A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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Great Dawley owed suit from 1310 or earlier (fn. 1) to the leet court of Wem barony, held at Hinstock. The vill's presentments there were recorded from 1478 until 1851. (fn. 2) Little Dawley and Malinslee made suit to Bradford hundred court in 1592, (fn. 3) the obligation originating in their membership of Leegomery manor, which made suit to that court in 1255. (fn. 4) Little Dawley continued to make suit to the hundred court, at Wellington, until the 18th century. (fn. 5)
Courts baron for Great Dawley were held only occasionally in the 16th century. (fn. 6) One, in April 1569, was apparently the occasion of a court dinner. Another court, probably the next, was held in September 1571. (fn. 7) Profits were small, (fn. 8) though the manorial bailiff accounted for a felon's goods c. 1569. (fn. 9) No courts had been held there within memory in 1780, when the lords of Hinstock manor held a court in Dawley in an unsuccessful attempt to claim manorial rights in the township. (fn. 10)
Profits of Little Dawley court baron were said to be worth 20s. a year in 1653. Records of the court, held annually in October from the late 18th century, survive from 1698 to 1810. (fn. 11)
At Malinslee the Eytons held courts in the 14th and 15th centuries. Matters dealt with were mainly agricultural, but a presentment for fornication was made in 1372. A constable's appointment was recorded in 1406. In the 16th century Malinslee matters were dealt with at the Eytons' court at Eyton upon the Weald Moors. (fn. 12)
A pinfold was in need of repair in 1721. (fn. 13)
Records of the parish meeting, from 1820 a select vestry of 20 members, survive from 1806. (fn. 16) Separate overseers were appointed for each of the three townships by 1807. There was a salaried assistant overseer by 1813, when a paid treasurer was also appointed to enable the assistant overseer to concentrate on relieving the poor. Levy of the poor rate from Dawley's large, scattered labouring population proved difficult. In 1807 the parish meeting ordered that every householder who kept a dog was liable to pay the rate, presumably in an attempt to levy rates from the parish's numerous cottagers. By 1813, however, many ratepayers were in arrears and the accounts showed a 'considerable' deficit. (fn. 17) Annual expenditure on the poor rose to £590 in 1816-17 (c. 2s. 4d. a head of population) but fell to £119 (9d. a head) in 1819- 20. (fn. 18) After the death of Richard Lewis, the assistant overseer, in 1828 (fn. 19) relief was administered by a vestry committee, meeting every three weeks at the poorhouse. (fn. 20) In 1831 a total of 96 paupers, mainly widows, received weekly pay. (fn. 21) In 1836 Dawley became part of Madeley poor-law union, despite requests by the vestry that it should either unite with Wellington union or remain independent. (fn. 22)
The parish rented a cottage as a poorhouse c. 1784. (fn. 23) It was probably that in Dawley Green Lane (later Bank Road) (fn. 24) which the overseers bought and enlarged in 1813. (fn. 25) In the summer of that year, before being extended, the poorhouse contained c. 50 inmates. (fn. 26) After Dawley joined the Madeley union the building became redundant and was leased in 1838, (fn. 27) although a room was rented back in 1847 as a refuge for the destitute. (fn. 28) In 1852-3 the property was sold and the proceeds used to buy the site of the tithe barn in the south-west corner of Holy Trinity churchyard, on which a building for vestry meetings and a Sunday school was erected. (fn. 29)
In the mid 19th century various methods of organizing the maintenance of parish roads were tried. In 1837 there were separate salaried surveyors for Great and Little Dawley townships. A highways board of 20 members, responsible for the whole parish, was created in 1839, but in 1843 the parish reverted to the appointment of salaried surveyors. A second highways board, of 13 members, was created in 1850 but separate surveyors were again appointed from 1855. In 1860 a board was appointed with responsibility for Great Dawley township only. A successful solution was reached in 1865 when another board, covering the whole parish, was created. It had 20 members, 12 for Great Dawley, 4 for Little Dawley, and 4 for Malinslee. (fn. 30)
A board of health was created at the time of the 1831-2 cholera epidemic; (fn. 31) it was probably shortlived. In 1876 Dawley became an urban sanitary district with a board of 12 members. (fn. 32) The board became an urban district council in 1894. (fn. 33) The U.D.C. employed only one full-time chief officer, a combined sanitary inspector and surveyor, until 1943. (fn. 34) Its offices were in the market hall (fn. 35) until a house in King Street was bought as council offices in 1935. (fn. 36) In 1966, when Madeley was merged with Dawley urban district, the enlarged U.D. was divided into six wards and a council of 24 members formed. (fn. 37) New offices, built on derelict land east of High Street and known as the Civic Centre, were opened in 1968. (fn. 38) The U.D. was abolished in 1974; thereafter the area, not assigned to any civil parish, coincided with eleven urban wards of the district of the Wrekin. (fn. 39)
The U.D.C.'s common seal was circular, 35 mm. in diameter, inscribed (roman) URBAN DISTRICT COUNCIL OF DAWLEY at the circumference and 1894 across the face. (fn. 40) Ever-Ready Ltd. secured a grant of arms for the U.D.C. in 1956. (fn. 41) The shield's three escutcheons and the motto Trinis catenis vinctus alluded to the parishes of St. Luke, St. Leonard, and the Holy Trinity, and the crest (on a wreath of the colours a demi triton winding a conch horn and crowned with an antique crown all or) to Capt. Webb. (fn. 42)
In 1963 the whole ancient parish, except a few acres on the northern boundary near Hollinswood, was designated part of Dawley new town. (fn. 43) The parts excluded were, however, embraced in the designated area of Telford new town in 1968. (fn. 44)