Given its setting, it is appropriate that by the 14th century, Bewdley had come to be known as Beau lieu, French for "Beautiful place".
Bewdley was an extra-parochial place but in the time of Henry VI (1422-1461) it was annexed to Ribbesford Ancient Parish. Whereas, in the 15th century, it was sometimes considered to be in Staffordshire, its status in Worcestershire was confirmed by statute in 1543. It was a separate Civil Parish in 1866 and a separate Ecclesiastical Parish in 1853. It was abolished ecclesiastically in 1940 to help create Ribbesford with Bewdley Ecclesiastical Parish. 
Archdeaconry of Salop, Diocese of Hereford until 1919 when transf to the Diocese of Worcester 
Parish Registers at Worcestershire Archives
Its 'Handlist of Parish Registers' states that no BTs are held at Worcestershire Archives and that the reason is unknown.
International Genealogical Index (IGI)
|Parish Registers||Births / Christenings||Presbyterian 1772-1823
Baptist (births) 1776-1836
At BMSGH Reference Library 
Bewdley and Kidderminster Non-conformis Births and Baptisms 1727-1837, Burials 1757-1836
Bewdley & Kidderminster Non-conformist registers : Christenings 1727-1837, Burials 1757-1836 BMSGH Shop
At Worcestershire Archives  :-
Baptist (founded 1666): Births 1776-1836 Deaths 1756-1836 Burials1756-1836
High St Presbyterian Meeting House: Births1772-1823 Christenings1772-1823 Burials1812-1815
At Society of Genealogists  :-
BEWDLEY (High Street Presbyterian chapel) : Births 1777, 1785-1802, 1810-12, 1818-21, Christenings 1772-1823, Burials 1812-15, religious census 1851 & 1886 : Non-conformist registers of Bewdley & Kidderminster, Worcestershire IN: Non-conformist registers of Bewdley & Kidderminster, Worcestershire Published Birmingham Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry 2001 Author Rayner, E (trans.) Source D: BMSGH
Published Birmingham Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry 2001 Author Rayner, E (trans.) Source D: BMSGH.
Monumental Inscriptions and Associated Documents
At BMSGH Shop
See Dowles, Bewdley & Wribbenhall Memorials
See Holy Trinity, Far Forest
At BMSGH Reference Library 
See Dowles, Bewdley & Wribbenhall Memorials
At Worcestershire Archives  :
St Anne church & war memorial
Society of Friends Quaker Burial Ground
At Society of Genealogists  :
BEWDLEY : Monumental Inscriptions: in Bloom's Worcestershire Monumental Inscriptions, part 2 [Manuscript.] IN: Bloom's Worcestershire Monumental Inscriptions, part 2 Published , Nd. Author Bloom, J Harvey (trans.)
BEWDLEY (Baptist church, Quaker burial ground, St. Anne's church war memorial) : Monumental Inscriptions: Worcestershire monumental inscriptions, vol. 12 [Typescript.] IN: Worcestershire monumental inscriptions, vol. 12 Published Birmingham : Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry, 1990 Author Bewdley Historical Research Group (trans.) Source D: Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry
For the names of those included on Bewdley War Memorial see:
http://www.rememberthefallen.co.uk/Casualties/ListByMemorial/Bewdley War Memorial
All the censuses between 1841 and 1901 are now available on a number of fee-paying (Subscription or PayAsYouGo) sites including Ancestry.co.uk, FindMyPast.co.uk, thegenealogist.co.uk and genesreunited.co.uk. The 1911 census is available in full or in part on some of these sites. We are unable to advise on the choice of site since researchers' personal preferences will be influenced by the content and search facilities offered by each site. Some sites offer a free trial.
Access to the library edition of Ancestry.co.uk is widely available at most record offices, including Worcestershire Archives, and some libraries. You are advised to book time on their computers before making a visit.
A free-to-view site is being developed at freecen.org.uk for the 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871 and 1891 censuses. Coverage of Worcestershire parishes is rather sparse at this time.
Census returns can usually be viewed at Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' Family History Centres.
Some repositories offer census details on microform, disc or printed copy. These include:
At Worcestershire Archives  :-
See Ribbesford for the 1841 returns
At Society of Genealogists :-
1831 - An index of names with trades with additional information from a poor rate book of 1830-31: Bewdley Historical Research Group occasional paper no. 2 - Published 1998 - Author Purcell, Charles
High Street Presbyterian Chapel: 1851 & 1886 Religious Census - Non-conformist registers of Bewdley & Kidderminster, Worcestershire - Published: Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry, 2001- Author: Rayner, E (trans.)
Particular Baptist Chapel: 1851 & 1886 Religious Census - Non-conformist registers of Bewdley & Kidderminster, Worcestershire - Published: Birmingham & Midland Society for Genealogy & Heraldry, 2001 - Author: Rayner, E (trans.)
Worcestershire 1851 census index HO 107/2039 : Kiddermister registration district - Lower Mitton & Bewdley sub-districts [Microfiche.] - Published , 1998 - Author Friend, A F (trans.)
"Bewdley in its Golden Age: Life in Bewdley 1600-1760" - BMSGH Shop
At Society of Genealogists :-
"Bewdley in its Golden Age: Life in Bewdley 1600-1760", Droitwich History & Archaeology Society (Sutton Publishing Ltd) 1991
"Bewdley in its Golden Age: Vol.2 Trades & Industries 1600-1760 by the Bewdley Historical Research Group 1999
A history of Bewdley with concise accounts of some neighbouring parishes - Burton, John R.
Lowe's rope and twine manufactory - a local industry: Bewdley Historical Research group (1998)
Bewdley's past in pictures, vols. 1-2 Published Bewdley : Bewdley Historical Research Group, 1993 & 1996 Author Purcell, Charles & Angela Author Hobson, Kenneth
The parish churches of Bewdley & Ribbesford Published Gloucester The British Publishing Co. Ltd. Nd. Edition 6th edn Source D: C Tucker.
An extract from the Topographical Dictionary of England 1831 by Samuel Lewis:
BEWDLEY, a borough, market town, and chapelry, in the parish of RIBBESFORD, having separate jurisdiction, locally in the lower division of the hundred of Doddingtree, county of WORCESTER, 14 miles (N.W.) from Worcester, and 122 (N. W.) from London, containing 3725 inhabitants.This place, from the pleasantness of its situation, and the beauty of the surrounding scenery, anciently obtained the appellation of Beau lieu, of which its present name is a corruption.
In the 13th of Henry IV, a petition was presented to parliament from the men of "Bristowe" and Gloucester, praying that they might navigate the river Severn without being subject to new taxes levied by the men of Beaudley. At this time Bewdley appears to have enjoyed many privileges, among which was that of sanctuary for persons who had shed blood: it was formerly extra-parochial, but, by letters patent granted by Henry VI, was annexed to the parish of Ribbesford. Edward IV gave the inhabitants a charter of incorporation in the twelfth year of his reign; and Henry VII erected a palace here for his son Arthur, in which that prince was married by proxy to Catherine of Arragon, and dying soon after at Ludlow, his.corpse was removed to this town, where it lay in state previously to interment in the cathedral church of Worcester. Bewdley, formerly included in the marches of Wales, was, by an act of parliament passed in the reign of Henry VIII, added to the county of Worcester.
During the civil war in the reign of Charles I, that monarch, who had been driven from Oxford by the parliamentary forces, retired with the remnant of his army to this town, where he encamped, in order to keep the river Severn between him and the enemy. Whilst staying here, he was attacked by a party of Scottish cavalry, when several of his officers, and seventy men, were made prisoners. In these attacks the palace was greatly damaged, and was subsequently taken down; the site is now occupied by a modern dwelling-house, and not a single vestige of the original edifice can, with certainty, be traced.
The more ancient part of the town was built at a greater distance from the river, and the street called Load-street is supposed to have been the place where the inhabitants loaded their boats: there were formerly four gates, two of which were standing in 1811, but they have since been entirely demolished. Bewdley is beautifully situated on the western bank of the river Severn, over which a light and elegant stone bridge was erected in 1797: the main street, leading from the bridge, diverges right and left, but extends furthest in the latter direction; it is indifferently paved and not, lighted. The houses are in general well built, and of respectable appearance; and several of them, erected at different elevations on the slope of the hill rising from the bank of the river, with well cultivated gardens, and tastefully disposed pleasure grounds, present an appearance truly picturesque: the inhabitants are amply supplied with water; the air is salubrious, and the surrounding scenery richly and pleasingly diversified.
Some years since, Bewdley was a place of considerable trade, having two markets and four fairs, and for a long period was the mart from which the neighbouring towns were supplied with grocery and other articles of consumption; but in consequence of the recent construction of a canal from Stourport to Stourbridge, that portion of its trade has been diverted to other towns. The manufacture of woollen caps, known by the name of Dutch caps, was introduced here in consequence of the plague prevailing at Monmouth, where it had previously been carried on, and, being encouraged by legislative enactments in the reign of Elizabeth, it continued for some time to nourish, but has now declined, and the trade is principally in malt, the tanning of leather, and the making of combs. The market is on Saturday: fairs are held on April 23rd, July 26th, and December 10th and llth.
The government of the borough, by charter of incorporation granted by James I, and confirmed by Queen Anne, is vested in a bailiff, high steward, recorder, deputy recorder (who is usually the town clerk), and twelve capital burgesses. The bailiff, who is also coroner and clerk of the market, the late bailiff, and the recorder, are justices of the peace : the freedom of the borough is obtained only by gift. The corporation hold a court of session annually, in which the bailiff, the late bailiff, and the recorder, preside; a court of, record for all pleas, and for the recovery of debts under £100, in which the bailiff, or, in his absence, a deputy appointed by him from among the capital burgesses, and the recorder, preside; and a court leet, at which, constables and other officers are appointed.
The town hall is a neat building of stone, erected in 1818; the front is decorated with six square pilasters supporting a pediment, in which are the arms of the family of Lyttelton; under the hall is the entrance into the market- place, which has an arcade on each side for stalls, and an open area in the centre; at the extremity are two small prisons, one for malefactors, the other for debtors. The elective franchise was conferred by James I, since which time Bewdley has returned one member to parliament: the right of election is vested exclusively in the bailiff and burgesses, thirteen in number; the bailiff is the returning officer.
The living is a perpetual curacy, in the archdeaconry of Salop, and diocese of Hereford, endowed with-£8 per annum, the revenue of a dissolved chantry which formerly existed here, and in the patronage of the Rector of Ribbesford. The chapel, a neat stone edifice at the upper end of the street leading from the bridge, was erected in 1748, by means of a subscription among the inhabitants, aided by a brief, and the Rev. Thomas Knight, rector of Ribbesford, principally contributed to the erection of the tower. There are places of worship for Baptists, the Society of Friends, Wesleyan Methodists, and Unitarians.
The free grammar school, founded and endowed in 1591, by William Monnox, or Mormoye, and further endowed in 1599, by Humphrey Hill, was made a royal foundation by charter of James I; the endowment, augmented by subsequent benefactions, produces a salary of £26 per annum to the master, who has also a house rent-free. A collection of books, the gift of the Rev. Thomas Wigan, is deposited in the school, under the care of the master, and the rector of Ribbesford, for the use of the clergy and laity in the neighbourhood. The Blue-coat school, for thirty boys and thirty girls, is supported by subscription. Almshouses for six aged men, founded by Mr. Sayer, of Nettlestead, in the county of Suffolk, and endowed with £30 per annum, were rebuilt in 1763, by Sir Edward Wilmington, Bart., member for the borough. Burlton's almshouses, for fourteen aged women, were founded and endowed in 1645; and eight other almshouses were erected and moderately endowed in 1693, by Mr. Thomas Cook. John Tombes, a celebrated biblical critic of the seventeenth century; and Richard Willis, Bishop of Winchester, and principal founder of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, were natives of this town.
Last Updated: 16/07/2013