Henry V. (1413), Charles II. (1663), James II. (1685) and William IV. (1832 and 1836). In 1258 Henry III. granted by charter to John Mansel a weekly market on Monday and two fairs, each of three days, beginning on the eve of Ascension Day and on the eve of All Saints' Day, October 28th. Edward II. granted a three days' fair from the eve of St Wilfrid instead of the All Saints' fair, but in 1329 Edward III. by charter altered the fair again to its original date. Charles II.'s charter granted, and James II.'s confirmed, a three days' fair beginning on the 16th of July. Pottery and bell-founding were formerly important trades here, and the manufacture of woollens, especially of blankets, was carried on in the 18th century. The cotton trade developed rapidly after the introduction of the cylindrical carding machine, which was set up here two years before Peel used it at Bolton. During the Civil War the town, from its vicinity to Lathom House and the ''nfluencp of Lord Derby, adhered staunchly to the king. On the 1st of April 1643 the Parliamentarians under Sir John Seaton captured Wigan after severe fighting. In the following month Lord Derby regained it for the Royalists, but Colonel Ashton soon retook it and demolished the works. In 1651 Lord Derby landed from the Isle of Man and marched through Preston to Wigan on the way to join Charles II. At Wigan Lane on the 25th of August a fierce battle took place between the Royalist forces under Lord Derby and Sir Thomas Tyldesley and the Parliamentarians under Colonel Lilburne, in which the Royalists were defeated, Tyldesley was killed and Lord Derby wounded. During the rebellion of 1745 Prince Charles Edward spent one night (December loth) here on his return march. In 1295 Wigan returned two members to parliament and again in 1307; the right then remained in abeyance till 1547, but from that time till 1885, except during the Commonwealth, the borough returned two members, and since 1885 one member. The church of All Saints is of Saxon origin, and was existing in Edward the Confessor's time. The list of rectors is complete from 1199.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)