Little Stanmore: Local government

Pages 120-121

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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In 1294 the prior of St. Bartholomew's claimed view of frankpledge, the assizes of bread and ale, infangthief, outfangthief, and the right to erect a gallows in Little Stanmore, by virtue of a grant from William de Rames (IV). A jury upheld the first two claims but found that the three remaining rights had always belonged to the king. (fn. 1) View of frankpledge was duly ascribed to the prior in 1306. (fn. 2)

The earliest court recorded, in a modern transcript, is that held for Prior William Bolton in 1508. (fn. 3) Transcripts also record some 17th- and 18th-century proceedings, (fn. 4) and surviving court books run from 1775 to 1924. (fn. 5) A view of frankpledge was usually held with a court baron every spring until 1736; from 1775 a general court baron was held alone, sometimes with an additional one or a special court at some other season. They met at the Crane, from 1731 the Duke of Chandos's Arms and Crane, where the last court was held in 1890. (fn. 6)

A vestry minute book, beginning with some accounts of surveyors of the highways from 1654, records the annual elections of parish officers from 1661 until the present day. Churchwardens' accounts run from 1729 to 1831 and vestry order books from 1739 to 1815. (fn. 7) Eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century vestries normally met every month, with an average attendance of 7 or 8; the incumbent or his curate often presided and others who were occasionally present included the elder William Hallett and two of his successors at Canons, Philip and Andrew O'Kelly. Meetings took place in the vestry room at the church from 1795, although they might be adjourned to one of four near-by inns. (fn. 8)

From 1668 the vestry nominated a constable and headborough, although their formal elections took place at the manorial court at least until 1736; both officers later had their expenses paid by the vestry and continued to be nominated until 1864. (fn. 9) There were two churchwardens in 1580 (fn. 10) and a subconstable in 1613. (fn. 11) One churchwarden was chosen by the incumbent and one by the parishioners in 1661. From that date the vestry also named two surveyors of the highways and two overseers of the poor, although surveyors are not recorded between 1691 and 1796. Overseers' accounts survive for 1782 to 1801. (fn. 12) An assistant overseer was appointed by wage in 1830. Other officers included a parish clerk in 1780, an organist who in 1799 had to teach children to sing before Sunday services, a beadle, recorded once in 1814, and a sexton, by 1837. The salaries of the clerk and organist came from rents from the free school lands.

Poor-rates and church-rates were levied from the mid 18th century. In 1776 £85 were raised and £60 spent on the poor. (fn. 13) Expenditure rose from £352 in 1816 to £468 in 1820, thereafter declining (fn. 14) and then rising again to average £544 from 1831 to 1834. (fn. 15) Weekly allowances were authorized by the vestry, which in 1810 paid for 16 weeks in advance to enable one recipient to undertake a sea-bathing cure; the usual range of casual expenses, notably for clothing, was also paid. Part of the surplus from the free school lands was used for apprenticing boys or placing girls in service. In 1799, as an apparently short-lived experiment, two adults and six children were farmed out; the overseers were to clothe them and two visitors were to carry out monthly inspections at the contractor's house. In 1807 paupers were to dig gravel from a new pit at Stanmore marsh. The parish was as keen as Great Stanmore to reduce the burden of relief: illegal settlers were repeatedly removed and in 1749 the constable, himself accused of conducting vagrants into Hendon without leave, refused to accept others from Great Stanmore, on the grounds that their pass referred to Little Stanmore as Whitchurch.

No workhouse was built, presumably because the parish was small and had other accommodation. Apart from filling vacancies at the alms-houses, which were separately endowed, (fn. 16) the vestry kept up various parish houses, the first of which was recorded in 1713. (fn. 17) Repairs were ordered to the thatched roof of one in 1758, since inmates were soaked in their beds; it was probably the thatched poor house 'up town', which was burned down in 1785. Another parish house, 'below the turnpike', was recorded in 1778. Part of a third parish building by the Ninepin and Bowl, previously used for storing wood, was converted to hold extra paupers in 1773; it still stood 20 years later but was pulled down before the overseers sold the site in 1837. (fn. 18)

The vestry often acted in concert with its neighbours. In 1767 a cage was to be built and used jointly with Edgware. The constable of Little Stanmore had a key to the cage by 1772 but Edgware did not pay its half of the cost until 1780. The appointment of an assistant overseer was also discussed with Edgware in 1824, six years before Little Stanmore named one of its own. As in Great Stanmore medicines for the poor were provided by 1741, a family was given vaccination in 1768, and regular medical attendance was paid for by 1754. Both parishes retained the same 'surgeon and apothecary' in 1761, at identical salaries, and 1782, although soon afterwards Little Stanmore again had its own officer. Committees were set up by the two vestries in 1803, to avoid litigation over a disputed boundary at Stanmore marsh; more committees were formed in 1825 and lawyers' arbitration was eventually accepted. (fn. 19)

Little Stanmore became part of Hendon poor law union in 1835, whereupon a mere £37 was raised by selling parish property and contributed towards the new union workhouse at Redhill. (fn. 20) A nuisance removal committee was set up, under an inspector, in 1857 or 1858. (fn. 21) The parish was included in Edgware highway district in 1863, thereafter being governed by the same authority as Great Stanmore. (fn. 22) In 1934 much of Little Stanmore was assigned to the new Stanmore North ward and the area south of Edgware brook to Stanmore South; the boundary of Stanmore South was later moved to Whitchurch Lane and a portion in the south-west included in Belmont. (fn. 23)


  • 1. Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 478.
  • 2. Webb, Recs. of St. Barts. i. 350.
  • 3. Davenport MSS., Lt. Stan. ct. rolls.
  • 4. Ibid. ct. rolls for 1642-3, 1717-19, 1733-5, and 1775- 92.
  • 5. M.R.O., Acc. 658/1-3.
  • 6. Davenport MSS., Lt. Stan. ct. rolls; M.R.O., Acc. 658/1-3.
  • 7. In 1971 they were kept at the church; there are transcripts in Davenport MSS.
  • 8. Vestry min. and order bks.
  • 9. Except where otherwise stated, the foll. four paras. are based on the vestry min. and order bks.
  • 10. Guildhall MS. 9537/4.
  • 11. Mdx. Sess. Recs. i. 251.
  • 12. M.R.O., LA. HW. 779-80.
  • 13. Rep. Cttee. on Rets. by Overseers, 1776, 101.
  • 14. Rep. Sel. Cttee. on Poor Rate Returns, H.C. 748, p. 108 (1821), iv; ibid. H.C. 334, p. 132 (1825), iv.
  • 15. Poor Law Com. 1st Rep. 251.
  • 16. See p. 126.
  • 17. M.R.O., Acc. 658/1, ff. 64-5.
  • 18. M.L.R. 1837/6/43.
  • 19. See p. 89.
  • 20. Poor Law Com. 9th Rep. H.C. 494, App. C, pp. 278-9 (1843), xxi.
  • 21. Vestry min. bk.
  • 22. See p. 104.
  • 23. For the ward boundaries in 1935 and 1963, see above, p. 104, n. 68.