Rowley Regis in 1859
Topographical Dictionary of England, Samuel Lewis - 1859
ROWLEY-REGIS (ST. GILES), a parish, in the union of DUDLEY, N. division of the hundred of SEISDON, S. division of the county of STAFFORD, 3 miles (S.E.) from Dudley, and 7 (W.) from Birmingham; containing 11,111 inhabitants. This parish is situated in a rich mineral district abounding with clay, coal, and iron-stone, and is bounded on the south and south-west by the river Stour, which divides it from the parish of Hales-Owen and from the counties of Salop and Worcester, and on the north and north-west by a rill which rises among the hills, and separates it from the parish of Dudley, in the county of Worcester, and from King's-Swinford, in the county of Stafford. Another rill, which has its source to the north, near the summit of the hills, after passing under the Birmingham canal at Tividale, falls into a nameless river which separates the parish on the north-east from those of Tipton and West Bromwich, and from the manor of Oldbury in the parish of Hales-Owen.
The surface, comprising nearly 3550 acres, is very uneven, and divided into numerous small inclosures, of which scarcely any two contiguous portions form one common level; the soil in the hilly parts is light and open, but in the lower grounds stiff, cold, and generally unproductive. At the extremity of the parish, towards Hales-Owen, rises the ridge called the Rowley Hills, which extend in a northerly direction to the opposite border of the parish, and consist of a peculiarly hard basaltic rock, commonly called the Rowley Rag. These hills, which supplied materials for paving the town of Birmingham, and most other towns in the vicinity, are said to have an elevation of 900 feet above the sea, into which the waters issuing from the eastern side are conveyed by the Trent, and those on the western by the Severn, at opposite extremities of the kingdom. J. Edwards Piercy, Esq., high sheriff of the county in 1843, has an estate here, as also has Thomas Jones, Esq. The Birmingham canal enters the parish at the Brades, and passes through Tividale for about a mile; and the Dudley canal at Gosty Hill, through which it is conveyed by a tunnel nearly 500 yards in length. The parish is within the jurisdiction of the Oldbury court of requests for debts under £5.
The LIVING was annexed by Robert de Somery, in the 1st of Edward I., to the vicarage of Clent, and both belonged to the abbey of Hales-Owen. The glebe comprises nearly 61 acres, producing about £200 per annum; about nine acres are old inclosure, and the remainder was, by act of parliament in 1799 for inclosing waste lands, allotted in lieu of the vicarial tithes: by the same act the proprietors of land were obliged to purchase the rectorial tithes at the valuation of the commissioners, or to give land from their old inclosures in lieu of them. The present vicar has obtained an act authorising the sale of the lands, and, at his death, for constituting the living a perpetual curacy in the gift of the crown, and for separating the parish altogether from that of Clent. A new parsonage was erected in 1842. The church was rebuilt in 1840, at an expense of £4763.3.1., raised by subscription, aided by a grant of £400 from the Diocesan, and £500 from the Incorporated, Society; the tower, which is exceedingly old, was in part cased with new stone, and raised forty feet higher, and this appears to be the second time that the edifice has been rebuilt and enlarged under the same circumstances: it contains 1800 sittings, of which 1000 are free.
There are 27 places of worship for dissenters in the parish. A school was erected at Reddal Hill, by subscription, in 1790, on land given by Viscount Dudley and Ward, under the auspices of the Rev. Christopher Stephenson, for 24 years curate of the parish, who left the interest of £300 for its support; Mr. Mackmillan also left £20 per annum; some small legacies have been since bequeathed to it, and the remainder of the income arises from voluntary contributions. A school in the town, on a site of land given by Mr. Mackmillan, who also endowed it with £20 per annum, was erected after his decease by his brother, Mr. John Mackmillan, and the endowment was augmented with an annuity of £10 left by Lady Monnins. In 1651, Elizabeth Mansell, whose maiden name was White, bequeathed two closes and two dwelling-houses at Gosty Hill for charitable uses. Sir Stephen Littleton, of Holbech House, in the parish of King's-Swinford, and one of the conspirators in the gunpowder plot, was for some time concealed in the residence of a family of the name of White, of which Elizabeth Mansell is supposed to have been a member.
[Description(s) from The Topographical Dictionary of England (1859) by Samuel Lewis - Transcribed by Mike Harbach ©2020]