Historically it was a township within the Parish of Almondbury and included the township of Netherthong (sometimes referred to as Meltham Half). It became a chapelry following the consecration of St. Bartholomew in the mid-1600s.
Pigot and Co.'s Royal National and Commercial Directory of August 1841:
Meltham is a village in the parish of Almondbury, and upper division of the wapentake of Agbrigg, West Riding, five miles south-west from Huddersfield, situate on the new road between that town and Manchester, and surrounded by hills. Many mills here are employed in the manufacture of woollen cloth, the greater proportion of which is taken for sale to the Huddersfield market : there are, also, mills for cotton spinning, the manufacture of sewing cotton, and for silk throwing ; an iron foundry ; and fulling mills, dye works and collieries. The church, dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, was considerably enlarged in 1835, when the present tower was erected, and furnished with a peal of six musical bells and an excellent clock : the living is a curacy, in the patronage of the vicar of Almondbury ; the Rev. Joseph Hughes is the present curate. At the village of Meltham Mills is a handsome gothic church and school, erected in 1838 by J. Brook, Esq., and intended for the use of his numerous workpeople ; the Rev. D. Meredith is the minister. In Meltham there is a chapel each for baptists and Wesleyan methodists. A free school was built by subscription in 1823, and in 1835 another was constructed under the north wing of the church. The population, in 1831, was 2,746.
A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848) edited by Samuel Lewis:
MELTHAM, a chapelry, in the parish of Almondbury, union of Huddersfield, Upper division of the wapentake of Agbrigg, W. riding of York, 5 miles (S. W. by S.) from Huddersfield; containing 3263 inhabitants. The chapelry is situated at the base of the mountain called West Nab, and abounds with mineral wealth; several coal-mines are in full operation, and there are quarries of good building-stone. The manufacture of woollen and cotton goods is carried on extensively ; and fairs for horses, sheep, and cattle are held. The living is a perpetual curacy ; net income, £273 ; patron, the Vicar of Almondbury ; impropriators, the Governors of Clitheroe School. The chapel, dedicated to St. Bartholomew, was improved in 1835 by the addition of a north aisle and a square embattled tower, at an expense of £1500 ; it is a neat structure, and contains 1000 sittings, of which 300 are free. There are places of worship for Baptists and Wesleyans. In a field between West Nab and the village is a Roman encampment.
Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1872) edited by John Marius Wilson:
MELTHAM, a village, a township, a chapelry, and a sub-district, in the parish of Almondbury and district of Huddersfield, W. R. Yorkshire. The village stands in an open valley, under a moorland mountainous ridge, 3½ miles SW of Lockwood r. station, and 5 SW by S of Huddersfield; is a pleasant place; and has a post office under Huddersfield, and fairs on the first Saturday of April and the Saturday after 11 Oct. The township comprises 4,525 acres. Real property, £11,675; of which £150 are in mines. Pop. in 1851, 3,758; in 1861, 4,046. Houses, 795. The manor is divided among five. A large proportion of the land is moor. Coal is found; and there are excellent building and flag stones. Industry is carried on in several woollen mills, two large cotton mills, dye-works, and an iron-foundry. The chapelry is less extensive than the township. Pop., 3,456. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Ripen. Value, £275. Patron, the Vicar of Almondbury. The church was rebuilt in 1786; was enlarged, and had a tower added in 1835; and is a plain stone structure. There are chapels for Baptists and Wesley an and a handsome Church school erected in 1867. The sub-district comprises the townships of Meltham and South Crosland. Acres, 6,085. Pop., 6,840. Houses, 1,377.
The extent of the township of Meltham, as marked on O.S. maps of the early 1890s, is shown below with a blue outline. The southeastern section of the boundary was extended in 1896 to include Wilshaw and parts of Meltham Mills such as Shady Row. This additional area is shaded in red.