Malmesbury hundred

Pages 5-8

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 14, Malmesbury Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1991.

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In north-west Wiltshire in 1066 a hundred was called Cicemethorn and another Sutelesberg, both presumably after their meeting places. In 1084 Cicemethorn, later called Chedglow, contained estates mainly north of Malmesbury, and Sutelesberg, then called Startley, estates mainly south of Malmesbury. Chedglow included Brokenborough, Charlton, Crudwell, Garsdon, Kemble, and Long Newnton, all belonging to Malmesbury abbey; Ashley, Oaksey, and possibly Poole Keynes; and small estates called Chedglow and Malmesbury. (fn. 1) The Brokenborough and Crudwell estates included lands which later became separate estates, (fn. 2) and in 1084 the composition of Chedglow hundred may have been roughly as in the early 14th century when it was Ashley, Brokenborough, Charlton, Crudwell (including Chedglow, Chelworth, and Eastcourt), Garsdon, Hankerton, Kemble (including Ewen), Lea and Cleverton, nearly all Malmesbury parish (including Burton Hill, Corston, Milbourne, and Rodbourne, but excluding the borough), Long Newnton, Oaksey, Poole Keynes, and Sutton Benger. (fn. 3) In 1084 Startley hundred contained estates called Bradfield, Brinkworth, Draycot, Foxley, Hullavington, Christian Malford, Norton, and Stanton, and a small one called Chedglow; and it may have contained more. (fn. 4) In the early 14th century it contained Bremilham, Brinkworth (including Grittenham), Christian Malford, Dauntsey (including Smithcot), Draycot Cerne, Easton Piercy in Kington St. Michael parish, Foxley, Hullavington (including Bradfield but not Surrendell), Norton, Seagry, Great Somerford, Little Somerford, and Stanton St. Quintin. (fn. 5) Easton Piercy was in Thorngrove hundred in 1084; Surrendell was in Dunlow hundred in 1084, (fn. 6) in Chippenham hundred in the 14th century and later. (fn. 7) The part of Westport parish outside Malmesbury borough is likely to have been in Chedglow hundred.

In 1086 Malmesbury borough may already have been privileged and was not part of either Chedglow or Startley hundred. The borough and both hundreds belonged to the Crown, (fn. 8) in the 1130s were held by Roger, bishop of Salisbury, (fn. 9) and in 1215 were granted at fee farm to Malmesbury abbey. (fn. 10) Because the grant was of Malmesbury and three hundreds, and in the period 1226–8 the third hundred was called Malmesbury, (fn. 11) it has been suggested that there was an earlier urban Malmesbury hundred, but that is unlikely. (fn. 12) It is more likely that what were granted in 1215 and called Malmesbury hundred were regalian rights within the borough. (fn. 13) While in Malmesbury abbey's hands, however, Chedglow and Startley hundreds and the borough coalesced. That some places were assigned to both hundreds, or to the wrong one, in the period 1268–89 suggests that the distinction had already been blurred by then. (fn. 14) It was largely abandoned after 1334, and in 1377 Malmesbury hundred included Malmesbury borough and, with the possible exception of Christian Malford, all the places in Chedglow and Startley hundreds in 1334. Westport was clearly in the hundred in 1377; (fn. 15) Christian Malford was later in North Damerham hundred. (fn. 16)

Malmesbury hundred had in it c. 37 tithings. Those which were never parishes included, at various times, Grittenham in Brinkworth parish, Eastcourt in Crudwell, Smithcot in Dauntsey, Cloatley in Hankerton, Cleverton in Lea and Cleverton, and Burton Hill, Corston, Milbourne, and Rodbourne in Malmesbury. (fn. 17) Kemble and Poole Keynes, transferred to Gloucestershire in 1896, Ashley and Long Newnton, transferred to Gloucestershire in 1930, (fn. 18) and Easton Piercy are outside the scope of this volume, but Surrendell is included.

Malmesbury abbey held the hundred at fee farm until the Dissolution. (fn. 19) In 1566, 1583, and 1586 the Crown leased it to the burgesses of Malmesbury, (fn. 20) in 1588 to Sir John Danvers and his sons Charles and Henry, in 1595 to Sir Henry Knyvett, and in 1607 to Thomas Howard, earl of Suffolk, and his wife Catherine. (fn. 21) In 1611 it sold the hundred to Sir Richard Grobham (d. 1629). (fn. 22) Malmesbury hundred passed to Sir Richard's eventual heir, his sister Joan, wife of John Howe. Joan was succeeded by her son Sir John Howe, Bt., and the hundred passed in the direct male line to Sir Richard Howe, Bt. (d. 1703), and Sir Richard Howe, Bt. (d. s.p. 1730). (fn. 23) That Sir Richard was succeeded by his cousin John Howe (cr. Baron Chedworth 1741, d. 1742), and the hundred descended with the Chedworth title to John Howe (d. 1762), Henry Howe (d. 1781), and John Howe (d. 1804). That last Lord Chedworth devised the hundred for sale (fn. 24) and it was bought by Sir John St. Aubyn, Bt., who sold it in 1813 to Joseph Pitt. In 1840 Pitt sold it to Joseph Neeld, (fn. 25) the owner in 1845. (fn. 26)

In 1255 the sheriff was taking a total of £3 6s. 8d. for cert money and tithing penny and £1 6s. 8d. for sheriff's aid at his twice-yearly tourns, (fn. 27) and in 1535 the hundred was worth £4 12s. to Malmesbury abbey. (fn. 28) In the later 16th century the hundred was worth £6 11s. 8d. (fn. 29)

Chedglow hundred presumably met at Chedglow and the name Cicemethorn has been thought to suggest that it met at a thorn tree there. (fn. 30) According to tradition Startley hundred met at Startley ash on Startley common in Great Somerford. (fn. 31) Before 1215 the constable of Malmesbury castle held fortnightly courts for Startley hundred, and possibly for Chedglow, at Malmesbury, (fn. 32) and after 1215 three-weekly courts of the two hundreds may have been held together at Malmesbury. (fn. 33) With Malmesbury abbey's consent Glastonbury abbey withdrew its men of Christian Malford from the hundred courts in 1244, (fn. 34) but an attempt in the period 1242–54 to withdraw Ashley was unsuccessful. (fn. 35) Malmesbury abbey held the courts until the Dissolution. (fn. 36) In 1561–2 they were held by the Crown about every three weeks, often on a Saturday, and dealt with infringements of the assize of bread and of ale, suitors who failed to attend or pursue complaints, and pleas of debt. A toll called the Tolsey was paid on St. Aldhelm's day (25 May) and St. James's day (25 July). (fn. 37) Later the courts were held by the lords of the hundred, and in the early 19th century they were for the recovery of small debts. Between 1840 and 1845 they were held every three weeks and presided over as registrar or judge by an attorney who issued an average of 19 original summonses at each court. The registrar's judgements were neither reversed nor impugned, debts were paid, and in 1845 the lord and inhabitants of the hundred petitioned to enlarge the jurisdiction of the court for the recovery of debts not exceeding £20. (fn. 38)

Before 1215 the constable of Malmesbury castle held twice-yearly courts called great hundreds at Startley. (fn. 39) Tourns for both Chedglow and Startley hundreds were held by the sheriff at Cowfold in Malmesbury parish in 1255 or earlier (fn. 40) and in 1439 when they were jointly called Malmesbury hundred. (fn. 41) In the 16th century tourns were held at Malmesbury: in the period 1502–11 they were for Malmesbury hundred, (fn. 42) but in 1561–2 law days for Chedglow hundred were held the day after those for Startley hundred. (fn. 43) In Chedglow hundred the men on Malmesbury abbey's estates and on Oaksey manor, virtually the whole hundred apart from Ashley, were free from the sheriff's jurisdiction in the mid 13th century. (fn. 44) In 1275 the jurors of Startley hundred complained that after 1215, with Malmesbury abbey's consent, they were compelled to make payments at law days nominally for Chedglow hundred, to which the sheriff could presumably enforce little attendance, and that the sheriff and the abbey shared the income. (fn. 45) Malmesbury abbey's men of Brinkworth, Grittenham, and Norton had presumably been withdrawn from the Startley tourn by 1255; (fn. 46) Stanton St. Quintin was withdrawn c. 1258 but later attended; (fn. 47) Hullavington was withdrawn c. 1264, afterwards attended, was withdrawn again c. 1443, (fn. 48) but attended in the early 16th century; (fn. 49) and Draycot Cerne, Foxley, and Great Somerford were temporarily withdrawn in the 1260s. (fn. 50) There is no record of attendance by Bremilham or Dauntsey, which were apparently withdrawn by a member of the Dauntsey family before 1275. (fn. 51) Extensive liberties granted in 1340 to John Moleyns in estates at Brinkworth and Lea included view of frankpledge which was exercised at Lea. (fn. 52) In 1439 and 1511 tithingmen of Ashley, Draycot Cerne, Easton Piercy, Foxley, Hullavington, Seagry, Somerford, and Stanton St. Quintin attended the tourn for Malmesbury hundred, (fn. 53) and in 1562 only Ashley, Draycot Cerne, Easton Piercy, Foxley, Seagry, and Somerford paid cert to the sheriff. (fn. 54)

One man acted as the sheriff's serjeant in Chedglow and Startley hundreds in the period 1189–94, (fn. 55) and in 1255 one man served as bailiff for the two hundreds. (fn. 56) The bailiff or steward was paid £4 yearly in the 16th century, and in 1545 William Stumpe, a leading inhabitant of Malmesbury and purchaser of some of the abbey's estates, was appointed. (fn. 57) In 1613 the right of the constable of Malmesbury hundred to arrest the ringleaders of an anti-inclosure riot was challenged by the keeper of the king's race in Cole park (in Malmesbury parish). (fn. 58) Besides the high constable there were two petty constables in 1639, (fn. 59) and there were two constables in the 18th century. (fn. 60)


  • 1. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 115, 196.
  • 2. Below, Brokenborough, manor; Crudwell, manors.
  • 3. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 298.
  • 4. Ibid. ii, p. 212.
  • 5. Ibid. iv. 301.
  • 6. Ibid. ii, pp. 204–5.
  • 7. Ibid. iv. 298; Taxation Lists (W.R.S. x), 27, 61; Q. Sess. 1736 (W.R.S. xi), p. 136.
  • 8. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 113, 115; below, Malmesbury, introduction.
  • 9. Reg. Regum Anglo-Norm. iii, no. 784.
  • 10. Rot. Chart. (Rec. Com.), 213.
  • 11. Bk. of Fees, i. 379.
  • 12. J. Tait, Medieval Eng. Boro. 53; cf. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 44, 46–7.
  • 13. Cf. below, Malmesbury, local govt. (manorial govt.).
  • 14. P.R.O., JUST 1/998A, rot. 30 and d.; JUST 1/1006, rot. 44 and d.
  • 15. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 309–10.
  • 16. Ibid. 328.
  • 17. Below, local govt. sections of par. hists.
  • 18. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 340, 351, 354–5.
  • 19. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 122.
  • 20. P.R.O., C 66/1312, mm. 36–7; ibid. E 310/26/153, f. 40; E 310/26/154, f. 6.
  • 21. Ibid. C 66/1312, mm. 36–7; C 66/1436, m. 32; Cal. S.P Dom. 1603–10, 359.
  • 22. P.R.O., C 66/1870, no. 3; Wilts. Inq. p.m. 1625–49 (Index Libr.), 103–7.
  • 23. V.C.H. Wilts. xi. 170; for the Howe fam., Complete Peerage, iii. 156–7; P.R.O., CP 25(2)/987/3 Anne Trin.
  • 24. P.R.O., CP 25(2)/1476/22 Geo. III East.; W.R.O. 530.
  • 25. Aubrey, Topog. Coll. ed. Jackson, 206.
  • 26. W.R.O. 1305/203, petition, 1845.
  • 27. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 230, 235.
  • 28. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 119.
  • 29. P.R.O., E 310/26/153, f. 40.
  • 30. P.N. Wilts. (E.P.N.S.), 53.
  • 31. W.A.M. xxxi. 322; W.R.O., EA/98.
  • 32. Bodl. MS. Wood Empt. 5, f. 4.
  • 33. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 63–4; Reg. Malm. ii. 178–9; Cur. Reg. R. xi, p. 281.
  • 34. P.R.O., CP 25(1)/250/4, no. 24.
  • 35. Reg. Malm. ii. 178–9.
  • 36. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 119, 122.
  • 37. P.R.O., SC 2/209/16, rot. 2 and d.
  • 38. W.R.O. 1305/203, petition, 1845.
  • 39. Bodl. MS. Wood Empt. 5, f. 4.
  • 40. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 230.
  • 41. W.A.M. xiii. 116–17.
  • 42. P.R.O., SC 2/208/29, ff. 9v.–10; W.R.O. 192/26, ff. 4v.–5, 23, 24v.
  • 43. P.R.O., SC 2/209/16, rot. 2 and d.
  • 44. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 230.
  • 45. Ibid. 272.
  • 46. Ibid. 230. For the abbey's tenure of those places, below, Brinkworth, manors; Norton, manor.
  • 47. W.A.M. xiii. 117; below, Stanton St. Quintin, local govt.
  • 48. Below, Hullavington, local govt.
  • 49. P.R.O., SC 2/208/29, f. 20v.; W.R.O. 192/26, ff. 4v.–5, 23, 24v.
  • 50. P.R.O., JUST 1/998A, rot. 30 and d.
  • 51. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 273. For the Dauntseys' tenure of those places, below, Bremilham, manor; Dauntsey, manors.
  • 52. Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 468; below, Brinkworth, local govt.; Lea and Cleverton, local govt.
  • 53. W.A.M. xiii. 116–17; W.R.O. 192/26, ff. 4v.–5, 23, 24V.
  • 54. P.R.O., E 370/12/17; E 370/16/19.
  • 55. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 9;Abbrerv. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 13–14.
  • 56. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 239.
  • 57. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 122; L.& P.Hen. VIII, xx (1), p. 676; P.R.O., E 310/26/153, f. 40.
  • 58. Acts of P.C. 1613–14, 92–3.
  • 59. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1639, 206, 246, 284, 536.
  • 60. Q. Sess. 1736.(W.R.S. xi), p. 43.