Brize Norton: Local government

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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Christina Colvin. Carol Cragoe. Veronica Ortenberg. R B Peberdy. Nesta Selwyn. Elizabeth Williamson, 'Brize Norton: Local government', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006), pp. 245-246. British History Online [accessed 20 June 2024].

Christina Colvin. Carol Cragoe. Veronica Ortenberg. R B Peberdy. Nesta Selwyn. Elizabeth Williamson. "Brize Norton: Local government", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006) 245-246. British History Online, accessed June 20, 2024,

Colvin, Christina. Cragoe, Carol. Ortenberg, Veronica. Peberdy, R B. Selwyn, Nesta. Williamson, Elizabeth. "Brize Norton: Local government", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006). 245-246. British History Online. Web. 20 June 2024,

In this section


Manor Courts

Before 1241 Richard, earl of Cornwall, as overlord, (fn. 1) transferred the suit of Brize Norton and Astrop from Bampton hundred court to his court of North Osney. (fn. 2) In 1279 the lords of the Fritwell manor and of Astrop reportedly owed suit every three weeks, while free tenants on both Brize Norton manors were required to attend view of frankpledge twice a year at Clanfield, head of a division of the North Osney court. (fn. 3) By the 1530s the view was apparently held annually, in springtime. (fn. 4) It belonged from 1540 to 1817 to the honor of Ewelme, (fn. 5) and is last recorded in 1827, owned by William Ward, when all males in Brize Norton aged 12 and upwards were summoned to the Masons Arms in Clanfield. (fn. 6) The view probably lapsed soon afterwards.

In 1296–7 Brize Norton and Astrop-with-Caswell each formed a tithing at the view of frankpledge. (fn. 7) From at least 1462 until 1715–16 or later the latter tithing was known as Caswell with Astrop. During that period each tithing usually chose one tithingman, though two were recorded for Brize Norton in 1462, 1464, 1542, and 1715–16. (fn. 8) In 1296–7 Brize Norton paid 3s. for fixed view, 20s. for hidage, and 10d. for ward penny, while Astrop-with-Caswell paid respectively 6d., 2s. and 1d. (fn. 9) During the 15th–17th centuries and presumably later the obligations were paid as combined cert money, 23s. 10d. for Brize Norton and 2s. 8d. or thereabouts for Caswell with Astrop. (fn. 10) From the late 13th to early 16th century individual inhabitants were presented for breaking the assizes of bread and ale, and for assaults. The court also ordered the scouring of obstructed ditches and streams. (fn. 11) In 1539 men were fined for playing illicit games. (fn. 12) Thereafter the court mainly collected cert money. (fn. 13) In 1640 the lessee of the Grange claimed that his estate also owed service to Ewelme and implied that it constituted a tithing: it paid 3s. in cert money and appointed a tithingman. Cattle found trespassing on the Grange's land were impounded separately rather than in the common pound. (fn. 14)

A hallmoot of Brize Norton was mentioned in 1167 X 1173 when it witnessed the settlement of a dispute, and an Astrop hallmoot was recorded c. 1200 as witness to a property grant. (fn. 15) In the late 12th and early 13th century, after Brize Norton had passed to three heiresses, there may have been three courts. (fn. 16) In 1279 each of the two Brize Norton manors possessed a three-weekly court (i.e. court baron), as did Astrop. (fn. 17) In 1423 the pleas of the Fritwell manor, which had recently belonged to Maud Lovel, were valued at 2s. per year. (fn. 18) When the same manor was in Crown ownership in 1541–3, its court met twice yearly. Business included admission to tenancies, ordering the repair of houses, and reaffirming the customary stint. In 1541 its jury included two widows. (fn. 19) The perquisites were valued in 1557 at 20d. (fn. 20) The pleas and perquisites of the court belonging to the Brun manor were valued in 1341 at 2s. (fn. 21) Business presented to the court in late 1464 included interference with boundaries, damage to the lord's house and grove, admission to land, sub-letting of land against custom, regulation of the movement of pigs and other animals, a broken sheep-pen, and unjust occupation of pasture. (fn. 22) Thomas Rathbone continued to hold the court in 1557. (fn. 23) By the late 17th century, following the union of the two Brize Norton manors under common ownership, (fn. 24) there was presumably one manor court. A copyhold was granted, presumably in the court, in 1717, (fn. 25) but no later reference is known.

Astrop manor court presumably lapsed in the late Middle Ages as a result of depopulation. (fn. 26) In 1279 a freehold tenement at Marsh Haddon owed service to Bampton manor court, (fn. 27) but no further reference to this obligation is recorded.

Parish Government and Officers

A constable of Brize Norton was mentioned from the late 14th century, (fn. 28) and two were recorded in 1853. (fn. 29) From 1841 or earlier until at least 1863 Thomas Smith served as watchman. (fn. 30) Churchwardens were mentioned from 1584, and two overseers from 1642. (fn. 31) A clerk mentioned in 1558 may have been a parish clerk. (fn. 32) Otherwise the post is not recorded until the early 19th century. (fn. 33) A sexton was paid for his work from 1836. (fn. 34) Sidesmen were first mentioned in 1906. (fn. 35)

The parish vestry was occasionally mentioned in churchwardens' accounts between 1811 and 1883. (fn. 36) In 1811 it comprised the vicar, 7 ordinary members, and presumably the 2 churchwardens. (fn. 37) The vestry normally elected a churchwarden each for the parish and the vicar, (fn. 38) but from 1867 the vicar was reported to nominate his warden. (fn. 39) Between 1885 and 1890, a period covered by minutes, the vestry elected the overseers and a waywarden, sought the repair of footpaths, considered appeals against rate assessments, and planned celebrations of the queen's golden jubilee. (fn. 40) In 1894 civil functions passed to a new parish council and to the newly formed Witney Rural District Council, and in 1974 Brize Norton became part of the new West Oxfordshire district. (fn. 41)


  • 1. Above, manors (Brize Norton manor: overlordship).
  • 2. Rot. Hund. II, 30.
  • 3. Bampton Hund. 34–5, 38; cf. Clanfield, local govt.
  • 4. PRO, SC 2/212/18–19.
  • 5. VCH Berks. III, 528, 531.
  • 6. ORO, CH/E/I/iii/1.
  • 7. Earldom of Cornwall Accts, I, 144, 146.
  • 8. PRO, SC 2/212/18; SC 2/212/20; SC 2/212/25, rott. 7, 14d.; Bodl. MS dd Ewelme Honor d 2, 5/20/8, 7/8/8.
  • 9. Earldom of Cornwall Accts, I, 144.
  • 10. e.g. PRO, SC 2/212/3; SC 2/212/18; SC 2/212/31, m. 4d.
  • 11. Earldom of Cornwall Accts, I, 146–7; PRO, SC 2/212/3; SC 2/212/18; SC 2/212/25, rott. 7, 14d.
  • 12. PRO, SC 2/212/19.
  • 13. PRO, SC 2/212/20; SC 2/212/21; SC 2/212/31, m. 4d.; Bodl. MS dd Ewelme Honor d 2, 5/20/8.
  • 14. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS Estates 64, f. 8v.
  • 15. R. C. van Caenegem (ed.), English Lawsuits from William I to Richard II, II (Selden Soc. 107, 1991), pp. 502–3: for date see above, manors (Osney abbey demesne tithes); Thame Cart. I, no. 87.
  • 16. Cf. above, manors.
  • 17. Bampton Hund. 34–5, 38.
  • 18. PRO, C 139/6, no. 51, presuming the ref. to frankpledge to be incorrect.
  • 19. Ibid. SC 2/197/43, rott. 1–3.
  • 20. Ibid. E 318/42/2240, rot. 6.
  • 21. Ibid. C 135/63, no. 9.
  • 22. BL, Add. Ch. 872.
  • 23. PRO, REQ 2/29/86.
  • 24. See above, manors.
  • 25. ORO, QSD E. 1, p. 118, grant to Geo. Capell.
  • 26. Above, intro. (Astrop).
  • 27. Bampton Hund. 24.
  • 28. PRO, E 179/161/42, no. 15; for later refs., Protestation Rtns and Tax Assess. 2, 16; ORO, Cal. QS, III, 23, 29, 38, 85, 94, 99, 111, 115.
  • 29. Lascelles' Dir. Oxon. (1853).
  • 30. PRO, HO 107/872/25; Lascelles' Dir. Oxon. (1853); Dutton, Allen & Co.'s Dir. Oxon. (1863).
  • 31. E. R. Brinkworth (ed.), Archdeacon's Court, 1584, II (ORS 24, 1946), 200, 223; Protestation Rtns and Tax Assess. 2, 16.
  • 32. ORO, MS Wills Oxon. 183, f. 1v.
  • 33. Ibid. MS Oxf. Dioc. d 568, f. 60.
  • 34. Ibid. PAR 43/4/F/1, f. 38.
  • 35. Ibid. MS Oxf. Dioc. b. 44, f. 373v.
  • 36. Ibid. PAR 43/4/F/1, passim.
  • 37. Ibid. f. 20v.
  • 38. e.g. ibid. ff. 38, 42.
  • 39. Ibid. f. 68.
  • 40. ORO, PAR 43/5/F/1, ff. 57v.–60.
  • 41. ORO, RO 3251, pp. 201–3; RO 3267.