A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 14, Bampton Hundred (Part Two). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2004.
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Despite its proximity to Witney, Hailey remained until modern times a predominantly agricultural area, practising the mixed farming typical of the region. Its distinguishing feature was the large amount of assarted land in the north and east, much of it, from the 16th century, inclosed pasture. From the Middle Ages much of that land was held by townsmen and other outsiders, latterly for sheep-rearing in connection with the cloth and blanket industry, though from medieval times there were also large numbers of resident peasant- and (later) yeoman-farmers, some of whom accumulated sizeable holdings combining open-field arable and inclosed land. Surviving woodland was mostly kept in hand, and was managed by successive lords as part of the Witney estate. By the 17th century significant numbers of inhabitants were employed as outworkers for the Witney blanket industry, though many of them probably lived in the township's southern part around West End and Woodgreen, effectively in Witney, rather than in the township's rural settlements. In addition there were the usual rural trades, and by the late Middle Ages there was some small-scale quarrying.
Before 13th-century assarting (clearance of woodland for cultivation), Hailey's northern part was chiefly woodland, wood-pasture, and heath. Most woodland lay in the north-west adjoining Crawley, where fieldnames incorporating the element leah (meaning 'clearing') are concentrated (Figs. 3 and 73). (fn. 1) In 1251–2, however, there was woodland at 'Swoney', probably near Swanhall Farm, (fn. 2) and, since the entire township was included within medieval Wychwood Forest, (fn. 3) some southern parts may also have once been wooded: 'breach' names south of the modern Hailey village imply some assarting there, (fn. 4) and there was also assarting near Witney around West End and Woodgreen. (fn. 5) The township's eastern part, with few fieldnames suggesting woodland, may have been chiefly scrubby heath in the 11th century, (fn. 6) reflected in the medieval names Shakenoak ('deserted oak'), (fn. 7) Hatfield (implying open heath), (fn. 8) and Merryfield. That last name described an extensive area abutting Hailey and North Leigh heaths from near New Yatt on the north to south of Middlefield Farm, although, like Hatfield, it seems never to have been a common field, both names presumably denoting open country in contrast to woodland. (fn. 9) As in Crawley, both heath and woodland probably included regulated pasture, and possibly enclosures for game: sheep way and hunters' way, both in the north-east, were recorded in 1044, (fn. 10) and Whiteoak (formerly Whitewyke) green, a shared common between Hailey's and Crawley's woods, existed possibly in the 11th century and certainly by the 14th, when 'Whitewykewey' was mentioned. (fn. 11) Names such as Delly, Turley, and Gigley probably also indicate small open areas enlarged in the 13th century, but originating much earlier. (fn. 12) Most woodland in the township seems to have been cleared by the early 14th century, leaving only Singe wood (85–90 a.) in the north-west, and scattered coppices totalling another 50 a. or so. (fn. 13) The name Singe (formerly Singeat) wood, sometimes corrupted by the 19th century to St John's wood, may imply clearance by burning. (fn. 14)
Small-scale assarting may have begun by the 1160s when a bishop of Winchester owed the Crown 20 marks 'from Witney', (fn. 15) but intensive and systematic assarting seems to have started in the early 13th century, perhaps in connection with the founding of Witney borough and presumably on the bishop's initiative. (fn. 16) In 1209 the bishop owed two palfreys for freeing his 'assart of Witney' from the Forester's regard, (fn. 17) and thereafter increments of rent for new assarts were recorded frequently: up to 100 a. may have been assarted in 1208–9 and nearly 70 a. in 1210–11. (fn. 18) By the late 1230s the manor contained some 490 a. of assart alongside the old-established free and customary holdings, nearly all of it, on later evidence, in Hailey, and most of it cleared probably since around 1208. (fn. 19) Further assarting was recorded in the early 1250s at Delly End, Gigley ('Kyggelye'), 'Swoneia' (presumably Swanhill), and 'Westrigg', (fn. 20) and by 1279 there was nearly 700 a. of assart scattered chiefly across the township's central and northern parts. (fn. 21) Thereafter assarting seems to have virtually ceased, (fn. 22) and although in the 16th and 17th centuries assarts were estimated at 1,400–1,600 a., by then almost entirely inclosed, there is no further evidence of intensive clearance. (fn. 23) Small encroachments on the common land, often of only a few square perches, were also recorded from the 13th century: one perhaps near Hailey heath on the township's eastern edge was held in 1335–6 for 1d. rent and a 2s. entry-fine, (fn. 24) and in the late 16th century eleven small encroachments or purprestures, some at Delly and Poffley Ends and most of them built on, were held for 2s. 1d. in all. (fn. 25) In 1840 around 85 tenants held small encroachments totalling some 17 a. along the edge of the commons, roads, and woods. (fn. 26)
In addition to the assarted land, in the early 17th century Hailey had some 470 a. of open-field arable in the south-west between Hailey village and the WitneyCrawley road, which it retained until parliamentary inclosure in 1822–4 (Fig. 73). (fn. 27) Some of that area may have been cultivated by 1086 when Witney manor contained 24 ploughlands, implying some arable north of the river Windrush, (fn. 28) and although fields throughout the manor were presumably reordered when Witney borough was laid out in the 12th or 13th century, Hailey's fields may have been independently organized even before then. South field, probably north of the Witney—Crawley road, was mentioned in 1352, and Middle field, north of the modern Middlefield Farm, in the 1440s; (fn. 29) in 1485 a holding was unevenly divided between Down End field, apparently near modern Downhill Farm and Foxburrow cross, Chalstyd or Chastill field to its west, and a field adjoining Crawley. (fn. 30) Open-field yardlands were reckoned in the 14th century at 30 a., (fn. 31) and between the 16th century and early 19th seem usually to have contained 20–27 a. of arable. (fn. 32)
The open fields seem to have been enlarged by 13th and 14th-century assarting, both within the area of the 19th-century fields and elsewhere in the township: assarted strips within Hailey's fields were still distinguished in the 19th century, (fn. 33) while small parcels of assart in Witney, Hailey, and Madley 'fields', which together covered much of the area between West End, New Yatt, and the eastern boundary, were mentioned frequently from the 1330s. (fn. 34) Not all were necessarily common fields, and not all such assarts, though small and scattered, were necessarily subject to common rotations; some apparently lay in furlongs, however, (fn. 35) and in 1475 a few acres of assart near Woodstock road lay 'divided in the open field'. (fn. 36) A small assart east of Delly End remained uninclosed and divided into strips until the 1820s. (fn. 37)
Other assarts may always have formed private closes, and from the later 15th century those in the township's northern and eastern parts were increasingly consolidated and inclosed, probably for sheep farming: a 16-a. close of assart next to Gigley croft was mentioned in 1474, (fn. 38) and over 150 a. were inclosed by five tenants between 1500 and 1512. (fn. 39) By 1609 assart closes covered some 71 per cent of the township, leaving only the later open fields in the south-west, which by then were divided into an East and a West field; (fn. 40) they were reordered as three fields in 1613, and as quarters before the later 18th century. (fn. 41) Burycroft (c. 49 a.), a former demesne close adjoining the river Windrush immediately south of those fields, was taken possibly from the arable before the early 14th century, when it was called Inland. (fn. 42)
Small amounts of common meadow, part of 100 a. recorded on Witney manor in 1086, (fn. 43) lay chiefly in the south by the Windrush. In 1609, when probably already reduced by small-scale inclosure, Hailey's meadow was estimated at 49 a., and in 1814 at 37 a. held in 45 pieces; (fn. 44) in the 15th century some was allocated in rota or by lot, but by the 18th century and probably earlier most farms seem to have retained the same pieces. (fn. 45) A holding of 21 a. and 22 headlands of arable in 1485 had ¾ a. and 6 headlands of meadow, (fn. 46) and in the 17th century some yardlands still carried a fixed allowance, apparently around 1¾ a. (fn. 47) By then, however, far more meadow was available in assart closes, (fn. 48) and small parcels of common meadow seem often to have been let independently: (fn. 49) certainly in the late 18th century not all farms with open-field arable had common meadow, and vice versa. (fn. 50) In 1785 private meadow belonging to New Mill was judged 'very good', but sometimes flooded. (fn. 51)
Inclosure of assarted woodland and heath presumably much reduced the common pasture, which by the early 17th century consisted of Hailey heath (50–60 a.) on the east and Whiteoak green (24 a.) on the west, together with Woodgreen (5 a.) near Witney, and a green of 1 a. at Delly End. (fn. 52) Roadside herbage provided another 89 a., with 11 a. of common road-baulks in the open fields. (fn. 53) The common pasture allowance for a freehold yardland in the late 16th or early 17th century was 2½ cows and 20 sheep, (fn. 54) though in 1814 the commons were said to be stocked without limit. (fn. 55) In the earlier 19th century all inhabitants except cottagers and smallholders also had unregulated pasture rights in Crawley's woodland, (fn. 56) and in the 17th century and later some private assart closes seem to have been commonable at certain times. (fn. 57)
Some tenants recorded on Witney manor in 1086 probably lived or held land in Hailey, (fn. 58) and in the 1230s there were some 36 customary tenants in the township: 17 villeins had yardlands, ten held half-yardlands, suggesting subdivision of holdings due to rising population, and there were nine cottagers, of whom one had two holdings. Customary rents and services were the same as in Witney's other townships. A single freeholder occupied a hide (4 yardlands) for 8s. rent and attendance at the lord's court, and in 1279, when part of that holding was sublet, another free half-yardland was leased for 2d. and a pair of gloves. (fn. 59) Assart land, by contrast, was held in the 1230s by around 140 tenants of whom most seem to have come from outside the township, many of them apparently Witney burgesses: three leading townsmen held between 18 a. and 23 a. each, though most assarts were held in smaller parcels of ½–5 acres. (fn. 60) Nearly two thirds of assart land was still held by burgesses in 1279, though by then some was also being taken by local tenants: 32 freeholders, none of them mentioned earlier, held a total of 179 a. in parcels of between 1½ a. and 17½ a., and, since many had houses, bore local toponyms, or were apparently related to local villeins, presumably lived in Hailey. Some villeins, too, had by then acquired small parcels, at least one yardlander holding 5½ a. of assart, and two halfyardlanders around 4 a. each. (fn. 61)
Rent for assarts, regarded as free land, became gradually standardized during the 13th century at the relatively high sum of 6d. an acre, with an entry-fine of 2s. following a surrender, and of 1s. following a vacancy by death; in the earlier 13th century rents and fines varied, however, and were sometimes heavier, perhaps reflecting the land's quality and whether it was built on. (fn. 62) In the 1250s land apparently only just being cleared by beat-burning (pro baticio) was granted for substantially lower rents and fines, perhaps implying that lessees were responsible for its clearance: (fn. 63) certainly assart tenants, unlike villeins, were allowed under newly established manorial customs to fell trees. (fn. 64) Throughout the 13th century and earlier 14th assart land continued to be held mostly in parcels of a few acres, and changed hands frequently: up to 50 or 60 a. a year was regularly fined for, and there appears to have been little permanent accumulation of larger holdings, either by burgesses or by local tenants. (fn. 65) Customary holdings remained fairly stable until the Black Death, partly as a result of seignorial policy, which tried to prevent accumulations of property: by the mid 14th century only one holding exceeded a yardland, and none were less than half a yardland. (fn. 66) Medieval tenant-farming presumably differed little from that in Witney's other townships, and most assarts, given their small size, were probably arable, though a demesne sheep-shed was built in Hailey in 1272. (fn. 67)
Total assessed wealth in early 14th-century subsidies placed Hailey among middling rural townships in the area, though average individual wealth was relatively low, perhaps reflecting the large numbers of tenants holding small parcels of assart. Forty-five people were assessed on a total of £80 2s. in 1316, an average of only 25s. a head, and 47 were assessed on £98 5s. (an average of 42s.) in 1327. (fn. 68) Wealthier taxpayers seem to have included a range of local tenants, burgesses, and outsiders. Richard of Standlake, by far the wealthiest in 1327 when he paid on £13, was a prominent Witney townsman whose family held assarts in Hailey by the 1230s, (fn. 69) while the Smalprouts, taxed on £3–£4, were local freeholders with some assart land, and a few other taxpayers belonged apparently to local villein families. (fn. 70) Ralph of Lew, the wealthiest taxpayer in 1316, may have lived outside the parish, though his family had some assart land by 1237. (fn. 71)
Mid 14th-century plague mortalities were heavy, as elsewhere on the manor: 23 customary tenants in Hailey, two thirds of the late 13th-century total, died during 1348–9, and though 20 holdings (including cotlands) were filled by 1351–2, further plague in 1361 led to long-term depopulation, amalgamation of holdings, and leasing at negotiable rents, free from payment of fines or heriots. (fn. 72) In 1440–1 (fn. 73) around fourteen tenants from only six or seven families, some of them with land elsewhere in the manor, (fn. 74) occupied the 22 customary yardlands, of which only 7½ still owed commuted labour-services (at the rate of 5–6s. a yardland), presumably in addition to customary rents and entry fines. The rest were leased mostly for 6s., and one, vacated through death that year, at 6s. 8d., while up to five cottage holdings were similarly leased for between 10d. and 14d. each. There had been little change by 1469–70, when nine tenants held 13½ yardlands formerly occupied by 18 people for between 6s. and 8s. 6d. a yardland. (fn. 75) Assart land, some of which was perhaps becoming difficult to let in the earlier 14th century, (fn. 76) was even more severely affected: some 580 a. was vacant by 1349, 700 a. in 1352, and still possibly over 300 a. in the late 14th century. From about 1362 assarts, too, were sometimes let without fine at 6d. an acre: 25 people occupied 110 a. by 1405, and in the late 15th century and early 16th a few assarts were let for terms of years, though grants at the relatively high customary fine of 2s. an acre continued. (fn. 77) From the late 15th century, as population rose, entry fines and commutation payments again became usual, and in 1528 a new rental combined sale of works in a new assized rent. (fn. 78)
Consolidation and inclosure of assarts from the late 15th century or early 16th, much of it apparently by outsiders, presumably reflected a shift towards pastoral and especially sheep farming in Hailey, in connection with the expansion of Witney's cloth industry. (fn. 79) Those responsible included leading Witney families such as that of Martin or Bishop, closely involved in the cloth industry and accused in 1508 of overburdening Hailey's commons with 300 sheep. (fn. 80) Some of those taxed on large flocks in Witney parish in the 1540s, several of whom were Witney clothiers or manufacturers, may also have pastured them in Hailey, (fn. 81) and certainly in the late 16th century some large blocks of inclosed assart were held by prominent Witney inhabitants such as Leonard Yate (with 141 a.), Philip Box (92 a.), and Richard Humfrey (95 a.), as well as by Francis Wenman of Caswell (133 a.). (fn. 82) At least 800 a. of assart, more than half the total, was pasture in 1609, much of it presumably for sheep. (fn. 83)
The wealthiest Hailey taxpayer in the 1570s and 1580s, the farmer Thomas Walter (d. 1589), also seems to have lived in Witney, though other 16th-century taxpayers were resident Hailey farmers such as the Smiths, Sparrowhawks, Hornes, and Bowmans, many of whom held amalgamations of freehold, customary land, and assart. (fn. 84) Robert Bowman (d. 1599), whose son Edward (d. 1612) left goods worth over £380 and whose immediate descendants acquired gentry status, was tenant in the 1590s of half a yardland, 17 a. of freehold, and 41 a. of assart, together with lands in Crawley. (fn. 85) There was evidently widespread subletting, licenses for which were issued frequently in the manor court. (fn. 86) Although there was more inclosed pasture most resident farmers continued to pursue mixed agriculture, growing chiefly wheat and barley with some beans, peas, and vetches. (fn. 87) Oats, maslin, and hemp were also mentioned, (fn. 88) and several testators left malt mills or malt: in 1713 one wealthy mixed farmer left 60 qrs worth £55. (fn. 89) Many middling farmers kept small flocks of up to 80 sheep, (fn. 90) and a few kept more: Robert Yate (d. 1639/40) of Swanhall Farm, by far the wealthiest 17th-century inhabitant with goods and produce worth over £500, had 140 wethers in nearby assart closes, and John Smith (d. 1634), another prosperous mixed farmer, had a flock worth £80, numbering possibly 200–300. (fn. 91) Cattle, pigs, and poultry were also kept: Yate left 21 cattle, (fn. 92) and there was evidently some dairying, several 17th-century testators leaving cheese presses.
Customary rents and fines varied greatly by the late 16th century and earlier 17th, rents for a yardland ranging from from 6s. to around 15s., and entry fines from around 6s. 8d. to 20s. Similarly varied rents, some still in kind, were owed for 46 a. and 2 yardlands of free land let in small parcels, though assart rents and fines remained standardized as earlier. (fn. 93) Copyhold, as elsewhere on the manor, developed during the 17th and 18th centuries into copyhold of inheritance or 'customary freehold', quitrents from Hailey in 1759 totalling some £57 year. (fn. 94) A complex pattern of landholding persisted, with a mixture of Hailey residents, Witney townspeople, and outsiders building up some sizeable copyhold estates, many of which were sublet; most larger farms, some of them centred on houses built on outlying assart closes during the 17th or early 18th century, (fn. 95) thus comprised amalgamations of copyhold and leasehold, occupied under several owners. (fn. 96) Leases were increasingly at commercial rents: in 1662 a small inclosed farm was let for around £37, (fn. 97) and New Yatt, Merryfield, and University farms, each between 65 and 100 a., were let for £45–£60 by the later 18th century, the rent for Merryfield (which was partly sublet) being thought excessive. (fn. 98) In the 1760s the curate reported that the 'better sort' of inhabitants were chiefly rack-renters, and that most others were too poor to contribute to church collections. (fn. 99)
In 1776 it was suggested that one farm might support a higher rent if let in parcels to Witney tradesmen, (fn. 100) but continuing amalgamation during the 18th century resulted by the 1790s in a few dominant farms. Swanhall farm, over 120 a. by the mid 17th century when occupied by the Yates, was sublet to tenant farmers from the early 18th, (fn. 101) and in 1794, with New Yatt farm (115 a.) and other holdings, formed part of a 330–a. farm assembled by Samuel Druce, much the largest holding in the township. Two other amalgamations, one of them including Gigley and Turley farms and the later Hailey Manor House, exceeded 200 a., and at least four others (including University and Middlefield farms) were over 100 a. each. Downhill farm was 68 a., Burycroft 49 a., and Shakenoak 42 a., though there remained many smaller holdings: nearly a hundred landholders and over 60 occupiers were recorded in all. Most larger farms still comprised a mixture of open-field arable and inclosed assart, though a few, including Druce's combined farm, were wholly inclosed. Mixed farming continued: in 1794 the township was 63 per cent arable and most individual farms over 50 per cent, the chief exceptions being farms adjoining the heath at New Yatt. (fn. 102)
Hailey's common arable fields and meadows, by then just over 500 a., were inclosed between 1822 and 1824 under an Act of 1821, when around 32 landholders received allotments which varied from less than an acre to around 62 acres. (fn. 103) Common pasture at Hailey heath, New Yatt, Hatfield Pits, and Whiteoak green was not inclosed until 1849–53 with Crawley's commons, over 60 Hailey landholders receiving awards comprising, in varying combinations, allotments of mostly less than an acre, compensation payments of up to £4 4s., and annual rent-charges of up to 33s. 10d.; the rent-charges were imposed on newly established labourers' allotments, which together totalled 24 acres. Around 44 a. in Hailey common was sold to 21 purchasers in parcels of up to 8 a. to defray expenses, and an award for manorial rights included 1 a. also in Hailey. (fn. 104) Common rights in Crawley's Chase woods continued until the inclosure of Wychwood Forest in 1857, (fn. 105) and in the 1890s Hailey's officers still received tolls for pasturage on Woodgreen and perhaps on Delly green, both of which were awarded to them as recreation grounds in 1853. (fn. 106)
Though loss of commons may have affected small holders and townspeople, the impact of inclosure on Hailey's farms was limited because of the large proportion of existing closes: in 1841 there were 19 farms over 40 a., of which only six exceeded 100 a. and the largest (New Yatt farm) was 151 acres. (fn. 107) Henry Calcutt of Middlefield farm accumulated 300 a. by 1861 when he employed 19 labourers, (fn. 108) but though several farmhouses fell vacant or were used as labourers' accommodation during the mid 19th century, only three other farms exceeded 100 a., and at least five smallholders still had under 50 a. (fn. 109)
Farming remained mixed after inclosure, with perhaps a small bias towards arable: in 1841 the township remained 64 per cent arable, and in 1877 around 71 per cent. (fn. 110) Stock sold from Middlefield farm in 1856 included wheat, barley, oats, clover, and hay, besides 195 sheep (chiefly Cotswold, Leicester and Southdown breeds), 24 pigs, and a milch cow. (fn. 111) Crops on the smaller Burycroft farm included sainfoin and turnips, (fn. 112) and in 1881 University farm had 60 sheep, 9 cattle, and 17 pigs, and grew barley (15 a.), wheat (14 a.), beans and peas (7 a.), and oats (3 a.). (fn. 113) Most farms seem to have been reasonably managed, and the soil, though light on the stonebrash, was generally judged fair. (fn. 114) A threshing machine was in use on Middlefield farm in 1856, and land on University farm was drained in 1881. (fn. 115)
Agricultural depression seems to have affected the area intermittently throughout the 19th century. Falling rents may have affected Samuel Druce's decision to sell up in 1816, and reductions continued in the early 1820s when a vetch crop on at least one estate failed. (fn. 116) In 1851 and 1852 Hailey charity trustees approved a 12½ per cent rent reduction because of low prices, (fn. 117) and bad seasons, low prices, and rent reductions were mentioned in the late 1870s and still in the early 1890s. (fn. 118) In 1887 agricultural distress was noted by the vicar, who reported 21 vacant houses and mounting tithe arrears. (fn. 119) The poverty of agricultural labourers, frequently underemployed in the winter and many earning only 12–15s. a week without cottages, was alleviated in the early 20th century by availability of small allotments of up to 5½ a.; they were occupied chiefly by labourers and artisans who grew barley and potatoes and bred pigs, using manure as fertilizer. A single horse owned by one labourer worked all the land. A slightly larger mixed holding of 25 a. was worked by a local builder, and another of 40 a. grew wheat and barley with some beans and mangolds, refuse from woollen mills providing fertilizer. (fn. 120)
In 1914 Hailey remained around two thirds arable, the chief crops being barley (21 per cent), wheat (17 per cent), and oats (11 per cent), with some swedes, turnips, mangolds, and potatoes. Pigs were reared in relatively high numbers, and cattle and sheep farming continued, though flocks were diminishing and sheep farming was less intensive than further west. (fn. 121) A few farms remained copyhold until the abolition of copyhold tenure in 1926, sales being accompanied by formal surrenders and admissions, but otherwise all farms, as earlier, were treated essentially as freehold. (fn. 122) Most leading farmers were lessees, with a few, such as the Calcutts of Middlefield farm in the 19th century and the Benfields at Gigley Farm from 1919, being effectively owneroccupiers. (fn. 123) In 1920 there were around 20 farms, of which only Gigley and Swanhall exceeded 150 a. each. (fn. 124)
In 1941–2 there were 14 chief farms of between 60 a. and 341 a., seven exceeding 100 a. and three (New Yatt, Witheridge, and the largest, Swanhall) exceeding 200 a. All were mixed in varying proportions, the chief crops remaining much as in 1914, with some kale for fodder and, on Swanhall farm, 20 a. of flax. Dairying, poultry-keeping and pig-rearing dominated pastoral farming, and very few farms kept sheep. Over 20 smallholders with up to 45 a. kept livestock and a couple grew oats. (fn. 125)
Singe wood, 89 a. in 1840, (fn. 126) was administered probably throughout the Middle Ages and certainly from the 16th century with the rest of the Chase woods in Crawley, being coppiced in rota on a 10–12 year cycle. (fn. 127) In the 19th century and presumably earlier some nearby copyhold estates had 'hedge acre', the right to cut small amounts of underwood adjoining the coppice's boundary wall. (fn. 128) After the clearance of Crawley's woodland in the later 19th century (fn. 129) most of Singe wood was sold apparently to the Pratley family, local timberdealers and woodmen; 9 a. south-west of Wood Lane became attached to Hailey Manor House, and in 1948 was chiefly oak with hazel undergrowth. (fn. 130) By then the wood's north-western and south-eastern parts seem to have been chiefly orchard, and in the 1970s, when the wood contained stables and three or four houses, a small central part was scrub and rough pasture, though the wood's perimeter remained unaltered. (fn. 131)
Other scattered coppices, mostly between ½ a. and 8 a., were held from the 17th century and probably earlier with the assart-closes among which they lay, the largest, Caulkhill coppice (27 a.), being held by the 18th century with New Yatt farm. (fn. 132) Several other inclosed farms had valuable timber in the hedgerows or in pasture closes: 170 elm and a few oak and ash were noted on University farm in 1783, (fn. 133) and 220 pollard ash and elm were sold from Middlefield farm in 1801. (fn. 134) Caulkhill coppice was reduced during the earlier 19th century, and some other coppices in the late 19th or early 20th, leaving only Jobs and Taylors copses and one or two small scattered plantations by the 1980s. (fn. 135)
Trade and Industry
Thirteenth- and 14th-century surnames, apparently hereditary, included Smith, Cooper, and Carpenter, (fn. 136) and a mason was noted in 1442. (fn. 137) Several masons and carpenters and a few tailors, some of them in New Yatt, were mentioned during the 17th and 18th centuries, (fn. 138) together with a blacksmith in 1613, a cooper at Delly End in 1670, and a shoemaker in 1773. (fn. 139) Other tradesmen included a moderately prosperous hatter in 1712, a tallow chandler at West End about 1718, and a slater and maltster in the 1770s. (fn. 140) Traditional craftsmen continued throughout the 19th century, presumably serving Witney as much as the township itself: in 1861 there were, excluding those in Woodgreen and West End, around 14 masons, 7 carpenters, 3 cordwainers, 2 coopers, 2 blacksmiths, and a tailor, scattered among the township's rural settlements. Nine woodmen, 6 sawyers, and a timber merchant were noted also, mostly at Whiteoak green. (fn. 141) A baker was mentioned in 1827, (fn. 142) and in 1841 there were two bakers and a butcher in Hailey village, and another butcher at Whiteoak green. (fn. 143)
Involvement in Witney's blanket industry accounts for the fact that in the early 19th century more Hailey families were usually reported to be involved in trade and industry than in agriculture. (fn. 144) From the early 17th century fullers and tuckers, broadweavers, and clothiers were mentioned frequently; (fn. 145) their wealth and status varied considerably, and some of the more prominent lived probably at West End or Woodgreen rather than in the township's rural part. (fn. 146) William Bird (d. 1675), a Hailey clothier with a house in West End, left 2 looms and made cash bequests exceeding £40; (fn. 147) the clothier Joseph Selman (d. 1758), who held Turley farm and other lands, made bequests of over £300, (fn. 148) and his relative William Selman (d. 1767), a 'very considerable blanketter . . . with great reputation', was co-lessee of New Mill. (fn. 149) Several blanket-weavers or blanket-makers were of comparable wealth and presumably ran small businesses: John Levett (d. 1730) left over £630 chiefly in mortgages and bonds and appointed members of the Early family as executors, (fn. 150) while Bulstrode Barry (d. 1773), with two shops, left two looms, wool and yarn worth over £60, and some 60 blankets and 'stripes' worth as much again. (fn. 151) By contrast a broadweaver in 1625 left goods worth only £4 including wool and wool yarn, three woollen wheels, a rack, and a cow, while another in 1679 left household goods worth £18; since neither left a loom, they perhaps rented one or worked for a master in a Hailey or West End weaving shop. (fn. 152) In the early 1820s the blanket-weaver Jeremiah Biggers also ran a printing and book-binding business, probably at West End or Woodgreen. (fn. 153)
Spinning and carding, not generally recorded, presumably supplemented the income of poorer families; some of Bulstrode Barry's wool in 1773 was 'at the spinning houses', though whether those were private cottages or specialized sheds is not clear. (fn. 154) Fullers included, in 1576, one of the prominent Bishop family, whose business was presumably based elsewhere, (fn. 155) but most later fullers worked probably to contract at New Mill, where several had fulling racks in the later 18th century. (fn. 156) Some had apprentices (fn. 157) and were probably moderately prosperous: one in 1682 left personalty of £56, chiefly in money and debts, and another in 1761 had a 'mansion house' at Woodgreen. (fn. 158)
From the late 18th century mechanization increasingly concentrated Hailey clothworkers at New Mill and in the Earlys' weaving shops at West End. (fn. 159) By the mid 19th century there were numerous spinners, fullers, and weavers employed 'in the factory', other employees in 1861 including foremen, a skinner, and an engine cleaner. Most lived in cottages at New Mill or on Crawley road, and others at West End and Hailey Fields; only a few were noted at Delly or Poffley Ends and Middletown, and none at Whiteoak green or New Yatt. (fn. 160) By then a gradual decline in Witney's woollen manufacture may have been causing underemployment: (fn. 161) in 1802 this was cited in support of Hailey's inclosure which, it was hoped, would create more agricultural work, (fn. 162) and in the 1850s and 1880s decline in trade allegedly rendered New Mill's value 'uncertain'. (fn. 163) In the early 20th century it was claimed that, compared with Crawley, a higher proportion of Hailey's inhabitants relied on agriculture rather than more remunerative employment in the mills; nevertheless New Mill provided local employment until its closure in the 1950s, (fn. 164) by which time an increasing number of inhabitants were commuters.
A saddler at New Yatt was recorded until 1907, a blacksmith at Hailey in 1915, and carpenters in 1920, but thereafter traditional crafts largely died out. In the later 1920s and 1930s there was a builder and undertaker in Middletown, and in 1935 there were still two shopkeepers, a butcher, and a baker, with another baker at New Yatt. (fn. 165) In 1999 there was a single shop in Middletown, together with a car saleroom and, at New Yatt, a small motor-repair garage opened before 1935. (fn. 166) A riding school existed at Poffley End, and there were stables near Whiteoak green and at Common Leys Farm, and a pony stud at University Farm.
Quarry piece was mentioned in the 1590s, (fn. 167) and in the 19th century several scattered closes bore the name Quarry or Old Quarry. (fn. 168) Quarry ground, sold in 1883, produced building stone said to have been used for Oxford prison, (fn. 169) and in 1895 land in Hailey's southern part was thought to contain good stone reserves, 'as existing quarries testify'. (fn. 170) Two small quarries adjoining Milking Lane were opened about 1945. (fn. 171)
Mills and Fisheries
A fulling mill in Hailey, recorded from the early 13th century to the early 14th, stood on the river Windrush in the township's southern part, apparently on or very near the site of modern New Mill: Fulling Mill furlong, immediately north of the existing mill, was mentioned in 1485, (fn. 172) and the adjacent Burycroft was associated with the former mill-holding throughout the 15th century. (fn. 173) The mill was separately recorded only from 1223, and was probably one of several fulling mills built in Witney manor in the late 12th or early 13th century in connection with the borough's emerging cloth industry; (fn. 174) 13thand early 14th-century lessees included the prominent Witney burgess Robert Ailine, together with a family surnamed Fuller. (fn. 175) Its fortunes largely followed those of the town's early cloth industry: in the 1220s it was let to two tenants for a total of 60s. a year, increased to 70s. by 1237, but by 1262 the two halves were let for only 25s. and 20s. respectively. In 1296–7 one half was in decay, and though both were let at unreduced rents until the early 14th century, by 1317–18 the mill yielded nothing and was probably derelict. (fn. 176) Adjacent land and meadow continued to be let throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, latterly with Burycroft, (fn. 177) but the mill itself was not mentioned again, and was presumably demolished. (fn. 178)
In the 1580s the wealthy Witney fuller and clothier Thomas Box acquired the lease of Burycroft and an adjacent meadow in order to build a tucking mill there, for which he constructed a new mill-leet. The mill, called New Mill thereafter, was functioning by 1589. (fn. 179) Half of it stood on adjoining copyhold land north-east of the mill stream, and the mill was held in two parts until the late 19th century, the south-western part leasehold and the other copyhold. (fn. 180) The Box family retained both parts until the earlier 18th century, when the leasehold half passed first to non-resident tenants, some of them possibly trustees, and in the 1760s to the 'considerable' Hailey blanket-weaver William Selman (d. 1767), from whom it passed in thirds to his sons Joseph (d. 1772) and William (d. after 1808) and son-in-law John Humhpries (d. 1783), all blanket-makers. From the 1790s they and their heirs and executors mortgaged their share, acquired in 1808 by the Witney builder William Long and the solicitor Charles Leake. (fn. 181) The copyhold part passed in the mid 18th century to Thomas Horne of Witney Park, before 1800 to Selman, and before 1815 to Leake and Long. (fn. 182) During the early 19th century both parts were sublet separately or together to local spinners and blanket-makers, including, by 1818, Edward Early (d. 1835) of Witney, his brother John (d. 1862), and their brother-in-law Paul Harris, the three occupying the whole premises in partnership certainly by the 1820s. (fn. 183)
In 1830 Leake and Long sold both parts to Edward and John Early, Edward receiving the copyhold part and John the leasehold. The latter passed in 1862 to John's son Charles Early (d. 1912), owner of the leading blanket firm Charles Early & Co., who bought the freehold from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in 1883. The northeastern copyhold part, run as a separate concern, passed to Edward Early's son Edward and grandsons Thomas and Walter, but was reunited with Charles's share on Walter's death in 1894 and was converted to freehold. (fn. 184) Thereafter Charles Early & Co. retained the combined mill, run at first as part of the subsidiary firm of Edward Early and Son, until its sale during rationalization of the firm's premises in the mid 1960s, when it ceased to be connected with blanket manufacture. (fn. 185) In the mid 1970s the mill was occupied by an electronic engineering firm specializing in aircraft antennae, and in the late 1990s, after some years standing vacant, by a marine electrical engineering firm and by book-lending and educational companies. (fn. 186)
Mill Buildings (fn. 187) Fires destroyed or damaged New Mill in the late 18th century, and in 1809, 1818, and 1883. (fn. 188) In 1785 the buildings were in good condition, (fn. 189) and there were racks nearby in 1788 when eleven master fullers, presumably working to contract, complained of theft of blankets there. (fn. 190) By 1809 the leasehold part was 'old' and in need of repair; the buildings were of stone and slate, and the leasehold part contained two wheels of which one drove the fulling mill, and the other a spinning machine recently installed by a subtenant. (fn. 191) Edmund Wright (d. 1808), subtenant of the copyhold part, also pioneered mechanization. (fn. 192)
After the fire of 1818 the mill was rebuilt on the same plan and alignment, (fn. 193) the Earlys introducing new machinery built by Edmund Ogden of Rochdale (Lancs.); the mills were chiefly used for carding and spinning thereafter, some for other blanket weavers but most for the Earlys themselves. (fn. 194) In the mid 19th century the buildings, substantially constructed of stone and slate, comprised a long north-south range of two full storeys and attic extending across the mill stream, with adjoining ranges mostly of three storeys extending westwards along both banks. The main (east) front was lit by rows of regular square windows, and the attic storey, housing spinning machines and hand mules in 1883, by continuous glazing under the roofline (Fig. 74). Three wheels, two of them in the leasehold part, were supplemented by steam power before 1861, the engine housed in a projection built onto the east front. (fn. 195) Improved machinery was introduced by Charles Early from the 1850s and by Thomas and Walter Early about 1882, and in 1883 the two mills together contained, besides carding and spinning machines, a willey shop, gig mills, scribbling machines, and a tucking shop and blanket room. (fn. 196)
After the fire of 1883 the mill was rebuilt on the same alignment by the Witney builder William Cantwell, as two storeys only and with loftier, more open rooms. Some ground-floor walling was retained, together with part of the north-west range and a two-storeyed cottage at the range's west end, built probably after the fire of 1818. (fn. 197) The building is of coursed limestone rubble, with red-brick heads to most windows in the main east front, and some salvaged masonry reused in the upper parts. The mill was refitted for carding and spinning, with provision for doubling mop-yarn; fulling and finishing machinery, if reinstalled, was removed soon after, and the mill continued as a carding and spinning factory until the 1950s. Blending of dyed and coloured wool was also carried out there in order to segregate it from the white wool treated elsewhere. (fn. 198) In 1912 the premises included, besides the main factory, an engine-house and chimney stack, bleach houses, drying sheds, and workshops. (fn. 199) Two large breast-shot water-wheels, perhaps predating the 1883 fire, were used in conjunction with steam power, and remained in the 1960s. (fn. 200) Conversion of the mill in the mid 1990s, when the buildings required considerable renovation, included insertion of an upper floor in the main range's southern part.
New Mill Cottages A house stood immediately north of the mill by 1814, (fn. 201) and by the 1840s there were up to nine cottages for factory workers, including two attached to the mill itself. The freestanding cottages were demolished during the mid 20th century and replaced by a house and stone-built terraces a little further east, some of them incorporating stone from the demolished mill chimneystack. (fn. 202)
Fisheries A copyhold fishery in the river Windrush, extending from Witney Mill to Crawley bridge, seems to have been held with New Mill from the 1590s, passing from the 17th century with the copyhold part. (fn. 203) It was converted to freehold in 1894 and still belonged to the mill in 1952. (fn. 204)
Windmill piece or furlong, north of the Crawley road between Milking Lane and the Hailey road, was recorded in the early 19th century, but no windmills are known. (fn. 205)