Edgeworth: 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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'Edgeworth: Economic history', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 11, Bisley and Longtree Hundreds, (London, 1976) pp. 44-45. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/glos/vol11/pp44-45 [accessed 14 April 2024]


There were four ploughs working the demesne at Edgeworth in 1086. (fn. 1) In 1342 the estate of Walter Helion, which comprised two parts of the manor, had 60 a. of arable, 3 a. of meadow, and 2 a. of pasture in demesne. (fn. 2) The extent of demesne in the later Middle Ages is not known. In 1604 the demesne farm was worked by a tenant, Francis Marsh of Ewen, in Kemble. (fn. 3)

The two freemen with estates at Edgeworth in 1086 were working two teams and a further two were worked by the tenants of the manorial estate, four villani and two bordars. (fn. 4) The freehold estates are not recorded later nor are the conditions of tenure of the customary estates, but the customary dues of the tenants on the Westwood estate of Cirencester Abbey are known. Tenants could not secure a daughter's marriage without licence from the lord, and heriots, pannage, and a toll on brewing were owed. In the 13th century some works, due on three days each week for a ½-yardlander, had been commuted for money payments, and tenants could be asked to travel to Gloucester, Tetbury, or Cirencester at the abbot's command. There were five tenants c. 1230 at Westwood, four of whom held ½ yardlands, (fn. 5) and the same number of tenants were recorded in 1540 when their rents amounted to 31s. (fn. 6) Tenants on the estate were holding by copy in the 16th century. (fn. 7)

There were two open fields at Edgeworth, North field and South field (fn. 8) (also called West field); (fn. 9) the former covered land on both sides of the road to Gloucester and the latter occupied the land between the paths from Edgeworth to Bisley and from Edgeworth to Westwood. In the later 17th century the arable in the open fields was usually farmed in strips of 1 a. (fn. 10) but the fields were inclosed by private agreement before 1719. (fn. 11) Some small parcels of land in the Tunley fields in Bisley belonged to Edgeworth (fn. 12) which probably received the detached portion of 15 a. instead when Tunley was inclosed. (fn. 13) In the early 14th century there was a dispute between the abbot of Cirencester and Alice Helion over the rights of the free tenants of Edgeworth to common pasture, (fn. 14) of which 200 a. were recorded in 1419. (fn. 15)

Since inclosure the amount of arable farming in the parish has diminished; in 1801 456 a. were recorded as under tillage not including the fallow land. (fn. 16) The amount of arable remained steady until 1839 when 958 a. were recorded (fn. 17) but between that date and 1901 the acreage of arable land almost halved to 487 a. Most of the land had been converted to grassland but there was also an increase of over 100 a. in woodland and plantation, (fn. 18) primarily explained by the establishment of park-land around the manor-house. (fn. 19) There were three farms of over 330 a. in 1839, one of 153 a., one of 130 a., of which half was woodland, the glebe farm of 42 a., and three smaller holdings. The larger farms, which concentrated on arable farming, were on the high ground, and the pasture and wood were in the valleys. (fn. 20) The number of farms declined during the 19th century due to centralization, and in 1871 the two largest farms were united to form a unit of 615 a. (fn. 21) At the sale of the estate in the 1930s some of the tenants bought their farms.

There was a mill recorded at Edgeworth in 1086 (fn. 22) which descended with the manor until the later 13th century when Stephen of Edgeworth granted it with some land to Gloucester Abbey. (fn. 23) The abbey owned the mill and a small estate until the Dissolution when Richard Clissale was the tenant. (fn. 24) The Crown granted a lease of the mill in 1553, and in 1557 the reversion was granted to James Dolle who also received the adjacent manor of Duntisbourne Abbots. (fn. 25) The mill descended with that manor until the mid 17th century (fn. 26) but by 1719 it was part of Edgeworth manor. In 1751 it was granted to Anne Ridler (fn. 27) and it later descended with her part of the estate. In the mid 19th century it was a grist-mill with two pairs of stones and had a bakehouse adjoining, (fn. 28) and by 1885 steam-power had been introduced. (fn. 29) The mill, which stands on the Frome north-east of the village, ceased to function in 1931 (fn. 30) and the buildings had been converted for use as a farm-house by 1971; the mill-pond had been filled in but the weir and small overspill pond remained. The buildings are of rubble and possibly date in part from the 17th century.

Employment in the parish has been dominated by agricultural activity; in the early 17th century a miller and a tailor were recorded but the rest of the labour force were household servants or worked the land. (fn. 31) A mason was recorded in 1711. (fn. 32) A century later only one family was employed outside agriculture, (fn. 33) probably that of the shopkeeper recorded in 1817. (fn. 34) A stonemason was recorded in the mid 19th century, and a plasterer in 1889, and blacksmiths and shopkeepers were recorded at various dates after 1856. (fn. 35)


  • 1. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 167v.
  • 2. Inq. p.m. Glos. 1302-58, 292.
  • 3. Glos. R.O., D 2957/123. 1.
  • 4. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 167v.
  • 5. Cirencester Cart. ii, pp. 359-60.
  • 6. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1240 rot. 50d.
  • 7. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1240 rot. 50d.
  • 8. G.D.R., V 5/124T 9.
  • 9. Ibid. 1.
  • 10. Ibid. 4.
  • 11. Glos. R.O., D 1801/12.
  • 12. Ibid. 13.
  • 13. Cf. O.S. Area Bk. (1885).
  • 14. Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), i. 181.
  • 15. C 138/51 no. 96.
  • 16. Trans. B.G.A.S. lxviii. 177.
  • 17. G.D.R., T 1/75.
  • 18. Acreage returns, 1901.
  • 19. O.S. Map 6", Glos. XLII. SE. (1884 edn.); cf. G.D.R., T 1/75.
  • 20. G.D.R., T 1/75.
  • 21. Glos. R.O., D 1388/SL 5, no. 48.
  • 22. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 167v.
  • 23. Hist. & Cart. Mon. Glouc. (Rolls Ser.), ii. 226.
  • 24. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1248 rot. 1od.
  • 25. Cal. Pat. 1557-8, 218-19.
  • 26. C 142/309 no. 190; C.P. 25(2)/555/1658 Trin. no. 3.
  • 27. Glos. R.O., D 1801/12.
  • 28. Glos. R.O., D 2525, terrier of lands at Edgeworth.
  • 29. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1885), 452.
  • 30. Ex inf. Mr. H. L. Williams, of Edgeworth Mill Farm.
  • 31. Smith, Men and Armour, 297.
  • 32. E 134/10 Anne East./7.
  • 33. Census, 1811.
  • 34. Hockaday Abs. cxci.
  • 35. Kelly's Dir. Glos. (1856 and later edns.).