Shropshire Gazetteer 1870Edit This Page
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SHROPSHIRE, or Salop, an inland county, of the W of England; bounded, on the NW, by Denbighshire; on the N, by Flintshire and Cheshire; on the E, by Staffordshire; on the W, by Worcestershire, Herefordshire, and Radnorshire; on the W, by Montgomeryshire and Denbighshire. Its outline has numerous irregularities, but is not far from being oblong. Its boundaries are chiefly artificial. its greatest length, from N to S, is 48 miles; its greatest breadth is 41 miles; its circuit is about 220 miles; and its area is 826,055 acres. Its surface has been described as "possessing every variety of natural charm, the bold and lofty mountain, the woody and secluded valley, the fertile and widely-cultured plain, the majestic river, and the sequestered lake.The N and NE half, for the most part, is a plain, agreeably diversified by wooded vales and a few isolated hills; while the other half, especially toward the W, assumes a resemblance to the mountainous character of Denbighshire and Montgomeryshire. The chief heights are the Wrekin, near Wellington, 1,320 feet high; the Clee hills, in the SE, 1,805 feet high; and the Long Mynd, in the SW, 1,674 feet high. The chief rivers are the Severn, bisecting the county nearly through the middle; the Vyrnwy, running on part of the western boundary, to the Severn; the Tern and the Worf, running to the Severn respectively near Atcham and near Bridgnorth; the Teme, running along much of the S boundary, and receiving the Clun, the Onny, and the Corve from the interior; and the Dee, running along a small part of the NW boundary. The chief lakes are Ellesmere, Whitemere, Colemere, Avesmere, and Meretonmere. Trias rocks, of varions kinds, prevail in the N; Permian and lias rocks occupy small tracts in the N; carboniferous rocks occur in the E; Silurian and devonian rocks prevail throughout the S; and eruptive rocks occur in some of the hills. Coal exists in seams sometimes 6 feet thick; and, in 1859, was worked in 59 collieries, with an annual output of 765,750 tons. Ironstone is found in the same tracts as the coal; and, in 1859, yielded 149,480 tons of ore, and was worked in 37 furnaces and 14 ironworks. Lead ore, calamine, and traces of copper ore occur in the W. Limestone of quality resembling marble, is quarried near Oswestry, Ludlow, and Orton; slate, at Selattyn, Purslow, and Clun; and good building-stone at Grimshilland other places.
About 790,000 acres are either arable land, meadow, or otherwise profitable. The soils are prevailingly light and sandy in the N, and loamy or clayey in the middle; and generally are fertile. The chief crops are wheat, barley, pease, turnips, and grasses; and subordinate crops, in some places, are oats and hops. The arts of culture are good on the large farms, but backward on many of the small ones. The meadows near the Severn are very fertile. Excellent dairies are in the parts nearest the great towns of Staffordshire; but the dairies in other parts are inconsiderable. The cattle reared for the market are of the improved Leicester, Lancaster, and Cheshire breeds; and those on the dairy-lands are of mixed breeds. The sheep are generally of no particular breed, yet include a peculiar horned kind similar to the South-down; and they amount to about 42,000, and yield about 7,000 packs of wool. Horses of good quality, but of no particular breed, are reared for the yoke and the saddle. Large hogs are fattened, and turkeys are bred. Many fine orchards are in numerous parts, particularly in the S; and plantations of oak, ash, and beech are aggregately considerable. Estates and farms, in general, are well divided; but some are very small. The mineral trade, in the carboniferous region, is extensive; and manufactures of earthenware, porcelain, glass, flannel, linens, linen thread, buttons, nails, hardware, gloves, and paper are elsewhere considerable. The Shrewsbury, Donnington, Shropshire, Ketley and Montgomery canals give important facilities of communication to the N half of the county; and the river Severn is valuable for navigation downward from Shrewsbury. Seven lines of railway radiate from Shrewsbury; a line deflecting from the E one of these at Wellington, goes past Newport toward Stafford; three lines go from the E one, at points between Wellington and Shiffnal, into junction with the SE one, which runs down the valley of the Severn into Worcestershire; a line goes from the SE one at Buildwas south-westward, past Much Wenlock, into junction with the S one at Craven Arms; a line goes from the S one at Craven Arms west-north-westward, past Bishops-Castle, toward Montgomery; a line goes from the W one southward to Minsterley, and was in the course of being prolonged in 1868 toward Montgomery; a line, coming in from Montgomeryshire, crosses the W wing of the county, past Oswestry, into junction with the NW line from Shrewsbury; a line deflects from the preceding at Oswestry, and goes north-eastward, past Ellesmere, into junction at Whitchurch with the N line from Shrewsbury; a line in course of formation in 1868, connects the two preceding from Ellesmere south-eastward to Wem; and a line goes from the junctions at Wellington northward, along the NE wing of the county, past Market-Drayton, into junctions with Cheshire. The aggregate, in 1814, of paved streets and turnpike roads, was 713 miles; and of all other highways for wheeled carriages, 2,252 miles.
Shropshire contains 225 parishes, parts of 19 other parishes, and 6 extra-parochial tracts; and is divided into the boroughs of Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Oswestry, Shrewsbury, and Wenlock, and the hundreds of Albrighton, North Bradford, South Bradford, Brimstree, Chirbury, Clun, Condover, Ford, Munslow, Oswestry, Overs, Pimhill, Purslow, and Stottesden. The act of 1844, for consolidating detached parts of counties, severed from Shropshire 11,083 acres of Halesowen parish, and annexed to it the 1,483 acres of Farlow township. The registration county gives off five parishes to Radnorshire, three to Montgomeryshire, three and part of another to Worcestershire, and one and parts of two others to Staffordshire; takes in one and part of another from Denbighshire, part of one from Cheshire, two and parts of two others from Flintshire, eight and parts of three others from Staffordshire, three from Worcestershire, one and parts of two others from Montgomeryshire, and five and parts of three others from Herefordshire; comprises 904,220 acres; and is divided into the districts of Ludlow, Clun, Church-Stretton, Cleobury -Mortimer, Bridgnorth, Shiffnal, Madeley, Atcham, Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Ellesmere, Wem, Whitchurch, Market-Drayton, We1lington, and Newport. The towns with upwards of 2,000 inhabitants are the five boroughs, and Dawley-Magna, Ellesmere, Ironbridge, Market-Drayton, Newport, Shiffnal, Wellington, and Whitchurch; and there are about 740 smaller towns, villages, and hamlets. The chief seats are Walcot, Lilleshall, Weston, Pitchford, Hawkstone, Attingham, Burwarton, Shavington, Willey, Acton-Burnell, Aldenham, Downton, Hardwick, Loton, Mawley, Oakley, Ryton, Stanley, Acton-Scott, Acton-Reynold, Adderley, Alberbury, Apley, Aston, Badger Hall, Berwick, Bicton, Bishops-Castle, Buntingsdale, Buildwas, Court of Hill, Chetwynd, Chilton, Cloverley, Condover, Decker, Dudmaston, Gatacre, Halston, Hatton, Hodnet, Isle of Up-Rossall, Kilhendre, Kinlet, Leasowes, Linley, Longford, Longner, Longnor, Marrington, Nursery, Oakeley, Oteley, Onslow, Orleton, Overton, Pentrepant, Petton, Plâs Yolyn, Porkington, Quat, Rowton, Rudge, Sandford, Shipton, Sundorne, Tedmore, Tonge, Walford, Warley, and Woodcote.
Shropshire is governed by a lord lieutenant, a high sheriff, about 40 deputy lieutenants, and about 300 magistrates; is in the NW military district, and in the Oxford judicial circuit; and forms part of the dioceses of Hereford, St. Asaph, and Lichfield. The assizes and the quarter-sessions are held at Shrewsbury; and the county jail is there. The police force in 1864, exclusive of that in Bridgnorth, Ludlow, and Shrewsbury, comprised 109 men, at an annual cost of £7,846. The crimes committed in 1864, exclusive of those in the three boroughs, were 294; the persons apprehended, 235; the known depredators and suspected persons at large, 616; the houses of bad character, 136. Two members are sent to parliament by the N division of the county; two by the S division; and two by each of the boroughs of Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Shrewsbury, and Wenlock. Electors of the N div. in 1833, 4.682; in 1865, 5,315. Electors of the S div. in 1833, 2,791; in 1865, 4,170. The poor rates for the registration county, in 1863, were £100,506. Marriages in 1863, 1,868,-of which 350 were not according to the rites of the Established Church; births, 8,545,- of which 867 were illegitimate; deaths, 5,440,-of which 1,853 were at ages under 5 years, and 211 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 17,748; births, 75,818; deaths, 51,019. The places of worship within the electoral county, in 1851, were 291 of the Church of England, with 92,435 sittings; 59 of Independents, with 11,584 s.; 31 of Baptists, with 5,445 s.; 3 of Quakers, with 805 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 218 s.; 80 of Wesleyans, with 14,022 s.; 9 of New Connexion Methodists, with 2,032 s.; 161 of Primitive Methodists, with 13,405 s.; 3 of the Wesleyan Association, with 321 s.; 6 of Independent Methodists, with 402 s.; 3 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 258 s.; 2 of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, with 392 s.; 9 of Lady Huntingdon's Connexion, with 1,514 s.; 3 of Brethren, with 65 s.; 3 of isolated congregations, with 245 s.; 2 of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, with 340 s.; 2 of Latter Day Saints, with 180 s.; and 11 of Roman Catholics, with 1,523 s. The schools were 247 public day-schools, with 18,859 scholars; 312 private day-schools, with 6,395 s.; 298 Sunday schools, with 22,705 s.; and 12 evening schools for adults, with 157 s. Real property, in 1815, £1,083,702; in 1843, £1,475,339; in 1860, £1,650,281,-of which £69,423 were in mines, £2,054 in quarries, £119,111 in iron-works, £299 in canals, £27,554 in railways, and £2,921 in gasworks. Pop. in 1801, 169,248; in 1821, 198,311; in 1841, 225,820; in 1861, 240,959. Inhabited houses, 48,391; uninhabited, 1,631; building, 197. Pop. of the registration county in 1851, 249,504; in 1861, 260,409. Inhabited houses, 52,379; uninhabited, 1,771; building, 203.
The territory now forming Shropshire was inhabited by the ancient British Cornavii and Ordovices; was partitioned by the Romans into part of their Flavia Cæsariensis and part of their Britannia Secunda; be- came part of Powisland, and afterwards part of Mercia; was nearly all given, by William the Conqueror, to Roger de Montgomery; was the scene of many struggles between the Normans and the Welsh till the time of Edward I.; and thenceforth witnessed only such important public events as are noticed in our articles on Shrewsbury, Ludlow, and other principal places. The Roman Watling-street enters from Staffordshire at Weston Park, goes westward to Wroxeter, southwest-by-southward thence to Church-Stretton, and south-by-westward thence into Herefordshire near Leintwardine. Roman stations were at Uxacona or Oakengates, Uriconinm or Wroxeter, and Rutoninm or Rowton; and ancient camps were at the Walls, Bury-Ditches, Bury-Walls, Borough-Hill, Brocards-Castle, and Bucknell. Offa's dyke and Wat's dyke run along much of the W border. Old castles are at Shrewsbury, Bridgnorth, Ludlow, Hopton, Stoke, Clun, Oswestry, Cawse, Whittington, Knockyn, Red Castle, and Acton-Burnell. Old abbeys, or their remains, are at Shrewsbury, Haughmond, Buildwas, Wenlock, and Lilleshall; old priories, at Bromfield and White-ladies; and old churches, at Chirbury and Tonge.
(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))