Some Famous Wolverhampton Names
                                            by Keith Farley

Sir Richard Leveson

Serving as a volunteer under Sir. Francis Drake on the Ark Royal in 1588, Richard Leveson took part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada. In 1596 he was knighted by Elizabeth I after taking part in the expedition in which his father-in-law, Lord Howard, attacked and laid seige to Cadiz for two weeks, and in 1603 he was given the title 'Vice Admiral of the Fleet' for life. The same year he was sent to Madrid as a member of the delegation which concluded the peace between England and Spain.

Sir Charles Marston

The eldest son of John Marston (the founder of both the Sunbeam Cycle and Motor Car Companies), he entered into the family business in 1885 and was eventually put in charge of the Villiers Cycle Components Company in Villiers Street. This became the mainstay of Charles's business interests and its success enabled him to indulge in his many creative and charitable interests.

Sir Henry Hartley Fowler

A former Mayor of the Borough, he became an MP for the town in 1880. He was instrumental in proposing the Wolverhampton Corporation Act which was passed in 1891 and he was made the first Freeman of the Borough the same year. In 1894, he became Secretary of State for India, a position which saw him decorated with the order of the Grand Commander of the Star of India by Queen Victoria.

John Wilkinson

Born in Cumberland, John Wilkinson or 'Ironmad Wilkinson' as he became known, was one of the great figures of the early iron industry. He built the first steam powered blast furnace at the Bradley Ironworks, Bilston in 1767 and also helped in the construction of the 'Iron Bridge' which was cast at Coalbrookdale. He was also a great friend of James Watt and helped him with experiments which resulted in the development of the steam engine. His business interests made him a very wealthy man and at one time he offered to pay off the National Debt with his fortune. When he died in 1808, an iron coffin, which he had designed was used to bury him in.

Button Gwinnett


One of the signatories of the American Declaration of Independence, Button Gwinnett lived in Wolverhampton between 1755 and 1762. He married a local girl, Anne Bourne and in 1762 he moved to America. Election as a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1776 enabled him to become one of the fifty-six signatories of the Declaration.


Sir Charles Wheeler

The first sculptor ever to be elected President of the Royal Academy of Arts, he was born in Codsall in 1892. He first studied at the Wolverhampton School of Art under Robert Emerson and later at the Royal College of Art. Examples of his work can he seen addorning many London buildings including the Bank of England, India House and South Africa House. He also sculpted the statue of Lady Wulfruna which stands outside St. Peter's Church in Wolverhampton.

Jonathan Wild

Self-penned Chief Thieftaker General of Great Britain and Ireland, Jonathan Wild was born in Wolverhampton in 1683 and lived here until 1709 when he moved to London. He became famous as a dealer in stolen property and later as an organiser of gangs of thieves, by informing on certain criminals the authorities were prepared to tolerate his activities (hence the nickname). His past eventually caught up with him and he was executed on May 24th 1725.

Sir Charles Villiers

A Member of Parliament for sixty three years, Charles Pelham Villiers holds the record for being the longest serving MP in Parliamentary history. From 1835-1885, he sat as MP for the single constituency of Wolverhampton and then from 1885 until his death in 1898 as MP for Wolverhampton South (Bilston).

Dame Maggie Teyte

One of the great opera singers of the 20th Century. Her father, owned the Old Still Inn in King Street, Maggie was sent to the Royal College of Music and later to Paris to study under Jean de Reszke. In 1908 she was selected to sing the title role of Melisande at the Opera de Comique in Paris, a role which was effectively the beginning of an opera career which lasted for nearly sixty years.

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