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Bilston

"Bilston, celebrated for its extensive coal and iron works, is a populous market town and township, in the parish, union, county court district and parliamentary borough of Wolverhampton. It comprises about 2580 acres of land, and its population is now upwards of 24,000. The town stands on slightly elevated ground, in the heart of the mining district, two and a half miles ESE of Wolverhampton. It extends itself into several suburbs called Catchem's Corner, Ettingshall Lane, Bradley, etc. A large portion of the township is in the manor of Stow Heath, and the Duke of Sutherland and TW Gifford, Esq, are lords of Stow Heath manor, and the executers of John Wilkinson, Esq, are lords of the manor of Bradley, which comprises the south-eastern part of the township, divided by a small brook.
Until 1824, Bilston had long enjoyed the reputation of being one of the largest villages in England, but in that year it was converted into a market town, by an Act of Parliament, under which a market is held every Monday and Saturday.
Bradley is a small village and manor in the township of Bilston, one mile SE of the town, remarkable for its extensive coal and iron works.
Catchem's Corner and Ettingshall Lane, near the canal, are two hamlets, partly in Bilston and partly in Wolverhampton townships, but Ettingshall church, and most of the village, are in Sedgley parish. A modern suburb of Ettingshall is called New Village.
Moxley, a village on the Birmingham road, gives name to a church district, which is mostly in Wednesbury and partly in Darlaston parish."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Parishes

INFORMATION RELATED TO ALL OF BILSTON

Bibliography

'History of Bilston'
by George T Lawley.
Published 1893, by John Price & Sons, Market Place, Bilston.

'Price & Beebee's History of Bilston'
by George T Lawley.
Published 1868, by Price & Beebee, Bilston.

'A Historical Account of Bilston from Alfred the Great to 1831'
by Joseph Price.
Published 1835, by Joseph Price, Bilston.

'The Story of Bilston'
by John Moseley Price.
Published 1951, by John Price & Sons, Bilston.

'Bilston Wesleyan Methodism. Notes on its origins and progress'
by John Freeman.
Published 1924, Bilston.

'Bilston Enamels of the 18th Century'
by Tom Cope.
Published by The Black Country Society, No Date. ISBN 0-904015-18-1

'Bilston in Old Photographs'
by Elizabeth A Rees.
Published by Alan Sutton Publishing Ltd, Stroud, 1988. ISBN 0-86299-515-9

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Cemeteries

Wolverhampton Archives have microfilm copies of the burial registers of Bilston Cemetery, Cemetery Lane, Bilston for the period 1855-1985.

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Census

The population of Bilston parish was as follows:
1801 -- 6,914
1811 -- 9,646
1821 -- 12,003
1831 -- 14,492
1841 -- 20,181
1851 -- 23,527
1861 -- 24,364
1871 -- 24,188
1881 -- 22,730
1891 -- 23,453
1901 -- 24,034

A surname index only of the 1851 census for Bilston is included in the 1851 Staffordshire Census Surname Index Vol 13, Wolverhampton Part 3 (Townships of Wednesfield / Willenhall / Bilston) published by the Birmingham and Midland SGH.

A surname index only of the 1891 census for Bilston is included in the 1891 Census Surname & Folio Index for Dudley, Sedgley & Wolverhampton & District published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

A transcript of the 1841 census of Bilston for the surnames Jones, Roberts & Aston only transcribed by Sylvia (sylviam@gte.net).

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Church History

Church of England History
For Anglican church history see individual Parishes

Nonconformist Church History
"Besides the Anglican churches, there are in Bilston township eight other places of worship.
The Roman Catholic Chapel, in Oxford Street, is a handsome Gothic structure, erected in 1833, and enlarged about six years ago.
The Wesleyan Chapel, in Oxford Street, was built many years ago, and considerably enlarged in 1840. The Wesleyans have smaller chapels in Ettingshall Lane and Bradley.
The New Connexion Methodists have small places of worship here, and in Pipe's Meadow is a small Welch Chapel, built in 1845, for the accomodation of the Welch families employed in the coal and iron works.
The Independents have a commodious chapel in Oxford Street, and the Baptists have one in Wood Street."

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

A view of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church.

Bilston Methodist Church website includes a brief history of the Methodist church in Bilston.

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Church Records

Church of England Registers
For Anglican church records see individual Parishes

Nonconformist Church Registers
The original registers are deposited at Wolverhampton Archives (WA) or the Public Record Office (PRO) as indicated below:
High Street, Bilston, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1827-1923 (WA)
Bradley, Wesleyan Methodist, Baptisms 1842-1928 & Burials 1843-1922 (WA)
Cold Lanes, Methodist, Baptisms 1873-1964 (WA)
Oxford Street, Bilston, United Methodist, Baptisms 1883-1938 (WA)
Stonefield, Methodist, Baptisms 1901-1952 (WA)
Swan Bank, Bilston, Methodist, Baptisms 1816-1909 & Burials 1823-1954 (WA)
Temple Street, Bilston, Methodist Mission, Baptisms 1901-1940 (WA)
Hill Street, Bradley, Methodist, Baptisms 1853-1897 & 1914-1965 (WA)
Salop Street, Bradley, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1846-1921 (WA) (1898-1913 register is missing)
Oxford Street, Bilston, Independent, Births & Baptisms 1785-1837 (PRO)

A transcript of Bilston Nonconformist Registers, 1785-1887, which includes Oxford Street Independent Chapel, High Street Primitive Methodist Chapel & Swan Bank Methodist Chapel, has been published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

The original registers of Bilston, Holy Trinity, Roman Catholic church for the period 1834-date (Bapts), & 1835-date (Mar) are deposited at Birmingham Diocesan Archives.

Wolverhampton Archives have placed on line transcripts of the registers of the Wolverhampton Circuit Methodist Registers 1726-1968. These include transcripts for the following Bilston Methodist Registers:
Bilston High Street Primitive Methodist 1829-1907
Bradley Hill Street 1853-1897 & 1914-1965
Bilston Oxford Street United 1883-1920
Bradley Hall Green Street 1842-1928 (bapts) & 1843-1922 (bur)
Bradley Salop Street Primitive 1846-1921
Bradley Wesleyan Burials
Cold Lanes Primitive 1873-1961
Priestfield Primitive 1868-1907
Bilston Swan Bank Wesleyan 1816-1909
Note that almost all burials in the Wolverhampton Circuit took place at Swan Bank Wesleyan Chapel, and the remainder at Bradley Wesleyan Chapel)

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Description and Travel

A transcription of the section on Bilston from A Topographical History of Staffordshire by William Pitt (1817)

The Bilston Online site includes a virtual tour of Bilston with many pictures of the town and old Bilston photographs.

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Directories

'Directory of Wolverhampton, also Bilston, Willenhall & Wednesfield' was published by Joseph Smart, High Street, Wolverhampton, in 1827. Smart was the proprietor and publisher of the Wolverhampton Chronicle.

'Bridgen's Directory of Wolverhampton including Bilston' was published by Joseph Bridgen, Darlington Street, Wolverhampton, in 1833 and 1838.

'Wolverhampton Post Office Directory for 1847, including Bilston' was printed by Joseph Bridgen, Darlington Street, Wolverhampton, in 1847.

'Wolverhampton Post Office Directory for 1849, including Bilston' was printed by G Williams, Temple Street, Wolverhampton, in 1849.

'Melville & Co's Directory of Wolverhampton with Bilston' was published by Melville & Co, in 1851.

'The Trades Directory of Wolverhampton, Wednesfield, Bilston, Willenhall, Sedgley, Tipton, Wednesbury, Darlaston & Moxley' was published by Jones & Co, London, in 1862.

'Hulley's Directory of the Parliamentary Borough of Wolverhampton, which includes Bilston, Sedgley, Wednesfield & Willenhall' was published by J Hulley, Birmingham, in 1874.

'Directory of Wolverhampton and Six Miles Round' was published by G Stevens, London, in 1879.

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Maps

A map showing the pre-1850 boundaries of Bilston Township in Wolverhampton Parish

Names, Personal

A transcript of the List of Inhabitants of Bilston, 1695.

Wolverhampton Archives have placed on line a list of the Victims of the Bilston Cholera Epidemic of 1832.

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Occupations

"Coal and ironstone have been got in the township from an early period, but the numerous mines, furnaces, etc, which have stimulated the rapid growth of the town, were mostly commenced during the present century. The town has long participated with its neighbour, Wolverhampton, in the manufacture of locks, iron, tin, and japanned wares, and various articles in the iron and brass foundry lines, but a large portion of the inhabitants derive employment from the extensive mines of coal and ironstone, which furnish materials for the numerous smelting furnaces, foundries, forges, and slitting mills, which are carried on here to a vast extent. Many of the mines are wrought to a depth of more than 370 feet, and have various workable beds of coal, and below and above, several valuable strata of ironstone. Here are also prolific quarries of extremely hard and valuable stone, lying horizontally in twelve beds, some of which are said to produce the best grindstones and whetstones in the world, whilst others are wrought into cisterns, millstones, etc, and the coarser beds are used for building purposes. Here is likewise found a peculiar species of sand, of a deep orange colour, so very fine that it is scarcely palpable. It is much used in the casting of metals, and is sent for that purpose to various parts of the kingdom.
Immense quantities of rails, and other ironwork for the railways, have been manufactured here, and at Mr Spencer's extensive foundry and engine works, established in 1804, are made steam mills, forges, cranes, wheels, and all sorts of heavy machinery and castings used in the mining district. At the numerous ironworks around Bilston, the powers of the steam-engine, and other mechanical improvements, are extensively employed, and the hissing of the blast furnaces, the clanking of the forge hammers, the dusty appearance of the workmen, and the various operations upon unwieldy masses of red hot iron, combine to excite an idea of terror in those who are unaccustomed to such noisy and fiery scenes. Much of the ground about the suburbs of the town, is covered with the refuse of the mines, and the houses, in some places, are so much undermined, that large rents are often seen in the walls, and they occasionally fall so suddenly, as to leave the inmates barely time to escape.
Bradley moor is remarkable for an extraordinary phenomenon called a pseudo volcano, or wild fire, which has continued burning for the last 70 years, but it considerably abated 20 years ago, after reducing about six acres of land to a mere calx. It arises from a burning stratum of coal, about four feet thick, and eight to ten yards deep, to which the air has free access, in consequence of the main coal having been dug out from under it. The calx affords an excellent material for the repair of roads, and the workmen collecting it frequently find large beds of alum, of excellent quality. The surface is sometimes covered with sulphur, in such quantities to be easily gathered."

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

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Poorhouses, Poor Law etc

Bilston parish became part of Wolverhampton Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.

Wolverhampton Archives holds a copy of Extracts from the Bilston Workhouse Register, 1801-1808.

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