Little Wenlock
Local government and public services


Victoria County History



G C Baugh, C R Elrington (Editors), A P Baggs, D C Cox, Jessie McFall, P A Stamper, A J L Winchester

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'Little Wenlock: Local government and public services', A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 11: Telford (1985), pp. 87-88. URL: Date accessed: 26 November 2014.


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As a member of the extensive liberty of Wenlock priory the manor was subject to the twice-yearly tourns of Bourton 'hundred' and probably to its lesser court, (fn. 17) but by 1674 it had ceased to owe suit. (fn. 18)

Manor court rolls survive for 1334, 1344, 1379- 80, 1403, 1411-12, 1420, 1431-2, and 1449-50, (fn. 19) a fine roll for 1321, (fn. 20) and other records for the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 21) In the 14th and 15th centuries there was a three-weekly court. (fn. 22) It was then mainly concerned with agricultural regula tion, copyhold conveyances, and breaches of the assize of ale. Pleas of debt were also heard. Manorial officers included woodwards, aletasters, two reeves, and two constables. By the 1730s there were stocks and a pound. (fn. 23) In the later 18th and earlier 19th century the 'court leet and court baron' met yearly to deal with a dwindling list of routine presentments: of defaults of suit, of butchers, bakers (until 1817), and alesellers, and of neglect of hedges and ditches next to highways (until c. 1780) and trespass thereon by animals (until c. 1828). It was still appointing constables and aletasters in 1840.

In the earlier 18th century a parish meeting determined who should receive weekly poor relief (fn. 24) and audited the accounts. (fn. 25) By 1748 the parish rented a poorhouse, (fn. 26) and was still renting one in 1813. (fn. 27) The number of adults receiving weekly relief rose from 52 in 1802-3 to 92 in 1812-13. (fn. 28) A parochial workhouse (fn. 29) was opened at Little Worth, (fn. 30) apparently in 1814, and 16 adults were admitted in 1814-15. (fn. 31) The elected overseers administered relief until 1823. Thereafter the workhouse was run by an assistant overseer, and outdoor relief was gradually withdrawn by the elected overseers. (fn. 32) The workhouse closed in 1836 (fn. 33) and Little Wenlock was in Madeley poorlaw union 1836-1930. (fn. 34)

Little Wenlock was within the jurisdiction of the Broseley court of requests from 1782 (fn. 35) until its abolition under the County Courts Act, 1846. (fn. 36)

Edward IV's 1468 charter to Wenlock priory's town of Wenlock included in a borough the whole of the priory liberty, and Little Wenlock remained in the borough until 1966. (fn. 37) The parish was in Madeley rural sanitary district 1872-89 and in the Barrow sanitary division and ward of Wenlock borough 1889-1966. (fn. 38) It was not assigned to a highway district under the Highway Act, 1862, (fn. 39) and remained a highway authority until the formation of Wenlock urban sanitary authority in 1889. (fn. 40) On the dissolution of Wenlock municipal borough in 1966 a very small area at the tip of the parish's northern arm was transferred to Dawley civil parish and U.D. The rest of Little Wenlock C.P. was extended northwards to take in a large part of Wellington Rural C.P. and was transferred to Wellington rural district. (fn. 41) In 1974 Little Wenlock C.P. and the former Dawley U.D. were assigned to the district of the Wrekin. (fn. 42) In 1963 the part later in Dawley U.D. was included in the designated area of Dawley new town (fn. 43) and in 1968 in that of Telford. (fn. 44)

A post office had opened at Horsehay, within the parish, by 1856 (fn. 45) and in 1880 a sub-postmaster was appointed at Little Wenlock. (fn. 46) Both offices were open in 1980. In the early 20th century a private water supply was piped to Little Wenlock village from a source in Spout Lane, and it was the parish's only piped supply until after the Second World War. (fn. 47) In 1934 Little Wenlock was one of the first Shropshire villages to have mains electricity. (fn. 48)


17 S.R.O. 1224/2/10. See V.C.H. Salop, iii. 49-50.
18 S.R.O. 1224/2/510, ff. [21-3].
19 Ibid. /2/1, 4-9; 566/1; 1190, box 23.
20 S.R.O. 1037/19/1.
21 In S.R.O. 1224, boxes 204, 206-7.
22 The following acct. of manorial admin. is based on the rec. listed above.
23 S.R.O. 3331, ff. 47v., 49.
24 Ibid. f. 59.
25 Ibid. f. 43.
26 Ibid. f. 55v.
27 S.R.O. 1224, box 314, Lady Day rental of 1769, pp. 11-12; parcel 318, rental of 1813, ff. 17v.-18.
28 Abstr. Rel. to Poor, H.C. 175, p. 423 (1803-4), xiii; Abstr. Rel. to Poor, H.C. 82, p. 377 (1818), xix.
29 Par. rec., overseers' acct. bk. 1818-37, 1 Apr. 1828.
30 Local inf.
31 Abstr. Rel. to Poor, H.C. 82, p. 377 (1818), xix; par. reg. bur. 16 Dec. 1814 (first ref. to bur. of an inmate).
32 Par. rec., overseers' acct. bk. 1818-37.
33 Ibid. 30 Oct. 1836.
34 V. J. Walsh, 'Admin. of Poor Laws in Salop. 1820-55' (Pennsylvania Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1970), 150 (copy in S.R.O.); V.C.H. Salop, iii. 170; Kelly's Dir. Salop. (1929), 301.
35 Broseley, etc., Small Debts Act, 1782, 22 Geo. III, c. 37.
36 9 & 10 Vic. c. 95.
37 V.C.H. Salop, ii. 211, 236-7; iii. 247.
38 Ibid. ii. 204 (and Act cited ibid. n. 10), 215-16. Cf. ibid. iii. 177-8; Public Health Act, 1872, 35 & 36 Vic. c. 79, s. 4.
39 25 & 26 Vic. c. 61. Cf. V.C.H. Salop, iii. 178.
40 No successor was elected when the highway surveyor retired in 1890: par. rec., vestry min. bk. 1818-1958, 24 Mar. 1890.
41 V.C.H. Salop, ii. 236-7.
42 Sources cited ibid. iii. 169, n. 29.
43 Dawley New Town (Designation) Order 1963 (Stat. Instr. 1963, no. 64), accompanying map (copy in S.R.O. 2981, parcel VI).
44 Dawley New Town (Designation) Amendment (Telford) Order 1968 (Stat. Instr. 1968, no. 1912), map accompanying Explanatory Note.
45 P.O. Dir. Salop. (1856), 43.
46 Jackson, 'Madeley', bk. 3A, p. 91.
47 S.R.O. 1681, box 44, plan no. 1; parcel 46, sale partic. p. 33; A. H. S. Waters, Rep. on Water Supplies (S.C.C. 1946), p. 16.
48 Jackson, 'Madeley', bk. 3A, p. 91.