Worcestershire Parishes

Worcester Cathedral
Worcester Cathedral

Worcester is reckoned among the middle counties of England: and is bounded on the north by Staffordshire, on the north-west by Shropshire, on the west by Herefordshire, on the east and north-east by Warwickshire, and on the south by the county of Gloucester. The shape of this county is extremely irregular, having upon almost every side small portions detached and insulated by the adjoining counties; and the boundaries form numberless indentures, resembling bays, promontories and penisulas. The principal detached districts are those locally situate in the counties of Gloucester, Warwick and Stafford, the latter county surrounding the town of Dudley. Without taking into account such separated portions, the length of the county, from about Stourbridge on the north to Bredon on the south, is thirty miles; and in breadth from east to west, at its widest part, is about twenty-eight miles. From the numerous abrupt angles which present themselves on the borders of this county, some difficulty has arisen in computing its circumference; it may, however, be stated at two hundred and fifty miles including the projecting points, and exclusive of them at about one hundred and twenty-five: the area of the county is stated by Government to comprise 729 square miles, which, it is presumed, does not take in those parts before referred to as situated in other counties.

Source: Pigot & Co.’s British Atlas comprising the counties of
England with additional Maps of England and Wales, and London. 1840.

Parishes in Worcestershire

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Maps of Worcestershire

Historical Descriptions of Worcestershire

Worcestershire – Pigots Directory 1842

Is reckoned among the middle counties of England and is bounded on
the north by Staffordshire, on the north-west by Shropshire, on the west
by Herefordshire, on the east and north-east by Warwickshire, and on
the south and south-east by Gloucestershire. The shape of this county is
extremely irregular, having upon almost every side small portions
either detached or insulated by adjoining counties; and the boundaries
form numberless indentures, resembling bays, promontories and
peninsulas. The principal detached districts are those situated in the
counties of Gloucester Warwick and Stafford, the latter county
surrounding the town of Dudley. Without taking into account such
separated portions, the length of the county, from about Stourbridge, on
the north, to Tewkesbury (a border town in Gloucestershire), on the
south, is thirty miles; and in breadth, from east to west, at its widest
part, it is about twenty-eight. From the numerous abrupt angles which
present themselves on its borders, some difficulty has arisen in
computing its circumference: it may, however, be stated at two hundred
and fifty miles, including the projecting points, and, exclusive of
them, at about one hundred and twenty-five. The area of the county is
stated, by government, to comprise 729 square miles, or 466,560 statute
acres – but which, it is presumed, does not include those parts before
referred to as lying in other counties. In Size Worcestershire ranks as
the thirty-fourth English county, and in population as the twenty-fifth.

NAME and ANCIENT HISTORY – The name of this county has its origin
from that of its city, Worcester – (which see.) Antecedent to the
invasion of this country by Caesar, and under the dominion of his
successors, Worcestershire was inhabited by the Cornavii, and by the
Romans was comprised in the province of Flavia Caesariensis: during the
Heptarchy it belonged to Mercia, when it was the frequent scene of
sanguinary contests between the Saxons and the Danes. In 1016 the Danish
forces under Canute were defeated with great slaughter by Edmund
lronside, near Blockley. The ancient city of Worcester was possessed by
the Britons and Romans before the arrival of the Saxons; the original
cathedral was established in 680. One of the most remarkable battles
recorded in English annals was fought in the Vale of Evesham, in the
year 1265, between Simon de Montford, Earl of Leicester, and Prince
Edward, afterwards Edward 1, in which the Earl and most of his adherents
were slain. Evesham in the days of monastic grandeur, was celebrated
for its abbey, then one of the largest and most stately in the kingdom.
The origin of Dudley may be ascribed to Dudo, a famous Saxon warrior,
who raised a strong fortress here, upon the site of which now stand the
venerable remains of a castle. During the various internal dissensions
which have disturbed the tranquillity of England, few events of
importance have transpired within the limits of this county of which the
city of Worcester has not been largely a partaker. In the civil
commotions that marked the reign of Charles I, it was frequently the
arena of deadly struggles between the king’s forces and those of the
parliament; and the inhabitants, though they suffered severely,
continued to the end of the contest zealous supporters of the royal
cause, and, after a respite of five years, opened their gates to Charles
II, which again involved them in a disastrous war, terminated only by
that battle which Cromwell, in describing his success, designated ‘a
crowning mercy’ – and, in token of his victory, named a sixty-gun ship,
which was soon after launched at Woolwich the ‘Worcester.’

SOIL and CLIMATE, PRODUCE AND MANUFACTURES -The SOIL of this county,
though various, is generally rich and fertile, producing grain and fruit
in the greatest profusion, and abundant pasturage. Between Worcester
and the Vale of Evesham, the soil is composed partly of red marl and
partly of a strong loamy clay, the beautiful valley of Evesham
consisting of a deep rich earth. On the borders, and in various parts of
the Coteswold Hills, limestone predominates, particularly in the more
elevated regions, while the lower are covered with a rich loam. From
Worcester to the Malvern Hills the surface is clay and gravel: westward,
deep clay forms the upper stratum in some parts; in others, a loose
stony soil. – The inhabitants of this county enjoy a most salubrious and
temperate CLIMATE: the air is mild warm and healthful, there being but
few lakes, and very little swampy ground; – circumstances which,
conjointly with the beautiful, rich, and picturesque scenery the country
furnishes, contribute not a little to induce multitudes of loungers to
make the villages of Great and Little Malvern, situate upon the eastern
side of the hills here, the temporary theatres of their gaieties.

The principal MANUFACTURES of Worcestershire are seated in its city;
they consist in the manufacture of gloves to a great extent, and
beautiful porcelain and cabinet ware. In other towns in the county are
considerable tanneries, and glass and iron works: many hands are also
employed in the combing and spinning of wool, linen weaving, the making
of needles, nails, fish-hooks, &c. Kidderminster has long been famed
for its carpets, and also for the manufacture of worsted stuffs, and
fabrics of silk and worsted. This county is also noted for its fine
cider, perry and hops: and excellent salt is obtained from the springs
at Droitwich: the antiquity of the manufacture of this article here has
been traced prior to the Norman conquest, and at the present day it is
its staple trade. At Dudley all kinds of ornamental and cut glass are
got up in the most excellent style of workmanship; and the nail trade,
in this and the neighbouring parishes, employs a very large population.
The iron works for manufacturing various descriptions of heavy hardware
are very extensive, particularly at Stourbridge and the villages
adjacent. The town of Redditch is almost entirely supported by the
needle and fish-hook trade, and in the manufacture of these minute and
useful articles numerous persons are occupied.

RIVERS and MINERAL SPRINGS, CANALS and RAILWAYS. – The principal
RIVERS of this county are the noble SEVERN, the AVON, the TEME and the
STOUR: many streams, of little note, but of no inconsiderable utility to
the farmer, water this county, besides the rivers just mentioned, but
do not form sufficiently striking features to demand particular
description. The Severn enters the county at Bewdley, and, turning
nearly south, passes the city of Worcester, and also, further below it,
the town of Upton; after which it enters Gloucestershire at Tewkesbury,
and thence proceeds onwards to the Bristol channel. The Avon traverses
the south-east part of the county, and falls into the Severn at
Tewkesbury. The Teme, from the borders of Herefordshire and Shropshire,
enters Worcestershire a little below Tenbury, and is lost in the Severn a
mile and a half below Worcester. The Stour passes the towns of
Stourbridge and Stourport, to which it gives name: on the south side of
the latter town it falls into the Severn, which is here joined by the
Staffordshire and Worcester canal, where are extensive basins and
warehouses; and from these circumstances it is aptly denominated ‘the
Port of Worcestershire.’ – The SPRINGS in this county which are said to
possess medicinal properties are those of the wells at Malvern, which
have acquired a reputation for curing many disorders, and especially for
relieving persons suffering from scrofula or scurvy: their efficacy,
however, has been (perhaps unjustly) denied by many; and the relief
experienced by patients, under different complaints, has been ascribed
to the cheering influence of beautiful scenery, pure and bracing air,
simple diet, and regular exercise. – The CANALS that pass through
Worcestershire, and furnish to its inhabitants the facility of inland
navigation, and communication with distant counties, are the Droitwich,
the Worcester and Birmingham, the Dudley Extension, and the
Staffordshire and Worcester. – The only RAILWAY at present directly
connected with this county is the Birmingham and Gloucester, which
effects a communication between these two places, and in its route from
Gloucester goes through Cheltenham; passes two or three miles to the
right or east of Tewkesbury, Upton and Worcester; thence running a short
distance to the east of Droitwich and Bromsgrove, it proceeds to
Birmingham, at which town it communicates with the London and
Birmingham, and the Grand Junction railways.

ECCLESIASTICAL and CIVIL DIVISIONS, and REPRESENTATION. –
Worcestershire is in the province of Canterbury and diocess of Worcester
(Excepting fifteen parishes and eight chapelries, which are in that of
Hereford): it is included in the Oxford circuit of the judges, and
divided into the five hundreds of Blakenhurst, Doddingtree, Halfshire,
Oswaldslow and Pershore, which are subdivided into one hundred and
seventy-one parishes, containing collectively one city and county town
(Worcester), and twelve other market towns. The whole county, before the
reform bill passed, returned nine members to parliament, namely, two
for the city of Worcester, two each for Droitwich and Evesham, one for
Bewdley, and two for the shire. The new bill deprived Droitwich of one
member, and conferred the elective franchise upon Kidderminster and
Dudley, which return one each; and two others have been added to the
county – which, in consequence, is now represented by twelve members in
parliament, instead of nine, as heretofore. The boundary act divided the
county into two parts, respectively called the Eastern Division and the
Western Division: the former comprises the divisions of Stourbridge,
Dudley, Droitwich, Northfield, Blockley and Pershore; and the western
portion includes the divisions of Upton, Worcester, Hundred-House and
Kidderminster. The return of members to represent the eastern division
of the county is made from Droitwich, and for the western from
Worcester. Besides the place of return, the eastern division polls at
Pershore, Shipston and Stourbridge; and the western division polls also
at Upton, Stourport and Tenbury. The members returned at the general
election in 1841, for the eastern division, were John Barneby, Esq., of
Breckhampton, county of Hereford, and James Arthur Taylor, Esq., of
Moseley Hall, near Birmingham; and for the western division, the Hon.
General Beauchamp Lygon, of Spring Hill, in this county (re-elected),
and Frederick Wynn Knight, Esq.

POPULATION, &c. – By the census for 1831 this county contained
103,367 males, and 107,989 females – total, 211,356; in 1841, males
114,753, and females 118,731 – total, 233,484: being an increase, since
the returns made in 1821, of 49,060 inhabitants; and, from the census of
1801 to that of 1841, the augmentation amounted to 94,151 persons. The
total annual value of Real Property in this county, as assessed April,
1815, amounted to about £800,000.

Source: Pigot & Co.’s Royal National and Commercial Directory and
Topography of the Counties of Warwickshire, Leicestershire,
Rutlandshire, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire
1841/1842

Worcestershire Soil and Climate Produce and Manufactures 1840

The soil of this county, though various, is generally rich and
fertile; producing grain and fruit in the greatest profusion, and
abundant pasturage. Between Worcester and the Vale of Evesham, the soil
is composed partly of red marl, and partly of a strong loamy clay, the
beautiful valley of Evesham consisting of a deep rich earth. On the
borders, and in the various parts of the Coteswold Hills, lime-stone
predominates, particularly in the more elevated regions, while the lower
are covered with a rich loam. From Worcester to the Malvern Hills, the
surface is clay and gravel; westward, deep clay forms the upper stratum
in some parts; in others, a loose stony soil. – The Air of this county
is mild, warm and healthy, there being but few lakes, and very little
swampy ground. The inhabitants enjoy a most salubrious and temperate
climate; a circumstance which, conjointly with the beautiful, rich and
picturesque scenery which they furnish, contributes not a little to
induce multitudes of loungers to make the villages of Great and Little
Malvern, situated upon the eastern side of these hills, the temporary
theatres of their gaieties. – The principle Manufactures of this county
are seated in its city; they consist in the making of gloves to a great
extent, and beautiful porcelain and cabinet ware. In other towns in the
county are considerable tanneries, glass and iron works; many hands are
also employed in the combing and spinning of wool, linen weaving, the
making of needles, nails, fish-hooks, &c. Kidderminster has longed
been famed for its carpets, and also for the manufacture of worsted
stuffs, and fabrics of silk and worsted. This county is also noted for
its fine cider, perry and hops; and beautiful salt is obtained from the
springs at Droitwich: the antiquity of the manufacture of this article
here can be traced prior to the Norman Conquest, and at the present day
it is its staple trade. At Dudley all kinds of ornamental and cut glass
are got up in the most elegant style of workmanship. The iron works for
manufacturing various descriptions of heavy hardware are very extensive;
and the nail trade employs an immense population in Dudley and the
neighbouring parishes: the stranger, approaching this district in the
evening, is much struck with the innumerable lights seen in every
direction issuing from furnaces, forges, collieries, &c.; giving not
only to the face of the earth, but to that of the firmament also, an
appearance of one universal illumination. The town of Redditch is almost
entirely supported by the needle and fish-hook trade; there seldom
being fewer than thirty flourishing establishments, employing numerous
hands in the manufacture of these minute and useful articles.

Source: Pigot & Co.’s British Atlas comprising the counties of
England with additional Maps of England and Wales, and London. 1840.

Worcestershire Hundreds

  • Blakenhurst Hundred
  • Doddingtree Hundred
  • Halfshire Hundred
  • Oswaldslow Hundred
  • Pershore Hundred

Worcestershire Poor Law Unions

  • Bromsgrove Poor Law Union
  • Droitwich Poor Law Union
  • Evesham Poor Law Union
  • Kidderminster Poor Law Union
  • Martley Poor Law Union
  • Pershore Poor Law Union
  • Shipston-on-stour Poor Law Union
  • Tenbury Poor Law Union
  • Upton-on-severn Poor Law Union

Worcestershire Registration Districts

  • Bromsgrove Registration District
  • Droitwich Registration District
  • Evesham Registration District
  • Martley Registration District
  • Pershore Registration District
  • Shipston-on-stour Registration District
  • Tenbury Registration District
  • Upton-on-severn Registration District

Further Reading

Worcestershire: Family History Guidebook by Vanessa Morgan