Amesbury hundred

Pages 3-5

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 15, Amesbury Hundred, Branch and Dole Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1995.

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Amesbury, held by the royal house of Wessex and the site of a wealthy nunnery, was locally important in the Anglo-Saxon period, (fn. 1) and by 1084 had given its name to a hundred. (fn. 2) Both the hundred and Amesbury manor passed with the Crown until the manor was granted away, probably in the 1140s. The hundred remained in the king's hands until, between 1189 and 1249, it was acquired by the lord of Amesbury manor. (fn. 3) Thereafter the hundred descended with the manor and met at Amesbury. (fn. 4)

In 1084 the hundred included lands in the valley of the Christchurch Avon, evidently all those in the parishes of Amesbury, Bulford, Durrington, Milston, and Figheldean, and, east and north-east of Amesbury, lands mainly in the valley of the Bourne, evidently all those in the parishes of Allington, Boscombe, Cholderton, Ludgershall, Newton Tony, and North Tidworth. (fn. 5) One of two estates at Kingston Deverill was, like Durrington, an appurtenance of Amesbury manor, (fn. 6) was almost certainly part of the hundred in 1084, and was so in 1332; (fn. 7) an estate called Shaw, later in Chute parish, was possibly part of the hundred in 1084 but is not known to have been afterwards. Compton, in Enford, and East Winterslow, in Winterslow, were among estates held until c. 1080 by Aubrey de Couci, others of which were in the hundred in 1084, (fn. 8) and had become part of the hundred by 1249. (fn. 9) In the Avon valley south of Amesbury, Durnford parish, or at least the main part of it, was transferred from Underditch hundred to Amesbury hundred between 1249 and 1281, (fn. 10) and Normanton, its detached part, was in Amesbury hundred by 1268. (fn. 11) West Wellow in East Wellow (Hants), where the lord of the hundred was overlord, had also been added to Amesbury hundred by 1268. (fn. 12) An estate in West Tytherley (Hants) was held in the later 13th century and earlier 14th by the owners of estates in Durnford and was considered part of Amesbury hundred in 1332 and 1334, (fn. 13) as, for reasons that are obscure, was land at Burghfield (Berks.). (fn. 14) By the early 14th century estates east of Reading and owned by the lord of Amesbury manor had been annexed to Amesbury hundred and to Wiltshire: they were at Broad Hinton, Hinton Odes, Hinton Pipard, Hinton Hatch, and Twyford (all in Hurst), Diddenham (in Shinfield), Farley, Great Sheepbridge, and Little Sheepbridge (all in Swallowfield), and Ashridge, Beaches, and Buckhurst (all in Wokingham). (fn. 15)

Amesbury hundred was evidently at its most extensive in the early 14th century, although by then the moiety of Compton which was in the honor of Leicester had been withdrawn to become part of Everleigh liberty, later part of Elstub and Everleigh hundred. (fn. 16) By c. 1400 the lands east of Reading had been detached from Amesbury hundred and organized as Ashridge, otherwise Hertoke, hundred: (fn. 17) they were transferred to Berkshire in 1844. (fn. 18) The estate in West Tytherley and the land at Burghfield are not known to have been part of Amesbury hundred after 1334. From c. 1400 the composition of the hundred was not changed: in the early 19th century it included 12 parishes, Allington, Amesbury, Boscombe, Bulford, Cholderton, Durnford, Durrington, Figheldean, Ludgershall, Milston, Newton Tony, and North Tidworth, (fn. 19) and West Wellow, East Winterslow, part of Compton, and part of Kingston Deverill. (fn. 20) The histories of the parishes are related below; that of Compton was given with Enford (fn. 21) and that of West Wellow with East Wellow; (fn. 22) those of Kingston Deverill and East Winterslow are reserved for volumes relating to Mere and Alderbury hundreds respectively.

There were many exemptions from the jurisdiction of Amesbury hundred courts. As lord of Amesbury manor the lord of the hundred withdrew his own men from it; in the later 13th century he claimed return of writs, view of frankpledge, and other liberties in respect of the manor, (fn. 23) and later is known to have held a view for it. (fn. 24) In 1179 quittance from the hundred court was among liberties confirmed to Amesbury priory, (fn. 25) which, in Amesbury hundred, held Bulford, West Boscombe in Boscombe, Alton Parva and Choulston in Figheldean, Biddesden in Ludgershall, and an estate in Amesbury. (fn. 26) A similar liberty was granted between 1189 and 1199 to Geoffrey Hussey (fn. 27) (fl. 1198), who held Figheldean manor and Ablington, Knighton, and possibly Syrencot, all in Figheldean. (fn. 28) From 1347 the men of Newton Tony were exempted by a grant of view of frankpledge to their lord. (fn. 29) Ludgershall borough, governed in the earlier Middle Ages by the bailiff of Ludgershall castle, who returned royal writs direct to Westminster and held view of frankpledge, was already exempt (fn. 30) when in 1449 the Crown included leet jurisdiction in a grant of the manor. (fn. 31) Ratfyn manor in Amesbury, the Rectory manor in Durnford, East End manor in Durrington, and part of Knighton were all held by Salisbury cathedral in the Middle Ages and, presumably under a grant of freedom from suit of hundreds made to the cathedral in 1158, were evidently exempt. (fn. 32) Also exempt from the jurisdiction of the hundred court was the part of Kingston Deverill in the hundred: (fn. 33) the exemption may have arisen from a privilege enjoyed by the canons of Le Mans (Sarthe), its owners in the earlier Middle Ages. (fn. 34) One estate may have been withdrawn without a grant. In 1281 Gilbert de Neville, lord of West End manor in Durrington, claimed to hold the assize of bread and of ale, (fn. 35) and in the earlier 14th century view of frankpledge was held for the manor; (fn. 36) in the earlier 15th century attempts to enforce the jurisdiction of Amesbury hundred court over the manor were unsuccessful. (fn. 37) Other attempts to withdraw failed. By 1268 William of Durnford, lord of Southend and Little Durnford manors in Durnford, and John son of Aucher, lord of Normanton manor, had for three years prevented the sheriff from levying aid from their estates, (fn. 38) and in 1275 the overlord of Normanton claimed gallows and the assize of bread and of ale there; (fn. 39) later, however, all the men of Durnford, presumably except those of the Rectory manor, were represented at the hundred courts. (fn. 40)

Records of the hundred courts survive for 1534, 1547–58, 1576, 1578–1614, 1632–3, 1725–35, and 1743–71. (fn. 41) The places not exempt from their jurisdiction were in tithings called Biddesden, Tidworth Zouche, Tidworth Moels, Cholderton, West Wellow, East Winterslow, Milston and Brigmerston, Great Durnford, Little Durnford, Compton and Alton, Allington, and West Amesbury and Wilsford. It is not clear why Biddesden attended the courts. (fn. 42) The two tithings of Tidworth bore the names of manors in the parish in the Middle Ages; (fn. 43) Cholderton tithing included East Boscombe in Boscombe; Brigmerston is in Milston parish. The whole of the main part of Durnford parish, including Netton, Newtown, and Salterton, was probably in the two tithings bearing its name; Alton, constituting a tithing with a moiety of Compton, was Alton Magna, the only part of Figheldean parish to attend. (fn. 44) West Amesbury manor in Amesbury evolved in the Middle Ages, evidently free from the jurisdiction of Amesbury manor and Amesbury priory courts: (fn. 45) despite the name of the tithing its partner was Normanton, (fn. 46) not Normanton's larger neighbour Wilsford, which was in Underditch hundred. (fn. 47) The records of 1547–8 are of a court held every three weeks and doing very little business; some meetings were attended by an officer called the bailiff of Amesbury borough. Other records are of the court at which leet jurisdiction was exercised: in the 16th and 17th centuries the court was held twice a year, in spring and autumn, and called a view of frankpledge, in the 18th century once a year, in October, and called a court leet. At that court in the 16th century the assize of bread and of ale was sometimes enforced, waifs and strays were reported, and orders were occasionally made to remedy public nuisances. Later, little more was done than to appoint tithingmen and to record the making of small customary payments, and, possibly because the tithings had little cohesion as a group, the court was of little importance.

The hundred was worth £15 2s. 10d. in 1364, (fn. 48) £13 5s. 4d. in 1651. (fn. 49) Later the value was only that of cert money twice a year, a tithing fine once a year in autumn, and suitors' fines. It was £8 2s. in 1707, £7 7s. 1d. in the early 19th century, when West Wellow tithing and West Amesbury and Wilsford tithing paid nothing. (fn. 50)

The officers of the hundred were the bailiff or high constable and two constables. (fn. 51) Members of the Goion family, lords of Coombes Court manor in Amesbury, were bailiffs in the late 13th century and early 14th. Robert Goion, bailiff in 1289, was accused of unlawfully levying money for scotales. (fn. 52) It became customary for the owner of Coombes Court manor to be the bailiff and to appoint a salaried deputy to collect the cert money and fines and to summon men to serve on grand and hundred juries. (fn. 53)


  • 1. Below, Amesbury, intro. (the town to c. 1540); manors (preamble).
  • 2. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 194.
  • 3. Ibid. v. 49; below, Amesbury, manors (Amesbury).
  • 4. e.g. Cal. Inq. p.m. xvii, p. 316; Longleat Mun., Seymour papers, xii, ff. 256v.–257; Alnwick Castle Mun. X.II.II, box 6, survey, 1634, pp. 249–50; W.R.O. 283/202; for the meeting place, e.g. P.R.O., E 317/Wilts. no. 2.
  • 5. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 194–5.
  • 6. Ibid. p. 132; W.A.M. lii. 75–7.
  • 7. Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 113.
  • 8. V.C.H. Wilts, ii, pp. 134, 195.
  • 9. Crown Pleas, 1249 (W.R.S. xvi), pp. 182–3.
  • 10. V.C.H. Wilts. vi. 195; P.R.O., JUST 1/1001, rot. 18d.
  • 11. P.R.O., JUST 1/998A, rot. 24d.
  • 12. V.C.H. Hants, iv. 536; cf. below, Amesbury, manors (Amesbury).
  • 13. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (I), 237; Cal. Inq. p.m. viii, p. 16; V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 297; Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 112; cf. below, Durnford, manors (Southend; Little Durnford).
  • 14. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 297; Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 113.
  • 15. Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 114–15; V.C.H. Wilts. v. 1–2; V.C.H. Berks. iii. 228, 247, 253–4, 263, 267, 271.
  • 16. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 297, 299; xi. 106–7, 120; Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 114.
  • 17. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 2.
  • 18. V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 339 n.
  • 19. Ibid. 326.
  • 20. Hoare, Mod. Wilts. Mere, 138; W.R.O. 283/202.
  • 21. V.C.H. Wilts. xi. 115–34.
  • 22. V.C.H. Hants, iv. 535–40.
  • 23. P.R.O., JUST 1/1001, rot. 19d.
  • 24. Below, Amesbury, local govt. (Amesbury).
  • 25. Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 157–9.
  • 26. Below, manors sections of par. hists.
  • 27. Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 394.
  • 28. Below, Figheldean, manors.
  • 29. Cal. Chart. R. 1341–1417, 64–5.
  • 30. Below, Ludgershall, local govt.
  • 31. Cal. Pat. 1446–52, 247.
  • 32. V.C.H. Wilts. iii. 159; below, Amesbury, manors (Ratfyn); local govt. (Amesbury); Durnford, manors (Rectory); local govt.; Durrington, manors (E. End); local govt.; Figheldean, manors (Knighton); local govt.
  • 33. e.g. Longleat Mun., Seymour papers, xii, ff. 256v.– 257.
  • 34. W.A.M. lii. 74–7.
  • 35. P.R.O., JUST 1/1001, rot. 19d.; below, Durrington, manors (W. End).
  • 36. Below, Durrington, local govt.
  • 37. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 68.
  • 38. P.R.O., JUST 1/998A, rot. 24d.; below, Durnford, manors.
  • 39. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (I), 265.
  • 40. Below, this section.
  • 41. Para. based on Longleat Mun., Seymour papers, xii, ff. 256v.–257; W.R.O. 192/24A; 283/2, bk. M; 283/2, views 1576; ct. bks. 1585–98; 1598–1608; 1608–14; 283/7; 283/14, ct. bk. 1725–35; 283/15, ct. bk. 1743–71.
  • 42. Cf. above, this section.
  • 43. Below, N. Tidworth, manors (Moels; Zouche).
  • 44. Cf. above, this section; below, Figheldean, intro.
  • 45. Below, Amesbury, manors (W. Amesbury); local govt. (W. Amesbury).
  • 46. e.g. W.R.O. 283/2, ct. bk. 1608–14, ct. 5 Oct. 1608.
  • 47. V.C.H. Wilts. vi. 195.
  • 48. P.R.O., DL 43/9/25.
  • 49. Ibid. E 317/Wilts. no. 2.
  • 50. Longleat Mun., Seymour papers, xii, ff. 256v.–257; Alnwick Castle Mun. X.II.11, box 6, survey, 1634, pp. 249–50; W.R.O. 283/62, chief rents, 1707; 283/202; 490/1116.
  • 51. V.C.H. Wilts. v. 68; Sess. Mins. (W.R.S. iv), 72; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1603–10, 147; P.R.O., JUST 1/1001, rot. 1; W.R.O. 192/24A.
  • 52. Antrobus D. (W.R.S. iii), pp. 5–6; P.R.O., JUST 1/1001, rot. 1; JUST 1/1006, rot. 58d.; below, Amesbury, manors (Coombest Ct.).
  • 53. W.R.O. 283/23, summons, 1735; 283/62, chief rents, 1707.