Horsley: Local government

Pages 181-182

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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The account of manorial government and parochial administration given here includes information for that part of the parish subsequently transferred to Nailsworth. Manor courts were held by the lord of the manor during the Middle Ages. (fn. 1) Cirencester Abbey, which had been excluded from exercising view of frankpledge in the manor for 40 years, agreed with the lord of the manor c. 1255 that its bailiffs should hold the view there twice a year and the lord should take the profits at a yearly rent of 13s. 4d. (fn. 2) Nevertheless the two parties were in dispute in 1261 over the method of appointing a tithingman for Horsley and it was agreed that the office should be filled in the manor court but before the abbey's bailiffs. (fn. 3) In 1332 courts were held four times a year, (fn. 4) and manor courts and views of frankpledge were held twice yearly in the early 16th century when two tithings, Barton End and Nupend, were represented. (fn. 5) An estate at Horsley was said to have fallen to the lord of the manor by forfeiture through felony but no record of any warrant granting such a right to the lord has been found. (fn. 6) In 1630 by-laws were agreed for the manor, which sought to fine persons responsible for introducing paupers to the parish, and the manor court elected two haywards to regulate the commons. (fn. 7) The court was recorded in the earlier 18th century (fn. 8) but had apparently fallen into disuse by 1793 when it was revived. (fn. 9) From that date courts leet and baron were held which elected tithingmen for Barton End, Nailsworth, and Downend, and a constable and a hayward. (fn. 10) The court, which usually met at the Boot inn, (fn. 11) dealt mainly with encroachments on the lord's waste but from 1815 only the election of officers is recorded. (fn. 12)

Two churchwardens were recorded from the 15th century. (fn. 13) The parish had two overseers, whose accounts, with a few gaps, survive from 1765 until 1836. (fn. 14) The parish had a workhouse by 1726, and in 1728, when it was said to be so crowded that further houses would have to be rented, it was described as resembling a playhouse rather than a workhouse. The number of alehouses in the parish was thought to contribute to the cost of poor-relief at that time. (fn. 15) About 1769 a new workhouse was built at Shortwood Green, (fn. 16) and in 1771, when it was advertised for farming, (fn. 17) it had 99 inmates, some of whom were employed in spinning. (fn. 18) The old workhouse, said to be situated near Horsley Cross, was probably still in use by the parish in 1785 when it may have housed the aged poor. (fn. 19) In 1803 the new workhouse was managed by a governor who employed the 33 inmates in spinning. (fn. 20)

From 1772, in view of the industrial development at the Nailsworth end of the parish, an attempt was made to distribute the cost of poor-relief more evenly by rating the stock in trade of manufacturers. In 1773 the poor were farmed for one year at £850 and in 1806 a salaried overseer was appointed. (fn. 21) A salaried surgeon-apothecary was appointed in 1782, (fn. 22) a small-pox house was recorded in 1788, (fn. 23) and a large proportion of the parish was vaccinated in 1810. (fn. 24) During the 1830s 27 a. of land was purchased for allotments for the labouring population and 66 inhabitants were using them c. 1838. (fn. 25) In 1836 Horsley became part of the Stroud poor-law union (fn. 26) and that part which was not transferred to Nailsworth parish in 1892 remained part of Stroud R.D. in 1972.


  • 1. S.C. 6/855/2-3.
  • 2. Cirencester Cart. i, pp. 318-19.
  • 3. Ibid. p. 320.
  • 4. S.C. 6/855/3.
  • 5. Glos. R.O., D 547A/M 4-13.
  • 6. Ibid. M 39.
  • 7. Ibid. M 29.
  • 8. Glos. Colln. RF 167.1 (30).
  • 9. Ibid. (5).
  • 10. Ibid. (1-70); Glos. R.O., D 547A/M 14.
  • 11. Glouc. Jnl. 19 July 1802; Glos. R.O., D 547A/M 15.
  • 12. Glos. Colln. RF 167.1 (44-5); Glos. R.O., D 547A/M 14-15.
  • 13. Hockaday Abs. xxii, 1498 visit. f. 29.
  • 14. B. & G. Par. Recs. 171; Glos. R.O., P 181/OV 2/1-12.
  • 15. Glos. R.O., D 547A/F 14.
  • 16. Ibid. P 181/OV 2/1.
  • 17. Glouc. Jnl. 20 May, 1771.
  • 18. Glos. R.O., P 181/OV 9/1; at another time in that year 69 inmates were recorded.
  • 19. Ibid. OV 2/4; and see ibid. 1, entry for 1766.
  • 20. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 180-1.
  • 21. Glos. R.O., P 181/OV 2/2; VE 2/2.
  • 22. Ibid. OV 2/3.
  • 23. Glos. R.O., P 181/OV 2/5.
  • 24. Ibid. VE 2/2.
  • 25. Rep. Com. Handloom Weavers, p. 525.
  • 26. Poor Law Com. 2nd Rep. p. 524.