John Louis Petit – painter and landholder


John Louis Petit was a noted landscape painter and critic of ecclesiastical architectural practice in the 19th century. After his death, his work languished in obscurity for many years, but has recently been brought to public attention by the J L Petit Society and is well described on the website of that organisation and elsewhere. He and his sisters painted several hundred pictures of landscapes and churches across England, Europe and beyond. He was able to do so because he was from a wealthy family, descended from Huguenot immigrants to England in 1685. Concerning that wealth the Petit society web site simply says “Petit’s family were moderately wealthy landowners, active in professions, from Staffordshire“. The question then arises as to where the wealth came from that enabled him to pursue his interests through extensive and no doubt expensive, travel, This post unpacks the source and extent of his wealth in a little more depth and leads me to the conclusion that the Petit family were much more than simply “moderately wealthy”. It will be seen that the main source of this wealth seems to have been an estate in the Sedgley / Wolverhampton area, and I will investigate this estate further in a future post.

To help the reader in navigating the travels of the Petit family around the Midlands, the map below shows the places mentioned in this post that are in the vicinity of Wolverhampton.

Places named in the text in the vicinity of Wolverhampton

The Petits in England

We begin by considering the first of the Petit family to arrive in England. Lewis Petit (1665-1720), a member of the ancient Norman family of Petit des Etans, fled to England from Caen on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, along with many thousands of others. The revocation of this edict led to severe persecution of the protestant Huguenots by Catholics, and many fled the country at that time. He served in the British army as an engineer, rose to the rank of brigadier-general and was appointed lieutenant-governor of Minorca from 1708 to 1713. He was later involved in the suppression of a revolt by Highland clans. More detail can be found in his Wikipedia entry. No doubt he was well rewarded for his services. He had two sons, John Peter Petit and Captain Peter Petit. The former married Sarah, daughter of John Hayes of Wolverhampton, the owner of the Ettingshall Estate near Sedgley, and they occupied the manor of Little Aston from 1743 to the early 1760s. John Hayes died in 1736, and left Ettingshall to his son, another John. This John himself died in 1745 and the estate went to Sarah and her sister, and thus ultimately to John Peter Petit. Ettingshall was a large, originally arable estate, that even at that stage was beginning to be exploited for its coal and ironstone reserves. John Peter also appears to have owned Saredon Hall farm in the village of Shareshill.

John Peter and Sarah’s only son, John Lewis Petit (1736-1780) was educated at Queens College, Cambridge, qualified as a doctor in 1767 and was physician to St. George’s Hospital from 1770 to 1774, and to St. Bartholomew’s from 1774 until his death. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society from 1759 and was clearly regarded as a leader in his profession. He married Katherine Laetitia Serces, the daughter of Rev. James Serces, pastor of the French Church in London. They had three sons John Hayes Petit (1771-1822), Peter Hayes Petit (1773-1809) and Louis Hayes Petit (1774-1849), but clearly lacked imagination in the giving of names. The Ettingshall Estate was inherited in its entirety by John Hayes, with financial provision being made for the other sons. In John Lewis’ will there is the following rather interesting provision.

I desire my body may be opened [for medical science] if the distemper of which I may die shall not have rendered it so loathsome as to endanger the operator and that the sum of ten guineas shall be given to the person who shall perform the operation.

Of the two younger brothers, Peter Hayes was a lieutenant-colonel of the 35th Foot and died at Deal of a wound received at Flushing in Holland during the Napoleonic war. Louis Hayes became a barrister and, from 1827 to 1832, was MP for Ripon. He bought property at Yeading, Middlesex, and a house in Tamworth Street, Lichfield. He also acquired an estate at Merridale in Wolverhampton, not far from Ettingshall, which the sources suggest provided him with income from mineral rights. This cannot however be wholly true as Merridale is to the west of Wolverhampton, and is not in fact on the coal field. It will be seen below that he also possessed land to the east of the town at Bilston, on which there were indeed coal mines, and this was probably the source oft he confusion. After ceasing to be an MP, his remaining years were largely devoted to literary and philanthropic pursuits There is a monument to him at the east end of the north aisle of St Michael’s church in Lichfield.

The Ecclesiastical Petits – John Louis and his father

The eldest of the three brothers, John Hayes Petit (1771-1822) inherited the Ettingshall estate, but also seems to have followed an ecclesiastical career. He was born in Bloomsbury and graduated from Queens College Cambridge with a BA in 1793 and an MA in 1796. He was ordained priest in Chester in 1798 and served a curacy at Ashton under Lyme near Stalybridge in Cheshire.  During his time there he married Harriet Astley of the nearby town of Dukinfield. Harriet was born in 1779 to the painter John Astley (1724-1787) and his third wife Mary Wagstaffe (1760-1832). John Astley had a colourful life, painting portraits of many 18th century notables, arousing strong passions of admiration (mainly in women) or distaste (mainly in men). His first wife was an unknown Irish lady who died in 1749. The second was Penelope Dukinfield Daniel (1722–1762) widow of Sir William Dukinfield Daniel, 3rd baronet, and a daughter of Henry Vernon, former High Sheriff of Staffordshire. John and Penelope were married with some rapidity after she intimated that the original of the portrait he was painting of her would be available if he wished. On Penelope’s death, and the death of his stepdaughter, Astley inherited the substantial Dukinfield and Daniel estates in Cheshire and was able to lead a life of some luxury and idleness thereafter.  Harriett was one of three sisters, known as the Manchester beauties, and her marriage to John Hayes would have brought him both a beautiful wife and a substantial supplement to his already considerable income. 

John Louis Petit, the artist, was John Hayes and Harriet’s eldest son and was born in 1802. For the next few years the family lived a somewhat peripatetic existence. The oldest sister, Harriet Letticia Petit (later Salt) was baptised in Stretton on Dunmore in Warwickshire in 1803. The next two children Mary Ann Petit (1805-) and Peter John Petit (1806-1852), later a Lieutenant Colonel in the 50th Regiment, were baptised at Darfield in Yorkshire. No reason for the Petit family’s presence in these places can be traced. The next two children, Emma Gentile Petit (1808-1893) and Elizabeth Petit (later Haig) (1810-1895) were baptised at Donnington in Shropshire to the north west of Wolverhampton. In January 1811 John Hayes was appointed Stipendary Curate of that parish, and then in February of that year he was appointed as a Perpetual Curate at Shareshill, to the north east of Wolverhampton where he already owned land.  How these posts interacted with each other is not clear. The Vernon family, from whom Harriet was descended, owned Hilton Hall, which was close to Shareshill, and may have been influential in John Hayes obtaining the post.  He held the Perpetual Curacy at Shareshill till his death in 1822. Their next three children were all baptised in Shareshill – Louisa Petit (1813-1842), who died after a “life of uninterrupted suffering, which she bore with a true Christian patience and cheerfulness”; Susannah Petit (1813-1897); and Louis Peter Petit (1816-1838) a barrister at Lincoln’s Inn. Around 1817 John Hayes leased Coton Hall at Alveley in Shropshire from Harry Lancelot Lee, and it was there that their final child, Maria Katherine (later Jelf) (1818-1904) was baptised. Coton Hall was a very substantial property that once belonged to the Lee family. In 1636, Richard Henry Lee emigrated to the US, and the family became rich through the ownership of tobacco plantations with a large slave population, and from whom the US Confederate General Robert E Lee was descended. It would not have been a cheap place to lease. After John Hayes Petit’s death in 1822, Coton Hall was bought by James Foster (1786 -1853), the very successful and wealthy ironmaster and coalmaster of Stourbridge.  John Hayes’ wife Harriet and her unmarried daughters moved to the house in the house in Tamworth St, Lichfield that was owned by her brother-in-law Louis Hayes Petit.

John Louis Petit inherited the Ettingshall estate on the death of his father in 1822, and also inherited the bulk of the estate of his uncle Louis Hayes Petit when the latter died in 1849. In total they formed a very substantial estate in the Wolverhampton area, that was being heavily exploited for coal, iron ore and limestone. He and his sisters also had a less tangible inheritance from his mother and his grandfather – the passion and the ability for painting and sketching. After he graduated from Trinity College in Cambridge in 1825, John firstly pursued an ecclesiastical career being curate at St Michael’s in Lichfield from 1825 to 1828, under the Perpetual Curate Edward Remington, and then curate at Bradfield and Mistley in Essex from 1828 to 1834. During his time at St. Michael’s, the registers tell us he carried out 61 baptisms, 35 weddings and 163 funerals, as well as presumably leading the Sunday worship – a not inconsiderable load. He married Louisa Reid, the daughter of George Reid of Trelawny in Jamaica in 1828. The Reid family derived much of their wealth from slave plantations in Jamaica and the family received considerable compensation for their lost income when slavery was abolished in the 1830s.

The Petit estates in the 1840s

But that is not the end of the matter. Details of the holdings of John Louis and Louis Hayes at the time of the tithe apportionments in the 1840s can be obtained from the tithe maps for Staffordshire. These are shown in the table below. It can be seen that the estates around Ettingshall and Wolverhampton were far from all their holdings. John Louis also held land in Wolverhampton itself, and in Hilton and Featherstone in the north of the town, and in Shareshill, Hatherton and Acton Trussell further to the north. At the time he lived in a house at Shifnal in Shropshire. Louis Hayes, as well as the land in Wolverhanpton also had holdings in the vicinity of the town at Sedgley and Bilston, as well as at Bushbury and Hatherton to the north. He also held the property in Lichfield where Harriet and her daughters lived. A photograph of this rather imposing property, Redcourt House, is shown below. It was situated on Tamworth Street downhill from the junction with George Lane, and its grounds extended a considerable distance behind it between what was then Back Lane and Frog Lane. In total John Louis held nearly 1100 acres and Louis Hayes nearly 450. This would have put them amongst the major landowners in the Midlands. Whilst the lands around Wolverhampton and Sedgley can be explained as an expansion of the Ettingshall and Merridale estates and the family had held land in Shareshill for several generations, there is no obvious reason why the lands at Bushbury, Hatherton and Acton Trussell came into their possession. One possible reason might be that these were holdings of Penelope Dukinfield Daniel through her descent from the Vernon family who held land in that part of Staffordshire. This might explain why John Hayes and Harriet made their home at Shareshill and the former became the Perpetual Curate in the parish.

Petit land holdings in Staffordshire in the 1840s. Numbers indicate the area in acres
Redcourt House

But there is yet more. In Staffordshire Archives, there is an index record that states ” Abstract of title of late John Louis Petit in Staffordshire and Hereford, Radnor and Brecknock “. It would appear that the property in Hereford was the estate of Bollitree Castle, a large house with mock fortifications, with Louis Hayes owned at the time of his death. I have not been able to identify any properties in Radnor and Brecknock.


So to return to my original query, it would seem that the Petit wealth derived in the main from a series of very advantageous marriages – and in particular those between John Peter Petit and Sarah Hayes, which brought the Ettingshall estate into their positions. This estate will be the subject of a further blog post. In addition the family were clearly successful in the professions in which they worked as a result of their very considerable talents. One point that I still find difficult to understand is why John Hayes and John Louis pursued ecclesiastical careers – the clergy stipends were almost certainly of little significance in terms of their overall wealth. Perhaps the holding of a clergy post gave a degree of respectability to a life of leisure. At any rate, John Louis gave up his post in Essex in 1834 and from the mid-1830s onwards he devoted his time to his painting and architectural criticism, and his story is told elsewhere.

Kingswinford Landowners and Industrialists in the 19th Century – some surprising names


As outlined in Kingswinford Manor and Parish, the Fowler Maps of 1822 and 1840 gave a great deal of information concerning the landowners and occupiers of the parish at those times. In the main most of the landowners were quite local, with the major ones being the Earl of Dudley’s Estate and John Hodgetts-Foley. However, a few surprising names of landowners and industrialists crop up – those who have some sort of national profile outside the immediate area of the Black Country. In this short post, I briefly consider three of these – Jonathan Stokes, Horace St Paul and Stephen Glynn and his fellow owner of Oak Farm Iron Works.

Jonathan Stokes

Jonathan Stokes (1755-1831) was an Edinburgh trained doctor, and, from 1782 to 1788 was a member of the Lunar Society, one of the intellectual driving forces of the period whose members included Matthew Boulton and Erasmus Darwin. He is remembered for his work, in collaboration with others, on the uses of digitalis. His parents were Rebecca and Jonathan Stokes, “Gentleman of Worcester”. Many of the sources say he was born in Chesterfield, although this has recently been shown to be untrue and his birth in Worcester has been established. He had a practice in Stourbridge for a number of years from 1782 to 1785. His membership of the Lunar Society ended following fierce arguments with his colleague William Withering over authorship of a book. He married Ann Rogers, a “minor poet” at Dronfield in 1784. The marriage was four months after the birth of Jonathan and Ann’s first child John Rogers Stokes (1784 – 1818), and Jonathan does not appear on the baptismal record. Their second son John Allen Stokes was born in Shrewsbury in 1786, being baptized in a Presbyterian Meeting House. They had other children. Of particular note are Anna Honora Seward Stokes (1791-1792) and Honora Anna Seward Stokes (b1794) both named after the poet Anna Seward, ‘the Swan of Lichfield” with whom they were close friends. 

In 1788, Rebecca Stokes, at that point a widow, was involved in the sale of a plot of land on which the Red House Glassworks in Wordsley was built. She clearly owned other properties in the area, and in 1822 Jonathan, as her heir, held a number of scattered plots across the parish, mainly concentrated in the area enclosed by the Ashwood Hay Enclosure Act of 1776 and the Wordsley and Brettell Lane areas. These amounted to around 200 acres in total of mainly arable land, with a few domestic properties. In 1840, these were in the hands of his son John Allen Stokes. How the Stokes came into the ownership of such extensive lands in Kingswinford is not clear. One possible route comes from a recorded marriage in 1781 between Nancy Freeman, one of the illegitimate children of John Keeling, the agent and steward of the Dudley estate who owned significant property in the area, and one William Stokes. Links with either Jonathan however cannot be demonstrated, so this must be conjectural. Keeling did however provide generously for his illegitimate offspring, and this might be another example of his provision.

Horace St Paul

Sir Horace St Paul (1775-1840) was a career soldier who became MP for Bridport from 1812-1832 and was created a Baronet in 1813. His father was

“a Northumbrian gentleman driven into exile after killing a man in a duel and was a soldier of fortune in the Seven Years’ War, who returned to England with an Austrian title and a royal pardon, subsequently distinguishing himself in diplomacy, before retiring to his ancestral home.”

The St Paul crest

The Austrian title was as a Count of the Holy Roman Empire, which his son inherited, the most impressive of all the titles of Kingswinford landowners. In 1822 he owned around 30 acres of arable land in the Kingsley Road / Mount Pleasant area of Kingswinford, to the east of Ridgehill Wood, and almost certainly came into his possession through his marriage in 1803 to Anna Maria, the natural daughter of John, 2nd Viscount Dudley whose forebears were granted the lands at the Ashwood Enclosure in 1776. Unfortunately however, the current residents of Kingsley Road and Mount Pleasant share the defining characteristics of their former owner’s title – they are neither Holy, nor Roman, nor in any sense, Imperial.

Stephen Glynne and the Oak Farm Iron works

The Glynne Baronetcy dates back to 1661, with its main estate at Hawarden in Flintshire. The 8th Baronet, Sir Stephen Glynne (1780 to 1815)  married Mary Griffin, daughter of Lord Braybrooke. After his early death, he was succeeded by his son Sir Stephen Richard Glynne, the 9th Baronet (1807-1874). He was a Conservative Party politician and is principally remembered as aa noted antiquary and student of British church architecture and writer of a treatise entitled “Notes on the Older Churches in the Four Welsh Dioceses”.

The Glynne family were also the owners of around 100 acres of land around Oak Farm in the north of Kingswinford parish. In 1822, these are in the possession of “Lady Glynne”, presumably the widowed Mary, as the younger Stephen was still a child. At this time these lands were wholly agricultural. In 1840, the same area was owned by the Oak Farm Colliery Company .The Tithe Allocation records the owners as Thomas Bagnall, James Boydell, Baronet Sir Stephen Glynn, John Hignett, William Hignett and Charles Townshend. By this time the lands were a mixture of arable, collieries, brickworks and the major industrial concern of the Oak Farm Iron Works. The latter was founded in 1835 by  Sir Stephen Glynne, Lord Lyttleton, W. E. Gladstone and James Boydell. Gladstone, the future Chancellor and Prime Minister, and Lyttelton had both married sisters of Stephen Glynne.

The Oak Farm works suffered major financial issues, and the company failed in 1848. These events that led to this are set out at some length in the Grace’s Guide entry for Oak Farm. There are conflicting views as to the causes of the financial difficulties – with James Boydell as Managing Partner described as either as being massively over optimistic and extravagent, or as being unsupported by the other owners during difficult time. One source writes

“…the brothers-in-law (Glynne, Lyttleton and Gladstone) appear to have suffered enormous financial losses, but the experience gained by W E Gladstone in dealing with the company’s debt was said to have stood him in good stead when he became Chancellor of the Exchequer…”

Thus the affairs of Kingswinford parish seem to have had a long lasting effect on the country as a whole! There is of course also a legacy of the Glynne family in Kingswinford itself with the name preserved in the Glynne Arms – the Crooked House.

Finally it is worth just saying a little more about James Boydell. He came from Denbigh in north Wales and was a prolific inventor and patent holder. He is best remembered for his “endless railway” system, From Grace’s Guide again.

“….. the ‘endless railway’ system, applicable to traction engines and trailers. A number of flat feet were attached to the outside of a traction engine’s wheels. They were hinged in such a way that as the wheel revolved each succeeding foot would lie flat in contact with the ground, thus spreading the weight of the engine, and allowing the wheels to roll on the plates. The idea was that this arrangement would be more efficient for road-haulage engines, enabling them to deal with poor road surfaces…..”

The Endless Railway System

He seems to have invented the tank!

Kingswinford families – the Corbyns, the Bendys and the Hodgetts. Part 3 – The Hodgetts of Shut End and Prestwood

Part 1 of this blog can be found here, and part 2 here.

If success can be measured in terms of social enhancement, the Hodgetts family is perhaps the most successful family in Kingswinford history. The early Hodgetts shown in the tree below all came from the Kingswinford / Shut End area and John Hodgetts (1550-1630) and John Hodgetts (1595-1634) are both described as yeomen farmers in their wills – see Kim Simmonds Family Genealogy, 2019, which also gives sources for these genealogies. Where their land was in relation to that of the Corbyns at Corbyn’s Hall and the Bendys at Shut End is not clear, but by the 18th and 19th centuries the Hodgetts held large tracts of land in Kingswinford and elsewhere, had married into one of the new aristocratic industrialist families, served as MPs for various places in the locality and lived in Prestwood House – the largest of the gentry houses in the Kingswinford area.

The Hodgetts Tree. Shaded boxes show links with other trees in KMAP

In the 15th and 16th centuries however the Hodgetts’ horizons were more limited. In the 1490s, Edward Sutton (1460-1531), 2nd Baron Dudley, leased land in the Russell’s Hall area to “Thomas Hodgetts of Swinford”, almost certainly the Thomas Hodgetts (1465-1532) at the top of the Hodgetts tree. Similarly, in 1526, Edward leased the “erbage, justment and pannage, etc. of the New Park at Pensnett Chase”, to Thomas’ son John Hodgetts (1495-). It is also possible Henry and William Hodgetts of Sedgley, who between 1610 and 1650 were custodians of the bones of St Chad after they had been removed from Lichfield Cathedral by Arthur Dudley, Edward’s nephew, in 1538, were also related to the Kingswinford Hodgetts.

The recurring generations of John Hodgetts tended to marry the daughters of local gentry – for example Margaret Paston (-1675), the daughter of the Rector Nicholas Paston; or to Hannah Bague (1652-1712), the daughter of George Bague and granddaughter of Gload de Bague, the glassmaker family from Lorraine, and major industrialists in the Wordsley / Brettell Lane area.  John Hodgetts (1650-1716) was Agent of the Dudley Estate in the early years of the 18th century. His daughter, Patience Hodgetts (1685-1772), married Richard Keeling(e) (1677-), who was also the Agent of the Dudley Estate.  Richard and Patience’s niece Ann Hodgetts (1709-1766), daughter of Thomas Hodgetts (1678-1740), Rector of Kingswinford and vicar of Press in north Shropshire, married their son John (1713-1783) who was, once again, the Dudley Estate Agent.

It was John Hodgetts (1650-1716) who purchased the Corbyn’s Hall estate on the death of the last male Corbyn in around 1688 and took up residence there until he sold it on early in the next century. His grandson, John Hodgetts (1698-1742) married Mary Bendy, the co-heiress of William Bendy and through her he inherited at least a significant proportion of the Bendys Shut End estate. This John became High Sherriff of Staffordshire in 1737 and was himself the Agent of the Dudley Estate.

Their son, John Hodgetts (1721-1789) took the major step in the families climb up the social ladder by marrying Elizabeth Foley (1707-1759). The Foleys were descended from Richard Foley, a Stourbridge nailer from the 16th century, who had become extremely wealthy as a result of a successful marketing of his products and were heavily involved in iron production around the Midlands. Richard’s grandson, Thomas (1617-1677) built Witley Court in the Malverns and was High Sherriff of Worcestershire in 1656. He was the first of the family with political ambitions and served as an MP for Worcestershire and Bewdley. Elizabeth was Thomas’s great-granddaughter through his son Philip (1648-1716), with this branch of the family being based at Prestwood at the western edge of Kingswinford parish. John Hodgetts (1721-1789) was, like his father, High Sherriff of Staffordshire in 1765, and seems to have taken up residence at Prestwood on his marriage. Shut End House at this time (approx. 1760 to 1780) seems to have been the residence of Commander John Becher, RN, but the actual ownership is not clear.

In 1790, the daughter of John and Elizabeth, Eliza Maria Foley Hodgetts (1759-), married a cousin from another branch of the Foley family, Edward Foley (1747-1803). This was Edward’s second marriage, with the first having been annulled (presumably by Act of Parliament) but no reason for this can be found. He was the proprietor of the Stoke Edith estate in Herefordshire, and the marriage settlement specified that Eliza and Edward’s oldest child, Edward Thomas Foley (1791-1847) should inherit Stoke Edith, and their second son, John Hodgetts Hodgetts Foley (1797-1861), should inherit the Prestwood estate. It was this John who, through his major land ownership in the Kingswinford area, was to play such a major role in its industrialization. He was the Whig MP for Droitwich from 1822 to 1834 and for East Worcestershire from 1847 to 1861. His rather odd name was the result of formalizing Hodgetts as part of the surname by royal license in 1821. He was married to Charlotte Margaret Gage, granddaughter of General Thomas Gage, who commanded the British armies in the early stages of the US War of Independence. By the time of the Fowler Maps of 1822 and 1840, he held the largest block of land in the manor after that of the Earl of Dudley – 381 ha in 1822 and 266 ha in 1840. His properties in 1822 were built around the old Hodgetts estates in Shut End, the former lands of the Bendy family in Shut End and Holbeach, and the Foley inheritance at Prestwood. He had also gained significant land from the Enclosure Acts in the Ashwood enclosure, largely extending his Prestwood holdings, and also some land in the Pensnett area following the enclosure of the Chase. Foley himself lived at Prestwood, while Shut End Hall was leased to Thomas Dudley (1749-1829), part of the Dudley family with extensive inter-generational marriage links with the Hodgetts, Keelings and others. The land around Prestwood was leased out as two farms – North Farm of 96 ha farmed by Robert Roper, and South Farm 0f 73.5 ha farmed by John Beddard.  By 1840 Foley’s total ownership in the parish had decreased somewhat, through the sale of the Shut End Estate to James Foster. Foster was a prominent local Ironmaster from Stourbridge, who owned the firm John Bradley and Co., and was also partner in Foster, Rastrick and Co. He radically changed the nature of the Shut End Estate, with the demolition of the Hall, and the building of the Shut End Blast Furnaces in the grounds, together with associated coal and iron stone mines. He was also instrumental in the building of the Kingswinford Railway and the Stourbridge Extension canal to serve these works. Around Prestwood both farms were by this time leased to John Beddard (157 ha in total).


The Hodgetts tree shows the extensive connections made by marriage with other local families over the course of the centuries. The Bendy, Foley and Bague families have already been mentioned but we also see marriages to the Keeling, Addenbrooke and Brettell families. The Keelings family were holders of major blocks of land in the Kingswinford area in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and both Richard (1677-) and John (1713-1783) served as agents and stewards for the Dudley Estate. John was the last of the line and after his death his properties were held by trustees for 40 or more years, before being divided amongst the descendants of his mainly illegitimate children.

The Addenbrooke family members were also major landowners in the Kingswinford area. Jeremiah Addenbrooke (1701-1773) married Hannah Hodgetts in 1726, one of the two daughters of Thomas Hodgetts (1678-1740), the vicar of Kingswinford mentioned above. The most famous of the Addenbrooke family, John Addenbrooke, the student and fellow of St Catharine’s Hall in Cambridge who founded the Cambridge hospital was the son of Samuel Addenbrooke (1642-1710) shown in the tree, but, despite his fame, he is not a major character in Kingswinford history.

The other family that occurs in the Hodgetts tree is that of the Brettells, who were by marriage related to the Bague and Addenbrooke families. They are clearly an old established Kingswinford family, important enough to have an important thoroughfare name after them in Brettell Lane but are quite hard to pin down. Whilst there are many occurrences of the name Brettell in the marriage and (particularly) death registers, there are very few baptismal entries that would enable their descent to be determined. This is presumably because they were non-conformists of some form (and their association with the Bague family supports this assumption), and the baptismal lists of whatever chapels they might have attended have not survived.

Although KMAP does not take the history of the Hodgetts beyond about 1850, the family contend to reside at Prestwood. John Hodgetts Foley’s son was Henry John Wentworth Hodgetts -Foley (1828-1894), who was also an MP representing South Staffordshire from 1857–1868. He married Jane Frances Anne Vivian, the daughter of the first Lord Vivian. Their son Paul Henry Foley (19 March 1857 –21 January 1928) inherited the Stoke Edith estate, the other portion of the Foley / Hodgetts estate from his great aunt in 1900.  Paul Foley briefly played first class cricket for MCC and was influential in the formation of the Minor Counties Championship and was the leading figure in the transformation of Worcestershire CCC from an amateur side to one that won the Minor County Championship on several occasions and gained entry to the County Championship itself in 1899. He was also responsible for the purchase of the Worcestershire New Road ground and the construction of the pavilion there. With these most commendable of activities, Paul more than atoned for whatever may have been the sins of the ambitious Hodgetts in their rise up the social ladder.

Kingswinford families – the Corbyns, the Bendys and the Hodgetts. Part 2 – The Bendys of Shut End and Holbeache

Extract from the Fowler Map of 1822

In Part 1 of this post we looked at the first of the three Kingswinford families that were well represented in the historical records of the 16th and 17th centuries – the Corbyns of Corbyn’s Hall. Socially these were probably regarded as minor aristocracy. In this post we will consider the second of these families – the Bendys of Shut End – who came from less exalted stock.

A simplified Bendy family tree is shown above. This is still quite complex and shows marriage links with a number of local families. Much of this information is taken from the excellent Morgan web site, which includes information from a range of wills and other sources.

The Bendy Tree (shaded cells indicate links with other trees in KMAP)

The early members of the tree were associated with the general Kingswinford area, with Richard Bendy (-1592) and Elizabeth Jones being married in Dudley, and Elizabeth being buried in Kingswinford. Their son William (1560-1598) was married to Elizabeth Brookes in Worfield, over the county border in Shropshire. They had just one child, another William (1593-1657). After the death of the elder William in 1598, Elizabeth probably married again to Richard Lee in Alveley, again in Shropshire, and thus, with her son, would have lived on the Lee estate at Coton Hall. The younger William married Mary Barnesley from Trysull on the Staffordshire / Shropshire border, and their eldest son (inevitably another William) was born there in 1620.

William Bendy (1593-1657), although referred to as a yeoman (farmer) in his will, was clearly well connected, perhaps because he was bought up in Coton Hall. He seems to have been based in the Shut End area either at Shut End House or Shut End Hall The name of Shut End is no longer in common usage. It referred to the region around the Dudley Kingswinford Turnpike Road in the High Oak / Tansey Green area. Shut End Hall was to the north of the road, and Shut End house to the south, close to Corbyn’s Hall.  After the thwarting of the Gunpowder plot, the family come into possession of Holbeach House, the home of one of the conspirators, Stephen Lyttleton. William Bendy (1593-1657) would have been a minor at the time of the Gunpowder plot so could not have acquired Holbeach House directly. His elder son William (1620-1684) took his BA at New Hall Oxford in 1637, and at the very young age of 18 was admitted to Lincoln’s Inn in London.  Two other sons Nicholas and Edward (not shown in the tree) also worked in London, whilst another, Samuel, was a Fellow of St Johns College, Cambridge.  The elder William’s chief claim to fame was as a member of the Committee of Stafford from 1643 to 1645, whose task was to suitably dispose of the Royalist property in the county for the Parliamentary forces. As such he would have found himself, as happened very frequently in that period, at odds with other families in the locality – and in particular his neighbours at Corbyn’s Hall.

William Bendy (1620-1684) married Dorothy Lee, daughter of Lancelot Lee of Alveley, thus making further connections with that influential family. The executors of his will were named as his brother-in-law, Lancelot Lee, and his uncle Richard Brettell. William and Dorothy had a number of children, the oldest of which was William (1653-1725). This William married twice, his first wife being Margaret Hoo, daughter of John Hoo of Bradley, by whom he had two girls, Margaret and Mary. His second wife was Mary, who bore him a number of children after Margaret’s death in around 1695, including William (1700-1782).

The sisters Margaret and Mary are referred to in various documents as William’s heirs, and it would seem they inherited most of the estate. Both married – Margaret to John Dolman, Vicar of Aldridge, and Mary to John Hodgetts of Shut End (1698-1741), the grandson of the John Hodgetts who purchased the Corbyn’s Hall estate. In documents from 1752, Mary Hodgetts and her son John are both referred to as living at Shut End and Margaret Dolman and her daughter are living at the Cathedral Close in Lichfield. Both seem to have some sort of interest in Holbeach House. The physical relationship of the properties of the Hodgetts and the Bendys around 1700 to 1750 is not at all clear and the sources are confused.   On balance it would seem best to assume that, in the first half of the eighteenth century, Shut End House (to the south of the Turnpike Road near Corbyn’s Hall) was the ancestral home of the Hodgetts, and Shut End Hall (to the north of the Turnpike Road) and Holbeach House were both in the possession of the Bendys. Shut End Hall was obviously quite a grand dwelling and the extract from the Fowler Map of 1822 above, shows a long avenue of trees extending own into Kingswinford village. By 1822, it was owned by the Hodgetts (or rather the Hodgetts-Foleys at that time) , although they did not live there, so that property clearly passed to them in some way.

William Bendy (1700-1782) lived in the “New House”, situated on the Wolverhampton to Stourbridge road, which was presumably a minor portion of the Bendy estate, and in 1728, he is recorded as living there with Mary, his widowed mother.  Some of the land exchanges that took place as part of the Ashwood Enclosure that allowed him to consolidate some of his lands in that area are described in KMAP and in another post.  He also married twice, and had several children, none of whom seem to have produced an heir for the next generation. The last two surviving Bendys – half sister and brother Sarah (1736-1818) and Thomas (1738-1818), died around the same time, and their property and fortune passed to various cousins, the Bendy line becoming extinct with their passing.

Thus by the early nineteenth century, two of the three families that had dominated the life of Kingswinford Manor and Parish from the Middle ages – the Corbyns and the Bendys – had become extinct. The third of these families – the Hodgetts – were however flourishing. It is to the Hodgetts we turn in the next post.

Kingswinford families – the Corbyns, the Bendys and the Hodgetts. Part 1 – The Corbyns of Corbyn’s Hall

From the 16th to the 18th centuries, three Kingswinford families appear regularly in the historical records – the Corbyns, the Bendys and the Hodgetts. As often as not the Corbyns were represented by a Thomas, whilst without exception the Bendys were Williams and the Hodgetts were named John.  In this series of three posts, based on the material in Kingswinford Manor and Parish (KMAP), I will set out what we know about these families and their interactions. This first post looks at the Corbyns of Corbyn’s Hall. Parts 2 and 3 can be found here and here.

The Corbyn Tree. Dotted lines indicate variations in source material; shaded cells indicate the same names occur in other trees in KMAP

The Corbyn family tree shown above is a long one, and the direct succession can be traced back, with some confidence, to the 12th century. The name of Corbyn is French and in the earliest days was written as Corbin or de Corbin.  The earliest family members in the tree seem, from various deeds and other documents, to have been based around Kingswinford and Sedgley. They mostly married within the local community of gentry / minor aristocracy – for example Thomas (1260 -) married Felicia de Lulley – the daughter of John Lulley from the manor of the same name near Halesowen.  Perhaps the most significant marriage in the early period was the marriage of William (1332-1360) to Felicia de Sutton – the kinswomen (and probably daughter) of John de Sutton II, the first Baron Sutton of Dudley and the Lord of a number of manors in the area, including Kingswinford, and possibly William’s feudal Lord. It seems possible that at that stage the Corbyns settled in what was to become the Corbyn’s Hall estate in Kingswinford, perhaps given as Felicia’s dowry to cement John de Sutton’s position in the newly acquired manor. Certainly there is a record that John de Sutton granted to William a moor at Kingswinford known as the “Byrchen” and a parcel of land between the New Park in Pensnett (now the Old Park!) and the road leading to Kingswinford. The early extent of the estate is not known, and the first estate maps do not appear until after the estate has been sold in the early 1700s. At that time however it encompassed a large swathe of land bounded by the Dudley-Kingswinford turnpike road, Commonside and Tiled House Lane, stretching as far west as the Standhills area (see the map below – from the 1822 Fowler map of Kingswinford). In the thirteenth and fourteenth century however the land under cultivation in Kingswinford manor was only a small proportion of the whole, lying in the vicinity of Kingswinford village and the Wolverhampton to Stourbridge road, with the rest being part of Pensnett chase. The Corbyn’s Hall estate seems to have been effectively an early enclosure of part of the Chase.

Corbyn’s Hall, Shut End Hall and Shut End House

For a hundred years after William’s marriage, the family are referred to as being from Kingswinford or Corbyn’s Hall, with further marriages between the Corbyn male heirs and the daughters of local gentry. For example, Thomas Corbyn (1425-1510) married Joan, the heir of Holbach – the Holbeach House estate at the northern side of the manor. In the time of Nicholas (around 1500) the situation changed somewhat. By his marriage to Joan Sturmey he inherited the estate of Hall End in Polesworth in Warwickshire, although this became a matter of a lawsuit with one Robert Carlile, the cousin of Joan, which was finally settled in favour of the Corbyns in 1506. After that, the Corbyn family is usually referred to as being from Hall End, although continue in Kingswinford (for example, Jane in 1632) and there are monuments in the church to George (1543 – 1636) and Thomas (1594-1637). George Corbyn (1543-1636) seems to have been the first to use the coat of arms with the three ravens of the Corbyns on his memorial in Kingswinford church.

The Hall was perhaps let out to others. In 1597 there is a record of one Walter James, Gent., of Corbyn’s Hall, and later Lieutenant H. Baggeley of the Royalist forces in the Civil War, who fought at the battle of Naseby in 1645, is referred to as being from Corbyn’s Hall.

During the Civil War, it is likely that the Corbyn family were Royalists. The mid-17th century must thus have been difficult for them and they seem to have moved into a number of trades and professions. Records show that, in 1650, George Corbyn (1632- 1720) was a salter in London and was later to become a merchant in the East Indies. His brother Henry (1629-1675) was also in London, working as a draper, and, in 1655, he emigrated to Virginia and became owner of a number of slave plantations.  The oldest member of that generation, Thomas (1624-1688), continued to live at Hall End in Polesworth, although he is still recorded as being active at Corbyn’s Hall. In 1650 he was involved in a legal dispute concerning the building of a wall at Corbyn’s Hall that was said to encroach on the land of others. He and his wife Margaret had a number of children, but only one, a daughter Margaret, survived. She married well, to William Lygon of Madresfield in Worcestershire, and the Corbyn estates eventually passed to the Lygons. Both Thomas and his wife died at Madresfield rather than at Hall End. Margaret was to be the great grandmother of William 1st Earl of Beauchamp.  Around that time Corbyn’s Hall was sold to John Hodgetts, who we will hear more about in the following posts, and the Corbyns play no further role in the history of Kingswinford Manor.

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. It is currently (May 2021) somewhat overgrown and difficult to access. Nonetheless its design is rather unusual as can be seen below.

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.