Black Bourton: 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, 'Black Bourton: Local government', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006), pp. 99-101. British History Online [accessed 17 June 2024].

Christina Colvin. Carol Cragoe. Veronica Ortenberg. R B Peberdy. Nesta Selwyn. Elizabeth Williamson. "Black Bourton: Local government", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006) 99-101. British History Online, accessed June 17, 2024,

Colvin, Christina. Cragoe, Carol. Ortenberg, Veronica. Peberdy, R B. Selwyn, Nesta. Williamson, Elizabeth. "Black Bourton: Local government", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 15, Bampton Hundred (Part Three), (London, 2006). 99-101. British History Online. Web. 17 June 2024,

In this section


Manor Courts

Courts for tenants of all three Black Bourton manors were held from the Middle Ages to the 18th or 19th centuries. Courts for Bourton Inge manor were mentioned in 1195, when perquisites totalled 36s. 8d.; (fn. 1) in the 17th century they dealt with maintenance of watercourses and once with a bastardy case, and copyhold grants continued probably in the mid 18th century. The manor was sold with its courts in 1768, but no later sessions are known. (fn. 2) View of frankpledge for Bourton Inge tenants was apparently reserved for the hundred court, held by the lord of Bampton: in the 16th and 17th centuries the hundred court appointed a tithingman for Black Bourton at Michaelmas, and until the 19th century a separate lawday for Black Bourton and Broughton Poggs was held after Michaelmas, apparently by the lord of Bampton's steward. That too oversaw watercourses and roads. (fn. 3)

Tenants of Bourton Winslow manor attended a twice-yearly view of frankpledge at Clanfield, established by the earl of Cornwall, as overlord, before 1248. They belonged to a distinct tithing, which owed certainty of 7s. 3d. comprising fixed view (12d.), hidage (6s.), and wardpenny (3d.). (fn. 4) In the 13th century and still in the 16th tenants were sometimes fined for breaching the assize of ale, and in 1536 the view ordered inhabitants to repair the stocks and butts. (fn. 5) A tithingman was annually elected in the early 18th century, and the view continued probably until the mid 19th. (fn. 6) Courts baron for the manor, held jointly with those for Bourton Inge in the 17th century, lapsed probably in the mid 18th. (fn. 7)

In 1266 the lord of Bampton hundred freed Osney abbey's manors from suit to the hundred court, though the right to hold views was not explicitly granted. (fn. 8) Courts baron for the abbey's bailiwick of Black Bourton, comprising Abbots Bourton manor and members in other parishes, were held by 1280, when perquisites totalled 36s. 2d., (fn. 9) and throughout the Middle Ages they met apparently twice a year. (fn. 10) Late 16th-century lessees of the manor held annual courts at their own cost, the profits belonging to Christ Church, (fn. 11) and from 1766 leases of the manor included waifs, strays, and other manorial rights as well as the right to hold courts leet and baron. (fn. 12) Medieval courts dealt with encroachments, marriage licences, and illegal departure from the manor as well as with copyholds, and in 1300 a court elected two reeves. (fn. 13) A court in 1741 presented the lord of Bourton Winslow for encroachments, but courts were by then concerned primarily with copyholds, the last of which were granted in trust in 1769. (fn. 14) In 1859–60 the duke of Marlborough's right to grant copyholds as Christ Church's lessee was disputed, and no courts were held later. (fn. 15)

Owners of a freehold in Black Bourton attached to Friars Court manor in Clanfield owed suit there in the 16th century, and in 1685 it was claimed that the Friars Court view should elect a tithingman for Black Bourton. (fn. 16)

Manorial Officers

A constable for Bourton Winslow manor was elected by the Clanfield view apparently in the 16th century and still in the early 18th. A second Black Bourton constable, elected presumably by a different court, was mentioned in 1642 and in 1716. (fn. 17) In the 17th century the Bourton Inge and Bourton Winslow court elected field supervisors, (fn. 18) and reference in 1634 to a 'meadow book' suggests that there were also grass stewards. (fn. 19) A herdsman was mentioned in 1682. (fn. 20)

Parish Government and Parish Officers

Other officers recorded from the 17th century were appointed presumably through the parish vestry, though parish government in Black Bourton is poorly documented. There were two churchwardens by 1530, one appointed in the early 19th century by the incumbent, and the other by the parishioners. (fn. 21) Two collectors or overseers were recorded in 1642, and the office continued in the 1850s, (fn. 22) when there was also a surveyor of highways. (fn. 23) The village stocks, perhaps formerly at the intersection of the Burford and Alvescot roads or at Spout green, were moved to the pound off School Lane probably in the mid 19th century, but thereafter remained unused and 'rotted away'. (fn. 24) A resident police constable living on Alvescot road, mentioned from 1871 to around 1907, was a member of the county constabulary. (fn. 25)

From 1834 Black Bourton belonged to Witney poor law union, and in 1894 became part of Witney rural district. (fn. 26) A parish council, established the same year, became responsible in the 20th century for the developing settlement of Carterton, whose increasing dominance was reflected in the council's adoption of town status in 1977; Black Bourton acquired its own parish council on Carterton's separation in 1985. (fn. 27) Both places became part of West Oxfordshire district in 1974. (fn. 28)


  • 1. Pipe R. 1195 (PRS n.s. 6), 62.
  • 2. Blenheim Mun., box 15, extracts from ct rolls 1606–60; ibid. box 12, indenture 19 May 1768.
  • 3. Arundel Castle, MS M 535; ibid. MS TP 100; BL, Add. MS 27535, f. 45; PRO, E 317/Oxon./1, f. 2; Longleat Ho. (Wilts.), NMR [North Mun. Room] 3315, s.a. 1668–72. Refs. to 'Bourton Abbots' presumably indicate the parish rather than Abbots Bourton manor, which was quit of suit to the hundred ct: below.
  • 4. Earldom of Cornwall Accts, I, 144, 147; PRO, SC 2/212/3; SC 2/212/18–21; SC 2/212/31, m. 4d.
  • 5. Earldom of Cornwall Accts, I, 147; PRO, SC 2/212/18.
  • 6. Bodl. MS dd Ewelme Honor d 2, 5/20/8 and 7/8/8; below, Clanfield, local govt (manor cts).
  • 7. Blenheim Mun., box 15, extracts from ct rolls; above.
  • 8. Oseney Cart. IV, pp. 488–9.
  • 9. Ibid. VI, p. 203; for the bailiwick, ibid. p. 184.
  • 10. Bodl. MSS Oseney Rolls 1, 84, 92, 127–8, 130; ibid. MSS Ch. Oxon. 312–13. For later cts, Ch. Ch. Arch., MS l.c.2, pp. 307–11; ibid. MSS 3.f. 13.5–6, 3.c.1.65; ibid. MS Estates 63, ff. 3–5v.
  • 11. Ch. Ch. Arch., Black Bourton A 1; PRO, REQ 2/291/78.
  • 12. Ch. Ch. Arch., Black Bourton A 17; ibid. MS Estates 63, ff. 258 sqq.
  • 13. e.g. Bodl. MSS Oseney Rolls 84, 127.
  • 14. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS 3. f. 13.5, s.a. 1741 and passim; ibid. MS Estates 63, f. 259; Blenheim Mun., box 16, ackno. of trust 3 Apr. 1769.
  • 15. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS Estates 63, ff. 258–67; ibid. Black Bourton A 38.
  • 16. PRO, WARD 2/34/121/8; Lincs. RO, 2 Haw 3/D/2.
  • 17. PRO, SC 2/212/20; Bodl. MS dd Ewelme Honor d 2, 5/20/8 and 7/8/8; ORO, Cal. QS, I, f. 187v.; Protestation Rtns and Tax Assess. 2, 13; cf. PRO, E 179/25 5/4, pt iii, f. 242v., mentioning one only.
  • 18. Blenheim Mun., box 15, ct 4 Oct. 1627.
  • 19. ORO, MS Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 142, p. 110.
  • 20. Bp Fell and Nonconf. 5; cf. Ch. Ch. Arch., MS l.c.2, p. 309 (Cowman mead).
  • 21. Visit. Dioc. Linc. II, 50; E. R. Brinkworth (ed.), Archdcn's Ct, 1584, I (ORS 23, 1942), 54–5; ORO, MS Oxf. Dioc. b 38, f. 29v.; ibid. MS Oxf. Archd. Oxon. c 53, ff. 130 sqq. In 1997 there was only one chwdn: Oxf. Dioc. Year Book (1997), 87.
  • 22. Protestation Rtns and Tax Assess. 13; PRO, E 179/255/4, pt iii, f. 242v.; Billing's Dir. Oxon. (1854).
  • 23. Oxf. Chron. 5 Feb. 1853, p. 5; 7 May 1853, p. 8.
  • 24. Lupton, 'Hist. Black Bourton', 17; for the pound, OS Map 1:2500, Oxon. XXXVII. 5 (1881 edn); Sale Cat., Blenheim Estates (1894), plan.
  • 25. PRO, RG 10/1451, no. 10; RG 11/1514, no. 9; Kelly's Dir. Oxon. (1895 and later edns).
  • 26. ORO, RO 3251, pp. 201–3.
  • 27. Carterton Guide [c. 1973 edn], 11; [c. 1978 edn], 12; below, Carterton, local govt.
  • 28. ORO, RO 3267.