HUNTSPILL AND PURITON HUNDRED
Huntspill and Puriton hundred is the union of two
adjacent manors which for much of their history
were independent jurisdictions. Huntspill was
described as a hundred in 1084 and constituted
the hide there held by Walter of Douai which paid
geld of 6s. A further three hides formerly in Loxley
hundred had been added which paid at the same
rate. (fn. 1) Those additional hides have been identified
either as the land of the villagers in Puriton or as
the holding of Alfred d'Epaignes in Woolavington. (fn. 2)
The six-hide Puriton estate at the time was part of
Loxley hundred, but may have been removed early
because it was the only non-Glastonbury holding
there. (fn. 3)
Huntspill and Puriton were variously described as
manors, (fn. 4) free manors, (fn. 5) or hundreds (fn. 6) during the Middle
Ages, and for fiscal purposes they were sometimes
linked and sometimes kept separate in the earlier
16th century. (fn. 7) From 1569 onwards the two were
usually treated locally as a single hundred, (fn. 8) but were
regarded by central government as separate hundreds
for much of the 17th century. (fn. 9) By the early 18th
century the hundred had become established as a
single fiscal unit. (fn. 10) In 1841 the hundred was defined
as Huntspill parish with part of the tithing of Alstone,
and Puriton parish. (fn. 11) Alstone had been said in 1371 to
have been in Bempstone hundred. (fn. 12)
Huntspill and Puriton Hundred c. 1840
The lords of Huntspill and Puriton exercised
jurisdiction within their holdings and the ownership
of the hundred, confined to the proceeds of the
twice-yearly sheriff's tourn, presumably belonged to
the Crown which in 1652 took tithing silver and
fines. At the same time the lords of the principal
manors of Huntspill and Puriton took perquisites
from the leets and three-weekly courts. (fn. 1) Lordship of
hundred and manor were combined in the early 18th
century and probably much earlier, (fn. 2) and Samuel
Cockerell, lord of Huntspill, and the duke of Somerset, lord of Puriton, were joint owners of leets where
constables of the hundred were chosen, (fn. 3) Later in the
century John Cockerell seems to have been regarded
as sole owner, (fn. 4) but thereafter no claim to ownership
has been found.
Both manors appeared by juries of six at the assizes
in 1242-3. (fn. 5) In 1280 the respective lords established
their differing claims within each place but each had to
send four men and a reeve to do suit twice a year at the
sheriff's tourn. The site of the tourn was not then
stated, although enquiries about Puriton had been
made in the hundreds of Bempstone and Whitley. (fn. 6)
By 1501-2 the tourn was described as the Highbridge
tourn, (fn. 7) and in 1652 the sheriff's court for Puriton,
Huntspill, and Bempstone was kept at Easter and
Michaelmas on the high bridge over the Brue. By
that date the sheriffs' courts were 'much discontinued'
and few fines had been levied for 'divers years'. (fn. 8) A jury
presentment to the court leet of the hundred survives
for 1726. (fn. 9)
Three constables were appointed for the hundred
until 1667 when the two sent from Huntspill were
reduced to one. (fn. 10) Two were still appointed in the
earlier 18th century. (fn. 11)
V.C.H. Som. i. 530.
Dom. Bk. Som. ed. Thorn, 357.
V.C.H. Som. i. 536; Dom. Bk. Som. ed. Thorn, 380.
Bk. of Fees, ii. 1383; S.R.S. iii. 87-9, 253; xi, p. 290; Rot. Hund.
(Rec. Com.), ii. 131; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 690-1.
Feud. Aids. iv. 322; S.R.S. iii. 60.
Bk. of Fees, i. 83; Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 691; Feud.
Aids. iv. 310, 356; Fines Imposed in 1497, ed. A. J. Howard,
||P.R.O., E 179/169/175; E 179/170/210.
S.R.S. xx. 119-20; xxiii. 20; xxxiv. 36; Som. Protestation
Returns, ed. Howard and Stoate, 230; S.R.O., Q/SR 217/6.
||P.R.O., E 317/SOM/10; E 179/171/349; E 179/256/12.
||S.R.O., DD/X/WBB 49.
S.R.S. iii. 322.
||B.L. Harl. MS. 316, f. 45v.
||P.R.O., E 317/SOM/10.
||S.R.O., DD/FS 32/3.
||Ibid. DD/X/WBB 49.
||Ibid. DD/RG 30.
Bk. of Fees, ii. 1383; S.R.S. xi, p. 290.
Plac. de Quo Warr. (Rec. Com.), 690-1.
||P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VII/1096.
||Ibid. E 317/SOM/10: the actual phrase was 'upon Highbridge'.
||S.R.O., DD/WY 49/3/6.
S.R.S. xxxiv. 36.
||S.R.O., DD/X/WBB 49.