Little Wenlock: Economic history

A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.

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'Little Wenlock: Economic history', in A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11, Telford, (London, 1985) pp. 81-87. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]

In this section



It seems likely that in the Anglo-Saxon period the manor was predominantly wooded with few inhabitants, their economy based in great part on pig rearing. In 1086 the estate was rated at 3 hides. Its value fell from 70s. in 1066 to 40s. in 1086. There was only one ploughteam in demesne with three more between four villeins and two bordars. There was, however, woodland for fattening 300 swine, (fn. 1) a large number by Shropshire standards. (fn. 2) The woods against the Wrekin were intensively used for pasture and pannage, to which pigs were sometimes brought from distant estates. Wenlock priory's rights to pannage in the Wrekin woods were defined in 1190 (fn. 3) but only in 1234 were Little Wenlock's common rights in the woods delimited from its neighbours': (fn. 4) linear clearings (trencheas) (fn. 5) were then renewed in the woods bordering Buildwas, Madeley, Dawley, and Wellington, and in the Wrekin wood above the road from Little Wenlock to Shrewsbury. (fn. 6)

The manor was in the royal forest of Mount Gilbert until 1301 (fn. 7) but under a charter of Richard I it was held to be exempt from waste and the regard of the forest. (fn. 8) Parts of the manor were reserved for hunting in the 11th century and Huntington may have been the huntsmen's tun. (fn. 9) In 1086 the manor's wood included two hays and a hawk's nest. (fn. 10) The presence of Domesday bordars with a share in the ploughteams, however, suggests that assarting was in progress, (fn. 11) and there seems to have been much assarting in the later 12th century. (fn. 12)

In the 1320s the manor's customary holdings, probably open-field arable, consisted of 15 halfvirgates, 17 quarter-virgates (called nooks), and 2 half-nooks. (fn. 13) One tenant held 2 half-virgates, two others a half-virgate and a nook each, two 2 nooks, and the rest one tenement each. (fn. 14) Until recently each half-virgate had owed the same labour services: 'pool work' at Martinmas, three days' ploughing a year, a day's mowing, four days' reaping, carriage with one beast to the priory from Little Wenlock and Sutton (near Shrewsbury), and haulage of timber from Timber wood towards the priory as far as Buildwas bridge. The holding also rendered fixed quantities of corn, oats, geese, and hens. Nooks and half-nooks owed proportionate fractions. Each tenant owed suit of court and paid tallage, and on his death a heriot was due, with a third of his movables, called terciary, an exaction usual oh the priory's estates. (fn. 15) The labour services were given a money value but in 1291 commutation was unusual.

About 1300 the priory ceased to cultivate the demesne and let it in small lots to the customary tenants. It was never resumed thereafter. As labour services were thus superfluous the customary holdings were converted to leaseholds (for some of the larger ones) and copyholds. The labour services were commuted to cash but the other renders and dues continued. In the mid 15th century the copyholder had also to pay a 2s. surrender fine called 'varneth'. (fn. 16) In the 1320s each tenancy was for the lives of the tenant, his wife, and their eldest child.

As well as the customary holding the tenant sometimes rented additional land, as 'acres' (perhaps in separate plots) from the demesne or elsewhere and as acres of 'new' land, probably on former wastes. One piece of 'new' land was at Coalmoor gate, probably where open fields had bordered the waste.

There were two large free tenants in the 1320s. The rector held a lease of the manor house and 30 a. (probably of the demesne) for 20s. rent and terciary. Thomas Foreman, besides a halfvirgate and a large portion of demesne, held a house and land by 'perpetual charter' for 8s. rent, grain renders, suit of Bourton 'hundred', and terciary. There remained three tenants who held only 'new' land: one of them 19 a. Six others held only cottages, sometimes with a few acres of land.

As a result of the recent changes about £19 was paid in cash rents in the 1320s, against less than £2 in 1291. (fn. 17)

The end of demesne cultivation probably denoted serious agricultural difficulties. Moreover by 1341 the corn had been destroyed by storms, there were no sheep, and much arable lay fallow. (fn. 18) In 1370 cash rents totalled little more than £4. (fn. 19) By 1390, however, they were over £12. (fn. 20) An improvement during the 15th century gave rents (including small annual supplements in lieu of terciary) totalling just under £15 in 1510-11. (fn. 21)

In the later Middle Ages arable occupied only a small proportion of the parish, about a fifth in 1623. (fn. 22) There were said to be three fields in 1589: (fn. 23) Wrekin field north-west of the village (mentioned in the 1320s), (fn. 24) Cross (or Lyde) field north-east (mentioned 1540), (fn. 25) and probably Timber Wood field south-east (mentioned 1604). (fn. 26) Quarry field existed in 1604, (fn. 27) perhaps as a fragment of Timber Wood field. (fn. 28) Huntington field in 1607 seems to have been the same as Wrekin field. (fn. 29) Field-names north of Huntington in 1727 (fn. 30) nevertheless suggest the former presence of some arable (not necessarily open) occupied exclusively by inhabitants of Huntington.

Inclosure of the open-field arable was probably piecemeal. In 1322 a tenant was licensed to inclose one selion. (fn. 31) The process, however, was still incomplete in 1727, when 12 a. of Wrekin field and three small fragments of Cross field remained open. (fn. 32)

In 1291 only one acre of demesne meadow was recorded. (fn. 33) In the 1320s there were some meadows held in severalty, but apparently no common meadows. (fn. 34) In 1607 the glebe included two pieces of meadow inclosed out of Wrekin and Timber Wood fields, (fn. 35) and most of the streams had meadows by them in the early 18th century, in scattered parcels. On the Forester estate they totalled over 170 a. (fn. 36)

Between and beyond the arable fields in the later Middle Ages lay common wastes and common woodlands, together covering about two thirds of the parish. Neglect of the dead hedges separating open fields and waste was frequently punished in the 14th and 15th centuries. (fn. 37) There were four main areas of waste. One lay south-west of Little Wenlock, where Bradley heath, Hither lea, and Marlemore (fn. 38) were mentioned as commons. (fn. 39) Coalmoor, east of Little Wenlock, was another, to judge by its name. A large heath lay north of the village, west of Huntington Lane, and north-east of Huntington lay Huntington heath, with Wildermoore nearby. (fn. 40)

Inclosure of the heaths, mostly for pasture, was in progress by 1380 when a hay in Marlemore was mentioned. (fn. 41) There were several hays in the earlier 16th century. (fn. 42) Some commonable wastes remained in 1551 but tenants had to pay to use them, (fn. 43) and in 1589 the rector had no common for cattle or sheep outside the open fields. (fn. 44)

Beyond the fields and heaths and stretching to the manorial boundaries were three uninclosed woods in the later Middle Ages: Wrekin wood on the west (estimated at 220 a. in 1545), Coalmoor wood on the east (180 a.), and Timber wood on the south (200 a.). (fn. 45) The manorial tenants kept many pigs. In 1379 23 tenants rented pannage for 200 swine and in the 15th century herds tended to become larger and fewer. (fn. 46) Large numbers were still being kept in 1541. (fn. 47) Individual herds varied greatly in size; the largest in 1449 contained 37 animals. (fn. 48)

In the 13th century only Timber wood, as its name suggests, was regularly exploited for building material. It was the manor's nearest woodland to Wenlock priory, and tenants owed haulage of timber from it to the priory. (fn. 49) The tenants' common rights prevented woodland management in most of the woods. In 1545 nearly half the estimated 600 a. were 'waste' or 'destroyed'. Another tenth, reserved to the commoners, had no usable timber. The rest had timber of 60-100 years' growth but the commoners had consumed most new growth. (fn. 50) Sir Walter Leveson inclosed all the woodland, (fn. 51) presumably between 1573 (fn. 52) and 1590, thus curtailing the commoners' rights.

Between the earlier 14th century and the earlier 16th tenures changed. The demesne lands had been reunited under a single lessee by 1520. In 1540, as in the 1320s, some tenants were leaseholders and the rest copyholders. (fn. 53) By 1540, however, the leases were for terms of 50-81 years. Most copyholds were still for lives, but a few were also for long terms of years. There were only two tenures at will, both insignificant.

In 1540 there were 21 farms, a few with cottages attached: 7 were leaseholds paying rents just over 20s., 13 were small copyholds with rents averaging c. 12s. 6d., and one was a large copyhold paying 31s. 4d. There were 2 separate cottage holdings. Terciary had been commuted and included in rents; annual 'wood silver' of 4d. or 8d. was also included. (fn. 54)

By the later 17th century rents had increased greatly. In 1688 c. 30 of the 45 holdings paid rents averaging less than 30s. and were evidently cottages and smallholdings. The larger farm rents averaged £16 10s. The highest for one holding was £30. Most tenants had a single holding, but one paid £30 for a large farm with two smaller holdings, and another held two large farms for £28. (fn. 55) Leases were usually for 99 years terminable on three or fewer lives. Heriot was still payable. (fn. 56) By the end of the 17th century clearance and inclosure had broken down the three blocks of woodland into several separate woods. (fn. 57) In the earlier 18th century they were exploited for charcoal and mining timber. (fn. 58)

By 1727 half the agricultural holdings on the Forester estate (excluding the diminutive remnants of open fields) were cottages averaging less than ¼ a., and were clearly distinct from the next largest group, 18 holdings averaging 39 a. Above them, and less clearly distinct, were 7 holdings averaging 131 a. (fn. 59) All the biggest farms and most of the smaller ones were run from houses in Little Wenlock or Huntington, and each was fragmented owing to the accidents of piecemeal inclosure and partial consolidation. Nevertheless seven of the smaller farms, totalling c. 260 a., lay in discrete blocks near the edges of the parish, their houses set amid their fields. They included the Wrekin, Willowmoor, and Leasows farms, (fn. 60) evidently the newest and created in single operations out of woodland or waste.

In the later 17th and earlier 18th centuries the farmers practised a mixed economy of dairying, sheep, and cereals (fn. 61) as in neighbouring parishes. (fn. 62) The substantial farmers included a few tradesmen. Herds of cattle averaged about 10 animals, and the largest recorded had 28. Herds consisted mostly of oxen, used as draught animals, (fn. 63) and cows, heifers, and immature beasts. Bullocks too were kept, but not necessarily for beef. (fn. 64) Some of the larger farmers made cheese in commercial quantities. Less substantial people often had one or two domestic cows. Sheep flocks averaged about 15 animals, rather fewer than in some nearby parishes. Several large farmers had no sheep, and the largest recorded flock had only 38. Horses, however, were kept by rather more of the people than in some neighbouring parishes, and one farmer had eight. Substantial farms, and a few of the smaller holdings, usually had pigs. The average was about 3 animals, and 9 was the most recorded except for the 15 that belonged to a butcher in 1745.

Wheat, barley, and oats were the usual cereals, and mixed grains were equally used, especially hard corn, a mixture of wheat and rye. (fn. 65) Peas were common and clover was first mentioned in the 1720s, as elsewhere. (fn. 66) Most farmers also had hay, and in 1727 the Forester estate had at least 16 hemp butts. (fn. 67)

By 1727 convertible husbandry was general on the farms of the Forester estate, (fn. 68) and 18thcentury leases, standardized by 1757, (fn. 69) required crops to be sown 'in course and not out of turn'. A maximum of four (sometimes three) successive crops was stipulated and clover had to be sown with the last of the cycle. (fn. 70) The use of rotation turnips was negligible; peas, with 48 a. in 1801, were more common. (fn. 71) Woodlands were carefully exploited. (fn. 72) Where a coppice was included in a farm, the tenant had the use of it for pasture; immediately before felling, however, and for as long as it contained very young growth, the lord could exclude animals, and he then allowed a rent reduction. (fn. 73)

Ninety-nine-year farm leases, terminable on three or fewer lives, lasted into the later 18th century. (fn. 74) Sometimes, as in the 1760s, they were renewed for nominal rents and large fines. (fn. 75) Mid 18th-century leases required carriage services for minerals. (fn. 76) Farm rents rose little in the earlier 18th century, but later in the century were raised sharply whenever old leases fell in. (fn. 77) Around the end of the century annual tenancies began to be introduced (fn. 78) and rents could be increased generally, in step with prices, as in 1793, 1804, and 1808. In the 80 years after 1714 average farm rents had increased less than 50 per cent; in the 16 years from 1793 the average increase was over 90 per cent.

About 1800 the larger farms were virtually the same size as in the 1720s, and there remained many smallholders. (fn. 79) Part of Wrekin field was still open in 1762, (fn. 80) and in the 1770s common grazing was still available in the lanes. (fn. 81) During the earlier 19th century the larger farms remained constant in number, but increased their average size by about half at the expense of the smallholdings, whose number fell. There were more cottages, which may also have taken land from smallholdings. (fn. 82) Consolidation of scattered farms, still only partly achieved by the 1820s (fn. 83) (when some of the old leases were still in force), (fn. 84) was virtually complete by the 1840s. (fn. 85) In the later 19th and early 20th century the number and average size of larger farms changed little but the smallholdings dwindled to a handful. (fn. 86)

During the earlier 19th century corn was probably the major cash crop, the proportion of arable to permanent grass being about 2 to 1 in 1839, though a few farms on the edges of the parish were almost wholly pastoral. (fn. 87) On the mixed farms about a fifth of the arable was in long leys, and over the other four fifths cereals predominated, with small acreages of peas, potatoes, turnips, and clover. (fn. 88) By 1816 the tenants were usually required to follow a four-course rotation: a cereal followed by a fallow or turnips, then another cereal undersown with a mixture of clover and rye-grass. Turnips were compulsory after wheat sown after clover, and each farmer had to sow a minimum annual acreage of turnips. (fn. 89) By the 1840s those requirements had generally produced the 'Norfolk' rotation of wheat-turnips-barley-clover, usually with long leys between rotations. Many variations were nevertheless possible, and small acreages of vetches, peas, beans, and mangolds were grown. (fn. 90)

Table III
Little Wenlock: Land use, livestock, and crops
1867 1891 1938 1965
Percentage of grassland 26 70 91 71
arable 74 30 9 29
Percentage of cattle 12 23 35 28
sheep 71 40 57 47
pigs 17 37 8 25
Percentage of wheat 55 38 70 55
barley 37 33 1 35
oats 8 29 29 9
mixed corn & rye 0 0 0 1
Percentage of agricultural land growing roots and vegetables 10 5 2 4

Sources: P.R.O., MAF 68/143, no. 15; /1340, no. 11; /3880, Salop, no. 263; /4945, no. 263.

In the late 19th and early 20th century farmers turned over almost completely from arable to livestock, especially cattle. There was a revival of arable cultivation in the mid 20th century, especially for barley, but pasture still predominated and pig farming increased. (fn. 91)

Woodlands, all kept in hand by the lord until 1918, (fn. 92) remained at a fairly constant acreage in the 19th and 20th centuries. (fn. 93) During 1831 sales of timber, cordwood, and bark were expected to realize over £400. (fn. 94)


By 1330 there were two water mills: one at Little Wenlock, another, not recorded later, at 'Haliwelle' (perhaps near Holloway hays (fn. 95) in the north of the parish). (fn. 96) In 1727 a mill lay on Lyde brook. (fn. 97)

In the 17th and 18th centuries the Roberts family were millers as undertenants or assigns of absentee lessees. (fn. 98) The Coalbrookdale Co. was lessee c. 1808 (fn. 99) but twenty years later the mill had gone, its place taken by a new steam corn mill at Horsehay. (fn. 100) John Clark held that mill in 1872 (fn. 101) but by 1882 it had apparently closed. (fn. 102)

Coal, ironstone, and fireclay.

About half of the parish, east of the Little Wenlock fault, had abundant coal near the surface. (fn. 103) Coalmoor was so called by the early 14th century (fn. 104) and an Adam Collier was mentioned in 1344. (fn. 105) In 1540 there were two mines, one leased to Edmund Brydgewode and Thomas Boswell, another formerly leased to John Forester but then derelict. (fn. 106)

In the 17th century the pits lay in three main groups: one immediately east and south of Little Wenlock village, another farther east at Coalmoor, and a third (extending into Wellington parish) near the heath, north-east of Huntington, at least part of which was known by the early 18th century as the New Works. (fn. 107) In 1611 Sir George Hayward was employing labourers to mine on his Little Wenlock estate, (fn. 108) and in the 1680s Francis and William Forester mined the coal and ironstone on their own estate and on those of the Haywards and Smithemans, who received royalties. The Foresters' annual production in Little Wenlock parish averaged c. 2,700 stacks. (fn. 109) Francis Forester's pits also yielded about 150 dozens (fn. 110) of ironstone a year, most of it bought by William Stanier and some by Lawrence Wellington. (fn. 111)

Although the Foresters disposed of some of their Little Wenlock coal by Severn sale and landsale, and used a little for lime burning, they sold most of it to a Mr. Corfield (until 1686), a Mr. Lacon (probably John Lacon of West Coppice, d. 1716), (fn. 112) and (from 1686) to Samuel Bowdler of Arlescott. (fn. 113) In 1705 Sir William Forester contracted to supply Bowdler's successor, (fn. 114) Thomas Sprott of the Marsh, with 4,000 stacks a year for 21 years for Severn sale. On Sir William's death in 1718 his heir leased his coal in Little Wenlock parish, with the unexpired period of the Sprott contract, to Richard Hartshorne of Ketley for 21 years on a royalty basis.

By then William Hayward and John Smitheman were working their own minerals. (fn. 115) Where the Forester and Hayward estates were intermingled disputes and inefficiency resulted, and in 1727-8, after William Hayward's death, his son co-operated with William Forester in making joint arrangements with Hartshorne, intended to cover the next 21 years. Forester and Hayward let all their coal works in the parish (except Hayward's Coalmoor works) to Hartshorne, who agreed to extract 5,600 stacks a year (4,000 from Forester's land and 1,600 from Hayward's) for a reserved rent, and any quantity over that on a royalty basis, with liberty to make coke at the Huntington pits. The Sprott contract had expired and Forester and Hayward leased a Severn wharf at Strethill from Thomas Sprott's son Henry. They built a waggonway to it from near Little Wenlock village, which they let to Hartshorne in return for rent plus a royalty of every stack carried down the rails (a miniumum of 4,000 stacks). Forester and Hayward were to have use of the tracks to carry ironstone from Little Wenlock to the Severn. (fn. 116) By 1732 Hartshorne claimed that the demand for coals 'by water carriage' was not enough, so Forester and Hayward reduced the rent and allowed him to make up the 4,000 stacks by landsale. (fn. 117) The following year Hartshorne died (fn. 118) and the Foresters probably then resumed direct working of their mines.

Hayward's works at Coalmoor produced Clod coals particularly suited to the needs of the Coalbrookdale ironworks, and until 1740 were those works' principal suppliers. At first Hayward's father (d. 1727) worked the Coalmoor works himself, but in 1726 he leased them for 21 years to Richard Ford (d. 1745) (fn. 119) of Coalbrookdale, (fn. 120) who supplied their whole output to the Coalbrookdale works. The pits yielded annually about 1,240 stacks of 'big' coals and (at least until 1732) about 700 stacks of coke made at the pits, but they were abandoned in 1742 or 1743 because of increasing drainage difficulties. (fn. 121)

In 1740, when the Hayward mines faltered, William Forester and his son Brooke contracted to sell the Coalbrookdale Co. all the Clod coals from pits in the Huntington heath and Smalleyhill area (extending into Wellington parish) and the company agreed to use no other supplier except Hayward. (fn. 122) In 1750 the company was permitted to lay a railway for Clod coals from the Forester pits to Coalbrookdale; the Foresters were allowed to carry other coals (at least 1,500 stacks a year) on it for Severn sale. (fn. 123) In 1755 the Foresters' Severn coal was selling well (fn. 124) and in that year the Coalbrookdale Co. contracted to buy annually 2,000 wagons of Double and Flint coals from the Forester pits (the New Works) for Severn sale. (fn. 125) The contract of 1740 was renewed in 1756, the Foresters agreeing for 21 years to supply annually from the New Works 4,000 stacks of Clod coal and 400 dozens of ironstone. (fn. 126) Ironstone was also sent to the Leighton furnace. (fn. 127)

About 1776 a new railway was built for the Coalbrookdale Co. through Coalmoor to Horsehay (fn. 128) and in 1777 the Foresters withdrew from direct involvement in coalmining in the parish when George Forester leased his Little Wenlock coal mines to Abraham Darby (III). (fn. 129) The lease was renewed for 21 years in 1798 in favour of the Coalbrookdale Co. on a royalty basis, a minimum royalty being guaranteed. Limits were placed on opening new pits near Little Wenlock village, (fn. 130) and in practice mining was concentrated in the New Works area, (fn. 131) though in 1808 there were also pits at Coalmoor and Little Worth. (fn. 132) In 1798-9 the New Works (partly in Wellington) produced over 10,000 tons of coal for iron making. (fn. 133) The minerals, as in 1777, (fn. 134) were destined for Coalbrookdale, Ketley, and Horsehay, except for certain coals leased in 1798 to the tenants of the limeworks. (fn. 135)

By 1833 mining had contracted to the New Works area (fn. 136) as more productive deposits in adjacent parishes were worked. (fn. 137) The Coalbrookdale Co. took 21-year leases of the coal and ironstone mines in 1847 (fn. 138) and 1868. (fn. 139) By 1882, however, the only active pit in Little Wenlock was immediately south of the road from New Works to Lawley, and it too had closed by 1901. By then there had been a revival of small-scale mining nearby. The Buckatree and the New Works collieries opened between 1882 and 1901. (fn. 140) A colliery near Lawley Furnaces, extending into Wellington parish, opened in the same period. (fn. 141) The Buckatree colliery closed in 1902 (fn. 142) and the New Works colliery was disused by 1925, (fn. 143) but shafts remained open at the Lawley Furnaces colliery, (fn. 144) one of them until at least 1937. (fn. 145) Meanwhile in 1908 Lord Forester leased the coal and fireclay of 42 a. at Coalmoor to the Coalmoor Sanitary Pipe Co.,. which bought them outright in 1919. (fn. 146) New shafts were sunk at Coalmoor (fn. 147) and in the 1930s other sites in the south-east were worked. (fn. 148)

During and after the Second World War opencast working was begun at several sites, some of which had not been exploited for over a century. In 1943 land on Upper Huntington farm was among the first areas in Shropshire to be requisitioned for opencast mining, (fn. 149) and by 1949 there were also workings at Huntington heath, Little Worth, Lawley Furnaces, and immediately south of Little Wenlock village. (fn. 150) By 1980 coalmining had ceased and most of the old sites had been returned to agriculture or taken over for fireclay extraction. A large opencast site at New Works had become a refuse tip.


Carboniferous limestone occurred abundantly at the surface in a band that ran north-westwards from Little Wenlock village, to curve north-eastwards and to cross the northern parish boundary towards Steeraway. (fn. 151)

In 1619-20 a Lilleshall churchwarden bought 4 strikes of lime from Huntington (fn. 152) and at the beginning of the next century the Foresters had two commercial limeworks in the parish, at Wenlock field, north-west of the village, and at the Hatch, north-west of Huntington. The Hatch works was the larger, sending lime as far north as Market Drayton, and west as far as Atcham and Haughmond. In 1716 over 1,000 loads of lime were produced, two thirds of them at the Hatch. (fn. 153)

In 1728 the two works, together with the Foresters' nearby Steeraway works, in Wellington parish, were leased to Richard Hartshorne the elder and John Southall, a Wellington mercer, whose partnership that year was joined by Robert Peach, a Northamptonshire tanner; the partners took a new lease that year. (fn. 154) In 1734 Hartshorne's death caused the lease to be surrendered (fn. 155) and for the next fifty years the Foresters seem to have kept their works in hand. (fn. 156) By the 1770s their sales of lime from Little Wenlock and Steeraway totalled c. £3,000 a year. (fn. 157) There seem to have been no commercial limestone workings on the Hayward or Smitheman estates, and in 1728 William Hayward agreed to lease to William Forester any limeworks that should be opened on Hayward's land near Forester's Wenlock field site. (fn. 158)

In 1784 George Forester leased all the works to John Colley and a Mr. (probably Henry) Cart wright at £525 a year. (fn. 159) When the lease expired in 1798 a new one, including mines of coal for lime burning, was granted to Richard Emery of Watling Street at a rent of £1,000, (fn. 160) increased to £1,300 in 1819 (fn. 161) and £1,600 in 1828. (fn. 162) By 1814 the parish had limeworks at the Hatch, Old field (the former Wenlock field), and Cross field, east of Huntington Lane. (fn. 163) All three were working in 1824 (fn. 164) but the Cross field site had closed by 1833 (fn. 165) and the Old field site closed between 1833 and 1839. (fn. 166) By 1833 the limestone workings at the Hatch were connected by tramway to the Horsehay ironworks. (fn. 167) The Emery lease was due to expire in 1840, and about that time a new lease was granted to the Lilleshall Co. It expired in 1849 (fn. 168) and Lord Forester kept his works in hand until 1854, when he let them to a partnership of Richard and Thomas Groom and William and John Ison; as the Steeraway Lime Co. (fn. 169) they and their successors continued to hold them until at least 1916. (fn. 170)

The Hatch workings, apparently after a period of disuse, reopened 1874-82. At that period 3,000-6,000 tons a year were extracted, (fn. 171) mostly for the Steeraway kilns, though there were kilns at the Hatch. (fn. 172) These had closed by 1901, (fn. 173) when the workings again reopened. After 1901 fewer than 8 men were usually employed and the site finally closed in 1918. (fn. 174)

Ohter industries.

An iron forge belonged to Richard the clerk at Little Wenlock c. 1180. (fn. 175) Large-scale iron making began in 1822 when the Lawley furnace was blown in near the New Works. Its first tenants were the company formed in 1818 to lease the Ketley furnaces; by 1829, as the Lawley Co., its leading partners were Henry Williams and William Hombersley. (fn. 176) In 1830 over 3,000 tons of pig were made. (fn. 177) In 1847 the works was leased to the Coalbrookdale Co., (fn. 178) which held it until c. 1870 (fn. 179) when it closed. (fn. 180)

In the 18th century the Fletcher family were ropers. (fn. 181)

Potters were living in the parish by the 1730s, including the interrelated Deakin and Cartlidge families (fn. 182) at Coalmoor. (fn. 183) In 1767 Thomas Cartlidge was renting clay pits, pot houses, and kilns from John Smitheman at a site at Coalmoor, (fn. 184) called Potter's meadow in 1817. (fn. 185) In 1767 Andrew Bradley became lessee of the works (fn. 186) and by 1775, as Andrew Bradley & Co., was supplying fire bricks and ground clay to the Horsehay works. (fn. 187) By 1780 Richard Reynolds & Co. had apparently taken over, and in July supplied 10,000 bricks from Coalmoor to Horsehay (fn. 188) but by 1796 Horsehay also had its own brick and pot works. (fn. 189) In the early 19th century Thomas Machin ran a pot works at the Coalmoor site (fn. 190) but by 1839 it had closed. (fn. 191) In 1839 there was a brick kiln at Smalleyhill, (fn. 192) gone by 1881. (fn. 193)

Basalt outcrops in several parts of the parish. (fn. 194) Commercial extraction began when the Coalmoor Basalt Co. was formed in 1930, with a works on the Horsehay road. In the 1930s the rock was crushed to make roadstone, and the works also produced concrete goods. (fn. 195) In 1982 its main product was building blocks (fn. 196) but in 1983 the site was occupied by waste-disposal contractors.

Three malthouses were standing in 1808 and 1839, (fn. 197) and in 1851 there were five maltsters, three of them also farmers. (fn. 198) Benjamin Dawes of Huntington was making malt until the 1870s (fn. 199) but seems to have had no successor in the parish.


  • 1. V.C.H. Salop, i. 312.
  • 2. Ibid. 483.
  • 3. Cart. Shrews, ii, p. 354.
  • 4. Ibid. p. 353.
  • 5. See O. Rackham, Ancient Woodland (1980), 155.
  • 6. Close R. 1231-4, 94.
  • 7. Cart. Shrews, ii, p. 249.
  • 8. Eyton. ix. 145; V.C.H. Salop, i. 488; ii. 40.
  • 9. Ekwall, Concise Oxf. Dict. Eng. P.N. 258.
  • 10. V.C.H. Salop, i. 312.
  • 11. S. P. J. Harvey, 'Evidence for Settlement Study: Domesday Bk.' Medieval Settlement, ed. P. H. Sawyer (1976), 197-9.
  • 12. Eyton, iii. 324.
  • 13. The following acct. of the man. in the 1320s is based on S.R.O. 1224/2/10. Its date is between 1321, when Hen. of Caerwent received his cottage (S.R.O. 1037/19/1), and 1330, when Ric. Dod had ceased to be rector (Eyton, iii. 328). The one illegible entry is assumed from its position to refer to a ½-virgate.
  • 14. The customary holdings totalled 12 virgates, or 3 hides, the man.'s 1086 assessment.
  • 15. V.C.H. Salop, ii. 43. For the Eng. form of Lat. terciaria see S.R.O. 1224, box 256, deed of 1669.
  • 16. S.R.O. 1224/2/8-9.
  • 17. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 164.
  • 18. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 187.
  • 19. B.L. Add. MS. 6165, f. 51v.
  • 20. S.R.O. 1224, box 342, Prior Gosnell's reg., f. 35v.
  • 21. Ibid. f. 38.
  • 22. S.R.O. 1224, box 224, deed of 1650.
  • 23. H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., glebe terrier.
  • 24. S.R.O. 1224/2/10.
  • 25. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/3021, m. 10d.; LR 2/184, f. 157.
  • 26. H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., glebe terrier.
  • 27. Ibid.
  • 28. A field named Quarry lay S. of the village in 1727: S.R.O. 1224/1/59.
  • 29. H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., glebe terrier.
  • 30. S.R.O. 1224/1/59.
  • 31. S.R.O. 1037/19/1.
  • 32. S.R.O. 1224/1/59; 1224, box 295, L. Wenlock survey.
  • 33. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 164.
  • 34. S.R.O. 1224/2/10.
  • 35. H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., glebe terrier.
  • 36. S.R.O. 1224/1/59; 1224, box 295, L. Wenlock survey.
  • 37. S.R.O. 1224/2/1, 4, 6-9.
  • 38. Called Marlmers in 1833: O.S. Map 1", sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.).
  • 39. S.R.O. 1224/2/4; P.R.O., LR 2/184, ff. 104 and v., 157-158v.; SC 6/Hen. VIII/3021, m. 10d. See S.R.O. 1224/1/ 59 for locations.
  • 40. S.R.O. 1224/1/59.
  • 41. Ibid. /2/4.
  • 42. Ibid. /1/59; T. F. Dukes, Antiquities of Salop. (1844), 95-6; P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/3021, m. 11.
  • 43. P.R.O., LR 2/184, f. 104 and v.
  • 44. H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., glebe terrier.
  • 45. P.R.O., E 318/875, m. 2.
  • 46. S.R.O. 1190, box 23, ct. r.; 1224/2/4, 8-9.
  • 47. S.R.O. 1224/2/14, m. 4.
  • 48. Ibid. /2/9.
  • 49. Ibid./2/10.
  • 50. P.R.O., E 318/875, m. 2.
  • 51. H.W.R.O. (H.). Heref. dioc. rec., glebe terrier of 1607.
  • 52. When he was due to come into possession: below, Lilleshall, Man. and Other Est.
  • 53. The following acct. of the man. in 1540 is based on P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/3021, mm. 10d.-11d.
  • 54. S.R.O. 1224, box 242, Prior Gosnell's reg. f. 38; P.R.O., E 318/996, m. 11; LR 2/184, ff. 104v.-105, 156-158v. 'Wood silver' was perhaps in lieu of timber haulage: see J. L. Fisher, Medieval Farming Glossary (1968), 41.
  • 55. S.R.O. 1224, box 296, Lady Day rental of 1688, pp. 6-9.
  • 56. Ibid. box 256, deeds of 1654, 1669, 1684-96.
  • 57. S.R.O. 1224/1/59.
  • 58. S.R.O. 1224, box 255, deed of 1720.
  • 59. Ibid. box 295, L. Wenlock survey, ff. 31-53. This survey (and the present acct.) omits two farms (104 a. altogether) held by Wm. Ferriday that lay partly in Wellington par. and included the N. arm of L. Wenlock par.: see ibid. survey of Watling Street Demesne, etc., f. 18.
  • 60. S.R.O. 1224/1/59.
  • 61. The following 2 paras, are based on H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., invs. of Ric. Wood, 1666; Geo. Grice, 1667; Wm. Greene, 1668; Ric. Parton, 1671; Fra. Wooslely, 1673; John Swyfte, 1682; Thos. Briscoe, 1685; John Smitheman, 1689; Edw. Burgwyn, 1691; Geo. Buttery, 1691; Wm. Parton, 1691; Wm. Sherrington, 1699; Wm. Boycott, 1709; Ric. Wheelewright, 1709; Wm. Whyston, 1713; Geo. Wheelright, 1714; John Fletcher, 1715; Ric. Jervis, 1715; John Simmonds, 1715; Wm. Wheelwright, 1715; Wm. Wheelwright, 1717; Sam Green, 1719; Wm. Wright, 1720; Margery Swift, 1727; Fra. Parton, 1729; Rob. Dorral, 1730; Geo. Fletcher, 1730; Edm. Gray, 1730; John Owsley, 1731; Fra. Evans, 1736; Ric. Guist, 1737; Dan. Rogers, 1739; Rog. Thresslecock, 1742; Ric. Taylor, 1745; John Rogers, 1754; Eliz. Owsley, 1755; Thos. Cartledge, 1760; Rob. Taylor, 1760.
  • 62. Yeomen and Colliers in Telford, ed. B. Trinder and J. Cox (1980), 72-90; above, Madeley, Econ. Hist.
  • 63. Trinder and Cox, op. cit. 88-9.
  • 64. Ibid. 76, 88.
  • 65. Ibid. 84.
  • 66. Ibid. 86.
  • 67. S.R.O. 1224/1/59.
  • 68. Ibid. cultivation symbols.
  • 69. S.R.O. 1224, box 258, agreement of 1757.
  • 70. Ibid. box 257, deeds of 1745; box 258, deeds of 1757, 1761, 1762.
  • 71. P.R.O., HO 67/12, no. 143.
  • 72. e.g. S.R.O. 1224, box 255, deed of 1732.
  • 73. Ibid. box 258, deed of 1761.
  • 74. e.g. ibid. deeds of 1775, 1798.
  • 75. e.g. ibid. deeds of 1762.
  • 76. Ibid. deeds of 1761, 1762; box 257, deeds of 1741, 1745.
  • 77. Para. based on S.R.O. 1224, parcels 311-18, rentals of 1714-1813.
  • 78. Such tenancies may be inferred from L. Wenlock rentals of the 1790s onwards, though the earliest known L. Wenlock example dates from 1804 (mentioned ibid. box 295, survey of 1808, ff. 5v.-6).
  • 79. Ibid. survey of 1808.
  • 80. Ibid. box 258, deed of 25 Feb.
  • 81. Ibid. box 204, estreats of fines of 1775, 1777.
  • 82. S.R.O. 2142/1.
  • 83. S.R.O. 1224/1/60.
  • 84. S.R.O. 1224, box 295, valuation of Mrs. Davies's farm, 1828; ibid. partic. of rent alterations 7 July 1826.
  • 85. S.R.O. 2443/1.
  • 86. S.R.O. 1681, parcel 46, sale partic. pp. 3-5; P.R.O., MAF 68/3880, Salop, no. 263.
  • 87. S.R.O. 1224, box 295, survey of 1808; 2142/1.
  • 88. P.R.O., HO 67/12, no. 143; S.R.O. 1224, box 295, survey of 1808.
  • 89. S.R.O. 1224, box 258, printed agreements of 1816-24.
  • 90. S.R.O. 2443/1.
  • 91. See Table III.
  • 92. S.R.O. 2142/1; 1681, parcel 46, sale partic. p. 6.
  • 93. S.R.O. 2142/2-3; O.S. Maps 6", SJ 60 NE. (1966 edn.), NW. (1954 edn.).
  • 94. S.R.O. 1224, box 295, estimate of wood sales.
  • 95. 'Hallywell Hayes' in 1540: P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/ 3021, m. 11.
  • 96. S.R.O. 1224/2/10.
  • 97. Ibid. /1/59.
  • 98. S.R.O. 1224, box 206, suit r. of 1757; box 257, deed of 1733; box 295, survey of 1727, f. 47; 1987/35/9; 3331/1, f. 2.
  • 99. S.R.O. 1224, box 295, survey, f. 59.
  • 100. S.R.O. 2142/1, 3.
  • 101. Par. rec., ch. rate bk. 1857-72.
  • 102. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Salop. XLIII. 6 (1882 edn.).
  • 103. Inst. Geol. Sciences Map 1/25,000, Telford (1978 edn.).
  • 104. In 'Colmor[e]syate': S.R.O. 1224/2/10.
  • 105. Ibid. /2/1.
  • 106. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/3021, m. 11.
  • 107. S.R.O. 1224, parcel 298, lime acct. bk. 27 Oct. 1716.
  • 108. S.R.O. 2374, box 1, deed.
  • 109. S.R.O. 1224, box 296, coal acct. bks. 1681-9; coal accts. 1689-91. A stack (10 horseloads) for Severn sale occupied 117,649 cu. in. or weighed 32, 36, or 42 cwt. (according to type), and of Clod coal was 35 cwt.: ibid. box 256, deeds of 1718, 1728; box 260, deeds of 1740, 1750.
  • 110. A dozen of ironstone (11 strikes) was 44 cwt. (ibid. box 259, deeds of 1756, 1798) or occupied 72,960 cu. in (Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. 52).
  • 111. S.R.O. 1224, box 296, 'Old master's work' acct. bk.; 'Coalmeadow' acct. bk., pp. 10, 35, 45, 53.
  • 112. S.P.R. Lich. xiv (3), p. v.
  • 113. S.R.O. 1224, box 296, coal acct. bks. 1681-9.
  • 114. S.R.O. 1242, box 5, abstr. of title c. 1842.
  • 115. S.R.O. 1224, box 256, deed of 1718.
  • 116. Ibid. deeds of 1728.
  • 117. Ibid. box 227, deed.
  • 118. Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. 197.
  • 119. Ibid. 29.
  • 120. S.R.O. 1224, box 260, deed of 1740.
  • 121. P.R.O., E 134/27 Geo. II Hil./8.
  • 122. S.R.O. 1224, box 260, deed.
  • 123. Ibid. box 259, deed of 1750, plan c. 1750.
  • 124. Ibid. Wm. Ferriday to [Wm. Forester], 11 Jan. 1755.
  • 125. Ibid. box 260, deed defining a wagon of such coals as 52½ cwt.
  • 126. Ibid. deed.
  • 127. Ibid. box 259, Wm. Ferriday to -, 4 Jan. 1755.
  • 128. Ibid. parcel 315, Mich. rental of 1776, f. 6v.
  • 129. Ibid. Lady Day 'roll at large' of 1777, f. 6v. The lease was presumably for 21 yrs., and thus the one that expired 1 Jan. 1798: I.G.M.T. Libr., acc. no. 1978-279, p. 22.
  • 130. S.R.O. 1224, box 259, deed.
  • 131. Ibid. box 295, valuation of Dothill est. 1809, ff. 23V.-4.
  • 132. R. Baugh, Map of Salop. (1808).
  • 133. I.G.M.T. Libr., Coalbrookdale Co. settling jnl. 1798- 1808, pp. 11-27.
  • 134. I.G.M.T. Libr., acc. no. 1978-279, p. 22.
  • 135. S.R.O. 1224, box 255, deed; box 259, deed.
  • 136. O.S. Map 1", sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.).
  • 137. S. Bagshaw, Dir. Salop. (1851), 565-6.
  • 138. S.R.O. 604 (uncat.), R. Garbitt to G. Potts, 8 May 1847.
  • 139. S.R.O. 1681, box 42, deed.
  • 140. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Salop. XLIII. 2 (1882 and 1902 edns.).
  • 141. Ibid. XXXVI. 14 (1882 and 1902 edns.).
  • 142. I. J. Brown, Coalbrookdale Coalfield (Shropshire Co. Libr. 1968), 18.
  • 143. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Salop. XLIII. 2 (1927 edn.).
  • 144. O.S. Map 6", Salop. XXXVI. SW. (1929 edn.).
  • 145. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Salop. XXXVI. 14 (1937 edn.).
  • 146. S.R.O. 1681, box 41, deed; box 44, deed. On the co.'s hist. see below, Dawley, Econ. Hist.
  • 147. O.S. Map 6", Salop. XLIII. NW. (1928 edn.).
  • 148. Brown, Coalbrookdale Coalfield, 19.
  • 149. Jackson, 'Madeley', bk. 3A, p. 91.
  • 150. O.S. Map 1/25,000, SJ 60 (1957 edn.).
  • 151. Inst. Geol. Sciences Map 1/25,000, Telford (1978 edn.).
  • 152. S.R.O. 4462/CW/1/7. A strike of lime was defined in 1728 as 2,186.55 cu. in. (roughly 1 imperial bushel) and consisted of 1½ 'pieces': S.R.O. 1224, box 227, deed 27 Sept. 1728.
  • 153. S.R.O. 1224, parcel 298, lime acct. bk. 1715-17. A load of lime was defined in 1728 as 20 strikes: box 227, deed 27 Sept. 1728. In the 1680s it had been called a score, 6 scores making a 'hundred': box 296, coal and lime acct. bk. 1681-9.
  • 154. Ibid. box 257, deed.
  • 155. Ibid. deed.
  • 156. Ibid. box 299, acct. bk. 1737-8.
  • 157. e.g. ibid. parcel 315, Mich. rental of 1776, f. 19v.
  • 158. Ibid. box 227, deed.
  • 159. Ibid. parcel 316, Lady Day rental of 1783, f. 19v.; parcel 317, Mich. rental of 1785, f. 16v.
  • 160. Ibid. box 255, deeds of 1797-8.
  • 161. Ibid. deeds.
  • 162. Ibid. box 162, rental of 1828, ff. 62v.-63.
  • 163. B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 208.
  • 164. S.R.O. 1224, box 295, damages estimate.
  • 165. O.S. Map 1", sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.).
  • 166. S.R.O. 2142/1-3.
  • 167. O.S. Map 1", sheet 61 NE. (1833 edn.).
  • 168. S.R.O. 604 (uncat.), R. Garbitt to G. Potts 8 May 1847.
  • 169. V.C.H. Salop, i. 449.
  • 170. I. J. Brown, Hist. of Limestone Mining in Salop. (Salop. Mining Club Acct. vi, 1967), 15.
  • 171. Ibid. 13-14.
  • 172. O.S. Map 6", Salop. XLIII. NW. (1889 edn.).
  • 173. Ibid. (1903 edn.).
  • 174. Brown, Hist. Limestone Mining, 14-16.
  • 175. P.R.O., E 32/143.
  • 176. Trinder, Ind. Rev. Salop. 235; S.R.O. 1224, parcel 191, Mich. gathering roll of 1829, s.v. Mines and Minerals.
  • 177. Trinder, op. cit. 235.
  • 178. S.R.O. 604 (uncat.), R. Garbitt to Coalbrookdale Co. 21 Apr. 1847.
  • 179. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1870), 156.
  • 180. V.C.H. Salop, ii. 233.
  • 181. H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., inv. of Geo. Fletcher, 1730; par. reg. bur. 13 Jan. 1749/50; 18 Sept. 1757; 4 Feb. 1759; marr. 7 Nov. 1757 (transcript in S.P.L.); S.R.O. 1224, parcel 317, Mich. rental of 1792, f. 9v.
  • 182. Par. reg. marr. 25 Dec. 1731; bur. 26 Nov. 1736; 31 Mar. 1747; 5 Jan. 1747/8; 1 May 1760; bap. 29 Apr. 1749; 1 Sept. 1751 (transcript in S.P.L.); S.R.O. 1224, box 206, suit r.; H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., inv. of Thos. Cartledge, 1760.
  • 183. H.W.R.O.(H.), Heref. dioc. rec., inv. of Sam. Deakin, 1729.
  • 184. S.R.O. 1224, box 225, deed.
  • 185. Ibid. box 258, deed.
  • 186. Ibid. box 225, deed.
  • 187. S.R.O. 245/144, pp. 56, 74.
  • 188. Ibid. p. 390.
  • 189. S.R.O. 245/145, passim.
  • 190. S.R.O. 1224, box 258, deed of 1817; box 295, survey of 1808, ff. 4v.-5; ibid. valuation of Smitheman est. of 1825.
  • 191. S.R.O. 2142/1.
  • 192. Ibid. /1-2.
  • 193. O.S. Map 6", Salop. XLIII. NW. (1889 edn.).
  • 194. Inst. Geol. Sciences Map 1/25,000, Telford (1978 edn.).
  • 195. Wellington Jnl. 1 July 1939.
  • 196. T.D.C. Telford Ind. Dir. (1982), 18.
  • 197. S.R.O. 1224, box 295, survey of 1808, ff. 2v., 21, 33v.-34. 35v.; 2142/1.
  • 198. S. Bagshaw, Dir. Salop. (1851), 566.
  • 199. P.O. Dir. Salop. (1870), 163; par. rec., ch. rate bk. 1857-72.