Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
Source: RUSHDEN A Duchy of Lancaster Village by David Hall & Ruth Harding
Rushden Enclosure 1778

Rushden remained a typical Midland open-field parish until the 18th century.  The only ancient enclosure, land enclosed by hedges such as modern fields, was at Higham Park and paddocks around the village itself.  Only a few details of Rushden’s enclosure survive apart from the Act and the Award. The Award is a description of the plots of land given in lieu of open-field lands and rights.

Firstly, there had to be an agreement between landowners who owned more than three-quarters of the total area. The village had to be informed by a notice fixed to the church door and a meeting of proprietors was held at the Green Dragon, Higham Ferrers at 11.30 am on Monday 13th October 1777 to consider proposals. A bill was presented to Parliament and read on 28th November the same year. It was passed by the Commons on 9th February 1778, agreed by the Lords on the 23rd and received by Royal Assent on 6th March and so became an Act. There were 3,500 acres in the parish of whom the King, as Duke of Lancaster, was the lord of the manor and patron. John, Viscount Bateman, in right of his wife Elizabeth and Lord George Germain were impropriate rectors of 20 acres of glebe lands and four-fifths of the tithe of the open fields and some ancient enclosures. Richard Wynne, rector received tithe of one-fifth of open-field lands, all small tithes and had glebe lands of 30 acres. The named proprietors were the Marquis Rockingham, Mary Pacey widow, Ann Frederick widow, Benjamin Kidney, the Rev. William Wicksteed rector of Graveley (Hunts.), Mathew Shipston, Thomas Fletcher, Place Stephenson, Jonathon Baker, Thomas Richards, William Maxey, Thomas Smith, James Perry, Joseph Manning, William Samuels and Thomas Cole. The commissioners established exactly what everyone held and petitions and claims were returned. Their accuracy and legality were checked and a surveyor, employed by the commissioners, listed every land, assessed its value and recorded it in the ‘quality book’ (now lost). The commissioners’ clerk calculated the size of each new holding which was difficult allowing for common rights and tithes.  The surveyor marked out new allotments with pegs and the proprietors dug ditches and set hedges to make the boundaries all at their own expense except for the vicar. The cost of the whole operation was shared amongst the owners and the final record written up and signed. It was called the Award and detailed every property and right of way. The enclosure created the fields of the modern Rushden and the town we know today developed within this system.

Click here to see list of plot-holders after the enclosure & the Award Schedule

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the Land, Property & Tax index
Click here to e-mail us