Historical Knowledge
gathered from Rootsweb mailing lists
of the English Midlands
learning from others, as we go

The Black Country
Marrying Cousins
Wesleyan Revival
Wednesbury Riots
Industrial Revolution

a TOWN or a CITY ?
in England

The town (now a city) is WOLVERHAMPTON, and it is in the COUNTY (like your states) of Stafford or Staffordshire as it is usually written.

The difference betwen a town and a city is that a city has a CATHEDRAL (it is an important church with ceremonial chair, or BISHOP's throne).

A Bishop looks after a DIOCESE which may include 20 or 30 towns like Wolverhampton. Each town has either a VICAR or a RECTOR or Archdeacon or Dean (in order of ascendancy, although I am not an expert) who report to the Bishop.

In Wolverhampton's case (and Willenhall and Darlaston also, for that matter) it was the Bishop of Lichfield they reported to. Wolverhampton was always a special case. St Peters (the only "established" church in those days in the centre of W'ton) was called a Collegiate Church.

This meant it was almost a Cathedral but not quite. But it had most of the functions of a Cathedral, and is today presumably officially classed as a Cathedral now that Wolverhampton was made a city in 2000.

What was
a penny farthing

Social life in the Black Country

An American asked me
"What was The Black Country,
was it a place where
Black People gathered"?

"Not exactly" I answered,
"wasn't a racial community but a place that got blackened by coal smoke of

so this industrial area
of the English Midlands
became known as

"The Black Country"

Before the Industrial Revolution scarred the landscape and brought hundreds of thousands of workers into the Black Country this was a typical country scene.

Villages used to close down
twice a week.

ONCE on MARKET DAY - when everyone went to the local market town for Market Day.

ONCE on SUNDAY - when the churches would have been full. Chapel folk going to the parish church in the morning and then attending their own chapel twice more that day (hence they were called thricers).

ENTERTAINMENT was home-made in the various barns. There were mid week church meetings to attend. Many of the weddings seemed to be arranged - particularly among the landowning classes.

The ordinary people met their spouses through chapel or market day or through service in one of the big houses.

...writes John Cullwick
Cullwick family historian.

Marrying Cousins

Marrying first cousins was very common and perfectly legal. Mary Somerville the mathematician did it and I think possibly Charles Darwin.

The relationships which were not allowed by the Church of England are set out in the Table of Kindred and Affinity, which you will find in the Book of Common Prayer. These include several relations by marriage (but oddly not 'wife's sister', which I believe was against the *civil* law for a long time). But perhaps you need to interpret the word 'cousin' more loosely.

Imagine, the guy had an older half brother with a pretty daughter. She would be a brother's daughter, which is off limits, but arguably genetically no closer than a cousin german (first cousin) and quite possibly referred to as 'cousin' in that casual way our ancestors had.

Or - perhaps someone more knowledgeable than me can tell us how the church would interpret 'brother'. If the girl was the child of her lover's step brother then they wouldnt be relatives at all but might still fall foul of the rules.

Or - maybe she was a more distant relative but there was some other impediment like her age.

Yes, Charles Darwin married his Cousin Emma Wedgwood in 1839. His Mother's maiden name being Wedgwood the youngest daughter of Josiah Wedgwood II a member of the famous pottery firm.

One of the reasons for cousins marrying was to keep land (and money) in the family. It happened frequently among the upper classes and among the landed gentry. I also have lots of examples in the less well off, often is it not evident that it was cousins marrying unless you have a reason for following down on all the branches of the family, and parents had a lot more say in who a girl married.

I have two cousins marrying at Trentham in 1816 - Joseph and Martha. Big society wedding between two successful farming families, and the grandfather of Joseph was also the grandfather of Martha. There appears to have been no stigma and cousin weddings seem to have been encouraged in order to keep land "in the family". Then Martha died 6 years later and Joseph married her younger sister Catherine.

I have read that marrying your dead wife's sister (which seems more acceptable than cousins marrying today) was an offence then - against state and church law.

Yet some Vicars allowed it. Think that Joseph and Catherine had to marry a long way from home (in London). And I think the Vicar had to be provided with a large bond to allow such a marriage. Many Vicars could be persuaded to break ecclesiastical law if it meant swelling the church coffers (or their coffers perhaps).

But I am pretty sure that there would be no barrier to someone falling in love and marrying his first or second cousin in the 19th century. Examples abound in some of my lines (usually the respectable ones).

Black Country Wakes (fairs)

In outward semblance
Wakes differed very little from pleasure fairs, though in origin they were quite different.

While fairs were instituted primarily for trading purposes,
and in course of time, came to attract to them, crowds of idlers and other pleasure-seekers, Wakes were, in origin, but glorified Church Ales, lasting an entire week, and instituted in honour of the Saint to whom the parish Church was dedicated. If the celebration of parish Wakes was often accompanied by gross indulgence in pleasures of various kinds, not to say in brutal and licentious practises, the origin of these local festivals must not be forgotten.

According to Bede, at the first Christianising of the English, the existing heathen temples were made use of after being dedicated to some Christian Saint. Indeed some of them were allowed to contain two altars, one for the Saint, and one for the rites offered to Woden, or Thor, or Frea, the triad of the old Norse worship.

Such devotions to demon gods, performed with many degrading rites, could have only a demoralising effect on the Christian converts. At Wednesbury, for instance, where a temple of Woden was dedicated to Saint Bartholomew, what hope was there that the peaceful teachings of the White Christ should Prevail with a warlike people over their racial pride in a bloodthirsty God of War?

For a generation or two at least the softer Christian virtues must have been at a discount with inherited prejudice and national traits of character. Wakes were so-called because they were originally Watch Services, or Vigils of the Feast of Dedication, when as Spelman tells us:

"the pepul cam to the chirche with candellys brennyng, and wold wake and coome with light toward the chirches in their devocions, and after, they fell to lecherie and songs, daunces, harping, piping, and also to glotony and sinne, and so turned holinesse to cursydnees.

The dedication of the Church is yerely had in minde, with worship passing Catholicke, and in a wondrous kinde

From out the steeple hie is hangde a crosse and banner fayre, The pavement of the temple strowde with hearbes of pleasant ayre, The pulpets and the aulters all that in the church are seene, And every pewe and piller great ere deckt with boughes of greene; The tabernacles opened are, and images are drest, But chiefly he that patron is doth shine above the rest"

writes the poet of the Reformation
Barnaby Googe, in 1570.

At first the Wakes were held in the churchyard which became, as at similar Church Ales, scenes of high revelry if not of actual debauchery. Tolerated by the Church for centuries, the more flagrant practices met with stern disapproval from the Puritan party at the Reformation. Later the Wakes were moved to the Market Places.

As early as 1536 Henry VIII. sought to suppress the grosser practices; and in Elizabeth's reign a High Commission under Henry, Earl of Derby, at Manchester (1579) issued orders against pipers and minstrels, playing and masking, frequenting of alehouses, bull and bearbaitings, and similar practices on Sundays, common feasts and Wakes. Notwithstanding which such brutal sports as bullbaiting and cock-fighting were inseparable from all Wake celebrations well into the nineteenth century.

The character of these annual celebrations at the beginning of that century
may be judged by the following snatch of song

There in jovial days of yore,
The mad bull weltered in his gore,
The bullocks joined hearty in the roar,
In the olden days of Wedgebry,
A cock, a bull, a surly bear,
A cur tossed yelping in the air,
These were the frolics of the Fair,
In the olden days of Wedgebry.

Wednesbury Wake was abolished in 1874
by an Order signed by the Home Secretary
in response to an application from the town authorities. This legal formality removed it from the Market Place and all other public thoroughfares, though it survives in attenuated form on private land to this day.

Another feature of which official cognisance was taken in 1536 was the undue multiplication of local holidays, and the consequent interference with business.

Dave Ogden Wednesbury Staffordshire


The Evangelical Revival began in 1738 with the Conversion of John and Charles WESLEY who travelled throughout England to "spread Scriptural Holiness throughout the land." They gathered their followers into groups called Societies and Classes and out of these Societies the Methodist Church was created.

When John Wesley died in 1791 there were about 100,000 Methodists.   In 1796 the Methodist movement split into two groups, one called the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the other the Methodist New Connexion.   But numerous other groups were coming into being, based upon the Wesley's spiritual leadership and social message.

In Cheshire and Staffordshire, groups with names like Quaker Methodists, Delamere Methodists, the "Clowesites" came into being between 1800 and 1810. The Camp Meeting Methodists, the largest of these groups, held their first "Camp Meeting" on Mow Cop on 31st May 1807.   Most of those who attended were members of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.    But the Wesleyan Church had forbidden Methodists to hold Camp Meetings and expelled all those who attended them.

The leaders of the Camp Meeting Methodists were Hugh Bourne, James Bourne, William Clowes and Daniel Shubotham.     After their expulsion from the Wesleyan Methodist Church they decided to organise themselves in the way the earliest Methodists had been organised by John Wesley.

On Thursday May 30th 1811 Hugh Bourne ordered some "Tickets" to be printed.   These were issued to all those considered to be faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who belonged to the Camp Meeting Methodists and the Clowesites.  This was the beginning.    Other dissident groups joined them. On February 13th 1812, "We
called a meeting and made plans for the next Quarter and made some regulations
- - -  in particular we took the name of the Society of "PRIMITIVE METHODISTS" (From the Journal of Hugh Bourne)

They, "ranters" (as they became known) preached their way along the river Trent from the Potteries to Hull.    The strongest societies were in North Staffordshire, South Cheshire and Derbyshire.

On February 5th 1830
the Primitive Methodist Connexion was put on a proper legal footing.   A Deed of Settlement was prepared so that all the property acquired by the Church since 1811 would formally belong to four ministers and eight laymen acting as representatives of the whole Connexion.  

It had taken eight years work to create this document with clauses which everyone could agree with.   It was signed by Hugh BOURNE, James BOURNE, William Clowes,
Sampson TURNER, John GARNER, John HANCOCK, Richard ODLIN, George TAYLOR, David Bowen, Thomas Sugden, Ralph Waller and John Gordon Black.

On Saturday January 27th 1821
William CLOWES made his first trip to Scarborough to preach the Gospel.  He was in the area for six weeks and on two of those Sundays he preached at Whitby.   He visited Robin Hood's Bay  to preach to a massive crowd of fishermen on the beach assisted by J. Branfoot. He preached at Whitby on 11th and 18th February, and although Staithes is not mentioned in the records it is certainly true that he preached at a number of un-named villages at this time and Staithes could have been one of them.

It was obvious a regular missioner was needed in this area so on March 25th 1821 Mr N. West was "borrowed" from Maltby for a month to organise things.   He collected together 55 converts in Whitby into three classes, and listed 28 names at Robin Hood's Bay.   Early in April he preached on the sands at Scarborough to 3,000 people who, he said, "paid great attention."   Primitive Methodism had arrived on the North Yorkshire Coast.

The Wesleyans and the Primitives merged in 1932 to create the Methodist Church, so in 1970 there were no Primitives and there were no Wesleyans and there had not been for 40 years !

I have been a member of the Methodist Church since 1949 and in all the Circuits where I have lived most of the antagonism had died out by then.
by Cyril Blount - Staffordshire clergyman

The Wednesbury Riots

John Wesley Faces Mobs.
  • -- Before the Magistrate
  • -- A Noble Champion - "Always Look a Mob in the Face."
  • -- Stoned at the Market Cross
  • -- Causes of the Disturbance
  • -- Quieter Times

THE Wesleys had been censured by bishops, cursed by High Church clergy, and slandered by a host of pamphleteers. But this stormy course of violent words was only the prelude to the ferocious attacks of the mobs which came, like wild beasts, howling on their track in the moral wilderness of England.

The "Black Country," in the southern part of Staffordshire, was the scene of one of the earliest and most violent persecutions. The towns of Wednesbury, Walsall, and Darlaston had won for themselves an unenviable notoriety for lawlessness.

The brutal sports of these towns reflected the moral condition of the people. Bull baiting and cockfighting provided scenes of riotous delight.

Charles Wesley was the first Methodist who preached at Wednesbury, in November, 1742. John soon followed, and a society of one hundred members, increased to more than three hundred by the following May, was speedily formed. The storm soon broke. Charles preached in May at Walsall from the steps of the market house the mob roaring, shouting, and throwing stones incessantly, many of which struck him, but none hurt him.

Soon after this, the rioters of the three towns turned out in force and smashed windows, furniture, and houses. People were promiscuously struck and bruised. The magistrates, on being appealed to by the Methodists for protection, told them they were themselves to blame for the outrages, and refused all assistance.

Wesley, in London, received a full account of this terrible six-days' riot, and thus writes:

"I was not surprised at all; neither should I have wondered if, after the advices they had so often received from the pulpit as well as from the episcopal chair, the zealous High Churchmen had risen and cut all that were Methodists in pieces!"
Wesley proceeded at once to the scene to render what assistance he could. But no redress could be obtained. In October he went again to this den of wild beasts. While he was writing at Francis Ward's the mob beset the house and cried, "Bring out the minister; we will have the minister!" Wesley asked some one to take their captain by the hand and lead him in. After a few words the lion became a lamb.

Wesley now asked him to bring two of the bitterest opponents inside. He soon returned with a couple who "were ready to swallow the ground with rage; but in two minutes they were as calm as he." Then, mounting a chair in the midst of the mob, he demanded,

"What do any of you want with me?"
Some said, amid the clamor,
"We want you to go with us to the justice."

"That I will," said Wesley, "with all my heart."

The few words he added had such an effect that the mob shouted,
"The gentleman is an honest gentleman,
and we will spill our blood in his defense."

Some dispersed to their homes, but Wesley and the rest, some two or three hundred, set out for the magistrate's house.

Darkness and heavy rain came on in about half an hour, or by the time they had walked a mile, but they pushed forward another mile, to the justice's house at Bentley Hall. Some of the advance guard told that officer, Mr. Lane, that they were bringing Wesley.

"What have I to do with Mr. Wesley?" quoth the magistrate.
"Take him back again."
When the crowd came up and knocked for admission, the magistrate declined to see them, sending word that he was in bed.

His son came out and asked their business.
A spokesman answered,

"To be plain, sir, if I must speak the truth,
all the fault I find with him is
that he preaches better than our parsons."

Another said:
"Sir, it is a downright shame;
he makes people rise at five in the morning
to sing psalms.

What advice would your worship give us?"

"To go home," said young Lane, "and be quiet."

Not getting much satisfaction there,
they now hurried Wesley to Walsall, to Justice Persehouse.
Although it was only about seven o'clock, he also sent word that he had gone to bed, and refused to see them. Yet these very magistrates had recently issued an order calling on all officers of justice to search for and bring before them any Methodist preacher found in the district.

At last they all thought it wise to make their way home,
and some fifty of the crowd undertook to convey Wesley back to Wednesbury.

But they had not gone a hundred yards when the mob of Walsall burst upon them.
They showed fight but, being wearied and greatly outnumbered, were soon overpowered, and Wesley was left in the hands of his new enemies. Some tried to seize him by the collar and pull him down. A big, lusty fellow, just behind him, struck at him several times with an oaken club. If one of these blows had taken effect, as Wesley says, "it would have saved all further trouble. But every time the blow was turned aside, I know not how, for I could not move to the right hand or left?

Another, rushing through the crowd, lifted his arm to strike, but of a sudden,
let it drop and only stroked Wesley's head, saying,

"What soft hair he has!"
One man struck him on the breast, and another on the mouth with such force that the blood gushed out; but he felt no more pain, he affirms, from either than if they had touched him with a straw; not, certainly, because he was over excited or alarmed, for he assures us that from the beginning to the end he was enabled to maintain as much presence of mind as if he had been sitting in his study, but his thoughts were entirely absorbed in watching the movements of the rioters.

When he had been pulled to the west end of the town, seeing a door half open--which proved, strangely enough, to be the mayor's, though he did not know it--he made toward it to go in; but the owner, who was inside, would not suffer it, saying the mob would pull the house down to the ground.

However, Wesley stood at the door, and raising his voice to the maddened throng, asked,

"Are you willing to hear me speak?"
Many cried out,
"No! No! Knock his brains out!
Down with him! Kill him at once!"

Others said,
"Nay, but we will hear him first!"

Then he spoke a while, until his voice suddenly failed.

Now the cry was:
"Bring him away! Bring him away!"

Recovering his strength, he began to pray aloud.
Then the ruffian who had headed the rabble, a prize fighter at the bear garden, struck with awe, turned and said:

"Sir, I will spend my life for you! Follow me,
and not one soul here shall touch a hair of your head!"

Others of his companions joined with him in this new departure.
An honest butcher also interposed and thrust away four or five of the most violent assailants.

The people fell back to the right and left, and in the charge of his new-found protectors, Wesley was borne through the infuriated crowd and escorted to his lodgings at Wednesbury, having lost only one flap of his waistcoat and a little skin from one of his hands.

He says concerning it:

"I took no thought for one moment before another;
only once it came into my mind that,
if they should throw me into the river,
it would spoil the papers that were in my pocket.

For myself, I did not doubt but I should swim across,
having but a thin coat and a light pair of boots."

"I never saw such a chain of providences before;
so many convincing proofs
that the hand of God is on every person and thing,
overruling all as it seemeth him good."

In the midst of all these perils, four brave Methodists
- William Sitch, Edward Slater, John Griffith, and Joan Parks - clung fast to Wesley's side, resolved to live or die with him. None received a blow save William, who was knocked down, but soon got up again.

When Wesley asked William Sitch
what he expected when the mob seized them,
he answered with a martyr's spirit,

"To die for him who died for us."

And when Joan Parks was asked if she was not afraid
she said:

"No, no more than I am now. I could trust God for you as well as for myself."

When Wesley reached Wednesbury, the friends were praying for him in the house from which he had started. His sufferings awoke general sympathy. Next morning, as he rode through the town, he says,

"Everyone I met expressed such a cordial affection
that I could scarce believe what I saw and heard."

Charles Wesley met him at Nottingham.
He says his brother "looked like a soldier of Christ.
His clothes were torn to tatters."

Charles went straight from Nottingham to the scenes of the rioting, boldly bearding the lions in their den. He was constitutionally a timid man, as he often confesses, but there was nothing he feared so much as to offend his own conscience.

He arrived at Wednesbury five days after the miraculous escape of his brother, and found the Methodists "standing fast in one mind and spirit, in nothing terrified by their adversaries." He writes: "We assembled before day to sing hymns to Christ as God. As soon as it was light I walked down the town and preached .... It was a most glorious time."

The clergyman at Darlaston was so struck with the meek behavior of the Methodists in the midst of suffering that he offered to join the Wesleys in punishing the rioters. As for "honest Munchin," the nickname for George Clifton, the captain of the rabble, who had rescued Wesley, he was so impressed with Wesley's spirit that he immediately forsook his godless, profligate gang, and was received on trial into the Methodist society by Charles. The latter asked him, "What think you of my brother?" "Think of him?" was the answer, "That he is a mon of God; and God was on his side, when so mony of us could not kill one mon." Clifton lived a good life after this, and died in Birmingham, aged eighty-five, in 1789, two years before Wesley. He was never weary of telling the story of that night when he might have taken life, had not God stayed his hand.

It was John Wesley's rule, confirmed, he says, by experience, "always to look a mob in the face." An indescribable dignity in his bearing, a light in his eyes, and a spiritual influence pervading his whole personality often overawed and captured the very leaders of the riots. At St. Ives, in Cornwall, when the mob attempted to break up his meeting, he says: "I went into the midst, and brought the head of the mob up with me to the desk. I received but one blow on the side of the head, after which we reasoned the case, till he grew milder and milder, and at length undertook to quiet his companions." A similar incident is recorded a few years later when a lieutenant at Plymouth-dock, with his retinue of soldiers and drummers, headed a raging crowd. "After waiting about a quarter of an hour," says Wesley, "perceiving the violence of the rabble still increasing, I walked down into the thickest of them and took the captain of the mob by the hand. He immediately said: ' Sir, I will see you safe home. Sir, no man shall touch you. Gentlemen, stand off! give back! I will knock down the first man that touches him! ' We walked on in great peace, my conductor, a very tall man, stretching out his neck and looking round to see if any behaved rudely, till we came to Mr. Hide's door. We then parted in much love. I stayed in the street, after he was gone, talking with the people who had now forgot their anger and went away in high good humor." Sometimes the rioters themselves were the chief sufferers from the missiles and clubs so freely used.

Wesley gives a striking instance of this at Bolton, Lancashire, when he preached at the Cross. One man was bawling just at Wesley's ear, "when a stone struck him on the cheek, and he was still." A second was forcing his way to assault Wesley, when another stone hit him on the forehead, "the blood ran down, and he came no farther." A third stretched out his hand, and in the instant a sharp stone came upon the joints of his fingers, and he was "very quiet" during the rest of the discourse, which was finished in peace. A year later, in the same town, Wesley was followed "full cry" to the house where he stayed. A raging crowd filled the street and took possession of every room in the house. One friend who ventured out was thrown down, rolled in the mire, and thrust back in such a state that "one could scarce tell who he was." Wesley called for a chair and quietly stood upon it. "The winds were hushed, and all was calm and still. My heart was filled with love, my eyes with tears, and my mouth with arguments." In a few hours the entire scene was changed, and none opened their mouths unless to bless or thank the Methodists! When Wesley was preaching at Gwennap two men raging like maniacs rode furiously into the midst of the congregation and began to lay hold upon the people. Wesley commenced singing, and one man cried to his attendants, "Seize him, seize him, I say; seize the preacher for his majesty's service." Cursing the servants for their slowness, he leaped from his horse, caught Wesley by the cassock, crying, "I take you to serve his majesty." Wesley walked with him three quarters of a mile, when the courage of the bravo failed, and, finding he was dealing with a gentleman, he offered to take him to his house, but Wesley declined the invitation.

The man called for horses and took Wesley back to the preaching place. The next day at Falmouth more serious perils awaited him. The rioters attacked the house where he was staying, and the noise was like "the taking of a city by storm." The outer door was forced; only a wainscot partition was between them and the object of their rage. Wesley calmly took down a large looking-glass which hung against the partition. The daughter, Kitty, cries out, "O, sir, what must we do?" "We must pray," he replied. "But, sir, is it not better for you to hide yourself ?" "No," said Wesley. "It is best for me to stand just where I am." The crews of some privateers, to hurry matters, set their shoulders to the inner door, and cried, "Avast, lads, avast!" and the door gave way. Wesley stepped forward at once and said: "Here I am. Which of you has anything to say to me? To which of you have I done any wrong? Toyou? Or you? Or you?" He walked on as he talked until he came to the middle of the street, when, raising his voice, he cried with great dignity: "Neighbors, countrymen! Do you desire to hear me speak ?" "Yes, yes," they answered; "he shall speak." The captains of the mob, admiring his courage, commanded silence while he spoke, and afterward conducted him in safety to another house.

The reasons assigned by the rioters themselves for their opposition to Methodism were very various and curious, but they often echoed the pulpit cries of the day, or were the outcome of passing popular and unreasoning excitement ready to seize on any excuse for violence. When Wesley visited St. Ives the second time, in 1744, he found the mob had pulled down the preaching house "for joy that Admiral Matthews had beat the Spaniards such is the Cornish method of thanks giving. I suppose, if Admiral Lestock had fought too, they would have knocked all the Methodists on the head." The violence of the clergy was not any more intelligent. The bigoted rector of Penzance had several Methodists committed to prison, among them Edward Greenfield, a tanner, who had a wife and seven children. Wesley asked what objection there was to this peaceable man, and the answer came: "The man is well enough in other things; but his impudence the gentlemen cannot bear. Why, sir, he says he knows his sins are forgiven!" The main responsibility of these riots lay with the clergymen and "gentlemen" who stirred up the excitable people, and cannot be attributed to any illegal or rash actions of the Wesleys. Miss Wedgwood, who is far from being a Methodist, says, concerning John Wesley: "Nothing that could form the flimsiest pretext for the treatment received by his followers can be brought home to him. He does not appear to have separated families; he never went where he had not a perfect right to be; he addressed those whom he regarded as beyond his pale in courteous and modern language; he never thrust his exhortations on anybody. The attacks of enemies, and even the accounts of alienated disciples, may be read without extracting a single anecdote that we should think discreditable to him; indeed, it is from this source that we derive much valuable, because unconscious, testimony to the good influence of his code on secular life.

We cannot, then, admit that Wesley's errors of judgment or limitations of sympathy had even the slightest share in producing the popular fury of which instances have just been given." It is noteworthy that, while Wesley's persecutors passed quickly away, nearly all who took patiently the spoiling of their goods lived long and peaceful lives. Wesley notes the sad end of many persecutors. Egginton, the Vicar of Wednesbury, who delivered a sermon against the Methodists which Wesley pronounced the most wicked he ever heard, and who was responsible for the violence of the mob, died in a few months.

At Bristol, in 1743, a clergyman preached terrible sermons in several city churches against the upstart Methodists, and was about to do so in the Church of St. Nicholas, when, after announcing his text, he was seized with a rattling in the throat, fell backward in the pulpit, and expired the following Sunday. In some instances those who planned the death of the preachers were themselves wounded, and even killed, by their companions.

The Methodists were not driven out; they more and more became masters of the situation, and after 1757 peace reigned almost everywhere. It was due largely to Wesley's good generalship, his perfect command of his forces, and the noble example which he himself set. Isaac Taylor's verdict is, "When encountering the ruffianism of mobs and of magistrates, he showed a firmness as well as a guileless skill, which, if the martyr's praise might admit of such an adjunct, was graced with the dignity and courtesy of the gentleman." Wesley was always the gentleman and the scholar. As Rigg says: "It was contrary alike to his temper and his tactics, to his courtesy and to his common sense, to say or do anything which might justly offend the taste of those with Whom he had to do .... Wesley's perfect, placid intrepidity, his loving calmness and serenity of spirit, amid whatever rage of violence and under whatever provocations and assaults, must always remain a wonder to the historian. His heroism was perfect; his self-possession never failed him for a moment; the serenity of his temper was never ruffled. Such bravery and self-command and goodness, in circumstances so terrible and threatening, were too much for his persecutors everywhere. He always triumphed in the end."

God's Acres/Voice of the Nazarene
Washington, Pa.

Sunday School

not always church

Subject - Sunday School eduation in the 19th century

It was not just the churches either, but there were Labour Sunday Schools. I have been in a large one in a Lancashire town, which is now a museum to the movement.

Two centuries ago, many children worked in the mills (and coal mines) from a very early age and went to the Sunday School for their education.

Colin, born in sunny Sheffield.
now residing in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England.

National School

Subject - National School Master

National - as far as I'm aware and I'm sure others will put me right if I am wrong - was a word used to describe a state school that provided a basic education.

More or less :-)
National Schools were founded by the Anglican National Society (also known as SPCK) from 1811 onwards to promote the education of the poor and grew to about 17,000 schools by the 1850s. There were also British Schools founded by a largely non-conformist organisation called the British & Foreign School Society. The government started to provide grants to these schools in the 1830s and they eventually became state schools.


Birth Registration

It was not compulsory to register the birth of your children between 1837 and 1875. This means that is some parts of the UK as many as 25% of the children were never registered. This is why I am crying out for FHS to transcribe the 1837 - 1875 baptism registers.

From research I have done, the worst case I have found was 43% of the children baptised in 1843 at Pattingham STS were not registered.

I have four members of my family who were baptised but never registered.



Sir Edward Grey

Sir Edward Grey (d 1529) bought Enville manor in 1528, His son Thomas Grey (d 1559) built the brick hall, which succeeded the medieval manor house, by 1548. Thomas was succeeded by his son John, who died childless in 1594 and in 1605 his widow granted the hall to his distant cousin, Ambrose Grey (d 1636), a younger son of Sir Henry Grey, 1st Lord Grey of Groby (related to Lady Jane Grey). Ambrose's son, Henry (d 1687) succeeded him, who left the estate to a relative, John Grey (d 1709) who was a gt grandson of Sir Henry (above).

John's son, Harry Grey (d 1739) succeeded him and also became 3rd Earl of Stamford. His son, Harry (4th Earl of Stamford d 1739) succeeded him, followed by his son, George Harry (5th Earl, d 1819) followed by his son George Harry (6th Earl 1765-1845), then George Harry's grandson, another George Harry (7th Earl 1827-1883) who left the hall to his wife. She passed it to her grandniece Catherine, who's husband, Sir Henry Foley Lambert, then took the name Grey. Sir Henry's granddaughter Eileen then inherited it in 1938.
(Info mostly from Victoria County History of Staffs Vol 20) I think Eileen's daughter now owns it.


150 years or so ago

the practice of wife-selling was by no means uncommon in many parts of England; from the public Press of the period there have been gathered some Staffordshire examples in support of this statement. The earliest instance is gleaned from an old document relating to Bilston, and which without any detail makes a bare statement to the following effect.

"November, 1692 John, ye son of Nathan WHITEHOUSE, of Tipton, sold his wife to Mr. BRACEGIRDLE."

Next in chronological order is an extract from an old magazine known as "Lloyd's,'' dated 1720:

" We were lately witnesses of a case of wife-selling in an old town in South Staffordshire.

It appeared that the husband had set his affections onanother woman, and his wife hearing of it, had very justly showed herdispleasure in a variety of ways; whereupon the husband, who was a collier, took her to the marketplace, and sold her to the highest bidder for fiveshillings.

There was much excitement in the crowd which assembled to witness the act, and the affair ended witha good deal of drinking at the expense of the husband and the purchaser."

The next is an oft-quoted case, it having appeared in the well-known "Annual Register," under date August 3lst, 1733:

" Three men and three women went to the Bell Inn, Edgbaston Street, Birmingham, and made the following entry in the Toll Book which is kept there :

Samuel WHITEHOUSE, of the parish of Willenhall, in the county of Stafford, sold his wife, Mary WHITEHOUSE, in open market, to Thomas Griffiths, of Birmingham. Value, one guinea. 'To take her with all her faults.
(Signed) Samuel WHITEHOUSE. Mary Whitehouse. Voucher: T. Buckley, Birmingham.

The very businesslike air about the transaction is it's most observable feature. About most of them the noteworthy feature is the apparent indifference and easy acquiescence of the woman to an arrangement 'in which she personally is the most intimately and vitally concerned party.

Surely human nature, especially of the womankind, is unfathomable ! In those easy-going times the scandal of the practice rose to such a pitch that " Aris's Birmingham Gazette " of March lst, 1790, was constrained to publish a warning notice to the public:
" As instances of the sales of wives have, of late, frequently occurred among the lower classes of people who consider such sale lawful, we think it right to inform them that, by a determination of the courts of law in a former reign, they were declared illegal and void, and considered (a light in which religion must view them) as mere pretence to sanction the crime of adultery."
A county newspaper issued March lst 1834 evidently referring to an incident in the life of Stafford, said :

" On Tuesday last, HODSON, a chimneysweeper, better known by the appropriate nickname of Cupid, brought his wife into the Market Place of this town and disposed of her by auction. She was put up at the sum of one penny, but as there were several bidders, and of rivalship, she sold for five shillings and sixpence.

"The following poem
was given to my Gram"
says a Midmarch writer

Ho Gill, of noble race and fame, With Lewis and Allport to thy name. Of noble birth each family came, Cousins, thus, linked in a family chain.

Borstoy(?) Manor in time gone by, gave rise to song of mirth and joy. The hunter's banquet, the stately ball, brought noble man of every call.

The lands in Worcestershire were great, with the family crest upon the gates. The staff, they numbered quite a few, and served their masters, good and true.

Ludlow, Salop and Worcester, too Grand ancient halls, each family knew. The tennents with the sick and old, were gathered in the family fold.

As ages pass and time flows by, Good old families live and die. The lords and ladies of stately grace, who used to visit the noble place.

But time, alas, has sped away. There is just the remains of yesterday. The ancient lineage will ever be, for those who belong to the family tree.

This script presented by those who knew, the families to be good and true. To the dear old times, we have spent with you, Beloved friends, Adieu, Adieu.

Does anyone know if Ab before a name stands for anything? Does it mean 'son of'. If so from which language/location does it originate ?

Thank you in advance

Hello Mark,

I belive AB refers to Son. Which would be Son of Samuel. AP was also used in Wales and England. A good example of this is AP HOWELL (Son of Howell) which later became POWELL.

Hope this makes sense
Warren W Lewis ( Pontypool, Gwent )

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