Newcastle is not mentioned in the Domesday Book, as it grew up around the 12th-century castle, but it must have rapidly become a place of importance because a charter, known only through a reference in another charter to Preston, was given to the town by Henry II of England in 1173. The new castle was built to supersede an older fortress at Chesterton about two miles to the north, the ruins of which were visible up to the end of the 16th century.
In 1235 Henry III constituted it a free borough, granting a guild merchant and other privileges. In 1251 he leased it at fee-farm to the burgesses. In 1265 Newcastle was granted by the Crown to Simon de Montfort, and subsequently to Edmund Crouchback, through whom it passed to Henry IV. In John Leland's time the castle had disappeared "save one great Toure".
Newcastle did not feature much in the English Civil War, save a Royalist plundering. However, it was the hometown of Major Thomas Harrison a Cromwellian army officer and leader of the fanatical Fifth Monarchy Men.
The governing charter in 1835 which created the Newcastle-under-Lyme Municipal Borough absorbed the previous borough created through the charters of 1590 and 1664, under which the title of the corporation, was the "mayor, bailiffs and burgesses of Newcastle-under-Lyme."
When Stoke-on-Trent was formed by the 1910 amalgamation of the "six towns" (Stoke, Hanley, Fenton, Longton, Burslem and Tunstall) Newcastle remained separate. Despite its close proximity, it was not directly involved in the pottery industry, and it strongly opposed attempts to add it in 1930 with a postcard poll showing residents opposing it by a majority of 97.4%. Although passed by the House of Commons, it was rejected by the House of Lords. Newcastle sent two members to parliament from 1355 to 1885, when it lost one representative.