Oswestry, Shropshire Family History Guide

Oswestry is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Shropshire.

Other places in the parish include: Mesbury, Maesbury, Morton, Oswestry Rural, Oswestry Town, Pentregaer, Sweeney, Treferclawdd, TrefardclawddTreflach, Trefor-clawdd, Weston Cotton, Wooton, Wootton, Aston, Aston Caenynion, Crickheath, Cynynion, Hisland, Llanforda, and Middleton.

Parish church: 1558

Parish registers begin:

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Christians, Independent Methodist, Independent/Congregational, Particular Baptist, Primitive Methodist, Welsh Calvinistic Methodist, Welsh Independent, Welsh Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Oswestry

  • Trefonen
  • Llansilin
  • Selattyn
  • Whittington
  • Kinnerley
  • Llanyblodwel
  • Rhydycroseau
  • Oswestry Holy Trinity
  • West Felton
  • Llanymynech
  • Carreghofa

Historical Descriptions

Oswestry

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

OSWESTRY, a town, a parish, a sub-district, a district, and a hundred, in Salop. The town stands on the Cambrian railway, adjacent to Wats’ dyke, 2¼ miles E of Offa’s dyke, 3 W S W of the Montgomery canal, 3¼ E of the boundary with Wales, and 18 N W of Shrewsbury. It dates from ancient British times; it was known to the ancient Brittons as Croes-Oswallt, to the early Saxons as Maserfield, by corruption of Maes-Oswallt, signifying “Oswald’s field,” and to the later Saxons as Oswaldstre, signifying Oswald’s town, and afterwardscorrupted into Oswestry, or popularly Osestry; and it took all these varieties of names from St. Oswald, king of Northumbria. A great battle was fought at it, in 642, between that king and the pagan Penda, king of Mercia; and resulted in the defeat and death of Oswald. The town, with the territory around it, was then annexed to Mercia; it afterwards became a post of much importance in the border wars between the Saxons and the Welsh; and, at the construction of the great W bulwarks of the Mercian kingdom, it was placed on the neutral ground between Wat’s Dyke, immediately on the E, and Offa’s Dyke, 2¼ miles to the W. A castle is supposed to have been built at it, on an artificial mount, some time before the Norman conquest; and either that castle was re-stored, or an entirely new one was built, on the samesite, about 1150. Welsh historians ascribe the newcastle to Madoc ap Meredydd, Prince of Powys; while English writers assign it to the family of Fitzalan, and suppose that family to have got a gift of the town from William the Conqueror. The town was the head-quarters of Henry II., in 1164, in his expeditions against the Welsh; was burnt, in 1212, by King John; and was burnt again, in 1235, by Llewelyn. Walls were begun to be constructed around it in 1277; were pierced with four gates, called Black-gate, New-gate, Willow-gate, and Beatrice-gate; and were taken down in 1782. The plague made devastations in 1559 and 1585. The royalists garrisoned the town in 1644, and demolished thechurch tower, situated without the walls, to prevent its summit from being used for annoying them; and the parliamentarians dislodged the royalists, and dismantledthe castle. An ancient well, erected to the memory of St. Oswald, exists at a short distance from the church; and some small vestiges of the castle may still be seen; but other remains of antiquity are remarkably few. A fine ancient British fortification, defended by an uncommonly high triple rampart, is about a mile to the N; encloses an area of about 16 acres, and occupies a total area of about 45 acres; and bears properly the name of Caer-Ogran or Caer Ogyrfan; but is popularly called Old Oswestry, and traditionally regarded as the site of the original town. Another ancient British entrenchment, of circular form and surrounded by a dyke, is on the Wborder of Porkington Park, 1½ mile to the N W; bears the name of Castell-Brogyntyn; and is supposed to have been formed by a natural son of Owen Madoc, Prince of Powys.

The town is situated at the foot of prettily-wooded hills; presents a good appearance; and consists chiefly of narrow streets. Some of the houses are interesting timber structures, some are neat new edifices, and most are modern. The town hall is a handsomeedifice; and forms one side of a square, called Bailey-head. The corn-market is a good structure; and has a glazed roof, and a clock tower. The Victoria rooms area recent erection at the S end of the town; and contain a spacious apartment for assemblies and public meetings. The public reading room and lecture-hall, at the N end of the town, also are recent buildings. An ornamental drinking fountain, of the character of a market-cross, was erected in 1862; stands on the site of the old market-cross, at the junction of three streets; has a hexagonal form, with three large faces and three smaller ones; and is a conspicuous object as seen along the lines of each of thethree streets. The Cambrian railway workshops were erected in 1865, at a cost of more than £100,000; stand in the town at a focus of the Cambrian railway system, whence three lines diverge to the N E, the N, and the S; give employment to about 450 skilled artisans, at an expenditure of about £500 a-week; and are surmounted by a shaft, called the Savin column, 150 feet high. The parochial church occupies the site of an ancient monastery; presents a venerable appearance; and contains some curious monumental tablets and inscriptions. Trinity church was built in 1837; and serves for asection of the parish formed into a chapelry in 1842, and containing a pop. of 2,683 in 1861. There are chapels for Independents, Welsh Independents, Baptists, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Calvinistic Methodists. The grammar-school was founded in the time of Henry IV., by David Holbeck; and has £272 a year from endowment. National and infantschools are held in an ornamental building, in the Tudor style. There are a dispensary, alms-houses, and other charities £171. Sewerage and waterworks were constructed in 1866, at a cost of £16,500. The sewage is all conveyed by one main outlet to tanks, on a comparatively high level, and at a distance from the town; and can all be utilised by gravitation on a great extent of adjacent lower land. The waterworks have duplicate reservoirs, with capacity for 3,000,000 gallons, oppositethe Mount, about a mile from the town, and at an elevation of 300 feet above the level of the town-cross; and comprise an aggregate of 8 miles of water-pipes. The town, on the whole, has recently under-gone very greatimprovement; and, though always a pleasant place as compared with many others, it is now much better entitled than before to the eulogy written on it by Church-yard:

This towne doth front on Wales as right as lyne,
So sondrie townes in Shropshiere doe-for troth,
As Ozestri, a prettie towne full fine,
Which may be lov’d, be likte, and praysed both-
It stands so trim, and is maintayned so cleane,
and peopled is with folke that well doe meane,
That it deserves to be enrouled and shryned
In each good heart and every manly mynd.

The town has a head post-office, a railway station with telegraph, two banking offices, and four chief inns; is a seat of petty sessions and a polling-place; and publishes a weekly newspaper. A weekly market for corn, verylargely attended, is held on Wednesday; a weekly market for provisions, cheese, and poultry, is held on Saturday; a fair for cattle is held on the first Wednesday of every month; and a fair for wool is held in July. The manufacture of flannel was formerly considerable; and a malting trade is now very flourishing. The town was made a municipal borough by Richard II., who visited it in 1397; was curtailed in limits by the new municipal act; and is now divided into two wards, and governedby a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors. Corporation revenue, about £480. Pop. in 1851, 4,817; in 1861, 5,414. Houses, 1,125. Walter Fitzalan, son of Alan, grandson of Flaad, founder of Paisley abbey, and ancestor of the royal Stuarts, was a native.

The parish contains also the townships of Aston-Caenynion, Crickheath, Hisland, Llanforda, Maesbury, Middleton, Morton, Pentregaer, Sweeney, Treferclawdd, Treflach, Trefonen, Weston-Cotton, and Wootton. Acres, 15,703. Real property, 21,796; of which £130 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 8,796; in 1861, 9,357. Houses, 1,964. The manor belongs to the Earl of Powys. Porkington, a beautiful mansion in a fine park, is the seat of W. O. Gore, Esq. Llanforda, an ancient mansion, belongs to W. W. Wynn, Bart.; and Sweeney Hall, to Sir B. Leighton, Bart. The Hayes, Oakhurst, Penylan, Aston Hall, and Woodhill, also are chief residences. The head living is a vicarage, and that of Trinity is a p.curacy, in the diocese of St. Asaph. Value of the former, £477;  of the latter, £150. Patron of the former, Earl Powys; of the latter, the Vicar. The rectory of Trefonen and the p. curacy of Aston are separate benefices. The workhouse of the district is in Weston-Cotton township; and, at the census of 1861, had 139 inmates. The sub-district is conterminate with the parish. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Llansilin, containing the parishes of Llanyblodwell, Selattyn, and Llansilin, part of the last electorally in Denbighshire; the sub-district of St. Martin, containing the parishes of St. Martin and Whittington, the extra-parochial tract of Halston, and the parish of Chirk, the last electorally in Denbighshire; and the sub-district of Knockin, containing the parishes of Knockin, Kinnerley, West Felton, and Ruyton-of-the-Eleven-Towns, the extra-parochial tract of Heath-Farm, and part of the parish of Llanymy-nech. Acres, 77,048. Poor-rates in 1863, £10,180. Pop. in 1851, 22,795; in 1861, 23,817. Houses, 4, 884. Marriages in 1863, 177; births, 801, of which 76 were illegitimate; deaths, 535, of which 163 were at ages under 5 years, and 24 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,607; births, 6,650; deaths, 4,416. The places of worship, in 1851, were 19 of the Church of England, with 8,054 sittings; 22 of Independents, with 2,872 s.; 5 of Baptists, with 731 s.; 6 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 619 s.; 22 of Primitive Methodists, with 2,338 s.; 3 of the Wesleyan Association, with 265 s.; 2 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 98 s.; 7 of Calvinistic Methodists, with 1,059 s.; 2 of Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, with 390 s.; and 1 undefined, with 60 s. The schools were 24 public day-schools, with 1,932 scholars; 22 private day-schools, with 468 s.; and 60 Sunday schools, with 3,764 s. The poor-law affairs are administered under a local act. The hundred is cut into two divisions, lower and upper. The l. div. contains the parish of West Felton and four other parishes. Acres, 19,559. Pop. in 1851, 4,014. Houses, 803. The II. div. contains Halston parish, four other parishes, and parts of three others. Acres, 43,287. Pop. in 1851, 10,828. Houses, 2, 239. Pop. of the whole in 1861,15, 192. Houses, 3, 175.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

England and Wales Delineated Thomas Dugdale 1835

  • Name of Place: Oswestry;
  • County: Salop;
  • Number of Miles from: Ellesmere – 9. Chirk – 5, Shrewsbury – 17;
  • Dist. Lond. – 171;
  • Population – 8581.

Oswestry is situated upon the main road from London to Holyhead. The town stands upon higher ground than any in Shropshire, and the country around is delightfully varied with hills, vales, wood and water, and exhibits some very rich and picturesque scenery. Oswestry is a town of great antiquity, and its present appellation, was derived from the name of St. Oswald, King of Northumberland, who was defeated and slain here, by Penda, King of Mercia. Subsequently, when the great Offa constructed the barrier, still known by his name, Oswestry stood between it and Watt’s-dyke, which ran parallel to the former at the distance of two miles. It was thus rendered a border town, and hence was frequently the scene of contest, first between the Saxons and the Britons, and afterwards between the latter and the Normans. In 1212, King John burnt both the town and castle, which were then in the possession of the Fitzalans, and plundered a part of Wales on account of the refusal of Llewellin to join his standard, in opposition to Louis, the dauphin of France, who had been invited to England by the rebellious barons. Oswestry was likewise destroyed by the Welsh prince, called Llewellin the Great, 1233. During this period it was encircled by a strong wall, which had four gates, fronting the four cardinal points. Some traces of the wall still remain, but the gates were entirely demolished about the year 1769. Of the castle, which stood on a high artificial mound, at the west side of the town, only a few fragments now exist; these, however, are sufficient to indicate its former prodigious strength and consequent importance as a place of defence. The town is governed by a mayor, six aldermen, and eighteen councillors. The petty sessions for the hundred are held here, besides the courts connected with the borough. The church is a very ancient and spacious building, with a plain, well-proportioned tower at one end. Oswestry has been much improved within the last few years, in consequence of an act obtained in 1810, for widening, paving, and lighting the streets, and by the spirit of building which has resulted from that measure. The principal trade of the town is malting, which is very extensive; there is also a respectable hat manufactory; and there are an abundance of coals in the vicinity of the town. Upon the little river Mordu is a manufactory of flannel. The neighbourhood is to be remarked for its great respectability; and to the number of genteel and opulent families that it contains may, in a great measure, be attributed the prosperity of the town of Oswestry.

Market, Wednesday. – Fairs, March 16, for horned cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, home-made linen doth, &c.; great fair, May 12, ditto and pedlary, particularly oxen; Wednesday before June 24, ditto; August 15, ditto; Wednesday before Michaelmas-day, ditto; and December 10, ditto and firkin-butter. – Principal Inns, Commercial Hotel, Cross Keys, and Wynnstay Arms.

Source: England and Wales Delineated by Thomas Dugdale assisted by William Burnett; published by Tallis & Co., Green Arbour Court, Old Bailey, 1835.

Oswestry Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Oswestry. A market town and parish in the Oswestry division of the hundred of Oswestry, a vicarage discharged, in the diocese of St. Asaph, and the deanery of Marchia. Oswestry parish, not including the town, contains 692 houses, 3,613 inhabitants. The town, 844 houses, 3,910 inhabitants. The entire parish contains 1,536 houses, 7,523 inhabitants. 17 ½ miles north-west of Shrewsbury, 179 miles north-west of London. Market on Wednesday, Fairs 3rd Wednesday in January. March 15, May 12, Wednesday before Midsummer-day, August 15, Friday before September 29, December 10. LAT. 52.53½ N. LONG. 3.9. W.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Aston

Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales 1850

Aston, 2½ m. S.E. and included in Oswestry

Source: Leonard’s Gazetteer of England and Wales; Second Edition; C. W. Leonard, London; 1850.

Gregory Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Aston. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry, chapel to Oswestry, 2 miles south-east of Oswestry. Aston Hall is the seat of William Lloyd, esq.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Crick Heath

Gregory Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Crick Heath. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry. 4 miles south of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Cross Street

Gregory Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Cross Street. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Cynynion

Gregory Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Cynynion. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Hisland

Gregory Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Hisland. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry. 2 miles south-east of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Leg Street

Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Leg Street. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Llanvorda or Llanforda

Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Llanvorda or Llanforda. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry. 1 ½ mile south-west of Oswestry.

The seat of Henry Watkin Williams Wynn, Esq. John Davies, Esq., recorder, 1635, in his MSS. “Observations of Oswestry,” says, “Rynerus, bishop of St. Asaph, suppressed the old church of the Mercians, called Llanvorda.”

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Llynymon or Lloynymain or Llwynymaen

Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Llynymon or Lloynymain or Llwynymaen. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry. 1 ½ mile south-west of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Maesbury

Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Maesbury. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry. 3 miles south-east of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Maesbrook or Meesbrook

Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Middleton

Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Middleton. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry. 2 miles south-east of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Moreton

Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Moreton. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the hundred of Oswestry. A curacy, in the diocese of St. Asaph, and the deanery of Marchia. 3 ½ miles south of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Pentregaer

Shropshire Gazetteer 1824

Pentregaer. A township in the parish of Oswestry, and in the upper division of the hundred of Oswestry.

Source: The Shropshire Gazetteer, with an Appendix, including a Survey of the County and Valuable Miscellaneous Information, with Plates. Printed and Published by T. Gregory, Wem, 1824

Parish Registers

Oswestry Parish Registers 1558-1750

Shropshire Parish registers Diocese of St. Asaph Vol. IV (1909) and Vol. V (1912).

Author: Shropshire Parish Register Society

General editor; W. G. D. Fletcher

Publisher: Privately printed for the Shropshire Parish Register Society

Volume I, 1558 to 1669 – Archive.org

Volume II, 1669 to 1727 – Archive.org

Volume III, 1727 to 1812 – Archive.org

Volume IV, 1750 to 1812 – Archive.org

The Register of Oswestry Old Chapel 1780 to 1812

Shropshire parish registers : Nonconformist and Roman Catholic registers (1903)

Author: Shropshire Parish Register Society; Evans, George Eyre; Fletcher, W. G. D. (William George Dimock), 1851-1935; Kinsella, William

Publisher: [London] : Privately printed for the Shropshire Parish Register Society

The Register of Oswestry Old Chapel 1780 to 1812 – Archive.org

Directories

Administration

* County: Shropshire
* Civil Registration District: Oswestry
* Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of St Asaph (Episcopal Consistory)
* Diocese: St Asaph
* Rural Deanery: Oswestry
* Poor Law Union: Oswestry
* Hundred: Oswestry
* Province: Canterbury
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