Wolvercote: Local government

Page 320

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1990.

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Local government

In 1279 Godstow abbey had view of frankpledge in Wolvercote, and the royal bailiff had entry into the manor only by the king's writ. The abbey also had rights of toll, pleas and perquisites of court, infangthief and outfangthief, pillory, and gallows. (fn. 95) The grant of the manor to George Owen in 1541 included view of frankpledge, and he and his successors held courts until 1651 or later. (fn. 96) St. Frideswide's priory had view of frankpledge at Cutteslowe. (fn. 97)

In the later 18th century the churchwardens paid for the repair of bridges, a causeway, and the river banks, and, in the early 19th century, for the ditching and draining of land in the open fields. (fn. 98) The parish spent £57 on poor relief in 1776, an average of £74 between 1783 and 1785, and £299, c. 16s. per head of population, in 1803. The highest expenditure in the period 1813-1820 was only 15s. a head, a lower rate than in the neighbouring rural parishes. Even when expenditure reached its peak of £418 in 1832 (fn. 99) (when the paper mill was closed for at least part of the year), (fn. 1) the cost per head, c. 16s., was still below average. The generally low cost of poor relief in Wolvercote in the early 19th century was probably due to the availability of non-agricultural work both in the parish (fn. 2) and perhaps also in Oxford. There was no workhouse. In 1803 a total of 11 adults, mainly aged and infirm, were on regular out-relief; they were apparently set to work, for they earned £9 by their labour. In the period 1813-1815 regular out-relief was paid to between 22 and 26 people. (fn. 3)

Wolvercote was included in the Woodstock poor law union in 1834, and the Woodstock rural district from 1894 until 1929 when the parish was abolished. The vestry's functions were taken over by a parish council in 1895, and, unofficially, by the Wolvercote commoners' committee in 1929; the committee was still functioning in 1985. (fn. 4)


  • 95. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 857.
  • 96. Royal Letters to Oxf. ed. O. Ogle, 150; P.R.O., E 134/1651-2, Hil. 8.
  • 97. P.R.O., C 142/76, no. 6.
  • 98. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Wolvercote b 5: chwdns' accounts 1759-1869.
  • 99. Poor Abstract, 1804, pp. 406-7; 1818, pp. 360-1; Poor Rate Returns, H.C. 556, p. 139 (1822), v; H.C. 334, p. 174 (1825), iv; H.C. 83, p. 161 (1830-1), xi; H.C. 444, p. 157 (1835), xlvii.
  • 1. Notebk. of Thos. Gregory (MS. in possession of vicar of Wolvercote), p. 137.
  • 2. Above, Econ.
  • 3. Poor Abstract 1804, pp. 406-7; 1818, pp. 360-1.
  • 4. Census, 1851; O.R.O., M.S. d.d. Par. Wolv. b 5; Wolvercote Commoners' Cttee. min. bks. 1929-, in possession of Mr. R. Bateman, chairman of the cttee.