Lichfield St. Michael’s – pictures held by William Salt Library

The William Salt Library holds a significant number of mainly late eighteenth and early to mid nineteenth century drawings and paintings of St. Michael’s church in Lichfield that show the development of the church over that period when significant rebuilding took place. For copyright reasons these cannot be reproduced, so in this post I have listed them all in chronological order; given a link to the web page for each picture that opens in a separate tab; and reproduced the text describing each picture. The intention is to provide a convenient platform to understand the development of the church and churchyard throughout the period concerned.

1732 ‘The South West Prospect of the City of Lichfield.’ Stretching from the west to St. Michael’s, an easterly suburb. With a key describing the important features. Inscribed with a brief history of Lichfield. Artists: ‘S. & N. Buck, delin. et sculp., [drawn and engraved].

19th of April 1746 ‘St. Michael’s Church near the City of LICHFIELD.’  Anonymous.

1760 – 1799 (c.) ‘St. Michael’s Church Lichfield, with the Arms formerly in the Windows.’ North view of the church, [apparantly adapted from V.142b.] The church is surrounded by drawing of 17 coats of arms, which used to be in the windows. Anonymous, [? Stringer.]

1769  ‘St. Michael’s Church, Lichfield, 1769.’ North view showing the clerestory, the north aisle and porch, and the three-staged tower and spire at the west end. Anonymous.

1760 – 1799 (c.) ‘Showing the tower and spire from a field to the west of the church. Artist: ‘E. B. pinx.,[painted].’

1784 ‘St. Michael’s Church in Lichfield, North (corrected to South.)’ One dormer window is shown over the south aisle. The tower and the south door (without a porch,) are also shown.’J. W. delin.,’ [drawn; John Wright, 1784]

1784 ‘An ancient monument in the chancel of St. Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing a recumbent figure under a cusped arch. artist: ‘J. W.’ [John Wright, 1784.]

1798 ‘St. Michael’s Lichfield, 1798.’ South east view showing the south door with no porch. The clerestory and nave are not shown owing to the high south aisle. There is also a high chancel with a row of top windows. Anonymous,

1800 – 1899 (c.) ‘Showing an old tomb called ‘saddle-back’ and dated 1674, with a distant view of Cathedral from the south east. Anonymous.

1805 ‘An Ancient View of the City of Lichfield. From a painting in the possession of the Revd. Henry White.’ West view showing the gate tower, St. Mary’s church with a spire, and St. Michael’s church on a hill to the right. ‘C. Pye, sculp., [engraved]’.

1824 ‘Font in St. Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing an octagonal font with shields on panelled sides, and fleurs de lis and roses below. One shield is marked W.C., 1669, and another with a cross flory between Maltese crosses. Artist: ‘J. B.,’ [John Buckler.]

1832 ‘St. Michael’s Church, Green Hill, Lichfield, Sketched 1832.’ Showing the church in a country setting, with people standing on a road in the foreground.’Robt. Noyes.’

1833 ‘North West (corrected East) View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing the east window, the chancel (with clerestory), the north aisle and porch, and the tower with a spire. artist: J. Buckler.

1838 ‘South West View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing the tower and the spire,

1841 ‘South East View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing the east window and the chancel (before rebuilding) with later [?vestry] addition to the south aisle. Artist: G. Buckler.

1841 ‘North West View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Chiefly showing the tower and the spire, also the north aisle and the porch. Artist: J. C. Buckler.

1841 ‘Ground Plan of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Shown before the extension of the south aisle. A south doorway is shown, but a north porch. Artists: J. C. and G. Buckler.

1841 ‘Interior View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield, from the Chancel.’ Showing the pulpit, a reading desk, and some carved pews in the chancel. artist: G. Buckler.

1841 :Interior View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield from the north aisle.’ Showing a view across the nave, with box pews and a three deck pulpit. Artist: J. C. Buckler.

1841 ‘The North Porch of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ North view showing a crenellated porch, with two shields of arms and a canopied niche above, but without cross or letters. Artist: J. C. Buckler.

9th of September 1842 ‘North east view of the north porch with shields of arms and a canopied niche, but without cross. Anonymous, [A.E. Everitt.]

1843 ‘South East View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing a two-storey addition which has been made to the south aisle on the east end (with door) and a south door has been inserted in the chancel. Artist: J. Buckler.

1844 ‘South West View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing the tower and the spire, and the south aisle. Artist: J. Buckler.

1844 ‘North West View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Chiefly showing the tower and the spire, also the north aisle and the porch. Artist: J. Buckler.’

1844 ‘North East View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing a north north east view of the east window, the chancel (with clerestory), the north aisle and porch, and the tower with a spire.’J. Buckler.’

1844 ‘Interior View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield, from the Chancel.’Showing a view of the Nave through the chancel arch (perpendicular style). The three pairs of colums seen are of cluster type, (the sides are rounded and should be hollowed.) artist: J. Buckler.

1844 ‘Lichfield, St. Michael’s.’ South west view showing the tower and the spire, also the south aisle. Artist: H. J. Noyes.

1845 ‘Porch on the North side of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ North west view showing a crenellated porch, with two shields of arms and a canopied niche above, also letters E and R, and a floriated cross above. Artist: J. Buckler.’

1846 ‘South East View of the New Chancel of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing the three lancet lights at the east end, and two on the south side. There is no door. Artist: J. Buckler.

1846 ‘Effigy on the North side of the Chancel of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ Showing a male with a long gown and hood, with long sleeves. His hands are as at prayer, his head is on a cushion and his feet on an animal. Artist: ‘J. B.,’ [John Buckler.]

1846 ‘Interior View of the Chancel of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield. Showing the interior of the new chancel, which has a stone groined roof, and lancet lights. In the north wall is a plain arch with an old recumbent effigy. Artist: J. Buckler.

1847 ‘East View of Saint Michael’s Church, Lichfield.’ A three lancet window has taken the place of a five light perpendicular window, and the chancel clerestory has been removed. Artist: J. Buckler.

1858 St. Michael’s has a Perpendicular west tower and spire and the rest of the church is mostly Early English. It was extensively restored by Thomas Johnson of Lichfield in 1841-42. This is one of a series of watercolours of all the churches in Lichfield Diocese in Staffordshire, painted by Miss Theodosia Hinckes and Mrs Rebecca Moore for Lichfield Cathedral between 1857 and 1861. Reproduced by Kind Permission of the Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral who retain copyright.

1950 – 1970 (c.) Most of the Church dates from 1842-43 and is by Thomas Johnson.

More Black Country pictures of John Louis Petit

In an earlier post I discussed the two pictures of John Louis Petit shown above, and attempted to identify both the subject and the location from which they were painted. The title of the left hand picture, from the 1830s, suggests it shows mines in Wolverhampton, possibly on the basis of the two church towers in the background. I argued however, on the basis of the orientation of the towers and the location of the coal field that this was unlikely and that another location should be sought – perhaps to the west of Dudley, although this was very conjectural. The right hand picture from the 1850s is entitled Spring Vale Iron Works, and after examination I have no reason to doubt that attribution, and on the basis of the tithe map of the area, was able to identify a location from which it was painted, on the edge of John Louis Petit’s Ettingshall estate in Sedgley. Wherever they were painted however it does seem to me that their main significance lies in the fact that they are early representations of Black Country coal mines and ironworks and are of historical importance in that sense.

Since wring that post however, two other industrial scenes by Petit have been sent to me and they are shown below. Thanks to Philip Modiano of the Petit Society for permission to use these here. They are both believed to come from the 1830s. The first shows an ironworks in the distance, framed by a much more rural location. My best guess for this is that it is again a representation of the Spring Vale Iron Works, or perhaps the nearby Parkfield works seen from the western side of the Ettingshall estate at a location on the headwaters of the Penn brook (which leads into the Wom brook, and then into the River Smestow).

The second picture shows another ironworks, but this time with four furnaces rather than the three of Spring Vale. The position of the two churches in the background, the one with the spire and the one without, again matches St Peter’s and St John’s in Wolverhampton and their relative position suggest that the picture was painted from the south east in the Bilston area. The level of details it shows is remarkable. The furnaces themselves can be clearly seen, together with quite detailed depictions of ancillary buildings in the foreground. It would be interesting to know what was the function of these buildings. There are perhaps impressionistic indications of tram tracks and a canal basin in the right foreground, although this is very conjectural.

One of the many things that intrigue me about the work of Petit is its breadth that ranges from the type of scene in these pictures to his more usual output of sometimes quite idyllic churches. I wonder if he saw, in the size and functional architecture of blast furnaces, the same grandeur that he perceived in may of the churches that he drew, an, in his mind at least, the stark differences between churches and blast furnaces were not as significant as the similarities.

The Black Country pictures of John Louis Petit


The landscape artist and architectural critic John Louis Petit (1802-1868) painted a small number of scenes of Black Country activity during his career. In this post I look at two of them, one depicting mines at Wolverhampton, and the other the Spring Vale Furnaces at Bilston. I do not consider their artistic merits – indeed I would be quite incapable of doing so – but rather I will discuss the scenes the paintings portray and the locations from which they might have been painted.

Mines at Wolverhampton

The picture Mines at Wolverhampton is shown above and is reproduced by permission of the Petit Society. On the Petit Society website, it is captioned

c1830-35, 15x20cm, watercolour on paper, private collection.

The main feature of the painting is the pair of pits showing the scaffoldings of the “Rattle Chain”. This is a very early representation of such mechanisms. The nature of the structure between the scaffoldings is not clear but could perhaps be some sort of furnace or processing plant. The grim reality of the destruction of the surrounding countryside by spoil from the mines is also very apparent in the foreground. The figures of two mine workers wearing brimmed hats can also be seen. Nothing by way of safety equipment was provided and there were may injuries and deaths, which were simply regarded as part of the costs of the operation.

In the background there are two churches shown, one with a tower and one with a spire. It is from these churches that I guess the painting finds its title, because at first sight they would seem to show the Wolverhampton churches of  St. Peter’s to the left with the tower, and St. John’s to the right with the spire. The former was a favourite subject of Petit. However, this placing of the churches suggest that the scene was painted from the west of Wolverhampton, as St. Peter’s is to the north of St. John’s. This however is not possible, as there were simply no mines in this region – indeed the boundary of the south Staffordshire coal field is to the east of the town – see the picture below from the Coal Authority website that shows mine openings in the Wolverhampton area.  Indeed, if the picture does show Wolverhampton, it is painted from either the south east or the east, and there are no church pairs that match from that direction. We are left with two possibilities – either the artist added the church towers to a scene painted from elsewhere to contrast the old and the new (which of course as a painter he was perfectly at liberty to do), or the painting depicts a scene from elsewhere. In terms of other locations, I can find only one other location in the vicinity from which a church tower and spire could be observed – somewhere to the west of Dudley where St. Edmund’s and St. Thomas’s churches are so aligned. This would give a location for the pits somewhere in the Gornal area, which would be quite possible, being close to Petit’s Ettingshall Park estate. However, if this were the location, one would have expected Petit to have skewed the scene slightly to show Dudley Castle, which would be just off the left of the current picture. There may however be alternative possibilities that I have not identified in the Wolverhampton area.  Reader’s thoughts would be very welcome.

Mine openings around Wolverhampton – From Coal Authority website

Springvale Ironworks, Bilston

This picture appears in the book “Petit’s Tours of Old Staffordshire” and is again reproduced with permission of the Petit Society. It is believed to have been painted in 1852 or 1853 and to depict the Springvale Ironworks at Bilston to the south of Wolverhampton. It clearly shows a number of blast furnaces and other industrial buildings. In the foreground there is the depiction of a small housing settlement. The land here is greener than in the Wolverhampton painting, but still broken, looking as if it had been used for some extraction activity. The horses walking along the foreground track again give the contract between the old and the new. In the background we can see the chimneys of the Black County and perhaps, just to the left of the furnaces, a depiction of a church tower.

After some investigation, I am led to the conclusion that the painting does indeed show the Springvale works, although there is perhaps another possibility I will consider below.  In my view the painting is clearly looking east – there are too many chimneys etc in the background for a westerly view which would look out over more open country. There are two detailed maps of the area available for the relevant period – the Tithe Allocation maps of Sedgley and Bilston of 1845, and the large-scale Ordnance Survey map of 1882. Sketches prepared from both these maps are shown below. The track running north to south on the left of the sketches is the current Spring Road, and that running across the top of the sketch is the current Millfields Road. The church shown is the original Holy Trinity, not the current building. The painting shows what is referred to as the left hand “Iron Works etc” on the 1845 map and “Spring Vale Furnaces” on the 1882 map. The building in front of the furnaces is Spring Vale Iron Works on the 1845 map and Spring Vale Foundry on the 1882 maps. The maps only show the ground plan of what was in existence at the time they were produced, so the details of the furnaces and other buildings cannot be seen. Also of course all the buildings, with the exception of the furnaces, were ephemeral in nature and would be regularly modified and replaced. The canals and railways that can be seen on the maps are not visible on the painting – they would have been low lying and obscured by the topography. Most ironworks in this region were situated close to the canal which was used for both bring in raw materials and taking out finished products.

From 1845 Tithe allocation maps – blue indicates canals; brown roads or tracks
From 1882 Ordnance Survey map – blue indicates canals; brown roads or tracks

The position from which the picture is painted can be more precisely defined. A sketch from the 1845 map showing a wider area,  is shown below and indicates the likely position – at the road junction to the top left, where the name (presumably of a pub) is given as the Fighting Cocks. This is at the junction of the current Parkfield Road with the Dudley / Wolverhampton  Road. The 1845 map indicates a cluster of housing at this point. Interestingly the1882 map shows the latter road is the course of a tramway, and this might also be the case for the 1845 map, although tramways and roads are not always distinguished on these maps. If this were the case then the horses in the foregrounnd might be pulling wagons along the tramway. The ground also dips from this site towards the site of the ironworks as in the painting, although it is difficult to compare modern topography with that from the 1850s as most of the land is “made ground” of one sort or another. The painting position sits just outside John Louis Petit’s Ettingshall estate, although he did not live there, so one can conjecture that the picture was painted on a trip to the estate to conduct whatever estate business was required with his agent and tenants.

From 1882 Ordnance Survey map – blue indicates canals; brown roads or tracks; black dotted line – from painting position to furnaces

As noted above, there seems to be a church tower in the background, although this is far from clear. If this indeed is the case, then this depicts St. Bartholomew’s at Wednesbury. This church has a tower and a short spire, which was even shorter in 1853. Perhaps just a hint of this spire can be seen in the picture. The position of the church in the picture does however give confidence in the deductions of the painting position as the alignment is very much as expected given the position of painting.

As mentioned above, there is however another possibility for what the picture shows. It is possible that it depicts the Parkfield Furnaces, shown on the maps above. The reasons for thinking that this might be the case  are firstly that one might expect these furnaces to be shown on the left of the picture if the painting position is as suggested, secondly that on the 1882 map there is a long building in front of the furnaces that could be that shown on the painting, whereas no such buildings are shown the vicinity of the Spring Vale Furnaces on either map. Against this suggestion is the fact that the Parkfield Furnaces do not seem, from the maps, to have been on the same scale as those at Spring Vale. On balance my feeling remains that the picture displays the Spring Vale Furnaces.

The Ettingshall Park Estate of John Louis Petit

I have shown in an earlier post that the painter and architectural critic John Louis Petit (1802-1868) was a major landholder in the West Midlands in the nineteenth century. In this post I want to discuss in a little more detail what was perhaps the major estate that he  owned – the Ettingshall Park estate in Sedgley, to the south of Wolverhampton.

The extent of the lands owned by Petit in Ettingshall in the 1840s are shown on the map below. The estate boundaries are taken from the Tithe Allocations and are superimposed upon the 1882 Ordnance Survey map of the area. The estate was in the north of Sedgley parish, just south of the Wolverhampton boundary and the holding was 413 acres in total. It is centred on Ettingshall Park farm and lies west of another large estate – that of Ettingshall Hall. Note that part of the northern boundary is shown as a dotted line, as it is hard to locate the precise boundary on the 1882 map because of variations in the topography due to mining.

The Ettingshall Park estate. (The lands owned by John Louis Petit in the 1840s are outlined in red, and those owned by Louis Hayes Petit in green. Black triangles – collieries; red triangles – ironstone pits; green triangles – lime works; purple squares – iron works; blue circle – Sedgley Beacon

We first read of Ettingshall Park in 1581 when it was amongst the lands restored to Edward Sutton, 4th Baron Dudley, by Queen Elizabeth following the downfall of John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland who had taken over the estates through some morally dubious financial interactions with Edward’s father John Sutton, the third Baron. The fifth Baron, another Edward, sold the Estate to Charles Cornewallys of Norwich in 1597, and by 1604 it was either occupied or owned by one Thomas Marsh, styled as a gentleman. At sometime in the next century the Estate passed to the Hayes family. John Hayes appears to have been the Steward of the Dudley estate in the 1710s and 1720s and is referred to in various documents as being from Wolverhampton, and again styled as a gentleman. His son, another John, was in 1733 at the Junior Temple in London. John Hayes the elder died in 1736, and left Ettingshall to John the younger. This John himself died in 1745 and the estate went to his sisters. One of these sisters, Sarah was by then married to John Peter Petit, the second English generation of the Petits, and living at Little Aston.   It then passed down the Petit family, as is described elsewhere. The Petits did not occupy it however, and it was leased to others – in the early years of the nineteenth century to Dudley Bagley, from 1808 around 1820 to Samuel Fereday, Ironmaster, and then to his son Dudley Fereday up to the late 1850s.

From at least the end of the seventeenth century, Ettinghsall Hall was occupied by the Homers, who exploited the estate for its coal reserves. By 1780, the mining works had encroached up the estate to such an extent that it was no longer fit to be a gentleman’s residence, so Richard Homer sold it and moved to Bromley House in Kingswinford, which they also exploited and eventually reduced to colliery waste. The Gibbons family of iron and coal masters were also near neighbours in the eighteenth century.

But now let us return to the map of the estate shown above. In the 1840s it formed a coherent block of land surrounding Ettingshall Park that was owned by John Louis Petit. A small block at the south of the estate was owned by his uncle and former MP, Louis Hayes Petit. Most of the land, even at that stage was arable or pasture. There were a small number of collieries to the north west, and two lime workings at Round Hill and Beacon Hill. However just beyond the estate heavy industry was beginning to encroach, with the Spring Vale Ironworks to the north east and the Parkfields iron works to the north. The former was served by basins from the Birmingham Canal (as indeed were most ironworks in the area). The underlying 1882 Ordnance Survey map shows a similar situation in the south of the estates, with most of the field boundaries being identical to those on the tithe map, but in the north mining activities have completely eliminated the fields (and indeed makes the estate boundary difficult to determine) and indeed many of the roads shown on the tithe map. In effect the area of mining in the 1880s came right to the edge of the South Staffordshire Coal Field.

Although John Louis owned the land, he leased it to others. The central area around Ettinghsall Park Farm was leased to Dudley Fereday as noted above, with smaller agricultural plots leased to Edwin Dixon, William Fletcher and Edward Jay. The mines and pits were operated by George Jones, John Neve and Coo, or the Parkfields Company who operated the nearby ironworks. Essentially we see here, as in so many places in the western Black Country at this time, the transition from a farming to an industrialised way of life.

As noted above Louis Hayes Petit owned some land to the south of the Ettingshall estate. This encompassed the highest point in the locality at Beacon Hill. It was on this hill in 1846 that the Beacon Tower was erected, which still stands if in a somewhat dilapidated state. The Sedgley Local History society attributes the building of this tower to “a local landowner, Mt Petit”, although it might have been used for astronomical observations by Lord Wrottesley a well-known Staffordshire amateur astronomer. Whether this was John Louis or Louis Hayes is not clear, but perhaps we have here the architectural critic dabbling in architecture himself, if only in the construction of what can probably fairly be described as a folly.

Sedgley Beacon

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.

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 1840s is shown below. He was a Churchwarden there in the 1850s. 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”.

An obituary notice appeared in the February 1889 edition of the St Michael’s church Magazine, which sheds some further light on his work for the church.

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….

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.

St. Michael’s, Lichfield in the 19th century. Part 2

St. Michael’s, Lichfield

Part 1 of this blog post can be found here.


The baptismal and burial registers allow the residence of the parents of the baptized child and those who have died to be identified, at least in broad terms. Neither measure can be regarded as an accurate measure of population, as the same couple may well figure more than once in the baptismal registers, and those who have died may not be long term residents of the parish. To investigate how this population is dispersed across the parish, we define the following districts.

Within the parish throughout the study period

  • Greenhill – the dense urban area close to St Michael’s church that extended up Burton Old Road and Trent Valley Road as the century progressed, together with its rural hinterland, broadly covering the area of the current Boley Park Estate.
  • St. Johns – based on the urban area around St. Johns Street (including, and south of St John’s Hospital) and the Birmingham Road, stretching south to the canal, with its rural hinterland in the Borrowcop and Berry Hill area. Note that the St. John’s and Greenhill as defined here did not have a direct road connection between their major centres for much of the study period, with journeys between them requiring a passage through St. Mary’s parish. 
  • The Workhouse on Trent Valley Road (the later St. Michael’s hospital).
  • The hamlet of Streethay to the north of the parish, including the development in the second half of the century of much railway activity around Trent Valley Station.
  • The rural hamlets of Freeford and Fulfen to the east of the parish. 

The out of parish townships

  • Burntwood, together with Edial and Woodhouses, which became a separate parish in 1820 with the opening of Christchurch, Burntwood.
  • Wall, which became a separate parish in 1845 following the opening of St. John’s Church in 1843.
  • Leamonsley to the west of the city which, with Pipe Hill, became the parish of Christchurch, Lichfield in 1848.

Out of parish districts

  • The parish of St. Mary Lichfield, including the extra-parochial areas of The Close and The Friary.
  • The parish of St. Chad, Lichfield
  • Any other out of parish location outside Lichfield.

Figures 6 below shows the baptisms (on the left hand side) and burials (on the right hand side) for each of these three categories. These graphs show actual baptism numbers in (nominally) 20 year periods, rather than the number of baptisms per year. Note again that the first and last periods are somewhat shorter than 20 years.

Consider first the baptisms and burials in the different areas of the parish itself. For the former, the largest contributing area is Greenhill, with St. John’s the second largest. The situation is reversed for burials, perhaps indicating a rather younger population in the Greenhill area. The Workhouse baptisms and burials begin in the 1831 to 1850 period, as the Workhouse opened in 1840. In general the number of baptisms decrease with time, while the number of burials increase markedly, until in the period from 1891 to 1905 they are the single biggest number of burials. Both baptisms and burials increase over the century in Streethay, reflecting the growth of railway based activities there, whilst the figures fro the rural area of Freeford / Fulfen remain small and constant. 

The township baptisms and burials show a major fall after the chapels in the respective area are opened – 1820 for Burntwood, 1845 for Wall and 1848 for Leamonsley.  The baptism figures fall more dramatically than the funeral figures, suggesting that a number of township residents wished to be buried in family graves at St. Michael’s.

The out of parish baptisms and burials are interesting. There can be seen to be significant cross boundary baptisms of parishioners from St. Mary’s and St. Chad’s parish, presumably because of family or other historical connections. The number of burials for St. Mary’s parish was however very large, due to the fact that there was no graveyard there.  This imposed a considerable load on the clergy at St Michael’s (as will be seen below), In 1886 the Vicar of St. Mary’s agreed to conduct the funerals of his parishioners in St. Michael’s churchyard, but he stressed that by ancient custom it was the duty of St. Michael’s clergy to do this. A somewhat grudging agreement it would seem. From 1888 an annual collection was taken at St. Mary’s for the upkeep of the churchyard. Both these developments probably reflect a grievance extending over several decades that St. Michael’s clergy were providing unpaid services to St. Mary’s parish. The out of Lichfield category includes baptisms for families from the towns and villages surrounding the city, but also significant number from further afield – in particular from Birmingham and London – probably because of historic or family connections.

Figure 6. Baptism and burial statistics by areas of residence

Finally the registers reveal the existence of some interesting groups of people in the population for whom a more in-depth study might be appropriate – the soldiers from the Militia Barracks in the Sandford Street area; the canal workers and boatmen on the Lichfield and Hathersage Canal and the wharfs in the St. John’s area; a huge community of coachmakers, coachmen, horsemen etc. connected with the coach routes through the city, and, in the second half of the century the railway workers on the London North Western Railway through Trent Valley and the South Staffordshire Railway through Lichfield City. 

Analysis of Christian names

Both the baptismal and burial registers can be used to study how the Christian names of those in the parish varied over time. Whilst this might seem a somewhat trivial analysis, it does reveal something of changing attitudes and perceptions over time. From the baptismal registers, the information is directly available on a year-by-year basis. Extracting dated information from the burial registers is a little more tricky and requires the birth year to be calculated from the death year and the age at death. Even if the names are all related to the birth year, one might expect some differences – the baptismal registers will, in general, refer to those who were born in the Lichfield area, the burial registers will contain entries relating to those who were born elsewhere. Similarly the latter are more likely to indicate the preferred name of the deceased – be it first name, middle name or by-name. These points being made, details of the names over a period of around 180 years are given in table 1 for men and table 2 for women. Each table shows the following information, for the usual nominal twenty-year periods.

  • The most popular ten names in that period and the percentage of the total number of register entries for each of these.
  • The percentage of the total number of register entries that are accounted for by these top ten names. 
  • The number of different names used in the period.

For both male and female names the following broad conclusions can be drawn.

  • The most popular names remain pretty much the same over most of the period studied.
  • For the earlier periods in the 18th century the top 10 names account for 80 to 90 % of all names. This figure falls throughout the 19thcentury to around 60% for male names and 35% for female names.
  • Over the same period the number of different names increases by a factor of four.
  • Female names were always more variable than male names. 

The most popular male names (William, John and Thomas) each account for about 20% of all entries in the early periods, falling to around 6 to 12% in the late 19thcentury. Similarly the most popular female names (Elizabeth, Mary and Sarah) account for around 15 to 20% of all entries in the earlier periods, falling to around just 3% in the late 19thcentury. 

Two points arise from this study. The first is that the increasing number of names in use possibly reflects the movement from a very conservative society (at least in terms of names) to one with a wider outlook. Indeed, some of the minor names not shown in the table are quite outlandish and unconventional, particularly for the female names – for example Rosetta, Vanda and Pretoria. Secondly, in their conservatism the most popular names are very similar to those outlined in two other studies that I have carried out for the western region of the Black Country – for the parish of Kingswinfordin 1822 and 1840, and for the members of the Shut End Chapel in Pensnett from 1840 to 1890. The general population for these two studies was again composed of unskilled and skilled manual workers, and were thus similar o the population make up of St. Michael’s parish in the 19thcentury.

Table 1. Analysis of male Christian names

Table 2. Analysis of female Christian names

Ministers and Church

Table 3 below shows the Perpetual Curates (Rectors from 1868) at St. Michael’s, their curates or assistants, and the chaplains of the Workhouse in the period we are considering, together with the absolute numbers of baptisms, marriages and funerals they carried out. The longevity of the ministers in charge is notable, with only three perpetual curates / rectors from 1813 to 1886.  The first of these, Edward Remington, was actually the brother of an earlier Perpetual Curate at St Michael’s and the son of another, the dynasty extending back to 1757. His early career included Perpetual Curacies at St Chad’s Lichfield and Pipe Ridware, before coming to St Michael’s in 1805. In 1820, he was, in addition to St. Michael’s, instituted as Curate at Burntwood, when Burntwood itself achieved parochial status. As Perpetual Curate of St. Michael’s he would already have had oversight of Burntwood, but it seems he was formally designated its first incumbent, at least for a short period until 1828. From 1829 to 1831 he was also Vicar at Wirksworth in Derbyshire. How he managed these two rather far-flung parishes is not clear, but doubtless he utilized the services of his curates. 

One of these curates was Thomas Gnossall Parr, who held that post at St. Michael’s from 1828 to Remington’s death in 1831. He was then appointed Perpetual Curate, a post he held for 37 years before becoming the first Rector in 1868, one year before his death. He was born in 1800, the son of another Thomas Gnossall Parr, a Lichfield solicitor, and remained umarried.  In 1861 he was living at the Parsonage House on Mount Pleasant with his sister Anne, and a single servant. The number of baptisms, marriages and funerals conducted by Remington and Gnossall Parr was eye-watering – the largest number in the table being the 3168 funerals conducted by the latter. Whist they were assisted by a string of curates, they still seems to have carried most of the load themselves. 

The first clergyman to be appointed Rector, James Sergeantson, was from Liverpool and educated at Trinity College in Cambridge. He was a rowing blue and part of the crew that lost the boat race in 1857 by 11 lengths. There have only been six larger losing margins in the 190 year history of the race, so I doubt it was an experience he relished. He served a curacy at Stoke before coming to St Michael’s. He was married to Elizabeth, a clergyman’s daughter and they had at least 5 children. In 1881 they lived at the Rectory, with a housekeeper, cook and two servants. He is recorded on a memorial in the church as being part of the team that rang a complete peal of Gransire Minor in 1876. He died in 1886. A memorial plaque in the chancel at St. Michael’s reads

To the glory of God and in loving memory of James Jordan Sergeantson M.A. for 17 years rector of this parish….. He fell asleep January 1st1886 aged 50 years. 

The Serjeantson Memorial

Sergeantson was followed by Cyril Hubberd, an old Etonian who graduated from St. John’s College Cambridge, and served in parishes in the south of England before coming to St. Michael’s. In 1891 he lived at the Rectory with his wife Agnes, their two children, a cook, a nursemaid and two housemaids. In 1886 he secured an arrangement, albeit somewhat grudging, with the Vicar of Mary’s who agreed to conduct the St. Mary’s funerals, although more often than not, this resulted in the St. Mary’s curates carrying out the duty on his behalf. When Hubbard left St Michael’s in 1893, he moved to the south of England and out of parish ministry. Perhaps St. Michael’s was too much for him. He is however recorded as a Chaplain in various European cities in the 1900s.

The last of the 19thcentury rectors was Otho Steele. He was born in the 1839, educated at Trinity College Dublin, and served in parishes in the east of England, Guernsey and Stoke before coming to St Michael’s in 1893. He remained there till 1913, and died in 1922. Again there is a memorial plaque in the chancel that reads as follows. 

To the glory of God and in pious memory of Otho William Steel, M.A. Rector of this parish from 1893 to 1913 who dies 25thMay 1922 aged 83 years. 

The Steele Memorial

The situation with regard to the Workhouse was interesting. The chaplains of the Workhouse conducted baptisms there, but these were recorded in the St. Michael’s register. However, up to the 1880s, all the funerals were conducted by St. Michael’s clergy. After that there seems to have been some overlap at that time with some of the curates at St. Michaels also acting as Workhouse Chaplains. 

Closing comments

The registers also indicate that a not-insignificant number of services were conducted by either visiting clergy (presumably at the family request) or by other clergy in the locality, to cover absence and holidays no doubt. The funerals of the residents at St. John’s hospital were usually conducted by the Master of the Hospital. In the early part of the century, the burials were actually in the grounds of St. John’s, with the burials registered in the St. Michael’s register, but later internments were in St. Michael’s graveyard. 

Table 3. Rectors, curates and chaplains

This post has presented what at first sight is a rather detailed technical examination of manuscripts. However it does reveal some quite fascinating details of the development of St. Michael’s parish over the 19thcentury. It was basically the parish of the lower and middle classes of the area, with very few of those at the top of Lichfield society. We see clearly a significant decrease in childhood mortality in this group over that period, and the huge risk of childbirth to women is all too clearly seen. The rise of basic literacy can also be seen from the signatures in the marriage registers. The development of the different areas of the parish can be traced in terms of a growing population and a widening of residential areas, with the increasing numbers of those within the Workhouse a reminder that such growth does not benefit all level of society. The analysis of Christian names sees an essentially conservative use of a small sub-set of names develop into a much wider use of a wide range of names, perhaps reflecting the growing horizons of the population. In ecclesiastical terms, the effect of the outlying townships becoming parishes in their own right is apparent, and the interactions between the city centre parishes is very clear – as are the reasons for the disagreement over funerals and burials between St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s.

But there is much more that could be said of course about some of the many individuals who feature in the registers – for example Rev John Louis Petit, the curate from 1825 to 1828 and a noted landscape painter, James Law, the Chancellor of the diocese, whose Mausoleum still dominates the front of the churchyard (see below), John Brown, who sounded the trumpet at the charge of the Light Brigade, and many others from long term Lichfield families.

There is of course further work that could be done of this type. Perhaps the most obvious extension would be to do the same sort of analysis for the registers of St. Mary’s and St. Chad’s as the three churches obviously have significant interaction.  This would be quite possible as for the period covered in this blog the registers are again available in .rtf format that can be manipulated in spreadsheets. Maybe one day in the near future I will summon up the energy to do this. 

The second extension, that would require more work, would be the integration of the current work with other datasets – and in particular the census returns and the St Michael’s Monumental Inscriptions. Whilst the data is available, the actual task of correlation and assessment would be very significant. Maybe in a year or so. 

Finally the work could be extended to look at earlier time periods – but here the registers are not in the same convenient format, and to make them so, at least from the publically available databases would be a huge task. Maybe in another life.