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Walsall, Staffordshire

Historical Description

Walsall, a market-town, a municipal, parliamentary, and county borough, the head of a poor-law union and county court district, and a parish in Staffordshire. The town stands on a tributary of the Tame and Trent, and on the Birmingham and Wyrley Canals, 6 miles E of Wolverhampton, 8 NNW of Birmingham, 10 SW of Lichfield, and 120 by railway from London. It has a station on the South Staffordshire section of the L. & N.W.R,, with branches to Dudley, Wolverhampton, and Rugeley, and another on the Birmingham, Sutton Coldfield, and Wolverhampton branch of the M.R., and it has a head post office. Walsall was a place of some note in the Saxon times, was given by William the Conqueror to Fitz-Asculf, passed to Warwick the kingmaker and to the Protector Dudley, was visited by Queen Elizabeth and by Queen Henrietta Maria. It was anciently a borough by prescription, and received charters from Edward III. and Henry IV. It is governed by a mayor, 8 aldermen, and 24 councillors, and has a commission of the peace and a separate court of quarter sessions. It was made a parliamentary borough in 1832, returning one member to Parliament, and under the Local Government Act of 1888 it became a county borough. It is a seat of petty sessions and county courts. Walsall is the chief seat of the saddlery and harness trades, and carries on many departments of iron manufacture, tanning, currying, brush-making, and an extensive coal trade; it commands great traffic from neighbouring mines of coal and ironstone, and neighbouring sources of limestone and brick-clay. The town comprises an old portion on a limestone eminence and modern portions on adjoining marsh-lands, has been greatly improved and enlarged by renovation of old streets, formation of new streets, the carrying out of an improvement scheme under the Artisans Act of 1875, and erection of numerous handsome dwellings and public buildings. The town-hall, erected in 1866, is a fine building in the Italian style. The county court-house was erected in 1869. There are two theatres, a temperance hall, assembly-rooms, a free library and museum, a science and art institute, public baths, and five banks. The town is well lighted with gas and electric light, both of which undertakings belong to the corporation. The parish church of St Matthew has a narrow site on the limestone eminence above-mentioned. It dates from 1462, was partly rebuilt in 1821, was restored in 1880, and contains some quaintly carved miserere stalls. St Luke's mission church is a chapel of ease to the parish church. St George's Church was built in 1875 in the Early English style. St Paul's Church was built in 1893 in the Decorated style. St Peter's Church was built in 1844 in the Early English style. St Andrew's Church, Birchills, was built in 1887 in the Early English style. St Mark's, Butts, was erected in 1871 in the English Brick style. There are Roman Catholic, Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Presbyterian, Unitarian, and Wesleyan chapels, and places of worship for the Catholic Apostolic body, the Brethren, the Christadelphians, and the Salvation Army. The old cemetery is at the Pleck. A new cemetery of about 40 acres in extent at Ryecroft, was opened in 1894. There are the Walsall and District Hospital, an epidemic hospital, three suites of almshouses, and a workhouse. The grammar school was founded by Queen Mary in, 1554, and was rebuilt in 1850. It had Lord Somers and Bishop Hough among its pupils. A high school for girls has been formed in connection with the grammar school. Three weekly newspapers are published. Markets are held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and fairs on 24 Feb., Whit Tuesday,. and the Tuesday before Old Michaelmas Day. There is a statue in the centre of the town to Sister Dora (Miss Pattison), the hospital nurse and benefactor of the poor of Walsall. The municipal borough was extended by the Walsall Corporation Act of 1890, includes part of Rushall parish, and is divided into the wards of Birchills, Bloxwich, Bridge, Caldmore, Hatherton, Leamore, Paddock, and Pleck. Acreage, 7480; population, 71,789. The parliamentary borough is conterminous with the municipal borough.

The township of Walsall Borough, part of the township of Walsall Foreign, and part of the parish of Rushall, which formerly formed the municipal borough, were in 1894 formed into a new parish, called the parish of Walsall. The parish is divided into the ecclesiastical districts of St Matthew, St Andrew, St George, St Paul, St Peter, St Michael and All Angels, All Saints (Bloxwich), Christ Church (Blakenall), and St John (Pleck). St Andrew was constituted in 1889, St George in 1878, St Paul in 1875, St Peter in 1845, St Michael and All Angels in 1872. The livings are all vicarages in the diocese of Lichfield, except that of St George, which is a perpetual curacy; net value of St Matthew, £450 with residence; of St George, £200 with residence; of St Peter, £260 with residence; of St Michael and All Angels,. £200; gross value of St Andrew, £200; of St Paul, £330.. Patron of St Matthew, the Earl of Bradford; of St Andrew and St Michael and All Angels, the Bishop of Lichfield, of St George, St Paul, and St Peter, the Vicar of Walsall.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Administration

The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyStaffordshire 
Ecclesiastical parishWalsall St. Matthew 
HundredOfflow 
Poor Law unionWalsall 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.


Church Records

Findmypast, in association with the Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Archive Service have the Baptisms, Banns, Marriages, and Burials online for Walsall


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Walsall from the following:


Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Staffordshire is online.


Maps

Online maps of Walsall are available from a number of sites:


Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Staffordshire newspapers online:


Villages, Hamlets, &c

Pleck and Bescot
Walsall Wood
DistrictWalsall
RegionWest Midlands
CountryEngland
Postal districtWS1
Post TownWalsall