Stanway: Local government

Page 270

A History of the County of Essex: Volume 10, Lexden Hundred (Part) Including Dedham, Earls Colne and Wivenhoe. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2001.

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In 1274 John de Burgh had gallows and held view of frankpledge and the assizes of bread and of ale in Stanway. (fn. 1) A gibbet stood on Stanway heath in 1602. (fn. 2) The Belhuses and their successors at Stanway manor held courts leet from 1319 or earlier; in 1459 Thomas Knevett held a leet twice a year and a three-weekly court baron. (fn. 3) In the early 18th century leets were held once a year in April, or occasionally March; courts baron every three to five weeks. Leets elected 2 constables, 2 ale- tasters, and 2 keepers or rangers of the common. The chief business was the ordering of the common, including arrangements for impounding illegally grazed animals, but men were also presented for taking the chain from a bridge and obstructing roads. In 1711 the jury presented that there were no stocks on the manor. Courts baron dealt mainly with the conveyance of copy- holds, but tenants were amerced for taking broom from the heath and overburdening the common, and orders were made for the common. (fn. 4) Courts presumably ceased to be held when the copyholds were enfranchised in 1790. (fn. 5)

Business at Waltham abbey's courts for its manor included the conveyance of copyholds, and amercement of tenants trespassing in the abbey's pasture or failing to scour ditches. (fn. 6)

Successive rectors held courts for the rectory manor from 1409 or earlier until 1750; thereafter surrenders and grants of copyhold were made out of court but entered in the court books until 1877. (fn. 7) The other court business was similar to that of the Stanway manor courts baron; tenants were amerced for allowing livestock onto the demesne, failing to scour ditches, and cutting down trees.

The two churches of All Saints' and St. Albright's appear to have had their own officers in the earlier 16th century. (fn. 8) In the 17th century and later there were usually two churchwardens, although only one attended visitations in 1684 and 1707. (fn. 9) There are no records of vestry government.

A newly-built cottage on the heath was con- veyed to trustees as pauper housing in 1703. (fn. 10) There was a workhouse, perhaps in the former poorhouse, by 1769; in 1817 it was at Beacon End, probably in Millers Lane, called Work- house Lane in 1897. (fn. 11) It was sold in 1837. (fn. 12)

Expenditure on poor relief between 1776 and 1815 was one of the highest per head of population in the hundred. Actual expenditure rose from c. £237 in 1776 to an average of c. £254 between 1783 and 1785. It reached a peak of c. £908 or £2 3s. per head of population in 1801, fell to c. £419 or c. £1 a head in 1804, then rose fairly steadily to c. £653 or c. £1 10s. a head in 1812. Between 1812 and 1813 expenditure almost doubled to £1,215 or £2 16s. a head, the largest proportional increase in the hundred. Expenditure fell again to c. £708 in 1814 or £1 12s. 10d. per head of population. From then until 1834 expenditure was usually between £600 and £700 a year, except in the years 1817 to 1819 when it was over £900 or nearly £2 a head, again among the highest payments in the hundred. (fn. 13)

The wheel-shaped Lexden and Winstree Poor Law Union workhouse was built in 1836 and 1837 in London Road near the boundary with Lexden. (fn. 14) The building was slightly altered in the 1930s, when it was Stanway public assistance institution. (fn. 15)


  • 1. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 139, 155.
  • 2. E.R.O., D/B 5 Sb2/6, f. 56.
  • 3. Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, vii. 273; P.R.O., C 139/31, no. 61; C 139/172, no. 18.
  • 4. E.R.O., D/DSy 2-4; D/DHt M67-8.
  • 5. Above, this par. Manors.
  • 6. P.R.O., SC 2/173/30; SC 2/173/82.
  • 7. E.R.O., D/DSy 1; D/DSy 5-10.
  • 8. Ibid. D/ACR 1, f. 42v.; D/ABW 23/12.
  • 9. Ibid. D/ACV 5, f. 33; D/ACV 9A, ff. 21, 78v.; ibid. Q/SBb 81/23; ibid. D/DSy 20.
  • 10. Ibid. D/DHt M67.
  • 11. Ibid. D/P 43/1/1-2; D/P 43/3/28; ibid. T/P 181/10/20; Ipswich Jnl. 18 Feb. 1769.
  • 12. E.R.O., G/LwM 2, p. 101.
  • 13. Ibid. Q/CR 1/1, 1/10, 1/12; Rep. Sel. Cttee. on Poor Rate Rtns. 1822-4, H.C. 334, p. 81 (1825), iv; ibid. 1825-9, H.C. 83, pp. 61-2 (1830-1), xi; ibid. 1830-4, H.C. 444, p. 60 (1835), xlvii.
  • 14. E.R.O., C/T 193; ibid. G/LwM 1, pp. 234, 242; G/LwM 2, p. 139; E. J. xxvi. 59-62.
  • 15. E.R.O., Acc. C450 (uncat.), Stanway Institution, plans etc.