The word ‘borough’ originally denoted a fortified town but later came to mean a town possessing of municipal organisation. Medieval boroughs were established by charters which provided the basis of their powers of self government. Larger boroughs secured a degree of exemption from county jurisdiction and exercised considerable powers of self-regulation within their boundaries, including the levying of local taxes and duties, administration of markets of fairs, regulation of new buildings and provision of lighting, sanitation and policing.
By the time of the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act, there were four boroughs in Cheshire: the City of Chester, Congleton, Macclesfield and Stockport. By 1974 the number had grown, owing to the creation of municipal boroughs (Altrincham in 1937, Bebington in 1937, Birkenhead in 1877, Crewe in 1877, Dukinfield in 1899, Ellesmere Port in 1955, Hyde in 1881, Sale in 1935, Stalybridge in 1857 and Wallasey in 1910) and county boroughs (Birkenhead in 1889 and Wallasey in 1913). Local government reorganisation in 1974 saw the removal of Altrincham, Bebington, Birkenhead, Dukinfield, Hyde, Sale, Stalybridge, Stockport and Wallasey to new metropolitan boroughs and the addition of Warrington and Widnes. Halton, including Runcorn and Widnes, and Warrington, both became unitary authorities and were removed from Cheshire in 1998.
Original records are held for the boroughs of
- Altrincham (Cheshire Archives and Local Studies reference LBA)
- Chester (ZCH, ZM, ZA, ZC, ZD)
- Congleton (LBC)
- Crewe (LBCr)
- Ellesmere Port (LBE)
- Hyde (LBH)
- Macclesfield (LBM)
- Warrington (LBWa)
- Widnes (LBWd)