Kinwardstone Hundred

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 16, Kinwardstone Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1999.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


A P Baggs. J Freeman. C Smith. J H Stevenson. E Williamson, 'Kinwardstone Hundred', A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 16, Kinwardstone Hundred, (London, 1999), pp. 3-7. British History Online [accessed 13 June 2024].

A P Baggs. J Freeman. C Smith. J H Stevenson. E Williamson. "Kinwardstone Hundred", in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 16, Kinwardstone Hundred, (London, 1999) 3-7. British History Online, accessed June 13, 2024,

Baggs, A P. Freeman, J. Smith, C. Stevenson, J H. Williamson, E. "Kinwardstone Hundred", A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 16, Kinwardstone Hundred, (London, 1999). 3-7. British History Online. Web. 13 June 2024,


Kinwardstone hundred was a large and compact hundred in east Wiltshire which possibly took its name from a stone that marked its meeting place. (fn. 1) At 196¼ hides it was the second most highly assessed hundred in Wiltshire in 1084, (fn. 2) and it was later among Wiltshire's largest hundreds. (fn. 3) Estates known to have been part of the assessment in 1084 lay at East Grafton, West Grafton, or both, Marten, Wolfhall (all four later in Great Bedwyn parish), Burbage, Collingbourne Kingston, Ham, Pewsey, Stitchcombe (later in Mildenhall parish), Shalbourne, South Standen (Standen Hussey later in Hungerford parish), and Wootton Rivers. (fn. 4)

In 1332 the hundred apparently included the whole of some parishes, most of some others, and a smaller proportion of others. Ham and Stitchcombe, parts of the hundred in 1084, had been transferred respectively to Elstub hundred by 1332 and Selkley hundred by 1243; (fn. 5) Everleigh and Collingbourne Ducis, both in Kinwardstone hundred in 1249 and 1275, (fn. 6) were withdrawn by an earl of Lancaster and in 1332 were part of Everleigh liberty. (fn. 7) The parishes apparently wholly in Kinwardstone hundred in 1332 were Little Bedwyn, Burbage, Buttermere, Chute, Collingbourne Kingston, Easton, Froxfield, Pewsey, and Wootton Rivers. The lands of all the villages and hamlets of Great Bedwyn parish as it was from the 16th century, except Great Bedwyn village, were part of the hundred in 1332; Great Bedwyn village had borough status and was not part of a hundred in the Middle Ages. (fn. 8) From c. 1130 to 1522, from 1547 to 1552, and from 1783 the lord of the hundred was also lord of the borough, (fn. 9) and in the 18th and 19th centuries the village, although not represented at the hundred court, was an accepted part of the hundred. (fn. 10) The whole of Milton Lilbourne parish except Clench apparently lay in the hundred in 1332: (fn. 11) Clench had been withdrawn in the mid 13th century by Battle abbey (Suss.), which held the land, was added to the abbey's liberty of Bromham, which survived the Reformation, (fn. 12) but was apparently part of Kinwardstone hundred from the late 18th century (fn. 13) or earlier. The whole of what was Tidcombe parish from 1894 lay in Kinwardstone hundred in 1332 with the probable exception of Hippenscombe, which was part of Chute forest; (fn. 14) Hippenscombe was part of the hundred in the 17th century and later. (fn. 15) Three fifths of Chilton Foliat parish lay in Wiltshire, the rest in Berkshire: the Wiltshire part lay in Kinwardstone hundred from 1332 or earlier; the Berkshire part lay in Kintbury (later Kintbury Eagle) hundred in 1086 and remained part of it. (fn. 16) Of six estates at Shalbourne in 1086 the two largest lay in Kintbury hundred and in Berkshire, the four smallest in Kinwardstone hundred: (fn. 17) about a third of Shalbourne parish, including most of Shalbourne village, remained part of Kinwardstone hundred. (fn. 18) South Standen, Charlton (later Charnham Street), which was in the hundred in 1249, and North Standen, which was in it in 1268, remained parts of the hundred although most of Hungerford parish, in which they lay, was in Berkshire. (fn. 19) In 1255 Savernake forest was expressly said to lie in Kinwardstone hundred: (fn. 20) much land was excluded from the forest in the early 14th century, from 1330 the forest consisted only of the king's woods, (fn. 21) and for long after 1330 no part of the forest seems to have lain in the hundred; the west part of the forest was converted to agriculture in the 17th century, (fn. 22) and by the 19th century the southern part of that land had been assigned to Kinwardstone hundred. (fn. 23) Other parts of Savernake forest were added to Great Bedwyn, Little Bedwyn, and Burbage parishes and thus to the hundred. (fn. 24) Chute forest, which was a royal forest until the 17th century, (fn. 25) never seems to have been part of Kinwardstone hundred. Although in 1784 the owner of the land of the forest may have succeeded in a disputed claim that his land there was exempt from obligations imposed by the hundred court, (fn. 26) as an extra-parochial place and civil parish called Chute Forest it was accepted as part of the hundred for purposes of county government in the 19th century. (fn. 27) This volume deals with the whole of Kinwardstone hundred except the part which lay in Hungerford and Shalbourne parishes; it includes the whole of Chilton Foliat parish, Chute Forest parish, and the whole of Savernake parish, only part of which became part of the hundred. The history of the whole of Hungerford and Shalbourne parishes has been written elsewhere. (fn. 28)


Jurisdiction over Kinwardstone hundred was granted by Henry I with his estate called Bedwyn, which included the lordship of Great Bedwyn borough and the lordship in demesne of Wexcombe manor in Great Bedwyn parish, to John FitzGilbert, his marshal, probably c. 1130. (fn. 29) It descended with Wexcombe manor until 1522: it was then held by the Crown after the execution of Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham, for high treason and was retained when Wexcombe manor was granted. (fn. 30) In 1523 the Crown granted the hundred to William Cary (d. 1528) in tail male, (fn. 31) and in 1544 granted the reversion to Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford. (fn. 32) Cary's heir was his son Henry, who in 1547, when he came of age, sold his interest in the hundred to Seymour, then duke of Somerset. (fn. 33) The hundred passed back to the Crown on Somerset's execution and attainder in 1552, and in that year the Crown granted it to William Herbert, earl of Pembroke. (fn. 34) It descended with the Pembroke title to 1783, when Henry Herbert, earl of Pembroke and of Montgomery, sold it to Thomas Bruce, earl of Ailesbury. (fn. 35) It thereafter descended in the Bruce and Brudenell-Bruce families with Tottenham House in Great Bedwyn. (fn. 36)

Of the places in Kinwardstone hundred in the later Middle Ages some were exempt from the jurisdiction of the hundred courts. Besides the exemption of Great Bedwyn borough, from 1340 or earlier a manor held by the prebendary of Bedwyn and based in Great Bedwyn village was also exempt, and the lord of the hundred, and later other owners of Wexcombe manor, held a separate view of frankpledge for Wexcombe and, also in Great Bedwyn parish, Stock, Ford, Wilton, and West Bedwyn manor. (fn. 37) The overlord of Chilton Foliat manor, which was the Wiltshire part of Chilton Foliat parish, held the honor of Wallingford (Berks., later Oxon.) and until c. 1520 his men of Chilton Foliat attended a view held for part of the honor; after c. 1520 a separate view was held for Chilton Foliat. (fn. 38) While Conholt manor was held by Battle abbey in the 13th and 14th centuries the men of Conholt attended views held by the abbey; (fn. 39) in the 16th century and later the tithingman of Conholt attended Kinwardstone hundred courts. (fn. 40) The men of a manor in Easton parish held by Bradenstoke priory were also exempt from the jurisdiction of the hundred courts, and from the mid 16th century leet jurisdiction over the whole parish was exercised at a view held privately; a tithingman of Easton nevertheless attended the hundred courts. (fn. 41) Oakhill, in Froxfield parish, and North Standen were parts of one manor and of the duchy of Lancaster and had been withdrawn from the jurisdiction of Kinwardstone hundred courts by the 15th century. (fn. 42) No tithingman expressly said to be of South Standen attended the hundred courts; (fn. 43) South Standen may have been exempt or part of Charnham Street tithing.

Despite those exemptions the courts of Kinwardstone hundred were attended in the 16th century by 31 tithingmen, in the 17th by 32, and in the 19th by 33; only three tithings, Buttermere, Easton, and Wootton Rivers, were apparently conterminous with parishes. In the part of Great Bedwyn parish not exempt there were four tithings, Crofton, East Grafton, West Grafton, and Wolfhall, and the tithingman of Wilton also attended the courts; Marten in Great Bedwyn was part of a composite tithing with Tidcombe. In Little Bedwyn there were four tithings, Little Bedwyn, Chisbury, Henset, and Puthall; either Henset or Puthall included Rudge in Froxfield. There were four tithings in Pewsey parish (Down Pewsey, Kepnal, Sharcott, and Southcott), three in Collingbourne Kingston parish (Collingbourne Kingston, Collingbourne Valence, and Collingbourne Sunton) and Milton Lilbourne parish (Milton Lilbourne, Milton Abbot's, and Fyfield), and two in Burbage parish (Burbage Savage and Burbage Sturmy) and Chute parish (Chute and Conholt). Tidcombe was part of Tidcombe and Marten tithing, and Fosbury in Tidcombe parish was a separate tithing. Froxfield (excluding Oakhill and Rudge), Charnham Street, and the Wiltshire part of Shalbourne parish were also tithings. Between 1567 and 1696 a tithingman of Hippenscombe began to attend the courts, and in the 19th century a tithingman of Brimslade and South Savernake attended. (fn. 44)

Two hundred courts were held, one, at which leet jurisdiction was exercised and the tithingmen paid cert rent, twice a year, and one every three weeks. (fn. 45) The early meeting place of the hundred may have been in or near Burbage village, which lies near the centre of the hundred, and in the late 17th century Kinwardstone gate led to the part of Burbage parish where Kinwardstone Farm was built in the earlier 19th century; (fn. 46) in the mid 19th century the biannual court met at the White Hart, Burbage. One tithingman for each tithing was required to attend when each court was held. Records of the biannual court survive for 1696-1719, when it was called the court of view of frankpledge, and 1842-71, when it was called the court leet and view of frankpledge. In the earlier period the court met each spring and autumn. It was attended by the tithingmen and some of the free suitors, and new tithingmen were appointed at the autumn meeting. The tithingman of Wolfhall and the tithingman of Puthall were required to keep, respectively, a bloodhound and a mastiff for the use of the men of the hundred, and by custom each showed his dog at the view of frankpledge: presumably for meeting the requirement each was excused attendance at the court held every three weeks. At each meeting of the view of frankpledge a jury was empanelled and it presented under leet jurisdiction. Most presentments concerned the poor condition of boundaries, highways, watercourses, hedges, pounds, and stocks; in 1716 the dangerous condition of chimneys in Charnham Street was presented. The number of presentments declined through the period. In the later period the court leet met alternately in spring and autumn, but only 15 times. Besides amercing those who failed to attend, its only business was to nominate officers and tithingmen. Records of the court held every three weeks survive for 1706-20 and 1737-63. The court was held by the lord's steward, met before two free suitors of the hundred, and was usually attended by several tithingmen. Apparently the court's only business was to hear pleas and to amerce the tithingmen who failed to attend, and until the 1750s the progress of several pleas was recorded at most meetings. From 1760 no tithingman attended and the court's only business was to amerce each one. (fn. 47)

In 1275 the hundred was valued at £20: £2 4s. was received by the lord of the hundred as tithing penny, £3 14s. as sheriff's aid, and the rest as perquisites of the courts. (fn. 48) In the 1390s it was valued at £17: £9 10s. was received as tithing rent, £3 as sheriff's aid, and the rest from the perquisites. (fn. 49) In 1567 the tithingmen attending the courts paid £9 1s. 4d. as cert rent and £4 10s. 10½d. as sheriff's aid. (fn. 50) In 1783 the combined payments, then called law silver, amounted to £13 13s. 10d. (fn. 51)

The bailiwick of Kinwardstone hundred descended in the Homedieu family in the 13th and 14th centuries. (fn. 52) Constables were being appointed in the mid 14th century. (fn. 53) From the later 16th century or earlier two were appointed each year, (fn. 54) and from the later 17th century or earlier they were chosen by the steward at the autumn meeting of the view of frankpledge and one served for the east part of the hundred and one for the west. (fn. 55)


  • 1. P.N. Wilts. (E.P.N.S.), 331.
  • 2. V.C.H. Wilts, ii, pp. 178-216.
  • 3. e.g. ibid. iv. 326-30; Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), passim.
  • 4. V.C.H. Wilts, ii, pp. 213-14; for Great Bedwyn, below, Great Bedwyn, intro.; for Stitchcombe, V.C.H. Wilts, xii. 125; for S. Standen, V.C.H. Berks, iv. 195.
  • 5. Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 62; V.C.H. Wilts, xii. 62.
  • 6. Crown Pleas, 1249 (W.R.S. xvi), p. 218; Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 259.
  • 7. Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 115-16; V.C.H. Wilts. xi. 106, 137.
  • 8. Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 8-9, 123-8; cf. below, Great Bedwyn, intro.
  • 9. Below, this section; Great Bedwyn, manors (preamble; Borough; Wexcombe).
  • 10. Q. Sess. 1736 (W.R.S. xi), p. 142; Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 564; V.C.H. Wilts, iv. 329; W.R.O. 9/18/8-12.
  • 11. Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 123-4.
  • 12. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 260; V.C.H. Wilts, vii. 177; below, Milton Lilbourne, local govt.
  • 13. W.R.O., A 1/345/299.
  • 14. Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 126; below, Tidcombe, intro.; Hippenscombe, intro.
  • 15. W.R.O. 9/18/8-12.
  • 16. V.C.H. Berks, i. 340, 345; iv. 157; Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 126-7; below, Chilton Foliat, intro.
  • 17. V.C.H. Berks, i. 331, 348; V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 156, 163-4, 166.
  • 18. e.g. Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 126; O.S. Maps 6", Wilts. XXXVII, XLIII (1882-7 edns.).
  • 19. Crown Pleas, 1249 (W.R.S. xvi), p. 218; V.C.H. Berks. iv. 183; P.N. Berks. (E.P.N.S.), ii. 302; Tax List, 1332 (W.R.S. xlv), 126-7; O.S. Maps 6", Wilts. XXX, XXXVII (1887 edns.); P.R.O., HO 107/1180; ibid. JUST 1/998, rot. 34d.
  • 20. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 231.
  • 21. V.C.H. Wilts, iv. 399-400, 419, 450-1.
  • 22. Below, Savernake, econ. hist.
  • 23. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 566; W.R.O., A 1/345/354.
  • 24. Below, Great Bedwyn, intro.; Little Bedwyn, intro.; Burbage, intro.
  • 25. Ibid. Chute Forest, estates.
  • 26. W.R.O. 9/18/14.
  • 27. Poor Law Abstract, 1804, 564; V.C.H. Wilts, iv. 329.
  • 28. V.C.H. Berks, iv. 183-200, 228-34.
  • 29. H. M. Cam, Liberties and Communities in Medieval Eng. 68-9; below, Great Bedwyn, manors [preamble].
  • 30. Below, Great Bedwyn, manors (Wexcombe); Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 231, 260; Cal. Pat. 1281-92, 351; Cal. Inq. p.m. iii, p. 234; v, p. 328; ix, p. 55; xiii, p. 181; xvii, p. 93; xviii, p. 269; P.R.O., E 36/150, rot. 2.
  • 31. P.R.O., C 142/48, no. 107.
  • 32. W.R.O. 1300/172B.
  • 33. P.R.O., C 142/48, no. 107; ibid. E 326/7567.
  • 34. Cal. Pat. 1550-3, 357-8; Complete Peerage, xii (1), 63-4.
  • 35. W.R.O. 9/18/6-7.
  • 36. W.R.O. 9/18/12; below, Great Bedwyn, manors (Tottenham).
  • 37. Above, this section; below, Great Bedwyn, manors (Prebendal); local govt.
  • 38. Below, Chilton Foliat, manors (Chilton Foliat); local govt.
  • 39. Ibid. Chute, manors (Conholt); local govt.
  • 40. First Pembroke Survey, ed. Straton, i. 191; W.R.O. 9/18/8-12.
  • 41. Below, Easton, manors (Easton Bradenstoke); local govt.; W.R.O. 9/18/8-12.
  • 42. Below, Froxfield, manors (Oakhill); local govt.
  • 43. Cf. W.R.O. 9/18/8-12.
  • 44. First Pembroke Survey, i. 190-1; W.R.O. 9/18/8-12; for Rudge, below, Little Bedwyn, local govt.
  • 45. P.R.O., SC 6/1117/8; W.R.O. 9/18/8-12.
  • 46. W.R.O. 9/18/8, ct. 20 Apr. 1697; ibid. EA/68; below, Burbage, intro. (other settlement).
  • 47. W.R.O. 9/18/8-12.
  • 48. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1), 260.
  • 49. Cal. Inq. Misc. vi, p. 145.
  • 50. First Pembroke Survey, i. 190-2.
  • 51. W.R.O. 9/18/6-7.
  • 52. Cal. Pat. 1354-8, 438; Extents for Debts (W.R.S. xxviii), pp. 20-1, 23; P.R.O., JUST 1/1001, rot. 11; JUST 1/1006, rot. 38.
  • 53. V.C.H. Wilts, v. 24.
  • 54. Sess. Mins. (W.R.S. iv), 81, 89, 113.
  • 55. W.R.O. 9/18/8; 9/18/12.