A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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THE HUNDRED OF HALFSHIRE
CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING PARISHES (fn. 1)
|UPPER ARLEY (fn. 2) (transferred from Staffordshire)||DUDLEY BOROUGH||KING'S NORTON|
|CHURCH LENCH||HALESOWEN with Cradley, Lutley and Warley Wigorn||OLD SWINFORD with Stourbridge|
|COSTON or COFTON HACKETT||TARDEBIGGE|
|CRUTCH||HAMPTON LOVETT||UPTON WARREN|
|DODDERHILL with Elmbridge||KIDDERMINSTER Borough and Foreign with Lower Mitton||WESTWOOD PARK|
The origin of Halfshire Hundred cannot be traced as a collection of lands belonging to one owner or group of owners, as is the case with other Worcestershire hundreds. At the time of the Domesday Survey Pershore comprised the lands of the abbeys of Westminster and Pershore, Blackenhurst those of Evesham Abbey, Oswaldslow the possessions of the Bishop and priory of Worcester, but Halfshire was made up of the lands of various holders, of whom the Crown and William Fitz Ansculf were the chief.
Halfshire includes part of the parish of Dudley which is a detached part of Worcestershire lying within the boundary of the county of Stafford. It is irregularly shaped, parishes in the hundreds of Pershore and Oswaldslow being situated in the midst of Halfshire parishes.
In 1086 most of the parishes now included in the hundred of Halfshire were contained in the hundreds of Came (Kamel, Camele), Clent, Cresselau (Kerselau) and Esch (Aesc, Naisse, Leisse, del Eisse). (fn. 3) The union of these hundreds had not been effected before the time of Stephen, (fn. 4) but it had taken place before 1175–6. (fn. 5)
Alvechurch and Stoke Prior in Came Hundred, Cleeve Prior with Lench, Hanbury, Phepson in Himbleton, and parts of Crowle and Inkberrow in Esch Hundred, and Hartlebury and Wolverley in Cresselau Hundred belonged to the church of Worcester, (fn. 6) and with the two manors of Eardiston and Knighton in Doddingtree Hundred, forming the whole of the Worcestershire possessions of the church of Worcester outside its hundred of Oswaldslow, were included in the reign of Henry I under the name Kinefolka. (fn. 7) Subsequently all these manors were transferred to the Bishop of Worcester's hundred of Oswaldslow. It is not known when these changes were made. Most of the parishes seem to have been wholly or in part in Halfshire Hundred in 1220 and 1274. (fn. 8) Alvechurch, Hanbury, and Inkberrow were wholly in Oswaldslow in 1346, (fn. 9) and are included in it at the present day, but Crowle, Hartlebury and Woverley remained partly in Halfshire Hundred. Cleeve Prior and Stoke Prior, (fn. 10) which by a charter of King John in 1207 had been freed from suits at the hundred court, (fn. 11) were transferred to Oswaldslow before 1603. (fn. 12) The process by which these changes took place was probably gradual; something of the kind was evidently going on at the end of the reign of Henry III, for in 1275 it was presented at the hundred court of Halfshire that Godfrey, Bishop of Worcester in 1272, had attached to his hundred of Oswaldslow Walter de Hurstheye, John de Hurstheye and Roger de Pressian of Coston, who had formerly been accustomed to answer with the men of Halfshire. (fn. 13) William de Valence had also included in his liberty of Newbury the men of Morton, Shell and Witton, who had formerly been accustomed to answer with the men of Halfshire. (fn. 14)
The manors in Esch Hundred belonging to Evesham Abbey, Abbots Morton and Sheriff's and Atch Lench (fn. 15) were transferred to the abbot's hundred of Blackenhurst before 1280. (fn. 16) The greater part of Church Lench remained and still remains in Halfshire Hundred.
That part of the parish of Halesowen which belonged to the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1086 was annexed by him to Shropshire, (fn. 17) although it is some miles from the nearest place in that county.
Clent was in the hundred of Clent in Worcestershire in 1086, (fn. 18) but with Tardebigge it was farmed by the Sheriff of Stafford with Kingswinford in Staffordshire. (fn. 19) This probably accounts for Clent having been subsequently transferred to Staffordshire, in which county it remained until 1832.
In 1266 the king had granted that the Abbot of Bordesley and his men of Tardebigge might answer to the Sheriff of Warwickshire for their farm instead of to the Sheriff of Staffordshire, and part of the parish seems to have remained in Warwickshire until the 19th century. (fn. 20)
In 1760 it was provided that Yardley, which, as a member of Beoley and a possession of the Abbot of Pershore, had been in Pershore since the formation of that hundred, (fn. 21) should be 'rated and assessed' in Halfshire Hundred, (fn. 22) and the parish seems to have been finally considered part of Halfshire for all purposes.
In 1603 and 1782 (fn. 23) the extent of Halfshire Hundred was practically the same as in 1831. (fn. 24) Halesowen with its hamlet of Warley Salop was in Shropshire, but its hamlets of Lutley, Cradley, Oldbury and Warley Wigorn were in Halfshire; Kingsford in Wolverley was in Halfshire, the rest of the parish being in Oswaldslow. Hartlebury was in Oswaldslow, but its hamlet of Over Mitton was in Halfshire.
The Shropshire part of Halesowen with Tardebigge, Clent and Broom was transferred to Worcestershire under the Acts of 1832 and 1844. (fn. 25)
The manors of Feckenham and Holloway in Hanbury were surveyed in 1086 under Herefordshire. (fn. 26) The cause of this was that they had belonged to the Earl of Hereford, and though they still remained in the hundred of Esch in Worcestershire, he had so far annexed them to his lordship of Hereford that they were surveyed under that county. (fn. 27)
The boroughs of Droitwich, Dudley and Kidderminster, which are all in Halfshire Hundred, were represented at the assize courts from early times by their own twelve jurors. (fn. 28) The hundred of Halfshire was known in the 13th century as the hundred of Wych, (fn. 29) and in 1280 the hundred is called 'Dimidii Comitatus de Wych.' (fn. 30) In 1275 the hundred of Dudley is mentioned. (fn. 31)
The hundred of Halfshire seems always to have belonged to the Crown, (fn. 32) and was under the sheriff of the county and his officers. (fn. 33) The hundred has been divided since the end of the 17th century into the two divisions of Upper and Lower Halfshire, (fn. 34) and there appears to have been a separate court for each division, that of the Lower Division being sometimes held at Churchill 'under a great tree.' (fn. 35)