A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.
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In 1086 Longtree hundred comprised Avening, Cherington, Horsley, Lasborough, Minchinhampton, Rodmarton (and its hamlets of Hazleton and Culkerton), Shipton Moyne, Tetbury (and its hamlet of Upton), Westonbirt, and Woodchester; the hundred was assessed at a total of 98½ hides and 13 yardlands. (fn. 1) Tarlton, later a hamlet of Rodmarton, was included under Cirencester hundred and the greater part of the two estates mentioned was probably within Coates parish. (fn. 2) A hide in Woodchester was included under Blacklow hundred (fn. 3) although all of the parish later lay in Longtree. Otherwise the constituents of the hundred have remained unchanged. Rodborough, originally part of Minchinhampton, emerged as a separate parish, and Westonbirt and Lasborough later formed a single parish for civil purposes. Nailsworth, a new civil parish created in 1892 out of parts of Avening, Horsley, and Minchinhampton, is given a separate history in this volume.
Longtree hundred was one of the group known as the Seven Hundreds of Cirencester, (fn. 4) which were apparently administered with the royal manor of Cirencester before 1189 when Richard I granted them with the manor to Cirencester Abbey. The abbey held them, for a fee-farm rent of £30, (fn. 5) until the Dissolution and in 1547 they were granted to Thomas Seymour, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, who was attainted and executed in 1549. (fn. 6) In 1552 the Crown granted them to Sir Anthony Kingston (fn. 7) (d. 1556) who was succeeded by his niece Frances, wife of Sir Henry Jerningham. (fn. 8) In 1559 Henry and Frances sold the hundreds to Sir Thomas Parry (fn. 9) and they afterwards followed the same descent as Bisley hundred. (fn. 10)
Cirencester Abbey held the Seven Hundreds with wide-ranging liberties, of which view of frankpledge, return of writs, infangthief, and custody of prisoners were confirmed by Edward III in 1343, (fn. 11) and felons' and fugitives' goods by Richard II in 1391. (fn. 12) Thomas Parry successfully defended his right to those liberties in 1569 (fn. 13) and Sir Robert Atkyns challenged the sheriff of the county for infringing his right to return writs in the 1670s. (fn. 14)
Two of the manors of Longtree hundred secured full quittance of the hundred jurisdiction. Cherington was a member of the honor of Wallingford, the lord of which held the view and exercised his other wide liberties in the manor. (fn. 15) The lords of Tetbury had view of frankpledge, infangthief, and waif by ancient right in 1287 (fn. 16) and later claimed felons' and fugitives' goods, although that claim was challenged by the lord of the hundred in 1688. (fn. 17) In four other manors the rights of the lord of the hundred were limited. The lord of Shipton Moyne laid claim unsuccessfully to gallows in 1223 and c. 1235 the abbot of Cirencester made an agreement with him over their respective rights; the biannual view of frankpledge for the manor was to be held in the manor court by the abbot's bailiffs and the lord of the manor was to have the amercements, paying an annual composition. (fn. 18) A similar agreement about the view was made with Troarn Abbey in 1255 or 1256 about Horsley manor, where the abbot of Cirencester's bailiffs had been prevented from holding the view for 40 years. (fn. 19) Like agreements were made with Caen Abbey for its manors of Minchinhampton and Avening c. 1270 and with the lord of Woodchester at some time before the early 15th century. (fn. 20) In the Caen manors and Woodchester the abbot of Cirencester's rights were also curtailed by the lords' right to gallows and other liberties. (fn. 21)
The remaining places in the hundred were represented at the biannual hundred view of frankpledge; for that purpose Lasborough, Westonbirt, and Shipton Dovel in Shipton Moyne parish each formed single tithings, and Rodmarton was represented by its tithings of Rodmarton Trowbridge, Rodmarton Keynes, and Culkerton. The meeting-place, described as at Chavenage Down in the early 15th century, (fn. 22) was evidently Chavenage Green where the Cotswold ridgeway met a number of important local roads. (fn. 23) There presumably stood the tall tree which gave its name to the hundred and to Longtree Bottom, the valley running north from the green. The view was probably still being held there in the later 16th century when the tithings made presentments and paid cert money at views held in spring and autumn; at one of the views representatives of Shipton, Horsley, Minchinhampton, and Woodchester attended to pay cert money and ask for the lord's bailiffs to be sent to hold the view in those manors. (fn. 24) The custom of wardstaff, involving watching duty on certain nights of the year, was recorded in 1394; it was apparently limited to the tithings which attended the view (fn. 25) and they owed a 2d. fine called wake in the later 16th century, evidently in place of it. In the late 16th century the ordinary three-weekly sessions of the hundred court, dealing mainly with pleas of debt, were held at Cirencester, one court meeting for the whole Seven Hundreds. (fn. 26) Those sessions, and perhaps later the view as well, were held at Cirencester until 1792 when replaced by a court of requests. (fn. 27) Court rolls for the Seven Hundreds survive for the period 1558-69 and for 1573-4. (fn. 28)
The parishes of Longtree hundred extend from the river Frome on the north to the county boundary with Wiltshire on the south-east and south. In the north-west part of the hundred the Nailsworth stream and its tributaries form deep valleys which in places are still thickly wooded; other woodland, on the hills above, was cleared over the centuries by the exercise of customary rights by the tenants of the manors. The remainder of the hundred is formed by arid and mainly treeless plateau-land which was farmed as extensive open fields and sheep-pastures. The buildings are of the local oolite and include numerous clothiers' houses in the north-western valleys and some substantial country houses in the south.
A network of ancient tracks, including the Great Cotswold ridgeway and some Roman roads, crossed the plateau in the south part of the hundred. Later the road system centred on routes to Cirencester, from Stroud across Minchinhampton common, from Wotton under Edge following part of the ridgeway, and, most important, from Bristol through Tetbury; the Tetbury-Stroud route, linking those three, was also of growing importance. The valleys of the Nailsworth area suffered from poor communications until 1780 when the new Bath-Gloucester road was built and others improved, and further improvements to the road system in the valleys were made in the early 19th century. The Swindon-Gloucester railway line was built along the Frome valley, but the railway system penetrated the hundred only by branch lines to Nailsworth and Tetbury, both closed in the 1960s.
In the early Middle Ages settlements were fairly evenly spread over the hundred but later the industrialization of the north-western valleys and the depopulation of some of the smaller settlements in the south and east parts upset the balance. Tetbury, the principal town, was established as a borough and market town c. 1200 and in the 17th and 18th centuries enjoyed considerable prosperity, based on its market for wool and agricultural produce and on its wool-stapling industry. Minchinhampton was also a market town with a local trade, although it never rivalled Tetbury. The land around those two centres was used extensively for sheep-farming in the Middle Ages, particularly by the monastic landowners, Caen Abbey, Kingswood Abbey, and Bruton Priory. The north-western valleys came to be dominated by the cloth-making industry and shared the characteristics of Bisley hundred to the north. New hamlets of weavers' cottages were established around Nailsworth, where they proved a fruitful field for the nonconformist churches, and around Minchinhampton common. Rodborough, Woodchester, and Nailsworth in particular were dominated by their numerous clothmills and by clothier families such as the Webbs, Hallidays, and Pauls. In the hundred as a whole, however, the landowning families, including the Ducies, and lesser families such as the Sheppards, Stephenses, and Coxes, remained an important influence.
In the 19th century the industrial development of the north-western valleys continued. The cloth industry, based on fewer and larger mills, remained an important source of employment, and after the middle of the century new industries were introduced, including pin-making, stick-making, iron-founding, flock- and shoddymaking, and bacon-curing. Some of those and most of the surviving cloth-making businesses were replaced in the 20th century by industries such as chemicals, light engineering, and plastics. Nailsworth grew into a small town in the 19th century, and from the late years of the century Rodborough was encroached on by the suburbs of Stroud, and Minchinhampton was developed as a residential area. In the south and east parts of the hundred in contrast life retained a traditional pattern in the 19th century. Tetbury stagnated, and the landowning families, particularly the Estcourts at Shipton Moyne and the Holfords at Westonbirt, retained their dominance over their parishes. In the 1970s, although Tetbury had undergone some expansion, that part of the hundred remained sparsely populated and still centred mainly on its estates and large farms.