Drayton-in-Hales, or Market-Drayton (St. Mary)

DRAYTON-IN-HALES, or Market-Drayton (St. Mary), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, chiefly in the Drayton division of the hundred of North Bradford, N. division of the county of Salop, but partly in the N. division of the hundred of Pirehill and of the county of Stafford; comprising the townships of Betton, Drayton Magna and Parva, Longslow, Sutton, and Woodeaves, in Salop; and Almington, and Bloore-in-Tyrley with Hales, in Stafford; the whole containing 4680 inhabitants, of whom 1699 are in Drayton Magna, and 1462 in Drayton Parva, 19¼ miles (N. E. by N.) from Shrewsbury, and 159½ (N. W. by N.) from London. Nennius endeavours to identify this place with the Caer Draithon of the Britons, enumerating it as one of the principal cities belonging to that people; and the correctness of his opinion has not been arraigned by any succeeding writer. It is evident from the discovery of the foundations of several houses in the adjoining fields, that the town anciently occupied a more extended site than it does at present. In the record of Domesday it is mentioned by the name Draitune. The manor was successively in the possession of the abbot of St. Ebrulph, in Normandy, and the abbot of Combermere, in Cheshire; the latter, in 1246, received the grant of a market to be held at Drayton on Wednesday, and a fair on the eve, day, and morrow of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. During the parliamentary war, the neighbourhood was the scene of a skirmish, on the 25th of Jan., 1643, when Prince Rupert routed the enemy, who were commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax.

The town stands on the north-western bank of the river Tern; it is clean, and moderately well paved, and the houses present a neat appearance. There are manufactories for paper, and for hair-cloth for chair bottoms, and some business is done in malting; but the trade, which was once very considerable, has declined in consequence of the construction of the Grand Trunk canal. The market is on Wednesday. There are fairs for horned-cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, and hempen and woollen cloth, on the Wednesday before Palm-Sunday, Wednesday before June 22nd, on Sept. 19th, and Oct. 24th; and fairs have been lately established, which are held on the last Wednesday in November, and the first Wednesday in February, May, and August. The petty-sessions for the Drayton division of the hundred are held here: the powers of the county debt-court of Drayton, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Drayton. The parish comprises 7741 acres of arable and pasture land, the soil of which is rich and fertile; the vicinity abounds with interesting objects. The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £12. 10. 7½., and in the gift of the Trustees of Sir C. Corbet, the impropriators: the great tithes have been commuted for £1305. 19. 10., and the vicarial for £279. 19. 6.; the glebe comprises about one acre. The church was built, with the exception probably of the steeple, in the reign of Stephen, and consists of a nave, aisles, chancel, and square tower supported by buttresses and adorned with battlements and pinnacles: the whole of the building, except the tower, was thoroughly repaired in 1787. In 1846-7 a church was erected in Little Drayton; it is in the lancet style, with a tower, and will accommodate 600 persons, on the ground floor. There are places of worship for Particular Baptists, Independents, and Wesleyans. A free grammar school was founded in 1554, and endowed with a rent-charge of £22 by Sir Rowland Hill, and £10 per annum by Sir Thomas and Lady Lake. The Rev. Richard Price in 1730 left property now producing upwards of £40 per annum, for teaching children, and other purposes; and John Bill bequeathed £240, for teaching and apprenticing boys. There are various other benefactions for apprenticing poor children, (among which is one by Elizabeth Watenhall, producing £38. 18. per annum,) and for other charitable purposes, amounting in the whole to about £200 per annum. The union of Drayton comprises 11 parishes or places, and parts of 2 others, 10 being situated in the county of Salop, 2 in that of Stafford, and 1 in that of Chester; and the union contains a population of 13,950.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.