"Handsworth parish comprises about 7700 acres, and 7880 souls, divided into the two manors and joint townships of Handsworth-with-Soho and Perry Barr.
Handsworth and Soho form a large and handsome north-west suburb of Birmingham, bounded on the south and east by Warwickshire, and extending about three miles on the Walsall and Wednesbury roads, including many large assemblages of houses, several manufactories, and a considerable number of neat villas, mostly occupied by coal and iron masters, and merchants, engaged in the trade and commerce of Birmingham. The Earl of Dartmouth is lord of the manor, and the other principal proprietors are Matthew PW Boulton, Esq, formerly of Soho House, and Wyrley Birch, Esq, owner of Hampstead, an ancient seat of the Wyrleys.
Perry Barr is a large manor, forming a joint township with Handsworth, and containing about 1000 souls. It has a railway station about two miles N of Birmingham, and includes the small village of Perry Barr, three miles NW of Birmingham, and a number of scattered houses, extending northward to Sutton Park and Great Barr, within three miles of Walsall. Perry Hall, on the north bank of the Tame, is the seat of the Hon Frederick Gough, the principal owner of the soil and lord of the manor, which was purchased in 1669 by Sir Henry Gough, Knt. "
[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]




'Handsworth Old & New. A History...'
by Frederick William Hackwood
Published 1908, by FW Hackwood, Handsworth.

'Handsworth Remembered'
by Victor J Price
Published 1992, by Brewin, Studley.

'Handsworth, Hockley, & Handsworth Wood (Images of England series)'
by Peter Drake
Published 1998, by Tempus, Stroud, Gloucestershire.

'Handsworth Church and its Surroundings'
by Allen E Everitt
Published 1876, by EC Osborne, Birmingham.

'King Edward's Grammar Shcool for Girls, Handsworth 1883-1983'
by Anon
Published 1983, by King Edward's Grammar School, Handsworth.




The population of Handsworth parish was as follows:
1801 -- 2917
1831 -- 4944
1841 -- 6138
1851 -- 7880





Church History

"Handsworth Church, St Mary, is picturesquely situated on the Walsall road, about two miles NNW of Birmingham. It is an ancient structure, partly rebuilt and enlarged in 1820, and has a tower with six bells, which like the other remaining parts of the ancient fabric, is in the decorated style of the time of Edward III. In the chancel are two recumbent effigies of members of the Wyrley family, and an ancient piscena. On the south side, a neat groined chapel has been raised over the vault of the late celebrated engineer, James Watt, Esq, of whom there is in the chapel a beautiful white marble statue, by Chantrey. Among the numerous mural monuments in the church is one in memory of the late Matthew Boulton, Esq, of Soho. The rectory is in the patronage of the Rev John Peel, DD, and the Rev George William Murray, MA, is the incumbent.

St James Church, or chapel of ease, in the western part of this parish, is a neat structure, which was built in 1838, in the Early English style, with a tower. The curacy is in the patronage of the rector, and incumbency of the Rev Charles P Good.

Perry Barr Church, or chapel of ease, dedicated to St John, was consecrated in1833, and is in the decorated Gothic style, the exterior displaying much of the florid character, and forming a fine contrast with the chaste and simple style of the interior. The perpetual curacy is in the patronage of the Hon Frederick Gough, and incumbency of the Rev Arthur M Wyatt, of Penrose.

Oscott College, near Perry Barr, was established many years ago as a Roman Catholic Academy, and now occupies a large and handsome building, lately erected in Aston parish, Warwickshire, and dedicated to St Mary. At Maryvale is a Roman Catholic Chapel, of which the Rev CJ Aubert is priest, and near Handsworth is a small Convent of our Lady of Mercy.

In Handsworth is a large Independent Chapel, which is called the Union Chapel, and was erected in 1788, but was improved and enlarged in 1818 and 1850. The Rev John Hammond is its minister, and attached to it is a burial ground. There is a Wesleyan Chapel in Perry Barr."

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



Church Records

Church of England Registers
The register of the parish church of St Mary commences in 1558. The original registers for the period 1558-1975 (Bapts), 1558-1980 (Mar) & 1558-1938 (Bur) are deposited at Birmingham Reference Library. Handsworth parish was transferred from Staffordshire to Warwickshire in 1911.
Bishops Transcripts, 1660-1809 (with gap 1735-38) are deposited at Birmingham Reference Library. Bishops Transcripts, 1805-1889 are deposited at Lichfield Record Office.
A transcript of the registers of St Mary has been published in 2 parts by the Birmingham & Midland SGH:
Part 1 - 1774-1830 (Bapts) & 1774-1837 (Bur)
Part 2 - 1558-1625 (Bapts, Mar & Bur)

The register of St John, Perry Barr commences in 1833. The original registers for the period 1833-1964 (Bapts), 1864-1976 (Mar) & 1834-1931 (Bur) are deposited at Birmingham Reference Library.
Bishops Transcripts, 1834-1868 (with gap 1840) are deposited at Birmingham Reference Library.

Nonconformist Registers
The original registers of Handsworth Union Chapel (Lady Huntingdon's Connexion until 1805, subsequently Independent), for the period 1788-1837 (Births & Bapts), & 1827-1837 (Bur) are deposited at the Public Record Office.

The original registers of Oscott House Roman Catholic Chapel, later known as Maryvale, Perry Barr, for the period 1761-1766 & 1794-1920 (Bapts), 1822-1836 & 1867-1935 (Mar), and 1819-1841 & 1852-1922 (Deaths), are deposited at Birmingham Diocesan Archive.



Description & Travel

A transcription of the section on Handsworth from A Topographical History of Staffordshire by William Pitt (1817)

You can see pictures of Handsworth which are provided by:



The transcription of the section for Handsworth  from the Topographical Dictionary of England (1859)

The transcription of the section for Handsworth from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.

The transcription of the section for Handsworth from the Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72)


Historical Geography

You can see the administrative areas in which Handsworth has been placed at times in the past. Select one to see a link to a map of that particular area.



The transcription of the section for the history of  Handsworth from the National Gazetteer (1868) provided by Colin Hinson.



You can see maps centred on OS grid reference SP039906 (Lat/Lon: 52.513275, -1.943963), Handsworth which are provided by:



"Soho Works, about one and a half miles NW of Birmingham, are now only partly occupied, as a steam engine manufactory, by J Watt & Co, who have their principal works at Soho Foundry, in Smethwick. Soho Works were founded and long occupied by Boulton & Co, and formed one of the largest manufactories in Europe, consisting of four squares with connecting ranges of warehouses and shops, sufficiently extensive for the accommodation of a thousand workmen. At its commencement, its productions were buttons, buckles, watch chains, trinckets, medals, and articles of a similar description. In a short time, the manufacture of silver plated wares on a large scale was introduced, and subsequently elegent works in stone bronze and ormolu. These consisted of all kinds of vases, candelabra, clock cases, watch stands, ice pails, and many other equally valuable articles.
The success of this manufacture induced the proprietors to embark on the manufacture of wrought plate, to facilitate which they at length succeeded in obtaining the establishment of an Assay Office at Birmingham for regulating the purity of the metal.
In 1788 they erected here a coining and rolling mill, with eight machines, each capable of striking from 70 to 80 pieces of money per minute. Large quantities of medals and foreign coins have been struck at this mint.
Soho has been long famed for the manufacture of steam engines, for it was here that James Watt, an ingenious Glasgow machanic, after inventing his rotative steam engine in 1775, was induced to become a partner with Mr Boulton, and, after obtaining a patent, they commenced the manufacture of that powerful machine, which has tended so materially to facilitate and increase the manufactures of this kingdom.
The late Mr Eggington, who bought the art of glass staining to great perfection, resided at Soho. There are two large and well stocked nurseries at Handsworth and Perry Barr, belonging to Pope & Son and Moor & Son, the former of which was established more than a century ago."

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

The transcription of the section for Handsworth Industry from the Topographical Dictionary of England (1859)



'Handsworth'. An illustrated local magazine circulating in Handworth, Perry Barr, and Birchfields was published between May 1894 and December 1915.



Poor Houses, Poor Law

Handsworth parish became part of West Bromwich Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.