A Family Dispute
Few records of Tipton survive from the
period immediately after the completion of the Domesday
Book. Much of what survives from that period is in the form
of early court records.
Magna Carta, meaning the Great Charter,
was drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to end the
squabbling between the unpopular King John and a group of
rebel barons. It was signed at Runnymede, near Windsor, on
15th June, 1215. It had a rocky start after being annulled
by Pope Innocent III, which led to the First Barons' War.
King John died in 1216 and was succeeded by his young son
King Henry III. The war ended in 1217 when a peace treaty
was agreed at Lambeth, part of which was the reinstatement
of Magna Carta. In 1225 King Henry reissued the charter in
exchange for a grant of new taxes, which was repeated by his
son King Edward I in 1297. Thanks to Edward I it became part
of England's statute law.
This led to the formation of two main
law courts, the King's Bench, and the Common Pleas, which
both sat in Westminster Hall. The Court of Common Pleas or
Common Bench, dealt with cases not concerning the king,
whereas the Court of King's Bench dealt with cases
concerning the king. The Court of Common Pleas dealt with
actions between individual citizens, which were recorded in
the plea rolls, and are now a useful source of historical
The plea roll for Staffordshire, for
Trinity Term 1279, which ran from Trinity Sunday to the end
of July, had an entry about a family dispute in Tipton,
which gives us an insight into some of the early
|Alice the widow of William fitz Geoffrey sued
William de Hondesacre for a third of 2 dwelling
houses and outbuildings, about 360 acres of ploughed
land, 30 acres of meadow, 100 acres of wood, 200
acres of pasture, and 100 shillings rent in Tipton.
And she sued Alice de Hondesacre for a third of a
dwelling house and outbuildings, about 120 acres of
ploughed land, twenty acres of meadow, forty acres
of wood, one hundred acres of pasture, and 20s. rent
in Tipton, which she claimed as her dower. The
defendants did not appear, and the Sheriff is
ordered to take the dower claimed into the King's
hands, and to re-summon them for Michaelmas.
|Alice was the widow of William, son of Geoffrey Fitzwarren.
The dispute arose when Alice claimed her dower after his
death. The dower is one third of the estate that by common
law was given to the widow for the duration of her lifetime,
or until she remarried. The saga, which continued at the
Michaelmas assize, included a number of other local
landowners, many of whom would have been related in some
way. One of them, Alienora, was the sister and co-heir of
William Fitzwarren. She married Sir John de Heronville, lord
of the manor of Wednesbury, and had a son, Henry de
|At the Michaelmas assize, Alice, the widow of William, son of Geoffrey
Fitzwarren, sued Henry de Heronville, Stephen de
Pret and Letitia his wife, William de Oxele and
Alice his wife, Robert de Blome and Isolda his wife,
and Alienora, the daughter of Geoffrey Fitzwarren,
for a third of 2 dwelling houses and outbuildings,
and about 360 acres of ploughed land in Tipton, as
Henry and Alienora
did not appear, and Stephen and Letitia state they
only hold 8 shillings and 6 pence rent, and Robert
and Isolda the same. And they were ready to render
one-third of the above rents as dower, and they say
the said Henry had wrongfully withheld their
reasonable share of the residue.
Alice was successful in gaining
ownership of the land, but more was yet to come. Her name
appears in the plea roll for the Hillary Sittings (January
to April) 1280. She sued William of Hondesacre and Richard
le Wodeward of Berdon for assaulting her at Tipton, and
taking property valued at ten pounds. She stated that on
28th October, 1278 he had taken a horse worth 20 shillings,
and an ox worth 13 shillings and 4 pence, and killed, and eaten two of her pigs. She also
claimed that he had taken brass pots worth 20 shillings, and
other utensils belonging to her, and taken them to his house at Hondesacre.
She claimed forty pounds in damages, but the defendants did
William of Hondesacre was forced to appear before the
next sitting of the court, where he
denied the allegations. The case was to be heard before a
jury in the Michaelmas Assizes, but no record survives,
possibly because William had died. In January 1293 Alice appears before
the court again. She appears to have
remarried, her husband now being William de Walton. The plea
roll states that:
|Alice, formerly wife of William de Hondesacre,
and Thomas le Harpour of Hondesacre, were attached
to answer the plea of William de Walton and Alice
his wife, that they had come with others unknown, on
the morn of All Saints (November 2nd, 1278) to the
said Alice and had carried away her goods and
chattels to the value of £20.
|Since the previous hearing, Alice's story had changed. The value of
the goods taken away had doubled, and the date of the theft
had changed. As before, the defendants denied the charge.
The jury stated that William de Hondesacre, his wife,
and Thomas, and other servants of William's household unknown,
had come on the date named to the house of William Fitzwarren, in Tipton, immediately after the said Fitzwarren's
death. William of Hondesacre claimed to be his nearest heir
for the tenements in Tipton.
They had stayed there some time until
William of Hondesacre was called away to London on business,
but Alice, his wife, stayed eight days longer in Tipton, and
when she went away took goods to the value of four pounds,
12 shillings and ten pence from the house in Tipton to her
house at Hondesacre. Further, that William, on his return
from London, went to the house in Tipton and asked for
drink, and Alice offered him drink in a glass, but William
threw away the beer and handed the glass to a certain
esquire whose name is unknown, and in this way he carried it
The jury were asked what household
goods remained with Alice after the death of her husband,
William de Hondesacre, and a few items were listed. They
estimated the damages at 20 shillings. William de Walton and
his wife Alice then withdrew their plea.
The court records provide us with the only information we
have about the early farming community, and the landowners,
most of whom acquired their property through marriage.
Several parts of Tipton are named after some of the early
farming families. Bloomfield is derived from Robert de Blome whose name is mentioned in one of the cases
above, and Ryder's Green is named after the Ryder family.
Toll End, Princes End, and Todd's End were all apparently
named after families.
A Manor House
It appears that Tipton once had a manor house. Stebbing Shaw
in his "History and Antiquities of Staffordshire" from 1798
includes a reference to Tibbingtin Hall, a moated mansion
that has long since disappeared. All traces of it are long
gone, due to the intense coal and clay mining in the area.
It probably stood at Princes End, near to the old Moat
Colliery, which was named after it. The colliery was on the
eastern side of Upper Church Lane, in the area of St. Mark's
Road. Moat Road is named after it.
Another pointer to the possible site of a manor house, is
the location of St. John's Church which stands on the site
of Tipton's original Parish Church, that was dedicated to
St. Martin. The earliest reference to the church is from
1288. It was customary to build a parish church close to the
manor house with a straight path leading to it, so the manor
house must have been nearby.
The parish stocks stood in Church Lane, opposite St.
Martin's Church, and the Pinfold was at the northern end of
Toll End road, at the junction of Gospel Oak Road and
the thirteenth, or early 14th century, the manor of
Tipton remained in the hands of the Fitzwarren family,
descendants of Sir Jeffery Fitzwarren. The manor then came
into the hands of the Wyrley family, probably through
marriage, when a Wyrley married the heiress of the
The Subsidy Rolls
The Subsidy Rolls of 1332 to 1333
include the names of individuals assessed for tax. Only the
richer members of society were eligible to pay the tax, and
although the list cannot be used to calculate population
figures, it does provide an indication of the comparative
size and prosperity of Tipton and the surrounding towns. The
amount of tax paid was based upon the value of movable goods
that were owned by each person and the status of the town.
People living in cities, boroughs and ancient manors paid
one tenth of the value, whereas others paid one fifteenth of
the value. People whose movable goods were valued at less
than 10 shillings were exempt.
Darlaston and Bentley
|Although Tipton had the smallest number of taxpayers,
they were comparatively well-off. Darlaston and Bentley had
a third more tax payers, whose value of goods was less than
half of those in Tipton. Similarly Tipton tax payers were
better off than those in Bilston, Wednesfield, West
Bromwich, and Willenhall.
An impression of Medieval
|In 1348 the
Black Death arrived and caused the deaths of between 30 to
40 percent of the population, around 2 million people.
certainly changed the way the country was run, and
eventually led to the demise of the old feudal system.
not known what effect it had on the local community.
An Early Survey
Stebbing Shaw in his "History and Antiquities of
Staffordshire" from 1798 includes a copy of an old survey of
the lordship of Tipton, belonging to Humphry Wyrley, Esq.,
The Moat Farm (with an old
moated house, where the lords of the manor anciently
lived perhaps). This is situated eastward of the
church, and near the road to Wolverhampton.
|And next beyond it, Mr. Jeaven's
|South-west of the church is Samuel
|And adjoining to it John Goodridge's
|At the extremity, north-east Richard
|Tipton Green, north-west.
|And other lands.
And from an elegant plan and
terrier surveyed and drawn by James Sheriff, of
Birmingham, 1789, for the present lord of the manor,
George Birch, Esq. The above farms are seven in
|Tipton Green," cottages, etc.
|Roads and waste land.
The mine under Tipton Green,
&c, purchased by Mr. Richmond Aston.
|Total belonging to the lord of the
The Hearth Tax
In 1662 the government of Charles II
introduced the Hearth Tax to raise much needed funds. Each
householder whose house was worth more than 20s a year, and
who contributed to local church and poor rates was eligible
to pay the tax. The payment, due twice a year, was based
upon the number of hearths in the property and consisted of
1 shilling for each hearth. Large numbers of people were
exempt from the tax and they were required to obtain a
certificate of exemption from the parish clergyman. The list
of taxpayers only gives the number of householders, and like
the Subsidy Rolls, it cannot be used to calculate population
figures, but does give an indication of the comparative size
and prosperity of the local towns. The Hearth Tax for 1665:
From the above list, Tipton was better off than
Darlaston, but not as well off as the other towns.
The Civil War
1642 at the outbreak of the Civil War, all males aged 18 and
over were required to swear an oath of adherence to the
Protestant religion. The names of the individuals were not
recorded, or the numbers, if any, of the absentees. Hoskyns
in his “Local History in England” suggests that an estimate
of the actual population can be made by doubling the figures
so as to include women, and multiply the result by 1.66 to
Estimate of population
The Civil War must have been a
difficult time for the ordinary working families in the area. At the best of times it would have been
difficult enough for them to earn sufficient money for food
and clothing. During the war, the wealthier families, who
had loyalties to one side or the other, imposed taxes on the
poor to pay for their troops. This must have been a time of
great hardship for the less well off. Local loyalties were
pretty much divided between the two sides:
Sir Thomas Leveson at Dudley Castle
Colonel Lane at Bentley Hall
George Hawe at Caldmore
William Hopkins at Oakeswell Hall
Captain Henry Stone and Colonel "Tinker"
Fox at Walsall
Sir Richard Leigh at Rushall Hall
Edward Dudley at Green Hall, Tipton
Simon Montford at Bescot Hall
Thomas Parkes at Willingsworth Hall
On 12th June, 1644 a large brigade of
Parliamentarian horse and foot soldiers descended on Tipton Green at the start of an attempt
to take the local Royalist stronghold, Dudley Castle. An
account of the battle can be found F. W. Willmore’s History
of Walsall, in the form of a letter from a Parliamentarian,
dated 12th June, 1644, from Dr. Burney's collection:
|The King, who was at Shrewsbury, hearing
of the danger which threatened the castle,
despatched Lord Wilmot, the Earl of
Northampton, and the Earl of Cleveland, with
a brigade of horse and 1,000 foot soldiers
to raise the siege. The Parliamentary camp
was pitched on West Bromwich Common, where
traces of the earthworks might be seen. The
fight commenced about nine in the morning,
that the Royalists were numbered at about
4,000 besides foot, and that the Parliament
forces advanced from Tipton Green. The
Royalists ambuscaded the hedges and
approaches to the castle, but the rebels
charging furiously put them to flight,
leaving 60 of their number on the field.
Lord Denbigh deported himself with much
gallantry, leading the foot and remarking
that he would rather lose ten lives than one
piece of his artillery. The fight lasted
from two to five, the rebels losing about 8
men and 20 wounded..... Both the Royalists
and the Roundheads claimed the advantage in
this somewhat indecisive affray.
The various Royalist strongholds in the
neighbourhood were eventually dismantled by the order
of Cromwell. Dudley Castle, which had been quietly
surrendered to the Parliamentary forces in May, 1646, was 'sleighted'
by order of the House of Commons on July 18th.
In 2011 archaeologists from MetroMOLA
(Museum of London Archaeology) completed an excavation of a
site in Tipton Green in partnership with Birmingham
Archaeology who had dug evaluation trenches on a site in
Shrubbery Avenue, Tipton, in late 2010. The findings
included a substantial wall thought to represent the
foundations of Tipton Green Hall, constructed in about 1400
by the Dudley family. The site is believed to have been the
location of the Civil War skirmish in June 1644, during
which Edward Dudley led a locally recruited band of
Parliamentary troops in an attack on the Royalist stronghold
of Dudley Castle. When the attack failed, the troops
retreated to Tipton and were subsequently defeated in a
battle thought to have taken place at Tipton Green Hall.
Black Country Towns