Farm and Forest
know when Pendeford started.
At some time during that period which Historians have called the Dark
Ages a group of people, moving away from an established and growing
settlement and fired with the need to find a new place for themselves,
cut down trees, built shelters and cleared land for a few fields.
The name they gave the place was Pendeford.
They did not know how to write it down
but perhaps it was named after their leader, Penda, or maybe they
simply described their place by a track crossing over the tiny river
beginnings, the name has survived.
It was Pendeford when William the Conqueror's surveyors rode
through and collected information for his great Domesday Book which
recorded the worth of England.
Pendeford is unusual in that the name is spelt exactly the same now as
it was back in 1086, unlike nearby Totenhale, Bilbroch and Codeshale.
Wolverhampton at that time was Hantone.
At the time
of the Domesday survey, Pendeford was worth twenty shillings. For
comparison, Lichfield was valued at £15 and Oxley at 15 shillings.
It had been held by Ulstan and Godwin, two locals, before the
Battle of Hastings, but was now part of the land granted to William Fitz
Ansculf, a Norman knight, as his reward for serving William the
Conqueror. Fitz Ansculf
built his castle at Dudley and held several other local manors including
Aldridge, Trysull and Moseley.
Almar held the land for William, running the manor from day to day.
Staffordshire wasn't a rich county in the eleventh century and Pendeford
was probably little more than a cluster of poor huts.
Its site was possibly near to where the old Roman road crossed
the little river Penk - to the north of the present Lower Pendeford Farm
or maybe on the high ground where Pendeford Hall and Upper Pendeford
Farm now stand. Domesday
Book tells us that there were two hides : a hide was originally the
amount of land needed to support a family but by 1086 it had changed its
meaning and usually represented an area of about 120 acres.
Part of the land, the demesne, was farmed by the Lord of the
Manor or his agent, in Pendeford's case Almar, with compulsory help from
the bordars (cottagers who may have had some land of their own but
mostly worked for others) and villeins (men who held more land than the
bordars and who could support their families from it).
At Pendeford there were three serfs working on the demesne.
They were little more than slaves who could not leave the manor
or even marry without the Lord's permission.
population of maybe sixty souls, Pendeford in the eleventh century
certainly wasn't bursting at the seams - the land wasn't even being used
to capacity for although there was enough for three ploughs, only two
were being kept busy.
wanted to get to the nearby manors of Totenhale and Bilbroch the local
folk would have had to follow thin tracks through thick woods while a
visit to Biscopesberie on the hill would have involved skirting the
marshes around Alleycroft Lake.
A trip to Cove may have been easier for the course of an old Roman road
followed what may have been a grassy ride through Coven Lawns.
The Manor of
Pendeford, though a part of Tettenhall Parish, was included in the Royal
Forest of Cannock, whose western boundary followed "the road to
Pendeford", possibly Lawn Lane, from Coven. The borders of the forest of
Cannock were described in various documents as …ascending by that river
(Penk) as far as the bridge of Coven below Brewood Park, and then by
that road as far as Pendeford, and thus from Pendeford ascending through
the middle of Fossemor next to the syke as far as Oxeford, and from
Oxeford as far as Wolverhampton…
Forest was not necessarily fully wooded but was a hunting reserve which
was governed by a strict set of laws. In theory, though not in practice
for a fine raised more revenue, ordinary folk could lose parts of their
body if they were caught poaching in the forest and several Lords of the
Manor of Pendeford were fined for trespassing.
possibly about this time that the village of Pendeford was deserted. Thousands of villages in England were deserted by their
inhabitants during the Middle Ages, some because of plague or war, many
because of changes in the local economy.
In the case of Pendeford it seems possible that the situation of
the village, where Cannock Forest met Brewood Forest, led to the
desertion. Forest law could
well have made life difficult for farmers within its bounds.
Another possibility is that the village was deserted in the
seventeenth century when the hall was rebuilt.
What we hear
of Pendeford through the rest of the Middle Ages is largely from
accounts of various court cases where the locals were breaking Forest
Laws. The name "Pendeford" was adopted by local families who took on
positions in the Forests.
namings happened in other parts of the area and we hear of Alfred of
Barnhurst in the late thirteenth century.
In 1377 a John Barnhurst was a poll tax collector for Tettenhall.
In the early
13th century one Robert de Pendeford appeared as a witness on local
deeds as did his son of the same name.
Records from the Royal Forest of Cannock tell that John de
Pendeford was fined 2 shillings for clearing
half an acre of forest land for his own use.
Forest laws were in the background of all their lives and the de
Pendefords, who acted as verderers
or forest guardians, seemed to live precariously on both sides of the
law and were occasionally
in dispute with their neighbours.
In 1272 it
was recorded at Lichfield assizes that John de Pendeford and a John
Mouner (miller) had had a disagreement in which de Pendeford had struck
the other man over the head with a stick.
In retaliation Mouner had stabbed de Pendeford fatally, fled and
later another John de Pendeford is mentioned, for in 1276 -
It was presented that on
the Thursday before Easter a certain buck was driven from the park at
Brewoode and followed by a greyhound which caught it in the fields of
Coven, within the forest; and one Hugh de Pendeford came up, who is now
dead, and took the greyhound away and retained it without warrant. And John de Pendeford, who was at that time a verderer of the
forest, came up and caused the buck to be skinned and carried to his
house at Pendeford, and shortly afterwards he sold all his land and
other goods he held within the county, and went beyond the sea and has
It was this
John de Pendeford, elected as a verderer by the knights and sheriff of
Staffordshire in full court to serve the king, who, in 1278, sold the
manor to the Prior and Monks of St. Thomas's near Stafford.
He seems to have lived abroad for several years for it was not
until 1293 that his widow, Agnes, claimed dower out of his lands.
There was a
shepherd at Pendeford in 1278 and he may have been the same man as
Richard the Shepherd (Richard le Bercher) who, in 1304, had the right to
pasture 6 oxen, 12 cattle with their young, 2 plough beasts, 24 sheep,
and two sows with their young though the young had to be moved off when
they were a year old. This
is revealed through a county court case involving accusations of over
grazing of the common land.
that farming went hand in hand with a little banditry for in 1343... The Prior of Duddeleye sued William de Pendeford and Matilda atte Greene
for taking his goods and chattels at Tresel to the value of £10.
The defendants did not appear, and the Sheriff returned they
He was therefore ordered to put them into exigend, and if they
appeared, to produce them, and if they failed to appear, they were to be
sale of the manor to St. Thomas's, there were still instances of crime
reported for in 1387 ...The Prior
of St. Thomas the Martyr sued Walter, son of Richard del Wytheges
(Wergs), Nicholas, son of Thomas del Wytheges and John le Glovere of
Compton, for forcibly breaking into his house at Pendeford, and taking
timber from it, and other goods and chattels, to the value of £20.
The defendants did not appear.
indicate that the Prior was an absentee landlord and the Wergs gang
simply broke into an empty house.
held in 1408 on one John Geffery, servant to the bailiff of Brewood, concluded that he had been unlawfully killed.
Thomas Dyle of Pendeford was involved and was later indicted with
others as an accessory to the crime.
Together with John Gyffard of Chillington, Thomas Dyle
surrendered and produced Letters Patent of the King dated January 25th,
1415 pardoning them from all treasons, felonies etc. perpetrated before
December 8th 1413.
paying taxes and in the fourteenth century the good people of Pendeford
no doubt grumbled about having to cough up for the Subsidy Roll of 1332.
This tax was granted by Parliament to pay for the war being
fought against Scotland by Edward III.
People in the counties had to pay one fifteenth of the value of
all goods that they possessed inside and outside the house.
Local tax collectors, with the help of the most loyal locals,
assessed what everyone had and charged them accordingly.
There were exemptions from the tax - armour, saddle horses,
jewels and robes of knights and gents and their wives and vessels of
gold and brass. Everyone
was allowed one set of clothes tax free !
All the goods belonging to lepers were exempt, for fairly obvious
(or unfortunately) most people in Pendeford didn't own anything worth
ten shillings which was the lower limit for taxing and so only the
following inhabitants had to pay.
Will'o de Croukewall
Joh'ne le Warde
Nich'o del Kannoc
Will'o de Bradeley
Henr' de Chekeleye
The monks of
St Thomas's held Pendeford until Henry VIII closed down the monasteries.
It was granted to Rowland Lee, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield
in 1539 for services rendered. Lee had married Henry to Anne Boleyn even though his first
wife, Catherine of Aragon, was still alive and Henry's divorce from her
was not recognised by the Pope.
So Pendeford played its small part in the Reformation of the Church of
died three years later and the manor of Pendeford came to James Fowler,
MP for Stafford, who held it for 42 years until his death in 1585. At that time the manor covered 1020 acres and contained two
tofts or homesteads and a watermill.
passed to his son Walter, who died in 1647.
seventeenth century, for local government purposes, Pendeford was a
Constablewick within the parish of Tettenhall.
The Staffordshire Quarter Sessions Rolls of 1605 name William
Eggington as Petty Constable.
He didn't have much to do, apparently, for there were no Ale Houses to
supervise and he only arrested two wandering rogues - Thomas Smyth and
Ann Huett. It could have
been unfortunate for the beggars themselves as the Poor Law of the time
stated that they could be whipped until bloody and then returned to
their native parish.
population of Pendeford was still small - a Poll Tax assessment of 1641
mentions 48 people in the constablewick - and not especially rich -
twenty four years later only nine inhabitants were paying hearth tax
which was based on the number of fireplaces in a house.
During the Civil War, places were made to pay
taxes to one side or the other and occasionally to both sides at once.
The Order Book of the Staffordshire Parliamentary Committee
details that on May 20th, 1643, moneys were assigned
to Captain William Gough for the weekly pay of his officers and
soldiers. Captain Gough had
to report back to the Committee at the end of each month, giving
accounts of his use of the money. Of the £8.6s.0d weekly pay collected from Codsall, Penford,
Perton, Trescott, Patshull and Wrottesley, £1.9s.5d was to come from
Penford. A marginal note of
£10.18s.2d next to this entry may indicate that someone on the Committee
thought that the area wasn't pulling its weight!
A mention in the Order Book on October 29th 1644
re-assigns the pay from much of Seisdon Hundred -
these Townes hearunder written ly moste of them in the Enemies quarter, to Captain Jackson who had been alonge time without any
assignation. We also
hear that Captain Wagstaffe's Troops had taken three horses from Mrs
Woodhill at Pemford. She was willing for them to keep the middlemost of them upon the propositions. Captain Wagstaff was ordered to return the best and worst of
the three to Mrs. Woodhill.
On 16th December, 1644, the whole of the weekly pay of Seisdon Hundred
was assigned to the Captains and Officers of horse belonging to the