Wyndham Half-Hundred

A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1987.

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'Wyndham Half-Hundred', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 6 Part 3, Bramber Rape (North-Eastern Part) Including Crawley New Town, (London, 1987) pp. 169-170. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/sussex/vol6/pt3/pp169-170 [accessed 25 April 2024]


Wyndham hundred was separately recorded in 1086, when it lay divided between the rapes of William de Warenne and William de Braose, taking its name from the place, called Wineham in 1984, at which its meetings may be presumed originally to have been held, near the centre of its area on the ancient lane marking the boundary between the two rapes. (fn. 1) Three and a quarter of its 8¼ hides were part of Warenne's land, forming two estates both called Benefield (later in Twineham parish); though Wyndham half-hundred in Lewes rape, containing Bolney and Twineham, was mentioned in the 17th century, its constituents were usually regarded, from 1316 on, as being part of Buttinghill hundred. The 5 hides of Wyndham half-hundred in Bramber rape comprised 2 each in Shermanbury and Sakeham and ½ each in 'Ovelei' and Morley; (fn. 2) Sakeham later formed part of Shermanbury parish, (fn. 3) Ovelei is to be identified with Woolfly in Henfield, and Morley was Morley farm in Woodmancote rather than Morleys in Shermanbury. Woolfly and Morley farm were later treated as parts of Tipnoak hundred. (fn. 4) Ewhurst tithing was mentioned in 1248 and 1275 as part of the half-hundred, (fn. 5) which contained the vills of Ewhurst, Wyndham, and Cowfold in 1288. (fn. 6) The half-hundred was not divided into vills for the subsidy of 1296, (fn. 7) and in 1316 Wyndham and Ewhurst were named as a single vill, the only one in it. (fn. 8) In 1327, 1332, and 1334 the half-hundred was divided between the vills of Ewhurst and Wyndham, which on the evidence of the taxpayers' names included the whole of Cowfold and Shermanbury parishes. (fn. 9) The return of Kingston by Sea as part of the half-hundred in 1428 (fn. 10) seems to have been an aberration. Thereafter the invariable division was into the vills or tithings of Wyndham and Ewhurst, (fn. 11) and that duality was presumably responsible for the use of both names for the half-hundred from the mid 17th century onwards. (fn. 12)

Although the parochial division of the half-hundred is between the northern two thirds comprising Cowfold and the southern third comprising Shermanbury, (fn. 13) the medieval division between vills seems to have been between an eastern and a western half. Many of the taxpayers in the half-hundred in 1327 and 1332 had surnames which were used later of farmsteads in Cowfold; almost without exception the surnames for Wyndham vill are linked with places east of the Cowfold stream and those for Ewhurst vill with places west of the stream, and the hospital of Wyndham and the lords of Shermanbury and Ewhurst manors were taxed in the appropriate vills; (fn. 14) the only contrary indications are that the vicar of Cowfold, whose glebe later lay west of the stream, (fn. 15) was taxed in Wyndham and that Richard Whiting who may have given the name to Whitings, later Homelands, (fn. 16) east of the stream was taxed in Ewhurst. The vills as divided by the stream each had a shape and a main axis matching those of the rape. The north-south alignment is also shown in the manorial affiliations of estates in Cowfold, those held of Ewhurst and Stretham manors tending to be west of the stream and those held of Shermanbury and Beeding east of it. (fn. 17) In the late 16th century and early 18th the names of the tenements whose occupiers were obliged to serve as headborough for Ewhurst and Wyndham respectively confirm the Cowfold stream as the dividing line between the tithings. (fn. 18)

The lordship of the half-hundred remained with the lords of Bramber. (fn. 19) Because it was a half-hundred Wyndham was represented at the eyre in the 13th century by 6 men instead of the usual 12. (fn. 20) In the early 14th century the hundred court punished a breach of the assize of bread with the pillory; the baker, a tenant of the bishop of Chichester at Warninglid in Slaugham, was exacted by the bishop's bailiff and pilloried at Henfield. (fn. 21) In 1598 the hundred court had only 6 jurors, perhaps because Wyndham was a half-hundred, but there were 12 from 1705 or earlier. Court rolls of 1538, 1598, and 1600 suggest that the half-hundred provided an effective court leet, particularly since Cowfold was fragmented between many manors; the hundred court dealt with ditches, roads, bridges, strays, and theft. Rolls for the period 1705-15 show the court meeting only once a year, in October, and still dealing with highways and nuisances and presenting the common pound as in decay. (fn. 22) In 1651 the court leet met twice a year, at Cowfold, (fn. 23) and it was meeting at the Red Lion there between 1786 and 1811. (fn. 24) Its officers were the constable, the alderman, and the headboroughs. The alderman was recorded in 1598 and owed to the lord in 1651 a small fine, which was not recorded after the 17th century and was distinct from the common fine that continued to be owed by each of the tithings. A headborough for each tithing was elected in respect of a named tenement, presumably by rotation. (fn. 25) The man described as headborough of Shermanbury parish in 1642 was evidently headborough of Ewhurst tithing, the headborough for Wyndham being listed under Cowfold. (fn. 26) The constable and headboroughs were recorded until 1823. (fn. 27)


  • 1. For Wyndham and Wyndham Lane, below, Shermanbury, intro.
  • 2. V.C.H. Suss. i. 353, 443, 446-7; vii. 1, 125.
  • 3. Below, Shermanbury.
  • 4. Above, Tipnoak hund.
  • 5. P.R.O., JUST 1/909A, rot. 24d.; S.A.C. lxxxii. 27.
  • 6. P.R.O., JUST 1/924, rot. 61d.
  • 7. S.R.S. x. 60-1.
  • 8. Feud. Aids, v. 135.
  • 9. S.R.S. x. 166-7, 281; S.A.C. 1. 169.
  • 10. Feud. Aids, v. 160.
  • 11. e.g. Arundel Cast. MSS. M 279-81, 303-8.
  • 12. S.R.S. v. 66.
  • 13. No earlier instance has been found of the inclusion in Wyndham half-hund. of the 192 a. of Bolney par. lying W. of Spronketts Lane, as in O.S. Map 6", Suss. Index sheet (1879 edn.).
  • 14. S.R.S. x. 166-7, 281; cf. below, Cowfold, intro.; Pooks and Sakeham in the E. part of Shermanbury par. were also represented by the surnames of taxpayers in Wyndham vill.
  • 15. P.R.O., IR 29 and 30/35/71.
  • 16. S.A.C. lxii. 142; O.S. Map 6", Suss. XXV. SW. (1912 edn.) at Nat. Grid 234234; but Ralph Whiting held a cotland, late Wm. Kennie's, of Stretham man. before 1374: S.R.S. xxxi. 120; Homelands was a freehold of Shermanbury man.
  • 17. Below, Cowfold, manors.
  • 18. Arundel Cast. MSS. M 280, rot. 3d.; M 303-8.
  • 19. e.g. S.A.C. x. 139; lxxxii. 27-9; Cal. Pat. 1485-94, 128; 1547-8, 27; cf. V.C.H. Suss. vi (1), 4-5.
  • 20. P.R.O., JUST 1/909A, rot. 24d.; JUST 1/912A, rot. 42d.; JUST 1/924, rot. 61d.; cf. S.A.C. xcviii. 38.
  • 21. S.R.S. xlvi, p. 266.
  • 22. Arundel Cast. MSS. M 279-81, 303-8; below, Cowfold, manors.
  • 23. S.A.C. xxiii. 239.
  • 24. Horsham Mus. MS. 243.
  • 25. Arundel Cast. MSS. M 279-81, 303-8; for 1651, S.A.C. xxiii. 239; for the alderman's fine, Cal. Treas. Bks. 1698-9, 426.
  • 26. S.R.S. v. 67, 151.
  • 27. Horsham Mus. MS. 243; E.S.R.O., QCR/2/1/EW 1-3.