Burslem - Stoke-on-Trent

Burslem - whose ancient name means 'Burgweard's Elms' was incorporated in June 1878.
Although not the first of the six towns to be incorporated. Burslem was the largest town in the Potteries for many of the early years and the first to develop with the onset of the industrial Revolution. So it become known as 'The Mother Town of the Potteries'.

Arnold Bennett referred to Burslem as Bursley in his novels centred on the Potteries towns.



Also see: 'the Six Towns' -  Burslem
The resources and transcripts on this page are from GenUKI - the leading Internet genealogical resource in the UK

See: GenUKI on Staffordshire
see: GenUK on Staffordshire Towns and Parishes



History of Burslem


The population of Burslem parish was as follows:
1801 --  6,578
1831 -- 12,714
1841 -- 16,091

1811 census 
[Staffordshire Sentinel Newspaper 27 Feb 1927]

Burslem parish became part of Wolstanton & Burslem Union following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.
The Union was amalgamated with Stoke-upon-Trent Union in 1922

W. Davenport & Co
In the suburbs and the town are many extensive china and eathenware manufactories. Messrs W Davenport & Co have glass works and three large potteries at Longport, and employ about 1200 hands. They were appointed porcelain manufacturers to William IV and Queen Adelaide, and are the largest earthenware and china manufacturers and exporters in the kingdom.

M. Brougham / H. Timmis
The elegant Parian Brooches, Bracelets, etc, manufactured by Mrs M Brougham of Burslem, have deservedly received the patronage of Her Majesty, the Duchess of Sutherland, Jenny Lind, and many other distinguished ladies, as also have the rich fuchia bloom Parian Ear-Drops, manufactured by Mr H Timmis.

T & R Boote
Messrs T & R Boote, of Waterloo Pottery, have highly distinguished themselves as manufacturers of Parian Statuary, White Granite Porcelain, and Royal Mosaic Ware, of which latter they are the patentees.
Burslem is undoubtedly the most ancient seat of the earthenware manufacture in Staffordshire and is remarkable as the place where the first clod of that great national undertaking, the Trent & Mersey Canal, was cut by that eminent potter, the late Josiah Wedgwood, Esq.
Nearly the whole of the land on which the town stands, as well as that which surrounds it, has at various periods been deeply excavated for those valuable minerals, coal, clay and ironstone, to the abundance and variety of which, the Staffordshire Potteries owe nearly all their present importance."

[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851)

FROM PIGOT'S TYPOLOGY OF ENGLAND IN 1841 - Staffordshire and the Potteries

BURSLEM is a market town and parish, three miles north east from Newcastle and two from Hanley. This place appears, from the most authentic records, to have been distinguished, at an early period, for the excellence and variety of clay with which its vicinity abounds; and to have been noted for its manufactory of pottery and earthenware - for which, in the 17th century, it became the principal station in this kingdom.

It was here that the first clod of that great undertaking, the Trent and Mersey canal, was cut by the spirited Josiah Wedgwood, Esq.; and when the fifteenth anniversary was celebrated by a public dinner, various ancient specimens of earthenware were exhibited, descriptive of the progressive state of the manufacture.

The town is pleasantly situate on a rising ground, and contains many admirably arranged manufactories, numerous dwellings for the workmen employed therein, many good houses for the superintendents of the works, and some handsome edifices for the proprietors: it is lighted with gas, under the provisions of an act of parliament, which also dictates its police and municipal government - the later being vested in a chief constable, chosen annually by the police commissioners.

The market house, or town hall, is a neat modern structure of brick, situated nearly in the centre of the town: one part of this building is appropriated to the uses of a police office; and a large and elegant news room, well supplied with the London daily and provincial papers, occupies another portion of the edifice. Adjacent to the town hall, and of more recent erection, is a handsome covered market, ornamented with a neat portico.

Burslem was formerly a chaperly in the parish of Stoke, but was constituted a separate parish by act of parliament in 1807. The old church is a brick erection, with a stone tower of greater antiquity than the body; the living is a rectory. Another church has been erected, partly at the expense of the church commissioners.

There are places of worship in the parish for Baptists, independents, the primitive, Wesleyan, and new connexion of methodists, and the Roman Catholics - all of which have Sunday schools attached. There are, besides, a national school, and a free grammar school for a limited number of boys. The markets are held on Monday and Saturday.


Within the township, and about half a mile from the market-place of Burslem, is the pleasant hamlet of BROWNHILLS, situate on the road leading to Manchester through the Potteries. It is chiefly to be noticed for the various strata of clay, of excellent quality, obtained here in great abundance, and principally employed in the manufacture of tiles, for which there are some extensive works. There are several good houses in the village, but no building, public or otherwise, meriting particular notice. The population is returned with Burslem.


LONGPORT is a manufacturing district within the parish of Burslem - the buildings being, for the most part, situate in a valley, on the banks of the Trent and Mersey canal, where are several wharfs. It was formerly called Trubshaw Cross, and also Longbridge; deriving its latter appellation from a number of stepping-stones, forming a causeway across the meadows, which were afterwards superseded by a bridge: but after the construction of the canal, the great improvement of the place in buildings, the establishment of manufactures, and the consequent increase of population, its name was changed to Longport. A Wesleyan Methodist chapel, and a Sunday school, were opened a few years since.

Data from Pigots supplied by: Dr David Alan Gatley (Staffs University)

From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851
"Burslem is a populous and well built market town, which claims the honour of being 'the mother of the Staffordshire Potteries', and holds a healthy and elevated situation in the northern division of that extensive and celebrated seat of the china and earthenware manufactures, being seated between Hanley and Tunstall, about a mile E of Longport Railway Station, three miles N of Stoke, and Newcastle-under-Lyme.

The parish of Burslem now has upwards of 18,000 inhabitants, in Burslem, Rushton Grange, Sneyd, and Abbey Hulton lordship. These four adjoining liberties comprise about 2930 acres, and include the villages and suburbs of Brown-Hills, Dalehall, Hamill, Longport, and the greater part of Cobridge, all lying within a mile of the town.

Burslem and Sneyd are in the manor of Tunstall-Court, of which Ralph Sneyd, Esq, is lord of the manor, and he is also lord of Hulton Abbey manor, but a large portion of the parish belongs to other landowners, the largest of whom are the Earl of Macclesfield, Lady Chetwynd, Lord Camoys, Miss Sparrow, the representatives of the late John Wood, Esq, William Davenport, Esq, and HH Williamson, Esq.

The villages in the parish may be considered as populous suburbs of the town, and are situated as follows: Brown-Hills, half a mile N, Hamill, on the north side of the town, Hulton Abbey, two miles E, near the Caldon Canal, Sneyd and Hot Lane, forming the south-eastern suburbs, Cobridge, including Rushton Grange, and the populous southern part of Burslem, near the top of Waterloo Road, and also a small part of Shelton, and Dalehall and Longport, extending one mile westward to the Trent & Mersey Canal, and Burslem Station on the North Staffordshire Railway.

Longport was anciently called Long-bridge, from a kind of bridge or stepping stones laid across the swampy meadows, but after the completion of the canal it obtained the name Longport.
The town of Burslem has nearly tripled in extent and population during the last fifty years, and until the year of 1807 it was a chapelry of the parish of Stoke-upon-Trent, but it was then made a separate parish and rectory."


Church of England History

Burslem St. John

"The old parish church, dedicated to St John the Baptist, was rebuilt of brick early in the 18th century, except the ancient stone tower, which still remains, and contains six bells, purchased about twenty years ago.
The benefit is a rectory, in the patronage and incumbency of the Rev C Hebert, MA, who has a handsome rectory house at Middleport, and is also rural dean."

[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851]

Cemetery: A transcript of the Memorial Inscriptions of St John the Baptist, Burslem, has been published by the Birmingham & Midland SGH

Church History: The church is a brick building consisting of a chancel, nave, aisles and a massive embattled western tower of the 12th or 13th century. The whole structure, except the tower, was rebuilt in 1717, when the previous church of timber and plaster was destroyed by fire.
In 1778 the church was re-roofed and lengthened, and the whole church was restored in 1878-80.

Burslem anciently formed a chapelry in Stoke-upon-Trent parish. It was created a parish in 1808 by an Act of Parliament passed in 1807, entitled "An Act for separating the Chapelries and Chapels of Newcastle-under-Lyme, Burslem, Whitmore, Bucknall-cum-Bagnall, and Norton-in-the-Moors, from the Rectory and Parish Church of Stoke-upon-Trent, and for making them Five Distinct Rectories."

Nonconformist Church History

"The dissenting Chapels in the town and parish are eleven in number; four belonging to the Wesleyans, in Chapel Square, Longport, Hot Lane, and Sneyd Green; two to the New Connexion Methodists, in Waterloo Road and Cobridge; two to the Association Methodists, in Liverpool Road and Longport; one to the Primitive Methodists, in Nile Street; the Baptist Chapel, in High Street, of which the Rev William Barker is minister; and the Independent Chapel, in Queen Street, built in 1837, in lieu of the old one in Prince's Row,and now under the ministry of the Rev SB Schofield.
The Catholic Chapel at Cobridge was erected in 1780, and enlarged in 1816. The Rev J Abbot is the priest"

[From History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire, William White, Sheffield, 1851)

Church of England Records

The surviving register of St John the Baptist, Burslem, commences in 1637. The original registers for the period 1637-1693 & 1702-1927 (Bapts), 1637-1693 & 1702-1946 (Mar) & 1637-1693 & 1702-1880 (Bur) are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office.
Bishops Transcripts, 1660-1865 (with gaps 1673-75, 1708-10, 1714-17, 1837-55 (Mar)) are deposited at Litchfield Joint Record Office.
A transcript of the St John registers for the period 1578-1812 was published by the Staffordshire Parish Register Society in 1913 and has been reprinted by the Birmingham & Midland SGH.
Note that this includes extracts from the earliest original registers which were destroyed in the fire of 1717, made in the early 18th century by the antiquarian, William Kelsall.

Nonconformist Church Records

The original registers are deposited at Staffordshire Record Office (SRO) or the Public Record Office (PRO) as indicated below:
Clowes Memorial Chapel, Church Street, Burslem, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1927-1937, Marriages 1920-1956 (SRO)
Zion Chapel, Dale Hall, Burslem, Methodist, Baptisms 1925-1955, Marriages 1951-1955 (SRO)
Hamil Road, Burslem, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1915-1968 (SRO)
Hill Top, Burslem, United Methodist, Marriages 1931-1976 (SRO)
Bethel Chapel, Waterloo Road, Burslem, United Methodist, Marriages 1914-1955 (SRO)
Zoar Chapel (later Bethel Chapel), Burslem, Primitive Methodist, Baptisms 1811-1955 (SRO)
Burslem, Baptist Chapel, Births 1791-1837 (PRO)
Queen Street, (formerly Nile Street), Burslem, Independent, Births & Baptisms 1823-1837 (PRO)
Navigation Street, Burslem, Primitive Methodist, Births & Baptisms 1823-1837 (PRO)
Elder Road, Cobridge, Providence Chapel, United Methodist, Baptisms 1840-1955, Marriages 1945-1956 (SRO)
Cobridge, Methodist New Connexion, Births & Baptisms 1867-1879 (SRO)

The original registers of Cobridge, St Peter, Roman Catholic church for the period 1797-1915 (Bapts), 1838-1929 (Mar) & 1837-1877 (Deaths) are deposited at Birmingham Diocesan Archives.


'A History of Burslem'
by MW Greenslade.
Published 1983, by Staffordshire County Libraries, Stafford.

'Inns and Inn Signs in and near Burslem, in Stoke-on-Trent'
by William Edward Tate.
Published 1944, by Warwick Savage, Burslem.

'The Wood Family of Burslem. A Brief Biography of those of its members who were Sculptors, Modellers, & Potters.'
by Frank Falkner.
Published 1912, by Chapman & Hall, London.
Reprinted 1972 by EP Publishing, Wakefield.

'A Pride of Potters (On the Adams Family of Burslem and their Work)'
by David Peel.
Published 1957, by Arthur Baker, London.

[The history of the City of Stoke-on-Trent]

[Tunstall] [Burslem] [Hanley] [Fenton] [Longton] [Stoke]

Questions and comments to: Steve Birks: steveb@netcentral.co.uk