Known as Merpille by the early 13th century, probably from the words maere and pyll meaning "a pool or stream near the boundary".
It is believed the earliest residents settled here several millennia ago. There are clues to their existence around the Ludworth area where there are standing stones and tumuli. This was confirmed around 1998 when an archaeological dig in Mellor revealed many clues about the existence of Marple's earliest residents.
The area was predominantly within the Macclesfield Forest, and was omitted from the Domesday survey. The first mention of the area was in 1122 in a deed for the sale of land. In 1220 the land passed to the Vernon family where it remained for several generations The pre-Industrial Revolution inhabitants of the village mostly worked on small farms and others specialised in linen weaving and hatting. After 1790, Samuel Oldknow transformed much of this lifestyle, with the construction of lime kilns and mills. The Industrial Revolution had arrived, and the population of the village began to rise with the construction of terraces to house mill workers and the formation of a village centre filled with private businesses.
In the early 1900s the town prospered from the success of cotton in nearby Stockport and Manchester, the canals in the area served as a vital link with other industrial towns. The railway arrived in the mid-1800s and this caused the demise of the canal as a transport link. The railway opened the village to commuters from Stockport and Manchester.