Otterhampton: Economic history

A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1992.

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A P Baggs. M C Siraut, 'Otterhampton: Economic history', A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes), (London, 1992), pp. 107-108. British History Online [accessed 12 June 2024].

A P Baggs. M C Siraut. "Otterhampton: Economic history", in A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes), (London, 1992) 107-108. British History Online, accessed June 12, 2024,

Baggs, A P. Siraut, M C. "Otterhampton: Economic history", A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 6, Andersfield, Cannington, and North Petherton Hundreds (Bridgwater and Neighbouring Parishes), (London, 1992). 107-108. British History Online. Web. 12 June 2024,


The four 11thcentury estates at Otterhampton together had land for 5½ ploughteams but 6 teams were recorded, of which 3 were on the demesnes where there were also 3 servi. There were 22½ a. of meadow, 15 a. of pasture, 10 a. of wood and underwood. Livestock included 5 cattle, 11 pigs, and 45 sheep. There were 9 villani out of a recorded population of 20. (fn. 1) In 1316 the Trivet manorial demesne at Otterhampton comprised 90 a. of arable, 30 a. of meadow, and 20 a. of pasture. There were then eight neifs who owed three days' work in autumn; and of the £4 8s. rent, £1 14s. was paid by free tenants. (fn. 2) In the 1330s a widow's dower in the manor included 10 a. of wheat and 4 cattle and had produced crops of wheat, oats, hay, and fodder. (fn. 3) In the 1540s the manor court attempted to regulate livestock: outsiders were presented for putting animals on the marshes and the rector was accused of allowing his pigs to go unringed; he also kept geese. A neif was recorded as late as 1546. (fn. 4) In the early 17th century tithes were levied on corn, cattle, calves, wool, lambs, pigs, geese, honey, wax, and apples. In 1634 the corn tithes were worth £30 and the small tithes £26. (fn. 5) In 1636 one woman had corn worth over £19, a large quantity of cheese and bacon, 11 cattle, horses, sheep worth £30, and 2 pigs. (fn. 6) Cheese and dairy cattle appear in other inventories but also wheat, sheep, wool, and poultry. (fn. 7) During the 18th century holdings were small apart from Hill farm on the Otterhampton Rumsey estate, which covered about 130 a. There were a few rack-rented estates on Otterhampton manor by 1755 but rents of capons, pepper, and cumin were still being charged. (fn. 8)

During the agricultural protests of 1801 labourers marched to Hill House where John Evered addressed them. With other magistrates he tried to make farmers bring their corn to market to reduce prices and shortages. (fn. 9) In 1824 one farmer had over £175 of livestock in the parish, possibly on the marsh, mainly sheep but also cows and a colt. (fn. 10) In 1839 there were 681 a. of meadow and pasture, 242½ a. of arable, 18 a. of orchard, 17 a. of woodland, and 4 a. of garden. Most holdings were under 25 a., but some of them were only tracts of marsh; only two were over 100 a., of which the larger was Otterhampton farm with 191½ a. (fn. 11) During the next 40 years the larger holdings absorbed some of the smaller: Moxhill farm reached 190 a. by 1861, Higher Hill farm 100 a. by 1871, Otterhampton farm 229 a. and Moxhill farm 231 a. by 1881. (fn. 12) By 1905, after the inclusion of Steart marsh, the parish comprised a total of 1,353 a. of grass, 212 a. of arable, and 28 a. of wood. (fn. 13) Six holdings covering two thirds of the parish in 1982 had 294 ha. (726 a.) of grass and 105 ha. (250 a.) of arable. Most of the arable land was under wheat, but there were small amounts of winter and spring barley, oats, fodder, orchard, soft fruit, and glasshouse crops. There were 708 cattle and 691 sheep; three of the holdings were dairy farms, another specialized in rearing cattle and sheep. Two were worked part-time. All the holdings were under 200 ha. (494 a.), two were over 100 ha. (247 a.), two between 50 ha. and 100 ha. (124-247 a.), one between 20 and 30 ha. (49-74 a.), and one under 2 ha. (5 a.). (fn. 14)

Although primarily an agricultural parish the river and the growth of the wharf at Combwich provided alternative employment. (fn. 15) A man from Otterhampton was accused of selling bad fish in 1379. (fn. 16) There was a sergeweaver in the parish in 1676, (fn. 17) and bricks and tiles were manufactured in Combwich in the 19th century. (fn. 18)

A mill, probably at Combwich, was recorded on Otterhampton manor in the 1540s. (fn. 19)


  • 1. V.C.H. Som. i. 485, 512, 525.
  • 2. P.R.O., C 134/56, no. 4.
  • 3. Ibid. E 142/71/10.
  • 4. Ibid. LR 3/123.
  • 5. S.R.O., D/D/Rg 280.
  • 6. Ibid. DD/SP inventory, 1636.
  • 7. Ibid. 1680, 1684, 1690.
  • 8. Ibid. DD/SL 10; DD/SLM 2; DD/ARN 2.
  • 9. J. Hamilton and J. Lawrence, Men and Mining in the Quantocks (1970), 23.
  • 10. S.R.O., DD/DP 65/4.
  • 11. Ibid. tithe award.
  • 12. P.R.O., RG 9/1621; RG 10/2380; RG 11/2371.
  • 13. Statistics supplied by the then Bd. of Agric., 1905.
  • 14. Min. of Agric., Fisheries, and Food, agric. returns, 1982.
  • 15. Above, Cannington, econ. hist.
  • 16. S.R.S. liii, p. 52.
  • 17. S.R.O., Q/SR 130/35.
  • 18. Above, Cannington, econ. hist.
  • 19. P.R.O., LR 3/123; above, Cannington, mills.