Slaughter hundred

A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965.

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'Slaughter hundred', in A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6, (London, 1965) pp. 1-7. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]


The hundred of Slaughter is a compact, (fn. 1) geographically coherent area on the eastern edge of the county. It is entirely within the Cotswolds, and is drained by the River Evenlode and the River Windrush with its tributaries the Dikler, the Slaughter brook, and the Sherborne brook. The land, which lies between 350 ft. and 800 ft. above sea-level, includes exposed uplands, steep hillsides, and flat, fertile valleys. The lower land is mostly on Lias clays, the higher on oolitic limestone. (fn. 2) The hundred is crossed by several prehistoric routes, and by the Roman Foss Way, (fn. 3) most of which meet at one of the high points of land, where Stow-on-the-Wold was built as a market town. In 1862 a railway was built through the middle of the hundred, from Kingham (Oxon.) on the Oxford and Worcester line (which cuts across a corner of the hundred) to Bourton-on-the-Water; in 1881 it was extended to Cheltenham; in 1962 it was closed to passenger traffic. (fn. 4)

Stow is the only town in the hundred, though a small one; Bourton-on-the-Water is by contrast a much enlarged village. There are another 20 villages, all but two of them (Donnington and Maugersbury in Stow) being the settlement centres of ancient parishes, and all of them relatively compact. One ancient parish without a village, Eyford, contains the site of a village deserted in the early Middle Ages, and four other hamlets or farmsteads (Hinchwick in Condicote, Gawcombe in Westcote, and Aylworth and Harford in Naunton) appear to have been larger settlements which shrank in the same period. Most of the villages lie in the valleys, but Maugersbury, Westcote, and Great and Little Rissington are perched on hillsides, while Donnington, Condicote, and Clapton are (like Stow) on the uplands near the highest land available. The villages were built largely of the local oolitic limestone which gives them some of their more widely known and publicized characteristics.

Throughout its history the hundred has been predominantly agricultural. Up to the early 19th century textile manufacture and shoemaking played a part in the local economy; in the mid-20th century the airfield at Little Rissington, with its needs for retail trade and services, has provided much employment. The building trades and quarrying, and a single factory in Bourton-on-the-Water, were the local industries in the mid-20th century. Many local inhabitants went each day to other areas to work. Others had settled in the area, attracted by rural remoteness and picturesque environment, or by the opportunities for fox-hunting with the Heythrop and for trout-fishing.

The agriculture of the hundred was traditionally sheep-and-corn, with meadow and marshy pastures along the watercourses, arable on the valley lands and hillsides, and rough downland pastures on the hilltops. There were a few extensive sheep-runs held in severalty, notably at Aylworth in Naunton, Eyford, Sherborne, and Lower Swell. The open fields, which existed in every parish in the hundred, were in some places consolidated and partly inclosed in the early 17th century; parliamentary inclosure, mostly in the late 18th century, completed the process. The amount of land under the plough decreased, and was perhaps at its lowest in the 1930's, (fn. 5) but by the mid-20th century the proportions of arable and permanent grass were roughly even. The grass, however, was mostly on the lower land and the arable on the uplands, where the soil, though thin and stony, could be made productive with the aid of artificial fertilizers.

Slaughter hundred in 1845

Slaughter hundred comprises two of the hundreds recorded in Domesday, Salmonsbury and Barrington. The constituent parts of Salmonsbury hundred in 1086 were: Adlestrop, Aylworth (in Naunton), Bledington, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadwell, Caldicote (or Westfield, in Guiting Power), part of Condicote, Eyford, Harford (in Naunton), part of Icomb (the rest being in Worcs.), (fn. 6) Maugersbury (in Stow-on-theWold,) (fn. 7) Naunton, Oddington, the three Rissingtons, Sherborne, the Slaughters, Lower Swell, and Westcote (also called Icomb); in addition 'Lechetone' (Leckhampton) was erroneously entered as part of Salmonsbury hundred. The total number of hides recorded for Salmonsbury, without 'Lechetone', was 176. (fn. 8) The constituent parts of Barrington hundred in 1086 were: the Barringtons, Widford, (fn. 9) and Windrush. Windrush included one estate of 3½ hides that was entered in Domesday twice, and two estates of 1¼ hide each, of which one was said to be in Gersdon hundred, (fn. 10) and the other may or may not have been in Barrington hundred. (fn. 11) Thus the number of hides recorded in Barrington hundred was between 25½ (excluding both 1¼-hide estates in Windrush) and 28 (including both).

Slaughter hundred (southern part) in 1962

The total number of hides in Salmonsbury and Barrington, a little over 200, suggests that they had once formed a double hundred, and the suggestion is supported by the fact that the estate of 3½ hides in Windrush had been disputed between the two hundreds. (fn. 12) In 1086 Salmonsbury hundred included the Archbishop of York's estate in Condicote, which can be inferred to have comprised 1½ hide and may have been drawn into Salmonsbury because it was a member of Oddington (fn. 13) within that hundred; it is significant that without that 1½ hide Witley hundred, which included the rest of Condicote, amounted to 98½ hides, 1½ short of the full 100. (fn. 14) If the double hundred, Salmonsbury and Barrington, excluded the two 1¼-hide estates in Windrush and the archbishop's estate in Condicote it contained exactly 200 hides.

Salmonsbury and Barrington hundreds were later merged together, certainly by the 1220's, when Barrington, (fn. 15) Widford, and Windrush were part of Slaughter hundred, (fn. 16) and possibly by the late 12th century, for the hundred which figured in the Pipe Rolls as Salmonsbury from 1169 to 1175 was called Slaughter from 1189 to 1193, (fn. 17) and Barrington hundred did not figure there at all. The name Salmonsbury, taken from the meeting-place of the hundred at Salmonsbury Camp in Bourton-on-the-Water, continued to be used for the hundred rather more often than Slaughter in the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 18) In 1416 the hundred was called Salmonsbury in Slaughter; (fn. 19) by the end of the 15th century the hundred was called Slaughter while the name Salmonsbury was used to distinguish the main view of frankpledge held at Salmonsbury Camp from the smaller views belonging to the hundred but held in other parts of the hundred. (fn. 20)

The hundred was diminished by the loss of part of Great Barrington soon after 1086, (fn. 21) of Caldicote at some date after 1220, (fn. 22) and of Aylworth between 1381 (fn. 23) and the late 16th century. (fn. 24) The part of Great Barrington became a detached part of Berkshire, Caldicote became part of Kiftsgate hundred to which the rest of Guiting Power parish belonged, and Aylworth, for unknown reasons, became part of Bradley hundred. Under the Act of 1844 the part of Icomb in Worcestershire was added to Gloucestershire and (by inference) to the hundred, and Widford was similarly transferred from Gloucestershire to Oxfordshire. By the same Act the part of Great Barrington which had been part of Berkshire was transferred to Gloucestershire. (fn. 25)

The Crown held the hundred until 1247 when it was part of the possessions granted to the abbey of Fecamp (Seine Inf.) in exchange for Rye and Winchelsea (Suss.). The hundred passed with the manor of Lower Slaughter to Syon Abbey (Mdx.) after the dissolution of the alien priories, was retained by the Crown for 72 years after the Dissolution of 1539, and in 1611 was granted to Sir William Whitmore, a member of whose family was lord of Lower Slaughter manor in 1962 (fn. 26) and presumably owned any surviving rights in the hundred. From the end of the 15th century the hundred was sometimes mentioned as though it were an honor, some of the manors in it being said, without real justification, to be held as of the hundred of Slaughter. (fn. 27)

Slaughter hundred (northern part) in 1962

When the hundred was granted in 1247 the Abbey of Fécamp was given unusually full liberties, with return of writs, pleas de vetito namio, and other lesser pleas. (fn. 28) In 1373 and 1416 there are references to a coroner for the hundred. (fn. 29) In 1248 the abbot was granted the right to hold a private eyre for the hundred when the justices were in eyre in the county, (fn. 30) and a roll of the eyre for the hundred in 1265 survives. (fn. 31) These liberties were disliked by the men of the neighbouring hundreds, who said that common justice was not done and even alleged that the bailiff of the hundred had contrived the murder, in the court at Lower Slaughter, of three suitors who had argued with him. (fn. 32) It is likely, however, not so much that justice was not done as that justice was, to an unusual extent, in strange hands: in 1269 two general sessions of the peace were held each year at the hundred court. (fn. 33) The very small number of entries for places in Slaughter hundred on the 14th-century peace rolls (fn. 34) suggests that the hundred was exempt from the county sessions; from the late 14th century until c. 1670 sessions and gaol deliveries were from time to time held for the hundred. (fn. 35) The surviving 16th-century indictments at the county sessions include only one certain entry for a place in Slaughter hundred, (fn. 36) which is not among the hundreds listed as appearing at those sessions. (fn. 37) In the first 17th-century indictment book, 1660–9, (fn. 38) places in the hundred appear more frequently but not as often as if there had been no separate sessions for Slaughter hundred. Why the general sessions of the hundred stopped c. 1670 is not clear.

The hundred or halimote court itself, which met at Lower Slaughter once a month and for which court rolls survive for 1312, 1354–5, 1376–7, (fn. 39) 1450–2, (fn. 40) 1496–1521, 1528–38, (fn. 41) and 1631–70, (fn. 42) appears to have stopped about the same time as the sessions for the hundred. (fn. 43) From the 14th century the causes tried in the hundred court included pleas of trespass, assault, dower, and covenant. (fn. 44) In 1727 there was an attempt to revive the hundred court, but it appears to have been short-lived. (fn. 45)

Apart from the main view of frankpledge twice a year at Salmonsbury Camp there were in 1312 and 1355 separate views at Windrush for one tithing of that parish, at Farwell Hill for the tithings of Maris and Lammaris in Windrush, and at Great Rissington for that vill. (fn. 46) In 1376 there was an additional view at Widford, (fn. 47) but by 1413 the Widford view had been merged with that at Farwell Hill and the next year Windrush also attended the Farwell Hill view. (fn. 48) Rolls of the frankpledge court survive for the years mentioned above and for 1496–1521, 1528–38, (fn. 49) 1547, (fn. 50) and (in draft) 1620–1770. The arrangement whereby separate views were held at Salmonsbury, Farwell Hill, and Great Rissington persisted until 1770. (fn. 51) The location of Farwell Hill is not known. The suggestion that it was in Little Rissington is superficially unlikely and rests solely on the name given to a house there in modern times. (fn. 52) In 1695 the Farwell Hill view was held at Barrington Bridge, (fn. 53) and in 1735 Farwell Hill was said to be a bank in Barrington: (fn. 54) on geographical grounds a site in Great Barrington near the road between Widford and Windrush is not implausible. After 1770 there is no trace of the views at Farwell Hill and Great Rissington, but the continuance of the views at Salmonsbury Camp is well authenticated until c. 1800 (fn. 55) and nominal courts continued until the mid-19th century. (fn. 56)

Of the officers of the hundred the steward is mentioned up to 1727, (fn. 57) and bailiffs occur to 1774. (fn. 58) In 1644 a writ was addressed to the high constables of the hundred, (fn. 59) and in 1715 the constable and the high constable of the hundred took oaths of allegiance. (fn. 60)

Within the hundred there were several liberties of which the most extensive territorially was that of Evesham Abbey, comprising the parishes of Adlestrop, Bourton-onthe-Water, Broadwell, Clapton, and Stow-on-the-Wold. (fn. 61) Henry I was said to have granted the abbey quittance from the shire and hundred in its lands there in return for an annual payment of £6 9s. 6d., (fn. 62) and by 1222 the abbey was also paying a sum for amercements in the liberty. (fn. 63) In 1247, when the hundred was granted to Fecamp, it was agreed that Evesham should pay the £6 9s. 6d., and 20s. for amercements, to Fécamp instead of to the Crown for its liberties, the Abbot of Fecamp reserving pleas de vetito namio, felons' goods, and the right to hold the hundred court (for view of frankpledge) on Evesham's land at Salmonsbury. (fn. 64) The Abbot of Evesham's determination to uphold his quittance of the hundred may be indicated by his remitting to the king's court for confirmation a conveyance that had been made in the hundred court in 1484. (fn. 65) The separate jurisdiction for Evesham's estates, which centred on Stow where the twice-yearly court was held, survived until the 17th century. (fn. 66) Of the other liberties within the hundred, the Abbot of Winchcombe was paying 40s. a year for frankpledge and a further sum for amercements in Sherborne and Bledington in 1222, (fn. 67) and was said to be quit of suits of the county and hundred in 1251. (fn. 68) This liberty was not recorded, however, in 1276, or in 1317, and by 1355 Bledington and Sherborne were represented at the hundredal view at Salmonsbury. In 1317 the liberties of the Abbot of Evesham, of the Archbishop of York at Oddington (said to have been withdrawn from the hundred c. 1271), of the Abbot of Hailes at Lower Swell (withdrawn from the hundred before 1272), and of the Prior of Llanthony at Great Barrington (withdrawn apparently after 1276) were acknowledged. (fn. 69) None of these vills appeared at the hundredal views of frankpledge, though for their quittance they owed rents known variously as cert money, warth silver, and tithing penny. (fn. 70) In addition, Lower Slaughter manor, though belonging to the lord of the hundred, had its own view of frankpledge which was not treated (like those of Great Rissington and Farwell Hill) as one of the hundredal views. (fn. 71)

The division of the hundred into upper and lower divisions is not recorded before the 19th century: it appears to have been merely a borrowing of the practice in the other large hundreds of the county.


  • 1. Except for the detached parish of Widford locally situate within Oxfordshire; its history is not given here, and is reserved for V.C.H. Oxon.
  • 2. Geol. Surv. Map (drift edn., revised), sheets 217, 235.
  • 3. See pp. 37, 142.
  • 4. Ex inf. British Railways, Western Region.
  • 5. Land Util. Surv. Map, sheet 93.
  • 6. The history of the whole parish is given in V.C.H. Worcs. iii. 412–18, and is not repeated in this volume.
  • 7. See p. 144, n. 27.
  • 8. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 162b, 164b, 165b–168b, 169b–170b.
  • 9. Transferred to Oxfordshire in 1844; and see n. 1.
  • 10. The rest of this hundred lay in the triangle between Cirencester, Cricklade (Wilts.), and Fairford.
  • 11. Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i. 164–164b, 165b, 167, 168, 169, 170b.
  • 12. Ibid. 165b.
  • 13. See p. 67.
  • 14. Cf. Taylor, Dom. Glos. 232–5.
  • 15. Pleas of Crown for Glos. ed. Maitland, p. 13.
  • 16. Bk. of Fees, i. 310.
  • 17. Pipe R. 1169–75, 1190–3 (P.R.S.); Pipe R. 1189 (Rec. Com.), 169.
  • 18. e.g. Close R. 1242–7, 484; Cal. Close, 1364–8, 21; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 258.
  • 19. Cal. Pat. 1416–22, 13.
  • 20. S.C. 2/176/8.
  • 21. See p. 16.
  • 22. Bk. of Fees, i. 310.
  • 23. E 179/113/31 m. 1d.
  • 24. Smith, Men and Armour, 268; an earlier date than 1608 is suggested by B.M. Harl. MS. 4131, f. 541, which otherwise (with one exception) excludes places in Slaughter hundred.
  • 25. V.C.H. Glos. ii. 175.
  • 26. See p. 130.
  • 27. e.g. Cal. Inq. p.m. Hen. VII, ii, pp. 123, 271; iii, p. 300.
  • 28. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 174, 178.
  • 29. Cal. Pat. 1370–4, 378; 1416–22, 13.
  • 30. Ibid. 1247–58, 18.
  • 31. J.I. 1/1583.
  • 32. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 166, 171, 173, 179, 182.
  • 33. Eynsham Cartulary, i (Oxford Hist. Soc. xlix), p. 269.
  • 34. There are two: Peace rolls, Trans. B.G.A.S. lxii. 112, 127.
  • 35. S.C. 6/859/1–11; S.C. 6/Hen. VII/205, 209; S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/1178–80, 1205, 1209; Glos. R.O., D 45/M 12/11, M 19, M 20, and M 27, including records of the hundred court and the sessions: they were previously kept in a confused state, and it has not been possible to restore them to an entirely logical order.
  • 36. B.M. Harl. MS. 4131, f. 481. Another entry, f. 541, for Aylworth, suggests that Aylworth was then in Bradley hundred.
  • 37. B.M. Harl. MS. 4131, ff. 569–70. Other hundreds not listed are Bradley, Brightwell's Barrow, Crowthorne and Minety (all of which may be included under 'Cirencester', for places in each of those hundreds figure reasonably often in the preceding folios), Cheltenham (part of the liberty granted to Fecamp in 1247), Duchy of Lancaster, and Dudstone and King's Barton.
  • 38. Glos. R.O., Q/SIb 1.
  • 39. S.C. 2/176/5–7.
  • 40. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 13.
  • 41. S.C. 2/176/8–9.
  • 42. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 14/1–490.
  • 43. Cf. Ibid. M 18.
  • 44. S.C. 2/176/5–6.
  • 45. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 17.
  • 46. S.C. 2/176/5–6.
  • 47. Ibid. 7.
  • 48. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 15. Pinchpool, another tithing in Windrush, was sometimes but not always separately represented at the Farwell Hill view, and in the early 16th century sometimes had a view of its own.
  • 49. S.C. 6/176/8–9.
  • 50. Sherborne Mun. 171.
  • 51. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 16; cf. ibid. M 7 for Great Rissington, 1704–70.
  • 52. Letter of 27 June 1938 in Glos. R.O., D 45/M 16 (anno 1704).
  • 53. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 16.
  • 54. Ibid. D 45/T 1/27.
  • 55. Bigland, Glos. i. 225; Camden's Britannia, ed. Gough (1806), i. 407.
  • 56. B.G.A.S. Libr., Dr. Moore's notebk. no. 1, p. 177; Transactions at Stow, 1882, Trans. B.G.A.S. vii. 16.
  • 57. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 17 and M 22.
  • 58. Glos. R.O., D 45/E 13.
  • 59. B.M. Add. MS. 4159, f. 157.
  • 60. Glos. R.O., Q/SO 4.
  • 61. Eyford also belonged to the abbey, but only after the creation of the liberty.
  • 62. Rot. Parl. (Rec. Com.), iii. 561–3.
  • 63. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 511.
  • 64. Cat. Anct. D. iii, D 1254.
  • 65. See p. 40.
  • 66. See p. 157.
  • 67. Rot. Litt. Claus. (Rec. Com.), i. 511.
  • 68. Close R. 1251–3, 176.
  • 69. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), i. 178; Glos. R.O., D 45/M 10; D 621/M 20, mm. 5–9.
  • 70. See frankpledge rolls cited above; cf. Glos. R.O., D 45/M 12. Evesham Abbey's cert rents were apparently included in the £6 9s. 6d. mentioned above.
  • 71. See p. 132.