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"Ashley, in Market Drayton Union, is a small village, on a declivity, 7 miles NW of Eccleshall and 9 miles SW of Newcastle-under-Lyme, comprising within its parish several hamlets, 853 inhabitants, and about 2600 acres of land, mostly belonging to Thomas Kinnersley and Hugo Charles Meynell Ingram, Esqrs, who are joint lords of the manor.
Ashley Heath, one of the highest levels in England, gives name to a small village, about one mile SW of Ashley, and was enclosed under an act passed in 1812.
Willowbridge Wells are on the north side of the parish, nearly 2 miles N of Ashley, and in the neighbourhood of extensive woods which supply immense quantities of crate-wood for the Potteries, and timber for the manufacture of oak baskets. The wells in the now enclosed park of Willowbridge were formerly in great celebrity for their medicinal virtues."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]


The population of Ashley parish was as follows:
1831 -- 825
1841 -- 853

A surname index of the 1851 census for Ashley Parish is included in the Newcastle under Lyme surname index to the 1851 census published by the Birmingham and Midland SGH.

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Church History

"The Parish Church, St John the Baptist, is an ancient fabric, on the south side of which is a chapel, containing monuments and effigies of the six Lords Gerard, of Bromley, the last of whom died in 1707. The rectory is in the incumbency of the Rev TH Harding, MA, who has a large thatched residence and 30 acres of glebe.
The Catholic Chapel, near the south end of the village, was rebuilt in 1828, of brick, cemented and highly ornamented in imitation of stone."

[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Postcard of St John the Baptist Church c1920.

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Church Records

Church of England Registers
The parish register of the parish church of St John the Baptist commences in 1551. The original registers for the period 1551-1982 (Bapts), 1551-1972 (Mar) & 1551-1979 (Bur) and Banns 1823-1971 are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.
Bishops Transcripts, 1661-1875 (with many gaps) are deposited at Lichfield Record Office.
Microfilm of a manuscript copy of the registers for the period 1551-1733 are held by Hanley Library and Newcastle under Lyme Library.

Nonconformist Church Registers
The original registers of the Ashley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel covering Baptisms 1809-1820 are deposited at the Staffordshire Record Office.
The original registers of the Roman Catholic Chapel of Our Blessed Lady & St John the Baptist from 1825 are held at Birmingham Diocesan Archives.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law etc

The parish became part of Market Drayton Union, the major part of which was in the county of Shropshire, following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.

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[Last updated: 30th April 2010, Mike Harbach.  ©1998 - 2010]

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