Bladon: Local government

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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A P Baggs. W J Blair. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. Janet Cooper. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley, 'Bladon: Local government', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990) pp. 30-31. British History Online [accessed 19 May 2024].

A P Baggs. W J Blair. Eleanor Chance. Christina Colvin. Janet Cooper. C J Day. Nesta Selwyn. S C Townley. "Bladon: Local government", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990) 30-31. British History Online, accessed May 19, 2024,

Baggs, A P. Blair, W J. Chance, Eleanor. Colvin, Christina. Cooper, Janet. Day, C J. Selwyn, Nesta. Townley, S C. "Bladon: Local government", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, (London, 1990). 30-31. British History Online. Web. 19 May 2024,

Local goverment

In 1279 John of London, who held Bladon manor at farm for life, had a three-weekly court and the view of frankpledge at Bladon, to which neither the sheriff nor the hundred reeve had entry. (fn. 32) Profits of the court in the mid 13th century, when the manor was in the king's hands, ranged from 4s. to 16s. including 2s. cert money at the view of frankpledge; in 1310 they were 25s. (fn. 33) The one surviving medieval court roll, for a view of frankpledge in 1383, records the amercement of eight men for letting cattle into Long Acre meadow, and a case of assault and bloodshed. (fn. 34)

Like those of the other demesne towns, the Bladon courts exercised a wide jurisdiction, in many ways similar to that of the king's central courts. (fn. 35) The courts appointed manorial officers, including a reeve or rent-collector, a constable, two tithing men, fieldsmen, and a hayward. Seventeenth-century courts regulated the agriculture of the township, making rules on stinting, and on the haining and breaking of pasture. Offences presented included overloading the common, digging stone pits in the highway, and making encroachments on roads or waste. In 1659 a man was amerced for bloodshed, and in 1619 and 1628 the jury presented the whole township for not repairing the butts or practising shooting, as required by statute. (fn. 36) Eighteenth- and 19th-century courts dealt only with the election of officers and the transfer of customary land. (fn. 37) By the 19th century courts were held at an inn, usually the Red Lion, whence they were removed at least temporarily in 1837 because of the landlord's political oposition to the Blenheim interest. (fn. 38) Courts were held until 1925. (fn. 39)

In Hensington the abbot of Oseney held view of frankpledge for his tenants, who were quit of all suit to the county and hundred courts. (fn. 40) Two surviving court rolls record only placing of men in tithing, distraint to do homage, and one failure to repair a roof. (fn. 41) The Templars and later the Hospitallers presumably held courts for their tenants, and later lords of Hensington manor apparently held courts until the early 18th century; (fn. 42) no records survive, and the courts had presumably ceased by the time that the duke of Marlborough acquired the manor in 1753.

Hensington and Bladon were separate units for poor-law administration in the 18th and 19th centuries. Bladon usually had two overseers, but between 1805 and 1817 only one was appointed each year. (fn. 43)

Bladon raised c. £86 in rates in 1776, but between 1783 and 1785 average expenditure on the poor and other parish business was only £78. There had been a large increase in expenditure by 1803 when it totalled £392, or £1 5s. per head of population. (fn. 44) Expenditure reached £518, £1 8s. a head in 1813, and £535, again £1 8s. a head, in 1820, but was considerably lower in most other years between 1806 and 1830, falling as low as £225, 11s. a head, in 1826. It rose again in the 1830s, reaching £600, c. £1 7s. a head, in 1832. (fn. 45)

In the 1780s a small sum was spent setting the poor to work, and in 1803 c. £39 was apparently spent on a workhouse, (fn. 46) perhaps to set one up. Sheets were bought for an inmate in 1806 and beer for the workhouse in 1812, but there is no other record of a workhouse in Bladon, and between 1806 and 1817 the overseers paid regularly for the repair of the poor's houses. They also paid the rent of the 'town house'. (fn. 47) There were 22 adults on regular out-relief in 1803, and the number rose to 26 or 27 in 1813 before falling to between 15 and 21 in 1817. There is some evidence for rounding between 1810 and 1817, but no more than 6 men or women were paid for 'yardland time' in any one week. (fn. 48)

Poor-law records refer to a churchwarden or churchwardens and overseers of Hensington, apparently distinct from those for Bladon, although vestry minutes record only the election of a sidesman for the hamlet. (fn. 49) Hensington's total expenditure on poor relief was less than Bladon's, although in the early 19th century it was greater per head of population. The township raised £49 in rates in 1776, and an average of £51 between 1783 and 1785. In 1803 expenditure had risen to £98 or c. £1 6s. a head. (fn. 50) Expenditure rose to £189 or c. £1 12s. a head in 1818, but fell to as little as c. 7s. a head in 1825. Although expenditure rose again in the early 1830s, Hensington's rates remained lower than Bladon's. (fn. 51) The hamlet had 9 adults on outrelief in 1803, but only 6 or 8 between 1813 and 1815. (fn. 52)

At Bladon a parish council took over the vestry's remaining functions in 1894; Hensington Without had a parish meeting until 1951, and a parish council until 1985. Both Bladon and Hensington were in the Woodstock poor-law union from 1834 and the Woodstock rural district from 1894, but in 1932 Hensington was moved to Chipping Norton rural district and Bladon to Witney rural district. Both parishes became part of West Oxfordshire in 1974. (fn. 53)


  • 32. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 851.
  • 33. P.R.O., SC 6/962/4, 22; SC 6/957/5.
  • 34. Ibid. SC 2/197/12.
  • 35. Below, Woodstock, Blenheim (Woodstock Manor).
  • 36. Blenheim Mun., B/M/208-10.
  • 37. Ibid. 211-24
  • 38. Oxf. Herald, 21 Oct. 1837.
  • 39. Blenheim Mun., B/M/228, p. 384.
  • 40. Oseney Cart. iv, pp. 113-14; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 874.
  • 41. Bodl. MS. d.d. Ch. Ch. O.R. 127; ibid. MS. Rolls Oseney 92.
  • 42. P.R.O., REQ 2/243/46; Merton Coll. Mun., Reg. 1.3, p. 683.
  • 43. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Bladon c 5; ibid. Bladon P.C. II/i/1.
  • 44. Poor Abstract, 1804, pp. 406-7.
  • 45. Ibid. 1818, pp. 358-9; Poor Rate Returns, H.C. 556, p. 138 (1822), v; H.C. 334, p. 173 (1825), iv; H.C. 83, p. 161 (1830), xi; H.C. 444, p. 156 (1835), xlvii; O.R.O., Bladon P.C. II/i/1.
  • 46. Rep: Sel. Cttee. on Poor Laws, H.C. Series I, vol. ix, reprinted in H.C. Sessional Pps. of the 18th cent., lx. 192; Poor Abstract, 1804, p. 406.
  • 47. O.R.O., Bladon P.C. II/i/1.
  • 48. Poor Abstract, 1804, p. 406; 1818, pp. 358-9; O.R.O., Bladon P.C. II/i/1.
  • 49. O.R.O., MSS. d.d. Par. Bladon c 6; b 8; ibid. Bladon P.C. IV/ii/8, 11, 16, 49a.
  • 50. Poor Abstract, 1804, p. 406.
  • 51. Ibid. 1818, 360-1; Poor Rate Returns, H.C. 556, p. 138 (1822), v; H.C. 334, p. 174 (1825), iv; H.C. 83, p. 161 (1830-1), xi; H.C. 444, p. 157 (1835), xlvii.
  • 52. Poor Abstract, 1804, p. 406; 1818, pp. 360-1.
  • 53. O.R.O., RO 15, 229, 263; Census, 1851.