Cogges: 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, 'Cogges: Local government', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock, ed. Alan Crossley, C R Elrington( London, 1990), British History Online [accessed 21 July 2024].

A P Baggs, W J Blair, Eleanor Chance, Christina Colvin, Janet Cooper, C J Day, Nesta Selwyn, S C Townley, 'Cogges: Local government', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Edited by Alan Crossley, C R Elrington( London, 1990), British History Online, accessed July 21, 2024,

A P Baggs, W J Blair, Eleanor Chance, Christina Colvin, Janet Cooper, C J Day, Nesta Selwyn, S C Townley. "Cogges: Local government". A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 12, Wootton Hundred (South) Including Woodstock. Ed. Alan Crossley, C R Elrington(London, 1990), , British History Online. Web. 21 July 2024.

Local goverment

Robert Arsic was holding courts baron for Cogges manor by 1212-13, when he exempted his tenants at Newland from owing suit there. (fn. 84) In 1241, following the division of the manor, Henry III exempted Archbishop de Grey, his heirs, and their tenants at Cogges from suit to county and hundred, from aids of sheriffs, reeves, and royal bailiffs, and from view of frankpledge and murdrum; in 1242 Cogges wood was freed from the foresters' regard. (fn. 85) In 1279 the de Greys were holding courts baron with view of frankpledge at Cogges which all tenants except the seven remaining at Newland were required to attend; the king's bailiff held an annual view of frankpledge for the de Gardinis moiety, which presumably continued until the manor was reunited. (fn. 86) The exemption for Newland tenants evidently disappeared with the original tenancies, and by the 16th century Cogges and Newland comprised separate tithings; the court then met once or twice a year, usually around April and October. Business in the 17th century still included copyhold grants as well as regulation of agricultural affairs and appointment of officers. (fn. 87) The court still met in the mid 18th century, but may have lapsed soon after. (fn. 88)

Manorial officers in the 17th century included, besides the two tithingmen, a constable and a hayward, (fn. 89) and by 1740 there were also three grass stewards; (fn. 90) in 1601 the court agreed that the constable should be allowed one yardland quit of all payments to the Crown except subsidies and fifteenths. (fn. 91) Officers were usually newly elected at each court session, although in the early 18th century the lord of the manor pressed the court to replace a constable who had served too long; by the late 18th century constables and tithingmen generally served for several years. (fn. 92) There were 2 surveyors of the highways by the early 17th century and until the late 19th, when they were appointed by the vestry; (fn. 93) in 1700 they spent 53s. on repairs for which a tax was levied, which most of the inhabitants refused to pay. (fn. 94) From 1865 a single waywarden was appointed. (fn. 95)

There were two churchwardens by 1530, one appointed by the vicar and one by the parish; in 1887 there were also two sidesmen. (fn. 96) In 1623 the wardens' income included c. 5s. 'for the farm', and several smaller, unspecified payments; they were then apparently responsible for relief of vagrants. (fn. 97) There were two overseers by the early 17th century. (fn. 98) In the early 18th both were elected annually, but from 1786 they usually served two terms, one retiring each year. In 1734 and 1801 there were women overseers. (fn. 99)

The overseers' expenditure fluctuated considerably, from £104 in 1719 to only £30 in 1723; the 1719 total included items such as apprenticeship, and expenditure during the earlier 18th century was usually below the £60 spent in 1776. In 1783-5 an average of £101 was spent, and in 1803 £392 or c. £1 3s. per head of population, one of the highest rates for the area; in 1801-2, exceptionally, over £475 (c. £1 7s. a head) was said to have been spent. (fn. 1) By 1813 the capitation rate was again £1 7s., and in 1818 rose to £2 3s., (fn. 2) probably reflecting both the rising population and increasing mechanization of the Witney woollen industry. (fn. 3) During the 1820s the rate in Cogges, as in Witney, fell sharply to c. 10s., presumably partly due to the establishment of Early's Newland factory; by 1831 the capitation rate was only c. 8s., below the average for the area, and in 1832 the poor rates were claimed to be extremely low. (fn. 4)

In the early 18th century c. 12 people were receiving weekly relief, and c. 1785 regular out-relief was received by c. 15 persons, then as earlier nearly all women and children. (fn. 5) By 1803 there were 23 adults receiving regular weekly payments, and in 1814 there were 36. (fn. 6)

There is no early 18th-century evidence for employment of those without work, and roundsmen or yardlandmen and women were first recorded in 1789, when the parish was supplementing the wages of several people by 2d. a day. The supplement later rose to 4d. or even 1s. 6d., probably the whole wage. In 1800 there were 4 men and 15 women on the round, the latter mostly employed in weeding and hay making, and there were a few payments to people with 'no work'. Later the parish employed paupers on the roads. (fn. 7)

In 1788 the parish set up a workhouse; a building was rented and equipped, and an agreement made to farm the poor at £21 5s. a quarter. The contractor for the first two years was John Rusher of Eynsham, who was farming the poor both there and at Woodstock. From 1796 to 1799 and again 1802-4 the overseers ran the workhouse directly, and the accounts record payments for cheese and potatoes, for meat and bread, and for beer, cabbage, peas, and beans, together with seeds and plants for the workhouse garden. More usually the workhouse was farmed to a succession of contractors at up to £27 10s. a quarter, although in 1800 the contractor was given a special allowance of c. £17 'in consideration of the exorbitant price of provisions', and by 1809 he was receiving c. £20 a month. In 1801 there were 16 people in the workhouse at a cost of 5s. a head per week, and in 1803 there were 13, but no workhouse inmates were recorded for 1813 or thereafter. (fn. 8)

In the mid 1780s unspecified materials to employ the poor cost over £5, and in 1786 Mr. Luckett, a Witney blanket weaver, was paid £4 10s. for 18 packs of work for the poor. In 1795 nearly £15 was earned for work done in the workhouse. By 1802 flax was being bought and spinning was done both in the workhouse and at 'Mr. Turner's', presumably High Cogges Farm or one of its appurtenant cottages. (fn. 9) A 'double handed' spinning wheel and up to 15 other spinning wheels were bought, and nearly £19 was earned by the sale of linen cloth; (fn. 10) only £6 14s. was said to have been spent on materials to employ the poor in 1803, however, and £13 was earned in the workhouse. (fn. 11) In 1803-4 £24 was received for cloth, but there is no later evidence of receipts for spinning and weaving, perhaps reflecting increasing mechanization in the Witney textile industry. (fn. 12)

In the 18th century and early 19th the overseers made payments towards clothes, rent, funeral expenses, and alms to travellers, as well as on nursing and doctors' bills. In 1796 Mr. Birdseye was paid 10s. 6d. for 'attending on the Small Pox House', the only known reference to a pest house. (fn. 13)

From 1834 Cogges formed part of Witney poor law union, and later of Witney rural district. In 1974 it became part of West Oxford-shire District. (fn. 14)


  • 84. Sir C. Hatton's Bk. of Seals, no. 114.
  • 85. Cal. Chart. R. 1226-57, 264, 270; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 867; above, Econ.
  • 86. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 867-8; above, Intro.; Manors.
  • 87. Bodl. MS. d.d. Harcourt c 125/1; ibid. MS. Top. Oxon. c 769, ff. 6v., 22, 33v.; ibid. MSS. North adds. c 2, c 7.
  • 88. Ibid. MSS. d.d. Harcourt b 4/1, ff. 36-50; c 125/3.
  • 89. Ibid. c 125/1.
  • 90. Ibid. b 4/1, ff. 37, 40, 50.
  • 91. Ibid. MS. North adds. c 2, f. 97v.
  • 92. Ibid. MS. d.d. Harcourt c 125/1; c 125/7; O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges b 1.
  • 93. O.R.O., MSS. d.d. Par. Cogges c 6, item a; c 11, item a; c 7, ff. 44v., 59, 61v.
  • 94. Ibid. QSR Trin. 1701.
  • 95. Ibid. MSS. d.d. Par. Cogges c 7, f. 63; c 5.
  • 96. Visit. Dioc. Linc. ii (L.R.S. xxxv), 56; Protestation Returns, 78; O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges c 5, ff. 4v., 8 and v.
  • 97. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges c 6, item a.
  • 98. Ibid. c 6, item a; b 1-2.
  • 99. Ibid. b 1-2, passim
  • 1. Ibid., which records, however, only £253 spent in 1802-3 and £345 in 1803-4; Poor Abstract, 1804, p. 406. Those and later figures may also cover Wilcote: cf. below, Wilcote, Local Govt.
  • 2. Poor Abstract, 1818, p. 358.
  • 3. Above, Intro.; Econ.; A. Plummer and C. Early, Blanket Makers, 48-71.
  • 4. Poor Rate Returns, H.C. 556, p. 138 (1822), v; H.C. 334 Suppl. App. p. 173 (1825), iv; H.C. 83, p. 161 (1830-1), xi; H.C. 444, p. 156 (1835), xlvii; Oxf. Jnl. 29 Sept. 1832; above, Econ.
  • 5. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges b 1-2.
  • 6. Poor Abstract, 1804, pp. 406-7; 1818, p. 358-9.
  • 7. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges b 2, s.a. 1800.
  • 8. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges b 1-2; Poor Abstract, 1804,, pp. 406-7; Poor Abstract, 1818, pp. 358-9; below, Eynsham, Local Govt.; Woodstock, Local Govt.
  • 9. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges b 2, s.a. 1802; cf. Bodl. MS. d.d. Harcourt b 39, lease 1803, survs.
  • 10. Poor Abstract, 1787, p. 656; O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges b 2.
  • 11. Poor Abstract, 1804, pp. 406-7.
  • 12. O.R.O., MS. d.d. Par. Cogges b 2.
  • 13. Ibid. s.a. 1796.
  • 14. Ibid. RO 3251, pp. 201-3; RO 3267.