History on the town of Cannock in the county of Staffordshire. Research is augmented with photographs, details of licensees, stories of local folklore, census data, newspaper articles and a genealogy connections section for those studying their family history.



Background Information
This page concentrates on the town of Cannock and its immediate environs rather than the ancient parish of Cannock which once included the townships of Hednesford, Cheslyn Hay and Great Wyrley.

St. Luke's Parish Church by J. C. Buckler [1841]

Cannock is located to the south and south-west of Cannock Chase, where the extensive mining in the area was mainly concentrated though, of course, underground mineral exploitation took place in other areas around the town, particularly to the east. Consequently, some aspects of mining will be considered here.

It is unlikely that a general consensus will ever be reached regarding the origins of the town's name. The manor of Chenet is mentioned in the Domesday survey but later appears as Cannoc, Kanot, Canet among many other variations. Perhaps rather fanciful, there is some conjecture that the name derived from King Canute but most seem to agree that 'enocc' describes a hillock. Cannock is also thought to derive from the Saxon term for a large forest. Certainly, these trains of thought combine to more or less describe the area in ancient times. Cannock Chase is on elevated terrain and the forest was considerable.

Iron Age Hill Fort at Castle Ring Cannock Wood

Cannock Wood lies to the south of the chase and to the north-east of the town and it is there that Castle Ring Camp, an Iron Age hill fort occupied around AD50 by the Celtic Cornovii tribe, is located. It is thought that a hunting lodge was built there and used by the Mercian kings. The earthworks at Castle Ring was later owned by the Marquis of Anglesey who sold it to Cannock's Urban District Council in 1933 and it was subsequently scheduled as an ancient monument.

The town of Cannock lies on lower ground and centres around St. Luke's Church. A key reason for the growth of the town was the convergence of the roads to-and-from Wolverhampton, Penkridge, Stafford, Rugeley and Walsall. Traffic later by-passed the town with Thomas Telford's improvements to Watling Street which passes through the parish to the south at Wedges Mills. The latter was once an isolated hamlet but the Gilpin family started an edge tool works here around 1790 and this stimulated growth and development. The mill may have been in operation before the time of Robert Wedge in the early 17th century but it is his name that has endured despite changing hands several times before it formed part of William Gilpin's factory.

Market Hall and Crown Hotel at Cannock [c.1913]

The market place remains central to the town's shopping facilities. The market can be traced back to 1259 when King Henry III granted Bishop Roger de Weseham the right to stage fairs in the manor. A cattle market was once held three times a year, with a wake being staged on the Sunday following the October market. In 1869 a market hall was erected next to the Crown Hotel. However, this was demolished in the town's mass redevelopment of the 1960's.

With less than 100 households, Cannock was a relatively small place until the 18th century and there was little development. By the middle of the 19th century the population had increased to around 1,100, many of whom still lived relatively close to the parish church, particularly around the High Street and High Green.

The coaching era was important to Cannock's economy in the 18th century. Although the main staging post of the Birmingham to Stafford road was at the Cross Keys Inn at Hednesford, coaches passed through Cannock on a daily basis by 1818. The town was also on the route between Liverpool and London. Ironically, the modern toll road passes close to the site of an old toll house on the corner of Walkmill Lane. This lane led to Walk Mill, documented in 1775 but later owned by Jonathan Stokes when advertised for auction in the early 19th century. It was still in operation in 1880.

Industrial development in the 19th century changed the character of the surrounding rural land, particularly at Bridgtown and Leacroft, both to the south-west of Cannock. Cornelius Whitehouse built an edge tool works at Bridgtown and Wynn's iron foundry was another major employer.

Conduit at High Green in Cannock [c.1900]

Leacroft was little more than a scattering of farmhouses and cottages before mining. This area was an important source of water for Cannock as the town was built on gravelly soil, resulting in water shortages in the summer months. This was resolved by laying pipes from a spring at Stringer's Meadow to conduits in the centre of town. A surviving octagonal conduit in the market place is now a listed building. Another unusual feature of the town centre is the bowling green. The wall enclosing the green dates from around 1753.

With extensive coal mining and industrial activity taking place in and around Cannock in the early 19th century, the major canals dug extensions into the locality in order to transport raw materials and finished goods. The Cannock extension of the Wyrley and Essington Canal reached Churchbridge by 1844 and the waterway was later extended so that it had a basin at Hednesford by 1858. Two years later another extension was cut to join the Hatherton branch of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal. However, by this period the railways had arrived and a railway station was opened in 1858.

Miners at Cannock Chase Colliery [c.1912]

Coal mining in the area was carried out in the late 13th century but took off some 400 years later. There was a colliery at Cannock Wood by 1775 and William Gilpin successfully extracted coal for his edge tool factory in the early years of the 19th century. Edward John Littleton, later Lord Hatherton, had also started a colliery at Rumour Hill near Leacroft. Deep coal mining was launched in 1850 when the Marquis of Anglesey founded the Cannock Chase Colliery Company. The pits were, however, some distance away from Cannock at Hednesford, Chasetown and Heath Hayes. The Cannock and Leacroft Colliery was founded in the mid-1870's, a time when a number of new enterprises were started, though many failed in later years.
Copyright. Posted on 14th December 2011
Images supplied by Digital Photographic Images.
and Staffordshire Past-Track.


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List of Pubs
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Genealogy Connections
If you have a genealogy story or query regarding the Cannock area you can contact me and I will post it here in addition to including your message within the website pages for Staffordshire Genealogy.

Cannock Coat-of-Arms
The arms were officially granted on February 20th 1951. The green and black bars on the shield signify the coal seams beneath Cannock Chase. The days of royal hunts on the chase are recalled by the stag's head and crown, below which is the cross associated with St. Chad, and is taken from the arms of the Bishoprics of Lichfield and Coventry. The motto, a quotation from Horace, means "exertion in the hunt."

Pit Head

Links to other Websites
Cannock Chase
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Cannock Chase
Mining Historical Society

1950 Advertisement for Mitchell's & Butler's

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Medieval Ducking Stool
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Trade Directories
1860 Post Office Directory
Cannock is a flourishing town, railway station, and parish, situate 8 miles north-west from Walsall, 10 west from Lichfield, 9 south-east from Stafford, and 10 southwest from. Wolverhampton, in the east hundred of Cuttlestone, union of Penkridge, diocese of Lichfield, archdeaconry of Stafford, and deanery of Rugeley. The South Staffordshire branch railway [from Walsall to Cannock] has a station here, and the London and North-Western branch [from Cannock to Rugeley] joins the South Stafford about a quarter of a mile from this village. The living is a perpetual curacy, value 153, with 20 acres of glebe and residence, in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield. The Rev. Francis Theophilus Blackburne, B.A., is the incumbent and surrogate for the diocese. The church of St. Luke is a stone structure, in a mixed style of architecture, with square embattled tower, 6 bells, and a clock. The church was repaired in 1840, and on the occasion a piece of carved wood was discovered, representing the head of King John, supposed to be the remains of an ancient screen. There are two dissenting chapels - one for the Independents and the other for the Wesleyans. The Plymouth Brethren
have a preaching-room. Here is a Grammar school for four boys, endowed by John Wood, of London, in the year 1680. The National school for boys and girls is supported by Lord and Lady Hatherton. Petty sessions are held fortnightly at the Crown Hotel. Different antiquaries have given different etymologies as to the name of this place - some tracing the derivation up to the Cangi, and others to Canute, the first Danish king who reigned in England. Thu last syllable of the name is conjectured to be derived from the Saxon oak, being the same as oak, and denoting a wood or country full of oaks; and it was undoubtedly a forest during the reign of the Mercian kings, and it was their favourite chase. The village stands on a gravelly soil, in consequence of which the water was, previous to the construction of the present conduits, frequently scarce in summer. The Waterworks were erected in 1736 by voluntary subscription, and, from the trust deeds now deposited in an iron fire-proof safe in the vestry of the church, it appears that " Dr. Byrche gave the spring of water arising in his meadow at Leacroft called Stringer's meadow, for the benefit of the inhabitants, and further granted free ingress from time to time and at all times into the said meadow for the laying and necessary repair of the pipes.. " The inhabitants are now well supplied with excellent water at all seasons of the year, and the present Board of Trustees contemplate carrying out some further extensive improvements. Cannock was formerly a place of great resort on account of the salubrity of Rumourhill springs, which was u fashionable watering-place in its day. Dugdale asserts that Henry the First resided here in summer, and there are records of a castle having- existed, though no vestige of it now remains. It was more probably what the antiquarians term a castellated mansion, built in that form to distinguish it as a royal residence. The place is thriving, and business is increasing rapidly, the weekly market is to be again resumed, and the spirited inhabitants are now exerting themselves with a view of restoring Cannock to its ancient repute. The prevailing taste for agricultural improvement has led to the formation of the Cannock Agricultural Association. It was established in 1844 "for the promotion of improved science in agriculture, for the excitement of enterprise and emulation among the occupiers of land, and for the encouragement of skill, industry, and good conduct among servants and labourers in husbandry." The Treasurer [Mr. C. R. Keeling, of Penkridge], the active Secretary [Mr. B. G. Burnett, of Cannock], and the spirited Committee of Management are now exerting themselves to bring this useful society to a state of perfection. The annual meeting takes place in October, at which some good stock, farm implements, etc., are exhibited. The worthy clergyman of the parish is now [1860] endeavouring [with the assistance of William Masfen, Esq., and others] to establish a literary institution for the benefit of the inhabitants. More than 600 has been subscribed by means of shares towards this laudable object, independent of voluntary contributions. With these funds it is in contemplation to erect a substantial and commodious hall to serve tor lectures, concerts and general purposes. In the centre of the village is the elegant bowling-green, supported by subscription. It occupies 1 rood and 11 perches of good dry land.
An association for the prosecution of felons was established in 1813. The principal inn is the Crown, an old established commercial house, replete with every comfort and accommodation. The fairs are held on the 8th of May, 24th of August, and 18th of October. The population in 1801 of Cannock and Cannock Wood, with Hednesford and Leacroft, was 2,095. The acreage is 9,990, of which 2,993 acres are common, about to be enclosed. A portion of Cannock Chase [part of which is in this parish] is about being converted into an arsenal. The Marquis of Anglesey is lord of the manor, and holds courts leet, yearly, in October. There are charities of 20 annual value. The land consists of a good light soil, adapted to corn, turnips, and pasture, and the neighbourhood abounds with rich mineral. At Churchbridge and Wedges Mills, in this parish, there are extensive works, where edge tools are manufactured, carried on by William Gilpin senior, and Co. These works are in a flourishing state, and give employment of some hundreds of workmen.
Private Residents
Blackburne Rev. Francis Theophilus,
B.A., J.P. [surrogate for the diocese of
Lichfield] Parsonage
Blackford John Cromwell, Esq..
Crockett Miss
Gilpin Lieut. Bernard, J.P. Wedges Mills
Gilpin Frederick, Esq.
Griffith Rev. Daniel [Independent]
Harvey Miss Sarah
Hatfield Mrs
Holmes Thomas, Esq.
Hordern Miss Ann
Johnson Mr. Thomas, Huntington
Lee George, Esq.
Lister Henry, Esq. Hednesfield Lodge
Masfen William, Esq. Rose Cottage
Parkes Mrs. Ann
Robinson Mr. John R
Stubbs the Misses
Wheatcroft John, Esq.
Adams John, farmer, Leacroft
Allen David, farmer, Leacroft
Anderson Matthew, bricklayer
Ault Samuel, linen draper
Bailey John, shopkeeper & baker
Bailey John, shopkeeper, Cannock Wood
Bailey Samuel, farmer, Cannock Wood
Bancroft & Co. soap manufacturers
Baldwin William, baker
Benton Henry, boys' school
Benton James, farmer, Hednesford Lane
Benton James, butcher
Benton John, boot maker
Benton John, blacksmith
Biddle Edward, painter, plumber, etc.
Birch Thomas, parish clerk
Bird William, farmer, Leacroft
Blackford John Cromwell, surgeon
Bould John, beer retailer & carpenter
Brassington Elizabeth, ladies' school
Brindley Charles, farmer, Cannock Wood
Brindley John, farmer, Cannock Wood
Brindley Thomas, farmer, Cannock Wood
Burnett Benjamin G. farmer
Buck William, relieving officer & registrar
Butcher Louisa, straw bonnet maker
Buxton Emma (Mrs.), shopkeeper
Chamberlain Joseph, beer retailer
Chapman Samuel, farmer, Leacroft
Cooper Saml. Davies, chemist & druggist
Cope Joseph, farmer, Huntington
Cope William, grocer, tea dealer, linen
draper, undertaker, insurance agent,
and agent for the Staffordshire Advertiser
Cotton Amos, farmer
Cotton William, miller, Cannock Mill
Craddock Amos, beer retailer
Curtis Alfred, farmer, Leacroft
Darby David, nailer, Huntington
Drury William, butcher
Eaton James, farmer, Leacroft
Edwardes Ann [Mrs.], shopkeeper
Emery Thomas, brickmaker, Leacroft
Fellows Edward, farmer
Ganderton Edwin, baker
Gilpin William, & Co. bar iron, steel
and edge tool manufacturers,
Church Bridge & Wedges Mills
Gilpin Frederick, coal master
Goodwin David, farmer, Huntington
Greensill William, farmer
Gripton Thomas, miller, Walk Mill
Gripton Thomas, jun. Vine
Grocutt John, boot maker
Haddock William, blacksmith
Hall Edward, linen draper
Hall Elizabeth [Mrs.], shopkeeper
Harris John, beer retailer
Henney & Gilbert, brick & tile makers
Hill George, King's Arms, & farmer,
Hobday Thomas, brewer
Holdford James, farmer
Holmes Thomas, surgeon
Hulme William, farmer, Leacroft
Johnson Thomas, carpenter
Jones Edward, shoemaker, Cheslyn bay
Lindop George, farmer, Rumour Hill
Lindop Richard, Roebuck
Marshall William, chemist & druggist
Moor William, tailor
Moor William, jun. tailor
Moore Francis, farmer
Moss John, farmer, White's Hill
Palmer William, grocer & ironmonger
Parkes Chamberlain Wright, grocer etc.
Pickerill John, farmer
Pickering Joseph, dairyman
Pilsbury David, carpenter
Plnt Walter, grocer etc.
Poyner Henry, farmer, Wyrley Bank
Poyner Joseph, farmer
Porter Amos, shopkeeper
Price & Birch, plumbers, painters etc.
Price Edward, shopkeeper & butcher
Price John, farmer
Rhodes William, farmer, Leacroft
Richards Jsph. Park Gate, Cannock Wood
Bellman Joseph, shopkeeper & carrier
Sellman William, farmer
Smith Martha Louisa, ladies' school
Smith Samuel, beer retailer & boot maker
Stokes Thomas, farmer, Leacroft
Stubbs George John, farmer
Sylvester Samuel, farmer, Leacroft
Taylor Edmund Dickinson, brick maker
Tolefree Hannah & Son, farmers
and maltsters, Huntington
Tomlinson John, builder, brick, tile &
pipe manufacturer, & farmer
Tomlinson Joseph, farm bailiff
Trubshaw Abraham, Robin Hood Inn &
butcher & farmer
Trubshaw John, tailor
Trubshaw Maria [Mrs.], shopkeeper
Turner George, blacksmith
Turnock Thomas, wheelwright
Vickers James, Swan, shop & carrier
Wallbank Charles, beer retailer
Walker Sarah [Mrs.], upholsterer
Watwood James, boot & shoe maker
Watwood James, beer retailer & boot maker
Webb Thos. beer retailer, Church Bridge
Weston Thomas, painter, plumber etc.
Wheatcroft John, surgeon
Wilkinson Richard, farmer
Withnall Edward, Royal Oak
Withnall Joseph, saddle/harness maker
Wood Charles, Bird-in-Hand
Woolley John, farmer, Cannock Wood
Woolrych Thomas, Crown Hotel & farmer
Yates Samuel, farmer, Huntington

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