A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 8, Warminster, Westbury and Whorwellsdown Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
THE HUNDRED OF WESTBURY
THE hundred, which was coterminous with the ancient parish, may have been included in the grant of the manor of Westbury by Henry II to Reynold Pavely. (fn. 1) In 1274 the jurors in the hundred court did not know by what authority Reynold, grandson of the above Reynold, held it, but they agreed that it was in his hands, as it had been in those of Walter, his father, after the baronial wars of John's reign. (fn. 2) Edward I disputed the right of Reynold's son, Walter, to it in 1281 and maintained that his ancestors, Richard I and John, had been possessed of it. The jurors on this occasion declared that the hundred had been held by the Crown only during a minority and that Walter was lawfully seised of it. (fn. 3)
The hundred descended with the manor of Westbury until the death of Sir John Pavely in 1361, (fn. 4) when it was divided between his two daughters Joan, later wife of Ralph Cheyney, and Alice, wife of John St. Lo. (fn. 5) Alice survived her father by half a day only, (fn. 6) and when John St. Lo died in 1375 the moiety inherited by his wife was divided between her two surviving daughters, Joan, wife of John Chidiock, and Eleanor, wife of Thomas of Bradeston. (fn. 7) The quarter inherited by Joan Chidiock passed to her grandson, John, whon died seised of it in 1450 and left two daughtors asw co-heirs. (fn. 8) Their rights in the hundred, how ever, appear to have lapsed,for none is found among the possession of John's descendants who held the manors of Westbury Stourton and Westbury Arundell. (fn. 9) The quarter inherited by Eleanor of Bradeston descended in the same way as the estate later called Westbury Seymour and passed in 1621 to Sir James Ley. (fn. 10)
The half of the hundred assigned in 1361 to Joan, later wife of Ralph Cheyney, passed with the manor of Brook, which she also inherited, until 1599 when with a part of that manor it was conveyed by Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy (d. 1606), to Sir James Ley. (fn. 11) The whole hundred with all profits, the court house, and the house called the 'guildhall' were confirmed to Sir James by letters patent in 1610, (fn. 12) and from that date the hundred descended with the manor of Westbury. (fn. 13) It is mentioned in connexion with the sale of the manor in 1920 when the lordship of manor and hundred was sold for £42 10s. to Mr. Frank Parsons of Westbury. (fn. 14)
The lords of the hundred claimed in it rights of extractas brevium, gallows, assize of bread and ale, and view of frankpledge. (fn. 15) They did not have return of writs, however, and the sheriff held half-yearly tourns in the hundred. The earliest reference found to a sheriff's tourn in Westbury hundred is in 1393. (fn. 16) At the sheriff's tourn of 1501-2 two millers were presented for exacting excessive tolls, and a complaint was made that the tithing of Edington, which was in the hundred of Whorwellsdown, had neglected to repair the highway at 'Sweetappleshill'. (fn. 17)
In 1249 the Precentor of Salisbury, with the cooperation of five men of the town, attempted unsuccessfully to withdraw the suit due from his tithing of Chantry from the hundred court. (fn. 18) In 1274 the Priors of Steventon and Monkton Farleigh had successfully withdrawn the suits due from their manors in Westbury. (fn. 19) At an unknown date Walter Pavely, lord of the hundred, granted exemption to the Abbot of Stanley and his men of Chapmanslade. (fn. 20) The Abbot of Westminster was granted exemption for his manor of Westbury Priory by royal charter in 1399. (fn. 21)
In 1651 with a number of other Wiltshire hundreds in private hands Westbury was surveyed by the Parliamentary Commissioners as a late possession of Charles I. (fn. 22) The three-weekly courts for the hundred were, like the courts leet, held by appointment of Sir John Danvers, lord of the manor of Westbury. It was stated, however, that at this date much of the business of the hundred court was undertaken in the lord's other courts. Presentments and fines were said to be rare except for fines from the tithing men for the nonpayment of tithing silver. The hundred court at this date was held at Westbury, presumably in the court house mentioned in 1599 and 1610. (fn. 23) The sheriff's tourns were held about Lady Day and Michaelmas at Bratton Marsh. (fn. 24)
When the second partition of Sir John Pavely's lands and possessions was made in 1368, the appointment of the steward and bailiff of the hundred and of the portmotes was granted to John St. Lo for life and after his death was to go to his daughters, granddaughters of Sir John Pavely. (fn. 25) From this it seems that the steward and bailiff of the hundred were also the officers of the borough court, and of the manor court as well. What their duties were in their various capacities is not clear. But it was as bailiff of the hundred that Henry Barker attempted to impound animals from off the common arable in 1736. (fn. 26) There were also two constables for the hundred who were that year assaulted as they attempted to execute their office. (fn. 27)
At the sheriff's tourn of 1501-2 only the tithings of Leigh, Bratton, and Dilton appear to have been represented, (fn. 28) and in 1651 the same three alone were liable for tithing silver at the hundred court. (fn. 29) In 1736, however, nine tithings were listed as responsible for producing jurors, namely Westbury Chantry, Westbury Priory, Short Street, Chapmanslade, Westbury Town, Borough of Westbury, Leigh, Leigh Bailiffe, and Bratton. (fn. 30) In 1575 a perambulation was made of the bounds of the hundred and parish showing these to be marked at frequent intervals by 'balls', or occasionally by boundary oaks. (fn. 31) Further examination into the various tithings into which the hundred and ancient parish were divided is reserved for treatment below. (fn. 32)