Rowley This famous English name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from any one of the various places called Rowley in Devonshire, County Durham, Staffordshire and Yorkshire. The place in Devonshire is recorded as "Rodeleia" in the Domesday Book of 1086; that in Durham was recorded as "Ruley" in 1229; Rowley in Staffordshire was found as "Roelea" in the 1173 Pipe Rolls of the county; while the Rowleys in East and West Yorkshire are both recorded as "Ruley" in 1227 and 1246 respectively. All the places share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the rough wood or clearing", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ruh", rough, overgrown, with "leah", thin wood, glade, clearing in a wood.
Roman occupation of Rowley proved by finding of substantial hordes of Roman coins @ Hawes, Rowley Hills and Cakemore "At Rowley Regis which is situated on a lofty peninsulated tract, which stretches into Worcestershire, between the parishes of Bradley and Dudley, there was found, some years ago, a pot of a globular form, which contained 1200 Roman silver coins, of 140 different sorts. Some of them bore fine impressions of the Roman emperors, Galba and Otho. " From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire by William White 1834
Pre Saxon England. “ The only points we can fix at that remote age are the tenure of the Westminster monks succeeding that of King Edgar. To this king's possession was handed down, most probably from the long line of the Kings and Earls of Mercia. the whole of the extensive tract extending from the Severn bank, which-in those times was the boundary of Staffordshire, down to Areley Kings and Kington in the south part of Worcestershire, across by King's Norton and Birmingham, by Rowley Regis in the west;Newton Regis, King's Bromley includingNeedwood Forest, Kingston, Kanok Chase, Brewood, and Kingswood at the Shropshire borders. This territory included the forests of Kanok, Needwood, -Brewood, Kingswood, Morfe and Kinver ;and in point of fact, at that period, nearly the whole of the County of Stafford, was a sort of grand centre of the royal shooting and hunting ground, and surrounded by and more or less in connection, with other forests of even larger extent, such as Arden, Sherwood, Dean, Wyreand Shirlet;the whole forming a truly royal chase.”
From Perton of Perton County Stafford by E.A.Hardwicke 1897.
Anglo Saxon times . “Most people lived in small rural communities a couple of dozen or so homes circling a village green or extending up and down a single winding street (as in Rowley Village) The centuries leading up to 1000 were the years in which people picked out the crossroads or stream crossing where they thought they could piece together a living. Villages built around a green may have originally been constructed in a circular pattern to provide protection from wolves or other marauders. By the end of the first millennium every modern English village existed and bore its modern name and the names can tell us whether the identity of that village was primarily shaped by the Anglo Saxons or the Danes.” As stated above Rowley is of Anglo Saxon origin. It is not clear where the original Rowley village green was placed but there was an animal pound on a piece of land n front of St Giles church as late as the 19th Century and Rowley Wake, a livestock and hiring fair was held in a field next to the Church in September on St Giles day.
Extract from “The year 1000. Robert Lacey 1999”
Rowley along with other parishes in England was governed from the Vestry by the Vicar or Curate and his churchwardens. Dating from the fourteenth century the vestry was a parish parliament chaired by the parish priest or in his absence the churchwarden or, in the absence of both, an elected member of the meeting.
Its powers grew with the decay of the hundredal and manorial courts system.In England, until the 19th century, the parish vestry was in effect what would today usually be called a parochial church council. Vestries were responsible not only for the ecclesiastical affairs of the parish but all the other administrative requirements of lay business.
In 1835 more than 15,600 ecclesiastical parish vestries looked after their own:
churches and burial grounds, parish cottages and workhouses, their common lands and endowed charities, their market crosses, pumps, pounds, whipping posts, stocks, cages, watch houses, weights and scales, clocks and fire engines.
Or to put it another way: the maintenance of the church and its services, the keeping of the peace, the repression of vagrancy, the relief of destitution, the mending of roads, the suppression of nuisances, the destruction of vermin, the furnishing of soldiers and sailors, even to some extent the enforcement of religious and moral discipline. These were among the multitudinous duties imposed on the parish and its officers, that is to say the vestry and it's organisation, by the law of the land.
The vestries spent not far short of one-fifth of the budget of the national government itself.
From 1837 the provision of support for the poor was no longer the direct responsibility of the vestry, but came under elected boards of guardians for single parishes or poor law unions. In the London area civil vestries were incorporated by the Metropolis Management Act 1855, distinct from the ecclesiastical vestries. A system of elected rural parish councils and urban district councils was established in 1894, replacing the vestries for all administrative purposes.
From time unknown Rowley was divided into two Manors; Rowley Regis an ancient Royal Manor and Rowley Somery named after the de Somery family, Rowley Somery consisted of scattered lands within Rowley Regis, the two Manors operated separately with separate Courts, but their History is intertwined and at some points they came under the same ownership. There is a map of Rowley Regis with Rowley Somery within it in the "Rowley" section of the site.
1066; Norman conquest
1086; The Domesday Survey. Rowley Regis is not thought to be listed in the Domesday survey at least in its own righ. There are various reasons why this should be so:
Sir Edward Coke in the early 17th Century wrote that “ Certain it is that before as after the Conquest, the King upon his ancient demesnes of the Crown of England, had houses of husbandry, and stocks for the furnishing of necessary provisions for his house hold: and the tenants of those manors did by their tenures, manure, till etc and reap the corn upon the Kings demesnes, mowed his meadows etc., repaired the fences, and performed all necessary things belonging to husbandry upon the Kings demesnes: in respect of which services and to the end they might apply the same the better, they had many liberties and privileges, as that they should not be sued out of the court of that manor, nor impanelled of any jury or inquest, nor appear at any other court, but only at the court of the said manor, nor be contributory to the expenses of the Knight of the Shire which serve at Parliament, nor pay any toll etc, which liberties and immunities appear to this day, albeit the original cause thereof is erased. Now all the manors which were in the hands of Edward the Confessor before the Conquest, or in the hands of William the Conqueror, and so appear in the book called Domesday are accounted the ancient demesne of the Crown of England, and had been the demesnes of the Crown long before.”
This historical view that ancient demesnes tenures survived from pre conquest times and were to be found in Domesday was a widely held view in Cokes time and a legal treatise written during the reign of Henry 111explained that privileged villains on Royal demesne lands were descendants of the free Anglo Saxons who had been removed from there holdings by the Normans.
This has been found to be not necessarily true, for example Rowley does not seem to appear in Domesday but was since declared ancient demesne of the Crown and several Monarchs issued charters to this effect beginning with King John and men of Rowley certainly had the privileges accorded to tenants of ancient Royal manors.
There are several reasons why Rowley may not have been mentioned in Domesday apart from the fact that the survey has been found not to be without omissions and errors, it could have erroneously have been considered to be part of Clent as it was linked ecclesiastically, it was in an obscure part of Staffordshire surrounded by Worcesteshire manors, and could have been simply overlooked by the Staffordshire surveyors, and ignored by those assessing Worcestershire or it could have been considered part of the Royal hunting grounds and not mentioned in its own right.
The omission was corrected by the pipe rolls of Henry 11 in 1172 which came next to the Domesday survey and contained a full account of Crown revenues. Rowley was listed amongst five other Staffordshire estates as being an ancient demesne of the Crown (The Annals of Willenhall by Frederick William Hackwood 1908). At this time the administrators of the King (Henry 11) were aware of the importance of Royal recourses and set to regain Royal lands alienated in the previous reign thus, to raise more revenue in taxes for the King.
1140; Rowley was part of the Royal hunting grounds - Regis was added to the name of Rowley in around 1140 to signify it was that part of Rowley beonging to the King. JWJ maintains that at the time of the Domesday survey Rowielia(Rowley) was extra manorial in that it did not belong to any Manor it is listed as "Ep'i de cestre" in the survey. After the survey such lands (forests or wastes) were taken into the Royal Demesne and thus Rowielia became Rowley Regis.JWJ page 52, there was no church at the time of the survey.
1154; Henry 11 granted Rowley Regis to Richard de Rushales(who also called himself de Rowele).
1199; Ist Church built during the reign of King John between 1199 and 1216, local tradition says 1199. May have been Saxon Church on site before this E.C
"The church here is particularly remarkable for the deformity and barbarous taste of its construction" From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire by William White 1834"
1200; The 1154 grant of Manor of Rowley Regis to de Rushales(Rowele) is ratified by King John.
1255; Philip de Rowele holds the vill of Roule (Rowley Regis) of the Lord the King, rendering annually 16s. 4d. and for frankpledge 40d., and he has a free court (habet liberam curiam), and he does suit at two general Hundreds on requisition (et facit sectam ad duo generalia Hundreda ad curiam suam exigendam (see footnote )
1233; Somery family sue de Rushales for two carucates of land in Rowley Regis Manorthe (carucate was a nominal 120 acres).
1270; Phillip de Rushale Lord of the Regis Manor grants lands (Haden Hill?) to the Haden family
1272; Death of Roger de Somery 1.;( ?-1272)"Mill de Ruleye" mentioned in the inquisition. E.C. Heir Roger de Somery 11.(1255-1291)
1272; Death of Phillip de Roule, Manor of Rowley Regis reverted to King Edward 1
Between 1272 and 1302 Edward 1 gave Rowley Regis to;
1.William de Duclyngge
2.Ralph de Hengham who was Chief Justice of the Kings Bench between 1274 and 1290 during the reign of Edward 1 when he was disgraced and imprisoned.
3.Roger de Somery 11(1255-1291)who now presumably owned both manors
1284; First mention of Rowley being a chapel of ease of Clent 8 miles away. JWJ
1291; Death of Roger de Somery 11. 1255-1291, his elder son Roger111 died ? And his younger son John (?-1321) succeeded in 1299
1291; Rowley Regis manorial survey Rowley residents inluded Richard/Rogerde Derybate; Thomas de Wynesthurst
Phillip ate Toun; John de Fevere; Phillip de Brodehurst;John Martyn; Henry de Muryhurst; Stephen ate Hade;
The Manor House Rowley Hall valued at 2 shillings.
1291; Manor of Rowley Regis passed to Agnes widow of Roger de Somery.
1293; Ist Mention of Market and Fair held at Rowley Village, Market would likely have been held weekly and the Fair (Rowley Wake ?) which was held in a field adjacent to the Church on the Eve of St Giles day (1st September.) Rowley Wake was still being held as late as the 1960s although by then a fun fair held on waste ground at Whiteheath.
1293; Jury of Seisdon Hundred declared Manor of Rowley Regis (which) was of "Ancient Domain" and belonged to Somerys
After death of Agnes in 1308, Manor of Rowley Regis reverted to the crown and was subsequently given to; (see 1;2 and 3.)
1; john de Somery who died in 1321 then * and **
1316; "John de Somery was owner of Rowley Regis". Erdswicks "Staffordshire", "Rowley at the Conqueft remained of the King's Demefne and fo continued till afteF the xxth Year of his Reign But in 9 Edw(1316) 2 John Somerye was Lord of it and continiieth ftill in the Inheritance of his Pofterity the Lord Dudley being now Owner thereof" see The History of the Black Country page 33.JWJ.
2; William de Herle * Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas who died in 1347.
Note; In 1327 Richard de Roule grandson of Phillip petitioned the King (Edward 111) for the return of Rowley Regis to his family but his efforts would seem to have been in vain.
3; John de Hampton The Lord Kings escheator for the counties of Heref;Glos;Worcs;Shrop and Staffs. who still held it in 1337.**
1321; At the death of John de Somery, Baron of Dudley, in 1321,His sister and Heir, Margaret (b1290-1384) wife of John de Sutton, inherited the bulk of his estates, The Manor of Rowley Somery passed to his younger sister , Joan (1288-1326), wife of Thomas Botetourt(d1322).
At some point between 1321 and 1326(death of Joan 1326/7 ?) Rowley Somery came into the possession of John de Sutton husband of Margaret.
1326; The lands of John de Sutton (1286-1359) including Rowley Somery passed to Hugh de Spencer son of Earl of Winchester who petitioned Edward 11 under a pretence that John de Sutton had been loyal to Thomas Earl of Lancaster.
1327; in first year of Edward 111 Rowley Somery reverted to John Sutton who successfully petitioned the King to say his lands had been taken from him by force. JWJ
1327; Subsidy Roll raised to obtain funds to fight the Scots gives mames of main inhabitants of Rowley, those mentioned in 1291 joined by "atte Grave"; de Tukkenhale"; de Scaresmore"; E.C. Mention of "messuage"(significant house) Rowley Hall? Said to be in ruins.
1330; Abbot of Halesowen Abbey was renting Rowley Regis from John de Hampton who at this time held it from the King.
1337; Abbot of Halesowen was paying rent directly to the King John de Hampton having died? **
1340; Advowson of Church and Chapel of Clent and Rowley granted to Hales Abbey by Lord Botetourt. (He presumably previously had the livings in his gift)
1344; One vicar for Clent and Rowley under patronage of Halesowen Abbey. Vicars were subsequently listed fom 1344
1450; A Rowley Regis manoral court Jury consisted of the following men of Rowley, Thomas Staresmore; John Derby; William Adynbroke; Thomas Turhull; William Grove; Roger Derby; William Cook; William Alnechurch; William Haden; William Adynrok jnr, John Orme.
1508 By 1508 Rowley Somery had been purchased by James Leveson (1487-1547) a wool merchant from Wolverhampton who obtained vast estates in the Midlands, he was the ancestor to the future Dukes of Sutherland and Rowley Somery remained in this families possession until at least 1851.
1524; Charter granted by Henry V111 to Chapelry freed residents of jury service outside Rowley and certain taxes.
1538; Halesowen Abbey disolved- Abbey lands passed to Lord Dudley, Duke of Northumberland including Rowley Regis ?. Rowley Regis remained in the hands of the Lords of Dudley until at least 1851
1539; 20/1/1539 First entry in St Giles registers "Thomas son of Richard Lyddiate" baptised..
1539; Survey showed 15 men of Rowley able to bear arms, William Orme; Henry A Whille; John Grove; John Darby;
Thomas Russel;Thomas Cartwright;Richard Haden;Thomas Hantruv;George Allchurch;Thomas Parkes;
Henry Cattell;George Marten;John Mansell;John Hoccheks;John Addenbroke.
1540 At this time there was dispute between James Leveson and Lord Dudley as to the ownership of Rowley Somery, judgement was found in favour of Leveson."On the Quindene of Easter. 31 Hen. VIII. (1540) Between James Leveson, Armiger, complainant, and Edward Sutton, otherwise Dudley, Armiger, deforciant of the manors of Overpen, Netherpen, Oxley, and Rowleysomyrey, and twenty messuages, 600 acres of land, 300 acres of meadow, 600 acres of pasture, 200 acres of wood, 100 acres of furze and heath, and £12 of rent in Overpen, Netherpen, Oxley, and Rowleysomyrey."
Edward remitted all right to James and his heirs, for which James gave him £800 sterling.
1605; Fugitives fom the Gunpowder Plot Robert Winter and Stphen Littleton hidden in Rowley ( tradition says Rowley Hall) until new years day 1606.
1606; Thomas Smart and John Holyhead of Rowely Regis were subsequently charged with sheltering the renegades. They were tried in Wolverhampton and executed in High Green (Queen Square) on or about 27 January 1606.
1620; Dud Dudley patented method of smelting iron with coal instead of charcoal at Cradley Forge this would pave the way for the industrial revolution in Rowley Regis.
1648; During English civil war only on Rowley resident reported as suspected Royalist (William Brimfield of Derrett Hall)
1653; During the reign of Cromwells English Commonwealth many attacks were made on the Church and its institutions, on th 24th August 1653 an Act of Parliament abolished Church marriages, subsituting a civil marriage contract, banns had to be posted in the market place and marriages had to be conducted by a magistrate in his own house, Magistrates were not common and the Bride and Groom may have to travel 8/10 miles to find one, many Rowley marriages were conducted by Henry Stone of Walsall, these marriages were later added to the St Giles parish registers
1654; William Turton minister at Rowley.
1657; Queen Elizabeth 1 passed thru Rowley on the way to Dudley Castle from Halesowen.
1660 The monarchy was restored under King Charles 11
1661; In response to survey churchwardens reported that "church fabric in good and decent order, churchyard fenced with stone wall, ministers house in good repair, curate regular, book of common prayer in use, no hospital or school in the area.
1662; William Turton minister at Rowley ejected after the Restoration of the Monarchy and the Act of Uniformity which compelled ministers to conform closely to the Prayer Book, later became minister at Old Meeting House in Bham.
1670; Manor court of Rowley Somery met to survey Somery lands, chief landowners were, Richard Amphlett (Warrens Hall), Richard Aynesworth (Yew Tree), John Dabbs (Dobbs Bank), Johnathon Rushton (Windmill End).
1676; In response to Bishop of Worcesters questionaire (Compton Return) churchwardens stated population of Rowley Parish to be 420 "of whom 384 absent themselves (from church) but not obstinately." Returns were made to the Bishops of the inhabitants of all parishes over the age of 16 and the form of faith they professed, the return for Rowley was as follows;
“420 conformists; no papists or non conformists”
1684; Church reported as needing substantial repair, chancel needing repair and new bells were to be purchased and hung.
1703; Elizabeth Brimfield of Derretts Hall (Lady Monins) set up group of trustees to remedy lack of a school in Rowley.
1717; First Court of Rowley Somery held since 1670 in an attempt to survey manor.
1728; "Ye epidemical distemper" a particularly virulent desease struck Rowley and took its toll amongst the poor,from a norm of 53 in 1721 buriels in Rowley jumped to 174 in 1728 and 168 in 1729.
1738 Poor House – by indenture date 03/08/1738 in consideration of £50 Thomas Haden and John Turton had purchased of the Rev Thomas Saunders two dwelling houses or tenements situate at a place called Iberwick Green in the Parish of Rowley and reciting that the said messuages had been converted into a workhouse for the poor of the said parish.
1740 Earliest mention so far found of a Jews Harp maker (William Sidaway) in Rowley Regis.
Most people in the Black Country during the sixteenth and seventeenth century had some metal working and smihy tools recorded on their probate inventories at the time of their death, even if their official description was "Yeoman" rather than "Nailer" A significant number of people combined nailing and other metal work with small farming. The life of a nailer and his family was a hard one. The nail rod was taken from the nail master, cut into pieces of the correct length and hammered into shape. this was carried on in the "shop" attached to the house or at the bottom of the "fold" The man of he house could work at two trades, wet days at the fire and fine days in the fields, his wife and children were always at work, in this way enough was made for the family to live on. There was no need for emigration as children when grown could be absorbed into the work. However hard it was at least there was security and constant available work at home without the need to travel, this continued until the industrial revolution and far later in Rowley village which remained relatively untouched by progress.
1755; George Holyoak appinted steward of Rowley Somery and Upper and Lower Penn- According to Manor Court records held at Staffordshire record office all three Manors were administered together whilst in the posession of the Leveson family. E.C
1793 Act to cut a navigable canal from the Dudley canal to the Worcester canal at Selly Park. Canal went from Windmill End and Old Hill thru Gorsty Hill tunnel to Weoley Castle and Selly Oak. This heralded the birth of the great industrial age and the beginning of the end for Rowley as a predominately rural district.
1794; In pulling down stone wall near to the Hail-stone1200 silver Roman coins were found in an earthern globe. Hoard formed complete series of Roman Emperors.
1794; The Rowley Building Society formed at a meeting in the Swan at Rowley Village. It was decided to build a row of houses at right angles to Hawes Lane between the church and the windmill, Plans were drawn up by John Mackmillan and Jesse Taylor was to be the builder of the first 4 houses with nailshops and earth closets to be completed by 1795. 8 houses were completed for let by 1797 and became known as "Club buildings" This was amongst the earliest builsing societies recorded in England, the houses survived into the 1970s.
1799; Rowley Regis Enclosure Act (completed in 1805) enclosed most of the remaining common land and distributed it amongst various land owners. The Earl of Dudley held the mineral rights and his agents could sink a pit or exploit these rights anywhere despite what buildings or farm land happened to be in the vicinity.
1803 The Rowley windmill was sketched in sepia by David Parkes in 1803 alongside Rowley church on Alsop’s Hill, The original is in the British Museum. A farm was about 100 yards from the windmill and Brickhouse barn by Doulton Rd was the tythe barn for the church. The barn was taken down in the 1960’s. The site of the windmill is now occupied by the graveyard.
1820; In January a vestry meeting decided that inmates of the poorhouse should have to work breaking stones to earn their bread, others worked in the poor house nail shop.
1820; A vestry meeting was held at Rowley 29th May 1820 to discuss the building of a new road from Blackheath to Rowley village, it was to be 24ft wide, lined with post and rail fence and as "straight as conveniently can be done"
1821 An 1821 enclosure map showed about 80 houses and farm buildings collected around the Church. Rowley Hall was the main house with the housing running from it past th Church and down the hill as far as Bell End junction, and a few near what is now the Robert Peel public house. In Hawes lane there were a few houses close to the church while in Siviters Lane there was one cottage near the village, a large house (later called the Hollies) at the corner of Siviters Lane and Ross and a large building named Shepherds Fold at the foot of the lane. A few houses stood in Mincing Lane near the Pear Tree inn, there was a small hamlet nearby called Blackheath and a few isolated houses were to be found in Tipperty Green (about half a dozen), Moor Lane, Yew Tree Lane ad Powke Lane. Smaller hamlets existed at Perrys Lake, Turners Hill, Cock Green, Knowle and Pigs Foot Green, there was no through road to Dudley
1822 The vestry bought the following implements to help in road building and maintainence; 2 iron scrapers, 4 round pointed shovels, a block and ring for breaking stones and a hand hammer.
1823 6 men and their families leave the St Giles congregation believing that the Bible supports believers baptism which the Rev Barrs was vehemently against, results in the founding of the Providence Strict Baptist chapel at Bell End.
1825 A law was passed outlawing bull, bear and badger baiting, favourite pass times for Rowley and Black- Country people.
1828 Daniel Matthews becomes minister of Bell End Strict Baptist Chapel his ministry lasts untill his death in 1888 (See separate article in "Rowley people"
1830; The overcrowded graveyard; Extract from the journal f the Rev George Barrs 1830.
"The burying ground around the church has long been so crowded with dead that it is scarcely possible to make a single additional grave without violating the repose of someone not yet reduced o earth. This is not creditable to survivors nor is it more so that the clergyman has been trying for 30 years and upwards to get the churchyard enlarged without success!
1832; 52 died in Rowley Regis during cholera epidemic. After its first appearance in July a Parish meeting was held, A volunteer inspector was to "see in what state the dwellings of the poor are, to recommend whitewashing where it appears needful and in cases of real poverty to furnish lime and lend a brush" It was also recommended that "all drains and soughs" were cleaned out and families kept as clean as possible. No one knew at the time that the desease was spread by effluent mixed with drinking water and that poor drainage caused rapid spread of the desease.
1832 During the cholera epidemic the Rev George Barrs added the following to his journal.1832 August 15th
1832 August 15th.“The dreadful pestilence (cholera) has now reached this parish, for several weeks it had been in the adjoining parishes of West Bromwich and Tipton and Dudley. Along the borders of this parish it seems to have got a firm footing. Eleven persons who were each carried off by it in a few hours were buried in the churchyard here yesterday and today besides two on Monday and two on Tuesday morning making fifteen in four days.”
1832 Sept 1st
“The month just ended has been eventful indeed to multitudes in this neibourhood. In this parish not fewer than forty six of its victims have been interred within the month and six during the latter part of July making a total of fifty two. They were nearly all young and in the meridian of life, perhaps very few of them had even entertained an idea that death was within many years march of them. The intelligence of this pestilence making ravages in different places was by many of them disbelieved, by others treated with ridicule and contempt.
In that part of the neibourhood where it was found most victims the people seemed to grow more hardened as the news of its approach was more frequently and fully confirmed. The infatuation which has long been evidenced among hem seemed to become tenfold more strong and awful to such a degree that many could be convinced of their delusions only by feeling the attack which speedily numbered them with the dead. Eighteen were buried in three days, so malignant was the disease that in more than one instance persons who were attendants at funerals were seized on their return from the church and rendered unable to reach their abode without help and bought next day to be buried.”
1832 Sept 30
“The month of September has ended and with it I hope the tremendous visitation is almost gone in this neibourhood, three funerals only have occurred from its attacks in this Parish since the tenth instant. No sooner had the violence of the disease abated than many who under the state of alarm appeared among the worshippers in the congregation and heard the word preached seemed to have fallen into their old state false peace and security for they are seen no more in the congregation.”
"The first outbreak of Asiatic cholera in Britain was at Sunderland on the Durham coast during the Autumn of 1831. From there the disease made its way northward into Scotland and southward toward London. Before it had run its course it claimed 52,000 lives. From its point of origin in Bengal it had taken five years to cross Europe, so that when it reached the course of Durham, British doctors were well aware of its nature, if not its cause.
The progress of the illness in a cholera victim was a frightening spectacle: two or three died of diarrhoea which increased in intensity and became accompanied by painful retching; thirst and dehydration; sever pain in the limbs, stomach, and abdominal muscles; a change skin hue to a sort of bluish-grey. The disease was unlike anything then known. One doctor recalled: "Our other plagues were home-bred, and part of ourselves, as it were; we had a habit of looking at them with a fatal indifference, indeed, inasmuch as it led us to believe that they could be effectually subdued. But the cholera was something outlandish, unknown, monstrous; its tremendous ravages, so long foreseen and feared, so little to be explained, its insidious march over whole continents, its apparent defiance of all the known and conventional precautions against the spread of epidemic disease, invested it with a mystery and a terror which thoroughly took hold of the public mind, and seemed to recall the memory of the great epidemics of the middle ages."
1834 15 died in Rowley Regis during cholera epidemic
1834; Population of Rowley Regis 7438
1836 Rowley regis poor-house amalgamated with Dudley Poor Law Union. Rowley Regis poor house which was located in Treacle Street between Cock Green and the Knowle closed. Treacle Street no longer exists but its where abouts can be defined from the 1861 cencus. Another site for an earlier or later poorhouse is thought to be at the junction of Tipperty Green by the Bulls Head.
1840; First Church existed until 1840 when it was rebuilt, with the exception of the Tower,due to the tireless efforts of the Rev Barrs who saw the foundation stone laid but never lived to see it completed, he was buried beneath the new church near the alter. Church opened in 1841.
1840 Dickens in his "Old curiosity shop" gives a description of the Black country as a grim desolate place and sparks a debate on social conditions.
1841 - Vestry minutes 1841- Alehouses and Beer shops
“At a public meeting 21/05/1841, the minister, churchwardens and overseers of the poor request the ratepayers to meet to consider what steps can be taken to prevent the alarming increase of wickedness and immorality resulting from the vast number of beer shops and public houses with which this parish abounds.”
F Foote, minister.
The resulting meeting issued the following statement;
“Resolved unanimously that there are now existing in this parish 39 old licensed victualling houses and 57 beer shops exclusive of the houses licensed to retail beer not to be drunk on the premises, it is the opinion of his meeting that the said number is more than sufficient to supply the wants of the population”
“It is resolved that we who are now present do pledge ourselves to use our utmost endeavours to prevent any increase in the numbers of alehouses within the limits of this parish”
1841; Act of Parliament severed Rowley from Clent Rowley becme a Parish in its own right
1841 Glebe land (land belonging to the church) at Blackheath sold, Blackheath parish formed.
1842.Nailors Riots in Dudley Amongst men from Rowley were Eber Johnson,? Holyoak, Eli Jones, William Parry (ringleader) Samuel Lewis a factory owner was forcibly taken from hs home in Rowley and marched to Dudley.
1843 Mr Best, manager of the British Iron Company's works, said in evidence to a Parliamentary enquiry in !843 into conditions in the South Staffs coalfield in the aftermath of industrial unrest that;-
"Lord Ward, of whom we rent our royalties, has, by an Enclosure Act, passed in the early part of the century, a right to search for mines in any part of the country, which forms a large portion of the parishes of Dudley, Kingswinford, Rowley Regis, and Sedgley, notwithstanding that, the surface belongs to various proprietors, so that if we wish to sink a pit anywhere in our royalty we have only to intimate to the proprietor that we want one of his fields. By the progress of the workings houses are thrown down and land ruined."
1844 Parish further divided when Cradley parish formed.
1847 Church document notes that "The old village choir lives again in those violin players and mixed choir" Singers musicians were - Ann, Phoebe,Joseph and Abraham Parkes; Charles Parish; John Lowe, James Preece;Hannah and John Taylor and Catherine Smith. Violin players - Edwin Burgess and Herbert Terrington. Bell ringers - George Hadley, David Troman, Daniel Woodhouse Isaac Fowley, John Breasier jnr. all good Rowley names
1848 The National School in Hawes lane was opened as a mixed school, under the control of the Church with places for 340 pupils, Arthur Wilson Swallow was the master..
1851; Population of Rowley Regis 14000. According to the 1851 cencus 200 houses in Rowley Village. 77% of occupants had been born in Rowley 15% in neibouring parishes and only 1.5% outside the west midlands. There is still no through road to Dudley beyond the Knowle.
1858 Church tower finally rebuilt.
1858 Netherton Tunnel which runs under the Rowley hills to Tividale opened. The last canal tunnel ever built in England.
1861 The Dudley New Road appears on the 1861 census showing for the first time a through road to Dudley from Rowley village via the Knowl
1863, According to the Edinburgh Review, fatal casualties in mining accidents in the Black Country were around 800 a year.
1870; Rowley Hall colliery opened by Frederick North who lived at Rowley Hall.
1871 Rowley Regis Urban District Council formed. Until this time Rowley Regis remained a Manorial land administered by Parish Vestry, Courts Leet and Baron.
1874 Old Hill parish formed
1875, John Alfred Langford reported in his book ‘Staffordshire and Warwickshire’, that the number of collieries at work in Rowley was 26 with 5 standing idle; at Corngreaves there were 22 pits and a further 17 standing. The ages of miners employed in these were stated as; above 5 years old, 23; above 10 years old 2056; above 15 years old 4418; above 25 years old 6924. “It was a district that had no plan, the heart of
1876 New purpose built Providence Strict Baptist chapel built on new site at Bell End to replace original which was too small for the congregation.
1877; Knowle infants school founded.
1878 Tividale parish formed this and previous changes left the parish of Rowley Regis as it is today.
1879; The Hail-stone demolished, 2 men died in the process.
1879; Dudley Herald 1/2/1879
“ A distress prevails in the Rowley and Blackheath district to an alarming extent. A local relief committee has been formed including non conformist and churchmen who are working together in this noble cause. Last week 400 4ld loaves and 120 gallons of soup were given away which is the intention of the committee to repeat weekly throughout the winter months. Subscriptions in hand and promised amount to £80.”
1879; Dudley Herald 15/2/1879.
“ In Rowley Regis 140 gallons of soup were distributed to about 300 people in the Rowley village area by the local relief committee, the Duke of Sutherland who is a large propery owner in the area and the Lord of the manor of Rowley Somery donated £10 to the relief fund”
1880, the scene from Rowley Regis resembled a picture from Dantes Inferno. Over fifty collieries poured thick smoke into the clouds, four large blast furnaces lit up the night sky. Near Garratt’s Lane the Old Hill Iron Works maintained a continual thump of drop hammers and a perpetual whistle as the hammer was hoisted up again. The noise of the winding gear, water pumps and factory sirens had taken the place of the lark; farmlands had retreated until only the higher moorland was left; even there the blasting of quarries left very little peace.”- The History of the
1880 Macmillans charity school remained as a day school up to the 1880s and also a Sunday school linked to Rowley church. It was rebuilt in 1858. From 1880 it was a Sunday school only with a service once a month in Rowley church. There was a dispute in 1886 and the service in the church ceased. The school became wholly independent. The school building was demolished in 1920 and moved up the hill to its present position in 1929
1888 Daniel Matthews of Bell End Strict baptists dies and new minister Alfred Dye is appointed. His ministry lasts until 1923
1894; The church has been closed since February 1894 it being in the most dangerous state having been condemned by an architect
1895 Joseph Ruston and others split from the Providence Strict baptists in Bell End after an argument over the installation of an organ to form their own congregation in Hawes Lane.
1897 Opening of Ebeneezer strict Baptist chapel in Hawes lane (demolished 1981)
1899 The second church is now closed, having been the victim of subsidence due to mining, and undergoing extensive alterations, services are being held in the parish room. The church was finally condemned in 1900.
1900 Sewers were first laid in Rowley village.
1904 The third church was built during 1904 the foundation stone being laid 27.06.1904, The tower from 1858 remained and stood as part of the new church. The new church opened in 1905.
1904; Siviters Lane mixed and infants opened with places for 310 mixed pupils and 300 infants. the master wa Mr A E Bloomer and the infants mistress Miss Caddick.
1910 In 1910 hundreds of women chainmakers from Cradley Heath went on strike to improve their poverty wages. Dubbed the “white slaves of England” they struck for 10 weeks, defeated their bosses and won a minimum wage for the first time in Britain, doubling their wages. Mary Macarthur, union agitator, led the strike and on 22 October 1910 spoke to a mass meeting of chainmakers in Cradley Heath to announce their victory. A festival to mark the occasion is held every year at the Black Country Museum and from 2011 a separate festival sponsered by Trade Unions will be held at Cradley Heath in September.
1913; Third church of St Giles gutted by a fire of spectacular proportions, the blaze could be seen from a distance of twelve miles, (18.06.1913) The Church which was not insured at the time was completely destroyed despite the best efforts of the Old Hill Fire Brigade. The fire was rumoured to have been started by suffragettes but this was never proven. The parish chest was rescued by the firemen, its contents charred pages lost here and there but mostly legible, luckily the registers had already been transcribed by Miss Auden apart from one section which was in her possession at he time of the fire. the replacment and present church was not completed until 1923 and in the meantime services were held in temporary accommodation in the church grounds.
Edward Chitham wrote - "18.06.1913 fire broke out on the evening shortly after the verger had locked the church, it began in the organ loft and soon engulfed the church being seen from miles around. Ironically the insurance would have taken effect only a few days later. The cause of the fire is a mystery to this day. The Great War intervened and not until the 1920s did rebuilding begin, spearheaded by the Rev Francis Cheverton it was finished in 1923."
1914; Church Hill quarry in Currall Rd closed during Ist World War, Currall Rd is named after the operators of this Quarry, Currall, Martin and Lewis. The excavation remained until the 1960s when it was filled and is the site of the current village green.
1916 Zeppelin L21 appeared over Rowley.
1920 Rev F C Cheverton a retired army officer became Vicar of Rowley, A grat debt is owed to him as he was responsible for raising funds to rebuild the church after the fire (it was not insured) He also preserved the History of Rowley thru the medium of the Parish magazine and deposited many documents in Birmingham archives.
1921 In the 1921 Parish magazine the minister Lt Col Rev F J Cheverton wrote;
“Easter will give us an opportunity of showing that we have not forgotten our departed who lie buried in our midst in the ancient graveyard of Rowley. So many graves and monuments show such neglect that one is sometimes driven to think that we are soon forgotten after our mortal remains are laid to rest in mother earth.”
1921 Rev Cheverton offers £1 reward for apprehension of person who stole 3 hyasynth bulbs from grave no 58 on 1st MARCH.
1921; George Aldridge took over post office in Rowley village on the retirement of Fanny Tryphena Underwood who had been post mistress for many years
1921; August, Rev Cheveton offers £5 reward for apprehension of persons who broke open and removed contents of collection box by churchyard water tap.
1921; Parish Mag Nov 1921, “Our church has seldom had such an inspiring Harvest thanksgiving day as on October 16th there was a great display of fruit and floral decorations. The most pleasing feature was a contribution of about 100 loaves and bread varying from 14lbs and 4lbs each, thus showing a practical sympathy for those who find it hard in these days to provide daily bread for little hungry mouths.”
1921 Effects of Pit strike (flooding) closed most of the mines in Rowley Regis.
1921 When George Haden Best died in 1921 the Haden Hill Estate was bought by RRUDC and Haden Hill park opened to the public in 1922.
1923; Dedication of the fourth(present) church of St Giles.
1929 Church of England school in Hawes Lane closed, buildings continued to be used as a Sunday School,the mixed school in Siviters Lane became a girls school.
1930 The Endowed Mission and Sunday school moved from the bottom of the Village to its present location half way between Bell End and Siviters Lane.
1932; Roman coins from the time of Hadrian found in Hawes lane
1932 Britannia Park in Rowley opened on the site of Stlilehouse Farm now known as the Britannia Inn at Bell End.
1933; Foundation of Rowley Regis Borough.
1934 The Bassanno family were instrmental in saving the 16th century Old Haden Hall from demolition by the Council who could not justify finding £2000 of ratepayers money to renovate it!
1936 Mains electricity came to Rowley village
1937. Rowley Regis municipal buildings containing Mayors Parlour opened.
1939 Population of Rowley Regis 44780.
1940. German bombs fell on the Rowley Hills killing 15 people.
1946 Rowley Regis Grammar school opened in Wrights Lane.
1947. The winter of 1947.
In the bad winter of 1947 when ice and snow lay on the ground for many weeks, bread and milk could not be delivered as normal because of the hills around Rowley and the depth of the ice and snow, in one of his earliest memories, the author can remember a channel being dug up along Church Road past Rowley Hall, the wall of the channel reached far above his head (although he was only 3 at the time!)
Residents collected bread and milk from the Co-op in Hawes lane, some would also take an old pram to get coke from the Powke Lane gasworks, everyone had to stand in a long queue waiting for their turn, then they had to pull or push the load all the way back up Moor Lane to the village, it would have been very hard work as the hill was steep and the snow very deep.
The author can also remember a neighbour who lived in Newhall Road and worked at the gasworks often bought a load of coke in an old pram for his own use, presumably a welcome perk of the job.
1950. Rowley village cricket club played at Britannia Park on Saturday afternoons from the 1950s to the mid sixties. Tea was taken in the Sons of Rest building next to the park. By 1966 the cricket club had become very successful and applied to join the Kidderminster league which necessitated a move from Britannia park to a ground in the Kidderminster area where it survived until 1983 befoe amalgamating with Old Hill cricket club. Although Britannia Park is still used by numerous local soccer teams cricket has not been played there for many years
1962 Rowley Regis Grammar School moved to Hawes Lane site.
1966 Rowley Regis joined (not willingly) with Smethwick and Oldbury to form Borough of Warley.
1966 formation of Black Country society.
1970 Rowley Hall and most of Rowley village demolished and replaced by modern housing.
1972 Rowley, Oldbury, Smethwick, West Bromwich, Tipton, and Wednesbury formed Sandwell MBC, the whole of Rowley Regis is now known as one of the six towns of Sandwell despite it containing Blackheath, Old Hill and Cradley Heath which are towns in their own right.
2008; the Post Office in Rowley Village closed as a result of Government cuts.
2010 Centenary of the 1910 women chainmakers strike celebrated at the Black Country Museum and in Cradley Heath at Mary McCarther gardens.
2011; Annual Rowley Church fete had to be moved to the Church Hall as a new section of Currall Rd cut across part of the Green for access to the new school.
2011; New "super school" built as result of Government initiative on the site of the old grammar school in Hawes Lane, restores the link with education in Rowley.
2013 In January a funding was obtained to restore the Great War memorial in St Giles churchyard. The memorial has become eroded and the names of Rowley residents killed are no longer readable. We do not know the timetable for this restoration but hopefully it will be completed by November.