Ramsbury hundred

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Ramsbury and Selkley Hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1983.

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'Ramsbury hundred', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 12, Ramsbury and Selkley Hundreds; the Borough of Marlborough, (London, 1983) pp. 1-2. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol12/pp1-2 [accessed 12 April 2024]


In the late 11th century Ramsbury hundred contained only a 90-hide estate of the bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 1) The pre-Conquest history of the estate and hundred is not documented: it is likely that the estate included Bishopstone, (fn. 2) and that the hundred was created because the bishops of Ramsbury, predecessors of the bishops of Salisbury, had in respect of the estate immunities, which may have been as old as the estate itself. (fn. 3) The bishop of Salisbury's liberties in his manors were defined by grant in the 13th century, (fn. 4) but liberties of some kind almost certainly existed earlier in the private hundred of Ramsbury.

Ramsbury and Bishopstone were the only two pre-Reformation parishes in the hundred. East and north-east of Marlborough they lie in the Kennet and Cole valleys and across the chalk downs of the watershed: they adjoin Berkshire and, since 1974, Oxfordshire. The chapelry and tithing of Baydon in Ramsbury parish established itself in the late 18th century as a third parish and separated the other two. (fn. 5) The very large parish of Ramsbury contained eight tithings in the 16th century and six, including Baydon, in the 18th. (fn. 6)

In the later Middle Ages the bishop of Salisbury exercised liberties in a biannual court called a law hundred which the men of Bishopstone may have attended. (fn. 7) The right to hold a view of frankpledge at Ramsbury passed to a layman in 1545 and afterwards with Ramsbury manor. (fn. 8) The bishop kept his right to hold a view of frankpledge for Bishopstone. (fn. 9) The lords of Ramsbury manor still claimed to hold a hundred court and their view of frankpledge, attended by several tithingmen, was like that of a hundred, (fn. 10) but in 1545 Ramsbury hundred ceased to exist as a liberty. It survived, however, as a division of the county for fiscal and other administrative purposes.

Ramsbury hundred c.1840


  • 1. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 121, 183.
  • 2. Ibid. pp. 84, 183 where it is wrongly stated that Little Hinton was in the hund.
  • 3. Ibid. v. 45.
  • 4. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 24–5.
  • 5. Below, Baydon, introduction.
  • 6. Below, Ramsbury, local govt.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (2), p. 411; below, Ramsbury, manors.
  • 9. Below, Bishopstone, local govt.
  • 10. Below, Ramsbury, local govt.