A History of the County of Buckingham: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1925.
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THE BOROUGH OF AYLESBURY WITH WALTON
Aegelesbyrig or Aegelesburh (vi–x cent.); Eilesberia (xi cent.); Ailesberia, Ailesbiria, or Ailisberia (xii cent.); Eyllesbir' or Aillesbyr' (xiii cent.).
Aylesbury occupies a prominent position on a hill at the junction of Akeman Street (fn. 1) with the main road from Thame to Buckingham. It is the natural centre for a great part of the county and doubtless owes its growth to this fact. The ancient town was built entirely on the summit and slopes of the hill. The church stands on the highest ground in the midst of an open square, the west side of which is occupied by the prebendal estate and the south by Parson's Fee. The Prebendal is a large house to the south-west of the church, now the residence of Mr. Donald Stewart, M.D. Here John Wilkes, the political writer, resided, having obtained the prebendal estate by his marriage with Mary daughter of John Meade. He retained the property after his separation from his wife. (fn. 2) In the same grounds is St. Osyth's, formerly the Prebendal Farm, now the residence of Rev. G. Dangerfield. The house is of three blocks of different heights. The middle part of the house of timber and brick, which now comprises the kitchens and offices, is the earliest and may be of the 16th century. The southern block, also of timber and brick, was added in the middle of the 17th century, and the northern, which forms the main part of the house, was built of brick later in the 17th century. At the back is a 16th-century tithe barn of six bays. Further east on the south side of Parson's Fee are four 17th-century cottages with projecting upper stories, and there are other cottages of similar date in St. Mary's Square and Church Row.
Kingsbury was evidently the centre of the early settlement. It is an open space immediately east of the church square, and is the traditional site of the residence of Saxon, Norman and Plantagenet monarchs. (fn. 3) The 16th-century 'Castle Fee' (see below) and the name Castle Street applied to a steep descent south-west of Kingsbury point to the existence of some defensive works. In mediaeval times the town developed in an easterly direction, shifting its centre to the market-place, an open square on the sloping ground below Kingsbury. The trading community evidently lived in the neighbourhood of the market at Baker Lane (probably Baker Street, in which a cross was standing in the early 16th century), (fn. 4) Cordwainer Row (now Temple Street), and Butcher Row (now Silver Lane). (fn. 5) The Market Square was also the centre of county business. Although Buckingham is the county town and certainly took the place of county town in the Domesday Survey, it was early found that the natural position of Aylesbury made it by far the more suitable meeting-place. Consequently assizes were held at Aylesbury from 1218 onwards (fn. 6) and probably before that year. A similar result of the central position of Aylesbury in the county was the existence there of the park or poundfold for cattle distrained by the sheriff. (fn. 7) The tenement held by service of keeping this pound apparently existed in 1086. (fn. 8) The election of knights of the shire also took place at Aylesbury, (fn. 9) and in 1351 the King's Bench moved thither. (fn. 10) The gaol for the county and the forest of Bernwood was also kept here at least from 1180. (fn. 11) It was repaired about 1182 under the view of David de Aylesbury and Herbert de Bierton. (fn. 12) The sheriff received ninety oaks for it in 1234. (fn. 13) The gaoler of 1276, it is stated, allowed women to escape at 1s. a head. (fn. 14) In spite of repairs executed early in the next century (fn. 15) the prison was still insecure in 1340, (fn. 16) and felons escaped in considerable numbers. (fn. 17) Early in the 16th century the gaol and gaol 'pit' were adjacent tenements in the market-place. (fn. 18) The 'Sessions House' (fn. 19) was also the market hall. (fn. 20) In the 17th century attempts were made to remove the summer assizes to Buckingham (fn. 21) (q.v.). A new County Hall, a red brick building with stone dressings, said to have been designed by Sir John Vanbrugh, at the south-east end of the Market Square, was built about 1727 and the sessions moved there from a hired tenement, (fn. 22) probably the market-house. From 1724 to 1728 the custom of holding summer assizes at Buckingham prevailed, (fn. 23) and in 1748 it was confirmed by Act of Parliament after considerable dissension between the rival towns. (fn. 24) About 1844 the county gaol, which was then adjacent to the new County Hall, was removed to a better site on the Bierton Road. (fn. 25) The Midsummer assizes were again transferred to Aylesbury in 1849. (fn. 26) The gaol on the Bierton Road was converted into a female convict prison in 1895. (fn. 27) Before the County Hall there are a statue of Lord Chesham (d. 1907), erected in 1910, and a Clock Tower built by the inhabitants in 1876–7. (fn. 28) A statue of John Hampden erected in June 1912 stands at the north-east corner of the Market Square.
At one time the market-place probably included the present Market Square and also the open space called Kingsbury. It has been much encroached upon from an early date, at first probably, as elsewhere, by permanent stalls, which eventually became shops, houses and inns. The island block between Buckingham Street and Kingsbury is apparently an early encroachment, as are also the houses on the west of the Market Square. (fn. 29) Around the market-place are many old inns and houses of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The White Horse Inn, on the west side of Market Square, is a 16th-century plastered building with a tiled roof. In a fireplace in the kitchen is a large spit worked by a fan in the chimney, and there is a 16th-century inscription on the dining room wall. Dark Lantern Inn, in Silver Street, and the house to the north-east of it are of the 16th century. In Silver Lane there are several 17th-century cottages and houses, and at the east end of Market Street is a 16th-century house, which has been a good town house, with a hall of three bays, but is now divided into three shops. On the opposite side of the street are some 17th-century timber and plaster houses. The 'Old King's Head' is a good specimen of a mediaeval timber house and perhaps the most interesting house in the town. It dates back to about 1450 and is of two stories with attics; the walls are of timber with brick filling and the roofs are tiled. The plan originally consisted of four ranges of buildings surrounding a courtyard. The south-west range contains the hall, originally of five bays, but now reduced to two. It is a handsome room of some height with moulded beams and wall posts. Behind the hall were the kitchens. The north-east and north-west ranges form the stables and have been almost entirely rebuilt. The south-east range, which was formerly the main front facing Market Square, but is now obscured by later buildings, is composed of three gabled bays. In the middle is the archway forming the entrance to the courtyard, above which is a modern oriel window. On the right is a 17th-century staircase with twisted balusters, leading to the room over the archway. The south-west bay contains the very fine wood-mullioned and transomed window of the hall of ten lights in two stages. Some of the lights contain their original glass, comprising many fragments showing angels holding shields, some with the arms of Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou his wife; other designs are the symbol of St. Mark and quarries with the Bohun swan, a covered cup and flowers. The heads of all the lights were four-centred, but those on the lower stage are now square. The story above overhangs and is supported on curved brackets. The north-east bay was largely rebuilt in the 18th century and part of it now forms a separate tenement.
The old Market House or Market Hall, as has been already stated, was used also as the Sessions House, and was repaired at the joint cost of the lord of the manor and the Crown. (fn. 30) It was a brick and timber building supported on oak pillars, (fn. 31) and was rebuilt about 1530 by Sir John Baldwin, chief justice of the Common Pleas. (fn. 32) The lower part was occupied by shops. (fn. 33) This building was pulled down about 1808 (fn. 34) and replaced by a stone building, which was demolished by the Aylesbury Market Company about 1866. (fn. 35) The present market buildings occupy the site of the White Hart Inn, next the County Hall. A little to the north of the 'Old King's Head,' at the corner of George Street, is the Red Lion Inn, a timber and plaster house two stories high, with tiled roofs, refaced in brick on the north-west front. The name goes back to 1569, (fn. 36) and some part of the existing building facing Kingsbury may date from this period, but the main block is of the 17th century with additions in the 19th century. There is an entrance to the court-yard from Kingsbury, and there are two late 17th-century mullioned windows, now blocked, at the back of the range facing George Street. There are several brick and timber 17th-century houses and shops in Kingsbury, some covered with plaster. At the north-east end, Nos. 34 and 38 Kingsbury form a 16th-century house, now divided into two. They are of brick and timber with a tiled roof and have overhanging upper stories resting upon the original sill. On the east side of Market Square is the Crown Inn or hotel, which was the property of Richard Baldwin in 1486. (fn. 37) The present house was built in the early part of the 16th century and contained a fine panelled ceiling with the arms of Pakington and other families. (fn. 38) Excepting the block facing Market Square, it was rebuilt towards the end of the 18th century. The older portion is timberframed, with an overhanging story and tiled roof. A little to the south-east is the Bull or Bull's Head Inn, which was granted to John Litley in 1481, (fn. 39) whose successor in the 16th century was sued in Chancery for altering the term of his lease from twenty-one years to sixty-one. (fn. 40) The older part of the present house is of the 17th century, but the main block was rebuilt in the 18th century. In the Market Square also is the George Inn, which contains a remarkable collection of pictures. A house with the same sign stood here in the 16th century next to 'le Pavydhall.' (fn. 41) The 'Black Swan,' a 16th-century building, was demolished in 1883. The older part of the town lies to the west of the market-place. Temple Street has many 17th-century houses, mostly of timber and brick; Nos. 24 and 28 were probably originally of the 16th century, but have been much altered. The Queen's Head Inn, in Temple Square, is a 17th-century house, partly of brick and partly of timber and brick, much restored; some of the wooden mullioned windows still remain. There are other 17th-century houses in the square. In Church Street are some good houses of the 18th century and earlier. No. 1 is a house of the middle of the 16th century of two stories, to which in 1739 a brick front and the attic floor were added. Remains of a 15th-century roof exist at Ceely House, the residence of Mr. J. C. Baker, but the house itself is of the 18th century. No. 8, the Chantry, is another 16th-century house, but has received many additions and alterations. In the dining room is a large open fireplace with a heavy oak lintel. This and some of the other fittings may be of the 17th century. Nos. 12 and 14 are also 17th-century houses. In Castle Street are many 17th-century houses and cottages, mostly of timber and brick now plastered. No. 23 is of the middle of the 16th century, but much altered in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is a timber and plaster house with projecting upper story and tiled roof, and was evidently at one time inhabited by a maltster, for on one side is a 17th-century maltkiln. It seems to have had an upper hall with an open roof. The Saracen's Head Inn, on Rickford's Hill, is an early 17th-century house refronted in brick in the next century. A little to the north on the same side is a late 17th-century brick house with original windows having oak mullions in the upper story. Green End House is probably a 17th-century house added to in the next century and contains some original fittings. In Oxford Road there are a few old houses of the 17th-century, including the Rising Sun Inn, and further east a house, now divided into two cottages, one of which, No. 6, has a fireplace with corner seats.
To the north of the church in Whitehall Street is Ardenham House, the residence of the Misses Grinnell. In the grounds has been erected a late 15th-century window of five lights with elaborate tracery, which is said to have come from Tring Church in Hertfordshire. There are a number of 17th-century cottages in this street, originally timber-framed, but many of them refaced in brick. In Buckingham Street are the remains of 16th and 17th-century houses. No. 7 is an 18th-century house and has two 16th-century roundels of terra-cotta inserted in the front. Although Nos. 17 and 19, which together originally formed one house, were refronted in the 18th century, they contain a good deal of early 17th-century work, and at the back of No. 21 are indications of an early house. Cambridge Street also contains some timber and brick 17th-century houses.
On the high ground to the south-west of the Market Square stood the Franciscan friary, founded in 1386 by James (Butler) Earl of Ormonde, then lord of the manor. (fn. 42) Its stone wall inclosing certain gardens faced the corner of Walton Street. (fn. 43) The conventual church stood further north, (fn. 44) and the friars' cemetery had a gate opening into 'Rether Fair.' (fn. 45) This was possibly a cattle fair, but its site has not been located. The modern Friarage Road evidently skirted the buildings on the south-west. Foundations and stonework have been found near here, (fn. 46) in the grounds of 'The Primroses,' the residence of Mr. Thomas Field, and the loose stones have been built into a wall of a bank in the garden. Amongst these are fragments of a 15th-century window. Some pieces probably from a 17th-century tomb, representing two figures of women weeping, were found here and are now in the County Museum, Aylesbury. The friars surrendered to the Crown in October 1538, (fn. 47) and their house was purchased by Sir John Baldwin, lord of the manor, in April 1541. (fn. 48)
The hospital of St. John Baptist was within the old town. (fn. 49) It is said to have been founded in the time of Henry I for the infirm and poor of the town. (fn. 50) In 1384 it was united with the hospital of St. Leonard. (fn. 51) The vicar of Aylesbury had licence to celebrate in the chapel of St. John Baptist in 1423. (fn. 52) The hospital was the property of the gild of the Virgin Mary, and as such was seized by Edward VI and sold to John Wright and Thomas Holmes of London in 1553. (fn. 53) It was then in the occupation of Richard Foyer. (fn. 54) The hospital of St. Leonard was founded for lepers. (fn. 55) It was endowed with lands in Aylesbury and Hartwell, (fn. 56) and probably lay outside the town near 'Spetilbrugge,' which was evidently another name for 'Walbridge,' the limit of the borough boundary on the Hartwell Road. (fn. 57) This was probably the site of 'Spitell Mill,' a water-mill destroyed before 1477. (fn. 58) The name 'St. Leonard's Close' survived in 1627. (fn. 59)
The old town lay entirely on the hill in the immediate neighbourhood of the church, Kingsbury and the market-place. The low-lying ground now covered by the modern part of Aylesbury was occupied by swamps, 'lees' or meadows, water-yards and willow-beds, so that stone causeways were necessary at the main entrances. (fn. 60) It was not till the last century that houses were built in these districts, which had recently been drained by the Board of Health. At the same time communications were facilitated by the opening of the Aylesbury branch of the Grand Junction Canal in 1814 (fn. 61) and of the Aylesbury branch of the London and North Western railway in 1839. (fn. 62) The station was built to the north-west of the town, near the New Road or High Street, which had recently been constructed. (fn. 63) A direct connexion with London was subsequently established by the Metropolitan railway and the Aylesbury branch of the Great Western railway, which have a joint station built in the southern part of the town, on Cook's Close, immediately below the Friarage. (fn. 64) The town has always been famous for duck-rearing. The lace industry, of which it was one of the chief centres in the 17th and 18th centuries, (fn. 65) was superseded by silk-weaving. (fn. 66) Printing works have existed since the second half of the 18th century. (fn. 67) The printing works of Messrs. Hazell, Watson & Viney were brought to their present site on the New Road in 1867. (fn. 68) Between them and the canal are condensed milk works. The recent establishment of rivet and butter industries has also tended to increase this modern portion of the town.
In the High Street is the Roman Catholic church of St. Joseph. Above it is a Congregational chapel, built in 1874 on the site of Hale Leys Chapel, which had been occupied by Presbyterians from 1707 until 1816, when the Independents removed thither from Castle Street Chapel. (fn. 69) This had been opened in 1788. The old Wesleyan chapel in the Friarage, built in 1837, has been replaced by a new building in Buckingham Street. In Buckingham Road is a Primitive Methodist chapel, which dates from 1882, when it was built in place of a former chapel near the North Western station. (fn. 70) A meetinghouse for Baptists in Baker's Lane was licensed in 1733. (fn. 71) A new building was erected in Walton Street, 1828. (fn. 72) A Quaker meeting-house on Rickford's Hill (fn. 73) is now used for commercial purposes.
Walton is a picturesque hamlet on the Wendover Road. It was without the bounds of the borough, (fn. 74) but within those of the ecclesiastical parish of Aylesbury. (fn. 75) Now it is a separate ecclesiastical parish within the urban district of Aylesbury. John Wilkes aided in the foundation of a branch of the Foundling Hospital in the Crofts at Walton. (fn. 76) On the road from Aylesbury to Walton called Walton Street are some 17th-century cottages and the White Swan Inn and Bear Inn here are of this date. Along the Walton Road in Walton are some 17th-century cottages close to the village green with its pond. Walton House, on the west side of this road, the residence of Mrs. Parrott, is an 18th-century house, but some of the outbuildings and walls are of the 17th century and the malting belonging to this house, which comprises a house and barn connected by a covered archway, is of the same period. The front on the road has three gables, which are weather-boarded, the lower part having been rebuilt in brick. Near the house is a gateway, now blocked, which bears the date 1674. On the opposite side of the road is Walton Grange, the residence of Mr. W. Hazell, J.P. This is a 16th-century timber and brick house with a later covering of rough-cast and hanging tiles. It was enlarged in the 19th century by the addition of the east wing and an extension on the south-west. There is a porch with turned wooden posts supporting an upper story. The coach-house and stables are of the same date as the house. Further north is a 17th-century farmhouse of timber and brick with some ancient outbuildings. Near Walton Court, the residence of Mr. D. Seaton, are the remains of some entrenchments.
Roman pottery and spindles have been found in the neighbourhood of St. Mary's Church. (fn. 77) In 571 the Britons were driven from Aylesbury by the West Saxon Prince Cuthwulf. (fn. 78) The town apparently developed into a Saxon 'burh,' and in the time of Edward the Confessor was the centre of eight hundreds which formed a 'circuit' paying scot to Aylesbury Church. (fn. 79) In the surrounding vale are traces of Saxon interments, (fn. 80) and remains, possibly Saxon in origin, have been found at Walton just outside the town. (fn. 81) About 921, when Edward the Elder was pushing his conquests over the Danes, they broke through his flank by night, taking 'no little both in men and cattle betwixt Bernewood and Aylesbury.' (fn. 82)
The position of the town and the existence of a strong Parliamentarian party within it rendered it of importance during the civil wars. In 1640 the undisciplined army from Scotland had burnt thirty houses in the town. (fn. 83) At the outbreak of the war it was garrisoned for the Parliament, (fn. 84) and volunteers from London set up a pulpit in the market-place, plundered the houses of Papists, and then mutinied against their commanding officer there. (fn. 85)
The battle of Aylesbury was fought at Holman's Bridge, 1 November 1642. According to Parliamentary reports, Prince Rupert entered the town on his way to London after the battle of Edgehill. The county militia were insufficient for its defence, but 1,500 men, under Sir William Balfour, came to its aid from the north. Rupert, distrusting the townspeople, met Balfour outside the town at Holman's Bridge. From this position he was driven by the Parliamentarians aided by the Aylesbury men, who attacked their unwelcome guests upon the rear. (fn. 86) Rupert retired towards Oxford; but later in the month certain Royalist cavalry quartered themselves in the town, plundering and wrecking houses until the townsmen and villagers armed with pikes and muskets drove them from the market-place, where they had made a stand. (fn. 87) In 1643 the town was garrisoned by regular Parliamentarian troops. Rupert again approached the town 23 March 1643, but did not assault it. (fn. 88) Essex fell back on Aylesbury in his retreat from Thame, July 1643. (fn. 89) The boggy ground outside the town hampered his cavalry, and the Royalists harassed it from the cover of the standing wheat. (fn. 90) Essex again passed through the town on his way to relieve Gloucester in the August following. (fn. 91) The Independents treating with Charles for religious toleration offered the surrender of Aylesbury as a pledge of good faith, (fn. 92) but Col. Aldrich, the Parliamentary governor, (fn. 93) stood loyal to his party and Lieut.-Col. Moseley, the officer with whom the surrender was negotiated, revealed the plot to the Committee of Public Safety. (fn. 94) The town 'was much in the King's eye,' (fn. 95) and the Royalist forces advanced upon it, 21 January 1644, in the midst of a snow-storm, but turned back when they found that their plot was known. (fn. 96) Aldrich was rewarded, and Parliament borrowed money to pay the garrison and sent ordnance and ammunition from the Tower. (fn. 97) Aylesbury was appointed the rendezvous for the forces under Essex and Manchester in the following spring. (fn. 98) On 26 June 1644, shortly before the fight at Cropredy Bridge, the Royalists 'sat down before Aylesbury and played with their great guns against it,' (fn. 99) but they were obliged to retire on Oxford. (fn. 100) Col. Martin, governor from 1644 to 1645, (fn. 101) failed to maintain discipline in the town or to keep the peace among his men. (fn. 102) He was succeeded by Col. Fleetwood (fn. 103) and subsequently by Col. Bulstrode. (fn. 104) Martial law was established to suppress disorder within the garrison in February 1645–6, (fn. 105) but in the following July the fortifications were demolished and the garrison disbanded. (fn. 106) In 1651 Cromwell received at Aylesbury the delegates sent by Parliament to congratulate him on his victory at Worcester. (fn. 107)
Aylesbury was no chartered borough until it was incorporated in January 1553–4. Previous to that date it had certain features which distinguished it from the ordinary township or manor; but these were possibly extensions of the privileges enjoyed by tenants on ancient demesne of the Crown. There are no traces of burgage tenure, at all events under that name, either in the Domesday Survey (fn. 108) or in subsequent extents of the manor. The convenient position of Aylesbury as a meeting-place for the whole county gave it some advantage over neighbouring towns, and there is reason to suspect some early activity here in the cloth trade. (fn. 109) Before the 13th century there were signs of progress along independent lines while the town was in the king's hands, but further expansion was evidently checked when the manor came into the hands of powerful mesne lords.
Since the lords of the town were very closely connected with its development, it has been found convenient to give some account of them here. According to tradition Edith, possibly the Christian princess daughter of Penda of Mercia (ob. 655) and aunt of St. Osyth, was 'lady' of the town of Aylesbury, and had received it from her mother. (fn. 110) St. Osyth is said to have been brought up at Aylesbury by her aunt and to have been buried there. (fn. 111) The story is full of anachronisms; but the fact that until 1239 the 'old fair' was held on the feast of St. Osyth in summer (fn. 112) (3 June) points to some connexion between Aylesbury and the saint.
The lady Edith was apparently succeeded by Aelfheah, alderman of Hampshire and Wiltshire and a relative of King Edwig. He died in 971 and bequeathed his land at Aylesbury and Wendover to King Edgar. (fn. 113) On coming into the hands of the Crown Aylesbury probably became an administrative centre, having its market-place. There was also a mint here from which coins were issued in the reigns of Ethelred II (978–1016), Cnut (1016–35), and Edward the Confessor (1042–66), the moneyers respectively being Ælfgar, Ælfwi, and Wulfred. (fn. 114)
Edward the Confessor was lord of the town, (fn. 115) and it remained in the Crown until 1204, when King John granted it in tail to Geoffrey Fitz Piers Earl of Essex. (fn. 116) After his death in 1213 (fn. 117) the custody of Aylesbury was given to Geoffrey de Boclaund during pleasure. (fn. 118) It was retained until 25 June 1215, and was then granted to Geoffrey's younger son William de Mandeville, afterwards Earl of Essex. (fn. 119) William paid 200 marks for the recovery of the manor. (fn. 120) He was succeeded in 1227 by his half-brother, John Fitz Piers, (fn. 121) who had tallage from the town in 1229. (fn. 122) His son and heir John joined Simon de Montfort at Evesham, and consequently Aylesbury was seized by the Crown and granted to Gilbert Earl of Clare in January 1265–6. (fn. 123) It was restored at the end of two years. (fn. 124) John Fitz John was succeeded in 1275 by his brother Richard Lord Fitz John. (fn. 125) In 1297 Aylesbury was assigned in dower to Richard's widow Emma, (fn. 126) who married Robert de Montalt. (fn. 127) By the division of Richard Fitz John's estate among his four sisters or their heirs Bierton, formerly a member of Aylesbury, became separate, (fn. 128) and certain small rents in the town itself were assigned to the heirs of the eldest sister, Maud Countess of Warwick. (fn. 129) The reversion of the manor of Aylesbury, contingent upon the death of Emma de Montalt, was apportioned to the fourth sister, Joan wife of Theobald Butler. (fn. 130) Emma de Montalt died about 1332, (fn. 131) and the manor then descended to James Butler Earl of Ormonde, (fn. 132) grandson and heir of Joan Butler. (fn. 133) The earl died 6 January 1336–7, (fn. 134) having settled Aylesbury upon his wife Eleanor, the granddaughter of Edward I. (fn. 135) At her death in 1363 the rents due to her from Aylesbury, mostly payable in kind, were valued at £225 odd. (fn. 136) Her son James Earl of Ormonde, four times chief governor of Ireland, died 13 October 1382, leaving a son James who was a minor. (fn. 137) This James founded the friary (fn. 138) and settled Aylesbury upon himself and his wife Anne. (fn. 139) She let the manor, possibly during his absence in Ireland, to Sir Thomas Shelley, kt., (fn. 140) whose estate was forfeit to the Crown for his complicity in the plot to overthrow Henry IV on Twelfth Night, 1400. (fn. 141) Aylesbury was recovered by the Ormondes, and James Earl of Ormonde, son of the last-named earl, was in possession in November 1405, (fn. 142) and made settlement of the manor in 1430. (fn. 143) He died 22 August 1452 and was succeeded by his son James, the Lancastrian Earl of Wiltshire, (fn. 144) who was captured at Towton (1461) and attainted. (fn. 145) His lands were forfeited to the Crown and Aylesbury was granted by Edward IV to Henry Earl of Essex and his wife Isabel. (fn. 146) Their grandson Henry succeeded them, (fn. 147) but in 1485 the attainder of the Earl of Wiltshire was reversed and his estates restored to his younger brother Thomas seventh Earl of Ormonde. (fn. 148) His daughter and heir Margaret married Sir William Boleyn, kt. (fn. 149) In 1538 she joined with her son Thomas (Boleyn) Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde in a sale of the manor to Sir John Baldwin, kt., (fn. 150) who as chief justice of the Common Pleas presided at the trials of Bishop Fisher, Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, (fn. 151) the daughter of his predecessor in the manor of Aylesbury. (fn. 152) He died 24 October 1545, his wife Anne surviving him. (fn. 153) His heirs were his grandsons Sir Thomas Pakington, kt., of Hampton Lovett (co. Worc.), and John Burlace or Borlase. (fn. 154) In 1551 Burlace released to Pakington his right in the lordship of Aylesbury, (fn. 155) and Pakington successfully maintained his claim against Henry (Carey) Lord Hunsdon, great-grandson of Margaret Boleyn. (fn. 156)
Sir Thomas Pakington died in 1571 (fn. 157) and his widow Dorothy daughter of 'Kytson the Merchant,' one of the executors of Henry VIII, (fn. 158) held Aylesbury in dower. (fn. 159) She was succeeded by her son Sir John Pakington, kt., (fn. 160) who died aged seventy-four in 1625. (fn. 161) His son John, 'the hope of Aylesbury,' (fn. 162) was created a baronet in 1620. (fn. 163) He died before his father, leaving a son also named John. (fn. 164) The manor-house was occupied by the widow of the first baronet, (fn. 165) and his son represented Aylesbury in the Long Parliament with Sir Ralph Verney. (fn. 166) This Sir John Pakington was an ardent Royalist, and in 1642 his estate was sequestered. (fn. 167) He recovered it at the Restoration, and was succeeded by his son of the same name who died in 1688. His son and heir, Sir John Pakington, the fourth baronet, was succeeded in 1727 by his son (fn. 168) Sir Herbert Perrot Pakington, bart. (fn. 169) Aylesbury descended to his grandson, also Sir Herbert Perrot Pakington, bart. (fn. 170) His son Sir John Pakington, bart., the last of the direct male line, sold the manor in 1802 to George Marquess of Buckingham. (fn. 171) In 1848, upon the dispersion of the estates of his grandson Richard second Duke of Buckingham, this manor was purchased by Mr. Acton Tindal, clerk of the peace for the county. (fn. 172) His representatives sold it in 1884 to the late Mr. John Parker, F.S.A., (fn. 173) whose son Mr. J. C. Parker of High Wycombe is the present owner.
As stated above, the extended rights acquired by Aylesbury are for the most part such as might accrue to ancient demesne. Before the Conquest Aylesbury had paid £25 yearly to the king, and William I raised the payment to £56 and £10 for toll. (fn. 174) There is, however, no evidence that the toll was farmed by the townsmen themselves. They were regularly tallaged as tenants on ancient demesne (fn. 175) and enjoyed the usual exemption from any pleas save in the courts of the manor and by little writ of right. (fn. 176) Their most important privileges were separate representation before the justices in eyre (fn. 177) and exemption from trial by jury or battle. (fn. 178) They appear to have had certain common property in the hospital of St. John Baptist founded by Robert Ilhale, William atte Hide, William son of Robert, and others in the time of Henry I for the poor and infirm of the town, and in the leper hospital of St. Leonard, also founded by various individuals, viz., Samson son of William, Reginald Wauncy, William son of Alan and others, while the manor was still in the Crown. (fn. 179) The patronage subsequently belonged to 'the men of Aylesbury and their heirs with the assent of the king,' and, although the lady of the town assumed it before 1361, (fn. 180) it was subsequently accounted the property of the gild of St. Mary. (fn. 181) In 1180 and 1181 fines had been levied from the 'commonalty' of Aylesbury. (fn. 182) Land which Robert Scot had held 'within and without the vill' shortly before 1180 (fn. 183) was granted to Roger de Sancto Mauneo (Manveo) in March 1189–90 to hold 'within and without the borough.' (fn. 184) He was to be impleaded only in the royal courts and to be exempt from villein (servili) works. (fn. 185) Shortly afterwards he sued 'the men of Aylesbury' respecting certain liberties. (fn. 186) The charter to Sancto Mauneo is the earliest record of a 'borough' of Aylesbury, and its value is lessened, as it exists only in the form of a 14th-century exemplification. (fn. 187) Aylesbury is given in the return of boroughs in 1316, (fn. 188) but the rights mentioned above were the only extraordinary ones acquired by the townsmen previous to the charter of incorporation (January 1553–4) and there is no trace at all of burgage tenure in the existing extents of the manor during this period. (fn. 189)
On the other hand the lords of the town had many chartered liberties. By the grant of 1204 they had infangtheof and utfangtheof, and were quit of pontage, stallage, lastage, toll, tallage, sheriff's aid, the shire and hundred court. Geoffrey Fitz Piers was to have in Aylesbury all the liberties which he enjoyed in the lands formerly held by William de Mandeville. (fn. 190) The lords of the town had their own gallows, tumbrel and pillory, (fn. 191) made good their prescriptive right to hold view of frankpledge once yearly against the royal officers, (fn. 192) and their chartered right to levy toll against the burgesses of Berkhampstead. (fn. 193) The right of the tenant of Hulcott, a sub-manor of Aylesbury, to hold a distinct view without the king's bailiff was questioned, although he pleaded that he only demanded the jurisdictional privileges common to the whole 'vill.' (fn. 194)
During the 14th century there was considerable friction between the townsmen and their lords. The chief cause of dispute was the right of common pasture, also a subject of contention in the 16th and 17th centuries. (fn. 195) In 1342 the Countess of Ormonde complained that James Pynkeney of Aylesbury, Richard Pynkeney, William son of William Wolmer, Elias le Draper, William de Bampton, tailor, and others, in all about thirty-five persons, had depastured cattle on her crops and grass and assaulted her servants at Aylesbury. (fn. 196) Richard Pynkeney and William Wolmer, with eleven others, were charged with forming a sworn conspiracy for illicit purposes and assaulting the steward of the countess, John de Colyngton. (fn. 197) John took refuge in the church, but his assailants broke the doors and windows and imprisoned him until he forgave their trespasses and swore to leave the service of the countess. (fn. 198) Two years later William de Sodbury her bailiff complained that her officers had unduly charged him with receipts and refused him his reasonable expenses. (fn. 199)
While the Ormondes were lords of the town the inhabitants were most active in repairing roads and bridges. In 1384, during the minority of their lord, the 'bailiffs and good men' of Aylesbury received grants of pontage for the repair of Walton Bridge. Similar grants were made in 1388 and 1398. (fn. 200) Edmund Seman of Walton and the 'good men of that town' had two grants of pontage (fn. 201) during the lordship of James Earl of Ormonde, who in 1439 strengthened his position by obtaining royal confirmation of the charter to Geoffrey Fitz Piers, and of another charter of 1239 granting to the lord a second fair in addition to the old fair held on the feast of St. Osyth in summer. (fn. 202)
A little later the gild of St. Mary rose into prominence. It had been founded in December 1450 by the Chancellor Cardinal Kemp, Archbishop of York, Thomas Syngleton, John Baldwin the elder, Thomas Baldwin, John Baldwin the younger, Walter Croulond, John Love and John Robsey. (fn. 203) The gild was incorporated at the same date. It had three masters or wardens, used a common livery, and maintained a chantry before the altar of the Virgin Mary in the parish church. (fn. 204) It performed other 'deeds of charity,' acquired land and houses in the town, and supported ten almshouses and four cottages in which the poor lived rent free. (fn. 205) The 'brotherhouse' was next the churchyard and an adjacent cottage also belonged to the fraternity. (fn. 206) It apparently gained a certain amount of control over town affairs. It owned the ancient chapel of St. John Baptist, (fn. 207) and by 1507 had evidently established a right to be represented by one of its masters in the courts baron held for the Prebendal Manor. (fn. 208) About 1499 'the twenty-two and the twelve of Aylesbury,' who indicate some town organization, made presentment of their grievances against their lord, affirming that the evidences and rolls of the manor ought by custom to be kept in the vestry in a chest double-locked, the lord having one key and the masters of the Fraternity of Our Lady the second. (fn. 209) The homage complained that there was no moot-hall for the lord's court, nor any pillory nor cuckingstool, and asserted their right to 'make and break pains,' and presented the lord 'with that that he be confirmabull to all manner of customs, libertys and franchesses of the manor.' (fn. 210) The presentment of these grievances against the lord of the town evidently marks a new phase of its history. During the 16th and 17th centuries the inhabitants struggled to gain certain privileges, in particular the extension of common rights over the pasture and the lord's waste, (fn. 211) especially that part of it called the 'common dunghill,' (fn. 212) and the acquisition of the market tolls and fairs. (fn. 213) Their cause received a set-back in 1538, when the manor was purchased by Sir John Baldwin, an important and influential member of the family which had helped to found the gild, (fn. 214) and again in 1547, when the gild itself was suppressed (fn. 215); but their loyalty to the cause of Queen Mary brought them their first charter of incorporation. (fn. 216) It was granted 1 January 1553–4 'in reward for their fidelity during the rebellion of the Duke of Northumberland.' (fn. 217) The corporation was styled the 'bailiff, aldermen and burgesses' of the borough of Aylesbury. A bailiff, ten aldermen and twelve capital burgesses drawn from 'the better more honest and discreet inhabitants' were to form the common council, with power to make ordinances for the public good and to hold a court of record for pleas of debt up to 100s. The Crown nominated the first members of the council. Had the charter remained long in force the corporation would soon have become a close body. The aldermen were to hold office for life or 'during pleasure,' and the bailiff and aldermen were to fill up vacancies from among the capital burgesses. They were also to elect the capital burgesses upon occasion and to appoint one of themselves justice of the peace. The whole common council were to choose one of the aldermen to be bailiff yearly on 1 September. The council was to appoint a sergeant-at-mace and constables yearly. The corporation was to have return of writs, to be quit of the sheriff, to have assize of bread and ale, a common gaol and power to acquire land up to the value of £20. The bailiff was to be escheator, coroner and clerk of the market within the borough. The corporation was to hold a weekly market on Wednesdays and two three days' fairs yearly at the feasts of the Annunciation (25 March) and the Invention of the Holy Cross (3 May), with piccage, stallage, fines and a court of pie-powder. The burgesses and inhabitants were to be quit of soc, sac, stallage, pontage, lastage, piccage, tallage and toll 'as the men and inhabitants have been from time immemorial.' The bailiff, aldermen and burgesses were to elect two members of Parliament.
It is obvious that the powers granted to the corporation conflicted with the chartered rights of the influential lord, Sir Thomas Pakington. With the exception of the Prebendal Manor (of which he had a lease) (fn. 218) he was the hereditary lord of the whole town. (fn. 219) The constables and other officers had always been chosen in his court. (fn. 220) The control of buying and selling in the town had always been the business of his leet. (fn. 221) The market-place was his. (fn. 222) The returns from the market and fairs and all tolls in the town formed an important item in the receipts of the manor, (fn. 223) and his title to these was based on the charters of 1204 (fn. 224) and 1239, (fn. 225) which had been confirmed to his predecessor in 1439. (fn. 226) Probably the charter of incorporation was never put into force. The townspeople stated in a later petition that they 'durst not make use of it.' (fn. 227) Sir Thomas Pakington 'taking offence at it' refused right of common to his tenants, (fn. 228) inclosed 160 acres of arable land, converting it into pasture, (fn. 229) and countenanced the inclosure of other land in Walton. (fn. 230) His widow Dorothy assumed to herself the right of electing to Parliament. (fn. 231) His son received royal pardon for the inclosures made by his father, (fn. 232) and in 1579 obtained a grant of a weekly market and of two fairs, (fn. 233) one of which (on Holyrood Day) coincided with that granted to the burgesses. (fn. 234) They were overawed by the litigiousness of himself and his father, (fn. 235) and it is exceedingly doubtful whether they succeeded in establishing either a common council or a municipal market. (fn. 236) With the Civil War came an opportunity for the burgesses to wrest from the lord of the town the privileges in dispute. Sir John Pakington, then lord of the manor, was an ardent Royalist and in 1645 was disabled to sit in the Long Parliament, in which he and Sir Ralph Verney had represented Aylesbury. (fn. 237) There was in the town a strong Parliamentary party which replaced Pakington and Verney by the regicides Thomas Scott and Simon Mayne. (fn. 238) Among the electors of these were Rowland Bracebridge, who afterwards helped to muster Parliamentary forces at Aylesbury (fn. 239) and to wrest from Pakington his rights, (fn. 240) and Richard Heywood, who lent money for the fortification of the town in 1648. (fn. 241) Relying upon the favour of Parliament and supported by their burgess, Thomas Scott, eighty-eight of the leading inhabitants petitioned the House of Commons about the spring of 1649 for the restoration of their common rights, permission to make 'such use of their charter as was good for the town' and a grant of the royalties vested in Sir John Pakington. (fn. 242) Pakington had been a prisoner in the Tower. It was ordered that his sequestration fine should be abated by £2,670 if the Commons would confer this estate on the inhabitants and he should make the necessary settlements. (fn. 243) Forced 'by terrors and extremities,' he made an agreement with Christopher Henn and twelve other inhabitants of Aylesbury and with Thomas Scott, 20 January 1649–50. (fn. 244) He alienated to Henn and his associates in fee simple the inclosed pasture called Heydon Hill, the Market House or Sessions Hall, the markets and fairs, the waste ground where they were kept, and all the waste of the borough as far as the houses then or lately stood, with freedom to lay dung thereon, and the right to dig clay, sand and gravel for the repair of highways. He reserved to himself the pound, treasure-trove, waifs and certain other royalties and liberty to hold courts in the market hall. He assured the premises and the court leet and view of frankpledge by a fine levied to Scott. (fn. 245) It was agreed that the inhabitants should be exempt from Pakington's power 'by reason of the court leet,' and that the leet should be conveyed in trust to Scott as the town's nominee and to one Richard Salway as Pakington's. They were to appoint a steward, or, if they disagreed, nomination should be vested in the Master of the Rolls, 'so that the court leet for the good of the town and borough may be preserved, and yet neither Sir John nor the town to have absolute power the one over the other.' (fn. 246) Until the Restoration the town was evidently governed by these 'trustees of Heydon Hill.' (fn. 247) Christopher Henn and Simon Mayne also acted on behalf of the parishioners in an agreement by which John Luffe accepted the vicarage at a yearly stipend. (fn. 248) Henry Phillipps, one of the trustees of Heydon Hill, (fn. 249) represented the borough in the first Protectorate Parliament. (fn. 250) Thomas Scott was re-elected in 1656. (fn. 251) In this year the inhabitants petitioned for a renewal of their charter in a modified form. (fn. 252) Another petition in 1658 requested only a grant of a cattle market. (fn. 253) After the Restoration Sir John Pakington overthrew the hard-won autonomy gained by the town. A clause vacating the conveyance of January 1649–50 was tacked on to the general Bill for Vacating Conveyances of Impropriations introduced in 1660, but this bill was thrown out. (fn. 254) Thereupon Pakington petitioned the Crown, (fn. 255) and in 1664 an Act for his restitution and the vacation of his conveyance to Henn, Scott and others was passed, (fn. 256) in spite of the opposition of the inhabitants represented by Thomas Boughton and William Baker. (fn. 257) Of the privileges granted in Mary's charter the only one retained by the town was that of separate Parliamentary representation. (fn. 258) From 1656 onwards the overseers of the poor had been very active, (fn. 259) and after the Restoration parochial government was evidently carried on by a select vestry. (fn. 260) A Board of Health was constituted in 1849, (fn. 261) and its powers were taken over by the present urban district council under the Local Government Act of 1894. (fn. 262) The inclosure of the commons in 1771, in the time of Sir Herbert Perrot Pakington, (fn. 263) and the purchase of the market rights, first by a company and finally by the urban district council, (fn. 264) have removed the causes for dissension between the lord and the town.
At present markets are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Wednesday was the day named in the charter of incorporation, January, 1553–4, (fn. 265) and was possibly the day for an ancient customary market. (fn. 266) The market granted to Sir John Pakington in 1579 was to be held on Mondays. (fn. 267) The 'old fair' was held on 3 June, the feast of St. Osyth in summer. (fn. 268) A wool fair on the second Wednesday in July was established by the Aylesbury Market Company, (fn. 269) and a cattle fair is held on the second Wednesday in December. The fair still held on the second Saturday in October may represent that granted to John Fitz Piers in 1239, which was to be held on the feast of St. Osyth in winter (7 October). (fn. 270) Those named in the charter of incorporation were to be held at the feast of the Annunciation (25 March) and on Holyrood Day (3 May). (fn. 271) The charter to Sir John Pakington in 1579 named Holyrood Day and the Saturday before Palm Sunday, (fn. 272) on which day a fair still exists. The Holyrood fair may be represented by the modern fair on the second Saturday in May. Fairs are also held on the third Saturday in January (in place of Friday next following 18 January) and the fourth Saturday in September (in place of 25 September). (fn. 273) These alterations were made by the Aylesbury Market Company, which bought the rights of the lord of the manor to markets and fairs from Mr. Tindal in 1862. (fn. 274) The urban district council purchased them from the company in 1901. (fn. 275)
The ancient immemorial limits of the borough as recited in the charter of incorporation were in length from Glasyers Bridge (in Walton) to Stannebridge (i.e., Stonebridge on the Bicester road), in width from Holmansbridge (on the Buckingham road) to Walbridge (on the road to Thame), (fn. 276) thus excluding Walton, which was nevertheless within the ecclesiastical parish of Aylesbury in mediaeval times. (fn. 277)
Prior to the charter of incorporation there is no record of the return of burgesses to Parliament by Aylesbury. Under the charter of incorporation the Parliamentary franchise was vested in the bailiff, aldermen and burgesses. With the exception of the one return by Dorothy Pakington, (fn. 278) election was generally made by the 'inhabitants' or the 'burgesses,' (fn. 279) and the returning officers were the petty constables. (fn. 280) The Instrument of Government temporarily reduced the representatives of the borough to one member only. (fn. 281) The House of Commons adjudged the right of election to be in all the inhabitants not receiving alms. (fn. 282) The constables were nominees of the lord of the manor or his steward. (fn. 283) The prosecution of one of these for refusing to receive a vote gave rise to the celebrated cause of Ashby v. White. (fn. 284) During the 18th century corruption was even more than ordinarily rife in this town. Elections were often controverted, (fn. 285) and John Wilkes, 'Jack of Aylesbury,' who was member for the borough when arrested for the publication of No. 45 of the North Briton, spent £11,000 upon a single contest at Aylesbury and Berwick. (fn. 286) Finally in 1804 the indiscriminate distribution of guineas to any electors who cared to fetch them from the 'Bull's Head' or the 'Bell,' the erection of scaffolding to block the main entrance to the town hall, and the smuggling of 'good' voters into the hall through the gaol (fn. 287) resulted in the disfranchisement of the town by an Act extending the right of election to all freeholders within the hundreds of Aylesbury. (fn. 288) The returning officers continued to be appointed in the court of the lord of the manor until the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885. (fn. 289)
Under the grant of 1204 the lords of Aylesbury held the town at a fee-farm rent of £60 (an increase of £10 on the ancient farm) and by the service of one knight's fee. (fn. 290) The fee-farm rent was assigned to diverse persons for life or during pleasure. In 1218 Queen Isabella had it. (fn. 291) In 1224 it was granted to the Comte de la Marche (fn. 292) in consideration of the Isle of Oleron, detained by England during the truce with France. (fn. 293) It was assigned to Queen Eleanor in 1275 (fn. 294) and to Ralph Pypard for life in 1302. (fn. 295) Robert de Fienles, the next grantee, (fn. 296) had difficulty in securing its payment. (fn. 297) Edward II gave the farm to his brother, Edmund of Woodstock, upon his creation as Earl of Kent, (fn. 298) but Fienles received confirmation in 1332 in consideration of his services against the Despensers. (fn. 299) Fienles was a French subject. (fn. 300) At the outbreak of the Hundred Years' War the farm was therefore transferred to John de Molyns. (fn. 301) The Countess of Ormonde subsequently had a grant during the minority of her son, (fn. 302) but it was revoked in favour of Molyns. (fn. 303) About 1348 the farm was recovered by John son of Edmund of Woodstock, (fn. 304) from whom it passed to Joan Princess of Wales and her son Thomas (Holand) Earl of Kent. (fn. 305) Through the marriage of his daughter Eleanor to Thomas Earl of Salisbury (fn. 306) it came, evidently by inheritance, to Margaret Countess of Salisbury, attainted in 1539. (fn. 307) It thus fell to the Crown, and was granted about 1566 to Thomas Barrington in tail. (fn. 308) The rent was still payable in 1570. (fn. 309)