Local Government

Before the nineteenth century local government at village level, at least from Tudor times on, was largely in the hands of overseers of the poor, parish constables and surveyors of roads; of these officers, parish constables were elected annually at a vestry meeting of parishioners and ratepayers, and churchwardens were elected at the same time. In consequence village affairs often appeared to be in the hands of the church because, in many cases, the same men were both churchwardens and overseers or surveyors.

Overseers of the Poor, who were appointed by Justices of the Peace, were entitled to levy a poor-rate from the village, which was used to help the sick or the old, and to find work for the able-bodied pauper who was unemployed. Settlement laws of 1662 and 1685 had made birth or long residence in a village a necessary qualification for receiving parish relief, or the ability to have paid £10 per year in rent. There are many letters and documents in the parish relating to arguments between different authorities on this subject; naturally no parish wanted more poor people chargeable to its funds for relief than was necessary, and magistrates often had to be called upon to decide a pauper's true place of settlement. Here is one instance :-

"The Overseers of the Poor of Winthorpe,


As a Magistrate acting for this County, I write to you on behalf of the Widow of one Worstanall, who with her small Children belong to your Parish as they were married from Winthorpe; when they both lived with Mr. Pocklington and have done nothing since whereby to gain a Settlement - what they have Rented here did not amount to Nine Pounds a year, so that could not gain them a Settlement here. They were very respectable people and I fear she is left in the greatest distress. I saw her at Newark yesterday at the Sessions, and I have seen her this morning since her return. It is by her desire I write to you and I am willing to hope you cannot hesitate to allow her sufficient to maintain herself and Children. The youngest is so small as to preclude her earning anything herself for the present. She wishes to remain at Southwell and I trust you can have no objections. The oldest of her three Children is four and a half, the youngest only eight months. I asked her how little she could do with, and she fears not less than ten shillings a Week this Winter; if she can, she will. Her debts I fear will take all her furniture or most of it. If there should be any other information I shall be happy to attend to it.

And am

Yr. Most Obt. Servt. 

W. Watson."

Southwell Oct. 10.1811.


The reply is dated Oct. 14th 1811, and reads :-


I laid your letter respecting James Worstanall's Widow and Children before the Inhabitants of this Village assembled at a Meeting on Saturday Evening.

They are satisfied that she belongs to this Place, if her Husband never rented ten Pounds per Ann; and have no objection to her continuing at Southwell, if she can support herself and Children there with an allowance of eight shillings a Week from this parish. It is not to be supposed that Sum will entirely main­tain them but perhaps she may be able to do something herself to help it out. I will ride over to Southwell in a little time and see how the Widow goes on; in the interim I must request the favour of Mr. Shacklock to pay the money weekly to her and I will take care to reimburse him.

I am, Sir, etc

Henry Robinson"


There are among the parish documents a few lawyers' bills relating to the cost of advising the overseers and examining paupers to determine their place of settlement (items like "Journey to Sessions at Nottingham ... paid Horse hire and Expenses - £1.7.0." are interesting.) There is also a bill from W. Parker to the Overseers, dated

"1811 May 1st.   Medicines for Hibberts three children in the Typhus fever   

                        during the month of May                                   -  £4.14.6."

and further items in the same account:

"Paid for two Bottles of Port Wine and Biscuits                           - 11.6.

June 13.   Bottle of Lotion for the Itch                                            -   2. 6.

                Large pot of Ointment                                                      -   2.0."

and more lotion and ointment and saline powders and purging mixtures.

The Hibbert family have further help from the Overseers in 1816 in an account submitted by G. Bellamy who was a shoemaker in the village and an ancestor of Miss Bellamy who lived until a few months ago in the Mill Cottage.

"To the Overseer of the Poor

To G. Bellamy For Hibberts Shoes.                                            £  s  d

1816 May 2.   2 pairs of Ancle Boots                                             13.6.

August 10. pair soaled and heeld                                                   2.2.

Decb.12.    pair soaled and heeld                                                   2.8.

1817 January 12.   2 pair of Ancle Boots                                       14.0.



After the establishment of "Unions" i.e. workhouse-infirmaries jointly the responsibility of several parishes, there are accounts similar to the following:

"The Parish of Winthorpe   Drs.

To the Committee of Gedling Workhouse For Sundry Expences of Jno. Bradbury in the said House from Sepr. 18th 1818 to Jany. 5th 1819.

                                                                                                      £  s  d

Octr. 3.     Towel for Use of Jno. Bradbury                             0. 0. 6.

Tin Spoon Trencher and Chamber Pot -                               0. 2. 0½.

Bed & Bolster 12/-   Blanketts 14/- -                                       1. 6 .0.

Cover8/-   Sheets 10/                                                               0.18. 0.

Decr. 6.     Yard of Baise   Bradbury -                                    0.  1. 0.

          13.   Shoes mending     - do -                                       0.  1. 0.

          23.   Bed matt.              - do -                                          0.  3. 6.

          16   Weeks Shaveing   - do -                                        0.  1. 4.



There is one rather sad and desperate letter to the Overseers of Winthorpe to which we have no reply. It is to be hoped that the overseers agreed to support John Kenewell if it became necessary.*  

* John Kenewell is recorded as receiving a dole of 10/6d from Brewer's Charity in 1774


This letter is dated Dec. 24th 1770 :-


As I and my Wife are now geting Old the Parish Officers of Ropsley are not willing for me to reside any longer in their Parish without a Certificate, they have had me examined before a Justice of the Peace, who says my Settlement is in your Parish of Winthorpe; and unless I can procure a Certificate I shall to brought to you with an Order of Removal, and the Parish Officers have been Councilled that they can seize on my effects to pay the expences of my removal. As I am here situate in Buisness and have a Flock of Sheep to look after I think I can maintain myself much better here than I can if I was to come to you, for if they seize of my effects I shall not be able to buy any more, therefore must be chargable to you as soon as I come, therefore I hope Gentlemen that you and the rest of the Parishoners will consider of my condition and be so kind as to send me a Certificate which will be taken as a very great favour.

from Gentlemen, your Humble Servt.

John Kenewell

P.S.   The Parish Officers have given me only a Fortnight to resolve them whether you will give me a Certificate or no."


The Parish Constable's chief duty was the preservation of the peace; he served for one year (he had to be a ratepayer and pay not less than £4 per year rent in order to qualify.) He had to serve summonses and execute warrants and had no definite salary as he was only on duty as occasion required. All his expenses were paid and he earned a little extra from fees and dues, and he was provided with a truncheon and handcuffs.

One of the earliest references to the Constable in Winthorpe occurs in Extracts from Notts. County Records in the Seventeenth Century (Gilstrap Library).

"On the 5th October 1653 an alehousakeeper of Winthorpe complained that a little before the last Assizes at Nottingham the Constable of Winthorpe having apprehended a man on suspicion of felony caused him to be watched with divers watchmen one night in ye house of the complainant, at which time the said Constable, watchmen and prisoner spent in his house in meat and drink and other expenses and for his complete attendance at the Assizes ten shillings which the Constable neglects to pay."

An order was made for payment of the amount "out of the townes stock."

Coming nearer to our own time the Constables Accounts from 1790 onwards give some idea of the variety of duties the man had. He attended courts and assizes with culprits and was on duty at inquests; he acted as Relieving Officer for the Overseers of the Poor with regard to vagrants, giving occasional relief in sums from one or two pence to five shillings or a little more, the permanent paupers being the concern of the overseers themselves. He drew fees for looking after sewers and ditches and was in charge of the destruction of vermin. The scale of fees he paid was as follows :-

2d. a dozen for dead young sparrows

4d. a dozen for dead old sparrows   

1/- per head for dead old foxes

6d. per head for dead old cubs.         

There are notes of payments to men from Newark, Collingham etc. for bringing in dead foxes, and the highest number recorded seems to be 52 in 1813, one man alone accounting for 26. A professional rat and mole catcher was employed until the 1820's. Here are some items from the Constables Accounts:

"1790  May 20.   24 sparrows                                                            4d

                            36  sparrows                                                             6d

                            30  sparrows                                                             5d

                           12 old sparrows                                                        4d

           June 26.   Agreed with Henry Hoys to catch ratts

                           at 15 ps year paid as a fasten-penny                 1.  0.

           Oct. 13.   Water sewers monney                                       16.10.

1791   May 5.     Two foxes                                                               2.  0.

          April 30.   Expenses at Collingham statis                          3.  6.

1797  Aug. 10.    Henry Hoys half year killing Moles

                            and Ratts                                                              17.  6.

1805  June 24.    Apprehending a man on suspicion of

                          stealing wood and taking to justice                     3.  6.

1806 Feb.28.     Labourer one day at the pinfold                         2.  0.

1807 Feb.28.     Roger Pocklington Esq. made the Parrlsh a

                         present of Slabs to repair the Pinfold

1812  July 29.    Poor Woman and Child with pass *                 0.  6.

1816  Aug. 7.     relieved a soldier, wife and child with

                          a pass                                                                       0.  6.

          Dec.27     relieved 2 sailors with a pass                            0.  4.

1820 Oct. 13.     Paid the Mould Catcher                                    17.  6."

*   The pass was a certificate issued by the overseers of the parish of origin stating that they would be responsible if the holder became chargeable to the parish.


The pinfold or pound for stray cattle was at one time on the left-hand side of the across the Park to Lincoln Road. There is no trace of it now except for the name Pinfold Close on old maps showing the enclosed fields. It must have disappeared before 1886, when a note in the minutes of the Vestry Meeting states: "Resolved that the piece of ground upon which the old pinfold stood be let to James Camamile at a rental of 5/- per annum." Mrs. Hickman tells us that she remembers that the village pound was latterly in the upper part of the field between Mr. Coupland's house and Dr. Rogers' house, next to the road, the field which was the former glebe. In the mid-nineteenth century there was evidently someone appointed as "pinder," as a resolution at a Vestry Meeting in 1843 sets out the amounts of the fines he should impose for straying animals:- horse, ass or beast not belonging to a resident, sixpence, and threepence for beast belonging to the parish; sheep a penny per head, pigs twopence; and less was charged to residents in the parish.

The sheep-wash close to the entrance to the Park was also a subject of discussion at the Vestry Meetings. In 1872 it was resolved that ratepayers should pay 3d. per score of sheep using the sheep-wash and non-ratepayers 6d. per score; but a year later it was decided that only village ratepayers should be allowed to use it "and that parties using the same do keep the Sheepwash in repair." Earlier, however, for example in 1833, repair of "the Wash-dyke Bridge and water working in the Town's Street" seems to have been a general charge on the village.

The duties of the constable in connection with the Militia are described in the section of the Scrap-Book "Winthorpe at War."

Responsibility for the maintenance of the roads through Winthorpe was left in the care of a Surveyor of Roads, who like the overseers, was appointed annually by Justices of the Peace from among the ratepayers of the village. In eighteenth century county records there are many indictments against inhabitants of parishes for not repairing the commom way, highway or King's way or causeway, and among such indictments "Winthorpe Cawsey" is mentioned.

The earliest surveyor's document we have is a bill sent in to Mr. Morley :-

"april the 25   Mr. Moreley his bill for the brigg in Lincoln lane

     1768                              .

                                                                                              s.  d

Nathaniel Lunn 4 days & half  -                                      8.  6.

my man 3 days & half   -                                                  4.  1.

                                                                                           12.  7.

Reserved the contents of this bill by me Nathaniel Lunn"


There is also a document of 1770 appointing Roger Pocklington to be Surveyor of the Highways, which sets out his duties and shows how much labour and materials had to be provided by the parish to keep the highways in good order. Owners of the land adjoining the roads were expected to keep the hedges plashed or pruned, scour ditches and provide bridges into fields where necessary. The surveyor had power to impose fines for obstruction of the roads by stones, timber or dung. He had to see that cart ways leading to market-towns were twenty feet wide and horse-causeways three feet wide, and he was required to fix direction stones or posts where several ways met. Parishioners had to supply labour, horses and carts for a certain number of days per year according to their holding or the rent they paid.   There was a system of fines imposed for not repairing roads and as far any person deliberately damaging roads, bridges or signposts, in default of payment of a fine the guilty person was "to be committed to the house of correction - there to be whipt and kept to hard labour."

Two of the accounts submitted by Roger Pocklington while he was Surveyor are shown later on, and a typical bill which has survived from this time is as follows :-

"Ro pocklington Esq. 

 Dr. to me Wm. Read    

1778   May 20 for

1 pick Sharping -   0.10.

1 pick Sharp -          1. 0.           

1 pick Sharp -              2.

                                   2. 0  "


There is an earlier bill, 1777, from the same man Read which is interesting because it is written on the back of a torn, printed list of goods that a blacksmith could obtain, wholesale or retail, from the firm of Barston, Market-Place, Grantham.

The Rev. E.G. Wake in his book about Collingham quotes an extract from a Presentment made by Sir John Bayley J.P. at Nottingham in 1812, which criticises the state of the Foss-way through the parishes of Collingham, Langford and Winthorpe. It was evidently in a terrible condition, "being very ruinous, deep broken, and in such decay for want of reparation and amendment of the same, that the liege subjects could not pass and labour as they had been wont to do."

The minutes of nineteenth-century vestry meetings often refer to the letting of the Lanes in the village, where the grass verges apparently supplied some grazing. In May 1834 "the Lanes were let to Richd. Beal at the sum of £1.2.0. to April 1835, not to be eaten in the Night nor without a tenter." And in 1843 at a similar Vestry Meeting, "Mr. William Weightman agreed to take the eating of the lanes within the parish from this day to Lady Day next for one pound five shillings conditionally that he carefully tends the stock and does not stock in the night-time, the Rent to be paid to the Surveyors of the Highways."

It is interesting to notice, from a meeting held in May of the same year 1843, that a stern memorandum was drawn up to be sent to the Justices at the next General Quarter Sessions at Nottingham that the meeting "are of opinion that the Rural Police Force sometime since established is insufficient and unnecessary and has not been productive of bene­ficial results, particularly in the suppression of vagrancy." They thought that sufficient protection could be given by paid Parish Constables and competent Chief Constables, and urged that the present Rural Police should be disbanded.

During the nineteenth century, the distinction between the religious and civic affairs of village life became more and more blurred until, eventually, in 1894 the Local Government Act was passed. This laid down certain rules for the conduct of the civic affairs of parishes, and decreed that villages of under 100 population must hold at least one meeting per year, perhaps jointly with neighbouring small villages; that those with over 300 must form a parish council, and villages between 100 and 300 could, entirely at their discretion, have either a parish meeting or a parish council. Winthorpe's first parish meeting on 4th December 1894 resolved, "not to apply to the County Council for an order for the establishment of a Parish Council." The Parish Council was not formed until July 1960. During this period, the Parish Meeting had but four chairmen, the longest period of office being 36 years, and the shortest one-year. One chairman died in office, one retired due to ill-health, another carried on as chairman of the newly-formed parish council, and the other resigned, according to the minute book "after a long and desultory conversation," when the chairman declared "we had already wasted nearly an hour and he was sick of the whole thing."

It is a legal requirement that the parish must hold an annual meeting between 1st March and 1st April inclusive each year and, contrary to the experience of some parishes, Winthorpe has never missed, and in one particular year six parish meetings were held. The annual meetings have usually been attended by about eight to ten parishioners, although interest has fluctuated considerably, but some of the special meetings have been very unfortunate, sometimes only having the chairman and one other. On one occasion two parishioners arrived but no chairman.

The minutes show that several items recur after many years. Street lighting was finally installed in 1964, but in 1908 a committee had been formed "to make arrangements for lighting with gas the village street." This scheme foundered in 1911 by ten votes to nine after a parishioner "made a long speech on things in general and dwellers in mansions, in particular, but moved no resolution." Several more unsuccessful attempts were made over the years.

The character of the village may have altered, but even in those days it was never really a farming village. In reply to a letter in 1916 from the War Agricultural Committee asking for farm help, the chairman replied, "This is a residential village, with practically only one arable farm. There are no women at liberty and a house to house canvass would be only a waste of time."

In 1906 the summer was "exceptionally hot and dry, August 31st being 93°F in the shade." This caused the Fleet to "be offensive" and a sewer had to be built with a plant in Holme Lane. Sixty years later, although the summers were not of that quality, the problem was the same, and another sewerage scheme had to be installed.

Amalgamation of the rural district with the borough has often been mentioned, and Winthorpe had several special arrangements in the past, although a proposal in 1908 that we join the Newark Urban Sanitary Authority to build an isolation hospital was heavily defeated. Financial support for Newark Fire Brigade was agreed in 1923, and for £6.2.9., the "village would have the use of the Motor Fire Engine, or Steam Engine in case of fire, whichever was available at the time."

In 1932, Holme Lane "was often in a dirty state, and required repair." Many times there are reports of the "unsatisfactory state of the footpaths and the Green." In 1947, it was decided to investigate "the erection of a bus shelter," but it was not erected until 1967. In 1951, "the question of the excessive speed of motorists and cyclists coming through Winthorpe" was raised but it was many years before a speed limit was made, and even now there are doubts about the safety of children crossing the road near the school.

It is often difficult to persuade ageing members to retire. When appointing a Trustee of Parish Property a member "spoke with regard to same and suggested a young man be named to take up the office in future years." The following year a younger man was appointed in his place. It is easy to see, on reading the minutes, that many apparently new subjects are but different facets of old problems.

Mr. V. Suter. 1971.

(Churchwardens' Accounts, Constables' Minutes of Vestry Meetings, Minutes of Perish Council, etc.)


A selection of Overseer's Bills.


"Mr. Morley for Ann Picket for the Parish of Winthorpe

1775   Bot. of Richd. Forster                                  £  s  d         

Feby. 15. 2yds. Stript Lincey - 18d.                          3.  0.

              2 yds.          -do-                                             2.  0.

              2½ yds.       -do-        14d.                            2.11.

              ¼yd.      ?      Cloth                                             3.

              2 Handkf.                                                        1. 6.

                                                                                       9.  8.

              2 pairs of Stockings -                                   2. 3.

                                                                                   11.11. "


"April 24th 1816.   Joseph Clarks account to Joseph Hucknall

To eating 9d. & ale 6d. to Bed 1/9.                       0.11. 3.

25th   To eating 9d. & ale 3d. to Bed 1/9.            0.11. 0.

26th   To eating - 3/6.                                               0. 3. 6.

13 weeks Lodgings                                                   19. 6.

                                                                                     2. 5. 3. "


"Overseers of Winthorpe to Jno. Wright

1816  Dec. 14.   To a Dress -                                0.19. 6.

                       To a Hat 3/4d. a Do. 2/6.                      5.10.

                                                                                    1.  5.  4. "


"Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Winthorpe Bt. of J. Wright

1817    March 14.    10 Yds. of Linen at 1/4 -    0.13. 3.

                             Thread & Buttons   -                      0. 6.

                             4 Pair of Hoes - 2/4                       9. 4.

                             Stout Fustin Jacket   -                  11.0.

                              Do -       Browsers  -                      9. 0.

                              Quilting Wast.                                5. 6.

                                                                                  2.  8. 7."



An interesting early bill from the parish documents:-


"The Constables Bill   1775

                                                                                                 £.  s. d.

May ye 31.        Hanging of Littlemarsh Gae                              6.

August ye 7.     for a Skittle frame                                           4 . 0.

   dito   ye 10.   a pec of wood for ye Belrope                              2.

                                                                                                      4 . 8.

March ye 2.    Recd ye conts. in ful by mee Wm. Else"

(This bill is inscribed on the outside: Else Carpenter)


Parish of Winthorpe


Dr.                                                            £   s   d        Cr.                                                           £   s   d


To Cash received being total         )   4. 12.  7.      By Cash paid for Wood to defend )   

     of Compostion received            )                         the parapets of the carriage           )

     from Inhabitants of Winthorpe. )                         Bridge in Lincoln Lane and            )    0.  1.  0

                                                                                       Workmanship                                   )

To a Pick Axe deliverd to me by

     my Predecessor valued at                3.   0.        By Do for repairing the Road in     )

                                                              4. 15.  7.         Holme Lane                                     )    0.  1.  0.

                                                                                      By Do for Direction Post in             )

                                                                                     Hargon Lane                                     )    0.  7.  0.

                                                                                     By Do for three pick-axes                    0. 15.  3.


                                                                                     By Do for one Gablock                         0.  6.  5.


                                                                                    By Do for two wheelbarrows                1.  0.  9.

                                                                                                                                                     2. 11.11.

                                                                                   By Balance to be paid by me      )

                                                                                   Successor at the Special            )   

                                                                                   Session in Octob.                        )        2.  3.  8.     

                                                                                                                                                    4. 15.  7.        

Winthorpe Octr. 15th 1770   Roger Pocklington  Surveyor



Road Surveys Account (1773)

Parish of Winthorpe

Dr.                                                                £    s    d          Cr.                                                       £   s   d     

To Cash received being Total         )                              By Cash paid on receiving       )                 

     Of Composition received            )      2. 18.  0.         Surveyor Warrant & Abstract    )     0.  2.  6.

     from Inhabitants of Winthorpe   )                              of Road Act                                  )


                                                                                             By Do for painting the new      )

                                                                                             Bridge Woodwork                     )    0.  3.  4¼

                                                                                             By Do for Guide Post in Gains-)

                                                                                            Borough Road and painting      )    0.  1.  6.

  Allow'd by us

  L. Disney                                                                 By Do for Lettering and painting  )

     Mattw. Carpenter                                                   the Giude Post in Tuxford Road   )    0.  1.  6.

                                                                               By Do to Black Smith for sharpen-   )

                                                                               ing Picks, Gablock and mending     )       0.  2.  6.

                                                                               a Wheel barrow                                   )

                                                                               By Do due to Self on settling last     )

                                                                               Year's Accounts                                  )       3. 10  4.

                                                                                                                                                     4.  1.  8¼


                                                                              By Balance to be received from       )

                                                                              my Successor at the Special           )       1.  3.  8¼

                                                                              Sessions in October                         )                     

                                                                                                                                                   £2. 18.  0.

                                                     Roger Pocklinton

Winthorpe  Octr. 13th 1773                                                                                             


On the back of a bill written by Read, the blacksmith on a torn piece of paper in 1777, is a printed list of goods obtainable wholesale or retail from Barston, Market-Place, Grantham. They include the following -

Women's & Children's Clogs and Pattens of all sorts and sizes

Land Chains                                                Brass and Leather Ink-Pots

Knitting Pins                                                Fine Steel, Horse and Women's Scizars

Tray-Nails, best tough iron                        Fine Jockey ditto

Sleading Chains                                         Tupee-Irons

Paring Spades                                            Brass Nobd. Spring-Latches

Goss-bills                                                    Hammers and Chissels

Dutch Wheels                                              Best square Nos'd Whimbles

Hooks and Thimbles                                  Box hafted double Worm Spike-bits and

Com and Malt-Skreens                              Gamblets with bits of all Sorts.

Skippets of all Sorts                                    House-Adzes with Hammerheads

Iron-Arms, Steel'd for Carriages               Melting Ladles

Harrow-Tyres and Plow-Shares                Screw and Sash box-pullies

Hames steel'd, and Felhanks                    Mortice-Locks with brass-handles,

                                                                          compleat with Master-Keys



Further reading can be found in

          Overseer for the Poor in Volume 4.