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WEM: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1831.

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"WEM, a parish partly in the hundred of PIMHILL, but chiefly in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, comprising the market-town of Wem, the chapelries of Edstaston and Newtown, and the townships of Aston, Cotton, Horton, Lacon, Lowe with Ditches, Northwood, Soulton, Tilley, and Wolverley, and containing 3608 inhabitants, of which number, 1555 are in the township of Wem, 11 miles (NbyE.) from Shrewsbury, and 172 (N.W.) from London. It has been conjectured by Horsley that this place occupies the site of the ancient Rutumwrn, but there is no authentic account of it prior to the Conquest, at which period William Pandulpb, who held twenty-eight manors of Earl Roger de Montgomery, made it the head of a barony, and fixed his residence here; and, on the forfeiture of the estates of Robert de Belesme, son of Earl Roger, for rebellion in the reign of Henry I., Pandulph held it immediately of the crown, and thence became a baron of the realm. After continuing for several generations in this family, and passing through the hands of other proprietors, the barony-was, in 1665, purchased by Daniel Wycherley, father of the poet, and by him sold to the unprincipled Judge Jeffreys, who was created Baron of Wem in 1685, being the first who enjoyed that dignity by patent, but at the death of his son the title became extinct. Wem was the first town in the county which declared for the parliament, in 1643, in which year, a party of the king's troops, under Lord Capel, attempted to capture it by storm, but were repulsed by the small garrison, aided, it is said, by the active exertions of the women: in the following year it was reconnoitred by Prince Rupert, who deemed it unworthy of any effort to capture. Under the government of Major-General Mytton, the garrison plundered the possessions of the neighbourfng royalists, and the booty brought by them into the town caused it to flourish at that time more than at any antecedent or subsequent period. In 1677, i suffered from a dreadful fire, which consumed the church, market-house, and whole ranges of building, destroying property of the valueof upwards of £23,000. The town, situated in a level district, on the northern bank of the river Roden, consists principally of one spacious street, called High-street, from which several smaller streets and lanes diverge, and is well supplied with good water. There are no manufactures, but tanning and malting is carried on to a very considerable extent. The Ellesmere and Chester canal skirts the north-western boundary of the parish. The market was granted by King John, in 1205, to be held on Sunday, at that, time a usual circumstance; since the 24th of. Edward III., it has been held on Thursday. The market-house, on the south side of High-street, is a small neat edifice of brick, with stone quoins, commenced in 1702, but not completed until 1728; in the room over it the courts leet are held. The fairs are on March 4th and May 6th, for linen cloth j May 20th aud June 29th, for cattle; and September 30th and November 22nd, chiefly for swine. Wem appears to have been incorporated, though at what period the charter was granted is not known; but, from a copy of court roll, dated 9th of Edward VI., it must have been prior to that period: it never sent members to parliament. The principal officers are two bailiffs, appointed annually at the court leet held after Michaelmas, one by the lord's steward, and the other by the borough jury. Their authority is now very limited, their duties consisting chiefly in the returning of the jury to attend the steward at courts leet, in preventing fraud by the use of false weights and measures, and in being present at public proclamations; but they do not possess magisterial powers. The burgesses are the holders of burgagetenements, which are about eighty in number. The living is a rectory,'in the archdeaconry of Salop, and diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, rated in the king's books at £26. 4. 4., and in the patronage of Lord Darlington. The church, dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is a spacious edifice with a lofty tower: it appears to have been built at an early period, but the subse-' quent alterations and repairs it has undergone have left little of the original- style. An elevated spot at the north-west corner of the churchyard, now converted into gardens, is supposed to have been the site of the ancient castle. Baptists and Presbyterians have each a place of worship. The free grammar school, in Noble-street, was founded and endowed for three masters, in 1650, by Thomas Adams, Esq., who was born here in 1586, and became a wealthy trader and active magistrate of the city of London, having been created a baronet in 1660. Its management is vested in feoffees, who appoint the masters; and, to increase the original endowment, the statutes of the founder direct that the school shall not be open to the children of those parents who, having the ability, do not contribute towards its support; several subsequent bequests have been added: the present school premises were erected in 1670. This school enjoys the benefit of two exhibitions, founded by Mr. Careswell, for an account of which see BRIDGENORTH. Mr. John Ireland, author of " Hogarth Illustrated," was born in this parish."

" COTTON, a township in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, containing 458 inhabitants."

" EDSTASTON, a chapelry in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, if mile (N. by E.) from Wem, containing 397 inhabitants."

" HORTON, a township in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, if mile (W. by N.) from Wem, containing 99 inhabitants."

" LACON, a township in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, containing 45 inhabitants."

" LOWE, a township, joint with Ditches, in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, 1 mile (N. W.) from Wem, containing, with Ditches, 93 inhabitants."

" NEWTOWN, a chapelry in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, 4 miles (N.W.) from Wem, containing 72 inhabitants. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Salop, and diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, endowed with & 600 royal bounty, and £200 parliamentary grant, and in the patronage of the Inhabitants. The chapel was consecrated in 1663, and dedicated to King Charles the Martyr."

" NORTHWOOD, a township in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, containing 182 inhabitants."

" SOULTON, a township, in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, containing 30 inhabitants."

" TILLEY, a township in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, 1 mile (S.) from Wem, containing 348 inhabitants."

" WOLVERLEY, a township in that part of the parish of WEM, which is in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of BRADFORD (North), county of SALOP, containing 67 inhabitants."

[Transcribed information from A Topographical Dictionary of England - Samuel Lewis - 1831](unless otherwise stated)

[Description(s) transcribed by Mel Lockie ©2015]