Minchinhampton: Local government

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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'Minchinhampton: Local government', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 200-201. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol11/pp200-201 [accessed 22 April 2024]


Tenurial and estate matters, in particular the management of the woodland, provided the bulk of the business of the Minchinhampton manor court in medieval times, although pleas were heard very occasionally; from the late 14th century the court was held jointly for Minchinhampton and Avening manors. (fn. 1) The woodland of the manor and its members was in the care of five woodwards in the early 14th century, for West wood (probably the later common), for Rodborough, for Gatcombe wood and Hazel wood (in Avening), for Cowcombe wood, and for Windsoredge (in Avening). (fn. 2) There was also a principal woodward, (fn. 3) whose office was probably represented by the keeper of the sealing axe recorded in 1542. (fn. 4) In the 19th century the manor court was concerned exclusively with the management of Minchinhampton common. (fn. 5) In 1805 it appointed a perambulator of the common to check encroachments (fn. 6) and in the second half of the century the common was managed by a committee and hayward appointed by the court. (fn. 7) A committee continued to regulate the grazing rights after the transfer of the common to the National Trust in 1913, and it was represented, with other interested bodies, on the general management committee for the common appointed then. The manor court does not appear to have met after 1918 and the commoners' committee became a self-perpetuating body. (fn. 8)

View of frankpledge was exercised at Caen Abbey's court at Minchinhampton from the late 13th century, subject to rights reserved to the abbot of Cirencester as lord of the hundred; the abbot was represented at the twice-yearly view by his bailiff who was given hospitality and at one of the views received a payment of half a mark. (fn. 9) The view was attended by tithingmen for Minchinhampton, Avening, Aston, and Rodborough. (fn. 10) Infangthief was included in a confirmatory grant of Caen Abbey's English possessions from Henry I (fn. 11) and thieves were hanged at the abbess's gallows at Minchinhampton in the late 13th century. (fn. 12) Waif and tumbrel were also claimed by the abbess in 1287. (fn. 13)

The accounts of the two churchwardens of the parish survive from 1555. (fn. 14) The money needed by them for church maintenance was usually allocated out of the poor-rates until the end of the old poor law system, and in 1836 after some controversy the vestry decided to raise the funds needed on a voluntary basis. (fn. 15) Poor-relief was administered under the vestry's general direction by three overseers, responsible for the town division, for the Chalford division, and for Rodborough tithing (the west part of the parish, adjoining Rodborough). Four supervisors of the highways represented respectively the town division, Hyde and Chalford, Burleigh and Brimscombe, and Rodborough tithing. (fn. 16) A scheme advanced in 1800 for the establishment of a committee of 25 leading inhabitants to supervise poorrelief was never implemented. (fn. 17) Minchinhampton became part of the Stroud union in 1836 (fn. 18) and has remained in the Stroud rural district. A local board of health was formed in 1849 at the instigation of David Ricardo but apparently lapsed soon afterwards, (fn. 19) and a sanitary committee for the town under the chairmanship of H. D. Ricardo operated for a short time from 1866. (fn. 20)

A parish workhouse was built south of the town in 1727. (fn. 21) It had a salaried governor in 1788 but in the early 1790s and again from 1814 the poor in the house were farmed. (fn. 22) In 1803 the house had 70 inmates whose work produced the comparatively high sum of £242. (fn. 23) From 1788 the parish subscribed to the Gloucester Infirmary and from 1800 a surgeon was retained. (fn. 24) A salaried assistant overseer was employed from 1803. (fn. 25) The parish was hit particularly severely by the trade depression of 1784 and a subscription was raised to supplement the rates; the unemployed men were put to work on the roads and the women and children put to work spinning at the market-house. (fn. 26) Road-work continued to be the principal resort in times of trade depression: in 1798 the parish contracted to maintain a section of turnpike road (fn. 27) and the vestry appointed a committee to supervise work on the streets of the town in 1816. (fn. 28) In 1828 £150 was allocated for employing paupers in spinning and other occupations. (fn. 29) Later, emigration was assisted out of the rates: in 1839 40-50 people left for Australia; (fn. 30) in 1842 families were assisted on the voyage to America and New Zealand; and in the following year a family was assisted to move to Bradford, evidently to find employment in the woollen industry. (fn. 31) The annual cost of poor-relief stood at £778 in 1776 and rose to over £2,000 by 1815 (fn. 32) but in the 1820s and 1830s the parish was able to keep the cost down at around £1,500; (fn. 33) 178 people were on permanent out-relief in 1803 and 230 in 1815. (fn. 34)


  • 1. Ct. rolls for Minch. man. survive for several years in the period 1273-94 and there are others for 1329-33, 1337-8, 1388, 1397, 1420, and 1469-70: S.C. 2/175/79-88. There are ct. bks. for 1847-69 and 1876-1918: Glos. R.O., D 2219/1/5-7. Ibid. D 67 has transcripts of the medieval rolls and other medieval manorial recs., made by C. E. Watson.
  • 2. S.C. 6/856/19.
  • 3. S.C. 6/856/20.
  • 4. Hockaday Abs. cclxxxiii.
  • 5. Glos. R.O., D 2219/1/5-6.
  • 6. Ibid. P 217/VE 2/2.
  • 7. Ibid. D 2219/1/5-6; mins. and recs. of the cttee. and hayward survive in ibid. 4, 9.
  • 8. Ibid. 7, 9; indenture 1913 penes, and ex inf., Mr. Walker.
  • 9. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 254; cf. Cirencester Cart. ii, p. 624.
  • 10. S.C. 2/175/79.
  • 11. Cal. Chart. R. 1341-1417, 158.
  • 12. J.I. 1/278 rot. 52d.
  • 13. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 254.
  • 14. The churchwardens' accts., covering the period 1555- 1785, are in Glos. R.O., P 217/CW 2/1-2, and extracts were printed in 1854: copy in ibid. MI 1/2; there are vestry mins. for 1786-1874 in ibid. VE 2/1-4; and overseers' accts. for 1734-59 and 1787-1818 in P 217A/OV 2/1-4.
  • 15. Ibid. P 217/CL 2.
  • 16. Ibid. CW 2/2.
  • 17. Ibid. VE 2/1.
  • 18. Poor Law Com. 2nd. Rep. p. 524.
  • 19. Glos. R.O., P 217/VE 2/4; D 1619/2.
  • 20. Ibid. D 1619/2; P 217/MI 1/3.
  • 21. Ibid. D 1812, Ricardo fam.; cf. G.D.R., T 1/120.
  • 22. Glos. R.O., P 217/VE 2/1-3.
  • 23. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 180-1.
  • 24. Glos. R.O., P 217/VE 2/1.
  • 25. Ibid. 2.
  • 26. Glouc. Jnl. 12, 26 Jan., 9 Feb. 1784.
  • 27. Glos. R.O., P 217/VE 2/1.
  • 28. Ibid. 2.
  • 29. Ibid. 3.
  • 30. Rep. Com. Handloom Weavers, p. 427.
  • 31. Glos. R.O., P 217/VE 2/3.
  • 32. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 180-1; 1818, 154-5.
  • 33. Poor Law Returns (1830-1), p. 70; (1835), p. 68.
  • 34. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 180-1; 1818, 154-5.