PROTESTANT NONCONFORMITY IN BUSHBURY
In the second half of the seventeenth century the rise of Protestant Nonconformity in the country was marked in Bushbury by the Return of the Clerk of the Peace of the County of Stafford No. 24: "The house of John Jucks (rect. Jewke) at Wiburston in the Parish of Bushbury registered for Protestant Dissenters at Epiphany Sessions 1698/9."
For the three years 1702-4, the Vicar, Thomas Hall kept a Register for Dissenters, and John Jukes registers the birth of two children. The register also includes Roman Catholics, with two Whitgreave entries, so it is not possible to say how many of a total of eleven entries refer to Protestant dissenters.
We know that John Wesley preached at Wolverhampton and at Bilbrook in 1761,1764, 1770, and 1772, so no doubt Bushbury people made their pilgrimage to hear the great man by walking either into Wolverhampton or down Marsh Lane to Bilbrook. In 1785 and again in 1787 John Wesley stayed at Hilton Park with Squire Vernon, and it is at this end of the parish, a mining community remote from the parish church, that we find the first evidence of a Nonconformist chapel.
Before 1819, a Primitive Methodist Chapel had been established at Essington Wood, followed by another at Newtown. The positions of both these chapels are shown on the 6" Ordnance Survey map of the 1880s, but no trace of either building remains now. In 1834 a Wesleyan chapel was established at Essington, and was presumably replaced by the present building in Bursnip Road in 1883.
Although I have been unable to find any positive evidence it seems unlikely that there were no meetings of dissenters in private houses at the western, Bushbury, end of the parish throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In an area of extreme poverty, it seems almost inconceivable that there should have been little support for Nonconformity. Perhaps it was because there were chapels of every denomination in Wolverhampton, only two miles away. Also there seems to have been little interest in Protestant Nonconformity among the wealthier residents and landowners of the parish, the Gough, Huskisson, Hinckes, Hordern, Staveley Hill and Clutterbuck families all being staunch Anglicans. John Shaw of Oxley House seems to have been the only wealthy nonconformist in the parish, and he apparently did not consider establishing a Congregational chapel in Bushbury.
Following the arrival of so many railway employees in the parish in the 1870s and 80s a Methodist Chapel was built in Shaw Road. This was followed in 1890 by a Meeting Room for the Plymouth Brethren being opened by Alfred Robinson at his home "Falder House", also in Shaw Road. He lived until 1938 and his chapel closed in 1948.
A new Wesleyan Chapel was built in Showell Circus in 1929 to serve the needs of the new Low Hill housing estate.