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Wolverhampton in 1843

WOLVERHAMPTON, a large manufacturing town and parliamentary borough in Staffordshire, 128 miles north-west from London by the Birmingham and Lancaster railway , and about 13 miles north-west from Birmingham.

Wolverhampton is situated on rising ground, and consists in general of substantial and well-built houses, mostly of brick ; the streets are somewhat irregularly laid out, and not very well paved, but are well lighted with gas. There is a neat theatre and a public subscription library, over which is a suite of rooms used for concerts and assemblies. There are four churches ; the oldest is that of St. Peter, a spacious structure, capable of accommodating 1600 persons. The pulpit is formed of a single stone elaborately sculptured, and there is a font of great antiquity, with curious bas-relief figures of saints. In the churchyard is a column twenty feet high, with rude sculptures in compartments, supposed to be of Saxon or Danish workmanship. The church is collegiate, and the college consists of the dean, who holds the prebend of Wolverhampton, and seven other prebendaries. By a grant of Edward IV, confirmed by subsequent grants, the deanery and prebend of Wolverhampton were annexed to the deanery of his free chapel of St. George, within the castle of Windsor. The net revenue, on an average of three years ending 1831, is £641. The dean receives the whole revenue. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the dean of Windsor, and of the average net annual value of £193. The other churches are modern, and all perpetual curacies:
St. John's, in the patronage of the Earl of Stamford and Warrington, of the net annual value of £203 ; St. George's, in the patronage of the dean of Windsor, of the net annual value of £155 ; and St. Paul's, of which the value is not given in the Report on Ecclesiastical Revenues. All the chief denominations of dissenters have places of worship. A dispensary was established in 1821, and the present commodious building was erected in 1826 A union-mill was built in 1813, at an expense of £14.000, for the purpose of grinding grain at a cheap rate for the poor. We have no authorities which state whether it continues to be used for that purpose. There is now a union workhouse which, in 1841, contained 204 persons.

According to the Education Returns of 1833, there were four infant-schools and eighteen daily schools. Of the daily-schools, one was a free grammar-school, supported by endowment, with 70 male scholars; the salary of the head-master was £400 : of the second master £200, and of the third master, £120. There is also a Blue-coat school, supported partly by endowment and partly by subscriptions, which, in 1833, educated 100 male scholars and 50 female scholars. There was at the same date a national-school with 450 children of both sexes daily and 240 on Sundays. Besides these schools there were two boarding-schools and three or four Sunday-schools supported by different classes of dissenters.

Wolverhampton was made a parliamentary borough by the Reform Act, and returns two members to parliament. The boundary of the parliamentary borough includes the townships of Wolverhampton, Bilston, WillenhalI, Wednesfield, and the parish of Sedgley, and contained in 1831 a population of 67,508 ; in 1841, of 92,943. The number of parliamentary electors on the register in 1839-40 was 2,643, all £10 householders.

The population of the town has increased since 1801 in a remarkable manner : 1801, 12,565 ; 1811, l4,830 ; 1821, 18,380 ; 1831, 24,732 ; 1841, 36,382. The population of the entire parish of Wolverhampton, in 1831, was 48,184 ; in 1841 it was 70,370.

The district in which Wolverhampton is situated abounds in mines of coal, iron, limestone, and other minerals, and the manufactures consist chiefly of fire-irons, tinned and japanned iron-ware, locks and keys, guns, files, screws, and a variety of other articles of hardware. Besides its railway-communication with London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and other towns on the same line, it is connected by canal-navigation with most of the great towns of England - London, Hull, Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham, Chester, Liverpool, &c.

A monastery was founded at Wolverhampton in 996, by Wulfrana, sister of King Edgar. The monastery was surrendered to Hubert, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1200, and was afterwards annexed by Edward IV to the deanery of Windsor. The town was named Wulfrana Hamton, after the foundress of the monastery, which by contraction and corruption has become Wolverhampton.