A History of the County of Worcester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1913.
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THE HUNDRED OF OSWALDSLOW
CONTAINING THE PARISHES (fn. 1) OF
|BISHAMPTON||HANBURY||RIPPLE with Holdfast (fn. 2)|
|BREDICOT||HARVINGTON||ST. JOHN in BEDWARDINE|
|BREDON with Cutsdean and Norton-by-Bredon||HIMBLETON with Shell||ST. MARTIN|
|HINDLIP||ST. PETER with Whittington|
|BROADWAS||HOLT with Little Witley||SEDGEBERROW|
|CHURCHILL||HUDDINGTON||SHIPSTON ON STOUR|
|CLAINES with Whistones||ICCOMB (fn. 3)||SPETCHLEY|
|CLEEVE PRIOR||INKBERROW||STOKE PRIOR|
|EARL'S CROOME||KNIGHTWICK with Kenswick||TIBBERTON|
|HILL CROOME||LINDRIDGE with Knighton on Teme, Newnham and Pensax||TIDMINGTON|
|CROPTHORNE with Charlton and Netherton||LITTLE MALVERN||TREDINGTON with Armscote, Blackwell, Darlingscott and Newbold on Stour|
|CROWLE||NORTON JUXTA KEMPSEY|
|EVENLODE||OVERBURY with Alstone, Conderton, Teddington and Little Washbourne||WHITE LADIES ASTON|
|FLADBURY with Hill and Moor, Ablench, Stock and Bradley, Throckmorton, Wyre Piddle||WICHENFORD|
Under a charter purporting to have been given by King Edgar in 964 (fn. 4) manors to the extent of 300 hides belonging to the church of Worcester were rearranged to form a triple hundred, to be known, according to the charter, as Oswaldslow, in memory of Bishop Oswald, in whose episcopate the arrangement took place. Three hundred courts were then assigned to the Bishop of Worcester and his monks, and from words in the charter it seems possible that this arrangement was made so that the church might have a full scip socne or district liable for supplying the king with one ship. (fn. 5) The names of the three hundreds thus united are said to have been Cuthbergehlawe, Wulfereslaw (fn. 6) and Winburntree (Winburgetrowe). The first of these would seem to have belonged to the monks as distinct from the bishop, their 50 hides at Cropthorne having formed half this hundred, which was completed by the addition of certain other of their manors (fn. 7) and confirmed to them by King Edgar. Winburntree evidently included the manors of Blockley and Tredington, the suitors at that hundred being the bishop's tenants of those manors, including Evenlode, Daylesford, Dorn, Iccomb, Blackwell and Shipston on Stour, (fn. 8) though these latter places, according to Edgar's charter, were among those added to complete the half hundred belonging to the monks. (fn. 9)
Whatever may have been the origin of the hundred, in 1086, by the testimony of the whole county, the church of Worcester held a hundred called Oswaldslow, containing 300 hides, which the bishop held by ancient custom. (fn. 10) This hundred included all the estates of the bishop and prior in Worcestershire except the following nine manors, viz. Crowle, (fn. 11) Cleeve Prior, Phepson and Hanbury in Esch Hundred, Stoke Prior and Alvechurch in Came Hundred, part of Lindridge in Doddingtree, and Hartlebury and Wolverley in Cresselaw Hundred. These manors were still outside the hundred of Oswaldslow in the beginning of the 12th century, and were then included under the name 'Kinefolka.' (fn. 12) Alvechurch, Hanbury and Hartlebury were transferred to Oswaldslow before 1280, (fn. 13) except a part of Hartlebury which is still in Halfshire Hundred; Lindridge, Cleeve Prior, Stoke Prior and Wolverley were in 1207 constituted separate liberties with freedom from suit at shire and hundred courts, (fn. 14) and Phepson became part of the liberty of Stoke. (fn. 15)
Of the parishes added to Oswaldslow since 1086 Ombersley remained in Blackenhurst (Fishborough) Hundred until 1760, when for fiscal purposes it was transferred to Oswaldslow. (fn. 16) Part of Inkberrow in 1086 in Esch Hundred was transferred to Oswaldslow before 1280. (fn. 17) Cotheridge, now in Doddingtree Hundred, Bushley and Upton-on-Severn, now in Pershore, together with Hampton and Bengeworth, now in Blackenhurst, were in 1086 in Oswaldslow; Bushley was transferred before 1280, (fn. 18) Cotheridge before 1327, (fn. 19) and Upton-on-Severn for fiscal purposes in 1760. (fn. 20) Hampton and Bengeworth are said to have been in Oswaldslow Hundred before 1086, (fn. 21) and were in that hundred at the beginning of the 12th century. (fn. 22) William Beauchamp of Elmley was said to have withdrawn his part of Bengeworth from the bishop's hundred about the middle of the 13th century, (fn. 23) and in 1280 both Hampton and Bengeworth were in Blackenhurst. (fn. 24) Alderminster has been since the end of the 18th century partly in the hundred of Oswaldslow, but chiefly in Pershore Hundred. (fn. 25)
By the witness of Domesday the king's sheriffs were excluded from all jurisdiction in the hundred of Oswaldslow. (fn. 26) The bishop had to collect the danegeld and supply military service. Under Edgar's charter the bishop claimed also fines for ecclesiastical offences, inflicted in the hundred court, (fn. 27) and fines called 'over-seunesse' and 'gylt wyt,' and everything else the king had in his hundreds. The Prior and monks of Worcester had the same rights and privileges. Domesday is, however, silent as to the rights of the monks in the jurisdiction of Oswaldslow, but in 1148 Bishop Simon confirmed to them the same liberties as he himself held in Oswaldslow and a third part of all forfeitures. (fn. 28) In the 13th and 14th centuries the Earl of Warwick's encroachments on the hundred were said to be to the prejudice of the convent as well as of the bishop, (fn. 29) and in 1301 one of the articles brought by the prior against the bishop was that the latter had granted to Simon de Croome the assize of bread and ale in one of his manors, without the assent of the prior. (fn. 30)
The bishop and the prior each had a beadle or serjeant (serviens) for the hundred, but there was a common bailiff (fn. 31) elected by the bishop with the consent of the prior and convent. These officers were presented to the sheriff after election. (fn. 32) The prior's beadle, the cellarer of the convent, (fn. 33) issued summonses to the hundred courts to the tenants of the prior, notice of the day being given him by the bishop's steward, who acted as bailiff. The prior's tenants brought their pledges to the steward, who delivered them to the cellarer. (fn. 34) The prior and convent claimed the amercements of their men and a third of those of strangers (forinseci).
About the middle of the 13th century the bishop seems to have asserted the privilege of holding pleas de namio vetito. (fn. 35) William de Beauchamp, the sheriff, successfully challenged the claim, and the bishop carried the case to the Roman Court, where he obtained a judgement in his favour, (fn. 36) and the right was confirmed by Henry III. (fn. 37)
In 1274–5 it appears that the bishop had usurped in his manorial courts jurisdiction as to the assize of bread and ale which properly belonged to the hundred. (fn. 38) There were occasional conflicts also as to the jurisdiction of the hundred and the borough of Worcester. In 1348 a dispute arose as to an inquest held by the coroner of the borough upon a man killed in the churchyard of the priory, which lay in Oswaldslow, where the county coroner had jurisdiction. (fn. 39)
The hundred of Oswaldslow, as a late possession of the bishopric, was sold by the Parliamentary Commissioners in 1649 to John Corbett. (fn. 40)
There does not seem to have been any permanently fixed place for holding the courts. In 1240 they appear to have been held at Oswaldslow, at St. John's and at Winburntree, (fn. 41) but in 1274–5 they were said to have been held outside Worcester, at Druhurst, (fn. 42) and at Winburntree. (fn. 43) Winburntree was evidently in the neighbourhood of Blockley and Tredington, and courts were held for this part of the hundred until the end of the 17th century. (fn. 44) Oswaldslow itself was in Wolverton, (fn. 45) in the manor of Kempsey, (fn. 46) and is mentioned in the boundaries of that manor in 977. (fn. 47) From the 15th to the 18th century the leets were held at Swinesherd in the parish of St. Peter, at Radford Bridge in Alvechurch, at Hill and Moor in Fladbury, at Vernysyche near Pickt Oak, and at Bredon Hill at two large stones on the Hill called the King and Queen, at Rye Elm, and at Stoke Hill. (fn. 48) The expense of holding the courts being found to exceed the profits, they were not held regularly at the end of the 18th century. (fn. 49) High constables were regularly appointed until the middle of the 19th century.
Since the end of the 17th century the hundred has been divided into the three divisions of Upper, Middle, and Lower Oswaldslow. Nash states that the court for the Upper Division, which is identical with the ancient Winburntree, was held at Shipston on Stour, that for the Middle Division at Wheelbarrow Castle, and that for the Lower Division outside Sidbury Gate, formerly at Swinesherd Green. (fn. 50)