Black Country Muse

Subtitle

Town Populations and Occupations.

 

The actual Census no longer exsists of course, but some of the returns still do. They cover the number of houses, in each Town, Village or Hamlet, that made up the region called the Black Country. There are one or two places that did not have the name they have today, Brierley Hill for instance, was an area under Dudley, and others, were just to small to record on their own. Recorded, are the number of houses, how many families lived in each house, ( not the names though ) and how many were empty. It states how many males compared to females there were, how many were employed on the land, how many were following a trade or handicraft, and how many had other types of jobs. The trade(s) would have been to do with working with iron, coal mining, or nail and chainmaking, which was carried on from the home. ( handicrafts ) It summerises the total population of each place covered, and is, in itself, an interesting document with which to chart the ever onward march of industrialisation. They are listed below, in alphabetical order.

Amblecote, (hamlet ) 194 houses, 197 families, and there were 8 houses unoccupied. The males numbered 490, and the females 512. On the land worked 64, in trades, 110, and other jobs, 828. These, I would suppose, were busy making nails, mining clay, brickmaking, and many engaged in the Glass industry. The whole population numbered just 1,002.

Bilston, ( Town ) 1,246 houses, 1,268 families, and only 55 were described as empty. Of the population, 3,433 were male, and 3,481 were female. There were only 59 people still working the land, and the rest of the workers were employed as either miners, 2,414, or making Iron, 4,441, for which the area was renowned, since John Wilkinson, set up his blast furnace in 1757. The population at the time, was given as 6,914.

Cradeley, ( Cradley, Worcestershire, Township.) Contained 296 houses, 339 families, with just 9 houses empty. There were 702 males, and again, more women, 732. Working the land were 51, with the rest fairly evenly split between nail and chain making, and mining, 685, and 698. The claimed oldest Public house in the region, is to be found here, " Ye olde Lion Inn ". It's also the site of the Cradley Forge, which could be associated with " Dud " Dudley. The population totaled 1,434.

Darlaston, ( Parish ) Made up of 703 houses, sheltering 777 families, with 59 empty properties. For a change, there were 1996 males, against 1,816 females. 35 people were employed on the land, 1,325 in manufacturing, and 2,452 in producing iron. There had been furnaces in the area since the 1670s, and mining had started as early as the 1750s. The population at the Census was 3,812.

Dudley, ( Parish ) The largest of the listed Parishes, it contained 1,922 houses, 2,170 families, with 118 properties empty. 4,909 males were listed, and 5,198 females. A higher figure, 137 were working the land, and, as it was a place where a great many goods were produced, 4,697 were engaged in trades. 75 people were listed as having other work. The focal point of Dudley, then as now, is it's Castle. Perched on a hill, the old walls have seen many changes, not least in the growth of it's populatiom, which in 1801, was 10,107.

Kingswinford, ( Parish ) Supporting 1,242 houses, which contained 1,312 families, with just 60 un-occupied. Males numbered 3,198, and females 3,266. Working the land were 157 souls, and employed in trades were 2,077, with others accounting for 4,230 jobs. The area was mainly engaged in mining clay, brickmaking, and most notably, was renowned for the prodution of Glass. The oldest building in the area, is Saint Mary's Church, dating from before 1186. Total population was 6,464.

Oldswinford, ( Township ) Small for such a title, it had 705 houses, 727 families, and 41 houses vacant. The male population was 1,848, and the female, 1,918. the land was worked by 137, and 3,439 were working at trades and manufacturing. 190 other residents had a different job, as again, the mainstay was Glassmaking and mining clay. The whole population numbered 3,766 in 1801.

Rowley Regis, ( Parish ) Before it spread out and down the hills, it contained 731 houses, filled with 800 families. 32 houses were empty. 2,901 males were listed, and 2,126 females. Surprisingly, there were 301 people working in agricuture, 4,700 in trades and handicrafts, and 26 had other things to do. The area was well known for nails, quarrying, and mining, which had supported, for generations, the population which at the Census, was 5,027.

Sedgley, ( Parish ) Clustered together on the ridge were 1,710 houses, 1,759, and 58 empty or delapidated properties. Just for once, the males, at 5,072, outnumbered the females at 4,802. The western side was largely farmland, and 400 were employed at the task. 998 were employed at a trade, and 862 had other means of support. It was the most deprived area in the region, as witness the total of employed, or earning money at nailmaking, at just 2,260. Given that the total population was 9,874, their situation must have been desperate. 

Smethwick, ( Township ) The smallest to be so described, it had just 205 houses, 246 families, with just 14 empty properties. 538 were listed as male, and 559 females appear in the records. Still a rural area, 138 worked on the land, with just 219 in trades or manufacturing. 2 people had different work, pity it dosen't say just what it was. The total population was a mere 1,097.

Stourbridge, ( Parish ) 732 houses, with 820 families housed. 28 were un-occupied at the Census. The males numbered 1,602, and the females, 1,829. Working on the land were 48, with 503 working at trades, and a great number, 2,880, listed at other work. Once again, mining clay, brickmaking, and a large industry making Glass was the reason for the figures. It didn't take a great deal of skill to dig a big hole in the ground. The population figure was just 3,431.

Tipton, ( Parish ) Called " Tibbintone " in the domesday book, the present spelling derives from the 16th century, it had 834 houses in 1801, and 872 families. Just 46 houses were empty. Males numbered 2,218, and slightly less females, at 2,062. Between the town and Dudley were a few farms, which gave employment to 56. Trades and manufacturing provided work for 1,740, and other jobs, 2,484. Iron making and mining were the main employment for the population, which numbered 4,280 in 1801.

Walsall Town, ( Town ) Quite large and growing, in 1801, it had 1,043 houses, and 1,080 families, with 135 empty or derelict. Back to normal wth the proportion of genders this time, 2,500 males, against 2,677 females. Just 44 working on the land, 1,301 in trades, and a further 3,832 at other work. The area was of course rich in limestone, had coal, and a thriving Iron trade as well as the leather industry. The Town had a population in 1801 of 5,177.

Walsall Foreign,  An area enclosing Bloxwich, Pleck, and Walsall Wood, not part of the town but having 941 houses, and 1,044 families. There were 50 houses vacant. The males, at 2,774, were more frequent than the females here, 2,448, perhaps it was because of the strange name given the area. The size of the area, meant that it had the largest number of land workers, 1,073 than all the others. The same conditions though as the town, had 4,114 people working in trades and manufacturing, with just 35 listed as working at something else. Population at the time was just above the town, at 5,222.

Wednesbury, ( Town ) Houses at the Census, 771, with 813 families living in them. 32 houses empty. Almost equal this time in gender, 2,071 males, 2,089 females. It must have been that they were just a bit more religious than most, morals were a strong part of the belief. 148 people tilled the land, 997 worked in trades, and 3,015 at other work. Iron making and mining again I suspect, although this part of the region was also noted for Gun Barrels and firing locks. There was a population in total of 4,160.

Wednesfield, ( Liberty ) Called that because it had no real connection, nor paid any dues to it's much larger neighbour, Wolverhampton. It could therefore please itself. It had 188 houses, and 200 families within it's borders, of which 5 were un-occupied. There were reported to have been 58 males, compared to 507 females living there, now that was strange. 102 were employed on the land, 279 in a trade capacity, and 707 doing other jobs. The main product of the area, was the making and manufacture of large traps. Bear or man traps they would be called today, big enough to take your leg off. I wonder if thats why there was a shortage of men. The whole population was just 1,088.

West Bromwich, ( Parish ) As would be expected, for a larger place, there were 1,062 houses, and 1,112 families, with just 44 remaining empty. The population lived around the Parish Church then, not as today, almost 2 miles away. 2,772 males resided in the parish, and some 2,909 females. Semi rural in 1801, 245 people worked in agriculture, 1,393 in trades, and 4,049 in other work. Iron works, coal mining, spring making, nail making, and brick production are all recorded in the records. The population of 5,687 had a good choice of jobs in 1801.

Willenhall, ( Liberty ) another small place with no affiliation to anyone, just like Wednesfield, the near neighbour being Wolverhampton. House in 1801, were 511, with 572 families, and just 43 empty at the Census. No shortage of males here though, there being 1,822, against the female strength of 1,321. Only 80 people were employed on the land, 1,270 in trades, and just 33 with other types of work. The area was noted for the production of Locks, an association that still exsists today. The area was called " Humpshire ", on account of the way the lock workers ended up, after a lifetime bent over their work benches making locks. Hump backed. The population was recorded as 3,143.

Wolverhampton, ( Town )  The largest town in the Black Country in 1801, with houses totalling 2,344, and 3,087 families. There were 190 empty, or derelict dwellings in the town. A fairly balanced population, with 6,207 males, and 6,358 females. It still had a few open acres, as 125 worked the land, 3,356 were in the many trades, and 9,084 in other work. The wool trade was still going on, but it was for the metal works of all sorts that was the mainstay of employment. A great deal of Japanning, ( or Enameling as we understand it ) which found work for many females, became world famous. Although the truly terrible, and horrifying conditions of the workplace, were somewhat overlooked. The total number living in the Town was recorded as 12,565.

The figures are interesting, in that a picture of overcrowding begins to emerge. if the empty properties listed are taken from the total of houses, the trend becomes clear. This was before the massive influx of labour from around the country occurred, and which caused such misery later on. It was not unusual then, later on, to find as many as 4 seperate families, sharing the one dwelling, each paying rent for a single room. Sedgley remained, for many years, as a black spot on the map of the region, the deprivation being the subject of several scathing reports. There are places missing, as you can see, and should they come to light, I will add them at a later date. The conditions though, would have been roughly the same, no matter where you lived, and would indeed, continue to get worse, until legislation was bought in, to control the worst of the excesses. The Poor Laws, amalgamated into a National act in 1601, were reviewed and changed in 1832, but it's debatable, if they actually did more harm than good. But thats another story.

I have been requested to see if I can find some records of Villages and Parishes outside the Black Country, but close enough to warrent an interest. This is what we have found.

Aldridge. A small Parish not far from Walsall containing 124 Houses, 146 families, with just the three empty properties when the Census was taken. There were 349 males, 387 females, with 255 members of the community engaged in Agricultural work. The rest, 438, employed either in Mining or Ironworking trades. The total population being just 736 souls.

Belbroughton. A Village, not far from Halesowen in rural Worcestershire, containing 249 dwellings. of these, 10 were empty, and the rest contained 290 families. This time there are more males, 650, than females, 616, and surprisingly, more engaged in trade than Agriculture. Only 307 working the land, but 380 toiling at Carpentry, Bricklaying, Nail and Chainmaking, and Leather working. The total population is actually larger than Amblecote. at 1,266.

Northfield. A Parish, which at this time was in Worcestershire, and crops up in some Blackcountry marriages. Having 236 houses, with just 9 being empty or derelict, it housed 277 families. 689 males, and 624 females, made up the population of 1,313, of whom 246 worked the land, 224 worked at a trade, and 843 did other work. There were a lot of Brickyards in the area which may account for the odd numbers.

Sutton Coldfield. Town, which compared with today, was tiny by comparison. 565 houses, 606 families, and just 13 houses derelict or unoccupied. The number of Males and females were about even here, 1,425, and 1,422, with 1,041 working on the land. 508 were working at atrade, and a large number 1,298, were off doing something else. Mostly I would assume, working in the smokey enviroment of nearby Birmingham. The total population was just short of three thousand at 2,847.