Hailey: Local government

Pages 248-249

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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Manor Courts and Manorial Officers

Hailey's inhabitants attended Witney manor court and view of frankpledge from the Middle Ages until the court's abolition in 1925, and by the 16th century collectively paid the court a fixed view of 10s. 6d. twice a year. (fn. 1) A constable and a tithingman for Hailey were elected at the Martinmas view in the 16th century, and still in the 18th; (fn. 2) a hayward was mentioned in the 1590s, perhaps elected, as in the 18th century, at the Hockday court. By the 16th century the hayward held a ¼-a. close by virtue of his office, (fn. 3) and the field-name Constable's butts suggests that land was also attached to the constableship. (fn. 4)

Parish Government and Parish Officers

Parish officers were elected in the late 16th century and the 17th by Witney vestry, which Hailey inhabitants attended, though after the opening of Hailey chapel in 1761 they may have been elected by a separate assembly for Hailey. Two collectors or overseers of the poor were appointed from 1613, and in the 1640s there were three overseers, of whom one acted probably for Crawley. A surveyor of highways for Hailey was appointed in 1582, and throughout the 17th century two were appointed annually. (fn. 5) Surveyors continued in the early 19th century, and at inclosure in 1824 received 1½ a. for public graveland rubble-pits. (fn. 6) No other parish land was recorded until the commons' inclosure in 1853, when the overseers and church- or chapelwardens received 24 a. as labourers' allotments, and Delly green and Woodgreen (together 4 a.) as recreation grounds. (fn. 7) A police constable living in Hailey village by 1881 was appointed by the county constabulary; a police house was built near the Delly End road, west of Hailey village, after 1921, but closed in the late 20th century and became a private house. (fn. 8)


Hailey township owed rates towards repair of Witney church, and a churchwarden for the township was appointed by Witney vestry occasionally in the late 16th century and regularly from the early 17th. (fn. 9) From 1761 a proportion of the rate, agreed by Witney vestry, was allocated for upkeep of the newly built Hailey chapel, the residue being returned to the Witney churchwardens at the year's end; local expenditure included building repairs, provision of communion-wine, and killing of vermin. (fn. 10) A chapelwarden, distinct from the Hailey churchwarden, was mentioned in the early 19th century, appointed perhaps by a separate assembly or vestry meeting for Hailey. (fn. 11) From around 1830 the Hailey churchwarden refused to present accounts at Witney vestry or to surrender the balance of the Hailey rate, prompting threats of litigation; the dispute seems to have been settled amicably in 1849, and from 1851 Witney vestry granted Hailey £10 a year from the general parish rate to help meet customary ecclesiastical charges. (fn. 12)

From the establishment of Hailey-cum-Crawley parish in 1854 there were two churchwardens with joint responsibility for Hailey and Crawley, though both places remained liable for repair of Witney church, and in the 1860s Witney vestry still appointed a Hailey churchwarden. (fn. 13) By the 1890s the Hailey-cum-Crawley churchwardens accounted to Hailey vestry, which in the earlier 20th century occasionally appointed sidesmen for Hailey as well as churchwardens. (fn. 14)

Local Government From 1894

Under local government reorganization in 1894 Hailey became part of the newly formed Witney rural district, (fn. 15) with a parish council of twelve which elected two poor-law guardians and rural district councillors. The parish land awarded at the common's inclosure in 1853 was vested in the new parish council, which sold some of the labourers' allotments in 1908. Following the transfer of Woodgreen and West End to Witney urban district in 1898 Hailey parish council was reduced to eight, electing one guardian and rural district councillor; the boundary change was strongly resisted by Hailey inhabitants on the grounds that rural-district rates were considerably lower than those in the town, even with a special parish rate to pay for adoption of the Lighting Act in West End. (fn. 16) The transfer also led to protracted uncertainty over ownership of Woodgreen recreation ground, for which Witney urban district council agreed to pay Hailey a nominal rent of 20s. in 1922. The ownership remained unclear in the late 20th century. (fn. 17)

In 1974 Hailey, like the rest of the former Witney parish, became part of the new West Oxfordshire district, its parish council continuing to exercise the usual limited powers in the early 21st century. (fn. 18) For ecclesiastical purposes the chapelry retained two churchwardens following the reunification of Hailey and Witney parishes in 1982, (fn. 19) though the office of parish clerk, recorded from the 18th century, was abolished by Hailey vestry in 1918. (fn. 20)

Poor Relief

Hailey administered its own poor relief by the early 17th century, when it had its own overseers. (fn. 21) The township's expenditure was greatly increased by its responsibility for West End and Woodgreen, both effectively parts of Witney: (fn. 22) in 1775–6 the overseers spent £209, and from 1783–5 an average of £245, rising to £1,025 in 1802–3 and to over £1,900 in 1818, before falling back to under £700 in 1823–4. The parish rate of 10s. 9d. in 1802–3 was high for the area, though expenditure by head of population (21s. in 1802–3, 36s. in 1818, and 12s. in 1824) was nevertheless lower than in Witney's other townships. Sixty-three adults and 120 children (18 per cent of the population) received permanent out-relief in 1802–3, when Hailey's poor relief was apparently subcontracted, and another 23 received occasional relief. From 1813 to 1815 between 10 and 12 people a year excluding children received permanent out-relief, and another 10 occasional relief.

A small workhouse, comprising two rented houses with accommodation for forty, existed by 1775; it had 23 inmates in 1802–3 when £6 10s. was spent on workhouse materials and £35 10s. was earned there. (fn. 23) A former inmate was among paupers apprenticed probably from a local charity in the late 18th century. (fn. 24) In 1813–15 there were 18–22 inmates excluding children, and the workhouse remained open in 1819; (fn. 25) its site is not known.

From 1834 responsibility for Hailey's poor passed to the Board of Guardians of the new Witney poor-law union, though the township continued to appoint two overseers. (fn. 26) As late as 1924 the clerk to Hailey parish council served as assistant overseer, and in 1939 acted as rate-collector. (fn. 27)


  • 1. ORO, Misc. Je. I/1, ff. 42v., 45; Bodl. MS Rolls Oxon. 60; for the courts, above, Crawley, local govt.
  • 2. ORO, Misc. Je. I/1, ff. 43, 60v.–61, 79; Blenheim Mun., B/M/159, p. 25; cf. Univ. Coll. Arch., E6/1/D2–4. One of two constables noted in 1642 was probably for Crawley: Protestation Rtns and Tax Assess. 2, 33.
  • 3. ORO, Misc. Je. I/1, f. 10v.; Blenheim Mun., B/M/186, pp. 36,133.
  • 4. ORO, incl. award (1824), p. 95.
  • 5. Ibid. MS dd Par. Witney c 9, passim; Protestation Rtns and Tax Assess. 2, 33; above, Crawley, local govt.
  • 6. ORO, Hailey incl. award (1824), p. 76; ibid. tithe award (1841), s.v. surveyors.
  • 7. Ibid. Hailey and Crawley incl. award (1853), p. 5.
  • 8. PRO, RG 11/1515, 3rd Hailey secn, no. 54; Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1899 and later edns); OS Maps 1:2500, Oxon. XXV.16 (1921 edn); 1:25000, SP 21/31 (1983 edn); 1:25000, sheet 180 (1999 edn).
  • 9. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney c 9, passim; ibid. MS Oxf. Dioc. c 1836, Order in Council 11 Aug. 1854.
  • 10. Ibid. MS dd Par. Witney c 30, ff. 1 sqq, 149v.–150; Bodl. MS Top. Oxon. d 218, f. 111v.; below, church.
  • 11. ORO, MSS Oxf. Archd. Oxon. b 24, ff. 134–5; c 39, ff. 103–111v.
  • 12. Ibid. MS dd Par. Witney c 30, ff. 121b–153v.
  • 13. Ibid. ff. 167v. sqq; ibid. MS Oxf. Dioc. c 1836, Order in Council 11 Aug. 1854; below, church.
  • 14. Ibid. PAR 117/2/A1/1, passim.
  • 15. Ibid. RO 3251, pp. 201–3.
  • 16. Ibid. RO 772, passim; above, intro. (bdies).
  • 17. ORO, Witney UDC III/i/5, pp. 365, 465–6, 477; Witney Gaz. 9 June 1900, 29 May 1975.
  • 18. ORO, RO 3267; local inf.
  • 19. Oxf. Dioc. Yr. Bk. (1998 edn), 108; below, church.
  • 20. ORO, PAR 117/1/R1/1, f. 1v.; PAR 117/2/A1/1, s.a. 1908, 1918.
  • 21. Above (parish govt).
  • 22. Above, intro. (bdies).
  • 23. Poor Abstract, 1777, p. 140; 1787, p. 188; 1804, pp. 398–9; 1818, pp. 352–3; Poor Rate Rtns. (Parl. Papers 1822 (556), v), p. 135; (1825 (334), iv), p. 170; (1830–1 (83), xi), p. 157; (1835 (444), xlvii), p. 153; Census, 1801–41; Oxf. Jnl. Synposis, 2 Dec. 1775; Oxf. Jnl. 2 Apr. 1803, p. 3.
  • 24. ORO, MS dd Par. Witney b 18 (Ric. Pratley); below, charities.
  • 25. Poor Abstract, 1818, pp. 352–3; ORO, Cal. QS, ii, f. 267.
  • 26. ORO, RO 3251, pp. 201–3; ibid. PAR 117/11/1D/1; Witney Express, 6 Apr. 1871.
  • 27. Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1924 and later edns).