Brightford Hundred

Pages 8-9

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 1, Bramber Rape (Southern Part). Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



The hundred of Brightford, which always descended with Bramber rape, (fn. 1) comprised the parishes of Broadwater, Clapham, Durrington, Findon, Heene, Lancing, and Sompting. Most of those places were listed as part of it in 1086, but Clapham and Findon were then said to be part of Steyning hundred, (fn. 2) and were first recorded in Brightford in the mid 13th century. (fn. 3) West Tarring was included in Brightford hundred in 1086 (fn. 4) but was afterwards apparently always separate. In the mid 13th century Lancing tithing was divided, half thereafter owing suit to Brightford hundred and half to the Broadwater manor view. That arrangement still apparently obtained in the 15th century. (fn. 5) In the north of the county Roffey in Horsham was listed in Brightford in 1296, (fn. 6) as was Sedgewick in Nuthurst between 1332 and 1538. (fn. 7)

Broadwater and Sompting Abbotts manors within the hundred had their own leet jurisdiction, and the lords of Broadwater, Lancing, and Heene had or claimed right of wreck. (fn. 8) In 1335-6 the lord of the rape complained, evidently without success, that the Broadwater view was encroaching on his rightful jurisdiction. (fn. 9) In the 16th century neither Broadwater nor Sompting Abbotts was liable for the common fine at the hundred court; both were represented, but whereas some presentments were made for Broadwater, Sompting Abbotts tithing evidently appeared only out of respect. (fn. 10)

A law-day was held twice yearly in the mid 14th century. (fn. 11) There are court rolls for Brightford for 1538, 1598, 1600, (fn. 12) and 1845-53. (fn. 13) In 1598 and 1600 the view was held twice, in spring and autumn. During the 16th century the court's jurisdiction extended over breaches of the assize of ale and the taking of unjust tolls, the maintenance of roads, ditches, (fn. 14) bridges, wells, and boundaries, stray beasts, and right of wreck. Besides electing headboroughs for the various tithings, the court elected a hundred alderman and constable in 1598, when there was also a bailiff; the hundred alderman had been mentioned in 1275. (fn. 15) Cases of assault were still heard in 1598, (fn. 16) and about the same date one inhabitant of South Lancing was fined for making an inclosure in the manorial waste there. (fn. 17)

In 1651 the hundred court was being held at Broadwater, (fn. 18) where it may also have been held earlier, as being the chief and central place in the hundred. (fn. 19) During the mid 19th century the court was held annually in Worthing, at the Spaniard inn in 1839, and at the town hall in 1855 and 1869. (fn. 20) The last recorded meeting was in 1878. (fn. 21) A headborough was still appointed in 1821; in that year he was also the Worthing town beadle. (fn. 22) The office of constable survived in 1869; its duties were then described however as 'not very onerous' and were performed by deputy. (fn. 23) From 1821 to 1879 the lord of Brightford had the statutory duty to appoint a constable, known as the high constable, for Worthing town, who in 1859 was said to preside over public meetings and to represent the town on outside business. (fn. 24)


  • 1. e.g. Feud. Aids, v. 134; Cal. Pat. 1547-8, 27.
  • 2. V.C.H. Suss. i. 445, 447-9.
  • 3. S.A.C. lxi. 87; J.I. 1/912A rot. 43d.
  • 4. V.C.H. Suss. i. 389.
  • 5. S.A.C. lxxxii. 26; Westm. Abbey Mun. 4029; 5469, f. 1.
  • 6. Suss. Subsidies (S.R.S. x), 61.
  • 7. Ibid. 277; Suss. Lay Subsidy, 1524-5 (S.R.S. lvi), 79; Arundel Cast. MS. M 279, m. 2v.
  • 8. See under the places named.
  • 9. Rot. Parl. ii. 90.
  • 10. Arundel Cast. MSS. M 279, m. 2; M 280, m. 1.
  • 11. Year Bk. 15 Edw. III (Rolls Ser.), p. 55 n. 2.
  • 12. Arundel Cast. MSS. M. 279-81.
  • 13. W.S.R.O., Holmes-Campbell MSS., min. bk. of cts. leet of duke of Norf.
  • 14. Cf. Westm. Abbey Mun. 4023.
  • 15. S.A.C. lxxxii. 29.
  • 16. Arundel Cast. MS. M 280, m. 6.
  • 17. E 134/34 & 35 Eliz. 1/Mich. 17, m. 8.
  • 18. S.A.C. xxiii. 239.
  • 19. Cf. P.N. Suss. (E.P.N.S.), i. 192.
  • 20. Snewin & Smail, Glimpses, 84; Worthing Monthly Rec. May 1855; Worthing Arrival List and Fash. Wkly. Jnl. 8 July 1869.
  • 21. Kelly's Dir. Suss. (1878), s.v. Worthing.
  • 22. See Worthing, Local Govt.
  • 23. Worthing Arrival List and Fash. Wkly. Jnl. 8 July 1869.
  • 24. & 2 Geo IV, c. 59 (Local and Personal); 42 & 43 Vic. c. 105 (Local); Worthing Monthly Rec. Nov. 1853; May 1855; French's Dir. Worthing (1859), 22; Worthing Arrival List and Fash. Wkly. Jnl. 8 July 1869.