West Grinstead: Local government

Pages 99-100

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1986.

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Two courts a year were held for West Grinstead manor in the 15th and earlier 16th centuries. (fn. 1) There are court rolls for the years 1530, 1668, and 1693-1931. (fn. 2) During the 18th century 18 courts were held, in the 19th century 17, and in the 20th century four. Some business was done out of court from 1746, and at three courts held after 1892 no business was presented at all. A beadle was mentioned in 1414 and 1498; (fn. 3) the office was elective in 1530. A bailiff, who received a fee, was mentioned in 1551, (fn. 4) and a headborough in 1538. (fn. 5) Between the later 17th and earlier 20th centuries what was apparently a single office was served by men described variously as bailiff, beadle, and reeve. Besides conveyancing the court dealt with encroachments on common land in 1530 and later, and granted licences to cut timber in the 19th century.

There are court rolls or draft court rolls for the manor of Bidlington Kingsbarns for the years 1610, 1612, 1620, 1630-7, and 1728-1923. Thirty-nine courts baron were held between 1728 and 1800, but only 17 during the 19th century, the last in 1878. Between 1815 and 1822 the court was held at Jolesfield. Some business had already been done out of court from 1721, and most was so done by c. 1850. A bailiff was mentioned in 1734, and a beadle or reeve after 1755. Besides conveyancing the court managed the common wastes. Byelaws relating to the stocking of Jolesfield common were made in the earlier 17th century, when overstocking was presented at the court. Encroachments on the waste were presented in 1755 and later, but at least one encroachment, made in the early 19th century, was legalized shortly afterwards. Other business dealt with included the upkeep of Bines Bridge and the regulation of tree felling; licences to cut timber are recorded from 1728. (fn. 6) A manor pound existed in 1633; in 1805 its site was the north-west end of Jolesfield common. (fn. 7)

There are court rolls of Clothalls manor for the years 1672-1915. Only 9 courts baron were held in the 18th century, but twice that number in the 19th. A bailiff was mentioned in 1762 and after 1793. Business dealt with was mostly conveyancing, but inclosures of waste land were presented in 1777 and 1810. (fn. 8)

The constable of the 'town' of West Grinstead mentioned in the 1550s may have been a parish officer. (fn. 9) Guardians of the goods and ornaments of the church were mentioned in 1511 and 1548, (fn. 10) and two churchwardens were recorded for most years after 1560. (fn. 11) There were two overseers in 1642 and later; by 1780 one served for the north side of the parish and one for the south. (fn. 12) Surveyors of highways similarly described were recorded from 1790. (fn. 13) Vestry meetings were held at the Green Man inn at Jolesfield common in 1787, and there or at the Burrell Arms inn in 1822-3. (fn. 14) A select vestry was appointed in 1819, working through an assistant overseer who received a salary of £20 a year. (fn. 15) Besides income from rates the parish received rent from a building called the church house which had been granted to it by the rector in 1511. (fn. 16) The building, described in 1733 as of timber with a stone roof, (fn. 17) stood at the north side of the churchyard. (fn. 18) It is not recorded after 1795. (fn. 19)

Methods of poor relief used between the later 17th century and the earlier 19th included apprenticing, boarding out, the payment of rent and of weekly doles, and the provision of clothing and medical care. About 1819 wages were supplemented when low. (fn. 20) Several buildings served in the 18th century and earlier 19th as poorhouses or workhouses. A plan to use the church house as a workhouse in 1733 was apparently not carried out. (fn. 21) In 1763 Merrik Burrell, lord of West Grinstead manor, leased to the parish officers a newly built house south of Dial Post for use as a poorhouse. (fn. 22) A workhouse was mentioned in 1780, (fn. 23) and there was a poorhouse in Littleworth hamlet in 1805. (fn. 24) Two adjoining poorhouses at a place unknown were insured by the parish in 1790. (fn. 25) In 1787 the parish officers agreed with William Stirt of Cowfold to maintain and clothe the poor in his house, apparently Lancaster's Farm, at 2s. 6d. a head a week for a year. The parish was to furnish and insure the building, besides paying doctors' bills and giving £15 for fuel. (fn. 26) In 1794 the parish workhouse had 18 rooms including offices, (fn. 27) and in 1833 it was said to be capable of taking 50 paupers. (fn. 28) There were between 40 and 50 inmates in the 1820s, (fn. 29) and 40 in 1833, all of whom were children or old people. At that date the parish paid for their clothes and secured wheat for the governor at £15 a load. (fn. 30) Work in spinning was provided in 1780, (fn. 31) and between 1818 and 1822 Copyhold farm at Partridge Green was apparently rented by the parish to provide work. (fn. 32) About 1819 not all paupers in the workhouse were set to work, many being let out to farmers, while others were idle. (fn. 33) Parish work was still being provided in 1827-8, (fn. 34) but in 1833 weaving was said to have been abandoned as too expensive. (fn. 35) The labour rate was introduced in 1832, to objections from farmers of brookland pasture, who paid higher rates, and from some small independent farmers; as a result, however, the number of those unemployed in winter was reduced. (fn. 36)

After 1835 West Grinstead formed part of Horsham union, (fn. 37) later rural district. The parish overseers still in 1836 paid out relief and provided clothing and medical care, (fn. 38) and in 1849 assisted one family from the parish to emigrate to America. (fn. 39) In 1974 West Grinstead joined Horsham district.


  • 1. Arundel Cast. MSS. A 433, rot. 1; A 1861, rot. 7; P.R.O., SC 2/206/52, mm. 1-2.
  • 2. P.R.O., SC 2/206/52, mm. 1-2; W.S.R.O., Add. MSS. 13890; 22964, f. [17 v.], on which rest of para. mainly based.
  • 3. Arundel Cast. MSS. A 433, rot. 1; A 1861, rot. 7.
  • 4. Cal. Pat. 1550-3, 212.
  • 5. Arundel Cast. MS. M 279, rot. 1.
  • 6. W.S.R.O., Wiston MSS. 5164-9, 5172; 5197, f. [1].
  • 7. Ibid. 5169, m. 2; 5605.
  • 8. W.S.R.O., Add. MS. 13889.
  • 9. S.R.S. xvi. 92.
  • 10. W.S.R.O., Ep. I/86/20, f. 21; ibid. Par. 95/10/1.
  • 11. B.L. Add. MS. 39362, ff. 174-9.
  • 12. S.R.S. v. 91; W.S.R.O., Par. 95/31/4-5, 24; Par. 95/37/14.
  • 13. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/31/24; Par. 95/40/1-15; Par. 95/ 41/3.
  • 14. Ibid. Par. 95/37/14, 22.
  • 15. Ibid. Par. 95/13/2.
  • 16. Ibid. Par. 95/10/1-2.
  • 17. Ibid. Par. 95/9/2.
  • 18. Ibid. Ep. I/26/3, pp. 18-19; ibid. Par. 95/10/2. It was apparently not the bldg. called in 1983 Glebe Cottage: above, introduction.
  • 19. E.S.R.O., SAS/N 527 (TS. cat.); cf. Horsham Mus. MSS. 1293-4 (MS. cat.).
  • 20. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/31/16, 19-23; Par. 95/33/1; Par. 95/37/8, 20-8.
  • 21. Ibid. Par. 95/9/2.
  • 22. Ibid. Par. 95/37/13.
  • 23. Ibid. Par. 95/9/1.
  • 24. Ibid. Wiston MS. 5605.
  • 25. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/37/15.
  • 26. Ibid. Par. 95/37/14.
  • 27. Ibid. Par. 95/37/16.
  • 28. Rep. Com. Poor Laws, p. 528, H.C. 44 (1834), xxviii.
  • 29. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/37/7.
  • 30. Rep. Com. Poor Laws, p. 528.
  • 31. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/31/4.
  • 32. Ibid. Par. 95/31/18; O.S. Map 6", Suss. XXXVII (1879 edn.).
  • 33. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/37/8.
  • 34. Rep. H.L. Cttee. on Poor Laws, H.C. 227, p. 154 (1831), viii.
  • 35. Rep. Com. Poor Laws, p. 528.
  • 36. Ibid. pp. 159-60, H.C. 44 (1834), xxxviii.
  • 37. Suss. Poor Law Rec. 39.
  • 38. W.S.R.O., Par. 95/38/1.
  • 39. Ibid. Par. 95/38/7.