A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 8. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1963.
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The beginnings of Newcastle-under-Lyme as an urban community must have followed very closely upon the establishment of the castle; the presence of a permanent garrison would attract traders and craftsmen whose settlement near the stronghold would be dictated both by the hope of gain and by the desire for protection. As early as 1166–7 the novum oppidum cum soca sub Lima was collectively amerced (fn. 1) and in the following year a man of the town was required to pay the considerable sum of 34s. for the horses that he had in the forest. (fn. 2) In 1168–9 the men of Newcastle as a whole contributed £4 6s. 8d. to an aid, compared with £4 13s. 4d. by Penkhull, £2 13s. 4d. by Wolverhampton, £1 10s. by Tettenhall, £1 6s. 8d. by Walsall, and £1 by Cannock. (fn. 3) In 1187 a tallage was levied on the royal demesnes and escheats in Staffordshire and the town's assessment of £15 4s. 8d. exceeded that of any other borough or estate in the county. (fn. 4) In 1191 the men of Newcastle contributed £6 13s. 8d. 'as a gift', which may be compared with £6 10s. from Stafford and 15s. from Tamworth. (fn. 5) These contributions give some indication of the level of economic development reached in the later 12th century. During the remainder of Richard I's reign the taxation of the town seems to have been on a lighter scale, 41s. in 1195 (fn. 6) and 8 marks in 1199. (fn. 7) Under John a heavy tallage of £9 17s. was levied in 1205, (fn. 8) a sum not equalled by any other borough or town in the county. The sum paid in 1206 was 7 marks (fn. 9) and in 1214 35 marks. (fn. 10)
GUILDS. Although a market was apparently in existence by the beginning of the 13th century at least, (fn. 11) the first definite recognition of the town as a trading community is contained in Henry III's charter of 1235 granting its burgesses a guild merchant and freedom to buy and sell their merchandise in all parts of the country free of tolls and other customs. (fn. 12) What kind of organization was set up to give effect to the royal concession is unknown and it is not until towards the end of the century that some light is thrown on the actual operations of the guild. In 1280 William de Pykestoke, a burgess of Stafford, sued eight Newcastle men who had deprived him of some cloth. Their defence was that they were burgesses of Newcastle where there was a guild of merchants and that according to the custom of the borough appertaining to the guild it was not lawful for anyone but a burgess to cut cloth or to sell by the ell or, unless he was a member of the guild, to keep a shop. William admitted having done all these things and relied on a charter of privileges that King John had granted to Stafford. In 1285 the case was decided in favour of the plaintiff on the ground that until seven years previously he and other burgesses of Stafford had been accustomed to cut cloth and sell it by the ell and likewise to sell wool by the fleece and to keep shops in Newcastle. (fn. 13) It emerges from the pleadings that the Newcastle guild was primarily concerned to protect its monopoly of retail trade within the borough; no objection was raised to wholesale trading by strangers, for example, in wool if sold by large weight and in sacks, but not by the fleece. This point was emphasized in another suit in 1280 when several burgesses of Newcastle were summoned by a Stafford baker for seizing ten fleeces belonging to him. In justification they asserted that by the liberty of their guild the custom of the borough was that no one, unless a member of the guild, could buy or sell wool in the borough, except by sacks or some great weight. (fn. 14) At the same time other liberties of the guild were stated to comprise prohibitions on the cutting of cloth to be sold in the town, the cutting up of meat and fish, and the buying of fresh leather.
The place of meeting of the guild, the Guildhall, is first mentioned in a charter of 1293–6. (fn. 15) In 1375–6 a number of the townspeople contributed sums totalling £9 13s. 6d. pro communi aula, which may have been for the building or rebuilding of the Guildhall; (fn. 16) the reference in the 1590 charter to the 'Common Hall called the Gildhall' (fn. 17) indicates that either appellation could be used for the same building, where not only guild but also borough business was transacted. From 1590 the place of assembly of the borough council has always been the Guildhall. (fn. 18)
The earliest craft guild of which we have any information was that of the butchers, which was in existence at least by 1510. In that year the mayor and his brethren, with the consent of the great and small inquests, laid down certain rules for the guild which reflect the trading and devotional aspects of the fraternity. No butcher was to set up in trade without the consent of the guild and the payment of an appropriate fee. No meat was to be offered for sale except the butcher's own, and shops were not to be opened at the times of church services. Two wardens were to be appointed yearly. The guild was required to equip itself with a banner and also to provide a light before St. Mary's altar in the church of St. Giles. (fn. 19)
There seems also to have been a guild of smiths, for in 1522 the mayor and his brethren, together with the great and small inquests, agreed to allow the smiths to maintain a light in the church as had been their former custom. (fn. 20)
MARKETS and FAIRS. The right to hold a market was presumably one of the privileges granted in the lost royal charter. (fn. 21) That a market was in existence in the early 13th century is evidenced by the fact that in 1203 the market-day was changed from Sunday to Saturday, for which the burgesses had to pay a fine to the king. (fn. 22) It is not known how long the market continued to be held on a Saturday and it may be that the day remained unchanged until 1590 when under Elizabeth I's charter the marketday was declared to be Monday (fn. 23) and so it has remained. Additional market-days have, however, been instituted from time to time. In 1592 the borough council ordered, for some undeclared reason, that badgers should 'every Thursday bring their malt and other grain into the High Street unto the market place there to be sold and not in houses or other private places' instead of on the usual Monday. (fn. 24) How long this separate corn market lasted is unknown but it was certainly still in existence in 1639. (fn. 25) At the end of the 18th century Monday was still recorded as the only weekly market-day (fn. 26) but at the beginning of the 19th, to meet the demands of a larger population, a Saturday market for provisions was added. (fn. 27) In 1890 it was stated that a market was held also on Wednesday. (fn. 28) At the present time (1959) the market-days are Monday, Friday, and Saturday. (fn. 29)
Until 1251, when the burgesses were given the right to hold the town at a fee-farm rent, (fn. 30) the market tolls were payable into the royal exchequer and, according to a survey made about that time, these, together with pleas, fairs, and other perquisites, amounted to £12 15s. (fn. 31) Thereafter, tolls on produce brought to market were fixed and collected by the borough authorities as part of the town revenue. In 1502 the mayor and his brethren together with the great and small inquests declared that the men of Uttoxeter should not be free to buy and sell unless they paid toll, (fn. 32) which suggests that they had been in the habit of using the market facilities without paying their dues. During the Middle Ages restrictions were placed on the use of the market by outside merchants, (fn. 33) but in 1540–1 it was made lawful for all persons to enter the borough with any kind of merchandise provided they paid toll. (fn. 34) This decree may have been promulgated following a Chancery suit (fn. 35) brought by the Newcastle bailiffs against two strangers who at the end of 1540 had sold goods by retail in the town; the goods had been seized but they had recovered possession, and so the town had sued them. The result is not known but it may have been unfavourable and thus have led to a change of policy towards strangers.
While it may be assumed that before 1590, when by the instrument of incorporation the clerkship of the market was attached to the office of mayor, (fn. 36) its general regulation fell within the duties of the mayor and bailiffs, no evidence to that effect is to be found in the borough council minute books, and it is possible that the supervision of the market was the responsibility of the guild merchant. The minutes record the election of two supervisores marcatorum et assisarum sub majore in 1509–10 (fn. 37) and for the subsequent four years (fn. 38) but how far their duties exceeded those normally attached to the tasters of bread and ale, usually referred as 'syse-lookers', is not known. From the end of the 16th to the end of the 17th century, the official most concerned with the detailed affairs of the market was the bellman or town crier. He was authorized in 1596 to collect toll on all corn and grain brought for sale in the town either on market-day or any other week day and to retain it for his own use. (fn. 39) For this privilege he was required to pay an annual sum into the town chest—26s. 8d. in 1565, (fn. 40) £8 in 1613, (fn. 41) £12 in 1617, (fn. 42) £14 in 1637, (fn. 43) £18 in 1640, (fn. 44) £20 in 1649; (fn. 45) the upward grading of the farm rent during the period may point to Newcastle's advance as a centre of trade, but currency inflation may also have been a contributory factor. The importance of the corn toll was demonstrated in May 1637 when the assembly decided that in future the profit of the corn toll should be assigned to the mayor, a decision reversed three months later when it was realized that without the corn rent the town revenues would be placed in serious jeopardy. Accordingly the system of renting the corn toll to the bellman was resumed, (fn. 46) and continued until 1686. In that year he was allowed £6 yearly for collecting the toll and helping the persons appointed to sell it. (fn. 47) In 1710 the toll corn was leased to William Sharman on payment of a lump sum of 40 guineas and a yearly rent of £40. (fn. 48) At first he kept the corn he collected in the old town hall but in 1715 he was no longer allowed to use the 'arks' in the town hall for that purpose. (fn. 49) A new lessee in 1752 was called upon to pay £86 yearly (fn. 50) but when five years later the lease was surrendered the corporation decided to keep the toll corn in their own hands. (fn. 51)
While the council insisted on the payment of corn toll by strangers and badgers, (fn. 52) its policy towards the burgesses showed inconsistency. In 1614 it was laid down that burgesses must pay toll on corn which they had bought in other markets and then offered for sale in the Newcastle market. (fn. 53) Five years later the burgesses were freed from toll, (fn. 54) but in 1625 they were again subjected to the levy. (fn. 55) In 1645, and again in 1648, 'foreign' burgesses (fn. 56) were required to pay the corn toll, which may indicate that by that date the ordinary burgess had been freed from the toll. (fn. 57)
Another important item of market revenue was that derived from stallages. Burgesses were entitled to set up stalls in the market free of toll (fn. 58) but by 1889 not more than four burgesses were exercising the right. (fn. 59) At this time, and probably earlier, the corporation, to save itself the trouble of employing a collector, leased out the market tolls, a practice which continued until 1926 when the corporation took over the tolls, with the exception of those arising in the cattle market. (fn. 60)
The exact location of the market in the Middle Ages is unknown, but so long as the castle remained a centre of activity, it is reasonable to suppose that the trade of Newcastle was carried on in its immediate neighbourhood. It has already been suggested (fn. 61) that the main thoroughfare of the town in the medieval period ran from Stubbs Gate through Lower Street and Holborn to Upper Green, the last-named being a large open space, suitable for a market. Although there is no documentary or other evidence to support this identification of Upper Green with the ancient market-place, it may be noted that in a list of openings into the common fields drawn up in 1561–2 one is described as 'the gap at Ashe in the old market leading into Ashfield', which could have been near Upper Green. (fn. 62) A reference in 1280 to the old market may indicate that by then a new market-place had been established as distinct from the old one. (fn. 63)
With the decay of the castle, the centre of burghal activity shifted eastwards to the higher and betterdrained ground now traversed by the High Street and Ironmarket, and it is at the junction of these two principal streets that the location of the buildings connected with government and trade are to be sought. The name Ironmarket, met with in the mid14th century, (fn. 64) suggests a specialized market at which, possibly, local iron ware was sold. (fn. 65) At the end of the 17th century a plan of the town shows at the intersection of the two streets two large buildings, together with a market cross, one of which certainly represented the Guildhall and the other probably the market house. (fn. 66)
A market house is definitely mentioned in 1622 when the borough council nominated some of their number to assist the mayor in 'the surveying and overseeing of the work now in hand, being the building of our market house'. (fn. 67) It was apparently completed c. 1626 for in that year a rate of 20 marks or thereabouts was levied on the capital burgesses and other inhabitants for the 'finishing of the market house'. (fn. 68) The building seems to have been of two stories, the lower one being open and the upper supported by pillars. (fn. 69) This was probably not the first market house. In 1628 after the completion of the new building, the borough council granted a lease of the Stone House and Old Hall. (fn. 70) If these were separate buildings, the former, in 1617 at least, (fn. 71) was evidently the town gaol, while the latter, referred to in 1654 as 'the buildings heretofore called the Old Hall' (fn. 72) may have been an earlier market hall. Moreover, the Old Hall may have been identical with the Bothall (i.e. Booth Hall) which, with the profits from stalls and tolls, was reported in 1649 to have belonged to the former chantry of St. Katherine in the parish church. (fn. 73)
While the market house would be used for the administrative business of the market, particularly in relation to the collection of toll, the market itself was, and is, carried on to a considerable extent in the open market-place in High Street by means of booths and stalls. (fn. 74) The inconvenience and congestion caused by this practice engaged the attention of the council and in 1853 a covered market was built and opened in the following year. (fn. 75) It consisted of three divisions, the first two being used for the sale of butter, eggs, poultry, fruit, and general merchandise, and the third for the sale of meat. The fish market was held in Penkhull Street and High Street. (fn. 76) The market is still (1960) held on Mondays and Saturdays, (fn. 77) but the butchers' market no longer exists. (fn. 78)
Surrounded by a large agricultural district, (fn. 79) Newcastle was, and is, a natural centre for trading in cattle. At the end of the 18th century 'a great beast market every Monday fortnight was held', (fn. 80) but in the later 19th century the number of cattle fairs was stated to be fourteen. (fn. 81) In 1871 a Smithfield Cattle Market was laid out in Blackfriars Road on land leased by the Duke of Sutherland. (fn. 82) The cattle market is now (1959) held every Monday.
In 1281 the borough received from Edward I, at the instance of his brother Edmund, the right to hold a fair to last for three days, namely on the eve, day, and morrow of the feast of Holy Trinity. (fn. 83) In 1336 a second fair to be held on the Tuesday following the Octave of Easter was granted, (fn. 84) but by 1438 its incidence had apparently been changed to Low Sunday, (fn. 85) while that of the earlier fair had become restricted to the Monday after Trinity. (fn. 86) In that year, because the town was laid waste (vastata) and its inhabitants impoverished, a third fair was granted to be held on St. Leonard's Day (6 Nov.). (fn. 87)
The charter of 1590, besides reciting in its preamble the grants of the Trinity and Easter fairs, also established a fair on the Monday after the feast of St. Giles the Abbot (1 Sept.). (fn. 88) Prompted by the reform of the calendar in 1752, the borough council in the following year decided that this fair should in future be held on Monday after 11 September. (fn. 89)
By the end of the 18th century the number of fairs had increased to six. (fn. 90) In 1840 there were seven fairs, namely Newmarket (13 Jan.), Shrove Fair (2 Mar.), Easter Fair (20 Apr.), Whit Monday Fair (8 June), Wool Fair (13 July), Wakes Fair (14 Sept.), and Cold Fair (fn. 91) (2 Nov.); in addition there were six cattle fairs. (fn. 92) At the beginning of the 20th century this list remained unchanged, (fn. 93) but none of the traditional fairs is now (1959) held. In fact, by the end of the 19th century the only fairs held seem to have been the cattle fairs and these assumed the names given to the old fairs; for example, in 1888 the July cattle and horse fair held in the Smithfield was known as the Wool Fair and a similar fair in November as the Cold Fair. (fn. 94)
In the 17th century and possibly earlier the practice of 'walking the fairs' by the senior members of the borough council was followed, and in 1637 it was decreed that aldermen, bailiffs, and ex-bailiffs should wear their gowns when performing this duty. (fn. 95) In 1641 the capital burgesses as a body were also required to take part in the ceremony and to provide themselves with gowns on pain of a fine of 20s. for each default. (fn. 96) In 1652 the fairs were to be walked by the mayor, bailiffs, and capital burgesses 'and by such others of the sergeants and burgesses as Mr. Mayor shall upon view of the suit roll think fit'. (fn. 97) This walking of the fairs by the mayor and burgesses may have been a vestige of the court of pie powder granted by the 1590 charter. (fn. 98) Apparently the custom in an attenuated form still persisted in the early 19th century until 1836 when it was decided that the customary procession of the council at the Whit Monday Fair should be discontinued. (fn. 99)
Fairs were a source of considerable revenue to the borough in the shape of tolls and stallage rents and the influx of many strangers into the town no doubt benefited its general trade. While confusion and a certain amount of disorder resulted from the periodic holding of fairs in the main streets—'a perfect pandemonium', as it was described—yet, so far as the pleasure fairs were concerned, in the late 19th century most of the inhabitants favoured their continuance. (fn. 100)
MILLS. From early times until at least the mid-18th century (fn. 101) the castle mills, situated at the outflow from the Pool Dam, (fn. 102) played an important part in the economic life of the town. A mill is first mentioned in 1193, (fn. 103) and in 1202 and 1203 mill and pond were repaired at a cost of over £17. (fn. 104) During the period 1246–50 further repairs were done to the 'mills' (fn. 105) and in 1249 the value of the castle mill amounted to the considerable sum of £16 yearly. (fn. 106) By 1279 there were definitely two mills. An inquiry then showed that a breach of the pool by floods reduced the output of the mills by three-quarters. (fn. 107) In 1285 Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, granted his Newcastle mills to the burgesses at a yearly rent of 70 marks (£46 13s. 4d.). (fn. 108) In 1322 the burgesses were farming the mills from the Earl of Lancaster at £16 13s. 4d. (fn. 109) In 1343 Henry, Earl of Lancaster, in consideration of the loss sustained by the town on the farm of 'the mill below the castle' granted them Kingsmeadow in his Newcastle manor, on which they could build a mill if they wished to, at a yearly rent of 20s. (fn. 110) Whether a mill was built is not known, but in 1428–9 the 20s. rent was being paid for Kingsmeadow. (fn. 111) By 1361 there were three water-mills farmed by the burgesses for £40 yearly (fn. 112) and although the mills remained under the control of the borough for another hundred years difficulty was frequently experienced in paying the stipulated rent. In 1405 (fn. 113) the sum of 20 marks was respited on the ground of poverty and the rebate was increased to £20 during much of the 15th century. (fn. 114) In 1445–6 the mills were thoroughly repaired at a total cost of £10 17s. 1½d. (fn. 115) and in the following year the millhouses were thatched, and wood and iron were used to repair the water-wheels. (fn. 116)
By 1476 the farmer of the mills was Hugh Egerton, (fn. 117) and in 1485 (fn. 118) and again in 1493 (fn. 119) he was granted short-term leases of the two water-mills under one roof, together with the fishery within the dam. The next lessee of the mills appears to have been Thomas Clayton, followed by William Sneyd who was granted a 20-year lease from 1537, (fn. 120) thus beginning a long and litigious connexion of the Sneyd family with the Newcastle mills. Once the mills had passed out of their control the burgesses showed reluctance to send their grain to the castle mills and already in 1520 they had decided on the erection of a malt mill in the town. (fn. 121) By 1557 they were maintaining that they had always ground their corn not at the castle mills but at other mills in the neighbourhood. (fn. 122) In 1574 Ralph Sneyd and Richard Smith, farmers of the castle mills, brought an action against some of the inhabitants for withdrawing their suit from the mills; (fn. 123) and again in 1596, (fn. 124) on behalf of the then farmers, Ralph Sneyd and Ralph Smith, royal proclamation was issued to ensure the compliance of the inhabitants, who, it was stated, not only withdrew their suit from the mills and ground at other mills, but also procured strange millers to come to the manor and town, who with horses carried away the mulcture, corn, and grains to other mills in other places. (fn. 125) By 1607 Ralph Sneyd was the sole lessee, (fn. 126) and in the following year he sued a number of the inhabitants, including his sister-in-law Ann Sneyd, for failure to grind at his mills. (fn. 127) In 1611 the king granted two water corn mills, under one roof, with the fishpond, and two other mills there under the same roof that Ralph Sneyd and Ralph Smith had built, to Felix Wilson and Robert Morgan in socage at an annual rent of £14 6s. 8d. (fn. 128) In the following year the latter conveyed the mills to William Sneyd in fee subject to the payment of the same rent to the king. (fn. 129) On William's death without issue in 1613 the mills passed to his brother and heir Ralph. (fn. 130) He, too, found the inhabitants unwilling to grind at the castle mills and in 1634 began an action against William Hunt, a capital burgess, who had set up his own hand mill or quern in the borough. (fn. 131) The borough council decided to support Hunt, regarding the case as one that affected the town as a whole, (fn. 132) but without avail, for the verdict was in favour of Sneyd. On this occasion the court had no doubt that the borough was part of the manor and as such its inhabitants owed suit at the mills. (fn. 133)
During the Civil War the mills were sequestered on behalf of the Parliament and the Committee at Stafford ordered the inhabitants of Newcastle to grind their corn at the mills as formerly. (fn. 134) In 1656 the borough council decided that a horse mill to grind malt should be set up for the maintenance of the poor and four burgesses were appointed overseers for its erection. (fn. 135) All the burgesses were enjoined to grind their malt at the horse mill on pain of a 10s. fine. (fn. 136) As a result of the establishment of the malt mill, William Sneyd after the Restoration made strenuous efforts to re-establish the status quo and prolonged litigation took place, ending finally in 1679 with victory for the borough. (fn. 137) The corporation was thereafter free to make its own arrangements for the grinding of corn and malt. In 1696 a project was approved for the erection of a windmill on Brampton Bank, (fn. 138) but even so the borough may have found the number of mills under their control inadequate which would explain the action of the borough council in 1698 of hiring Captain Sneyd's water-mill for one year at a rent of £40. (fn. 139)
In 1701 it was ordered that all those who, having signed an obligation to grind their corn at the Town Mills, had broken their agreement, should be prosecuted, (fn. 140) and in the same year the council, in appointing new millers for the New Inn Mill (mentioned for the first time) and the Malt Mill, decided that the toll should be one-twentieth part of the grain. (fn. 141) In the late 18th century the malt mill was still apparently in use and burgesses were still required to grind their malt there. (fn. 142) The mill was said to have stood on the site of the Globe Inn (fn. 143) and the horse employed to turn the mill was kept in the field which subsequently became part of the burial ground of St. George's Church. (fn. 144)
The subsequent history of the castle mills is not known, though it appears that they were still being used in the mid-18th century. In 1751 it was stated that the upper part of the pool had been recovered by the corporation and converted into sound land. This had had the effect of diverting the flow of water through an opening lower than the dam with the result that the mills had been deprived of a sufficient supply of water. (fn. 145) It seems likely that these difficulties led to their rapid disuse, but one of these mills remained in existence until the middle of the 19th century, when it was sold by Ralph Sneyd to Samuel Mayer. (fn. 146)
COMMON LANDS AND INCLOSURES. As in most ancient boroughs, the burgesses of Newcastle combined farming with trade, and indeed, judging from the frequency with which regulations about the use and cultivation of the common fields appear in the minute books, the former seems to have been, in the earlier period at least, their predominant activity. (fn. 147) Until the early 19th century the common fields of the borough were six in number and surrounded it on all sides, their names then being Brampton (usually referred to as Brompton), Ashfield, King's Field, Pool Field, Clayton Field, and Stubbs. (fn. 148) Not all the fields were within the boundary of the borough, as it was later defined. Much of Ashfield lay in the neighbouring parish of Wolstanton, part of Clayton Field was in Clayton Griffith, a detached portion of Trentham parish until 1896 when it became part of Clayton civil parish, (fn. 149) and part of Stubbs in Stoke. (fn. 150)
Before the 14th century it can only be surmised, in the absence of documentary evidence, that the burgesses held strips in the common fields which they cultivated on a three-field system and possessed grazing rights in the pastures set apart for cattle. In the late 14th century some information becomes available, but not enough for any definite picture of this side of burghal life to be formed. The fact that in 1375 the governing body declared that in disputes about land within the liberty between a burgess or a stranger and the community of the town the claimant must produce a valid title or evidence suggests that attempts were being made to hold land in the common fields in severalty or to secure squatters' rights. (fn. 151) Three years earlier Adam de Prestbury had paid the town 20s. for the right to have a separately inclosed croft within the Red Field. (fn. 152) In 1379 occupiers of land in the common fields were required to inclose their holdings by Martinmas in the case of the summer field and by 25 April in the case of the lenten field.
Arable husbandry seems to have persisted until the early 19th century; in 1801 it was reported to the borough council that great loss was occasioned to corn and grass crops because the common fields were kept open so long in the spring and autumn, and orders were given that thereafter the winter common fields, usually inclosed at Old Michaelmas Day (11 October) should be inclosed each year on 29 September and the summer fields on 25 March instead of Old Lady Day (6 April). (fn. 153) But it is probable that some parts or even whole fields were set aside for the pasturing of cattle, and it seems clear that in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, three of the fields only, Brampton, Pool Field, and Stubbs, were under crop cultivation. (fn. 154) At this period, too, the mention of sheep and, in 1633, (fn. 155) the appointment of a town shepherd suggest that the burgesses were finding more profit in sheep farming, so much so that complaints about the surcharging of the common fields and commons by sheep and cattle were voiced from time to time. In 1590 stinting was introduced based on the status of the owner in the community; accordingly the mayor was allowed 16 beasts, aldermen 14, bailiffs or ex-bailiffs 12, capital burgesses (or ex-members of the common council) 10, and common burgesses 6. (fn. 156) Evidently the problem of over-pasturing was a recurrent one, for in 1636 the stint was reduced to 12 for the mayor, 10 for aldermen, 8 for bailiffs and the rest of the council, and 4 for common burgesses. (fn. 157) In 1649 a similar process of diminution took place, the mayor and aldermen being allowed 8 and bailiffs and capital burgesses 6, while the figure for common burgesses remained unchanged. (fn. 158) Even as late as 1799 the system was still in operation when it was decided that in future the mayor should be allowed 4 beasts or 20 sheep, capital burgesses 3 beasts or 15 sheep, and all other common burgesses 2 beasts or 10 sheep. (fn. 159)
By the early 19th century, the pressure of an increasing population and the lessening need for a local agrarian economy led to a demand for a new approach to the problem and in 1816 a petition to the House of Commons by several owners of estates in which the common fields lay urged the inclosure of the common fields, Knutton Heath, and certain waste grounds. (fn. 160) The move was successful and in the same year an Inclosure Act was passed. It was alleged in support of it that while the common fields, heath, and waste grounds were incapable of material improvement, their contiguity to the increasingly populous town of Newcastle would enhance their value if they were inclosed, discharged of the rights of common, and specific parts for stinted pastures allotted to trustees for the burgesses. (fn. 161) Out of the total area of the six common fields of 600 acres five parcels amounting in all to 205 acres were to be allotted to the burgesses by commissioners appointed under the Act. The allotment in any common field was not to be less than 30 acres and in Clayton Field it was not to be more than 60 acres.
The award of the commissioners has not survived but it appears that the area allotted to the burgesses lay in four large fields, Ashfield, Stubbs, St. Anthony's Flat (part of Clayton Field), and Pool Field, over which they had the right of free pasture. (fn. 162) The property was managed by trustees who were empowered to let a portion for the purpose of raising money for the repair of fences, payment of taxes and tithes, and supporting the public walks in Brampton and Stubbs, (fn. 163) the making of which had been authorized by this Act.
The continued growth of the town and the demand for building plots led to a further Act in 1859 whereby the general management of the burgess lands was vested in 24 trustees chosen by the resident burgesses. These had power to subdivide the lands to provide gardens and fields for tillage and pasture for cattle; and to let the estate at rack-rent from year to year or for not more than 21 years. They were also empowered to let any mines or minerals for a period not exceeding 31 years, but they could set apart land for building purposes only if a majority of the burgesses was in favour. (fn. 164) Apparently it was this proviso that put a brake on building development. In 1873 it was reported that 'a majority of the burgesses are unwilling to sell an inch of their estate under any circumstances and thus retain possession of a vast quantity of building land which is much wanted.' (fn. 165) By 1892, however, the attitude of the burgesses had changed—'the spell has been broken and they [the burgesses] are beginning to be quite anxious to lease their land for building purposes'. (fn. 166) The process, however, seems to have been slow. In 1908 it was stated that up to that date only about 18 acres had been sold for building. (fn. 167)
The Act of 1835 (fn. 168) put an end to the creation of new burgesses, though the rights of existing burgesses were preserved. Burgess-ship could be taken up by the son of a burgess or by anyone who had served his apprenticeship in the borough. Continued residence or occupation of property within the borough boundary (i.e. the boundary as enlarged in 1932) is a necessary condition for the retention of burgess rights, while absence from the town for a year and a day forfeits them irrevocably. (fn. 169) The burgesses, so defined, were and still are entitled under the 1859 Act to share the surplus income of the Burgess Trust. They are necessarily a diminishing number: 710 in 1873, (fn. 170) 557 in 1919, (fn. 171) about 200 in 1956. (fn. 172)
The borough owned the waste land known as The Marsh and also enjoyed rights over the manorial waste of Knutton Heath. The Marsh, consisting in 1782 of 23 acres, (fn. 173) was situated at the east end of the town in the area now occupied by Nelson Place, Queen Street, King Street, and Brunswick Street. As early as 1698 the borough council had attempted to have The Marsh inclosed but apparently without success, (fn. 174) and it was not until 1782 that an Inclosure Act was obtained, (fn. 175) whereby the land was inclosed and leased out, the profits being applied in aid of the borough poor rate. (fn. 176) In the following year a further Act (fn. 177) permitted the trustees to let the land on building leases and full advantage was taken of the permission so gained. The theatre and almost all the houses in Nelson Place, Queen Street, King Street, and Brunswick Street as far as the railway, and the old breweries in Water Street were built as a result of the Act. (fn. 178) In 1861 an Act provided for the incorporation of 24 trustees and they were given the power of sale as well as letting over the land, while the balance of the income of the trust fund was still to be applied in relief of the poor. (fn. 179) In exercise of their powers the trustees were responsible for the creation of North Street, West Street, and part of Victoria Road. (fn. 180) At the end of 1899 a capital sum of £9,739 stood to the credit of the trust. (fn. 181) In 1937 the lands, then amounting to about 4 acres, and the trust funds were transferred to the corporation and the trust came to an end. (fn. 182)
The Inclosure Act of 1816 dealt also with 100 acres of waste land on Knutton Heath in the Manor of Knutton on which presumably the burgesses had claimed rights of common over a long period. The Act took note, however, only of the fact that for many years previously part of Knutton Heath had been used for the annual horse races conducted by the borough, and the allotment was restricted to what was considered necessary for that activity, namely 6 acres, the grand stand, and two buildings used as a starting chair and distance chair, for which the borough council was to pay a yearly rent of £13 13s. to the lord of the manor of Knutton at his manor-house in Great Dimsdale. (fn. 183)
INDUSTRIES. Newcastle's earliest industry seems to have been ironworking; one of its principal streets bears the name of the Ironmarket. (fn. 184) References to John Andrew, 'ferrour', in 1421 (fn. 185) and to Thomas Blomer, 'blomer' (presumably a worker in or owner of a bloom smithy) in 1456 (fn. 186) indicate that the iron ore was being smelted locally and the iron used in local manufacturing. The principal product seems to have been nails. Sporadic references to nailers are met with from the 14th to the early 19th centuries, e.g. in 1380, (fn. 187) 1476, (fn. 188) 1490, (fn. 189) 1591, (fn. 190) 1602, (fn. 191) 1651, 1669, 1673, (fn. 192) 1822, (fn. 193) 1836, (fn. 194) and 1840. (fn. 195) In 1560 Ralph Leighton was seised of a tenement with a nail smithy. (fn. 196) At the end of the century a John Smith was an iron worker in Newcastle and in his will dated 1619, by which his wife was to have the use of his furnace, his forge is mentioned. (fn. 197) Also the mention in 1608 of a tenement in the Ironmarket 'sometime called the yron hall' may indicate the meeting-place of a guild of ironsmiths. (fn. 198) In 1663 Richard Booker, a native of the town, (fn. 199) claimed payment for ironmongery to the value of £80 delivered to Dublin Castle. (fn. 200) In 1822 the name of Joseph Poole, ironfounder, of Penkhull Street, is found, (fn. 201) and in 1825 an indictment was preferred against Joseph Lovat for creating a nuisance in erecting a nail manufactory in the town 'thereby occasioning divers noisome and unwholesome smokes, smells, and stenches'. (fn. 202) As late as 1861 there were 26 persons engaged in nail manufacture in Newcastle and its urban district. (fn. 203)
To Plot we owe the information that John Holland of Newcastle was one of the two frying-pan makers in England. (fn. 204) He is supposed to have had a forge not far from Keele Hall where flat round iron plates were hammered out; they were then brought to his forge at Newcastle to be worked into the conventional shape.
The most notable industry in Newcastle during the 17th and 18th centuries was the making of felt hats. As early as 1570 a hatter, Richard Norton, is met with and another in 1612, John Riggs. (fn. 205) The existence of hatters presupposes that of feltmakers, of whom, in the 17th century, there was a considerable number as may be gathered from parish register entries. (fn. 206) Late in the century the trade encountered difficulties because 'servants and others of inferior quality' had ceased to wear felt hats; at that time (1699) it was stated that there were numerous master hat-makers in the town who each employed nine or ten journeymen and many other persons, i.e. feltmakers, in producing the materials for hat making. (fn. 207) Despite temporary setbacks the hat industry continued to flourish. At a borough election in 1734 out of 436 burgesses on the roll 159 were described as hatters. (fn. 208) In the late 18th century the number of hat manufacturers totalled 27, (fn. 209) while in 1822 out of 1,000 householders in the borough, 307 were described as hat manufacturer, feltmaker, or hatter. (fn. 210) In the early 19th century machinery was introduced, in particular a carding machine and a blowing machine for the separation of short and coarse hairs from the wool or nap. The latter was the invention of James Astley Hall, a a native of Newcastle and one of the chief hat manufacturers. (fn. 211) Although in 1844 the chief manufacture of the town was still described as that of hats which were prepared for the finishers in London, (fn. 212) the growing popularity of the silk hat for the upper and middle classes and of the cloth cap for industrial workers brought about a decline in the demand for felt hats. By 1850 the number of hat manufacturers in Newcastle had fallen to nine (fn. 213) and 40 years later there were only two. (fn. 214) By the early 20th century the local manufacture of hats had ceased. (fn. 215) The fact that in 1836 there were three straw-hat makers (fn. 216) and in 1851 twelve (fn. 217) may indicate an attempt to establish an alternative, though short-lived, headgear industry of a very different kind.
Another pristine Newcastle industry was the making of clay tobacco pipes. (fn. 218) By 1637 pipemaking was already established in the town, (fn. 219) and towards the end of the century entries relating to pipe-makers in the parish register attest its continued existence. (fn. 220) Plot, with what seems to be the enthusiasm of a confirmed smoker, describes Charles Riggs of Newcastle as making 'very good pipes of three sorts of clay—a white and blue which he has from between Shelton and Hanley Green, whereof the blue burns the whitest, but not so full as the white, i.e. it shrinks more; but the best sort he has is from Grubber's Ash [2 miles north-west of the town], being whitish mixed with yellow. It is a short brittle sort of clay, but burns full and white; yet he sometimes mixes it with the blue before mentioned.' (fn. 221) Throughout the 18th century the manufacture persisted, (fn. 222) and in 1817 one Bellamy was indicted for causing a nuisance from the smoke and stench of the burning of clay pipes near the churchyard. (fn. 223) Two or three practitioners of the craft are met with during the earlier 19th century; (fn. 224) in 1861 there were still a dozen people, one of them a woman, whose occupation was that of tobaccopipe-maker, (fn. 225) but by 1876 there was only one pipemaker left in the town. (fn. 226)
In the early 19th century the new industry of silk throwing appeared. By 1822 the firm of Henshall & Lester, silk throwsters, had established itself in Marsh Parade. (fn. 227) In 1828 the competition of imported foreign thrown silks incited the managers, mill-men, and others employed in the silk mills of Newcastle and its neighbourhood to petition Parliament for an increase in the duty on these imports, (fn. 228) and in the following year a petition with the same object was addressed to the Board of Trade on behalf of 700 persons employed in four silk-throwing factories at Newcastle in which £30,000 had been invested. (fn. 229) The petitioners protested against the policy of the East India Co. in forbidding the exportation of raw silks from their territories and begged for the reintroduction of a protective duty of 7s. 6d. a lb. on foreign thrown silks. In 1833 there were three silk mills, (fn. 230) but by 1851 the number of silk throwsters and manufacturers was two, (fn. 231) their mills being situated in Friarswood Road and Hemstalls Lane. (fn. 232) In 1861 there were over 100 persons, most of them women, engaged in silk manufacture in Newcastle, (fn. 233) employed at the Brampton Mill (Bridgett & Co.), Friars Road Mill (J. and T. Brocklehurst & Sons) and by W. H. Walker of Silverdale. (fn. 234) By 1868 the only silk throwster left in the district was G. Walker & Co. of Silverdale, (fn. 235) which was at that date outside the borough boundary, and this firm was still operating in 1876; (fn. 236) but by the end of the century the industry no longer existed in Newcastle.
Although bordering on the Pottery towns, Newcastle has never been a centre of the pottery industry, though during the later 19th century a few, never more than half a dozen, potters are to be found in the borough. (fn. 237) In the early 18th century one potter, Samuel Bell of Lower Street, has been the subject of recent investigation as being the maker of a certain type of red glazed ware, of which he has been claimed to be the inventor. (fn. 238) When, in 1750, Dr. Pococke visited Newcastle which he described as 'the capital of the Pottery villages', he found a few potters, but his account of their activities is brief, vague, and conflicting. (fn. 239) Tile-making does not seem to have been one of the old-established industries of the town, though Plot commends Thomas Wood of Newcastle for making tiles by some method, undisclosed, which ensured a durability hitherto unknown. (fn. 240)
The manufacture of paper has been carried on for over a century at the Holborn Paper Mill in Holborn, (fn. 241) by the Lamb family until about 1928. (fn. 242) Until the early 1930's tissues for the pottery industry were made there. After remaining vacant for about twenty years it is now (1960) producing paper required in connexion with food distribution. (fn. 243)
One of the older industries of the town was that of tanning, though it was never a large one. A Chancery suit c. 1545 deals with the burning of 'a bark-house' in Nether Street, in which Ralph Kelynge and his son John were implicated. (fn. 244) In 1603 there is a reference to the 'trade or mystery' of a tanner carried on by Thomas Keeling, alderman, and his tanyard was situated in Lower Street. (fn. 245) A tanyard, presumably the same one, was still in existence at the end of the century, (fn. 246) while in the later 18th century there were three tanners in the town. (fn. 247) During the whole of the 19th century the number of tanners varied from one to three, while in 1861 there were seventeen people engaged in the industry. (fn. 248)
One important industry of a somewhat specialized kind which was established in the late 19th century still exists. This is the manufacture of uniforms, carried on at the Enderley Mills in Liverpool Road. The factory was erected in 1881 (fn. 249) by Richard Stanway who seems to have concentrated on the supply of uniforms for the army, judging from the fact that two years later a group of army officers wished to convert the business into a limited company, with Stanway as managing director. (fn. 250) Nothing came of the project owing to Stanway's bankruptcy in 1884. (fn. 251) During his brief tenure the factory, employing about 700 workers, won the approval of the Government Inspector as being a model one; it included a surgery, creche, and nursery department, a reading room, and a savings bank. Prizes were given for good work. (fn. 252) On Stanway's bankruptcy the business was acquired by John Hammond & Co. of Manchester in whose hands it still (1959) remains. (fn. 253) The scope of its activities has greatly increased and uniforms are supplied for police forces, fire brigades, and governments in this country and overseas. (fn. 254)
A glance at the census figures from 1801 to 1901 shows that the population of Newcastle increased fivefold during that period, which might suggest steady industrial expansion, whereas in fact, as has been shown above, by the late 19th century the old industries of the town had disappeared or shrunk to small proportions and had not been replaced by new ones. The explanation is that Newcastle had become a dormitory town, housing large numbers of people whose places of work were to be found in the heavily industrialized areas on its eastern and northern boundaries. In 1921, for example, out of a total number of occupied persons in Newcastle of 9,500, over 5,000 were working outside the town, the great majority of them in Stoke-on-Trent. (fn. 255) The statement made in 1908 (fn. 256) that Newcastle was a residential rather than an industrial town and was to be regarded as a suburb of the whole of the pottery district remained broadly true until the extension of the borough boundary in 1932 when the iron and coal industries of Chesterton, Silverdale, Knutton, and Wolstanton were brought within the borough. (fn. 257) The centre of Newcastle still retains the aspect of a market town though during the present century a number of light industries have established themselves, chiefly on its outskirts.
During the Second World War two large munition factories were established in the Cross Heath area and after the war continued in industrial use. One became the largest manufacturer of motor-car harness in the country and the largest producer of telephone and microphone cords, and is also engaged in the manufacture of fluorescent lighting equipment. (fn. 258) The other manufactures fractional h.p. motors, loom motors for the cotton industry, and electric lamps. (fn. 259)
Among other light industries are the manufacture of glue at the Waterloo Works, of leather goods in London Road, of silica in Sutton Street and at Rose Vale, Chesterton, of tires in Liverpool Road, and of pottery in the Ironmarket and at Chesterton. (fn. 260)
In the area covered by the enlarged borough, coalmining is predominant, the chief centres being Chesterton, Silverdale, Apedale, and Wolstanton. Tile-making, made possible by the abundance of Etruria and Keele marls, is perhaps the most important local industry and the borough is credited with being the largest single production area in the country of clay roofing tiles. The local clay is also utilized for the manufacture of bricks and fireplaces. (fn. 261)
Iron-founding is carried on at Silverdale, galvanizing at Pool Dam and Chesterton, and welding at May Bank, while the cotton-spinning factory at the Cross Heath Mills in Liverpool Road has been in operation since at least 1860. (fn. 262)
The Newcastle Literary and Scientific Institution was established in 1836 (fn. 263) and in its premises in Brunswick Street, formerly the Shakespeare Inn, assembled a large library and the nucleus of a museum. (fn. 264) Part of the library consisted of books formerly belonging to a subscription library begun in 1812. (fn. 265) At the outset it attracted considerable interest and support, but this was not maintained, and after languishing for many years it finally came to an end in 1867 when the building was sold. (fn. 266)
A School of Art was established in 1853 (fn. 267) and was housed in the building of the Literary and Scientific Institution. On its sale in 1867 the school moved to King Street (fn. 268) and remained there until 1890 when accommodation was provided in the new Municipal Buildings. (fn. 269) The school had the surprisingly large number of 200 pupils in 1882 and 245 in 1883; it was then known as the School of Science and Art. (fn. 270) In 1888 Albert Toft (1862–1949), the sculptor, was a pupil. (fn. 271)
The first public library in the town dated from 1876, when a reading room and museum were set up in Lad Lane. About two years later it was moved to the Savings Bank premises in Penkhull Street. (fn. 272)
A public library, supported out of the rates, was opened in the Municipal Buildings in 1891. (fn. 273) In 1958 it moved to a building in School Street, formerly used as a Wesleyan school. (fn. 274) In 1921 the library comprised more than 10,000 volumes, a part of which had been acquired by purchase from the then extinct library in Penkhull Street. (fn. 275) In 1959 the stock in the central library consisted of nearly 35,000 volumes. (fn. 276) There were then branch libraries at Victoria Street, Chesterton, High Street, Silverdale, Bradwell Lane, Wolstanton, Dartmouth Avenue, Clayton, and at Knutton. (fn. 277)
The present borough museum began its existence in 1941 with one room, subsequently increased to three rooms, in Lancaster Building in High Street. In 1956 the borough council acquired a large villa, The Firs, in Brampton Park, and opened it as a museum and art gallery. (fn. 278) It houses inter alia a valuable collection of old pictures of Newcastle and most of the borough records. In another and contiguous villa is the Arts Centre, opened in 1949. (fn. 279) Among the local societies meeting in it is the Newcastle-under-Lyme Antiquarian Society, founded in 1947. (fn. 280)
In the early 19th century Newcastle had its own local newspaper. This was the Staffordshire Gazette, first issued on Tuesdays, from 6 April 1813, (fn. 281) the printers and publishers being J. Smith (fn. 282) and J. Wilson in Lower Street. In 1814 the title was changed to the Staffordshire Gazette and Newcastle and Pottery Advertiser. From 9 January 1819 the title was once again changed to the Newcastle and Pottery Gazette and Staffordshire Advertiser, and Saturday became the day of publication. (fn. 283) Its subsequent history is unknown, but it had apparently ceased to exist by 1834. (fn. 284)
The next weekly paper was the Newcastle Journal, which began publication in 1855 and continued under that title until 28 June 1856, then as the Newcastle and North Staffordshire Pioneer from 5 July 1856 to 29 January 1859, then as the Staffordshire Times and Newcastle Pioneer from 5 February 1859 to 27 June 1868, then as the Staffordshire Weekly Times from 4 July 1868 to 21 November 1874, and lastly as the Staffordshire Times from 28 November 1874 to 10 June 1882. (fn. 285) The progressive changes of title may indicate a widening of the area which the newspaper attempted to cover; this may have led to its cessation. At all events, on 23 April 1881, publication in Newcastle began of a new weekly paper, the Newcastle Guardian, which, while giving some space to news from the Pottery towns, concentrated mainly on the affairs of Newcastle itself. (fn. 286) In politics it was originally Liberal, but later described itself as independent. (fn. 287) It ceased publication in April 1909 (fn. 288) and since that date no newspaper has been published in Newcastle. Mention should also be made of the Newcastle-under-Lyme Free Press which was issued free every Saturday by its proprietor, A. P. Bayley. It began in 1882 (fn. 289) and came to an end c. 1908. (fn. 290) The only daily newspaper to be published in the town seems to have been the short-lived Staffordshire Daily Times of which there were ten issues only, from 1 to 14 October 1875. (fn. 291)
Though there are references to strolling players from 1610 (fn. 292) and to a mountebank in 1730, (fn. 293) regular visits of acting companies do not seem to have been taking place until the close of the 18th century. In 1775 the council agreed to allow players to use 'the hall', presumably the Guildhall. (fn. 294) The Guildhall, however, was clearly inadequate for theatrical performances and the need for a permanent building was met in 1787–8 by the erection of the Royal Theatre (fn. 295) in Nelson Place by a company of shareholders. (fn. 296) From 1804 to at least 1829 licences were issued to Charles Stanton, comedian, to give performances in the theatre, sometimes from the beginning of July but more often from the beginning of August. (fn. 297) In 1829 Stanton's choice of play was restricted to such performances as might be lawfully acted in theatres in the City of Westminster. (fn. 298) The theatre season coincided with the Newcastle annual race-meeting (fn. 299) and in 1824 performances were billed to begin at 7.30 p.m. 'or as soon as the race is over'. (fn. 300) Prices of admission at that date were, box 3s., pit 2s., gallery 1s., and the season ended on 22 September when Stanton took his benefit. (fn. 301) The rise of the Theatre Royal at Hanley is supposed to have been inimical to the continued existence of the Newcastle theatre and it was rarely used after 1880. (fn. 302) In 1910 the theatre was converted into a cinema. (fn. 303)
In the realm of outdoor recreation, though little is known of the sports and pastimes enjoyed by the inhabitants of Newcastle in medieval times, there is evidence that bear-baiting at least was one of them. In 1372 John of Gaunt in a letter to his steward, Godfrey Foljambe, confirmed the right of William de Brompton and Margery his wife to levy 4d. on each minstrel coming to the town at the Feast of St. Giles, and the same sum in respect of each bear pour estre chace un cours. (fn. 304) This appears to be the only reference to bear-baiting in Newcastle, but in 1686 permission given to Thomas Hemings to extract limestone from the Bear Pits seems to indicate a definite location for the sport. (fn. 305) On the other hand, according to a local tradition, the bear ring was situated near the Butchery Pump in the Ironmarket, while a bull ring was said to have been in what was later Nelson Place. (fn. 306)
In April 1876 a skating rink was opened in a field near the railway station where Sidmouth Avenue is now situated. It was 150 ft. x 60 ft. and was specially designed for summer skating, but the venture was not a success. (fn. 307) About 1930 roller-skating was practised in a disused part of the Covered Market. (fn. 308)
The custom of the election by the populace of a mock mayor at the same time as the official mayoral ceremony took place was described in the mid-19th century as 'ancient', but the statement then made that it had prevailed for more than 230 years seems to be baseless. (fn. 309) The theory has been advanced (fn. 310) that this ceremony, characterized, in the 19th century at least, by a good deal of ribaldry and horseplay, (fn. 311) arose in protest at the exclusion of the ordinary burgesses from any part in the choice of the mayor. (fn. 312) While this may be true, the fact remains that the earliest reference is an inscription on a mould for a china bowl which runs 'Jatty Mayson, Mock Mayor of Newcastle, was legally chosen the 2nd. October 1792'. (fn. 313) In 1841 there were two mock mayors put up by the workpeople at two of the principal hat manufactories. (fn. 314) The custom had sunk into abeyance by the beginning of the present century.