Pirehill Hundred

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
 • Origin Anglo-Saxon period
 • Created 10th century
 • Abolished 1894
 • Succeeded by various
Status Obsolete
Government Hundred
 • Type Parishes (see text)
 • Units Parishes

Pirehill is a hundred in the county of Staffordshire, England.

The hundred is located in the north-west and centre of Staffordshire, named after Pire Hill (height 462 ft), a hill two miles south of Stone.[1] The hill was a meeting place for the hundred moot and a rallying point in case of invasion. A large number of hundred names refer to hills or mounds. Some of these at least are very conspicuous hills, which afford a commanding view of the countryside for miles around. It seems likely that such sites were chosen as being remote, and where interference was most easily avoided.[2]

View from Pire Hill towards North Pirehill Farm

Northern Staffordshire is to a large extent moorland, which must have been unattractive to early settlers. It is noteworthy that the meeting-places of the two northern hundreds (Pirehill and Totmonslow) are in the extreme south of the respective hundreds.[3]

The origin of the hundred dates from the division of his kingdom by King Alfred the Great into counties, hundreds and tithings. From the beginning, Staffordshire was divided into the hundreds of Pirehill, Totmonslow, Offlow, Cuttleston and Seisdon.[4]

Pirehill is one of the largest of the five hundreds of Staffordshire, having an area of 201,493 acres (314 sq.miles), and in the 19th Century the most populous hundred in Staffordshire, with a population in 1861 of 149,734.[5]

It is remarkable for the fertility of its soil, for the beauty and diversity of its scenery and the number and magnificence of its stately homes (the seats of the nobility and gentry), as also for the extent and importance of its manufactures. It contains the long chain of towns and villages called the Potteries, a renowned place of china and pottery manufacturing in the 19th century and later. It also contains Stafford and Stone, which were renowned for shoe manufactutring. It is about 28 miles in length, north to south, and around 8 to 20 miles in breadth. It is bounded on the north-east by Totmonslow (Totmanslow) hundred, on the east by Offlow hundred, on the south by Cuttleston Hundred and on the west and north-west by Shropshire and Cheshire.[6]

Hundreds of Staffordshire
Hundreds of Staffordshire

The River Trent rises at its northern extremity and flows through it in a south-easterly direction, passing the noble seats of Trentham, Ingestre, Shugborough and Wolseley; and nearly parallel with that river runs the Trent and Mersey Canal. 1t contains the boroughs of Stafford, the county town, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent, which latter includes the Potteries. Besides these, Pirehill has six other market towns: Burslem, Hanley, Lane-End, Stone, Eccleshall and Abbots Bromley.

In the early 19th century it comprised 42 parishes, 14 chapelries and 5 extra-parochial places, which were subdivided into 126 townships and containing several hundred villages and hamlets. It was separated into the north and south divisions, under the control of two chief constables.

The number of the inhabitants nearly doubled during 1801-1831, as a vast augmentation occurred in the Potteries and at Newcastle, Stone and Stafford.

The north and south divisions were of very unequal extent and population. The large parishes of Adbaston, Eccleshall and Seighford, had townships in both divisions, an inconvenience which divided many of their parochial affairs between the two chief constables.

The importance of the hundreds declined from the 17th century, and most of their functions were extinguished with the establishment of county courts in 1867. Abandoned although never abolished by statute, in 1894 the hundred was made obsolete with the establishment of urban districts and rural districts in Staffordshire.[7]

The population of the hundred, its two divisions and its various parochial units is shown below:[8]

Pirehill North Division[edit]

Parish Pop. 1831 Comments
Adbaston 601
Ashley 825
Audley 3,617
Balterley 305 Part of Barthomley parish, mostly Cheshire
Betley 870
Biddulph 1,987
Burslem 12,714
Drayton in Hales 737 Part of parish, mostly in Shropshire
Eccleshall 4,471 Including Chapel and Hill Chorlton
High Offley 759
Keele 1,130
Madeley 1,190
Maer 505
Mucklestone 964
Newcastle-under-Lyme 8,192
Norton in the Moors 2,407
Standon 420
Stoke-on-Trent 37,220
Swynnerton 791
Tentham 2,344
Whitmore 281
Wolstanton 10,853
Total 93,183

Pirehill South Division[edit]

Parish Population in 1831 Comments
Abbots Bromley 1621
Barlaston 514
Blithfield 468
Chartley Holme 9 Extra-parochial area
Chebsey 414 Including Chebsey: 377 and Cold Borton: 37
Colton 675
Colwich 874
Cresswell 11 Extra-parochial area
Ellenhall 286
Gayton 296
Ingestre 116
Milwich 551
(Newcastle-under-Lyme) - Included under North Division
Ranton 273
Ranton Abbey 17 Extra-parochial area
Sandon 558
Seighford 898
Stafford 8,512 See breakdown below
Stone 7,808
Stowe 1,283
Tixall 176
Weston under Trent 498
Yarlet 21 Extra-parochial area
Total 25,879

Parochial areas in the parliamentary borough of Stafford (as from 1832)[edit]

Parish Population in 1831 Hundred
Parishes within the municipal borough
St Mary (part) and St Chad 6,956 Pirehill
Castle Church 1,374 Cuttleston
Townships of St. Mary's parish outside the municipal borough
Tillington 42 Pirehill
Hopton & Coton 642 Pirehill
Worston 25 Pirehill
Marston 119 Pirehill
Salt & Enson 533 Pirehill
Whitgreave 195 Pirehill
Total 9,886
Total within Pirehill Hundred 8,512
Total within Cuttleston Hundred 1,374
Pirehill Hundred with present district boundaries
Pirehill Hundred with present district boundaries

Of the local government districts created in the 1974 re-organisation, Newcastle-Under-Lyme and Stoke-on-Trent (now a unitary authority) fall within Pirehill Hundred, as does the district (or borough) of Stafford except for its southern-most parishes. The districts of Staffordshire Moorlands, East Staffordshire and Lichfield only have one or two parishes each in the hundred.[9]

The Northern Division (91,148 acres) and Southern Division (110,345 acres) were roughly similar in area, but as indicated above, the Northern Division had the vast majority of the population. The Southern Division encompassed an area around Stafford and Stone, now within Stafford District (but not its western-most parishes), with the remainder falling in the Northern Division.[10]


The first element is no doubt connected with Middle English piren 'to peer', Modern English peer 'to look narrowly'. The meaning of the name would be 'look-out hill'. Pire Hill is the highest point for some distance; there is nothing higher between it and the river, and it seems to have a good view down the Trent valley. On topographical grounds there is nothing against such a derivation. Old English pirige, pyrige 'pear-tree' may be possible phonologically, but seems less likely for other reasons [11]


  1. ^ See Ordnance Survey map at 52°52'42"N 2°9'30"W. The hill is just west of Pirehill Lane, near the farm and fire station of the same name
  2. ^ The English Hundred Names, by Olof Anderson, Lund (Sweden), 1934. Page xxxiii
  3. ^ The English Hundred Names, by Olof Anderson, Lund (Sweden), 1934. Page 144
  4. ^ A topographical history of Staffordshire, by William Pitt, pub J. Smith (Newcastle -under-Lyme), 1817; page 13
  5. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales, by John Marius Wilson, 1872
  6. ^ See History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire by William White (1834)
  7. ^ See Staffordshire in http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk
  8. ^ See History, Gazetteer and Directory of Staffordshire by William White (1834)
  9. ^ See www.staffordshire.gov.uk
  10. ^ Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales, by John Marius Wilson, 1872 and www.staffordshire.gov.uk
  11. ^ The English Hundred Names, by Olof Anderson, Lund (Sweden), 1934. Page 147