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Dudley in 1837

DUDLEY, originally written DUDELEI, a market-town and parish in the lower division of the hundred of Halfshire, in the county of Worcester (though locally in the hundred of OffIow, in Staffordshire), 26 miles north-north-east from Worcester, 9 north-west by north from Birmingham, and 127 north-west by north from London.

Dudley owes its origin to Dodo, a Saxon Prince, who built here a strong castle, situated on a considerable eminence, about the year 700. In the reign of Henry II it belonged to Gervase Paganell, and was demolished by that king in consequence of Gervase's taking part in the rebellion of his son, prince Henry. In 1644 the castle was gallantly defended by Colonel Beaumont against the parliament forces for three weeks, when it was relieved by a party of the royal army from Worcester. The remains, consisting of a gateway, the keep, part of the tower, the offices, &c. form a highly interesting ruin.

About half a mile from the town are the ruins of an ancient priory of Benedictine monks of the order of Cluny, founded by Gervase Paganell. A mayor and other officers are annually appointed by the lord of the manor, but the town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates. The houses are generally neat and well-built, and the streets clean and well paved, and lighted with gas. An extensive subscription library was established in 1805.

The principal trade of Dudley consists in the smelting and working of iron ore, with which the whole neighbourhood abounds, as well as with coal. The articles manufactured are various iron utensils, nails, and glass. In 1831 the coal-mines in the parish employed 500 men ; 570 were employed as nailers, and a large number in the iron-works. There are extensive quarries of limestone in the neighbourhood. A tunnel, one mile and three-quarters in length and thirteen feet high, has been cut through the hill on which the castle stands for conveying the limestone under the castle-hill to the kilns. Fairs are held on the 8th of May and 2nd of October, for cattle, cheese, and wool ; and on the 5th of August for lambs. Saturday is the market-day.

The population consists of 23,000 persons, the major part of whom are engaged in mining, manufacturing nails, and smelting iron ore. Dudley sends one member to the House of Commons, under the Reform Act.

The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Worcester. There are two churches, St Thomas and St. Edmund, and a chapel of ease, recently erected. St. Thomas is a handsome building in the modern style of English architecture, with a lofty spire. There are places of worship for Methodists, Baptists, Independents, Unitarians, and the Society of Friends. The free grammar-school was founded by Thomas Wattewood, clothier, of Stafford, and Mark Bysmor, stillworker, of London, and endowed with land by queen Elizabeth, the annual value of which is now above £300. The master receives £200 a year, and the number of scholars averages about 30 or 40. A charity-school for clothing and educating 40 girls, and another charity for clothing seven poor men was established in 1819, by Mrs. Cartwright, in consequence of a legacy left for that purpose by the Rev. Henry Antrobus. A school for clothing and educating 50 boys was founded 1732, and endowed with land by Robert Samuel, and Ann Baylis. About 200 boys are educated here, exclusively of those on the foundation. There is a blue school, where 230 boys, and a school of industry, where 220 girls are educated. The Unitarians have also a school for girls.

A fossil called the Dudley Locust is found in great quantities and variety of sizes in the limestone quarries in the neighbourhood ; it is supposed to be an extinct species of Monoculus. Nash, in his 'History of Worcestershire', mentions one four inches five-eighths in length, and three inches three-fourths in width.

In the vicinity of Dudley there are several chalybeate springs, as well as a spa well, held in high estimation for its efficacy in cutaneous disorders.