« PreviousContinue »
assigns, for ever, ami this without any account, or any other thing, to be therefore rendered, paid, or done to us, our heirs, or successors. Wherefore, we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, firmly enjoyning, do order and command thaty0 aforesaid John Hoo, his heirs and assigns, and every of them, shall, by virtue of these presents, well, freely, lawfully, and quietly, have, hold, and keep, and may and shall be able to have, hold, and keep for ever, y° aforesaid fair and markets, and courts of pie poudre, tolls, tollage, piccage, and stallage, and other ye premises aforesaid, according to ye true intent of these, our letters patent, without ye molestation, disturbance, hindrance, or contradiction of us, our heirs or successors, or of any sheriff, escheators, bailiff's officer, or minister, of us, our heirs or successors whatsoever ,and this without any other warrant, writ, or process to be hereafter procured or obtained in that behalf. And further, we will, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and successors, do grant to the aforesaid John Hoo and his heirs, that these our letters patent, on ye enrollment thereof, may and shall be good, firm, valid and sufficient and effectual in law, for the said John Hoo and his heirs according to y8 true intent of the same. In witness whereof, etc.
Witness the QUEEN, at Westminster, 9th of July, by Writ of Privy Seal, 1709.
Although this charter gives but one market day (Friday), another was established, on the Saturday, about thirty years ago. Both markets are well supplied with everything except live stock, and are frequented, not only by the people of the town, but by the inhabitants of Darlaston, Tipton, and West Bromwich. A heavy toll is paid to the lord of the manor. The tolls are at present let for .£60 a year.
About a century and half since a Quaker's meeting house was built in High Street. It was erected by the Fidoe family, who also gave the site; adjoining the meeting house was also a burial ground, where many of the "Friends" were interred. The South Staffordshire Railway passes through this ground, in the cutting of which many human bones were exhumed. Owing to the Society of Friends being so reduced in numbers, they have long since ceased to use this place, and hold no meetings in the parish. In 1820 it was converted into a school, under the Lancasterian system; subsequently it became a cooperage; but is used again as a school.
We have already noticed the principal public buildings in the preceding pages; in addition to these there are the following meeting houses belonging to Protestant denominations, viz.:—two Wesleyan, one Anabaptist, two Primitive Methodist, one New Connexion, one Independent, and one Reformed Wesleyan. A Popish "place of worship" has lately been erected adjacent to the parish church. The Wesleyans also have a large school. There is a Town Hall used as a public office, where petty sessions are held every Tuesday; adjoining which is the police station, with cells underneath.
The principal trades of Wednesbury are the manufacture of patent gas tubes, merchant bars, hoops, sheets, boilerplates, railway bars, patent shafts, axles and wheels, edge tools, spades, coach springs, hinges, screws, files, &c, and all kinds of cast iron articles. During the late war, the staple articles produced at Wednesbury Were gunlocks, of which immense quantities were sent weekly to Birmingham, for the use of the musket manufacturer. Very high wages were obtained for the forging and filing of these locks before the general peace, but they subsequently fell as much as 70 per cent. The workmen suffered greatly from this reduction, and in their distress petitioned Parliament to do something for them. Mr. Littleton (now Lord Hatherton) presented the petition, and supported the prayer. Although this trade did not again flourish to so great an extent as formerly, yet others were introduced, and the parish is in a more prosperous condition than ever. Wednesbury has been long celebrated for its valuable coal and ironstone mines, but especially for the former. The coal and iron trades being of so much importance to the welfare of the place, the following chapter is devoted to a short account of them, having, however, especial reference to Wednesbury.
Coal ana $ r 0 u.
fp is a question often discusssed, whether the ancient Britons had any knowledge of the coal so abundantly discovered in later times. Whitaker, the historian of Manchester, is of opinion that the primaeval Britons used coal. He argues, first, from the probability of their discovering it in those parts of the country where, as at Wednesbury, the extremities of the strata appear through the earth, and are exposed to view; he brings also the name of this fuel itself as a further proof of his assertion, affirming that the word " coal" is of British, not Saxon origin. By certain undoubted facts, however, lately brought to light, conjecture yields to actuality. A few years since, several pieces of coal were found in the sand under the Roman road leading to Ribchester. We are further told by Pennant, in his Tour in Wales, that a flint axe, an instrument commonly in use amongst the aborigines of our island, was discovered firmly fixed in a certain vein of coal which was exposed to view in Craig-y -Larc, in Monmouthshire, and in a situation easy to be got at by men unskilled in mining. "The Romans,"says Whitaker," appear continually using coal in Britain. In the West Riding of Yorkshire are many beds of cinders, heaped up in the fields, in one of which a number of coins was found some years ago." Horseley, in the Britannia Romana, remarks that, at Benwell, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, there was a "coalry" near that place, which is judged by those who are best skilled in such affairs to have been wrought by the Romans. It is also the opinion of Wallis (History of Northumberland) that "the Romans were as well acquainted with our pit coal as with our ores and metals; in digging up some of the foundation of their walled city Magna, or Caervorran,in 1762, coal cinders, some very large, were turned up, which glowed in the fire like other cinders, and were not to be known from them when taken out." Towards the middle of the ninth century we find ourselves on less doubtful ground; Whitaker mentions a grant made A.D. 853, of some lands by the Abbey of Peterborough, by which certain payments in kind were reserved to the monastery, among others we find sixty cartloads of wood, and twelve of fossil or pit coal, which proves, it would seem, that coal was known and used by the Saxons in Britain.
Concerning the early working of mines in Wednesbury there can be no doubt; it has long been celebrated for the prime quality of its coal, which is deservedly preferred on account of its suitableness to domestic purposes, and to the making, smelting, and manufacturing of iron. The rise of the neighbouring town of Birmingham has been attributed