A foreign Exchange

The subject of the Royal Echange pub in Walsall Wood, and the families who were connected with it, continues to be the subject of much local historical study – in fact, I don’t think any other pub or building, apart from perhaps The Shire Oak Pub that has generated so much local historical interest.

Following on from excellent documentary series by both David Evans and Ann Cross, I received a few days ago an email from Susan M. Luzy, who commented here a while back.

Susan sent me an absolutely fascinating and remarkably thorough history of the Clews and Jackson families, and had this to say:

Hi Bob,

I’m sending you a long rigmarole on the above from my research on my family history. I was highly delighted today to find Ann Cross’s articles and other people’s research on the subject. I was about to ask if anyone would like to do some further research, and there it all was!

I don’t know whether they’ll be interested in my details…

I hope I’ll get to visit Walsall one of these days!

Best wishes to you all,

Sue Luzy

Chens sur Léman, 74140, France (Haute Savoie, 3 kms from frontier with Geneva)

Well, we’re all very interested Susan, I can assure you, and thanks for sharing. I’ve split the piece in two, because it’s very long, and will feature the remainder in a few days.

It’s a pleasure and an honour to feature here such a thorough piece of research – I’m sure Ann, David and others will have plenty to say on the matter.

Susan wrote:


The Royal Exchange, Walsall Wood, as photographed last year by David Evans.

The story of the Clews and Jackson Families and The Royal Exchange pub in Walsall

Firstly, thank you for publishing my letter about Goblins Pit several months ago.

I’m taking the liberty of sending you another letter from France. This time it’s the story of my ancestor William Clews who married into the Jackson family who were connected for generations with the Royal Exchange pub in Lichfield Road, Walsall. I’ve followed this family online through the censuses, the International Genealogical Index and the General Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths (BMD) and I think the research illustrates a saga every bit as intricate as a modern day soap. And blow me, while reading through your blog I’ve just found that a descendant of this family, Ann Cross, has written two articles on the pub, a great discovery… Plus photos!

This is my version, seen mostly from the viewpoint of the Clews family and written before reading Ann’s family history. I regret that I have never been to Walsall but I visited Stonnall and Shenstone very briefly (an hour or two!) in 2007.

Mary Ann, William Clew’s wife, was the daughter of Richard Jackson who in 1851 was landlord of a pub in Innfield Road, Walsall Wood, name not given in the census. He was the son of Henry and Rachel Jackson, and was born in Wednesbury, Staffordshire, and baptized there in 1811. He married Maria Melsum, who was baptized in St.Matthew’s church in Walsall, also in 1811, daughter of Thomas Melsum and Mary Cragg.

It’s interesting to note that the spelling of the name Melsum varies from Milssam to Milsom and Milsome, according to each record. Very few people could read and write at the beginning of the 19th century and the clergy who were responsible for recording the population had to interpret the spoken versions of their names. The people of Staffordshire seem to have a strong accent and even a dialect, particularly in the Potteries area of North Staffordshire (according to sites on Internet, as I don’t know Staffordshire at all well). This family was from South Staffordshire but their pronunciation would have been quite distinct. For instance one member of the family who migrated to Northumberland is recorded on a census as having been born in Worsell which must have been how she pronounced Walsall. Maybe that’s how it’s pronounced today? Recently I had great difficulty in understanding the speech of a hotel receptionist in Manchester. I thought it was because of my long absence from England until she admitted that she came from Stoke on Trent and ‘we do have a rather particular accent’.

Richard and Maria lost four daughters in infancy but in 1851 still had a large family of four girls and two boys. Their daughter Mary Ann, who married William Clews was 16 in 1851 and was working in the pub together with her 14 year old sister Priscilla. The other children were John 9, Richard 7, Isabella 4 and Ann Maria 2 years old. Maria’s mother, Mary Inger who had remarried in 1838, was recorded as a midwife and also lived with them, plus a lodger named John Wright who worked in a coal mine. Altogether it must have been a very lively household!


The Royal Exchange in 1900. Image generously supplied by Ann Cross.

William and Mary Ann married in 1853 at St. Matthew’s church in Wolverhampton. In 1861 they were living in Walsall Wood Road in Walsall Wood and William was employed as a coal miner. He gave Mill Green as his birthplace which seems to be a hamlet near Stonnall? (He was baptised in Shenstone in 1821). They already had five children: Joseph 7, Charles 5, Priscilla 4, Mary Ann 2 and baby Richard 3 months old. William’s widowed father William aged 70 was also living with them.

Between 1861 and 1871 William and his family moved from Walsall Wood to Ogley Hay near Norton Canes where there were also coal mines.

But tragedy had begun to strike the two families. Mary Ann’s father Richard Jackson died in 1854 aged only 43. He and Maria had left the pub in Innfield Road to manage The Royal Exchange in Lichfield Road, Walsall Wood, and in 1861 the widowed Maria was head of a large household consisting of her two sons, 19 year old John and 16 year old Richard both employed as coalminers, her two daughters Isabella 14 and Sarah Jane 10, Elizabeth York an 18 year old servant, and a 36 year old lodger named Charles Bagley, who was a tile maker from Trentham.

Mary Ann died in 1868, not long after her father-in-law, aged only 34, leaving William Clews with seven young children.

By 1871 her mother Maria Jackson had left the pub and had gone to live with William in Ogley Hey to take care of William’s by now 7 children. The oldest, Joseph and Charles, were already employed as coalminers.

The same census of 1871 shows that William’s brother in law John Jackson had moved to Northumberland and one of his sisters, Sarah Jane Jackson, was visiting him, but the other one, Isabella Jackson, was nowhere to be found on the census. His brother Richard Jackson, coalminer, was perhaps living at the Royal Exchange. It’s not clear from the census whether he was at the pub or next to it, for it records a Richard Steadman, coalminer living at the Royal Exchange with his wife, a servant and a niece, followed by Richard Jackson with his wife and two babies, and then another two families, before giving the next address as the School House. None of the people are recorded as publican or licensed victualler. Perhaps the Royal Exchange was not functioning as a pub at that time? The following year, 1872, Isabella married William Cross who was probably a miner as he died in 1877 aged only 34, leaving Isabella with two small children, Sarah 5 and William 3.


The Exchange in the 1950s, photo generously supplied by Ann Cross.

In 1881 Maria Jackson, by then 64, was back at the Royal Exchange. The family had suffered yet more tragedies and the household was larger than ever. Two of William Clews’ children were living in the pub with Maria their grandmother and their aunt Isabella. Richard Clews aged 20 was a coalminer and Emma Clews aged 18 was helping in the pub. There were also three young Jackson relatives, Priscilla Jackson aged 16 helping in the pub with Emma, and Isabella Jackson aged 12 and Henry Tuck aged 7 who were both at school. It took me a lot of research to discover exactly how these three were related to the family and the explanation needs quite a flashback!

It transpires that in the 1860s, John Jackson, Isabella’s brother, left Walsall to work in the coal mines in Northumberland, as already mentioned, where the pay was no doubt better than in the South Staffordshire mines. Indeed the Walsall Wood Colliery only began operations in 1864 and before then the local coal mines were small scale. In 1863 he married a Northumbrian widow from Whitley Bay called Ruth Robson née Maughan who already had four children, and by 1871 together they had a large family of six boys and two girls.

Sarah Jane Jackson, his youngest sister, as we’ve already seen came to visit him in 1871 and she met and married in 1872 a local young man called Robert Tuck who of course was a miner and worked in the mine at Old Newsham, Northumberland. They had a son in 1873 and named him Henry. Unfortunately Robert died in 1878 aged only 27, probably in a mining accident at Burradon Colliery. Sarah Jane was pregnant at the time and in the autumn of 1878 gave birth to a little girl whom she named Mary Ann (perhaps after her dead eldest sister, William Clews’ wife). She herself then died in the spring of 1879, also aged 27.

Further research revealed that John Jackson’s wife Ruth died between July and September 1874 at only 44, and four of their eight children were still under eleven years old. He naturally returned from Northumberland to his family in Walsall Wood, and remarried towards the end of 1874. His new wife was Hannah Eliza Preston. So many of these women died young….

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40 Responses to A foreign Exchange

  1. Andy Dennis says:

    Thanks for this, Sue.
    You may have encountered my putative attempts to list landlords for various pubs in the area.
    The 1851 Census is not the clearest handwriting! I read the road name as “Turnpike Road”, which was the Walsall to Lichfield Road, and Richard’s occupation as “Victualler & Miner”, not an unusual combination. In these cases wives probably did most of the work of running the pub, together with older children – note that Jane (10) was “Scholar at Home”. So they were probably running the pub in 1851. It is not listed in White’s Directory of 1851, but that may simply mean they didn’t pay to be advertised.
    Does anyone know why “Royal Exchange”?

    In 1871 the address is given as “Engine Lane, Back of Coppice”. This was between records for Norton Common (Travellng Gypsies) and the W&E Canal. I wonder if this was where the short section of surfaced road is today. Anyway, although in the parish of Norton Canes, it was a short distance to the south of Brownhills – the boundary ran along Wolverhampton Road – today’s Pelsall Road.

  2. I see that the landlords of the “Royal Exchange” pub in Hartpury, Gloucestershire believe the name to have been derived from the history of the site of the establishment : that is was formerly an open tract of ground where opposing forces during the English Civil War met to exchange prisoners. They don’t offer any evidence for this theory, but it is one equally plausible in our area, in which there were a patchwork of areas of control by the two armies. It is perhaps less likely that the particular place where our Royal Exchange was built had any connection with financial or commodity markets – neither does it bear any structural or architectural resemblance to the more famous Royal Exchanges in London or Manchester.

    • Andy Dennis says:

      There was a long tradition of ransoming prominent prisoners, presumably the origin of “a King’s Ransom”. The Lichfield Road is very old, so it is not impossible that something of the kind happened there or nearby. If it did it would last in folk memory, even for centuries. There was a battle at Lichfield in the Civil War, Rushall Hall was fortified in the time of the Wars of the Roses, and there may well have been skirmishes in other conflicts. Was there a much older watering hole for the sustenance of pilgrims and others on the road from Wolverhampton to Lichfield?

      • Andy Dennis says:

        Not Wolverhampton; Walsall or Wednesbury.

      • Hi Andy, et al. I thought it might add another view to share the opinion I garnered from Nick Larkin, former Major General of the Sealed Knot Midland Royalist Forces, who does not favour my theory about prisoner exchange leading to the naming of the pub. This is what he wrote to my cousin, a former Sealed Knotter herself, in response to the query: “Easy question no simple answer, yes prisoners were exchanged but usually for money, not each other.
        Depending on rank, Soldiers were sometimes offered service with the victorious Army, or merely cast out to starve to death, hence the need for the Staffordshire clubmen.
        Middle ranks of not much standing were often sent to prison. Coventry being the Midland one for Parliament. Hence the saying “Being sent to Coventry”! And often released on their own Parole.
        Higher Ranks , were always worth some money to someone so were nearly always sold, sometimes to a middle man, usually a local enemy who would extract even more money from relatives etc. But I have not come across regular exchanges of people for no financial or territorial gain. It did happen but on a very small scale and would have been administered by the local Magistrates or Assizes were the petitions would have been lodged, so exchanges would have taken place on paper and travel passes and warrants exchanged by solicitors and families etc.
        As for the pub names, all the ones I can find were new builds in the 18th and 19th Century so have no 17th Century connections, but I am open to correction if any one finds different.
        The whole thing is a nice idea but I doubt the legend without hard evidence to the contrary, sorry but this is the best I can do,”

  3. Rushall Hall, et cetera – exactly. “Royal” exchange does hint at the (second!) Civil War, though, doesn’t it? It’s also tempting to point out how many hostelries are called “The Royal Oak”, referring to the Legendary concealment of the King after the Battle of Worcester. “History is written by the victors,” and The Roundhead Exchange,” or The Traitorous Republicans’ Exchange,” would not have been likely….

    • Andy Dennis says:

      But the Royalists lost …

      The thing about the Wars of the Roses was that two, maybe three, royal houses opposed, so the potential for princes and other high status supporters to be captured was considerable.

  4. Let’s say I am speaking of the victory of the bibulous prince over the killjoys in the hearts and minds of the English nation….;)

  5. Ann Cross says:

    Many thanks to Sue, so much history, some is new to me!
    Richard Steadman was the publican in 1871 and is listed in the PO Directory of 1872. Richard Jackson and the other families listed were living in the houses around the side of the Royal Exchange.
    It is also listed in the Kelly Directory of 1845 and the Robinson Directory of 1851, so definitely in business.
    William Cross my great grandfather is listed at the Royal Exchange in the Kellys 1876 directory. The year before he died.
    Best wishes

  6. Pedro says:

    It seems a consensus that the Pub name The Royal Exchange refers to the Civil War.

    Reminds me of an article over on Lichfield Lore and a mention of The Dolphin. This appears to be a corruption of The Dauphin and commemorating the Battle of Waterloo of 1815. It is said that the Duke of Wellington never set foot in Wellington, let alone Lichfield?

  7. John Anslow says:

    John Jackson was my great grandfather. His first wife, Ruth, had been widowed at the Hartley Pit Disaster in January 1862. According to the records of the disaster fund, she had five children at the time and was expecting a sixth.

    His second wife was also a widow, her maiden name being Street; she was the mother of my grandmother, Mary Jane Jackson, who was born at the thatched cottage on Streets Corner.

    Her brother, John, kept a general store on the opposite side of Lichfield Road; I am hoping that he might appear “caught on celluloid”, standing in the doorway of his shop.

  8. julielem2002 says:

    Another interesting read….I look forward to part II…..

  9. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    this saga throw up one amazing chapter after another. Only this week I have been shown an Indenture, date 1847, siged by Richard Jackson, for the Royal Exchange Public House, Turnpike Road Walsall Wood…and which ,in true form, reveals this fact, which may astound us all..and throw our knowledge of loclalhistory in to the air. Here goes.
    One line reads…” whereof was formerly known as the Black Cock Public House but now as the Royal Exchange Public House, on the Turnpike Road…”
    This name usage seems to predate the time of the Black Cock Inn in Bullings heath, Walsall Wood.. This Indenture also suggests that the Royal Exchange Inn is much older than we may have thought!
    Snailbank was a cottage or pair of cottages in present day Hall Lane…near Bullings Heath..but..the copy of the census is quite faded, and certainly ancestry transcribers have made quite a few errors,,from my own research of the census. I have not known of an Innfield Road and suspect another transciption error of an old, faded document written with quil and in Victorian script.
    Some of the names on the Indenture include, Richard Jackson, John Jackson the younger, Thomas Jackson
    I was only able to photograph this document where it was..in a small cottage room. but fortunatley the ink has not faded too much.
    Susan. Thanks you so much for this wonderfularticle. In your comment some while ago I suggested checking James Clews who lived in Brookland Road. He was a great uncle of mine and his brother in law was Levi Cooper, whose life has been detailed in this (super) blog.

    mes sentiments les plus distingues( AOL does not do acute accents) et mes remerciements sinceres

  10. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    reference;-the article; Walsall Wood’s lost beerhouses.(August 2012)…I think we may have found the name for the Public house mentioned, near Streets Corner,

    • Andy Dennis says:

      Looks likely. Are we assuming the name change was in 1847?
      I read the 1841 census as James Watson and wife Frances. A Frances Watson died 1841, registered Lichfield. Can’t find any more about James.

  11. David Evans says:

    Hi Andy
    Perhaps “was formerly known” by its phrasing, means quite a few years, but possibly within living memory of 1847?…suggesting the name had been changed by previous owner ?A riddle, indeed

  12. Pedro says:

    In Whites Directory for 1834, and Shelfield/Walsall Wood…

    Public houses, the Boot, Four Crosses, Horse and Jockey, and the Red Lion.

    Beerhouses the Black Lion and King William

  13. Ann Cross says:

    And the name Rich.Jackson for the King William. I had always wondered if this was the forerunner to the Royal Exchange.

  14. David Oakley. says:

    Looking at the picture of the Royal Exchange of 1900, there seems to be two buildings in one. Both of differing architecture. The main building on the left looks Georgian to me with more modern window sashes. A distinguishing feature of a Georgian house is a chimney at each end of the building, and this ‘The Royal Exchange’ has. Could this building be one of the original ‘beerhouses’ built in Georgian times, the King William, in fact ? The right-hand building looks more Victorian to me, with the embellishment around the door. This could have been added as an extension, when the ‘Royal Exchange graduated to ‘public house’ status. London’s Royal Exchange was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1840, perhaps about the same time as the extension was added. The fire would probably be nationwide news with the the ‘Royal Exchange’ on everyone’s lips.
    Okay, okay, conjecture, I know, but just a thought………

    • Andy Dennis says:

      Good spot! Some work David Evans (mostly) and I have been doing suggests Richard Jackson, King William 1834, was expanding his interest in the 1840s, so a Victorian style extension would be consistent.

  15. Ann Cross says:

    Thank you David and Andy and David, I always has a feeling about the King William…..

  16. David Evans says:

    HI Bob
    A huge thank you to Andy, please.as he readily offered to decipher and expertly transcribe the 1847 Jackson indenture from the poor photos I took. No mean task, believe me. Thank you Andy. I am most grateful for your help and expertise.I would have been stuck up a gum tree, otherwise.
    kind regards

  17. John Anslow says:

    You can just about make out that the door to the Victorian part of the building is labelled CLUB ROOM. John Jackson regularly attended a club in the upstairs room of the Royal Exchange during the 1890s and early 1900s. I think it might have been a benefits club, possibly linked to The Foresters, which was how working men provided for their families when they were ill, and how they were able to pay doctors’ fees in the days before the welfare state.

    Granddad Newbould was a member of the Rechabites (so I doubt his meetings would have taken place in a public house!) and they paid for his wife to go into hospital for a serious operation in the late 1920s. The influence of the friendly societies might account for a Walsall Wood expression I seldom hear these days: Granddad always referred to being off sick from work as being “on the box”. When I was off school with measles I too was “on the box”.

  18. Pedro says:

    The term “on the box” has been brought up before, I think by the young David Evans.

    It was widely used in Birmingham and the Black Country, and some say that it originated in the North of England in the late 19th century.

    A couple of phrases claimed to originate from Birmingham, that can be disputed….

    Bob Howler

    Black over Bill’s Mothers

    • Ann Cross says:

      We were “on the box” when we were off sick, and I still say it looks black over Bill’s mothers! Have never heard Bob Howler.

  19. Pedro says:

    Annual licensing sessions August 1894

    Penkridge… Objection to renewal of license to the Fleur de Lys in Norton Canes and William Henry Wright on the grounds that he had been convicted… Support for a new tenant named Badger

    Rushall… Renewals opposed for the Royal Exchange, Walsall Wood,

    … Walter Oram, and the Red Lion, Walsall Wood was opposed on the grounds of being convicted of an assault on his wife….

    … Mr James said it was very satisfactory to find that there had been occasion to issue only one summons against a holder of a licence during the year, and that the cases of drunkenness were not more numerous. He did not know that that was altogether an umixed good, for the simple reason that some people would probably agree that this state of affairs was because people had not so much money, in consequence of the baddness of trade. But at least it was satisfactory to the magistrates to release to the extent: that though people had not been able to get so much drink they might have got into a better habit of taking care of their money, which would tell when trade was good….

    … With regard to the Royal Exchange Mr Whitehouse appeared for the tenant. He stated that Mr Welsh and his wife had kept the place for 25 years, and they had been only two convictions against them…. If the magistrates adjourned the case Mr Welsh would have to leave… The magistrates decided to renew the license.

    … Mr Whitehouse opposed an application by Mr Bradbury for and outdoor license for a house at Shire Oak, but it was granted.

    • Pedro says:

      Have re-checked and Mr Whitehouse said “the” place, suggesting that Welsh became tenants around 1869?

      So why does he not appear in the Census!?

      • Pedro says:

        The name could be Welch or Welsh, as in 1895…

        James Welch, Publican of the Royal Exchange, Walsall Wood was charged with being drunk in charge of a trap in Brownhills

        • Andy Dennis says:

          Mr Whitehouse was exaggerating! James Welsh was born in 1859 and was a 12-year old tilemaker in 1871, when the resident at the Royal Exchange (named) was Richard Steadman, coal miner; he and his wife had a general servant. I suppose it is possible that James Welsh’s father took over after the census in 1871 for which 25 years would not be so far out … Presumably, licenses were not available to people under 21?

          • Ann Cross says:

            James Welsh was the second husband of Isabella Cross my great grandmother.
            They married in 1883. He became the licensed victualler although the owner at that time was still Isabella’s mother Maria Jackson. (See 1891 census).
            He did seem to like to drink, he had convictions in 1893 and 1894 for permitting riotous behaviour and drunkeness, and now in charge of a trap in 1895! Thanks to Pedro.
            He died 20th December 1899 and my grandfather William Cross took over the licence 8th January 1900. By then the owners were the Lichfield Brewery.

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  21. Andy Dennis says:

    The information we have so far is that the Royal Exchange was a name change from the Black Cock. Richard Jackson, of the King William in 1834, later ran the Royal Exchange and, thanks to David Evans’ delving we know that he was active in the property market in the 1840s. In any case the name change had occurred prior to the 1847 indenture. The current Royal Exchange building in London (the original was Elizabethan) was opened in 1844 by Queen Victoria, so was a recent addition to the commercial machinery of Empire. This was probably quite a sensation, with extensive press coverage, so celebration of that seems a more likely origin of the name of the Walsall Wood public house.

  22. Ann Cross says:

    I think that is the more likely explanation and the dates do fit. As I mentioned earlier above, there is an entry in the PO/Kelly Directory of 1845 for the Royal Exchange, publican R. Jackson.

  23. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    And King William? Another riddle! unless I have missed this somewhere.

  24. Andy Dennis says:

    Unless it’s the Scottish William the Lion (same time as Richard I and John), there are four English possibilities. Can’t see it being Willie I or II. William of Orange? Well, if the original proprietor was anti-Catholic, maybe, but 1689-1702?
    Leaves William IV reigned 1830-37. Various pubs King William IV around the country.

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