|Stoke-on-Trent Local History|
government needs to be looked at to help understand the changes in important
aspects of life and population.
the late 19th C, with associated detailed maps, boundaries were very
vague concepts and hard to establish now. There was also no simple system of
local government to describe.
provided for the spiritual needs of their population. Charities were also often
organised through them. In fact, parishes were responsible, through the rating
system and parochial officers, for the relief of their own poor. Also, the
system of church courts from the Conquest to about 1800 was primarily concerned
with moral offences.
estimates that maybe as many as 10% of people appeared before the court in their
example: Alsager, Cheshire, c1740
whose names are hereunto subscribed do believe that Richard Lovelady of Alsager
has been falsely accused with having been guilt of fornication with Mary Dales
before his marriage with her. We do further believe that there are no just
grounds for such accusation, and that it was nothing but the spite and malice of
one who had been his servant that raised it. Witness our hands, Margery Bostock,
Robert Worton, Thomas Norris". (source:
courts had their origins in Anglo Saxon times (e.g. Tunstall Court Leet). It had
jurisdiction over all matters affecting the interests of the Crown and the
well-being of the subject, with the power to try all criminal offences on its
territory (called the Leet), which extended from Kidsgrove and Mow Cop to Chell,
Burslem, Cobridge, Red Street, Bradwell, Ravenscliff and Tunstall.
1176 it could only try less serious criminal cases, with a maximum sentence of
life imprisonment, though more usual punishments were corporal punishment and
courts also had an administrative role. They had the power to impose taxes on
the sale of goods and cattle; to licence the sale of bread and ale; to regulate
the sale of goods, fairs and markets; to specify standard weights and measures;
and to appoint public officials, such as constables, overseers of the highways,
ale testers and market reeves, who held office for a year and were unpaid.
manors covered the local area: Tunstall, Fenton and Newcastle. After the decline
of the castle courts were held at the Greyhound Public House in Penkhull.
manors were responsible for many aspects of local life well into the 19th
OF TUNSTALL, OTHERWISE TUNSTALL COURT AND ABBY HULTON
THE COUNTY OF STAFFORD
is hereby given, that the next General COURTS LEET and COURTS BARON of
RALPH SNEYD, Esquire, Lord of the respective Manors of Tunstall, otherwise
Tunstall Court and Abby Hulton, both in the county of Stafford, will be
holden at the times and places following, viz:-
the Manor of Tunstall, otherwise Tunstall Court, on Tuesday, the third day
of November next, at the house of Mr. JOSEPH SANT, the sign of the Grapes,
in Newchapel, within the said manor of Tunstall, otherwise Tunstall Court,
at eleven o'clock in the forenoon.
for the Manor of Abby Hulton, on Thursday, the 5th day of
November next, at the house of Mrs. WEATHERBY, the Sneyd's Arms, in Sneyd
Green, within the said Manor of Abby Hulton, at eleven o'clock in the
which respective times and places all persons who owe suit (?) and service
at the above respective Courts, are hereby required personally to be and
of the said Manor.
The Staffordshire Advertiser 17.10.1846
poor law was radically revised in the 1830's and parishes were grouped together
to form Poor law Unions, and these created another set of boundaries.
Stoke poor law union formed in 1836, covered the southern part of the old
parish. In 1838 Burslem and Tunstall became part of the new Burslem and
Wolstanton Union. Also in 1838 Newcastle became the centre of another union
incorporating eight rural parishes to the west, such as Audley.
townsmen had already begun to elect a mayor by 1251, and about this period they
began to use a common seal to authenticate official documents, for the seal
still in use is probably 13th C in origin. The earliest borough
archives began in 1369 and they show that by then the mayor was assisted by two
bailiffs… a sergeant, and two wardens who supervised the sale of bread and
ale. The mayor was advised by a council of 24 seniors or aldermen"
(Briggs, Newcastle p.29)
this medieval system though "not all townsmen had equal political rights.
Only the class called freemen or burgesses really enjoyed any power, either in
running the business affairs of the town (through the guilds) or in choosing the
council and having a say in political matters. Only a burgess could run a shop,
have a share in the common fields or sit on the council; and many men (and most
women) were not burgesses. But…only the burgesses paid rates and taxes, and if
they were councillors or town officers they might have to lend their own money
to meet deficits, loans which may not be repaid them for several years."
(Briggs, Newcastle, p.34)
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questions / comments / contributions? email: Steve Birks