The Boundaries of Pelsall, 1634.

As the Archivist at the Walsall Local History Centre I do look after some nice little documents, which contrary to every TV documentary are not secret, hidden, lost or dusty. When I first launched Wyrleyblog last year I wrote-up a perambulation of the bounds of Little Wyrley that dated from 1718, in which I included photographs of the document which is housed in the Walsall Local History Centre. A perambulation effectively means the a tour (walk around) of the boundary of a township, manor or whatever it is a perambulation of. For this article I thought I would do something similar, if a little older, for all the Pelsallians out there.

(Walsall Local History Centre)

The cover when originally folded. Remember to click on photos to enlarge. (Walsall Local History Centre)

The Walsall Local History Centre houses a perambulation for the beating of the bounds for the Liberty of Pelsall, which dates back to 1634 (Acc 35/8/2). I am sure many from Pelsall would have read about it in local history books, but I wanted to show the document too. In some ways it is disappointing – it looks like it is written on the proverbial back of a fag packet of the day, however, this is because it was a working document and is a snap-shot of time. It was some 25 years before that when the last perambulation was done. I suppose the hope is that some from the locale can actually still trace some of these features or have a good guess as to where they were leave a comment on here or on the Facebook page. At some stage I would like to compare the perambulation to the Tithe Map of 1843.

Overall view - a little blurred - so closer views are provided. (Walsall Local History Centre)

Overall view – a little blurred – so closer views are provided.
(Walsall Local History Centre)

The document is written on one side paper of roughly modern day A4 size. A margin must have been provided then filled-in to complete the survey as the main face became exhausted. The document is written in English, so what I have written is a transcription and not a translation. Saying that, the spellings vary even within the document (meddow, meddowe and meddo for example) and punctuation is completely random – so at times it doesn’t seem to make sense as you read it (‘at the lower end of Richard Francis his meadow’ for example). I have tailored the text to suit the lines as shown on the document so it is easier to follow and anything with an *asterisk will have an explanation note at the end. Some symbols (ampersands) and contractions have been written as words, but many spellings are as seen as their meaning is identifiable. Remember the photographs overlap, so I have found a convenient stopping point on all – and do click on the photos to enlarge.

The Transcription
A little historical note of context before we start. Part of the title given to the original manuscript was ‘A Breviat [abridged] of Part of the Perambulation of Wolverhampton’ and not Walsall or Lichfield as you may think. The Perambulation was also ‘taken by the Church’.

Domesday Book entry for Pelsall (Open Domesday)

Domesday Book entry for Pelsall
(Open Domesday)

The connection to Wolverhampton and the church dates back to the Saxon period. While there are questions regarding its authenticity, around the 1560s a charter was ‘discovered’ that alleged to date to 994. In that charter, Lady Wulfrun gifted ‘Pelsall’ to the new monastic foundation at Wolverhampton. Authentic or not, in the Domesday Book of 1086 Pelsall was held by the canons of Wolverhampton St Mary. It continued to be held by St Peter’s Collegiate Church in Wolverhampton until the dissolution of the monasteries from 1536 onward. After this, as a Royal Free Chapel (Liberty), the Dean of Wolverhampton remained the parish vicar until it became a parish of its own in 1846.

Top. (Walsall Local History Centre)

(Walsall Local History Centre)

A Breviat of part of the Perambulation
of Wolverhampton taken by the Church-
wardens* anno domini 1634.

Pelsall Lyberty

Imprimis*: in the port way* leadinge to Leichfield from
Little Bloxwich at the lower end of Richard
Francis his meddowe* from 2 steppinge stones
in that waye downe by the brooke syde, through
Pelsall meddowinge joyninge to Goscotte meddow-
inge downe to a lane leadinge Mr Hills
house to Pelsall Heath, from thence to John
Fletchers lessow* to the ditch banks joyninge
to land of George Daniell Holdeth and soo up
the brooke at the nether end of the said Fletchers
lessowe to Sir William Skevintons mill: soo up the brooke
to the further syde of a meddow called Felfords
now in the hold of James Perkyn Clerke and…

Middle (Walsall Local History Centre)

(Walsall Local History Centre)

… up the brooke through new meddow greene,
and to the nether end of the outsyde of a great meddow
called new meddow and up a little lessowe
ditch beyond part of that new meddow up to
Leitchfield port waye, that joyneth to land
called the Further Ryders Hey, that was Mr
John Levesons land of Wyrley, as Mr
James Nowell did say to Adam Heath
about 21 years since, and shewed him the
out-bounds at that time beinge requested
by Adam Heath from Sir
Walter Leveson Kt. The which the said Adam
Heath declared openly at this [perambulation] to bee…

Bottom (Walsall Local History Centre)

(Walsall Local History Centre)

…the meare* betweene Norton and Pellsall
as Mr Nowell said. And not only his Testi-
mony but divers* of Pellsall that were then presente
did certify that they went in the last perambu-
lation aboute 25 years past, unto that place:
and soo over Leitchfield port waye into Cowhey
and up in Cowhey to Smithes ditch and then up
Cowhey ditch to Longe Lee ditch, and
from thence to meare-oake-Roote, and to a
great stone, neare the said Roote in Longe Lee
from thence up Longe Lee to another great stone
in the over end of Longe Lee and from thence to
Spratte Croft ditch, and so downe a Pearle*
into a ground cald Seafields unto 2 great stones
in Seafields, and soo through meddowes…

Side (Walsall Local History Centre)

(Walsall Local History Centre)

…in the holdinge of William Skelton joyninge to Fishley brooke and then up
Fisheley lane into a lessow called the Bush of James Francis
into a littel gutter in the said lessow and from that gutter into a lessow
ditch belonginge to Edward Byrches Taking* of Bloxseich and downe
a Pearle brook to the nether end of a field calld He lee and downe the brooke
joyninge to Nutt meddo downe by Richard Francis his meddow to the 2
steppinge stones in Leichfield port waye where wee first began.

* Churchwarden – a parish lay-official, often dealing with buildings and finance.
* Imprimis – Latin, an introduction meaning along the lines of ‘in the first place’.
* port way – most likely meaning a road that led to a market town (Lichfield in this case).
* meadow – grassland, usually for making hay.
* leasow – rough grazing or pasture land.
* meare – this is a whole boundary or a boundary point.
* divers – diverse, many.
* Pearle – Pearle Brook is used later in the survey – ‘purl’ is the sound of rippling water.
* Taking – the ‘of Bloxwich’ after suggests it is his name or trade, but neither make sense

My thanks to:
Walsall Local History Centre
Open Domesday
British History On-line

  1. […] The Boundaries of Pelsall, 1634. […]

  2. itieknots says:

    I have read somewhere that there may be a connection between beating-the-bounds and the art of divination.
    A diviners rod bends at geomantic places – thus displaying the boundary.
    #Just sayin’

  3. Pedro says:

    Had to smile at the mention of the alleged authenticity of Lady Wulfrun’s Charter.

    A few years ago we traced out the boundary of the Charter and walked around it to see just how much could still be recognised.

    Thirsty work. But I prefer Banks’s to the water in her well!

  4. Paul says:

    Fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing. I grew up on Ryder’s Hayes estate and my parent still live there today. Never knew where the name came from.

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