Written by William Scott in 1832, “Stourbridge and its Vicinity” includes this survey of the history of Cradley, starting from 1086.
This manor is situated in a part of the county of Worcestershire, formerly in the barony of Dudley, and hundred of Clent, but now of Halfshire, in that tract of peninsular form which branching from Churchill, extends in a northern direction, and is bounded both by the mainland of Stafford, and its insular district of Clent and Brome ; and also by the Salopian district of Halesowen.
It is thus spoken of in Doomsday: (q) - "William Fitz-Ans-culph holds Cradlei, and Pagan under him. Wigar held it."(r)
Descending in the same line as the demesne of Warley, to the Lady of Sir John Bottecourt, baron of Weoleigh ; on the decease of Sir John, 9th of Richard II. 1385, Joyce his grand-daughter, wife of Sir Hugh Burnel, knight, became seised of the manor.
She dying, Jan 1st, 1405, and leaving no issue, the manor of Cradley, instead of passing to her heirs at law, came into possession, (together with Northfield, Clent, Old Swinford, and Weoleigh castle,) of Sir High Burnel, in consequence of a fine levied by Joyce.
Joan Beauchamp, Lady Bergavenny, by purchasing the rights of Sir Hugh, and several parties, became possessor of two thirds of this manor, to whom grants were confirmed by deeds signed by him, dated Weoleigh castle, 5th Henry V. She becoming invested with this domain, (to take place on Burnel's decease,) conveyed the same to trustees, who by a joint deed, dated 15th Hen. VI. enfeoffed James Butler, (s) son and heir apparent of James, Earl of Ormond, (t) and grandson to Lady Bergavenny, of the same, which was confirmed to him by her last will and testament. Butler, afterwards created Earl of Wiltshire, retained the property after several contests, till 32d Henry VI. 1454, when he agreed with Maurice Berkley, to divide the lands in question ; on which occasion, Cradley, Clent, Old Swinford, and Hagley, were assigned to the said Earl. (See those articles.)
This nobleman, during the unhappy contests between the houses of York and Lancaster, adhered steadfastly to King Henry VI., and on Edward, Duke of York, gaining the crown, he was beheaded at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, anno. 1461, whereby his lands were forfeited to the crown, and soon after divided among the friends of the dominant party. Edward IV. in the first year of his reign, granted this manor to Fulk Stafford, who dying without issue, the king granted two-thirds of Cradley, and the remaining third, (after the demise of Stafford's widow,) to Thomas Prout, Esq.
13th Edward IV. A grant occurs of two-thirds of this lordship, with reversion as before, to his beloved consort Queen Elizabeth and her assigns for ever.
The queen having built a chapel, dedicated it to Erasmus, adjoining to the abbey church of Westminster, endowed it with the manors of Cradley and Hagley. At the same time the King granted to the convent free warren, return of writs, &c. &c., and also a court leet for two manors. But the abbot and monks of Westminster enjoyed these manors for a short time only, for Thomas Butler, (r) younger brother of the earl of Wiltshire, becoming a favourite at court, procured the restoration of Cradley, and other forfeited lands.
"Ample compensation," adds the historian, "was doubtless made to the church of Westminster, for the resumption of this grant."
Thomas Butler, afterwards created Earl of Ormond, after encountering much opposition, obtained an award made by Lord Treasurer Dynham, Lord Daubigney, and the two chief justices, whereby the several lands in question were confirmed to him on paying to his opponent Sir Hugh Willoughby, &c. the sum of £800. (s)
The Earl dying, August 3d, 1515, his daughter Anne, wife of Sir John Seyntleger, of Annary, Devon , inherited Cradley and some other manors.
In 1564, her grandson, Sir John Seyntleger, sold it, together with Old Swinford, Hagley, and Clent, to Sir John Lyttleton, of Frankley, Knight, whose lineal descendant enjoys it at the present time.
This manor and township, containing about 766 acres, may be considered as divided by Homer-hill, into two parts, usually denominated Overend and Netherend ; both flanked by the river Stour on the north, which separates it from Rowley and King Swinford.
Overend has for its eastern boundary Drew's brook, falling into the river, and parting it from the Shropshire portion of the parish.
Ludley is the southern limit, and the remaining part of Cradley bears towards Old Swinford, its western point. The ancient town or vill, bearing the name of Cradley, is situated in a deep ravine, at the eastern base of the hill, contiguous also to several minor eminences which intervene between it and Overend, proper, the utmost limit of the district.
Intervening between Overend and the limit, are Colman-hill and Bell-vale. To resume our description of the site, as viewed from the commanding eminence alluded to, Homer-hill (t) completely overlooks a wide range of country, possessing a very numerous and dense population ; and animated by manufacturing industry. (u)
Embosomed in extensive woodlands, the principal lake in the vicinity, New Pool, appears to peculiar advantage, and presents a pleasing contrast to the busy scenes of the surrounding tract.
The populous tract just mentioned contains Cradley proper and Overend, in the former was an ancient mansion, of the family of Hickman, (v) now completely despoiled of its antique exterior by modern alterations.
On the opposite bank of the Stour, the tract subjacent to the long range of Rowley-hills, with the continuous district of Netherton, and extending along the banks of the canal, reaches to the town of Dudley.
The soil is general is a rich clay, fertile in grain and pastorage. To the north and west of Netherend, coal and ironstone abound.1
In a southern direction, a tract of arable land extends towards Ludley, still remaining the appellation of Cradley field, though completely inclosed. Numerous specimens of woodstone, have at different times been found on this spot, as also marine shells and other petrifications ; in some situations, lime, supposed to be a continuation of the Dudley strata, makes it appearance. (w)
Netherend, so designated from its relative situation, both with respect to the hill and the river, extends to the borders of Old Swinford, and is intersected by the turnpike road from Stourbridge to Halesowen. Netherend proper is a village near to the base of the hill.
Another part of Cradley is situated at the base of the eminence of which Cradley field forms a part. (w) At the descent of the hill, (following the course of the public road,) a pleasing and well-built village presents itself to view, principally known as the site of Colley Gate, once the boundary of the second Stourbridge district of turnpike roads. Park-row and Park-side extend from hence to the west.
At the distance of less than half a mile to the west, the traveller is suddenly introduced to the sequestered woodlands of Cradley Park, occupying a considerable tract of land, (x) and bounded by several adjacent copices.
Several rivulets wind their way through this tract to the Stour, which is known by the name of Salt-brook, though its water is not known to be impregnated with that mineral. A very minute rill, tributary thereto, issuing from an exhausted coal mine, is strongly chalybeate, but has never attracted notice.
Cradley Park, with a part of the surrounding lands, was once the demesne of the family of Butler, who were ennobled under the title of Ormond, alluded to in the descent of property, at the commencement of this article.
Several antiquities are recorded in history, as appertaining to this park and its environs. - A mansion house, with a chapel annexed, (y) is related to have been situated here. (z) An adjoining house and field still bear the appellation of chapel house and leasow, residence of Joseph Priestley, Esq.
A moated hillock is still visible near to the eastern extremity of the work, which has sometimes been considered as an entrenchment. It appears to be uncertain at what time these structures fell into decay, but the lands were not disparked 12th Henry VIII. when a lease occurs granted by dame Anne Seyntleger, to a person of the name of Forrest. (a)
(q) Doomsday Record gives to Cradley one hide, four villans, eleven bordars, with seven ploughs.
(r) Temp. Edward Confessor, also Churchill, near Kidderminster.
(s) During the reign of Henry VI. Previous to the enfeoffment of the property in the name of Butler, a gentleman of some consideration, (as proved by his armorial bearings,) of the name of Bore, styling himself of Cradley, flourished here.
A charter, dated Himley, October, 1493, temp. Henry VII. enumerates sundry inhabitants of Cradley, having right of common on Pensnot chace ; being a grant from Edward Sutton, Knight, Lord Duddeley de Duddeley, to Thomas Ormond, Lord of Ormond and Cradley, John Forrest, William Beare, and others.
(t) Ormond, according to Camden, is a district of Tipperary. Edward II. according to this author, granted Carrick to Edmund Boteler or Butler, creating him Earl of that place; and Edward III. conferred the title of Ormond on James Butler. The houses of Stuart and Butler, according to Mr. Whitaker, were known to have derived their appellations from their hereditary offices in the palaces of Scotland and Ireland.
James Butler, one of the Earls of Ormond, and Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, headed an army of Lancastrians. A. D. 1461, when they were discomfited by Mortimer, the young Earl of March, at Mortimer's cross, three miles from Wigmore. - Warner's Tour through Wales.
The original name of Walter Butler, first Earl of Ormond and Ossory, was Fitz Walter.
One of the Lords Ormond was Lieutenant of Ireland, about the year 1667, a great encourager of the woollen manufactury of that kingdom, now superseded by the linen branch - Wordsley.
From that year to 1821, when the Marquis Wellesley was appointed to that high office ; it appears to have been held by Noblemen not natives of Ireland.
In the reign of Elizabeth, a quarrel between Thomas, Earl of Ormond, and the Earl of Desmond is spoken of in a letter from the Queen to Sir Henry Sidney, anno 1565.
In 1598, the government of Ireland was committed, for a time, to an Earl of Ormond. - Miss Aikin's Memoir of Elizabeth. See also Oldswinford and Hagley.
In Gent. Mag. Nov. 1822, is a pedigree, shewing the descent of William Beckford, Esq., of Fonthill, and of Margaret his wife, from Edward I. through the house of Butler.
In later times we read of the family of Butler, claiming a right to assist at the coronation of George IV. July 19th 1821. A counter claim was made by Marquis Cornwallis, as descendant of Sir Thomas Boleyn, who officiated in the same capacity at the coronation of Henry VIII.
Ormond, the successful candidate, was on that occasion created a Peer of the united kingdom.
Lady Eleanor Butler, of Plasnewydd, who died June 2d, 1829, was sister to John, who claimed and obtained the earldom of Ormond, in 1791 ; and aunt to the Marquis of Ormond. This Lady, with her bosom friend Mrs. Ponsonby, were long resident in that beautiful villa, adorning the enchanting vale of Llanvollen, surrounded by wonders of natures and art.
(r) In Nash Wor., article Hagley, Sir James Boteler, Knight, son and heir of the Earl of Ormond, is mentioned as inheriting Hagley, from Lady Bergavenny, also Old Swinford.
(s) The title of Earl of Wiltshire had been borne by Thomas Boleyn, grandfather of Queen Elizabeth ; it was offered by that Princess to Lord Hensdon, but refused. - Aikin's Memoirs of the Court of Elizabeth.
Sir Thomas Butler had also the title of Baron Rochford, in Essex, borne also at another period by the Boleyns.
(t) On the hill is a substantial dwelling, the property of Thomas Biggs, Esq. Once occupied by the family of Hunt, afterwards of Birmingham and the Brades. On the opposite or right bank of the river are Corngreave ironworks, successively in the occupation of the Attwood family, and the British iron company.
(u) The appellations of town and township have time immemorial appertained to Cradley and its surrounding district. In its present improved state, the main street is uneven and irregular.
(v) A family long seated at Old Swinford and Stourbridge.
(w) See also Hayes.
(w) In 1828, a small coin was found in Cradley field of Titus Vespatian.
(x) The tract at present called the park, is 70 acres, the property of Lord Lyttelton. It probably included many of the adjoining fields in former times.
Notwithstanding its proximity to several seats of manufacturing industry, this spot is of a remarkably sequestered character, the resort of the nightingale in its season. Amidst its shady recesses, the botanist will find no inconsiderable scope for his researches.
(y) A grant by King Henry VIII. Of lands in Halesowen and elsewhere, to Sir John Dudley, Knight, A.D. 1538, contains the following notices of churches standing at period: - "Nec non de advocatione ecclesiarum, de Warley, Hales, Ludley, Cradley, et Sti. Kenelmi."
And again - Ac etiam advocationes et jura patronatus eccles. de Hales, Warley, Ludley, et Cradley, et Sti. Kenelmi, et rectorias de Clent, Wednesbury, et Washale, Ludley et Cradley. - Nash
(z) A MS. Of Bishop Lyttleton still extant among the Hagley Evidences, describes this part of Cradley.
(a) Though the woodlands of Cradley are in the present day the property of Lord Lyttleton, the adjoining estate, with Chapel House, &c. is in other hands as above intimated.
Cradley Links would like to thank Jill Guest for so kindly providing the material from which this transcription was made.
Original spelling and footnote numbering has been retained throughout.
1 It seems that Cradley Links is not the first to find this work useful!
It is instructive to compare these words of William Scott with the various directories shown on this site:
The soil is general is a rich clay, fertile in grain and pastorage. To the north and west of Netherend, coal and ironstone abound.
Kelly's 1876 directory:
The soil in general is a rich clay, producing all kinds of grain, and forming excellent pasturage ; and the lands on the north and west of Netherend (a part of the township of Cradley) abound with coal and ironstone.
Some small changes were made for Kelly's 1896 directory (the identical words also appear in Kelly's 1916 directory:
Kelly's 1896 and 1916 directories:
The soil in general is a rich loam, and is noted for the cultivation of cabbage plants; it also produces potatoes and all kinds of grain, and forms excellent pasturage; and the lands on the north and west of Netherend (a part of the township of Cradley) abound with thick coal and fire-clay.
There are also echoes of Scott's words in Billings' 1855 directory:
Billings 1855 directory:
Cradley is bounded on the N.W. by the river Stour, and coal and ironstone are found in great quantities and of good quality in this locality ; whilst on the opposite side the soil is a rich clay, and affords excellent pasturage.
We also find Scott's words in Preston's 1860 directory -
Prestons 1860 directory:
The soil in general is a rich clay. The land on the north and west of NETHEREND (a part of the township of Cradley parish), abound with coal and ironstone.