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Wednesbury

"Wednesbury, or as it is vulgarly called, Wedgebury, is an ancient manufacturing and market town, near the source of the River Tame, three miles SSW of Walsall, five miles E by S of Wolverhampton and eight miles NW of Birmingham. Its parish, which comprises about 2130 acres of land, and has many extensive coal and iron works, has a population of 14,278 souls. The town is irregularly built, and is very indifferently paved and drained, and has a very scanty supply of water, which has often to be bought from a distance in pails and barrels. The town suffered severely during the cholera epidemics of 1832 and 1849, owing to its total want of drainage.
The Saxons called this place Wodensborough, from their god of battle, Woden, and in 916, the celebrated princess, Ethelfleda, who for some years governed the kingdom of Mercia, built or fortified a strong castle here, upon the summit of the hill where the parish church now stands. After the Norman conquest, the manor of Wednesbury was a demesne of the Crown, but Henry II bestowed it on the family of Heronville, so that it became a parcel of the honour of Woodstock. In 1794, Thomas Hoo, Esq, died lord of this manor, which then passed to two co-heiresses, Mrs Whitby and the Hon Mrs Foley. The manorial rights, and a large part of the soil, now belong to Sir ED Scott, Bart, and Lady Emily Foley. The rest of the parish belongs to a number of smaller proprietors, one of whom is Sir Horace St Paul, Bart, the owner of Wednesbury Hall, a venerable brick mansion, a quarter of a mile NE of the church, and now owned by a farmer. On the opposite side of the church is a curious ancient house, called Oakeswell Hall.
The hamlets in the parish are as follows:
Delves, one and a half miles NE, King's Hill Field, extending from Old Park to Darlaston, and Wood Green, half a mile NE. The largest of these is Delves, which is a fine agricultural district of 580 acres, with an ancient Hall belonging to the Earl of Dartmouth but occupied by a farmer. Nearly all the rest of the parish is broken up by mines, and on the north western side, one and a half to two and a half miles NW of Wednesbury, are the two mining villages of Moxley and Heath, which are partly in Darlaston parish, and the former is also partly in Bilston parish."
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Parishes

INFORMATION RELATED TO ALL OF WEDNESBURY

Bibliography

'History of Wednesbury'
by John F Ede
Published 1962, by Wednesbury Corporation, Wednesbury.

'Olden Wednesbury, Its Whims and Ways'
by FW Hackwood
Published 1889, by Ryder & Son, Wednesbury.

'Religious Wednesbury, Its Creeds, Churches & Chapels'
by FW Hackwood
Published 1900, by Herald Press, Dudley.

'The Wednesbury Papers'
by FW Hackwood
Published 1884, by R Ryder, Wednesbury.

'Wednesbury Ancient and Modern'
by FW Hackwood
Published 1902, by Ryder & Son, Wednesbury.

'Wednesbury Workshops'
by FW Hackwood
Published 1889, by Horton Bros, Wednesbury.

'Wednesbury Faces, Places and Industries'
by FW Hackwood
Published 1897, by R Ryder, Wednesbury.

'A History of Wednesbury, in the County of Stafford'
by JN Bagnall
Published 1854, by William Parke, Wolverhampton.

'Footsteps of John Wesley in Wednesbury'
by EA Dingley
Published 1938, by Epworth Press, London.

'Modern Christianity, Exemplified at Wednesbury, and other Adjacent Places in Staffordshire'
by John Wesley
Published 1745, by John Gooding, Newcastle uponTyne.

'The Bitter Sacred Cup. The Wednesbury Riots, 1743-44'
by J Leonard Waddy
Published 1976, by Pinhorns, London.

'Pedigrees of Gibbons of Sedgley, Keeling of Sedgley & Russell of Wednesbury'
Reprinted from 'Miscellanea Genealogica et Heraldica'
by William George Dimock Fletcher
Published 1918, by Mitchell, Hughes & Clarke, London.

'Wednesbury in Old Photographs'
by Ian M Bott
Published 1994, by Alan Sutton Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

'Tipton, Wednesbury & Darlaston in Old Photographs'
by Robin Pearson
Published 1989, by Alan Sutton Publishing, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

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Census

The population of Wednesbury parish was as follows:
1801 -- 4,160
1811 -- 5,372
1821 -- 6,471
1831 -- 8,437
1841 -- 11,625
1851 -- 14,281
1861 -- 21,968
1871 -- 25,030
1881 -- 24,566
1891 -- 25,347
1901 -- 26,554

A surname index only of the 1851 census for Wednesbury parish is included in the 1851 Staffordshire Census Surname Index, Vol 15, West Bromwich, Part 2, published by the Birmingham and Midland SGH.

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Church History

Anglican Church History
For Anglican church history see individual Parishes

Nonconformist Church History
"There are in the town and parish eight dissenting chapels. The Wesleyans are very numerous, and have three chapels here, Springhead Chapel, built in 1813, Holyhead Road Chapel, built in 1850, and a small chapel at King's Hill Field. The Independent Chapel, in Holyhead Road, was erected in 1761, and rebuilt in 1827. The small Baptist Chapel, in Dudley Street, was built in 1838, and the New Connexion Methodist Chapel, in Holyhead Road, was built in 1850. The Primitive Methodists have a chapel in Camp Street, and a small one at Leabrook."

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

The Roman Catholic church of St Mary, Wednesbury, was erected in 1872 on Church Hill and replaced an earlier church built in 1852. It is built of brick, with box stone dressings, in the Early English style, and consists of chancel, side chapels, nave, aisles, and a tower with spire.
The Catholic school in Portway Road served as St Joseph's Roman Catholic church between 1875 and 1911. It was served from St Mary and had no separate registers.

Postcard of St Mary's Roman Catholic Church (Interior) c 1910

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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 Sandwell Community History & Archives Service (SA), Staffordshire Record Office (SRO) or the Public Record Office (PRO) as indicated below:
Camp Street, Wednesbury, Primitive Methodist, Marriages 1902-1965 (SRO)
Holyhead Road, Wednesbury, Wesleyan Methodist, Marriages 1901-1955 (SRO)
Kings Hill, Wednesbury, Wesleyan Methodist, Marriages 1908-1971 (SRO)
Leabrook, Wednesbury, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1877-1945 (SA)
Ridding Lane, Wednesbury, Methodist, Marriages 1934-1967 (SRO)
Spring Head, Spring Bank, Wednesbury, Wesleyan Methodist, Births & Baptisms 1792-1837 (PRO)
Vicar Street, Wednesbury, Primitive Methodist, Marriages 1914-1961 (SRO)

A transcript of the Wednesbury Wesleyan Methodist Circuit Registers, Baptisms 1795-1837, has been published (with Darlaston) by the Birmingham & Midland SGH

The original registers of St Mary Roman Catholic church for the period 1852-1895 (Bapts), 1856-1900 (Mar) & 1872-1953 (Confirmations) are deposited at Birmingham Diocesan Archives.

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Directories

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

'Cope's Wednesbury & Darlaston Blue Book and Directory' was published by EF Cope & Co, Walsall, in 1921, 1922, 1924 & 1927.

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Occupations

"Wednesbury parish has long been celebrated for its valuable mines of coal and ironstone, and for the manufacture of gun locks, and various other articles of iron and steel, among which are coach and railway axletrees, springs, hinges, screws, files, spades, shovels, hoes and other edge tools, gas tubes, and a variety of cast iron articles.
The coal in this neighbourhood is considered the best in the kingdom for the smith's forge, on account of its peculiar intensity of heat. It is found in separate beds, from three to fourteen feet in thickness, and is a source of ample revenue to its proprietors. A peculiar species of iron ore called blond metal is found here, which is chiefly used in the manufacture of horse shoes, hammers, axes, etc. A reddish earth called kip is also found in the neighbourhood, and used in glazing vessels of various kinds.
The trade of Wednesbury has long had the benefit of a general inland navigation, by means of the Walsall & Birmingham Canal, which has a branch extended to the western extremity of the town, where the coal masters have commodious wharfs. The town has lately been joined to the great network of railways now traversing the kingdom, by means of the South Staffordshire Railway, which has a station here.
During the late war, the grand staple article produced at Wednesbury and Darlaston, were gun locks, of which immense quantities were sent weekly for the use of the Birmingham musket manufacturers. Very high wages were obtained for the forging and filing of these locks before the general peace, but they subsequently fell as much as 70%. Many of the workers afterwards found employment making other articles, and the gun lock filers and forgers are now reduced to a quarter of their previous number. But the parish has generally recovered its prosperity owing to the establishment of several large iron works, and the introduction of many new manufactures during the last thirty years.
In 1825, Mr Cornelius Whitehouse, of Wednesbury, obtained a patent for an improved method of manufacturing iron gas tubes, for the use of street lamps, etc, but he soon afterwards sold his invention to Mr James Russell, and they are now manufactured here by the Russell family.
During the last 15 years the parish has participated largely in the manufacture of wheels, axles, shafts, and nearly all sorts of iron work for the railways, except the rails. Messrs Lloyds, Foster, & Co, of the Old Park Works, employ more than 1200 hands in smelting iron, and in the manufacture of bar iron, steam engines, boilers, railway wheels, turn tables, and a great variety of cast iron articles.
The Patent Shaft & Axletree Company, of which T Walker, Esq, is the managing partner, employ about 700 men, and have powerful rollers, hammers, and other ingenious machinery for making their welded iron shafts, axles, railway carriage wheel rims, and links for suspension bridges. John Bagnall & Sons, Fletcher Rose & Co, and some other firms, have extensive coal and iron works in the parish. Mr Elwell, of Wednesbury Forge Works, employs about 300 hands, and machinery, propelled by water and steam power, in the manufacture of spades, shovels, hoes, axes, and other edge tools, for the home and foreign markets.

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

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Poorhouses, Poor Law etc

Wednesbury parish became part of West Bromwich Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.
The old Wednesbury parish workhouse, in Meeting Street, was used by the Union until 1857, together with the one at West Bromwich and had accomodation for 110 paupers.

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[Last updated: 4th May 2012, Mike Harbach.  © 1999 - 2012]