Bewdley Worcestershire Family History Guide

Bewdley, originally an extra-parochial place, was annexed, during the reign of Henry VI (1422-1461), to Ribbesford Ancient Parish. It became a separate Ecclesiastical Parish in 1853 and a separate Civil Parish in 1866. In 1940 it was abolished ecclesiastically to create Ribbesford with Bewdley Ecclesiastical Parish.

Parish church: St. Anne

Parish registers begin: 1853

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Presbyterian Unitarian, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Bewdley

Historical Descriptions of Bewdley

Beeton's British Gazetteer 1870

Bewdley, a parliamentary borough and market and post town of England, in Worcestershire, on the Severn, 14 miles N.W. from Worcester. It contains a neat church, built in 1748, besides several meeting-houses; and has a considerable trade in salt, malt, leather, and iron-ware. Mar. D. Sat. Pop. including the suburb of Wribbenhall, 7084. It is a station on the Severn Valley branch of the West Midland section of the Great Western Railway, between Hartlebury and Shrewsbury, 5½ miles by rail from the former, and 35 from the latter. It is also a telegraph station.

Source: Beeton's British Gazetteer 1870. Ward, Lock & Tyler, Paternoster Row, London.

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

BEWDLEY, a town, a borough, and a subdistrict in the district of Kidderminster, Worcester. The town stand on a rising-ground, on the right bank of the river Severn, and on the Severn valley railway, 3 miles WSW of Kidderminster. It was originally an extra-parochial liberty; but was united, in the time of Henry IV., to the parish of Ribbesford. It lay anciently within the marches of Wales; but was annexed, in the time of Henry VIII., to the county of Worcester. It belonged to the Beauchamps, but became afterwards a royal domain. A palace was erected at it by Henry VII. for his son Arthur, who was married here by proxy; and the palace was occupied by Charles I., suffered much in the war with his parliament, and was subsequently taken down and erased. The surrounding scenery is remarkably fine, and has been supposed by some to have given rise to the name Bewdley, as a corruption of the French Beaulieu. A Roman camp is on the neighbouring hill Basall or Wasall; and an isolated mound of red sandstone, called the Devil's Spadefull, the subject of a curious legend, is in a hollow. The town has wide streets; and, in general, is well built. Wribbenhall, on the other bank of the Severn, is a suburb, with some good streets; and is reached by a handsome stone bridge, erected in 1797 The town hall is a neat edifice of 1818; and the market-place behind it has side-arcades and an open area. Bewdley church is a spacious structure, with a tower; and Ribbesford church is an ancient building, with Norman porch and low tower. There are chapels for Baptists, Methodists, Quakers, and Unitarians; a grammar school with endowed income of £44; a literary institution, with free library; and almshouse and other charities, with income of £234. The town has a railway station, a head post office, a banking office, and two chief inns. A weekly market is held on Saturday; and fairs on 23 April, the Monday before 26 July, and 11 Dec. Large employment formerly arose from the carrying trade on the Severn; but was severely and permanently damaged by the formation of the Stourport and Stourbridge canal. Manufactures are carried on in combs, leather, and malt. John Tombes, the opponent of Baxter, and Richard Willis, an artizan's son who rose to be Bishop of Winchester, were natives.

The borough was constituted by Edward IV.; reconstituted by James VII.; constituted again, on its original basis, after a long lawsuit, in the time of Anne; and reconstituted, on its present basis, by the reform bill. It now, as a municipal borough, includes most of the parish of Ribbesford; and as a parliamentary borough, includes also the rest of that parish, and the hamlets of Wribbenhall, Hoarstone, Blackstone, Netherton, and Lower Mitton, in the parish of Kidderminster. It is governed by a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors; and it sends one member to parliament. Direct taxes in 1857, £4,060. Real property in 1860, £11,160. Electors in 1868, 361. Pop. of the m. borough in 1841, 3,400; in 1861, 2,905. Houses, 686. Pop. of the p. borough in 1851, 7,318; in 1861, 7,084. Houses, 1,598. There are five ecclesiastical charges within the borough, Bewdley, Ribbesford, Far-Forest, Wribbenhall, and Lower Mitton. The Bewdley one is a vicarage, in the diocese of Hereford; income, not reported; patron, the Rector of Ribbesford. The other four will be separately noticed. The subdistrict comprises three parishes; one of them electorally in Salop and one electorally in Stafford. Acres, 9,021. Pop., 4,142. Houses, 914.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Bewdley, in Ribbesford, 128 miles N.W. London. Market, Sat. P. 3400

Source: Leonard's Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

BEWDLEY, a borough, market-town, and chapelry, having separate jurisdiction, in the parish of Ribbesford and union of Kidderminster, locally in the Lower division of the hundred of Doddingtree, and in the Hundred-House and W. divisions of the county of Worcester, 14 miles (N. W.) from Worcester, and 126 (N. W.) from London; containing 3400 inhabitants. This place, in Camden's Britanniacalled Bellus Locus from the pleasantness of its situation and the beauty of the surrounding scenery, anciently obtained also the appellation of Beaulieu, of which its present name is a corruption. In the 13th of Henry IV., a petition was presented to parliament from the men of Bristowe and Gloucester, praying that they might navigate the river Severn without being subject to new taxes levied by the men of Beaudley. At this time Bewdley appears to have enjoyed many privileges, among which was that of sanctuary for persons who had shed blood: it was extraparochial, but, by letters-patent granted by Henry VI., was annexed to the parish of Ribbesford. Edward IV. gave the inhabitants a charter of incorporation in the twelfth year of his reign; and Henry VII. erected a palace here for his son Arthur, who was married in it by proxy to Catharine of Arragon: the prince dying soon after at Ludlow, his corpse was removed to this town, where it lay in state previously to interment in the cathedral of Worcester. Bewdley was formerly included in the marches of Wales, but by an act of parliament, passed in the reign of Henry VIII., was added to the county of Worcester. During the civil war in the time of Charles I., that monarch, who had been driven from Oxford by the parliamentary forces, retired with the remnant of his army to this town, where he encamped, in order to keep the river Severn between himself and the enemy. Whilst staying here, he was attacked by a party of Scottish cavalry, when several of his officers, and seventy men, were made prisoners; and in these attacks the palace was greatly damaged: the site is now occupied by a dwelling-house, and not a single vestige of the original edifice can, with certainty, be traced. The more ancient part of the town was built at a greater distance from the river, and the portion now called Load-street is supposed to have been merely the place where the inhabitants loaded their boats: there were four gates, two of which were standing in 1811, but have since been entirely demolished.

The town is beautifully situated on the western bank of the river Severn, over which a light and elegant stone bridge was erected in 1797: the street leading from the bridge diverges right and left, but extends farther in the latter direction; it is paved, and lighted with gas. The houses in this street are in general well built, and of respectable appearance, and there are some handsome residences in the vicinity, among the most distinguished of which are Winterdyne, Ticknell, Spring Grove, and Ribbesford House; the inhabitants are amply supplied with water, the air is salubrious, and the surrounding scenery richly and pleasingly diversified. Some years since, Bewdley was a place of considerable trade, having two markets and four fairs, and for a long period was the mart from which the neighbouring towns were supplied with grocery and other articles of consumption; but in consequence of the recent construction of canals, that portion of its trade has been diverted to other towns. The manufacture of woollen caps, known by the name of Dutch caps, was introduced here in consequence of the plague prevailing at Monmouth, where it had previously been carried on, and being encouraged by legislative enactments in the reign of Elizabeth, it continued for some time to flourish, but has now declined, and the present trade is principally in malt, the tanning of leather, and the making of combs. The market is on Saturday; and fairs are held on April 23rd, July 26th, and December 10th and 11th. The inhabitants were first incorporated in the 12th of Edward IV.: they received additional privileges from Henry VII., which were confirmed by Henry VIII.; and James I. granted a new charter. The corporation now consists of a mayor, four aldermen, and twelve councillors; the mayor and late mayor are justices of the peace, and two permanent magistrates have also been appointed. Bewdley sent members to parliament so early as the reign of Edward I., after which there was a long intermission. The elective franchise was again conferred by James I., since which time it has returned one member to parliament: the borough embraces the town of Stourport, three miles distant, also the Forest of Wire: the mayor is the returning officer. The town-hall is a neat building of stone, erected in 1808, with a front decorated with six square pilasters supporting a pediment, in which are the arms of the family of Lyttelton; under the hall is the entrance into the market-place, which has an arcade on each side for stalls, and an open area in the centre; at the extremity are two small prisons, one for malefactors, the other for debtors.

The township comprises 2840 acres. The living is a perpetual curacy, endowed with £8 per annum, paid out of the exchequer, the revenue of a dissolved chantry which formerly existed here; net income, £220; patron, the Rector of Ribbesford. The chapel, a neat stone edifice, at the upper end of the street leading from the bridge, was erected in 1748, by the old corporation, aided by a subscription among the inhabitants and a brief, and has recently undergone considerable alteration by the expenditure of more than £800, contributed by the corporation and the inhabitants. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Wesleyans, and Unitarians. The free grammar school, founded and endowed in 1591, by William Monnox or Monnoye, and further endowed in 1599 by Humphrey Hill, was made a royal foundation by charter of James I.; the endowment, augmented by subsequent benefactions, produces an income of £46. The Blue-coat school, for thirty boys and thirty girls, has been enlarged, and united to the National School Society, two good rooms having been built for 160 children. Almshouses for six aged men, founded by Mr. Sayer, of Nettlestead, in the county of Suffolk, and endowed with £30 per annum, were rebuilt in 1763, by Sir Edward Winnington, Bart., member for the borough. Burlton's almshouses, for fourteen aged women, were founded and endowed in 1645; and eight other houses were erected, and endowed with £6 per annum, in 1693, by Thomas Cook. John Tombes, a celebrated biblical critic of the seventeenth century; and Richard Willis, Bishop of Winchester, and principal founder of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, were natives of the town.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Worcestershire Delineated C. and J. Greenwood 1822

Bewdley – a borough and market town, in the parish of Ribbesford, Doddingtree hundred, lower division; 3 miles W.S.W. from Kidderminster, and 132 from London; containing 879 inhabited houses. It is pleasantly situate on the west side of the river Severn, and a few years since was a town of considerable important, having had 2 market days and 4 annual fairs; but owing its trade principally to the navigation on the river Severn, a great portion of it has since been lost in consequence of the junction of the Staffordshire canal with that river at Stourport.

The corporation of Bewdley consists of a bailiff, recorder, high steward, and 12 capital burgesses; the bailiff is the returning officer. The present member is Wilson Aylesbury Roberts, Esq. The town-hall is a handsome stone building, with iron gates leading to the market place. The apartments are spacious, and well calculated for the purposes for which they are intended.
Bewdley was formerly noted for the manufacture of sailors’ and school boys’ caps; and the wear of them was enjoined by an act of parliament, passed in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, under a penalty of 3s. 4d.: there are only 2 manufactories of this article in the town, at present; but a considerable number of persons are employed in the horn trade.

In 1748, a new chapel was erected in the centre of the town, the minister of which is chosen by the corporation, and is independent of the parish church: here are likewise 4 meeting-houses for different sects.

King James I. founded a free-grammar school in Bewdley, to which considerable benefactions have since been added.

The market is on Saturday. – Fairs 23rd April, and 10th and 11th Dec. Population, 1801, 3671 – 1811, 3454 – 1821, 3725.

Source: Worcestershire Delineated: Being a Topographical Description of Each Parish, Chapelry, Hamlet, &c. In the County; with the distances and bearings from their respective market towns, &c. By C. and J. Greenwood. Printed by T. Bensley, Crane Court, Fleet Street, London, 1822.

Parish Records

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Bewdley Bennett's Business Directory for Worcestershire, 1914

Bewdley Bennetts Business Directory 1899

Bewdley, Wribbenhall and Neighbours Pigots Directory 1842

Bewdley Lewis Worcestershire Directory 1820

Bewdley Universal British Directory 1791

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Worcester BMSGH


  • County: Worcestershire
  • Civil Registration District: Kidderminster
  • Diocese: pre 1919 Hereford; Post 1919 Worcester.
  • Rural Deanery:
  • Poor Law Union: Kidderminster
  • Hundred: Lower Doddingtree
  • Province: Canterbury