A Description of Walsall from History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851


"The PARISH OF WALSALL is in two townships, called Borough and Foreign, and had only 10,399 inhabitants in 1801, but in 1821 its population had increased to 11,914; in 1831 to 15,064; in 1841 to 20,852; and in 1851 to 26,816 souls, of whom 8760 were in the Borough, and 18,056 in the Foreign Township. More than two thirds of the latter are in the suburbs of Walsall, and the rest in the large village of Bloxwich, and the hamlets of Birch Hills, Walsall Wood, Shelfield, Goscote, Caldmore & c., extending four miles north and one and a half miles south of the town, as afterwards noticed. The Borough township contains only about 100 acres, but the 'Foreign of Walsall' extends over more than 8000 acres, and includes several large collieries and iron works. RYECROFT, a northern suburb of the town, is in Rushall parish.

The great increase in the population during the last 20 years is attributable to the prosperity of the staple manufactures of the town, and to the opening of several coal, iron, and limestone mines, in the neighbourhood. WALSALL UNION comprises eight townships and 43,038 souls, as afterwards noticed. The PARLIAMENTARY BOROUGH of Walsall comprises all the parish, except a detached portion of the Foreign Township, called Walsall Wood and Shelfield, which contains about 1200 inhabitants, chiefly miners. The MUNICIPAL BOROUGH comprises the whole parish, and is now divided into three wards.

The Earl of Bradford is Lord of the Manor of Walsall, which comprises nearly all the parish, but a great part of the soil belongs to Lord Hatherton, John Crowther Esq., (owner of Goscote,) a number of other freeholders, and many copyholders, the latter of whom hold by a very easy tenure, paying only a few pence annually to the lord, and being in some respects superior to freeholders, as they can sell their estates without any restriction, as it respects dower, and without the great expense of suing for fines in the superior courts of London.

The manor of Walsall or Walshale, is not mentioned in Domesday Book, though Erdeswick supposes that it was held by Wm. Fitz Anculf, in the 20th of William I. In the reign of Henry III, it was held in fee-farm at the yearly rent of £26. 19s. 9d., by William Rufus, who granted certain privileges to the burgesses. From him it passed to the families of Marteyn, Le Rous, and Basset, from the latter of whom it descended to the great Earl of Warwick, surnamed 'The King Maker'. It was afterwards in the posssession of the celebrated John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, who lost his head in the attempt to establish his daughter-in-law, the lady Jane Grey, on the throne of England, from which she was driven by the bigotted Mary, who, after seizing this manor, granted it to Richard Wilbraham, Esq., in consideration of £1,000. The grandson of the said Richard was created a baronet by James I, and the manor remained in his family till it was carried by one of two co-heiresses to an ancestor of its present lord, the Earl of Bradford, whose seats are at Weston Hall and Castle Bromwich.

During the early part of the war occasioned by the first French Revolution, Walsall, following the example of other loyal towns, established, in 1798, a numerous corps of Volunteer Cavalry, and another of Infantry, and both of them were long distinguished for discipline, and the boldness with which they appeared to quell any disturbance of the public peace. The trade of the town suffered considerably from the French and the American wars; but, during the last 30 years, it has risen rapidly in the scale of national prosperity. About two centuries ago, Walsall was a place of much greater importance than its now gigantic neighbour, Birmingham, which was then described as 'a hamlet near Walsall'"