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SMITH, William (1742-1815) – a minor Badsey landowner at the time of Enclosure

William Smith, a widower in his seventies, owned land in Badsey at the beginning of the 19th century and was mentioned in the Badsey Enclosure Award schedules of 1815.

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William Smith’s Family Background

William Smith was born at Wickhamford in 1742, the youngest of four children of Joseph and Esther Smith.  His three elder brothers had all been born at Badsey, but the family had recently moved to Wickhamford prior to his birth.  William was baptized in the Church of St John the Baptist, Wickhamford, on 12th September 1742.  His Smith forebears had lived in Badsey since the 16th century.

When William was aged 20, his parents died within a few days of each other and were buried at Wickhamford. 

On 26th December 1770, William married Sarah Cotterell at Badsey.  They had four children:  Thomas (1771-1847), William (1774), Sarah (1777) and Elizabeth (1780).  It is possible that, on marriage, William may have had a new house built for his growing family.  A list of proprietors attached to the Badsey Enclosure Award Schedules of 1815 state him as being the owner of a house and homestead.  This was the house now known as Meadway House, 11 High Street.  The National Heritage List describes 11 High Street as being late 18th century, so it is certainly possible that William Smith may have had the house built soon after his marriage.

William Smith died at Badsey in November 1815 and was buried in the churchyard on 19th November.  

Land Ownership

For several generations, members of the Smith family had owned the mill at Badsey, but William was a farmer rather than a miller.  A document at Birmingham City Archives (MS 3192/Acc1930-009/362807) dated 11th September 1786, contains a draft of articles of agreement between William Smith and several others, owners or occupiers of lands or premises in Badsey, concerning the management of commonable lands in Badsey.  Another document at Birmingham (MS 3192/Acc1930-009/361771) dated 13th July 1793, is an indenture concerning the sale of land to Edward Savage; William Smith was listed as tenant:

  • Three several closes or inclosed grounds of meadow and pasture land called or known by the several names of Hither Neither Close, Farther Neither Close and Condercup Meadow containing 5.3.31, 4.0.8 and 3.0.22 situate in Badsey and now in the occupation of William Smith as tenant
  • And also all those several pieces or parcels selions or rudges or arable meadows and pasture land lying in the open and common fields liberties territories precincts and parish of Badsey also occupied by the said William Smith as tenant thereof …

When the Badsey Enclosure Act was passed in 1812 and a map of the village drawn, William Smith was the owner of the house on the High Street that was his family home and was a tenant farmer of land in Badsey.  When the Enclosure Commissioners made their awards in 1815, William Smith was also allotted common land amounting to 3a 2r 3p:

Unto William Smith and his Heirs in lieu of the Commonable part of his estate and right of Common thereunto belonging, All that Allotment or piece of Land situate in Meerden Field containing three acres two roods and three perches, bounded on the East by the second Allotment herein awarded to the said James Harris, on the South and West by the fourth Allotment herein awarded to the Curate of Badsey, and on the North by the Willersey Road.  And the said Commissioners order and direct that the Mounds and Fences on the East, South and North sides of the said herein awarded Allotment shall be made and at all times for ever hereafter kept in repair by and at the expense of the said William Smith and the owners and occupiers of the said Allotment for the time being.

This land was to the south of Willersey Road, just as it swings eastwards towards Pear Tree Corner.  By 1815, William Smith’s total acreage in Badsey came to just under five acres.

William Smith Enclosure
Section of the Badsey Enclosure Map showing the location of William Smith's house and homestead in central Badsey.
William Smith Enclosure
Section of the Badsey Enclosure Map showing the location of William Smith's allotment in the south of the parish.

William Smith died a few months after the Enclosure Awards.  He does not appear to have left a will, but it is assumed that his eldest son, Thomas Smith (1771-1847), inherited.  Thomas was married to Catherine and had three children, all born at Badsey:  Sarah (1795), William (1797-1866) and Elizabeth (1799).  The house was probably sold soon after William Smith’s death.  Certainly by 1827 it was owned by the Misses Benton and Thomas Smith and family had moved to Bretforton.  It is probable that the land was sold at the same time.

Maureen Spinks, June 2021

Sources of information

  • Badsey and Wickhamford parish registers
  • Badsey Enclosure Award
  • Documents at Birmingham City Archives
  • Parish registers