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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From the 13th century to the late 16th view of frankpledge at Bottisham with the assizes of bread and ale belonged solely to the lords of the honor of Clare, who in the late 13th century also claimed infangthief with the right to a gallows and tumbrel. (fn. 1) Rolls for their courts leet held at Bottisham survive for 1320-72, (fn. 2) 1386-98, (fn. 3) 1425-30, (fn. 4) for some years between 1530 and 1553, (fn. 5) and for 1585. (fn. 6) The ordinary courts were held regularly every three weeks throughout the 14th century, and still frequently in the 1420s. Besides admitting tenants to freeholds and supervising farming practices for the whole vill through rules made 'by the assent of the community', (fn. 7) those courts provided a forum for the villagers' pleas of debt and trespass, sometimes settled by wager of law. (fn. 8) Some civil actions were still being formally begun in the Clare court into the 1580s. (fn. 9) At leet sessions, held twice a year in the 14th and early 15th centuries, annually in the 16th, in 1541 at the guildhall, (fn. 10) the jury, beside enforcing the assizes of ale, for which up to four aletasters were named, and, occasionally, of bread, required villagers to enter into tithing, 20-40 at a time in the late 14th century. (fn. 11) The court also regularly presented, even sometimes in the late 16th, (fn. 12) and penalized cases of disorder: assaults, bloodshed, and raising the hue. In 1512 a man was forbidden to sell butter or cheese while his wife had the 'French pox'. (fn. 13) Constables 'of the peace', active in the 14th century, (fn. 14) were still being named at that leet in the 16th. (fn. 15)
In the Middle Ages the two priory manors had only courts baron. Anglesey priory's had by the early 16th century taken over from the Clare court the making and enforcement of agrarian bylaws, (fn. 16) and continued to exercise that authority until the 1700s. (fn. 17) Rolls for that court, which after 1730 were almost entirely, as they had long been largely, concerned with transfers of copyhold title, survive for 1514-32, (fn. 18) 1569-1612, (fn. 19) 1626-47, and 1654-1725. (fn. 20) The rolls were followed by court books for 1736- c. 1830 and 1881-1935. (fn. 21) For Tunbridge manor court, besides an isolated roll for 1357-8, (fn. 22) there are draft minutes for parts of the 17th century (fn. 23) and a court book for 1750-1938. (fn. 24) They deal solely with copyhold transfers. The surviving court book for Alingtons and Vauxes manors between 1712 and 1938 deals only with alienations of freehold. (fn. 25)
By the late 18th century parish affairs were managed by a small vestry of 9-12 farmers. The office of churchwarden descended until the 1860s almost hereditarily in two families, the Newmans of Parsonage Farm and the Kings of Tunbridge Hall. (fn. 26) By 1730 up to 10 poor men, widows, and children were commonly assisted each year, receiving allowances in corn and by the 1760s in clothing also. (fn. 27) Total expenditure on poor relief, which between 1776 and c. 1785 had risen by 150 per cent to £350, almost doubled again to £625 by 1803. (fn. 28) In 1785 the parish had bought six cottages at Lode for conversion into a workhouse to employ its ablebodied poor in spinning. By 1787 there were 15 inmates, well fed on beer, eggs, beans, and potatoes, besides others on out-relief. The parish tried out in turn management of the workhouse by a salaried master, farming its inmates to him, as in 1788-90, letting outside suppliers take the profits of whatever yarn was produced, and direct control by the overseers, but all expedients proved troublesome and unprofitable. By the late 1790s the paupers with large families, whose wages were made up by parish allowances, were sending fewer children to the workhouse. About 1801 it was made a 'school of industry' for up to 90 children living at home, but their number fell to 12 by 1808, and it was left empty by 1810. (fn. 29) In 1803 41 people had received regular, and c. 25 more occasional, outside relief. (fn. 30) In the early 1810s the number permanently assisted was almost 50, while another 180-200 could obtain occasional help at a total cost of up to £1,000. (fn. 31) Between the late 1810s and the late 1820s such expenditure amounted to £950-1,000 in most years and c. 1830 reached almost £1,200. (fn. 32) About 1834 40 men or more might be supported in winter when unemployed. Some were set to work on the parish roads, or to digging, or if boys gathering, stones, and relief was given in bread or its price to up to 90 people. Occasionally wages were supplemented for very large families. (fn. 33) From 1835 Bottisham belonged to the Newmarket poor-law union, (fn. 34) which in 1837 sold the 1-a. Town close at the south end of the village. (fn. 35) As part of that union, the ancient parish belonged from 1894 to the Newmarket rural district and was included from 1974 in East Cambridgeshire. (fn. 36) The former parish gravel pit, 3 a. off the Stow-Swaffham road, was in 1969, after 50 years' disuse, sold to the National Trust to make a car park for Anglesey Abbey. (fn. 37)
After Lode was made a separate ecclesiastical district in 1863, (fn. 38) it was disputed whether cottagers there could vote for their landlord in electing churchwardens for Bottisham. (fn. 39) From 1894, when Lode became a separate civil parish, it and Bottisham had their own parish councils. In the first election for that at Bottisham labourers won all the seats. (fn. 40)
In 1796 Mrs. Elizabeth Jenyns had left £50 to buy for the parish a fire engine, (fn. 41) kept in the church by 1819. (fn. 42) Donkey-drawn and worked by six volunteers, it remained in use, being kept from the 1860s at the police station, until 1935, when it was moved to the Cambridge Folk Museum. (fn. 43) In the mid 19th century Bottisham had two rival Associations for prosecuting felons, one sponsored by the Kings, the other by the Newmans. The older was started c. 1840, the other by 1849. The first succeeded in four fifths of the cases prosecuted, concerned mainly with stealing sheep and poultry, and arson. It was less active in the 1850s. (fn. 44) Petty sessions held in the 1850s at the White Swan (fn. 45) were transferred from 1860 to a brick court house with a round-arched, rusticated front, built in 1858 north of the high street. Behind it were cells and quarters for a police inspector and constable, permanently stationed at Bottisham by 1861. (fn. 46) The magistrates' court was moved to Cambridge in 1972. By 1970 the local police were transferred to a new house on Bell Road. (fn. 47) Having briefly housed, 1976-8, a school for disruptive children from elsewhere, the Old Court House was sold in 1979. (fn. 48)