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 HUNDRED OF WHITSTONE
AT the time of the Domesday survey the later Whitstone hundred was divided between two hundreds which apparently resulted from the dismemberment of larger units: Blacklow hundred contained 45 hides and included Frocester, Stonehouse, Leonard Stanley, Frampton on Severn, King's Stanley (Stantone), Fretherne, part of Woodchester (not recorded later in the hundred), Wheatenhurst, Alkerton (in Eastington), (fn. 1) and presumably Eastington as part of Fretherne; (fn. 2) Whitstone hundred contained 30 hides and included Standish, Haresfield, Moreton Valence, Longney, (fn. 3) and presumably Saul and Randwick as parts of Standish, (fn. 4) Hardwicke as part of Standish and Haresfield, (fn. 5) and Quedgeley as part either of Haresfield or of Standish. (fn. 6) No later record of Blacklow hundred has been found (fn. 7) and by 1220 the two hundreds were united as Whitstone hundred. (fn. 8) Some of the parishes included tithings in other hundreds. The part of Haresfield that lay in Dudstone hundred in 1086 (fn. 9) may have represented Harescombe tithing in that parish, but by 1327 Harescombe tithing was in Whitstone hundred. (fn. 10) Woolstrop tithing in Quedgeley and Pitchcombe in Standish parish were in Barton hundred in 1327 and later. (fn. 11) Lists of the members of Whitstone hundred sometimes named Putloe and Colethrop, tithings of Standish parish, (fn. 12) and Alkerton, a tithing of Eastington parish; (fn. 13) the rest of Standish together with Randwick was often distinguished as Oxlinch, from the name of the settlement lying between the two parishes. (fn. 14) The division of Whitstone hundred into upper and lower divisions has not been found recorded before the later 18th century. (fn. 15)
Whitstone hundred remained a royal hundred until the early 17th century. In 1617 the Crown granted the custody of the hundred and the office of bailiff to Nathaniel Stephens, apparently the same man who was lord of Eastington manor, for the lives of himself, his wife Catherine, and Edward Stephens, (fn. 16) and in 1631 the Crown sold the hundred to William Collins and Edward Fenn. (fn. 17) In the next year Collins and Fenn with Sir William Russell, Bt., sold the hundred to John Stephens of Over Lypiatt, who sold it in 1634 to Nathaniel Stephens of Eastington. (fn. 18) The hundred then descended with Eastington manor in the Stephens family (fn. 19) until 1805 when Henry Stephens sold it to Samuel White, (fn. 20) lord of Fretherne manor. (fn. 21) Samuel White sold the hundred in 1809 to John Vizard of Dursley who sold it the next year to Nathaniel Clifford of Frampton (fn. 22) (d. 1817), whose son Henry Clifford Clifford (d. 1867) (fn. 23) was apparently the last to exercise rights of lordship over the hundred.
Court books of Whitstone hundred survive for 1709-10, 1738-77, and 1810-54, (fn. 24) and other court papers for the late 18th and early 19th centuries. (fn. 25) Half of the 16 parishes in the hundred achieved exemption from the hundred's leet jurisdiction. Longney, Quedgeley, and Moreton Valence were said in 1276 to have withdrawn their suit; (fn. 26) Longney was exempt as part of Westminster Abbey's liberty, (fn. 27) and Quedgeley apparently as a member of Haresfield manor, (fn. 28) which claimed exemption in 1286. (fn. 29) In the 15th century separate courts leet were held for King's Stanley, Stonehouse, and Wheatenhurst. (fn. 30) In the early 19th century those seven parishes with Standish neither contributed to the rent of £7 3s. 4d. which was payable to the Crown from 1617 and described as the common fine or hundred-weight, nor had officers appointed in the hundred court; (fn. 31) Wheatenhurst, however, had owed part of the common fine in 1591, (fn. 32) and the obligation had been challenged but confirmed in 1655. (fn. 33) Frampton which had also withdrawn suit in the 13th century (fn. 34) owed it in the early 19th century, as did Eastington and Alkerton, (fn. 35) although they claimed leet jurisdiction. (fn. 36)
The ancient meeting place of the court was presumably at Whitestones field at the junction of the Gloucester-Bristol and Little Haresfield roads in Hardwicke parish. (fn. 37) In 1264 the sheriff summoned a meeting at Quedgeley (fn. 38), but the court met at Stonehouse in 1709, at the George Inn at Wheatenhurst between 1738 and 1777 (except for a short period in the 1760s when it moved to Frampton), and at the Bell Inn at Frampton in the early 19th century. It was usually held at least once a month in the 18th century when it dealt mainly with pleas of trespass and occasionally with pleas of debt; in the early 19th century it met once a year and heard presentments, mainly about the state of roads, watercourses, and bridges. (fn. 39)
The 16 parishes of Whitstone hundred form a compact group lying in the vale south of Gloucester between the River Severn on the west and the Cotswold ridge on the east. Most of the land is flat and lies at c. 50-100 ft., but the parishes on the eastern side mount the hills, which in places are thickly wooded, to over 700 ft.; the low ground is formed by the Lower Lias and alluvial clays with deposits of gravel, and the hills by successive strata of the Middle and Upper Lias and Inferior Oolite. (fn. 40) The southern part of the area is drained by the River Frome (or Stroudwater) flowing westwards out of the Stroud Valley to join the Severn; the two rivers have been dominant factors in the economic history of the hundred. The most important land-route through the hundred has been the Gloucester-Bristol road which was used by the Romans, (fn. 41) was turnpiked with several of its tributary roads in 1726, (fn. 42) and in 1968 was a very busy artery. Another Roman road entered the hundred at Frocester, where the most extensive evidence for settlement in the area at that period has been found, and ran north-westwards to the Severn passage at Arlingham; (fn. 43) another passage within the hundred at Framilode was in use by the 7th century. (fn. 44) In 1779 the Stroud valley was linked to the Severn by the completion of the Stroudwater Canal, (fn. 45) and in 1827 the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, by-passing the river approach to Gloucester and forming a junction with the Stroudwater Canal in Saul, was opened. (fn. 46) In 1844 the Bristol and Gloucester railway was opened, and in the next year the branch of the Great Western which meets it at Standish. (fn. 47)
Many of the villages in the hundred are nucleated settlements which in a number of cases grew up near a moated site, although most of them also had outlying settlements and farmsteads from an early date and several of the parishes have no nucleus or an undeveloped one. In the western and northern parishes building was mainly in timber and a high proportion of the farm-houses retain medieval features, but brick locally manufactured, notably at Frampton, was widely used during the 18th century and later. In the south-eastern area, where the local oolite remained the predominant building material until the mid 19th century, there are many gabled houses built in the Cotswold tradition between the late 16th and early 18th centuries, a high proportion of them for clothiers.
Agriculture, although rivalled by other occupations, has retained its importance in the hundred. Most parishes had a fairly high number of small open fields which were usually inclosed by a gradual process of private agreement over several centuries; piecemeal inclosure where fields were shared by neighbouring parishes had produced by the 19th century, particularly in the Standish and Stonehouse area, unusually complicated boundaries. Much inclosed arable was apparently turned to pasture and orcharding, and cheese and cider were noted products of the area in the 18th and 19th centuries. Vineyards were recorded in several parishes in the early Middle Ages, and unusual crops grown later included teasels used in the cloth-mills. Gloucester in the north and Stroud in the south apparently provided the main market centres, but Leonard Stanley, alone among the villages which had grants of markets in the Middle Ages, survived into the late 17th century as a minor trading centre.
In the parishes bordering the Severn fishing was an important source of livelihood from medieval times, and the river trade and ship-building gave employment to a fairly high number, a characteristic which was emphasized by the opening of the canals. In the south-eastern parishes lying at the entrance of the Stroud valley the majority of the population was employed from the 16th century by the numerous cloth-mills driven by the Frome, and characteristics of the area included the ascendancy of families of clothier-landowners such as the Clutterbucks, Sandfords, and Marlings, and the high populations which caused problems of poor-relief. In the early-19th-century reorganization of the industry, to which Stanley Mill at King's Stanley remains the chief architectural monument, cottage-weaving gave way to a factory system which continued to employ many of the inhabitants until the early 20th century. Some of the riverside parishes also had numbers of cloth-workers from the 16th century, and two mills in that area were adapted in the 18th century to the production of iron, brass, and tin-plate. In the 20th century, with the decline of the cloth industry and the river trade and the mechanization of farming, most of the inhabitants of the hundred found work in Gloucester or Stroud, or in the R.A.F. depot, the light engineering factories, and the brick-works at Quedgeley and Stonehouse, the two parishes which also underwent the most housing development.