Lichfield’s first station master

In this post I will consider the life and career of Lichfield’s first Station Master, William John Durrad (1817-1889). All the information in this post is gleaned from public sources – registers of birth and death, census records, employment records and the local press. Whilst these can describe a life in broad terms, they cannot really give a proper picture of the person’s character and personality. But in the case of William Durrad, they do show a typical Victorian progression from humble origins to gentleman status, brought about through a mixture of patronage and effort, and cast some light on the life of Lichfield in the nineteenth century.

For the sake of readability, I have not given any sources of information in the text below – should readers be interested in where the detail comes from, please email me on for further information.

Early years

William John Durrad was born in 1817, the second child John and Ann Durrad of the village of Welford in Northamptonshire and baptised in the parish church. To avoid confusion with others, I will generally refer to him as William John in what follows. The Durrad name has a long history in that area, with a John Durrad of the nearby village of Misterton (d1726), being part owner of the Lordship of the Manor and a considerable donor to local charities.  William John’s father, John (b1780), however seems to have been of humbler stock and is described at William John’s baptism as a weaver. William John had one elder sister and four younger brothers, at least two of whom died in childhood. Their relative lack of prosperity can be judged by the fact that in 1851 his elder sister Mary was a servant at a household in Lancashire and his younger brother Richard was a butler at a house in Surrey (where he was later to marry the cook). His father John died in 1826, and William John’s mother Ann married again in 1827 to William Sanders, an agricultural labourer, and had several other children. We will meet one of these, Stephen Sanders (b.1831), again in what follows.

William John next firmly appears in the historical record as an employee of the London North Western Railway in the mid-1840s. It is possible however, at least provisionally and with some conjecture, to piece together some aspects of his early life. The first clue comes from his obituary in the Lichfield Mercury in 1889 where we read

“Being brought into intimate relations with the late Archdeacon Moore, he was fortunate enough to secure the good wishes and kindly offices of that dignitary of the church, and by his influence obtained a situation under the London and North Western Railway Company in the early days of railway enterprise”.

The Venerable Henry Moore (1795 – 1876) was Archdeacon of Stafford from 1856 to his death in 1876. He was born at Sherborne, educated at Trinity College, Cambridge and ordained in 1819. In the 1840s he was vicar of Eccleshall near Stafford and Penn near Wolverhampton and was made Archdeacon of Stafford and Prebend of Handsacre in 1851. The pictures below show the sketch by the artists Henry Armistead for this effigy in the cathedral, and the finished monument.

The second clue comes from the rather unusual name of Durrad. From as early as 1839 to the end of the century and beyond, there was a store in Eccleshall trading under the name, firstly, of William Durrad, and later of Joseph Durrad. The early mentions of this firm in the press in 1839 were as an agent for the selling of “Woolriches Improved Diuretic Horse Balls”, “Simpson’s new antibillious pills” and “Wesley’s Family Pills”, but from 1841 it is referred to as “Stationers” and from 1844 onwards as “Booksellers”. The firm acted as a publisher of postcards and political pamphlets, and as the local agent for many weekly subscribing magazines. One of these pamphlet from 1847, “A Political Sketch of the Relative Position of England and France” by Herbert Rice Esq. can be read on Google books by anyone interested in that sort of thing.  A photograph of the shop from 1897 can be found here.

The 1861 census identifies the owner of the bookstore as William Durrad, born in Leicester in 1821, and described as “Painter and Bookseller, organist, distributor of stamps”. This younger William was the son of a James Durrad, born in Welford in 1798. It seems very likely, given that they were both born in Welford, that James Durrad was related in some way or other to the William John’s father John, possible a younger brother or nephew. Note William’s age however – in 1839, when we first hear of the firm, he would only have been 18 years old.  Unfortunately, none of the sources give a middle name that can be used to identify him more precisely, and we will refer to him as the younger William in what follows. There is however a tantalising reference to W. J. Durrad from 1843 in a press advert for  Wesley’s famous product.

The third and final clue is that in the London North Western Railway records, William John’s profession before entering the service of the company is given as “bookseller”.

Thus, we can conclude that in the early 1840s William John and the younger William, who were probably cousins, were owners of a bookshop in Eccleshall, with William John, at least at first, being the senior partner. It is likely that the W. J. Durrad mentioned above from 1843 refers to him. It was there that they met Henry Moore, then the vicar of the parish, who could be expected, given his background, to be something of a bibliophile. From that meeting, the influence of the clergyman was enough to find William John a position in the London and North Western Railway. The bookshop was presumably left in the hands of the younger William and was eventually taken over by his younger brother Joseph (b1838) in the 1860s, after Joseph had worked as an assistant in a bookshop in Leicester, when the younger William retired.

Of course this leaves the question unanswered as to how William John came to be in Eccleshall in the first place, where he obtained the education that was presumably required to operate as a bookseller, and how he obtained the necessary resources to open a shop at all. It is unlikely that these questions will ever be answered.

Station Master and family man

We first read of William John in the London North Western Railway records as being, in 1845, the Lichfield agent for the company. As the company wasn’t in existence until July 1846, he was presumably an agent for one of the companies that ultimately came together to make up the LNWR – probably the Trent Valley Railway. His duties were thus to represent the interests of the railway during its inception phase. He was paid either £100pa or £130pa – the sources are contradictory. By the time the station opened in 1847, he was the designated Station Master, on a salary of £120pa. He was also at that stage a married man, having married Elizabeth Lowe, at Tettenhall in April 1846. There is no indication of how or where they met.

The employment records note that William John joined the railway when he was 21, which seems like an error, as that would be in 1838, 5 years before parliamentary approval was given for its construction, and too early for the bookshop to be left in the hands of the younger William. However, his obituary of 1889 says that, before coming to Lichfield, thanks to the good offices of the Archdeacon, he worked for some time at Edge Hill station in Liverpool. This had been in existence since 1831 as part of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. It is just about possible, given the constraints on his timeline, that he worked there in 1844 or 1845 before moving to Lichfield. However, there is another possibility. In the LNWR records we find reference in the mid-1840s to Stephen Sanders, William John’s half-brother, calling himself Stephen Sanders Durrad, as being employed at Lichfield under William John’s supervision and later at Edge Hill as a clerk. This might possibly be the cause of the confusion.

I have described the original Lichfield station in another post. Basically, it was situated on the west side of the Lichfield / Burton road which the railway crossed on the level, i.e. on the opposite side to the current station. The picture below shows the rather grand style that was adopted by the architect John William Livock. The station building contained not only the passenger facilities and offices, but was also the Station Manager’s House, for which William John paid £15 a year in rent. To the east of the station and the Burton road, from 1849 the railway was crossed by the South Staffordshire Railway (now the Cross City line). This had a station to the north of the crossover entitled Lichfield Trent Valley junction. The South Staffs Railway was leased to the LNWR in 1861 and absorbed into the company in 1867. Clearly having two stations was inconvenient for passengers and both stations were closed in 1871 and a new station, with low level and high-level platforms, opened at its present site.

William John was the Station Master for the entire life of the original Lichfield station, with a wide range of responsibilities for the passenger and freight traffic, and for a significant number of staff. It is difficult to be precise about staff numbers as only the clerks and the porters tend to be mentioned in the records, when in reality there would have been a range of others associated with the adjacent freight yard that William probably had some responsibility for.  That being said, in 1847 there were seven named staff – Stephen Sanders Durrad mentioned above in a temporary post, plus six porters.

William John’s and Elizabeth’s children were born at regular intervals over the first decade and a half of his tenure as Station Master, and all were baptised at St Michael’s church, the station being situated in Streethay, a township at the northern end of the parish. William Henry was born in 1848, Arthur James in 1850 (confusingly named as Alfred on the census return of 1851), Walter Richard in 1852, Emma Helen in 1853 and Bertram George in 1860. With them in the house there were a succession of young servant girls which indicates that the family were comfortably off. William John’s salary steadily increased – to £130pa in 1853 and £135pa in 1859.

From time to time we see mentions of him in the press. In 1855 he was a witness in the trial of William Marson, who was charged with stealing two trusses and a large quantity of cloth from a wagon that had arrived from Stafford last in the evening and not unloaded till the day after. This is interesting in indicating his responsibility for the goods traffic as well as the passenger traffic. In 1869 he was a witness at an inquest into the death of Charles Lees from Barton-under-Needwood, a goods brakeman for the LNWR, who was working on a train from Wychnor to Shrewbury. At Lichfield it was engaged in shunting activities to leave some wagons behind and pick up some others. This involved moving trucks down the rather steep incline from the old South Staffs station to the Rugeley sidings at low level. Acting very much against the company rule Lees uncoupled the wagons as they rolled down the incline, fell and his leg was crushed by the following wagons. His wounds were bound up as far as possible, and then William John decided to have him taken by train to Stafford, as this was the quickest way to get medical attention. However, he died of his injuries, although the inquest jury agreed that Durrad’s actions had been appropriate.

It has been mentioned that all William John’s children were baptised at St Michael’s parish church, and his obituary specifically mentions his ongoing involvement with the activities there.  A picture of the church after the ill-fated restoration of the 184s is shown below. The registers of the parish reveal a rather curious incident in 1869. Emma Helen Durrad, then aged 16, was recorded as having been baptised as an adult at a private ceremony, and this was entered in the registers. The incumbent at the time, James Sergeantson, must have been aware from a register entry of 16 years before by his predecessor Thomas Gnossall Parr that she had already been baptised as an infant, and thus this was certainly in breach of canon law. Why and where the baptism took place, and why Sergeantson agreed to enter it into the register is not clear. Perhaps she had become involved with a non-conformist body that insisted on adult baptism, and the parents were trying to regularise this and perhaps put the Rector under some pressure to make an entry in the register?

William John Durrad resigned from his post as Station Master in June 1871, by which time his salary was £150pa. Why is not at all clear – but perhaps the fact that he would be required to move into less palatial accommodation when the new station was built may have been a factor.  There was a collection for a testimonial in the town, announced in the press, that raised a considerable (but not specified) sum. In the census of April 1871 all his children were still living at home. William Henry (22) was cashier at Lloyds Bank in Rugeley ; Athur James (20) was an undergraduate at Jesus College, Cambridge (and presumably on vacation), Walter Richard (19) was also a bank clerk; whilst Emma Helen (17) and Bertram George (11) were identified as scholars. Both Arthur and Bertram attended Lichfield Grammar School and Loughborough School – and this may well have been the case for William and Walter too. William John’s brother Richard also lived close by – he and the cook he married when he was a butler in Surrey were now running an Inn in Rugeley – and when he died in 1874, William Henry was to act as one of Richard’s executors.

A Civic Official

After his retirement William John and his family moved to Misterton Cottage. This is on the corner of Trent Valley Road and Wissage Road and still exists – as Holly Lodge – in the grounds of the Samuel Johnson Hospital – see the map and photograph below. It may indeed have been newly built at the time, perhaps under the direction of William John, as it does not appear on the 1848 tithe map but is present in the 1880 Ordnance Survey map. Its name is of course an echo of the Durrad’s roots in Northamptonshire. It was a substantial property. When it was eventually sold in 1890 it is described as being comprised of

Entrance Hall, Two reception rooms, Kitchen, Scullery, Pantry, Cellar, Four bedrooms, dressing room and WC. Well laid out gardens and a quarter of an acre of land.

Shortly after his resignation from the railway, William John took up the post as High Bailiff at Lichfield County Court, based in St. John’s Street, which he was to retain for the rest of his life. In this role he was responsible for executing warrants and court orders. He also had ecclesiastical responsibilities that may have dated back to his time as Station Master. Firstly, he was Apparitor to Archdeacon of Stafford, with the responsibility to summon witnesses and execute the orders of the ecclesiastical court. The Archdeacon, up to 1876, the Venerable Henry Moore. Secondly, he was sub-librarian in the Cathedral library, so he obviously retained his bibliographic interests. Both of these positions would have supplemented the pension from the LNWR.

In his civic roles he appeared regularly, if briefly each time, in the local press in the 1870s and 1880 – at the Mayor’s luncheon, the Sheriff’s breakfast and the perambulation of the city. He was also active in the St John’s Freemasons Lodge end held office there – as Junior Deacon in 1870 and as Junior Warden in 1876.  He also featured on an annual basis in the published list of partners in the Lloyds Banking Company Ltd., together with his son William Henry, who rose to become a Bank Manager in Rugeley in this period.  Presumably again, this was an additional source of income.

Walter Richard was married in 1874 to Sarah Stevens from Hertfordshire, and in the same year Arthur James, having graduated from Jesus College, was ordained Deacon in York. January 1882 saw the death of William Henry in Rugeley, from “congestion of the lungs”. A muffled peal of bells was rung at St Michael’s after evensong on a following Sunday, where both William Henry and his father had been regular ringers. Just two weeks after William Henry’s death, Bertram George, the youngest child, having also graduated from Jesus College, Cambridge, was ordained Deacon in Lichfield Cathedral. The following year William’s wife Elizabeth died from heart disease. Bertram married Margaret Wright from Marston Montgomery in Derbyshire in 1888. In 1881 Emma was a teacher and companion to the daughter of Frances Carver, a widowed farmer in Whaddon in Cambridgeshire.

Last days

William John died in January 1889. His obituary records that he had been ill for several weeks beforehand following an operation from which he was never to recover. The lead mourners were of course his family – Arthur James, by then Vicar of Ellerburne near Pickering; Walter Richard, Foreign Correspondent’s Clerk at Coutts in London; Bertram George, the English Anglican Chaplain in Berlin; Emma Helen; and Mrs W. Durrad and Lizzie Durrad. The latter were the second wife and daughter of his cousin, the younger William from Eccleshall. His first wife Louisa had died in 1879, without having had children, and having moved to London, he married Elizabeth Whittle, 24 years his junior in 1881. Clearly William John had maintained contact with that branch of his family over the years. The funeral was a full choral service and at the burial the choir gathered around the grave and sang the hymn “Now the Labourer’s task is o’er”.

William John, his wife Elizabeth and his son William Henry are buried together in one grave in the graveyard of St Michael’s church. They are also commemorated in floor plaques in the church at the front of the chancel beneath the pulpit, These are positioned (deliberately?) on the opposite side of the chancel to two similar plaques commemorating the lives of two of the 19th century Bishops of Lichfield (Selwyn and Lonsdale) – see below. I strongly suspect this placement was deliberate on the part of the family and church leaders. This is perhaps a final indication of the perceived importance of the Station Master in Lichfield society at the time. 

The Durrad Memorial tablets in St. Michael’s Lichfield
The memorials to Bishop Londsdale and Bishop Selwyn
The placing of the Durrad memorials in St Michael’s. When the memorials were installed, the main font would have been just to left of the Bishop’s plaques. (For those who can spot such things, the combination of the Advent Candle ring on the left and a container of sanitizer on the pulpit steps on the right marks this photo as having been taken in December 2020.)

The Durrad memorials contain a further point of interest, in the symbols at the bottom of each plaque beneath the names. On that of William Henry, it is a fairly conventional and formal fleur -de-lis. On Elizabeth’s, we have the snowdrop – seen as a symbol of both death and rebirth. On William John’s plaque we have the Speedwell, or Veronica, a symbol of sympathy and mourning . Perhaps these decorations were deliberate and say something of the families feelings and the characters of those commemorated. Alternatively they may just have been what was available from the manufacturer’s catalogue!

In his will, with Arthur James and Bertram George named as executors, William John’s effects are said to be worth £3138, a very considerable sum. What this refers to is not clear, but probably includes Misterton Cottage and its contents, some land off the Walsall Road as well as his personal effects and any other savings . The year after the funeral Emma Helen married Frances Carver of Meldrith in Cambridgeshire (for whom she had worked as his daughter’s teacher and companion), Misterton Cottage was sold, and the Durrad family finally severed its connections with Lichfield.

The St. Michael chalice of 1684

In A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14, Lichfield we read the following in the section devoted to St. Michael’s church in Lichfield.

At some date a silver-gilt chalice and paten of 1684 were acquired. They were sold with a pewter flagon and plates in 1852 to a Birmingham firm in part payment for a new set of plate. The chalice and paten of 1684 were bought the same year by St. Clement’s, Oxford.

Clearly this was later regretted and we read

… attempts in 1892 and 1923 to recover them for St. Michael’s were unsuccessful.

And there I might have left the matter, perhaps as a sort of parable on the foolishness of church wardens, and the futility of the pursuit of modernity, but for the all seeing eye of Google. A quick search of “chalice / St Clements / Oxford” let me to An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of Oxford from 1929 in which I found the rather poor photograph of the 1684 chalice shown below. It is rather fuzzy, but I think the motif is clear enough – the winged archangel trampling over the devil at his feet. I can’t read the caption, so if any reader can enlighten me on this I would be grateful. The question arises as to where the chalice and its associated paten are now. To find the answer to this would I am afraid take more than a quick Google search. Perhaps one day….

Cricket and Football in Pensnett in the 19th Century


The 19th century was of course the great era for the development of mass participation sports in England. At the start of the century the laws of cricket, the major summer sport, had been codified by the M.C.C. and the game developed over our period from one based on clubs and informal societies, playing “friendly” if competitive games, to one based on counties, with the highly competitive County Championship being finally established in 1890. Locally in 1889 the Birmingham and District Cricket League, the oldest in the world, was formed, consisting of seven teams from Birmingham and the Black Country.  The major winter sports were of course all variations of football, and the century saw the codification of the rules of association football, rugby union and rugby league. Again most of the games were “friendlies” but competition came through a number of cup competitions – the FA cup from 1871 and locally the Birmingham Senior cup from 1876, and later through leagues – the Football league itself from 1888 and the local Birmingham and District league from a year later.

Cricket in Pensnett

The information on what sports were played in Pensnett in the latter half of the nineteenth century is limited, but a little can be gleaned from local newspapers. It seems that there was a cricket team from the 1850s onwards, and several football teams from the 1880s. A cricket match between Pensnett Victoria and Kingswinford is recorded from 1859, with a win for the former.  The scorecard is given below. Note that this is a one-day game yet featured two innings from each side – the pitches were of course not prepared, and the batsman’s task was more than a little difficult.

Pensnett Victoria versus Kingswinford scorecard 1859

Over the course of the following decades, further matches are recorded against a range of local sides- for example Wednesbury, Brierley Hill Amateurs, West Bromwich Peep O’Day, Netherton, Droitwich, Bridgnorth and Oldbury.  The press mentions of the club cease after a notice of a General Meeting was published in March 1875 – either because the club ceased to function or because it simply stopped sending match reports to the newspapers. Reports resume about 15 years later with a small number of matches reported between1889 and 1894. Victoria was not the only Pensnett team however. A Pensnett Albion team was reported in 1864, and for a brief period in the early 1880s there also seems to have been a Pensnett Vicarage cricket team, which played three matches in 1881 winning the first but losing the last two by large margins. Also, in 1887 a match between Pensnett Oak Farm and Smethwick Eagle Works is recorded. Most of these were again two innings matches, with scores being typically low at around 30 or 40 per innings.

An interesting variant was the “single wicket match” and a report on such a match (between Pensnett Victoria and Brierly Hill Amateur) is given below. It is not clear what the rules were for this game, but clearly it involved two players a side which batted sequentially. Cricket, Jim, but not as we know it.

Report of single wicket match between Pensnett Victoria and Brierley Hill Amateur in 1867

Pensnett Football Teams

A Pensnett football team existed from the early 1880s and fielded both first and second teams, playing at a ground near Lenches Bridge. The first recorded match was in 1881 against Brierley Hill. Numerous further matches are recorded between 1882 and 1885 including some with the major teams in the area – for example with Stourbridge Standard first and second teams (the forerunner of the current Stoubridge club), Dudley, and West Bromwich Albion second team, as well as against more local teams such as Brockmoor Harriers and Lower Gornal Excelsior. As far as it is possible to tell most of these matches in the early days were ”friendlies”. The only competitive match that was recorded was in 1883, where Pensnett beat St John’s Swifts of Birmingham 6-1 in a “cup tie”, but the nature of the competition is not clear.

After 1885 the situation becomes somewhat confused with a paucity of press reports, and the ones that do appear refer to different teams – Pensnett Rovers, Pensnett Junior, Pensnett Villa and Commonside Unity. A Pensnett Victoria team appears in 1889, at the same time as the reappearance of the cricket club. A court case of 1892 over payment for a field at Lenches Bridge on which to play both football and cricket, refers to the Pensnett Victoria Football and Cricket Club – possibly a refoundation of the former club (BNA 1892). Again, most of the football matches that were played in the later period were friendlies, but more competitive games also took place. In 1889 the local newspapers give quite full details of the Pensnett Charity cup – a knockout competition for around twenty local teams, including Pensnett Juniors, Brockmoor Harriers, Kingswinford White Star and Kingswinford Rovers.

The situation changed however in1899 with the formation of the Brierley Hill and District Football League, in which Pensnett Victoria played. A late season league table is shown below. This really marked the end of the era of friendlies, and from this point on the structure of the game became league based, and much more familiar to modern eyes.

Brierley Hill League Table 31st March 1900

It was mentioned above that the Pensnett football ground was at Lenches bridge in both the early 1880s and early 1890s,  possibly on the Kingswinford side of the bridge, just outside the parish where the land was available and flat enough to accommodate a suitable pitch – see the extract from the 1882 OS map below with possible sites marked. Clearly in the early 1890s, the cricket ground was there as well, and that may well also have been its location in the 1860s and 1870s.

1882 Ordnance Survey map – possible football (and cricket?) ground locations shown as brown circles

The players

From the match reports in the newspapers, it is possible to identify the names of some of those who played for the cricket and football teams. In principle it is then possible, through the use of census information, to find out a little more about these individuals. I say “in principle” because it is not always easy. Often only surnames or initials are published and these can’t be unambiguously identified with specific individuals. That being said, it has been possible to identify with some certainty seventeen individuals who played for the cricket team between 1859 and 1872, and seven of those who played for the football team between 1882 and 1883. In terms of their profession, both sets of players reflect the make up of the area at the time, with a mix of skilled and unskilled industrial workers, and a few from other trades. For example, the seventeen cricket players included labourers, miners, boiler and chain makers, engineers and shopkeepers and the same mix can be seen in the football players.  The three cricketers from the 1859 scorecard who can be identified are the opener batsman, Joseph Bache (27) who was a chemist and druggist on High St, John Caswell (18) who was an engine fitter from Chapel St., and William Caswell (19) who was a chain maker from Tansey Green. The two Pensnett players who took part in the double wicket match in 1867 described above were William Yates (23) an Ironworks labourer from John St in Brierley Hill, and Thomas Baker (37) a coal miner from Chapel St. The other point that emerges from these considerations is that by no means all the players came from the parish of Pensnett itself. Of the seventeen cricketers identified, seven came from neighbouring parishes (Kingswinford, Brierley Hill and Brockmoor) and of the football players, only one came from Pensnett (the captain, Albert Colley (25), a timber merchant from Bradley Street) with the rest again coming from neighbouring parishes.


Finally, two other points are worthy of note before we end. Firstly, whilst the football played by the various teams in Pensnett was at what might be called junior level, the senior level of the game was played just outside the parish. Brierley Hill Alliance was formed in 1887 from a merger of Brockmoor Harriers and Brockmoor Pickwick and, before they moved to their Cottage Street Ground in Brierley Hill in 1888, played on the Labour in Vain ground in Brockmoor, a few hundred yards out of Pensnett parish. They went on to join the Birmingham League in 1890 and remained there, with some success, up to their eventual demise in 1981. Secondly, the name of Pensnett Victoria is not confined to the football and cricket teams. In 1880 a few matches played by a Pensnett Victoria Quoits team are reported. However, most newspaper mentions of the name refer to performances of the Pensnett Victoria Saxhorn band. If the reader, like me, doesn’t know what a Saxhorn is, then Wikipedia has the answer.

A historical curiosity – Fog Cottages

The original Lichfield Trent Valley station

Next to the original Lichfield Trent Valley station (north if the current one – see my blog post at…/lichfield-trent-valley…/ ) the OS map of 1900 shows a row of cottages that the census return names as Fog Cottages as shown in figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Lichfield Trent Valley 1900 OS map

I noticed recently whilst out walking that there is another similarly named row of cottages just beyond Rugeley Trent Valley station. This is not shown on the 1900 map, but is there on the 1920 map, again shown on Figure 2.

Figure 2. Rugeley Trent Valley 1920 OS Map

The Staffordshire Past Track website has a picture of these cottages at… with the following explanation for the name.

“A postcard view of Fog Cottages, on the Colton Road near Trent Valley Station, Rugeley. They acquired the name Fog Cottages because the end cottage had an alarm bell installed and this was used in foggy conditions to call out the railway men who lived in the cottages to go and place fog detonator alarms on the nearby rails to assist the train drivers.”.

A modern view of the Rugeley Cottages (from Google Street View) is shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3. Fog Cottages, Rugeley

The question then arises as to whether the name of Fog Cottages has more widespread use. And the answer is that it does. Mathams and Keshall (2014) present an old photograph of a now demolished set of Fog cottages at Amington, next to the LNWR line north of Tamworth (Figure 4).

Figure 4. Fog Cottages Amington (Mathams and Keshall, 2014)

Rightmove (perhaps one of the more unusual historical sources!)  reveals that there are Fog Cottages at Watford, Collingtree and Althorp Parkin Northamptonshire and at Tring in Hertfordshire (see the Google Street View shots of these in figure 5). There are almost certainly more that I have not identified. All are next to the LNWR line, but only some are near stations or the sites of former stations. On the Amington Cottages Mathams and Keshall write

The LNWR standard cottages were built after 1883 when the design was introduced by Francis Webb, Chief Engineer of the LNWR and later examples – built after 1883/4 – are recognisable by the courses of stepped-out brickwork on the gable ends and under the eaves, and the four red-brick bands which run round the building in line with window sills and lintels, all of which can be seen in the picture below.  Nearly everything (except the slates) came from the LNWR works at Crewe;  bricks, woodwork and metal fittings.  

I can find no mentions of Fog Cottages other than in LNWR territory so it looks as if we have here a specifically LNWR naming policy. But if there are any occurrences away from the LNWR I would be pleased to be told.

The Kingswinford Tithe Agreement

The 1840 Fowler Map

In Kingswinford Manor and Parish (KMAP) I have written extensively about the two Fowler Maps of 1822 and 1840 – two large scale maps of the parish that were produced for the landowners  by W. Fowler and Co. and which, together with their Books of Reference that give names of owners and occupiers, give a detailed picture of the life of the parish at that time. When the Staffordshire Tithe Maps were published on line by Staffordshire Fast Track, and described in outline in another blog post, it came as a considerable surprise to me to find that the Kingswinford Tithe Map was actually a version of the 1840 Fowler map, with some added information on tithe rental values and ownership. In this post, I will belatedly (and to my shame as I should have known about this much earlier) consider this new material in the light of the discussion in KMAP, to see what new insights it brings.

Tithes before 1840

The Tithe Commutation Act of 1836 replaced the old tithe system in which a tenth of the produce of the land was given to the church either in kind, or through a cash allocation, with a rental system where a tithe rental charge was allocated for each portion of land. In preparation for the Act, in 1832 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners wrote to the incumbent of every parish in the country asking for details of their income from tithes and other sources. The returns for Kingswinford parish are shown in table 1.

Table 1 Church income 1832

The chapel of St Michael at Brierley Hill had been opened in the 1760s and was staffed by a Perpetual Curate. The new parish church was Holy Trinity at Wordsley, which was built in 1831, when the old parish church of St Mary in Kingswinford village was felt to be too small for the growing population, and was also suffering damage to its fabric due to mining subsidence. The Rector was based at the former whilst the latter was staffed by a Perpetual Curate. It can be seen that the income has three components – tithes and easter offerings, rental from Glebe land (land set aside for the use of the clergy) and other sources. The Perpetual Curates relied on the latter, with the tithe and glebe income going to the Rector. The overall figure for the Rector of £1130 would have made the parish one of the most lucrative in the county (see E Evans 1970, “A History of the tithe system in England 1690-1859 with special reference to Staffordshire”, PhD thesis, Warwick University), and was much sought after by clergy in the eighteenth and nineteenth who often did not take up residence and left all their duties to paid curates, but took most of the income for themselves.

Before the passing of the Act, the collection of tithes would have been an arduous affair, and would usually have been carried out by a paid tithe collector, who would travel around the parish at harvest time to take their due from the landowner, and would also assess and collect a tenth of the other produce of the land – in terms of cattle, sheep, wool etc.. In Kingswinford there were more than a hundred tithe payers, and over two thousand distinct plots of land and tithe collection was obviously a complex affair. In addition, there were a range of extra customary dues that had to be collected, known as moduses. For example, for Kingswinford parish these included a modus of two pence / per acre on all meadow and pasture land; one penny and a halfpenny for a cow and a calf; one penny for a garden; and four pence for a colt. Not all land was treated in the same way – for example the lands enclosed by the Ashwood Hey Enclosure in 1776 were only liable for the tithes of “wool and lamb”. When the difficulties of collecting all that was due are considered, it can be seen that the move to a tithe rental was a major simplification and seems to have been broadly welcomed in the parish.

The Rector and landowners of the parish were keen to move to a new system, and soon after the Act became law they moved quickly to reach a voluntary agreement on tithe rental by June 1838. In many other parishes in the county and elsewhere agreement on tithe rentals could not be reached voluntarily and tithe commissioners imposed a valuation. The results of the agreement are contained within the Tithe Allocation agreement and the associated map. 

The Tithe Allocation agreement

The total area of the parish of Kingswinford was 7319 acres. Of this, 6032 acres (82.5%) was allocated a tithe rental.  The only recipient of tithe rentals was the Rector of the parish, George Saxby Penfold, which was one reason why reaching agreement was straightforward. The total rental allocation was £813. Of those lands that were assessed for no payment, 174 acres was Glebe (i.e. allocated to the Rector, who was not expected to pay the tithe rental to himself, and usually rented to others for farming) and 178 acres was the Corbyn’s Hall estate which was tithe free (see below). The rest of the untithed land was composed of many very small plots of land which presumably had their allocation rolled into nearby tithed land, so as to simplify the allocation and collection procedure. (Note that these figures are taken from summing those that have been transcribed from the Fowler Reference and the Tithe Agreement, and do not quite match the equivalent figures in the tithe agreement, due to  differences in the allocation of plots to different categories. The differences are however small and of no real consequence.)

The fact that Corbyn’s Hall was specified as tithe free is of interest. It is not clear why this is the case but was presumably the result of how the estate was originally established. In KMAP I speculated that the Corbyn’s Hall, Tiled House and Bromley Hall estates were originally one land unit. The fact that the latter two were allocated tithe rentals in the normal way suggests that this might not have been the case. At the time of the tithe allocation map, the extent of the Corbyn’s Hall estate was very similar to that shown on a  1703 map of the estate shown in outline in figure 1 below (again from KMAP), and included the region around Corbyn’s Hall and Shut End, some land in the Tansey green region and a block of land around Standhills.

Figure 1 1703 map of Corbyn’s Hall estate

The way in which tithe rentals were allocated to individual portions of land is not wholly clear from the tithe agreement. The land in the parish seems to have been allocated to a small number of land use categories – arable, meadow and pasture; woodland; and a further miscellaneous category combining mines, road and houses etc. The calculation given in the tithe agreement gives 3486 acres of arable land; 1532 acres of meadow or pasture; 154 acres of woodland; and 1655 acres in the miscellaneous category. A rental / charge per acre was applied to each category other than the miscellaneous for which no charge was allocated. For the arable land this was based on a weighted average of the cost of wheat, barley and oats over the previous few years.  

If the tithe rentals for plots of land greater than one acre in size are plotted against the allocated rental (figure 2) it is clear that there were two basic rental allocations – one at around 5s per acre (the green line) and one at around 1s per acre (the red line). In general arable land and high status houses and ground cluster around the green line, and pasture and woodland around the red line. There is considerable scatter about these lines however, which no doubt reflects the specific circumstances of each plot of land and lengthy debates between the landowner and the Rector.  In the area that was enclosed by the Ashwood Hay act, the arable land is also clustered around the lower red line, no doubt reflecting the lower tithes that were prescribed by the act (see above). Most of the land in the miscellaneous category was not allocated a tithe rental.

Figure 2 Tithe Allocation

Table 2. Tithe payers and landowners

In total there were one hundred and twenty six tithe payers, although this involved some duplication due to some individuals being involved in partnerships that were assessed for tithes. Of these one hundred payed less than £5 and sixty six payed less than £1. The fourteen who payed more than £10 are shown in table 2. The cumulative tithe column in the table shows that three quarters of the tithe rental was paid by just thirteen individuals or organisations. The percentage of the tithe that each payed is also given, as is the percentage of the land that they owned (from KMAP, chapter 4). As is to be expected, the figures in these columns correlate quite well, with the percentage of tithe rental being in general greater than the percentage of land, due to the significant proportion of untithed land.

The other major landowners given in KMAP are the Glebe lands, the lands of John and Benjamin Gibbons,, and the Stourbridge Canal Company.  As noted above, the Glebe lands were tithe free and provided the Rector with an income as they were rented out for farming. The Gibbons main holdings were on the tithe-free Corbyn’s Hall estate. It would also seem that when the Stourbridge Canal Company was formed it purchased land without the tithe obligations, and the land it gained in the Fens area from the enclosure of Pensnett Chase was also tithe free.

Lichfield Trent Valley 1847-1871

Figure 1 The original LNWR station looking north (down platform on left; up platform on right)

As it stands today, Lichfield Trent Valley railway station is situated at the point where the West Coast Main Line (WCML) is crossed by the extension of the Cross City Line towards Burton-upon-Trent. It has three platforms – two low level platforms on the WCML and one high level platform on the Cross City Line. It lies to the east of Trent Valley Road, the old turnpike road from Lichfield to Burton. In this post, I will describe the earliest stations in this area that existed between the late 1840s and the early 1870s and will also describe the career of the first station master. It will be seen that the grandeur of the early station building and the status of the Station Master in Lichfield society indicates the importance and significance of the early railway system.

The original Lichfield Trent Valley station

The positions of the first stations in the area are shown on the Lichfield St. Michael parish (Streethay township) Tithe Map of 1848, an extract from which is given in figure 2. The current station location is indicated by a green oval. The original 1847 Lichfield station of the London and North Western Railway (red circle) is on the west of the Turnpike Road, with platforms on either side of the track, and the main station building on the down line. The station is illustrated in the drawing of figure 1 and can be seen to be quite a substantial affair, designed by the architect John William Livock in the gothic style. It was clearly designed to make a statement as to the importance and grandeur of the company. As was normally the case at the time, the platforms were much lower than is the case today. The Turnpike Road crossed the railway on a flat crossing rather than the current bridge, and it is likely that passengers also used this crossing.  The map also shows the line of the South Staffordshire Railway that crosses the London North Western line, although that was not completed when the map was produced and not opened until 1849. Its station (Lichfield Trent Valley Junction – indicated by the dotted red circle) was just to the south of the point where the  line crosses the Old Burton Road and was connected to the LNWR station by a chord as shown in the 1882 Ordnance Survey Map of figure 3. It is not known if there was also a pedestrian connection between the stations, but one can surmise that there was as otherwise the walk between the two would have required a considerable trek along local roads and tracks. (For those who know this area, this would have entailed a walk down Burton Old road in Streethay, to the current junction with Cappers Lane, which did not exist at the time, then along Burton Old Road east to the path across the Cross City line by the tip, then up Trent Valley Road to the other station.)

Figure 2 Extract from 1848 Tithe Map (red solid circle LNWR station location 1847-1871; red dotted circle – SSR station location 1849-1871; green oval – location of  current station)

Figure 3 1882 Ordnance Survey map showing the station sites (key as in figure 2)

Building survival after closure

To make connections easier, a new station (Lichfield Trent Valley) was built by the London North Western Railway in 1871 at its current location. This is shown on the 1882 Ordnance Survey Map in figure 3 and there can be seen to be station buildings on both the low level LNWR line and the upper level South Staffordshire line. Interestingly the old LNWR station building can still be seen on the down side of the line next to a set of sidings, although that on the up line has been obliterated by other sidings. This building survived into modern times, as can be seen on the 1970 Ordnance Survey map of figure 4. The realization that this building was around till then made me take a more careful look at some 1960s train photographs, and I was gratified to find a number of shots of the building, which are shown in figure 5. Those of figures 5a and 5b are taken from the Trent Valley Road bridge over the railway line, and those of figures 5c and 5d from track level on the west of the bridge. Clearly here the focus of the photographers was on the locomotives rather than the building, but they do show that the original station building survived in its more or less original form until modern times.  Perhaps one can even see a surviving gas light column – see the enlargements of figure 6 – although here I may be confusing a signalling column with a lamp stand.

Figure 4 1970 Ordnance Survey map showing the station sites (key as in figure 2)

Figure 5 1960s photographs showing the original LNWR station in the background

Figure 6 Gas lamp survival?

The later stations

The station buildings of 1871 survived until the 1970s when they, like so many elsewhere, were replaced by much less substantial structures – effectively portakabins and bus shelters. In 2014 a rather more substantial main building was constructed on the WCML down platform, and more recently lifts have been built to improve access to the high level platform and the up WCML platform. The various incarnations of the station are shown in figure 7. Figure 8 shows the site of the original South Staffordshire station – nothing now survives. The same is true of the LNWR station, although the site is no longer accessible and cannot be easily photographed (I have tried!). Nonetheless, the fact that the original LNWR  building survived for over a century was perhaps a historical accident,  but enables the grandeur and the ambition of the builders to be appreciated.

Figure 7 Later station buildings

Figure 8 The site of the original South Staffordshire Railway station

The first station master

The first Station Master of the 1847 station was William Durrad, born in Northamptonshire in 1819, the son of a weaver. He was married to Elizabeth, two years his junior. Their first son, another William, was born in 1849, and he was followed by Arthur in 1850, Walter in 1852, Emma in 1854 and Bertram in 1867. They continued to live in the old railway station building until the 1871, with a succession of live-in servants. All the children survived to adulthood, and two of them (Arthur and Bertram) were educated at Loughborough Grammar School and studied at Jesus College, Cambridge, both becoming clergymen. William junior and Walter worked in banks and the former became a bank manager in Rugeley. William senior retired from his role of Station Master in 1871 at the closure of the first station. and we next read of him in the local press as a Bailiff (law officer) in the County Court. He was clearly an important man in the locality and the press of the time frequently mention his name as an attendee at various civic functions.  William junior died in 1882 and Elizabeth in 1883. William senior himself died in 1889, living £3138 in his will, a very substantial sum. He is recorded as living at Misterton cottage on Trent Valley Road. These three are buried together in one grave in the graveyard of St Michael’s church. They are also commemorated in floor plaques in the church at the front of the chancel beneath the pulpit – see figure 9.  These are positioned (deliberately?) on the opposite side of the chancel to two similar plaques commemorating the lives of two of the 19th century Bishops of Lichfield (Selwyn and Lonsdale). This is perhaps a final indication of the perceived importance of the Station Master in Lichfield society at the time.  Now, as well as spending too much time writing blog posts, I am also a minister at St Michael’s church and it came as a surprise to me that I should have been walking over these memorials in the course of celebrating the eucharist for the last twenty years, yet having  not the faintest idea who they related to.

After the Durrads left the old station, the building seems to have been divided into separate residences, but in 1881 only one was occupied by a railway porter and his wife. There was however a considerable community of railway staff (labourers and platelayers) in the nearby railway cottages that can be seen in figures 3 and 4. Unfortunately the 1891 census records for the area seem to be missing (or at any rate I can’t find them), but by 1901 the old railway station was occupied by 16 people from four families of railway workers (porters, platelayers, clerks), including the station master David Brown, his wife Sarah and their five children. There were a further 28 people from five (mainly railway families) living in the associate cottages, by this time referred to as the Fog Cottages.

Figure 9. The Durrad memorials in St Michael’s Church

A study of the ancient prebends of Lichfield Cathedral

The Cathedral Prebends

In this post we will use the information provided on the Lichfield Tithe maps to investigate the nature of the Cathedral prebends. Until quite recently (in historical terms) members of cathedral staff (prebendaries)were supported by the income from various estates (prebends). In the case of Lichfield, there were basically two types of prebend – the first consisting of estates of various sizes that were leased for farming, industrial or residential purposes; and the second consisting of the income from specific ecclesiastical foundations. The system is well described in the Lichfield Cathedral section of the Victoria County History. At the peak of the prebendal system, Lichfield had 32 prebends, most of which were held by clergy who were only required to be in Lichfield for a few months a year. Twenty four  these were of the second type, based on the income from various churches in the diocese and eight of the first type based around specific land allocations. It is thought that five of these – the prebends of Freeford, Handsacre, Longdon, Statfold and Weeford were actually the estates that supported the five canons of Lichfield mentioned in the Domedasy book. Since the prebends are named after areas around Lichfield, it seems reasonable to assume that they consisted of specific areas around the city. Now for many of the properties that are listed, the tithe maps give an indication of which prebend they were in in the middle of the nineteenth century, and thus offer the possibility of mapping these prebends in more detail than has been previously possible. In what follows, we will thus attempt to do this, and it will be seen that it offers a description of the Anglo-Saxon geography of the area that is quite distinct from the later geography. It must however be stressed that what the Tithe maps show is the outcome of many hundred years of land sales, exchanges and re-organisations and thus absolute clarity on the original extent of the prebends is not to be expected.

Lichfield from Domesday to the Reformation

Figure 1. Lichfield and the surrounding area

(blue indicates rivers; solid brown lines indicate early, possibly Iron Age roads and trackways that survived to the present time, and dotted brown lines indicate Roman roads)

Figure 1 above shows the area around Lichfield, with the Rivers Tame and Trent and the early road system identified in the topographical studies of Stephen Bassett, that I have briefly described in an earlier post.  The names shown in regular type are the members of the Manor of Lichfield given in Domesday that lie in the vicinity of the city itself, and those in italic type are places that occur in other Domesday entries. It can be seen that the extent of the Manor was large stretching west to Hammerwich and east to the Tame at Tamhorn. There are some obvious gaps on the map – for example around Longdon to the west and Whittington to the east. There are also names not included on the map as their location cannot be identified – Horton, Burweston and Littlebeech. The important thing to observe from the perspective of the current investigation is that the three ancient prebends that are named on the map – Freeford, Hansacre and Weeford have no special importance over the rest. This suggest that if they are basic building blocks of a geography of the area, then this geography significantly predates Domesday and is very old indeed.

The town of Lichfield was set out by Bishop Roger de Clinton around 1140 and became styled as the Manor of Lichfield in its own right, with the rest of the area taking the title of the Manor of Longdon. Over the following centuries many of the members of the Manor became parishes in their own right (as we shall see below) and Lichfield itself shrank to the region of the what were to become the parishes of St Michael’s, St Mary’s and St Chad’s. Within this area there was no parochial system as such, with pastoral care being on the basis of the prebend. The three churches were staffed by the vicars of the five ancient prebends of Freeford, Handsacre, Longdon, Statfold and Weeford. A vicarage was created for St Mary’s with jurisdiction over the city centre in 1491 with the stipend paid from a number of prebends, with the five ancient prebends contributing the majority of the resource. The parishes of St Michael’s and St Chads came into existence in the seventeenth century, although they remained as perpetual curacies until the nineteenth.

Lichfield Parishes

The parishes in the wider area around Lichfield around 1840 are shown in figure 2, drawn with information from The Parish Atlas of England, by Tim Cockin.   The three Lichfield parishes can be seen to be of very different sizes, with St Michael’s parish extending a long way to the west at Burntwood, with a detached portion to the east at Fisherwick. St Chads, occupies the northern area of Lichfield, whilst the parish of St Mary and the extra-parochial areas of the Close and the Friary, are very small in comparison. Whilst much of the rest of the area shown in figure 2 is divided into parishes in the normal way, there are a number of extra-parochial areas, often representing areas of former or existing common land such as the Hays at Ogley, Alrewas and Kings Bromley.

Figure 2. Parishes in the Lichfield area around 1840

(1 – Kings Bromly Hay EP; 2- Croxall; 3- Ingale; 4- Thorpe Constantine; 5 – Statfold, 6- Hopwas Hay EP; 7- Freeford EP; 8 – St Mary’s, Lichfield; The Close EP; The Friary EP; 9 – Detached parts of Farewell)

The immediate area around Lichfield is shown at a somewhat larger scale in figure 3. The individual townships in St Michael’s and St Chad’s parishes are shown. It can be seen that the parish of Farewell and Chorley, to the west of St Chad’s parish has detached portions to the east.

Figure 3. Lichfield parishes and townships

The prebends mapped

Figure 4. Prebends in the Lichfield parishes

(Letters referred to in text; diagonal stripes indicate prebend to which tithe allocated; vertical stripes indicate region with name of prebend; red – Freeford; green – Weeford; blue – Statfold; yellow – Gaia Major)

The tithe maps give details of the tithes payable for each individual property that they list. Where appropriate they also give an indication of which prebend the tithe is allocated to. The information given varies somewhat in form from parish to parish, and thus we will consider each parish in the area around Lichfield below. We begin by considering the Lichfield parishes themselves in figure 4.

  • St Michael’s parish, St Michael’s township (A on figure). Here the prebendial split was at its most complex. Figure 4 shows only the regions that can be identified as part of Freeford prebend, which occur across the township, and probably indicates the major underlying land unit. The rest of the area was in the main occupied by land that was allocated to Freeford, Handsacre, Statfold and Weeford jointly, either as part of what is referred to as the Part Pound Tithing, or simply a two or more prebends being allocated tithes jointly. In addition each of these prebends were allocated the tithes from cluster of residential properties close to the city in the Greenhill and St John’s area. There was also a small area where tithes were allocated to the prebends of Bishopshull, Bishops Itchington, Prees and Pipa Minor, but in general the underlying prebend, seems to have been Freeford.
  • St Michael’s parish, Burntwood, Edial and Woodhouses, Wall and Pipe Hill townships (B, C, D). Almost uniformly the tithes in this area were allocated to Weeford prebend, again with allocations for small residential areas to the other prebends near the city. The large tract of land to the west is indicated on the tithe map as Burntwood Common and no prebend is indicated.
  • St Michael’s parish, Hammerwich township (E) Tithes in this are allocated to the “Appropriator” – the one to whom the rights to the tithes were sold at some point in the past. No prebends are given.
  • St Michael’s parish, Streethay township (F). Here the major allocation of tithes is to Statfold prebend (shown on the map), with some small allocations to Bishops Itchington, Curborough and Gaia Minor prebends.
  • St Michael’s parish, Fulfen township (G). As with Hammerwich, tithes are allocated to an Appropriator in this region.
  • St Chad’s parish, St Chad’s township (H). Here the situation is again complex. There are large allocations to Freeford and Weeford, together with a large allocation to the prebend of Gaia Major in the central area. There are also smaller allocations to the major prebends in the residential areas, and also small allocations to Bishopshull, Curborough,  Gaia Minor and Pipa Minor.
  • St Chad’s parish, Elmhurst township (I). The tithes of most of the land in this township are allocated to the Mark Part Tithing – jointly between Freeford, Weeford, Handacre, Statfold and Gaia Minor. There are some allocations to Bishopshull, Curborough, Gaia Minor, Handsacre and Pipa Minor prebends in the north.
  • Freeford extra parochial area (J). There is no tithe map available for this area, but it has been assumed on figure 4 that the entire area here was allocated to Freeford prebend, which does not seem unreasonable.

Figure 5. Prebends in the wider area around Lichfield

(Letters referred to in text; diagonal stripes indicate prebend to which tithe allocated; vertical stripes indicate region with name of prebend; red – Freeford; green – Weeford; blue – Statfold; yellow – Gaia Major; purple – Longdon; brown – Handsacre and Armitage)

Figure 5 shows a rather wider area around Lichfield indicating the situation in the surrounding parishes. The parishes of Longdon (A), Weeford (B) and Statfold (C) have tithes allocated to the vicar of the parish, or to an Appropriator, but are here marked as belonging to Longdon, Weeford or Statfold prebend. The outlying pat of St Michael’s parish at Fisherwick (D) has tithes with discrete areas allocated to Statfold and Freeford prebends. The parish of Aldridge and Hansacre (E) has tithes allocated exclusively to the prebend of Handsacre and Armitage, the successor of the ancient prebend of Handsacre. The tithes of the parish of Whittington (F) are allocated to the prebend of Whittington and Berkswell (the latter being in Stafford), which is a relatively modern prebend.  All the other parishes shown have tithes that are allocated to the vicar of the parish, or to an Appropriator. At this point it should be noted that there is a minor discrepancy between the tithe maps and material in the Parish Atlas for Farewell parish. On the tithe maps, the lower arm to the east of the parish is shown to be a detached part of Elmhurst township in St Chad’s parish, with its tithes allocated to Pipa Minor prebend, whilst in the latter it is shown as integrated into Farewell, as shown here.


So what of the original premise of this post – can the ancient prebends be said to have well defined territories. I would suggest, on the basis of the maps of figures 4 and 5, the answer is a tentative yes. Let us consider each of the ancient prebends in turn.

  • The area where the tithes are allocated to Freeford, together with the eponymous hamlet, suggest that the original Freeford estate included most of St Michael’s township and part of St Chad’s and probably the city centre parish of St Mary as well. To the east it included Freeford, part of Whittington, the southern part of Fisherwick and perhaps extended to the river Tame through Tamhorn.
  • The territorial extent of Weeford prebend was very large, assuming that the later parish of Weeford was included within it. As well as the parish, it included the eastern part of Brownhills, Edial and Woodhouses township, Pipe Hill township and Wall township, as well as a small part of St Chad’s parish. It also possibly contained the Hammerwich area and the parish of Hints. Figures 4 and 5 suggest that part of Shenstone parish would probably have been included as well in order to make the eastern and western portions more of a coherent whole. If that were the case it would have been centred on Wall, the oldest settlement in the area at the junction of the Roman roads. In total it formed a wide arc around the southern and western edges of the city.
  • Statfold prebend extended from Streethay township in the west, through Whittington and the northern part of Fisherwick, and presumably to the parish of Statfold itself in the east. If it formed a coherent connected estate, it would have to have included parts of Elford and Clifton Campville parishes, for which there is no evidence.
  • The situation with respect to the two western prebends of Longdon and Handsacre is complex, probably because of the early formation of Longdon parish, and its role as the centre of the manor after the setting out of the town by Bishop Clinton. From figures 4 and 5 it can tentatively be suggested that it included Longdon parish itself, Farewell and Chorley parish, Elmhurst township and perhaps the area in St Chad’s parish allocated to Gaia Major. The latter could as easily be part of Weeford or Freeford prebends.
  • Handsacre prebend obviously included the later parish of Armitage and Handsacre in its entirety. If it ever extended closer to the city, it would have needed to include at least part of Kings Bromley parish and perhaps Elmhurst township too. There is no indication that this was ever the case. Geographically the parish boundaries suggest it may once have been associated with Longdon and perhaps represents and early division of the prebends in the Anglo Saxon era.

So what then might be the implications of this study? It points to an early Anglo-Saxon subdivision of the area around Lichfield into a small number of large divisions.  One of these, that later bore the name Weeford, was probably centred on Wall and was thus a territory associated with the Roman settlement of Letocetum.  Another, Freeford, seems to have embraced the location of the current city centre and extended eastwards a considerable direction. The -ford in Freeford has been taken to refer to the rather inconsequential ford over a brook close to the current Freeford House. If one accepts that Freeford originally encompassed the city centre, then the ford referred to might be the more substantial one that would have crossed the Leomansley Brook in the region of the current Minster pool.

A comparison of the prebend areas with the road system shown in figure 1 is of interest. Basically each of the prebends is connected with the centre of Lichfield via an ancient road – Freeford via the road that is now the Tamworth Rd, Weeford by the London Road and the Roman road network, Longdon by the Stafford Road and Hansacre by the road to Rugely. Statfold is connected by the road that enters the city via Darnford Lane and Boley Cottagee lane. If this extended all the way to Statfold, its route east of Whittington is however not clear. The prebends thus form a well-connected network with easy access to the central area.

I have argued elsewhere, based in the main on place name studies, that the Lichfield area was a centre of pre-Christian pagan worship, and that the ancient prebends played a significant role in this. The current work does nothing to counter such a proposal, and perhaps, by showing the extent of the prebends tends to confirm it.

The Staffordshire Tithe Maps

Screen shot from Staffordshire Past Track web site

Although it might sound rather odd to many, when I learnt that Staffordshire Records Office had put digitized versions of the county tithe maps on line, together with all the records to which they refer, I was immensely excited. No doubt this says something about my rather odd personality, but having this material easily available opens up a whole range of possibilities for research. In the blogs that may follow over the coming months I will thus present the results of my investigations of the tithe maps of Lichfield – considering land ownership and occupation, urban land use, the tithe recipients and the extent of the prebends (the old cathedral estates) in the city and the surrounding area.

But first in this post some words of introduction. The tithe maps are available at the Staffordshire Past Track web site and cover the whole of the county. The site briefly describes the maps as follows.

The tithe apportionment awards and maps held by the Archive Service stem from the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, which replaced the payment of tithes as one tenth of agricultural produce (grain, hay, calves, lambs, etc.) with a rent charge apportioned between the landowners in the parish or township. Initially, owners of land and tithes could voluntarily agree a sum, but after October 1838, compulsory commutation began. Maps were drawn up and detailed schedules called ‘awards’, listing owners, occupiers and property details for each individual plot were created. Most processes were completed by 1845.About 70% of the land area of the county was subject to tithe at this time. Exceptions were where tithes had already been commuted or extinguished, for example as part of  an enclosure award. In some cases, tithe had never been paid – on former monastic land, or on land which was too poor in the medieval period to have been titheable, such as parts of the Staffordshire Moorlands.

In addition to the maps, the database contains the following information. – document reference; owner surname and forename(s); occupier surname and forename(s; )township and parish; plot name and plot number; land use; area (in acres, rods and perches); tithers payable; value(s) and notes.

I have concentrated particularly on the Lichfield area in my investigations so far. On the tithe maps Lichfield consisted of three parishes – St Mary’s in the city centre; St Chad’s to the north and east, and St Michael’s in the south and west. St Chad’s was further divided into two townships – St Chad’s itself closest to the city centre, and Elmhurst and Curborough to the north. St Michael’s parish was huge and consisted of the townships of St Michael’s itself, to the east and south of the city centre; the township of Burntwood, Edial, Woodhouses, Pipe Hill and Wall to the south west; the township of Hammerwich west of Burntwood; the township of Streethay to the north east and the detached township of Fisherwick to the east beyond Whittington. In addition there were a number of extra parochial areas – the Close, the Friary, Freeford and Fulfen. Tithe information is only available for the last of these.  The dates of the individual maps are given in the table below.

These dates are actually quite significant, as they cover the period when new parishes were being formed from the old.  Burntwood and Wall became separate parishes in 1845. Christchurch parish was formed from parts of St Michael’s and St Chad’s parish in 1848. The nature of Hammerwich parish at the time is not totally clear, as there was some dispute between its residents and St Michael’s, but it was functioning as a separate parish by the early 1840s. Thus the tithe maps largely represent the situation in the early 1840s in terms of designation of townships, and the classification used on the maps will be adopted in what follows.

My method of working has been to copy and paste all the individual records for the Lichfield area into several spreadsheets (an unbelievably tedious task) and then through some fairly simple programming to get all the records onto one line in the spreadsheet, with the items listed above in individual columns.  This then gives the possibility of ordering the records by different columns, searching for multiple entries and so on.

Whilst the information on the tithe maps can be used to paint a detailed picture of life in the Lichfield area in the 1840s, and I may well do so in later posts, in the next post I will use this information to see what the tither maps can tell us about a much deeper past – the nature of the early, pre-conquest prebendial estates of Lichfield Cathedral It will be seen that this throws a whole new light on the early geography of the area.

Kingswinford parish – associations with slavery

In a recent post, I contributed to the debate on to what extent the early railways in Great Britain and Ireland were capitalized by slave-compensation funds to former slave owners. In doing so I used data from the UCL website Legacies of British Slavery. As I write, that debate rumbles on, but in this post I move away from it somewhat, to use the UCL to determine the impact of slavery on the industries in the area and period in which I am most interested – the western Black Country parish of Kingswinford in the 19thcentury.  The discussion will thus be somewhat wider than the railway industry and will also embrace the iron and mining sectors. It will be seen that the evidence for the impact of slavery finance in this area is more than a little ambiguous, but the UCL does nonetheless add to the general body of knowledge of industrial developments in the region, and the relationships between individuals.

There are three potential links with slavery within the parish of Kingswinford in the 18thand  19thcentury – through the Corbyn family, formerly of Corbyn’s Hall; through the Lords of the Manor – the Barons Dudley and Ward; and through the Gibbons family. The former can be quickly dealt with. The last Corbyn in the parish was Thomas, who died in 1688. His heir, Margaret, married William Lygon, and moved to Madresfield in Worcestershire, and Corbyn’s Hall was sold to John Hodgetts – see Kingswinford Manor and Parish (KMAP), Chapter 3. The last generation of the Corbyn’s, other than Thomas, all seemed to have worked in various trades in London. His brother Henry (1629-1675) eventually moved to Virginia. Correspondence between Thomas and Henry reveals that the latter had become at least a part owner of one or more slave plantations – presumably either cotton or tobacco. The Corbyn’s seem to have prospered in North America and the story of their involvement with slave worked plantations could no doubt be told given sufficient research. But that is an American story of no direct relevance to Kingswinford in the Black Country in Britain, and will not be taken further here.

Figure 1 The Dudley Tree

Now let us consider the Lords of the Manor – the Baron’s Dudley and Ward. Their descent is quite complicated, but the relevant parts are shown in figure 1 (from KMAP Chapter 3). The involvement of this family with slavery came through the marriage of John Ward, 6thBaron Ward, 1stViscount Dudley and Ward (1704-1774) to Mary Carver (-1782), who had inherited three plantations in Jamaica from her father John.  She left these to her son William Ward (1750-1823) and then in trust for her grandson John Ward (1781-1833), 4thViscount Dudley and Ward, and from 1823, the 1st Earl of Dudley and Viscount Ednam. He was an MP for various constituencies from 1802 to 1823, before being made and Earl, and as a member of the House of Lords was Foreign Secretary from 1827 to 1828. He spoke against slavery, although advocating reformation rather than abolition of the system.  Nonetheless at his death he was still in possession of the three Jamaican estates. He was succeeded as Baron Ward by his cousin, Rev. William Ward (1781-1835), although his estates were held in trust for William’s son, another William. The trustees were John Benbow, a solicitor who sat as MP for Dudley from 1844 to 1855; Francis Downing, Lord Dudley’s Agent and mayor of Dudley from 1818 to 1819, Edward Littleton, Baron Hatherton and Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire; and Henry Phillpotts, the Bishop of Exeter, one of the more flamboyant 19thcentury bishops. It was these trustees who made a claim for compensation for the three estates of Whitney (284 slaves); Rymesbury (320 slaves) and New Yarmouth (70 slaves), and whose names thus appear in the records, although they were never slave owners themselves.  They were allocated £12,728 in total. To put this in context, the income of the Dudley Estates in Staffordshire and Worcestershire was around £120,000 per year at the time, and John Ward left £350,000 in his will. The slavery-compensation was thus only a rather small part of the latter William’s overall inheritance. 

When I learned about this involvement of the Dudley’s with slavery I was in the first instance somewhat surprised. Whilst not being an expert on the Dudley’s by any means, I have read quite widely about them, and not seen any reference to this involvement. This may be that historians did not think this remarkable enough to discuss, or perhaps because of a slight embarrassment.  Certainly the Bishop of Exeter must have so felt when he realized he was responsible for slave owning plantations as a trustee. Alternatively it may be that the Dudley Estate itself thought little of it, other than as a profitable line item in their accounts. Either way it is perhaps somewhat shocking.

Figure 2. The Gibbons Tree

The other possible route of money earned through slavery into the Kingswinford area was through the Gibbons family. The family tree is complicated and is summarized in figure 2, again from KMAP. The Gibbons family were from the Ettingshall / Sedgley area and can be traced back to the 16th century. From Grace’s Guide

After the death of John Gibbons (1703-1778), responsibilities for the business he had built up in iron and coal were divided between his three sons – one son, William (1732-1807), ran the family’s merchant house at Bristol, buying pig iron for the midland forges and overseeing the export of metalwares to the American market. Another of John’s sons, Benjamin (1735-1832) , was entrusted with management of the iron business around Kingswinford. The eldest son, Thomas (1730-1813), took charge of the merchant house at Wolverhampton which was subsequently developed as a bank. 

They continued to work together however and in 1784 took out a lease of land, mines and furnaces  at the Level in Brierley Hill.  The partnership between the brothers was split up in the late eighteenth century. The Bristol house was signed over to William’s only son, William (1782–1848).  It was this latter William who appears in the UCL data as a Bristol merchant and ironmonger, the partner of Benjamin Bickley.  The partners in this firm were William Gibbons, Benjamin Bickley, John Latty Bickley (Benjamin’s son) and Michael Willcox. Bickley counterclaimed on an award in Trinidad for Paradise & Cane Farm plantations in the name of the firm and was awarded £8304. ‘Wm Gibbons’ appears under a second award as an unsuccessful counterclaimant for the Lodge estate on Trinidas, but it is possible that this is the firm not the man.  In both cases Bickley was acting as an Executor on behalf of a deceased person’s estate.

In 1814 Benjamin  (1735-1832) made over the Level furnaces and other industrial plant to his nephews – John (1777-1851), Benjamin (1783-1873) and Thomas (1787-1829) in return for an annuity and ownership of the Corbyn’s Hall  Estate. The three younger Gibbons brothers were declared bankrupt as bankers in 1816, in the slump following the Napoleonic Wars, pulling the iron business down with them. Fortunately the elder Benjamin, as a preferential creditor, was able to take control of some of the iron and coal interests and save the family firm from total ruin. The younger Gibbons brothers continued to develop the Corbyn’s Hall Collieries and Blast Furnaces, which were built by them about 1824. The activities around Corbyn’s Hall went through a number of different iterations over the next 100 years, being leased to a variety of industrialists, but with the Gibbons retaining some sort of interest. Benjamin Gibbons (1815-1863) and Benjamin  Gibbons(1852-) also developed fire clay works and coal mines close by at Dibdale. These works and their successors lasted into recent times. 

The relationship between the Gibbons and the Bickley families continued to the next generation.  In 1838 John Latty Bickley was living at Ettingshall Lodge in Sedgley (the old home of the Gibbons) and was engaged in land transfer deals with the Gibbons brothers John (1777-1851) and Benjamin (1783-1873) and mortgages of land around the Corbyn’s Hall estate.

The question then arises as to the nature of the Gibbons involvement with slave-owning individuals and businesses and whether or not there was significant flow of resource into their activities as a result. The only certainty is that William Gibbons and his partner acted as an Executor for some slave-owners in winning compensation for their estates, perhaps acting as a business rather than individuals. One might speculate that as a merchant trading in Bristol, even in the iron trading sector that wasn’t directly involved with slave-owning, some association would have been inevitable, but again that is supposition. And if there had been any profits from such associations that fed back into the Midlands iron and coal business, it is doubtful whether any traces of these would have survived the 1825 bankruptcy.

To conclude, it would seem to me that the extent of the involvement of industry in Kingswinford parish with slave-owning individuals and organisations was small, and probably had no lasting legacy in industrial terms. The Dudley estate certainly owned plantations in Trinidad together with their slave population, but one senses that this was almost by an accident of marriage rather than by design. Nonetheless this ownership was accepted and the estate no doubt profited from in a manner that was acceptable at the time, but would not be so regarded now. The Gibbons family also had minor associations with slave-owners through their Bristol firm, which illustrates just how difficult it would have been for any organization with activities there to avoid such associations. Thus the interactions of industries around Kingswinford with slavery were small. They are nonetheless worth recording and remembering as part of the history of the area. 

The legacy of slavery on the railways

Birmingham Curzon St 1840

In recent weeks an extraordinary Twitter argument has broken out concerning how much the railway system in the UK and Ireland owes to the capital provided by the slave trade. On the one hand we have Gareth Dennis (@GarethDennis), the author of what will be referred to in what follows as the “Thread”, who argued “that a significant proportion of slave-owner compensation was reinvested into the railways; that Britain’s railways are a direct legacy of slavery and colonialism; and that this legacy is hopelessly under-explored”. On the other hand there was a strong argument from Christian Wolmar (@christianwolmar) that the Thread’s arguments were overstated and not properly evidenced. He has repeated this in a recent edition of RAILmagazine. This post is concerned with trying to establish how much slave owner compensation might have been used for capital investment in the early railway network in the Great Britain and Ireland.

The Thread uses the quite outstanding UCL web site “Legacies of British Slave-ownership” which attempts to chart where the legacies of slave ownership, and in particular the compensation paid to slave-owners following theSlave Compensation Actof 1837, was used in commercial and social ventures.  The Thread takes the data from this web site for those who had both been compensated, and who also invested in the early railway companies, and a simple addition of the sum invested by these individuals in railway companies in Great Britain and Ireland comes to £5,261,768 (a little less than in the Thread, no doubt due to a minor omission somewhere that I can’t locate, but this is of no consequence to what follows). The implication in the Thread is that this sum comes directly from slave compensation and it is argued that this forms a significant proportion of the railway capital in the early years – for example the cumulative capital by 1840 was £30 million, and thus the total invested by the slave owners was around 1/6thof the total.  

However, all is not as simple as it looks. Firstly, an inspection of the UCL web entries indicates that a few of the identifications of slave owners with railway investors are not totally firm and that there is some doubt about them. Nonetheless these are unlikely to affect the above figure significantly, perhaps reducing it by a few tens of thousands pounds and no correction will be made. Secondly the web site lists a few payments to trustees, usually of minors. It is a moot point as to whether the future railway investment of these trustees in their own right should be included in the sum. Again, this is not a significant issue and no corrections have been made for it. 

A much bigger issue however is that, as I read it, the UCL web site shows the total investment of individuals in the railways, and that is what the figure of £5,261,768 actually refers to. Many of the slave-owners received far less in compensation than they actually invested in the railways – these figures are given on the pages for individuals in the list. So that figure for capital investment, which the Thread uses as the basis for its arguments, is a very significant overestimate of they investments that were made from slave compensation. For example, consider the three individuals who feature in the Thread. The first, John Moss invested £222,470 in railway concerns, but only received £40,353 in slave compensation; Robert Browne invested £577,260 but only received £797 in compensation; and Thomas Dunlop Douglas invested £396,100 having received £15,907 in compensation. One Robert Pulsford is included in the database as investing £291,000 in railways concerns. However his inclusion is as a result of five unsuccessful claims for compensation and he actually received no compensation at all. Similar discrepancies between total investment and compensation sums can be identified for nearly all the major investors, although the amounts invested for the smaller investors were often very similar to the amount of compensation they received. So the figure of £5,261,768 money that found its way into the railways cannot all be from compensation payments. In fact if one limits the amount of investment for each investor to the amount they received in compensation, the figure falls to £1,134,031 i.e. 21.6% of the original figure.  

But even this is without doubt an overestimate, as not all the compensation money would have been invested in the railways. It might be more realistic to say that the proportion of invested compensation should be the same as the proportion of the total investment to the overall wealth of the investor. The UCL site allows an estimate to be made of this for a subset of those named by giving their recorded wealth at death. The median of the ratio of investment to total wealth at death comes to 10% (excluding those individuals who went bankrupt or suffered major financial distress at the end of their lives). I am of course very well aware that this methodology is more than a little suspect! On this basis however the amount of slave-compensation money that was invested in the railways falls to around £110,000.

On the basis of these figures, the actual amount of compensation that became railway capital was between £0.1 million and 1 million. Whether of not this is significant in terms of the overall capital investment (£30 million by 1840) I will let the reader decide.  But it is best to use as accurate a figure as possible in coming to a view.

The Thread has done the community a service by raising the issue of slave-compensation investment on the railways, which should not be ignored, although it needs to be carefully looked at to investigate whether it was significant in comparison to other investment. In future posts, I intend to look at this issue further – both in relation to those who received large compensation sums and made large investments in the railways (not necessarily those mentioned in the Thread); but also in relation to that area of the Black Country about which I have posted regularly – the parish of Kingswinford – where traces of slave-owner investment can indeed be found if one looks carefully.