WENLOCK, a municipal borough in the Ludlow and Wellington parliamentary divisions of Shropshire, England, extending on both sides of the river Severn. Pop. (1901) 15,866. It includes the market towns of BROSELEY, MADELEY and MUCH WENLOCK (q.v.). The parish of Madeley includes the small towns of Ironbridge and Coalport, with part of COALBROOKEDALE (q.v.). The district is in part agricultural, but contains limestone quarries, some coal-mines and iron-works. The borough is under a mayor, 8 aldermen and 24 councillors. Area, 22,657 acres.
Wenlock (Weneloche) is said to be of pre-Roman origin, but owed its early importance to the nunnery founded c. 680 by St Milburg, daughter of Merewald, king of Mercia. This was destroyed by the Danes but refounded as a priory by Earl Leofric in 1017. It was again deserted after the Conquest until Roger de Montgomery founded a house of the Cluniac order on its site. The town was a borough by prescription, and its privileges began with the grants made to the priory and its tenants. It was incorporated under the name of " Bailiff, Burgesses and Commonalty " by Edward IV. in 1468 at the request of Sir John Wenlock, Kt., and " in consideration of the laudable services which the men of the town performed in assisting the king to gain possession of the crown," and the charter was confirmed in 1547 by Henry VIII. and in 1631 by Charles I. The bailiff was to be chosen annually by the burgesses, but his election seems to have depended entirely upon the lord of the manor, and, after a contest in 1821 between Lord Forester and Sir W. W. Wynne, the lord of the manor at that date, was nominated by each of them alternately. In the report of 1835 the borough is said to consist of seventeen parishes and to be unfit for corporate government. By the charter of Edward IV. the town obtained the right of sending two members to parliament, but was disfranchised in 1885. The first grant of a market and fair is dated 1227, when the prior of Wenlock obtained licence to hold a fair on the vigil, day and morrow of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, and a market every Monday. The incorporation charter of 1468 granted these to the burgesses, who continue to hold them.
See Victoria County History: Shropshire; John Randall, Randall's Tourists' Guide to Wenlock (1875); "Borough of Wenlock," The Salopian and West Midland Monthly Illustrated Journal, March, April, November, December, 1877, April and October, 1878, March, 1879 (1877-1879).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)