A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 10, Cheveley, Flendish, Staine and Staploe Hundreds (North-Eastern Cambridgeshire). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.
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Probably before 1200 a plea about Fulbourn land was held by the king's writ in the Barrows' manorial court. (fn. 1) In the late 13th century view of frankpledge and the assizes of bread and of ale were claimed and exercised at Fulbourn by the lords of Zouches, who also had infangthief in 1299, of Manners, of Dunmows, and of Shardelowes, besides Barking abbey, but not apparently those of Colvilles. William Giffard, besides holding courts more often than the customary twice yearly interval, had erected a gallows and c. 1274 actually hanged a thief. Those lords' claims to such jurisdiction were allowed in 1299 by prescription, except for that for the Marshal fee, disallowed because it had lately passed by purchase. (fn. 2) In the 14th and 15th centuries the Crown usually farmed that manor's leet jurisdiction, recorded as late as 1450, (fn. 3) to its actual owner, the lord of Shardelowes. (fn. 4)
About 1435 separate courts were still held for Zouches, Colvilles, and Manners fees. (fn. 5) By 1460 only one court was probably held for the four manors attached to that lordship, (fn. 6) although tenants holding of Zouches, Manners, and Shardelowes were formally distinguished as late as 1500. (fn. 7) Court rolls survive for 1394-6, (fn. 8) 1490-1500, and 1506-9, (fn. 9) and courts were regularly held from 1548. (fn. 10) Records of Dunmows court, separately active, exist for 1361-1526. (fn. 11) By the late 18th century it was reckoned a nominal manor, (fn. 12) and the only courts were those held for the manors combined as Zouches, meeting traditionally at its 'old' manor house. (fn. 13) Court rolls survive for 1625-42 (fn. 14) and court books continuously from 1700 to 1940. (fn. 15) Village constables were recorded from the 14th century. (fn. 16)
Between the late 14th century and the mid 15th Dunmows court held spring and autumn leets, regularly from the 1370s to the 1440s, less often later, at which it enforced the assizes of ale and occasionally of bread, and named aletasters. It handled conveyances, mostly of freehold, (fn. 17) and heard pleas, chiefly of debt and trespass, regularly into the 1430s, sporadically until the 1450s. (fn. 18) It also, frequently into the 1430s, occasionally later, presented and penalized cases of assault, bloodshed, and raising the hue. (fn. 19) Sometimes even into the 1460s it required the entry of boys and servants into tithing. (fn. 20) From the 1460s it sometimes punished dicing and gambling. (fn. 21) In 1517 its jurors were required to keep their counsel secret. (fn. 22) It occasionally appointed haywards. (fn. 23)
Unlike the contemporary Zouches court, whose scattered records contain mostly tenurial business, (fn. 24) Dunmows also began to record agrarian bylaws in the early 16th century. (fn. 25) In the 1620s the Ramsays, perhaps for financial gain, held up to five courts a year for Zouches, but after 1631 that court reverted to two annual sessions. (fn. 26) Zouches court, besides still appointing aletasters, (fn. 27) enforced and sometimes issued agrarian regulations in the mid 17th century, (fn. 28) including those for the ditching that kept the parish fens drained; that work was supervised by fenreeves who could require two days' work yearly from all villagers. (fn. 29) From the early 18th century Zouches court, though mainly concerned with copyhold transfers, also, as it had in the 1630s, (fn. 30) elected at frequent intervals pairs of constables, two of whom were appointed after 1800 for each ecclesiastical parish. It also until inclosure named fenreeves, besides 3-7 haywards or pinders. (fn. 31) It sometimes reissued, with minor amendments, (fn. 32) a standard set of bylaws about commoning and other farming practices; a few of those rules were republished, even after inclosure, down to 1840. (fn. 33)
About 1620 villagers were sometimes reported for harbouring inmates. (fn. 34) In the 18th century, although there were two pairs of churchwardens, the village had only one set of overseers of the poor and a single poor rate was levied. (fn. 35) Fulbourn's expenditure on its poor rose between 1776 and the mid 1780s by a half from c. £180, and had reached £460 by 1803 when 48 people, besides 19 children, received outside relief. (fn. 36) In the early 1810s 60-80 poor were permanently supported, while another 30-40 obtained temporary help: the total cost came to £876 in 1813, (fn. 37) and from the late 1810s to 1835 usually ranged between £900 and £1,200. (fn. 38) About 1830, when large families were regularly assisted and wages made up from the rates, 40 or more unemployed labourers, out of 170 in all, might come upon the parish in winter. The formally open vestry that then managed the parish (fn. 39) had sometimes in the 18th century been attended by up to 15 people. (fn. 40) From 1836 Fulbourn belonged to Chesterton poor-law union, (fn. 41) and after 1894 to Chesterton rural district, with which it was included in 1974 in South Cambridgeshire. (fn. 42)
The village lock-up on Stocks Hill, south-east of the church, was still in use in the 1840s, (fn. 43) when the parish constables were trying to maintain order and keeping watch at night. (fn. 44) A professional policeman was hired in 1851, (fn. 45) but by 1854 the county force was supplying one. (fn. 46) Fulbourn continued to have a resident policeman into the late 20th century. (fn. 47) In the 1850s the squire kept his own fire engine. (fn. 48) Street lighting, begun with oil lamps by subscription from 1893, (fn. 49) was continued by the parish council, set up in 1894, (fn. 50) until electric lighting was introduced in 1934. (fn. 51) Often chaired in the 1920s by the lord of the manor, (fn. 52) the council also procured recreation and burial grounds. (fn. 53)