A Description of Modern Birmingham by Charles Pye

Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Bradley Norton and PG Distributed Proofreaders A DESCRIPTION OF MODERN BIRMINGHAM WHEREUNTO ARE ANNEXED, OBSERVATIONS _Made during an Excursion round the Town_, IN THE SUMMER OF 1818, INCLUDING Warwick and Leamington _BY CHARLES PYE_; WHO COMPILED A DICTIONARY OF ANCIENT GEOGRAPHY * * * * * May be had of all
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Produced by Jonathan Ingram, Bradley Norton and PG Distributed Proofreaders


_Made during an Excursion round the Town_,


Warwick and Leamington



* * * * *

[symbol] May be had of all Booksellers. _Anti-Jacobin, May, 1804._


The author’s avowed object, is to arrange the ancient and modern names, in a clear and methodical manner, so as to give a ready reference to each; and in addition to this arrangement of ancient appellations both of people and places, with the modern names, he has given a concise chronological history of the principal places; by which the book also serves in many cases as a gazetteer. We find upon the whole a clear and practical arrangement of articles which are dispersed in more voluminous works. Mr. Pye has condensed within a narrow space the substance of Cellarius, Lempriere, Macbean, &c. In short the work will be found very useful and convenient to all persons reading the classics or studying modern geography, and to all readers of history, sacred or profane.

_British Critic, June, 1804._


This may be recommended as a very convenient, useful, and relatively cheap publication of the kind, and may very properly be recommended for schools. The author very modestly desires that such errors and omissions as will unavoidably appear in an attempt of this nature may be pointed out to him, for the benefit of a future edition.

_Monthly Review, October, 1805._

We prefer the old mode of having separate divisions; the one including ancient and the other modern geography, to that of uniting both under the same alphabetical arrangement. When the title of this work is considered, it is somewhat incongruous that the account of places should be inserted under the modern names, and a mere reference under that of the ancient. These accounts appear to be in general correct, but they are in our judgment too brief to be satisfactory. As the above writer says he prefers two alphabets to one; the editor hereby sets him at defiance to produce two books in any language (however large they are,) from whence the student or traveller can collect such information as is contained in this small volume, price 7s.

Mr. Pye also published a correct and complete representation of all the provincial copper coins, tokens of trade, and cards of address, on copper, that were circulated as such between the years 1787 and 1801; when they were entirely superseded by a national copper coinage. The whole on fifty-five quarto plates, price 20s. being a necessary appendage to every library; there being a very copious index.

TO Wm. Damper, Esq.

_One of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace_




_As you occasionally amuse yourself with topographical pursuits, deign to accept of the following pages, from

Your most obedient,

Humble Servant_,



Whoever may take the trouble of looking into the following pages, will soon perceive that in some instances the editor has been very brief in his description of the public institutions; to which he pleads guilty, and accounts for it by observing, that the undermentioned card[1] was written and delivered by him personally, to every public institution, at the respective places where the business is transacted, and when he called again, after a lapse of two months, there were several instances where all information was withheld.[2] Having, as he thought, proceeded in the most genteel way, by soliciting assistance in a private manner, he feels doubly disappointed in not being able to give the public such information as might reasonably be expected in a publication of this kind.–Had his endeavors been seconded by those who are to a certain degree interested in the event, there are several points that would have been explained more at large; but being deprived of such assistance, he ventures to appear before the tribunal of the public, and to give them the best information that he has been able to obtain. Any person who discovers errors or omissions, that will take the trouble of rectifying them, and conveying the same through the medium of the publisher, will confer an inestimable favour on

Their obedient servant,


[Footnote 1:–are respectfully informed, that it is in contemplation to publish a Description of Modern Birmingham, and the adjacent country for some miles around it; therefore any information they may think proper to communicate will be strictly attended to by Their obedient servant, CHARLES PYE.]

[Footnote 2: The Birmingham Fire Office, the three Canals, &c.]


_Written by the late John Morfitt, Esq. Barrister._

Illustrious offspring of vulcanic toil! Pride of the country! glory of the isle! Europe’s grand toy-shop! art’s exhaustless mine! These, and more titles, Birmingham, are thine. From jealous fears, from charter’d fetters free, Desponding genius finds a friend in thee: Thy soul, as lib’ral as the breath of spring, Cheers his faint heart, and plumes his flagging wing.

‘Tis thine, with plastic hand, to mould the mass, Of ductile silver, and resplendant brass; ‘Tis thine, with sooty finger to produce Unnumber’d forms, for ornament and use.

Hark! what a sound!–art’s pond’rous fabric reels, Beneath machinery’s ten thousand wheels; Loud falls the stamp, the whirling lathes resound, And engines heave, while hammers clatter round: What labour forges, patient art refines, Till bright as dazz’ling day metallic beauty shines.

Thy swords, elastic, arm our hero’s hands; Thy musquets thunder in remotest lands; Thy sparkling buttons distant courts emblaze; Thy polish’d steel emits the diamond’s rays; Paper, beneath thy magic hand assumes
A mirror brightness, and with beauty blooms. With each Etruscan grace thy vases shine, And proud Japan’s fam’d varnish yields to thine.

Thine, too, the trinkets, that the fair adorn, But who can count the spangles of the morn? What pencil can pourtray this splendid mart. This vast, stupendous wilderness of art? Where fancy sports, in all her rainbow hues, And beauty’s radiant forms perplex the muse. The boundless theme transcends poetic lays,– Let plain historic truth record thy praise.

_The Roads pointed out_


Miles Folio
Alcester .. 21 186
Atherstone .. 20 178
Banbury .. 42 134
Barr-beacon .. 7 188
Barr-park .. 5 122
Bath .. 87 176
Bilstone .. 11 101
Blenheim .. 52 133
Bristol .. 84 176
Bromsgrove .. 13 176
Buxton .. 61 163
Cheltenham .. 51 176
Chester .. 75 101
Coalbrook Dale .. 30 101 Coleshill .. 10 180
Coventry .. 18 161
Derby .. 40 163
Dublin .. 218 101
Dudley, thro’ Oldbury .. 9 130 Dudley, thro’ Tipton .. 10 125
Dunchurch .. 29 161
Edgbaston .. 1 190
Edinburgh .. 298 113&163 Evesham .. 31 186
Glocester .. 52 176
Hagley .. 12 169
Halesowen .. 7 169
Handsworth .. 2-1/2 106 Harborne .. 3 182
Henley-in-Arden .. 14 133 Hockley House .. 10 133
Holyhead .. 158 101
Kidderminster .. 18 169 King’s Norton .. 6 186
Knowle .. 10 134
Leamington .. 22 133&134 Leeds .. 109 113&163
Leicester .. 43 180
Lichfield .. 16 163
Liverpool .. 104 113&163 London, thro’ Coventry .. 109 161 —-, Henley-on-Thames .. 118 133 —-, Uxbridge .. 114 133
—-, Warwick & Banbury .. 119 134 Malvern .. 32 176
Manchester .. 82 113&163 Matlock .. 55 163
Meriden .. 12 161
Northampton .. 42 161
Northfield .. 6 176
Nottingham .. 50 163
Oxford .. 61 133
Rowley .. 7 193
Rugby .. 31 161
Sedgley .. 14 110
Sheffield .. 76 163
Shenstone .. 13 163
Shrewsbury .. 45 101
Smethwick .. 2 130
Solihull .. 7 135
Stafford, thro’ Walsall .. 26 113 —-, Wolverhamp. .. 30 101
Stourbridge .. 12 130&169 Stratford-upon-Avon .. 22 133
Sutton Coldfield .. 8 163 Tamworth .. 16 163
Tipton .. 8 125
Walsall .. 9 113
Warwick, by Knowle .. 20 134 —-, by Hockley House .. 20 133 Wednesbury .. 8 110
West-Bromwich .. 6 108 Wolverhampton .. 14 101
Worcester .. 26 176
Yardley .. 3 192
York .. 132 113&163


Assay office,
Assembly rooms,
Asylum for children,
—- for deaf & dumb,
Ball rooms,
Baptist’s meeting,
Beardsworth’s repository
Birmingham canal,
—- fire office,
—- metal comp.,
Births and burials,
Blue coat school,
Bodily deformity,
—- works,
Brickwork, neat,
Burial ground,
Calvinist’s meeting,
Canal, Birmingham,
—-, Warwick,
—-, Worcester,
Carriers by water,
Catholic chapel,
Chamber of commerce,
Chapel, St. Bartholomew,
—- St. James’s,
—- St. John’s,
—- St. Mary’s,
—- St. Paul’s,
Charities, private,
Church, Christ,
—- St. Martin’s,
—- St. Philip’s,
Coaches, stage,
Corn mill,
Court leet,
—- of requests,
Crown copper company,
Crowley’s trust,
Deaf and dumb,
Deritend house,
Dissenter’s school,
Factoring, origin of,
Fentham’s trust,
Fire office,
Fish shops,
Free grammar school,
General hospital,
—- provident society,
Glass houses,
Gold and silver,
Gun trade, account of,
Hackney coach fares,
Hen and chicken’s inn,
Hides, raw,
Hotel, hen and chicken’s,
—-, Nelson’s,
—-, royal,
—-, swan,
Humane society,
Huntingdon’s meeting,
Jew’s synagogue,
Ikenield street,
Improvements in the town,
Inland commercial society,
Innovation of the post office,
Interesting information
John-a-Dean’s hole
Lady well
Lancasterian school
Lench’s trust
Liberality of the town
Library, new
—-, public
—-, theological
Metal company
Methodist meeting
Mining and copper comp.
Miscellaneous information
Musical festival
National school
Neat brick work
Nelson’s statue
—- tavern
New library
—- meeting
New union mill
Old meeting
Origin of factoring
Parsonage house
Philosophical society
Piddock’s trust
Places of worship
Post office
—- innovation
Principal manufactories
Private charities
Proof house
Protection of trade
Provident society
Public breweries
—- library
—- office
—- scales
Quaker’s meeting
Raw hides
Remarkable circumstance
Roman road
Rose copper company
Royal hotel
Scales, public
Stage coaches
Statue of Lord Nelson
Steam engines improved
Steel house
Sunday schools
Swan hotel
Theological library
Town improved
Trade protected
Trust, Crowley’s
—- Fentham’s
—- Jackson’s
—- Lench’s
—- Piddock’s
Vase, a remarkable one
Union mill
Warwick canal
Worcester canal
Worship, places of





This extensive town, which, from its manufactures, is of so much importance to the nation, is distinguished in the commercial annals of Britain, for a spirit of enterprize and persevering industry. Its inhabitants are ever on the alert, and continually inventing some new articles for traffic, or making improvements in others, that have been introduced in foreign countries; and by their superior skill, aided by machinery, are enabled to bring into the foreign market an endless variety of manufactured goods, both useful and ornamental, which they sell at a more moderate price than any other manufacturers of similar articles in the known world.

Comparisons are odious, and therefore to be avoided. That the inhabitants are become wealthy, there is indisputable evidence, but to whom they are indebted for their opulence, different opinions prevail.

The writer of these pages was born in the year 1749, and having been an attentive observer more than fifty years, he is convinced that the extensive trade now carried on in this town, is principally to be attributed to the enterprising spirit of the late Matthew Boulton, Esq. who, by his active and unremitting exertions, the indefatigable perseverance of himself and his agents, together with the liberal manner in which he patronized genius, laid the foundation.

This town is situated near the centre of the kingdom, in the north west extremity of the county of Warwick, and so near the verge of it, that within the distance of one mile and a half from the centre, on the road to Wolverhampton, a person removes himself into Staffordshire, and on the road to Alcester, about the same distance from the centre, you are in the county of Worcester.

The superficial contents of the parish is two thousand, eight hundred, and sixty-four acres.

The situation of the town is very uneven in its surface, but not in any part flat; on which account the rains and superfluous water, remove all obstructions, and contributes in a considerable degree to the salubrity of the air.

From the remarkable dry foundation of the houses, and the moderate elevation on which they are erected, the celebrated Dr. Priestley pronounced the air of this town to be equally pure as any he had analysed. The water is also allowed by medical practitioners, to be of a superior quality, and very conducive to the health of the inhabitants, who are scarcely ever afflicted with epidemic diseases.

The foundation of the houses is, with very few exceptions, a dry mass of sandy rock, from whence there are not any noxious vapours arise, and on that account, the cellars might be inhabited with safety, but that is not customary here.

In approaching the town, you ascend in every direction, except from Halesowen; on which account the air has free access to every part of it, and the sun can exercise its full powers in exhaling superfluous moisture.

In this favoured spot, the inhabitants enjoy four of the greatest benefits that can attend human existence; air more pure than in many other places; water of an excellent quality; the genial influence of the sun; and a situation not in the least subject to damps.

The adjacent lands are of an inferior quality, but by cultivation they are rendered tolerably productive; those immediately surrounding the town, are almost in every direction converted into gardens, which are in general rented from one to two guineas per year, and without a doubt are very conducive to the health of the inhabitants.

The waste lands about the town being inclosed in the year 1800 were found to contain two hundred and eighty nine acres, which land now lets from thirty to fifty shillings per acre.

The only stream of water that flows to this town is a small rivulet, denominated the river Rea, which takes its rise upon Rubery Hill, near one mile north of Bromsgrove Lickey, about eight miles distant, from whence there being a considerable descent, numerous reservoirs have been made, which enables the stream, within that short space, to drive ten mills, exclusive of two within the town; and what is very remarkable, some person has erected a windmill very near its banks, where the ground is not in the least elevated. This curiosity of a windmill being erected in a valley, is very visible soon after you have passed the buildings on the road to Bromsgrove.

Notwithstanding there is only one stream of water, the streets are so intersected by canals, that there is only one entrance into the town without coming over a bridge, and that is from Worcester.

At the top of Digbeth, very near the church-yard of St. Martin’s, there is a never-failing spring of pure soft water, wherein is affixed what is called the cock pump; which being free to all the inhabitants, it is a very common thing to see from twelve to twenty people, each of them with a pair of large tin buckets, waiting for their turn to fill them, and this in succession through the whole day. From this very powerful spring there is a continual stream that runs through the cellars, on each side of the street, and several of the inhabitants have therein affixed pumps, from which innumerable water carts are filled every hour of the day; notwithstanding which, during the greatest heats and droughts, there is always a super-abundance of that necessary and valuable article.

Immediately above the same church-yard, and near to the principal entrance, there is another pump, constructed in such a singular manner, that I have no hesitation in saying, there never was one of the same before, nor ever will be in future.


This inexhaustible spring of soft water has for a series of years been encircled by a brick wall, which forms a very capacious reservoir; from whence there are at least forty people obtain a livelihood, by conveying the water in buckets to different parts of the town. An attempt was made in July, 1818, to prevent the public from having access to this invaluable water; but by the commissioners of the street acts interfering, it remains open to the public.

No town in existence can be more plentifully supplied with water than this is, nor in a more commodious manner, for every respectable house either has a pump to itself, or one pump to serve two houses; and in every court, where there are a number of small houses, that useful appendage is not in any instance wanting, for the accommodation of the tenants.

In various parts of the town the water is soft, but it is not so in general; and to supply that defect, numerous people find their advantage in conveying that useful article in carts, and innumerable others in carrying it with a yoke and two buckets, to those who are in want of it, which they sell at the rate of from ten to twelve gallons for one penny, according to the distance.

Near one mile and a half from the centre of the town, there is, on the road towards Coleshill, a chalybeate spring, which some years back was in general repute, but now little attention is paid to it.

The lands in the vicinity of this town are beyond all doubt higher than any other in the kingdom; there being three instances of springs issuing from them that take two different courses. One instance is upon Bromsgrove Lickey, from whence two springs arise, one of which flows into the Severn, and the other into the Trent.–Another instance is at the Quinton, on the road to Halesowen, from whence there issues two springs, each of them taking the same course as those from Bromsgrove Lickey. The third is at Corley, in the vicinity of Packington, where they pursue the same courses. These springs arise in a triangular direction, Birmingham being in the centre.

To demonstrate what has been advanced respecting the salubrity of the air and purity of the water, the hotel, in Temple-row, was erected in the year 1772, upon the tontine principle. There being fifty shares, of course the same number of lives must be nominated at that time, of whom there were, in the middle of October, 1818, forty-five still living.

Another instance may be adduced, equally appropriate. There are at the present time, 1818, still living, and in health, seventeen persons, (and there may be several more), who all of them received their education under one schoolmaster, the youngest of whom is sixty-nine years of age.

And what is still more remarkable, although there were in the middle of November more than three hundred and eighty children in the asylum, there was not one sick person in that numerous family.


Is undoubtedly of great antiquity, and to trace its foundation is at present impossible, tradition itself not giving any clue. It was originally erected with stone, but the exterior being decayed by time, in the year 1690 the body of the church, and also the tower, were cased with bricks of an admirable quality, and mortar suitable to them, for at this time there is scarcely any symptoms of decay. The elegant spire has been several times injured by lightning, and during its repairs the workmen have contracted the length of it considerably. It was at one time (whatever it is now) the loftiest spire in the kingdom, measuring from its base to the weathercock. The person who repaired it in 1777 made the observation.–There are, no doubt, several steeples more lofty, measuring from the ground, the towers of which extend to a great height, whilst this at Birmingham is very low.–There are within the church two marble monuments, with recumbent figures upon them, but no inscription, and are, like the church, of such ancient date, that no person has yet presumed to say when they were executed nor for whom, (only by conjecture); but let the artists be who they would, the effigies do them great credit, and were highly deserving of better treatment than they have experienced. In the church is a fine-toned organ. In the steeple are twelve musical bells, and a set of chimes, that play with great accuracy a different tune every day in the week, at the hour of three, six, nine and twelve; and they are so contrived, that they shift from one tune to another, by means of their own machinery. On the south side of the tower there is a meridian line, which was affixed there by Ferguson, the astronomer, so that when the sun shines, the hour of twelve may be ascertained to a certainty. Birmingham is only one parish, except for church fees, and in that respect, the rector of St. Philip’s presides over a small part within the town. The Rev. Charles Curtis is rector of Birmingham: the Rev. Edmund Outram being rector of St. Philip’s, in Birmingham. The regimental colours, late belonging to the Loyal Birmingham Association, are suspended in the east window, over the altar. This church is computed to accommodate 2200 persons.


The scite of the church-yard, parsonage, and blue-coat school was the gift of Mrs. Elizabeth Phillips, and her son and daughter in law, Mr. and Mrs. William Inge, the ancestors of William Phillips Inge, Esq. without stipulating for the presentation. This superb edifice was designed in the year 1710, by Thomas Archer, Esq.[3] who was gentleman of the bed chamber to her majesty Queen Anne, and who, it is universally allowed by all who have taken particular notice of this building, was possessed of superior abilities, and a refined taste as an architect. An act of parliament being obtained for the erection of it in the year 1709, the same was begun in 1711, under a commission, granted to twenty of the neighbouring gentry, who were appointed by the bishop of the diocese, under his episcopal seal; whose commission was to expire twelve months after the church should be erected. It was consecrated in the year 1715, but not finished till 1719, when the commissioners resigned their authority into the hands of the diocesan, in whom the presentation rests.

[Footnote 3: He also designed the church of St. John, in Westminster.]

The money expended by the commissioners, two years after the consecration, did not amount to quite L5000; but then it must be recollected, that a very large proportion of the materials were given, and conveyed to the spot free of expence. A considerable sum of money being left unpaid; this circumstance was made known to his majesty, George Ist, by the intercession of Sir Richard Gough, when he, in 1725, generously contributed six hundred pounds towards the completion of it; and the inhabitants, to express their gratitude for this favour, affixed the crest of Sir Richard Gough, as a vane, on the top of it.

The urns upon the parapet of the church, which contribute in a considerable degree to its appearance, were placed there when the celebrated Baskerville was church-warden, in the year 1750. The organ posseses full tone and great power; the paintings, mouldings, and gildings are superb, and do great credit to those who were employed. Under the centre of the church there is a capacious vault, which extends the whole length of it. The dome in some degree resembles that of St. Paul’s, in London, and in the tower underneath it are ten musical bells, and a set of chimes that play a different tune every day in the week, at the hours of one, four, seven, and ten; which tunes shift of themselves by means of the machinery. On the south side of the tower there is a meridian line affixed, by means of which, if the sun shines, the hour of twelve is known to a certainty. This elegant pile of building has been examined with the greatest minuteness, by numerous architects, both within and without, and by all of them declared to be the work of a master; it being equally convenient as it is elegant. The church-yard, by which it is surrounded, corresponds with the building; its area contains four acres of ground, wherein are numerous gravel walks, ornamented with double rows of lime trees, which during summer form shady walks, and being surrounded with excellent buildings, it represents such a scene as probably cannot be surpassed in Europe. The parsonage-house is at the south east corner of the church-yard, where the present rector, the Rev. Edmund Outram, D.D. resides. This church is calculated to accommodate 2000 auditors.–At the north east corner is a spacious building, with a stone front, which is a charity school, wherein there are at this time one hundred and eight boys and fifty-four girls, receiving their education.–(_See Blue Coat School._)


The land whereon this edifice is erected was the gift of William Phillips Inge, Esq. whose ancestors about a century ago generously gave the scite upon which the church of St. Philip’s stands. It is situated at the upper end of New-street, and the first stone of it was intended to have been laid by his present majesty, George the 3d, in person; but it having pleased the Almighty to afflict him with indisposition, that ceremony was performed by the Earl of Dartmouth, on the 22d of July, 1805, in presence of the bishop of the diocese, who was attended by numbers of the nobility, clergy, gentry, the trustees appointed under the act of parliament, and a numerous assemblage of the inhabitants. Although his majesty’s malady did not admit of his being present upon this occasion, as it is understood he very much wished to be, he in a very condescending manner gave directions for the payment of one thousand pounds, from his private purse, towards the completion of the building. The body of the church being free to all description of persons, is fitted up with benches for their accommodation; but rent being paid to the clergyman for kneelings in the galleries, they are finished in a style of elegance, with mahogany, supported by light pillars of the doric order. The church was consecrated with great solemnity on the 13th of July, 1813, by the Honourable and Right Rev. James Cornwallis, bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, and an appropriate sermon preached by the Rev. Edmund Outram, D.D. the worthy rector of St. Philip’s church, who selected his text from one of the beatitudes–“_The poor have the gospel preached unto them._”–The bishop, in whom the presentation rests, afterwards gave to the Rev. J. Hume Spry, whom he had appointed to the living, the sum of one hundred pounds, to purchase bibles and prayer books, for the use of the congregation, or that part of it whom he perceived to be the most regular in their attendance. Divine service was first performed by the aforesaid clergyman, on Sunday the 18th of July, at half past ten o’clock in the morning, and in the evening at six o’clock. The ascent to the galleries is by a double geometrical staircase, of stone, with ballustrades of iron, coated with brass, which appear light and produces an elegant effect; these, with the railing at the altar, were an entire new manufacture, invented by Mr. B. Cooke, whose manufactory is carried on at Baskerville House. The altar piece, designed by Mr. Stock, of Bristol, is of mahogany, above which is a painting by Mr. Barber, representing a cross, apparently in the clouds. These being completed in June, 1815, an elegant well-finished organ, built by Elliott, of London, was erected about the same time; and is considered to be one of the most powerful and well-arranged instruments in this part of the kingdom. The present organist is Mr. Munden. The portico and spire were both of them erected by Mr. Richardson, of Handsworth; the former at the expense of L1200 and the latter L1500, which was completed in 1816. In the year 1817, a clock was affixed in the tower, by Mr. Allport, which has four dials, and each of them both hour and minute hands. This place of worship is computed to accommodate 1500 hearers.

Isaac Hawkins Brown, Esq. the late worthy representative for Bridgnorth, who had on several occasions rendered his powerful services to this town, being co-trustee with the Rev. Thomas Gisborne, under the will of Isaac Hawkins, Esq. they had considerable sums of money at their disposal, for benevolent purposes, and out of those funds he proposed to appropriate the sum of one thousand pounds towards the erection of a free church in Birmingham.

In consequence of this liberal suggestion, a town’s meeting was convened, whereat it was unanimously resolved to petition parliament on the subject, under sanction of the bishop of the diocese, who in the most handsome manner proposed to annex the prebendary of Tachbrooke, in aid of the said benefice. A liberal subscription immediately commenced among the inhabitants, who were most powerfully assisted with large sums contributed by the nobility and gentry, resident in the vicinity. Considerably more expenses being incurred during the erection of the building than what had been calculated upon, it was considered necessary to make a second application to parliament, to empower the trustees to convert the arches under the church into catacombs, under the idea that they would be readily disposed of at the rate of four pounds each; the trustees purchasing one third of them. In this calculation they have been very much disappointed, there having as yet only two corpse been interred there; but it is presumed, that when the inhabitants are familiarised to that mode of sepulture, they will prefer them to the present custom of erecting vaults, which are attended with considerably more expense.

The erection of this free church confers great credit on the town, as the want of such accommodation was very apparent, from the increased population; and this is manifest by its being so well attended; the congregation being considerably more numerous than can be accommodated, and they express their satisfaction by decent and orderly behaviour.


The land whereon this chapel is erected was the gift of John Jennens, Esq. who possessed a considerable estate in and near this town. It was erected in the year 1749, in the centre of an extensive burial ground, and is fitted up in a very neat and commodious manner. Mrs. Jennens contributed towards its erection the sum of one thousand pounds, and the remainder was raised by subscription. The altar piece was the gift of Basil, Earl of Denbigh, and the communion plate, consisting of 182 ounces, that of Mary Careles. There has since been erected a fine-toned organ. The present chaplain is the Rev. Charles Warneford. This chapel is calculated to accommodate 800 auditors.


Mrs. Weaman being possessed of some land at that time on the outside of the town, made a present of the ground whereon it is built, reserving to herself the presentation. It was erected in the year 1774, in an octagon form, and being very spacious, the diminutive steeple attached to it, is not by any means proportionate. The present incumbent is the Rev. Edward Burn, A. M.–This place of worship is computed to accommodate 2000 hearers.


This elegant pile of building was erected in the year 1779, upon land the gift of Charles Colmore, Esq. reserving to himself the presentation. The ground whereon it stands being a declivity, is not altogether suitable for such a pile of building, but at that time it was the most eligible spot at his disposal. The attendants upon this place of worship raised a subscription, and in the year 1791 caused a beautiful window of stained glass to be placed over the communion table, representing the conversion of St. Paul; by that ingenious artist Francis Eginton; price four hundred guineas. Although the inside is thus ornamented, the steeple remains to be erected, it being at present only delineated upon paper. The present incumbent is the Rev. Rann Kennedy. This chapel is calculated to accommodate 1130 persons.


Was originally founded in 1382, during the reign of Richard 2d. This place of worship, which is a chapel of ease to the parish of Aston, appears to have been erected in the year 1735, and to which the tower was added in 1762, wherein eight musical bells and a clock were affixed in 1777. The perpetual curate is the Rev. John Darwall, A.M. This chapel is calculated to accommodate 700 persons.


This structure was erected by an eminent physician, John Ash, M.D. for his own residence, but before the building was completed, he went to reside in London; and having disposed of this property to Mr. John Brooke, he converted it into a place of worship, which was consecrated in the year 1810. Minister, the Rev. Edward Burn, A.M. This place of worship is capable of containing 1200 auditors.–N.B. The two last are in the parish of Aston.

_Burial Ground._

The different cemeteries within the town being crowded with the bodies of the deceased, it was considered proper to purchase three acres of land near to the chapel of St. Bartholomew, as an additional burying ground; for which the sum of L1600 was paid to the governors of the Free School. This ground is divided into two parts, each of which is inclosed by a brick wall, surmounted by iron palisadoes, and gates of the same at the entrance, which are secured by locks. It was consecrated on the 6th of July, 1813, by the bishop of the diocese.

_Births and Burials._

It will undoubtedly be expected that something should be said under this head, but the different sectaries, who never come near the church upon either occasion, are so numerous, that nothing like a regular estimate can be made.

_Chapel in Broad-street,_


The religious of this persuasion erected a place of worship in the year 1789, which was considerably improved in 1800; it is situated in Broad-street, and fitted up in a commodious manner, with an organ. They have also another chapel in Shadwell-street.

_Meeting in Bull-street,_


This pile of building, although destitute of ornaments has a very respectable appearance, and the inside of it is fitted up in a very appropriate manner. There is at the back of it an extensive cemetery, and another small one in Monmouth-street.

_Old Meeting,_


This substantial and well-constructed pile of building, particularly the roof, was erected about the year 1793; the old one, which gave name to the street, having been destroyed by fire in 1791. Had this meeting been erected in a more spacious street, it might have been seen to advantage, but its beauties are here lost. The interior is fitted up to correspond with the exterior, and therein is affixed a fine-toned organ. The officiating ministers are the Rev. R. Kell and the Rev. John Corrie. There is a spacious burial ground attached to this meeting.

_New Meeting,_


This substantial edifice, being cased with stone, fronts towards Moor-street; the former erection, which gave name to the street, being destroyed by fire in 1791. This, like the old meeting, is fitted up in a neat and convenient manner, in every respect, being furnished with an organ suitable to the size of the building. The Rev. John Kentish and the Rev. James Yates are the ministers.

_Meeting in Carres Lane,_


This is a neat and commodious pile of building, in every respect suitable for the purpose intended.–In Livery-street the Calvinists converted a riding-school into a place of worship, which is commodiously fitted up and will hold a numerous congregation.

This religious society have another place of worship in Bartholomew-street, and have lately completed a fourth, upon a very extensive scale, in Steelhouse-lane, which was opened for divine service on the 9th of Dec. 1818. It is fitted up with pews, capable of containing 2000 auditors, and is lighted by means of gas, in the most superb manner. A scion from this meeting has lately fitted up a warehouse in Bristol-street, as a place of worship.

_Meeting in Cherry-street,_


This building was erected in the year 1782, and opened as a place of worship by the celebrated John Wesley, it being fitted up in a commodious manner for the purpose.

This sect has increased in a surprising manner; they having since erected one extensive meeting in Belmont-row, another in Bradford-street, and a fourth in Oxford-street.

_Meeting in Cannon-street,_ FOR PARTICULAR BAPTISTS.

This extensive and well-arranged pile of building was erected in the year 1804; and at the back of it is a school upon a large scale, for the youth of that persuasion.

This society have become so numerous, that they possess a meeting upon an extensive scale in Newhall-street, and another in Bond-street. There is also a meeting for general baptists in Lombard-street, Deritend.

_Meeting in King-street,_


This place of religious worship was originally a theatre; where some of the most celebrated performers have made their appearance; but it has for several years been appropriated to the performance of divine service, being fitted up in a commodious manner for that purpose.

_New Jerusalem Temple,_


This small place of worship is situated in Newhall-street, directly opposite the coal wharf, and is fitted up for the accommodation of those who embrace the tenets of Swedenburg.



The Israelites having from some cause abandoned their ancient place of worship, have erected another suitable for their devotion, which is finished in a neat manner, and makes a respectable appearance, in Severn-street, near the Lancasterian School.

In this town every individual worships his maker in whatever way his inclination leads him, without the least notice being taken or remarks made; if a person’s conduct is exemplary, or if he does not give way to any vicious propensities, no one will interrupt or interfere with him.

_Lench’s Trust._

In the time of Henry the 8th, an inhabitant, named William Lench, bequeathed some land, which is vested in sixteen trustees, for the purpose of keeping the streets within a certain district in repair, and to erect almshouses, which the trustees have complied with, there being twelve of that description erected by them at the bottom of Steelhouse-lane, for the benefit and residence of the same number of aged people. There are nine others in Dudley-street, and four in Park-street, wherein fifty-two aged females reside. The present rental is about L600 per ann.

_Fentham’s Trust._

In the year 1712,–Fentham bequeathed L100 per annum to teach poor children to read, and for cloathing ten poor widows of Birmingham. The children educated by this trust, are maintained and educated in the blue coat charity school, being for distinction sake cloathed in green.

_Crowley’s Trust._

In the year 1733, Mrs. Crowley left six houses in trust; the rents of which were to support ten girls, who are also in the same school.


_Society for cloathing destitute Women and Children._

In the year 1800, a few ladies impressed with benevolent ideas associated together, and formed a society for the above purpose: the subscriptions were fixed at three shillings and five shillings per quarter; the former to distribute five shillings and the latter seven shillings, in articles of cloathing.

There have in general been from ninety to one hundred and ten subscribers, who have annually relieved near four hundred persons, by accommodating them with comfortable cloathing, by the aggregate sum arising from these small contributions.

It is hoped that this very slight sketch of the institution may induce many others to unite in this most beneficial mode of relieving the poor. Subscriptions and donations for this charity are received at Mr. Cadbury’s, in Bull-street.

_The Female Benevolent Society._

This highly commendable institution was established in the year 1802, for the purpose of relieving indigent married women when they are confined by reason of child-birth, or other infirmities. Two visitors are appointed, who examine into every person’s situation that applies for assistance, and they administer such relief as the nature of the case seems to require. A subscriber of three shillings per quarter, may, if they think proper, recommend one object to receive five shillings, and a subscriber of six shillings, two objects, who may each of them receive five shillings, or one woman when she lies in may receive ten shillings, or one poor widow or sick person may receive nine-pence per week during the quarter. In the first nine years of this establishment, the sum of L417. 16s. was distributed among sick and indigent females, and since that time the society has been upon the increase, but no report has been printed. Subscriptions and donations for this charity will be received by Mrs. Dickenson, Summer-hill.

_The Depositing Society_

Have for their object, to improve the condition of the poor, by inciting them to diligence and habits of economy; encouraging them to deposit any sum of money weekly with a committee of ladies, who allow small premiums upon every shilling that is deposited with them. Their view is, to enable the poor to discharge debts, redeem pledges, purchase coals, cloathing, bedding, &c. The last printed report states, that from the 1st of January, 1815, to Midsummer, 1816, the deposits amounted to L538. 11s. 6d. and that the sum of L120. 3s. 2d. had been paid in premiums to 189 poor persons, making in the whole the sum of L658. 14s. 8d. By this statement it appears that the poor were benefited more than 22 per cent, on their deposits, which is undoubtedly very great encouragement. Subscriptions and benefactions in aid of this society will be received by Mr. J. Dickenson, treasurer, Summer-hill. This society appears to have been established fifteen years.

_Institution for providing Nurses for poor married Women, when lying in._ This laudable society of ladies originated in the year 1814, and since its establishment more than 700 persons have by their means been attended to, in a comfortable manner; their assistance having been extended to 129 objects of charity during the last year, and to 77 of them money has been distributed.

_Institution for providing Clothes for new-born Infants._

The object of this society is to raise a fund, and to purchase linen, flannel, &c. which the ladies make into suitable cloathing for the intended purpose. Each subscriber of two shillings and six-pence annually, may recommend one object to receive a suit of cloathing, and in proportion for a larger sum.

_Lying-in Charity at the Five Ways._

This is supported entirely by voluntary contribution and liberal donations; several of its contributors, much to their honour, having in a benevolent manner assisted the charity by their industry in making different articles with their own hands. Its object is to supply poor married women with linen, during the time they are confined from child-birth, and also to furnish them with a set of linen for the infant. They are at the same time presented with two shillings and six-pence towards paying the midwife.

_Deritend and Bordesley Society for assisting the sick_ _Poor with clean Linen._

This charity was instituted in the year 1806, and is conducted by a committee, consisting of six visitors, a treasurer, and a store-keeper. Any person wanting relief must procure a note, and deliver it to one of the visitors, who having seen the sick person, gives an order for such linen as appears necessary, and this they retain so long as the visitor thinks they have occasion for it; and when requisite, the house is cleaned, and money given for their support.

If the stock of linen will admit of it, women are accommodated for the space of one month, whilst they are lying-in. Since this society was first instituted, more than nine hundred poor persons have derived benefit from it, within the limited district of Deritend and Bordesley.

_Sick Society, Cannon-street_.

This society has been established for a series of years, for the weekly visiting, relieving, and instructing the sick poor, of every denomination; about three hundred of whom are visited and relieved by this society annually.

A society was established about seven years back, and is still continued, for lending blankets to poor people during the winter season.

At St. Mary’s chapel there is a benevolent society, for relieving the indigent sick; and the congregation have likewise established a school of industry, for females, which is supported by voluntary subscription.

The editor is given to understand, that every religious society in the town has a charitable institution belonging to it, that are each of them confined to their own congregation. There is an Auxiliary Bible Society and also a branch of the Missionary Society.

_The Free Grammar School_

Was founded by King Edward 6th, in the fifth year of his reign, and endowed with lands, which, by the increased value of such property, now produce more than two thousand pounds per annum. The present building was erected in the year 1707, and is well adapted for the intended purpose.

This seminary has the privilege of sending ten exhibitioners to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, who are each of them allowed thirty-five pounds per annum, for the space of seven years.

The management of these revenues is vested in twenty governors, who annually, from their own body, select a bailiff; and when any governor dies, they are empowered to elect another to supply his place. In the centre of the building there is a small tower, with a whole-length figure of the founder. This school is regulated by a chief master, who receives a liberal salary, a second master, and two ushers, who are assisted by a person to teach writing and another to instruct the pupils in drawing. The present head master is the Rev. John Cooke. There is also a librarian. In the large room there is an elegant marble bust of the founder, by Scheemaker, which is much admired for its sculpture.

The governors of this school support one extensive preparatory school in Shut-lane, and there are four others for boys, to each of which there are two sets of pupils: one of them attends by day and the other in the evening. There are also two others for girls.

_The Blue Coat School_

Is situated in St. Philip’s church-yard: it was erected in the year 1724, but considerably enlarged in 1794, at the expense of L2800. It possesses an annual income of L700, and therein are educated, maintained, and cloathed 108 boys and 54 girls, in the arts of reading, writing, arithmetic, sewing, knitting, &c. In front of this building there are two statues, a boy and a girl, in the habit of the school; they were executed by a statuary of this town, named Grubb, and do him infinite credit, for they would not disgrace a Roman artist. Adjoining to the school there is a spacious area, for the amusement and recreation of the boys, and a separate one for the girls. The inhabitants subscribe liberally towards its support, and every six months, sermons are preached at all the places of worship upon the establishment, and afterwards there is always a collection, to which many people contribute in a very liberal manner. To this institution some considerable legacies have been bequeathed; and in the year 1795, the lord of the manor granted a lease for 999 years, of four acres of land upon Birmingham Heath, at one shilling per annum, for its benefit.–Persons desirous of viewing the interior of the premises may be accommodated upon making application to the master, Mr. Jones.

It appears by the printed accounts of this school, published in the year 1817, that some young men, who received their education there, have formed an association, under the title of _’True Blues,’_ each of whom contributes a weekly sum towards the parent institution, and that the trustees have received at different times from this association the sum of one hundred and fifteen pounds and three-pence.

_The Protestant Dissenters’ Charity School_

Is situated in Park street, commodious premises having been purchased for that purpose. In this school females only are admitted, to the number of thirty-six, who are maintained, cloathed, and educated, by voluntary subscription, and collections made after sermons, which are preached annually at the old and new meeting houses.

_The National School_

Is situated in Pinfold-street, where a substantial pile of building was erected in the year 1813, capable of containing on the ground floor, five hundred boys, and on the upper story, four hundred girls. This seminary is only intended for the instruction of those children who are brought up according to the established religion, and is conducted upon the Madras system, originally invented by Dr. Bell. This building is inclosed by a lofty brick wall, within which there is vacant ground for the recreation of boys and girls separately. This institution is under the management of Mr. Martin for the boys, and Mrs. Chawner for the girls. Since the institution of this school, 1906 boys and about 1000 girls have received instruction.

_The Royal Lancasterian Free School_

Was erected in Severn-street in the year 1809, where boys of all denominations are instructed in reading, writing, and accounts. The room is calculated to accommodate four hundred pupils, and since its erection 1800 have derived the benefit of education. In this seminary visitors are uniformly received with kindness, and respectfully informed of any particulars they may think proper to enquire after, by the master, Mr. Thomas Baker. An examination taking place every Saturday, no visitors are admitted on that day between the hours of ten and twelve; but at any other time, the school is open for inspection during school hours. During the year 1818, 215 boys left the school, having been instructed in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Upon a similar plan there is a school established for the instruction of females, which is situated in Park-street.

_Sunday Schools._

These institutions are exceedingly numerous, in every part of the town, and not only so, but they are remarkably well attended to, by those of the established religion; and each denomination of dissenters endeavours to out-vie the other in these establishments. The children are all of them neatly cloathed of a Sunday, numbers of them by contributing one penny per week to that purpose, which with donations that are made, effectually answers the end proposed.

_The General Hospital._

The exterior of this substantial building was erected in the year 1766 under the superintendance of an eminent physician, John Ash, M.D. but for want of funds, it lay dormant for the space of twelve years; when, in 1778, some well-disposed people stepped forward, and solicited subscriptions in so earnest a manner, that during the next year the hospital was prepared to receive patients, and during the first nine months there was admitted,


Discharged cured .. .. .. 135

Relieved .. .. .. 38

Absented themselves .. .. .. 3

For irregularity .. .. .. 2

Incurable .. .. .. 1

Died .. .. .. .. 5

Remained on the books .. .. .. 41


Discharged cured .. .. .. 108

Relieved .. .. .. 55 For non-attendance .. .. .. 5

Made in-patients .. .. .. 5

Remained on the books .. .. .. 71

By this statement it is evident that the faculty exerted their skill, and exercised their humanity, by giving their attendance gratis. In a few years, the patients became so numerous, that in 1790 it was considered necessary to add two wings to the building. It is supported by voluntary subscription, and once in three years a music meeting is held, from which it derives unprecedented advantage. At the meeting which took place in 1817, the gross receipts, during the three days’ performance, amounted to the sum of L8476. 6s. 9d., of which the treasurers of the hospital received the sum of L4290. 10s. 10d.; there not being an instance upon record of any institution receiving so much benefit, or such extensive patronage, from a similar source. A list of the donations and benefactions are recorded in the hall, which enable the committee to extend relief to numerous individuals, who otherwise might perish for want of medical assistance.

In the year ending Midsummer 1818, there were relieved 1167 in-patients and 2541 out-patients, including 766 for the cow-pock, who all of them did well. The under-mentioned physicians and surgeons attend gratuitously, and give their advice and assistance in the most humane manner; it being impossible to enumerate any place where greater attention and humanity are practised.





House Apothecary, Mr. ALFRED JUKES.
Matron, .. Mrs. RANDALL.

_The Dispensary._

This laudable institution originated among a select society, and was carried on in a private manner for some time; until they were joined by the late Matthew Boulton, Esq. who took it under his patronage in the year 1793, when a house was taken in Temple-row, and an establishment formed; he taking upon himself the office of treasurer, saying, “if the funds of the institution are not sufficient for its support, I will make up the deficiency.” It continued in Temple-row, supported by voluntary subscriptions and donations, until the year 1808, when a commodious building having been erected for the purpose, in Union-street, at the expense of more than two thousand pounds, the establishment, consisting of a house apothecary, another for the compounding and dispensing of the medicines, and a midwife, removed there. Those who have previously received a recommendation, are here accommodated with medical advice and assistance, gratis, and the females in the time of need are attended at their own dwellings by the midwife, as are also sick patients, who are too ill to attend personally. Since this dispensary was first established, there have been 37139 sick patients, 6223 midwifery, and 13964 persons inoculated in the vaccine manner, at the expense of the institution; of whom 2523 sick, 387 midwifery, and 434 vaccine inoculation, were attended to during the last year, ending Michaelmas, 1818; the subscriptions amounting to L599.11s.





Resident Surgeon and Apothecary, Mr. J. M. BAYNHAM. Dispensing Apothecary, Mr. JOHN TOMPSON.

_The Workhouse._

This extensive establishment for the accommodation of the poor, is situated in Lichfield-street, and is under the management of twelve overseers; six of whom are made choice of at Lady-day and the other six at Michaelmas; so that there are always some in office, who having been initiated, understand the rules and customs of the house. In addition to the overseers, there are one hundred and eight guardians, elected by the inhabitants who pay levies, and they continue in office for three years, during which time they possess all the power and authority of overseers, except making and collecting of rates, from both of which they are exempt, nor can they be compelled to assist therein as guardians; but the serving of this office does not excuse them from being chosen into any other.

The church-wardens and overseers for the time being are guardians by virtue of their office; and at the expiration of the year, they may continue to act as such, or not, at their option. The appointment of treasurers, clerks, governors, and other officers, with their servants, is vested in the guardians; who are required to keep regular accounts of their proceedings, which must be signed by the chairman at every meeting they hold. All fines, forfeitures, and other public monies are required to be paid into the hands of the guardians, whose duty it is to meet every week, and also after every quarter-day.

In the year 1816, trade being at a very low ebb, the applications for relief were so very numerous, that in order to support this establishment, between Michaelmas in that year and the same time in 1817, it was necessary to collect thirty-six levies, which produced the astonishing sum of sixty thousand two hundred and fourteen pounds, seventeen shillings, and six-pence. From Michaelmas, 1817, to the same time in 1818, there was twenty-eight levies, which produced the sum of fifty-one thousand nine hundred and forty-three pounds, nine shillings, and nine pence halfpenny.

_Asylum for the Infant Poor belonging to the Parish of_ _Birmingham_.

In the year 1797 the overseers and guardians being convinced of the evils that arose from the system then pursued, of placing the children out at nurse, in the vicinity of the town, formed the resolution of taking certain premises situated in Summer-lane, where all the children might be properly attended to and taken care of.

This being done, a committee of overseers and guardians were appointed to superintend the institution: they being made choice of annually, meet every Monday for the purpose of examining the demands on the asylum drawing cheques for the amount of the bills on the cashier of the workhouse, and inspecting the state of the institution.

The average number of children who have been maintained, cloathed, and educated, for the last twelve months, has been three hundred and eighty; of whom three hundred are employed in manufacturing of pins, straw plat, and lace. The produce of the children’s labour since the institution was established, has been progressively accumulating, and that to such a degree, that the committee have been enabled to purchase the premises they inhabit, with about two acres of land, which with the additional buildings and improvements, are now worth nearly six thousand pounds, and are the property of the parish.

The whole of this information is very interesting, but what follows is highly deserving of attention. This account was written at the asylum, in the middle of November, 1818, when there was not in this numerous family one sick person.

_Philosophical Society._

This institution is indebted for its origin to a few scientific inhabitants, who held a meeting in the year 1800, and having disclosed their ideas to others, they afterwards formed themselves into a society, who having engaged premises and procured proper apparatus, devoted a considerable portion of their time to experimental philosophy; occasionally delivering lectures among their own members. This being carried on as a private society for several years, continually increasing in numbers, they in the year 1813 purchased commodious premises in Cannon-street, which they fitted up in a similar manner to the Royal Institution in London, and it is now become a most valuable establishment. The various lectures that have been delivered by the different fellows of this society, on mechanism, chemistry, mineralogy, and metallurgy, have produced very beneficial effects, and contributed in a considerable degree to the improvement of gilding, plating, bronzing, vitrification, and metallurgic combinations. At one of these lectures, in the year 1812, Dr. De Lys descanted upon the advantages an unfortunate class of society (the deaf and dumb) might derive, if they were put under proper management; and to elucidate the subject, he introduced a girl, about eight years of age, who, labouring under those defects, he and his friend Mr. A. Blair, had been very attentive to,–she, being in other respects endowed with an excellent capacity, paid great attention to what was going forward, and with promptness executed, or rather anticipated, the wishes of her instructors, which proved a very animating and affecting spectacle. This circumstance gave rise to _A General Institution for the Instruction of Deaf and_ _Dumb Children._

A few days after this girl had been brought forward, a private meeting took place, when it was determined to establish an institution, under the above title.

On the 4th of December, 1812, a general meeting was held, and a committee appointed, who, after making numerous enquiries to find a person properly qualified to superintend the concern, did at length fix upon Mr. Thomas Braidwood, who at that time conducted a private school of the same description, at Hackney; he being initiated in the mystery by his father and grandfather.

When the plan of this institution was made known to the grand jury at the summer assizes for the county of Warwick, in the year 1813, it was universally patronized by them; and when the magistrates, and other leading characters in the county of Stafford, were apprised of it, they, with the greatest liberality, gave it their support, as did the Earl of Plymouth, and other persons of high consideration in the counties of Worcester, Salop, and Derby.

On the 11th of January, 1814, the school was opened, with a few children, as day scholars, and a short time after, the number was increased to fifteen; three of whom came from a distance, and were provided for, free of any expense to the institution, which was at that time held in the town. Lord Calthorpe having erected some building at Edgbaston, in a delightful situation, on an eminence, that commands a view of Birmingham and the adjacent country for some distance, he, at the suggestion of Dr. Edward Johnstone, granted an advantageous lease of it, together with some surrounding land, for the use of this institution.

At the anniversary which took place on the 29th August, 1814, his Grace the Duke of Devonshire, as president of this institution, attended in person, when the committee announced, that every annual subscriber of one guinea, and every donor of ten pounds are entitled by lot to nominate a child into this institution, and that the sum of four shillings per week be required with every child, for lodging, maintenance, and instruction in the asylum.–At the anniversary held on the 4th of August, 1815, the committee made a report, that the asylum was opened on the 4th of January last, and that twenty children had been admitted, to which number they recommended the subscribers to ballot for the admission of eleven others, the funds being adequate to support that number, with the four shillings per week.

At the anniversary held on the 16th of August, 1816, the committee recommended a ballot for six additional boys, and proposed to reduce the weekly sum paid with each pupil from four to three shillings.

In the year 1817, no circumstance took place deserving of notice, but at the anniversary in 1818 the Marquis of Anglesea presided, and there were four additional pupils admitted. The whole number in the asylum at the present time being thirty-two, several of whom have made great proficiency in drawing.

_General Institution for the Relief of Persons labouring under bodily Deformity._

This institution, which is supported by voluntary contributions, was established in New-street on the 24th of June, 1817, under patronage of the Earl of Dartmouth, and during the first year of its establishment, 235 patients were relieved, under the care of Mr. John Felton.


The county magistrates who act for this town, some of whom attend at the public office, in Moor-street, every Monday and Thursday, are the Rev. Dr. Spencer, of Aston; William Villers, Esq. of Moseley; George Simcox and Theodore Price, Esqrs. of Harborne; Wm. Withering, Esq. of the Larches; William Bedford, Esq. of Birch’s Green; William Hamper, Esq. Deritend House; Edmund Outram, D.D. St. Philip’s Parsonage; and Isaac Spooner, Esq. of Witton.

_The Public Office_

Is a neat stone-fronted building, erected in the year 1806, at the expense of L9000, in Moor-street; the ground floor of which is appropriated to the use of the commissioners of the street acts, and on the upper floor, the magistrates transact the public business of the town, for which purpose some of them attend every Monday and Thursday. At other times, when it is requisite to convene a public meeting of the inhabitants, it is made use of for that purpose. Behind this building there are apartments for the prison-keeper and his attendants, also.

_The Prison._

Which is a spacious building, with a commodious well-paved yard, for the accommodation of those unfortunates who are therein confined; it being divided into two parts by a lofty brick wall, for the purpose of separating the male from the female prisoners, who have each of them their separate apartments during the day, and at night they are secured in distinct cells.

_The Prison, in Bordesley._

This being a licensed public house, numerous objections may be made to it; but under the superintendance of that humane magistrate, William Hamper, Esq. every accommodation and convenience that the place will admit of is appropriated to the benefit of those who are there confined, consistent with their security.

_Court Leet._

In the latter end of October, a court leet is held for the lord of the manor, when the low bailiff summonses a jury, and the annual officers are appointed by them: the low bailiff, in whom all the power is vested; the high bailiff, whose duty it is to see that justice is done between buyer and seller, by rectifying the weights and dry measures; two constables; one headborough, who, if he thinks proper to be vigilant, can act as constable; but if either of them are in town, he is not compelled to act; two high tasters, who should examine into the quality of the ale and its measures; two low tasters, or meat conners, whose duty it is to examine all meat brought to market, and if any that is unwholesome is exposed to sale, they are to destroy it; two affeirers, who ratify the rent and amercements between the lord and his tenants; and two nominal officers, under the title of leather sealers, who have no business to attend to, except a good dinner twice a year.

Deritend being a hamlet of Birmingham, its inhabitants attend this court leet, where a constable being elected for them, he and the officers for the town are all sworn, in the name of the lord of the manor. The constables of Birmingham are empowered to act in Deritend, but the constable of Deritend cannot act in Birmingham.

_Court of Requests._

In the year 1808, the commissioners of this court, who are seventy-two in number, were empowered by act of parliament to decide any pecuniary differences between parties, not exceeding the sum of five pounds. The commissioners, three of whom are a quorum, meet every Friday morning, at the office, in a court, about the centre of High-street, and nearly opposite to New-street. Two clerks are constituted by the act to attend the court, who being always of the law, give their judicial assistance; they are chosen alternately by the lord of the manor and the commissioners, being continued for life. At the expiration of two years, ten of the commissioners are balloted out, and ten other of the inhabitants are made choice of, as their successors. From the decision of this court there is no appeal, and there are frequently two hundred causes decided in one day; there are two sets of commissioners sitting at the same time, for the dispatch of business, who in general give so much satisfaction to both parties, that it is very unusual to hear any remarks made upon their decision.

_Humane Society._

In the year 1790, a society was formed, under the above title, to assist in the recovery of persons apparently drowned, which is now transferred to the hospital.

_Society for the Protection of Trade against fraudulent Bankrupts, Swindlers, &c._

This society was formed in the year 1804, to prevent any flagrant attempts to impose on the honest and unwary, by fraudulent bankrupts and swindlers, and to detect cheats of every description; also to prevent the friends and suspected accomplices of such persons from being appointed assignees or trustees, to the detriment of the creditors at large.

_Chamber of Commerce._

In July, 1813, a public meeting was convened, for the purpose of establishing a bond of union among the mercantile interests in this town, under the above title; but at present it does not appear to have made much progress.

_The Assay Office_

Is situated in Little Cannon-street, where all plate manufactured in this town and its vicinity must be sent, for the purpose of ascertaining the quality of the silver and being stamped with the proper marks, denoting that it is standard, and has paid the proper duties.

_Gold and Silver._ The quantity of these precious metals consumed in this town and neighbourhood every week is incalculable, and if it could be ascertained would appear incredible; there being in wrought plate about two thousand ounces; but the quantity of silver used in plating of different articles, it is not possible to discover, nor can the quantity of gold used in different manufactories be made known, but it is computed by those who have the best means of obtaining information on the subject, that there are more than one hundred ounces of gold purchased by the gilders every week, which is spread over the articles in such a superficial manner, that not a single ounce of it ever returns to the crucible again. From the same source of information, it is computed that there are more than one thousand ounces of silver used every week, which never reverts back again in its pristine state as silver.


There being a great consumption of this article in the different manufactories, a society was formed in the year 1790, under the title of _The Birmingham Mining and Copper Company._

Who, having established connexions at Redruth, in Cornwall, and Swansea, in Wales, the copper is brought to this town, and disposed of among the manufacturers, to the mutual advantage of both parties.

In the year 1793, there being a great demand for this article, on account of a national copper coinage, an association was entered into, who stiled themselves _The Rose Copper Company,_

Who established smelting works at Swansea, in Wales, and principally vend the article in this town.

Trade continuing to increase, a third establishment took place, in 1803, under the name of _The Crown Copper Company,_

Who erected smelting houses, and render the article in a proper state for sale, at Neath, in Wales.

Envious of other people’s prosperity, a fourth company obtruded itself upon the public, called the Union, who having overstocked the market, disposed of their concern to the other companies, and dissolved itself.

Under this head, the editor considers it no more than an act of justice, to observe, that the manufacture of copper bolts, for fastening the timbers of ships together, was invented by Mr. John Westwood, an inhabitant of this town.


This article, so necessary to the manufacturers in this town, was for a great length of time procured from the wealthy people of Bristol, which caused a manufactory, of brass to be established here, about the year 1740, but that being upon a small scale, the principal supply came from the place before-mentioned, until the year 1781, when a number of manufacturers associated together, and established a manufactory of brass, upon an extensive scale, in this town, under the denomination of _The Birmingham Metal Company._

For the purpose of supplying themselves and their neighbours with that article, at a regular rate; the Bristol people being accustomed to raise or fall the price at discretion. This gave rise to another company, who erected extensive works, and established a manufactory of brass, at Smethwick.

Trade increasing, a third company was formed, who erected works, and commenced manufacturing of brass, at Spon-lane, West-bromwich; so that the town is now amply supplied with that article; for the companies at a distance have their agents, who dispose of large quantities.

_Steel House._

In the beginning of the last century, a furnace was erected on the outside of the town, for the conversion of iron into steel, and houses being erected in its vicinity, they were denominated Steelhouse-lane. That the woollen manufactory is of great importance to this kingdom must be admitted, but if the demand for fine steel goods should ever revive again, and be equally brisk as it was thirty years back, there is not in my mind a doubt, but the iron and steel trade would produce more profit to the nation than that of woollen, if it does not at the present time. Wool is produced from the surface of the earth, and iron is by dint of labour collected from its bowels; consider the numerous hands employed in the mines and the furnaces to bring it into a rough state, either for casting or the forge, and when it is in a proper state for either, the endless variety of articles it is manufactured into; the whole export of which, being all produced by labour, is every shilling of it profit to the nation. Gold can only be wrought in any quantities to a certain determinate value, but who can fix the price at which articles made of steel may be sold. Should it please the Almighty to continue the blessings of a general peace, the people on the continent will soon recover themselves, and whenever that is the case, and money circulates freely among them, they will then turn their thoughts to superfluities, and as no other article will bear so high a polish and appear so brilliant as those which are manufactured of steel, there is the greatest probability of that trade being revived.–An attempt to enumerate the different articles now made in iron and steel, would be in vain; yet none of the more valuable are at this time in request.

Previous to the year 1760, there were very few travellers, (if any,) went from Birmingham with intent to sell the manufactures; the custom at that time, and for many years afterwards, was, for the ironmongers in different parts of the kingdom to bring their money and orders with them, and to wait until the goods were brought in, and see them packed before they left the town. The ironmongers in large towns then supplied their neighbours in smaller places with the different articles, and numbers of people used to attend different markets, where they kept a stock of goods.

This mode of conducting business being both troublesome and expensive, the ironmongers, instead of coming twice a year as some of them did, deputed some person to receive goods on their account, allowing a commission for so doing. This opened the eyes of those who received the goods, and induced them to collect patterns and travel on their own account; which being found advantageous, it has been practised ever since.

Twenty years back the trades carried on in this town were, with few exceptions, light articles, that depended upon fancy, but since that time, there have been numerous works established for manufacturing useful and substantial articles, both for the foreign market and home consumption; and the orders are so extensive that several people keep carts, for the purpose of delivering their own manufacture to the merchant.

_Principal Manufactories._

Within this town are manufactured every metallic article, both for use and ornament, that can be necessary in a house; the variety of japan goods, both useful and ornamental, is prodigious; the brass founders produce an infinite variety of articles; and the platers also; the manufacturers of buttons, guns, swords, locks of every kind, jewellery and toys, employ the greatest part of the population. To these may be added a great variety of articles, exclusively for the foreign trade. Lately a manufactory of watches has been established, upon a very extensive scale, in gold, silver, metal, and covered cases.

_Birmingham Canals._

In the year 1767 an act of parliament was obtained to cut a canal from this town to the collieries, which was completed in 1769, at the expence of L70000, being 500 shares at L140. each, which in 1782 was sold for L370. in 1792, L1170 was the price of them, and when the first meeting was held respecting the grand junction canal, in the church, at Stony Stratford, one was there sold for L1375. Since that time, the proprietors have been authorised by parliament to divide each share into two parts, which is in fact doubling the number of shares, in order that they may be rendered more saleable, and for one of these divided shares, L900 was offered and refused in the summer of 1818. There is now a regular communication by water between this town, London, Liverpool, Manchester, and Bristol; to the three former places, goods are delivered on the fourth day, upon a certainty; there being relays of horses stationed every fifteen miles.

_The Worcester Canal_

Was opened for the passage of boats, by forming a junction with the Birmingham canal, on the 21st of July, 1815, by means of which goods may be conveyed from the upper part of this town, to London, one whole day sooner than they can by steering immediately into the Warwick canal. At King’s-Norton, this canal is conveyed under ground, by means of a tunnel, two miles in length, which is in width 16 feet and in height 18 feet, yet it is so admirably constructed, that any person by looking in at one end, may perceive day-light at the other extremity. The pound of water extends on a level for the space of fourteen miles, when it descends into the river Severn by means of fifty-eight locks.

_The Warwick Canal_

Was opened for the passage of boats, by forming a junction with the Birmingham canal, in the year 1800.

A communication being opened between the Birmingham and Worcester canals, in the year 1815, there are now two different routes by which goods may be conveyed from this town to London, by water; one of them is, by an immediate junction of the Birmingham canal with the Warwick, which is accomplished by means of nineteen locks; the other is, by passing into the Worcester canal, on the same level; from thence into the Stratford canal, which is also on the same level, and from thence into the Warwick canal.

Boats from the wharfs within the town; Bird’s, White-house’s, Robinson’s, and Crowley’s, are capable of delivering goods in London one whole day sooner by the latter route than they can do by the other, and the merchants and ironmongers in the metropolis are hereby informed of that circumstance. The boat-owners by proceeding on this route, are necessitated to advance a small sum of immediate money, for tonnage, more than they do on the other route; to counterbalance that, the boats are exempt from the wear and tear of passing through twelve locks, and an extra day’s expense; therefore, when both circumstances are taken into consideration, the expenses cannot vary much either way, and to the London merchant one day is, at times, of the utmost importance.–On that account, there is no doubt that those who are apprised of this circumstance, will order their goods to be conveyed by way of the Stratford canal.

The trade of this town has within the last fifteen years increased in an astonishing manner; for in the year 1803, six weekly boats were sufficient to convey all the merchandize to and from this town to Manchester and Liverpool, but at the present time, there are at least twenty boats weekly employed in that trade.

At the same period, the competition was so great between the carriers to London, that they procured a number of boats, but it was with difficulty they could find lading for five or six in a week; whereas, at the present time, there are at least eighteen boats per week, constantly employed at the different wharfs in that traffic.

_The Theatre._

This superb pile of building was erected in 1774, and an additional portico in 1780, the whole together forming one of the most elegant theatres in Europe. There are in the front of it, over the attic windows, two busts, in bas relief, of exquisite workmanship; one representing Shakespear, and the other Garrick.

In the month of August, 1792, the interior of this building was in a malicious manner set on fire, which consumed all the scenery, dresses, &c. and although liberal rewards were offered for the discovery of the incendiaries, no proof could be established, though suspicions were very strong. Thus circumstanced, the proprietors purchased several adjoining houses, and in the space of four years re-erected the theatre, upon an enlarged scale, so that it will contain more than 2000 people. In the centre building, towards the front, is an elegant assembly room, which is fitted up in a sumptuous style, and the two wings are occupied as a tavern, which, from the great author of the drama, is called the Shakespear. In the year 1807, it was made a royal theatre, and on that account the proprietors are entitled to let it for such performances as other royal theatres are, without being under controul of the magistrates.

As a theatre, it opens in June and closes in September.

This substantial and well-constructed pile of building, being on a line with the street, it cannot be seen to any advantage, except you ascend the roof of St. Philip’s church. This theatre is now lighted by means of gas, in a most brilliant manner.

_Musical Festival._

Once in three years, during the month of October, the vocal and instrumental performers of the first class are assembled here in greater numbers than any other part of the kingdom can boast. They are collected together at a prodigious expense, for the purpose of performing oratorios, three successive mornings, in the church of St. Philip. In the evening of each day, select concerts are performed in the theatre; and when those performances are closed, the company who are assembled, whilst they are under the same roof, are ushered into an elegant and well-furnished ball room, where they amuse themselves for the remainder of the evening; refreshments being provided upon the spot. These performances are conducted in such a superior style, that great numbers of the nobility and gentry who reside at a considerable distance, are induced to attend. The profits arising from these musical entertainments being appropriated to the benefit of the General Hospital, many of them contribute in a very liberal manner by donations to that institution. The last performances took place in October, 1817, when the committee of managers, after they had defrayed all incidental expences, paid to the treasurers of the general hospital the sum of L4296. 10s. 10d. the total receipts being L8476. 6s. 9d.

The next festival is intended to be celebrated in October, 1820.

There being two rooms of large dimensions, that are each of them fitted up in a style of elegance, as ball rooms, one at the hotel in Temple-row, and the other adjoining the theatre in New-street, there are during winter, subscription concerts and assemblies held at each of them.

Independant of these, private concerts are occasionally held at each of them; those at the hotel being of some years’ establishment, the room, although eighty feet in length and thirty-three in breadth, is so completely occupied, that any person who is desirous of becoming a member must probably wait two or three years before they can obtain admission.


A pile of building was erected in New-street, for the purpose of exhibiting paintings of this description, which has lately been converted into an auction room.

_Deritend House._

This stone-fronted mansion was erected in 1786, as a tavern, under the name of the Apollo, and in consequence of its bowling green, was for several years much frequented. It was afterwards divided into two private houses; but in 1816 being purchased by Wm. Hamper, Esq. that gentleman greatly improved the premises and again converted it into one dwelling, which he makes his residence, and which, from its extensive gardens and pleasant situation, is much admired.

_Duddeston or Vauxhall,_

So called after that place of fashionable resort near London, is little more than a mile from the centre of the town.

This was the ancient residence of the Holt family, and within memory contained some good paintings, as the gardens did a number of lead statues, large as life, and some smaller ones; but depredations being committed by stealing some of them, the others were removed.

These delightful gardens, which contain a very spacious bowling green, an orchestra, a great number of commodious gravel walks, on the borders of which are numerous lofty trees, of various kinds, together with parterres, where flowers of different sorts were accustomed to be seen, were, till of late years, resorted to by none but the genteeler sort of people, and from their retired situation, are every way capable of being made one of the most rural retreats for public amusement of any in the kingdom. Times are now completely changed, it being turned into an alehouse, where persons of all descriptions may be accommodated with that or any other liquor, on which account the upper classes of the inhabitants have entirely absented themselves.

By adopting this method, the editor is of opinion, that the present occupier is accumulating more money than any of his predecessors.–There are, during summer, fire works occasionally exhibited, and sometimes concerts of vocal and instrumental music.

_The Crescent._

Several years have now elapsed since a plot of ground, 1182 feet in length, forming a terrace seventeen feet above the wharfs, was laid out for the purpose of erecting some superior buildings in that form, and the wings were soon after constructed according to the plan; but as yet very little progress has been made in the central buildings.

_The Barracks._

In the year 1793, government took a lease of five acres of land, near Ashsted chapel, at the rate of one penny per square yard, whereon they expended the sum of thirteen thousand pounds, in the erection of barracks to accommodate one hundred and sixty-two men, with their horses.

_Birmingham Fire Office._

In the month of March, 1805, the monied interest in this town opened an institution under the above title; there being three hundred subscribers, at L1000. each. Their office is in Union-street, which for chasteness of design is equal to any other building in the town.

_The Inland Commercial Society._

The merchants, and others, who were accustomed to send goods to, or receive them from Liverpool, having experienced, not only great delays, but the packages being pilfered, to their great prejudice, established this concern, in order to counteract such proceedings in future.

_Theological Library._

The first rector of St. Philip’s church, the Rev. Wm. Higgs, having bequeathed this library for the use of the clergy in Birmingham, and its vicinity, and the sum of two hundred pounds to make further purchases, a handsome library was erected by the Rev. Spencer Madan, in the year 1792 for its reception, adjoining to the parsonage house, he being at that time rector.

_Public Library._

An institution under this title was established in the year 1779, and is now held in an elegant pile of building, erected on the tontine principle, by the subscribers, situated in Union-street. In front of the building is the following inscription:


Which is thus englished,–


This library contains about sixteen thousand volumes, and there are about five hundred and sixty subscribers.

_New Library._