Grist for the mill


Ogley Mill is now apartments, but was one a flour mill at the heart of the commercial centre of Brownhills. This would have been a valuable asset in a growing town.

This is important, and I’m very excited about it. Peter ‘Pedro’ Cutler has found the following sale notice in the archives from Aris’s Birmingham Gazette of 26th August 1850. This is every bit as significant as the one that turned out to be for Swingbridge Farm, near Clayhanger. It seems there was a big cheese in Brownhills before the likes of William Roberts and the Harrison Family became major players.

Apparently, Mr C. F. Cotterill owned a huge chunk of Brownhills, and if I’m not mistaken, this sale describes an area encompassing much of Ogley Hay and Catshill, not least Ogley Square and the Mill, including the land St. James Church was built upon. Cotterill may have become bankrupt, but this sale was worth a lot of money and he’d clearly been a major landowner.

So my question is this: Who was Cotterill? Is he documented anywhere, how did he make his money, and possibly more interestingly, how did he lose it? 1850 was gold rush time in Brownhills; pits were opening up, we were on the threshold of deep mining and the canals and railways were becoming major freight arteries. Such a large landholding coming up for sale clearly had a huge part to play in the future of the town. So why is the name Cotterill new to me?

I think this could open a new research angle to Brownhills history, and I’m keen to see what readers come up with.

Thanks, as ever, to Peter; his eagle eyes keep spotting stuff in the archives that is truly remarkable.

Comments and observations? Add them here or BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Cheers.










TO be SOLD by AUCTION (by direction of the Assignees of Mr. C. F. Cotterill, a bankrupt, and under I the order of Edmund Robert Daniell, Esq., one of the Commissioners of the District Court of Bankruptcy), at the George Hotel, in Walsall, on Tuesday the 10th day of September next, at four o’clock in the afternoon, in the following or such other lots as may be determined on, and subject to conditions then to be produced :—

LOT I.—All those eight newly-erected HOUSES, BLACKSMITHS’ SHOPS, WORKSHOPS, and OUT-OFFICES, in the several occupations of Anthony Thackcr and others, eligibly situated fronting to the road leading from the Brownhills Station, upon the South Staffordshire Raihvav, and within a hundred yards of the said Station; together with GARDEN GROUND, now used with the said Houses, having an extensive frontage to the road aforesaid, and suitable for the erection of twenty more Houses; together with all those four pieces or parcels of excellent ARABLE LAND, suitable for Market Gardeners, in the occupations of Dumbleton, Jackson, and others, being near the above, and lving on the south side of the South Staf-fordshire Railway, and having extensive frontages from the main road from Brownhilbs to Lichfield, and to new roads formed upon the Estate, containing 14 A. 3R. 39P.

Also all those several other pieces of ARABLE LAND, lying on the north side of the South Staffordshire Railway, in the occupations of Dumbleton, Bates, Ryley, and others, having a road from the Watling Street Road and containing 15A. OR. 7P.

Total quantity, 30A. OR. 6P

LOT II.—All those several pieces or parcels of very good ARABLE LAND, GARDEN GROUND, in excellent condition, lying near lot 1, and having extensive and very eligible frontages to the Turnpike Road from Chester to London, and to several very wide streets which have been formed upon the Estate, in the respective occupations of O. Robins, Woodhouse, Craddock, and others, containing together 60A. OR. 2SP.


Until the contraction of St. James church in 1850, Brownhills had been extra-parochial; that is, it had no parish. Clearly, to an expansionist church a growing urban area with no oversight was an undesirable situation. It seems Mr. Cotterill donated (or sold, perhaps) the land the church was to stand on.

Nearly in the centre of this lot is a piece of Land, containing 1A. 1R., which is given as a site for the erection of a new Church at Ogley, which is about to be commenced.

LOT III.—All those six newly-built HOUSES, with cemented fronts, together with the Brewhouses, Piggeries, Pump of good water, fronting to the road from Ogley Hay to Burntwood, and to a new street called Mill-street, in the several occupations of Mr. Joseph Aldridge, Linford, and others; together with an extensive range of WAREHOUSING SHOPPING, with the STACK and other BUILDINGS, lately used as a STEAM CORN MILL MANUFACTORY.

Also all those ten HOUSES, with Brewhouses, Piggeries. Out-offices. Yard, and Pump of water, adjoining the above, in the several occupations of Fox and others.

Also all those two DWELLING HOUSES and OUT-OFFICES near the above, with the GARDEN GROUND adjoining, in the occupations of Swinnington and another.

And also all those several pieces or parcels of excellent GARDEN GROUND, fronting to the road from Ogley to Burntwood. having valuable frontages to the said road, and two new streets, for Building purposes, in the several occupations of Craddock, Horton, Linford, and others.

The quantity of Land in this lot (including that on which the different Houses and Mill are erected) is 32A, OR. 20P.

The whole of the above Property will he sold with the benefit of all the MINES and MINERALS under the same, and subject to certain Leases on some of the lots which will shortly expire; full particulars of which will appear in future advertisements.

The sale of the above Properties presents a most desirable opportunity to Capitalists and others, as the proximity of the South Staffordshire Railway, with a Station within a hundred yards of the Estate, and the opening of the numerous new Collieries of the Marquis of Anglesey, W. Harrison, Esq., and W. Hanbury. Esq. (with a great probability of an excellent Mine of Coal under the Estate), must considerably improve the same.

Plans and further particulars may be obtained of Frederick Whitmore, Esq., Official Assignee, Waterloo-street, Birmingham; Mr. Bolton, Solicitor, Wolverhampton; Messrs. Lowndes and Co., Solicitors, Liverpool; Mr. Arthur Ryland, Solicitor, Cherry-street, Birmingham; the Auctioneer, Lichfield-street. Walsall; or of Messrs. Smith and James, Solicitors, 29. Waterloo-street, Birmingham.

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26 Responses to Grist for the mill

  1. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    first trawl through ancestry

    1841 a C S Cotterill, born 1811 in Hastings

  2. Andy Dennis says:

    Charles Foster Coterill was born at Cannock on 30 May 1804, the first child of Charles Cotterill and Harriet Ann Foster, married 28 Jul 1803 at Walsall. (Ancestry)
    From The Story of Walsall (online) it appears CFS was mayor at the time that the Municipal Corporations Act provided for elcted Councils. CFS was re-elected as mayor on 1835 and the new council first met in January 1836.
    Wikipedia tells us: “Charles Foster Cotterill, a former mayor of Walsall who had purchased the manor of Ogley Hay in 1836 upon the death of former lord Phineas Hussey, saw the potential of the area and sold off large tracts of his land for private farming and the construction of a flour mill and a foundry. The remaining land of the former manor was progressively sold off through a series of indentures of questionable legality until 1846 when Cotterill sold the last 135 acres (0.55 km2) and moved to London.” I gather the name of Great Charles Street comes from his ambitious plans for the newly enclosed manor of Ogley Hay (Act of 1838).
    1841 – can’t find in census, but he does appear in the electoral rolls for Cannock between 1838 and 1843.
    In 1851 CFS lived alone at Great Winchester Street, London, where he was a “dealer in shares”.
    In 1861 CFS was at Norton Canes with brother-in-law Richard Hamstall, Rector of Norton Canes, and his family. Under occupation the Rector’s sister, sister-in-law and three daughters are described as “lady”! CFS an unmarried “gentleman” of 56 years.
    In 1868 there is an entry in the London Gazette (Dec 4, p6497): “Notice is hereby given, that Charles Foster Cotterill, of Cannock and of Albion-station, Westbromwich, in the county of Stafford, Brick and Tile Manufacturer, hath left in the office of the Chief Registrar of the Court of Bankruptcy, Quality-court, Chancery-lane, London, a list of his debts and liabilities and a statement of his property and credits, as reuired by the Bankruptcy Amendment Act, 1868. — Dated this 1st day of December, 1868.”
    1871 – can’t find.
    Cannock Chase Heritage Trail leaflet (online) says: “In 1875, Charles Foster Cotterill, who live at No. 95 High Green, made improvements to the town’s water supply by replacing the Conduit’s lead and clay piping with cast iron. He was one of the first men in the Midlands to supply water to private dwellings and to cover the cost by introducing water rates. Image courtesy of the Conduit Trust.
    His death was registerd at Penkridge in the April quarter of 1876. There is nothing in the probate calendar, so perhaps he was skint at the end.
    Not a complete biography, but a start.

  3. Yvonne Moore says:

    I found this on 1841 at Lichfield Street Walsall
    Charles F Cotterill 30 Merchant born Staffordshire – plus three servants Ellen Crockett 15, Edward Clewley 20 and Hannah Clinton 20.

    Not found as such in 1851 but there was Charles Cotterill M 43 Nailer of Tamworth, Hannah M 44 of Bloxwich, plus Ellen 3 granddaughter of Bilston and Mary Atkiss 14 servant.

    Charles Cotterill married Hannah Ludford June quarter 1852 Tamworth

    Might be of help


  4. Pedro says:

    While Mayor in 1836 he prevented a prize fight that was due to take place at Cat’s Hill near Muckley Corner. The heroes that were due to fight were Ostler or Ostley, alias Farrell (who had been tried for manslaughter) and a man named Keyte.

    A chase took place but the belligerents escaped at the Swan at Blithbury by climbing through a window. It was believed that they would bring the fight to issue on the following Monday.

  5. Yvonne Moore says:

    baptisms at Cannock to Charles and Harriot Ann Cotterill

    Charles Foster Cotterill born 30.5.1804 bap 28.9.1804, Amy Mary bap 29.11.1806, Edward bap 19.12.1808 and John Horatius bap 2.9.1809

    presumably Harriet Hanstall seen in 1861 at Norton Canes was his sister named after her mother. She was born Newgate, London Christchurch Middlesex.

    Charles F Cotterill was U 56 gentleman of Cannock

    1851 census All Hallows, London Wall, Middlesex

    Charles F Cotterill U 46 Dealer in shares b Staffordshire

  6. Yvonne Moore says:

    died June quarter 1876 Penkridge 6b 292

    Will 30.4.1880 personal estate under £400. Charles Foster Cotterill died 13.4.1876 at Cannock bachelor gentleman. Executor Emma Harvey sister widow of Rugeley and only next of kin.

    1871 Church Street Rugeley Emma Harvey W 61 Annuitant b Cannock

    1871 Market Place Cannock – bit weird this one

    in the household of James Macauley U 36 general practitioner of Leicester

    Charles Foster Cotterill U 65 BROTHER? Lessee of waterworks b Cannock

    servant Thomas Beards U 17

    • Andy Dennis says:

      1871 fits with High Green in my first reply. Odd indeed. The record suggests a separate household from Macaulay, also unmarried so could not be his brother-in-law. Half brother?

      CFS had a sister named Emma.

      Well done with the probate calendar!

  7. Pedro says:

    CF Cotterill resigned as mayor in June 1835 under something of a cloud.

    It had been said that while canvassing for Colonel Anson, he had threatened an individual that if he voted against the Colonel he would have his head broke.

  8. Pedro says:

    Andy you write…

    “In 1851 CF Cotterill lived alone at Great Winchester Street, London, where he was a “dealer in shares”.’

    Found a couple of entries for a CF Cotterill as Secretary of the Harrow Tontine Ass. Address is down as 78 Lombard Street

  9. gabriel says:

    Per “The Times”, in 1852 he was the secretary of The Gold Importation Company at 8 Copthall Court, Throgmorton Street, London EC. The company was set up to cash in on the Australian gold rushes then taking place in NSW, Victoria etc.

    He appears to have had some involvement in railway accounting, too, proposing, in 1855, a new system of accounting for LNWR to the Marquess of Chandos. The Marquess, a close friend of Benjamin Disraeli, was at the time Chairman of the Board of LNWR. And has a reet gobfull of a name, by-the-by: “Richard Plantagenet Temple-Nugent-Brydges-Chandos-Grenville, 3rd Duke of Buckingham and Chandos”

    By 1860 he was the secretary of the Harrow Tontine Association, as noted above by Pedro.

  10. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    wow! What was the Harrow Tontine Assoc ,please? Suddenly a window if being flung wide open on another faded part of local history…also a list of interesting Walsall Mayors is slowly emerging . Thanks, bloggers all; I am really enjoying this topic.

    • Pedro says:

      Hi David,

      It is appearing that our man Cotterill may be a bit of a chancer?

      A tontine is an investment plan for raising capital, devised in the 17th century and relatively widespread in the 18th and 19th. It combines features of a group annuityand a lottery. Each subscriber pays an agreed sum into the fund, and thereafter receives an annuity. As members die, their shares devolas e to the other participants, and so the value of each annuity increases. On the death of the last member, the scheme is wound up. In a variant, which has provided the plot device for most fictional versions, on the death of the penultimate member the capital passes to the last survivor.

    • gabriel says:

      A tontine is “an annuity shared by subscribers to a loan or common fund, the shares increasing as subscribers die until the last survivor enjoys the whole income… Origin:
      mid 18th century: from French, named after Lorenzo Tonti (1630–95), a Neapolitan banker who started such a scheme to raise government loans in France (circa1653).” (Oxford Dictionary)

      The HTA was set up to fund the purchase of 11 acres and 23 houses near “the Church on the Hill” in Harrow. Investors were to be grouped by age (30-45; 45-60 etc), with a fixed number of houses assigned to each group. Once the number of investors in each group fell – through deaths – to match the number of properties assigned, the survivors received the houses. The return on the investment in the meantime appears to have been funded by renting the houses out.

      Cotterill says of the HTA: “The shortest exposition as to this tontine seems to be that the share (£60) may be considered as money sunk in the purchase of an increasing annuity with the chance of the ownership of a House [in Harrow] by each of the surviving Nominees superadded.”

      worldwidewords says:
      “Tontines were eventually banned in Britain and the USA, because there was too much incentive for subscribers to bump each other off to increase their share of the fund, or to become the last survivor and so claim the capital. For that reason, it has been a wonderful plot device for detective story writers, who can use it as a motive for serial murder; it was the theme of The Wrong Box by Robert Louis Stevenson and his stepson Lloyd Osbourne in 1889 (made into a film in 1966). The concept survives in a limited way in France.”

  11. gabriel says:

    Cannock Chase Heritage Trail:
    “In 1875, Charles Foster Cotterill, who lived
    at No. 95 High Green, made improvements to the town’s water
    supply by replacing the Conduit’s lead and clay piping with cast iron.
    He was one of the first men in the Midlands to supply water to
    private dwellings and to cover the cost by introducing water rates.
    Image courtesy of the Conduit Trust.”

  12. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    the “fisticuffs” possible venue intrigues me.. a local Inn? near a canal? The Anchor, or the Boat? Makes me think of the Royal Oak, Walsall Wood topic, and the Pepper Alley…..and navvies!
    I wonder if the Harrow Tontine was exceptional in any way . Good fun, this!

    • Pedro says:

      …The two High Constables, accompanied by three police officers from Stafford, and three others reached Cat’s-Hill about an hour before the men. Osler arrived in a carriage, and a ring was formed…three magistrates arrived…seeing which way the wind blew, the boxers started off in another direction, followed by a strange medley of amateurs of the ring, in various vehicles, on horseback, and on foot: and followed also by police, headed by Mr Chambers of this town…

      …we are sorry to state that Mr Chambers was a good deal injured by a fall from his horse during the pursuit.

    • Andy Dennis says:

      I’ve always thought of Catshill as a very small area around what is now the junction of Chester Road and Lindon Road. If a pub, possibly the upstairs “function” room, this would be limited to the Anchor or the Warreners, but it may easily have been a barn. Cat’s Hill near Muckley Corner seems an odd combination. The Boat would have been Stonnall or Muckley Corner. Catshill was in Shenstone parish, back then, so why not say Shenstone? Does anybody know of prize fighting / fisticuffs in the area? Stonnall local history folks? Was there another Cat’s Hill / Catshill?

      • Pedro says:

        The report does not say actually where the fight was to be held, but I just have a feeling that it would be in the open air, perhaps a field?

    • gabriel says:

      The London Gazette of 7 March 1882 tells us:
      “NOTICE is hereby given, pursuant to s. 7 (4) of 43 Vict. ch. 19 (Companies Act, 1880), that the names of the undermentioned Companies have this day been struck off the Register, and that such Companies are hereby dissolved:-
      [other names removed]
      Harrow Tontine Association.”

      Section 7 (according to The Times” of 1886 – I couldn’t find the legislation elsewhere) “provides for the striking off of defunct companies.”

      Had it reached maturity by 1882, and divvied up the houses? Or was it just one of the many scam tontines?

      Nice article from the Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law (2009),
      “A Short History of Tontines”, here:

      “The most widely-known, if now rarely read, tontine-based stories include
      Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel The Wrong Box (1889), Henry Hawley Smart’s The
      Great Tontine (1882), and Thomas Costain’s The Tontine (1955). The Wrong Box was
      made into a movie, directed by Bryan Forbes with a screenplay by Larry Gelbart and
      Burt Shevelove et al., that is widely perceived to be an improvement on the novel. See
      THE WRONG Box (Salamander Film Productions 1966). A more recent exploration of
      the idea can be found in a 1996 episode of “The Simpsons” based on a group of old
      soldiers, looted art work, and a tontine. The Simpsons: Raging Abe Simpson and His
      Grumbling Grandson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish” (FOX television broadcast Apr. 28, 1996); see also Season Seven, The Simpsons Archive: Episode Guide,

  13. Pedro says:

    Further to Gabriel above…

    Would you Adam and Eve it!

    From the Manchester Courier of 14th August 1858

    TONTINE…The term tontine was first applied to loans given for life annuities with the benefit of survivorship, so called after their inventor Laurence Tonti, a Neapolitan. They were first set on foot in Paris to reconcile the people to Cardinal Mazarin’s government, by amusing them with the hope of becoming suddenly rich, AD 1658. The celebrated Mr Jennings was an original subscriber for £100 share in a Tontine Company; and being the last survivor of the shareholders, his share produced him £3,000 per annum. He died worth £2,115,244, aged 103, June 19th 1798

  14. Hi Folks

    I’m just catching up with everything after spending the afternoon getting wet and muddy in Hopwas Hays Wood.

    I’d just like to thank everyone – Yvonne, Pedro, Gabriel, Andy and David – and anyone else who contributes. This has opened up a whole new speculative vista, and this kind of collaborative research is what I’m most proud to host on this blog.

    Thanks to all for taking the time and no small amount of effort to get this stuff together. I don’t say it enough, but thanks. It’s always appreciated.

    You were all brilliant with the Bill Mayo picture too – especially Tony, Gabriel and Andy, which really brought history to life.



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