A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2006.
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Manor Courts and Officers
In the late 13th century the bailiff of the lord of Bampton hundred held an annual view of frankpledge at Alvescot at Michaelmas. Profits belonged to the lord of Alvescot, who paid the bailiff 12d. certainty money, an arrangement confirmed in 1285 following litigation. Free tenants were required to attend two views a year, the second held presumably at Bampton. (fn. 1) Lords of Bampton continued to hold a Michaelmas view at Alvescot apparently until the early 19th century, (fn. 2) though the certainty may have been increased by 1505–6 when 3s. 4d. was paid 'for relaxing the lord's suit'. (fn. 3) Whether tenants continued also to attend a Bampton view is unknown. (fn. 4) Courts baron for Alvescot manor were held probably in the 13th century and certainly by the earlier 15th, when they dealt with field management, encroachments, and copyhold conveyancing; they then met usually in April or October, though perhaps only sporadically. (fn. 5) A tenant in 1812 was said still to owe attendance, (fn. 6) but though the manor was sold in 1866 with its courts, views, and other rights, in practice the courts lapsed probably at or before inclosure in 1796. (fn. 7)
The lord of Alwoldsbury manor owed attendance in 1279 at the lord of Bampton's two annual views, and at his court baron every three weeks, the latter obligation discharged through two freeholders. (fn. 8) No court baron at Alwoldsbury is known and, if held, it is likely to have been merged with Alvescot's court following the manors' unification in the mid 14th century. (fn. 9) In the 17th century some Alvescot inhabitants still belonged to a distinct tithing of Alwoldsbury and paid certainty money to the lord of Bampton hundred, whose Michaelmas court appointed a tithingman for Alwoldsbury, and whose court leet they were theoretically required to attend twice a year. (fn. 10)
Medieval tenants at Puttes attended a twice yearly view of frankpledge at Clanfield, established by the earl of Cornwall, as overlord, before 1248. Then as later they belonged probably to a distinct tithing, and together paid certainty of 3s. 11½d. comprising fixed view (6d.), hidage (3s. 4d.), and wardpenny (1½d.). Inhabitants in the 1290s were fined for breaching the assize of ale, but from the 15th century the only recorded business was payment of certainty by the tithingman, latterly the lessee or owner of the deserted village site and its closes. (fn. 11) A court baron presumably granted copyholds in the 13th century, but no evidence has been found.
A rent collector was elected by the Alvescot court in 1439, (fn. 12) and in the 1570s two officers appointed perhaps by the court oversaw the commons, including Puttes or Pitlands, and enforced pasture rights. (fn. 13) Constables with jurisdiction over the whole parish, mentioned from the early 17th century to the mid 19th, were appointed at first presumably by the manor court, but later by the vestry. By the late 18th century two horse commons were attached to the office, and were exchanged for 1 a. at inclosure. (fn. 14)
Parish Government and Parish Officers
Parish officers, appointed presumably by the vestry, included two churchwardens recorded from the early 16th century, and two overseers recorded from the early 17th. (fn. 15) Neither office seems to have had any attached property, though by the 1630s the parish clerk had pasture rights in a disused lane called Church Way, which were exchanged for ½ a. at inclosure. (fn. 16) During the 19th century the vestry appointed two churchwardens, two overseers, two surveyors, and two rate-assessors, besides nominating constables, managing the poor allotments, and overseeing rating and road repairs. Vestry meetings, attended by the rector and leading farmers, were held usually at the Plough, from 1870 at the school, and from 1884 in the new vestry room in the church. (fn. 17) By then the vestry or its officers presumably also oversaw the village stocks and lock-up, which apparently survived in the 19th century. (fn. 18) In 1894 most of the vestry's civil functions passed to a new parish council under the Local Government Act, Alvescot becoming part of Witney rural district. (fn. 19) In 1974 it became part of West Oxfordshire district, (fn. 20) and the parish council continued in the 1990s, when Alvescot retained two churchwardens. (fn. 21)