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Cheltenham Manor Court Books, 1692-1803

James Hodsdon

(Volume 24, 2010)

For over three centuries, Cheltenham manor was held by the Duttons of Sherborne. They were well served by their stewards, notably John Prinn, whose antiquarian leanings contributed to the preservation of many Cheltenham and Charlton Kings records. Thanks to him, there is a continuous run of early modern manor court records from 1692, the starting point for this edition, which is the first extended treatment of any Gloucestershire manorial records.

The records presented here are mostly of courts baron, relating to the inheritance or sale of copyhold properties in Cheltenham (tithings of Alstone, Arle, Cheltenham, and Westal, Naunton and Sandford), and to the east, the tithings of Bafford and Charlton Kings (all those parts of Charlton Kings not within the manor of Ashley). In the early years abstracted here, there are also records of court leet business, dealing with local administration within Cheltenham hundred, thus adding Leckhampton and Swindon Village to the preceding tithings. The court leet records touch on the use of the open fields, the upkeep of highways, boundaries and watercourses, the appointment of local officials, and occasionally matters of local justice.

The finishing point of 1803 brings the account up to the era of the Cheltenham Inclosure Award. Nearly 4,000 events are abstracted, allowing the descent of properties and the fortunes of families to be followed through the 18th century, during which Cheltenham blossomed from minor market centre into major resort. In the absence of any general system of land registry, and in Cheltenham's case, only minor newspaper coverage, the material presented here will be valuable to local, family, and economic historians, as well as students of toponyms. A full introduction gives the context for the manor records, and analyses topics such as the frequency of mortgages, and the changing origins of Cheltenham property owners and developers. There are extensive indexes of personal names, places of origin, field and other local place-names, occupations, and general matters.

xxxviii + 621 pages, ISBN 9780900197765

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