History of Severn Valley, Shropshire

"The district which is now Shropshire was annexed to the kingdom of Mercia by Offa, who in 765 constructed Watt's Dike to defend his territory against the Welsh, and in 779, having pushed across the Severn, drove the king of Powys from Shrewsbury, then known as Pengwerne, and secured his conquests by a second defensive earthwork known as Offa's Dike, which, entering Shropshire at Knighton, traverses moor and mountain by Llanymynech and Oswestry, in many places forming the boundary line of the county, and finally leaves it at Bron y Garth and enters Denbighshire.

 In the 9th and 10th centuries the district was frequently overrun by the Danes, who in 874 destroyed the famous priory of Wenlock, said to have been founded by St Milburg, granddaughter of Penda of Mercia, and in 896 wintered at Quatford. In 912 lEthelflead, the lady of  Mercia , erected a fortress at Bridgnorth against the Danish invaders, and in the next year at Chirbury.  Mercia was mapped out into shires in the 10th century after its recovery from the Danes by Edward the Elder, and  Shropshire stands out as the sole Mercian shire which did not derive its name from its chief town. The first mention of it in the Saxon Chronicle occurs under 1006, when the king crossed the Thames and wintered there. In 1016 Edmund IEtheling plundered  Shrewsbury and the neighbourhood. 

After the Conquest the principal estates in Shropshire were all bestowed on Norman proprietors, pre-eminent among whom is Roger de Montgomery, the 1st earl of  Shrewsbury , whose son Robert de Belesme forfeited his possessions for rebelling against Henry I., when the latter bestowed the earldom on his queen for life. At this period a very large portion of  Shropshire was covered by its vast forests, the largest of which,  Worf Forest , at its origin extended at least 8 m. in length and 6 m. in width, and became a favourite hunting-ground of the English kings. 

The forest of Wrekin, or Mount Gilbert as it was then called, covered the whole of that hill and extended eastward as far as Sheriff Hales. Other forests were Stiperstones, the jurisdiction of which was from time immemorial annexed to the barony of Caus, Wyre, Shirlot, Clee,  Long Forest and Brewood. The constant necessity of defending their territories against the Welsh prompted the Norman lords of  Shropshire to such activity in castle-building that out of 186 castles in  England no less than 32 are in this county. Of these the most famous are Ludlow, founded by Roger de Montgomery; Bishop's Castle, which belonged to the bishops of Hereford; Clun Castle, built by the Fitz-Alans; Cleobury Castle, built by Hugh de Mortimer; Caus Castle, once the barony of Peter Corbett, from whom came to the Barons Strafford; Rowton Castle, also a seat of the Corbetts; Red Castle, a seat of the Audleys. Other castles were Bridgnorth, Corfham, Holgate, Pulverbatch, Quatford,  Shrewsbury and Wem. "


"The recorded history of the family of Stewart began after the "Norman Conquest" the Castle of Oswestry, Stropshire was granted to Alan FitzFlead (b1070).  Alan's son  Walter Fitzalan,(b1160)( native of Salop) became the High Steward of Scotland 1st.

Walter (b1160) married Eschina Londoniis:  Their son was Alan FitzWalter (d 1204) also High Steward's of Scotland 2nd..

Alan Fitzwalter married  Alesta MAR.  Their first son was Walter FitzWalter  High Steward of Scotland 3rd;  their second son was David Stewart

From this point on the High Steward's of Scotland assumed the Stewart name; and the merging of the Graham, Bruce and Stewart families began:.

Walter FitzWalter married Jean Macrory.  Their Son Alexander Stewart became the High Steward of Scotland 4th. Their descendents (grandson): Sir John Stewart was the son of the High Steward of Scotland 6th:  parents of Walter Stewart (b1293).  Walter's wife;  Isabel Graham; parents of Sir John Stewart of Rallston.

Ancestor of the "Duke of Montrose"; Lord William K. Graham  married  into the Stewart family in the eleventh century.William married the daughter of Sir John Stewart of Rallston, 7th High Steward of Scotland.  (Egidia Stewart) "


"Among the Norman religious foundations were the Cluniac Priory at Wenlock, re-established on the Saxon foundation by Roger Montgomery in 1080; the Augustinian abbey of Haughmond founded by William Fitz-Alan; the Cistercian abbey of Buildwas, now a magnificent ruin, founded in 1135 by Roger, bishop of Chester; Shrewsbury Abbey, founded in 1083 by Roger de Montgomery; the Augustinian abbey of Lilleshall, founded in the reign of Stephen; the Augustinian priory of Wombridge, founded before the reign of Henry I.; the Benedictine priory of Alberbury founded by Fulk Fitz-Warin in the 13th century; and Chirbury Priory founded in the r3th century." 

"The fifteen  Shropshire hundreds mentioned in the Domesday Survey were entirely rearranged in the reign of Henry I., and only Overs and Condover retained their original names. The Domesday hundred of Ruesset was replaced by Ford, and the hundred court transferred from Alberbury to Ford. Hodnet was the meeting-place of the Domesday hundred of Odenet, which was combined with Recordin, the largest of the Domesday hundreds, to form the modern hundred of Bradford, the latter also including part of the Domesday hundred of Pinholle in Staffordshire. The hundred of Baschurch had its meeting-place at Baschurch in the time of Edward the Confessor; in the reign of Henry I. it was represented mainly by the hundred of Pimhill, the meeting-place of which was at Pimhill. Oswestry represents the Domesday hundred of Mercete, the hundred court of which was transferred from Maesbury to Oswestry. Munslow hundred was formed in the reign of Henry I., but in the reign of Richard I. a large portion was taken out of it to form a new liberty for the priory of Wenlock, the limits of which correspond very nearly with the modern franchise of Wenlock. The Domesday hundred of Alnodestreu, abolished in the reign of Henry I., had its meeting-place at Membrefeld (Morville). The hundreds at the present day number fourteen." 

"Shropshire was administered by a sheriff, at least from the time of the Conquest, the first Norman sheriff being Warin the Bald, whose successor was Rainald, and in 1156 the office was held by William Fitz-Alan, whose account of the fee-farm of the county is entered in the pipe roll for that year. The shire court was held at  Shrewsbury . A considerable portion of  Shropshire was included in the Welsh marches, the court for the administration of which was held at  Ludlow ". 

"In 1397 the  castle of  Oswestry with the hundred and eleven towns pertaining thereto, the  castle of  Isabel with the lordship pertaining thereto, and the  castle of  Dalaley , were annexed to the principality of  Chester . By the statute of 1535 for the abolition of the marches, the lordships of Oswestry, Whittington, Masbroke and Knockin were formed into the hundred of Oswestry; the lordship of Ellesmere was joined to the hundred of Pimhill; and the lordship of Down to the hundred of Chirbury. The boundaries of  Shropshire have otherwise varied but slightly since the Domesday Survey. Richard's Castle, Ludford, and  Ludlow , however, were then included in the Herefordshire hundred of Cutestornes, while several manors now in Herefordshire were assessed under"Shropshire."

"The  Shropshire manors of Kings Nordley, Aveley, Claverley and Worfield were assessed in the Domesday hundred of Saisdon in Staffordshire; and Quatt, Romsley, Rudge and Shipley in the Warwickshire hundred of Stanlei. By statute 34 and 35 Henry VIII. the town and hundred of Aberton, till then part of Merionethshire, were annexed to this county. "

 "Shropshire in the 13th century was situated almost entirely in the dioceses of  Hereford and of Coventry and  Lichfield ; and formed an archdeaconry called the archdeaconry of Salop. That portion of the archdeaconry in the  Hereford diocese included the deaneries of Burford, Stottesdon,  Ludlow , Pontesbury, Clun and Wenlock; and that portion in the  Coventry and  Lichfield diocese the deaneries of Salop and  Newport "

"In 1535 the  Hereford portion included the additional deanery of Bridgnorth; it now forms the archdeaconry of  Ludlow, with the additional deaneries of  Montgomery,  Bishops Castle and Church Stretton. The archdeaconry of Salop, now entirely in the  Hereford diocese, includes the deaneries of Condover, Edgmond, Ellesmere, Hodnet, Shifnal,  Shrewsbury, Wem, Whitchurch and Wrockwardin. Part of Welsh  Shropshire is included in the diocese of St Asaph, comprising the deanery of Oswestry in the archdeaconry of  Montgomery , and two parishes in the deanery of Llangollen and the archdeaconry of Mexham."

"The early political history of  Shropshire is largely concerned with the constant incursions and depredations of the Welsh from across the border. The Saxon Chronicle relates that in 1053 the Welshmen slew a great many of the English wardens at Westbury, and in that year Harold ordered that any Welshman found beyond Offa's Dike within the English pale should have his right hand cut off. Various statutory measures to keep the Welsh in check were enforced in the 14th and 15th centuries."

" In 1379 Welshmen were forbidden to purchase land in the county save on certain conditions, and this enactment was reinforced in 1400. In 1379 the men of Shropshire forwarded to parliament a complaint of the felonies committed by the men of Cheshire and of the Welsh marches, and declared the gaol of Shrewsbury Castle to be in such a ruinous condition that they had no place of imprisonment for the offenders when captured. "

"In 1442 and again as late as 1535 acts were passed for the protection of  Shropshire against the Welsh. But apart from the border warfare in which they were constantly engaged, the great  Shropshire lords were actively concerned in the more national struggles.  Shrewsbury Castle was garrisoned for the empress Maud by William Fitz-Alan in 1138, but was captured by Stephen in the same year. "

"Holgate Castle was taken by King John from Thomas Mauduit, one of the rebellious barons.  Ludlow and  Shrewsbury were both held for a time by Simon de Montfort. At Acton Burnell in 1283 was held the parliament which passed the famous Acton Burnell statute, and a parliament was summoned to meet at  Shrewsbury in 1398." 

"During the Percy rebellion  Shrewsbury was in 1403 the scene of the battle of King's Croft, in which Hotspur was slain. On the outbreak of the Civil War of the 77th century the  Shropshire gentry for the most part declared for the king, who visited  Shrewsbury in 1642 and received valuable contributions in plate and money from the inhabitants. A mint and printing-press were set up at  Shrewsbury , which became a refuge for the neighbouring royalist gentry. Wem, the first place to declare for the parliament, was garrisoned in 1645 by Richard Baxter.  Shrewsbury was forced to surrender in 1644, and the royalist strongholds of  Ludlow and Bridgnorth were captured in 1646, the latter after a four weeks' siege, during which the governor burnt part of the town for defence against the parliamentary troops." 

"Shropshire is noted for the number and lustre of the great families connected with it. Earl Godwin, Sweyn, Harold, Queen Edith, Edward the Confessor and Edwin and Morcar are all mentioned in the Domesday Survey as having held lands in the county before the Conquest." 

"The principal landholders at the time of the survey were the bishop of Chester, the bishop of Hereford, the church of St Remigius, Earl Roger, Osbern Fitz-Richard, Ralph de Mortimer, Roger de Laci, Hugh Lasne and Nicholas Medicus. Earl Roger had the whole profits of Condover hundred and also owned Alnodestreu hundred. The family of Fitz-Alan, ancestors of the royal family of Stuart, had supreme jurisdiction in Oswestry hundred, which was exempt from English law."

"Richard Fitz-Scrob, father of Osbern Fitz-Richard and founder of Richard's Castle, was lord of the hundred of Overs at the time of the Conquest. Gatacre was the seat of the Gatacres. The barony of Pulverbatch passed from the Pulverbatches, and was purchased in 1193 by John de Kilpeck for £ioo. The family of Cornwall were barons of Burford and of Harley for many centuries."

 "The family of Lestrange owned large estates in Shropshire after the Conquest, and Fulk Lestrange claimed the right of holding pleas of the crown in Wrockworthyn in 1292. Among others claiming rights of jurisdiction in their Shropshire states in the same year were Edmund de Mortimer, the abbot of Cumbermere, the prior of Lanthony, the prior of Great Malvern, the bishop of Lichfield, Peter Corbett, Nicholas of Audley, the abbot of Lilleshall, John of Mortayn, Richard Fitz-Alan, the bishop of Hereford and the prior of Wenlock." 

"The earliest industries of Shropshire took their rise from its abundant natural resources; the rivers supplying valuable fisheries; the vast forest areas abundance of timber; while the mineral products of the county had been exploited from remote times. The lead mines of Shelve and Stiperstones were worked by the Romans, and in 1220 Robert Corbett conferred on Shrewsbury Abbey a tithe of his lead from the mine at Shelve. In 1260 licence was granted to dig coal in the Clee Hills, and in 1291 the abbot of Wigmore received the profits of a coal-mine at Caynham. Iron was dug in the Clee Hills and at Wombridge in the 16th century."

 "Wenlock had a famous copper-mine in the reign of Richard II., and in the 16th century was noted for its limestone. The Domesday Survey mentions salt-works at Ditton Priors, Caynham and Donnington. As the forest areas were gradually cleared and brought under cultivation, the county became more exclusively agricultural." 

"In 1343 Shropshire wool was rated at a higher value than that of almost any other English county, and in the 13th and 14th centuries Buildwas monastery exported wool to the Italian markets. Shropshire has never been distinguished for any characteristic manufactures, but a prosperous clothing trade arose about Shrewsbury and Bridgnorth, and Oswestry was tamous in the 16th century for its fine Welsh cottons".


The Severne Valley, Shropshire mentions all the Bostock Family's early lineage.

My Grandmother: Sally Frances Graham  connects me to the Stewart  Fitz-Alan Lineage; read more about the Graham family on my Graham Family link off my main webpage.

Excerted from The "Classic Encyclopedia". and posted by Wanda B. Dunlap  2010