Longney: Local government

Page 203

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1972.

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The court of the Prior of Great Malvern had unusually full jurisdiction. In 1248 it was said that the township did not participate with the hundred; (fn. 1) in 1276 the free tenants and 4 men and the reeve of Longney were said to have withdrawn their suit from the hundred court 30 years earlier, and the prior claimed wreck in Longney. (fn. 2) Under the king's charter of 1266 to Westminster Abbey and its cells the prior in 1287 claimed and established liberties in Longney including view of frankpledge, waif, fines for licence of concord, felons' and fugitives' goods, pleas de vetito namio, quittance of shire and hundred, gallows, and tumbril. The Abbot of Pershore failed to establish his right to the view of frankpledge of his tenants in Longney, which the Prior of Great Malvern said had been subtracted from his court three years earlier, and the view of those tenants was granted to the prior. (fn. 3)

Proceedings of the court leet are recorded in books covering the period 1735-1920. (fn. 4) In the early 16th century copyholds were granted at courts held in March-April or September-October, suggesting that a court baron was held only at the same time as the twice-yearly court leet. (fn. 5) In the 18th century courts baron were held from time to time other than in conjunction with the court leet, which was held in October at intervals of up to ten years. Until 1787, however, the courts described as leets are shown in the court books as conducting only copyhold business, except in 1756, when the jury made a presentment about a pool-rate and a crib-rate to meet the expenses of the pool-reeves. (fn. 6) Draft proceedings of the court in 1785, however, show that leet business was done; they record that the suitors were negligent in coming and that the last court leet had been 'not very lately held'; (fn. 7) it had in fact been in 1779. From 1787 there is regular record of the appointment of a constable, hayward, tithingman, and two pool-reeves. No tithingman's appointment is recorded after 1804. From 1815 annual courts leet and baron were held separately but usually on the same day in October, and extra courts baron were held occasionally. In the thirties the court baron ceased to meet on the same day as the leet, (fn. 8) which continued annually until 1920, appointing a constable until 1842 and a hayward and pool-reeves in 1920. From 1843 copyhold business was increasingly done outside court, and the last separate court baron was held in 1856. (fn. 9) The court leet continued to be held until c. 1930. (fn. 10)

Pershore Abbey had a court for its tenants in Longney, and a roll recording copyhold business survives for 1532. (fn. 11) Similar rolls survive for Westminster Abbey's courts in 1707, 1710, 1733, 1749, and 1804. (fn. 12)

The parish vestry in 1731 and 1746 made a rate for the pool-reeves for mending the cribs, and in 1733 made agricultural orders. (fn. 13) Apparently by 1756 and certainly from 1787 the pool-reeves were subject to the manor court, as shown above, and it was to the manor court that they rendered their account from 1836 to 1920. (fn. 14) The vestry agreed in 1731 to meet monthly to make distributions of poor-relief normally made by overseers, and continued the practice for up to 16 years; it made payments for rent, apprenticing, clothing, and nursing, in addition to cash allowances. By 1747, however, the vestry had resumed the usual practice of entrusting the administration of relief to the overseers. (fn. 15) In the late 18th century the expenditure on the poor rose comparatively little, and was in fact less in 1783 than in 1776. From £128 in 1803, however, it rose to over £400 in 1813. (fn. 16) In the late twenties it was c. £200 a year but in the early thirties was over £300. (fn. 17) In 1820 the parish built some cottages to house the poor, and in 1830 assisted the emigration of Hester Browning and her family to America. Perhaps in response to the rising expenditure on the poor a select vestry was formed in 1831, and in 1834 an assistant overseer was appointed. (fn. 18) Longney became part of the Wheatenhurst Union in 1835, (fn. 19) and with the rest of the Wheatenhurst Rural District was transferred to the Gloucester Rural District in 1935. (fn. 20)


  • 1. J.I. 1/274 rot. 7.
  • 2. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 180.
  • 3. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 255, 259-60.
  • 4. Glos. R.O., D 134/M 2; D 177/VII/1. Drafts and copies are also among the docs. penes Messrs. Warrens.
  • 5. E 164/39 ff. 202-11.
  • 6. Glos. R.O., D 134/M 2.
  • 7. Glos. Colln. RF 194.17.
  • 8. Glos. R.O., D 134/M 2.
  • 9. Ibid. D 177/VII/1. In 1867 copyhold business was done at a 'court leet and baron', an isolated instance.
  • 10. Local information.
  • 11. S.C. 2/210/90 rot. 13.
  • 12. Westm. Abb. Mun. 8389-92.
  • 13. Glos. R.O., P 207/VE 2/1.
  • 14. Ibid. D 177/VII/1.
  • 15. Ibid. P 207/VE 2/1; the period 1738-47 was covered by leaves that have been removed from the book.
  • 16. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 184-5; 1818, 158-9.
  • 17. Poor Law Returns, H.C. 83, p. 72 (1830-1), xi; H.C. 444, p. 70 (1835), xlvii.
  • 18. Glos. R.O., P 207/VE 2/1.
  • 19. Poor Law Com. 2nd Rep. 524.
  • 20. Census, 1931 (pt. ii).