Manor Courts & Officers – Honour of Wallingford Courts
In the late 13thC the Vill of Rotherfield Peppard paid 5s cert money at the Honour of Wallingford’s annual View of Frankpledge. The View, held by successive Lrds of the Honours of Wallingford and later of Ewelme, met at North Stoke in the 15thC, when its chief business was the regulation of Mill Tolls & the Assize of Ale. A Constable at Peppard was recorded in 1377 & c.1465, collecting money for the King. In 1536 the Constable Presented jointly at the annual View with the Manor’s Tithingman, who had previously appeared alone. Peppard later formed part of the Ipsden Division of the Honour of Ewelme. In the 18th & 19thCs the annual View of Frankpledge & twice-yearly Court Leet were held at various locations, including the Dog Public House at Rotherfield Peppard. The Constable & Tithingman of Peppard were joined by a Hayward from the 1820s until c.1840; soon after, the records of the Honour Cease.
The Medieval Lords of the Manor held regular Manor Courts. Suit of Court was reserved by Ralph Pipard when Granting Land to John of Kent in 1286, and on Ralph’s death in 1303 Court Pleas & Perquisites were worth 2s a year. In 1338 the Court was worth 6s-8d a year. The Rolls of 14 Courts survive from 1351 to 1366, held sporadically once or twice a year. Fines ranged widely but averaged about 11s per Court. In 1363 profits of 13s-4d were divided between the Lord and the Demesne Lessee. Court Business included the resolution of disputes, cases of trespass, orders to tenants, and the conveyancing of Land.
Courts were most likely held by the Manor’s Steward, including Robert Quynaton, who stayed at Peppard for 2-days & 2-nights in April 1399. Profits of £1-7d that year were reduced by the Steward’s expenses, the cost of writing the Court Roll, and by release of the Lord’s Suit to the Honour of Wallingford’s Court. In the mid 15thC Courts were held twice yearly (most often in May & October), though profits declined to an average of 2s-6d per Court. The Stonors continued to hold Courts in the 17thC and later; typical Business included the Granting of Copyholds & Issuing of Orders, in particular to prevent the over-exploitation of Kingwood. In 1680 the Lord provided Timber to repair the Manor’s Pound & Stocks.
Parish Government & Officers
Two Churchwardens were mentioned in 1530, and by the 17thC they were chosen in the usual way, one by the Rector and the other by the Parishioners. In 1606, at the end of their Term, the outgoing Churchwardens came to Church on Tuesday before Easter to surrender their Office and make their Accounts, whereupon their Successors were appointed. Notice of the Election was given about 10-days before, which on this occasion provided the opportunity for Catholic interference.
Two Churchwardens, 2 Overseers of the Poor, and a Constable were recorded in 1641/2, most of them from local Yeoman Families. Churchwardens’ & Overseers’ responsibilities included distribution of Charitable Funds. Overseers’ Accounts from the early 18thC show that the Parish Rate was used to buy food, fuel & clothes for the Poor, and to pay their Rents & Medical Bills. The Overseers presumably accounted to the Vestry, but no Vestry Minutes survive until the beginning of the 20thC, when many of their functions had passed (in 1834) to Henley Poor-law Union, and (in 1894) to Henley Rural District Council & Rotherfield Peppard Parish Council, which in 1895 elected 2 Overseers and one Assistant Overseer. Nevertheless, the Vestry continued to provide help to the Poor before WW1, and was responsible for repairs & alterations to the Fabric of the Church. Those functions were later assumed by the Parochial Church Council, which continued in 2007.
In the mid 19thC Charles Bullock of Cowfields Farm served as Surveyor of the Highways, employing labourers to pick, break & cart Stones from the Fields and spread them on the Roads, and to trim overhanging hedges. Labourers were usually paid 1s or 1s-4d a day, their annual wages amounting to more than £57 in 1846/7. Bullock also served as Churchwarden, in 1852 alongside William Butler of Kingwood. Together with the Overseer, the Blacksmith George Pigden of Crosslanes, they collected more than £93 towards the Poor Rate in April 1852, with a similar sum collected 3 months later.
Rotherfield Peppard Parish Council was established following the creation of Henley Rural District Council in 1894, and met regularly thereafter. Six Parish Councillors were elected, and in 1895 a rate of 2d in the £1 was levied for Council expenses. Committees were formed to organise events such as the Victory Celebrations at the end of WW2, and the celebrations surrounding the Accession & Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1952/3. Committees were also formed to maintain the Sports Pavilion & War Memorial. Under Local Government reorganisation in 1974 the Civil Parish became part of South Oxfordshire District.