WHITCHURCH: Geographical and Historical information from the year 1824.


"WHITCHURCH, a parish and market town in the northern extremity of the county, in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North, a rectory remaining in charge, in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, the deanery of Salop, and archdeaconry of Salop. The living is held with Marbury, which, however, is neither in the same county, diocese, nor province. That part of the parish of Whitchurch, which is in the county of Salop contains 1,071 houses, 5,376 inhabitants. 20 miles north-east of Shrewsbury, 161 miles north-west of London. Market on Friday. Fairs, second Friday in April, Whitmonday, First Friday after the second of August, October 28. LAT. 53 N. LONG 2. 46½ W.

A branch of the Ellesmere canal comes up to the town. The principal trade of the place is the making of shoes for the Manchester market, and malting:- there is also near the town, a Manufactory of Oak-acid, as well as numerous Lime-kilns and ovens for baking bricks and draining tiles. It has a high Steward and inferior officers; the former of whom is appointed hy the Lord of the manor, the Earl of Bridgewater, who has a noble estate extending for several miles round the town. In the town hall are preserved the court rolls and archives of the Lordship; and here courts Baron and courts Leet are held by the high steward. The church is a noble structure, of the Tuscan order, built in the reign of Queen Ann, at an expense of somewhat less than £4,000; and will contain upwards of 2,000 persons. It is considered by the best judges, to be almost a perfect model of what a church ought to be. It stands on the spot where the old Gothick church formerly stood, which fell down suddenly.

In a window in the south aisle is an alabaster effigy of the great John Talbot, created Earl of Shrewsbury, surnamed the English Achilles; who was so renowned in France that no man in that kingdom dared to encounter him single handed. In a corresponding window in the north aisle is an alabaster monument of Sir John Talbot, rector of Whitchurch, in the clerical robes of that period; both of these were taken out of the ruins of the old church. Here is also a monument erected by his widow, to the memory of the eminently pious Philip Henry, whose remains are interred here: some of his descendants still reside in the town and neighhourhood. The Talbots, Earls of Shrewsbury, had a seat ahout a mile from the town, called Black Mere; and one of their titles was Lord Strange, of Black Mere: some of the family also bore the title of de albo Monasterio, or, of Whitchurch.

The estates in the neighbourhood which once belonged to the family, are now in possession of the Bridgewater family. The living of Whitchurch is a rectory, in the gift of the Earl of Bridgewater; and the same Presentation enables the person presented to hold the rectory of Marbury, which is in another county, another diocese, and under a different Metropolitan, by the title of Whitchurch cum Marbury. The present Parsonage House, which stands in a retired situation, surrounded by pleasure grounds and plantations, and at a convenient distance from the Town, was built by Dr. Newcome, rector of Whitchurch, and bishop of St. Asaph, on the site of one more ancient; which, within a century, was surrounded by a Moat, crossed by a draw-bridge. Here is a valuable Library of old Books; which were purchased from the executors of Dr. Sankey, rector of Whitchurch, about a hundred years ago, by the Countess of Bridgewater, and presented by her as an appanage to the living. In this town is a free Grammar School, founded by Sir John Talbot, rector of Whitchurch, who was mentioned above; of which the Earl of Shrewsbury is hereditary visitor: it has a head and a second master: the appointment of the former, rests with a body of trustees, subject to the approval of the rector, and of the latter with the head master, subject to the like approval.

There is also an alms-house school for children of both sexes, and six alms-houses for decayed house-keepers, with liberal endowments, bequeathed by Mr. Samuel Higginson, and under the management of Trustees.

This town has always been noted for its loyalty, and was devotedly attached in the great rebellion to the cause of its lawful sovereign; when that ill-fated monarch removed his standard from Nottingham to Shrewsbury, it is said that Whitchurch alone, raised a whole regiment for his service. The neighhouring country is eminently healthy, fertile, and beautiful; abounding with fine sheets of water, and richly wooded, having noble prospects of the Welsh mountains, and of the Parks of Combermere, Hawkstone, and Cholmondeley.

Some of the best cheese, sold under the name of Cheshire, is made in this part of Shropshire. The market of Whitchurch has long been noted for the abundance, and the reasonable price of provisions.

The gentlemen's seats in the neighbourhood, although but few of them are now occupied as such; are Dartford Hall, Wicksteed Hall, Belvidere, Terrick, Hinton Hall, Alkington Hall, Ash Hall, Ash Grove, and Iscoyd Park.

Dr. TYLSTON was born at Whitchurch, March 15, 1663-4, of parents eminent for piety, and every virtue. His biographer informs us that "when a boy, he manifested such diligence in the pursuits of learning, as raised high expectations of future eminence. After quitting school be resided with the Rev. Mr. Malden, at Alkington, near his native place, under whose tuition he perfected his skill in the Greek and Hebrew languages.

" Soon after Mr. Malden's death, he was admitted into Trinity College, Oxford, where he had Dr. Sykes, the Rev. Margaret Professor of Divinity, for his tutor. His brilliant talents, adorned by a deportment in all respects exemplary, soon attracted the notice of Dr. Bathurst, then President of the College, whose able directions much assisted him. When about Bachelor's standing, his inclinations suggested the study of Physick, as the employment of life, and having by an acquaintance with Natural Philosophy, laid a good foundation for medical inquiries, he speedily turned the course of his reading into that channel. Literary pursuits did not render him less attentive to the exercises of godliness, and as he was stimulated in his researches by pure motives, so he consecrated all his acquirements to the service of Christ.

" After he had left College he removed to London, where he studied industriously under the guidance of Sir Richard Blackmore. His fame reached the learned Dr. Sydenham, who not only admitted him to his most familiar friendship, but opened to his access the invaluable treasure of observations which, by many years extensive practice, he had amassed.

" In the beginning of the year 1687 he went, accompanied by the Doctor's son, to Aberdeen, and received from that university, with peculiar tokens of respect, the degree of Doctor of Physick.

" On his return he commenced his professional career at Whitchurch, and though young, quickly obtained celebrity. Soon afterwards he was united in marriage to Katharine the second daughter of the Reverend Philip Henry.

" At the earnest request of many friends in Chester, he quitted his native town for that city in the year 1690, and, by successful practise, continued to increase in fame.

" His mental powers rose above the ordinary standard. In the prosecution of any inquiry he exercised a patience of thought truly manly and admirable; regarding the opinions of others rather as guides to direct, than authorities to govern, the efforts of his own mind. After his attainments had become considerahle, such was his thirst for knowledge that he redeemed for study all the time his professional engagements would allow. His closet and books were to him "what the counting-house is to the industrious merchant, or the laboratory to the successful chemist." The writings of antiquity, especially those of Cicero, Seneca, and Plutarch afforded him principal delight. In the epistles of Pliny he took great pleasure, and shortly before his death read, with high satisfaction, the works of Lactantius. Passages which illustrated any portion of Scripture he transcrihed into an interleaved Bible, or other repository. He was accustomed also in perusing valuable authors to mark the most striking parts that he might review them with more facility, and advantage.

" The medical profession is confessedly, not only honourable, but a fertile source of blessings. Doctor Tylston, whether we consider the solidity of his qualifications, the extent of his benevolence, the continuance of his success, or the fervency of his piety, was no common ornament to it. The theory of medicine he had diligently studied, and by extensive practice had improved, as well as augmented his knowledge. It was his design to have published a Universal History of Epidemick diseases, and could he have accomplished the plan, he hoped to have conveyed much information, both rare and useful, but for want of necessary books, which be found it impossible to procure, he was obliged to lay it aside unfinished.

" In practice he was as remarkable for charity to the poor as for diligence, fidelity, and concern for his patients. He sometimes travelled far, gratis, to advise the indigent, with as much kindness and cheerfulness as the most generous and wealthy, and not only gave them advice, but frequently medicine also. He wrote in his pocket dispensatory two portions of divine truth as excitements to beneficence. The one- " He went about doing good,"- the other- " It is more blessed to give than to receive." In the same book he wrote, likewise, the following excellent, not to say scriptural, remark of Pliny. " 'Tis most pleasant to be kind to the grateful, but most honourable to be so to the ungrateful." His frequent and earnest prayers on behalf of those he attended, as also for direction in prescrihing, and for a blessing on what be administered, evinced a tender concern for their welfare, while they proclaimed an active faith in divine providence.

" As the head of a family, prudence and virtue beautified his conduct. In the domestick circle be manifested a happy mixture of authority and love, and in the education of his children, great wisdom and tenderness. The sacrifice of prayer and praise, though be was often prevented from observing a stated time, daily ascended morning and evening from his family altar. He constantly wrote the sermons he heard on the Lord's day, and in the evening repeated them to the instruction and edification of his household. On the occurrence of any special providence be frequently sought the devotional assistance of select friends, and for some years commemorated in his habitation, by solemn praise, the recovery of his eldest son from a dangerous fever. "I will sing said the pious Psalmist, of mercy and judgment, unto thee O Lord will I sing. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart."

" It was his excellence as a Christian that formed the basis of the superstructure we have admired, and rendered the whole stable, compact, and ornamental. Convinced of the importance and necessity of discovering the existence of faith by its fruits, he was assiduous in the practice of every good work. To the apostolick description of a citizen of Zion he often, when pleading the cause of religion, appealed. "He that doeth righteousness is righteous."

" The scriptures be perused with unfeigned delight, and was influenced by their authority as a supreme rule. By frequent meditation be became conversant, in an unusual degree, with the instructive doctrines, and sublime mysteries of the Gospel. When a subject particularly interesting filled his attention he clothed his conceptions in writing. Many divine contemplations-on the Being of God-the truth of the Christian religion-the present darkness of mankind as to a future state, and other important topicks survived him, as evidences, not only of erudition, but of an experimental acquaintance with the "truth as it is in Jesus." His natural endowments, assisted by diligent cultivation, and increased by obedience to the divine will, raised him to an eminence in wisdom and knowledge, from which be viewed theological subjects with a comprehensive distinctness, not to be expected by those whose minds, though stored with scriptural truths, remain uninfluenced and impure. Divine communion and holy practice, be thought both inseparable from the true christian, and friendly to his advancement in wisdom and understanding.

" The divine attributes and operations, both in providence and grace, were familiar themes to his devout, and contemplative mind. God was the subject of habitual, gratifying thought, and as be had been enriched by the communications of his abundant mercy, so he delighted to speak, as well as muse, upon its free and infinite nature.

" The rapidity of his growth in grace was, in the estimation of some, predictive of an early removal to the heavenly world; a body naturally feeble, and rendered more so by the animation of a spirit, whose energies were too vigorous for its strength, added force to the expectation; and the event proved its correctness. On the 29th of March, 1699, he was attacked, by a violent fever, which he apprehended would prove a summons to the grave, but committing himself, with cheerful resignation, to God as his Father, be remarked, for his own support, and the encouragement of his friends-" What we will we think is best, but what God will we are sure is best."

" In the course of his illness he repeatedly observed, that when be reflected on his manifold failings and defects, he had reason to tremble at the thought of appearing before God in judgment, but added, with an air of holy courage," I trust to his infinite mercy, and the all-sufficient merits and mediation of the Lord Jesus." During his final conflict he was indulged, with one exception only, with settled peace. At that period he expressed great fears as to his everlasting state, and awful apprehensions of the wrath of God, but the storm quickly subsided, and a sacred calm ensued.-" The enemy came in like a flood, but the Spirit of the Lord lifted up a standard against him."

" He exhorted his son, with dying earnestness, to study the scriptures, and make them the guide of his ways. He commended religion, appealing to his own experience, as the path of safety, and enjoyment.

" On one occasion he said-" I must not forget the church of God. Though it be a time of trouble in many places, yet they who are gone before, died believing that great things will be done for the church in the latter days, and so do I. " Lord do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion."

" As the time of his departure approached, the felicities of Eternity were, in a degree, anticipated. "Oh," he exclaimed, " the glorious mansions in our father's house, and glorious inhabitants in those mansions-pleasures for evermore." " I know in whom I have trusted and that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him."

" The two last days previous to his dissolution, though sensible and tranquil, he took little notice, but gradually declined, and on Saturday night, April 8th., about eleven o'clock, without a sigh or a groan, finished his mortal course in the 36th year of his age.

" The following Tuesday he was interred in Trinity Church, Chester, attended by multitudes, testifying unfeigned sorrow and regret.

" A funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. Mr. Newcome, of Tattenhall, his dear and intimate friend, from Phil. i. 21.- To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

" An extract from the original manuscript of a letter written on the event by Matthew Henry, to the Reverend F. Tallents, will be interesting, whether regarded as an honourable testimony to departed worth, or as affording suitable instruction under a bereaving Providence.-"I find it easy to say a great deal to aggravate the affliction we are under in the death of Dr. Tylston, whom we miss daily. What improvement I have made in learning of late years has been owing as much to my converse with him, as to any one thing. He set an excellent example to all his friends of serious piety. He was the ornament of our congregation and a great reputation to us. We must own that God has a controversy with us, and we would humble ourselves under his bumbling providence. It should silence us that the will of God is done; but it should abundantly satisfy us, (and it would so if we lived more by faith) that this providence was appointed to fetch one to heaven, and (I hope) to fit many for it. I desire to have death and the grave, heaven and glory, made more familiar to me. O, that I could, with humility and dependence upon Christ, and a holy contempt of this world, live in a believing expectation of the glory to be revealed."

This town is remarkable as having been the birth-place or residence of several eminent men, among whom was NICHOLAS BARNARD, chaplain to Archbishop Usher, and afterwards Dean of Armagh. He was the author of several books and pamphlets, and suffered much in Ireland, for his steady attachment to his religious principles. He died in the year 1661, and was buried at this place. Abraham Whelock, a person of great Naming, and noted as a linguist of distinguished abilities was also born in this town. He was fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Library-Keeper, Arabick Professor, and minister. of St. Sepulchre's. He was the author of a Persian translation of the New Testament, which great task be undertook under the pious hope that in time it might open the way for the conversion of the natives of Persia to Christianity, Mr. Whelock was one of Dr. Brian Walton's assistants in the compilation of that prelate's polyglot bible. He also published a decent edition of the works of venerable Bede. He died in 1654."

" ALKINGTON, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. 2 miles south-west by south of Whitchurch."

" ASH MAGNA, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. 2 miles south-east of Whitchurch."

" ASH PARVA, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. 2½ miles south-east of Whitchurch."

" BLACK PARK, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. 2 miles north-east of Whitchurch."

" BROUGHALL, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. 1 mile southeast of Whitchureh."

" CHINNEL (or CHIMNEL), a part of a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. See Hollyhurst and Chinnel. 1½ mile north of Whitchurch.

" DODINGTON, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of Bradford North, adjoining to Whitchurch."

" EDGELEY, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North."

" HINTON, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. 1 mile north of Whitchurch."

" HOLLYHURST and CHINNELL, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. Chinnel is 1½ mile north-east of Whitchurch."

" NEW WOOD-HOUSES, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. 3 miles north- east of Whitchurch."

" OLD WOOD-HOUSES, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North. 3 miles north-east of Whitchurch."

" TILSTOCK, a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford North, a chapel to Whitchurch, in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, the deanery of Salop, and archdeaconry of Salop. 2½ miles south of Whitchurch."

" WOODHOUSES (Old), a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford, North."

" WOODHOUSES (New), a township in the parish of Whitchurch, and in the Whitchurch division of the hundred of Bradford, South."

[Transcribed information from A Gazetteer of Shropshire - T Gregory - 1824](unless otherwise stated)

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