Fordham: Local government

Pages 214-215

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 1253 Warin de Munchensy obtained a grant of free warren in his Fordham land. (fn. 1) He also withdrew three men and a reeve from the sheriff's tourn. By 1274 Reynold Argentine had withdrawn one suit of court from the hundred court, from Richard of Fordham's tenement in Great Fordham, and held view of frankpledge and took fines for breaches of the assizes of bread and of ale. (fn. 2) In 1395 the lord of Fordham held the assizes of bread and of ale and view of frankpledge. (fn. 3) There may have been a village pound at Pound field south of Fordham Hall. (fn. 4)

Records survive of courts baron for Fordham Hall manor from 1765 until 1917 and for Great Fordham manor from 1837 until 1878 for rou- tine business such as transfers of holdings. (fn. 5) Further administration is recorded until 1928 for Fordham Hall manor. (fn. 6)

Incomplete Mount Bures manor records sur- vive from 1393 indicating that courts baron and leet met annually for the Fordham part of the manor until 1649; 2 to 9 men were sworn. (fn. 7) Four night watchmen served Fordham and Aldham in 1587. (fn. 8) Two constables were appointed for the Fordham part of Mount Bures manor from 1625. (fn. 9) By 1912 there was a village police constable. (fn. 10)

There were two unendowed almshouses. (fn. 11) In 1775 two parishioners obtained Tyburn tickets. (fn. 12) In 1795, during the Napoleonic Wars, Fordham was combined with six neighbouring parishes to provide three men to serve in the navy. (fn. 13) The parish owned Heath meadow in 1838, which was apparently used for the benefit of the poor. (fn. 14)

Fordham's poor relief costs per head of popu- lation were about average for the hundred. Net expenditure in 1776 was £220 and over the period 1783-5 averaged £228. (fn. 15) Costs were exceptionally high in 1802 at £896 and then between 1803 and 1808 increased from £225 to £591. In the period 1809-17 they ranged between £684 and £950, except for 1813 when they were £1,193, equivalent to 39s. 3d. a head. (fn. 16) Expenditure ranged between £1,137, or 32s. 8d. a head, and £711, or 19s. 7d. a head, between 1818 and 1832, showing a downward trend, (fn. 17) and averaged £677 in 1833-5. (fn. 18)

Fordham parish council was established in 1894 with seven members, including one woman, responsible for allotments, footpaths, footbridges, and the administration of Love's charity. Between 1907 and 1921 a technical sub- committee provided classes in arithmetic, draw- ing, citizenship, and carpentry, and organized at least one ploughing match. The council encour- aged residents to find odd jobs for the unem- ployed in 1933, a time of economic depression. From 1936 there were quarterly refuse disposal collections. An invasion sub-committee met during the Second World War concerned with the home guard, emergency food rations, casu- alties, informing the public about anti-gas meas- ures, and listing all tractors and motors. After the formation of Eight Ash Green parish council in 1949 the number of Fordham parish council- lors was reduced to five, together with a rural district councillor. (fn. 19)


  • 1. Cal. Chart. R. i. 428.
  • 2. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 140, 155.
  • 3. P.R.O., DL 43/14/3.
  • 4. E.R.O., D/CT 142.
  • 5. Ibid. D/DBm M322-5; D/DO M65-6.
  • 6. Ibid. T/B 94; T/B 142/1-2.
  • 7. Ibid. D/DMa M29; D/DU 103/1-3.
  • 8. F. G. Emmison, Elizabethan Life: Disorder, 176.
  • 9. E.R.O., D/DMa M29; D/DU 103/1-3.
  • 10. Kelly's Dir. Essex (1912).
  • 11. Morant, Essex, ii. 228.
  • 12. E.R.O., Q/RSt 42, 46.
  • 13. E.R. liv. 42.
  • 14. E.R.O., D/CT 142.
  • 15. E.R.O., Q/CR 1/1. Parish vestry minutes before 1852 do not survive.
  • 16. E.R.O., Q/CR 1/9/16.
  • 17. Ibid. Q/CR 1/12; Rep. Sel. Cttee. on Poor Rate Returns, 1822-4, H.C. 334, Suppl. App. p. 81 (1825), iv; ibid. 1825-9, H.C. 83, p. 61 (1830-1), xi; ibid. 1830-4, H.C. 444, p. 60 (1835), xlvii.
  • 18. 2nd Rep. Poor Law Com. H.C. 595, p. 520 (1836), xxix (1).
  • 19. E.R.O., Acc. C976 (uncat.), Fordham Par. Council Mins. 1894-1966, and Invasion Sub-cttee. Mins., 1941-3; above, Econ. Hist. for earlier technical classes.