It’s nice to get back to some local history – and this is an absolute cracker from the young David Evans on a topic that gets visited here from time to time, and upon which David has recently been inspired to research: The origin of a local lane’s curious name.
In this piece David has researched Barracks Lane and the derivation of the name, and how it’s altered through time. To do this he’s used a host of evidential material, not least that provided so generously by Gerald Reece, but also census records and other historical documentation.
For more fun and games with Barracks Lane, see this post here, and this one here. It’s a very old topic on the blog after we spotted it was once home to a (thankfully never used) isolation hospital, latterly a plant nursery at Crestacre.
My thanks to David and Gerald for more top work – and I’m sure this will generate a lot of debate. Please do comment: Either on this post, on social media or by email on BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!
David Evans wrote:
Just on the edge of Brownhills and Walsall Wood lies the boundary with Staffordshire County, running along the A461 it crosses the junction with the A452 at Shire Oak ,and soon passes the junction with Barracks Lane and Cartersfield Lane before continuing to the junction with the A5 at Muckley Corner.
One of these lanes has an intriguing name, and one that over the years has given rise to much folklore and myth. Nowadays this lane is called Barracks Lane. Why does this stretch of a long lane, whose first part is Hanney Hay Road and which finishes as Cartersfield Lane at the nearby village of Stonnall have such a seemingly odd name?
In Brownhills we see that one part of the western boundary of that settlement was originally called ‘Palmers Hay,’ and looking through the abstract of title copy deeds for this area, thanks in great measure to the sterling original research of Mr Gerald Reece over thirty years ago we learn that a ‘Hay’ in the times of Queen Elizabeth I was a clearing, an open land, that was being used for farming.
The name ‘Cartersfield’ is the part of the way that leads from the A461 to Stonnall and we see that references a farming connection.
But, Barracks? This is where the myth merchants and possibly the migrant seasonal agricultural workers at the local farms, may have played a part.
Thanks again in huge measure to Mr Gerald Reece, we are able to see the 1861 and 1871 census for this part of Brownhills/Ogley Hay/ Stonnall for the years 1861 and 1871. Gerald made his own, large- scale accurate copies from the relevant censuses to create a unique Census for Brownhills many years ago.
In these two volumes we see that the name for the Barracks lane has varied. More importantly, there is reference to Barrack House… And Barrick in the singular – in these years.
Census entries, painstakingly copied by hand by the great Gerald Reece. Click any one to see a full size version.
So, was Barrick/Barrack the name of a person? The 1841 census does show a canal boatman, Benjamin Barick, and his family, living ‘canal side’ in the Staffs-Wolverhampton East district 25. He was born in 1799. But is has not been possible to see where he was born? An ultimately fruitless line of enquiry, maybe.
Various suggestions have been made for the origin of this name. In the course of research, I found the following on the Name Origin Reaseach database which is worth holding in mind:
Last name: Barrick
This interesting surname is of English locational origin from a number of places e.g. Berwick in Kent and Shropshire, Berrick in Oxfordshire, Barwick in Norfolk and the West Riding of Yorkshire, etc., which are recorded respectively in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Berewic, Berewic, Berewiche, Bereuuica and Bereuuith. All the placenames derive from the Old English pre 7th Century ‘bere’ meaning barley plus ‘wic’ an outlying farm; hence ‘a granary lying some distance away from the main village’. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 13th Century, (see below). One Edward Barwyk, appears in ‘The Register of the Freemen of the City of York’, 1463. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings including Barwick, Barrick, Berrick, Borwick, etc.. On December 9th 1651, Mary, daughter of Edward and Sarah Berwick, was christened at St. Margaret’s, Westminster. The marriage of Elizabeth Berwick and William Damerell took place on August 14th 1652, at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney. John Berwick married Frances Major on February 9th 1684, at St. Mildred Roultry with St. Mary Colechurch, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Laurence de Berewyke, which was dated 1278, in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as ‘The Hammer of the Scots’, 1272 – 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to ‘develop’ often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 – 2017
courtesy of surnamedb.com
But perhaps ‘Barrick’ referred to a feature, an object of some sort that may have had a farming connection at some point in history? Lets explore this possibility.
Gerald Reece’s card index shows this item – ‘barracks – Old English for barley.’
‘Barrick… Derived from the Old English pre 7th century ‘bere’ meaning barley and ‘wic’ an ‘outlying farm’ hence a granary lying some distance away from the main village’.
I think we may still find such a building in this lane, though perhaps not an original Saxon barley barn, but perhaps the census does indicate that the name for such that has survived down through the centuries until the mid to late 19th century locally.
This just leaves the mystery of the ‘Old Engine House’ shown in the 1861 census.
I would like to thank Mr Gerald Reece for making his amazing cache of original research notes and documents available to me and so making this further research / clarification possible.