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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By the mid 12th century Ramsey abbey was entitled at Graveley to view of frankpledge, infangthief, and a gallows and tumbrel, and by the late 13th also enjoyed, partly by prescription, partly under a charter of King John, the assize of bread and of ale. (fn. 1) Court rolls for the manor survive for 40 years between 1291 and 1525 (fn. 2) and for 1558-60, 1568-9, 1589- 1604, then almost continuously from 1618 to 1779. (fn. 3) Court books run from 1708 to 1941. (fn. 4) The view of frankpledge, which required the presence of the king's hundred bailiff, (fn. 5) was usually held early in winter until c. 1350, thereafter until 1525 or later mostly in October. Until 1400 it was supplemented by a second court in July. (fn. 6) After 1550 courts were usually held annually in late spring or October. In the Middle Ages they were managed by 8, after 1350 12, chief pledges. In 1421 the court forbade tenants of the manor to implead one another elsewhere. (fn. 7) Well attended courts were still actively managing parish business in the mid 17th century: Samuel Pepys styled the suitors in 1661 'a company of country rogues'. (fn. 8)
The court continued to handle minor pleas of debt and trespass and to present assaults and bloodshed until the 1460s, when boys were still being sworn into tithings. (fn. 9) Constables were frequently chosen by the court between 1446 (fn. 10) and c. 1690. (fn. 11) Aletasters were regularly named between the 1290s (fn. 12) and the 1650s. (fn. 13) The assize of bread was being enforced c. 1500 upon visiting bakers from Godmanchester and St. Ives (Hunts.). (fn. 14) Weights and measures for that purpose were to be bought in 1595 (fn. 15) and 1652. (fn. 16) In 1648 two searchers of victuals were appointed. (fn. 17) Harvest wardens were named in the 14th century, (fn. 18) field reeves from the 1650s, (fn. 19) and haywards c. 1400, (fn. 20) to enforce the agrarian bylaws, enacted by the homage with the lord's assent (fn. 21) from c. 1400. (fn. 22) By 1490 the court regularly required repairs to roads and the scouring of ditches. (fn. 23) About 1620 each landholder sent a labourer every November to accompany the common plough. (fn. 24) Although from the 1670s the court was devoted almost solely to conveyances of copyhold land, the jury still occasionally until the 1770s involved itself in parish business, rebuilding the pound in 1723, confirming long-established ordinances, modifying common rights, and presenting unlawful cottages. (fn. 25)
After 1600 the court tried to reduce population pressures. It often forbade farmers to take in inmates (fn. 26) and reported them for building cottages for their labourers without the statutory 4 a. (fn. 27) In 1648 farmers were forbidden to let dwellings to their servants unless they indemnified the parish. (fn. 28) After 1700 the court jury of 6-9 tenants (fn. 29) was virtually identical in membership with the vestry (fn. 30) of 5 or 6 farmers, chaired by the rector or curate. At 'town meetings' they appointed parish officers, usually only one of each kind, although from 1801 two overseers were chosen to handle increasingly heavy duties. The cost of poor relief rose from c. £22 in 1776 to £60 in the 1780s and early 1790s and to c. £125 by the late 1790s, when it supported unemployed labourers, sometimes put to work on the parish roads and ditches. From over £200 c. 1800 the cost fell below £135 by 1805 (fn. 31) but rose again to over £160 by 1813, when 8-10 people were regularly relieved, (fn. 32) and thereafter until the 1830s usually ranged between £130 and £160, sometimes exceeding £250. (fn. 33) From the 1780s the poor also received fuel, less often clothing and medical aid. (fn. 34) From 1835 Graveley was included in the Huntingdonshire poor-law union of St. Neots. (fn. 35) After 1894 it belonged to Caxton and Arrington rural district, from 1934 to Chesterton rural district, and from 1974 to South Cambridgeshire district. (fn. 36)
In 1806 Graveley had town land let for £5 5s., (fn. 37) perhaps the 21/2-a. gravel pit allotted in 1805 (fn. 38) near which the parish let allotments from 1878. By then its affairs were managed by a yearly parish meeting, (fn. 39) often chaired by the rector until the 1980s. (fn. 40)