Forthcoming Events

Thu, Nov 20th, 2014, @7:30pm - 09:00PM
Evelyn Wrench's picture postcards in the early 1900s
Thu, Dec 11th, 2014, @7:00pm - 09:00PM
The West End in the 1800s: emerging pleasure district
Thu, Jan 15th, 2015, @7:30pm - 09:00PM
Pevsner in Hampstead and Bloomsbury
Thu, Feb 19th, 2015, @7:30pm - 09:00PM
What happened to the Heath after 1871?
Thu, Mar 19th, 2015, @7:30pm - 09:00PM
Town Planning in Camden
Thu, Apr 16th, 2015, @7:30pm - 09:00PM
Camden Goods Station through time
Thu, May 14th, 2015, @7:30pm - 09:00PM
Spies at the Isokon
Thu, Jun 18th, 2015, @6:30pm - 09:00PM
Archaeology of King's Cross Goods Yard
Thu, Jul 16th, 2015, @7:30pm - 09:00PM
History of St Michael's Church, Highgate

Events Calendar

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Hampstead Manorial Court Records
Translation and transcription of the Manorial Court Rolls of Hampstead

In 2000 the Camden History Society commissioned the translation of the Court Rolls of the Manor of Hampstead held by the London Metropolitan Archive. The original Court Books have disappeared, presumed destroyed by fire or water, and what is at LMA are copies of the proceedings of the Courts Baron, which were exclusively concerned with the transfer of Manorial land and buildings. Copies were therefore made as proof to be held by the tenants of the copyhold property granted by the Lord of the Manor or given, mortgaged or bequeathed by other Customary tenants. (Courts Leet were concerned with misdemeanours and legal proceedings and would give full details of the members of the "Homage", Customary tenants who acted as jury to advise the Steward, acting on behalf of the absentee Lord of the Manor. A few of the later Courts Baron list these names.
The Rolls are in manuscript and for the most part in Latin. Mrs Pauline Sidell has translated them into modern English and, where the text resorts to English (rather peculiarly spelt by present standards) has transcribed it as it stands. Dr Peter Woodford has word-processed Mrs Sidell’s manuscript into the form you see here.

The earliest extant roll begins with a Court of 1572 in the reign of Elizabeth I and consists of 10 folios, leaping lightly over the rest of the 16th century; the Courts become more frequent through and into the reigns of James I and Charles I. Subsequent Rolls usually record a Court session at least once every year, and are highly variable in length and number of folios. The series will probably come to an end with the reappearance of Court Books in the 18th century, the date of which has not yet been securely ascertained.

Out of interest, Dr Woodford has highlighted in blue the name of a Customary tenant  or a member of the Homage when it first appears in any one Roll and is compiling a list of such names – male and female – in case this might aid genealogical research in the district, which extended over a large area, from West End (bordering on Kilburn) in present-day West Hampstead to the village of Pond Street in the east, and from North End to the border with Belsize and Chalcots in the south. These lists will appear on the website in due course.

Observations and queries gratefully received by Dr Peter Woodford

DocumentsDate added

Order by : Name | Date | Hits [ Ascendant ]
Special Court Baron on 10 April 1717/1718 conveying Hreat Gilberts and other land in Kilburn to James Petit
Court Book A, extract for 1716
Court Book A, extract for the year 1715
Court Book A, extract for the year 1714
Court Book A, extract for the year 1713
Court Book A, extract for the year 1712
This long Court record of proceedings at the Court of 14 May 1711, adjourned to 19 May 1711, contains a number of straightforward transfers of copyhold premises and an unusual trade name: bridlecutter. There is further reference to the Spheristerium and the nearby parish house (the latter, so far, unidentified) and at the end, the granting of waste land to Joshua Gee to enable him to extend the garden and orchard of what is now known as Fenton House.
Following further research, the words on p 5 giving Michael Christmas's occupation as "archivist/cabinet maker" have been changed to "scrivener".
Transactions at this Court include the formation of a new Spheristerium in New End by staking out a part of the Heath , with the lease granted to Edward Eyans. This is a different bowling green from that on top of the Heath close by what is now Fenton House, and illustrates how popular bowling was as a recreation in Hampstead (there was a third one adjacent to the John Duffeild's Assenbly Room on Well Walk). Towards the end of the Court there are several calls for the heirs to premises bequeathed by persons who have died, with no claimants coming forward. Reaons for this remain unclear so far.
Some special Courts in February 1710 (in modern terms, 1711) with the granting of three licences.
Mostly routine, but includes a lengthy 'recovery' and also a mysterious re-admission of John and Ann French as tenants, who had been admitted to the same property in 1702. More references to the Spheristerium.
Routine business, but including the emphatic, wordy renunciation of the tenancy of a cottage in New End. Reading between the lines, one concludes that Margaret Clayton, wife of John Clayton Junior, clearly resented the sale by her widowed mother-in-law of the cottage bequeathed to her instead of giving it to her son, but she was unable to upset the perfectly legitimate sale to one John Williams that had taken place previously.
The transcript of this year's Court records contain the first reference to date of Joshua Gee as owner of Ostend House (later and currently known as Fenton House) and the laying out of its gardens.
The Court Books before 1706 have been lost or destroyed, and so far our translations have been from Court Rolls. This file contains the Court proceedings in 1706 which occupy the opening pages (1-28) of the earliest extant Court Book for the Manor of Hampstead. Book No.218 contains proceedings up until 1719/20. They are stil in Latin, and the Camden History Society intends to continue commissioning Pauline Sidell to translate them. During 1706 the Lord of the Manor was still Baptist, 3rd Earl of Gainsborough, still, at 20, a minor or in the parlance of the time, 'an infant'.
The last of the Court Rolls to be translated: the next set of translations will be from the Court Books, which have been preserved from 1706 onwards (unlike the earlier ones that were lost by fire and water damage). The Lords of the Manor (trustees for the Ladies Elizabeth and Rachel Noel) are still in control.
Trustees for the Lady Elizabeth Noel (now married to Lord Woodstock) and Lady Rachel Noel are still in charge of the Manor. Lord Woodstock is now an additional beneficiary. Passing mention of Slyes, as adjoining a property being Surrendered.
The Lords of the Manor continue to be trustees of Lady Elizabeth and Lady Rachel Noel. Thomas Foley sells the leasehold of the part of Slyes, which he acquired from Lord Robert Russell in 1794.
In a Special Court Baron in the unusual month of February, the Lord of the Manor, who has been the 3rd Earl of Gainsborough since 1693, changes without explanation to Trustees of Lady Elizabeth and Lady Rachel Noel, daughters of Wriothesley Noel, 2nd Earl of Gainsborough, who never was Lord of the Manor of Hampstead. The trustees are Fulke Greville, 5th Lord Brooke, Francis Greville (either brother or son of the latter) and others unnamed. Lord Brooke and Francis Greville are the maternal grandfather and uncle of the two girls. What is puzzling is that the 3rd Earl will live until 1714 and, according to the Victoria County History, remained Lord of the Manor of Hampstead until 1706. The mystery is as yet unsolved.
This is the last Court held under the Lordship of the Earl of Gainsborough. Further reference is made to the smaller moiety of Slyes (the larger part being now in the possession of Thomas Foley).
Many grants of waste land made by the Lord of the Manor (the 17-year-old Earl of Gainsborough), either to increase revenue or to tidy up the tenancies.
This Roll contains the proceedings of the Court Baron of May 1699 and a Special Court Baron of December 1699, with no startling revelations.
This very long Roll includes a record of the historic grant of six acres of swampy land containing the chalybeate well to fourteen gentlemen comprising the flower of the gentry of Hampstead to act as trustees (though this is not stated in the Roll) of the Hampstead Wells Charity intended to benefit the poor of Hampstead "for ever". A few months before this, the Rolls record the sale of the tenancy of Slyes, acquired by Lord Robert Russell (a son of the 1st Duke of Bedford) just four years earlier. The buyer was Thomas Foley of Witley Court, Wrocestershire, who immediately became a member of the Hampstead upper-class set, and one of the trustees of the charity mentioned above.
Hampstead Court Roll 16 contains the proceedings of a single Court Baron in May 1697: conveyancing of relatively small properties and some regularisation of building on the fringes of Hampstead Heath, formerly waste land of the Manor.
Court Roll No.15 records the Court Baron of May 1696, chiefly concerned with conveyancing of cottages and smallholdings, but also with several grants of land abutting on the Heath 'by the Lord's grace and favour'.
This Roll contains one regular Court Baron, in May 1695, and a Special Court Baron in the following February, which because of the fact that years began at this period in April has to be numbered 1695/6 although the text names it as being in 1695. It was held in the first year that William III was the sole monarch, Mary II having died in December 1694.