Standlake: Local government

Pages 195-197

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 13, Bampton Hundred (Part One). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1996.

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A court for the Mauduits' quarter of Standlake manor was mentioned in 1254, when the lord of one of the other quarters owed suit there. (fn. 1) In 1279 all four lords claimed pillory, tumbrel, and assize of bread and ale, and in 1285 gallows, (fn. 2) but no such liberties were recorded later, and in the 17th century the lord of Bampton, as lord of the hundred, held a Michaelmas court and view of frankpledge at Standlake in September or October and enforced the assize of ale. (fn. 3) Separate courts baron, held by lords of each of the quarters throughout the Middle Ages and by Magdalen College following the manor's reunification, met in the 14th and 15th centuries once or twice a year, in the later 16th century usually every other year, and in the 18th century sometimes less frequently; in the 15th and 16th centuries they issued field orders, but from the mid 17th century they dealt almost exclusively with copyholds, sometimes at special interim sessions. (fn. 4) A general court baron was recorded in 1847, but thereafter individual copyhold grants only, the last in 1882. (fn. 5) The lord of Bampton's Michaelmas court and view, which issued field orders in the later 17th century, (fn. 6) continued probably until the earlier 19th century. (fn. 7) A court house, apparently on Standlake High Street, was mentioned from the 15th century to the 17th, but all or part was usually let to tenants, (fn. 8) and in the late 18th century courts were said to have met formerly in the Chequers inn. (fn. 9)

Tenants in Standlake and Brittenton, the part of Brighthampton within Standlake manor and parish, (fn. 10) formed a single homage. In 1536 a court baron appointed officers to enforce fishing and field orders, (fn. 11) but officers in the mid 17th century were elected at the lord of Bampton's Standlake court, when they included a constable for Standlake and another for Brittenton, tithingmen for each of the quarters of the manor, a field warden, and two inspectors of carcasses. (fn. 12) In 1622 the constable of Standlake received 15s. rent towards highway repairs, apparently a temporary expedient. (fn. 13)

Brighthampton tenants of Hardwick manor attended that manor's courts and views of frankpledge from the Middle Ages to the later 19th century; by the 16th century they belonged to a different tithing from the Hardwick tenants. Officers included a constable for the part of Brighthampton within Hardwick manor and Bampton parish, elected annually until 1842, and a hayward with shared jurisdiction over Standlake common, whose office continued after inclosure. (fn. 14)

For civil and parochial purposes the part of Brighthampton within Bampton parish was administered independently, raising its own rates and presumably electing its own officers, though no overseer was mentioned in 1642. Probably in the 15th century and still in the late 19th Brighthampton appointed a chapelwarden for Shifford chapel. (fn. 15) Brittenton was administered with Standlake. (fn. 16) Two churchwardens for Standlake were recorded from 1530 and two collectors or overseers from 1642, (fn. 17) and in the earlier 19th century there were two surveyors of highways, who seem usually to have contracted out road repairs. (fn. 18) In the later 19th century Standlake vestry appointed a waywarden, 2 overseers, 2 churchwardens, 3 allotment wardens, and 2 assessors, and nominated constables to the magistrates. (fn. 19) Grass stewards, recorded from c. 1775 until inclosure, were said in 1852 to be appointed annually at parish meetings; there were then 4 for Standlake, presumably including Brittenton, and 2 for Brighthampton, with shared responsibility for Standlake common. Duties included repair of gates and fences, drainage, provision of powder and shot for birdscaring, and provision, with the rector, of town bulls; their income included rents from small meadows and commons, and profits from sale of bushes and scrub after haining. Occasionally the grass stewards appointed herdsmen. (fn. 20)

At inclosure responsibility for cleaning ditches and watercourses and maintaining some private roads passed to the newly established Standlake Drainage Board, financed by annual rates. (fn. 21) In 1938 chief responsibility for the area passed under the Land Drainage Act of 1930 to the Thames Conservancy Catchment Board, though in the 1940s the Standlake Board retained limited powers over roads, bridges, and minor ditches. (fn. 22) A resident police constable was recorded from 1861, and c. 1930 a police office was built near the school. (fn. 23) A pair of 'parish' stocks remained at the Green until c. 1927, when their use was still remembered. (fn. 24)

Claims in the early 17th century that the parish was overburdened with poor prompted a petition to the justices of assize. (fn. 25) In 1775-6 Standlake spent £104 on poor relief, in 1783-5 an average of £158, and in 1803 £267 or c. 9s. per head of population, a relatively low figure. By 1813 expenditure was £579 or c. 20s. per head, rising to c. 29s. in 1819. It fell to 12s, in 1824, rose again in the later 1820s, and in 1834 was 19s. per head. A rented workhouse with accommodation for 14 inmates in 1775 was re-established in 1781, when the poor were chiefly employed spinning wool for a Witney factory; it had closed by 1803, when 31 adults and 4 children received permanent out relief and 12 received occasional relief. Under £2 was spent on setting the poor to work in 1775-6, and c. £5 in 1802-3. By 1813 there were 36 adults on permanent and 10 on occasional relief, and 18 adults were relieved permanently and 14 occasionally in 1815. (fn. 26)

A select vestry to oversee poor relief, established in 1819, continued until 1834, with 8-10 annually elected members usually including the curate and leading farmers. (fn. 27) Besides authorizing weekly and extraordinary payments in money, clothing, or kind it confronted rising unemployment, ruling in 1819 that all inhabitants should employ labourers in proportion to their rates, and the same year distributing 20 labourers among the ratepayers by ballot. (fn. 28) A supervisor of those put to work on the roads received 6s. a week, and in 1820 action was taken against labourers allegedly leaving the roads or gravel pits to purloin firewood. (fn. 29) Inhabitants supplementing their income by spinning hemp were to be employed by the overseers whenever hemp could not be supplied, and were to receive additional allowances for carriage of hemp. (fn. 30) A new workhouse was established c. 1820 at the south of Rack End, adjoining or incorporating existing parish cottages, and a governor and two guardians were appointed; nothing is known of its operation and at its sale in 1840 it had long been let as 5 separate cottages. (fn. 31) In 1824 the vestry appointed an assistant overseer on a salary of £20, and the same year vaccinated those potentially chargeable to the parish. (fn. 32) From 1820 the vestry ceased paying rents or supplying beer at pauper funerals, (fn. 33) and weekly allowances, then 7s. a week for a man and wife and 1s. 6d. for each child, were reduced to 5s. 6d. and 1s. 3d. respectively by 1824. (fn. 34) From 1825 relief was denied to anyone keeping a dog. (fn. 35)

Brighthampton spent only £16 on poor relief in 1775-6 and an average of c. £18 in 1783-5. In the earlier 19th century capitation was usually lower than in Standlake and Brittenton, 14s. in 1814 and, exceptionally, 6s. in 1815. By 1819 it had risen to c. 26s. but declined during the early 1820s, rising again to c. 20s. in 1828. In 1834 it was 14s., and total expenditure was £78. Eight adults and 6 children received regular out relief in 1802-3, and between 8 and 10 adults in 1813-15; there was no occasional relief, and no workhouse. (fn. 36)

After 1834 Standlake and Brighthampton belonged to Witney union, and from 1894 to Witney rural district. In 1974 they became part of West Oxfordshire district. (fn. 37)


  • 1. Oxon. Fines, 170-1.
  • 2. Bampton Hund. R. 66-70 (translating tumberellum as stocks); Giles, Hist Bampton, 132; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii. 702.
  • 3. Longleat House (Wilts.), NMR 3315; cf. B.L. Add. MS. 27535, f. 45; P.R.O., E 317/Oxon./1, f. 2; above, Bampton hundred.
  • 4. For lists of ct. rolls, C. M. Woolgar, 'Cat. Estate Archives of Magd. Coll.' (TS. 1981), i. 261 sqq., 337-8: copy in Bodl. R. Top. 68oa; cf. Magd. Coll. Mun., EP 14/22, EP 15/10, EP 15/12; P.R.O., SC 2/209/57, SC 6/961/19; ibid. C 133/108, no. 6; C 135/120, no. 11; B.L. Harl. Roll 1.15.
  • 5. Magd. Coll. Mun., ct. bk. 82, ff. 75 sqq.
  • 6. Longleat House, NMR 3315.
  • 7. Arundel Castle, MS. TP 100; above, Bampton hundred.
  • 8. Magd. Coll. Mun., EP 18/1, EP 25/12, EP 31/6, EP 88/19; cf. ibid. EP 31/10, s.v. Rob. Harres.
  • 9. O.R.O., P4/2/MS 1/5, f. 11.
  • 10. Above, intro.
  • 11. Magd. Coll. Mun., EP 85/43.
  • 12. Longleat House, NMR 3315, cts. 1670-2; cf. Protestation Rtns, and Tax Assess, 1, 27.
  • 13. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 118, f. 10 and v.
  • 14. P.R.O., SC 2/197/43; St. John's Coll. Mun. XI.11-22 (ct. bks. 1606-1878); Magd. Coll. Mun., D-Y 447; Protestation Rtns. and Tax Assess. 9; above, Ducklington, local govt.
  • 15. D. & C. Exeter, MS. 6016/8, notes re division of Bampton par. c. 1845; Protestation Rtns. and Tax Assess. 9; above, Bampton: Shifford, local govt.
  • 16. e.g. O.R.O., PAR 248/2/A 1/1; PAR 248/5/A 4/1.
  • 17. Visit. Dioc. Linc. ii. 49; Protestation Rtns. and Tax Assess, 1, 27.
  • 18. O.R.O., QS/1813 Mic.; ibid. PAR 248/2/A 1/1, ff. 43 and v., 45 sqq.
  • 19. Ibid. PAR 248/2/A 1/1, ff. 59v. sqq.; Standlake Par. Mag. 1877-9, passim: copy in Bodl. Per. G.A. Oxon. 8° 666.
  • 20. O.R.O., PAR 248/8/A 1/1, passim; Magd. Coll. Mun., D-Y 447.
  • 21. St. John's Coll. Mun., XVII.58, XVII.69; cf. Act to Extend Provisions of the Act for Incl. of Commons, 11 12 Vic. c. 99.
  • 22. St. John's Coll. Mun., EST. I. N, various subjects III, 126 (corresp, 1921-49), ff. 26 sqq.
  • 23. P.R.O., RG 9/905, no. 128; O.R.O., P4/1/MS 3/4, f. 18Q; Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1899 and later edns.); O.S. Map 1/2,500, SP 3803-3903 (1971 edn.).
  • 24. O.R.O., P4/1/MS 3/4, f. 24Q.
  • 25. Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 118, ff. 2, 4.
  • 26. Poor Abstract, 1777, p. 140; 1787, p. 188; 1804, pp. 398-9; 1818, pp. 352-3; Poor Rate Returns, H.C. 556, p. 135 (1822), v; H.C. 334, p. 170 (1825), iv; H.C.. 83, p. 157 (1830-1), xi; H.C. 444, p. 153 (1835), xlvii; Oxf. Jnl. Synopsis, 1 Dec. 1781, 20 July 1782.
  • 27. O.R.O., PAR 248/2/A 1/1, passim.
  • 28. Ibid. f. 4v.
  • 29. Ibid. ff. 4v.-5; cf. ibid. ff. 7, 38v.
  • 30. Ibid. f. 9v.
  • 31. Ibid. ff. 7v.-8, 9v., 41v.-42v.; Bodl. MS. Top. Oxon. c 768/1-2, no. 73; cf. below, charities, s.v. Crouch.
  • 32. O.R.O., PAR 248/2/A 1/1, f. 18 and v.
  • 33. Ibid. ff. 6v.-7.
  • 34. Ibid. ff. 7v., 17v.
  • 35. Ibid. f. 20.
  • 36. Poor Abstract, 1777, p. 140; 1787, p. 188; 1804, pp. 398-9; 1818, pp. 352-3; Poor Rate Returns, H.C. 556, p. 135 (1822), v; H.C. 334, p. 170 (1825), iv; H.C. 83, p. 157 (1830-1), xi; H.C. 444, p. 153 (1835), xlvii.
  • 37. O.R.O., RO 3251, pp. 201-3; RO 3267.