Witney borough: Local government

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 14, Bampton Hundred (Part Two). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2004.

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'Witney borough: Local government', in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 14, Bampton Hundred (Part Two), (London, 2004) pp. 111-130. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/oxon/vol14/pp111-130 [accessed 1 March 2024]

In this section


Seignorial Jurisdiction and Borough Courts

Borough Autonomy

By the mid 13th century bishops of Winchester had secured wide-ranging liberties within their estates, including freedom from toll, murage, and attendance at shire or hundred courts; the right to distrain and to receive fines and forfeited goods usually belonging to the king; and the right to deliver and return royal writs, the king's officers being forbidden entry into the bishop's manors except in connection with Crown pleas. (fn. 1) In 1284 the bishop procured excommunication against unnamed 'malefactors' said to have infringed his liberties at Witney, suggesting that not all such rights went unchallenged; (fn. 2) the same year, however, he received royal confirmations of Forest and other rights, and most franchises seem to have continued throughout the later Middle Ages. (fn. 3)

Within Witney manor the bishop's liberties and manorial rights were exercised by his bailiff or steward through the courts baron and a twice-yearly tourn or view of frankpledge, which continued for the rural townships following the borough's foundation. (fn. 4) A separate borough court, sometimes called a portmoot, was established probably before 1208, but the town was never granted a corporation and remained a seignorial borough subject to the lord's jurisdiction, administered at first by officers appointed in the borough court, and from the 17th century governed increasingly through the parish vestry. Its status as a parliamentary borough was short-lived, (fn. 5) and despite its court, burgages, market, and fairs, (fn. 6) in the 13th and 14th centuries it was often called a vill, and was usually so taxed: (fn. 7) from the 1330s only in manorial documents was it consistently called burgus, chiefly to distinguish it from the 'upland' or rural part of Witney manor. (fn. 8) In important respects townsmen remained answerable to the bishop. The town bailiffs accounted to him throughout the Middle Ages for borough income from rent, courts, markets, and fairs, and although from the 14th century they received the tolls and apparently the borough rents directly, usually for a fixed sum, only occasionally (in 1225–6, 1231–2, and 1247–8) did they briefly farm the whole borough. (fn. 9) Jurisdiction over certain offences was theoretically reserved to the bishop, (fn. 10) and like the rural townships the borough owed 'recognition' or 'knowledge' money at each new bishop's installation. (fn. 11)

Nevertheless, Witney townspeople enjoyed a degree of circumscribed self-government. No borough charter survives, but in 1248 privileges granted to Farnham (Surrey), said in 1256 to be those enjoyed by the bishop's burgesses in Witney and elsewhere, included holding their own court before their own freely elected bailiffs, freedom from attendance at the bishop's court except for the lawdays held twice a year, receipt of tolls from fairs and of fines from the assizes of bread and ale, and the right to issue summonses. (fn. 12) The charter accords with more limited evidence from Witney, where by possibly 1210 and certainly 1220 the burgesses annually elected two 'reeves' (called bailiffs from the early 15th century), (fn. 13) and where by the mid 13th century the borough court exercised standard jurisdiction over minor public-order offences and trade regulation. (fn. 14) In 1279 the burgesses were exempt from payment of toll, passage-money, and murage, (fn. 15) and by 1446 the bailiffs delivered royal writs within the town (fn. 16) and presumably, as later, administered the market and fair, (fn. 17) liberties still staunchly defended in the early 17th century. (fn. 18) The borough had a common seal by probably the late 13th century, (fn. 19) and occasionally the borough community seems to have acted together. (fn. 20)

By the 16th and early 17th century, when for a time the manor was let to local gentry closely involved with the town, the borough court exercised broad jurisdiction with relatively little outside interference. In the mid 17th century, however, the borough court was superseded by the lord's twice-yearly lawday, and in 1748 a claim that that remaining court belonged to the borough officers rather than to the lord was overturned. (fn. 21) Sporadic attempts at borough incorporation during the 17th century came to nothing, though from 1711 the cloth industry secured economic self-regulation through the newly founded Blanket Weavers' Company. (fn. 22) By then, however, vestry government was increasingly superseding manorial institutions in Witney, to be itself succeeded by new local bodies from 1863. (fn. 23)

Medieval Courts

By the early 14th century the borough court or small portmoot met usually around 6–12 times a year on a Wednesday or Friday, and the two tourns, lawdays, or great portmoots for the borough on a Monday near Hockday and Michaelmas. (fn. 24) The pattern was established presumably during the early 13th century: in 1208–9 the borough, as a separate tithing, paid 20s. probably for exemption from attendance at the bishop's manor court, (fn. 25) and by 1218–19 court income from the borough was separately accounted for. (fn. 26) Portmoots were explicitly noted by 1305, probably reflecting long-established practice. (fn. 27) Business in the 13th and early 14th century, besides grants of holdings, included prosecutions for unclean meat, for breaches of the assizes of bread and ale, of outsiders for selling merchandise without the bailiffs' leave, and for affray and false hue, together with concords, settlement of debt cases, and suppression of nuisances; (fn. 28) in the early 14th century assize of bread and ale seems sometimes to have been enforced by the royal justices, for reasons which are not clear. (fn. 29) Total income from fines and other dues was usually over 30s. a year until the 1480s, when profits fell sharply, (fn. 30) but the absence of records before the 16th century (fn. 31) precludes more detailed knowledge of the courts' functions and scale of business. The town was divided into wards, the equivalent of rural tithings, by the late 13th century, (fn. 32) and in the 16th century there were five. Paternoster and East wards lay respectively west and east of Church Green and the market place, West ward west of High Street and along Corn Street, Middle Ward along the rest of High Street, and North ward, otherwise the Ward beyond or beneath the bridge, along Bridge Street and West End. (fn. 33)

Courts from the 16th Century

In the 16th and early 17th century the borough court met in the town hall usually every 4–6 weeks. (fn. 34) The town bailiffs, sometimes called magistrates or masters of the borough, presided and gave judgement in the presence of fellow officers and leading townsmen; there was no jury, and since attendance (unlike at the lawday) was not compulsory, sometimes only the bailiffs and other officers were present, despite occasional attempts to fine absentees. In the later 16th century the lord's steward sometimes attended presumably to protect the lord's interests, but had no formal role. Business still included transfer of unenfranchised holdings according to borough custom, the equivalent of copyhold transfers in the manor court, with the bailiffs acting as the lord's officers in accepting surrenders and receiving fines. In addition the court regulated baking and brewing, made orders concerning shops and stalls, nuisances, and matters of public health, dealt with minor breaches of the peace, and, in cooperation with justices of the peace, licensed and regulated alehouses. Apprenticeship indentures were also enrolled in the court, voluntarily since the town was unincorporated. The court's other chief function was settlement of small claims: around a hundred cases a decade were heard in the early and mid 16th century and around 300 by the early 17th, with many litigants coming from outside the borough. The court could force defendants' attendance through distraint, but could not arrest offenders since it was not a court of record. (fn. 35) By then borough officers had the right to dispose of at least some of the income from fines: those for non-attendance were apportioned in 1560 for repair of houses belonging to the borough, and those for Sunday trading were given to the poor-box in 1579. (fn. 36)

The two annual tourns or lawdays, possibly already held in the town hall as later, (fn. 37) were the lord's court leet or view of frankpledge for the borough, to which all borough tenants were summoned and at which wardsmen, other town officers, and a jury of fifteen reported transgressions. In the 16th century the tourns, like the borough court, oversaw the assizes of bread and ale, inspected meat, and dealt with nuisances and breaches of the peace; sometimes the tourns and borough court reinforced each other's rulings. (fn. 38) From the mid 17th century the tourn, by then held only once a year in October, superseded the moribund borough court and took over many of its functions, a development in line with a general decline in such local courts, but perhaps also reflecting centralization by Witney's new lords: from 1654, soon after William Lenthall's purchase of the manor, bailiffs and other town officers were sworn in at the lawday, and from 1661, when Sir Henry Hyde acquired the lease, all officers were appointed there, the borough court having apparently lapsed. (fn. 39) In the 1730s and 1740s the bailiffs claimed that the surviving court was theirs and not the lord's, prompting collection of affidavits in preparation for a hearing before the king's bench; in 1748 they abandoned the case, (fn. 40) and until its abolition in 1926 the court continued as the lord's annual 'court moot and portmoot for the borough', meeting in the town hall usually in October. (fn. 41)

Besides electing officers the court leet continued to regulate the market, inspect food and drink suppliers, and suppress nuisances: only once, in 1653, did it apparently deal with a debt case. (fn. 42) Obstructions were systematically recorded until 1831, but the same details were often repeated over several years and the court's effectiveness was presumably already in decline, as its functions were gradually appropriated by other bodies. (fn. 43) In 1715, with the vestry and overseers, it appointed a bellman, and as late as 1902 it banned hawking ice-cream sellers; by then, however, it usually propagated only standard rules concerning the market, loose horses, pig-killing, and dumping in the streets, all of which had long been more effectively policed by the town's local board and urban district council. (fn. 44) By 1871 its proceedings were largely 'quaint and formal', though 25 inhabitants attended the session and appointment of officers continued. (fn. 45)

Borough Officers

Officers appointed in the borough court in the 16th century, besides the two bailiffs and five wardsmen, included two constables, two cardenars or meatinspectors, and two ale-tasters; a bread-taster was mentioned in 1589, and a bread-weigher in 1607. Two cloth-searchers or sealers and, from the 1540s, two leather-sealers reflected national legislation. Two chamberlains, reduced to one from the 1570s, received borough income, and throughout the 16th and early 17th century a serjeant attended the court, collected fines and sometimes money for poor relief, and issued distraints, though his appointment by the court was not recorded. From 1583 to 1608 the court also appointed overseers, responsibility passing thereafter to the vestry. A town crier and bellman gave notice of court sessions, and Richard Brice (d. 1596), keeper and scribe of the court books for 35 years, called himself town clerk, though no such post officially existed. All such officers were ordinary townsmen, the trade-officers being usually chosen for their professional expertise, and though formally re-appointed every year they sometimes served for long periods. A local shoemaker was leather-sealer during the 1560s and 1570s, while the clothier Nicholas Gunn was cloth-searcher from the 1570s to 1590s. (fn. 46)

Following the borough court's disappearance around the mid 17th century the annual court leet continued to appoint two bailiffs, two constables, and five wardsmen, later called tithingmen, as well as two ale-tasters, two cardenars, two leather-sealers, and, by the 1660s, two clerks of the market. In the early 18th century it still appointed a bellman or beadle with police powers, though responsibility was by then shared with the vestry. (fn. 47) Appointment of peace officers ceased in 1842 following the Parish Constables Act, though until 1925 the court continued to appoint a constable for administrative and ceremonial purposes: in 1871 the appointee served also as hayward, fish- and flesh-taster, clerk of the market, and town crier. (fn. 48)

Town Bailiffs The principal office, that of reeve or bailiff, was held from the Middle Ages by leading townsmen. Appointments were made annually, apparently at the borough court and, from the 1650s, at the Michaelmas court leet; in the early 19th century bailiffs nominated their successors to the steward and were by then sworn in at the Quarter Sessions, (fn. 49) but earlier procedures are not recorded. Thirteenth-century reeves, who together received a 3s. rent-allowance, (fn. 50) included members of the prominent Standlake, Abingdon, and Hering families, of whom some held office more than once, while late 15th-century successors included the wealthy woolman Thomas Fermor alias Ricards (d. 1485) and members of the Box family. (fn. 51) Bailiffs in the 16th century were business- or tradespeople from around forty leading families, of whom some held office up to seven or eight times, though not consecutively. By then there was some progression through the offices, with constables and chamberlains (though not wardsmen) often becoming bailiffs: thus the clothier Philip Box (d. 1593), constable in 1550, was bailiff seven times between 1553 and 1589, while the draper Thomas Clempson was chamberlain in 1563 and bailiff in 1566. (fn. 52) Eighteenth-century bailiffs similarly included leading gentry and tradespeople, though by then few, if any, served more than twice, deterred probably by the expense. (fn. 53) Their only income was rent from a 'town house' adjoining the town hall, confirmed to them in the early 17th century, supplemented by quitrents worth 2s. 10d. (fn. 54)

Bailiffs accounted for borough income to the bishop, witnessed property grants, (fn. 55) and presumably presided in the borough court and acted as clerks of the market. By the 16th century they nominated chamberlains and possibly other officers, and generally defended both the town's and the bishop's liberties against encroachment, in theory serving royal writs, and evidently authorizing seizure of felons' goods. (fn. 56) From the early 16th century they became increasingly involved in poor relief and charity administration, and continued as joint or sole trustees of several town charities long after the vestry's assumption of poor-law administration during the 17th century. Often they acted together with parish officers, (fn. 57) as when the bailiffs, overseers, churchwardens, and others provided a character testimonial to the justices in 1701. (fn. 58) By the 18th century and probably earlier they were also assuming ceremonial functions: celebrations in 1763 included a procession at which the bailiffs 'wore their white bands', (fn. 59) and by then they had a mace used at the election of officers and inscribed with bailiffs' names. (fn. 60) An annual bailiffs' feast or 'inauguratory dinner', held in the town hall by the 1580s probably at Michaelmas, continued in the early 20th century, when it was held at the Marlborough Hotel in September or October. (fn. 61)

In the early 19th century the office was said to be largely nominal, the chief duties being suppression of nuisances and transportation of prisoners to Oxford at the bailiffs' cost. That, together with the traditional dinner, reportedly left them much out of pocket, causing one former bailiff, an innkeeper, to remark that he would 'take care never to serve it more'. (fn. 62) In the early 20th century the bailiffs retained 'a certain civic precedence', together with responsibility for the town hall and Butter Cross and continuing involvement in town charities, though their unrepresentative nature was becoming controversial. (fn. 63) The office lapsed following the extinction of the borough court moot in 1926, when the bailiffs' remaining functions passed to parish officers and to the urban district council. (fn. 64)

Parish Government

The Vestry to c. 1830

An assembly of lay parishioners, including representatives from the three rural townships, existed probably throughout the Middle Ages, and presumably appointed and oversaw the churchwardens recorded from the late 15th century. (fn. 65) By the 1560s leading inhabitants met once a year around Easter to elect churchwardens and to audit their accounts, the assembly being officially called a vestry by the mid 17th century; (fn. 66) from the 1570s the meeting also elected supervisors of highways for Witney and for the rural townships, and became increasingly involved in poor relief, gradually taking over functions discharged in the earlier 16th century by the bailiffs and the borough court. (fn. 67) Secular business relating to the rural townships was gradually transferred to separate assemblies in Hailey, Crawley, and Curbridge, which by the late 18th century administered their own poor relief and appointed secular officers; (fn. 68) in the 19th century the townships nevertheless remained liable for repair of Witney church, and still attended Witney's Easter vestry, which continued to appoint churchwardens and to oversee their expenditure. (fn. 69)

The Witney vestry was increasingly dominated by administration of the town's own poor relief, which from the late 18th century was separately recorded. Other functions before the 1830s included road-repair, and increasing responsibility for public health and policing. (fn. 70) Meetings at times other than Easter, held occasionally in the 17th century and possibly earlier, (fn. 71) became more frequent as the burden of poor-law administration increased: in 1798 there were at least five full vestries as well as meetings of ad hoc committees, and in 1807 there were ten. By then a small committee met weekly to assist the churchwardens and overseers. (fn. 72)

The vestry, run by the same leading townsmen who dominated its other institutions, was not always well attended. Those present at the first recorded vestry in 1569 included, besides 'diverse other parishioners', nine prominent clothiers, drapers, and other tradesmen all active in the borough court, among them the two serving bailiffs (Philip Box and Peter Rankell) and members of the Yate, Jones, and Bishop families. In the late 16th century and the 17th incumbents also attended regularly, and in 1663 a special meeting was attended by 19 named people including the rector, vicar, and parish officers. (fn. 73) Minutes in the late 18th and early 19th century were signed by sometimes up to 25 or 30 inhabitants, but more often by only 9–15, while some special meetings were inquorate and had to be adjourned. By then the vestry was largely dominated by leading professionals, manufacturers, and tradespeople such as the Batts, Colliers, Marriotts, Druces, and Shuffreys, though lists of signatories varied from meeting to meeting. (fn. 74) A Quaker served as overseer in 1802, suggesting that relations with Nonconformists were generally amicable, (fn. 75) although there were occasional disputes later in the century over church rates and, in the 1850s, over the new municipal cemetery. (fn. 76) In the early 19th century the curate John Hyde (d. 1838) attended frequently, and, as a justice of the peace, exercised additional influence both over appointments and over poor relief, subsequently serving as chairman of the Witney Union board of guardians. (fn. 77)

Some meetings in the 18th and 19th centuries, notably those at Easter, continued to be held in the parish church, though others were held in the town hall or in local inns such as the Lamb, the Staple Hall, and the King's Arms. A vestry- or committee-room in the workhouse on Corn Street was mentioned in 1798, when parish accounts were kept there for safe-keeping; vestries met there once in 1812, and possibly in 1819. (fn. 78)

Churchwardens and Other Parish Officers

In 1569 and the 1580s there were apparently only two churchwardens for the whole parish, though in 1573 there were five including three for the town; in 1593 there were again only two, assisted by three sidesmen. From the early 17th century there were usually two churchwardens and two sidesmen for Witney, other wardens being elected for the rural townships. (fn. 79) The appointment of Witney sidesmen seems to have lapsed during the 19th century but was resumed in 1886, by which time the vestry also elected two sidesmen for the recently built Holy Trinity church at Woodgreen. From the 1890s the number of sidesmen was further increased, reaching 14 by 1902. (fn. 80) Neither the Witney nor the township churchwardens had any independent endowment, their income in the 16th century and still in the early 19th coming chiefly from church rates, supplemented by fees for bell-ringing and burials. Rates from the townships, though separately assessed and collected, were combined with those from the town at the annual auditing, and expenditure on outlying chapels built in the 18th and early 19th centuries required authorization by Witney vestry, prompting protracted disputes with the inhabitants and churchwardens of the townships during the 1830s and 1840s. (fn. 81)

The Witney churchwardens were chiefly concerned with church repair, though in the late 16th century they had responsibility for some town as well as church goods, including brass pots, iron racks, platters, and table-cloths, which were kept in the town hall and used at the bailiffs' annual feast. A 'blue streamer with a golden lion', mentioned in 1580 and sold the following year, was presumably a church or civic banner. (fn. 82) Joint responsibility for town charities increasingly involved the churchwardens in poor relief, (fn. 83) and in the late 18th century and early 19th they made small payments for digging gravel, for repairs to railings and a drain at Church Green, for rubbish-clearing, and for repair of a padlock in the shambles, besides regular payments for maintenance of a fire-engine. (fn. 84)

The vestry elected collectors of the poor for the townships from 1613, and two for Witney from 1620, earlier appointments having been made in the borough court. By 1641 there were three overseers for the town, and by the late 18th century there were four, appointed by the justices of the peace out of eight nominees selected by the vestry. (fn. 85) Two supervisors of highways for the town were annually appointed from 1576, becoming increasingly subject to outside authorities and legislation: in 1751 they were ordered by the justices to make a rate for road-repair. (fn. 86) A sexton and a parish clerk, mentioned from the 1630s, were also appointed by the vestry, which in 1663 ruled that payments for ringing the great bell should be shared between them. In 1817 the sexton was responsible for winding the clock and chimes and oversaw bell-ringing, besides maintaining the churchyard and keeping order during services. (fn. 87) Policing of the town seems to have remained chiefly the responsibility of manorial officers until the 18th century, though by then the overseers shared oversight of the town beadle, who may later have been appointed by the vestry. (fn. 88)

Vestry Government from c. 1830

During the 1830s the vestry adopted the Lighting and Watching Act, annually appointing inspectors who were chosen from among leading townspeople, and who raised rates through the overseers. (fn. 89) Officers appointed by the inspectors, besides the beadle, included a local solicitor who served as clerk, possibly Clinch's bank as treasurer, and two surveyors of highways. (fn. 90) During the 1830s and 1840s the inspectors negotiated for supply of street-lighting, probably oversaw paving and scavenging, and in the 1850s approved the building of a new lock-up. (fn. 91)

In 1863 the inspectors were superseded by a new local board established under the Local Government Act of 1858, which assumed most of their functions; (fn. 92) the vestry continued, however, to appoint overseers, church officers, and (from 1855) members of the newly established burial board, and in the early 1890s sought, apparently unsuccessfully, to examine accounts of town charities. In 1895 most of the vestry's residual local government powers were appropriated by the newly established urban district council, and thereafter it dealt almost exclusively with church affairs, though in the late 1890s the UDC required its authorization to extend the municipal cemetery, and in the early 20th century assistant overseers still formally tendered their resignation there. (fn. 93) A special vestry meeting in 1897 to discuss the controversial borough boundary extension was said to have been poorly attended. (fn. 94) A town crier continued until the early 20th century; in the early 1870s the office was held by a former beadle, who also served as clerk of the market. (fn. 95)

Town Government From 1863

In 1863 most of the vestry's civil functions, together with the few residual powers of the moribund manor court, passed to an elected local board established under the 1858 Local Government Act. In 1895, under the Local Government Act of 1894, the board was itself superseded by an elected urban district council with even broader powers, although both were run by the same leading manufacturers, tradesmen, and professionals who had earlier dominated the vestry. Notwithstanding piecemeal accretion of new functions during the 20th century, and the appropriation of others by the county council or other bodies, the arrangement continued essentially unaltered until local government reorganization in 1974. Thereafter Witney retained only a town council, largely divested of powers over planning, health, and roads. (fn. 96)

The urban district created in 1895 was conterminous both with the former borough or township and with the civil parish. Like the civil parish it was extended to incorporate newly built-up areas in 1898, 1932, and the 1960s, (fn. 97) and membership of the urban district council was accordingly increased from nine to ten in 1898, including a chairman and vice-chairman, and to twelve in 1932. (fn. 98) Both the local board and the urban district council met usually every 2–4 weeks, at first in the Corn Exchange, where a room was rented until the building was bought in 1911, and from around 1936 in a council chamber in newly acquired premises at No. 26 Church Green. (fn. 99) Premises off High Street were rented as a depot from the 1870s to 1890s or later, and in 1896 a room in the Blanket Hall was rented as an office for the surveyor. (fn. 100)

The Local Board (1863–95)

The local board comprised nine members of whom three were elected annually. From its inception, members included prominent industrialists, tradesmen, and professionals, both Anglican and Nonconformist: the first board included members of the Batt, Early, Clinch, Long, and Ravenor families, some of whom served several terms, while later members included blanket-manufacturers such as the Smiths and Marriotts, grocers such as the Tarrants, and the Bartletts, local builders. (fn. 101) From 1870 all householders, whether direct or indirect ratepayers, could vote, (fn. 102) and elections were sometimes contentious. (fn. 103)

The board's initial responsibilities, partly inherited from the lighting and watching inspectors whom it replaced, included street-lighting, repair and scavenging of roads, sewage disposal and drainage, water supply, public health, and suppression of nuisances. Members also dealt with encroachments and planning applications, registered lodging houses and slaughter houses, issued games licences and licences for petroleum storage, and from 1870 regulated the market and fairs and collected the tolls, occasionally giving permission for public performances or gatherings in the market place or on Church Green. (fn. 104) After new bylaws were agreed in 1863 the board sometimes prosecuted offenders for repeated transgressions, (fn. 105) and occasionally negotiated with householders for removal of encroachments such as projecting frontages, for which compensation was paid. (fn. 106) Salaried officers were a clerk, a treasurer, and a surveyor responsible for highways, lighting, and sewerage, who also served as inspector of nuisances and rate-collector; from 1870 there was also a toll-collector. (fn. 107) All of them were at first local people, the appointment of an Essex man as surveyor and inspector in 1896 marking a shift towards increased professionalization. (fn. 108) A medical officer of health, a qualified doctor required to make annual reports and to assist with inspections, was appointed from 1873, and from 1879 the board, in its capacity as urban sanitary authority under the 1875 Public Health Act, made joint appointments with the rural sanitary authorities. (fn. 109)

Witney Urban District Council (1895–1974)

From 1895 the newly established urban district council, comprising essentially the same people as its predecessor, extended its powers under the 1894 Act, becoming a burial board with responsibility for the municipal cemetery, (fn. 110) appointing four overseers of the poor and a salaried assistant overseer, (fn. 111) and adopting the powers of a parish council over public property, parish documents, and charities. From 1896 it appointed trustees for charities formerly run by the churchwardens or overseers, and participated in their administration. (fn. 112) Like its predecessor it negotiated contracts with local companies for street lighting, and for gas and (later) electricity supply; from the early 20th century it also ran the new municipal waterworks, and until 1948 the electricity generating station, employing managers, engineers, and staff. (fn. 113) From 1904 it administered the Leys recreation ground, and, later, other recreational facilities including the public baths and library. (fn. 114)

From 1919, under the Housing and Town Planning Act, the council built and administered council houses (chiefly financed from government loans), and from the 1930s, alongside its more general role as local planning authority, it increasingly oversaw slum clearance. (fn. 115) Its public health role also continued, the council liaising with other bodies during the earlier 20th century to provide fire-fighting, ambulance, and hospital provision, appointing a surveyor and sanitary inspector, licensing slaughter houses and inspecting nuisances, and jointly appointing a medical officer of health. (fn. 116) From 1901 it had limited powers over factory conditions, which in 1903 it was said to have exceeded. (fn. 117) Responsibility for main roads was retained under ad hoc arrangements until the early 20th century, Oxfordshire County Council paying an annual contribution which was periodically renegotiated; (fn. 118) in the 1890s Bampton East Highway Board similarly contributed to the upkeep of West End, still partly outside the borough, though the agreement was terminated in 1895 after the highway board refused to increase the payment. (fn. 119) Road safety was a concern by the 1870s, when the local board first issued injunctions against speeding bicycles; street crossings were being provided by the 1890s and warning signs for motor cars by 1905, and in 1919 the council sought imposition of speed limits. (fn. 120) House-numbering and provision of street name-plates were undertaken in the 1890s. (fn. 121)

The council's business was administered by ad hoc committees, most of which became permanent; in 1896 they included finance, bylaws, water-supply, cemetery, and roads committees, and in the 1930s electricity and water committees, a hospital and fire-brigade committee, a housing and public buildings committee, and rating and recreation-ground committees. (fn. 122) Joint committees with other bodies included, in the 1950s, a Witney Area Planning subcommittee, a United Districts Medical Officer of Health committee, and a county fire-brigade committee. (fn. 123) In the mid 1960s the council continued to deal with housing, planning, slumclearance, and new building, as well as with upkeep of minor roads, street lighting, and public health; it appointed a public health inspector and a meat inspector to oversee abattoirs, ran the waterworks and sewage works, and administered the cemetery, along with the Corn Exchange, the town hall, and other municipal grounds and buildings. A medical officer of health was still jointly appointed with the rural district council. (fn. 124) Responsibility for the church clock and chimes was adopted in 1920. (fn. 125)

Both the board's and the UDC's income came chiefly from the general rate, supplemented by government grants or loans for large capital expenditure such as water supply or housing. In 1895–6 the rate yielded around £740; Oxfordshire County Council contributed £400 towards highway repair and £15 towards the cost of the medical officer of health and inspector of nuisances, with another £5 coming from Bampton East Highway Board for West End, and around £24 from market and fair tolls. Expenditure, some £1,460, included salaries (around £70), roads, paving, and scavenging (£685), lighting and gas (£250), sewerage (£54), and rents and general costs (£85). (fn. 126) The boundary extension of 1898, as originally envisaged, would have increased the district's rateable value by up to 50 per cent, which prompted considerable opposition: many affected residents, excluded from existing sewerage and water plans, considered that they were being asked to support the council financially without receiving any benefits. (fn. 127) The eventual extension nevertheless brought in lucrative premises at West End, Woodgreen, and in Curbridge, and in 1903 the rate yielded almost £4,000, annual expenditure including £1,800 in loan instalments and interest in connection with sewerage and water schemes. (fn. 128) In the 1960s the various committees and subcommittees kept separate accounts, income still coming chiefly from rates, housing and other rents, contributions from government and outside bodies, and a few hundred pounds from the market. (fn. 129)

Town Government from 1974

Under local government reorganization in 1974 Witney became part of the new West Oxfordshire District, the district council acquiring most of the disbanded UDC's powers over planning, housing, and public health, while Oxfordshire County Council secured responsibility for highways, street-lighting, and paving. The town retained a town council of twelve (later sixteen) elected members representing four wards, headed by a mayor, and exercising limited responsibility within the former urban district, which became a successor parish with town status. The first mayor defined the council's chief role as providing a link with outside authorities and representing townspeople's views, and essentially its powers were those of an ordinary parish council: it commented on planning issues, and retained control of allotments, burial grounds, and some leisure facilities, besides retaining as ancient property its insignia and some of its muniments, the town hall and Butter Cross (held as a charitable trust), and Langdale Hall. (fn. 130) The Corn Exchange, controversially allotted to the district council for use as offices, was bought back in 1976, following a 1,400-signature petition to return it to public use. (fn. 131) At first the council shared the UDC's former premises at No. 26 Church Green with the district council, to which the building was transferred, but from 1976 the town council used the renovated town-hall chamber and attached offices. (fn. 132) The UDC's former public health inspector became the first part-time town clerk. (fn. 133)

Despite its limited powers the council took an active and sometimes controversial role in the planning issues which dominated Witney from the 1970s, renovating the Corn Exchange and Langdale Hall as social amenities, pressing for development of new shopping and commercial facilities east of High Street, and in the 1990s developing the extensive Witney Lakes and Meadows Park south of the town, on land bought in 1988. (fn. 134) Its income came from reserves and interest, from charges for its services and property, and from non-business rates levied on residents: (fn. 135) in the early 1980s town rates were up to twenty times those in neighbouring rural parishes, prompting controversy in 1984 when boundary changes left new industrial estates outside the town, despite the fact that most workers lived there and were assumed to enjoy its facilities. (fn. 136) Responsibility for recreational areas in new housing estates during the 1980s and 1990s also passed to the town council, enlarging its role. (fn. 137)

Policing and Administration of Justice

Local Jurisdiction

During the Middle Ages franchises enjoyed by the bishop of Winchester as lord of Witney manor included the right to deliver and return royal writs within the borough, to receive the forfeited goods of convicted criminals, and to receive fines arising from Crown pleas involving his tenants. All those rights were exercised on his behalf by the town bailiffs, who answered for resulting income in their annual accounts, (fn. 138) and in the late 16th century or early 17th they still asserted their right to prevent the sheriffs bailiff or Church officers from summonsing people within the town, and to serve such writs themselves. (fn. 139) The names Galloway field and Gib's cross (in Curbridge) may preserve memory of a gibbet, though bishops of Winchester are not known to have had right of gallows at Witney. (fn. 140) Criminals' goods seem sometimes to have been seized by the Crown, (fn. 141) which in 1573 prosecuted two bailiffs for withholding them, (fn. 142) but town bailiffs accounted for forfeited goods in the late 14th and early 15th century (fn. 143) and still claimed the right in the 16th. (fn. 144) Profits of 'green wax', arising from pleas involving Witney tenants heard before the king's justices, yielded sometimes 5–6s. a year in the later 15th century, (fn. 145) and were still leased with the manor in the early 18th. (fn. 146) The bailiffs were evidently responsible for delivering defendants to the king's court, and in 1446 were fined for failing to do so; (fn. 147) in the early 19th century they still bore the cost of conveying prisoners to Oxford. (fn. 148)

Petty crime, including theft, assault, and affray, was dealt with in the borough court or tourn in the 13th and early 14th century, though apparently not, except for minor breaches of the peace, by the 16th, when the court's primary judicial business was settlement of small claims. Jurisdiction over offences punishable by tumbrel (or ducking-stool) and pillory was theoretically reserved for the bishop, (fn. 149) though in the Middle Ages both were administered by the bailiffs, who accounted for their repair: the pillory was renewed in 1219–20 and 1349–50, and a tumbrel in the market place was repaired using the lord's wood in 1329–30 and 1346–7. (fn. 150) Fetters for thieves were bought in 1220–1. (fn. 151)

By the 17th century responsibility for such punishments had passed, as elsewhere, from manorial or town officers to the justices of the peace, but pillory and stocks continued. In 1687 the parish constables confirmed to the justices that stocks, pound, and pillory were in good order, (fn. 152) and as late as 1752 the justices ordered a prisoner in Oxford castle to stand in the pillory at Witney. (fn. 153) Stocks apparently on Church Green were still used occasionally in 1871, when a man was sentenced for non-payment of a fine. (fn. 154) Public whippings in the market place, at the instigation of the justices, were recorded in the 18th century. (fn. 155)

Prisons and Lock-Ups

The king's prison at Witney was mentioned in 1261 when, during a vacancy, the guardian of the bishopric of Winchester was to convey a forger from thence to Newgate. (fn. 156) There was apparently no local prison in 1479–80, when inhabitants accused of a wounding were taken to Oxford at the bishop's expense. (fn. 157)

A house of correction or bridewell, financed by the county, was opened at Witney about 1611 (fn. 158) and continued until 1788, when the justices ordered its closure. (fn. 159) Inmates, chiefly vagrants, petty criminals, and 'lewd women', seldom numbered more than four or five, and came from a wide area. (fn. 160) Salaried keepers, appointed by the justices of the peace, included local victuallers and, in the 1730s, the surgeon Francis Collier (d. 1741), who then owned the premises; expenses, including the cost of conveying prisoners to and from Oxford, were reimbursed by the justices. (fn. 161) At first the bridewell stood apparently on the east side of High Street, (fn. 162) moving to a new site by the market place perhaps about 1743 when the 'new bridewell' was mentioned. That building became the Three Crowns Inn before 1766, and in 1783 the bridewell was an outbuilding in the yard of another privately owned house. (fn. 163)

A 'blindhouse' or parish lock-up, evidently a single small cell at or adjoining the town hall, was mentioned from the early 18th century. (fn. 164) Probably that was the 'old lock-up' condemned in 1852 as 'the Black Hole of Calcutta in miniature, unfit . . . for the incarceration of a human being'; a grate seems to have opened onto the street, allowing felons to 'communicate with their associates at large' and necessitating constant attendance by a constable until magistrates heard the case. (fn. 165) In 1852 the lighting and watching inspectors agreed to replace it, and a new, stone-built lock-up and police house was built on the east side of Market Square in 1855; that was sold in 1862, having been superseded in 1860 by a new county police station with cells and a court room. (fn. 166) The 'old blindhouse', presumably that at the town hall, was converted into a urinal in 1869. (fn. 167)

Peace Officers and Police

The earliest officers of the peace were presumably the two constables elected by the borough court and later by the court leet, who in the 16th century may have been assisted by the serjeant or wardsmen. (fn. 168) In the early 18th century they were assisted by watchmen, of whom five, all local tradesmen of slender means, were reported to the justices in 1738 for refusing to take up their watch while a constable was ill. (fn. 169) A bellman or town crier, who in the 16th century gave notice of court sessions, (fn. 170) may also have helped with policing: certainly by the early 18th century the bellman or beadle was required to patrol the town, control vagrants, inspect public houses, and report wrongdoers to the justices. (fn. 171) Though then appointed by the court leet he received 40s. a year from the overseers, and the vestry may gradually have assumed increased responsibility; in the 1790s the overseers provided the beadle with a new coat, and in the 1820s the churchwardens contributed to a beadle's dinner. (fn. 172) By then the beadle was the only peace authority in the town, presumably excluding the constables, and rarely patrolled as far north as Woodgreen, to the delight of those involved in rowdy Sunday games there. (fn. 173)

After adoption of the Lighting and Watching Acts in the 1830s the town inspectors continued to appoint a 'blue-coated and red-collared beadle'. (fn. 174) Witney was said to be 'very disorderly', though by 1838 the influence of reforming manufacturers had allegedly so improved public morals that there was no longer a need for nightly police or watchmen, and the chief constable for the eastern division of Bampton hundred claimed to have little to do compared with a few years earlier. (fn. 175) After 1842 the justices appointed parish constables as elsewhere, though the court leet still elected constables for ceremonial duties; (fn. 176) in the early 1850s the parish constable was still assisted by a beadle, and one or two law-enforcement officers appointed by outside bodies also lived in the town, notably the superintendent constable for the petty sessional division, who served also as inspector of weights and measures, and the high or chief constable for the eastern hundredal division. Local solicitors served as deputy and county coroners and as clerk to the magistrates, and there was a town association for prosecution of felons. (fn. 177)

With the founding of the Oxfordshire constabulary in 1857 responsibility passed to the county: in the 1870s the Witney force comprised seven constables, a sergeant, and a superintendent, the last two housed in the new police station at Church Green. (fn. 178) A county court on Bridge Street was completed in 1858–9, and in the 1960s a new divisional police headquarters was built on Welch Way. (fn. 179)

Poor Relief

The 16th to Mid 18th Century

In the 16th century provision for the poor came from charitable bequests, (fn. 180) donations to the poor-box, and (under legislation of 1563 and 1572) compulsory levies, variously administered by the town bailiffs, churchwardens, or other officers. In the 1570s some alms or poor rates were apparently collected by the serjeant, who accounted for them to the bailiffs in the borough court, (fn. 181) though the churchwardens shared responsibility, accounting at the Easter vestry in 1581 for 57s. distributed from the poor-box after Sunday communion over the previous year. (fn. 182) From 1583 collectors of the poor were annually appointed by the bailiffs in the borough court, where they accounted for money from the poor-box and, presumably, for poor rates, though no poor-rate levies were recorded. (fn. 183) Fines levied in the borough court were sometimes set aside for the poorbox, and in 1596 the court authorized payment of 2s. 6d. to a widow 'towards the keeping of the child which she has to keep at the charge of the town'. (fn. 184)

During the early 17th century, as the borough court declined, the vestry's responsibility for poor relief increased. Overseers were appointed there from 1613, and in 1663 a special meeting agreed that the churchwardens could neither disburse money to the poor nor raise poor rates without the vestry's sanction, and that except in case of illness poor relief should only be distributed at church after Sunday services. (fn. 185) The bailiffs remained responsible for bastardy bonds until the mid 17th century, when those, too, were taken over by the vestry, (fn. 186) though they continued to be involved in charity administration. In 1613 the charity commissioners ruled that the bailiffs should account at the annual vestry for income received from charitable property, and that they should hold one of three keys to the parish chest, the others being held by the churchwardens and overseers. (fn. 187)

During the trade recession of the 1690s expenditure on poor relief seems to have been especially high: in 1693 a neighbouring landowner complained that the town was 'so over-burthened with poor' that surrounding parishes had to contribute to their upkeep. (fn. 188) The following year Witney's ratepayers petitioned the justices of the peace, alleging that trade was dead, provisions dear, and the maintenance of the poor 'too great to sustain', (fn. 189) and in 1701 the charity commissioners complained that some charitable income was being paid to the churchwardens or overseers 'in ease of the poor's rate and tax', in contravention of earlier decrees. (fn. 190) In 1722 inhabitants asked that owners of fulling stocks should be assessed for poor rate, complaining that while the owners escaped taxation, they nevertheless contributed to unemployment by hiring workers on short contracts or as apprentices. (fn. 191)

In 1730 the churchwardens and overseers, with the assent of the vestry, rented part of a house on the east side of High Street as a workhouse or poorhouse; they were to provide a new well and pump and reserved access to the river for washing clothes, with use of hedges in an adjoining close for drying them. (fn. 192) The lease was surrendered in 1744 when the overseers rented from the town feoffees three cottages on the site of No. 45 Corn Street, which were rebuilt as a workhouse and which continued in use until around 1836. (fn. 193) In 1776 the building was said to have accommodation for 60 inmates, but in 1803 it housed 115 people and in 1813–15 around 80 excluding children. (fn. 194)

The Mid 18th to Early 19th Century

As elsewhere, annual expenditure on poor relief rose steadily from the mid 18th century: in the 1740s and 1750s it was around £230–£260, and by 1775–6 £403, averaging £645 in the early 1780s. The sum was not excessive for a town of 2,000 inhabitants, although actual expenditure was higher since paupers at West End and Woodgreen were supported from Hailey's poor-rate, while Curbridge's relatively high expenditure of £142 presumably also reflected its proximity to the town. (fn. 195) Witney's expenditure continued to rise slowly until 1799–1800 when it doubled to over £1, 800, (fn. 196) reflecting the high bread prices which prompted local riots that year. (fn. 197) By 1801–2 it was over £3,000, around 27s. a head of population, and significantly above the county and national average. (fn. 198) In 1802–3, when expenditure had fallen, some 240 adults and children, 9 per cent of the population, received permanent out-relief, and another 159 occasional relief, while additional payments were made to 192 'non-parishioners', presumably vagrants; including 115 workhouse inmates, almost 20 per cent of the resident population thus received some relief during the year. (fn. 199) Arthur Young commented soon afterwards on the town's high poor-rates, which he attributed partly to mechanization in the blanket industry and to consequent unemployment, (fn. 200) and from the 1790s overseers were constantly urged to collect arrears and report defaulters. By 1801 the parish accounts were in deficit, prompting a one-off 5s. rate which was five times the usual levy, and in 1817 the vestry agreed to liquidate existing debts by taking out a loan of £500. (fn. 201) The cost of poor relief continued to reflect national trends, bread prices, and local employment: though falling gradually between 1802 and 1807 to just over £ 1,600 (12s. a head), it again reached £3,152 (22s. a head) by 1819, falling back to £1,685 by 1824. In 1813–15, when expenditure averaged £2,450, between 100 and 107 adults received out-relief, and 66–73 occasional relief, with 79–82 adults in the workhouse. By 1832 expenditure had again reached £2,384 (15s. a head), though by 1835, the last year under the old poor law, it had fallen back to £1,808. (fn. 202)

In the mid 18th century the vestry entrusted relief to contractors for a fixed sum, in 1747 to a local baker for £230, and in 1754 to a fuller for £260; contracts included responsibility for the workhouse, the contractors' obligations including its repair and furnishing, provision of clothing, and teaching child inmates basic literacy and religious instruction. Contractors also dealt with removals, put out apprentices, and arranged medical care. (fn. 203) By the 1770s the vestry had again decided to administer poor relief directly, and, as in the 1790s, seems to have appointed a salaried clerk or manager of the poor (effectively an assistant overseer), and a separate workhouse manager. In the 1770s and 1790s small weekly payments were made to paupers on out-relief, and packs of yarn or wool were bought for spinning either in or out of the workhouse, for which a carding machine was bought in 1801; (fn. 204) total income from spinning and quilling in 1801–2 was nearly £370, and workhouse earnings the following year totalled £130, with another £39 earned by those on out-relief. (fn. 205) In addition the vestry paid for medical care of paupers at the pest house in Hailey, appointed a surgeon who undertook occasional inoculations, and annually appointed a salaried attorney to deal with settlement cases, rating disputes, and other matters. (fn. 206) In 1807 the vestry ordered that 25s.–30s. be spent on clothing and apprenticing parish boys, (fn. 207) though of some 500 premiums met partly from parish funds between 1631 and 1823 most were paid for from local charities. (fn. 208) In 1805 three inhabitants were prosecuted for 'rescuing' children from the churchwardens and overseers, who were taking them to be apprenticed to a Warwickshire cotton spinner. (fn. 209)

In 1801, faced with unprecedented increases in the cost of poor relief, a group of seven leading townsmen including the surgeon Edward Batt, the innkeeper Thomas Coburn, and several blanket-manufacturers formed an ad hoc committee to assist the overseers, meeting every week on pain of a 1s. fine for nonattendance. Possibly those were the 'governors and guardians' mentioned later that year, since the town seems not yet to have adopted Gilbert's Act. (fn. 210) Three 'governors' and four 'guardians', apparently unsalaried, were appointed the following year. (fn. 211) In 1807 the vestry finally adopted Gilbert's Act, annually nominating to the justices of the peace a visitor, governors, and guardians, and appointing a salaried assistant overseer and ratecollector; most nominees were leading members of the vestry, though in the late 1810s and 1820s the visitor was Walter Strickland of Cokethorpe Park (in Ducklington), one of the justices. (fn. 212) An assistant or 'perpetual' overseer with a salary of £40 was appointed in 1810 to help collect rates more efficiently and to pursue defaulters. (fn. 213) Some of the able-bodied were apparently found subsidized work in the blanket factories, quarries, and roads: in 1820 £169 was spent on road labourers, presumably in the form of wages, and income from factories (presumably from spinning) was £150, though over £500 was still disbursed in 'general weekly pay'. The workhouse on Corn Street became a poorhouse for the sick and elderly. (fn. 214)

An initiative in 1807 to combine the borough and its rural townships under the provisions of Gilbert's Act was apparently abandoned, and in 1810 and possibly 1809 care of Witney's poor was again briefly entrusted to a contractor for £1,480, the contractor to pay for all pauper burials. The poorhouse may have been excluded from the agreement, since later that year the vestry agreed separate contracts for supply of food and beer. (fn. 215) Unions of local parishes were discussed frequently, together with the building or acquisition of a joint poorhouse, (fn. 216) and in 1817 a governor was appointed to manage the poor of Witney, Curbridge, and Ducklington; whether the scheme reached fruition is not clear, though in 1816 and 1817 Witney received small payments of £10–£17 from the Curbridge and Hailey rates, perhaps for shared use of the Witney poorhouse. (fn. 217) In 1819 the governor was forbidden to contract debts without permission of the guardians, who were to make all purchases themselves, though in 1823, in another change of policy, the poorhouse and its inmates were farmed to the governor at 3s. a head each week. (fn. 218)

Private and charitable initiatives continued to supplement official responses, though in 1813 eleemosynary charities were reckoned to yield only £165 compared with poor expenditure of well over £2,000. (fn. 219) In 1802–3 there were four friendly societies with 335 members, and others, some of them explicitly targeting the 'deserving poor', were established in succeeding decades. (fn. 220) During the 1830s and 1840s the rector Charles Jerram divided the town into twenty districts each with their own visitors, charged with ascertaining the financial needs and 'moral character' of poor families and arranging for distribution of offerings, (fn. 221) while the blanketmanufacturer John Early claimed to have introduced widespread allotment-holding among Witney's labouring poor, which he alleged had rescued several families from penury and created a 'respectful feeling of independence from the poor's rates'. (fn. 222)

Poor Relief from 1835

In 1835, under the Poor Law Amendment Act, Witney became the centre of a poor-law union of 42 parishes, responsibility for its own poor passing to the board of guardians. (fn. 223) Thereafter the vestry and, later, the urban district council merely appointed overseers; (fn. 224) the only local control over poor relief was administration of town charities, which in 1910 yielded some £530 a year. (fn. 225) Opposition to the new regime prompted serious local rioting during May 1835, though Witney itself seems not to have been heavily involved. (fn. 226)

The Corn Street poorhouse, briefly used as a district workhouse, reverted after 1836 to the town feoffees as administrators of the town charities, who let it as private and business premises and whose successors still owned it, as No. 45 Corn Street, in the mid 20th century. (fn. 227) The new union workhouse on Tower Hill, built in 1835–6 with accommodation for 450 inmates, housed 130 people in 1911, but closed during the First World War and was sold in 1922. (fn. 228)

Public Health and Public Services

Early Provision

The medieval borough court enforced cleaning of drainage ditches, removal of dunghills and other obstructions, control of stray animals in the streets, and sale of clean meat. (fn. 229) In the 16th century mastiffs were to be muzzled and bitches on heat kept indoors, inhabitants were fined for allowing unringed pigs to roam, and in 1558 all inhabitants were ordered to remove dunghills from their doors on pain of a 5s. fine. (fn. 230) In 1593 the court forbade victuallers and innkeepers to take in visitors from infected local towns during an outbreak of plague, ordering them to inform the constables or bailiffs of any such arrivals. (fn. 231) The lord's annual court leet, though gradually superseded by other bodies, continued such functions throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, annually appointing flesh- and fish-tasters, and presenting inhabitants for leaving timber or rubbish in the market place, failing to scour watercourses, digging a well in High Street, and, in 1740, creating a nuisance through use of a potash house. (fn. 232) Stray animals remained a problem in 1865, when the local board repaired gates to prevent horses and cattle escaping from Langel common. (fn. 233)

Street Scavenging and Paving

During the 18th century the right to shovel dung, muck, and compost in the borough was let with the manor house and market tolls, or with meadows adjoining Corn Street, (fn. 234) and in 1827 the vestry paid 3s. for sorting rubbish on Church Green, perhaps after Witney feast. (fn. 235) Householders were required to repair and keep clear the footway in front of their houses, (fn. 236) but no evidence of systematic scavenging has been found before the mid 19th century, when street-cleaning and collection of night soil was annually put out to tender by the local board's surveyor. West End was scavenged and maintained through ad hoc arrangements with neighbouring authorities until its inclusion in the borough in 1898. (fn. 237) A rubbish pit apparently at the end of Corn Street was used by Witney inhabitants for much of the 19th century with the board's and UDC's approval, but was closed in 1894 on the county council's orders. (fn. 238) Collection of night soil was ended around 1903 and of trade refuse around 1905, (fn. 239) though in the 1930s the UDC collected general refuse twice a week. (fn. 240)

Open ditches on each side of High Street were replaced with kerbs and footpaths in 1820–1, and part of High Street was paved in 1850. (fn. 241) Nevertheless Witney was lampooned in 1839 as 'one of the dirtiest towns in Christendom', and in 1861 pavements in High Street were so worn and sunk that cast-iron channels projected an inch above the surface; (fn. 242) in 1863 the town remained a 'subject of ridicule for mud and dust', stones laid in macadamizing being reportedly scraped off by the scavenger when damp, or blown into shops when dry. (fn. 243) From the 1860s the local board and UDC regularly undertook piecemeal paving or repairs using stones, pebbles, or brick, (fn. 244) and tarmac was used for some road surfaces by 1907. (fn. 245)

Drainage and Water Supply

Inadequate sanitation and water supply, frequently linked with cases of typhoid and cholera in overcrowded areas such as Lowell Place or the Crofts, (fn. 246) were pressing issues throughout the 19th and early 20th century: in 1871 the local board was divided between those favouring action or procrastination, and in 1897 a UDC chairman resigned after further disagreement. (fn. 247) A highway rate in 1848 paid for repairs to choked drains and sewers by the able-bodied poor, and though the town was then found to be 'cleaner than expected' (fn. 248) the area around Gun's Hole on High Street, where the town's drainage poured from a brick barrel drain into an open ditch, long remained a 'filthy nuisance'. (fn. 249)

In 1874, after several abortive schemes, the enclosed drain was extended further from the houses, and a new main sewer flushed with water piped from the river Windrush was laid along High Street, though there was still no sewerage north of the river. (fn. 250) A report that year concluded that drainage was 'still very bad' and that water was generally polluted, and the board continued to deal with emptying of slops into open gutters and with inadequate provision of privies and cesspits, which were only gradually replaced by pail- or earth-closets. (fn. 251) Sewage and industrial waste discharged into the Windrush, which damaged fish stocks and in 1897 prompted threats of litigation from the Thames Conservancy. (fn. 252) By then the UDC was considering more ambitious schemes for the enlarged urban district, and a new sewerage system, with a pumping station on Dark Lane, was finally opened in 1902, funded largely by loans from the Local Government Board. (fn. 253)

As late as 1896 most of 21 typhoid cases in the town during the previous year were associated with contaminated water-supply, and in 1900 many wells were said to be drying up, which was blamed partly on the drainage schemes. (fn. 254) In 1864 the Witney Union board of guardians ordered the town's local board to supply families by cart as part of its sanitary duties, and during a water shortage in 1870 the local board provided inhabitants of Lowell Place with a barrel a day, besides ordering the proprietor to sink a well. (fn. 255) By 1898 the UDC supplied over 200 houses with water by cart. (fn. 256) An iron standpipe on Church Green was mentioned in 1864, and in the 1870s the board's water carts were filled from a pump 'at the bridge'. (fn. 257)

48. The burst UDC water tower at Tower Hill, 1904.

Schemes for piped water were considered throughout the 1890s, (fn. 258) and in 1903, after several abortive attempts, the UDC opened a pumping station near Apley Barn in Curbridge, with a large brick water tower at the junction of Burford Road and Razor (later Tower) Hill. The tower's tank burst the following year, prompting bitter recriminations; supply was not interrupted, however, (fn. 259) and from 1922 the supply was maintained overnight, chiefly in case of fire. (fn. 260) The waterworks continued until the opening in 1937 of Worsham waterworks and reservoir in Minster Lovell parish, which served much of the rural district and which the UDC ran until 1974; (fn. 261) the former water tower was dismantled about 1938, and the Apley barn pumping-station was sold and converted to other uses. (fn. 262) A new sewage works was built in the mid 1960s, just south of the parish boundary by Ducklington Lane. (fn. 263)

Despite the availability of mains water and sewerage, domestic amenities were improved only gradually. In 1910 many older cottages and houses had external water closets and external access to mains water, (fn. 264) though a recently built house at the Crofts, of substantial build and including a bathroom, had only an earth closet. (fn. 265) Internal running water remained uncommon until much later; four cottages at Lowell Place still shared one external tap in 1945, (fn. 266) probably typical of the row.

Health Provision

Witney had surgeons and apothecaries from at least the 17th century, (fn. 267) and in the late 18th and early 19th centuries the vestry annually contracted a local surgeon to provide medical care for the poor, and sometimes to undertake mass inoculations. (fn. 268) A pest house mentioned in the 1780s and 1790s, probably a rented cottage, lay outside the town south of Hailey village, and in 1789 contained six rooms on three floors (including garrets), furnished with 23 beds or bedsteads. Witney's overseers paid for nursing smallpox cases there and for provision of beer and meat, and in 1794 Standlake's overseer asked that a child be taken in at his expense. (fn. 269) From the 1760s the Witney surgeon Augustine Batt (d. 1779) and his son Edward inoculated commercially at Gigley Farm in Hailey. (fn. 270)

From 1823 to 1857 later members of the Batt family ran a private lunatic asylum in Witney at No. 33 High Street (Field House). Inmates included a few paupers until 1832, and both men and women until 1854, though by then the asylum catered chiefly for middleclass women. Conditions were generally thought good by contemporary standards, and inmates were provided with both indoor and outdoor recreational facilities; mechanical restraint was still used, however, and in later years criticism of outdated methods increased. (fn. 271)

Friendly and benefit societies, recorded from the 18th century, provided limited health care, and a medical club for those on low wages was mentioned about 1880. (fn. 272) A Witney nursing association was founded in 1888 by the rector and a ladies' committee, which appointed a nurse, supported chiefly by subscriptions, to care for the poor and to visit wealthier inhabitants for a fee. By 1910 the scheme extended to Dissenters, and enjoyed 'the warm goodwill' of the town. (fn. 273) A home for sick and destitute children, established by one of the nurses before 1891, moved to the former Staple Hall Inn on Bridge street, but closed about 1901. (fn. 274)

The local board's involvement in public health included isolating smallpox cases, in 1864 providing a carriage for conveying infected patients and corpses, and in 1871 issuing rules to prevent introduction of infectious diseases during Witney feast. Under the 1875 Public Health Act the board (and later the UDC) also acted as urban sanitary authority, and appointed medical officers of health. (fn. 275) Before 1902 the UDC joined with other authorities to fund a joint isolation hospital at Shipton Downs (in Shipton-under-Wychwood), and in the 1930s it had arrangements with the Abingdon Joint Hospital Board and with the South Chilterns Smallpox Hospital Board. (fn. 276) An ambulance to take patients to the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford was acquired from the British Red Cross Society in 1923 and was replaced in 1934, partly with income from a parish charity; in 1938 a joint ambulance committee was formed with the rural district council, and the same year the St John's Ambulance Brigade was given premises in the Corn Exchange. (fn. 277) In 1934 Witney was said to be well served by Oxford hospitals, and there was an infant welfare clinic, an orthopaedic clinic on Mill Street, and a clinic and dispensary under the county tuberculosis scheme, to all of which the UDC gave contributions. (fn. 278) A mortuary was built in the Corn Exchange yard about 1938, for shared use of which the rural district council paid rent in the 1960s. (fn. 279)

In 1948 responsibility passed to the county council. Two ambulances continued to be housed at the fire station until about 1965, when a new ambulance depot was opened on Welch Way, (fn. 280) and a health centre nearby was opened soon after. The long-awaited Witney Community Hospital on Welch Way was completed in 1979, though funding problems delayed its opening; (fn. 281) it remained open in 2003. Bungalows for mentally handicapped adults were built nearby in 1985. (fn. 282)

Cemetery and Burial Board A burial board appointed by the vestry was formed in 1855, when it included the rector and several Dissenters. (fn. 283) Three acres at the foot of Tower Hill were bought for use as a cemetery, which opened in 1857 with the southern part consecrated for Anglican burials and the northern reserved for Nonconformists; each had its mortuary chapel, designed in 13th-century style by William Wilkinson, who also designed the keeper's lodge. (fn. 284) The UDC took over as burial board in 1895, and thereafter the board's area of jurisdiction remained the same as the urban district, though the vestry still authorized expenditure. (fn. 285) The cemetery was extended by 3 a. in 1896 and by 4 a. in 1936. (fn. 286)

Public Utilities and Street Lighting

The Witney Gas (later Gas and Coke) Co. built a gasworks east of High Street in the late 1830s, and supplied the town until nationalization in 1948. (fn. 287) In the 1860s the works were leased to the local ironmonger Samuel Lea, allegedly prompting complaints about falling quality and 'exorbitant' prices, (fn. 288) and from the 1870s to the 1890s they were managed by his successor Arthur Lea Leigh. (fn. 289) Until the advent of the railway the need to haul coal by road probably limited the gasworks' capacity to a single iron gas-holder of 38,000 cubic ft., and it is unlikely that many domestic properties were supplied before then; by 1910, however, the original holder had been supplemented by a steel one of 56,000 cubic ft., (fn. 290) and domestic supply was becoming common. (fn. 291)

The Witney Electric Supply Co., established around 1899 with offices at No. 71 High Street and a plant on the south side of Gloucester Place, was licensed the following year to supply electricity within the urban district, and in 1904 was laying new mains along High Street. (fn. 292) The UDC took it over in 1912–13 and ran the generating plant until 1948, fixing prices, collecting charges, and by the 1920s employing a manager and an electrical and water engineer. (fn. 293) In 1919–20 supply was extended to most of the enlarged urban district, though not, apparently, up Tower Hill. (fn. 294) In 1922 the UDC expressed concern that it was making a loss, but by 1936, when there were seven sub-stations, the operation was reportedly a great success: demand was increasing and charges falling, and a showroom sold electrical appliances. (fn. 295) How early domestic supplies became common is uncertain, though in 1945 several cottages at Lowell Place (Nos. 23–9) had electric light, and another gas. (fn. 296)

By the 1950s electricity was supplied by the Southern Electricity Board, and gas by the Southern Gas Board. (fn. 297) The gasworks was demolished before 1978, leaving two modern gas holders for storage; the power station in Gloucester Place, 'a nondescript collection of stone sheds', was converted to other uses. (fn. 298)

Gas street-lighting was adopted in the late 1830s. (fn. 299) The gas company's contract was annually renegotiated with the lighting and watching inspectors and, later, with the local board and UDC: lamps were usually lit only in winter, and the company was made responsible for their warehousing, maintenance, and painting. (fn. 300) In 1868 there were 50 gas lamps along the main streets, and nine paraffin-oil lamps were converted to gas in 1870. (fn. 301) West End, though partly outside the borough, had street lighting by the 1890s, paid for by a special rate. (fn. 302) From 1898 the UDC introduced lighting for the expanded urban district, including Woodstock road (which at first was lit by oil), the road to the station, and formerly unadopted streets such as the Crofts and Gloucester Place. (fn. 303) The Witney Electric Supply Co. lit the Butter Cross clock from 1904, and from the 1910s electric street-lighting gradually superseded gas-lighting. (fn. 304)


In 1582 the bailiffs ordered every householder to keep a tub or barrel of water outside their street door in case of fire, (fn. 305) and in 1678 church goods in the churchwardens' care included 24 'new buckets'. (fn. 306) The town presumably had a fire engine by 1772, when a lease of the bailiffs' house mentioned a 'new erected . . . engine house' probably under the town hall. (fn. 307) From the 1780s to the 1830s the vestry regularly paid local tradesmen for 'keeping' the engine, and met the cost of repairs and of the engine's use within the borough; (fn. 308) Hailey's churchwardens paid for its use at Middlefield Farm, just over the borough boundary, in 1792. (fn. 309) The engine may have been kept at a different site by 1806–7, when the vestry paid two years' rent for 'a standing' for it. (fn. 310)

By the 1850s there was again no fire engine, prompting repeated calls for a volunteer fire brigade. (fn. 311) After several disastrous mill fires a brigade was finally established around 1879–80, (fn. 312) at first apparently using a fire engine fetched by horse from Cokethorpe (near Ducklington). (fn. 313) In 1880 the local board acquired a new town engine, which from 1881 was housed in rented premises behind No. 101 High Street. (fn. 314) The brigade remained a volunteer force, but became increasingly accountable to the board and later to the UDC, which met its general running costs, paid rent for the station, laid down policy, and from 1898 took over its equipment, besides annually appointing two councillors to oversee business matters. From 1921 the UDC's fire committee held periodic inspections and undertook maintenance of hydrants. (fn. 315) In 1904 the UDC discussed charges for use of the engine outside the urban district, but in the early 1920s the brigade still had no obligation to attend beyond the reach of the hydrants, and neighbouring parish councils were unwilling to share the cost of extending the service. A motor engine, to whose upkeep the rural district council agreed to contribute, was finally acquired in 1927–8 following a disastrous fire at Pritchett's glove factory in Newland, just over the urban boundary, and a new fire- and ambulance station was provided by the UDC at the Corn Exchange yard. (fn. 316) The engine was replaced in 1937, when the brigade numbered twelve men and two officers, becoming the only volunteer force in the county to qualify as a Class A brigade. (fn. 317)

As elsewhere the brigade was replaced in 1941 by arrangements under the National Fire Service, and in 1948 responsibility passed to the county council, though the town retained representation on the County Fire Brigade Committee. (fn. 318) A new fire station on Welch Way, opened about 1965, (fn. 319) remained in use in 2003.

Town Property

Early Borough Property

Borough or parish officers may have owned or rented one of the Corn Street quarries in the 1470s, when the churchwardens sold 36 ft. of freestone. (fn. 320) In the 16th century the borough still claimed rights in that area: in the 1570s and 1580s the bailiffs and townsmen, acting through the borough court, allowed three or four tradesmen to build cottages on plots at Corn Street's west end, one of them in a quarry, (fn. 321) although more usually permission to build on the waste around Corn Street was given by the bishop's manor court. (fn. 322) The new cottages each owed 12d. rent to the bailiffs or chamberlains, perhaps the source of 2s. 10d. quitrent still received by the bailiffs in 1910. (fn. 323)

By the 1560s the town chamberlains received other small rents, amounting to less than £5 a year, from a close at West End and from one or more 'town houses' on Corn Street, to whose repair fines for non-attendance at the borough court were allocated in 1560. (fn. 324) When and how the property was acquired is not known, though the town houses may also have been erected only recently. (fn. 325) Some or all of them lay apparently on Corn Street's south side on the site of No. 45, where two (later three) houses called 'townland', belonging to the borough in 1613, were let by the overseers in the 1640s; thenceforth they were included in the town charities under successive Charity Commission decrees, and although from 1744 they were leased to the overseers as a workhouse, in 1836 they reverted to the town feoffees as trustees of the town charities. (fn. 326) An almshouse at Church Green, also owned by the borough in 1613, was similarly vested in the town feoffees and leased for charitable purposes. (fn. 327)

The only other borough property was the town or guild hall and the market house or Butter Cross. The bailiffs, through the town feoffees, retained responsibility for both until the early 20th century, receiving for their own use the rent from a house (No. 51 Market Place) adjoining the town hall on the north. (fn. 328) Other houses held by the feoffees or by parish officers, in Corn Street, High Street, and Church Green, derived from eleemosynary charities given in the 16th century or later, and were held in trust only. (fn. 329) The town close at West End, together, presumably, with any other town houses or rents, had been lost by the mid 19th century. (fn. 330)

Later Acquisitions

During the late 19th and earlier 20th century the urban district council acquired additional property in the town and elsewhere, chiefly in connection with its increasing responsibility for public services, recreational amenities, and council housing. (fn. 331) A waterworks site in Curbridge was bought in 1902, (fn. 332) and the Leys, rented as a recreation ground from 1904, was bought in 1920. (fn. 333) The Corn Exchange was bought in 1911 after the Corn Exchange Co. was disbanded, (fn. 334) and in 1936 the UDC bought No. 26 Church Green as council offices; (fn. 335) thereafter rooms in the Corn Exchange were let to clubs and societies, and its yard was used as a depot. (fn. 336) Trusteeship of the Butter Cross, the town hall, and the house to its north passed to the UDC in 1929 following abolition of the bailiffs' office, together with the Blake endowment for upkeep of the Butter Cross clock. (fn. 337) In the early 1960s the UDC retained all those premises, together with No. 55B Market Square, the mortuary, a sewerage pumping station and new depot on Dark Lane, Worsham waterworks (in Minster Lovell parish), a large housing stock, and several recreation grounds. (fn. 338) Langdale Hall, formerly a drill hall, was bought about 1968 for use as a social venue. (fn. 339)

Under local government reorganization in 1974 most of the property passed to West Oxfordshire District Council; the new town council retained Langdale Hall, the town hall with No. 51 Market Square, and the Butter Cross, and recovered the Corn Exchange from the district council in 1976. (fn. 340) In 2002 the town council administered all those buildings, along with Ceewood and Burwell community halls in the new housing estates, the allotments and recreation grounds, the cemetery, and the 75-a. Lakes and Meadows Country Park south and east of the town, bought for recreational use in 1988. (fn. 341)

49. Witney borough seal.

Seals and Insignia of The Borough and Town

The 'ancient seal of the borough of Witney' was enrolled at the herald's visitation of 1574, when it depicted a lamb and flag between a crescent and a sun, with the legend 'SIGILLUM COMMUNE BURGENSIUM ET VILLE DE WITNEY' ('Common Seal of the Burgesses [or Borough] and Town of Witney'). (fn. 342) The symbols were those of St John the Baptist, frequently associated with medieval textile or cloth guilds, and had perhaps been taken over from an unrecorded textile guild in Witney. (fn. 343) Probably the town had used a similar seal from the 13th century: a damaged seal-matrix found near Newland, made about 1300, also depicts a paschal lamb with flag and staff, though the legend is indecipherable. The matrix, of iron covered with bronze, is vesica-shaped, but the 16th-century seal was apparently circular. (fn. 344) In 1481 the 'seal of the community of the borough' was attached to a private conveyance because the witnesses' seals were not sufficiently well known, (fn. 345) and a 'town seal' was mentioned in the 16th century. A seal in the possession of the cloth searchers in the 1580s may, however, have been a separate lead seal required for cloth sealing. (fn. 346)

No later references to a borough seal have been found, and presumably none existed in 1863 when the newly established local board agreed to order one. (fn. 347) The urban district council, as the board's successor, adopted the seal in 1895, having it re-engraved with the legend 'Witney Urban Council' and the Witney coat of arms, presumably the lamb and staff. (fn. 348) In 1955 the council was granted a new coat of arms with the motto 'Ingenio Floremus' ('By skill we flourish'): the crest incorporated the lamb and staff, and the shield featured emblems associated with the town, including two leopards with shuttles in their mouths, taken from the Blanket Company seal, a glove to represent gloving, and a picture of the Butter Cross. The cost was borne by a former councillor. A seal incorporating the new arms, with the legend 'Urban District Council of Witney', was adopted the following year, and in 1975 the arms and the seal were transferred to the newly established town council, which had the legend recut in 1985. (fn. 349)

There was presumably a town mace by the late 16th century, when the serjeant was sometimes called the serjeant of the mace. (fn. 350) The existing, silvered mace is 18th-century, inscribed with the names of town bailiffs from 1742 to 1926; in the early 19th century it was used when officers were chosen, but lay 'idle' the rest of the year. (fn. 351) After the abolition of the bailiffs' office in 1926 it was left in the custody of the urban district council, to which the last serving bailiff formally presented it in 1950; it remained on display in the town hall in 2003, and was still used on ceremonial occasions. (fn. 352)

J. H. Early, on behalf of local blanket-manufacturers, presented a chain and insignia of office to the chairman of the urban district council in the 1950s, incorporating the newly acquired town arms. The chain was adopted by the mayor of the town council after 1974 and remained in use in 2003. (fn. 353)

Parliamentary Representation

Witney borough was represented in parliament only five times between 1305 and 1330, and returned no members thereafter, a reflection of its diminishing borough status. Only one member was sent in 1306, but usually two. (fn. 354) All seem to have been resident burgesses, among them members of the prominent Raulin and Standlake families; (fn. 355) John Hustone (MP 1304–5) served several terms as town reeve or bailiff, (fn. 356) and John of Wellow (MP 1330–1), implicated in 1348 in an attack on property at Stanton Harcourt, was a co-lessee of Farm and Witney Mills. (fn. 357)

The modern parliamentary constituency of Witney, created in 1983, encompasses West Oxfordshire District and some villages outside. (fn. 358)


  • 1. Rot. Chart. (Rec. Com.), 183; Cal. Chart. 1226–57, 145–6; N. Vincent, Peter des Roches (1996), 73, 188, 360.
  • 2. Reg. Pontissara (Cant. & York Soc.), i. 292–3, 297–8; ii. 545. For royal interference, Hyde, 'Winchester Manors', 47–8, 51–3.
  • 3. Cal. Chart. 1257–1300, 274–5; Bampton Hund. R. 71, 91; below.
  • 4. Below, Crawley, local govt.; Hyde, 'Winchester Manors', 156–7, 204–5.
  • 5. Below (cts; par. govt.; parl. rep.).
  • 6. Above, econ. hist.
  • 7. Glasscock, Subsidy 1334, 237; Oxon. Eyre (ORS 56), 140, 146; PRO, E 179/161/8–10. An assertion (Bampton Hund R. 89 and 'Winchester Manors', 72) that Witney was taxed as a borough in 1296 seems mistaken.
  • 8. e.g. Winch. PR 1210–11, ed. Holt, 63; Winch. PR 1301–2, ed. Page, 144; Hants RO, 11M59/B1/100 sqq.
  • 9. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/12; 11M59/B1/14; 11M59/B1/21; 11M59/B1/83 sqq. Hyde, 'Winchester Manors', 65, wrongly states that the borough was farmed in 1247 to the constable of Wolvesey.
  • 10. Below (policing).
  • 11. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/29; 11M59/B1/281; Giles, Hist. Witney, App. 3; Hyde, 'Winchester Manors', 71.
  • 12. E. Robo, Mediaeval Farnham (1935), 175–7, dating it to 1249; A. Ballard and J. Tait (eds.), British Borough Charters, 1216–1307 (1923), pp. xciii, 386; Cal. Chart. 1257–1300, 324.
  • 13. Winch. PR. 1210–11, ed. Holt, 63; Cal. Fine 1445–52, 27; Hants RO, 11M59/B1/7 sqq; below (borough officers).
  • 14. Below (medieval courts).
  • 15. Bampton Hund. R. 91.
  • 16. Cal. Fine 1445–52, 27.
  • 17. Above, econ. hist. (mkts and fairs); cf. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/16–17.
  • 18. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 22, item c; Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xvii–xviii, xxii.
  • 19. Below (seals and insignia).
  • 20. Above, intro. (social and political life).
  • 21. Below (courts from the 16th cent.).
  • 22. Witney Ct. Bks. p. xviii; above, econ. hist. (1500–1800: Blanket Co.).
  • 23. Below (parish govt.; town govt. from 1863).
  • 24. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/61 sqq, perquisites; not all spring courts met in the 14th century actually at Hocktide.
  • 25. Winch. PR 1208–9, ed. Hall, 17, payment pro pace habenda; cf. below, Crawley, local govt.
  • 26. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/7 sqq.
  • 27. Ibid. 11M59/B1/61 sqq.
  • 28. e.g. ibid. 11M59/B1/22; 11M59/B1/44, perquisites; Winch. PR 1301–2, ed. Page, 144–5.
  • 29. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/65, m. 11.
  • 30. Ibid. 11M59/B1/7 sqq.
  • 31. For portmoot or borough court records, Witney Ct. Bks. p. xi and passim; for tourns or lawdays (later called courts leet), Hants RO, 11M59/E1/90/2, ff. 29v.–30, 42v., 59 and v., 81 and v.; Blenheim Mun., B/M/200–5. For manor court records, below, Crawley, local govt.
  • 32. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/48, m. 12, mentioning wardsmen.
  • 33. Witney Ct. Bks. p. xxiii; cf. Hants RO, 11M59/E1/90/2, f. 59; Blenheim Mun., B/M/200, passim; Bodl. MSS Top. Oxon. d 211, ff. 55 and v.; b 275, p. 244, wrongly distinguishing North ward from the Ward beyond the bridge.
  • 34. Witney Ct. Bks. p. xx.
  • 35. Ibid. pp. xv, xx–xliv and passim. Manorial 'waste' in Corn Street and the market place was usually dealt with in the manor court: ORO, Misc. Je. I/1.
  • 36. Witney Ct. Bks. 29, 92.
  • 37. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 49, no. 5; Harrod's Dir. Oxon. (1876), p. 847. For adjournments to the White Hart and Staple Hall inns, Blenheim Mun., B/M/200, s.a. 1693; B/M/204, s.a. 1823.
  • 38. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xv–xvi; Hants RO, 11M59/E1/90/2, ff. 29v., 42v., 59, 81; ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 22, item b.
  • 39. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xv–xvi, xviii–xix; Blenheim Mun., B/M/200 sqq; above, manor.
  • 40. Blenheim Mun., B/M/201, s.a. 1735, memo. 23 July 1748; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 215, ff. 128, 131.
  • 41. Blenheim Mun., B/M/202–5; ibid. shelf D6, box 9, notice of courts 1925; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 213, ff. 32–33. Early 19th-cent. courts met in Aug. or Sept., reverting to Oct. by 1823.
  • 42. Blenheim Mun., B/M/200–5; Witney Ct. Bks. p. xvi.
  • 43. Blenheim Mun., B/M/202–4.
  • 44. Ibid. B/M/201, s.a. 1715; B/M/204, s.a. 1902 and passim; below (town govt. from 1863; policing).
  • 45. Witney Express, 26 Oct. 1871.
  • 46. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xx–xxvi, xlvi, 72, 123, 195.
  • 47. Blenheim Mun., B/M/200–5; below (policing).
  • 48. Blenheim Mun., B/M/204, s.a. 1842; ibid. shelf D6, box 9, notice to constables and tithingmen 15 Sept. 1925; Witney Express, 26 Oct. 1871.
  • 49. Lascelles' Dir. Oxon. (1853); ORO, Cal. QS Min. Bks. pp. 1148–9.
  • 50. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/7 sqq.
  • 51. e.g. ibid. 11M59/B1/ 24–45; 11M59/B1/203; 11M59/B1/ 214–15; cf. Bampton Hund. R. 98–105; Hyde, 'Winchester Manors', 74 sqq; below, econ. hist.
  • 52. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxi–xxii, 13, 35, 211–13.
  • 53. ORO, Cal. QS Min. Bks. pp. 1148–9; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 171, f. 93.
  • 54. Below (town property).
  • 55. e.g. New Coll. Arch., 13967; Cal. Close, 1441–7, 440; for annual accounts, Hants RO, 11M59/B1/7 sqq.
  • 56. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xvii–xviii, xxi–xxii; above, econ. hist. (mkts and fairs); below (policing).
  • 57. e.g. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxv–xxvi; PRO, C 93/5/6; ORO, MSS dd Par. Witney c 48, nos. 7–8; c 49, nos. 1 sqq.
  • 58. ORO, Cal. QS, i, p. 99.
  • 59. Monk, Hist. Witney, 44.
  • 60. Below (seals and insignia).
  • 61. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, f. 16v.; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 171, f. 92; Witney Express, 9 Sept., 28 Oct. 1875; Witney Gaz. 23 July 1910.
  • 62. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 171, ff. 92–3.
  • 63. Oxf. Times, 23 July 1910; Witney Gaz. 23 July 1910.
  • 64. Knight's Dir. Witney (1915); ORO, Witney TC III/iii/8; below (town govt, from 1863).
  • 65. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/206, f. 8, mentioning procur' ecclesie in 1478–9.
  • 66. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, passim.
  • 67. Ibid. ff. 8 sqq; Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxiv–xxvi; below (poor relief).
  • 68. Below, Crawley, Curbridge, and Hailey, local govt.
  • 69. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 30, passim.
  • 70. Ibid. b 14, passim; below (policing; poor relief; public health).
  • 71. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, ff. 37, 81v.–82.
  • 72. Ibid. b 14, ff. 8v.–1 1v., 28v.–32v.
  • 73. Ibid. c 9, ff. 2, 81v.–82, and passim; for families, Witney Ct. Bks. index.
  • 74. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, passim; Oxf. Chron. 30 Mar. 1839, p. 4.
  • 75. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, f. 21v.; the statement in D. Eastwood, Governing Rural England (1994), 37, that before the 1830s the vestry was dominated by Dissent, nevertheless seems unwarranted.
  • 76. Oxf. Chron. 3 Nov. 1838; 29 Aug. 1840; 13 Nov. 1841; 5 Apr., 12 Apr., 9 Aug., 6 Sept., 13 Sept. 1856.
  • 77. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, passim; ibid. PLU 6/G/1A1/1, p. 2; D. McClatchey, Oxon. Clergy 1777–1869 (1960), 120, 192.
  • 78. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, ff. 11, 52, 76v.; for the workhouse (at No. 45 Corn Street), below (poor relief).
  • 79. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, passim; Protestation Rtns. and Tax Assess. 1,33; below, Crawley; Curbridge; Hailey.
  • 80. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 30, ff. 4, 204v., 209 sqq, 223; 'Witney Par. Diary', p. 69.
  • 81. ORO, MSS dd Par. Witney c 9, passim; c 30, ff. 121b sqq and passim; for the chapels, below, Crawley; Curbridge; Hailey.
  • 82. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, ff. 1, 10–11, 14v., 16v.
  • 83. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxv, 127; below (poor relief).
  • 84. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 30, ff. 17, 27, 40v., 107v.–108; for the fire engine, below (public health).
  • 85. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxiv–xxv; Protestation Rtns. and Tax Assess. 1, 33; ORO, MSS dd Par. Witney c 9, ff. 36, 43, 81v.–82; b 14, ff. 3 and v., 12, 13v.
  • 86. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, ff. 8, 12 and v., 21v., 56, 133v. (listing 3 supervisors in 1692); ibid. Cal. QS Min. Bks. 1688–1768, p. 812.
  • 87. Ibid. Witney TC III/i/4; ibid. MS Wills Oxon. 149/1/9; ibid. MSS dd Par. Witney c 9, ff. 81v.–82; b 14, f. 68 and v.; b 20, p. 7.
  • 88. Below (policing).
  • 89. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 213, ff. 60–1; cf. Lighting and Watching Acts, 11 Geo. IV, c. 27; 3 & 4 Wm. IV, c. 90. No minute or account books are known.
  • 90. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 2–3, 6; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 217, f. 104; for Clinch's bank, above, econ. hist. (1800–1900).
  • 91. Oxf. Chron. 10 Apr. 1852; below (policing; public health).
  • 92. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, passim; below (town govt. from 1863).
  • 93. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 30, passim; ibid. Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 58, 74, 127–8, 154, 178, 317. For the burial board, below (public health).
  • 94. ORO, RO 772, petition from Hailey inhabs.
  • 95. Lascelles' Dir. Oxon. (1853), 207; Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1883 and later edns); Witney Express, 26 Oct. 1871.
  • 96. Oxf. Chron. 9 May, 30 May 1863; Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1899); below. For local board and UDC mins., ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1–4, III/i/1–9, III/ii/1–26.
  • 97. ORO, RO 772, rep. of local enquiry Sept. 1897; above, intro. (borough bdies).
  • 98. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1899 and later edns); Oxon. Dir. (1958–9), 304.
  • 99. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1–4, III/i/1–9; below (town property).
  • 100. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 29, 349; I/i/4, pp. 68, 161, 165; for other premises, below (town property).
  • 101. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, election notice on inside cover, and passim; ibid. I/i/2–4, III/i/1–9; cf. PO Dir. Oxon. (1864 and later edns); Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1883 and later edns).
  • 102. Witney Express, 20 Oct. 1870.
  • 103. Above, intro. (social and political life: 1800–1900).
  • 104. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1–4, passim; for market regulation, above, econ. hist. (mkts and fairs).
  • 105. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 11, 13, 43–4, 294.
  • 106. Ibid. p. 174.
  • 107. Ibid. pp. 1–2, 7, 12, 29; ibid. I/i/4, p. 68.
  • 108. Ibid. I/i/4, pp. 148, 151.
  • 109. Ibid. I/i/1, pp. 396, 406, 448–9; I/i/2, pp. 154, 161; I/i/4, pp. 2, 8, 10, 16.
  • 110. Ibid. I/i/4, pp. 74, 84, 89; below (public health).
  • 111. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 58, 127–8, 253, 317, 445.
  • 112. Ibid. pp. 58, 154, 182, 206, 281.
  • 113. Below (public health).
  • 114. Above, intro. (social life: earlier 20th cent.).
  • 115. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/5, III/i/8, passim; above, intro. (origin and devpt).
  • 116. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/2, pp. 242, 288–9; III/i/5, pp. 321–2, 382; III/i/8, p. 23; below (public health).
  • 117. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/2, pp. 117, 173, 409.
  • 118. Ibid. I/i/1, pp. 35–6; III/i/4, pp. 270, 287, 366; III/i/5, p. 31.
  • 119. Ibid. I/i/4, pp. 60, 67, 76–7.
  • 120. Ibid. I/i/1, p. 294; I/i/4, pp. 8–9, 312; III/i/2, p. 410; III/i/5, p. 15.
  • 121. Ibid. I/i/4, pp. 285, 311, 393.
  • 122. Ibid. p. 126; ibid. III/i/8, p. 19.
  • 123. Oxon. Dir. (1958–9), 304; cf. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/5, p. 60; III/ii/26a, p. 19.
  • 124. ORO, Witney UDC III/ii/26a–b, passim; below (public health; town property).
  • 125. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/5, pp. 175, 276.
  • 126. Ibid. I/i/4, pp. 67–8.
  • 127. Ibid. pp. 69–73; ORO, RO 772, details of proposed extension 1897.
  • 128. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/2, p. 116; above, intro. (borough bdies).
  • 129. ORO, Witney UDC III/ii/26a–b.
  • 130. Witney Gaz. 25 Apr. 1974; ORO, Witney TC VII/2, VIII/1; Witney Official Guide (Witney Town Council, 1991), 37; below (seals and insignia).
  • 131. Witney Gaz. 8 Feb. 1979, 26 Feb. 1997.
  • 132. Ibid. 15 July 1976, 28 Oct 1976; ORO, Witney TC VII/2; ibid. VIII/1.
  • 133. Witney Gaz. 25 Apr. 1974.
  • 134. Witney Gaz. 25 Apr. 1974, 14 Aug. 1975, 8 Feb. 1979, 15 Nov. 1979, 27 Feb. 1991, 26 Feb. 1997, 2 Sept. 1998.
  • 135. Town council info. leaflet (2002).
  • 136. Witney Gaz. 20 Dec. 1984, p. 5.
  • 137. e.g. 'Burwell Farm Complex' (West Oxon. District Council planning doc. 1984): copy in COS.
  • 138. Above (seignorial jurisdiction).
  • 139. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 22, item c; Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xvii—xviii.
  • 140. Below, Curbridge, intro. (roads); for the bishop's gallows at Adderbury, VCH Oxon. ix. 21.
  • 141. e.g. Oxon. Eyre, 1241 (ORS 56), pp. 140, 147; Cal. Pat. 1396–9, 328 (forfeiture for treason).
  • 142. Giles, Hist. Witney, App. 1.
  • 143. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/126, m. 6d.; 11M59/B1/181, m. 5d.
  • 144. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 22, item c.
  • 145. Winch. PR 1409–10, ed. Page, 98, 454; Hants RO, 11M59/B1/203–6; cf. Cal. Chart. 1226–57, 145–6.
  • 146. Hants RO, 11M59/E2/154967/1–8.
  • 147. Cal. Fine 1445–52, 27.
  • 148. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 171, ff. 92–3; above (seignorial jurisdiction).
  • 149. As at Farnham (Surrey): E. Robo, Mediaeval Farnham (1935), 175–7; cf. above (borough autonomy).
  • 150. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/8; 11M59/B1/83; 11M59/B1/99; 11M59/B1/102.
  • 151. Ibid. 11M59/B1/9, m. 3.
  • 152. Oxon. Justices (ORS 16), 34; cf. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 215, f. 127.
  • 153. ORO, Cal. QS, viii, p. 187.
  • 154. Witney Express, 21 Sept. 1871.
  • 155. T. J. Cooper, 'Witney House of Correction', Rec. Witney, 3 (Apr. 1978), p. 16; ORO, Cal. QS, viii, p. 192.
  • 156. Cal. Lib. 1260–7, 32.
  • 157. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/207, f. 10; cf. ORO, MS Wills Oxon. 178, f. 97a, listing bequests to prisoners in Oxford but not in Witney.
  • 158. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 211, f. 88; Woodstock Chamberlains' Accts (ORS 58), 47 and n. 14; VCH Oxon. iv. 344.
  • 159. Oxf. Jnl. Synopsis, 15 July 1788.
  • 160. e.g. Oxon. Justices (ORS 16), pp. lxxvi–lxxvii, 61; ORO, Cal. QS, iii, pp. 464, 489–90; viii, pp. 106, 116 sqq; Cooper, 'Witney House of Correction', 15–17.
  • 161. ORO, Cal. QS Mins. Bks. pp. 1150–1; cf. ibid. MS Wills Oxon. 16/1/29; ibid. QSD V/1–2, s.v. Spier, Day, Hailes; Cooper, 'Witney House of Correction', 16–17.
  • 162. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 211, f. 88.
  • 163. ORO, Cal. QS, viii, pp. 165, 167; Oxf. Jnl. Synopsis, 2 Aug. 1766; Will of Jas. Leverett (1783): copy in Bodl. GA Oxon. 8° 364. A Three Crowns mentioned earlier may have occupied a different site: ORO, Batt V/1.
  • 164. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 49, no. 6; ibid. Witney TC III/iii/2; Bodl. MSS Top. Oxon. d 212, f. 70; d 215, f. 128. For the term 'blindhouse', J. Kibble, Charming Charlbury (1930), p. vii; M. D. Anderson, History by the Highway [1967], 171.
  • 165. Oxf. Chron. 14 Feb. 1852, p. 8.
  • 166. Ibid. 10 Apr. 1852, 10 Sept. 1853; above, intro. (public bldgs: police station).
  • 167. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 245, 248, 269.
  • 168. Above (seignorial jurisdiction: officers).
  • 169. ORO, Cal. QS, i, ff. 281v.–282.
  • 170. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xx, xxvi.
  • 171. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 215, ff. 125–127; Blenheim Mun., B/M/201, s.a. 1715–16, 1718, 1732.
  • 172. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 215, f. 126; ORO, MSS dd Par. Witney c 9, f. 202; c 30, f. 113.
  • 173. Smith, 'Reminiscences', 7.
  • 174. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 217, f. 104; for inspectors, above (parish govt.).
  • 175. Rep. Assistant Hand-loom Weavers Commrs. (Parl. Papers 1840 (639), xxiv), pp. 551–2; above, intro. (social life: 1800–1900).
  • 176. Par. Constables Act, 5 & 6 Vic. c. 109; Blenheim Mun., B/M/204, s.a. 1842; above (seignorial jurisdiction: officers).
  • 177. Lascelles' Dir. Oxon. (1853), 207, 210–11, 217; PO Dir. Oxon. (1847 and 1854 edns); for superintendent constables in Oxon., 2nd Rep. Select Cttee on Police (Parl. Papers 1852–3 (715), xxxvi), pp. 88–90.
  • 178. Reps. Insprs. Constabulary (Parl. Papers 1856–7 (20), xlvii), p. 18; ibid. (1860 (30), lvii), p. 29; PO Dir. Oxon. (1877); above, intro. (public bldgs).
  • 179. Above, intro. (public bldgs).
  • 180. For charities and almshouses, below, charities.
  • 181. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxv, 63.
  • 182. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, ff. 11, 16.
  • 183. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxiv–xxvi, 104, 190–1, 195.
  • 184. Ibid. 92, 95.
  • 185. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, ff. 36, 43, 81v.–82.
  • 186. Ibid. c 44; Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxv–xxvi.
  • 187. PRO, C 93/5/6; above (seignorial jurisdiction); below, charities.
  • 188. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 44 (e), dispute with Wilcote, 1693; above, econ. hist. (econ. life 1500–1800).
  • 189. ORO, Cal. QS, iii, p. 328.
  • 190. Ibid. MS dd Par. Witney c 53, copy of char. comm. inq. 1701.
  • 191. Ibid. Cal. QS, iii, pp. 462–3.
  • 192. Ibid. MS dd Par. Witney c 44 (e), lease 1730.
  • 193. Ibid.; ibid. MS dd Par. Witney c 49, nos. 9, 11–13; ibid. Witney TC III/iii/1–8; Witney TC VII/3; below (poor relief from 1835). For building, above, intro. (public bldgs).
  • 194. Poor Abstract, 1777, p. 140; 1804, pp. 398–9; 1818, pp. 352–3.
  • 195. ORO, WCC VIII/i/1a; Bodl. MS Ch. Oxon. 642; Poor Abstract, 1777, p. 140; 1787, p. 188.
  • 196. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14 (vestry mins. 1793–1823), which consistently gives higher expenditure figures than Poor Abstracts.
  • 197. Above, intro. (social life: 1550–1800, town politics); econ. hist. (1500–1800).
  • 198. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, f. 22 and v.; cf. Poor Abstract, 1804, pp. 398–9, suggesting a slightly lower fig.; Census, 1801–11.
  • 199. Poor Abstract, 1804, pp. 398–9; Census, 1801–11.
  • 200. Young, Oxon. Agric. 325–7; cf. Brewer, Oxon. 486; above, econ. hist.
  • 201. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, ff. 9v., 14v., 16v., 18v.–21, 25, 30v., 69 and v.
  • 202. Ibid. ff. 22 sqq; Poor Abstract, 1804, pp. 398–9; 1818, pp. 352–3; Poor Rate Retns. (Parl. Papers 1822 (556), v), p. 135; ibid. (1825 (334), iv), p. 170; ibid. (1830–1 (83), xi), p. 157; ibid. (1835 (444), xlvii); 2nd Rep. Poor Law Comm. (Parl. Papers 1836 (595-II), xxix (2)), pp. 290–1; cf. Census, 1801–41. Figs. omit West End and Woodgreen.
  • 203. ORO, WCC VIII/i/1a; Bodl. MS Ch. Oxon. 642.
  • 204. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 44, item d, overseers' accounts 1774; ibid. c 9, ff. 201–3; ibid. b 14, ff. 10–11v., 20v.; Oxf. Jnl. Synopsis, 25 Mar. 1780.
  • 205. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, f. 22 and v.; Poor Abstract, 1804, pp. 398–9.
  • 206. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, passim; below (public health).
  • 207. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, f. 31.
  • 208. Ibid. b 19, c 45–47, d 16; Oldham, 'Vestry Book', ff. ci–cv; below, charities.
  • 209. ORO, Cal. QS, ii, pp. 134b–135.
  • 210. Ibid. MS dd Par. Witney b 14, ff. 16v., 20.
  • 211. Ibid. f. 21v.
  • 212. Ibid. ff. 32, 34v., 72 and v., 84v.
  • 213. Ibid. f. 41.
  • 214. Ibid. ff. 36, 77v.; earlier accounts did not break down expenditure or income.
  • 215. Ibid. ff. 31v. sqq, 41a verso, 42v., 43v.–44v.
  • 216. Ibid. ff. 42v.–43, 46v., 48, 58v., 60, 67v.
  • 217. Ibid. ff. 63v., 66v., 67v.
  • 218. Ibid. ff. 76, 87.
  • 219. Poor Abstract, 1818, pp. 352–3.
  • 220. Above, intro. (social life: 1800–1900, clubs).
  • 221. Memoirs of C. Jerram, ed. J. Jerram (1855), 350.
  • 222. Above, intro. (social life: 1800–1900); econ. hist. (agric.).
  • 223. For mins. of the board of guardians from 1835, ORO, PLU 6/G/1A1/1–35.
  • 224. Above (parish govt.; town govt. from 1863).
  • 225. Oxf. Times, 23 July 1910; below, charities.
  • 226. Above, intro. (social life: 1800–1900, politics).
  • 227. ORO, PLU 6/G/1A1/1–2; ibid. Witney TC III/iii/7; Witney TC VII/3.
  • 228. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1915 edn); above, intro. (public bldgs).
  • 229. e.g. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/22, m. 15; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 211, f. 75 (original not located); Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xv, xxiii–xxiv, xxviii, 5; above (seignorial jurisdiction).
  • 230. Witney Ct. Bks. 15, 22, 25–6, 31–2, 43.
  • 231. Ibid. pp. lvii, 136.
  • 232. Blenheim Mun., B/M/201–5; for extracts, Bodl. MSS Top. Oxon. d 212, f. 70; d 215, ff. 120–31.
  • 233. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 74, 77.
  • 234. Blenheim Mun., box 156, leases of 1704/5, 1725, 1727.
  • 235. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 30, ff. 107v.–108.
  • 236. Blenheim Mun., B/M/201, s.a. 1706; ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, p. 67.
  • 237. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 39, 61–2, 354, 394; I/i/4, pp. 35, 98, 161, 278.
  • 238. Ibid. I/i/4, pp. 26, 29, 41; cf. Godson, Witney map (1814–16).
  • 239. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/2, pp. 122, 366.
  • 240. Witney Official Guide [c. 1940 edn], 35: copy in Bodl.
  • 241. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 215, f. 121; Oxf. Chron. 22 June, 7 Sept. 1850; above, intro. (origin and devpt).
  • 242. Oxf. Chron. 9 Feb. 1839; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 213, f. 140.
  • 243. Oxf. Chron. 21 Nov. 1863.
  • 244. Ibid. 21 Nov. 1863, 30 Jan. 1864; Witney Express, 29 Dec. 1870; ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 12, 25, 34, 215, 287, 296, 347.
  • 245. Witney Gaz. 12 Oct. 1907; for market place, ORO, Witney UDC III/i/2, p. 87.
  • 246. e.g. C. Creighton, Hist. Epidemics in Britain, ii (1894), 170; G. W. Child, Sanitary Condition of Oxon. (2nd Rep. to Combined Sanitary Authorities of Oxon. for 1874), 82–4; ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 4, 20, 295–6.
  • 247. Oxf. Jnl. 30 Dec. 1871, p. 8; ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, p. 230; above, intro. (social life: 1800–1900).
  • 248. Oxf. Chron. 8 Jan. 1848; Oxf. Jnl. 28 Oct. 1848.
  • 249. Child, Sanitary Condit. of Oxon. 82; Oxf. Jnl. 30 Dec. 1871; ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 15–16, 137, 346.
  • 250. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 435, 441, 447; I/i/4, pp. 279, 303; Child, Sanitary Condit. of Oxon. 82.
  • 251. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 42–3, 70; I/i/4, pp. 303, 377; above, intro. (bldgs).
  • 252. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, p. 265; Bodl. MS dd Harcourt c 282, E. Harcourt to W. D. Wood, 12 Aug. 1887.
  • 253. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1903); for building, S. C. Jenkins, 'Industrial Archaeol. of Witney', Rec. Witney, 3 (Apr. 1978), 21; OS Map 1:2500, Oxon. XXXI.8 (1921 edn).
  • 254. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 295–6; Witney Gaz. 22 Sept. 1900.
  • 255. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 42, 296.
  • 256. Ibid. I/i/4, pp. 386, 389.
  • 257. Ibid. I/i/1, pp. 46, 49, 75; Mrs. Brown at Witney [c. 1875], 2: copy in Bodl.
  • 258. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 64, 92 sqq, 143, 155 sqq, 203, 236, 321 sqq.
  • 259. Ibid. III/i/2, pp. 64, 99, 220–2, 242; C. and J. Gott, Bk. of Witney (1986 edn), 92–4; OS Map 1:2500, Oxon. XXXI. 8 (1921 edn).
  • 260. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/5, p. 351.
  • 261. Ibid. III/i/8, pp. 82, 100, 117–18, 192, 259; III/ii/26b, pp. 357 sqq.
  • 262. Ibid. III/i/8, pp. 260, 288, 308, 334; Sale Cat. [Apley Barn Pumping Stn.], 27 Mar. 1947: copy in Blenheim Mun.
  • 263. ORO, Witney UDC III/ii/26b, pp. 594, 601.
  • 264. PRO, IR 58/65162–9.
  • 265. No. 2 Leys Villas: ibid. IR 58/65169/992.
  • 266. Sale Cat., Properties in Hailey and Witney (1945): copy in COS.
  • 267. Above, econ. hist. (1500–1800: gentry and professionals).
  • 268. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 14, ff. 1, 7v.–8, 14, 16, 21v., 28, 81v.
  • 269. Ibid. c 9, ff. 201–2; c 44 (c), letter 13 Oct. 1794; for location, University Coll. Arch. E6/M1/1, plan, mentioning furlong 'near the pest house'.
  • 270. Oxf. Jnl. Synopsis, 13 Feb. 1768, 5 Dec. 1775, 1 Dec. 1781; below, Hailey, intro. (domestic bldgs).
  • 271. W. L. Parry-Jones, Trade in Lunacy (1972), 128–54, 163.
  • 272. Above, intro. (social life: 1800–1900, clubs).
  • 273. 'Witney Par. Diary', pp. 77, 77a, 73–6 [of repeated pagination], 128; Oxf. Times, 23 July 1910.
  • 274. 'Witney Par. Diary', p. 76 [of repeated pagination]; ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, p. 112; ibid. Welch XIX/3–6.
  • 275. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 56, 331, 365; I/i/4, p. 92; above, this section (town govt. from 1863).
  • 276. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/2, pp. 6, 33, 147–8, 160; III/i/8, pp. 10–11, 112, 460.
  • 277. Ibid. III/i/5, pp. 399, 412, 419, 429; III/i/8, pp. 34, 303, 352.
  • 278. Witney Official Guide [c. 1934], 30: copy in Bodl.; ORO, Witney UDC III/i/8, pp. 35, 48–9, 191.
  • 279. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/8, p. 332; III/ii/26b, p. 489.
  • 280. Ibid. III/ii/9, f. 373; III/ii/26b, p. 500.
  • 281. Witney Gaz. 21 Nov. 1974 (re Hillside), 12 Nov. 1981, 3 Dec. 1987.
  • 282. West Oxon. Standard, 15 Feb. 1985.
  • 283. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1883); Oxf. Chron. 19 Apr. 1856; ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 30, ff. 213v., 215.
  • 284. A. Saint, 'Three Oxon. Architects', Oxoniensia, 35 (1970), 69; Berks. RO, D/EBt F17/3, bylaws of new burial ground (among misc. papers re Wm. Box); OS Map 1:2500, Oxon. XXXI.8 (1876 edn).
  • 285. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 74, 84, 89, 260; ibid. MS dd Par. Witney c 30, ff. 218 and v., 220; ibid. RO 772, local enquiry Sept. 1897.
  • 286. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 106, 119; III/i/8, pp. 76, 181.
  • 287. ORO, tithe award and map, no. 889; Witney Official Guide [c. 1940 edn], 35: copy in Bodl.
  • 288. Melville & Co. Dir. Oxon. (1867), 42–3; PO Dir. Oxon. (1864 and later edns); ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 3, 149, 230, mentioning no such complaints.
  • 289. PO Dir. Oxon. (1877); Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1883 and later edns).
  • 290. PRO, IR 58/65166/698–700.
  • 291. Above, intro. (bldgs: houses 1800–1950).
  • 292. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, p. 481; III/i/2, pp. 266, 286–7; Elec. Lighting Orders Confirmation (No. 7) Act, 63 & 64 Vic. c. 167 (Local and Personal); for the plant, PRO, IR 58/65164/437.
  • 293. Elec. Lighting Orders Confirmation (No. 2) Act, 1 & 2 Geo. V, c. 161 (Local and Personal); Witney Gaz. 5 Apr. 1913; ORO, Witney UDC III/i/4, pp. 2, 52; III/i/5, pp. 14–17, 30, 50; III/ii/10a, f. 29.
  • 294. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/5, pp. 78, 114, 117; Sale Cat. [former Workho.] (1922): copy in Bodl. GA Oxon. c 256 (55).
  • 295. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/5, p. 344; Witney Official Guide [c. 1936 edn], 37–9: copy in Bodl.
  • 296. Sale Cat., Properties in Hailey and Witney (1945): copy in COS.
  • 297. Oxon. Dir. (1958–9), 333–4.
  • 298. S. C. Jenkins, 'Industrial Archaeol. Witney', Rec. Witney, 3 (Apr. 1978), 21.
  • 299. Oxf. Chron. 7 Feb. 1839, p. 4; 30 Mar. 1839, p. 4.
  • 300. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 3, 29–30, 38; I/i/4, pp. 26, 148, 337.
  • 301. Ibid. I/i/1, pp. 226, 230, 243, 293.
  • 302. ORO, RO 772, report of local enquiry Sept. 1897.
  • 303. Ibid. notes re borough extension; ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 364, 442; III/i/2, p. 27.
  • 304. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/2, pp. 276, 284; III/i/5, pp. 26, 63, 368.
  • 305. Witney Ct. Bks. 99.
  • 306. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, f. 109v.
  • 307. Ibid. Witney TC III/iii/2; above, intro. (public bldgs).
  • 308. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 30, ff. 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 124, and passim.
  • 309. Ibid. f. 26.
  • 310. Ibid. f. 63.
  • 311. Oxf. Chron. 5 Nov. 1859, 11 June 1864; Witney Express, 9 Mar. 1871, 28 Nov. 1872, 27 Feb. 1879.
  • 312. Programme for Witney Fire Brigade Second Annual Competition, 13 Sept. 1881: copy in Bodl. GA Oxon. 4° 208 (11); Oxf. Times, 15 May 1880. The assertion in Witney Gaz. 11 Dec. 1964 that a brigade was formed in 1875 has not been substantiated.
  • 313. Witney Express, 11 Dec. 1879.
  • 314. Ibid. 10 June 1880; ORO, Witney UDC I/i/2, pp. 201, 224–5, 229–32, 264; ibid. DV X/93, no. 490.
  • 315. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, pp. 68, 86, 410, 414; III/i/2, pp. 193, 206, 239; III/i/5, pp. 221, 372, 384.
  • 316. Ibid. III/i/2, p. 309; III/i/5, p. 221; III/i/6, pp. 149, 190, 236–7, 247, 251–2, 299; Witney Official Guide [c. 1934 edn], 40.
  • 317. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/8, pp. 6, 184, 421; III/ii/10a, f. 30; Witney Official Guide [c. 1936 edn], 34.
  • 318. ORO, Witney UDC III/ii/9, f. 38; III/ii/10a, ff. 25, 30; Oxon. Dir. (1958–9), 304.
  • 319. ORO, Witney UDC III/ii/26b, p. 500; Oxf. Mail, 7 Aug. 1964.
  • 320. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/206, f. 8.
  • 321. Witney Ct. Bks. 82, 108–9.
  • 322. e.g. ORO, Misc. Je. I/1, f. 27 and passim.
  • 323. Witney Gaz. 23 July 1910.
  • 324. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxiii, 5, 29, 32, 35, 70, 90, 127, 202; in 1590 the rent was, unusually, received by a churchwarden.
  • 325. For Corn Street's development, above, intro. (origin and devpt).
  • 326. Witney Ct. Bks. 70; ORO, MSS dd Par. Witney c 49, nos. 8–9, 11–14; ibid. Witney TC III/iii/1–8; TC VII/3; ibid. tithe award and map, no. 85; PRO, C 93/5/6; C 93/21/23. For town feoffees, below, charities.
  • 327. Nos. 28–38: below, charities (almshouses).
  • 328. Above, intro. (public bldgs); PRO, C 93/5/6; C 93/21/23; ORO, tithe award and map; Witney Gaz. 23 July 1910.
  • 329. Below, charities.
  • 330. ORO, tithe award.
  • 331. For premises rented in the late 19th cent., ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, pp. 7, 29, 349; I/i/2, pp. 224–5, 264; I/i/4, pp. 161, 327.
  • 332. Blenheim Mun., shelf G5, conveyance 31 Dec. 1902; above (public health: drainage).
  • 333. Above, intro. (social life: earlier 20th cent.).
  • 334. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/3, pp. 352, 367 sqq, 414; Witney Gaz. 7 Jan., 7 Oct. 1911; above, intro. (public bldgs).
  • 335. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/8, pp. 86, 124.
  • 336. Ibid. pp. 157, 172, 175; ibid. III/ii/26b, pp. 480, 489 sqq.
  • 337. ORO, Witney TC VII/1–2; above, intro. (public bldgs).
  • 338. ORO, Witney UDC III/ii/26b, passim.
  • 339. Above, intro. (public bldgs).
  • 340. Above (town govt. from 1974).
  • 341. Inf. from town council.
  • 342. BL, MS Harl. 1412, f. 76; Oxon. Visit. 126; Giles, Hist. Witney, 45, illust. facing p. 38.
  • 343. Above, intro. (social life); cf. Banbury: VCH Oxon. x. 88. For St John the Baptist, M. D. Anderson, Imagery of British Churches (1955), 155–6; VCH Oxon. iv. 322.
  • 344. N. Stebbing, 'Acquisitions by Oxon. Museums', Oxoniensia, 43 (1978), 257; COS, PRN 11415.
  • 345. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/209, [ff. 21v.–22].
  • 346. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxiv, 1, 94, 98.
  • 347. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/1, p. 11; Giles, Hist. Witney, 45, implying there was no seal in 1852.
  • 348. ORO, Witney UDC I/i/4, p. 44. The seal of the burial board, preserved in Witney town hall, also featured the lamb and staff.
  • 349. ORO, Witney TC VIII/1; Witney Town Hall, files A7/6–7, seals, grant of arms.
  • 350. Witney Ct. Bks. pp. xxii, 125, 143.
  • 351. Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 171, f. 93.
  • 352. Witney Town Hall, files A7/4–5.
  • 353. Ibid. file A7/8 and photos; newspaper cutting [c. 1956] in private possession.
  • 354. W. R. Williams, Parl Hist. Oxon. (1899), 174; Parl. Writs, ed. F. Palgrave (Rec. Com. 1827), i, p. xcv; ii (1), pp. cclxxvi– cclxxvii. Monk, Hist. Witney, 24–5, and Hyde, 'Winchester Manors', 71, list Adam de Pyry as MP in 1307 or 1309–10, apparently in error: cf. Parl. Writs, i, p. lxxvi; ii (1), p. ccxxxix.
  • 355. For families, Bampton Hund. R. 91 sqq; Hyde, 'Winchester Manors', 74 sqq.
  • 356. Hants RO, 11M59/B1/52–57; cf. PRO, E 179/161/8–9.
  • 357. Hyde, 'Winchester Manors', 312; Cal. Pat. 1348–50, 241.
  • 358. Inf. from West Oxon. Conservative Assoc. website (2003). For town politics in county elections, above, intro. (social and political life).