Strange marriage

What is the likelihood of two couples with identical names being married in the same quarter?  Well, I guess if they were John Smith and Mary Jones it would not be such a surprise,  but in this case they were Josiah Cooper and Edith Maria Birch. Continue reading “Strange marriage”


The Pub Shinglers

One of the earliest mysteries in Andrew’s KIndred was The Pub Dennises.  This concerned a number of descendants of second great grandfather Henry Dennis, about whom my folks new next to nothing.  Well, there is a parallel with the Shinglers, some of whom married Dennises.  I asked a Shingler if she knew anything about her publican relatives and she knew not.  This follows the most recent (John I Chapter V) in my sequence on my old house and surroundings, as Dad’s uncle Jack sold on the lease to Wallace John Shingler; 14 July 1948, below. Continue reading “The Pub Shinglers”

John I Chapter V

Here is the next section of my exploration of the history of my old house and surroundings in Howdles Lane. The series begins here.  I have now arrived at 1877.

lease john dennis 1877
Extract from the abstract – land leased to John Dennis in 1877.

Continue reading “John I Chapter V”

Howdle’s Cottages: How old?!

howdles cottages os 1882 1883
It’s that plan again.  Howdles Cottages. Ordnance Survey, surveyed 1882, published 1883. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

In the 1871 census the six pairs of cottages, edged red above, were known as Howdle’s Row, but by 1881 had become Howdle’s Cottages.

When were Howdle’s Cottages built?

When they were demolished in about 1967 it was said that the cottages were about 200 years old. Martin Littler, who grew up in one of them recently reminded us that it was what people said at the time, both on BrownhillsBob’s Brownhills Blog and to me in person. But why build back then? Continue reading “Howdle’s Cottages: How old?!”

George II

Here is the third section of my exploration of the history of my old house and surroundings in Howdles Lane.  The series begins here.

In the previous post we saw how the land lay in 1882.  Little had changed by 1901 and 1915.  So the following maps give a good idea of what the area was like when the lease came up for auction in 1911. Continue reading “George II”

George the Eponymous

This is the second in my series about the deeds to my old house and the people named in them.  Here is a link to the first.  There is only one Howdles Lane in the world and it seems to have been named after George Howdle.


deeds 28 p1
Page one of the conveyance of 28 Howdles Lane to my father.


George Howdle (1799-1885)

The deeds say that George Howdle leased some land in the area from the Marquis of Anglesey in 1877. This did not include the land on which my old house stands; that was leased at the same time to John Dennis, my great grandfather.

A George Howdle is recorded in the 1851-1881 censuses for the area. He was born about 1799 at Hemingborough, Yorkshire. His occupation at these times was recorded as agricultural labourer (1851), proprietor of houses (1861), letter carrier (1871) and no occupation (1881).

In 1873 a George Howdle, of Walsall, owned an area of 4 acres 24 poles generating annual rental of £188 5s. George Howdle (snr) died in 1885 with an estate value £180 3s 10d. His son Henry lived in Howdles Lane (as it is known today) in 1891 and 1901 and was a well sinker.

George’s son, also George, born 1825, could also have been the lessee or inherited the lease, which was up for auction following his death on 12 May 1911. I have found no record of sale of the cottages in the period between 1850 and 1880 – there are no relevant news reports online from the 1860s. From this it seems reasonable to infer that George Howdle (snr) leased land from the Marquis, had the twelve cottages built, benefited from the rent, then passed them on to his son. However, it seems there is evidence, as yet unseen by me, that the cottages were much older, but I will return to that in future.

Almost coincident with the elder George’s death the Ordnance Survey mapped the area in 1882-1883.

howdles cottages os 1882 1883
Howdles Cottages. Ordnance Survey, surveyed 1882, published 1883. Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

The map above is designed to cover future posts as well as this one.

Red:  The original 12 cottages belonging to George Howdle in 1861.

Yellow:  I think later censuses might have recorded these as Howdles Cottages.  I believe second great grandfather Joseph Carter lived on the inside of the bend, at the top of the map.

Blue:  Land developed for housing in 1960, leased sometime by both my great grandfather John Dennis and his son John, aka Jack.  Number 30 is at the northern end of the southern plot.

Green:  H Twist Cottages.  The northern pair remains as numbers 36 and 38.  Great grandfather John Dennis lived in the southernmost of the four from some time in the 1870s until his death in 1915.  His family is pictured below – I have used this before in John I Chapter II.

John Dennis (1852-1915) and family. Seated: John and Emma. Standing Harry, Jack, Lizzie and Sam. Original print kindly given by Martin Littler.

More to come …


Howdles Lane and The Marquis

When I registered ownership of my house I received the deeds (which ceased to have any legal status), a bundle of documents setting out the history of land ownership, including leases, and I decided to find out something about the people named.

this conveyance
Conveyance of Number 28 from the builder, John William Cresswell, to my father on 26 July 1960.  The Marquis and George Howdle appear in the last two lines.

Some background has already been written by yours truly and published about old roads in the area by Brownhills Bob at: and;

Alternatively you can download this PDF file:

Old Roads

In brief, my house was 28 Howdles Lane.  An ordinary three-bed semi, it was completed in 1960, when my parents acquired it.  Eventually, it came into my ownership and I have recently sold it (June 2017).  The history of the place, as for all other places, is much older.

Along the western edge of the land was a hedge and ditch boundary, the boundary between the parishes of Norton Canes, to the west, and Hammerwich.  At the north west corner was a large fallen meer stone or boundary marker.  (Think standing meerkat in a box).  This was also the ancient manorial boundary.  Beyond the hedge, mainly hawthorn with some elder, was a field where horses grazed. The field beyond the hedge was developed in about 1967, becoming Knaves Castle Avenue. The brook was culverted through the new development and the ditch filled in by owners subsequently. The boundary stone was broken up by the builders.

Marquis of Anglesey

The earliest owner mentioned in the deeds is The Most Honorable Henry William George Marquis of Anglesey who leased other property nearby to George Howdle for 99 years from 5 April 1877 at £30 per year, including land on the east side of the Lane.

HWG was the third Marquis (lived 1812 – 1880). He benefited from coal mining on and under his land, which began in 1849 when the Hammerwich pit was opened for the first Marquis (lived 1748-1854) beneath the dam at Chasewater. This was formally the Hammerwich Pit, but was also known as The Marquis, and later Cannock Chase Colliery No. 1. In 1852 a new pit was opened:  Cannock Chase Number 2 pit, aka The Uxbridge (HWG was also Earl of Uxbridge) or The Fly to reflect the high speed of the winding gear. This new employment was undoubtedly the reason my Dennis ancestors came to the area.

In 1873, the Marquis, resident at Beaudesert, owned 14,344 acres, 0 roods, 11 poles, annual gross rent £88,719 10s.1

A detailed biography of the Marquis here.

Imperial measurements: 1 rod (or rood), pole or perch = 5.5 yards, 1 square pole = 30.35 square yards, 40 square poles = 1 rood, and 4 roods = 1 acre. Therefore 160 square poles = 1 acre.  One acre also = 1 furlong (220 yards) x 1 chain (22 yards), or 4,840 square yards.

Metric:  1 Hectare = 2.4711 acres. 1 square metre = 10.76 square feet.

Hammerwich Colliery

The first pit of what would become the Cannock Chase Colliery Company was below the Chasewater Dam.

Birmingham Journal 30 November 1850, p5, col1.



THIS COLLIERY IS NOW OPEN, and a Branch of the Birmingham Canal is brought up to the Pits, and there are good roads to Lichfield and the Neighbourhood.

Boats will be loaded without delay with the best House Coals and Coals adapted for Trade and Manufacturing purposes, on the most reasonable terms.

For information, apply to Mr. F. Higgins, at the Hayes Colliery, Rugeley; or at the Hammerwich Colliery.

This indicates that the colliery was recently opened, at about the same time as the Anglesey Branch Canal. The blue plaque beside the canal indicates the mine was opened in 1849, which is consistent.

marquis pit blue plaque
Site of “The Marquis” beside the end of the Anglesey Branch Canal at Chasewater.

There is more about this mine, including a plan, and the reason for closure, on Brownhills Bob, but search as I might, I have been unable to locate it.

At the time of the 1851 census Henry William Marquis of Anglesea, 82, was living at 1 Old Burlington Street, Uxbridge House, Westminster.  His occupation was Field Marshal and Master … [I can’t make out the rest], see below.  He was born at Bloomsbury, London.  Also present were Charlotte, Marchioness; son Lord Clarence Paget, Captain Royal Navy; a surgeon, housekeeper, ladies (sic) maid, 5 housemaids, still room maid, baker, scullery maid, 3 laundry maids, house steward, cook, groom of chambers, valet, under butler, porter, footman, usher of the hall, coal carrier, and [son’s] valet.

field marshal
Field Marshall and Master … [of what?].
According to the Probate Calendar, the personal estate of the Earl of Uxbridge, as it says he was commonly known, was “under £60,000 in the United Kingdom”.

To be continued …, England, Return of Owners of Land, 1873, Stafford, p2.