Economic history


Victoria County History



A. P. M. Wright & C. P. Lewis (Editors)

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'Westwick: Economic history', A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9: Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds (1989), pp. 110-111. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=15348 Date accessed: 28 November 2014.


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The two Westwick manors had contrasting economic structures in both the late 11th and the late 13th century. Lisles in 1086 had land for 2 ploughteams, notionally 240 a., of which three quarters was occupied by a home farm and one quarter by 2 villani and a bordar, the villani presumably holding a full 30-a. yardland apiece. By 1279 the villein tenements had been divided and more had been created from the demesne: there were then 8 half yardlands of 15 a. each and 6 quarters of 7 1/2; a., together with 2 villein cottagers. The rest of the manor was occupied by 60 a. of demesne and a freeholder with 15 a., who took his surname from Westwick. The smaller Belbouches manor had land for 1 team in 1086, though none was recorded at work, and it may then have been occupied only by the household of the Norman undertenant Robert, whose stock comprised 103 sheep and 27 pigs. Villein tenements were never created on Belbouches and in 1279 there were still 2 1/2 yardlands, notionally 75 a., in demesne, the remaining 1 1/2 yardlands being held by four freeholders with 30 a., 10 a., 3 a., and 2 a. (fn. 95)

The meadow for three teams recorded in 1086 (fn. 96) probably lay in the low-lying north part of Westwick, where the More had been ploughed up by 1361. (fn. 97) By 1315 the arable was divided into three fields. (fn. 98) The northern field in the early 15th century had arable strips on Peas hill in its north-west corner, and the middle field in 1315 and 1406 extended west of the brook into Beredole or Bardole, both later inclosed. The southern field may likewise have extended further west before new closes were created. In 1637 an 8-a. inclosure had the name New close; leys and meadow by the river at that date were later arable. (fn. 99)

The inhabitants were keeping sheep in the early 15th century. (fn. 1) In the 17th century, as presumably earlier, they had the right to put sheep and cattle into the Cottenham commons. (fn. 2) In the 16th century barley and wheat were grown; (fn. 3) the names of Peas hill and Oat close show that those crops were also cultivated. (fn. 4)

In the late Middle Ages the parish had a social structure similar to that of neighbouring parishes despite its much smaller scale. The lord of Lisles manor in the early 16th century received twice as much from the rents of his customary tenants as from the demesne. (fn. 5) In 1524 the hamlet included two men assessed on goods worth £10 apiece: one was evidently a tenant farmer and the other owned both freehold and copyhold land. (fn. 6) The freeholder's family, the Harwards, had acquired part of Belbouches manor between 1346 and 1428, (fn. 7) were prosperous yeomen in 1434, (fn. 8) and remained copyholders until 1610. The lord of the manor's son was attempting to buy up their estate in that year, (fn. 9) and Martin Perse bought at least 25 a. while lord, (fn. 10) but other small farms, one of c. 50 a., survived in the mid 17th century. (fn. 11) A Londoner owned a 100-a. farm in the early 18th century, half arable and half pasture but part probably in adjoining parishes, leasing it to a member of the Linton family in 1703. (fn. 12) It was probably that farm which was broken up by sale in 1796. Its pasture, lying in Cuckoo closes in the north, found a number of ready buyers, (fn. 13) while the arable seems eventually to have passed to the Lintons, who at about the same time bought two other freeholds of 22 a. and 29 a. (fn. 14) Already in 1764 the Westwick estate comprised 360 a., partly in other parishes, (fn. 15) and by 1836 the Lintons owned almost four fifths of Westwick. (fn. 16) Ten other people, probably all residents of Cottenham, (fn. 17) then had 35 a. between them, none more than c. 5 a. and mostly pasture closes. Six and charity trustees from nearby parishes owned another 37 a., mainly field land, some of which was let to the Lintons.

By the time that the open-field arable, 218 a., was inclosed in 1856 under the general inclosure Acts, several of the small private owners had sold out to the Lintons, though others retained their old closes. Five institutions and one individual received allotments totalling 32 a. on the eastern boundary stretching north from the road, and the remainder of the land allotted went to William Linton, (fn. 18) whose grandson John bought most of the closes in the north before 1880. (fn. 19) The Lintons' farm extended well beyond Westwick to cover 500 a. in 1861 (fn. 20) , reduced to 450 a. in 1910. (fn. 21) A bailiff and two farm servants lived with the Lintons in 1851, though by 1861 the bailiff had been provided with a house and from 1868 presumably lived at the new Westwick Hall Farm. (fn. 22) A workforce of 25 or more was employed from the 1850s to the 1880s, rather more than half of whom lived in the Lintons' cottages in the hamlet. The Lintons were gradually gentrified: John Linton's domestic staff grew from 2 in 1861 to 5 in 1881 and he employed a footman in 1871 and a gamekeeper by 1881. A large fox covert established at about that time north of Westwick Hall Farm was largely cleared in the early 20th century. (fn. 23)

In the late 19th century Westwick was run as a mixed farm cropping c. 175 a. of cereals, with roots, clover, and permanent grass for a flock that declined from over 700 sheep and lambs in 1866 to barely 100 in 1905. (fn. 24) John Linton bred hunters c. 1870. (fn. 25) The farm was let from 1891 to a succession of tenant farmers, who from 1894 also occupied the Hall. (fn. 26) From 1939 to the 1970s most of the parish was farmed from Westwick Hall Farm by the Pearson family. (fn. 27)

Apart from an elderly shoemaker who moved from Oakington in the mid 1850s and died in the late 1870s, (fn. 28) a carpenter in 1841, (fn. 29) and a few railway workers, the hamlet in the mid 19th century was inhabited almost exclusively by the Lintons' farm labourers. Few families were long established, most moving away from Westwick within 10 or 15 years, or dying out after children had left to find work or to marry. Over half the residents in 1851 had been born in Westwick, but barely a third of their successors in 1881. Westwick men mostly took wives from neighbouring villages, though not predominantly from Oakington, while labourers were drawn from a slightly wider area, successive shepherds having been born in Stapleford, Balsham, and Haddenham. (fn. 30)

The Morris family, resident in Westwick by 1779, (fn. 31) took up market gardening in the early 19th century. (fn. 32) Although Joseph Morris moved to Oakington in the early 1830s, (fn. 33) in 1838 he maintained his business in Westwick, owning 2 a. of horticultural land south of the road, renting an adjoining plot, and letting a few cottages to labourers. (fn. 34) Gardeners living in Westwick in 1861 and 1871 (fn. 35) were presumably tenants or employees of the Morrises, who occupied the holding themselves by 1880, (fn. 36) and again lived in Westwick from the 1890s. (fn. 37) Their holding in 1910 covered 8 1/2; a., (fn. 38) the rented part of which they bought in 1921. (fn. 39) A house was built at the east end of Westwick in 1914 for Miss Bertha Morris, (fn. 40) who was still running a fruit growing business there in 1937. (fn. 41)

One of the cottagers of Lisles manor in 1279 was surnamed the miller, (fn. 42) and in 1315 Sir Robert de Lisle's windmill, Lowe mill, stood close to the Cambridge-Ely road, (fn. 43) probably on the high ground at the south-east corner of the northern field, which was named from the mill by the late 14th century. (fn. 44) In the early 16th century the rent of the mill was declining sharply, (fn. 45) and the mill later fell out of use. There was probably no mill c. 1810, (fn. 46) and the windmill operated by the Lintons by 1836 and until the 1860s (fn. 47) stood south-east of the Hall. It was removed between 1886 and 1901. (fn. 48) A malthouse at Westwick Hall was in use throughout the mid 19th century. (fn. 49)


95 V.C.H. Cambs. i. 396, 398; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 407-8.
96 V.C.H. Cambs. i. 396, 398.
97 B.L. Add. Ch. 74865.
98 Rest of para. based on ibid.; ibid. Add. Ch. 74863, 74866; C.U.L., E.D.R., H 1/Oakington 1615; C.R.O., P 126/27/1.
99 P.R.O., WARD 5/4/1277; C.R.O., P 126/27/1; above, Cottenham, map.
1 C.U.L., Queens' Coll. Mun., Ed. 1, mm. 4, 32.
2 'Common rights at Cottenham and Stretham', Camd. Misc. xii (Camd. 3rd ser. xviii), 232-3, 243; C.U.L., E.D.R., B 2/36, f. 56 and v.; above, Cottenham, econ. hist.
3 B.L. Add. MS. 5861, f. 88 and v.
4 C.R.O., P 126/27/1; ibid. 306/T 3.
5 C.U.L., Doc. 479, rot. 4; Doc. 481, rot. 7d.; Doc. 485, rot. 10.
6 P.R.O., E 179/81/163, m. 4d.; B.L. Add. MS. 5861, ff. 34, 89 and v.; cf. ibid. Add. Ch. 37764.
7 Feud. Aids, i. 167, 187.
8 Cal. Pat. 1429-36, 386.
9 P.R.O., C 2/Jas. 1/Hil. 28.
10 Ibid. WARD 5/4/1277.
11 Ibid. C 3/432/38; ibid. PROB 11/240, f. 382 and v.; C.R.O., 306/T 3.
12 C.R.O., 347/T 9.
13 Camb. Chron. 29 Oct. 1796, p. 2; 5 Nov. 1796, p. 2; 12 Nov. 1796, p. 4; C.R.O., 306/E 1; ibid. p 29/3/1; cf. ibid. 132/T 900-2; Camb. Chron. 12 May 1815, p. 3; 25 June 1819, p. 3.
14 C.R.O., Q/RDc 78, f. [2].
15 B.L. Add. MS. 5805, f. 55v.
16 Rest of para. based on C.R.O., P 126/27/1.
17 Cf. ibid. P 126/5/1, p. [175].
18 Ibid. Q/RDc 78.
19 Ibid. 294/32.
20 P.R.O., RG 9/1018, f. 106.
21 C.R.O., 470/O 76, nos. 456-9; rest of para. based on P.R.O., HO 107/1759/186/1, ff. 99v.-101; ibid. RG 9/1018, ff. 106-107v.; RG 10/1579, ff. 16v.-18; RG 11/1658, ff. 24v.- 26.
22 Above, intro.
23 O.S. Maps 6", Cambs. XXXIV. SW. (1901 and 1938 edns.).
24 P.R.O., MAF 68/7-8, 403, 973, 1543, 2113, 2683, 3232.
25 Camb. Chron. 20 Nov. 1869, p. 5; 22 July 1871, p. 4; 27 Apr. 1872, p. 8; 19 July 1873, p. 4 (all from card index).
26 C.R.O., 294/32.
27 Ibid.; ibid. 337/O 62; Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1933, 1937); Camb. Ind. Press, 3 Oct. 1974; inf. from Mr. Burdett.
28 Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1853-79); Camb. Chron. 23 May 1857, p. 8 (from card index).
29 P.R.O., HO 107/64/13, f. 3.
30 Ibid. HO 107/1759/186/1, ff. 99v.-101; ibid. RG 9/1018, ff. 106-107v.; RG 10/1579, ff. 16v.-18; RG 11/1658, ff. 24v.- 26; C.R.O., Oakington par. reg. transcript.
31 C.R.O., Oakington par. reg. transcript, s.a. 1779-1804.
32 Ibid. R 86/9, estate duty papers of Wm. Morris, 1824- 31 (uncat.); cf. ibid. P 126/5/1, p. [202]; Cambs. Poll Bk. 1802, p. 21; 1826, p. 26; 1830, p. 25; 1831, p. 25.
33 Cambs. Poll Bk. 1832, p. 10; 1835, p. 14.
34 C.R.O., P 126/27/1, ff. [4, 8].
35 P.R.O., RG 9/1018, f. 106; RG 10/1579, f. 16v.
36 C.R.O., 294/32.
37 Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1892 and later edns.).
38 C.R.O., 470/O 76, nos. 472-6.
39 Ibid. P 29/3/6, corr. 28 July, 6 Oct. 1941.
40 Above, intro.
41 Kelly's Dir. Cambs. (1937).
42 Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 407.
43 B.L. Add. MS. 5845, ff. 69, 75.
44 Ibid. Add. Ch. 74863, 74865.
45 C.U.L., Doc. 479, rot. 4; Doc. 481, rot. 7v.; Doc. 485, rot. 10.
46 B.L. Maps, O.S.D. 251.
47 Camb. Chron. 28 Oct. 1836, p. 2 (from card index); P.R.O., RG 9/1018, f. 106v.; no later ref. found.
48 O.S. Maps 6", Cambs. XL. NW. (1886 and 1903 edns.).
49 P.R.O., HO 107/64/13, f. 2; HO 107/1759/186/1, ff. 100v.-101; ibid. RG 9/1018, f. 106; RG 10/1579, f. 17 and v.; RG 11/1658, f. 26.