Bradford hundred

Pages 1-3

A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 7. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.

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Hundred of Bradford

IN 1084 the hundred of Bradford, which was assessed at 99 hides, probably included, among other towns, Bradford, Barley (in Bradford), Broughton Gifford, Broughton Monkton (in Broughton Gifford), Budbury (in Bradford), Pomeroy (in Wingfield). (fn. 1) It was stated in 1255 that the Abbess of Shaftesbury's 'foreign men' of Bradford hundred formerly did suit twice a year at the hundred of Melksham, but that in the time of King John the abbess had withdrawn the suit and attached it to her hundred of Bradford. (fn. 2) There is a strong presumption that these 'foreign men' belonged to Chalfield, which was thenceforth reckoned a part of Bradford hundred. In 1227 the abbess released the Prior of Farleigh's men of South Wraxall, Monkton Farleigh, and Broughton Monkton from their suit to the hundred. (fn. 3) It was claimed in 1268 that the lords of Wingfield, Wittenham (in Wingfield), and Westwood owed suit in respect of those places. (fn. 4) When summoned in 1278–9 to show why his men of Westwood did not do suit to Selkley hundred, the Prior of St. Swithun's, Winchester, was able to profer a charter of Henry III exempting him from suits of shire and hundred. (fn. 5) It is not clear why such suit was demanded nor is it known whether the prior exercised the privilege with relation to Bradford hundred. Westwood appeared at a tourn in 1439 (fn. 6) but not in 1501–2 (fn. 7). Monkton Farleigh did not appear at the tourn of 1439, possibly in virtue of its acquittance of two centuries before. (fn. 6)

In 1316 the hundred consisted of Bradford, Atworth, Broughton Gifford, Chalfield, Cumberwell, Monkton Farleigh, Holt, Westwood, Wingfield, Wittenham, Winsley, and South Wraxall. (fn. 8) Except for Wingfield, Westwood, and Wittenham these are constant constituents until at least the middle of the 17th century. Wingfield and Wittenham do not recur, but from 1333 to 1334 (fn. 9) the latter is replaced by Rowley. In later times Westwood formed part of the hundred of Elstub, which belonged to the Prior of St. Swithun's. The date of transfer is uncertain. Westwood does not occur in the rolls of Elstub hundred for the period 1333 to 1580. (fn. 10) As has been shown it appeared at a sheriff's tourn for Bradford hundred in 1439, (fn. 11) but not in 1501–2. (fn. 12) It was reckoned as a part of Bradford hundred for the purpose of assessing a subsidy in 1524 (fn. 13) and thereafter is not encountered in Bradford hundred. The tithing of Leigh appears in 1524 (fn. 14) and frequently thereafter. Great Trowle appears regularly from 1327 to 1328, (fn. 15) and Great and Little Trowle together in 1524. (fn. 14) Little Trowle, however, does not recur (see Trowbridge). In 1831 the hundred consisted of the parishes of Bradford, Broughton Gifford, Great Chalfield with Little Chalfield and Cottles, Monkton Farleigh, and Wingfield with Rowley. (fn. 16)

It was alleged in 1255 with probable truth that the hundred of Bradford was granted to the abbey of Shaftesbury by King Ethelred at the same time as the manor of Bradford (q.v.). It was held by successive abbesses until the Dissolution. In 1281 the Crown claimed it as a royal hundred which the abbess held at a fee farm of £5. The jurors, however, found that the abbess held it in fee. (fn. 17) After the Dissolution the hundred was apparently kept in the Crown's hand until 1546, when, with its portmote, view of frankpledge, and court leet it was leased to Edward Bellingham, the grantee of the capital manor of Bradford, for twenty-one years. In return for a rent of £1. 13s. Bellingham was to receive the perquisites of the courts, out of which he was to pay the bailiffs and stewards. (fn. 18) In 1576 the hundred, with view of frankpledge within it, was granted to Sir Francis Walsingham. (fn. 19) Notwithstanding this grant the constables were elected at Quarter Sessions in the following Easter as though the hundred had still been royal. (fn. 20) Walsingham died seised of the hundred in 1590. (fn. 21) The hundred then appears to have followed the descent of the capital manor until 1737, (fn. 22) after which it is not known to have been the subject of any conveyance.

In 1651 there seems to have been some doubt about the ownership of the hundred. A survey of it was made in that year, as a late possession of Charles I, but the commissioners found that Sir Thomas Jarvis was receiving the profits, as the hundred had been settled upon him by Act of Parliament as part of the estates of the Marquess of Winchester, sequestrated in 1645. (fn. 23) The commissioners confessed themselves ignorant of the real facts of the case, but Sir Thomas Jarvis was probably in the right.

In 1255 the sheriff received at his tourns 5 marks to the king's use and 2½ marks as sheriff's aid (fn. 24) —£5 in all. This was still the declared value in 1281. (fn. 25) The perquisites of the hundred court were valued at £4. 9s. 4d. in 1539–40. (fn. 26) In 1651 the tithing silver, usually paid by the tithingmen at Easter and Michaelmas, amounted to £1. 11s. and £1. 12s. The money payable by the hundred bailiff for Palm Sunday Eve silver was £1. 5s. 10d. The profits of the tourn, courts, fines, and amercements were valued at 6s. 8d. (fn. 27) Thus the total receipts were much the same as they had been at the Dissolution. In c. 1660 'law day silver', payable at Michaelmas and Lady Day, amounted to £1. 19s. 4d. (fn. 28) This was doubtless the same as tithing money. 'Palmse money', payable on 25 March, amounted to 8s. (fn. 28) In neither case was the 'borough' a contributor.

In 1364, (fn. 29) 1439, (fn. 30) and 1651 (fn. 27) the court met at Bradford Leigh. In the 13th century there was evidently a three-weekly court (fn. 31) and there were two tourns a year. (fn. 32) This was still the normal arrangement in 1651, the tourns being held at about Lady Day and Michaelmas. (fn. 27) From 1720 to 1863 the hundred court was held with the courts of the manor and borough (see Bradford).

From Richard I's reign the office of hundred bailiff or beadle was annexed to one of the manors in South Wraxall (see Bradford manors). John Hollis of Bradford, however, was bailiff in 1584, (fn. 33) which suggests that the Longs, who were then lords of the manor, either did not exercise their prerogative or had appointed a deputy.


  • 1. Dom. Bk. Wilts., ed. Jones, 170.
  • 2. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 236. The jurors of Melksham hundred said that it was the villata of Bradford that had formerly done this suit (ibid. 232). This is doubtless a mistake. They would be less well informed on the point than the jurors of Bradford hundred.
  • 3. C.P. 25(1)/250/7/76.
  • 4. Just. Itin. 1/998, m. 28d.
  • 5. Plac. de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 806.
  • 6. W.A.M. xiii, 118.
  • 7. S.C. 2/208/29.
  • 8. Feud. Aids, v, 210.
  • 9. E 179/196/8.
  • 10. B.M. Harl. R., W 3–32, V 20–34.
  • 11. W.A.M. xiii, 118.
  • 12. S.C. 2/208/29.
  • 13. E 179/197/155.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. E 179/196/7.
  • 16. Census Returns, 1831.
  • 17. Just. Itin. 1/1005, m. 69d; Plac. de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 800.
  • 18. E 315/217, f. 184a.
  • 19. C 66/1148, m. 37.
  • 20. Sess. Mins. 1563–92 (W.A.S., Rec. Brch.), 20.
  • 21. C 142/232/72.
  • 22. C.P. 43/613, rot. 297.
  • 23. E 317/Wilts./3A.
  • 24. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 236.
  • 25. Just. Itin. 1/1005, m. 69d.
  • 26. W. H. Jones, Bradford-on-Avon, revised J. Beddoe (1907), 88.
  • 27. E 317/Wilts./3A.
  • 28. W.A.M. xli, 224–5.
  • 29. Just. Itin. 3/72/6.
  • 30. W.A.M. xiii, 118.
  • 31. Just. Itin. 1/998, m. 28d.
  • 32. Rot. Hund. (Rec. Com.), ii, 236.
  • 33. Sess. Mins. 1563–92 (W.A.S., Rec. Brch.), 93.