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Rugeley

"Rugeley, the largest and handsomest town in the Cuttlestone Hundred, and the only one which retains its market, is situated at the north-eastern extremity of the Hundred, in a pleasant vale, bounded on the west by the hills of Cannock Chase, and on the north east by the River Trent. It is on the high road between Stafford and Lichfield, and has a station on the Trent Valley branch of the London and North-Western Railway, nine miles ESE of Stafford, and seven miles NW of Lichfield. A brook flows through the town from Cannock Chase, and near it is the railway, and a commodious wharf on the Trent and Mersey Canal. The town has long been noted for the manufacture of hats, and has two large iron foundries, and agricultural machine manufactories, belonging to Mr T Hatfield and Mr J Mellard, a large brass foundry and plumbers brass works manufactory, belonging to Messrs Bladen and Nash, and a large sheet iron and tin plate mill, belonging to Messrs Cheshire and Manners. Each of these establishments employ about 50 hands. Here are also three corn mills, a tan yard and a brewery, and in the parish are extensive collieries belonging to Earl Talbot and the Marquis of Anglesey.
Rugeley parish contains 3774 inhabitants, and over 7000 acres of land, of which more than 4500 acres are unenclosed heath in Cannock Chase. It is all in the manor of Cannock & Rugeley, of which the Marquis of Anglesey is lord, except the small manor of Hagley which is the seat and property of the Hon Robert Curzon.
The town has been much improved during the last 30 years and has several good streets and many well stocked shops. Many of the houses are elegant, being occupied by wealthy families. Heron Court is a large and handsome mansion, in the Gothic style, erected in 1851 by Joseph R Whitgrove, Esq, for his residence.
Dr Wilkes considered the name to be a corruption of Ridgeley, from the ridge of hills which terminate Cannock Chase, on the west side of the town. It was anciently possessed by a family of its own name, one of whom, Simon de Rugeley, was high sheriff of Staffordshire in the reign of Edward III, and at the same time, another of his family was one of the two knights of the shire.
Brereton, on the Lichfield road, one and a half miles SE of Rugeley, is a large village with several well built houses, mostly in Rugeley parish, and partly in the parishes of Armitage and Longdon. It is occupied partly by miners employed in the extensive collieries belonging to Earl Talbot and the Marquis of Anglesey, in the adjacent parts of Cannock Chase, from which there are tram roads down to the Trent & Mersey Canal.
Hagley Hall, the extensive and picturesque mansion of the Hon Robert Curzon, stands about a mile W of Rugeley, under the hillls of Cannock Chase. After having passed through various branches of the Weston family, of Weston-under-Lizard, whose paternal estate it was from the time of Edward III, Hagley became the property of the late Viscount Curzon, from whom it passed, in 1820, to its present possessor, who is a member of the ancient family of the Curzons, one of whom is Baron Scarsdale, of Derbyshire, and another Earl Howe and Viscount Curzon, the latter being grandson and heir to the late Viscount."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Bibliography

'Sketches In & Around Lichfield & Rugeley'
by Alfred Williams
Published 1892, by Eggington & Brown, Lichfield & HJ Pascoe, Rugeley.

'Looking Back on Rugeley'
by Alec Neal
Published 1993, by The Landor Society, Rugeley.

'A Beaudesert Legacy. History of Coal Mining in Brereton, Rugeley & Longdon'
by Ken Edwards
Published 1994, by The Landor Society, Rugeley.

'Fair Oak Colliery, The Story of the Life & Death of a Rugeley Pit'
by Ken Edwards
Published 1996, by The Landor Society, Rugeley.

'Memoirs of Rugeley'
by C Arnall
Published 1994, by Renshaws, Rugeley.

'Around Rugeley in Old Photographs'
by Thea Randall & Joan Anslow
Published 1988, by Alan Sutton, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

'Around Rugeley (The Archive Photograph Series)'
by Thea Randall & Joan Anslow
Published 1996, by Chalford, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

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Census

The population of Rugeley parish was as follows:
1801 -- 2030
1831 -- 3165
1841 -- 3774

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Church History

"Rugeley Church, dedicated to St Augustine, is a large, handsome fabric, in a mixed style of architecture, erected in 1822, near the old parish church, which was a small ancient edifice, of which the tower and chancel still remain. The vicarage is in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield, and incumbency of the Rev TD Atkinson, MA.

There is a new church at Brereton, built in 1837 and dedicated to St Michael, which is a handsome cruciform structure in the Lancet Gothic style, standing on the brow of a hill. The perpetual curacy is in the patronage of the Vicar of Rugeley and incumbency of the Rev JE Wetherall.

There is an Independent Chapel, erected in 1813, and a Wesleyan Chapel, built in 1839, in Rugeley and a Wesleyan Chapel at Brereton.

The Roman Catholic Church at Rugeley is dedicated to Saints Joseph & Etheldreda, and was erected in 1849-50, in the decorated style of architecture. The exterior is of white stone, and the interior is of Bath stone, with clustered columns and exquisitely carved corbels. The present priest is the Rev John S Grenside. "

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

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Church Records

Church of England Registers
The register of the parish church of St Augustine commences in 1569. The original registers for the period 1569-1905 (Bapts), 1569-1915 (Mar), & 1569-1956 (Bur) and Banns for the period 1823-1890 are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.
Bishops Transcripts for the period 1659-1880 (with gaps 1681-1684, 1735-1738 & 1780-1795) are deposited at Lichfield Record Office.

A transcript of the registers for the period 1569-1722 was published in 1928 by the Staffordshire Parish Register Society and has been reprinted by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.

Nonconformist Registers
The following original nonconformist registers are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office:
Rugeley Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, 1821-1878 (Bapts)
Rugeley Congregational Providence Chapel, Elmore Lane, 1821-1837 (Bapts)
Brereton Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, 1817-1836 & 1857-1879 (Bapts)

The original registers of the Roman Catholic Church of St Joseph & Etheldreda for the period 1836-1873 (Bapts), 1853-1861 (Mar) & 1845-1861 (Deaths) are deposited at Birmingham Diocesan Archive.

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Directories

'Pascoe's Almanack, Directory and Year Book, Rugeley' was published by HJ Pascoe & Sons, Rugeley in 1904, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1911-1915, 1920 & 1921.

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Poorhouses, Poor Law etc

Rugeley parish became part of Lichfield Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.

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[Last updated: 29th January 2001, Mike Harbach.  © 1999, 2000, 2001]

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