White Colne: Local government

Pages 135-136

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.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



Courts, probably with view of frankpledge, were being held for Berwick Hall manor by c. 1500. Seventeenth century courts elected a constable and presumably tasters of bread and of ale. They dealt with the usual range of minor offences, amercing tenants for encroaching on the waste, taking in lodgers, and failing to scour ditches; a man was presented c. 1656 for allowing mangy horses to pasture on the common. (fn. 1) Courts leet ceased c. 1735. Courts baron continued, their business confined to recording transfers of copyhold, until 1868 or later. (fn. 2)

Inglesthorpe and Bart Hall manors had no courts c. 1730, (fn. 3) nor is there any earlier record of such courts.

No records of vestry government survive from before 1836. In the mid and later 19th century the vestry met in the church vestry or at the King's Head and was usually chaired by one of the churchwardens. Attendance was often poor; in 1859 and 1863 no parishioners attended the Easter meeting. A salaried surveyor was appointed in 1837 and a salaried assistant overseer in 1842. (fn. 4)

Expenditure on the poor between 1776 and 1834, although usually lower than average for the hundred, was comparatively high per head of population. Total expenditure was £77 in 1776 and, unusually, fell between 1783 and 1785 to an average of £74. (fn. 5) By 1803 expenditure per head, £1 12s. 11d., was one of the highest in the hundred. (fn. 6) Expenditure fell from £342 or £1 9s. 4d. a head in 1813 to £218 in 1815 and 1816, then rose to £452 or £1 10s. 4d. a head in 1818. It remained between £350 and £450 a year for much of the 1820s, but rose to £567 or £1 9s. 6d. a head, one of the highest per capita expenditures in the hundred, in 1830, and remained high until 1834. (fn. 7)

The presumably unendowed 'almshouses', two in the former glebe house and one at Wenthouses, recorded in the earlier 18th century were probably used as pauper housing. (fn. 8) One may have become the workhouse which was in use in 1803 but disused by 1813. The town house which the vestry sold in 1840 may have been the house at Wenthouses. (fn. 9)


  • 1. P.R.O., REQ 2/77, no. 82; E.R.O., T/B 548/1 (formerly D/D Bm M66-68, 327).
  • 2. E.R.O., T/B 548/1-2 (formerly D/D Bm M69-72; D/D Bm M327).
  • 3. Ibid. T/P 195/11.
  • 4. Ibid. Acc. A9441 (uncat.); vestry bk. 1836-1931.
  • 5. Ibid.Q/CR 1/1.
  • 6. Poor law abstract, 1804.
  • 7. Rep. Sel. Cttee. Poor Rate Returns 1822-4, H.C. 334, Suppl. App. (1825), iv; ibid. 1825-9, H.C. 83, pp. 61-2 (1830-1), xi; ibid. 1830-4, H.C. 444, p. 60 (1835), xlvii.
  • 8. E.R.O., T/P 195/11.
  • 9. Poor Law Abstract, 1804; E.R.O., Q/CR 1/10; ibid. Acc. A9441 (uncat.): vestry bk. 1836-1931; ibid. D/CT 104.