From Cannock to Walsall: What Do You Call Yourself?

And Now For Something Completely Different…
More a bit of fun, but a bit of a different article this time for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it may not seem like this is relevant to local history, but I really think it is. Secondly, whilst there is a written article, I am really inviting comments from the small but valued readership of this blog. You can reply on here or on Facebook if you feel so inclined, but it would be nice to get some opinions: please keep them clean, I would say this is a family blog, but I don’t get enough readers 🙂 .

What Do I Call Myself?
This article is about demonyms; these are names given to people from a particular region, be it a continent, country, city, town or village. So, if you are from Europe, you are European, from England, you are English, from Lichfield, a Lichfeldian. It goes on, and you get the idea. The subject of demonyms, like place-names, has always interested me, as they seem to have fallen out of use except for countries and their major cities and towns.

Brummie, or Birminghamian is the demonym for people from Birmingham. I am a Lichfeldian - Brummie - Wyrleyite, so I qualify for hugs.

Brummie, or Birminghamian are the demonyms for people from Birmingham. I am a Lichfeldian – Brummie – Wyrleyite, so I qualify for at least part of a hug.

I was approached with a ‘what do you call’ question the other day, in this case with regard to the demonyms of the Walsall area – and the answer was a tricky one, as I could find no ‘formal’ list of local demonyms and indeed, doing a little research, not only it seems there is often confusion locally as to what people call themselves, but also as what people call you from other communities.

Many people have no idea even if there is a demonym for their area.

Many people have no idea even if there is a demonym for their area.

I think this has come about, in part, as a result of an erosion of older community identities due to the massive housing developments and population movements from the early 1900s onward. Over time, and particularly since the Second World War, some communities have physically grown together or have been swallowed-up by neighbouring larger ones as the open spaces between them get built upon. Locally, Landywood is an example of this. Back in 1914, men joining-up to become soldiers would put Landywood or even Lower Landywood on their attestation forms: now, despite there being a Landywood railway station, parish council ward and an odd road sign, residents in general say they are from Great Wyrley.

Ernest's attests, 3rd May 1915 (National Archives)

Ernest Thomas, from Lower Landywood, attests on 3rd May 1915 (National Archives)

With regard to communities growing together, Great Wyrley and Cheslyn Hay are inseparable. Now, while in many ways Landywood has lost its separate identity, Wyrley and Cheslyn remain fiercely parochial: yet there is no difference in accent, both use the same money and both witnessed with despair when England crashed out of the World Cup. Having only moved here in 1992, I initially saw the two communities as one – after all, I can honestly say I use the pubs of both villages 🙂 . I was to quickly learn however that such a radical opinion would not be tolerated by the local inquisition; I was eventually to escape banishment with just a slapped wrist on the grounds of diminished responsibility – I was a Brummie, after all 🙂 .

Secondly, people these days seem, more so, to have multiple identities. They tend to see themselves differently depending on what they are talking about and to whom they are talking. If I take myself as an example; I am a Lichfeldian by birth, in my formative years, I was a Brummie – although I would be from Hodge Hill if talking to another Brummie (a Hodge Hillian, although I never used the term) and today, I am a Wyrleyite (and I am also called other things 🙂 ).

All-in-all, demonyms today seem to be a mish-mash of the official, unofficial, popular and accepted. Mostly, they generally have an ian suffix to the place-name itself, but the pronunciation seems to change. For example, the formal demonym for Walsall is Walsallian – however the pronunciation is Wal-sal-ian (emphasis on ‘sal’); similarly, I believe that someone from Cannock is a Cannockian, but this is pronounced Can-nock-ian (emphasis on ‘nock’), if that makes sense.

What follows is a list of local places with their demonyms, as far as I know. What I am really hoping is that local readers drop a comment or two on anything, but especially on the following:-
1. Do you think you have a demonym – if so what do you think your demonym is, or what have you heard?
2. What have you heard for other places (keep it clean 🙂 )?
3. Do you think such things have gone out of use – and do you really care?
This will never be the definitive work on the subject, but it would be nice to see what people think.

So, locally, the ones I have found or heard, which I think are ‘formal’ are:-

Aldridge:Aldridgian: I have heard Aldridgite as well, although I think it is the first as with Penkridgian.

Bloxwich: I have never heard a demonym for this, a friend from Bloxwich has heard Bloxwegians on the odd occasion. If you take other wich endings, Norwich or Ipswich for example, I believe the formal demonym is in fact Norwichian and Ipswichian, which would then make it Bloxwichian.

Brownhills: Brownhillian: as with most ‘hill’ endings eg Coleshillian

Cannock: Cannockian is all i have heard.

Cheslyn Hay: I am really not sure, Cheslyner possibly? I once saw some graffiti that said ‘Chezzas Go Home’ if that counts 😉 .

Clayhanger and Walsall Wood tend to be called Clangers, which is a corruption of Clayhanger (through its pronunciation) and not a reference to the mouse-like creatures that live on a blue planet and speak in whistles!

Darlaston:Darlastonian: as with most ton endings eg Etonian, Bilstonian.

Essington:Essingtonian.

Great Wyrley: Wyrleyite is all I have heard, but Wyrleyan is a possibility.

Hednesford: Hednesfordian: as in Staffordian.

Moxley: I have never heard any demonym for Moxley, but however, most ‘ley’ endings seem to be ‘ite’ or ‘yan’, this would make it Moxleyite or Moxleyan

Norton Canes is interesting: It could be Nortonian, as that is the place itself, the Canes being simply a locator (North settlement by Cannock).

Pelsall: Pelsallian: I have heard it, but a good friend of mine who is from Pelsall has never heard the expression at all.

Shelfield: I have never heard a demonym for this, but as with other field endings, and being from Lichfield myself, I would use Shelfeldian.

Walsall: Walsallian: as with most ‘all’ endings and this does seem to be used frequently.

Willenhall: somebody actually posed this question on their local community Facebook page, citing ‘Willenhallite’, but there have been no response as yet. I have only heard Willenhallian and that only once, but it would be consistent with Walsall and Pelsall.

So, if you agree, disagree, want to add places I haven’t mentioned, please feel free to comment. It is simply for fun, after all. I would love to know if there is one for Shire Oak – as this left me stumped 🙂

Comments
  1. sean says:

    I have heard the term ” Gosquito” to refer to those who reside in Goscote. Has anyone else?

    • Pedro says:

      Not quite on subject, but may be of interest from a book by FW Hackwood in the 1902’s

      Sutton for mutton
      Tamworth for beef
      Walsall for Bandy legs
      And Brum for a thief.

      Walsall town for bandy legs
      Bilston town for bulls
      Hampton town for fancy girls
      And Sedgley town for trulls.

  2. Brian says:

    At one time people from Cheslyn Hay were invariably called ” Wyrley Bonkers”,Cheslyn Hay was also known as “Wyrley Bank” in those days the PC Brigade didn’t exist and nobody gave it a second thought “happy days!” sadly it appears that the smaller communities are being eroded as you Lower Landywood is a fine example.

  3. tonykulik says:

    Bloxwegian is a term/demonym I’ve ‘always’ been ‘familiar’ with – defining ‘always’ would probably amount to half a century – since I was a nipper.

    Does/can your demonym ever ‘change’ with the passage of time, associated to your actual residence? Or are you, say for example, a ‘Bloxwegian’, given it was your birthplace, irrespective of the time you resided there? Whether that’s 1%, 2%, 5%, 10% etc of your lifespan?

    In my particular case, I believe I’m a ‘Bloxwegian’ – although I’ve lived in Gt Wyrley twice as long as I did in Bloxwich. I must be a Bloxwegian – after all I’ve been reminded ‘sternly’ on a number of occasions in the past by my elders that I wasn’t a ‘villager’, so I can’t be a Wyrleyite.

    Or do I qualify for ‘honorary’ Wyrleyite status given living nearly 40 years in ‘the village’?

    ‘All being well’, don’t intended leaving ‘the village’ and expect to ultimately ‘reside’ in Strawberry Lane………..wonder if subsequent surveyors of my ‘granite stone’ will consider me to be a Wyrleyite?

    • wyrleyblog says:

      Bloxwegian does seem to be the accepted demonym from the replies I have received.

      In the article I suggest we have multiple demonyms, flitting between them depending on circumstance. While I am a Wyrleyite and a long-time Brummie, there is always a little magic in going back to Lichfield. You can of course have two demonyms (at a local level); for example, prior to 1931 I would have been just a Hodge Hillian, after that, I could be a Brummie as well!

      It is interesting, as you say, how we sometimes say ‘honorary’ or ‘adopted’, as though we feel as though we don’t fit in or we are being disrespectful of our original ‘hometowns’. And, with regard to becoming a Wyrleyite on death, I hate to say it, but isn’t Strawberry Lane Cemetery being handed over to Upper Landywood 😉

  4. madwblog says:

    I’m now a Clanger. Was a Coventrian.

  5. Brian S says:

    I reckon I’m a Clangerite.

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