for courts baron held between 1276 and 1324 by
members of the Baynard family at Great Birch
usually up to three times a year, but occasionally
as many as seven times a year. Courts dealt
mainly with transfers of holdings, but also with
occasional cases of trespass and debt; a hayward
was elected in 1295. Courts baron were recorded
at Birch Hall in 1420. (fn. 40) Courts baron of Great
Birch met rarely between 1669 and 1804, usually
only when there was a new lord, and in the
period 1804-1909 irregularly, to deal with trans-
fers of holdings and other routine business; 1 to
5 jurors were sworn. Business, mainly without
a court sitting, was recorded until 1942. (fn. 41) Birch
manor court was combined with Easthorpe
between 1727 and 1794. (fn. 42) The custom of the
manor was inheritance by the eldest son. (fn. 43)
Great and Little Birch were combined for
parish government from the 18th century or
earlier. In 1757 teams of farmers and labourers
from both parishes were set up for highway
maintenance. In 1783 there were 31 ratepayers
and 20 outdwellers. In 1836 at a vestry seven of
the principal inhabitants elected 2 church-
wardens, 7 overseers, 2 assessors, 2 surveyors,
and 2 constables. In 1726 a woman was paid £4
4s. for cures and physic for the poor. Bread was
bought for the poor in 1779 with the proceeds
of a fine levied on an unlicensed beerseller. In
1835 the overseers' purchases included loaves
and flour; illness and unemployment were fre-
quently recorded. (fn. 44) In 1758 a workhouse was
built on land near Great Birch church leased
from William Round. In 1838 C. G. Round sold
the workhouse to Lexden and Winstree poor law
union. (fn. 45) The building survived in 1999, called
Church Cottages. (fn. 46)
Birch's rate of poor relief expenditure per
head of population was about average for
Lexden hundred. In 1608 the 'towne house
called Stocke house' belonging to Great Birch
parish was leased, presumably to raise money
for poor relief. (fn. 47) In 1776 costs were £239, and
in the period 1783-5 averaged £224 a year. (fn. 48) In
1801 they were £946, equivalent to 33s. 9d. a
head. Between 1802 and 1815 they fluctuated
between £419 and £822, except for 1812 when
they reached £1,103 (41s. 2d. a head). (fn. 49) In the
period 1816-22 they ranged between £1,000 and
£1,207 and in the period 1823-35 between £615
and £971. In 1836 they were £819 (21s. 11d. a
head). (fn. 50)
||E.R.O., D/DR M1-2; D/DH X29.
||Ibid. D/DR M3-6.
||Ibid. D/DE1 M230; above, Easthorpe, Local Govt.
||E.R.O., D/DR M5.
||Ibid. D/P 241/5, 8; ibid. D/DR O15.
||Ibid. D/DR T16; E.C.S. 27 Apr. 1984.
||Above, this par., Intro., Domestic Buildings.
||E.R.O., D/P 241/1/1.
||Ibid. Q/CR 1/1.
||Ibid. Q/CR 1/9/16.
||Ibid. Q/CR 1/12; Rep. Sel. Cttee. on Poor Rate Returns
1822-4, H.C. 334, Suppl. App. p. 81 (1825), iv; ibid. 1825-9,
H.C. 83, p. 62 (1830-1), xi; ibid. 1830-4, H.C. 444, p. 60
(1835), xlvii; 2nd Annual Rep. Poor Law Com. H.C. 595,
p. 108-9 (1836), xxix, pt. 11.