In the 1270s a Free Tenant in Berrick Prior owed Suit to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Court at Harrow (Middx). Other Canterbury Cathedral Tenants in the Parish attended the Priory’s Newington Court, whose records survive almost unbroken from 1270 to 1430. Courts Baron & Leet were both held regularly, at least 10 times in 1270, but seemingly only once or twice a year by the early 15th century. The Leet Courts regulated Agricultural practice, safeguarded the Lord’s privileges (including Brewing, Baking, Milling, & Timber), and settled minor Disputes, while the Prior’s other Liberties included Infangthief & Outfangthief (jurisdiction over thieves & stolen goods), the Right to Tumbrel & Gallows and Freedom from Suit of Shire & Hundred and from Toll. Manorial Officers included Aletasters (4 in 1289), a Woodward & Haywards, of whom 2 in 1300 were each fined 12d. for failing to ensure that the Lord’s Meadow was mown. Tithingmen numbered 12 in 1281 (4 for Berrick Prior, 3 each for Britwell Prior & Brookhampton, and 2 for Newington), but only 5 by 1430. Guardians of the Autumn By-laws also varied in number: in 1289 there was one from each Hamlet, and in 1331 there were 13 in all, although more typically 8 (2 from each Hamlet) were elected annually until 1416. A Manorial Pound was mentioned from 1270.
Newington Manor’s Court Baron Granted Copyholds until at least 1811, but no post-Medieval Courts Leet are known, despite both Newington & Britwell Prior Manors ostensibly retaining View of Frankpledge. By 1754 a separate Joint Court was held for the Manors of Britwell Prior & Britwell Salome, Granting Copyholds and regulating the Open-fields. Meetings continued until at least 1835.
Holcombe Tenants owed Suit either at Benson Manor’s View of Frankpledge (where a Holcombe Tithingman paid 5d cert money), or at the Honour of Wallingford’s annual Chalgrove View, where a Tithingman paid Cert money of 2s and when in 1432 a man was fined for allowing his animals to trample corn. Cert payments at the Benson View continued in the 1660s, and in the late 18th century Benson’s Lords claimed arrears of Quit-rents from Holcombe, to be paid at the Benson Court Baron. Representation at the Chalgrove View continued until the Honour Courts lapsed in 1847. Holcombe Manor’s Court Baron was mentioned in 1550, and in 1647 confirmed the Field Customs. In 1830 a Session held apparently at Great Holcombe Farm was accompanied by a Boundary Perambulation.
Parish Government & Officers
Four Constables were mentioned c.1480, Churchwardens in the 1530s, and a Parish Clerk in 1591. In 1609 the 2 Churchwardens were assisted by 2 Didesmen and by the 1670s there was an additional Chapelwarden for Britwell Prior. In 1688 Newington’s Constable failed to make a return to the Chief Constable, while Holcombe’s levied a Township Rate to recover petty expenses. The number of Constables was increased from 4 to 6 c.1850.
Overseers’ Accounts survive for 1736–88 when one Overseer had responsibility for Holcombe & Brookhampton, and another for Newington (presumably with Berrick Prior). The 2 Britwells appear to have shared Overseers. In 1797 the Overseers were fined for failing to draw up Militia Lists, and in 1855 & 1887 those elected refused to act, necessitating the appointment of a salaried Assistant who received £5 14s raised by a Rate. Surveyors of Highways existed by the 1810s when the Rector was Surveyor for Newington and there were apparently others in each of the Hamlets: Britwell Prior’s received ¼–a near the Chapel to supply Stone for Road repairs at Inclosure in 1845. From the 1860s Newington & Britwell Prior were each represented by a Waywarden on the Watlington Highway Board.
Britwell Prior was removed from the Parish in 1866, and in 1894, when Newington became part of Crowmarsh Rural District, the Vestry’s Civil Powers were transferred to a Parish Council, which continued in 2014. The Civil Parish was transferred to Bullingdon Rural District in 1932 and to the new South Oxfordshire District in 1974.