Wigan and Leigh Archives Online

1849-1850, Ralph Darlington, Mayor of Wigan


Mayor of Wigan 1849 – 1850

b 1823 in Adlington, Lancashire

Parents; Joseph and Marjorie Darlington

M Anne Clayton 27th January 1846, Manchester Cathedral

Children: John Shaw (1846), Anne (1849), Joseph (1850), William Robert (1850), James (1854), Ellen Jane (1856) and Francis Maud

D January 1890 at his residence in Houghton Street, Southport

Ralph Darlington was born in 1823 in Adlington, Lancashire. He was the fourth son of Joseph and Marjorie Darlington, Joseph was a farmer. Ralph was baptised at St Wilfred’s Church, Standish on 25th April 1823.

He attended Standish Grammar School and then Manchester Grammar School. On leaving school he was articled to Mr H Gaskell, solicitor, Wigan. He became a solicitor in 1845 and started his own business in Wallgate, Wigan. He eventually moved his business to King Street, Wigan.

He married Anne Clayton on 27th January 1846 at Manchester Cathedral, they had seven children. According to the 1871 census his eldest son John Shaw, was a solicitor, Joseph and undergraduate at Oxford, James an articled clerk and William a solicitor’s clerk. According to some newspaper references Ralph’s sons worked within his business.

In 1851 the family were living on Wigan Lane but by 1871 they were living at Springfield Hall, Springfield, Wigan.

In 1848 Ralph entered the Town Council being an elected member for Queen Street Ward, Wigan. The following year he became Chief Magistrate of the borough, which he held for two years. He was elected Mayor in 1849 and 1850.

During his time as Mayor, the bridge over the River Douglas in Darlington street was erected, giving much improved access within the town. The part played by the Mayor in getting the bridge erected is recorded on the bridge and the street, which became a main thoroughfare in the town, was named after him, Darlington Street.

He retired from the council in 1852 but returned in 1877 when he was elected Alderman, a position he held until 1885 when he resigned on applying for the position of Town Clerk. He was duly elected and held tis position until his death.

During the time he was absent from the council he worked on many schemes to improve the town and the neighbourhood. He was Law Clerk to the Wigan Lighting company, he was elected a Guardian for the Wigan Township in 1863 and five years later became Chairman. He retired from the board in 1877. In 1866 he was appointed coroner for the borough, which he continued until 1874 when he gave up through ill health. During this time he was coroner during the inquiry into the accident of the Scottish Tourist Train at the L & N.W Station in August 1873, in which thirteen people were killed.

He was also part of the movement for the establishment of an infirmary for Wigan and district. He worked tirelessly and actively on the proposal and was appointed a member of the first board of management, when the infirmary was opened. Afterwards he was elected as a Vice President and a Trustee. He also took a keen interest in the Grammar School and became a Trustee and a Governor. He was involved with the scheme to build the Grammar School and through him the completion of the building was made possible. He was also Vice President of the Mechanics Institute for many years and a member of the School Board.

In 1877 he was appointed Chairman of the Streets Committee, which gave him the opportunity to promote many improvement schemes etc. He held this position until he retired from the council. He effected nearly every public improvement in the town, the market scheme was a favourite of his and in this work, opening street and opening Mesnes Park, he took a prominent and successful part. He also took an interest in railway matters and through his legal business was connected to the Wigan portion of the Liverpool and Bury Railway. He was the founder of the Wigan Junction Railway and thus had connections to the St Helens Railway.

He was clerk to the Wigan and Preston Turnpike Trust, clerk to the Ince, Hindley and Whiston Turnpike Trust and law clerk to the Hindley Gas Company. He was the means of forming several large colliery concerns in the district including, Ackers, Whitely and co: Garswood Coal and Iron Company: Cross, Tetley and Co: Bromilow, Foster and Co, and the St Helens Colliery Company. He was also involved with the erection of the Leyland Free Library at Hindley. He also filled the office of Church Warden from 1870 to 1876 and had much to do with the rebuilding of the church.

In politics he was a staunch Conservative and was much involved with the inner workings of the party. His profession enabled him to defend Sir James Lindsay in the petition lodged against his election, in which he was successful. He was involved with al events connected to the party in some capacity or other.

Ralph Darlington died in January 1890, at this residence in Houghton Street, Southport. He had not been well for some time but died peacefully sitting in his chair after dinner.

References were made by various organisations after his death. The Chairman of the Wigan School Board stated that Mr Darlington was one of the great benefactors to the progress of the town and had done all he possibly could for the welfare of it’s people.

Wigan county Borough Council also acknowledged his work and stated that he had been an excellent Town Clerk who had been identified with vey important public movement for the past forty years. Many schemes he planned had been carried into effect during that time and it was hardly possible to mention an office of distinction which he had not filled.

There is a lengthy obituary to Ralph Darlington in the Wigan Observer dated 5th and 8th February 1890. His death is recorded in the council minutes, dated 4th February 1890.

There are various references to the marriages and deaths of his wife and children in the Wigan Observer, which demonstrate the respect he had in the town.

14th February 1906, death of eldest daughter

18th July 1936, death of daughter Ellen

19th October 1898, obituary of son, John Shaw

3rd April 1891, marriage of daughter, Francis Maud

17th April 1901, death of wife, Anne

17th March 1908, death of son William


Ann Wilson Volunteer at Wigan Local Studies




1 item was found within 1849-1850, Ralph Darlington, Mayor of Wigan