Asthall: Local government

Page 72

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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View Of Frankpledge and Manor Courts

Before 1241 Richard, earl of Cornwall, as lord of Asthall manor, withdrew the suit of Asthall from Bampton hundred court to his own court of North Osney. (fn. 1) Earl Edmund freed the abbot and convent of Biddlesden from suit in 1275, (fn. 2) but otherwise retained view of frankpledge with his overlordship in 1279, (fn. 3) though by 1296–7 it had been converted to a fixed payment of 10s. a year. (fn. 4) By 1304 the view and payment had apparently passed to the lord of Asthall manor, (fn. 5) and in 1688 the manor allegedly included a view of frankpledge and court leet. (fn. 6)

Richard of Cornwall held courts baron for the manor by 1279, pleas and perquisites of which were valued at 10s. in 1304. (fn. 7) Views, courts leet, and courts baron continued in the earlier 19th century, when they met only occasionally. In 1830 the jury perambulated part of the parish boundary and reported encroachments, and in 1849 it perambulated the manor boundary adjacent to Wychwood Forest. By then, and probably before 1662, the manor's tenants at Asthall and Asthall Leigh belonged to separate tithings. (fn. 8) A court baron for the reputed manor of Asthall Leigh (formerly belonging to the More family), held in the late 18th century, (fn. 9) was presumably of medieval origin.

Parish Government and Officers

Asthall and Asthall Leigh each had a constable in 1662, (fn. 10) and in the early 19th century the Asthall court appointed a constable and tithingman for each tithing. (fn. 11) Churchwardens were mentioned from 1530, (fn. 12) sidesmen in 1612–13, (fn. 13) and two overseers in 1642; (fn. 14) a parish clerk mentioned in 1799 (fn. 15) received an income from fees in the early 19th century. (fn. 16) A sole surveyor of highways was mentioned in 1853. (fn. 17)

By then those officers were appointed presumably by the parish vestry, meetings of which are recorded from 1863 to 1907. (fn. 18) The vestry annually nominated up to six constables until 1871, and elected two overseers and the surveyor (usually called waywarden) until 1894. Churchwardens were also elected, though the vicar nominated one warden from 1889 onwards and perhaps earlier. After 1894 the vestry dealt solely with church business, including education, until superseded by a parochial church council in 1920. (fn. 19) Civil functions passed to a new parish council and to the newly formed Witney Rural District Council, and in 1974 Asthall became part of the new West Oxfordshire district. (fn. 20)


  • 1. Rot. Hund. II, 30.
  • 2. BL, Harl. Ch. 84. C. 9.
  • 3. Bampton. Hund. 38.
  • 4. Earldom of Cornwall Accts, I, 143.
  • 5. PRO, C 133/97.
  • 6. Glos. RO, D 1447/1/259, lease of 9 July 1688.
  • 7. Bampton Hund. 39; PRO, C 133/97.
  • 8. PRO, E 179/255/4, pt iii, ff. 236, 238; Glos. RO, D 1447/10/9, ff. 2–6v.
  • 9. ORO, Misc. Torr II/1.
  • 10. PRO, E 179/255/4, pt iii, ff. 236, 238.
  • 11. Glos. RO, D 1447/10/9, ff. 3, 5v.
  • 12. Visit. Dioc. Linc. II, 48 (mentioning iconomi).
  • 13. PRO, C 93/4/1, m. 6.
  • 14. Protestation Rtns and Tax Assess. 5; for exercise of parish poor relief, above, intro. (social life).
  • 15. Eton Coll., COLL/B1/1/5/18, value of vicarages from James Pitt, 1799.
  • 16. e.g. ORO, MSS Oxf. Dioc. d 568, f. 17; d 580, f. 15.
  • 17. Queen's Coll. Mun., 4. D. 66.
  • 18. ORO, MS dd Par. Asthall b 4, on which remainder of para. based.
  • 19. Ibid. e 4, p. 1.
  • 20. ORO, RO 3251, pp. 201–3; RO 3267.