A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1908.
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THE HUNDRED (fn. 1) OF CASHIO
|ABBOTS LANGLEY||NORTHAW||ST. PETER'S|
|CHIPPING BARNET||NORTON||ST. STEPHEN'S|
|HEXTON||ST. PAUL'S WALDEN||CITY OF ST. ALBANS|
This hundred was known as Albanestou at the time of the Domesday Survey, (fn. 2) and in the twelfth century was usually called the hundred of St. Albans. (fn. 3) During the thirteenth century the names Kayso, Kaysho, Kaysford, and Caysford are used, the last being the most frequent during the next three centuries. (fn. 4) The name Cashio does not appear to have come into general use till after the sixteenth century.
At the time of the Survey this hundred was of much less extent than it is now. It then included Sandridge, St. Paul's Walden, the vill of St. Albans (which probably comprised parts of the parishes of St. Michael and St. Peter), Rickmansworth, 'Cassiou' (probably including Watford), that part of Aldenham held by the abbot of St. Albans, part of Shenley (which is now represented by the parish of Ridge), Lampeth, and Henammesteda. (fn. 5)
Many of the scattered parishes not lying close around St. Albans, but afterwards included in this hundred at the time of the Survey, formed parts of the hundreds in which they were locally situated. Shephall, Codicote, and Norton were in the hundred of Broadwater, part of Redbourn, Abbots Langley, Napsbury in St. Peters, and Windridge in St. Michaels were in Dacorum Hundred. Newnham lay in Odsey Hundred, and Hexton and Bendish (in St. Paul's Walden) in the half hundred of Hitchin, while Bramfield was in the hundred of Hertford. (fn. 6) His tenants in these parishes were gradually withdrawn by the abbot of St. Albans to his hundred court held at St. Albans, however distant their tenements might be from that town. Bramfield is the only parish of whose withdrawal a definite account is given. It is said to have done suit at the hundred court of Hertford by four men and a reeve until about 1260, when John, abbot of St. Albans, annexed it to the hundred of Cashio. (fn. 7) Codicote and Shephall appear in the liberty of St. Albans in 1247–8, (fn. 8) but in 1286–7 it was presented at the hundred court of Broadwater that the abbot of St. Albans claimed view of frankpledge, amendment of the assize of bread and ale, gallows, and return of writs in his manors of Codicote, Norton, and Shephall, from which it would appear that these three parishes were still considered to be in Broadwater Hundred, though pleas of the same date concerning them also took place at the hundred court of Cashio. (fn. 9) Newnham and Hexton seem to have been transferred to Cashio before 1286, (fn. 10) and Abbots Langley and Windridge were transferred before 1254–5. (fn. 11) Redbourn was apparently still partly in Dacorum at the last-mentioned date, (fn. 12) and it was probably annexed to Cashio shortly afterwards, as it appears in subsequent assize rolls under that hundred. Theobald Street is now the only part of Aldenham which lies in Dacorum Hundred. (fn. 13) Leavesden, a hamlet in Watford, now in Cashio Hundred, was in 1640 in the hundred of Dacorum. (fn. 14)
The vills of St. Albans and Watford each had its own bailiff separate from the bailiff of the hundred, and these two vills, with the hundred, and certain parishes in Buckinghamshire comprised the Liberty of St. Albans. (fn. 15) The earliest mention of this liberty which has been found occurs in 1198. (fn. 16)
The abbots of St. Albans were lords both of the liberty and of the hundred. These they claimed by the grant of King Offa; (fn. 17) but Offa's grant could not have included such extensive liberties as the abbots exercised in the thirteenth century, when they claimed return of writs, gallows, view of frankpledge, pleas of namii vetiti, free warren, fines and amercements for all transgressions of their tenants, and freedom to elect their own coroners for the liberty. (fn. 18) The right to hold pleas of the crown in the liberty was conferred by Edward I, who seems also to have granted to the abbot the right to elect coroners. (fn. 19) That the abbots' liberties were gradually acquired after the Conquest is evidenced by the history of Kingsbury Castle, the royal residence and town of the Saxon kings immediately outside the town of St. Albans, where the kings had their officers and keepers of the peace of the king and of the country, showing a conflicting, if not an overriding authority. After Kingsbury Castle was demolished by King Stephen, (fn. 20) the abbot's power probably increased, and under Henry II the abbot obtained a charter, confirmed by John and later kings, granting all liberties which the king could bestow upon any church. (fn. 21) This charter was sufficiently comprehensive to give a royal acknowledgement to that independence at which not only the abbots of St. Albans, but other great ecclesiastics were then aiming. There was no express mention in this charter of chattels of felons and fugitives, but a grant of 'flemenesfrenthe,' first made in a charter of Henry I, (fn. 22) was afterwards assumed to mean this, and when in the reign of Richard II the abbot was called upon to prove his claim to this right, he brought forward evidence to show that it had been exercised in former times. (fn. 23)
The abbot, as lord of the liberty, had been accustomed to pay all the expenses of the knights of the liberty at Parliament until about 1333, when Abbot Richard de Wallingford by extortion made the commonalty of the liberty and the vill pay such expenses. (fn. 24)
Ralph Pirot claimed free warren in Windridge, and the abbot of Westminster in Boreham. (fn. 25) Geoffrey de Childwick also obtained from the king a grant of free warren in Childwick, but this seems to have been an encroachment upon the rights of the abbey. (fn. 26)
The hundred court was held, from a very early date, under the ash tree in the court of the monastery, and continued to be held there after the Dissolution. (fn. 27) The hundred and liberty remained in the crown till 1611–12, when, with the office of hundreder, they were granted to George and Thomas Whitmore of London, (fn. 28) who sold them in the same year to Robert, earl of Salisbury. (fn. 29) He died in 1612, leaving the hundred and liberty to his son and heir William, from whom the hundred has descended to James Edward, the present marquis.
The ancient liberty of St. Albans had a separate Commission of the Peace until 1874, when, as it was judged expedient that there should be only one commission for the whole county, the Liberty was abolished, and the county was separated into two divisions. The first, called the Hertford Division, lies east of the western border of Kimpton, Ayot St. Lawrence, Ayot St. Peter, Hatfield, and North Mimms, and the second, called the Liberty of St. Albans Division, comprises the rest of the county. At the same time it was decreed that this last division was not in future to be deemed a liberty within any enactment relating to liberties, as distinguished from counties. The treasurer of the liberty was to continue in office, but on the first vacancy a treasurer was to be appointed for the whole county. (fn. 30)
The 'freedom post' of St. Albans, mentioned in deeds of 1663 and 1686 as standing on the highway leading from St. Albans to St. Stephen's, may perhaps have formed one of the limits of the Liberty. (fn. 31)
The lands of St. Albans lying around the monastery were divided for purposes of court-leet jurisdiction into three sokes. The most important perhaps of these, the soke of Park, comprised the manors held by the abbey to the south-east of St. Albans, extending into the parishes of Aldenham, Barnet, St. Stephen, St. Peter, Elstree, Ridge, and Northaw. The southern boundary was the 'Shyredyche,' dividing Hertfordshire from Middlesex. (fn. 32) The halimote court was usually held under the ash tree in the Great Court of St. Albans Abbey or at Tyttenhanger, the caput of the soke, but Barnet, Bramfield, Phaunton, Sopwell, and Northaw are also mentioned as places where the courts were held. (fn. 33)
This soke, which was confirmed to the abbey by Henry II and John, (fn. 34) remained in its possession till the Dissolution, after which time it descended with the manor of Tyttenhanger. (fn. 35) The jurisdiction of the soke has lapsed, but the title of 'Lord or Lady of the soke of Park' followed the lordship of the manor of Tyttenhanger.
An interesting custom in the soke was the election of a man by the tenants to keep watch at St. Albans during the night of the vigil of the Passion of St. Alban, a penalty being incurred for the neglect of this duty. (fn. 36)
The second soke was that of Cashio, which apparently comprised the parishes of Watford and Rickmansworth. (fn. 37) Very little is known of it, and its jurisdictional powers seem to have ceased before the Dissolution, having perhaps become lost in those of the manor of Cassiobury, to which it was attached.
The halimotes of Kingsbury, which appears to have been the caput of the third soke, were held sometimes at Childwick and sometimes at West-wick. (fn. 38) This soke included the lands of the abbey to the west and north of St. Albans and extended into the parishes of St. Michael, St. Peter, Redbourn and Sandridge. After the Dissolution the lordship of the soke descended with the manor of Gorhambury.