Constablewicks

When searchiung through old English parish & land ownership records you are likely to come across the term "constablewicks" and would probably wonder what the heck a constablewick is.

From my research this this the best explanation I can give:

A constablewick is an area of land watched over by a Constable. It is a term that has its origins in Saxon times, during the 5th to 11th centuries. Saxon england was split into 4 main kingdoms: East Anglia; Mercia; Northumbria (including sub-kingdoms Bernicia and Deira) and Wessex. Within each of these kingdoms the lands were split into Manor's. A Manor was an area of land given by a King to a loyal Lord (or Thane) in gratitude for that Lord's continued military support. The Thane was almost always a trusted soldier (perhaps from where the term "knight" evolved). The King normally imposed taxes on the Manor. And the Lord usually imposed taxes on their subjects within the Manor. And the Constable's were cvharged with making sure the taxes were collected in their areas.

The area within a constablewick could be a township or a parish as defined by the church (who were to become major land owners) or more likely the lands of a Lord (or Thane) and very liukely to include many small hamlets & villages.

The Constable was predomiately a tax gathering function charged with collecting the county rate and special national taxes as well as managing the parish economy. An act in 1662 empowered him to levy a local rate to meet his expenses. Other duties of the Constable were to enforce the Lord & Church laws and this often meant:

dealing with felonies

 

dealing with non-attendance at church

dealing with escaped prisoners

 

dealing with commercial irregularities

dealing with riots and unlawful assemblies

 

responsible for licensing and inspecting ale houses

dealing with vagabonds, beggars, & the settlement or removal of itinerant strangers

 

responsible for jurors lists

dealing with lewd women

 

dealing with unauthorised building

responsible for the upkeep of the local means of punishment, the stocks, lock up, etc

 

keeping militia rolls, supervising the supply of arms, and organising the training of the local militia

dealing with the defaulting fathers of bastards

 

apprenticing pauper children

helping with shipwrecks

 

responsible for the welfare of the poor

supervising the watch and ward

 

caring for the parish bull

helping with shipwrecks

 

convening parish meetings

Over time the duties of the Constable were transferred to Parish, District & County Councils (mostly), some went to the National government and others went to properly constitued Police Forces. However, lands are still described (in ancient documents & leases) as being part of a constablewick or that x number of constablewicks served a larger area.