Local government


Victoria County History



Janet Cooper (Editor)

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'Langham: Local government', A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10: Lexden Hundred (Part) including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe (2001), pp. 255-256. URL: Date accessed: 28 November 2014.


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The lord of Lang-ham Hall held view offrankpledge with the assizes of bread and of ale in 1273-4. He also had the right to a gallows, possibly at Gallows field in Langham park. (fn. 3) In 1282 he received 10s. from the view. (fn. 4) In 1407 the tenants gave 20s. 'reeve-silver' as a recognition fine. (fn. 5) Disputes within the lordship were brought illegally to the Colchester and Lexden hundred courts in 1417. (fn. 6)

The manor's two underconstables wererecorded in 1358, (fn. 7) and two officers were elected to collect the court fines in 1391. (fn. 8) Between 1403 and 1663 there were usually a bailiff, two con stables, and two aletasters. (fn. 9) In 1588, when the manors of Langham and Dedham were in royal hands, their joint bailiff was paid 2d. a day. (fn. 10)

Court business in the early 15th century included cases of nuisance, breaking the assizes of bread and of ale, breaching the peace, pleas of debt and detention of chattels, trespasses on the lord's pasture, and orders to repair ditches or boundaries and to repair or demolish ruined houses. The court also recorded the payment of merchet. (fn. 11) In 1406 nine males aged twelve were distrained for failing to join the tithing and in 1428 and 1432 the court ordered the seizure of villeins' sons who had migrated to Stratford St. Mary (Suff.) and Chattisham (Suff.) without licence. (fn. 12) In 1420, 1444, and 1513 the manorial court detected sales of land made without licence, (fn. 13) and in the latter year the jurors, perhaps disingenuously,reported that they no longer knew for certain which lands were held in villeinage. (fn. 14)

In 1494 the lord ordered the repair of the stocks and the cuckingstool. (fn. 15) The manorial pound recorded in 1379 may have been at Pound field, next to Langham Moor in 1838; in 1619 there was no pound. (fn. 16) In 1509, 1587, and 1599 court ordinances regulated the pasturage of stock in North meadow and the ringing of pigs on the commons and in North and East meadows. (fn. 17)

By the early 16th century court business was limited to the maintenance of ditches, (fn. 18) but it expanded again in the later 16th century. In 1587 two ordinances prohibited the wearing of caps and use of bows and arrows on the sabbath, and those rules were enforced in 1593. (fn. 19) In the later 16th and earlier 17th centuries inhabitants were also fined for receiving vagrants, for having an unlicensed alehouse, for erecting cottages without the necessary 4 a. of land, and for failing to repair the manor's archery butts. (fn. 20)

By 1629 leet business had largely disappeared, but leets were held until 1753. (fn. 21) The court baron continued to regulate the transfer of customary land until such tenure was extinguished by enfranchisements starting in 1872 and concluding in the early 1930s. (fn. 22)

The courts baron recorded at the Rectory manor from 1543 were probably medieval in origin. (fn. 23) They regulated customary land until 1924, by which date all copyholds had been enfranchised. (fn. 24) The courts were held at Glebe Farm, sometimes called the manor house, from 1769 to 1843, but in 1859 were held at the Anchor inn in Stratford St. Mary. (fn. 25)

There were two surveyors of highways in 1646. (fn. 26) In 1677 the constables were paid from the rates. (fn. 27) The parish cage was apparently next to Langham Moor where a Cage field survived in 1838. (fn. 28) A policeman lived at the Moor in 1881. (fn. 29)

In 1776 a poor rate raised £194 17s. 8d. Expenditure had risen to £1,530 17s. 1d. by 1801, but thereafter declined, averaging c. £705 between 1802 and 1816. The average then rose to c. £1,034 between 1817 and 1836. Relief per head of population was about average for the hundred. (fn. 30) In 1813 regular outdoor relief was given to 78 people and another 15 were relieved in the parish workhouse. Another 36 received occasional relief in or out of the workhouse. (fn. 31) The workhouse may have been at Adelphi Cottages at Langham Moor where bread was distributed to the poor in the early 19th century; Workhouse field lay nearby in 1834. Both the building and the field had passed into private hands by 1837. (fn. 32) Keepers Cottage, formerly Old Workhouse Farm, may have been another work- house. It had been converted to a labourer's cot tage by1841. (fn. 33)


3 Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 139; E.R.O., D/CT 205.
4 P.R.O., C 133/31, no. 12.
5 E.R.O., D/DE1 M1, rot. 10.
6 Ibid. D/DE1 M1, rot. 21d.
7 Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, p. 109.
8 E.R.O., D/DE1 M1, rot. 1d.
9 Ibid. D/DE1 M1, rott. 24d., 74, 76, 85d., 89, 94; D/DE1 M2, rott. 14, 17d., 31d.; D/DE1 M3, rot. 27; D/DE1 M19; P.R.O., ASSI 35/74/1, no. 13.
10 Cal. Pat. 1557-8, 311.
11 E.R.O., D/DE1 M1, rott. 1-19.
12 Ibid. D/DE1 M1, rott. 32, 36, 41-2. Assuming 'Chatesham' is Chattisham: Ekwall, Eng. Place-Names.
13 E.R.O., D/DE1 M1, rott. 25, 26, 48d.
14 Ibid. D/DE1 M1, rot. 69.
15 Ibid. D/DE1 M1, rot. 61.
16 Ibid. D/DE1 M1, rot. 60d.; D/DE1 M2, rot. 86d.; ibid. D/CT 205.
17 Ibid. D/DE1 M1, rot. 66; D/DE1 M2, rott. 35, 51.
18 Ibid. D/DE1 M1, rott. 70, 80-3.
19 Ibid. D/DE1 M2, rot. 35.
20 Ibid. D/DE1 M2, rott. 43, 51, 63, 77, 85, 86d.
21 Ibid. D/DE1 M3, rott. 1-2; D/DE1 M13, pp. 1, 11, 237, 262, 301, 383; D/DE1 M14, p. 102.
22 Ibid. D/DE1 M10, p. 380; D/DE1 M12, pp. 13-14, 121-2.
23 Ibid. D/DMb M162, rot. 1; D/DMb M163.
24 Ibid. D/DMb M165, pp. 213-17, 227, 232, D/DMb M166, pp. 1-2, 11.
25 Ibid. D/DMb M164; D/DMb M165, pp. 1, 85, 116, 136; Guildhall MS. 9628, box 3.
26 E.R.O., Q/SR 329/24.
27 Ibid. D/DR1 O1.
28 Ibid. D/DAn T15; ibid. D/CT 205.
29 P.R.O., RG 11/1800.
30 E.R.O., Q/CR 1/1, 1/12, 1/9/16; Rep. Sel. Cttee. on Poor Rate Returns, 1822-4, H.C. 334, p. 81 (1825), iv; ibid. 1825-9, H.C. 83, pp. 61-2 (1830-1), xi; ibid. 1830-4, H.C. 444, p. 60 (1835), xlvii; 2nd Annual Rep. Poor Law Com. H.C. 595, pp. 108-11 (1836), xxix.
31 E.R.O., Q/CR 1/10.
32 Ibid. D/DAn T15; ibid. D/CT 205; oral history research by Langham Local Hist. Group.
33 E.R.O., D/DU 133/252, sale cat.; P.R.O., HO 107/334/10.