Shipley: Local government

Pages 122-123

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 2, Bramber Rape (North-Western Part) Including Horsham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1986.

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A manor court for Knepp was mentioned in 1326 (fn. 1) and was perhaps alluded to a century earlier. (fn. 2) Court rolls survive for the years 1530, 1553, and 1622-1915. (fn. 3) Already by 1498 the court baron was held only twice a year. (fn. 4) Twenty-two courts were recorded between 1622 and 1700, 22 in the 18th century, (fn. 5) and 17 in the 19th. The last court was held in 1915. After 1740 much business was conducted out of court. Only business relating to property transactions and encroachments on the waste was recorded after 1622. There was a bailiff between 1330 (fn. 6) and 1498, who in the 15th century was alternatively called a beadle; (fn. 7) a bailiff was also recorded in 1658 and 1738.

The rectory had a three-weekly court in the early 14th century, (fn. 8) and a bailiff in 1338. (fn. 9) Court rolls for Withyham as a member of Charlton-Ashurst manor survive for the years 1437, 1474-5, 1496-9, and 1502-9. Both a court baron and a view of frankpledge were held, at which a chief pledge was elected and nuisances were presented. (fn. 10) There was still a headborough in 1598. (fn. 11) Pleas and perquisites of court on Bentons manor were worth 6d. a year in 1328, (fn. 12) but the tenants were said not to owe suit in 1358. (fn. 13) No courts are known for Goringlee, Hookland, or Durrants manors.

There may have been a parish clerk by 1524. (fn. 14) Two churchwardens were recorded from 1548. (fn. 15) There were collectors for the poor in 1584, (fn. 16) and two overseers were recorded in 1642 (fn. 17) and apparently in 1638. (fn. 18) Two waywardens were recorded in 1636 and between 1663 and 1749. (fn. 19) A constable who was apparently a parish officer was mentioned in 1581, (fn. 20) 1642, (fn. 21) and 1673. (fn. 22) By the early 1830s poor law business was being dealt with, and parish work supervised, by a salaried assistant overseer responsible to a select vestry of 12 parishioners. (fn. 23) In 1830 a poor rate only was levied, from which church and highway expenditure was also met. (fn. 24)

There was a parish workhouse in 1793, when the poor were to be farmed; (fn. 25) it may have been Renches Farmhouse near Dragons Green, which was called the old workhouse in 1795. (fn. 26) The building used in the early 19th century was that called Whitehart Cottages in 1983, north-east of Shipley village near the Billingshurst-Cowfold road. (fn. 27) There were 53 inmates in 1821, (fn. 28) and c. 45 in 1832, (fn. 29) when the small building was said to be capable of taking 80. In the early 1830s the workhouse was again being farmed. At some earlier date, when the workhouse was managed by the parish itself, cloth manufacture had been carried on there. In the early 1830s parish work was being provided on the roads, but was very badly arranged. At the same time the parish officers also leased a farm of 320 a. on the Newbuildings estate, where single men could earn 5s. a week and married men 6s. or more according to the size of their families. Other methods of poor relief used in the earlier 19th century were weekly doles, the provision of medical care, of flour, and of clothing, help with the payment of rent, and the provision of free housing in cottages owned by the parish. In 1832 a medical man received 45 guineas a year for his services. The labour rate, the Act for which was promoted by Sir Charles Burrell, was adopted by 1832, but only partially, and was said later to have done little to diminish the numbers of unemployed. As many as 110 were out of work at one time in 1829, and in the winter of 1831-2 the monthly average was 108. In the ten years 1822-32 the sum expended on the poor rose by 70 per cent; in the early 1830s it was far higher than the sums for neighbouring parishes with a similar population. (fn. 30) By 1830 as many as 75 able-bodied parishioners were living at Brighton, Horsham, and elsewhere, some with children receiving money from the parish for their support. Another family had recently emigrated abroad, and two or three more had then applied to do so.

In 1835 Shipley joined Horsham union, the parish workhouse being used until 1838 or later as the union children's workhouse. (fn. 31) In 1836 it had a very bad reputation: poor water supply and drainage and an inadequate diet led to eight deaths, mostly from fever, among the c. 60 inhabitants during three months of that year, and it was said that the only healthy people in the house at that time were the master and some of his family. (fn. 32) The union still owned the building c. 1847. (fn. 33) Shipley was included in Horsham district in 1974.


  • 1. P.R.O., C 134/97, no. 6.
  • 2. Pipe R. 1210 (P.R.S. N.S. xxvi), 61.
  • 3. P.R.O., SC 2/206/52, mm. 1-2; B.L. Harl. Roll AA. 11; W.S.R.O., Burrell MSS., Knepp man. ct. bk. 1622- 1915; on which rest of para. mainly based.
  • 4. Arundel Cast. MS. A 433, rot. 2.
  • 5. Cf. B.L. Add. MS. 5685, f. 170.
  • 6. Magd. Coll. Oxf. Mun., Sele 39 (TS. cat.).
  • 7. Arundel Cast. MSS. A 433, rot. 2; A 1861, rot. 2.
  • 8. B.L. Add. MS. 6165, f. 182.
  • 9. Kts. Hospitallers in Eng. (Camd. Soc. [1st ser.], lxv), 175.
  • 10. K.A.O., U 269/M 110-12; P.R.O., SC 2/206/45, rott. 2d., 5, 11.
  • 11. Arundel Cast. MS. M 280, rot. 3.
  • 12. P.R.O., C 135/11, no. 7, m. 3.
  • 13. Ibid. C 135/140, no. 7.
  • 14. S.R.S. lvi. 60.
  • 15. W.S.R.O., Ep. 1/86/20, f. 19v.; ibid. Par. 168/1/1/1, ff. 50v.-51; B.L. Add. MS. 39362, ff. 108-13.
  • 16. W.S.R.O., Ep. 1/22/1 (1584).
  • 17. S.R.S. v. 152.
  • 18. W.S.R.O., Par. 168/1/1/1, inside back cover.
  • 19. Ibid. Par. 168/1/1/1, inside front cover and f. 49.
  • 20. Ibid. Ep. 1/37/1/10.
  • 21. S.R.S. v. 152.
  • 22. W.S.R.O., Par. 168/1/1/1, f. 24.
  • 23. Extracts from Inf. received by H.M. Com. as to Admin. and Operation of Poor Laws (1833), 74 (B.L. class mark B.S. 68/2); Rep. Com. Poor Laws, H. C. 44, p. 559 (1834), xxviii.
  • 24. Rep. H.L. Cttee. on Poor Laws, H.C. 227, p. 34 (1831), viii.
  • 25. Horsham Mus. MS. 2100 (MS. cat.).
  • 26. Gardner, Suss. Map (1795); cf. 5 Geo. IV, c. 16 (Local and Personal).
  • 27. Below.
  • 28. Census, 1821.
  • 29. Rest of para. mainly based on Rep. Com. Poor Laws, H.C. 44, pp. 527, 537, 550, 565-6 (1834), xxviii; Rep. H.L. Cttee. on Poor Laws, H.C. 227, pp. 31-2, 34, 39, 154 (1831), viii; Extracts received as to Admin. of Poor Laws, 73-5; W.S.R.O., Par. 168/12/1.
  • 30. Poor Rate Returns, 1830-4, 196.
  • 31. Suss. Poor Law Rec. 39.
  • 32. Albery, Hist. Horsham, 580, 583-4, based on Horsham Mus. MS. 813.
  • 33. W.S.R.O., TD/W 108.