AMONGST the ancient ecclesiastical establishments of the county of Lancaster, that of Wigan holds a prominent position. There was a church here in Saxon times, as we learn from the survey of William the Conqueror.
Lancashire, as a county, is not to be found in the Domesday Record, but the southern portion of it is surveyed under the title of "the land between the Ribble and the Mersey." This territory contained the hundreds of Derbei, Neutone, Walintune, Blachburne, Salford, and Lailand; of which the three former are now included in the hundred of West Derby.
In the description of the great manor, or lordship, of Newton, given in Domesday, it is stated that in King Edward's time "the church of this manor had one carucate of land, and St. Oswald of this vill two carucates, exempt from all dues."
"The church of this manor" was unquestionably the parish church of Wigan, while that of St. Oswald will have been that of Winwick. A carucate, or plough land, signifies as much arable land as could be tilled throughout the year by one team of oxen. It is difficult to estimate the acreage of a carucate in any particular locality. In some instances it is estimated to be as low as 60 acres, in others as high as 180 acres. The
- Kennett's Glossary to Parochial Antiquities.
- The ancient parish of Wigan includes the townships of Wigan, Pemberton, Upholland, Dalton, Winstanley, Billinge Higher, Billinge Lower, Hindley, Abraen, Ince, Orrell, Haigh and Aspull, of which the last mentioned is in the hundred of Salford, and the remainder are in that of West Derby. From this I infer that the boundaries of the parish were of prior date to the disposition of the lands by William the Conqueror, for after the Conquest the manor and lands of Aspull were held of the barony of Manchester (see Baines' Lane. vol. iii. p. 552).