Cradley Links is indebted to Margaret Bradley and Barry Blunt for their generous permission to reproduce excerpts from their published work "The History of Cradley: A Survey of Cradley and the Enclosure Book".
Cradley is extraordinarily fortunate to have had the work of so many remarkably dedicated historians.
The nineteenth century gave us the incomparable James Scott and his Manuscript, with whose name we should couple William Scott ("Stourbridge and its Vicinity", 1829); and we should at least mention G. Eyre Evans for his valuable essay on Cradley churches in "Midlands Churches" (1899).
In the twentieth century, Frank Stevens deserves a minor, but still honourable, mention for his slim volume, "A Short History of Cradley Chapel" (1933).
Peter Barnsley is the long-established master at recording the ordinary lives of ordinary Cradley folk with great warmth, insight, and a superb writing style.
In more recent times, Margaret Bradley and Barry Blunt have produced an outstanding three-volume "History of Cradley Churches" (which Cradley Links drew on extensively [and gratefully] for our "Churches and Chapels" section).
Margaret and Barry have now, with very great generosity, granted Cradley Links permission to reproduce excerpts from their newly published "The History of Cradley: A Survey of Cradley and the Enclosure Book". Discovered by them in the Coseley archives, this data from Enclosure surveys in 1782 and 1785 is uniquely valuable to all who have an interest in the local and family history of Cradley.
Cradley in 1782
In the 18th century the breaking up of the common field system accelerated, as land holders enclosed their land with hedges and ditches and used the land for their own purposes, rather than in accordance with common agreement. Ownership of the land passed from the Lord of the Manor, and those who had been tenants now became freeholders.
Enclosure of land was usually ratified by Parliament, through Private Enclosure Acts. This took place in many of the areas surrounding Cradley, including Dudley, Kingswinford and Oldswinford, in the 1780s. Although we have not yet traced the Enclosure Award for Cradley, or its accompanying map, the Survey and Enclosure Books still survive.
These provide us with a wealth of information about Cradley in 1782-1785.
The first schedule, prepared by the appointed Surveyor, Harry Court, lists every owner and occupier of every field in Cradley, together with its name, its acreage and the way in which the field was being put to use.
The second schedule lists every dwelling place in Cradley, together with the owner and occupier, and an indication of its location. There were not yet any street names, location was by area, e.g. Netherend, Upper End, Cradley. This schedule also incorporates the land ownership from the first schedule, each dwelling and area of occupied land being given an annual value by the appointed Valuer, William Callow. It was used to levy a local tax for poor relief, all land and property being rated at 5d per pound of annual value.
In 1782 Cradley was valued at £1642, which raised an annual income of £34 4s 4d for the poor.
A further survey was carried out in 1785. Generally the land survey retains the same field numbers, but records any changes in ownership. It also names certain fields that were unnamed in the 1782 survey. Only 64 dwellings are listed, all with a value of 30 shillings. It is possible that the smaller properties were exempt from taxation. It provides additional information concerning the location of these dwellings.
The 1782 survey helps us to get an indication of the population of Cradley at that time. The first census carried out (in 1801) simply records the population (1434), and the number of dwellings (296 inhabited, 9 uninhabited).
In 1782 we have 271 occupied and 16 unoccupied dwellings, which on a pro rata basis would make the population to be 1313. Although we do not know the name of every person living in Cradley, we do have the names of 271 occupiers and an indication of the location of each dwelling.
The following shows how the population was distributed across the village.
Location No. of occupied dwellings
Cradley Town 88
Upper End 33
Colley Gate 23
Light Green 16
Park Wood 10
Two Gates 10
Colman Hill 8
Ash Bank 7
Hell Hole 4
Homer Hill 3
Cuckold's Corner 3
Banner's Lane 1
Cradley Mill 1
Shelton Mill 1
Field and Place Names
It is the field and place names that give us most insight into Cradley's past.
Using the information provided in the two surveys, together with Richard Brettell's Estates Map (circa 1800) and the Tithe Map of 1843, Margaret Bradley and Barry Blunt produced a list of Cradley field names, their meaning and their location in present day terms.
Another valuable resource, taken from the same book by Margaret Bradley and Barry Blunt, is the table of place names used in the survey, which includes present day locations.
 Dudley Estate Papers IV 2 1 & 2 - Dudley Archives, Coseley
© Copyright 2002 Margaret Bradley and Barry Blunt.
Reproduced with permission.