1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Atherton
ATHERTON, or Chowbent, an urban district in the Leigh parliamentary division of Lancashire, England, 13 m. W.N.W. of Manchester on the London & North-Western and Lancashire & Yorkshire railways. Pop. (1901) 16,211. The cotton factories are the principal source of industry; there are also ironworks and collieries. The manor was held by the local family of Atherton from John’s reign to 1738, when it passed by marriage to Robert Gwillym, who assumed that name. In 1797 his eldest daughter and co-heiress married Thomas Powys, afterwards the second Lord Lilford. Up to 1891 the lord of the manor held a court-leet and court-baron annually in November, but in that year Lord Lilford sold to the local board the market tolls, stallages and pickages, and since this sale the courts have lapsed. The earliest manufactures were iron and cotton. Silk-weaving, formerly an extensive industry, has now almost entirely decayed. The first chapel or church was built in 1645. James Wood, who became Nonconformist minister in the chapel at Atherton in 1691, earned fame and the familiar title of “General” by raising a force from his congregation, uncouthly armed, to fight against the troops of the Pretender (1715).