Stanton Harcourt: Local government

Pages 288-289

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

By 1279 Stanton Wyard and Stanton Harcourt manors each had their own court baron and view of frankpledge, and the lord of Stanton Harcourt was freed from suit to county and hundred. (fn. 29) Sutton manor, later held with Stanton Wyard, (fn. 30) probably had a separate court in the Middle Ages, since in the 17th century copyholds granted by the lords of Sutton were mentioned; then and for many years previously, however, tenants of Sutton manor attended Stanton Wyard court and view of frankpledge, which from 1580 included separate tithings for Stanton and Sutton. (fn. 31)

In the later 16th century Stanton Wyard court met annually in October or September. (fn. 32) In the mid 17th century and the late 18th Sutton and Stanton Wyard manors were conveyed with their courts leet and baron and views of frankpledge, but there is no later evidence that the court actually met. (fn. 33) Stanton Harcourt view of frankpledge comprised in the early 16th century the four tithings of Stanton, West End, and Upper and Lower Sutton; the court met in April and possibly, as later, in October, and was still held in 1746. Copyhold grants and regulation of agricultural affairs continued during the 17th century, but from the 1730s the only business recorded was the appointment of officers, and the court may have lapsed by the late 18th century. (fn. 34)

In the 17th and 18th centuries and probably earlier Stanton Harcourt and Sutton each had a constable, a hayward, and two tithingmen appointed by the Stanton Harcourt manor court; the Stanton Harcourt hayward shared jurisdiction with the hayward for South Leigh township in fields where lands lay intermingled. (fn. 35) Moors keepers and grass stewards were also mentioned. (fn. 36) Stanton Wyard's manorial officers are unrecorded, and in 1642 only two constables were recorded in the parish. (fn. 37) Surveyors of the highways were mentioned in 1670, (fn. 38) and in 1882 a waywarden was still appointed annually by the vestry. (fn. 39)

There were four churchwardens in 1530 and 1610; (fn. 40) by 1642 there were three, (fn. 41) and by 1730 only two, one later appointed by the vicar and one by the parishioners. (fn. 42) In 1584 the churchwardens did not account to the parish, and were instructed to do so before the next visitation; (fn. 43) accounts were kept by 1610, (fn. 44) but in the 18th century and early 19th the churchwardens and overseers refused to submit accounts of charitable funds. (fn. 45) By the early 17th century the churchwardens' income intermittently included rent from the church houses, last received in 1871; from c. 1875 they received rent from church land in Northmoor parish. (fn. 46) Until 1868 they also received small annual payments from the chapelwardens of South Leigh; their income was later supplemented by rates voted by the vestry, but from 1907 they relied on rent and voluntary contributions. (fn. 47)

There were three overseers by 1642. (fn. 48) In 1625 a church house was let rent-free to parishioners on poor relief; by the early 19th century the church house near the churchyard, used partly as a schoolroom, was divided into separate tenements, of which three were let rent-free by the overseers to poor widows. (fn. 49) In 1870 two were occupied at a nominal rent by a family on parish allowance and by a labourer with an invalid wife. (fn. 50)

In 1625 there were claimed to be nearly 40 families or 150 people receiving alms in Stanton Harcourt and Sutton. (fn. 51) In 1776 the parish spent £94 on poor relief, from 1783 to 1785 an average of c. £114, and in 1803 £387, or c. 15s. per head of population. The poor were then farmed; as in South Leigh that probably accounts for the relatively low per capita rate. (fn. 52) By 1813 the cost per head was £2 1s., one of the highest figures in the area. After 1815 it again reached c. £1 19s., a figure exceeded in the hundred only at Cogges, Water Eaton, and South Leigh. By the mid 1820s c. 16s. a head was being spent, still unusually high, but the 18s. a head spent in 1831 (total expenditure £,604) was not exceptional. (fn. 53)

In 1803 there were 28 adults on regular outrelief and 8 persons, including children, in a small, short-lived workhouse, where nearly £ 9 was spent on materials to employ them. No earnings were recorded. From 1813 to 1815 between 45 and 39 adults received regular outrelief, and rather more received occasional relief. Substantial sums were spent on settlement cases between 1776 and 1818. (fn. 54)

From 1834 Stanton Harcourt formed part of Witney poor law union, and later of Witney rural district. In 1974 it became part of West Oxfordshire district. (fn. 55)


  • 29. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 856; P.R.O., C 143/44, no. 15.
  • 30. Above, Manors.
  • 31. Bodl. MS. d.d. Harcourt c 47/33, f. 33v.; ibid. MS. Top. Oxon. b 21, f. 27.
  • 32. Ibid. MS. Top. Oxon. b 21.
  • 33. Ibid. MS. d.d. Harcourt c 47/33, f. 33 and v.; Lincs. R.O., BS 3/Oxon./1.
  • 34. Bodl. MS. Rolls Oxon. 98; ibid. MSS. d.d. Harcourt b 4/1-2.
  • 35. Ibid. MS. d.d. Harcourt b 4/1-2; Sel. Coroners' Rolls (Selden Soc. ix), 96; above, S. Leigh, Loc. Govt.
  • 36. Bodl. MS. d.d. Harcourt b 4/2.
  • 37. Protestation Ret. 91-3; cf. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. b 21.
  • 38. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. b 275, p. 304.
  • 39. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Stanton Harcourt c 4.
  • 40. Visit. Dioc. Linc. ii (L.R.S. xxxv), 55; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. b 275, p. 304.
  • 41. Protestation Ret. 93.
  • 42. O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 104, ff. 120, 200, 224, 239; ibid. MS. Oxf. Dioc. b 38. f. 188v.
  • 43. Archd. Ct. 1584, ii (O.R.S. xxiv), 210.
  • 44. Bod1. MS. Top. Oxon. b 275, p. 304.
  • 45. O.R.O., MSS. Oxf. Dioc. d 557, f. 63; d 563, ff. 81-3; d 571, f. 100; d 581, f. 96v.
  • 46. O.R.O., Misc. Pa I a/1-4; ibid. MS. d.d. Par. Stanton Harcourt e 2; 10th Rep. Char. Com. 416.
  • 47. O.R.O., MSS. d.d. Par. Stanton Harcourt e 2, c 4; ibid. MS. d.d. Par. S. Leigh b 6; above, S. Leigh, Church.
  • 48. Protestation Ret. 93.
  • 49. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 118, f. 4v.; O.R.O., Misc. Pa I a/1-2; 10th Rep. Char. Com. 416; cf. Poor Abstract, 1777, p. 143; below, Educ.
  • 50. Bodl. MS. d.d. Harcourt e 27, pp. 27-33.
  • 51. Ibid. MS. Top. Oxon. c 118, f. 4v.
  • 52. Poor Abstract, 1777, p. 143; 1787, p. 192; 1804, pp.406-7.
  • 53. Ibid. 1818, pp. 360-1; Poor Rate Returns, H.C. 556, p. 139 (1822), v; H.C. 334, Suppl. App., p. 174 (1825), iv; H.C. 83, p. 161 (1830-1), xi; H.C. 444, p. 157 (1835), xlvii.
  • 54. Poor Abstract, 1777, p. 143; 1787, p. 192; 1804, pp. 406-7; 1818, pp. 360-1; O.R.O., MS. Oxf. Dioc. b 38, f. 189.
  • 55. O.R.O., RO 3251, pp. 201-3; RO 3267.