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.

Table of Contents

Parishes adjacent to Bewdley

  • Far Forest
  • Dowles, Shropshire
  • Ribbesford
  • Wribbenhall

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.

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

Family History Links

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