Place:Rochdale, Lancashire, England

Alt namesRecedhamsource: Domesday Book (1985) p 156
Hamersource: hamlet in parish
Newboldsource: hamlet in parish
Lower Placesource: hamlet in parish
Shawcloughsource: hamlet in parish
TypeAncient parish, Borough (county)
Coordinates53.617°N 2.15°W
Located inLancashire, England     (1856 - 1974)
See alsoSalford Hundred, Lancashire, Englandhundred in which it was located
Rochdale (metropolitan borough), Greater Manchester, Englandmetropolitan borough of which it has been the principal settlement since 1974
the text in this article is based on one in Wikipedia

Rochdale is a large market town now part of the larger Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale in Greater Manchester, England. It lies at the foothills of the South Pennines on the River Roch, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) north-northwest of Oldham, and 9.8 miles (15.8 km) north-northeast of the city of Manchester. Rochdale is surrounded by several smaller settlements which merged together to form the Metropolitan Borough in 1974. The population of the borough was 211,699 in the UK census of 2011. Rochdale is the largest settlement and administrative centre, with a total population of 107,926 at the same time.

Rochdale was, until 1974, a part of Lancashire. Its recorded history begins with an entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 under Recedham Manor. The ancient parish of Rochdale was a division of the hundred of Salford and one of the largest ecclesiastical parishes in England comprising several townships. By 1251, Rochdale had become important enough to have been granted a Royal charter. Subsequently, Rochdale flourished into a centre of northern England's woollen trade, and by the early 18th century was described as being "remarkable for many wealthy merchants".


Rochdale rose to prominence during the 19th century as a major mill town and centre for textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. It was a boomtown circa 1750-1850, and amongst the first ever industrialised towns. The Rochdale Canal-—one of the major navigable broad canals of the United Kingdom—-was a highway of commerce during this time used for the haulage of cotton, wool, coal to and from the area. The socioeconomic change brought by the success of Rochdale's textile industry in the 19th century led to its rise to borough status and it remained a dominant settlement in its region. However, during the 20th century Rochdale's spinning capacity declined towards an eventual halt.

Rochdale today is a predominantly residential town. Rochdale Town Hall—a Grade I listed building—dates from 1871 and is one of the United Kingdom's finest examples of Victorian Gothic revival architecture. Rochdale is the birthplace of the Co-operative Movement. The Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society, founded in 1844, was the first modern cooperative; the Rochdale Principles are a set of ideals for cooperatives, especially in retail trading.


Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire since the early 12th century, Rochdale was recorded in 1066 as held by Gamel, one of the twenty-one thegns of the Hundred of Salfordshire.

The ancient or ecclesiastical parish of Rochdale was divided into four townships

Hundersfield was later divided into five townships:

  • Blatchinworth,
  • Calderbrook,
  • Wardleworth (which included a large part of Rochdale borough) and
  • Wuerdle and Wardle.
  • Todmorden and Walsden (transferred to West Riding of Yorkshire in 1888 under the name Todmorden)

It also included the large chapelry of Saddleworth, which lay entirely in Yorkshire. Omitting Saddleworth, the parish of Rochdale had an area of 65.4 square miles (169.4 km2).

Image:Rochdale reduced B.png

In 1825 commissioners for the social and economic improvement of the town (not the parish) of Rochdale were established. As there were no existing township boundaries, the boundaries were deemed to cover a circular area extending three-quarters of a mile from the old market-place. Under the terms of the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 Rochdale became the head of Rochdale Poor Law Union which was established on 15 February 1837. In 1856 Rochdale was incorporated as a municipal borough, giving it borough status. After 1858 it obtained the powers of the improvement commissioners. In 1872 the remaining area of Wardleworth township and sections of Castleton, Wuerdle and Wardle, Spotland and Butterworth townships were added to the borough.

When the administrative county of Lancashire was created by the Local Government Act 1888, Rochdale was elevated to become the County Borough of Rochdale and was, in modern terms, a unitary authority area exempt from the administration of Lancashire County Council. In 1900 most of Castleton Urban District was added to the borough; this urban district included parts of Castleton, Hopwood and Thornham townships. In 1933 parts of Norden Urban District and Birtle with Bamford civil parish were added to the borough.

Under the Local Government Act 1972, the town's autonomous county borough status was abolished. The municipal boroughs of Middleton (Manchester), Heywood and Littleborough, and the urban districts of Milnrow and Wardle are now part of the Metropolitan Borough of Rochdale, one of the ten metropolitan boroughs in Greater Manchester.

Research Tips

  • See the Wikipedia articles on parishes and civil parishes for descriptions of this lowest rung of local administration. The original parishes were ecclesiastical (described as ancient parishes), under the jurisdiction of the local priest. A parish covered a specific geographical area and was sometimes equivalent to that of a manor. Sometimes, in the case of very large rural parishes, there were chapelries where a "chapel of ease" allowed parishioners to worship closer to their homes. In the 19th century the term civil parish was adopted to define parishes with a secular form of local government. In WeRelate both civil and ecclesiastical parishes are included in the type of place called a "parish". Smaller places within parishes, such as chapelries and hamlets, have been redirected into the parish in which they are located. The names of these smaller places are italicized within the text.
  • An urban district was a type of municipality in existence between 1894 and 1974. They were formed as a middle layer of administration between the county and the civil parish and were used for urban areas usually with populations of under 30,000. Inspecting the archives of a urban district will not be of much help to the genealogist or family historian, unless there is need to study land records in depth.
  • Civil registration or vital statistics and census records will be found within registration districts. To ascertain the registration district to which a parish belongs, see Registration Districts in Lancashire, part of the UK_BMD website.
  • The terms municipal borough and county borough were adopted in 1835 replacing the historic "boroughs". Municipal boroughs generally had populations between 30,000 and 50,000; while county boroughs usually had populations of over 50,000. County boroughs had local governments independent of the county in which they were located, but municipal boroughs worked in tandem with the county administration. Wikipedia explains these terms in much greater detail.
  • Lancashire Online Parish Clerks provide free online information from the various parishes, along with other data of value to family and local historians conducting research in the County of Lancashire.
  • FamilySearch Lancashire Research Wiki provides a good overview of the county and also articles on most of the individual parishes (very small or short-lived ones may have been missed).
  • Ancestry (international subscription necessary) has a number of county-wide collections of Church of England baptisms, marriages and burials, some from the 1500s, and some providing microfilm copies of the manuscript entries. There are specific collections for Liverpool (including Catholic baptisms and marriages) and for Manchester. Their databases now include electoral registers 1832-1935. Another pay site is FindMyPast.
  • A map of Lancashire circa 1888 supplied by A Vision of Britain through Time includes the boundaries between the parishes and shows the hamlets within them.
  • A map of Lancashire circa 1954 supplied by A Vision of Britain through Time is a similar map for a later timeframe.
  • GENUKI provides a website covering many sources of genealogical information for Lancashire. The organization is gradually updating the website and the volunteer organizers may not have yet picked up all the changes that have come with improving technology.
  • The Victoria County History for Lancashire, provided by British History Online, covers the whole of the county in six volumes (the seventh available volume [numbered Vol 2] covers religious institutions). The county is separated into its original hundreds and the volumes were first published between 1907 and 1914. Most parishes within each hundred are covered in detail. Maps within the text can contain historical information not available elsewhere.
  • A description of the township of Rochdale from British History Online (Victoria County Histories), published 1911. The chapter contains a map of the parish.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Rochdale. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.