A History of the County of Somerset: Volume 7, Bruton, Horethorne and Norton Ferris Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1999.
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It seems probable that several of the parishes later to be part of Horethorne hundred had originally been part of the 7th-century estate of Lanprobi (Sherborne, Dors.) which before the 10th century had been resumed by the kings of Wessex for their military retainers. The creation of the diocese of Wells out of the diocese of Sherborne in 909 placed Adber, Marston (Magna), Rimpton, Sandford Orcas, and Trent in Somerset. (fn. 1) In the 11th century the hundred was known either as Horethorne or Milborne hundred, (fn. 2) in 1212 both names were used together, (fn. 3) and in 1227 they seem to have been two separate hundreds. (fn. 4) Horethorne or la Horethorn was the sole name by the later 13th century. (fn. 5)
In 1084 the hundred seems to have comprised Abbas and Temple Combe, Charlton (Horethorne), (North) Cheriton, Corton (Denham), Henstridge, Horsington, Milborne Port, Rimpton, and Sandford (Orcas). The holding credited to the count of Mortain was much smaller than his estate at Goathill, Marston (Magna), and Milborne Port in 1086 and estates held in 1084 by William de Lestra and Ralph de Conteville have not been identified. (fn. 6)
Holwell was part of the hundred by 1212, (fn. 7) Trent by 1219, (fn. 8) Stowell and Weathergrove in Sandford (Orcas) by 1278, (fn. 9) and Marston (Magna) and Poyntington by 1284-5. (fn. 10) Over Adber in Marston (Magna) was named within the hundred in 1303, (fn. 11) Netherton, in Marston (Magna), and Little Marston, in West Camel, in 1428. (fn. 12) From 1327 Milborne Port parish was divided between the borough of Milborne and the free manor or tithing of Kingsbury Regis. (fn. 13) Rimpton was not included for a subsidy in 1690-1 (fn. 14) and by c. 1735 was reckoned to be part of Taunton Deane hundred. (fn. 15) Goathill, linked with Sandford (Orcas) by 1558, (fn. 16) was not afterwards included separately until c. 1735. (fn. 17) Holwell and the hamlet of Buckshaw were transferred to Dorset in 1832 for parliamentary and in 1844 for civil purposes, and Goathill, Poyntington, Sandford Orcas, and Trent to Dorset in 1895. (fn. 18) By c. 1735 the hundred was divided: the eastern division comprised Charlton Horethorne, North Cheriton, Temple Combe, Henstridge, Holwell, Horsington, Milborne Port, and Stowell; the western, Corton Denham, Goathill, Marston, Sandford Orcas, Poyntington, and Trent. (fn. 19)
The hundred was probably royal demesne by 1066 and ownership seems to have descended with Kingsbury Regis manor in Milborne Port (fn. 20) until c. 1483. In 1196 the sheriff answered for loss of issues of the hundred when it was let to farm to Guy de Val or Laval. (fn. 21) About 1483 the hundred was granted to William Herbert, earl of Huntingdon, (fn. 22) but was presumably restored to Lady Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond, in 1485 and passed on her death in 1508 to her grandson, later Henry VIII. (fn. 23) In 1528 it was settled by the Crown on Henry FitzRoy, duke of Richmond, (fn. 24) and reverted to the Crown on his death without issue in 1536. In 1539 it was leased for 21 years to Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk (d. 1545), (fn. 25) and passed like Kingsbury Regis manor to the Seymour family. It was held by Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford, at his death in 1621. (fn. 26) In 1636 the hundred was conveyed by Sir John Bingley to Sir John Jacob. (fn. 27) Ownership then descended like Temple Combe manor until 1672 or later. (fn. 28)
Thomas Medlycott retained the hundred after selling Temple Combe manor and was still in possession c. 1741. (fn. 29) It may have been sold in 1746 to Peter Walter (d. 1753) (fn. 30) and ownership thereafter descended like Temple Combe and other neighbouring manors to Henry William Paget (d. 1854), marquess of Anglesey. (fn. 31) Henry Paget, son of the last, sold the hundred in 1858-9 to George Digby Wingfield-Digby (d. 1883), owner in 1861. (fn. 32)
For several years after the battle of Lewes in 1264 the suit of the men of Sandford, Stowell, and Weathergrove was withdrawn by Gilbert de Clare, earl of Gloucester, and they attended the earl's court at Northover. (fn. 33) In 1275 and 1280 the prior of Montacute was accused of withdrawing suit for Adber. (fn. 34) Courts were held every three weeks in the early 14th century, (fn. 35) and in the 18th were said to have met on Charlton Down, probably at the Hoar Stone on the boundary between Charlton Horethorne and Milborne Port parishes. Courts may have been revived c. 1735 by Thomas Medlycott but were not then held every year until the early 19th century. (fn. 36) The court met in a hired room in Charlton Horethorne in 1852 and was held until 1861 or later. (fn. 37)
In the 1620s the inhabitants of the hundred maintained a beacon at Corton Denham, (fn. 38) but in 1639 they refused to pay the former high constable for building a watch house and a new beacon. (fn. 39) In the late 18th and the early 19th century the court occasionally forbade grazing in the lanes, and fines for non-attendance at court were received in 1860. (fn. 40)
There was a hundred bedel in 1292 and 1330 (fn. 41) and a reeve or bailiff who in 1538 acted both for Charlton manor and the hundred. (fn. 42) In 1639 there was a high constable for the whole hundred (fn. 43) and in the mid 18th century the hundred steward appointed a constable for each division on the nomination of the jury. (fn. 44) By 1784 there were two constables for each division, together with a hayward who often also served as hayward of Abbas Combe manor. (fn. 45) A single salaried bailiff served Horethorne and Norton Ferris hundreds until 1859 or later. (fn. 46)