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 Courts and Officers
Before 1248 Richard, earl of Cornwall, as overlord of Clanfield manor, withdrew his tenants' suit from the hundred court, establishing a twice yearly view of frankpledge at Clanfield which was attended by tenants of several St Valery manors. (fn. 1) The view, held by successive lords of the honors of Wallingford and later of Ewelme, continued until the early 19th century, when it met annually at the Mason's Arms inn. In the Middle Ages it regulated assizes of bread and ale, mill tolls, and, as in the 18th century, cleaning of ditches, though by the 19th century its chief function was probably collection of cert money and quitrent: then as in the 13th century, tithingmen representing Chestlion, Southwick, and 'Abbot's fee' tenants made annual payments at the court totalling 10s. 4d., originally comprising fixed view, wardpenny, and hidage. (fn. 2)
A separate court baron and view of frankpledge for the Hospitallers' manor (Friars Court) was held at Clanfield throughout the Middle Ages, dealing with assizes of ale, wastes, maintenance of roads and watercourses, and copyholds. (fn. 3) In 1511 manor tenants were fined for failure to maintain the butts for archery practice, (fn. 4) and in 1582 lords were said to have strays throughout the manor. (fn. 5) Court profits totalled 26s. 8d. in 1338 and 28s. 8d. in 1540–1, by which time tenants in Clanfield, Grafton (in Langford), and Weald (in Bampton) belonged to separate tithings, together owing certainty payments totalling 11d. (fn. 6) The court and view continued in the early 18th century (fn. 7) and, though no later courts are known, owners in 1803 still claimed royalties and other manorial rights, including profits of courts leet and baron. (fn. 8)
Other Clanfield tenants attended their respective manor courts. A court baron for tenants of Ralph Hareng's Clanfield manor was mentioned in the early 13th century, (fn. 9) and courts baron continued for Chestlion and for Southwick manor tenants in the mid 16th century. (fn. 10) Tenants of Osney abbey and later of Christ Church attended the Abbots Bourton court in Black Bourton, and tenants of Exeter cathedral attended Bampton Deanery court in Bampton. (fn. 11) Bampton hundred court appointed a tithingman in the 16th and 17th centuries presumably for Clanfield tenants of Bampton Earls manor, and inhabitants were occasionally presented at the court for failure to scour ditches. (fn. 12)
A constable for Chestlion manor was elected at the view for Ewelme honor in the 16th century and still in the early 18th; (fn. 13) presumably that was the constable for Clanfield noted in the 1640s and 1660s. (fn. 14) A constable appointed by Bampton Deanery court retained jurisdiction over Exeter cathedral's tenants. (fn. 15) Other officers mentioned from the 17th century may already have been appointed, as later, by the parish vestry. (fn. 16)
Parish Government and Officers
Two churchwardens were recorded from the early 16th century, (fn. 17) two overseers from the early 17th, (fn. 18) and two surveyors of highways from the late 18th, when inhabitants indicted them for failure to repair the roads. (fn. 19) Presumably there was also a hayward, since the fieldname Hayward's ham or patch was recorded in the 19th century. (fn. 20)
By the 1840s and presumably earlier all parish officers were elected by the vestry, which met up to four or five times a year usually in the school or Mason's Arms, and which was generally attended by around half a dozen prominent farmers and by the vicar. It administered parish property and rating, oversaw grazing on roadside verges and wastes, and in the 1840s and 1850s raised funds to facilitate emigration. Throughout the 19th century it usually appointed two churchwardens, two overseers, two highway surveyors (replaced from 1864 by a single waywarden), and two acting constables; a watchman paid 10s. a week plus expenses was appointed in 1848, and a hayward in 1877. Other appointees included a salaried assistant overseer in 1873 and again from 1889, two rate-assessors in 1873, and a poor-law guardian in 1858 and 1871. Parish clerks, paid until 1863 partly in Easter offerings, were appointed occasionally, and from 1886 there were three sidesmen, still mentioned in 1919. (fn. 21) Parish property in 1839 comprised two houses, the school on Bampton road, and 3 a. of land, but was sold piecemeal between 1851 and 1872. (fn. 22) Parish stocks, on Bampton road by the edge of the green, survived in 1876, but had apparently gone by 1899. (fn. 23)
From 1834 Clanfield belonged to the new Witney poor law union, and under the 1894 Local Government Act it became part of Witney rural district, (fn. 24) the vestry's few remaining civil functions passing to a parish council which continued to oversee the waste, paths, and streams, and to let grazing on the green. The parish council continued in the late 1990s, when there were still two churchwardens. (fn. 25) The parish became part of West Oxfordshire district in 1974. (fn. 26)