Cherington: Economic history

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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'Cherington: Economic history', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 170-173. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]


In 1086 3 plough-teams and 12 servi were recorded on the demesne of Miles Crispin's estate, which was assessed at 2 hides. The remainder of the estate supported 3 villani and 8 bordars with 3½ plough-teams between them. Only 4 a. of meadow were recorded. (fn. 1) In 1292 the manorial demesne comprised 160 a. of arable and 12 a. of several pasture. (fn. 2) Arable land accounted for 140 a. in 1308 (fn. 3) and 2 plough-lands in 1405. (fn. 4) In the late 13th century tenant labour-services were used in the exploitation of the demesne; in 1292 the villein tenants owed customary payments and services worth 20s., and free tenants 18s. rent of assize. (fn. 5) In 1308 there were at least 8 customary tenants holding from the manor. One held a yardland, probably the large Cotswold yardland of 60 a. recorded in the early 17th century, for which he owed 196 works a year, and the other 7 held half-yardlands and owed works in proportion. Additional reaping services were commuted. Nine free tenants owed in all 53s. 4d. rent for their holdings, which varied in size. The 8 cottars mentioned paid rent. (fn. 6)

The value of the small estate held by Godstow Abbey was probably wholly realized in tenant rent in 1234. (fn. 7) In 1447 the abbey received 40s. rent of assize from its tenants in Cherington and Charlton, (fn. 8) and at the Dissolution the rents of the free and customary tenants in Cherington were valued at £1 11s. 4d. (fn. 9)

About 1550 tenants of the Mortimers' former estate, which was administered with Charlton manor, held land in Cherington by copyhold for which they owed heriots and entry fines in cash. (fn. 10) Copyhold tenure persisted on Cherington manor until at least 1684 when terriers were made by order of the court baron of copyholds called Balls, which was held by members of the Driver family of Aston, and Nibletts; the estates comprised c. 63 and 59 a. respectively in the open fields. (fn. 11) Leaseholds, often for a term of three lives, had been granted by the late 16th century (fn. 12) and eventually replaced copyholds, probably by the time of inclosure in 1730; leases for three lives were granted on the Westrip estate in the 1740s. (fn. 13)

Two open fields, the east field and the west field, were first recorded c. 1230. (fn. 14) They lay east and south-west of the village (fn. 15) and in the mid 16th century were called the north field and the south field respectively. (fn. 16) Although in 1704 the glebe arable was evenly divided between them, (fn. 17) at inclosure in 1730 the west field, comprising 813 a., was considerably larger than the east field, which included 567 a. A third open field, Wick field (503½ a.), which was separated from the east field by London way (fn. 18) had been a common pasture in the early 17th century. (fn. 19) The principal area of common pasture was Cherington Down, mentioned in 1251 when the lord of Cherington manor and Kingswood Abbey, owner of Hazleton, agreed to share the profits from the sale of thorns growing there. (fn. 20) At inclosure, after some encroachments, it covered c. 320 a. and was bounded by the west field, Wick field, and the Tetbury-Cirencester road. A small area of common pasture, Oxleaze, comprising c. 87 a. beside the same road, was also inclosed in 1730. (fn. 21) The shortage of meadow land on the manor was partly offset in the 17th century by the first crop of a meadow in the near-by parish of Crudwell (Wilts.); (fn. 22) land in Crudwell was held of the honor of Ewelme, (fn. 23) which suggests that the arrangement was of some antiquity.

In the late 13th century the lord of the manor had common of pasture for his sheep between St. Andrew's day and Lady Day. (fn. 24) Kingswood Abbey also had common rights in the fields and downs which were confirmed in 1314 by Lucy de la Mare, (fn. 25) with whom the abbey had been in dispute. (fn. 26) In the 16th century tenants of small holdings were entitled to common of pasture in Cherington Down. (fn. 27) The common lands were stinted by 1623. (fn. 28) Before inclosure in 1730 Cherington Down was reserved between 1 November and 3 May for the sheep of the lord of the manor and the owner of Hazleton, and for the rest of the year a stint of cattle favoured the same two landowners and the rector. Sheep were admitted to Oxleaze pasture between November and May, but in the remaining months it was open only to the cattle of the lord of the manor, the owner of Hazleton, and the rector. (fn. 29)

There was some early inclosure. Early in Edward III's reign John of Ansley appropriated and inclosed an area of common land. (fn. 30) The small closes near the village and Cherington Bottom mentioned in the 17th century (fn. 31) were probably ancient. By 1704 3 a. of glebe land at Dean Bottom in the east field were inclosed. (fn. 32) A sheep close taken from the west field shortly before 1713 adjoined Cherington Down, on the perimeter of which several small closes, including one called New tyning, were created before 1724. (fn. 33) Where possible John Neale and Lord Ducie exchanged and inclosed their open-field land immediately before 1727 (fn. 34) when by their agreement the remaining open and commonable land was divided and inclosed. The award, made in 1730 under a private Act, concerned an area estimated at 2,200 a. of which nearly 1,800 a. lay in the three open fields. That suggests that the fields and downs were still largely intact despite the inclosures of the previous years. Ten landholders, including the rector, had common rights at inclosure but only nine received allotments. The principal beneficiaries were Neale and Lord Ducie who, in addition to sharing Oxleaze, were allotted 599 a. and 325½ a. of openfield land respectively; Mary Taylor of Westrip farm received 403 a. in the open fields. The rector was allotted 325 a. both for his glebe and common rights and in composition for the tithes. (fn. 35)

After inclosure there were five estates in the parish. Apart from Coxe's farm, which comprised just under 300 a. in the 19th century, they were all over 400 a. (fn. 36) All except the Trull estate were bought up by the George family in the early 19th century (fn. 37) and were leased as separate farms on the manor estate. (fn. 38) Westrip farm had been leased to farmers in the 18th century. (fn. 39) The Hazleton farm was sold in 1919 (fn. 40) and the remaining farms, which passed into separate ownership after 1954, were all farmed by the owners in 1973, when Westrip farm also was taken into direct cultivation. (fn. 41) The farms were the chief source of employment in the parish. Of the 50 families in the parish in 1831, 36 were supported by agriculture and only 7 by trade. (fn. 42) Accommodation was provided in the parish; in 1858 the manor estate included 22 cottages on its four farms (fn. 43) and in 1888 there were 9 labourers' cottages on the Trull estate. In 1934 five of the eight cottages in the village street were tied cottages. (fn. 44)

Since inclosure arable farming has predominated. In the mid 18th century large acreages of sainfoin and clover were grown in the west of the parish. (fn. 45) In 1791 tenants of the glebe were expected to alternate cereal cultivation with periods of fallow and of turnips and clover. (fn. 46) In 1801 957 a. of arable were recorded in the parish; it was growing mainly wheat and barley with smaller acreages of oats, turnips, peas, beans, vetches, and potatoes. (fn. 47) In the late 19th century a four- or five-course rotation was generally followed. (fn. 48) The arid, stony soil of the downland provided pasturage for flocks of sheep in the 19th century when several inhabitants of Cherington were shepherds by occupation. (fn. 49) The glebe at Hailstone Barn in the south-west of the parish was considered in 1933 useful only as a sheep-run since it lacked adequate water. (fn. 50) There was a limited amount of better quality pasture and meadow land near the Avening stream where a small close of watermeadow belonged to Westrip farm in 1865. (fn. 51) Although cereal production predominated in the late 19th century (fn. 52) the area under pasture increased. In 1901 there were 1,318 a. of arable and 828¾ a. of permanent grassland. (fn. 53) The large stockyards on the farms show that cattle farming was important in the late 19th century. In the early 20th century there was a move to dairy farming. By 1937 123 a. on Westrip farm had been turned to temporary pasture and on Coxe's farm much of the heavier soil was under pasture; dairy herds were kept on both of those farms in the 1930s. The conversion of Grove farm, which had been ranched for many years, into a dairy farm was not of lasting benefit and in 1937 a return to stock-rearing was advised. (fn. 54) In 1973 beef cattle were reared in the parish but not sheep. (fn. 55)

The mill recorded on the manor in 1086 (fn. 56) presumably occupied the same site as the mill recorded in the valley in the 13th century. (fn. 57) Later called Ball's Mill, (fn. 58) after William Ball miller in 1536, (fn. 59) or Nag's Head Mill, (fn. 60) it stood on the Avening stream in the north-west corner of the parish. (fn. 61) Men surnamed 'of the mill' lived at Cherington in the early 14th century (fn. 62) and millers were recorded there in the 15th and early 16th centuries. (fn. 63) The mill was included in the sale of the manor in 1586 (fn. 64) and the tenants' obligation to suit of multure was apparently still enforced in 1636. (fn. 65) In the 18th century the mill was owned by the Millard family (fn. 66) until 1787 when John Millard sold it to Robert Warn. He sold it in 1805 to Robert Clark Paul who conveyed it in 1807 to William Hayward, and Hayward sold it to John George, lord of the manor, in 1814. (fn. 67) In the late 19th century the mill was leased with Westrip farm (fn. 68) but it had gone out of use by 1919. (fn. 69) By 1973 the buildings had been demolished and the mill-pond was grassed over.

Of the 35 men listed in Cherington in 1608 16 were engaged in agriculture and 16 in trade; of the latter 12 were employed in the cloth industry. (fn. 70) In 1555 John Hall was described as 'a tucker late of Cherington'; (fn. 71) in 1608 the parish had one clothier, 2 weavers, and 9 broadweavers, including Ambrose Gillman, (fn. 72) father of Gabriel Gillman, a clothier mentioned in the parish in 1631. (fn. 73) The weavers were probably mostly employed by clothiers who based their activities on the mills downstream from Cherington. No record has been found of clothworkers in the parish after the early 17th century. The ordinary village crafts employed a small number of people; in 1811 only 5 families were supported by trade and manufacture compared with 38 supported by agriculture. (fn. 74) Members of the Dicks family were blacksmiths for several generations in the 18th and early 19th centuries, (fn. 75) and a smithy was mentioned in the village in 1934. (fn. 76) There was a carpenter in the parish in the early 13th century, (fn. 77) in 1381, (fn. 78) 1608, (fn. 79) and 1757. (fn. 80) In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, until the 1930s, the village usually had at least one carpenter. (fn. 81) Several tailors were mentioned in the late 16th and early 17th centuries (fn. 82) and a hatter lived in Cherington in 1819. (fn. 83) Two masons were listed in 1608 (fn. 84) and several more were active during the 18th century. (fn. 85) A tiler lived in the parish in 1688. (fn. 86) Two brewers were recorded in 1381 (fn. 87) and also in 1437 and 1536. (fn. 88) A baker was mentioned in 1641. (fn. 89) William Hayward, owner of Coxe's Farm and Ball's Mill, was described in 1814 as a maltster; (fn. 90) Richard Kilmister of Cherington, who farmed at Grove Farm in the 1830s and 1840s, (fn. 91) was following the same trade in 1827. (fn. 92)


  • 1. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 169v.
  • 2. Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, p. 30.
  • 3. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1302-58, 105.
  • 4. Ibid. 1359-1413, 237.
  • 5. Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, p. 30.
  • 6. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1302-58, 105; cf. G.D.R., V 5/74T 2.
  • 7. Close R. 1231-4, 463.
  • 8. S.C. 6/1108/3 rot. 2.
  • 9. Dugdale, Mon. iv. 377.
  • 10. E 164/39 ff. 293-4.
  • 11. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., misc. bdle. 1684- 1867; cf. ibid. Cherington man. 1612-1740, deed 1712.
  • 12. Ibid. Cherington man. 1612-1740, sched. of leases.
  • 13. Ibid. Westrip fm. leases 1688-1801.
  • 14. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxiii. 180.
  • 15. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington incl. award.
  • 16. S.C. 12/7/70 f. 14.
  • 17. G.D.R., V 5/74T 5.
  • 18. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington incl. award.
  • 19. E 36/157 p. 58.
  • 20. Glos. R.O., D 340A/T 11/2; an area called North Down was mentioned c. 1230: Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxiii. 180.
  • 21. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington Incl. Act and award.
  • 22. Ibid. Cherington man. 1612-1740, deeds 1636, 1654, 1677.
  • 23. S.C. 2/212/2 rot. 4.
  • 24. Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, p. 30.
  • 25. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxiii. 181.
  • 26. Cal. Pat. 1313-17, 61, 73.
  • 27. Glos. R.O., D 182/16, 18.
  • 28. G.D.R., V 5/74T 2.
  • 29. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington Incl. Act.
  • 30. Trans. B.G.A.S. xxii. 239; lxxiii. 182.
  • 31. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington man. 1612-1740, deed 1636, mortgage 1705.
  • 32. G.D.R., V 5/74T 5.
  • 33. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington man. 1612-1740.
  • 34. Ibid. Cherington Incl. Act; cf. G.D.R., V 6/27.
  • 35. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington incl. award.
  • 36. Ibid. Cherington est. 1827-72, fm. partics. 1865; D 2299/6242.
  • 37. See pp. 168-9.
  • 38. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington est. 1827-72, fm. partics. 1865; Cherington and Rodmarton leases 1875-1918, undated details of fms.; D 2299/6242.
  • 39. Ibid. D 1436, George fam., Westrip fm. 1683-1786, survey 1743, lease 1756; Westrip fm. leases 1688-1801, leases 1738, 1753, 1766, 1773.
  • 40. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1919), 276; (1923), 292; ex inf. Mr. J. F. Trehearne, of Hazleton Manor.
  • 41. Ex inf. Mr. G. G. Tarlton.
  • 42. Census, 1831.
  • 43. Glos. R.O., D. 1436, George fam., Cherington est. 1827-72, est. partics. 1858.
  • 44. Ibid. sale papers 1803-1934.
  • 45. Ibid. Westrip fm. 1683-1786, survey 1743.
  • 46. Ibid. misc. bdle. 1684-1867.
  • 47. Acreage Returns, 1801.
  • 48. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington est. 1827-72, fm. partics. 1865.
  • 49. e.g. G.D.R. Cherington bps. transcr. 1814, 1840, 1846, 1848; there was a shepherd's cottage on Down fm.: G.D.R. Rodmarton bps. transcr. 1817; Bryant, Map of Glos. (1824).
  • 50. Glos. R.O., D 2299/5169.
  • 51. Ibid. D 1436, George fam., Cherington est. 1827-72.
  • 52. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1870), 513; (1889), 726.
  • 53. Acreage Returns, 1901.
  • 54. Glos. R.O., D 2299/6242.
  • 55. Ex inf. Mr. G. G. Tarlton.
  • 56. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 169v.
  • 57. Trans. B.G.A.S. xxii. 190-1.
  • 58. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington est. 1827-72, abs. 1.
  • 59. S.C. 2/212/18 rot. 4.
  • 60. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., misc. bdle. 1684- 1867, acct. 1814.
  • 61. Bryant, Map of Glos. (1824).
  • 62. Reg. Reynolds, 141; Glos. Subsidy Roll, 1327, 16.
  • 63. S.C. 2/212/2 rot. 4; S.C. 2/212/9 rot. 3d.; S.C. 2/212/18 rot. 4.
  • 64. C.P. 25(2)/143/1851 no.4.
  • 65. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington man. 1612-1740.
  • 66. C.P. 25(2)/1017/11 Geo. I Mich. no. 27.
  • 67. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington est. 1827-72, abs. 1, sched. 1; misc. bdle. 1684-1867, contracts 1806, 1814.
  • 68. Ibid. Cherington est. 1827-72, fm. partics. 1865; misc. leases of Westrip fm. 1872-1917.
  • 69. O.S. Map 6", Glos. LVIII. NW. (1919 edn.).
  • 70. Smith, Men and Armour, 280-1.
  • 71. Cal. Pat. 1554-5, p. 41.
  • 72. Smith, Men and Armour, 280-1.
  • 73. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington man. 1612-1740, deed 1631 and sched. of leases
  • 74. Census, 1811.
  • 75. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Westrip fm. leases 1688-1801, lease 1748; Westrip fm. 1683-1786, lease 1786; G.D.R. Cherington bps. transcr. 1814.
  • 76. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., sale papers 1803- 1934.
  • 77. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxxiii. 180.
  • 78. E 179/113/35A rot. 7A.
  • 79. Smith, Men and Armour, 280.
  • 80. Glos. R.O., D 2957/74.1.
  • 81. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).
  • 82. Glos. R.O., D 182/16, 17; D 1436, George fam., Cherington man. 1612-1740, deed 1631; Smith, Men and Armour, 280.
  • 83. G.D.R. Cherington bps. transcr.
  • 84. Smith, Men and Armour, 281.
  • 85. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Westrip fm. leases 1688-1801, lease 1747; Bigland, Glos. i. 330; G.D.R. wills 1778/115.
  • 86. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Westrip fm. leases 1688-1801.
  • 87. E 179/113/35A rot. 7A.
  • 88. S.C. 2/212/9 rot. 3d.; S.C. 2/212/18 rot. 4.
  • 89. Hockaday Abs. cli.
  • 90. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., Cherington est. 1827-72, abs. 1.
  • 91. Glouc. Jnl. 4 Dec. 1830; Glos. R.O., D 1388, Culkerton deeds 1848-84, abs. 1859.
  • 92. Glos. R.O., D 1436, George fam., probates 1811-33, will of John George.