A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 11, Downton Hundred; Elstub and Everleigh Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
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ELSTUB AND EVERLEIGH HUNDRED
The hundred of Elstub and Everleigh as constituted in 1841 was an amalgamation of the medieval hundred of Elstub and the liberty of Everleigh. It comprised the whole of ten ancient parishes and in addition three chapelries which had become civil parishes and three tithings. (fn. 1) The ancient parishes were Collingbourne Ducis, Enford (including the tithings of Enford, East Chisenbury, Compton, Coombe, Fifield, Littlecott, and Longstreet), Everleigh, Fittleton (including Haxton tithing), Ham, Little Hinton, Netheravon (with its detached tithing of West Chisenbury), Patney, Rollestone, and Stockton. The chapelries and civil parishes were Alton Priors (including West Stowell tithing), Fyfield, and Westwood. The tithings were those of Bushton in Clyffe Pypard, East Overton in Overton, and Wroughton in Wroughton. Westwood was a chapelry of Bradford on Avon but, when the history of that parish was related, (fn. 2) was reserved for treatment under Elstub and Everleigh hundred. Overton parish, which included Alton Priors, Fyfield, and East Overton, also included West Overton, Shaw, and Lockeridge in Selkley hundred, and Wroughton parish included Elcombe, Salthrop, Westlecott, and Overtown which with Uffcott in Broad Hinton formed a group called 'the five tithings' attached to Blackgrove (later Kingsbridge) hundred, (fn. 3) but, because the parish church of Overton was in East Overton tithing and Wroughton parish church was in Wroughton tithing, the histories of the whole of both parishes are given below. The history of Bushton, however, was given with that of the parish in which it lay. (fn. 4)
In 1086 the hundred of Elstub comprised Enford, in which the tithings of East Chisenbury and Fifield were included, Netheravon with West Chisenbury, and Fittleton which probably included Haxton. (fn. 5) The compact block of land so formed was situated on the eastern edge of Salisbury Plain. It extended across two chalk bluffs divided by the valley of the Christchurch Avon through which ran one of the roads linking Devizes, Pewsey, and the vale between them with Salisbury. The hundred took its name from Elstub, a riverside meadow in Enford tithing, where much elder could still be seen in 1978. (fn. 6) When and how the prior of St. Swithun, Winchester, owner in 1255, acquired the hundred is unknown but in 1086 he already held the estate in which the hundred meeting-place lay. (fn. 7) The priors much enlarged Elstub hundred in the 13th century by adding to it their other estates scattered widely over the county in other hundreds. The 'ragged' hundred so created lacked geographical unity, its members being linked only by a common ownership. Little Hinton in the north of the county was withdrawn from Thornhill hundred in the earlier 13th century, (fn. 8) Patney in mid Wiltshire from Studfold c. 1248, (fn. 9) Stockton in the south from Branch before 1249, (fn. 10) East Overton tithing and Fyfield chapelry from Selkley in the early 13th century, (fn. 11) Alton Priors from Swanborough by 1281, (fn. 12) Wroughton tithing from Blackgrove by 1316, (fn. 13) and Ham from Kinwardstone by 1334. Although Westwood on the Somerset border was included in Elstub for taxation purposes in 1334, it was not finally transferred from Bradford hundred until the mid 16th century. (fn. 14) Rollestone on Salisbury Plain was transferred from Dole between 1428 and 1524 although it had no known connexion with St. Swithun's. (fn. 15) Bushton in Clyffe Pypard, another property belonging to St. Swithun's, was transferred to Elstub in the mid 16th century. (fn. 16) At the Dissolution the hundred passed to the Crown. Although it was not expressly mentioned in the grant of 1541 (fn. 17) which transferred much of the property of St. Swithun's to the new cathedral chapter of Winchester, Elstub hundred was apparently included in the endowment.
The townships of West Chisenbury, in Netheravon, and Fittleton claimed to answer at the sheriff's tourn in both 1255 and 1275, and in 1275 East Chisenbury in Enford claimed franchises associated with view of frankpledge. (fn. 18) Lords who held estates within Elstub, as constituted in 1275, either denied or encroached upon the liberties enjoyed by the prior there. In the 15th century Margaret Dyneley and William Darell, successively lords of Fittleton and of Coombe in Enford, apparently held the view within both manors, a right unsuccessfully challenged by the prior of St. Swithun. (fn. 19) Franchisal jurisdiction associated with the view of frankpledge within the capital manor of Enford, to which the priors of St. Swithun had been entitled, was included in a grant of the manor made by the Crown to Thomas Culpeper in 1541. (fn. 20) In 1597 the Crown expressly granted to those living in Netheravon all the liberties and franchises to which tenants of the duchy of Lancaster, of which Netheravon was then a part, were entitled. (fn. 21) Separate franchisal courts were held there in the 16th century by duchy officials and in 1652 the courts were still entitled to try all actions under 405. between duchy tenants. Fishing rights in the Avon also belonged to the Sovereign as duke of Lancaster. (fn. 22)
The liberties, including return of writs, taken by the earls of Leicester within Everleigh manor, where they had a prison in the mid 13th century, had by 1334 been extended over their other Wiltshire estates except Netheravon, Ablington in Figheldean, and Chitterne. Thus by 1334 Everleigh and Collingbourne Ducis had been withdrawn from Kinwardstone hundred, Compton tithing in Enford from Amesbury hundred, and Haxton tithing in Fittleton from Elstub hundred, to form the liberty of Everleigh. (fn. 23) No record exists to illustrate the administration of the liberty or the business of its courts. After the estates of the liberty became part of the duchy of Lancaster in the later 14th century and the earlier 15th the duchy seems, at least in the mid 16th century, to have exercised franchisal rights in Everleigh, to the court of which Haxton and Compton then still owed suit, and in Collingbourne Ducis where separate courts were held. (fn. 24) Although Compton had reverted to Amesbury hundred for certain administrative purposes by the end of the 14th century, it apparently continued to be considered part of the liberty. In the 17th century, however, it owed suit at the Amesbury hundred courts. Not until 1841 was it finally reckoned part of Elstub and Everleigh hundred. (fn. 25) In the 15th century the liberty, wrongly referred to in 1428 as a hundred, was generally treated as part of Elstub hundred for the purposes of central government but c. 1540 was still recognized as a separate entity. (fn. 26) Hundred and liberty were deemed to be merged by 1545, (fn. 27) and thereafter formed the hundred of Elstub and Everleigh.
The extensive liberties to which the prior of St. Swithun was entitled in Elstub were granted by royal charters of 1208 and 1232. They included freedom from suit of shire and hundred and return of writs, which meant that the prior could exclude the sheriff from the hundred. (fn. 28) Because of the difficulty of administering a disjointed hundred, Elstub until the Dissolution was divided into two units, one in the Avon valley centred on Enford where the prior had a prison in 1249, (fn. 29) and the other on Alton Priors. The courts for the Enford portion, entitled hundred courts and later hundred courts with views of frankpledge, were held in Elstub meadow by the prior's steward at Hock-tide and Martinmas on the same days as the Enford manor courts. To them the tithings of Netheravon, West Chisenbury, East Chisenbury, Littlecott and Fifield (later Littlecott and Longstreet), Coombe, Fifield, and Fittleton with Haxton owed suit. (fn. 30) The tithings of East Overton, Alton Priors, West Stowell, and Patney attended the courts held twice yearly at Alton Priors. (fn. 31) The prior did not apparently expect the outlying tithings of Bushton, Westwood, Wroughton, Little Hinton, Ham, and Stockton to attend and exercised his franchisal jurisdiction at their own courts. After the Dissolution, however, courts, usually called views of frankpledge and courts of the hundred, for Elstub and Everleigh in its entirety, of which records for 1580 and a few years in the 17th century survive, were held in Elstub meadow by the deputy of the steward of Winchester chapter. In 1580 all the tithings, including Compton, which comprised the 19th-century hundred attended. (fn. 32) In the 17th century the suitors were Enford and its tithings including Compton, Netheravon with West Chisenbury, Fittleton with Haxton, Everleigh, Collingbourne Ducis, Stockton, Rollestone, Patney, East Overton, Fyfield, Alton Priors, West Stowell, and Bushton. Westwood attended in 1685 but the other outliers Ham, Little Hinton, and Wroughton did not. (fn. 33) The scantiness of the hundred court rolls, both before and after the Dissolution, suggests that both the priors of St. Swithun and Winchester chapter may have exercised their franchisal rights at the manorial courts, and that from an early date the hundred courts were formal occasions at which decisions made, judgements given, and elections of tithingmen made locally were merely confirmed. (fn. 34)