The borough of Wallingford
Honour and borough

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Victoria County History

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P.H. Ditchfield and William Page (eds)

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1923

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531-539

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'The borough of Wallingford: Honour and borough', A History of the County of Berkshire: Volume 3 (1923), pp. 531-539. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43257 Date accessed: 31 October 2014.


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HONOUR

The castle of Wallingford was the 'caput' of a considerable honour to which manors in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxford, Middlesex, Surrey, Hampshire and Worcester belonged from the 11th century onwards, though some of the more distant manors were later alienated from the honour. (fn. 1)

The lord of the honour of Wallingford exercised many privileges, including view of frankpledge, return of writs and summonses, redemptions and amercements, 'and all that pertains to the king of year day and waste, forfeitures and murders in any of the king's courts, and the chattels of felons and fugitives.' (fn. 2) The bailiff of the honour held its courts; the honour court met monthly at Wallingford, (fn. 3) and the outlying manors were visited by him at intervals for this purpose. (fn. 4) At Ogbourne, for instance, he held a court once a year, when he with his retinue of three or four horsemen expected to be entertained. (fn. 5)

The profits of Shillingford Ferry belonged to the castle of Wallingford. It extended from the king's mill under the castle to the stream coming from Sildenebrigg or Yeldenbrigge (now Elm Birch), and was worth 12s. 6d. in 1300. (fn. 6) In the 14th century it became customary for the porter of the castle to receive a grant of these profits for life. (fn. 7) A fishery was associated with the ferry, and both were held on lease in 1529. (fn. 8) Two fisheries, one near Kingsmede and the other near the fulling-mill in Queen's Arbour, were mentioned in 1540 among the possessions of the castle. (fn. 9) Shillingford Bridge is mentioned in 1300 and 1370, but it is not mentioned after the 14th century, and may have been only a temporary timber bridge. (fn. 10) It was not until the 18th century that the ferry gave place to a bridge, a wooden structure which was superseded by the present bridge in 1827

The gaol for Berkshire was at Wallingford (fn. 11) until Edward I removed it to Windsor soon after 1290. (fn. 12)

The castle gaol, besides serving as the gaol of the county, was the gaol for the whole honour of Wallingford. Two mills belonging to Wallingford Castle were worth 20 marks yearly in 1272, and four mills belonged to Wallingford Castle in 1300. (fn. 13) One of these was in the river close under the castle, the second and third, known as the North Mill and the South Gate Mill, were near those gates of the town. (fn. 14)

The building of new corn and fulling-mills on the meadow called Queen's Arbour by one Ralph Pollington led to Exchequer suits in 1573 and 1583, the lessee of the castle mills complaining that they withdrew custom from the castle mills at which all the tenants were bound to grind their corn. It was alleged on Pollington's side that the castle mills were not sufficient for all the townspeople and that excessive toll was taken. (fn. 15)

BOROUGH

At the date of the Domesday Survey Wallingford was already a royal borough of considerable importance. (fn. 16) Its position in the Survey proves that it was the chief town in Berkshire, far outstripping in importance its later rivals, Reading, Windsor and Newbury. There were nearly 500 closes and dwelling-houses in the town; it had a weekly market held on Saturdays, a mint (the moneyer living rent free in a house near the castle), and a gild merchant. (fn. 17) Four priests are mentioned. It is clear that the borough was exceedingly prosperous, and that the Conquest, followed by the building of the castle, had stimulated not checked its growth. Valued at £30 in the reign of the Confessor, it was worth £40 at the time of the Conquest and £60 in 1087; yet it paid a fee-farm rent of £80. Many great tenants in chief owned land or houses in the borough, including Archbishop Lanfranc, the Bishops of Winchester and Salisbury, the Abbots of St. Albans and Battle, Walter Fitz Other, Henry de Ferrers, Walter Giffard and Miles Crispin. This prosperity, however, did not continue, and by 1130 the yearly aid of £15 due from the borough had more than once been excused by the king on account of the poverty of the burgesses. (fn. 18)

Wallingford obtained its first charter in January 1155–6 by grant of Henry II. (fn. 19) It was ample in its scope. The king confirmed to his 'faithful burgesses of Wallingford' (whose support against Stephen had been so valuable) the privileges enjoyed by them in the reign of William the Conqueror, including their gild merchant with all its laws and customs. The authority of the reeve was confirmed, but he was forbidden to implead any of the burgesses unfairly, to set up or demand any 'gersuma' or custom harmful to the burgesses under a penalty of £10, or to interfere with the alderman of the gild merchant. (fn. 20) He was to hold a borough court or portmote and the burgesses were exempted from being summoned before the king's justices. The charter prohibited the holding of a market by the men of Crowmarsh, and forbade any merchant who was not a member of the Wallingford gild merchant to trade there. Men of Wallingford who had gone to live outside the borough, but still frequented the town market, were ordered to submit to the ordinances of the gild merchant, from the restrictions of which it appears that the burgesses were already trying to escape. Among the more general privileges granted to the town, in recognition of its great services to the king, on the model of Winchester, were the freedom of trading throughout England, Normandy, Aquitaine and Anjou—
'by water and by strand,
by wood and by land,'
quit of toll, passage, piccage, pannage and stallage. The financial immunities granted to the townsmen included freedom from geld, danegeld and hidage, from murder fines, 'blodewite' and 'bredewite.' The king himself surrendered his right to take geld from the tenants of his houses within the borough. Finally, the burgesses were to be free of all servile works, and of works on castle-building, bridge-building and road-making. This charter was confirmed in 1267 by Henry III (fn. 21) and on many subsequent occasions.

A long-standing dispute between the men of Wallingford and the abbey of Abingdon reached a head in the reign of Henry II. The former complained that the abbot had enlarged his market, which in the reign of Henry I had been limited to the sale of ale and bread, and attempted to break up the market by force. Being beaten off they are said to have sent a deputation across the Channel to lay their complaints before the king, who referred the matter to the decision of a jury in the county court. When the decision was given against the men of Wallingford, they protested that the jury were biased by their connexion with the abbey. The king, therefore, decided that Abingdon had the right to hold a market, but no ships except those of the abbot were to be permitted to trade there. (fn. 22)

As early as 1127 the burgesses were pardoned various debts to the crown because of their poverty (fn. 23) and continued to have difficulty in paying their farm. In 1157 they held Wallingford at a nominal farm (fn. 24) of £80 but little was paid into the treasury. This was reduced to £30 (fn. 25) in 1164 and afterwards fixed at £40, but we find in 1178 that for technical reasons the farm had been held over for fourteen years. Part of the debt was then paid, but the larger portion reserved to await a royal decision. The farm of £40 weighed heavily on the town and later when, owing to default of the burgesses, wardens were appointed, their payments (fn. 26) usually fell below it. From 1230, the townsmen paid the farm of £40 directly to Richard Earl of Cornwall as lord of the honour. (fn. 27)

By the middle of the 13th century the zenith of Wallingford's prosperity was probably passed, but a clear picture of the town at this date can be obtained from the burghmote rolls and gild records, which begin in 1232 and 1227 respectively. (fn. 28) The town was surrounded by an earthen wall and fosse with gates on the north, south and west. In the centre of the town was the gildhall, which had open shops or stalls beneath it; there was a corn market, and a fish market held in the parish of St. Mary-the-Less. There were fourteen churches or chapels in Wallingford, many of which had burial grounds attached, the church of St. Mary-the-Less having shops or stalls in its churchyard.

A considerable trade in corn and provisions was centred in its fairs and markets. Weaving was an important industry, and many of the inhabitants of the town were employed, wholly or in part, in agriculture, cultivating the common arable fields of the borough known as Portmannefelde and Garscrofte, which lay outside the walls. (fn. 29) The meadow land lay in Cane Croft, later Kenny Croft or Kine Croft, and in Chalmore, and over the land beyond the men of Wallingford had pasture rights. Some portion of this must have been already inclosed, for the master of the mint had 5 acres assigned to him for pasturing his horse.

The town was governed by a mayor, who appears first in the reign of Henry III, (fn. 30) assisted by two bailiffs, and the flourishing gild merchant was controlled by three aldermen, (fn. 31) its members being known as 'gildans.' This gild merchant had existed from an early date, (fn. 32) but before the 13th century its composition and character can only be conjectured. From 1227 onwards, when the records of the gild begin, there is abundant evidence. (fn. 33) The various trades of the town seem to have been enrolled in the gild in companies, and the roll of 1227 contains a list of persons, arranged under their trades, who contributed to a certain assessment. (fn. 34) The first 29 names have no trade set against them, but they seem, from later rolls, to have been dealers in corn. Then follow 34 sutores, or shoemakers, 17 wantiers, or glovers, who included a tailor and a clothier, 44 mercenarii, or mercers (including men with the surnames of Painter, Locksmith and Tinker), 7 ferrours, or ironmongers, 12 fabri, or smiths (including Thomas le Lingedraper), (fn. 35) 10 carpenters (including wheelwrights and coopers), 4 weavers, 5 fullers and 17 bakers. The names of fishermen and others have been cut away from the foot of the roll. Then follow about 100 forenses, (fn. 36) or market-men, and 12 feminae forenses, or market-women, most of whom were people living in the neighbouring villages of Crowmarsh, Newnham, Goring, Bensington, and so on, who paid a yearly composition for the right to trade as gildsmen. (fn. 37) Among the traders mentioned in later rolls are 12 butchers, 5 bolteres (possibly millers), (fn. 38) 14 fishermen, and a number of women who traded in the town on their own account and were separately assessed.

The burghmote or borough court was held by the mayor and bailiffs on Thursdays. It was chiefly concerned with actions for debt, (fn. 39) trespass, assault, and slander, cases of breach of the assizes of bread and ale, nuisances, obstructions of roads and watercourses, harbouring thieves, carrying off bondmen or bondwomen, the sale of unwholesome food or adulterated drink, short weight or false measure There were the usual presentments of women as scandalmongers or common scolds. The commonest punishment for all these offences was a fine, though the stocks and the tumbrel were in constant use. The man who was convicted of having cursed the mayor, calling him false, a detractor and a thief, was fined 100s., and it was ordered that any person offending against the mayor three times should be deprived of the freedom of the borough by sound of the bell of the gildhall. (fn. 40)

Admissions to the freedom of the borough and of the gild were made by the mayor and by the aldermen of the gild, apparently either jointly or separately, and no distinction appears to have been made in this matter, admission to the gild implying freedom to trade. In other words, the merchant gild was co-extensive with the whole body of burgesses, and the gild officers and town officials are almost indistinguishable. Admission to the freedom of the gild was obtained by payment, which often took the form of a grant of land, messuages, or rent to the mayor and gildans. (fn. 41)

The mint had continued its activity during the 11th and 12th centuries, (fn. 42) and in the reign of Henry III it had a staff composed of four moneyers, four keepers, a clerk and two assayers, who in 1249 were ordered to appear before the barons of the Exchequer, perhaps in connexion with a large issue of coinage authorized in that year, half the profits of which were given to Richard Earl of Cornwall. (fn. 43) It is strange that these signs of great activity should be the last evidence we have of the Wallingford mint. No coin of a later date than the reign of Henry III has been found.

During this time of prosperity Wallingford had in addition to its weekly market, which was transferred to Saturday in 1218, a fair on the Friday in Whitsun-week and the three following days, which had been granted in 1205, (fn. 44) and in 1227 the date of a fair at Swyncombe was altered so as not to interfere with the fair held at Wallingford on the eve, day and morrow of St. Botolph. (fn. 45) The market at Crowmarsh, which was said to be an injury to Wallingford market, was prohibited in 1214, but must have been continued, as there were further complaints from the men of Wallingford in 1229 (fn. 46) and 1234, when they carried off the lead brewing vessels to Wallingford. (fn. 47)

The town seems to have suffered considerably during the Barons' War. In January 1266–7 the charter of Henry II was confirmed with the special proviso that though, owing to the disturbed state of the kingdom, the burgesses had not been able to enjoy fully the liberties previously granted them, these liberties were nevertheless confirmed to them. (fn. 48) The low assessments in the borough rolls of 1265 point to the loss sustained by the town during the war, and by the reign of Edward I the decline in population becomes marked. (fn. 49)

The usual encroachments and inclosures are revealed in the Hundred Rolls, and the burgesses were also reported to have demanded toll unjustly from countrymen who bought and sold at the doors of their houses, where formerly they had only taken toll from merchants. (fn. 50)

There were two coroners for the borough, and their rolls begin in 1291. (fn. 51) The borough at this date was divided into four wards. The two bailiffs of the borough had the usual administrative duties. They were also charged with the duty of taking wool to London for the wool tax, and we find burgesses being exempted from this tiresome office in return for loans to the mayor and aldermen. (fn. 52) The borough passed to the Crown with the other property of Edmund Earl of Cornwall on his death in 1296–7. (fn. 53) The farm remained at £40, but clear indications of the waning prosperity of the borough appear in 1305, when the town was seized into the king's hands for arrears in the farm amounting to £80, a fine being exacted from the mayor and burgesses for its restoration. (fn. 54)

Parliamentary representation began in 1295 and continued almost without a break, Wallingford returning two members to Parliament until 1832. The borough records contain notices of grants to burgesses by way of salary. (fn. 55)

In 1316 it was reported, after inquiry, that the borough of Wallingford was the king's borough, that it was held at fee farm by the burgesses by payment of £40 yearly, and that it had all the liberties enjoyed by the city of Winchester. (fn. 56)

The town was visited by plague in 1316, and in the months of June, July and August twenty-eight deaths took place in the castle gaol. (fn. 57)

A riot in which several of the inhabitants of Wallingford were concerned took place in 1323, the vicar of Clapcot being implicated together with an innkeeper and several butchers and dyers. (fn. 58)

The borough of Wallingford was transferred with the rest of the honour to John Earl of Cornwall in 1330, (fn. 59) and passed to Edward Prince of Wales in 1337, being annexed to the duchy of Cornwall. (fn. 60) The borough charter was again confirmed in April 1335. (fn. 61)

Queen Isabel in 1347 obtained a grant of £20 yearly out of the farm of the borough in exchange for property given by her to the prince. (fn. 62) A grant to Adam Louches of 50 marks out of the farm was made by Prince Richard in 1377, and confirmed after his accession. (fn. 63)

In 1359 the mayor and eight other burgesses were arrested 'for causes laid before the king and council,' and were imprisoned in the Marshalsea, (fn. 64) and in the following year three townsmen were arrested on suspicion of having assaulted and wounded the Count of 'Salesbrigg' (? Saarburg), who was the king's prisoner of war in Wallingford Castle. (fn. 65)

The borough records of the 14th century show that the town had suffered from the Black Death, but the decline must not be exaggerated, as no great falling off of business is revealed by the records of the borough courts. (fn. 66)

The 'Mothalle' was pulled down and rebuilt by John James on an adjacent site in 1369, by leave of the Black Prince. (fn. 67)

The borough charter was again confirmed in February 1399–1400. (fn. 68)

The decline in the prosperity of the town, whether due to the Black Death or to the cessation of royal visits, became marked towards the end of the 14th century. In 1384, at the supplication of the king's mother, always a good friend to Wallingford, the fee farm was reduced from £42 to £22 for a period of seven years. (fn. 69) At the end of this time, in 1391, it was reduced to £22 for another term of three years. (fn. 70) In 1396, 'in consideration of their impoverishment by the late queen's death, by pestilence and other misfortunes,'the fee farm was fixed at £21 for twenty years, (fn. 71) the reduction being confirmed in 1400. (fn. 72) Henry V sanctioned this reduction for another period of twenty years in 1417, the borough being described as 'depressed by great charges and impoverished.' (fn. 73)

Even this reduced fee farm was too much for the dwindling resources of the town, its decay being hastened by the building of Burford Bridge at Abingdon, which diverted the trade with Gloucester and the west of England. (fn. 74) In 1438, therefore, the burgesses petitioned the king for a further reduction. The inquiry made as a result of this petition showed that the town was in a miserable state. (fn. 75) Where there were once eleven parishes and eleven parish churches there were now only four parishes which were inhabited, and the benefices even of these were so poor that they were likely to be left unserved unless the king gave speedy aid. Many burgesses and inhabitants, through great charges falling on them by misfortune, had left the town, others had perished in plagues and epidemics. It was said that only forty-four householders remained in the town, and the burgesses therefore prayed that the fee-farm rent might be reduced to £10. (fn. 76)

As a result of this petition the town was surrendered into the king's hands, and on 17 December 1439 he regranted it to the mayor, bailiffs and burgesses to be held by them for forty years dating from 1439, paying £21 yearly for the first two years and £15 yearly for the remainder of the term, on the expiration of which the fee farm was to be raised again to £42. (fn. 77) In 1445 a yearly charge of £8 from the fee farm of the town was granted to Wallingford Priory for the souls of the king and queen. (fn. 78)

By a charter of 1500 the town obtained two additional fairs, on the feasts of St. Nicholas and the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, with the right to take tolls and hold a pie-powder court. (fn. 79)

A confirmation of the reduction of the fee farm to £15 was obtained in 1507. (fn. 80)

The corporation Statute Book, which is still in the custody of the corporation, begins in 1508, and this, with the Ledger Book, which is a little later in date, throws much light on the condition of the town in the 16th century. (fn. 81)

The officers of the town at this date were the mayor, three aldermen (who controlled the gild), two bailiffs, two constables, two mace-bearers, two victual-tasters, and two ale-tasters. The names of eleven other burgesses, who held no office, are given. They may be identified probably with the burgesses known later as assistants. It appears that the right of electing members of Parliament and borough officers was confined to this small group, and that the town was therefore controlled by a narrow oligarchy. (fn. 82)

In 1526 the corporation added to its property by obtaining a twenty-one years' lease of 33 acres of 'Kynges-Meadow,' the meadow which lay under the castle, at a rent of £7 and 2s. of increase. (fn. 83) In a later lease of 1540 the 3 remaining acres of the meadow were mentioned as being reserved for the use of the Dean of the college of St. Nicholas, the porter and the auditor of the castle. The meadow was let out in allotments, which could only be obtained by burgesses, and its management was regulated by the borough court. (fn. 84)

Sir Thomas Lovel, who was constable of the castle (q.v.) in the reign of Henry VII, was regarded as a great benefactor to the town, and in 1507 the borough court ordered that he, with Master Stephen Bereworth, the Dean of the college of St. Nicholas, who had been physician to the late Prince Arthur, should be prayed for in every parish church of Wallingford every Sunday as long as they lived. Yearly masses were to be said for them after death in the churches of St. Mary, St. Peter, St. Leonard, and All Hallows in turn. (fn. 85)

In 1536 there was apparently an attempt to obtain another reduction of the fee-farm rent. (fn. 86) A search for the spreaders of seditious rumours made by the king's orders in 1537 led to the arrest of a fuller of the town, who was alleged to have spread a rumour that the king was dead. He was set in the pillory in Wallingford market-place on Friday (the market day), and then had 'his years fast nayled' and afterwards 'cut of by the hard hed.' He was then whipped round the town naked to the waist and tied to a cart. Next day he was whipped and pilloried at Reading, and was finally thrown into Reading gaol. (fn. 87)

The merging of the honour of Wallingford in the new honour of Ewelme in 1540 was the pretext on which the mayor and aldermen decided to discontinue the ancient Hock Tuesday revels, thus escaping their 'sumptuous costs' in hiring dresses for the dancers and so on. (fn. 88)

An order of 1543 arranged that the clergy of the town were in future to rank as burgesses only, and were no longer to sit on the bench with the mayor and aldermen. (fn. 89)

The borough charters were inspected and confirmed in 1557–8. (fn. 90)

Leland, who visited Wallingford about 1542, wrote as follows (fn. 91) : 'The Toun of Walingford hath beene a very notable Thing and welle waullid. The Diche of the Town and the Crest wheron the Waulles stoode be yet manifestely perceyved, and begin from the Castelle going in Cumpace a good mile and more, and so cummith to Walingford Bridg a large Thing of Stone over the Thamise. There remayne yet the Names of these Streates emong other: TamiseStreat, Fische-Streate, Bred-Streat, Wood-Streat, Goldsmithes-Row … At this tyme there be but 3 poore Paroch Chirches in the Town.'

A visit from Queen Elizabeth occasioned great preparations in 1568. (fn. 92)

By the beginning of the 16th century the gild and governing body of the town had merged, and men were admitted to the freedom of the borough by taking an oath before the mayor and by paying a small sum, which seems to have varied from 2s. to 6s. 8d., 'to the box,' i.e., to the town funds. Nonresidence for a year and a day, or non-payment of scot and lot, was held to forfeit burgess-ship. (fn. 93) By 1584 the town records show that 'twelve burgesses or assistants' had definitely become part of the governing body of the town, and they seem to have chosen the aldermen from a number of burgesses elected by the freemen. (fn. 94)

Among the officials appointed in 1584 and onwards were four wardens, two searchers and sealers of leather and two of cloth, and the victual and ale tasters. (fn. 95)

The Knollys family had much influence in Wallingford in the late 16th and 17th centuries, several members of it representing the borough in Parliament, Richard Knollys, for instance, being returned to the Parliament of 1586 as a result of a letter from his father, Sir Francis Knollys, to his 'verie lovinge frends' the mayor, aldermen, and burgesses. William Knollys, later Earl of Banbury, became high steward of the borough for life in 1621. (fn. 96) The next high steward, Thomas Howard Earl of Berkshire, received on his election in 1632 a very fulsome address from his 'humble servants and devoted Beadsmen' the mayor, recorder, and aldermen of Wallingford. (fn. 97)

The billeting of soldiers in the town was a great grievance at this period, and their tavern brawls gave much trouble to the authorities. A royal order of February 1626 for building a gibbet or gallows in the market-place for the execution of martial law upon offending soldiers was welcomed by the authorities—'it bred a good deal of peace amongst us thanks be to God,' they wrote. (fn. 98)

The assessments for subsidies and loans and the ship-money assessments of 1636 prove the decline in Wallingford's prosperity. When Windsor was rated at £100, Newbury at £120, and Reading at £220, Wallingford was only assessed at £20. (fn. 99)

Owing to the diminished population of the town fewer taverns were required. In 1621 nine alehouses were suppressed by the corporation, (fn. 100) and in 1636 the town could be described as 'a good market town and stands commodiously having two tavernes.' The George Inn was one of those that survived. (fn. 101)

The Civil War pressed heavily on the town, (fn. 102) which suffered severely in the siege of the castle, many buildings being laid in ruins. After the fall of the castle the Parliamentary party was in the majority among the burgesses, and the mayor, one alderman and two burgesses who were Royalists were 'put forth and excluded from the company of aldermen and burgesses.' (fn. 103)

In May 1648 the governing body consisted of the mayor, three aldermen, sixteen burgesses, the number of the latter falling to eleven in 1649. A charter granted by Cromwell in 1650 set up a corporation consisting of a mayor, six aldermen, a chamberlain and two bailiffs who were to be elected annually from among twelve burgesses. (fn. 104) This charter was abandoned at the Restoration. The spread of Puritanism in the town during the Commonwealth is evident. In 1650 a weekly lecture was appointed to be preached on market days from March to October, and a market was ordered to be held as usual 'on the day called by some Good Friday.' A watchman walked by night through the streets 'for the preventing of fire and the evil courses of night walkers' (fn. 105)

A new mace made in 1650 to replace the two existing silver maces cost £46 18s. 3d., and in the following year 3s. was laid out 'for a canopie for the mace to stand in at the common meeting place for the worship of God.' (fn. 106)

At the Restoration the Royalist inhabitants of Wallingford petitioned that the burgesses ejected by order of Parliament in 1647 should be reinstated and the burgesses elected since 1647, 'who still give out dangerous and seditious speeches against his Majesty,' dispossessed, 'that the government of the town may be rescued from slavery and tyranny.' The king, who had recommended the lord-lieutenant to procure an 'amicable restoration,' sharply rebuked him when he displaced the mayor without authority and ordered his restoration. (fn. 107) Ultimately, however, the mayor, five aldermen and nine burgesses were displaced under the Test Act.

Many inhabitants of the town who had suffered in the Civil War petitioned the king for compensation on his restoration. Michael Molyns, who had previously obtained compensation from the Commonwealth government, received £4,000, and other petitioners of less note asked for recompenses for houses demolished and relatives killed in the king's service, for having provided clothes for Royalist soldiers without payment, and so on. (fn. 108) The widow who had supplied beds for the castle garrison and had kept certain of the king's soldiers half a year at her own cost asked only for 'the very next almsroom that becomes void in Ewelme,' which petition was granted. (fn. 109)

In 1661 the governing body of the town began moving for a confirmation of the borough charter according to an abstract of the privileges granted to Winchester, which was annexed, and in 1663 a new charter was granted, the hope being expressed that 'debates, ambiguities and discommodityes' be taken away, 'that the town may be a town of peace.' (fn. 110) The charter set up a governing body consisting of the mayor, recorder, town clerk, six aldermen, two burgesses, one chamberlain and eighteen assistants 'of the better sort of inhabitants.' (fn. 111)

The borough courts were to be held in the usual way and the fairs and markets were confirmed. Under this charter the recorder was appointed for life, the corporation having power to remove him 'upon just and lawful grounds.' A serious dispute, complicated by strong political feeling, had arisen between the recorder and the rest of the corporation in 1648. The former claimed the right of appointing the town clerk, and the latter claimed that the appointment lay with them, their contention being upheld by evidence as to the customs of Winchester. (fn. 112) The recorder was dismissed from office, being reinstated by Charles II at the Restoration. On his death in 1666 the governing body chose a new recorder, their choice being ratified by the king. (fn. 113)

The fee-farm rent of the borough, which still stood nominally at £42, remained at £15 throughout this period, under various grants of remission usually made for terms of forty years. (fn. 114)

An attempt to revive the gild was made in 1663, when it was ordered that all trades and occupations in the town should form part of the one body of 'The Company of Drapers,' and in the following year the borough obtained Letters Patent authorizing the establishment of a 'society, guild or fraternity,' governed by a master and two wardens, the mayor being given power of removal for misconduct. (fn. 115) This artificial revival was an opportunity for exploiting the town's exclusiveness and of jealously restricting the trading of 'foreigners.' (fn. 116) A penalty of 20s. was imposed on all persons not being freemen for every time they sold retail or pursued any trade or handicraft. Fines for admission as a freeman were always arbitrary. In 1680, for instance, they varied from 14s. to £15, in 1692 from 20d. to £10, the variation corresponding roughly to the property of the new freeman. After 1698 the fine for admission usually included a 'treat' to the corporation and the gift of one or more leather buckets. The corporation soon acquired a handsome collection of these, which were kept for use in case of fire. (fn. 117)

The charter of 1663 was surrendered in 1683 under a quo warranto. The borough obtained a new charter (by payment of £119 3s. 9d.), under which the king had the right of removing members of the governing body. (fn. 118) On 30 August 1685 he exercised this right by the removal of one alderman and three burgesses. (fn. 119) The remodelling of corporations went on still more actively under James II, who in 1687 dismissed ten members of the Wallingford Corporation, (fn. 120) appointing his own nominees to the vacancies. A proclamation issued on the eve of the Revolution restored the charter of 1663 to the borough, which was governed under it until the 19th century. (fn. 121)

The 17th-century ordinances of the borough court were similar to those passed in the 16th century. (fn. 122) Among the new features were the special regulations for apprentices, whose indentures were enrolled after application to the recorder. (fn. 123) Rules as to the aldermen and chamberlain attending the mayor to church and the gildhall, wearing their gowns, under penalty of a fine, were made from 1648 onwards, but though the fine was raised to 30s. in 1701 it was difficult to enforce obedience. (fn. 124)

Wallingford and the neighbourhood were visited by the plague several times during the 17th century. (fn. 125) In 1671 a special watch was set at the bridge to keep out all people coming from the plague-stricken parishes of Crowmarsh and Newnham, the result being thus recorded in the Statute Book: 'And throwe God's mercie our Towne of Wallingford was preserved. To God be given all glorie therefoure.' (fn. 126) A 'sudden and most dreadful fire' did great damage in 1675, and in 1707 there was a serious outbreak of small-pox. (fn. 127)

The gildhall was rebuilt on a new site in 1671–2, and the almshouses on the Reading road were built by private benefaction in 1681. (fn. 128) The assizes were usually held at Wallingford in the 17th century, and part of the money spent in entertaining the judges was collected by various innkeepers, who recognized that Wallingford gained by having the assizes in the town. (fn. 129)

At the beginning of the 18th century a determined effort was made to check the continued decline of the town. The gild was again revived in 1701, only to be declared a few years later to be 'not only prejudicial but destructive to the common weal.' Attempts were made to put the finances of the town on a better footing. The amount produced by market tolls had fallen off steadily since 1673, when they were leased from the corporation for £150 a year. By 1681 the tolls of the markets, without reckoning the fairs, produced only £61. In 1700, therefore, the corporation, in the hope of improving things, ordered that toll should be paid on all tollable commodities every day of the week. For a time the change was satisfactory. The receipts from market tolls touched £115 in the year of this order, but afterwards there was a steady decline. In 1758 the tolls produced only £5 yearly, and when the corn market became entirely a sample market the corporation, after taking legal advice, gave up their claim to market tolls. (fn. 130)

Another way of raising money was by fines for admission to the freedom of the borough, and the old spirit of exclusiveness, together with the urgent need of money, led to very heavy fines being exacted. In 1705 a plumber who was admitted to the freedom had to pay £5, giving in addition 'two leathern buckets and a very good treate.' (fn. 131) There was bitter opposition to these heavy fines, but the corporation's claim to restrain 'foreigners' from trading was upheld by the opinion of the attorney-general. Evasions, however, became more frequent, and the last entry of a fine for admission is found in 1742. (fn. 132) Heavy fines were also imposed on aldermen and others who refused office, the penalty being increased to £50 in 1782. (fn. 133)

All these expedients, however, failed, and the corporation was constantly in financial difficulties. In 1761 the town was £360 in debt, but by raising rents and limiting leases temporary relief was obtained. (fn. 134) From the 16th century onwards the malting trade was the only industry of importance the town possessed, though a little cloth-weaving was still carried on. The neighbourhood was always famous for the fine quality of its barley, and its position on the river made Wallingford a good centre for the trade. The trade flourished until the 19th century, when it began to decline. (fn. 135)

In 1704 a stage coach between Wallingford and London was started, (fn. 136) and the two new turnpike roads were brought through the town at the end of the 18th century, one leading to Oxford, the other to Wantage. (fn. 137) An Act of Parliament for the better paving and lighting of the town inaugurated great improvements in 1795. (fn. 138) At Wallingford, as elsewhere, the allowance system was adopted at the end of the 18th century to supplement the low wages then prevalent, but the prices in the town remained low, and Wallingford was described as one of the cheapest places in the county. (fn. 139)

The workhouse for the parishes of St. Mary, St. Leonard, and St. Peter stood near the borough boundary, while the parish of All Hallows had a separate workhouse. The poor rate stood at a very high level until by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1835 Wallingford became the centre of a large union. The union has always had to deal with a large amount of vagrancy. (fn. 140)

In 1792 four fairs were still in existence, being held on the Tuesday before Easter, on 24 June, 29 September and 17 December. (fn. 141) By 1806 three of these were declining, the Michaelmas fair being the only one largely attended, (fn. 142) and by 1840 this alone survived, and still continues, being chiefly used as a fair for hiring servants. (fn. 143)

During the 18th century Wallingford was a typical rotten borough. Its Parliamentary history from 1295 onwards had been uneventful, two members being returned regularly to Parliament by all the inhabitants who were at scot and lot. (fn. 144) Occasionally one of the members excused the borough from paying his expenses. (fn. 145) In 1604 the election of Griffith Payne, Mayor of Wallingford, to Parliament raised the question of the eligibility of mayors of boroughs for election, and it was resolved that they should be ineligible in future. (fn. 146) In 1640 the election of two members for Wallingford was declared void. (fn. 147) A personal letter from the king recommending a particular candidate was received by the corporation in 1663. (fn. 148) There were later election petitions, none of them involving any points of special interest, in 1660, 1680 and 1685. The petition of 1688 showed that the right of election was understood to belong to those who paid scot and lot, and it was alleged that the mayor had been terrorized into making a double return by soldiers who threatened to cut off his ears. There were other petitions in 1701 and 1705, and in 1709 the return of Mr. Thomas Renda was disputed. (fn. 149) Allegations of bribery were made, and many votes were disputed owing to non-residence, the receipt of alms and charity, and so on, but the House upheld Renda's election. (fn. 150) The election petitions of 1714, 1715 and 1719 also made charges of bribery and illegal practices, but they were all withdrawn by order of the House. (fn. 151) The influence of Frederick Prince of Wales was being used in the Wallingford election of 1747. (fn. 152) In the early 19th century corruption increased, and it was notorious that the Wallingford electors were in the habit of selling their votes for £20 apiece, a mysterious 'miller' going round to deal out the gold when the fight was over. (fn. 153)

By the Reform Act of 1832 Wallingford lost one of its members, (fn. 154) and it lost the other member in 1885, its representation being merged in that of the county. (fn. 155) The corporation, under the Corporations Act of 1835, consists of a mayor, six aldermen and twelve councillors. (fn. 156)

There was some revival of trade in the 19th century, in the early part of which communications were opened up with Bath, Birmingham and Bristol by canal. Coal was thus brought into the town, corn and flour being sent down the Thames to London. (fn. 157)

A county debt court was established at Wallingford in 1847. (fn. 158)

The property of the corporation was valued at £534 14s. 11d. in 1868, the bulk of which consisted of house property, which was soon afterwards sold, the proceeds being invested in Government stock. (fn. 159) In addition there was pasture land in Old Moor, otherwise Portman's Moor, in St. Leonard's parish, and a small plot of arable land. The common rights enjoyed by the mayor, aldermen and burgesses over Kine Croft and Portman's Moor were commuted about 1870, (fn. 160) Kine Croft being used subsequently as a recreation ground, though cows could be pastured there for a small payment. In 1881, by the exertions of Mr. J. K. Hedges, the historian of the borough, a perpetual injunction was obtained from the Court of Chancery restraining the corporation from levelling the ancient earthworks known as the Kine Croft Banks. The ramparts and the footway along the top have thus been preserved.

The fee-farm rent of the town, which appears to have been alienated by the Crown in the 18th century, was sold to the corporation by Mr. Head Pottinger Best for £1,000 (fn. 161) before 1880.

A fishery in the Thames extending from Shillingford Bridge to the stream coming from Elm Bridge belonged to the manor of Rush in Clapcot. (fn. 162) The fishery known as 'Blondeleswater' passed to the lords of the same manor in 1370; it was a little higher up the stream and extended as far as Shillingford Bridge. (fn. 163) Another fishery belonged to William Cornwaille's manor of Clapcot and passed to that of Rush, when they became united. (fn. 164) This fishery subsequently followed the descent of the manors of Clapcot and Rush (fn. 165) (q.v.), and is mentioned in many of the documents relating to them. (fn. 166)

Footnotes

1 Rot. de Oblatis et Fin. (Rec. Com.), 232, 538, 601; Rot. Cur. Reg. (Rec. Com.), ii, 2; Testa de Nevill (Rec. Com.), 114, 115, 115b; Pipe R. 10 John, m. 7 d.; Red Bk. of Exch. (Rolls Ser.), 69, 466; Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 96, 133; Cal. Pat. 1292–1301, p. 509; 1313–17; p. 512.
2 Cal. Pat. 1313–17, p. 668; Chart. R. 16 Edw. III, m. 1, no. 1.
3 Cal. Close, 1227–31, p. 515; Ct. R. (Gen. Ser.), portf. 212, no. 16.
4 Maitland, Bracton's Note Bk. ii, 407–8; Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), ii, 23; Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), 1, 9, 10, 16.
5 Dugdale, Mon. i, 538; vi, 1016; see also ii, 187.
6 Chan. Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. I, no. 44 (24).
7 Cal. Pat. 1377–81, p. 172; 1385–9, p. 12; 1413–16, p. 184.
8 L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), g. 5748 (21); xvii, p. 698.
9 Mins. Accts. Hen. VIII, no. 106.
10 Boarstall Chart. penes Sir Aubrey Fletcher, bart., fol. 30, 50b; Cal. Chart. R. 1300–26, p. 424.
11 Rot. de Oblatis et Fin. (Rec. Com.), 200; Cal. Close, 1227–31, p. 265; 1231–4, pp. 9, 99; Cal. Pat. 1225–32, pp. 161, 223; 1281–92, pp. 254, 325, 359; 1301–7, p. 318.
12 Parl. R. i, 300.
13 Chan. Inq. p.m. 56 Hen. III, file 42, no. 1; 28 Edw. I, no.44 (24); 9 Ric. II, no. 54.
14 Boarstall Chart. fol. 29.
15 Exch. Dep. East. 16 Eliz. no. 2; Hil. 26 Eliz. no. 16.
16 V.C.H. Berks. i, 325–6.
17 See below, p. 533.
18 Hunter, Gt. R. of the Pipe 31 Hen. I (Rec. Com.), 139.
19 Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, p. 68; Harl. Chart. 58, I 23; P.R.O. Anct. D. A. 849, see V.C.H. Herts. ii, 171.
20 Gross, Gild Merchant, i, 63; ii, 244.
21 Chart. R. 51 Hen. III, m. 9; Rymer, op. cit. i, 471; Harl. Chart. 58, 123.
22 Chron. Mon. de Abingdon (Rolls Ser.), ii, 227–9.
23 Hunter, Magn. Rot. Scacc. 31 Hen. I, 139.
24 Hunter, Great R. of the Pipe (1155–58), 83.
25 Pipe R. 10 Hen. II, (Pipe R. Soc.), 43.
26 Ibid. 24 Hen. II, 99; 29 Hen. II, pp. xxxvi and 138; Ibid. 30 Hen. II, 57.
27 Cal. Close, 1227–31, pp. 304, 325, 568; Cal. Pat. 1225–32, p. 336.
28 These records are reported on in Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 572–94, where it is stated that few corporations possess archives of greater antiquity.
29 Portmannefelde was divided into the North and South Fields (Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 586–7).
30 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 572; Add. Chart. 19619. The date when the mayor is first mentioned is 1231 (Cal. Close, 1227–31, pp. 325, 568). A list of mayors from the 13th century to 1880 has been compiled by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 227–32.
31 The aldermen are not mentioned definitely until 1290 (Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 590).
32 The charter of Henry II mentions it as existing from the reign of Edward the Confessor (Rymer, op. cit. i, 471; Chart. R. 51 Hen. III, m. 9).
33 Gross, op. cit. ii, 245; see Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 572–5.
34 Gross, loc. cit.; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 576 seq.
35 He appears later among the drapers.
36 This is the extension and the interpretation given by Mr. H. T. Riley in the Rep. of the Hist. MSS. Com., but possibly this word may be for 'forinseci,' or foreigners or strangers.
37 This toll or composition varied from 2d. to 28d. apparently according to the position of the individual assessed (Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. loc. cit.).
38 After 1267 the bolteres are replaced by 'arconarii.' Some curious surnames appear—Time of Day, White Neck, Threehalfpence, Goldeye, and so on. The vintners of Wallingford are mentioned in 1229 (Cal. Close, 1227–31, p. 192).
39 A tally produced before the court as evidence has been preserved (Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 576).
40 Ibid. 575.
41 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 587–92.
42 A large number of coins struck at Wallingford have survived. Reproductions may be seen in Hedges, op. cit. i, 155, 179, 220–1.
43 Madox, Hist. of Exch. ii, 88; Hedges, op. cit. i, 314; Chron. of John of Oxenedes (Rolls Ser.), 320–1.
44 Close, 6 John, m. 6.
45 Ibid. 11 Hen. III, m. 9.
46 Pat. 15 John, m. 18; Cal. Close, 1227–31, p. 265.
47 Maitland, Bracton's Note Bk. ii, 636–7.
48 Chart. R. 51 Hen. III, m. 9.
49 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 578–9.
50 Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 12, 18.
51 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 582–4.
52 Ibid.
53 Chan. Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. I, no. 44.
54 Hedges, op. cit. i, 353.
55 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 211; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 591.
56 Chan. Misc. file 8, no. 3; see also Feud. Aids, i, 47.
57 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 584.
58 Parl. Writs (Rec. Com.), ii, 253, 258, 308, 312.
59 Cal. Pat. 1330–4, p. 55.
60 Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, 119; Cal. Pat. 1334–8, p. 529.
61 Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, p. 328.
62 Cal. Pat. 1345–8, p. 452. A charge of £21 from the farm of the borough was confirmed to her in 1358 (ibid. 1358–61, p. 82).
63 Ibid. 1377–81, p. 170.
64 Ibid. 1358–61, p. 283.
65 Ibid. 419.
66 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 581–2.
67 Boarstall Chart. fol. 20.
68 Cal. Pat. 1399–1401, p. 190. It was confirmed by Henry V in 1414 and by Henry VI in Feb. 1424–5 (ibid. 1422–9, p. 285).
69 Ibid. 1381–5, pp. 448, 449.
70 Ibid. 1388–92, p. 448.
71 Ibid. 1391–6, p. 720.
72 Ibid. 1399–1401, p. 201.
73 Ibid. 1416–22, p. 60. In 1420 the mayor and burgesses went to Reading to make a loan to the king (Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xi, App. vii, 173).
74 Leland, Itin. iii, 119.
75 Cal. Pat. 1436–41, pp. 148, 200, 317, 318.
76 Ibid.
77 Ibid. pp. 360–1.
78 Ibid. 1441–6, p. 362.
79 Chart. R. 199, m. 15.
80 Pat. 22 Hen. VII, quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 74–5. The town bailiff's expenditure of £4 7s. 11d. when travelling to London to secure this charter is entered in the ledger (see Hedges, loc. cit.).
81 Many extracts from these books are given by Hedges op. cit., from which they are quoted here.
82 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 41.
83 L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), g. 2673 (24).
84 Corp. Ledger, 34, quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 86.
85 Doc. quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 74.
86 L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), 1342.
87 Ibid. xii (2), 1256, 1298.
88 Corp. Ledger, 35, quoted by Hedges op. cit. ii, 91–2.
89 Ibid. 216.
90 Wallingford Muniments; Hedges op. cit. ii, 98; i, 270.
91 Itin. ii, 12, 13.
92 Bodl. Lib. Chart. Rawlinson D. 775.
93 Corp. Ledger, quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 216, 233.
94 Ibid.
95 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 216.
96 Ibid. 108. The office of high steward dated from 1597. A list of high stewards is printed by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 240–2.
97 Corp. Ledger, printed by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 121–2.
98 Ibid. 120.
99 Cal. S. P. Dom. 1636–7, p 251; Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xiii, App. iv, 384.
100 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 117.
101 Cal. S. P. Dom. 1637, p. 525; 1637–8, p. 235.
102 In 1643 a debt of £11,199 1s. 6d. was due to the towns of Wallingford, Abingdon and Oxford (Cal. of Clarendon State Papers [ed. Ogle], i, 247).
103 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 217–18.
104 Corp. Rec. quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 218.
105 Corp. Ledger, quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 156–7.
106 Ibid. 156.
107 Cal. S. P. Dom. 1660–1, pp. 373–4, 550.
108 Ibid. 1657–8, pp. 207, 262, 351; 1658–9, p. 28; 1661–2, pp. 147, 257, 267; 1661–2, p. 219; 1663–4, p. 116.
109 Ibid. 1663–4, p. 148.
110 Cal. S. P. Dom. 1660–1, p. 517; 1663–4, pp. 172, 188.
111 Ibid. 1663–4, p. 188.
112 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 243–5.
113 Cal. S. P. Dom. 1665–6, p. 255; 1666–7, p. 526. During the 17th century the recorder usually represented the borough in Parliament, though this practice was given up later (Hedges, op. cit. ii, 243).
114 Cal. S. P. Dom. 1676–7, p. 546. The fee farm of Wallingford was exempted from the sale of similar rents in 1673 (ibid. 1673, p. 398).
115 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 234.
116 Ibid. 234–8.
117 Ibid. 236.
118 Pat. 36 Chas. II, pt. vii, no. 9.
119 Statute Book, 122, quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 222–3.
120 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. xii, App. vi, 298, 309; Hedges, loc. cit.
121 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 223.
122 See above, p. 536.
123 Statute Book, quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 114.
124 Ibid. 218, 224–5.
125 Cal. S. P. Dom. 1665–6, p. 472.
126 Statute Book, 114, quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 177–8.
127 Ibid. 178, 185. An amusing pamphlet called 'The Sad, Amazing and Dreadful Relation of a farmer's wife near Wallingford,' dated 1697, describes an astonishing adventure with the devil.
128 Ibid. 177, 178.
129 Ibid. 182, 183, 185.
130 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 176.
131 Corp. Rec. quoted by Hedges, op. cit. ii, 237.
132 Ibid. 239.
133 Ibid. 246–7.
134 Ibid. 187.
135 Lysons, Mag. Brit. i (2), 399, 400; Lewis, Topog. Dict. (1849).
136 V.C.H. Berks. ii, 226.
137 Ibid. 225; Lysons, op. cit. i (2), 401.
138 Lewis, op. cit. iv, 442.
139 Pearce, Agric. of Berks. (1794), 40; Mavor, Agric. of Berks. (1809); V.C.H. Berks. ii, 223–4.
140 In 1878 the number of casuals admitted was 3,764 (Hedges, op. cit. ii, 265).
141 Rep. of Roy. Com. on Market Rts. and Tolls, pt. i, App. 138.
142 Lysons, op. cit. i, 399, 400; Carlisle, Topog. Dict. (1808).
143 Lewis, op. cit.; Rep. of Roy. Com. on Market Rts. and Tolls, loc. cit.; Hedges, op. cit. i, 224.
144 Parl. Writs (ed. Palgrave, 1827), i, 40, 41; Hedges, op. cit. ii, 205–15, prints a list of the M.P.'s from 1295 onwards.
145 Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 582. The usual wages in the 14th century were 2s. a day (Cal. Close, 1374–7, pp. 430, 537; 1369–74, p. 290).
146 Carew, Parl. Elections, ii, 205. Griffith Payne was Mayor of Wallingford nine times between 1598 and 1610 (Hedges, op. cit. ii, 229).
147 Carew, loc. cit.
148 Cal. S. P. Dom. 1660–70, p. 680.
149 Carew, loc. cit.
150 Portland MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), vii, 14; Carew, op. cit. 207.
151 Carew, op. cit. 206–8.
152 MSS. of J. B. Fortescue at Dropmore (Hist. MSS. Com.), i, 108.
153 Trial and Conviction of Wallingford Whiggism; V.C.H. Berks. ii, 165–6; Hedges, op. cit. ii, 203.
154 Stat. 2 Will. IV, cap. 45; Rep. on Munic. Corp. 1835.
155 Stat. 48 & 49 Vict. cap. 23.
156 Stat. 5 & 6 Will. IV, cap. 76.
157 Lewis, op. cit. iv, 442.
158 Ibid.
159 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 226. At this date tolls of the markets and fairs amounted to £9.
160 Hedges, op. cit. ii, 227.
161 Ibid. 249.
162 Boarstall Chart. fol. 30.
163 Ibid. 36, 40b, 41, 49, 50b, 51.
164 Ibid. 8, 8b, 9, 36.
165 Feet of F. Berks. East. 1 Edw. VI; Mich. 3 Edw. VI; Mich. 6 Edw. VI, and later documents, see p. 548.
166 Ibid. Trin. 12 Chas. II, see p. 548.