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This article is from "Aspects of the Early History of Hungerford" by Norman Hidden, 2009.

The early Constables of Hungerford In medieval times the title Constable was given to the chief officer of the household, court, administration or military forces of a ruler.

Thence the title came to be used in a narrower sense as the governor or warder of a royal fortress or castle [1]. Since Hungerford was never a fortress nor did it ever possess a castle, the title of Constable in its case seems to have been a perhaps complimentary extension of the term to a non-fortified royal property. The manor of Hungerford had come into the possession of the Earls of Lancaster in the 13th century; the Duchy of Lancaster was created by royal charter in 1362, and on the accession to the throne of Henry, Duke of Lancaster, as Henry IV in 1399 Hungerford became a possession of the Crown as part of the Duchy lands. There is no evidence of the office of Constable existing in Hungerford during this period and it is to the politically troubled 15th century that we must look for its origin.

At this point it may be useful to describe the special nature of the Constable’s powers and functions. These are set out in the opening pages of a register of the Hungerford Hocktide Court under the heading Certayne Ancient Customes Perpetuallie Remayninge dated 24 Eliz [1582] and by their title they clearly relate to practices longestablished [2].

Article 6 reads as follows: ‘There is a Corporation called and known by the name of Constable and Burgesses and the Constable for the time being is the highest officer there, who during his authority doth and ought likewise to bear and supply within the jurisdiction of the town the offices of a Coroner, Escheator, Feodary, and Clerk of the Market and may deal in everything there incident unto the same several offices, and hath all other officers there subject under him and may command every or any of them to be assistant unto him in or about the execution of any cause or matter, and likewise hath the receipts of all common fines and other rents and duties whatsoever and who alway at the said Hocktide Court doth and ought to make his full account of all receipts and things wherewith he may be charged and the overplus remaining upon such account (allocatis allocando) ought to be delivered to the new Constable then chosen to the use of the inhabitants.’

It will be seen that these are sweeping powers; even without the additional offices of Coroner, Escheator, Feodary, Clerk of the Market, the powers of the Constable vis à vis the Court itself which elected him were in those days almost dictatorial. In this concentration of authority we may see how much the Constable of a royal township resembled the governor of a royal castle and how greatly his position differed from that of a Mayor and corporation in towns elsewhere. The post required a rigorous grooming of potential holders through years of subsidiary service, as may be seen in the town’s articles: ‘That no person ought to be chosen and elected into the office of Constable before he hath borne and executed the office of Bailiff of the Liberty and the Port Reeve there [3]’.

It is the almost unique load of responsibility involved in the office of Constable, together with the historical associations of its antiquity, which has given the office today its honourable and special status.

The earliest definite record of the title, so far known, occurred in 1458, in connection with a grant of land in Hungerford. Witnesses to this grant were John Tukhill, Constable; John Haywood, reeve of Hungerford; Robert Drew, Thomas Mayhew, and Richard Lange, bailiff [4].

That 1458 was indeed the first instance of the town’s tri-fold constitution of Constable, Reeve, and Bailiff is perhaps given negative confirmation by a deed signed in the preceding year (24 March 1457) [5]. Here although the deed is signed by John Tukhill, followed by Richard Lange and other prominent townsmen, there is no mention of Tukhill as Constable, though Lange sees fit to sign as bailiff, the terms bailiff and reeve having existed in pre -Constable days.

How the office of Constable emerged we do not know, but there is no doubt that a strong feeling existed about this time that the power of the burgesses should be strengthened. It may be that the office represented, and was intended to represent, an increase in the town’s status, moving away from the purely manorial towards the burghal. This surmise may be examined in the light of the existence of a series of Duchy of Lancaster Ministers’ Accounts now deposited in the Public Record Office which cover many of the years from 1431-2 to 1487-8. These accounts, which run from Michaelmas to Michaelmas, are listed below. The officer presenting the account in each year is described either as ballivus (B) or prepositus (P).

Year Office Name P.R.O. Reference
1431-2 B Thomas Knolle DL29/683/11061
1434-5 B John Dyer DL29/683/11068
1435-6 B Thomas Chapman DL29/683/11069
1436-7 B John Passanger DL29/683/11070
1437-8 B Walter Wygmore DL 29/683/11072
1438-9 B Walter Wygmore DL29/684/11074
1440-41 B Richard Ryder DL29/684/11078
1441-42 B John Warnewell DL29/684/11081
1442-3 P John Gonter DL29/684/11085
1443-4 P John Tukhill DL29/685/11087
1444-5 P John Togyll DL29/685/11089
1460-1 B Thomas Towgill DL29/686/11133
1469-70 P William Leche DL29/688/11153
1470-1 P John Bocher DL29/688/11156
1471-2 P Henry Barbour DL29/688/11159
1472-3 P John Kymbare DL29/688/11162
1473-4 P Robert Toghill sen. DL29/689/11165
1474-5 P Thomas Webbe DL29/689/11168
1475-6 P William Bocher DL29/689/11171
1476-7 P Hugh Person DL29/689/11174
1477-8 P Thomas Mayhew L29/689/11177
1478-9 P Thomas Mayhew L29/690/11180
1479-80 P Thomas Bokland als Smith D29/690/11183
1480-81 P John Haseld[en] D29/690/11185-
1482-3 P Richard Jenyns D29/690/11189
1487-8 P John Gunter DL29/691/11193

In each year up to and including 1441-2 the officer presenting the account is described as ballivus. From 1442-3 onwards, however, (with the exception of one particular year, for which singular circumstances may exist) he is no longer ballivus but prepositus.

With the breakdown of feudalism, the terms ballivus and prepositus, tended to lose their original distinction, but in their manorial origin the title bailiff had applied to a man appointed by the lord of the manor and reeve to one who was elected by the villeins to represent their interests.

The clear-cut change from bailiff to prepositus commencing in 1442- 3 suggests most strongly a change which has taken place in relationship between the lord of the manor and the inhabitants of the vill whereby, instead of an official appointed by the lord, the townsmen themselves now became responsible for the collection of tolls and rents through their own elected official. It so happened that in 1442 the Duchy lands held in feoffdom were recovered and resumed by the Crown, and this seems likely to have resulted in the town’s re-formed status.

Although the Latin word prepositus is usually translated as ‘reeve ’, it also became Anglicised as ‘provost’ in Middle English and was used thus in the sense of the chief dignitary or mayor of a burgh. In Hungerford the officer is invariably described as the ‘portreeve ’, a usage which appears to have come into existence about the same time as, or shortly after, the first reference to a Constable of Hungerford. Use of the word ‘portreeve ’ in itself represents a higher dignitary than the manorial reeve. The O.E.D defines ‘portreeve ’ as ‘the ruler or chief officer of a town or borough; after the Norman Conquest often identified with mayor; in later times sometimes an officer inferior to the mayor’. The appellation ‘port’ is significant in indicating a burgh or borough, as the O.E.D. once again makes clear ‘Port: town; perhaps specially a walled town or a market town, but identified with burh as a rendering of the Latin civitas’. Whether in these early Ministers’ Accounts it might thus have meant, or come to mean, Constable, it is difficult to say. In later years the main duty of the port reeve is described as the collection of the individual quit rents due to the crown by the burgesses, each for his particular burgage; and that of the bailiff to collect the market tolls. How far this may have been an earlier or later division of labour I do not know, but at no later stage was it ever the task of the Constable to collect the town’s quitrents or its tolls. From the earliest times these tiresome functions seem to have devolved upon a subordinate. Certainly the change from ballivus to prepositus in 1442-3 indicates that some significant change in the relationship of town and manorial lord occurred, or was formalised, in that year.

There is a reversion to ballivus in 1460-61, but this is an isolated instance after which the accounts are always submitted by the prepositus. The explanation for this singular reversion may lie in an incident arising from a local disruption which parallels the national turmoil then occurring during the Wars of the Roses. Edward, Duke of York, having defeated the Lancastrian forces at the battle of Mortimers Cross in February 1461, marched on London and was proclaimed king on 4 March 1460/61. In Hungerford a local insurrection seems to have occurred, and a band from one or other of the factions seized ‘the common chest’ which contained all the town’s official documents, ejected the town’s officers, and replaced them with men of their own following. An account of this incident is given by the dispossessed officials in an appeal to the Chancellor to set up a commission to attach these ‘rebels’. The complainants were John Tukhill, Constable, Thomas Hosskin, bailiff, John Dighton tithing man and various others [6]. Defendants were William Butler, William Drewe, John Ludlow, Richard Jenyn, and others. The name of Thomas Hosskin among the complainants as bailiff is interesting for the slant which it thows on the political sympathies of the complainants, the assumption being that he was the same man who is known to have been an agent of Lord Wenlock, at this date an influential Yorkist [7].

The almost incidental discovery of John Tukhill as Constable in 1458 aroused my interest and I began to search in a wide variety of national as well as regional and local documents for his successors. I could find no documents which included a reference to a named Constable of Hungerford during the remainder of the 15th century, but some small success in unlikely places suggested that others might yet come to light. In 1475 Richard Jonys or probably Jenyns was mentioned as the bailiff [8], and a search among early wills discovered the will of Thomas Toghy [9] which in 1505 was witnessed by the then Constable. The name is difficult to read and has an abbreviation mark above it; [the first three letters and the last are clear, but the 4th and 5th letters are illegible] and this might be Richard Jenyns, here spelt Genens. Another will, that of William Hayward, dated February 1525/6 was attested by Januar Kyrton ‘Constable [10]’.

None of these Constables so far mentioned were included in the list of names of Constables provided by Walter Money in his ‘A Historical Sketch of Hungerford [11]’. Money in fact did not begin his list of the town’s Constables until the year 1560, more than a century after the office is known to have been in existence. The earliest Constable in his list is Francis Elston. Neither for this nor for any other names does Money give his source of reference. My own research shows that the name of Francis Elston is likely to have been found in the report of a law suit dated 1610 in which Elston is referred to as Constable ‘about sixty years ago’ [12] and in the same document John Lovelake is given as Constable ‘54 years ago’, thus giving us dates of 1550 and 1556 for Elston and Lovelake respectively. Such calculations, however, should be regarded as approximations only, and accompanied by the useful attribution circa.

Further research over a wide range of documents from the early centuries has enabled me to suggest a number of probable additions to the list of early Constables. First of these is Thomas Dolman mentioned in 1568-9 as Constable, in Dean of Sarum Presentments [13]. Thomas Dolman was an innholder who died 1570. In 1570-1 the Duchy of Lancaster Ministers’ Accounts for Hungerford, presented by the portreeve Thomas Hydden, refer to Humfrey Batte bailiff and Humfrey Alleyne, Constable [14]. Next, in the report of a royal commission set up to investigate the famous, or infamous, loss of some of the town’s ‘charters’ in 1573 [15] two more names of past Constables, Thomas Hamblyn and William Butler, are mentioned though without giving the dates of their office. A related document, however, dated 20 July 1573, reveals that William Butler became Constable ‘at Whitsuntide’ twelve months past i.e. in or about June 1572 [16]. He may thus be surely attributed as Constable for the year 1572-3.

In a report of the royal commission we are also told (evidence of Edward Brouker) that the keys of the town chest, in which all the town’s official documents were kept, were by custom always held by the Constable of the previous year ‘to keep for the year following at Hocktide Court there holden’ and adds that ‘Thomas Hamblen had last the keeping of the keys of the said chest,’ thus dating Hamblen’s year of office as 1571-2. Another deponent (John Burche) in the same case describes how on another occasion ‘about eight years past’ he was shown a muniment taken from the town chest by John Lovelake. The presumption must be that Lovelake had had access to the chest either as Constable or as past Constable as early as c.1565.

Also mentioned on a similar occasion on which documents were produced from the town chest was Thomas Seimer or Seymor. Clear evidence exists that he was Constable in 1573-4 , since on 25 January of that year he lodged a written complaint as Constable and on behalf of all the inhabitants of the town that their ancient rights and privileges were under threat [17]. Another document in June 1583 refers to him as Constable in this year also [18]. And in April 1587 the accounts of churchwardens George Hedache and Thomas Curre refer to Thomas Seymor ‘being Constable’ in what must relate to a payment in the year 1586-7 [19]. A memorandum in the Hocktide Court Book signed by Thomas Seymor, Constable, to Robert Hatt, bailliff, dated a.d. 1586, 25 Elizabeth, confirms the deduction given above from the Church Vestry Book entry. The memorandum is not easily discovered, appearing on a page which follows the entry for the year 1660, in a book which has neither index nor page numbers.

Seymor’s name appears again in 1588, this time as a witness in a law suit [20]. He states that his age is 78 and that he has been Constable ‘eight or nine times’ during the thirty years or so that he had dwelt in the town of Hungerford. He died in September 1591, and is described in the pa rish register as ‘our honest neighbour Thomas Seymor the elder, yeoman’. His service of ‘eight or nine times’ as Constable must surely constitute a record, at least since the days of John Tukhill. Seymor was a leading townsman at a time when the struggle against the Duchy of Lancaster had reached a critical stage. In such circumstances it is not surprising that his fellow townsmen rallied to re -elect him as their spokesman an unprecedented number of times. Indeed, so high did the name of Seymor stand that after the old man’s death they elected another member of the Seymor family, Philip Seymor, to hold office in 1594 and again in 1599 [21].

To return to the roll of other Elizabethan Constables, an entry in the Church Vestry Book dated 27 March 23 Elizabeth I (=1581) mentions ‘John Yewell now Constabell of the town of Hungerford,’ thus making his presumed year of office 1580-1 [22]. The name of another Constable, Robert Waite, is provided by the Hungerford Parish Register, which records his burial on 26 February 1584-5, ‘then Constable of Hungerford’. A deed was witnessed on 12 February 1584-5 by John Fawler ‘deputy Constable to Robert Wayte,’ by Thomas Watkyns ‘deputy bailiff to Edward Hidden’ and by Robert Batt tithing man [23]. As Robert Wayte was buried just fourteen days later, one wonders whether the short remainder of his period of office was filled by his deputy. I can find no reference to the election of deputies in the record of Ancient Customs given in 1582 in the Hocktide Book.

In his will dated 21 June 1585 Thomas Preston appointed as his overseers Thomas Seymor and ‘John Doleman now Constable of Hungerford,’ thus providing evidence of a second Doleman (Dolman, Dollman) to the list of previously undiscovered holders of this office [24]. Since this date is later than Hocktide 1585, John Doleman’s year of office will have been 1585-6.

Edward Collinges or Collins, a deponent in the same law suit as Thomas Seymour, giving evidence on 2 January 30 Eliz.I [1587/88], describes himself as Constable, aged 52 [25]. The date of this deposition thus determines Collins’ year of office as 1587-8.

On 26 May 1592 John Fawler, ‘Constable of Hungerford’, acting on behalf of the town and its inhabitants sued Richard Chok and Clement Brown concerning fishing rights in the river Kennet [26].

Although Money (and others who later copied from him) take his surname to be Fowler, original documents of the time never spell it thus, but always as either Fawler or Faller. Easter was early in 1592 and in consequence Hocktide fell in April of that year, so it is probable that Fawler’s year ran from 1592-3. To sum up, there are 14, possibly 15, new names to the list of previously known Constables prior to 1594, which now may be added.

* = a previously unknown name or date
1458-9 John Tukhill*
1461 John Tukhill*
1505-6 Richard Jenyns*
1525-6 Januar Kyrton*
c.1550 Francis Elston
c.1556 John Lovelake
c.1565? John Lovelake?*
1568-9 Thomas Dolman*
1570-1 Humfrey Alleyne*
1571-2 Thomas Hamblyn*
1572-3 William Butler *
1573-4 Thomas Seymor
1580-1 JohnYewell*
1583-4 Thomas Seymor*
1584-5 Robert Wayte*
1585-6 John Doleman*
1586-7 Thomas Seymor
1587-8 Edward Collins*
1592-3 John Fawler*
1593-4 Philip Seymor
1594-5 Humfrey Batte

From 1594 onwards some disparate items which include the name of the Constable, occur early in the volume commonly called the Hocktide Court Book. The book’s pages or folios are not numbered and any references to their contents therefore can be indicated only by dates. Later entries are mainly continuous, but several early references occur interspersed amid them. One of these relates that on 16 April 1594 Thomas Dolman came to the court and paid for lands ‘within the libertie of the town’ purchased ‘in the time of Philip Semor, Constable’. The date corresponds with the calculated date of the last court session at Hocktide in that year, held at the end of the Constable’s year of office and at which a new Constable was elected.

The conclusion must be that Philip Semor was Constable 1593-4. In the following year 1594-5 Humphrey Batt was recorded as Constable in a note in the Hocktide Court Book, easily overlooked, since it is placed after the entry for 1660.There are no records whatsoever in the Hocktide Court Book that relate to 1596-7 and 1597-8.

Another scattered item (to be found after the entry for 1623) states that in 1599 ‘John Curr late Constable of the town hath made his accompt ... before Philippe Seymor Constable and Humphrey Batt’.

This clearly establishes Curr as Constable 1598-9, followed in 1599- 1600 by Philip Seymor once more. Walter Money wrongly lists the occupant as Thomas Seymor (who died in 1591), but with careful observation the abbreviation used of the forename may be seen to be ‘Ppe’ = Philippe.

It seems clear that if the practice current in W.H.Summers’ day (described in Chapter 15 of his ‘The Story of Hungerford’) is a true continuation of the Court’s ‘ancient customs’, then the Court which is described in these early Court Book references as meeting on Hock Tuesday is the final Court session of the retiring Constable. The new Constable presides for the first time at the Court Baron held on the Friday following, which concludes Hocktide. This tradition can best be seen in the successive Constable’s Accounts beginning in 1658, where the new Court meeting date is always three days following the date of Hock Tuesday i.e. Hock Friday. A natural assumption might be that the date of the Court which meets on Hock Tuesday, i.e. a fixed number of days after Easter, would represent the Court’s inaugural meeting under the presidency of a new Constable. In fact the meeting of the Court at this traditional date before a new Constable is elected reveals its function of requiring the outgoing Constable to submit his, or the town’s, accounts for the year just ended and presenting an opportunity for the Court either to extend his term of office or to appoint a new Constable. It was in effect a control mechanism exercised by the jurors over an officer whose position and powers were greater than usual in small municipalities. In this way the Hock Tuesday court corresponded somewhat, in modern terms, to an Annual General Meeting. It is important to recognise that the Hocktide Court book at this period gives the date of the final court of the Constable.

Walter Money has correctly given the starting and ending dates of the term of office of John Lucas (1600-01), Thomas Carpenter (1601- 2), and Robert Field (1602-3). Unfortunately the Hocktide Court Book does not name the Constable for the years beginning in 1603, 1604, and 1605. Money therefore wrongly assumed that Robert Field, who was Constable 1602-3, continued in office during the years 1603-4 and 1604-5. That this was not so is revealed by an entry in the parish Church Vestry Minute Book, dated 10 April 1604. For, on this day ‘being the Tuesday in Easter Week, after evening prayers’ an important meeting of the Vestry took place, and the list of those present was headed by the vicar, followed by ‘Edward Collins, Constable’. This confirmation of Collins as Constable in the early part of 1604 is particularly useful. Since Hock Tuesday is the second Tuesday after Easter and the date of the Vestry meeting was a week prior to this, it would seem that Collins’ year as Constable was 1603-4 rather than 1604-5. In either case the evidence knocks on the head Money’s unsubstantiated formula of a second and third term for Robert Field. More problems result when Money lists JohnYoule as Constable 1605-6 and Tristram Dolman in 1606-7. We know from an entry in the Hocktide Court book dated 7 May 1606 that Tristram Dolman made a full financial report for his year of office then ending, viz 1605-6. If so, it is clear that John Yowle cannot have served in 1605-6. The ‘regular’ entries, i.e. those in a standard form and following in annual sequence, do not give the name of the Constable for 1605-6 or for 1606-7, though a later hand has inserted Tristram Dolman in 1605-6. It is therefore probable that Money may have obtained Yowle’s name and date from one of those anonymous notes which have been inserted, hopelessly out of order, into later pages of the book. At some point after the regular sequence of annual entries has reached 1660, the words John Yowle Constable have been interpolated and there is a scribbled reference to an incoming trader’s fine of entry having been paid on 16 April 1605 and another on 14 October 1605. It is impossible to know the exact validity of these insertions.

No named Constable appearing in the Court Book entry for 1606-7, Money once again assumed that the Constable for 1605-6 (in this case Dolman) continued in office for the subsequent year, but I can find no evidence for this. He also misses out altogether the recorded entry that John Curr held his Hocktide Court on 12 April, 6 James I [i.e.1608]. However, these assumptions and omissions enable Money to adjust mistaken dates and bring himself back into alignment with the verified entry of Ralph Mackerell who was Constable 1608-9. He then proceeds with the correct names and dates of the Constables for 1609-10 and 1610-11.

The Court book having no entry for 1611-12, Money continued his policy of attributing a further year of office to the last named officeholder, in this case Thomas Carpenter. However, a nuncupative will [i.e. one made by word of mouth] dated 21 November 1611 and probated 28 November 1611 was made on his deathbed by Robert Lovegrove and was attested by, and in the presence of, the vicar of Hungerford and Robert Field ‘Constable of Hungerford [27]’. The parish register confirms that Lovegrove was buried almost immediately, on 22 November 1611. This precisely chronicled event must mean that Robert Field (not Thomas Carpenter) was Constable 1611-1612.

The Court Book then continues in 1612-13 with Humphrey Batte as Constable; and since no Constable’s name is given in 1613-14, Money assumes Batte had a second term of office. This is possible but, as we have seen, not necessarily so. Similarly, when John Lucas is named Constable 1617-18 and no Constable’s name is given in the Court Book for 1618-19, Money assumes this year to have been a second term for Lucas. In 1619-20 a further problem presents itself, in that Money gives the Constable ’s name as John Forty. However, in a document in the case of Mayle v Goddard and others, John Heyward of Hungerford deposes on oath (16 May 1624) that ‘four or five years since, Rafe Harrold being then Constable of Hungerford did on behalf of the township take quiet possession of the tenement now in question [28]’. Harrold’s Constableship would thus have been c.1619-20. But the list of Constables given by Money includes no Rafe Harrold. To this puzzle, however, there is an answer, for the Hocktide Court Book contains an entry in Latin which Money seems to have overlooked: ‘2 May 18 Jas I [1620] coram Ralph Harrold deputat’ John Forty Constable29’. Here is a clear statement showing an occasion when a deputy filled the place of the elected Constable during his year of office.

A further problem arises from a burial entry in the parish register dated 20 March 1628: ‘John Curr who deceased Constable buried’. [‘Constable of the town’ in the Bishop’s transcript]. Money makes no mention of Curr, but in his printed list gives John Forty as Constable in 1627 (i.e. 1627-8) and also in 1628 (i.e. 1628-9). The Hocktide Court Book (folio 36) has a title ready for ‘the court held 29 April [regnal year not clear] ‘of John Fortie, Constable’. The rest of the entry is blank, containing no record of the Court’s proceedings.

A modern hand has pencilled-in 1628. In the following year ending 1629 (folio 37) John Forty is Constable. There can be no doubt that Curr was Constable in1627-8, but since his burial occurred 20 March 16 [29], just before the end of his year of office, the Hocktide Court held may well have met, as the Hocktide Book seems to indicate, under the new chairmanship of John Forty.

In 1634-5 Jehosophat Lucas was Constable. W.H.Summers mentions that the horn traditionally blown on the day of the Hocktide Court [30] has the words ‘Jehosophat Lucas was Cunstable’ stamped on it, together with a small incised date 1634. Such a date strongly supports the attribution of Lucas’s year of office as being from Hocktide 1634 to Hocktide 1635.

In a dated document (20 February 1641/2) John Forty signed the Protestation Oath as Constable [31]. Thus his year office may be confirmed as 1641-2. This John Forty (born 1595) was son of the John Forty senior, the Constable on previous occasions, who died in 1632.

An entry in the Hungerford parish burials register dated 11 December 1645 records the burial of Thomas Holton ‘who died Constable’. The name is often spelled ‘Houghton’ (see Benjamin Holton 1624-5 and Benjamin Houghton 1626-7). Thomas Holton (Houghton) does not appear in Money’s list for 1645-6 - or for any other year. Instead, Money and the Hocktide Court Book present John Yowle as Constable in 1645-46 The explanation is the same as in the cases of other Constables who had the misfortune to die during their year of office, i.e. since the Hocktide Court Book entry provides an account only of the ‘annual general meeting’ held on Hock Tuesday, it gives the name of the ‘chairman’ at that meeting, who presumably had become Constable for the period between the death in office of his predecessor and the Court meeting at Hocktide following.

Beginning in 1658 an important new source of evidence concerning the Constableship is provided by the Constable’s Accounts Book [32]. These accounts were presented annually and in their written form give the beginning year of a Constable’s term of office and usually give also the date (day, month and year) when they were presented to the jurors to be ‘passed or allowed’. In 1659-60 Joseph Sare was Constable. It was during his term of office that, within a year or so of the death of Cromwell, the Commonwealth ended and Charles II was restored to the throne. By an order from the House of Lords in 1660 Sare was instructed to remain in office, presumably to provide continuity in local government at a time of change-over from the old Commonwealth to the restored monarchical regime. This resulted in a second term (1660-1) for Sare, which Money has failed to record, thereby causing him to backdate all his subsequent dates for the next fifteen years. This is despite an entry in the Hocktide Court Book which reads ‘Joseph Sare Constable 1659 and confirmed in his office by an order of the House of Lords the year following, which was 1660 [33]’. The Librarian at the House of Lords has informed me that he was unable to discover any particular order which referred to Hungerford, but the order may well have been a general one to all local authorities.

The Constable’s Accounts clearly show that Sare’s term ended with the production of his final accounts 7 May 1661 (folio 6v) and that he was followed by Adrian Pollerne 1661-2 (folios 8-10), and then Jonathan Reade 1662-3 (folios 11-13). The date of John Forty‘s year of office is confirmed as 1663-4 by his signature as Constable in the Hearth Tax return dated 17 December 1663 [34].

In 1670-1 the Constable’s name is Richard Mayle, not Weayle. The Constable’s Accounts beginning in 1674 (folio 43) show that Robert Osmond became Constable in that year (1673 according to Money, still a year behind) and his receipts and disbursements continued until 1676, which suggests two terms 1674-5 and 1675-6. Money here finds an opportunity to level up his dates, about which he must have become more and more worried at their disceprancy, by adding a quite unsubstantiated third year of office for Osmond. Thus by a rather neat sleight of hand, he ’ brings himself forward to the correct year for John Dicks (1676-7) who followed Osmond. The Constable’s Accounts for Robert Osmond’s two years in office are clearly dated to commence with 1674, and at their end a memorandum dated 21 April 1676 conclusively testifies to a sum then owing to him at the end of his second period of office. (folio 43a).

The existence of so many omissions and uncertainties in the list published by Money has resulted in the need for his listing to be critically examined. Such examination is not intended to be nigglingly critical. Money was faced with many problems in the texts he was able to consult and like other early workers it was his achievement to create a path which would enable latercomers to follow and, where necessary, correct. I have not carried my search beyond 1676, since the obvious difficulties encountered through the lack of records in the earlier centuries no longer apply. The long search to correct Money’s errors or omissions has been an arduous but enjoyable one, sustained by the support and help of my wife Joyce. I believe that the additions and corrections we have made justify a revision of the present out-dated list.

1596-7 uknown
1597-8 unknown
1598-9 John Curr
1599-1600 Philip Seymor
1600-01 John Lucas
1601-2 Thomas Carpenter
1602-3 Robert Field
1603-4 Edward Collins
1604-5 unnamed
1605-6 Tristram Dolman
1606-7 unnamed
1607-8 John Curr
1608-9 Ralph Mackerell
1609-10 Thomas Carpenter
1610-11 Thomas Carpenter?
1611-12 Robert Field
1612-13 Humfrey Batte
1613-14 Humfrey Batte
1614-15 Thomas Carpenter
1615-16 Robert Field
1616-17 Ralph Mackerell
1617-18 John Lucas
1618-19 unnamed
1619-20 Rafe Harrold/ John Forty
1620-1 John Burche
1621-2 Robert Field
1622-3 John West
1623-4 William Waite
1624-5 Benjamin Holton [Houghton]
1625-6 John Yowle
1626-7 Benjamin Houghton [Holton]
1627-8 John Curr/John Forty
1628-9 John Forty senior
1629-30 William Norcraft
1630-1 Thomas Garmy [als Cook]
1631-2 John Birche
1632-3 John West
1633-4 Roger Lovelacke
1634-5 Jehosophat Lucas
1635-6 Richard Sare
1636-7 Isaac Field
1637-8 Jehosophat Lucas
1638-9 Roger Lovelack
1639-40 Jehosophat Lucas
1640-41 Thomas Garmy
1641-2 John Forty junior
1642-3 John Youle
1643-4 Jerome Purton
1644-5 Thomas Mackerell
1645-6 Benjamin Holton/ John Youle
1646-7 Thomas Toe
1647-8 Jehosophat Lucas
1648-9 John Forty
1649-50 Nicholas Birch
1650-1 Edmund Stephens
1651-2 John Curr
1652-3 John Butler
1653-4 Jonathan Reade
1654-5 John Forty
1655-6 Timothy Lucas
1656-7 John Butler
1657-8 John Toe
1658-9 John Coxhead
1659-60 Joseph Sare
1660-1 Joseph Sare
1661-2 Adrian Pollerne
1662-3 Jonathan Reade
1663-4 John Forty
1664-5 Edmund Stephens
1665-6 Tobias Pollerne
1666-7 Henry Whyneatt
1667-8 Adwin Williams
1668-9 Thomas Butler
1669-70 Thomas Oram
1670-1 Richard Mayle
1671-2 John Norris
1672-3 Robert Osmond
1673-4 Adwin Williams
1674-5 Robert Osmond
1675-6 Robert Osmond
1676-7 John Dicks.


1 Oxford English Dictionary
2 Berks. R.O.: H/AH 1
3 Berks. R.O.: Ibid. The Hocktide Court Book has no folio numbering. To find unnumbered page references search under year dates.
4 Berks. R.O.: H/RTa 28 and H/RTa 29
5 P.R.O.: Ancient Deeds C146/1552
6 P.R.O.: C1/28/421
7 P.R.O.: Ancient Deeds C146/6191
8 Berks. R.O.: D/Ex84
9 P.R.O.: PCC Wills: Prob 11/14 folio 37
10 Berks. R.O.: Archd. Berks Will: William Hayward 1525/6
11 W.H. Money : Historical Sketch of Hungerford, 1894 pp.32-35
12 P.R.O.: DL44/869
13 Wilts. R.O.: D.of S. Presentments : D5/28/1
14 P.R.O.: DL29/715/11543
15 P.R.O.: DL4/15/6
16 P.R.O.: DL1/94/P8
17 Berks. R.O.: H/1/3
18 Wilts. R.O.: D/S Churchwardens Presentments : D5/28/5 f.114
19 Berks. R.O.: D/P71/8/1
20 P.R.O. : DL4/30/16
21 Berks. R.O.: Hungerford Hocktide Court Book H/AH 1
22 Berks. R.O.: Hungerford Church Vestry Book D/P71/8/1
23 Wilts. R.O.: 1064/22 (Bridges- Batte)
24 Wilts. R.O.: D/S will Thomas Preston 1585
25 P.R.O.: DL4/30/16
26 P.R.O.: DL1/157/F1
27 Wilts. R.O.: D & C W: Will of Robt Lovegrove 1611
28 P.R.O.: Mayle v Goddard C21/M4/15
29 Berks. R.O.: Hungerford Hocktide Court Book H/AH 1
30 W.H.Summers: The Story of Hungerford, p.64
31 House of Lords Record Office: Protestation Oath Returns
32 Berks. R.O.: Constable’s Accounts H/FAC 1
33 Berks. R.O.: Hocktide Court Book H/AH 1
34 P.R.O.: E179/243/25 folio 322

See also:

- Aspects of the Early History of Hungerford