Maelor originated as a Cantref of the Kingdom of Powys, focused on Bangor-on-Dee but became divided from the kingdom by the construction of Offa's Dyke in the eighth century and became part of the Kingdom of Mercia. It was reclaimed for Powys during the reign of Stephen of England (1135-54) by Madog ap Maredudd of Powys. He died in 1160 and the region was subdivided amongst his heirs and the heirs of Tudor Trevor. By the thirteenth century Maelor had been divided into numerous parts including Maelor Gymraeg based upon Wrexham, and Maelor Saesneg which included various Anglo-Norman lordships, namely Overton, Ellesmere, Whittington and Oswestry.
In 1282-1283, Edward I of England completed the conquest of the area east of the River Dee, the various lordships being known as the Maelor Saesneg or "English Maelor". The western area remained Welsh as the Maelor Gymraeg. These names existed by 1202.
The Maelor Saesneg, the "English-speaking Maelor" is an area along the Welsh/English border. In 1536 the area was included in the newly created county of Flintshire, forming the Hundred of Maelor. Although part of Flintshire, Maelor Hundred was an exclave, surrounded by Cheshire, Shropshire and Denbighshire. The administrative centre of the area, often referred to as Flintshire Detached, was Overton and it included the villages of Bangor on Dee, Bettisfield, Bronington, Hanmer, Knolton, Penley, Tybroughton, Willington and Worthenbury. An OS map specifically including the area, dating from 1905, is available from Old Ordnance Survey Maps (Sheet 122) entitled "Whitchurch, Nantwich and English Maelor".
In 1887 a Boundary Commission was appointed to review the boundaries of counties in England and Wales. At an inquiry at Overton, it was found that most of the population of the area favoured it becoming part of Shropshire, and this was later supported by resolution of the Flintshire justices of the peace. However, when local government legislation was introduced no change was made.
The Maelor Gymraeg, the "Welsh-speaking Maelor", is an ancient district of Wales to the west of the River Dee. It corresponds approximately to the later parishes of Bersham, Erbistock, Marchwiel, Ruabon and Wrexham in the historic county of Denbighshire which was created in 1536.
The Maelor today
In 1974, local government in Wales was reorganised, and both halves of the Maelor were included in Wrexham Maelor, one of six districts in the new county of Clwyd. In 1996 a further local government reorganisation took place, and Maelor became part of the county borough of Wrexham.
Remfry, P.M., Whittington Castle and the families of Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, Peverel, Maminot, Powys and Fitz Warin (ISBN 1-899376-80-1)
- Flintshire Quarter Sessions, Liverpool Mercury, February 8, 1888