Recently, I came across a digitally scanned facsimile of a 1851 guide to the county of Staffordshire, ‘White’s 1851 History, Gazetteer & Directory Staffordshire and the City and County of the City of Lichfield’ which is a kind of combined travel guide, yellow pages and encyclopaedia written for what was then a new generation of upwardly mobile Victorian businesspeople, who had the means and time to travel. It contains lots of fascinating information about Staffordshire during the period, as one would expect, and I’ll surely return to some of that at a later date. I was immediately drawn, however, to the sections about the parishes local to Brownhills in the gazetteer section. I reproduce them here – note that you can see the original page scans in a legible size by clicking on the images within the text.
It’s interesting that several figures I’ve mentioned here before are recorded – notably Phineas Fowke Hussey. The Craddock family was clearly a big name in Brownhills, even in the middle of the 19th Century. Note also that Ogley Hay during this period was far more significant than Brownhills, and that the historic, now long destroyed earthwork Knave’s Castle, is mentioned. I’ve been meaning to detail what I can find out about Knave’s Castle and some of the ancient history of the area for some time, ever since the discovery of the local metal detecting scene by a stash of Anglo Saxon gold way back in the summer. It appears that even in 1851, locals were well aware that the parish in which the Staffordshire Hoard was discovered – that of Ogley Hay – had ancient roots. I’ll return to that soon, I promise. There’s a fair bit of local history stuff in preparation at the moment, so please stick with it.
If there’s any articles you’d like to see posted from White’s, I’ll post them here at your request. I’ve spent hours poring over this fascinating volume, it’s a real treasury of fascinating information.
BROWNHILLS, a scattered village and district in this parish, near the Wyrley and Essington Canal, and the Roman Watling street, two miles S.E. of Norton, and five miles S.W. by W. of Lichfield, has a station on the South Staffordshire Railway, near the south end of Cannock Chase, where there are extensive collieries, belonging to Wm. Hanbury and Wm. Harrison, Esqs. The Independents and Primitive Methodists have chapels here, built in 1820 and 1840.
LITTLE WYRLEY is a manor and hamlet, of scattered farms and a few cottages, on the Pelsall road, It mile S.W. of Norton Canes, and near Wyrley Bank. (See page 455.) Wyrley Grove, the ancient seat of P. F. Hussey, Esq., was obtained by his family in marriage with the heiress of the family of Fowke. The mansion stands at the head of a fine lawn, amid groves of elms and other full-grown trees, and is a noble and picturesque specimens of ancient architecture.
NORTON-CANES PARISH. Marked 1 are at BROWNHILLS, 2 LITTLE WYRLEY and the rest at NORTON CANES 1 Caddick Miss Mary Doley Thomas, schoolmaster Earp Jph., parish clerk and engineer 1 Hanbury Wm. Esq., colliery owner; h Moreton House 1 Harrison Wm. Esq., colliery owner; h Norton Hall Hinton James, tailor 2 Hussey Phineas Fowke, Esq., Wyrley Grove Lander Thomas, wheelwright 2 Lindop Mr.Jph.& Jph.jun., saddler 1 Martin Thomas, station master Masfen Wm., gentleman Spencer Mr. John Whitehouse Edward, blacksmith INNS AND TAVERNS. Fleur de Lis, Joseph Mountford Holly Busb, John Cliff 1 Jolly Collier, Wm. Arblaster Rising Sun, Elizabeth Latham 1 Swan, Stephen Cooper Turf Tavern, Robt. Moss, (and maltster, and ale and porter merchant) 1 Turk’s Head, Charles Linford I Beer-house, Samuel Thacker
FARMERS.2 Bamford Walter 1 Beck Edward Brookes Mary 1 Cooper John 1 Dumbleton Ann Hulme Wm. Kendrick – 2 Lindop Edwin Mann Charles Meanley Richard Moss John Mountford Jph. 2 Parker Robert 1 Simkins John Smith John 1 Stackhouse Ths. SHOEMAKERS. 1 Birch David Cliff Joseph Rock Joseph SHOPKEEPERS. Arblaster Geo. (& maltster) 1 Arblaster Saml. Cooper Mary 1 Seedhouse Ths. RAILWAY Trains from Brownhills Station, four times a day, each way
OGLEY HAY, at the south end of Cannock Chase, betwixt Brownhills and Hammerwich, five miles S.W. by W. of Lichfield, is an extra parochial district of 1070 acres of land, crossed by the Wyrley and Essington Canal, and the old Chester road; and bordering upon the mining districts of Pelsall, Wyrley, and Brownhills. It was an open and uncultivated heath, with only 24 inhabitants, till about 15 years ago, when an act of parliament was obtained for its enclosure; and since then it has been divided into farms, gardens, &c., and brought into a fine state of cultivation. Though it had only five houses twenty years ago, it has now about 100, and about 520 inhabitants, chiefly miners and farm labourers; but the large iron works, erected here a few years ago, are at present closed. P. F. Hussey, Esq., was ‘lord of this liberty before its enclosure, and the farmers of Hammerwich had commonright upon it, but it now belongs to many freeholders, the largest of whom are John Nicholson, Esq., of Liverpool; Wm. Stubbs, Esq., Wm. Middleton, Esq., and Messrs. G. and J. Brawn, who have contributed liberally towards the CHURCH, (St. James,) built here in 1850-’51, at the cost of £1200, of which £500 was given by the Diocesan and Incorporated Societies. It is a small cruciform structure, in the early decorated style, with a chancel and nave, without aisles, terminated at the west end by a handsome bell turret, crowned by a small spire. The turret is to have three bells and chimes, and the church has 388 sittings, all free. The first stone was laid by Viscount Lewisham, August 22nd, 1850, and until the completion of the church, divine service was performed here in the schoolroom, by the Rev. James Downes, B.A., incumbent of Stonnall, through whose indefatigable and pious exertions funds have been raised for the erection and endowment of the church. The ecclesiastical district about to be annexed to it, comprises Ogley Hay and the adjacent parts of neighbouring parishes, embracing about 1000 souls, who are nearly three miles from any other church. Ogley Hay now keeps its poor as a township in Lichfield Union, and the following are its principal inhabitants. On an eminence near Watling street, was a Roman encampment, called Knaves’ Castle, encompassed by three ditches, but the enclosure has swept away all traces of it.Alldridge Joseph, schoolmaster, &c. Craddock Thomas, bridle bit maker Craddock Mary, shopkeeper Cresswell Thomas, Vict., Shoulder of Mutton Horobin Henry, farmer Fox Joseph, beerhouse Woodhouse Wm., victualler Seedhouse Edward, beerhouse