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steeping it in water in a square pit, till it be of a due consistence; then they bring it to the beating board, where it is beaten until well mixed; then being first made into great squarish rolls, it is brought to the weighing board, where it is slit into flat, thin pieces, with a wire, and all the stones picked out. Then they knead it like bread, and make it into round balls, and then bring it to the wheel and form it as the workman sees good. When the potter has wrought the clay, in fine weather he sets the vessels out to dry; but in foul, by the fire, and when dry they “stoak’ them (i. e. put ears and handles to them). These also being dry they paint them with the “slip. After the vessels are painted they ‘lead' them with lead-ore, beaten into dust, finely sifted, and strewed upon them, which gives them the gloss, but not the colour. After this they are carried to the oven, which is ordinarily above eight feet high, and about six feet wide, of a round form, where they are placed upon one another. If they be wares not leaded, they are exposed to the naked fire; but if they be leaded ware, they do not expose them to the fire, but put them in coarse metallic pots, made of marl (not clay). In twenty-four hours an oven of pots will be burnt; then they let the fire go out by degrees, which takes ten hours more, and then they draw them for sale, which is chiefly to the poor cratemen, who carry them at their backs all over the country, to whom they reckon them by the piece, i. e., quart in hollow ware, so that six pottle, or three gallon bottles make a dozen, and so more or less to the dozen, as they are of greater or less content. The flat wares are reckoned by pieces and dozens, according to their different breadths. With the clay about Wednesbury, also, they make a sort of arched bricks, bent round to fit the eyes
of their coal-pits, which are generally about two yards in diameter, by which they are secured from colting in, much better than by timbers, as I saw some pits, near that town, thus walled up with them for two yards deep, there being no necessity of doing it lower there, the clay being often stiff enough to uphold itself.”.
This trade, once so flourishing in Wednesbury, has now become extinct (unless we except the tobacco pipemaking), and the last potter removed from the parish about fifty years ago, and went to reside in the Staffordshire Potteries.
Remarkable Characters and Incidents.
a Llthough the town of Wednesbury can add but few names se to the list of those who have distinguished themselves So either in Church or State, yet it is said to have given 3 rise to the noble family of Paget, whose present repreyou sentative is the Marquis of Anglesea. The present Marquis has gained an illustrious name in being an energetic and brave defender of the liberties of Englishmen. The renown thus gained sheds a lustre upon Wednesbury, inasmuch as it is reported to have been the birth-place of his ancestor, William Lord Paget, who first saw the light amid the lowly cottages of the poor in this place, affording another example of what intelligence and honesty can effect. Although of humble origin, yet he became a distinguished politician in the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Mary. He so recommended himself to Henry VIII., that
he bequeathed to him by will £300, appointed him one of his executors, and of the council to his son Edward VI., in whose reign he was knighted, made Comptroller of the Household, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and, in the year 1550, Lord Paget of Beaudesert, which manor, formerly belonging to the see of Lichfield, was made over to him. He was at first in favour of the Reformed religion, but in his latter days became a rigid Papist.
The family of Parkes also deserves particular mention. They, likewise, were of obscure parentage, their ancestors having been nailers in or near Wednesbury. In the year 1600, Willingsworth and the manor of Sedgley belonged to Thomas Parkes, who purchased it of Lord Dudley; and, by the marriage of his great granddaughter and sole heiress, Anne, with William, son of Humble Lord Ward, it was carried into that family. Richard Jevon, of Sedgley, in 1608, exchanged with Thomas Parkes, of Willingsworth, fivesevenths of the tithes and rectory of Wednesbury (being himself one of the seven co-heirs to William Orme, gent., in the said tithes) for more lands in Sedgley. The name of Parkes occurs frequently amongst the list of benefactors to the church and poor of Wednesbury; but this has been noticed in its proper place, as also their monuments in the chancel. In the first year of Charles I., Thomas Parkes was High Sheriff of the county of Stafford.
The following is a copy of the original grant of arms to this family :
To all and singular, as well nobles and gentlemen as others, to whome these presents shall come, I, Richard St. George, Esq., Norroy King of Arms of ye north parts of yo realm of England, greeting, forasmuch as it hath always been a rule in all well governed Commonwealths very requisite to grace and give credit to the virtuous and well deserving, as
well for ye encouragement of others to follow their steps in all honourable actions and heroical virtues, as also to distinguish the base and unworthy from men of good repute, by appropriating unto themselves and their descendants some sign or mark of honour, commonly called arms, and because the just reward of virtue is honour, and to detain a dutye where there were cause to yield it were injustice. Being, therefore, required by Richard Parkes, of Willingsworth, in yo co. of Stafford, to rank him in ye society of men of worth, as also finding him to be a man of such desert as he well deserveth to be accompted in ye number, the premises, therefore, considered, I have thought fitt to confirm unto him these arms ensueing, videlt :—Sable a fess Ermine, between three bucks' heads, couped or. And for his crest on a wreath on his coullors—or and sable, an oak tree flourishing with leaves and acorns thereon, a squirrell all proper. I, the sd. Norroy, doe grant, ratify, and confirm unto ye gd, Richard and his descendants, etc.—In witness, etc., etc.—Dated February 4, Anno 12, Jacobi (1615).—Harl, MSS., 1052.
The family of Hopkins, also mentioned in the list of benefactors, resided at Oakeswell Hall, in Wednesbury, now the property of John Crowther, Esq. William Hopkins was a staunch supporter of Church and State. In the time of the Great Rebellion he suffered for his loyalty, as will be seen from the following :
Royalist Composition Papers in Her Majesty's State Paper Office. Second
series, vol. 27, p. 285.—27th February, 1646-7. These are to certifie that William Hopkins, of Wednesbury, in the county of Stafford, gent., did freely and fully take the Nationall Covenant and subscribe the same upon the seven-and-twentieth day of Ffebruary, 1646 : the said Covenant being administered unto him according to order by mee. (Signed)
Minister of John Zacharies, London. Probatus est ut notus.
27th February, 1646-7.—Mr. William Hopkins, within named, tooke the Negative Oath this 27th of Ffebruary, 1646.