Girton: Local government

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.

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'Girton: Local government', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 9, Chesterton, Northstowe, and Papworth Hundreds, (London, 1989) pp. 124. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/cambs/vol9/p124 [accessed 18 April 2024]

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Ramsey abbey had by 1260 set up a gallows and long withdrawn its tenants from the sheriff's tourn. (fn. 1) The abbey claimed in 1279, and successfully in 1299, to have infangthief by a charter of Edward the Confessor, and view of frankpledge with the assize of bread and of ale through a general confirmation by King John. On the Trumpingtons' manors the lord had the view and the fines from the same assize by prescription over his tenants on the Leicester fee, but on the Winchester fee the king took the profits of the view, save for amercements for small faults. (fn. 2) Medieval court rolls survive only for the Ramsey manor, covering c. 37 years between 1290 and 1517. (fn. 3) Besides handling tenurial and agrarian business, they regularly fined alewives and aletasters and enforced the rules on tithings. Until the 1420s they heard minor civil pleas and in the 1490s chose constables. (fn. 4) In 1495 men were forbidden to quit the court before the jury's verdict had been given, and in 1493 copyholders insulting the jurors or disputing their verdicts and bylaws were threatened with forfeiture. (fn. 5) By the mid 17th century a single court was held for Ramsey and Pigotts manors. It occasionally passed agrarian bylaws, as in 1653, 1682, 1697, and 1703, but was mainly concerned with admissions to copyholds, (fn. 6) for which courts continued to be held until the 1840s or later. (fn. 7)

In 1653 fines for breaking the bylaws were to be divided equally between the lord and the poor. (fn. 8) The cost of poor relief more than doubled between 1776 and 1785 to c. £67, and again to £166 by 1803, when c. 10 adults received regular outside relief. (fn. 9) In the 1810s c. £175-90 was spent on c. 16 people permanently relieved, while almost 40 others were sometimes helped. (fn. 10) Until the early 1820s such expenditure usually came to £200-250. It was often well over £300 in the early 1830s. (fn. 11) About 1830 wages were sometimes made up with allowances for large families, (fn. 12) but of c. £300 spent in 1832 half went to old and sick people, widows, and children, while only £80 was given in kind to casual recipients, £20 being paid to paupers working for the parish. (fn. 13) The 1 ½ a. allotted at inclosure for a parish gravel pit, (fn. 14) worked out by 1858, (fn. 15) was sold in 1897. (fn. 16)

Girton belonged from 1836 to the Chesterton poor-law union, (fn. 17) and was included in Chesterton rural district from 1894 to its incorporation in 1974 in South Cambridgeshire district. (fn. 18) Girton had from 1894 a parish council, which had installed some street lighting by 1910. Its main financial commitment, especially after 1945, was the recreation ground. (fn. 19)

Footnotes

  • 1. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 51.
  • 2. Ibid. ii. 457-9; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 104- 5.
  • 3. P.R.O., SC 2/179/7, 10-11, 15-16, 21-2, 32, 34-6, 41, 51, 53, 56-8, 60, 64-6, 75, 84.
  • 4. e.g. ibid. SC 2/179/75, m. 4.
  • 5. Ibid. mm. 3-4.
  • 6. Ct. rolls 1653-1710: C.R.O., 588/M 10-12.
  • 7. e.g. ibid. 588/T 281-304; R 60/4/2/1-17; cf. C.U.L., Doc. 635, no. 1.
  • 8. C.R.O., 588/M 10.
  • 9. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 36-7.
  • 10. Ibid. 1818, 28-9.
  • 11. Poor Rate Returns, 1816-21, 10; 1822-4, 38; 1825-9, 16; 1830-4, 16.
  • 12. Rep. H.L. Cttee. on Poor Laws, 321.
  • 13. Rep. Com. Poor Laws, 257; cf. 'Girton: Survey', 41-4.
  • 14. C.R.O., Q/RDz 7, p. 13.
  • 15. Ibid. P 77/8/1, s.a. 1857-8.
  • 16. Ibid. R 54/25/28, Dec. 1896-Feb. 1897.
  • 17. Poor Law Com. 1st Rep. 512.
  • 18. Census, 1901, 1931, 1971.
  • 19. Par. council mins. 1894-1960: C.R.O., R 54/25/1A, 1B, 28-9.