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Sutton Coldfield in 1843

Sutton Coldfield is in the Birmingham division of Hemlingford hundred, 7 miles N.N.E. of Birmingham and 25 miles N.N.W. of Warwick. This town, having fallen into decay, was revived by the benefactions of John Vesey, a native of the place, bishop of Exeter in the time of Henry VIII Vesey procured for the town a charter of incorporation, paved the principal avenues, built a moot-hall and market-place, founded and endowed a free school, enlarged and embellished the church, and introduced the clothing manufacture, building many houses which were to be free for such as followed that business. The parish has an area of 13,030 acres, and contained, in 1831, 757 houses, namely, 736 inhabited, 18 uninhabited, and 3 building ; with a population of 750 families, or 3,684 persons, about half agricultural. The town has a neat appearance, and contains some handsome houses. The church is handsome, and comprehends a nave with side aisles and chancel. The nave is modern : the chancel contains the effigy of Bishop Vesey with his mitre and crosier ; he died A.D. 1555, at the age of 103. On the town-hall, a neat brick building, are the arms of the prelate emblazoned on a shield, surmounted with a mitre. South-west of the town is ‘the Coldfield,’ a bleak and cheerless tract of 13,000 acres, extending into Staffordshire ; and N.W. and W, of the town is Sutton Park, containing about 3,500 acres, granted to the poor of the town as pasturage by Bishop Vesey ; it was anciently the park and part of the chace of the lords of the manor, and contained some large pools or pieces of water. Some branches of the hardware manufacture, especially the manufacture of spades, saws, axes, and gun-barrels, are carried on, and gave employment, in 1831, to 34 men. The weekly market is on Monday, and there are two yearly fairs for cattle, sheep, and pedlery.

The corporation of Sutton Coldfield consists of a warden, two capital burgesses, and twenty-two aldermen ; the title of the corporation is ‘The Warden and Society of the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield.’ It is not included in the Municipal Reform Act. The warden and the two capital burgesses are magistrates. Quarter-sessions are held, but their criminal jurisdiction has gone into disuse, and offenders are committed for trial to the county : the Court of Record is also disused. The borough is co-extensive with the parish. The income of the corporation consists of a rental of nearly £750, and the interest of £18,000 3 per cent. consols : this is expended in supporting three (or rather six) schools and ten almshouses, apprenticing two poor maids yearly, and other purposes chiefly charitable.

The living is a rectory, of the clear yearly value of which there is no return ; in the rural deanery of Arden, in the archdeaconry of Coventry, and in the diocese of Worcester.

There were, in 1833, ten day-schools, with 450 children, namely, 216 boys and 194 girls, and 40 children of sex not distinguished in the returns. About one in eight of the population was under daily instruction. Of these ten day-schools, six were endowed from the funds of the corporation ; and there was, besides, a richly endowed but nearly useless grammar-school ; the income of which was nearly £500 per annum, but the scholars seldom amounted to five. There was one Sunday-school with 16 boys and 40 girls.