Wednesbury in 1841
Wednesbury (commonly pronounced Wedgebury) is in the southern division of Offlow hundred, 19 miles south-south-east from Stafford, in the centre of the four great towns, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, Walsall and Dudley. The name is supposed to incorporate that of the Saxon god Woden : the same element appears in Wednesfield in this neighbourhood. Ethelfleda, ‘Lady of Mercia,’ sister of Edward the Elder, built a castle here, A.D. 914.
The town is called in Domesday Wednesberie. It stands on the slope of a hill, and is irregularly laid out. The church occupies the summit of the hill, where Ethelfleda’s castle formerly stood : it is a tolerably spacious building, consisting of a nave with side aisles, a chancel, a chapel on the south side at the eastern end of the nave, and a western tower. The east end of the chancel is a semi-octagon, and is, with most other parts of the church, of perpendicular character. The western tower is square, with four pinnacles, and a lofty octagonal spire : it has a peal of eight bells. There are some ancient wooden seats, and a curious moveable wooden reading-desk in the church. There are places of worship for Independents, and for Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists.
The area of the parish is 2,190 acres : the population in 1831 was 8,437. The town is in the heart of the coal and iron district ; and a considerable manufacture is carried on of fire-arms, gas-pipes, chains, spades and shovels, locks and keys, hinges, bridle-bits, stirrup-irons, buckles, horse-shoes, coach-ironmongery, screws, files, edge-tools, and machinery. On a rivulet near the town are some corn-mills, and in the neighbourhood numerous coal-pits. There are several branches of the Birmingham canal navigations near the town. The market is on Friday, and there are two yearly fairs.
The living is a vicarage, of the clear yearly value of £301. There were in the parish, in 1833, three infant or dame schools, with 49 boys and 37 girls ; seven day-schools, with 207 boys and 86 girls (one of these with 110 children, was supported by private subscription) ; and four Sunday-schools, with 628 boys and 609 girls.