A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2006.
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Manor and Hundred Courts
The existence of a medieval manor court at Kencot can probably be assumed, though the only recorded example is a court baron of 1595 held by William Pope's steward; its sole business was copyhold conveyancing. (fn. 1) In addition, courts for neighbouring manors with land in Kencot exercised limited jurisdiction there: in the 15th century the Knights Hospitallers' Clanfield court elected a Kencot tithingman who was required to attend court sessions, presumably in connection with the Hospitallers' Kencot freehold, (fn. 2) while in the 16th and 17th centuries a 2-yardland copyhold farm in Kencot belonging to Bradwell St John manor was similarly granted in the Broadwell court. (fn. 3) In 1500 Kencot's inhabitants were fined for failure to send a representative to the annual hundred court and view of frankpledge at Bampton, which in the 16th and 17th centuries still elected a tithingman and a constable for Kencot. (fn. 4) From the 17th century regulation of Kencot's affairs passed increasingly to non-manorial bodies, in particular the parish vestry and county authorities such as the quarter sessions: maintenance of highways was enforced by the quarter sessions in 1688 and 1810, and in 1724 Kencot's inhabitants reported the constable of Broadwell to the justices for allowing a fugitive to escape his custody. (fn. 5)
Parish Government and Officers
Though parish government in Kencot is ill recorded before the 19th century, by the 17th century the parish had the usual officers, and presumably its own vestry or parish assembly. Two churchwardens were appointed apparently by the 1530s, (fn. 6) and constables, appointed at first by the hundred court at Bampton but later by the vestry, (fn. 7) are recorded from the 1640s; the constable in 1641 served also as overseer of the poor. (fn. 8) Presumably there were agricultural officers such as haywards, though none are recorded.
Vestry (and later parish church council) minutes survive from 1853, detailing parish affairs more minutely. (fn. 9) By then the vestry nominated a constable to the justices of the peace, and appointed a poor-law guardian, two assessors and overseers, occasionally a surveyor of highways, and a rector's and a parishioners' churchwarden; in 1875 it decided that the parish was 'so small' that it needed only one churchwarden, but the decision seems to have been reversed the following year. (fn. 10) Apart from routine repairs to the church and churchyard, the vestry's other chief function before 1894 was setting parish rates, usually at between 2d. and 4d. in the pound, together with its residual responsibility for poor rates; other matters dealt with were administration of the Carter bequest to the school, (fn. 11) and disposal of the parish pound in 1887, the materials from its inclosure to be used for road repair.
Under the 1894 Local Government Act Kencot became part of the newly formed Witney Rural District, (fn. 12) the vestry's few surviving civil functions passing, as elsewhere, to a parish council, which continued in the early 21st century. The vestry and (from 1944) parish church council continued to deal with church affairs, including, in the 1950s, disposal of the rectory house, and ecclesiastical union with Broadwell; other matters discussed were the erection of a public reading room with Amelia Carter's charitable bequest in 1912–15, and local clubs and societies. As earlier, parish affairs were largely run by the more prominent inhabitants, by the mid 20th century mostly professional incomers. (fn. 13) Under local government reorganization in 1974 the civil parish became part of West Oxfordshire District. (fn. 14)