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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AGRICULTURE. In 1086 5 ploughs and one servus were recorded on the demesne of the Crown's large estate at Westbury; the remainder of the estate supported 32 villani and 15 bordars with 8 ploughs between them. (fn. 1) In 1303 the demesne of Roger of Burghill's third part of Westbury manor included 60 a. of arable and 12 a. of meadow. There were 13 free tenants, two of whom held yardlands and the others smaller estates, and 19 customary tenants with estates varying between 1 a. and 25 a., although most were between 6 a. and 12 a. The customary tenants owed a fairly small number of works, including ploughing, harrowing, weeding, mowing, and reaping; other commuted works were presumably represented by the cash rents that were owed. (fn. 2) Nicholas of Bath's third share of Westbury manor included 260 a. of arable, 12 a. of meadow, and 102s. 4d. rent in 1326. (fn. 3) The share of the Gamage family in the mid 14th century included two plough-lands in the open fields, 12 a. of meadow, and £4 10s. rent of assize. (fn. 4) In 1291 Walmore manor included 4 plough-lands, meadow yielding 20 loads of hay, and 7s. rent of assize; (fn. 5) the vineyard of Walmore mentioned c. 1200 presumably belonged to the demesne of that manor. (fn. 6) Reynold of Abenhall's Stantway estate in 1341 had 120 a. of arable in the open fields and 50 a. in common meadows. (fn. 7)
Rodley manor in 1274 had 120 a. of demesne arable and 20 a. of meadow; there were free tenants owing over £7 rent, customary tenants owing over £12 rent and £2 instead of works, and 4 yardlanders and 9 mondaymen. (fn. 8) In 1439 115 a. of demesne arable and 16 a. of demesne meadow were leased among a number of tenants, and the tenants made payments instead of 48 weeding, 27 mowing, and 144 harvest works, as well as for bedrips and other customs. (fn. 9) In 1591 the manor included c. 15 freehold estates of 30-60 a. and a large number of small free tenancies. Customary tenants, who were later described as holding by copy or by descent, held between them 27 reeve-lands, usually c. 40 a., and 30 tithing-lands, usually c. 10 a.; the holders of reeve-lands served the office of reeve on a rota system. (fn. 10) Some of the tenants paid a rent called sandgavel for the right of digging sand on the manor. (fn. 11) At least 4 reeve-lands and 6 tithing-lands had been sold by 1658, (fn. 12) and in 1698 it was said that most of the copyholds had been enfranchised. (fn. 13) In 1847 there were still 19 copyhold estates on Rodley manor but none was more than a few acres; (fn. 14) 8 copyholds, probably the last surviving, were enfranchised between 1904 and 1920. (fn. 15)
On the other manors in the parish customary tenures were apparently all replaced by leaseholds at a fairly early stage, a process which was presumably hastened by the decline or absence of manor courts. In 1607 Boseley manor comprised, apart from an inclosed demesne farm of 111 a. and four small free tenancies, 16 leasehold estates mostly held for terms of lives; one of the leaseholds was 106 a., another 81 a., two 30-40 a., and the remainder only a few acres. (fn. 16) The Roberts family's Westbury and Sellars manors in 1635 had c. 22 tenants holding by indenture for years and lives, some of whom owed heriots and additional rents of hens; the largest estate was 15 a. and most were only c. 2 a. The estate also included an inclosed demesne farm of III a. and 60 a. of wood (evidently Ley Park), (fn. 17) a number of small free rents, and some small parcels of land held at will. (fn. 18) In 1717 the Earl of Kent's manor of Ley had 13 tenants who held by leases for lives with heriots payable; 5 held 30-50 a. and the others smaller estates. Nine small freehold rents owed to the manor were then being withheld. (fn. 19) In 1693 the majority of the tenants of Walmore manor received new leases for 3 lives or 99 years with heriots payable. (fn. 20)
In the mid 14th century a rotation of two crops and a fallow was followed on the demesne land of Rodley manor and of the Gamages' estate. (fn. 21) A large number of open fields recorded in the late 16th and early 17th centuries included Rodley Marsh in the south part of Rodley, Vicarage Marsh, Hill field, and Windmill Hill field further north, Wilmoor and Stanley fields between Cleeve and Bollow, Hay Redding field south of Chaxhill, Bunweir Marsh by the Noards, Walmore Hill, Court and Broad fields at Lower Ley, and Stroud and Perry fields in Elton. (fn. 22) In the early 19th century most of the open arable lay in c. 17 fields in the part of the parish south of the main Gloucester-Chepstow road; there were 7, mainly small, open fields lying widely dispersed outside that area. (fn. 23) The main common meadow in the parish, recorded in 1591, was Elton Meadow, (fn. 24) lying between Westbury village and the river, and in the early 19th century there were other common meadows at Rodley, Cleeve, Bollow, and Walmore. (fn. 25) Some meadow lying in Great Wilmoor to the west of Bollow was annually changeable between two owners. (fn. 26) Walmore Common provided the main common pasture of the parish. It was inclosed in 1871 when 159 a. was awarded to the Crown, and rights of common in the residue of 68 a. in the south-east were assigned to 27 neighbouring proprietors; (fn. 27) in 1969 the use of the common was regulated by a grazing committee. (fn. 28) In the Middle ages the tenants of Rodley manor had pasture for their pigs and cattle, free of pannage and herbage, and the right of taking wood to repair their houses, in the Forest of Dean. (fn. 29) In 1614 they also had common in c. 60 a. of marshy and sandy ground on the manor. (fn. 30) There was no limit on the number of animals pastured in the open fields of the manor in 1591, (fn. 31) but in 1672 the court stinted the fallow fields at 2 sheep for each acre owned, and 3 sheep for a house. (fn. 32) Common in the fields in which the Boseley tenants had land was unlimited in 1607. (fn. 33)
Little evidence has been found of early private inclosure of the open fields. Some proprietors applied for an Act for general inclosure c. 1813 but the project was opposed by 55 other proprietors, (fn. 34) and inclosure did not take place until 1851; c. 860 a. were then re-allotted among 50 proprietors. (fn. 35) The award did not cover Stroud's field and Elton Meadow which were inclosed by another award in 1861. (fn. 36)
The parish was said to be predominantly pasture, meadow, and orcharding c. 1775, (fn. 37) and in 1839 there were c. 4,060 a. of pasture, meadow, and orchard, and c. 2,530 a. of arable. (fn. 38) In 1801 wheat and beans were the main crops grown with smaller acreages of barley, oats, peas, potatoes, and turnips. (fn. 39) Hops were being grown in the early 18th century, (fn. 40) and flax and hemp were included in an undated list of tithable produce. (fn. 41) Teasels were being grown c. 1775 and in 1827. (fn. 42) Dairying and stock-raising were evidently important in the parish economy in 1804 when it was announced that two toll-free fairs would be held each year at Westbury for the sale of livestock and cheese, (fn. 43) and in 1856 there were 11 cattledealers in the parish, 6 of whom were also farmers. A total of 69 farmers were listed in 1856 and the number remained about the same in the mid 20th century. (fn. 44) By 1901 the arable land of the parish had fallen to 705 a.; (fn. 45) in 1969, when there was little arable, dairying predominated, and there was also some stock-raising.
Orchards were evidently extensive by the early 18th century when almost every farmer produced cider, (fn. 46) and the parish had a reputation for the quality of its cider in the 18th and 19th centuries. (fn. 47) The large numbers of casks, described as pipes, barrels, and hogsheads, which the churchwardens were able to purchase in the late 17th century for the repair of the steeple (fn. 48) and the parts of cider-mills which survive at many houses in the parish are other indications of the scale of local cider production. In the later 19th century plums and pears as well as apples were grown in large quantities; (fn. 49) there were 6 fruit-merchants in the parish in 1879, (fn. 50) and 3 fruit-merchants and 8 commercial fruitgrowers in 1906. (fn. 51) The Chaxhill House estate concentrated largely on fruit-growing in the early 20th century; in 1918 c. 140 a. of its 200 a. were orchard. (fn. 52) In the late 19th century some of the fruit grown in the parish was shipped by sloops to Bristol and Newport. (fn. 53) In 1920 the Gloucestershire Fruit and Vegetable Market Society opened a branch market at Grange Court Station, (fn. 54) and much of the fruit produced in the parish was sold there in 1969; some farmers, however, had contracts with cider and jam manufacturers or with Evesham fruitdealers. (fn. 55)
MILLS. A corn-mill south of Westbury village where the Westbury brook flows into the Severn was recorded as Garne Mill in 1255 when the Abbot of Flaxley granted it to Henry of Bath in exchange for another mill, called Wood Mill, at Elton. (fn. 56) A mill recorded between 1337 and 1475 among the possessions of Henry's successors to the manor of Ley (fn. 57) may have been either Garne Mill or a mill in Westbury village. (fn. 58) In 1613 Garne Mill was part of Joseph Baynham's Westbury estate; (fn. 59) by 1642 it had passed to the Batherne family which retained it in 1673. (fn. 60) The mill, known from the late 17th century as Garden Mill (fn. 61) and from the mid 19th century as Severn Mill, (fn. 62) continued working until at least 1879. (fn. 63) In 1969 the mill, a small early-19thcentury brick building adjoining a house of similar date, had had its machinery removed and was used to house pigs.
Wood Mill at Elton mentioned in 1255 (fn. 64) stood on the Westbury brook close to the boundary with Flaxley; (fn. 65) it presumably descended with Flaxley Abbey's manor of Walmore for in 1693 it was owned by Anthony Kemp, and in 1731, when it comprised two corn-mills, it was sold by his son Anthony to Thomas Crawley-Boevey of Flaxley. (fn. 66) Wood Mill has not been found recorded later.
Another mill lower down the Westbury brook was usually known as Cut Mill until the mid 19th century when it was called Boseley Mill. In 1607 it belonged to Boseley manor and was leased to John Phillips; (fn. 67) the heirs of William Phillips occupied it in 1694, (fn. 68) and it was recorded as Phillips's Mill in 1717. (fn. 69) In 1839 Cut Mill was owned by the Crawley-Boeveys, who presumably acquired it with Boseley manor. (fn. 70) The lessee in 1839 was Anselm Bailey, (fn. 71) whose family worked it until the 1890s when it apparently closed down. (fn. 72) The mill was dismantled c. 1930. (fn. 73)
Another mill driven by the Westbury brook stood in Westbury village north of the main road. In 1717, when it comprised two corn-mills under one roof, it belonged to Ley manor; Richard Higgs was leasing it and he apparently bought the mill at the sale of the manor in 1725; (fn. 74) Mrs. Higgs, a widow, occupied it in 1733. (fn. 75) It continued working until c. 1925. (fn. 76) In 1968 the small stone and brick millbuilding survived emptied of its machinery, and the former mill-pond on the west (fn. 77) had been turned into a garden; the cottage adjoining the mill is partly timber-framed.
Ley Mill on the Ley brook where it was crossed by the Huntley road was owned by Richard Young at his death in 1635, (fn. 78) and it passed with the adjoining farms to the Probyns. (fn. 79) Between 1805 and 1879 the Coleman family worked the mill; it apparently ceased working c. 1908, (fn. 80) and only a ruined stone wall remained in 1969.
INDUSTRY AND TRADE. Although agriculture remained the chief employer of labour, the proportion of the population of the parish in non-agricultural occupations was fairly high owing to the livelihood provided by the fisheries and river trade. In 1608 136 men employed in agriculture were listed and 112 in other trades, (fn. 81) and in 1831 agriculture supported 246 families and trade 92 families. (fn. 82) In 1969 a majority of the working population was still employed on the land; the others worked mainly in Gloucester. (fn. 83)
The fishery of Garne and Rodley belonging to the Crown was recorded from 1157 when the tithes had been granted to Farleigh Priory. (fn. 84) Lampreys taken in the king's weirs of Rodley were mentioned in 1233. (fn. 85) In the 1240s the fishery was farmed by the men of Rodley manor, (fn. 86) and it descended with that manor from the 1260s. During the 13th century the farmers and lords of the manor were frequently allowed wood from the Forest of Dean for the repair of the weirs, (fn. 87) and in 1336 the customary allowance was said to be two horse-loads of rods daily between September and May and great timbers when the weirs were ruined by the torrent. (fn. 88) In 1424 a lease of the fishery included the use of a fisheryhouse and two boats. At that period a number of fish-traps (borrachia) in the river were leased separately; they lay in named 'rows', presumably weirs made up of putchers on a timber framework. (fn. 89) In 1521 the fishery, described as the halves and halvendeals of Rodley Weir, New Weir, and Garne Weir, with the fishery called Unla Water, was leased from the manor to Alexander Baynham; (fn. 90) Unla Water was the stretch of river under Garden Cliff. (fn. 91) New Weir was presumably the weir of that name at Rodley which Roger, Earl of Hereford, had included in his endowment of Flaxley Abbey c. 1151. (fn. 92) In 1634 putts, 'wheels', and nets were used in the fishery of Rodley manor, and the lord had the right to take all royal fish and casualties on water and land; (fn. 93) catches of sturgeon were presented in the manor court in 1717 and 1723. (fn. 94) The payment of a custom called pridgavel gave tenants of the manor the right to take lampreys in the river. (fn. 95) The manor fishery had apparently been sold by 1735 when six owners owed tithes for shares in a fishery at Rodley. (fn. 96) A fishery at the Noards in Bollow was mentioned in 1812. (fn. 97) In 1608 five fishermen and two fish-mongers lived in Westbury parish, (fn. 98) and eight fishermen were working in Rodley in 1735; (fn. 99) five fishermen and two fish-mongers were recorded in the period 1813-23. (fn. 100) In 1969 putchers for catching salmon were still put in the river at Broadoak, while the long net was used off Rodley. (fn. 101)
Other parishioners were employed in waterborne commerce from the 16th century and presumably earlier. In 1591 Rodley manor claimed keelage from all barques and pickards loading or unloading goods between Newnham Pill and Garden Cliff, (fn. 102) and a Westbury ship was trading with Ireland in 1596. (fn. 103) In 1608 the inhabitants of the parish included 22 sailors. (fn. 104) Men described as mariners and seamen continued to be recorded until the mid 19th century, (fn. 105) although it was probably always the local river trade that employed a majority of the sailors of the parish; watermen, 23 of whom were recorded in the period 1813-23, were apparently the largest group of non-agricultural workers in the early 19th century. (fn. 106) Broadoak was a small centre of commerce and ship-building. Five sailors and two shipwrights listed under Elton in 1608 probably lived there, (fn. 107) and a mariner of Broadoak was mentioned in 1702. (fn. 108) Sloops and barges of 40-70 tons, and in 1801 a West Indiaman of 263 tons, were among ships built at the hamlet during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, (fn. 109) some of them by Thomas Powell (d. 1785) and his son Thomas (d. 1795). (fn. 110) The Boughton family were merchants at Broadoak during the second half of the 18th century: John Boughton was dealing in cider in 1755, (fn. 111) and at his death in 1767 he left cider-making equipment at Hawkins Pill, just over the boundary with Newnham, and a brig to his son Joseph (fn. 112) (d. 1782), who became prominent in the bark and cider trade; (fn. 113) two other members of the family owned a brig trading with London in 1786. (fn. 114) Three pilots and a sloop-owner were among the hamlet's residents in 1856. (fn. 115) In the late 19th and early 20th centuries large quantities of stone for use on the roads of the parish were brought up river and unloaded at Broadoak. (fn. 116) About half of the sailors recorded in 1608 were listed under Rodley, which evidently included Cleeve (fn. 117) where a number of mariners lived during the 17th and early 18th centuries. (fn. 118) In the 19th century sloops traded from Rodley to Bristol and Newport. (fn. 119) Three owners of sloops and two sloop-masters lived in Rodley in 1856, (fn. 120) and there was the same number of sloopowners there in 1879; (fn. 121) a barge-owner operated from Rodley until c. 1920. (fn. 122)
Westbury had a small cloth industry in 1608 when 21 weavers (four of whom were described as coverlet-weavers), two tuckers, a clothier, and a yarn-seller were recorded in the parish. (fn. 123) A clothier was mentioned in 1672 (fn. 124) and a weaver in 1772, (fn. 125) but the industry had probably died out by the end of the 18th century. A hosier was also working in the parish in 1608 (fn. 126) and a glover in 1661. (fn. 127) Ten tailors were recorded in 1608, (fn. 128) and there were five or six in the parish in the earlier 19th century. (fn. 129) Other craftsmen listed in 1608 included eight shoemakers, six tanners, and a currier. (fn. 130) A tanner was recorded in 1684. (fn. 131) Eleven shoemakers were mentioned in the period 1813-23, (fn. 132) and there were several in the parish until the 1920s; in 1856 there were also two harness-makers, and a saddler in 1906. (fn. 133) A smithy near Bollow was mentioned in 1502, (fn. 134) and in 1608 there were six smiths and a metal-man in the parish; (fn. 135) two forges in Westbury tithing, one in Lower Ley, and one in Elton were taxed in 1672. (fn. 136) The parish had four or more blacksmiths during the 19th century and one was still working there in 1939. (fn. 137) A pin-maker of Adsett was recorded in 1638, (fn. 138) and there were nailers in the parish in 1778, 1817, and 1856. (fn. 139)
Masons were recorded in the parish in the late 17th and late 18th centuries, (fn. 140) and there were two or three working there during the 19th and early 20th centuries; (fn. 141) two thatchers were mentioned in 1778. (fn. 142) A brick-works at Bollow was in production in 1863 and until c. 1880. (fn. 143) Five carpenters and two joiners were listed in 1608, (fn. 144) and carpenters formed one of the largest groups of craftsmen in the early 19th century; (fn. 145) four carpenters were recorded in 1906, one of whom was still working in 1939. The parish had wheelwrights in 1879 and until 1935; (fn. 146) coopers were recorded in 1697, 1764, and 1879, (fn. 147) and a maker of the hoops for barrels in 1823. (fn. 148) Timber-merchants were mentioned in the early 19th century, (fn. 149) and in 1856 there was one at Ley and another, who also made agricultural implements, had the Chaxhill Saw Mills; the latter apparently closed down c. 1880. (fn. 150) Other small industries dependent on the local woodland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were rope-making from the bark of birch trees at Northwood Green (fn. 151) and charcoal-burning in Ley Woods; the charcoal was sent by rail to chemical works. (fn. 152) The demand for fruit-baskets and putchers for fishing made basket-making another local trade. Several persh (or osier) beds recorded in 1839 were presumably connected with the trade, (fn. 153) and there was a basket-maker at Rodley in 1856. (fn. 154) The Jacksons followed the trade at the Strand from the 1890s and later at Broadoak where one of the family still made baskets and putchers in 1969; (fn. 155) another maker specialized in fruit-baskets in the early 20th century. (fn. 156) A sieve-maker was recorded at Elton in 1608. (fn. 157)
There was a maltman at Rodley in 1608. (fn. 158) Joseph Cadle of Longcroft was a maltster in 1788, (fn. 159) and a malthouse adjoined that house in 1880; (fn. 160) a maltster of Chaxhill was mentioned in 1828. (fn. 161) Five butchers were among the inhabitants of the parish in 1608; (fn. 162) nine butchers together with three bakers, three shopkeepers, and a number of general dealers, were recorded in the period 1813-23. (fn. 163)
In the 1930s there was a firm of linoleummanufacturers near Grange Court Station. (fn. 164) During the Second World War a depot for the assembly of huts, bailey bridges, and other war materials was established west of the station, and in 1953 it was adapted for the milling and pressure-creosoting of imported timber; it had c. 30 employees in 1968. (fn. 165)