Court Leet and View of Frankpledge with Court Baron for the Manor & Fee of Bollin cum Norcliffe

Scope and Content

The records of the court leet and view of frankpledge with court baron of the manor and fee of Bollin cum Norcliffe consist of three series of material: court books and verdicts, 1557-1838 (EGR2/5/1), suit rolls, 1649-1839 (EGR2/5/2), and estreats, 1776-1826 (EGR2/5/3).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Fitton family anciently held the lordship of Fulshaw, later termed the lordship of Bollin (or "le Bolyn"), which constituted the parish of Wilmslow. The Fitton estates later passed to the Venables family and, after the death of Richard de Venables, the property was partitioned in 1421 between his two sisters and co-heiresses, Alice, wife of Sir Edmund Trafford of Trafford co. Lancs, and Douce, wife of Sir Robert Booth of Dunham Massey (see EGR1/3/1/2). The Booth moiety of the lordship of Bollin consisted of Styal in the township of Pownall Fee, Dean Row in Bollin Fee, Bollin mills, the manor of Fallibroome, lands in Norcliffe in Pownall Fee, and a moiety of the manor of Thornton le Moors in west Cheshire. The Wilmslow estates remained in the hands of the Booth family and their successors the Greys, Earls of Stamford, until they were sold in 1857. The largest portion, together with the manorial rights, were purchased by John Clarke Prescott esq. Sources: J.P. Earwaker, East Cheshire: past and present, 2 vols (London: privately printed, 1877 & 1880), vol. 1, pp. 41-168; Ormerod, vol. 3, pp. 586-603.

Until 1646 the court leet and view of frankpledge for the manor and fee of Bollin cum Norcliffe was held jointly in the names of the Booths and the Traffords, respective lords of the two moieties of Wilmslow. Thereafter there is a gap in the records until 1681, when the court was held on behalf of George Booth (1622-84) alone.

In the 1620s separate sessions of the court were held on the same day, entitled the great inquest and hallmote. It is possible that freehold tenants owed suit of court at the former, while tenants at will attended the latter. However, from 1630 the sessions were combined under the heading "great inquest and hallmote". The term "hallmote" was last used in 1683, the sessions thereafter being termed great or grand inquests. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries the court is described in the headings of verdicts as "the court leet and view of frankpledge with court baron of the manor and fee of Bollin cum Norcliffe", with the jury being described as the jury of the great (or grand) inquest. There is no evidence in the records that the distinction between the jurisdictions of the court leet and the court baron was maintained; after 1750 the court met as a court baron only.

At a court leet and view of frankpledge of Sir Humphrey de Trafford bart held on 27 October 1862 a presentment was made that the manor of Bollin cum Norcliffe extended over the whole of the parish of Wilmslow, that Humphrey de Trafford held the court leet for the whole of the manor of Bollin cum Norcliffe and the court baron for Hough in Bollin Fee township, Chorley township, and Morley in Pownall Fee township, that an assignee of the Earl of Stamford held the court baron for Dean Row in Bollin Fee and Styal in Pownall Fee, and that John Jenkins esq held the court baron for the township of Fulshaw. Source: Lancashire Record Office, De Trafford of Trafford archives, court book for Bollin cum Norcliffe, 1785-1872 (DDTr Box 10).

The court met twice yearly, though additional sessions were sometimes held to hear pleas between parties. Until 1750 the first session of the year was generally held in April or May, but in 1751 the date was moved to July and remained there for the next forty years; subsequently the date was gradually brought forward so that by the 1830s it had reverted to April. The date of the second session remained relatively fixed, falling in October or November, except for a brief period in the early nineteenth century when it was brought forward to September.

The court appears to have met at public houses in Wilmslow, at least from 1733 onwards when the premises at which the sessions were held are recorded. The court met at the houses of the following innkeepers: Samuel Street (1733 & 1743), John Street (1746-70), Jeffrey Barrow (1771-82), Betty Barrow (1782), Francis Cutts (1783-1815), John Barrow Cutts (1816-19), James Richardson (1819-26), Walter Walton (1826), George Shuttleworth (1827-9), Henry Cork (1829-31), Mrs Dinah Cork (1831-3) and Joseph Cork (1834-8). John Street is stated to be the tenant of the George Inn in a verdict of 1750. A series of rentals for Dean Row, dated 1777-1815, record that Jeffrey Barrow was the tenant of the Swan Inn (Dean Row tenement no. 47) from 1777 or earlier until 1783, and Francis Cutts was tenant from 1784 until at least 1815. A survey of 1824 records that J.B. Cutts was the lessee of the Swan Inn, with James Richardson as occupant. The names of the stewards of the court are recorded in the introduction to EGR2 above.

The business of the court largely consisted of orders or presentments made by the jury. These are primarily concerned with the regulation of tenancy matters, the safeguarding of the lord of the manor's interests, and the governance of township affairs. Orders relate to the making and repair of hedges, fences, gates and stiles, the scouring of ditches and watercourses, the cropping of trees, the making and maintenance of roads, cart lanes, footpaths and bridges, the repair of houses and farm buildings, the removal of encroachments onto highways and commons, particularly Lindow Common, and the prevention of the practice of turning swine out onto the highway.

The amount of business transacted at the court baron remained fairly constant throughout the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, but declined somewhat after 1750. Nevertheless the court remained very active up to the 1830s, concerning itself with the repair of lanes, banks, hedges and ditches.

Separated Material

in March 1942 the 10th Earl of Stamford donated to the John Rylands Library jury lists and presentments for the manor and fee of Bollin cum Norcliffe, dated 6 May 1647, 15 Apr 1656, 24 Apr 1662, 23 Oct 1662, 5 May 1663, 5 May 1663 (pleas between parties), 5 Oct 1663, 27 Apr 1664, 11 Oct 1664, 26 Oct 1665, 10 May 1666 and 24 Oct 1666 (Rylands Charter 4311). He also gave six suit rolls for the years 1786-1792, 1793-1799, 1802-1809, 1810-1817, 1818-1825 and 1825-1832 (Rylands Charters 4312-4317). These volumes share the same physical format as EGR2/5/2/15 below.

Related Material

Lancashire Record Office: De Trafford of Trafford archives (DDTr Box 10), court books for the court leet and view of frankpledge of the manor and fee of Bollin cum Norcliffe, 1701-1733 & 1780, 1785-1872.