Merton is an ancient parish which was first in Surrey, but since 1965 has been in London (where it is now named Merton Priory). It is bounded by Wimbledon to the north, Mitcham to the east, Morden, Cheam and Cuddington (Worcester Park and rest of Motspur Park) to the south and (New) Malden to the west. The 1871 Ordnance Survey map records its area as 1,764.7 acres (7.1 km2) (2.7 sq mi).
The parish was and is centred on the 12th-century parish church of St. Mary's in Merton Park. The parish as a result of the disestablishment of the vestries became both a religious and a civil parish. It had in the late 19th century seen breakaway ecclesiastical parishes but the civic aspect in 1907 was transformed into Merton Urban District, this in turn was enlarged and empowered into the London Borough of Merton within Greater London in 1965.
Merton was a centre for textile production and textile printing (particularly calico, a printed cotton fabric). This was in part due to the River Wandle which flowed through Merton north towards Wandsworth and had for centuries driven watermills and provided water for a number of industrial processes. In the 1660s a silk mill was in operation at Merton Abbey and the Jacob family was operating a fabric bleaching ground close by - a process requiring large quantities of water. By the end of the 19th century Arts and Crafts designer William Morris had opened a works at Merton Abbey Mills. Close by, the firm of Edmund Littler was known for its high quality printing and was by the 1890s sending its entire production to Liberty & Co. in Regent Street, London. Liberty & Co. subsequently took over the production at Merton from Littler.
In 1894 when a new Local Government Act was implemented, the parish of Merton was still considered sufficiently rural to be included as part of the Croydon Rural District. Population growth lead in 1907 to the removal of Merton from the rural district and the creation of the separately administered Merton Urban District. Between 1901 and 1921 the parish's population nearly quadrupled from 4,510 to 16,177. In 1913 the parish of Morden was also removed from Croydon Rural District and merged with Merton Urban District to form the Merton and Morden Urban District.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Merton (parish).
Surrey Research Tips
Administrative boundaries of the county of Surrey (Surrey History Centre. The centre has a website with a number of useful indexes--titheholders in various parishes, deaths at the county gaol, etc.)
The website GENUKI provides a very comprehensive list of reference sources for the County of Surrey. It includes: