Domesday Book: The Walsall and Bloxwich Question

Posted: September 27, 2014 in Landscapes, Medieval, Place-names and demonyms, Pre-Medieval
Domesday Book (National Archives)

Domesday Book
(National Archives)

Domesday has reached almost biblical status in the way that local historians use it to prove their village existed in the late 11th century. As most people tend to look at Domesday simply for their entry, they don’t tend to question the document as a whole: the truth is that it is filled with errors, omissions and inconsistencies so the whole thing can be somewhat bewildering at best. Following on from the Wyrley article, this article will give my thoughts on the Bloxwich entry and the missing Walsall one.

  1. Hilson Carter says:

    Not got time, I’m afraid, to read the whole article when I have a new baby in the hoose, but here’s a suggestion re Walsall (probably well off the mark but then, I am neither English nor Welsh).

    The name Walsall etymologically looks like it might derive from the same Germanic word for Wales – Waelisc. If this refers to the “foreigners” the English had on their border then perhaps it also referred to settlements of these people within the borders of England – enclaves of Welsh speakers that still existed at this time. We know that at the time of Domesday there were semi-autonomous kingdoms of Brythonic speakers within the kingdom of Scotland so could there have been tiny enclaves of Brythonic speakers in parts of England surviving at this time? Perhaps the area of Walsall at this time just meant the area of land where the Welsh speakers lived. Perhaps it was left off Domesday as it wasn’t seen as distinct from Bloxwich but just that area of Bloxwich which had non-English-speaking inhabitants.

    Anyway, this is written from a position of almost total ignorance so apologies. It has just always struck me that the name Walsall is suspiciously “Wales-like” and that this may explain its Domesday non-appearance.

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