Staffordshire in 1872


John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales - 1870-2

STAFFORDSHIRE, or Stafford, an inland county; bounded, on the NW, by Cheshire; on the NE, by Derbyshire; on the E, by Derbyshire and Leicestershire; on the SE, by Warwickshire; on the S, by Worcestershire; on the W, by Salop. Its outline is somewhat ellipsoidal, with the longer axis extending N and S. Its boundary line, along part of the NW, is the river Dane; along the NE, is the river Dove; along most of the E, is the rivers Dove, Trent, and Tame; along small part of the W, is the river Tern; and along most other parts, is entirely artificial. Its greatest length is 54 miles; its greatest breadth is 35 miles; its circuit is about 210 miles; and its area is 728,468 acres.

The NE section, to the extent of about one-sixth of the entire area, is upland, variously moorish, pastoral, and picturesque; rises to an average altitude of from 300 to 600 feet above the general level of the rest of the county; and has summits 1,200 and 1,500 feet high. The NW section, nearly identical with Pirehill hundred, is prevailingly champaign. The central sections include the large and elevated tract of Cannock chase; and all, excepting that tract, are either undulated or level ground. The S section includes the hills and cliffs of Dudley and Sedgeley, and the isolated mountain of Rowley-Regis; but elsewhere is all prevailingly champaign.

The chief streams are the Trent, the Sow, the Tame, the Blythe, the Dove, the Manyfold, the Hamps, the Churnet, the Penk, the Stour, and the Tern. Silurian rocks form two small tracts in the S; lower carboniferous rocks form considerable tracts in the NE; upper carboniferous rocks, mainly of the coal measures, form large tracts in the S and in the N; permian rocks form a tract around most of the S coal measures, and another tract to the S of the N coal measures; and triassic rocks form nearly all the rest of the county, chiefly across its central parts, and amounting to about one-half of the entire area. Ochre, fullers' earth, black chalk, fire-clay, brick clay, porcelain clay, Rowley ragstone, fine-grained sandstone, alabaster, marbles, limestone, lead ore, copper ore, ironstone, and coal are worked.

North Staffordshire, in 1859, produced 143,500 tons of iron ore, and had 7 iron-works, 29 furnaces, and 127 collieries; South Staffordshire and Worcestershire, in the same year, produced 475,300 tons of iron ore, and had 71 iron-works, 184 furnaces, and 422 collieries; and all Staffordshire, in that year, produced 6,125,000 tons of coal. A new industry, in the manufacture of oil from cannal coal, was initiated shortly before 1867; and, in the neighbourhood of Burslem and Tunstall, produces nearly 100 tuns of crude oil per week.

The soils, in a general view, are either argillaceous, arenaceous, calcareous, mixed, or peaty, according to the rock formations on which they lie. About 500,000 acres are in tillage. The Norfolk rotation is usually practised on the light soils; but very various courses of cropping are followed on other soils. The chief crops are wheat, rye, barley, oats, beans, turnips, and potatoes. Grass lands of great extent are in the vicinity of all the large towns; and meadows lie along the banks of most of the streams. The cattle are chiefly of the long-horn breed, and partly of several varieties. The sheep are variously grey-faced natives, black-faced natives, white-faced natives, Leicestershires, Southdowns, and mixed breeds; and they amount to about 87,000, and yield about 3,500 packs of wool. Estates are of all sizes; and farms range from 20 to 1,000 acres, and are held either at will or from 14 to 21 years.

Chief manufactures are earthen-ware and porcelain in the N, and hardware, silver-plated ware, glass, and kindred articles in the S; and other manufactures are cotton, silk, mohair, woollen, worsted, hats, tape, boots and shoes, malt liquors, and chemicals at one or more of the principal towns. Railways are abundantly ramified in most parts of the county, particularly in the S, the SE, the centre, and the NW; canals are more extensive and better ramified, in proportion to the area, than in almost any other part of the world; and the paved streets, turnpike roads, and other highways have an aggregate of more than 2,800 miles. The county contains 138 parishes, parts of 12 other parishes, and 15 extra-parochial tracts; and is divided into 5 boroughs, part of another borough, and 10 hundreds.

The act of 1844, for consolidating detached parts of counties, severed from Staffordshire the parishes of Broom and Clent, and annexed to it part of Scropton township. The registration county excludes 93,083 acres of the electoral county; includes 116,551 acres of adjoining electoral counties; comprises altogether 755,017 acres; and is divided into 16 districts. The market-towns are 21; the towns with each upwards of 200 inhabitants, 17; and the smaller towns, villages, and hamlets, upwards of 400. The chief seats include Trentham, Beandesert, Ingestrie, Alton-Towers, Sandon, Sandwell, Shugborough, Enville, Stone Park, Weston, Chartley, Eccleshall, Tiddesley, Himley, and Wrottesley; and amount to about 200.

The county is governed by a lord lieutenant, a vice-lieutenant, a high sheriff, and about 140 magistrates; is in the Midland military district, and the Oxford judicial circuit; and, excepting part of Stottesden deanery, is all in Lichfield diocese. The assizes and the quarter sessions are held at Stafford; the county jail also is there; and a city jail is in Lichfield. The police force in 1864, exclusive of separate forces in Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyne, Walsall, and Wolverhampton, comprised 438 men, at an annual cost of £36,187. The crimes committed, in the same year, exclusive of the four boroughs mentioned, were 943; the persons apprehended, 743; the known depredators and suspected persons at large, 3,613; the houses of bad character, 655.

The county was divided, under the reform act of 1832, into two sections, N and S, for parliamentary representation; and the S section was divided, by the reform act of 1867, into two parts, E and W. Each section or part sends two members to parliament. Electors of the N div., in 1833, 8,756; in 1865, 10,703. Electors of the S div., in 1833, 3,107; in 1865, 10,841. The Poor rates for the registration county, in 1863, were £233,858. Marriages in 1863, 7,219,  of which 827 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; births, 32,733; of which 1,998 were illegitimate; deaths, 19,117, of which 9,918 were at ages under 5 years, and 276 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 65,731; births, 285,423; deaths, 172,046.

The places of worship within the electoral county, in 1851, were 317 of the Church of England, with 161,217 sittings; 4 of English Presbyterians, with 1,150 sittings; 63 of Independents, with 20,676 sittings; 35 of Baptists, with 10,057 sittings; 6 of Quakers, with 798 sittings; 6 of Unitarians, with 571 sittings; 191 of Wesleyans, with 50,443 sittings; 54 of New Connexion Methodists, with 17,585 sittings; 128 of Primitive Methodists, with 22,542 sittings; 3 of the Wesleyan Association, with 1,631 sittings; 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 200 sittings: 1 of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, with 180 sittings; 1 of the New Church, with 35 sittings; 5 of Brethren, with 302 sittings; 8 of isolated congregarions, with 1,544 sittings; 5 of Latter Day Saints, with 585 sittings; 34 of Roman Catholics, with 9,442 sittings; and 1 of Jews, with 30 sittings.

The schools were 440 public day schools, with 44,489 scholars; 878 private day schools, with 21,698 scholars; 643 Sunday schools, with 93,572 scholars; and 39 evening schools for adults, with 773 scholars. Real property, in 1815, £1,200,325: in 1843, £2,441,553; in 1860, £3,601,479, of which £4,279 were in quarries, £432,691 in mines, £409,173 in iron-works, £210 in fisheries, £95,479 in canals, £177,844 in railways, and £16,042 in gasworks. Pop. in 1801, 242,693; in 1821, 345,972; in 1841, 509,472; in 1861, 746,943. Inhabited houses, 147,105; uninhabited, 9,043; building, 1,082. Pop. of the registration county in 1851, 630,545; in 1861, 769,541. Inhabited houses, 151,656; uninhabited, 9,246; building, 1,117.

The territory now forming Staffordshire belonged to the ancient British Cornavii; was included, by the Romans, in their Flavia Cæsariensis; and formed part of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Battles were fought, in 705, between the Mercians and the Northumbrians, near Mere; in 713, between the Mercians and the West Saxons, at Wednesbury; in 907, between the Saxons and the Danes, at Tettenhall; in 911, between the same parties, at Wednesfield; in 1459, between the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, at Blore-Heath; and in 1643, between the royalists and the parliamentarians, at Hopton. Other public events are noticed in our articles on Burton-upon-Trent, Lichfield, Tamworth, and Tutbury. Druidical stones are at Biddulph.

Ancient British remains are at Beaudesert, Apeswood, Stonall, Billington, Elford, and Okeover. The Roman Watling-street, the Roman Icknield-street, and the Via Devana traverse the county. Roman stations were at Wall, Knightley, Uttoxeter, and near Penkridge. Roman camps are at seven places; Saxon camps, at five; and Danish remains, at three. Old castles, of note, were at Cannock, Darlaston, Chartley, Alveton, Healy, Stafford, Stourton, Bonebury, Burton, Eccleshall, and Tutbury. Old abbey remains are at Burton, Croxden, and Dieulacres; a priory, at Wroxton; and interesting old churches, at Lichfield, Stafford, Clifton-Campville, Over Arley, Tamworth, Tutbury, Pipe-Ridware, and Wolverhampton.


[Description(s) from The Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72) - Transcribed by Mike Harbach ©2020]