The hundred of Underditch: Introduction

Pages 195-198

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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Underditch hundred belonged to the Bishop of Salisbury in 1084 and was assessed at 70 hides. The bishop's manor of Salisbury, which was assessed at 50 hides, probably included Stratford, Woodford, and Bishop's Milford, (fn. 1) and there were 2 one-hide estates at Wilsford. (fn. 2) Other than this, the composition of the hundred is at this time uncertain. However, it is possible that one or both of the four- and sixteen-hide estates at Durnford mentioned in Domesday Book may have been in it, (fn. 3) for there are some indications that Durnford was reckoned part of Underditch in the 13th century (see below). In 1275 (fn. 4) and 1289 (fn. 5) Woodford, Milford, and the city of New Salisbury appear to have lain within the hundred. In 1316 Underditch was said to consist of the borough of Old Salisbury, Lake (in Wilsford), (Bishop's) Milford, Stratford-sub-Castle, Wilsford, Great Woodford, and Little Woodford. (fn. 6) Apart from Old Salisbury, which gradually faded away into Stratford, these towns normally made up the hundred, with the addition of Heale (in Woodford) after 1334. In 1545 Woodford was being treated as a single town. In 1539, 1576 and 1641 Stratford was divided into the townships of Stratford Dean and Stratford Common. (fn. 7) The land tax assessments of 1694 show the hundred to have consisted of the townships of Wilsford and Lake, Great Woodford, Little Woodford, Stratford, and Milford. (fn. 8) In 1831 the hundred comprised Milford, Stratford-sub-Castle, Wilsford with Lake, and Woodford. (fn. 9)

In 1545 a small part of Ford (in Laverstock) was included in Underditch, though the remainder of it was entered under Alderbury hundred. (fn. 10) A resident in Ford was also included in the hundred in 1607–8 when a list of Wiltshire freeholders was drawn up. (fn. 11) At the inclosure of Stratford common fields in 1800 7 a. in Ford were given to a Ford farmer in exchange for 3 a. in Stratford. (fn. 12) It is possible that by this amalgamation the connexion between Ford and Underditch was extinguished. In 1528 Laverstock was included under Underditch in a survey of grain for sale in the south Wiltshire hundreds. (fn. 13)

At the eyre of 1249 a death in Durnford field was presented by an Underditch jury. The same jury presented a man from that village, suspected of larceny, who was in the tithing of Newtown (in Durnford). (fn. 14) In 1255 the hundred jury included Richard de Durneford and Robert de la Nyweton. (fn. 15) These facts suggest that Durnford was then considered to lie within the hundred. Speed indeed so marked it, and Andrews and Dury (1773) followed him, but nothing else points to its inclusion in later times.



In 1275 the hundred was considered to be appurtenant to the bishop's manors of Milford and Woodford and his city of Salisbury. (fn. 16) In 1255 he was said to have return of writs, view of frankpledge and probably also pleas of withernam within it, (fn. 17) and in 1275 gallows and the assize of bread and ale as well. The hundred was valued at 20s. in the latter year. (fn. 18) In 1535 the issues of the hundred court were 40s. a year, which was included in the valuation of the manor of Woodford. (fn. 19) In 1549 the hundred was leased by the bishop with the manors of Milford and Woodford to Sir William Herbert, and was thereafter regularly leased with those manors until the 19th century. (fn. 20)

Underditch is believed to take its name from a ditch, which, in Hoare's time, ran eastwards uphill from the Avon to the Salisbury-Amesbury road. (fn. 21) The precise meeting-place, however, is not known, though curie legales were being held 'at Underditch' in 1339 (fn. 22) and in 1409, (fn. 23) 1412 (fn. 24) and 1413. (fn. 25) In 1391 the curia legalis of the hundred was held at Milford. (fn. 26)

A conveyance of land in Stratford-sub-Castle, dated 1296, was witnessed by Everard, bailiff of the hundred. (fn. 27) The hundred is presumably this one, and Everard an ancestor of John Everard, of Stratford, upon whom the bailiwick of the bedelry was settled in fee in 1331, together with some land. (fn. 28) The bailiwick was annexed to the reputed manor of Mawarden Court in Stratford from 1549 to 1843. (fn. 29) In 1760 it was said, doubtless in error, to be annexed to Stratford Dean manor in Stratford. (fn. 30)

Between 1579 and 1590 the hundred constables were elected in Quarter Sessions. (fn. 31)


  • 1. The two small estates at Milford mentioned in Domesday were assigned by the Geld Rolls to Alderbury hundred; they lay east of the Bourne and were later known as Milford Richard and Milford Pichard, and were reckoned part of Alderbury hundred until the 19th century.
  • 2. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, p. 180; see below, p. 214.
  • 3. V.C.H. Wilts. ii, pp. 194–5. The hidage assigned by the Geld Rolls to Amesbury hundred, in which Durnford was later included, is exceeded if that of all the later parts of the hundred are added together.
  • 4. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1). 279.
  • 5. J.I. 1/1011 m. 43.
  • 6. Feud. Aids, v. 199.
  • 7. These 2 sentences are founded upon the tax assessments of 1334 (V.C.H. Wilts. iv. 302), a feodary of 1428 (Feud. Aids, v. 272–3), a survey of grain in S. Wilts. of 1528 (L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), p. 1700), musters of 1539 (ibid. xiv (2), p. 300), tax assessments of 1545 and 1576 (Taxation Lists (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), 6, 126–7), the protestation returns of 1641 (Hist. MSS. Com. 5th Rep. App., 134) and a survey of ch. livings of c. 1564 (W.A.M. xix. 203–4).
  • 8. E 182/1082.
  • 9. Census, 1831; W.R.O. Land tax assessments.
  • 10. Taxation Lists (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), 6.
  • 11. W.A.M. xix. 265.
  • 12. W.R.O. Stratford Incl. Award.
  • 13. L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (2), p. 1700.
  • 14. J.I. 1/996 m. 26d.
  • 15. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1). 240.
  • 16. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii (1). 279.
  • 17. Ibid. 231.
  • 18. Ibid. 280.
  • 19. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii. 69.
  • 20. Ch. Com. no. 136299; see above, pp. 92, 223, and Hatcher, Salisbury, 574–5.
  • 21. P.N. Wilts. (E.P.N.S.), 371; Hoare, Mod. Wilts., Hunds. of Everley, Amesbury and Underditch, frontispiece.
  • 22. J.I. 3/130 m. 18.
  • 23. J.I. 3/194 m. 10.
  • 24. J.I. 3/196 m. 3.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. J.I. 3/179 m. 17 [16].
  • 27. Cat. Anct. D. iv. A 8827.
  • 28. C.P. 25(1)/254/41/40; see also below, p. 200.
  • 29. Ch. Com. No. 275312 (1549); D. & C. Sar. Cupboard 3, Stratton & Stratford box (1623); ibid. Lease Bk. 1685–1700, f. 1 (1686); ibid. 1700–10, f. 7 (1700); Hatcher, Salisbury, 42 (1843).
  • 30. C.P. 25(2)/1235/33 Geo. II Hil.
  • 31. Sess. Mins. 1563–92 (W.A.S. Rec. Brch.), 46, 58, 65, 109, 116, 127, 134.