A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 10, Westbury and Whitstone Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1972.
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AGRICULTURE. In 1086 there were 5 servi and two ploughs on the demesne of Stanley manor. (fn. 1) In 1287 the demesne included 120 a. of arable, 8 a. of meadow, and a pasture. The villein tenants owed a total of 392 works in August and September and 717½ during the rest of the year and 143½ ploughing works; the cottars owed 176 works during the year. (fn. 2) The demesne arable remained one plough-land in the late 15th century. (fn. 3) Stanley Priory had one plough-land in 1291, and a sum of 10s. was being paid for works and customs commuted. (fn. 4) In 1307 a copyhold tenant of the priory owed 6d. instead of hoeing, haymaking, and harvest work. (fn. 5)
The tenants of the manor in 1086 were 6 villani and 14 bordars with 12 ploughs. (fn. 6) In 1287 3½ yardlands were held in villeinage, and freemen and cottars were also mentioned. (fn. 7) In 1640 there were 17 copyholders on the manor, 7 leaseholders for years or lives, several freeholders, and small pieces of land held at will; the owners of 5 cottages built on the waste were said to be willing to pay rent, some of them having apparently escaped it for over 30 years. Most of the copyholders and leaseholders merely held a house and garden. Only three holdings were of any size: the Elm Living with 26 a., Toulsons with 39 a., and Downton Living with 44 a. By 1736 almost all the copyholds had been converted to leaseholds. (fn. 8) Three customary tenements of the priory estate, one with two houses and a yardland (48 a.), were apparently retained by Sir Anthony Kingston in 1548 when he sold the priory estate and were forfeited on his death in 1556 to the Crown, which made leases of them in 1584. (fn. 9)
In 1322 three fields were mentioned, Over field, Vipares field, and Brockley field; (fn. 10) they probably corresponded to Lower field in the north-west of the parish, Gravel field between Downton and Seven Waters, and Brockley field in the north-east, the three fields in which the arable lay in 1640. (fn. 11) In the early 18th century the Elm Living had 2¼ a., 3½ a., and 5 a. in the respective fields, and Downton Living had 7 a., 7 a., and 5 a.; each holding had a small arable close in addition. (fn. 12) In 1775 it was agreed to sow Gravel field with clover or another crop in the year when it would have lain fallow. (fn. 13) In 1086 10 a. of meadow on the manor were recorded. (fn. 14) A common meadow called Broad Meadow was mentioned in 1640, (fn. 15) and 4 a. in Stonehouse Ham belonged to the parish. (fn. 16)
Gloucester Abbey was said in 1324 to have inclosed 30 a. in which the inhabitants had rights of common, and to have held the land in severalty for 10 years. (fn. 17) Small pieces inclosed out of the open fields were mentioned in 1640; (fn. 18) in 1830 the three fields together still contained 160 a., but there was only c. 10 a. of uninclosed common and waste. (fn. 19) At inclosure in 1834 under Act of Parliament most of the land allotted, which included some old inclosures, went to the manorial eatate, the curate, and Samuel Brown. (fn. 20)
Cheese and cider were noted as products of the parish c. 1775. (fn. 21) In 1801 wheat, barley, and beans were the main crops grown and there were small acreages of oats, potatoes, and peas. (fn. 22) In 1840 the manorial estate comprised a farm of 310 a., which was about a third arable, a farm of 50 a. with 7 a. of arable, and another holding of 14 a. (fn. 23) In 1856 three farms were mentioned including Priory farm and Downton farm; (fn. 24) in 1906 there were 8 farms, (fn. 25) and there were 5 in 1935. (fn. 26)
A mill belonging to Stanley Priory was mentioned in a charter of Henry II, (fn. 27) and its estate included a mill in 1291 (fn. 28) and in 1307 when the reversion was granted to John atte Mill and his wife. (fn. 29) Those references may have been either to the priory's mill at Millend in Alkerton (fn. 30) or to the mill on the Frome at Stanley Downton. The mill at Downton belonged to the priory in 1514 when it was leased to John Stradling. (fn. 31) After the Dissolution it descended with the priory estate until 1632 when William Sandford left it to his eldest son Anselm. (fn. 32) At Anselm's death in 1635 (fn. 33) or later it reverted to the priory estate and the 'mill leaze' of Robert Sandford was mentioned in 1707. (fn. 34) In 1766 Thomas Pride was leasing Downton Mill from the Sandfords and he or his son, also Thomas, later bought the mill. In 1791 the son sold the mill, which had two water-wheels, three pairs of stones, and a bakehouse adjoining, to John Elliott, miller and baker, (fn. 35) who owned it in 1798. (fn. 36) A Mr. Crozier owned the mill in 1834, (fn. 37) and in the later 19th century it was owned and worked by the French family. Steampower had been added by 1885, but the mill ceased working c. 1890, (fn. 38) apparently as the result of a fire. (fn. 39)
Beard's Mill, a cloth-mill further down stream, was owned and worked by a family of clothiers of that name from the later 17th to the mid 19th century. In 1668 the mill, then called Merret's Mill, was being worked by Thomas Beard (fn. 40) (d. 1694) who was succeeded by his son John (d. 1732). (fn. 41) Nathaniel Beard owned the mill in 1751 (fn. 42) and died in 1774; when it passed to his son John (d. 1791). (fn. 43) Thomas Beard owned it in 1798, (fn. 44) and John Beard in 1834. (fn. 45) It was apparently not working from soon afterwards until the 1870s when it was acquired by Charles Hooper & Co. of Eastington, who occupied it until c. 1906. (fn. 46) In 1967 several of the mill buildings remained adjoining the former home of the Beard family, (fn. 47) a large stone house of c. 1800 in classical style.
Another cloth-mill, on the Bitton brook just north of the village, was owned in 1822 by William Holbrow of Townsend House. (fn. 48) It was perhaps in existence in 1785 when his uncle William Holbrow was described as a clothier. (fn. 49) The mill had two pairs of stocks and two gig-mills, and a steam-engine had been installed by 1822. It was apparently worked in conjunction with Bridgend Mill in Stonehouse, for John Hitch occupied it before 1822 and Sir Paul Baghott before 1830. (fn. 50) The mill passed with the Holbrows' estate to William Marmont, a timber-merchant, (fn. 51) and by 1852 he had pulled down part of the buildings and converted the rest into a saw-mill; it was sold with the estate in 1863. (fn. 52) The remaining buildings of the mill had been demolished by 1882, (fn. 53) and only the depression of the former mill-pond and a few pieces of masonry marked its position in 1967.
OTHER INDUSTRY AND TRADE.
From the 16th century or earlier trade rather than agriculture supported the majority of the inhabitants of Leonard Stanley, which was both a seat of the local cloth industry and a trading centre. In 1608 37 men employed in trades were mentioned and only 5 in agriculture; (fn. 54) in 1831 149 families were supported by trade, 21 by agriculture. (fn. 55)
Three leading parishioners were clothiers in 1538, (fn. 56) and several weavers were mentioned in the mid 16th century. (fn. 57) In 1608 the inhabitants included 22 broadweavers, four tuckers, and two clothiers. (fn. 58) The economy of the village was said to depend mainly on the cloth industry c. 1708, (fn. 59) and weavers, shearmen, and those employed in other processes of cloth-making constituted a large proportion of the inhabitants in the early 19th century. (fn. 60) A mercer was recorded c. 1510, (fn. 61) and there was a mercer's shop at Tudor House in the Street during the later 17th century. (fn. 62) There were three tailors in the village in 1608, (fn. 63) two were mentioned in the later 17th century, (fn. 64) and one in 1848. (fn. 65) A carpenter and a painter were recorded in 1322, (fn. 66) and two coopers in 1327. (fn. 67) There were three wheelwrights in 1608, (fn. 68) a joiner was mentioned in 1792, (fn. 69) wheelwrights in 1800 and 1848, (fn. 70) and a wheelwright, a cooper, and a carpenter in 1879; a wheelwright was working in the village until 1935. (fn. 71) A shoemaker was recorded in 1608; (fn. 72) there were three working in the village in 1856, (fn. 73) and two in 1906, one of whom continued working until 1927. (fn. 74) William Clarke of Leonard Stanley (d. 1762) was described as 'an ingenious architect and master-builder in the county'. (fn. 75) A tiler and plasterer was mentioned in 1789, (fn. 76) and a stone-cutter and painter in 1798; (fn. 77) there were two masons in the village in 1848, (fn. 78) and in 1879 one mason and four plasterers. (fn. 79) A smith's shop stood on the road south of Stanley Marsh in 1834 (fn. 80) and a blacksmith was mentioned in 1848, (fn. 81) but there was apparently none in the village after 1856. (fn. 82) A millwright was mentioned in 1798, (fn. 83) and two were living in the parish in 1814. A slay-maker was recorded in 1818. (fn. 84)
Five brewers were mentioned in 1418. (fn. 85) In the mid 18th century a malt-house stood on the north-west side of the Street, (fn. 86) and another by the 'White Hart' was mentioned in 1846. (fn. 87) A baker was mentioned in 1418, (fn. 88) a baker and a butcher in 1608, (fn. 89) and a butcher in 1746. (fn. 90) A surgeon of Leonard Stanley was licensed in 1698, (fn. 91) and three surgeons lived in the village in the late 18th century. (fn. 92)
A small tannery owned by Benjamin Bryant was established at Seven Waters by 1848; (fn. 93) the Bryants owned it until it ceased production c. 1940. The tannery mainly produced leather for harnesses, and a harness-maker recorded in the village between 1897 and 1910 was presumably connected with it; in 1897 and 1902 one of the Bryant family was described as a mill-band maker. The brick buildings of the tannery survived in 1967, and with them the remains of a water-wheel which had been used to grind bark. (fn. 94) A firm of organ-builders founded by Thomas Liddiatt occupied a small factory at Stanley Marsh from c. 1885 until the Second World War. (fn. 95)
MARKET AND FAIRS.
Leonard Stanley had a weekly market on Saturday and fairs in July and November. They were said to have been established by charter in Edward II's reign; (fn. 96) the fairs were recorded in 1418. (fn. 97) The charter was allegedly confirmed in 1620, (fn. 98) and the market-house was rebuilt at about the same time. (fn. 99) The market and fairs declined in importance after the fire of 1686; (fn. 100) the fairs may also have suffered from the competition of those held at Stonehouse from 1683. (fn. 101) The profits and tolls were presumably of little value when leased with the market-house at a rent of 6s. in 1735, (fn. 102) and c. 1775 it was said that the market had been long disused. (fn. 103) In 1765 the July fair was mainly for the sale of pedlary and the November fair for live-stock; (fn. 104) they were said to be almost disused in 1792. (fn. 105)